I've generally eaten low carbs ever since I started my weight loss journey. It just seemed more natural to me. But I have decided to take a dip into this paleo lifestyle. Although I agree with a more moderate consumption of carbs (100-150g) vs <50g, I'm open to trying it out. Once my finals are done on Monday I plan on going full paleo for 30 days.
I've been reading many posts throughout this forum and marksdailyapple to try to get an idea for a better approach to my diet and exercise routine as I continue my weight loss journey. And although I have a good grasp on the basics, it's the technicalities that kind of confuse me. The information is rather inconsistent when it comes to certain topics. Which is why I'm here to ask for a second opinion. I know it ultimately depends on me via n=1. But a second opinion from people who have more experience cannot hurt.
With that said, I'm 5'1; 145lbs; moderately active female. My goal weight is ~105-115lbs. I generally workout 5-6 days a week doing some type of cardio, as well as strength training on alternating days. My cardio workouts consisted of 60min high intensity elliptical. Between 7-9 on the perceived exertion scale. My strength training consists of ab workouts with a heavy medicine ball, squats, lunges, as well as isolated weight lifting machines (different muscle groups on different days), and an occasional workout video like 30DS or Insanity if I couldn't make it to the gym. Since easing more into paleo, I have cut the intensity of my workouts to a perceived exertion of 4-5 while increasing my duration to ~75-90min. Basically it feels like a hike in the park to me. I also mix in short bursts of really intense activity for 30 seconds a few times throughout my workout. Isn't this what I should be aiming for? Is 90min too much? This workout does not leave me exhausted. It makes me feel like I could workout for another couple of hours. On the other hand, my intense workouts left me feeling.. accomplished, I suppose. They drained me of my energy so it was easier for me to relax afterwards. I think I felt better? But I'm not sure if that's simply a mental thing. I don't know what's better, lower intensity or if I should go back to higher intensity?
As for my diet, I'm coming from a background of counting calories--most of my conventional knowledge is rooted in counting calories. It's a little hard for me to break away from that concept. I have been losing on 1700 calories a day, but recently have stalled despite exercising regularly and keeping to a relatively clean diet. I've been yo-yoing around the 140's. Whenever I get lower, I seem to spring back up to this weight. And although I am a little thinner right now than I was when I weighed less back in March, my body has still stayed relatively the same for a long time. While counting calories I have found out that I do not lose weight on 1500 calories.. I gain. My diet consists of lots of veggies, eggs, a little bit of dairy (milk, cheese yogurt.. I don't have dairy issues), meats, nuts, and about a serving of fruit (typically berries). I used to eat about 2/3cup of rolled oats in the morning and 1/2c-1c of grain or starch (potatoes or buckwheat). But have cut back to an occasional 1/3c oats or 1/2c sweet potato.
Which brings me to my next issue. Should I count calories or not? I have this mentality that if I don't count calories in order to eat enough then it will just be counter productive. Or what if 1700 calories is too much? I believe that energy in vs energy out does have an effect on weight. But it seems that the paleo community is split on this. Some think calories don't matter, while others do. Should I continue counting? Or should I stop and just eat until satiety even on days that I only eat <1200 calories a day? I feel like if I didn't keep track of it, and only ate when I'm hungry, then I would not be reaching my protein intake goals, and I definitely wouldn't be getting the recommended amount of high fat. Wouldn't this be counter productive...
This also ties into my next question. To eat or not to eat? I know the general opinion around here is to eat when you're hungry, and not eat when you're not hungry. But if I'm only eating like 800 calories a day... that can't possibly be healthy, ya know? I'm having trouble reading my hunger signals. I'm not ravenous anymore like I was on a high carb diet. I wake up not hungry. I can go half the day not being hungry. I only have a very subtle buzz in my head/emptyness in my stomach. But I don't perceive it as, "Okay, you're hungry you need food NOW". I could go on for a couple more hours before I actually make myself eat a meal. But I'm not low on energy. I'm not worn out or feel the need to nap. This aspect definitely confuses me a lot. My common sense tells me my body needs food and it's not healthy to be eating so little. I don't have an eating disorder. But I'm a bit worried that maybe my mind is suppressing my urge to eat even further when I should actually be eating? I can't really tell if I'm actually hungry or if I'm not. I've grown accustom to this "empty feeling" and slightly buzzed feeling because when I crash dieted a couple years ago I was so used to it. (On my 1700 calorie diet I made sure to eat regularly even if I wasn't really hungry. I ate until I was full, grazed on the leftovers as snacks throughout the day until my next meal). I wonder if this feeling is more of an adaptation to calorie restriction rather than a my metabolism being regulated. Should I aim to establish a regular eating pattern? Or should I just continue the way I am only eating when I strongly feel like eating?
Anddd a quick question about carb intake. I easily eat 1-2cups of veggies with every single meal. This easily adds up to 100g of carbs a day from veggies alone. Should I cut back drastically if I want to go VLC? Or am I fine eating that amount? I don't really get full unless I incorporate a lot of raw veggies into each meal.
I know this is ridiculously long and newbish. I thank you for taking the time to read this and respond! I understand there really is no "right" or "wrong" answer to any of these questions. But I'd love to take all of your opinions into consideration to formulate a plan for myself based off of your experiences to find what works for me. :)