The Discouraging Workout Bloat

In July, I finally bit the bullet and signed up at my local gym! After 2 months of going regularly, the novelty of  a new gym membership has worn off a bit and my job has become more demanding as I become more acquainted with the product process. It seems that I have leveled off to going to the gym on average 4 times a week. I usually try to do Cardio Kickboxing sessions 2x/week, Body Combat classes 2x/week, and a Body Step class every other Sunday.

With all this new found activity, plus the sometimes physical nature of my job, you would think that pounds would be flying off me! While I feel as though I have lost some weight and feel SO much stronger and fit, I’m a little upset that my most self-conscious part of my body has GROWN. That’s right, this apple-shaped lady is complaining about THE TUMMY.

fatmouse

Figure. The infamous leptin-free mouse from like every Biology textbook. I’m not talking about hormone regulation of hunger at all in this blog entry, but this fat mouse is how I feel like some days.

Oddly enough, my waist felt the most slim when I didn’t workout at all! It is really upsetting to work so hard to try to be fit and healthy and not see the results you want. While I knew I wasn’t going to be lean after just a few months of going to the gym, I was hoping at the very least that my tummy would proportionally decrease along side the other fatty bits.

So, I went digging around online to see if this was a common thing. I found this great article from Live Strong: http://www.livestrong.com/article/439058-feeling-bloated-after-a-workout/

There are two reasons that stood out to me:

1) Water Retention

Live Strong points out:

“The amount of sodium in your body has to be in the right proportion to the amount of blood plasma. “

When you start a new exercise routine suddenly (like I did), it can send quite a shock to the system. It can be hard to keep track of how much fluids you are losing from sweat versus the right amount of intake you need to replenish.

Starving yourself of water (otherwise known as dehydration) may confuse your body into thinking you need to conserve the fluids remaining, decreasing the amount of sweat you produce. Alternatively, overhydrating yourself may cause a saturation of water within the body. Either way, the body is retaining fluid due to an imbalance of water intake and outtake and solutes concentrations.

water-JungleBook

Figure. For being an organism made almost completely of water, you would think it would be easier to keep properly hydrated.

2) Diet

I think this is the main culprit in my scenario. Increasing activity leads to increased appetite. Why? Because you are burning more calories, which calls for more energy, which can be fueled by delicious food! As I mentioned earlier, I felt way slimmer before I started going to the gym. The reason why is most likely because I ate less. I really didn’t eat as much food before as I do now because my body wasn’t hungry as often since it wasn’t doing much.

Now it’s the complete opposite! I need to eat at certain times and constantly snack to keep my tummy quiet.

hungerclock

Figure. Err’y day I’m shufflin’ stuffin’ mah face.

I think that I have been overeating despite my exercise efforts. I have started keeping a food log again using the free mobile app My Fitness Pal for the Android. It’s a really great, visual way to see what my eating habits are. It also keeps me conscious of the time of day and frequency of my eating (I log in my food intake real time!) and raises my awareness the calorie content and portion sizes of what I am eating. Plus, I love that I can use the bar scanner on my phone to get the calorie info fast!

SC20130830-213747

Figure. A screenshot of my very own My Fitness Pal entry! As you can see, I’m not really aggressively looking to lose weight fast. I’m more concerned about not gaining.

I used http://www.my-calorie-counter.com/calorie_calculator.asp to loosely estimate my Basal Metabolic Rate  to maintain my current weight (2147 calories per day). However, I’m trying to loose a pound per week. It takes 3500 calories to burn one pound. 3500 calories/7 days in a week = I need to consume 700 calories less than my daily BMR to lose 1 pound per week (2147-700=1447). I know that my goal according to the screenshot is 1350 calories, and the calculation yields about 1447 calories, but again these are just guidelines.

And finally, for some RE-MOTIVATION to go and work out despite some minor hiccups along the way, please read this hysterical Oatmeal comic on running. Not only is it funny, but it’s also really inspiring.

For the all 6 of the comic parts, go here: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running

running_2theblerch1_Oatmeal

Figure. A funny Oatmeal comic! I guess everyone has their own personal demon to conquer when exercising. The important thing is to know how to try to overcome it!

Best of luck with all your healthy endeavors!

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