The Law of Diminishing Returns

I have to make this a quickie as I’ve got student emails to answer–there is a big assignment due tomorrow, and my students are freaking out about it. I told them I’d answer emails until 10:30, and after that, they were on their own.  I get the feeling that I’ll get a barrage of emails here in the next 10 minutes since these guys are like every other high schooler on the planet–waiting until the last minute to complete an assignment that they were given over a week to do.

Anyway…one thing I did want to write about today was my frustration with this:


Information from my Fitbit app: more activity + more sleep + more “very active minutes” = fewer calories burned. WTF?

I’m noticing that as the weeks go by and the weight continues to come off, I’m burning fewer calories per day even though my activity level remains relatively high.  I know that this is because each week, I’m weighing less and less, and this means that I’m burning fewer calories because there’s less fat each week to burn off.

This is slightly frustrating because I fear it means that my weight loss will slow down significantly and that I won’t get to my personal goal weight.  I feel like I’ll get to my surgeon’s goal before my 1-year “surgiversary,” but I’m scared I won’t get to my personal goal ever.  I’m really afraid that my weight loss will even stop and that my body will settle at a weight that isn’t anywhere close to what my surgeon’s goal is for me.  This distresses me a lot because I am just shy of 70 pounds away from his goal for me, and I think I can knock that out by my birthday in March.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I had no trouble burning all 3130 calories that Fitbit says I need to burn in order to lose the weight I want to lose.  Now that I’m the lightest I’ve been in a very long time, I’m struggling to hit that 3100+ calories burned mark without some significant amount of activity.  Unfortunately right now, my schedule doesn’t allow for me to get in the intense activity that I know I require, so I find ways to build in more activity during the day.  I walk and pace around my classroom while kids work, which has an added benefit of better classroom management, especially since I am better able to circulate amongst my students.  This is probably the best thing I’ve done so far this year that has helped me increase my step count daily.  I also pace back and forth while I’m waiting for copies to be run.  I’m pretty sure the other teachers who are in the copy room while I’m down there running stuff off think I’m crazy or something.  And if they do, I really don’t care.

lookatallthefucksigiveSo now the issue is:  how do I work even MORE activity into a day where I’m already trying to squeeze in more activity, an adequate amount of sleep, a full day of work (which doesn’t stop once I leave school), AND attend to all the other stuff I do outside of work?  Something has to give, but I don’t know what I could sacrifice to make room for more activity.  I’m trying to chug along until Thanksgiving break–we get a full week off for the holiday, thank goodness…we have been at it since Labor Day without a break.  During that week I want to learn to use the elliptical machines at the gym now that I don’t exceed the weight limit on them.  I figure I can use the elliptical and the recumbent bike to get in more cardio because I won’t lie–I HATE TREADMILLS.  I hate them with the fiery passion of a thousand Suns.  Walking and not going anywhere?  Not for me, thanks.  I prefer to do my walking either inside or outside where I know two things:  a) the ground is not moving underneath me and b) where I know I’ll end up at a destination.  I know people who love the treadmill, which is great for them.  But me?  I can’t even picture myself walking on a treadmill, which is pretty bad when you consider that I’ve done it before.  I have a tough time envisioning myself using one and I think it’s because I hate them so much.  Picturing myself on a recumbent bike or an elliptical is much easier to do, but a treadmill?  Nope.

Anyway…I am discovering that I am simply going to have to move even more than I do presently, and that the movement is going to have to be much more intense than what I’m doing now.  The trick is going to be finding the time.

Today’s nutrition:  not bad, with 98 grams of protein consumed, 50 grams of carbs and 41 grams of fat.  I downed over a gallon of water today, but I needed it since my sodium intake was relatively high.  I’m finding each day that my restriction is good in more ways than one–it keeps me from overeating horribly much, and it forces me to prioritize what to eat.  The size of my new stomach forces me to make food choices that give me the most bang for my protein buck, so whenever I’m faced with choices that may not provide me much protein, I am forced to choose foods that are high in protein.  I’m not complaining about this, just making an observation.  As Martha Stewart might say, “It’s a good thing.”


Today’s food choices, from upper right: cheesy chicken and broccoli; baked salmon, Brussels sprouts and green beans almondine; sweet and spicy beef jerky; multivitamin and calcium supplements x2, iron and B12 supplements. Not shown: Rudy’s ham, brisket and beans breakfast bowl.


3 responses to “The Law of Diminishing Returns

  1. I know that’s one benefit of being over 300 pounds: It’s so easy to knock off a thousand calories!

    Having said that, I cannot help but think that the calorie counts right now for me are horribly inflated. I don’t think that burning calories is something that can be handily calculated with a formula. As much as we want to say it’s as simple as eat less than you burn, it’s not as simple as that. Way too many factors that cannot be easily plugged into a calculator and voila.

    My whole point? Don’t stress too much over those numbers. You are doing incredibly well. INCREDIBLY well. You have been amazing at being very dilligent at the diet side of things, and you are dilligent at keeping moving. Those two facts ARE going to make you successful. Weight loss will slow down as you get closer to your goal but slowing down does not mean stopping. Keep doing what you are doing, don’t panic and don’t stress yourself out about feeling like you are not doing enough. If you stress here you make the process miserable and you take away from just relishing how successful you are being. Accept the success, and give yourself permission to slow down the pace as you get closer to goal, that’s really okay to do. You have kicked butt this far and will continue to do so.

    • I think you’re right about calorie counts not being easily calculable. I think that calories consumed can often be underestimated, which is why I tend to overestimate what I’ve consumed most of the time. The scientist in me understands that there are so many extraneous variables that can’t be accounted for, but that doesn’t soothe the emotional part of my brain that just sees numbers punched into MyFitnessPal or that are spit out by Fitbit daily. I guess I need to work on teaching that part of my brain to understand that there simply is more to this weight loss game than calories in, calories out.
      Thanks for the encouragement…I’m trying to make the most of this “honeymoon” period because I fear what comes after this six months. And I guess I fear it because I’ve not gotten there yet.

      • I know that when my little BodyMedia armband was telling me I was burning 6,000 calories a day, and I was eating 3,000 calories today, you would think I’d have been losing a lot of weight then, right?

        I don’t know if you’re like me or not. I’ve had times where I had fantastic success, lost a lot of weight, and then have gained it back. I even had the lapband and had great success with that but then had to have the lapband removed and gained most of it back. At least for me, after enough times on the yo yo I get conditioned to think that okay, here I am on the down part, time to brace myself for going back up. But I’m watching how good you are at sticking with everything and I can just tell, you’re going to be doing great!

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