I don’t know about you, but when I start working out I want to see results quickly. I mean, if I’m putting in the effort, my energy’s up, and I’m committed, why shouldn’t I automatically start dropping weight? Is five pounds per week too much to ask for? Apparently so.
In fact, the gods of fitness decided to play a joke on me during week three of my Orangetheory Fitness Weight Loss Challenge. I was sooooo proud of myself. I’d stuck with this workout thing for three whole weeks! That’s longer than some relationships last! And for this chronic exercise avoider, it was a flat-out miracle. I’d been going to the late-
I imagine the conversation between the fitness gods happened as they were working out on their cloud, and went something like this:
“Oh Lars, god of sculpted abs and bulging biceps, look at that human huffing and puffing on her little treadmill! How amusing!”
“Why yes, Gelda, mighty goddess of physical power, endurance, and badassery, her little legs are just a-flying, aren’t they? Ha ha ha! What say we perform a bit of mischief?”
“Oh, do tell, Lars! What do you have in mind?”
“Rather than her losing pounds, let’s add some to her body!”
“Lars, you are SOOOOOO BAD! I love it!”
And so it was. During class, I would start on the treadmill, and spend most of my time at a four or six percent incline, at a pace of 3.7, and work up a good sweat. I’d get on the rower and I could feel that I was stronger. Same with the weights—I was able to do more reps before I felt like my muscles were melting. So at the end of week three I thought, “I’m gonna weigh myself and see where I’m at.” All the while of course, assuming that I had actually LOST a few pounds. But oh no.
I stood on the scale, and it said I was up two pounds. I got back off the scale. It had to have made a mistake. I got back on the scale. It said the same thing. I had gained two pounds. Dammit!
I admit it. I freaked. How could this be? I was actually sticking with my workouts! I hadn’t bailed once! And I could tell that I was shrinking. My stomach was a little flatter, my face seemed a little thinner. So what gives? Dejected, I had a little heart-to-heart with Doug. Doug was the trainer for my last class in week three. And as luck (and the fitness gods) would have it, he was also a nutrition expert.
First off, Doug calmed me down by telling me that gaining weight when you start working out is actually normal. I had never heard this. He said when you start working out regularly, your body doesn’t know what to think, so it struggles to find a new balance and adapt.
OK, I guess that makes sense.
Doug said I should be more concerned about body composition change than weight loss. I had definitely noticed that my clothes were looser and I had more energy. That’s a good sign. Then we started talking nutrition.
Oh yeah. Nutrition. I had kind of forgotten about that.
“So what do you typically eat? And how often?” he asked me. I told him that I was trying to make better choices. I’d start most mornings with a protein meal shake. Then I’d try to eat a sensible lunch, maybe a veggie burger and quinoa, or a sandwich and some snap pea crisps (much better for you than potato chips, right?). For dinner it could be anything. Hubs is the chef in our house so I’m down to eat whatever he’s cooking.
Of course, I may have neglected to mention that a lot of times, as Hubs is creating his culinary masterpieces, we “might” do some snacking. Some dinner pre-gaming, you could call it. And during the day, when I want a snack, I’ll often have some nuts. Not just a few, though. Way more than the portion size (who actually COUNTS out nuts to eat?!) listed on the container. I told myself that nuts are a healthy choice because they’re not chips (can you tell that I love chips?) but those little buggers have a lot of fat. You can say it’s good fat. But the bottom line is, it’s still fat.
And of course, we do enjoy a drinkipoo or two throughout the week. Whether it’s wine with dinner or one of Hubs’ amazing bourbon cocktails, we like to get our drink on.
Doug recommended that I think of my food intake like a pyramid, where breakfast is the largest meal of the day and the others get subsequently smaller. That’s the complete opposite of how I have always eaten. For me, dinner is always the big meal, the one you really share with family and friends. It is a social event. That would be a big change.
He also suggested that I go by the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the time I am eating healthy and staying pretty strict, but 20% of the time I let myself have a little leeway. Of course he did specify that “leeway” did not mean I could eat an entire canister of cinnamon rolls.
OK. It was time for the reckoning. I had to drastically improve my eating habits.
I went home and dramatically announced to Hubs that we (yes, “we”—I can’t change my eating habits without the help of the chef) had to overhaul our pantry, fridge, and how we shop for groceries. He looked at me like I had lost it. And I kind of had. Because ultimately, I was trying to lose weight/inches.
So we did. We went through our pantry and got rid of things that weren’t so great for us. Then we made a grocery list and really tried to think of items that would be healthy for meals and snacks that we would actually want to eat. We also made a commitment to lessen our portion sizes.
Overall, it’s been working. I can tell that I get full more quickly so my stomach is shrinking (yay!) I’m eating smaller snacks throughout the day rather than focusing on big meals at certain times. And Hubs and I decided to abstain from cocktails for a while (just to see what difference that makes.) I feel lighter and better.
Here’s hoping it sticks.