So you’ve just signed up for a membership at your local gym, or you just began working with a trainer, but after the first two weeks you get on the scale and realize that you’re a pound or two heavier. What’s going on? Well first of all, if you have a trainer I’m sure he or she has told you to stay off the scale.
Time and time again as fitness professionals we find ourselves locked in battle with the treacherous scale as people obsess over weight instead of the stuff that really matters i.e., body fat, girth measurements and how your clothes fit.
So first things first, throw that scale out the window. Whether you gain weight or not has a significant amount to do with many factors, including body type and nutrition.
At Wonderfully Fit, we begin an assessment with a basic test, which is used to measure body fat versus lean mass, resting metabolism (# of calories needed to sustain your current muscle mass without moving) and average metabolic rate (# of calories that should be consumed by your body on average during an active day. When you begin to lift weights, your body which is now stimulated by heavier loads establishes new links between your brain and muscle. Your body begins to recruit more muscle and this increases its demands for energy.
It is this increase in demand that makes you feel hungrier than normal and it represents a change in your metabolism. This is a very critical time for you as you must now make better choices on what to consume and when to consume it, in order to meet the demands of increased muscle activity. The problem that many personal trainers find is that their clients will begin to use this newly revved up metabolism as a sort of credit card which affords them the luxury of eating junk food.
This is however counterproductive to your goals of fat and weight loss and most people will experience weight gain if this is not monitored carefully. This is a time where you have a chance to combine your training with lower calorie, high nutritional value foods and get the most out of your metabolism. At Wonderfully Fit, we encourage our clients to eat often, but to make sure that you’re eating quality foods.
Not only is nutrition a key reason for why you may be gaining weight, but consider this; Muscle is about 70% water and when you work out more; your body’s response places a higher demand for consumption of more water. Also in response to weight training your body needs to prepare itself for heavier loads. One of the ways it does this is to increase surface area by hydrating the muscle fibers in order to increase surface area and provide higher power outputs.
Your lean mass includes muscle, bone and organs. Weight bearing activity stimulates muscle growth and stimulates an increase in bone density. These two things can easily cause significant weight gain within the first couple of months. This is where it is important to have a look at girth measurements and body fat. Muscle is heavier and denser than fat and as more muscle is stimulated, the body’s ability to burn fat increases, which sometimes results in a loss of inches with an overall gain of weight.
Similar to the old saying, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Exercise doesn’t make you fat, the choices a person makes, makes that person fat.
At Wonderfully Fit, we believe it’s about changing your lifestyle and by”lifestyle” we mean changing the way your body moves, looks and feels; changing the fuel that you run on and giving you the confidence to take on any challenge.
The take home messages are clear. Throw out the scale and focus on getting stronger and increasing your metabolism by moving more and eating right. The rest will fall into place over time. Rome was not built in a day and your body took years to get this far; sometimes 10, 20 or 30+. The process of reprogramming your body is not an overnight miracle, but a life-long commitment to change.
From an excerpt of Maya Angelou, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude”. Realize that your trainer or fitness coach is there to assist you in reaching your goals, as well as support you along your journey to change. We give you the tools to succeed, but it just may be that your attitude towards food, nutrition and exercise are the only thing holding you back from a better you.