Monday, May 17, 2010

Inefficient body

I'd been getting a feeling lately like my body wasn't working right. It started around March and it's continued through May. I had reached my goal weight in February and found that at 154, my body hated exercise. I had no endurance and felt fatigued all the time. The weight range the impedance gave me as a healthy weight was 152-160 lbs. However, since running my 10-mile race Easter weekend, I've found that my body has leveled off between a 161-164 lb weight and really likes training in that area. I figured it was the extra fuel. And I was right -- to an extent. My body was craving a combination of protein and carbs. The weeks where I was high cardio I couldn't eat enough carbs. The weeks where I'd exercise moderately and would eat less, my body wanted protein. But the body weight would stay the same. So I was replacing all the calories burned with food.

This morning I had a New Leaf metabolic training test done at iPower. It's more tailored toward the athlete than a generic person, and I was hoping it would give me some insight into my body.

Turns out, sitting in a dark room for 15 minutes, hooked up to a VO2 machine showed that I am a fat burning dream. But, when I ran on the treadmill (even at my pokey 10:30/min mile) my body has issues using fuel efficiently. The test divided my heart rate into 4 zones. Apparently, my body either burns fat well in my warm up zone (zone 1 -- which is usually my walking speed) and then it pretty much goes anaerobic at my NORMAL PACE. The ideal is to get my aerobic base (heart rate 141 currently) and the point where my body goes anaerobic (heart rate 156) closer together. On the good side, my body doesn't just die in the middle. It fights. There are little sparks or jumps on the graph, but I have to fill those gaps in.

What does this mean? It means at my regular running pace, I'm burning 14.1 calories per minute, but only 1.2 of those calories is burning fat. The rest is trying to take it all from carbs, which explains my complete carb overdosing the weeks I have big cardio training weeks.

I knew buying that heart rate monitor was probably a good inclination. :-) The analysis not only tells me where I am, but gives me a 12-week cardio plan to follow to retrain my body that instead of going from zone 1 straight to zone 4 and not using fat as fuel, it'll actually take steps to go from zone 1 to zone 2 to zone 3 to zone 4... kind of like the transmission on a car.

Imagine if you only had two gears. One to start in and one where you had to drive at least 35 mph in. And any time you went over 50 it shouted in pain and anger for a fifth gear -- then you'll have a better understanding of how my body currently works.

So, we'll give it 12 weeks, see if my performance improves through the plan, see if my body is happier exercising at the lower weight again and I'll be best friends with my heart monitor. Another good thing that happened. Even though I was 6 lbs heavier than when I took my last impedance test, I had a lower body fat ratio using the pincher test. The accuracy really is about the same. I'm still healthy, but instead of the 24% I was before, I was down to a 23%. My goal is to be between 21-24%, so I'm happy that I'm maintaining. However, the extra six pounds, of course, dropped me back into the overweight line for the BMI. :-)

I'm taking the results to Carle today to see if my health educator can help me come up with a diet division (protein v carbs) that will help me out.

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