Monday, August 8, 2011

How my weight has gone this season

Way back last year, I made a post to this blog saying that I was not going to freak out about my weight this winter. I knew I'd go up a few pounds in Dec. and Jan. and I knew they'd come off again when I started doing longer workouts in Feb. and March. As part of "not freaking out," I decided not to blog every time my weight fluctuated.

So, it's August and I'm a few weeks out from Ironman Canada. What happened to my weight during this time?
I did go up in the winter. I did freak out about it here and there. But I did my best not to.

I also started doing a lot of strength workouts and I gained enough muscles that the changes were visible. This led to me being pretty hungry and I know that I also gained some fat around this time. It is very hard to gain muscles without also gaining fat. This is why bodybuilders alternate bulking up periods with leaning out periods (called cutting).

My endurance training got off to a slow start this season. Last year I did a Century Ride (100 mi) in Feb. but this year in April, I elected to do a metric Century (100k, 65 mi) instead. So I didn't start leaning out in Feb or March as I had the year before. However, I did eventually up my volume and the extra fat did burn off.

At this point, my weight on the scale is as high as it's ever been since I called "goal," but I still fit into all the same clothes I fit in at my lowest weight. My arms are an inch bigger around due to muscle. My calfs are an inch smaller around due to losing fat. My thighs are about the same but are less jiggly as an equal volume of muscle has replaced the fat. My back has more muscle and you can no longer see my spine. Or my ribs for that matter. It's an inch bigger around. I also am an inch bigger around the bust area. I'm keeping that fat if I can!

I am also bigger in the hips and waist but not the stomach. This I'm less thrilled with. 

Some of this is due to loose skin as the fat goes away and the skin hangs more. But some is due to having more visceral fat than I did two years ago. This leads to more of a muffin top than I've had in the past, which is annoying. I would like to get rid of some of that but not be so thin there as I was when I got to my lowest weight. So I'm guessing we're talking about 1-2 pounds of fat that I consider extraneous.

In the meantime, my weight on the scale fluctuates a lot more than it did when I was on the way down. At my lowest, I'd see numbers anywhere from 109 to 114 but mostly I saw 112-113. If people asked me my weight, I'd say 113 (and that's what it says on my driver's license). At the two year mark, I'd see numbers more like 114-117 and I considered my weight to be 115. In the winter I'd see 115-119 and I considered my weight to be 117 and the difference was definitely fat that I didn't want.

These days I see numbers anywhere from 117 to 124. But mostly I'm seeing 119-121. When asked my weight, I say 120. It's a nice round number.

I believe the wider spread is due to carbs. I am often trying to top off my glycogen stores prior to big races and after the races they are gone. So, after a race I will see 117 and at random intervals leading up to the race I see 124. But I don't think my SIZE has changed. It's just that putting on a pound of glycogen means putting on 3 pounds of water.

I am about to embark on another round of heavy strength training that will continue through the Fall and Winter. I don't know if this will mean I gain more muscle or not. I am not particularly concerned one way or another. I want to be stronger and, if that comes with more muscle tissue and a higher weight on the scale, so be it.

While my weight has "bounced back" a bit from my lowest point and while there is slightly more fat in my middle than I'd like, I don't actually consider that I've regained. I consider it more that my body composition has changed and mostly for the better. 

The problem with depending on your weight as the sole measure of attractiveness and health is that weight only roughly correlates to size. Sure, at 225, I was a big fat woman and not as healthy as I could be. At 185, I was less fat and also healthier. Same with when I weighed 150 and 130.

But at some point after that, the correlation got much weaker. In the past two years, I've been 118 and had all my clothes be tight (in the Winter when not working out much) and been 118 and had them all be loose (in the summer before big races). So now I'm 120 when I was 113 but five of those seven pounds is muscle and that's awesome.

I plan to write more about this in a separate posting so stay tuned...
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