T Nation

Where to go from here?

Hey guys. First post here, but I’ve read for a long time.

To cut right to it - I lost a lot of weight. I was obese, and was told by my doctor about 2 years ago that if I didn’t lose it, I’d be in for some serious health problems. I lost 155 lb (400 - 240-245) by basically dieting, lifting, and cardio.

My calories were a bit low when I first started simply becasue I didn’t know what I was doing, but I corrected that about a year ago. I know my body inside out now and know exactly what it takes to lose 1-1.5 lb a week. The calories I need are around 2200-2300/day. For the last year I did a t-dawg type diet, and learned the ways of T-mag.

Anyway, now I’m at a dilema. I don’t know how to put this but, I’m simply tired of dieting.

When I first started, I never had any desire to binge, cheat, or messup on my diet… but now it’s another story. I get cravings constantly, it’s becoming very hard to stick to anything. I have incorporated refeeds every weekend but that doesn’t seem to help all that much.

Now, I’m sure some of you will think I’m just being a pussy, but I think there’s more to it. I think my metabolism is basically shot due to prolonged time of being in a calorie deficit. Then there’s the motivation part - it really sucks not being able to gain significant strength/muscle due to non sufficient calories. My lifts aren’t terrible, my 1rm’s are 405 sq, 255 bench, and 440 DL. :\

Anyway, I’m asking what do you think I should do? On one hand, I’d like to get to 215-220 or so, but on the other hand, I really feel like utter shit.

I was thinking of doing something like Don’t Diet, but that’d still be a deficit. And, I can’t really go on a bulk because I still have a significant amount of bf% (20%), so I’d put on a lot of fat.

So, yeah, any help/advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

jackM, congratulations on your weight loss. Losing 155 pounds is one hell of an accomplishment. Since you don’t want to bulk and you feel Don’t Diet wouldn’t be good for you, why don’t you try the Berardi plan, but eating maintenance level calories? Maybe this will help get your metabolism back on track.

You didn’t say in your post if you’ve read Berardi’s Massive Eating articles. If you haven’t, do so. He gives the formulas for calculating how many calories you need for gaining mass, for maintaining your weight or for losing fat.

If you decide to give it a whirl just be aware that many people find Berardi’s calorie recommendations a little high.

And cut yourself a little slack when trying to maintain a diet for a long time. From my personal experience I find it necessary to help keep my sanity and from getting to the point where I crave every piece of crap I can think of.

You might be interested to know that John himself admits he doesn’t stick to his plan 100% of the time either.

You can check out this article about his views on cheating at his website:

http://www.johnberardi.com/articles/qa/wannabebig_2.htm

P.S. If you’re still concerned about how cheating affects your results read the following article on dietary damage control.

http://www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/189dc.html

as much as i hate any type of cardio, HIIT is always good for using up some extra calories, but i’m sure you already do/have done something like this. i used to sprint 100m then walk the other 300m on a track, sprinting again once i reached my starting point (do about 4-6 laps) and noticed a significant difference in body comp after about 2 weeks doing it 2x a week, with no change to diet whatsoever

Hey, there, Jack!!! Welcome to T-Mag – though I have a feeling you’ve been lurking for a while. (grin)

A few questions for you.

Do you take a GOOD multivitamin? Good in my mind means something that you’re taking more than once a day; 3 x day would be excellent.

How much GOOD fat are you getting in your diet? I’m talking flaxseed oil and olive oil in particular and the number of grams in general.

What are your carb sources, and when do you take those carbs in?

Are you using Surge PWO?

Do you have any food allergies in your family or anything that doesn’t sit well with you when you eat it? Offenders could be milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, fish, shellfish, corn, yeast, soy.

Have you had T levels checked recently. If not, get your doctor to order a T/C ratio test. That’s testosterone and cortisol, of course.

One thing I would like to discuss is your 1.5 - 2.0 pound weight loss per week. That’s a great number when you’ve got a lot of weight to lose, but I’d like to see you drop that to a pound a week at this point because you’re only 20 pounds from your goal weight. It will take longer, but you’ll do a better job of preserving LBM. As fat stores start to drop, the body is almost more willing to give up muscle than it is stored fat.

I have a few other ideas I’d like to kick around with you, but will wait until you get back to me with the answers to my questions.

Hang tough, Jack!!! We’ll figure it out.

Oops! Sorry, Jack. I just saw that you said 1-1.5 pounds per week. Still I’d be happier with a pound a week.

Sure:

  1. I’ve used surge since it was released. I take a serving PWO. 1 to 3 hours later (depending on schedule) I have a meal with carbs/protein.

  2. When dieting, I do it T-dawg style, getting 100 or so carbs per day on training days and the rest protein/fat.

  3. The fats I take in are as follows: 6g of fishoil/day, some flax, and some natural PB. The rest comes from meat and the like. The flax is 2 tablespoons.

  4. I take a typical multivitamin. I’m not sure how to distinguish the difference between good and bad, though.

A typical day of dieting for me would have me eating lean chicken, beef, salmon, tuna, oatmeal, eggs/egg whites, fishoil, flax oil, broccoli, cauliflower, surge, and water. That’s pretty much all I eat. I eat every 3 hrs, 6 to 7 meals per day.

I take in oatmeal in the morning before lifting as well as an above average meal. The rest of my carb source throughout the day is surge pwo, and vegtables the rest of the day.

Oh, and I don’t sit well with dairy products. In fact, I had hit a pleateu about 6 months ago fat loss wise and the only way to get over ti was cutting out the dairy I ate, which meant cottage cheese. I’m not sure why, but it became difficult to drop fat when consuming dairy of any kind (minus whatever dairy is in a pwo drink)

Jack, first off, if you’ve been dieting for two years and are tired of it, I think that’s fair. I see a couple of possibilities, and feel free to take my suggestions and put your own twist on things to suit your purpose.

  • If 2,250 calories allows you a weight loss of 1-1.5 pounds, raise your calories to maintenance by increasing calories by 50 calories per day. My best educated guess is that your maintenance calories are roughly 2,750 calories. In fact, just use that number. It will take you 10 days to hit 2,750 calories.

  • In conjunction with increasing calories to maintenance, I’d recommend that you drop your daily protein intake to 1.25g x LBM (down from 1.5g x LBM), drop fat to half of what it is now and increase carbs to hit your goal caloric intake.

There isn’t any reason you can’t still eat clean, but I’d like to see you shake things up and eat for flavor. Hit the bookstore and search the forum for some good recipes. Definitely use the opportunity to get in more rice, beans, fruit. Eat some spaghetti. Make some chili for yourself and some wonderful soups with veggies and pasta and FLAVOR!!! Your starchy-type carbs for some reason give the thyroid a bit of a kick.

Let me give you an idea of what I’m talking about in the recipe department. A favorite of mine is adding LC Grow to some instant sugar-free pudding. It’s a WONDERFUL, tasty P+C meal. You’re long overdue for some flavor and taste, Jack.

Stay at maintenance. Continue working out and doing your cardio. At some point you’re going to start chomping at the bit to strip away the last bit of fat. But give yourself a well deserved break. Try a new program, something different. Take up an activity that has nothing to do with working out.

As far as your workout goes, try something radically different, something where you go outside of your comfort zone. Try Westside. Find a powerlifting club and start lifting with others. Try Chad’s ABBH, which won Program of the Year, by the way. And if nothing in the way of a program pushes your buttons, give IT a break too.

One thing, though, going back to your new eating patterns. Remember that for every unit of glcogen stored in the muscle, there are roughly 3 units of water stored with it. When you pick up your carb intake, scale weight will go up. But it’s only water. Just live with it and keep hitting your 2,750 calories per day.

Another thing I’ll throw out for your consideration is a supplement that helps with cravings. Use it when you start back cutting. 5-HTP does a fabulous job with managing carb cravings if there’s a seratonin deficiency. It helps with the BAD carbs; chips and sweets and all the things you’re supposed to avoid. You can take up to 300mg three times a day, but I’d start with 100mg twice a day, going up a little every 3 days. If it’s going to work, it works quickly.

I’m not telling you to throw out your program, Jack. You’ve come too far. But honestly, you need to realize that you will have to follow a somewhat structured eating plan for the rest of your life. I no longer call it a diet. I call it my eating patterns. I have my cheat days. I have my eating patterns for days I work out and a different one for days I don’t. It works pretty well for me, well enough that I know I’ll be following it for the rest of my life.

A question for you. I know your motivation is poor and your cravings are off the chart. Are you having trouble sleeping too?

I’m not ignoring your second message, where you answered all my questions. It’s just that you were/are doing everything perfectly. I really feel the answer doesn’t lie in optimizing your diet and “sucking it up.” You just really, really need a break. I think you can have that break without doing any serious damage to your long-term goals.

I really, really hope that there’s something in my post that you can use to your advantage. Sorry if I bounced around all over the place.

Thanks for the advice. No, I don’t have any desire to cheat on “bad” foods, just eat more.

I was considering something like the zig zag diet by Dr. Hatfield. Just something different for a change.

Maybe something like eating slightly above maintenence on workout days and a bit below on off days. I donno.

Or, just eat maintenence with a couple days of slightly above, to atleast allow for some sort of tissue building to occur.

Oh and as for your question - I do have sleeping trouble, yes. It takes me a god awful long time to actually fall asleep anymore, and I’m not sure why.

Out of curiosity, what effect does alternating calories have? Something like, +400 over maintenence on lifting days, and -300 maint on off days.

Jack, the reason I asked about sleeping is because carb cravings, depression and difficulty sleeping are all related to a seratonin deficiency. The 5-HTP would/should be helpful. If it doesn’t work after 3 days, let me know. I’ve got other options for you.

Definitely give FH’s ZigZag diet a go. I’m playing with a cyclical approach myself; i.e., two days at 500 calories below maintenance and 2 days 1,000 calories above maintenance. The idea is that after you’ve overfed for two days, your body will burn serious fat when presented with a caloric deficit. It takes a few days for the body to realize it’s starving. Until it does, it will burn stored fat at an accelerated rate and won’t down-regulate, slow down, run cold. Just about the time your body starts to realize it had better start slowing things down, you go into an overfeed situation, and the body is primed for all that is anabolic. Muscle glycogen supercompensation goes on. Protein synthesis kicks into overdrive. Very little spills over to fat.

Even though the average of the 4 days is above my maintenance calories, I’m still losing weight and having to add in calories each cycle to to hit the numbers I’ve set for myself. It’s blowing my mind. And I sure do love overfeeding 2 days out of 4.

What I mentioned above is a variation of Joel Marion’s Cheater’s EDT Diet. Do a search here on the forum and on the 'Net for more details.

Wow, jackM, congratulations on losing 240 pounds! And your diet looks impressively healthy (as compared to, say, the Subway diet or Slimfast diet).

I absolutely, totally agree with Tampa-Terry that you deserve (if not downright need) a break from dieting. Although your diet looks very healthy, you mentioned eating the same basic foods every day. Variety can do wonders psychologically and probably physiologically too. For example, broccoli and cauliflower are great, but similar vegetables. Other veggies are high in nutrients that broccoli and cauliflower lack. Over time, your body may crank up your appetite in hopes of getting some different nutrients. Same with protein - try some different kinds of fish and seafood, lamb, pork, eggs. I have this totally speculative, untested hypothesis that eating the same foods every day, no matter how healthy, may cause the body to operate in “starvation” mode. Maybe eating a huge variety of fresh, perishable foods will give your body the nutrients it needs and convince it that it’s OK to burn off most of the rest of the stored fat.

Congratulations again on your success so far. Sticking to it for 2 years is inspirational!