Checking in with my numbers. Thoughts?

After a week of seeing how my body responded to certain numbers of calories and taking time to really think over my level of activity, here's what I'm looking at with my data:

Gender: Female
Age: 31
Height: 5'3"
Weight: 138


Little bit of background: I was a sprinter in high school, but I was injured my junior year and wasn't able to get back into running until 2 years ago (12 years after my last track meet). That year, I ran a spring 5K and a fall half marathon. Everything I'm doing with my workouts and nutrition revolves around my running. Back in 2013 when I got back into running, I followed My Fitness Pal's low calorie recommendations and I crashed hard. Thankfully, I caught a post talking about about basal metabolic rates and realized how important it was for me to stay above that with net calories. I didn't know about finding my TDEE, so I think I was still way too far under my caloric needs. Last year, I had a bunch of crazy health stuff going on, so I took off from running and food was based on what I was able to eat. Now, I'm back in the game and I really want to work with my body this time around. I have a solid plan to get back into running, but I'm trying to make sure I've got my nutrition figured out.


Workouts:
  • Walking - 5 days a week, anywhere from 2-6 miles. My walking schedule is adapted from Hal Higdon's aerobic base training plan. Right now, I'm up to 18 miles per week, walking. In a few weeks, I'll transition to "spring training" - dialing down the miles per week a bit, but adding in hill work and a lot of stair climbing as a substitute for speed-work. After that, I'll be doing a modified Couch-to-5K program (modified to add in cutback weeks) with the goal of running a 5K at the end of May. From there, I'm planning to slowly add miles each week, and also plug in hills and speed-work twice a week.
  • Pilates - 3 days a week. Working through the intermediate program for now.
  • Yoga - 3 days a week. I do 30 minutes of hatha yoga (long holds on poses).
  • Ballet Conditioning - 2-3 days a week. This is actual ballet work, not a ballet-based workout. I'm not a ballerina! My husband laughed when I bought the video because I'm the kind of girl who watches Star Wars and yells at the TV during a football game. I reminded my husband that football players take ballet to work on their agility and balance. My husband reminded me that I'm not a football player, either. Anyway... I took one ballet class in college and it really helped activate those smaller, stabilizing muscles in my legs. Definitely something I need.
  • 10,000 steps a day - 7 days a week. Regardless of how many miles I want to log in a given day, I always have a 10,000 step baseline goal. Any miles I log are additional. I track that by knowing about how many steps I take in a mile (2250) and adding that many steps on to my 10,000 step goal. For example, today is a 3.5 mile walking day, so my step goal is (3.5 x 2250) + 10,000 = 17,875 steps.
  • Strength training - 2 days a week, 30 minutes. Starting an actual program this week, instead of just, "Uh... strength training... guess I'll trow down some pushups, planks, and whatever I remember with my dumbells." I'm using the New Rules of Lifting: Supercharged, and starting with Beginner Level 1.



BMR: 3010-1315
(Mifflin-St. Jeor puts me as 1310; using Scooby's calculator with MSJ selected, I'm getting 1315)

Activity factor: 1.725?
This was tough for me to figure out. Not a fan of the limited definitions for activity factors. I had to choose between 3-5 hours per week of moderate intensity or 5-7 hours per week of high intensity. I have 8-10+ hours of low to moderate intensity. How does that fit?

I have workouts scheduled 5-6 days a week. For 5 days a week, I have a lot of workouts going. On my off days, I still keep that baseline of 10,000 step goal, and those are the days I'm doing more around the house (I stay at home with my 2 year-old son, and our small house has 3 floors, so it's a lot of stair climbing). But, my workouts are all low-key. I do break a sweat, but it's definitely not something I'd call intense. I'm going with the 1.725 activity factor based on the total time per week. That number is only going to go up in the next few weeks. When the total time does decrease, it'll be because the intensity is going up. More importantly, I think my body is telling me that this is what it needs. So if that's correct, I'm looking at...


TDEE: 2269
10-15% cut: 1929-2042


Right now, I have my food diary calories set to 1810. If I estimate my calorie burn from my 10,000 daily steps to 1810, I get my 15% cut number (1929) to make sure I don't go below that on my off days. More importantly, 1810 puts me 500 calories above my BMR. I wanted to do that because I do want to put my exercises in My Fitness Pal. That round number above my BMR helps me know when I need to eat more than my cut numbers so I net above my BMR. If My Fitness Pal is telling me I have more than 500 calories left, I know I have to eat more.

Right now, I think I may need to lean towards the 10% cut (2042). I have gotten so incredibly hungry, even on my off days. I'm thinking and hoping that I might finally be getting my natural metabolism back. I never struggled with weight issues until after high school, and I don't think it was a natural slowdown in metabolism that was the problem. I used to always eat constantly, and I mostly craved healthy foods. When I was a sophomore in high school, I started struggling with disordered eating (never qualified for a diagnosis of an eating disorder, but had the same thought patterns and behavior tendencies). Only after that did I started dealing with weight issues. I never starved myself enough to do significant harm, but I do think I threw everything off and my body's metabolism and hunger/satiety signals have been out of whack ever since. Going to college and then starting work, my eating habits were never back to what they were when I was younger. This past week, I'm getting closer to eating the way I used to.


Thoughts and suggestions would be very much appreciated!

Thanks,
Michele
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Replies

  • mymodernbabylon
    mymodernbabylon Posts: 1,038 Member
    If I go on Scooby (http://scoobysworkshop.com/calorie-calculator/), I'd put you in the highly active category (7-21 hr of activity) which gives you a TDEE of 2660 and a 10% deficit of 2392. So I think you are eating less than you can/should.
  • nineateseven
    nineateseven Posts: 65 Member
    ^^ I wouldn't say no to that ;)
  • Jennbecca33
    Jennbecca33 Posts: 321 Member
    I think I would agree that you're in the highest activity level. Do you enjoy that much working out or does/will it become too much for you to keep up with? Sometimes people start out with too much at the beginning when they're super motivated and then crash and burn out after a couple of weeks when they get tired. If you enjoy it and you're an avid exerciser, then make sure to eat plenty (which you don't seem to mind ;)) otherwise your body won't sustain all that exercise and/or you'll be prone to injury again. I'd probably suggest to decrease some of the exercise, leaving yourself 1 more rest day in there somewhere, and take your calories down a bit depending on which level you fall in to. The body has to have time to recover or the exercise becomes pointless.
  • mymodernbabylon
    mymodernbabylon Posts: 1,038 Member
    Jenn for the win! Rest is very important.
  • nineateseven
    nineateseven Posts: 65 Member
    edited January 2015
    I think I would agree that you're in the highest activity level. Do you enjoy that much working out or does/will it become too much for you to keep up with? Sometimes people start out with too much at the beginning when they're super motivated and then crash and burn out after a couple of weeks when they get tired. If you enjoy it and you're an avid exerciser, then make sure to eat plenty (which you don't seem to mind ;)) otherwise your body won't sustain all that exercise and/or you'll be prone to injury again. I'd probably suggest to decrease some of the exercise, leaving yourself 1 more rest day in there somewhere, and take your calories down a bit depending on which level you fall in to. The body has to have time to recover or the exercise becomes pointless.

    I love it :) Everything I have in my workouts is there because it's something I truly enjoy. I might feel like a total klutz doing my ballet work, but I like the challenge. I do have two rest days worked in: Sunday and Friday. Usually, I'll throw in Pilates or yoga on one of my rest days, but only if I want to. Doing a gentle session of Pilates or yoga allows me to stretch and move without putting stress on my body. When I was training for my half marathon in 2013, my body seemed to respond well to a bit of active recovery :) I also have cutback weeks scheduled every 4 weeks. So, whatever I'm doing with walking gets dialed back to 75% of the previous week and strength training is dropped all together.

    Here's my general schedule:

    Sunday: Rest
    Monday: Easy walk (3-3.5 miles), Yoga, Ballet
    Tuesday: Short walk (2-2.5 miles), Pilates, Strength training.
    Wednesday: Easy Walk (4-4.5 miles), Yoga, Ballet
    Thursday: Short walk (2-2.5 miles), Pilates, Strength training
    Friday: Rest (Yoga)
    Saturday: Long walk (6 miles), Pilates

    I normally wouldn't schedule anything else the same day as a long walk, but my back is usually tight in the evening on those days. I'm still fighting off the swayback I developed during pregnancy, and doing Pilates in the evening after a long walk feels incredible.
  • nineateseven
    nineateseven Posts: 65 Member
    I know it sounds like a lot of stuff at first glance, but the Pilates and Yoga sessions are only 20-30 minutes; the ballet and strength training are on days when my walking distance is shorter. I know the walking distances might sound crazy, too, but I gradually worked up to where I am now starting in late December. At this point, 10,000 steps or even 10,000 steps plus 2 miles (14,500 total) really doesn't feel like much. At the end of the day, I'm not collapsing with exhaustion or anything :)
  • Jennbecca33
    Jennbecca33 Posts: 321 Member
    OK, sounds like you have a plan! :)
  • nineateseven
    nineateseven Posts: 65 Member
    Question: Which one of Scooby's calculators should I use? I'm a little confused now :\

    I was using this one before: http://scoobysworkshop.com/accurate-calorie-calculator/

    But @mymodernbabylon‌'s link was to this one: http://scoobysworkshop.com/calorie-calculator/


    It looks like the second one is using the Harris-Benedict equation. I had been using Mifflin-St. Jeor as the equation with the other calculator. Does anyone have a recommendation on choosing between the BMR equations? I have an estimate on my body fat percentage (32%), so I can use Katch-McArdle or Cunninham, too. Here are my BMR estimates for the different equations:

    Mifflin-St. Jeor: 1312
    Harris-Benedict: 1399
    Katch-McArdle: 1290
    Cunninham: 1437


    Kind of a big range.
  • Jennbecca33
    Jennbecca33 Posts: 321 Member
    Heybales would know the big differences. I know if you have a body fat estimate, use the Katch-McArdle as that will be most accurate for you. I've always used the accurate calculator link but didn't think there was much difference between the two.
  • nineateseven
    nineateseven Posts: 65 Member
    Okay. The body fat estimate was based on measurements (with a tape measure), not calipers. Not sure how accurate that is at this point. I couldn't find the original calculator I used, so I tried a few different ones and I'm now getting estimates from 19% to 37% using the same measurements. So many numbers! My head is spinning :p
  • nineateseven
    nineateseven Posts: 65 Member
    @Jennbecca33‌ - When I plugged numbers into both pages, it looked like the only difference between the two calorie calculators on Scooby's website is that the "Calorie Calculator" one automatically uses the Harris-Benedict equation while the "Accurate Calorie Calculator" page lets you choose which equation and has space to input more numbers. That one also lets you calibrate it based on food intake and weight.

    Read a bit further down in what Scooby wrote under his "Accurate Calorie Calculator" spreadsheet, and he had this: "If you are fairly muscular and lean (4-pack abs or better), I would recommend the Katch-McArdle formula. If you are just starting on your fitness journey and are not yet strong or lean then I recommend the Mifflin-St Jeor equation." I guess since I don't know if my body fat estimate is accurate and because I'm active but not lean, I should go with Mifflin-St Jeor?

    If so, it looks like my numbers would be:

    BMR: 1312
    TDEE: 2494
    10-15% cut range: 2120-2244

    I looked back over my last few days, and it looks like this is about the range my food calories end up in after I log my exercises.

    I guess my biggest question now is setting my net calories. I had been planning to set it just below my 20% cut mark so I could log my exercises and have an easy number to use to make sure I'm staying above my BMR for my net calories, especially on days when I burn a lot of calories. Now, I'm not sure that's the best way to go. Any suggestions?
  • nineateseven
    nineateseven Posts: 65 Member
    I'm sorry, I feel like I'm being a total pain. I'm really trying to wrap my head around all of the numbers and I feel like I'm so close... and yet still not where I need to be with figuring this out.
  • Jennbecca33
    Jennbecca33 Posts: 321 Member
    You're totally fine asking questions- that's what the forums are for. Since you're not sure on the body fat, I would go with the Mifflin one then. That is the one I use too and those numbers sound good. Your last paragraph confuses me a little because you mentioned 20% cut - did you mean your 10-15% cut number? Also, when using TDEE method, you don't need to worry at all about net calories. Normally what we do when we want to log exercise in MFP is just manually change the exercise calories burned to "1", so that it doesn't alter your calorie goal. That's why you see people posting "I burned 1 calorie doing xxxxx exercise". Whatever number Scooby gives you as your deficit 15% deficit, manually set that number as your calorie goal in MFP and eat that same amount every day, even on days you don't work out. Recalculate your numbers after every 5 pounds lost. TDEE method takes your activity calories and spreads them throughout the week, so no need to worry about netting. As long as you choose the correct activity level (for you we suggested the highest one with your amount of activity and additional walking), it will average out the proper amount of calories for you to eat every day. Does that make sense?
  • nineateseven
    nineateseven Posts: 65 Member
    Makes perfect sense! I think my last paragraph confused me, too ;) Overthinking. I set my net goal for a 10% cut for now based on my hunger levels (ridiculously hungry today before I even got my workouts in) and what I was seeing in my diary for my highest workout days. I'll keep an eye on the scale and measuring tape over the next few weeks. Mostly the measuring tape. I'm okay keeping the same weight if my body composition is changing to more muscle and smaller fat stores. I'm okay with a slow rate for fat loss, too. Building strength and getting back into running are my top priorities. I just want to make sure I'm eating enough to take care of my body, but not fueling so much that my body doesn't let go of the extra stuff. Thank you so much for sticking with me and helping me figure this out! :)
  • heybales
    heybales Posts: 18,832 Member
    Question: Which one of Scooby's calculators should I use? I'm a little confused now :\

    I was using this one before: http://scoobysworkshop.com/accurate-calorie-calculator/

    But @mymodernbabylon‌'s link was to this one: http://scoobysworkshop.com/calorie-calculator/


    It looks like the second one is using the Harris-Benedict equation. I had been using Mifflin-St. Jeor as the equation with the other calculator. Does anyone have a recommendation on choosing between the BMR equations? I have an estimate on my body fat percentage (32%), so I can use Katch-McArdle or Cunninham, too. Here are my BMR estimates for the different equations:

    Mifflin-St. Jeor: 1312
    Harris-Benedict: 1399
    Katch-McArdle: 1290
    Cunninham: 1437


    Kind of a big range.

    Cunningham is considered RMR, and resting should be higher than sleeping deeply, which is Katch - both use BF%.
    Not too many RMR formula's, Nelson is one Bodpod uses based on BF% too. Really low, even lower that BMR sometimes.

    Mifflin is based on same 1919 study data that Harris is, but tweaked for better accuracy as weight goes up, about 5% better it was found. Both are BMR's as is Katch.

    And actually, not really that much range.
    22 between Katch and Mifflin, that's 1.7%, that's nothing.

    Harris is the outlier, and usually is. His study data was mostly on average healthy weight adults, average ratio of fat to non-fat mass.
    His formula assumed the same ratio as weight went up. But rarely is that the case, usually only fat goes up, and much faster than non-fat weight. So his formula assumed higher metabolism with more non-fat mass - which just isn't the case unless weight lifter.

    That's the reason Harris is considered inflated when overweight. Easily 200-500 calories I've seen.

    As you see though, this close to goal weight, all pretty close. Within 10%.

    Most of the TDEE charts are based on that same 1919 study. It also was a formula for hours of exercise, but someone took ranges and made the famous 5 level chart, and then removed hours and put in days, to really confuse things, I mean, to simplify.
    That's why there are several sites attempting to use newer research.
    Shoot, even MFP updated their non-exercise activity factors late 2013 based on newer research, and those levels go up faster than the TDEE chart now.

  • heybales
    heybales Posts: 18,832 Member
    Makes perfect sense! I think my last paragraph confused me, too ;) Overthinking. I set my net goal for a 10% cut for now based on my hunger levels (ridiculously hungry today before I even got my workouts in) and what I was seeing in my diary for my highest workout days. I'll keep an eye on the scale and measuring tape over the next few weeks. Mostly the measuring tape. I'm okay keeping the same weight if my body composition is changing to more muscle and smaller fat stores. I'm okay with a slow rate for fat loss, too. Building strength and getting back into running are my top priorities. I just want to make sure I'm eating enough to take care of my body, but not fueling so much that my body doesn't let go of the extra stuff. Thank you so much for sticking with me and helping me figure this out! :)

    You'll probably have to get "net" out of mind, as it just doesn't apply anymore.

    In the scheme of MFP, when you said you set your net goal for a 10% cut, that means you took your non-exercise TDEE and set your eating goal 10% less. That could be sedentary, could be lightly active, whatever.

    That would imply you are going to then log your exercise when it's done. You would take the same 10% deficit on calories burned, and eat back that amount.

    And while that is a valid method, and great if workouts are really iffy, I'm betting that's not what you meant since your schedule is loaded, and likely getting done, and really iffy on getting a decent calorie burn on some of that stuff.

    As a woman, your BMR literally changes through the month too, so some weeks more deficit, some weeks less. You'll need a months worth of data, not just a few weeks.

    As for hunger, indeed notice where it hits compared to your most intense workouts. Those are the ones that need the repair, and body will desire extra calories. You may be able to shift some calories from say morning, to after an intense workout.
    Or the day after during repair, from late evening to lunch perhaps.

    Sounds daunting, but once figured out, not bad.

    And with walking turning to running - you'll want to figure that out.
  • heybales
    heybales Posts: 18,832 Member
    You mentioned swayback from pregnancy, so at least 1 child, unsure age. But I'm betting your non-exercise daily time, if not at a desk job, is probably 2 hrs daily min of standing/moving beyond what a desk job would provide - that counts too.
    14 hrs weekly then I'm betting easy. Sedentary does include some activity daily, just not much as mentioned by Jen, and usually if you have a family, you surpass easily.

    Running through the numbers I saw for a week. Correct me where I got time wrong.
    Low cardio (pilates/yoga) - 3 x 50 min = 150 min
    Med cardio (walking 18 miles @ 3.5 mph/ballet 30 min?) - 2.5 x 30 = 75 + 309 = 384 min
    High cardio - no running yet
    Lifting serious - 2 x 30 = 60 min

    And if that pilates is as much a workout as walking is, then it belongs in that category, but that's only 60 min weekly, won't change too much.

    So while it is full (9.9 hrs), that is a lot of low key stuff, indeed active recovery besides lifting. That stuff just doesn't burn that many calories - but it does count when you add it all up.




  • heybales
    heybales Posts: 18,832 Member
    Retract my comments on NET goal, forgot there for a moment that's what the field is called that you must enter your gross goal in to.
  • gertudejekyl
    gertudejekyl Posts: 385 Member
    bump
  • nineateseven
    nineateseven Posts: 65 Member
    edited January 2015
    heybales wrote: »
    You mentioned swayback from pregnancy, so at least 1 child, unsure age. But I'm betting your non-exercise daily time, if not at a desk job, is probably 2 hrs daily min of standing/moving beyond what a desk job would provide - that counts too.
    14 hrs weekly then I'm betting easy. Sedentary does include some activity daily, just not much as mentioned by Jen, and usually if you have a family, you surpass easily.

    Running through the numbers I saw for a week. Correct me where I got time wrong.
    Low cardio (pilates/yoga) - 3 x 50 min = 150 min
    Med cardio (walking 18 miles @ 3.5 mph/ballet 30 min?) - 2.5 x 30 = 75 + 309 = 384 min
    High cardio - no running yet
    Lifting serious - 2 x 30 = 60 min

    And if that pilates is as much a workout as walking is, then it belongs in that category, but that's only 60 min weekly, won't change too much.

    So while it is full (9.9 hrs), that is a lot of low key stuff, indeed active recovery besides lifting. That stuff just doesn't burn that many calories - but it does count when you add it all up.



    Working through the numbers, here's what I have, and I tried to aim on the low side:

    Daily activity = 210 minutes per week.

    I keep a baseline of 10,000 steps per day, even on my rest days. 10,000 steps is about 4.5 miles for me, according to my Garmin Vivosmart. My normal walking pace is about 20 minutes per mile, so that's 90 min per day. Just above the "Daily Activity" section, there was a note that said you accounted for 1 hour a day, so I just added 30 minutes x 7 days. Didn't adjust for chasing a toddler (little guy is 2.5) or all of the stairs climbed with three floors in a little house. I figured most of that is in the 10,000 steps and, like I said, I wanted to try to aim on the lower side.


    Low level cardio = 495 minutes per week. I put almost everything in here.

    Pilates = 3 days x 20 minutes = 60

    Yoga = 2.5 (2-3 days) x 30 minutes = 75

    Walking miles = 18 mpw x 20 min/mile = 360.

    My MPW are in addition to my 10,000 steps. I figured out how about many steps I average in a mile and add the steps per mile for a given workout to my 10,000 steps. Yesterday was 3 miles, so I walked a total of 16,750 steps. There are times when my walking pace is above 20 minutes per mile for a block of time, but I wanted to aim on the lower side. Pilates and yoga are on alternating days.

    Medium Level Cardio = 100 minutes per week

    Ballet = 50 min x 2 days = 100.


    Strength Training = 60 minutes per week

    Same as you wrote: 2 x 30 minutes