I didn’t expect my body recomposition to be so noticeable so early.
In January, I got a DXA scan from Composition ID. This scan tells you the distribution of your soft tissue (fat) and lean mass (muscles, bones, and organs). You receive a report detailing the distribution of each of these in your arms, legs, trunk, android, gynoid, and overall body. Well, I got it done again, and I’ve lost 4.7 pounds of fat while gaining 1.9 pounds of muscle in two months! My body fat percentage has dropped from 30.4% to 27.2%. I’ve also lost about one inch everywhere I track
What I’ve been doing differently
Before January, I was eating like garbage. I didn’t see the benefit of eating well, because I didn’t really care about being lean–I saw a photo of myself in a bikini and was happy with where I was based on how much junk food I was indulging in, and didn’t feel any internal (or external) pressure to change my diet. But after eating Korean fried chicken regularly, and gorging myself during the holidays, I wasn’t feeling great. Generally, I didn’t feel like I had energy, and had a general malaise.
Not working out probably also didn’t help how I was feeling. I think I exercised maybe 10 times from the end of May (when I realized I had a broken foot) until the end of the year. Even after I got my cast off, exercise wasn’t something I wanted to do. Once my neck started bothering me, I realized that not working out was harming me, and I needed to stay strong so I wasn’t in pain.
At the beginning of the year, I tried my old standard 1,200 net calories a day thing. It ended up making me feel like a failure (since I could never hit that goal) and stressed about eating. I love to eat, it’s not something I want to feel stressed about. When I do feel stressed and like a failure, I binge eat. So, there was a good amount of that.
In February, I decided to change my tactic and have a goal in MyFitnessPal of 1,500 calories per day, knowing that there would be days where I went over (I’ve found that the 80/20 approach helps me, and there’s new research data the supports this). I also set a protein goal of 94g, which came out 2.4 grams of protein per kilogram of fat free mass or 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass. While this may be overkill for someone of my fitness level (I’m not an athlete after all), it’s where I’m feeling comfortable and seeing results. It really helped how I looked at eating.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve averaged 1,744 calories a day, with 94.7g of protein. While the macros don’t match up entirely to my calories, in general I’m averaging 46% carbs, 31% fat, and 23% protein. According to my Fitbit, I’ve averaged burning 2,014 calories per day, meaning I’ve been at a 270 calorie deficit per day.
My work outs still have not been consistent this year, but I am improving. I’ve averaged a Solidcore class a week, a Flywheel spin class every other week, and 3 yoga or pilates classes. Over the past two weeks, I’ve also started lifting weights 3 times a week with Kelsey Wells’ PWR program. I’ve also being doing physical therapy exercises to strengthen my back and arms.
I’ve had the most gain in my arms, which leads me to believe that most of my gains are from Solidcore (I’ve primarily gone to Arms & Abs classes). Solidcore also uses heavier weights than my physical therapy exercises. I haven’t been doing the PWR program long enough to make a real difference, I don’t think.
Lean Mass (lbs) by Region*
* Amounts do not reconcile due to overlapping regions
So What Worked?
I think there are a number of factors at play here.
- My high protein diet. It keeps me full, isn’t overly structured (I eat when I want), and still allows me to eat the foods I enjoy (in moderation).
- Eating at a small (15%) deficit. Eating at a large deficit often hurts your diet more than helps, both in terms of adherence rate and reducing your resting metabolic rate.
- I’m working to regain muscle I had before. I think that this deserves a lot of credit for my quick gain of muscle mass.
At the end of the day, whatever works for you in the long term is what works for you. So far, this is working for me, though it’s only been about 11 weeks so far.
Want to see what I’m eating? You can add me on MyFitnessPal to see my food and exercise diary.