Throughout 3 straight months of cardiac rehab (3 days a week, no exception), I marveled as I steadily lost weight and began reshaping my body in my 50's. You see, my body was jolted into activity after more than 2 years with no exercise routine!
Those three days a week, (with heart monitors on) I walked on an incline of 6 at a speed of 3.0 for 20 minutes, and then rode a recumbent bike for 25 minutes at high speed (and with music, of course).
Losing weight and reshaping my body became tremendously motivating during a time that I was overhauling my entire lifestyle! (We're talking work, meal planning, sleep, relaxation, and exercise.)
For the first time in more than a decade, I had fun stepping on the scale EVERY SINGLE DAY to see if I'd lost more weight from my diet & exercise effort. I was rewarded with the "number" either staying put or going down. (This is a dangerous game I also played back in high school, when I became borderline anorexic)
After finishing cardiac rehab, it was time for me to use self-discipline and go to my gym on my own schedule and stick to it. So I did. Four (4) to five (5) days a week! In addition to the 45 minutes of cardio, I got back into strength training with free weights (plus a few machines) to power me up and feel the gratification of toning my body and building muscle. And then, one day I stepped on the scale in March, and my weight had gone UP a few pounds! Say what? This made no sense and made me panic because I was working so hard. I quickly did a mental review trying to figure out what I did wrong to cause weight gain. I started reaching out to professional trainers to answer the question I already knew the answer to: "Am I gaining weight because muscle weighs more than fat or is that a myth and I'm kidding myself?"
Every trainer I spoke to, even my cardiologist, told me to STOP WEIGHING MYSELF every day! I was reticent about this at first, but then weaned myself away. One very wise (and very fit) friend of mine who is a trainer told me she removed scales from her home (she has teenage daughters and doesn't want them to fall into unhealthy habits) and relies on how clothing fits on her body. She believes that if I do my workouts consistently and eat well, I'll continue getting the results I'm expecting! Damn that scale. Fast-forward just one month after deciding to ditch the scale and focus solely on doing my high-voltage workouts and paying attention to how clothes FEEL on my body, and more importantly, how I FEEL IN my body, and I'm very happy with ME!
I was pleased to recently read this article on the topic of why exercise causes weight gain. It's spot on and validates what I THOUGHT was true. Enjoy the read, my friends.
If You Aren't Losing Weight With Exercise, This Could Be the Reason, According to an Expert
By Tamara Pridgett (Originally posted on 6-9-19 on Pop Sugar)
It's natural to assume that exercise can help you achieve your fitness goals like running a 5K or weight loss. But if you've been exercising religiously and noticed that the numbers on the scale have gone up, you may be concerned, and rightfully so.
It is possible to lose weight without exercise, but the reason is complicated. To find out why working out can lead to weight gain and why you might lose weight without exercise, POPSUGAR spoke to Rondel King, MS, CSCS, an exercise physiologist at NYU Langone's Sports Performance Center.
Why Exercise Causes Weight Gain
If you've been going hard in the gym and noticed that your weight has increased, you shouldn't panic. According to King, "If you're an individual and you're exercising and you're gaining more weight, it can be weight in the form of gaining muscle . . . so the scale will play a trick on you." If you're lifting weights, you're going to burn fat and build muscle, and you can potentially put on weight because of this. These 19 women got lean and transformed their bodies although their weight increased.
If you find that you're gaining fat with exercise, King said, "It can mean that you're stressing your body too much and you have that stress response [called overtraining]." Overtraining is exactly what it sounds like. You're working out too much, which puts an excessive amount of stress on your body. This elicits a stress response in your body, which can lead to weight gain, King explained. The most obvious symptoms of overtraining are disrupted sleep, disrupted energy levels, a decrease in performance, and consistently becoming sick.
Why You May Lose Weight When You're Not Exercising
Just because you gain weight from strength training doesn't mean there's anything wrong. Instead of letting the scale dictate your success, consider how you feel and how you look. Cutting back on exercise may lead to minor weight loss, but we don't recommend nixing exercise from your workout plan in order to lose weight.
Instead, you've got to find a balance between training and rest days to prevent excessively stressing your body. If you've lost weight without exercise, it may be because you're losing muscle mass. Second, your stress hormones may have leveled out and as a result led to weight loss. You could potentially have a metabolic disease that can cause your weight to fluctuate, and in that case we recommend speaking to an expert like an endocrinologist. Once you've figured out the exercise end of things, you've also got to look at your diet.
Nutrition Also Affects Weight Loss
We say it all the time, but you cannot outwork a bad diet. What we mean by this is that no matter what you do for exercise, if your nutrition isn't on point, you more than likely won't obtain the results you're after. We also can't stress enough that diet is not universal. What may work for you may not work for someone else. In general, we recommend eating more minimally processed whole foods. If you're looking for specific nutrition advice, we suggest reading this post on what you should eat to lose weight and working with a registered dietitian.
Remember, the scale doesn't necessarily paint the entire picture. If your goal is to lose weight, we recommend doing a combination of strength training and cardio three to five days a week. If you're experiencing any symptoms of overtraining, scale back and allow your body to recover in order to lose weight. When in doubt, reach out to a personal trainer or another specialist who can help guide you.