Get Up And Code 046: Checking Back With Jessica
Jessica Engstrom was back on the podcast this episode talking about the diet and fitness plan Iris and I had set up for her.
Stick around till the end, there is a bit of a surprise.
Full transcription below:
John: Hey everyone, welcome back to Get Up and CODE. I am here with Jessica Engstrom. Did I say that right? Engstrom?
Jessica: Yeah, it’s right.
John: Okay, awesome. Jessica was on the show a little while back and Iris and I had set up a routine for her both diet, Iris did the diet side, and I did the workout fitness side. I thought it would be good to have Jessica back and talk about what she’s been doing. Before we get into that though, I did want to mention our sponsor, signalleaf.com. If you are looking to start a podcast with signalleaf.com, they host our podcast and they have podcast hosting services. It makes real easy to start your own podcast. Thank you to SignalLeaf for supporting Get Up and CODE, and welcome to the show Jessica.
Jessica: Thank you.
John: Yeah. Last time we were here, it was me and Iris. Now, I'm all by myself.
Jessica: Yeah, but you’re doing good.
John: Thanks, thanks. All right, how about you? How have you been?
Jessica: I’ve been okay. It’s been hectic so I'm not hitting the gym 3 times and running 3 times a week all the time, but I think I'm averaging 2 times every week and it’s a lot of late night running.
John: Yeah. It’s good that you’re doing it though. You hit the end of the day and you’re like, “Oh, I didn’t do my run.”
Jessica: Oh, yeah. I know.
John: Tell us a little bit maybe about the plan that we had given you. I know Iris was on the diet side. It was all in Swedish so I couldn’t read it. Maybe if you can give kind of a general idea of what she gave you and then we could talk about what I had planned and how that went.
Jessica: Yeah, sure. The diet was a lot of protein but not meat because I'm allergic to it. A lot of beans and stuff and it’s working great. The only thing I had some problem with, I remember I asked her for 1 or 2 snacks every day. It turns out that I don’t have time to cook snacks. I just need something to grab and go because my life is hectic right now. I adjusted it so I had some calories for the dinners and retracted them for the snacks.
John: I see. Perfect. Okay.
Jessica: It’s working great. I even got a sweet allowance so I could eat some chocolate or cookies, or what sweets or whatever if I wanted to, but I actually found an even better way and that’s soy based chocolate pudding. It’s awesome and it’s only 100 calories.
John: Oh, that’s good, yeah.
Jessica: That’s basically what I'm eating now.
John: Perfect, yeah. There’s like little tricks there. There’s like these certain foods that you can eat that aren’t really bad at all like that like the sugar-free or that soy based pudding. I don’t do it much anymore but there was like the sugar-free Jello. It was like you could eat this whole bowl of Jello.
Jessica: That’s about my feeling with the soy based chocolate pudding because I usually don’t care that much for soy products because they have a bitter aftertaste. This tastes like real chocolate pudding.
John: That’s good. Yeah.
Jessica: It’s awesome so yeah. My fridge is filled.
John: Awesome, awesome.
Jessica: As for the workout, we decided on aiming on 3 times a week at the gym and tried to run 3 times every week. I'm averaging at 2 times each, I think. Because my gym is closing at 8 or 9 on weekdays and it’s closing at 6 on weekends. It’s crazy.
John: Oh, yeah. Yeah, that’s hard.
Jessica: It’s really crazy, yeah. I found a really good class called Body Pump which is basically weightlifting in a group session. It’s awesome and it’s at lunchtime on every Thursday.
John: Well, that’s perfect. Yeah.
Jessica: Yeah. I like that.
John: Yeah. That gives you a routine and then it’s something that’s interesting, as opposed to just the boring, working out by yourself. That’s good.
Jessica: Yeah, exactly because you can trick yourself into, “Oh, yeah. Yeah, I know. I don’t think I can do it anymore.” If you’re in the group and she says you have 8 more, then you do 8 more. That’s more about my character, right?
John: It works pretty well. There’s this one gym I went to when I lived in Santa Monica, California. I think it’s called Bodies in Motion and they had this boxing class with like real heavy bags for boxing. There’s a workout class like an hour class and I just choose to wear myself out because the instructor, he would just be like, “Okay, keep going.” I thought I was done and, “No, no, no. You got more, you got more.” It pushes you further so it’s good to do something like that.
Jessica: Yeah, except you can’t walk the next day.
John: Yeah, yeah.
Jessica: That’s a good feeling. I learned to like that.
John: Yeah. It sounds like that you actually figured out how to modify the diet yourself which is great because that’s what you’d often need to do as long as you’re getting the calorie. The big thing about the diet is it doesn’t matter so much when the calories are consumed, very much, as long as you balance it out like you can figure out. It’s funny because there’s like specifics to the micronutrients, but really at the end of the day it’s just a number of calories. You can allocate that how you want.
Another thing with it is like if you have 2000 calories or whatever or 1500 calories and you eat one big chocolate bar, that whole thing, you’re going to be hungry the rest of the day.
John: You’re still going to lose weight. I forget there was this one professor that did this Twinkie diet and he lost all this weight on Twinkies. He lowered his calories so that’s the key thing.
Jessica: Yeah. I try to aim for 400 calories for each meal, the 3 meals, and then I have what, 300 calories leftovers for snacks or chocolate pudding in this case.
John: How are you feeling with that diet? Are you feeling like you can stick to that or are you having any trouble sticking with that? How’s that part going?
Jessica: No. It’s actually working out good because vegetables is basically no calories. If I want to, I can eat like a huge bowl of salad to my meal. It’s not a problem. Actually, I’ve cut out almost all potato and rice, and stuff and I eat broccoli or vegetables instead because then I can eat more and I get more full.
John: Exactly. You’re adopting the mindset. That’s the mindset. It’s not that chocolate cake is so bad. It’s that I could eat a whole lot more broccoli and other stuff and be full if I don’t eat chocolate cake. That’s the key thing. This is good because if you’re coming to that realization, this is really going to help. Then you’re able to make the choices because it’s the thing that makes the most sense because you know that you’re going to feel better if you eat this thing, eat the healthy food because you could eat a lot more of it. Quantity is important.
Jessica: Yeah and I don’t even feel like I'm on a strict diet.
John: Awesome, awesome.
Jessica: It’s not that complicated to cook either because I found a really lazy way to cook. I just put everything like salmon and vegetables and whatever in an oven safe container, and I put it in the oven. Finished.
John: Yeah, perfect. Okay, yeah. You’ve hit the 2 biggest things and I think it’s figuring out that thing, basically, the healthy foods you get more quantity and you can substitute as much vegetables as you want and then also how to cook them with consistency. Getting to the point where once you get into that, I think a lot of people have trouble adapting to their routine of now they’ve got this diet it’s like they have go through this list of, “Okay, I'm supposed to eat this and I'm supposed to eat this.” Once you’ve settled into that routine, things become so much easier because you know exactly what you have to have, at what time and how to cook it. It just becomes the routine.
Cool. Well, let’s look at are you hitting your goals as far as weight loss on the diet side?
Jessica: No, I'm not. I'm not. I don’t know if I hit some magical threshold or whatever because I can’t seem to stay under 75 kilos. When we started I was 78.1 kilos. That’s 172 pounds, I think. I’ve lost weight but it’s jumping up and down. For instance, 2 weeks I started to weight myself and write this down every day. I'm like 1 day, I can lose 6 pounds and then the next day I gained 2, and then the next day again I gained 2.5. I jumped between 0.6 pounds and 6 pounds every day. It’s really, really jumpy.
John: This is a common problem. You’re not alone with this. Well, there’re a couple of aspects to this. First of all, the more you weigh, the more you’re going to fluctuate. As your weight drops down, then there will be less fluctuation. Percentage wise, we all fluctuate a certain amount of weight, right, just throughout the day.
Well, if you think about it this way, when you wake up in the morning and then you urinate, like if you didn’t eat much the previous night you’re pretty much empty situation, right? You’re going to be at the lowest, probably. Then throughout the day, you’re eating, you’re drinking water. Some foods absorb water better so they stick in your stomach longer, right? If you just drink glasses of water it goes out quickly. If you eat bread and drink water, for example, the bread it absorbs in your stomach and you’re more likely to hold that water. Different times of the month also holding water.
There’s this huge big fluctuation. If you weigh yourself just in one day at the beginning of the day and then you weigh yourself at night, you’re probably going to find—it could be a big difference. I can differ in weight in 10 pounds in a single day especially if I'm on a cheat day. I weigh myself in the morning and then I eat, and then I weigh myself at night.
I wouldn’t be too concerned about this. You just have to realize that this is normal, but there are a couple of things that you can do. This is what I do myself, is to weigh myself every single morning in the same level of dress at about the same time every morning.
Jessica: That’s what I'm doing.
John: Okay. You are doing that. Okay.
Jessica: Yeah. Every morning when I wake up, do my business, and whatever.
John: Okay. That’s going to make sure that that’s going to be as consistent as possible. That’s going to help. The other thing that’s going to happen is I'm pretty sure you’re probably not eating the same exact foods every single day, right?
John: What’s going to happen is on certain days, you’re going to eat certain foods that are going to—maybe your calories are a little bit higher on one day or maybe just the foods that are going to take longer in your system to digest. You’ll probably notice somewhat of a pattern based on the days. That’s going to just be unavoidable. I pretty much eat the same foods everyday now so I don’t have that problem. If you’re eating different foods you’re just going to have to expect that there’s going to be that fluctuation.
What you can do is you can either stop weighing yourself every single day or you can only really count the measurements once a week, if you see what I'm saying. When you look at your measurement don’t worry that, today, you’re 4 pounds heavier than you were yesterday. Look at it and say, “Okay. Every Monday, this is the measurement that counts.” You’ll have a cycle because regardless of if your diet plan is—it should be based on the same week. You might not be eating the same thing every day but you’re in the same thing every week, week in and week out. Then if you weigh yourself on the same day, every Monday, whatever your weight is, that’s the weight that you’re going to track. That can be a little bit more encouraging and that will give you a more true measure.
When I lost a lot of weight, when I went down and lost about a hundred pounds, I weighed myself everyday to know where I was at. I counted the weight every 2 weeks. I had two-week goals and that was my tracking point because I know that the fluctuations would throw me out. I said every 2 weeks you can’t cheat that. It’s going to be pretty accurate at that level. Hopefully, that will help you.
Jessica: Yeah, let’s try that. Because if I look at the statistics, I still see a lot of—like I lost 2 kilos but I don’t see them if I only look at Mondays because then I fluctuate again. Yeah, let’s do every other week instead perhaps.
John: Okay, yeah. Keep track of that. There’s still probably something that we might need to tweak with your diet. If you’re stagnating like you said, if you’re looking at every Monday and you’re saying, “Okay, I'm at a plateau,” there are 2 things that we could do. It seems pretty obvious but there are 2 ways, right? One is we can reduce your calories a little bit. Two is we can increase your cardio a little bit. Which of those 2 sounds more appealing to you?
Jessica: Well, actually, I'm not hitting my calories every day. If I look at this period, if we call it from the third of March until today, I'm actually at 1300, 1320, 15, 1200, 1400, 15 and 1000, and so on and so on. I'm actually quite low already.
John: Oh, I see, okay.
Jessica: I'm guessing cardio.
John: Yeah. We just need to up the cardio a little bit there, and then we also need to check for any kind of leaks in your diet. There’s a two-phase approach here. First thing I want you to do is when you’re going throughout your day and eating, just check for anything that there might be some kind of error in measurement or something that feels like the calorie count might not be quite right.
One big leak that I find in almost everyone’s diet, because you just said you eat a big bowl of salad, is salad dressing. I don’t know.
Jessica: Oh, no dressing.
John: Oh, okay.
Jessica: If I have balsamic vinegar I actually measure it.
John: Oh, okay.
Jessica: I measure everything.
John: Oh, okay. Then you’re ahead of the curve because a lot of people are like oh.
Jessica: I like the statistics.
John: Okay, perfect. Just double check to see if there’s any leaks in the diet, anywhere where the calorie count might not be right like any foods, like you should have a pretty good idea by now from doing this of what the calorie count food should be. If you feel like there’s something that feels like the calorie count that you’re measuring is not quite right like it seems like it should be more calories, let’s double check that just to make sure we close up any problems there.
Let’s monitor that and let’s see if we can increase the cardio a little bit. Rather than you trying to run a lot everyday more, maybe if we can just do something simpler like just throw in 20 minutes of walking each day, that’s going to add up to—20 minutes of walking is probably going to be somewhere around 200 calories. It depends on the person but somewhere between 100, 200 extra calories per day. If you add that 20 minutes of walking every single day you’re going to end up definitely knocking down that … or even if you could just hit it most days, that’s going to be a real simple fix.
Jessica: Yeah, no problem.
John: Okay, yeah. Something like if you’ve got a treadmill at home, then this way you don’t even have to go to the gym. That’s perfect time for reading or even answering e-mail on the computer is the best. That’s when I’d do my walking time. Let’s do that. Like I said, check for leaks in your diet. Obviously, the more time that you can hit the gym and hit the cardio is going to be better because it’s going to make sure that you get those extra calories. See how that goes. Track the Mondays or whatever that consistency of the tracking is. If you still are not seeing a loss then there’s a problem. Then the only choice will have to be to cut calories at some point. It might be just to first just reduce by 100 calories a day for a week and see if that changes anything, until you start to see loss again.
There are only 2 things that we can do, unfortunately, in this equation which is either drop calories or increase calorie burn.
Jessica: Yeah, sounds good.
John: Okay. Let’s see, there was something else I was going to ask you about. Oh, I cannot remember it now. Do you have anything else that you wanted to ask me about about the …
Jessica: I don’t know. I listened to your podcast about the diet. You talked about macros. If I’m looking at an average I’m on Fat Secret. I use Fat Secret to put in all my calories and stuff. They say I’m a 60% fat and about 55 protein, a little over 100 carbs. Yeah.
John: Grams? That would be grams?
Jessica: Oh grams, sorry, grams.
John: Oh okay. That ratio is 50% carbs, 25 fat, 25 protein it sounds like percentage wise, something around there. That’s a little bit higher on the carbs side but without eating meat it’s going to be really hard to hit—I don’t know, I mean one thing that you could do, I don’t know, do you eat eggs?
Jessica: Yeah, I do.
John: Okay, I use that as my main protein source in my diet because that’s an easy thing to cook. It’s very high in protein and I can choose to make it high protein and high fat or just high protein. If I want to do high protein, high fat I just eat the whole egg. If I want to just do only protein then I just do egg white. You can substitute. That might be something that you could do is you could pick one of your carb meals and try to substitute part of the carbs for eggs which will increase your protein. You have to look at where you’re at fat wise because the fat can add a lot of calories. It might be something like doing something like a couple of egg whites and one whole egg to get the right ratio in there.
Jessica: What is a good number for me you think to train for?
John: For macro wise?
John: It depends. I like the balance the 33% of each. For someone who’s not training for any kind of sport or is not trying to get down to a super, super lean, right? I’m trying to gain mass and I’m trying to get super, super lean so I skew it where it’s very low carb, but that’s really hard to follow. It’s only going to be beneficial at that point where you already have lost the weight and now you’re trying to cut to the lowest, lowest. I would say a balance, the 33 of each is a pretty good approach. If you can reduce the carbs more and increase the protein more especially if you’re lifting that’s always good. If you just stick with—because it’s easy to remember, it’s easy to calculate out and it’s going to make sure that you’re on your target if you do it 33, 33, 33.
Jessica: Yeah, let’s try that.
John: Okay. I’m assuming you can probably make the modifications to your diet to be able to do that.
Jessica: Yeah, I think so.
John: Okay. I was trying to remember. There was something else I was going to ask you about the weight loss. I’ll have to think about it. Maybe I’ll email you afterwards and see, but yeah. Are you doing regular lifting in the gym now or?
Jessica: Yeah. I did run into some problems because I have an issue with one of my ribs. It keeps locking so I can’t breathe properly. I have a chiropractor so I go to him 2 times every month so he fixed the problem. He said I need to strengthen my back and shoulders basically. I actually went to the gym asking for help with a PT. He gave me some stuff I could do to strengthen my back. Hopefully I won’t have to go to my chiropractor that often because this locking actually gives me a migraine. Lifting while having a migraine, that’s not fun.
John: Yeah, no. It’s almost impossible.
Jessica: Yeah, same goes for running.
John: Yeah, the blood makes it worse.
Jessica: Yeah, it does and I’m kind of stubborn so I usually take some medication and then I go out running anyway and then I suffer from it when I come home.
John: I guess if he’s given you the exercises—I'm wondering are you able to do the push pull legs routine or?
Jessica: Yeah, I can send you the routine.
John: Okay, perfect.
Jessica: Then you can look it over if I’m missing something because he added some leg strengthening and stuff as well and pushups and whatnots. I still can’t do a pushup on my toes, but I actually can do 10 on my knees now. I started not being able to do one so that’s progress.
John: Okay. What do you think is the hardest part, the hardest struggle you’re facing right now?
Jessica: Time. That’s actually time. Sometimes motivation because when you know you’re keeping to the diet and you know your exercise is there and yet you gain 6 pounds in one day.
John: Yeah, it might be better for you to not step on the scale, just do it once a week. That might help you with the motivation. As far as the time, the best advice I can offer for that is to try to do things first thing in the morning before everything else takes your day. I know it might not be possible. Some people can’t do it, but that’s the one thing. If you can go to bed a little earlier or wake up a little earlier and get the workouts done then that takes it off of your plate and then make sure that you’re not too tired after running around doing all kinds of crazy stuff. It kind of gives you the first priority towards that. If you can’t do that, not everyone can do it but …
Jessica: No, but I can give it a go. I’m not a morning person but I will try anything once.
John: Yeah, I’m not a morning person either but I’ve tried all different times and that works the best for me because you’ve got your most energy, you haven’t been beaten up by the day yet so you’re more likely to get the stuff done especially if you’re prioritizing. At a different point in time weight loss and getting fit might not be as high of a priority because you’ve already hit your goal. When you’re really trying to hit it it definitely makes sense to put that as the very first thing you do in the day in order to keep the motivation, to just make sure that it gets done.
Jessica: Yeah, and hopefully I’m not thinking clear in the morning so I can just go out running before I realize what I’m doing.
John: Right, yeah. Okay, well it sounds like we’ve got—hopefully we got some minor corrections that should put you back on the course. Don’t get discouraged. If you feel like you’re not losing weight, if you feel like you’re not reaching the goals definitely send me an email. We’ll talk more and stuff. We’ll figure out. We’ll have to tweak the equation. Basically like I said, when you get stuck like that we either have to up the calories being burned or we have to downsize the calories being consumed and always checking for leaks in the program. Is there somewhere where some food is more calories than we think it is or something like that. Usually there’s something in there. If we really are not figuring out what’s going on, we can start substituting foods out and we can start saying, “Okay, well this thing looks like it might be a suspect, so let’s try cutting this one out for a week and replacing it with something else and then let’s see where you end up at.”
Jessica: Sounds good.
John: Hey, John here. I’m quickly interrupting this episode because after the episode ended, after we were done recording I was actually speaking to Jessica and we found out that she was actually on target. When we actually went through the exercise of figuring out what her rate was of how many calories she should be burning and how much she should be losing it turned out we were right. I included that section. The audio quality is not quite as good because it’s just using the Skype call recorder but I thought that would be interesting for you guys and gals to hear and to see how we actually arrived at how many calories she should be burning and how much weight she should be losing and then calculate that it was the right amount. Here it is.
Jessica: Now, I’m curious to what the question you had was.
John: I can’t remember what it was. It was a good one too. It was something along the calories.
Jessica: I hate when that happens.
John: I know it will come to me now. I’m trying to think what it was. I remember what the question was now. I was going to ask you what your goal was for weight loss per week.
Jessica: Yeah, well, my goal and my wishes is not the same. I mean I wish I could lose 3 pounds every week but that’s not healthy. I know about 1 or 2 pounds.
John: That was one of the things—yeah, that would have been good to get in there. Do you know what your maintenance calories are right now?
Jessica: I think 1800. That’s like my base metabolic rate or whatever, right?
John: Right, exactly. Then you’re eating around 14 or 15 a day?
Jessica: Yeah, 1500. I’m aiming for 1500 but some days I’m only at 13 and a few days I’m at 1000 and at some days I’m like 1550 or 1600 or something but I’m averaging at 1500.
John: Okay, so we’re looking at like if you’re averaging 1500 then we’re looking at like a 300 calorie deficit on average.
Jessica: I found a BMR calculator and today I’m 75.7 and I am—where’s the result? I hit calculate and nothing happened. Oh here, no they say 1513.
John: Well, and then you’ve got to multiply it times that multiplier which should be …
Jessica: There 1500.
John: It should be the Harris-Benedict equation.
Jessica: Yeah, but they didn’t have a calculator for it.
John: If we said lightly active.
Jessica: Yeah, it’s better to be on the safe side, right?
John: Yeah, that would be times 1.375.
Jessica: Yeah, 1.375 times 1513 so 2080.
John: Okay. At 2080 let’s say 2000 to be on the safe side then if you’re at 1500 calories so 500 calorie deficit so that should be the pound a week.
Jessica: And exercise so I should lose more I think.
John: Well here we’re kind of counting with the lightly active. We’re kind of counting that in there. Just to be on the safe side we should be aiming at 1 pound a week. It is definitely hard to measure 1 pound a week because of the fluctuation. I would say if you’re sticking to everything then every 2 weeks you should see a 2 pound difference. That should be a more clear measurement. If in 2 weeks you see an increase or you don’t see a drop of at least 1 pound we’ve got a problem. If you do, you’re okay, but that would be the warning sign if you see an increase, you don’t see a drop or if the drop isn’t at least 1 pound then there’s a problem.
Jessica: I think this is the sixth week and if we’re looking to what I weigh today I think I have some water weight because I’m on my period but then I’ve lost—oh, then I’m on target. Really? Huh, who knew?
John: So keep going. You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to take this part, because I’m still recording with the Skype Recorder and I think I’ll try and get this audio into the podcast because I think this would be valuable. I’ll just put a little thing in between that says, “Oh, I did talk to Jessica right after the interview and we did figure out that she is probably on target here.”
Jessica: Yeah, because I was 78.5 kilos and now I’m 75.7 so that’s 3 kilos and 3 kilos is basically 6 pounds.
John: Okay, yeah. Just keep it up and then like I said, the warning will be when you go for a 2-week period and you don’t see at least a pound drop. Then if that happens call me up, email me and we’ll talk and we’ll figure out what’s going on. It may be that you’ve lost enough weight that your maintenance calories are dropping down.
Jessica: I’m really surprised. I’m really, really surprised. It’s 6.6 pounds.
Jessica: Now, I feel stupid.
John: It feels so slow that’s the thing. Then when you’re weighing everyday it throws you off because you keep on seeing—you don’t realize that it’s over time. That’s why that 1 episode or 3 episodes back I think I was talking about the numbers so much is because the numbers are so important. If you’re hitting the numbers thermodynamics says you’re going to have to have weight loss. It has to happen.
Jessica: Okay, now I feel better.
John: Awesome. Thanks for being on the show and good luck with your work out.
Jessica: Thank you.
John: Everyone listening if you want to find Get Up and Code online you can go to getupandcode.com and I’d really appreciate it if you would check us out on iTunes if you subscribe on iTunes or if you could just leave a review if you like the show, it kind of helps other people to find the show out there. Have a good week and have good work outs. Take care.