September 14, 2010

The freak of exercise science

I’m working from home, and while that doesn’t mean playtime, it does give me the flexibility to work longer hours but take breaks in the middle to take care of errands and such. Lately, I’ve also been going to the gym twice a day (in an effort to get rid of the tummy I’ve been gradually developing since I stopped running marathons). I started my hardcore workouts at the end of August when I was in Chicago for training (and was competing in that fitness challenge), and three weeks later, I’m definitely into the routine – I feel like a sloth if I only hit the gym once a day, and not getting any kind of workout in has become inexcusable. Woo hoo!

While complaining to my friend Adam about my 10 pound weight gain since June, he made the astute point that “stopping running marathons will do that.” But… you have to keep in mind that when I was doing marathons, that was mostly my only workout for the week. If I’m working out 10 hours/week now (on average), that’s a heck of a lot more than 4-4.5 hours/week back then. I’m mostly doing cardio – probably only doing weights once/week or so – for the simple reason that it’s a lot easier to get myself motivated for a hard session on the elliptical or bike because I can distract myself with a TV show or book; with weights, it’s just me and the machines (or free weights; I do both when I get around to lifting). Today, I did 45 minutes on the stationary bike in the morning (12 miles covered, so a pretty good pace), and then 45 minutes just now on the elliptical (5 miles covered in 45:12 – REALLY great pace for the elliptical, which I find harder to get mileage than just running on the treadmill). So I’m hardly slacking!

Now, has my diet been perfect? Hardly, as evidenced by Saturday night’s wine and cheese binge. But honestly, sometimes I think I’m a freak of exercise science – my weight has always depended much more on what I’m eating than how I’m working out. Anyone else have that problem?


8 thoughts on “The freak of exercise science”

  1. I have this issue and it drives me nuts. Increasing my exercise does absolutely nothing for me and I find it so frustrating b/c I like exercising more than I like watching what I eat. 🙂

  2. it makes sense that if your diet is not in the right place, you won’t see much result from the exercise. The calories in the cheese+crackers+wine+desserts add up so much faster than the gym time – if you are doing something pretty intense like running or busting a*s on the elliptical you might burn 500 or 600 kcal/hour and even at 10 hours a week, you won’t have much wiggle room for weight loss without cutting back on the extras.

  3. Hey Laura, I feel like I have this issue too, so it’s not just you! I think it’s probably also because the more I exercise, the hungrier I am, so I probably don’t have any more of a calorie deficit than when I’m exercising less, i.e. I have seen no correlation in my weight increases/decreases based on my weekly mileage…I have the same issue whether I’m running 30 miles a week (when I’m not training for a marathon) or 50+ miles a week (when I am).

    I have found that incorporating a really good strength workout at least twice a week seems to make a big difference. I was doing this once a week before, and I feel a huge difference in how my body feels simply adding 1 more strength workout a week. I also know that I make healthier choices and keep my calories down a bit more when I track what I eat most days (I’m not too obsessive about this– so if I’m going out to eat with friends I don’t worry about guesstimating my foods, though I have gotten pretty good at it, but just try to choose healthier items). Those two things combined, along with marathon training have FINALLY allowed me to get to the lowest weight I’ve been at since freshman year of college (and I’m 27). I have to say I have cut back on the drinking too though :\ (this also has to do with the fact that my bf of 9 months rarely drinks -though is very social- whereas my previous longterm boyfriend drank like most the rest of us)

    I’ve learned to be really careful though- trying to keep calorie intake too low or not getting enough carbs can definitely sabotage marathon training!

  4. It is definitely more about what you eat – my workouts have stayed consistent (4-6x a week; 80% cardio 20% weights; half marathon training) for the past year and I’m up 20 lbs from my all time low (which I was only at for about 1 week by the way!).

    Unfortunately it takes about 5 minutes to eat back all the calories you just spent an hour (or more) burning while exercising.

    I feel like I should be more upset about this than I am; but I know I have come so far and am a lot healthier than I was when I started out in January 2008!

  5. Hey, girlie — I’m very similar. I workout at least an hour every day (Fridays are rest days), but more if I’m training for races and putting in more miles. I can definitely gain weight if I don’t pay attention to what I’m eating, with sugary baked goods being the usual suspect if I put on a few pounds.

    That being said, it takes awhile for your body’s metabolism to even out, so you don’t necessarily want to trick it into thinking that your two-a-days are going to be the default–those are hard to keep up! Don’t beat yourself up if you indulge sometimes or if you skip a workout!

  6. Haha – What can I say, I call ‘em like I see ‘em. Your two a days will melt that right away. Well, that and the marathons that you have planned in like a week. 🙂

  7. Beth – the problem is that the binges really don’t happen that often 🙁

    Greta – I think you’re right. I really need to work on the strength training!

  8. Don’t worry, you aren’t a freak of exercise science at all! Most studies have concluded that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. Exercise becomes more important for weight maintenance.

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