Tips for those difficult last pounds?

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Tips for those difficult last pounds?

Postby Neonsun » May 30th, 2013, 6:01 pm

After spoiled twenties with work stress, lots of beer and smokes and an unhealthly diet, I started changing my lifestyle almost two and a half years ago. At the time I was 240lbs (I'm 5'11"). I've changed my diet, quit smoking and started exercising regularly. I didn't want to rush anything and end up with injuries and a heart attack after the first month, so I started easy and stuck to a plan to reduce weight and increase form gradually. However, things have kind of stagnated a bit and I'm now at 185lbs, having dropped only 9lbs in the last year compared to almost 45lbs in the first year and a half. I have a kind of mental goal of reaching 165lbs (within 'normal' BMI while allowing for some muscle weight) so I need to shed more fat, but find this increasingly difficult with time as I cannot keep increasing exercise workload/hours due to timing constraints. I've primarily been running in the spring/summer/fall (normally four times a week, 40-50k), and alternating xc skiing and lifting at the gym (squats, seated rows, leg press, etc) in the wintertime and in bad weather. However, three weeks ago I developed tendonitis in my ankle after I probably started the tarmac running season too optimistically, and had to find some alternative training while the inflammation recedes, and since I don't like bicycling or spinning much I went for the erg, and so far I'm liking this new form of exercise as I feel I'm using many different muscle groups, which feels great. Any suggestions for an erg program that really gets the fat burn going? How should I pace my sessions? Some details about current form for reference:

I was always an active kid/youth and adequate form came back fairly quickly after I started exercising. I can run a 10k around 0:46-0:47, possibly below 0:45 even, and a half marathon at +10% of that pace (1:40 should be within reach) and stay within 85% MHR avg. I've rowed a bit in my youth and still row river fishing boats every summer (fishing for salmon) for hours on end, so basic technique probably isn't completely off. My first erg session was a 10k at 35spm which ended in 43:40 (two weeks ago), however after watching a few videos and browsing the forum for a bit, I tried to focus a bit more on lowering SPM and getting a higher ratio (didn't record wattage for the first sessions I'm afraid), and I have now done two more 10k's ending at 41:28 (2:04/500m) @ 25spm with a ratio of 7,28 on a 130 drag (damper setting 4,5), at 83% MHR avg. I also did a 5x1k intervals session averaging 1:56/500m @ 28spm topping out at 93% MHR, and a half marathon session in 1:32 @ 25spm. Next will be an attempt at 500m and a 2k I guess, as I haven't tried those yet. Just bought a LogCard for tracking my sessions, and estimate I'll be able to pull a sub-40m 10k within a month as the recent 10k's haven't really been too exhausting. I tend to get bored at low intensities, however if I can go for 90mins at 80-85% MHR then I feel there is a fairly decent baseline in place and I rarely feel exhausted after a 45-60 min workout at the same HR. My worry though is that I might be going too hard and not setting aside time for recovery sessions within the 60-70% MHR rate - it doesn't really feel like I'm making enough effort if I don't break a sweat to call it a workout. But perhaps I ought to once in a while?
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Re: Tips for those difficult last pounds?

Postby brianh » May 30th, 2013, 8:02 pm

Training cardio at different intensities is one part of it, weight training is another. Looks like you've got those covered. If the weight isn't coming off with that, adjusting your calorie intake down is massively easier than adding more exercise. Compare the effort of consuming a Snickers and a glass of 2% milk (370 cal) to the effort to row 5.7k at your 10k pace (works out to about the same according to the concept2 "true calories" calculator on their web site).

You can only add so much before you start to go into overtraining--a lot more than a lot of people think, sure, but you there's definitely a limit. If you're not tracking your caloric intake or eating by meal plan, then you're probably taking in more than you think you are, and the body likes to find equilibrium so it'll let you deceive yourself and eat that little bit more.

"Abs are made in the *** DELETE - SPAM ***, not in the gym." A couple hundred calories' deficit per day is relatively easy to adjust to and tolerate, and will move your weight downward.
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Re: Tips for those difficult last pounds?

Postby Neonsun » June 4th, 2013, 8:40 am

Equilibrium might be right. I adjusted my diet drastically (for instance, from ordering pizza three or four nights a week to maybe once every two months, and cutting down on refined sugars), and this seemed to work very well for the first forty lbs combined with the exercise I was getting, however as the weight has normalized this becomes harder and harder and it gets so much easier adding on workload than cutting down the calorie intake as fitness increases as well. But I suppose that's the price to pay. I'm happy to take it slow though, those twenty lbs might take another two years but I'm a stubborn guy and I'm not looking for a yo-yo effect, so I guess further small lifestyle adjustments might be required (just have to sneak them in gradually, so as not to have to feel I'm giving too much up at once, that's the trick.) :)
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Re: Tips for those difficult last pounds?

Postby heroesfitness » June 28th, 2013, 11:36 am

For those stubborn last few ponds of fat I would suggest not eating carbohydrates after 4pm, instead have fresh oily fish like salmon or tuna, poultry like chicken or turkey and have it with as many green leafy vegetables as you want, have your main carbohydrate meal for breakfast and lunch with a small snack mid morning and mid afternoon to keep your metabolism high. Also drink 500ml of plain water in between each meal to get rid of toxins in your system and to get rid of any excess water retention.
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Re: Tips for those difficult last pounds?

Postby hjs » June 28th, 2013, 11:46 am

heroesfitness wrote:For those stubborn last few ponds of fat I would suggest not eating carbohydrates after 4pm, instead have fresh oily fish like salmon or tuna, poultry like chicken or turkey and have it with as many green leafy vegetables as you want, have your main carbohydrate meal for breakfast and lunch with a small snack mid morning and mid afternoon to keep your metabolism high. Also drink 500ml of plain water in between each meal to get rid of toxins in your system and to get rid of any excess water retention.


After having slept bloodsugarlevels are low and fat is most easily burned, so instead of not eating carbs after 4pm better not eat them in the first half of the day. In the second half after you have done training, do carb up a bit. Carbs also help us sleep. For the rest I agree, plenty of protein and good fats work! Nomatter at what moment of time you eat them.

20 ponds is not the last few ponds, it is still considerable, but can certainly be done within half a year. 2 years is two long term, its better to have a clear goal more near by.

ps good job, but good can become better :D
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Re: Tips for those difficult last pounds?

Postby rhr » August 1st, 2013, 11:59 am

There are a few issues at play.

A 240lb 5"11 male at 40 years of age has a BMR of 2,191 calories, same individual at 165lbs has a BMR of 1,723 calories, That's down 468 calories or the equivalent of a nearly a full meal. We often don't cut our intake and continue to eat the same things as before. Even if they are healthy calories if you want to be 165 lbs your BMR says 1,723 calories per day.

The next issue is the fact that you have dropped plenty of pounds already. Clinical research has shown that 2 individual can be of identical height / weight but have different BMR's. The person who has lost weight (you) will have a lower BMR versus someone who has been that weight for a length of time. How much lower? Depends but numbers of 200-300 calories are often quoted. This is likely to be highly correlated to how much muscle mass you shed in your total weight loss. Lose muscle mass - burn less calories. So worst case scenario then is a 1,423 calorie allowance per day to get to 165 lbs (excluding exercise), an unpleasant prospect to be sure.

Is there a solution? Perhaps. Giving the metabolism a boost and doing weight training in addition to hard interval training should offer maximal time / calorie burn trade off. In my personal experience strength / resistance training resulted in positive post exercise burn (EPOC) and helped me reduce body fat. Eating less carbohydrates can result in "free" calories - weight doesn't correlate to calories in / out. I'm a complex carb fan but concede that if you can go low carb you can get very lean. There is no point getting lighter if your power / weight ratio isn't increasing. To improve that ratio you need to lose fat, i.e. dead weight.

With respect to running, I do around 38-40 min for 10k and the only time my HR is around 85% of max is doing my shoe laces up! The target average is in the 95% range. Running sites will tell you, the guy who wins the 10k is the guy who's average HR is the highest. You may want to reconsider your training intensities on your hard workout days.
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Re: Tips for those difficult last pounds?

Postby basilgirl » September 19th, 2013, 7:31 am

Have you tried cutting out sugar? I found that had a huge effect, not that I was eating a lot of sugary food anyway.
When I feel like I'm stuck I mix things up a little bit, cycle more, do more swimming.
Good luck. Those last ones are the hardest.
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Re: Tips for those difficult last pounds?

Postby Neonsun » September 21st, 2013, 6:41 pm

Thanks all, some varying advice here so I guess I'll try to find the best bit inn all the different pieces of advice, plus keep throwing in the hours at the gym. Status so far is about 6lbs down since the last update, and a real improvement in rowing results, so at least my technique and endurance are both getting better, and the hours on the erg are by no means wasted. As for dieting I feel I've stabilized on a normal, healthy food regimen and I feel controlling this more down to the level of detail that seems to be the rage on all types of fitness forums, just isn't going to keep me motivated and would at best be temporary. Since I'm still losing weight at a slow, but steady rate, I think only some small adjustments should be necessary. And don't worry about my time span - I've spent 2 1/2 years with the first 60lbs, and another year or two for 15 more is quite alright. I've never believed in the miracle cures, and experts all say the slow losers have a higher success rate of maintaining, so I'm clinging to that. :)

The point about BMR for instance was interesting though. My intake is quite possibly a bit too high (even though it's reduced over time, old habits die hard). Somewhat easily rectified, though, as long as I remain conscious of the fact, so I'll try to remember that one.
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Re: Tips for those difficult last pounds?

Postby EddieO » November 11th, 2015, 10:28 pm

Do you track your caloric intake? If not, you should. I use a free app for the iPhone called "Lose It". Started tracking myself on 07Oct15 and weighed 185 lbs at the start. Made it my goal to lose 23 lbs at 2 lbs/week. Just completed my 5th week yesterday … lost a total of 11 lbs. By the way, this is without any exercise … I'm ordering a SkiErg by end-of-week because I know I'm exercise-deficient. I'm 66 years old, 6 ft tall, and made it my goal to match my former USMC weight/size … 162 lbs/29" by the holidays. Good luck!
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