Friday, September 28, 2012

My Epic Weight Loss Fail

This was me Wednesday afternoon.

I've written about this topic in the past.  I think the goal of "losing weight" is stupid.  It should be about getting healthy and losing body fat.  There is a distinct difference between that and "losing weight".  Setting a target weight goal is even more ridiculous but sometimes necessary.  In the past year I have competed in 2 weight lifting competitions.  I have done well for myself but have not won anything by any means.  

I have competed in the 83 kg (about 183 pounds) weight class.  According to my home scale,  my everyday walking around weight is about 172 pounds and I am relatively lean.  I am competing against guys who cut their weight down from about 190 or so.  They are bigger than me and stronger than me.  I knew I wasn't going to be winning any championships but my competitive spirit got the better of me.  Tomorrow I am competing again.  A while ago, I decided for this competition I would compete in the 74 kg weight class to have a better chance of placing higher.  That meant I had to lose about 9 pounds.  Last November during a stressful time I dropped to the low 160s so I thought I could get there again through some careful restriction of food and water.

Last week I started dialing back my food a bit.  A few days I skipped breakfast and lunch only to eat at night.  I figured I would dial back my calories and carbs.  Then I could sweat out a bit of water and I would get there by Saturday morning.  This past Tuesday I was down about 5 pounds with only 4 to go.......until I got on a different scale.  On Wednesday at my globo gym, I had just finished a very sweaty session of light exercise and some time in the hot tub.  I was hoping to wring out some water weight.  After I was done, I got on their scale with only shorts on.  I weighed 170.  WHAT?!?  How could this be?  Which scale was right...this one or my home scale?  That night I went to a store and stood on 8 different scales and what I discovered was that my home scale is lite by about 4 pounds.  I immediately stopped trying to lose weight because I knew it wasn't in the cards for me to be that lite AND also be able to be strong enough to compete.

This short weight loss mission was very stressful for me.  Since I changed my diet almost 6 years ago, I have had the good fortune of being able to eat a lot of food to maintain my health and body composition.  I enjoy indulging in many different types of food without calorie restriction.  It was a very weird change.  Starving myself to reach that number was mentally hard.  I have never had to do something like this before.  

I noticed some negative health issues flaring up.  I had weird muscle pains despite really dialing back my training.  I got some acne and dry skin blemishes.  I got a cold sore on my lower lip.  And I got a slight cold.  While eating well and to satiety, I had been coasting along feeling pretty damn good without these problems.  I attribute these recent issues to lack of nutrients, dehydration, and stress.

This whole fiasco reaffirmed my hatred of "weight loss".  The mirror, how you feel, and an accurate body composition test should be one's barometer for a successful body transformation.  If a poundage number is your goal, you may be very disappointed when you possibly gain muscle OR when you step on a different scale.  In the last year or so, I have changed the way I trained.  My wife and I have noticed visually changes in my body and the scale has crept up a few pounds.  But I have realized, I cannot get down to the low 160s again.  I think I have put on a few pounds of muscle, which is good.

This was a tremendous learning experience for me.  I have sympathy for those starving  themselves hoping to see a difference on the scale.  I don't feel sorry for them though.  They need to change their goal and change their focus.  Their physical appearance may not change overnight but they need to realize their isn't a quick fix to a problem created over a lifetime.



Alex Peck said...

Glad you found a healthy weight to be at, so many don't. I didn't realize you were doing weight lifting comps, that's pretty awesome. As long as I'm in reasonably good health I'll be under or over the barbell as well (did a crossfit comp this summer with some major weightlifting movements). Making weight sucks. I spent my last 2 years in HS making weight for wrestling (cutting 5-8 lbs per week, not healthy) and even as an adult dropped to a close weight class for a BJJ comp. Let us know your experiences with the comp.

Chuck said...

you obviously have much more experience with cutting weight than i do. had i known my ACTUAL weight before i tried to start losing i would have never tried it. i read quite a bit so i didn't go in blind. i did not want to do cardio to get this done because i didn't want to tire myself out and lose muscle. i now have a better idea where i am and with just have to work on getting bigger and stronger.