Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Ability to Defy the Laws of Nature

I had a crazy intense week of workouts before my last weekly weigh-in on Friday.  The previous Saturday I ran 8 miles.  On Monday I lifted weights in the morning, ran 3 miles over lunch, and played basketball that night.  On Tuesday I ran 4 miles in the morning with pull-ups and dips then swam for about 45 minutes that night.  On Wednesday, I lifted weights in the morning and ran 3 miles at lunch.  Finally on Thursday, I ran 5 miles in the morning.  My appetite had increased with the extensive workouts along with my portion sizes and I indulged in some cookies and chips, but nothing like I used to do.  When I got on the scale Friday morning I had gained 5 pounds in one week!

The science behind weight gain (as I know it) would tell me that I had consumed 17,500 more calories than I had burned (3500 cal/lb x 5 lbs).  Although I did increase my intake, I can promise you that there is no way in hell I consumed that many more calories than I burned.  I cannot even fathom the luxury of consuming that many calories in a week where I never worked out at all!

So the gain was a complete mystery to me and I was pissed.  I communicated with my accountability group about being less passive about reporting and suggested logging exercise and/or food.  The response has been mostly positive, as a few others have expressed some frustration and complacency.

I wish I could tell you that I turned over a new leaf immediately, but that would not be the truth.  Friday at noon was cold and windy with the threat of rain, so I chose not to run over lunch.  I was unable to run on Saturday as we had a family engagement to attend early that day, and while away for the weekend I indulged as if I had lost 5 pounds the past week.  I recommitted myself on Monday morning and lifted weights, ran 3 miles over lunch and played basketball that night.  I watched what I ate and was conscious of the foods I was eating. 

I stepped on the scale this morning just to see where I stood, figuring that I would either be the same or maybe even have gained considering my sloth-like behavior over the weekend.  Nope.  I have lost 3 pounds since Friday!  Holy crap!  This makes no sense to me, and it all seems to defy the laws of nature.  I can work my ass off for 7 days, eat a little bit extra and gain 5 pounds, or I can eat like shit for 2 days, workout for one, and lose 3 pounds!

My friend, Mira, has mentioned in the past that sometimes one should workout less and eat more, which she admits sounds counter-intuitive, but I think my experience over the last few days serve as a fine example of what she was talking about.

I really want to be focused on weight loss over the next few weeks.  I have about 15 weeks until the Bike MS ride on June 23 and 24.  I would really like to be down to 175 by that time.  Mathematically it works out to 1.33 pounds per week, or burning 4655 calories more than I consume.  We will see if the laws of math work out better than the laws of science. 


  1. First of all, that picture is really creeping me out.

    Next - I totally feel your frustration. But before you completely freak out, you need to take a look at the big picture. If you really didn't consume 17,500 more calories, then the weight "gain" was probably just water weight. Hence the "loss" the next week. Worry more about your habits than that number on the scale. Easier said than done!
    Also, pay attention to your fatigue. If you are struggling to stay at half the intensity you usually put forth, then you're probably overtraining and need to cut back, or you may need more calories.

    1. What are you talking about? That picture is awesome!

      I had considered the water weight thing, but the "reality" of the scale is overwhelming. It is the easiest source of confirmation and the greatest source of frustration. My habits are good, I simply want the scale to reflect the same.

      The fatigue thing is a concern at times, but (this may sound weird to others) I enjoy the workouts that I am doing. I have found a good mix of activities that are useful and entertaining. Currently, I don't want to give any of them up.

  2. I'll keep saying it. Body weight should never be your only measure of progress. If you're consistently lifting weights (or doing body weight exercises) you could be adding muscle. That's good weight. That's why the math of counting calories doesn't work. There are too many variables. Take multiple measurements (weight, body fat %, body size measurements, etc.)

    I encourage you to think bigger. You've got the hardest part figured out. You show up. You're committed. You do this and you will keep doing this. You're on the right path. Now: What are your real goals? Why are you doing this? Are you in the best possible shape for what it is you want to accomplish? Answer those questions and maybe the concerns about your weight go away (or are diminished.)

    Food for thought. Low calorie food, of course.

    1. I know you are right (when needed, you can let your wife know I said that). I sincerely believe that I am building muscle and even with the holiday weight gain my waistline has stayed the same or even shrank slightly. So all other indicators are showing signs of success.

      One possible problem may be my weigh in group. Every week I have to weigh in and report my findings. And depending on those results, I evalauate my success and/or failure. The scale is an easy estimator and useful, but maybe the regular reporting of its readings is damaging my psyche.

      Is getting fitter (more fit?) an appropriate goal? I am not sure how to measure it. I like the new workouts I have added and constantly think about adding/changing more. Really I just enjoy the challenges of new things/goals/races.

      I am not sure that is an answer.