Exercise makes you fat.
February 17, 2011 12:56 PM   Subscribe

I started exercising and eating less, and I'm gaining weight. I highly doubt I'm building muscle. Is this going to stop eventually?

For the sake of relative brevity, please trust me when I say that I'm super informed about nutrition. I minimize white flour, sugar, and processed foods, I count calories (and I know what a good calorie range is for me), and generally don't have trouble losing (small amounts of) weight.

After gaining 10 pounds last summer (toll for passing the bar exam, I guess), I really want to get rid of it. And then some, ideally. Normally I can just count calories (about 1500-1800 does the trick), but it just hasn't been working this time around. I think that part of it has to do with how much I was walking while I was in law school, and how little I'm doing that now that I take public transport more.

Buuuut, I finally found an exercise I can't get enough of - Just Dance for the Wii. Don't make fun of me too much, it's super fun. Anyway. I've been busting ass with this thing for two weeks without increasing my food intake (if anything I'm eating less and making sure to get lots of protein and fiber), and I feel awesome. More energy, body hurts in a good way, feeling happier, all that stuff.... except I've gained about 5 more pounds.

Only 2 weeks + zero weight lifting (only dancing around like an idiot!) makes it seem super unlikely that I've gained 5 pounds of muscle. I started measuring my waist and hips, and I am no bigger in that sense, but that's not saying too much. A dress size for me is upwards of 20 pounds, so it takes a whole lot for me to look bigger.

If this is useful at all, I'm female, 5'7 and about 205 pounds. I know that makes me morbidly obese on the BMI scale, but I'm odd... I look about 160 and wear a size 14, and my body fat is just under 30%... not good but nothing scary.

What the heck?! I'm going to keep at it for all the other benefits, but why on earth am I gaining weight if I have a calorie deficit? I'm playing this game with all my might about an hour a day, which at my weight ends up being about 300-400 calories at a clip, estimating conservatively. On top of about a mile of walking per day and a restricted calorie diet, I really should be losing weight. In fact, I WAS losing weight (albeit very slowly) before I started exercising! I'm not eating more, so I thought that the pounds would fall off.

Time to toss the scale?
posted by timory to Health & Fitness (51 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of more inexpensive scales are not really accurate to the exact pound. (I can get on mine twice and get two different readings, but they're generally within a couple pounds.) Between that and the water weight change potential if you were kinda dehydrated the first day for some reason you weren't even aware of... yeah, I wouldn't fuss over it.
posted by gracedissolved at 1:04 PM on February 17, 2011

I wouldn't rule out that your scale is the problem and maybe you haven't gained at all. I've had scales go wonky out of the blue, and/or when the batteries are dying. If you're thinking of a replacement, I've had great luck with this model -- very accurate vis-a-vis my doctor's scale and reliably consistent.

Also, FWIW, my weight can fluctuate five pounds or more within 24 hours, and the five pounds you're seeing could certainly be attributed not to a longterm 'gain' but to where you are in your monthly cycle, and it all may even out shortly. I'd just keep doing what you're doing!
posted by argonauta at 1:06 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

It's possible that you've hit a temporary plateau - weight loss isn't strictly linear.

If it persists: Unless you have a fairly rare genetic and/or hormonal issue, it's likely that you either a) aren't burning as many calories as you think or b) are eating more than you realize. Try adding some gym/exercise time in addition to the Wii and subtracting 100-200 calories a day, and see what happens.
posted by downing street memo at 1:07 PM on February 17, 2011

Unless there's a medical issue this doesn't make sense.

Couple of questions:
1) Have you cheated? Ever? Even a little bit? Even a meal?
2) What's your macronutrient breakdown (how many grams of fat/protein/carbs, what percentages they make of your diet)?

1) Wait another two weeks. Could be water weight due to your period, any number of things. Women, especially when coming from a period of inactivity, tend to have low muscle mass which means they need a LOT less calories than the old "You will die if you eat less than your bodyweight x 10" calories adage. We lose weight slowly and results can seem to be offset by water weight fluctuations. So 1500-1800 may seem like it should be producing big losses, but if you don't have much muscle mass it won't be that big of an offset from your base metabolic rate.

2) Do more activity. A mile of walking is a good start, but it is not much at all. Do you do any strength training? Any more cardio than that?

3) If the above stuff doesn't produce results, keep the calories at 1600 and the grams of carbs under 40 and see what happens.
posted by schroedinger at 1:08 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

(Oh yeah, and you do the Just Dance thing in your activity as well . . . It just may not be enough.)
posted by schroedinger at 1:09 PM on February 17, 2011

Muscle is something like 33% denser than fat, so perhaps you are putting on muscle and losing fat at the same time. FWIW, the same is happening to me by strength training for the last two months. I've lost 10 lbs, but gained a ton of muscle and have been on a restricted diet for that time. 10 lbs sounds like a lot, but keep in mind I'm about 5'11', strong, and started this at 270 lbs.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 1:11 PM on February 17, 2011

5 lbs is roughly 2% of 200 lbs. Or as statiticians like to call it "margin of error".

I'm willing to bet that if you weighed yourself throughout the day you would see it shift by at least that much in either direction.

Put another way, 5lbs is roughly half a gallon of water. It's not a lot of mass at all. If you're looking for weight loss do not concern yourself with the day to day ups and downs. You should aim for weekly losses of a couple lbs per week for several months.

And stay positive. You can do it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:11 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: re: not getting enough exercise. that may very well be true, but i'm going from nothing at all to 1+ hr/day. i was losing weight before i started exercising. even if i'm overestimating calories burned and underestimating calories eaten, i should be losing more than before... right?
posted by timory at 1:12 PM on February 17, 2011

This may not apply to you, but I recently got way too scale conscious with losing weight (I dropped about 50 lbs) and would gnash my teeth in horror at seemingly unexplained 4-5 lb. weight GAINS. Without changing my routine. That is, until I realized I was weighing myself primarily after my 20 oz. morning coffee, working out, and drinking a ton of water due to that thirst. Probably a good 3 lbs. minimum of water weight...

I would continue, but on preview, schroedinger took the words right out of my mouth...
posted by Debaser626 at 1:13 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

5 pounds is well within the water-weight/scale-error range for someone who weighs 205 pounds. Either toss the scale or learn to keep a running trend of your weight. Individual weigh-ins don't say much about how your weight is actually changing, so stay focused and don't let them bother you.

I also second schroedinger on the "more activity" front. Some strength training will probably make a big difference for you.
posted by vorfeed at 1:18 PM on February 17, 2011

5 pounds is easily within the range of water retention from hormones.

And, grossness, but it's also feasibly within the range of weight fluctuations if you haven't peed or pooped before weighing yourself.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:23 PM on February 17, 2011

Best answer: What the other posters are stating about daily weight fluctuations is another good point--if you're not weighing in the morning, after going to the bathroom, and before eating or getting a glass of water or breakfast, you're subjecting yourself to the whims of the weight fluctuations that occur over the day (for reference: my weight has swung 10lbs in a day, over 5% of my bodyweight).

Timory, so you've already been consistently losing weight? The weight gain has just started since you started exercising? How often have you been exercising? If it's been pretty regularly then your body is probably just retaining water. One adaptation to sharp increases in physical activity is water retention, especially in women. I train pretty regularly and generally expect a few pounds of weight gain after my heaviest days. If the weight continues to rise though, you can rule water retention out as it's not indefinite.

Another side-effect of increases in athletic activity are increases in hunger signals, sometimes disproportionately large to the amount of actual calories burned. This can lead to overeating if you're not being 100% strict (weighing food, etc).

Posters arguing for muscle gain: It is not physiologically possible for a woman, not even with steroids, to gain five pounds of muscle in two weeks. There is not the testosterone there to support that, and there would be noticable aesthetic changes with five pounds of muscle mass gain. It's arguably not physically possible for a man to gain that much muscle mass, especially if you go by dry weight.
posted by schroedinger at 1:30 PM on February 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

Just coming in to more than second that it's probably too short of a timeline. I'm also on a diet, and there was a 2 week period (right before my period) where it looked like at first I had stalled, and then that I was actually gaining weight, but a couple days after my period started I miraculously lost 6 pounds in a two day period.

Definitely keep track of where in your cycle you are, and also always weigh yourself first thing in the morning (pre-eating/drinking, post-peeing) naked. That way you are getting a relatively consistent base for what you are weighing.
posted by CharlieSue at 1:31 PM on February 17, 2011

I have heard that when some people start a new exercise routine, their body may retain more water than usual while their body adjusts to the new activity level. Though you said you were walking previously, doing the dance workout may be just different enough that it's causing a bit of water retention.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 1:33 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Actually, I'm going to go Against the flow here, and say "less activity!". Or rather, I agree with everyone that this is within the margin of error and if your clothes don't fit differently, it could easily be water or whatever. But! If you're putting in an hour of the same strenuous exercise every day, you are over-training.

Your body is likely trying to conserve everything it has through hormonal regulation (like "starvation mode" that nutritionists warn against) because this is the new norm. If you're over-training it's also likely to crave carbs. As you get stronger over time your body will adjust, and it'll be easier, and you won't be overtraining as much... but weight loss also might not happen as you exert less energy for the same goal.

It's not that you can Only do the Wii Dance every other day and nothing else. But mix it up - more strenuous one day, less strenuous and more walking the next. Or mix it up with some of the yoga or other games that will build strength (or are they just on the Wii fit? Well, you catch my drift). It sounds like this is a great step, and worse comes to worse I wouldn't pay so much attention to the scale, and just Do This. But mixing it up may get your body more fit overall, and more willing to shed pounds.
posted by ldthomps at 1:34 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Just piping in to suggest a food log - are you keeping one? I know you said you are great on nutrition, but it's possible to overestimate portion size and overeat even really good healthy food, especially when you're adding muscle and exercising, both of which can make you feel hungrier than usual. And it's not that hard to eat enough extra calories to offset your added burn - in one hour, you could be burning anywhere from 200 to 600 calories dancing (600 would be lots of jumping, running motion and arm pumping, aerobics-style). A lot of those calories could be offset by things like a 2 oz. handful of about 30 TLC whole grain crackers (260 calories), an 8 oz grilled chicken breast with no olive oil or anything (240 calories), or one large banana (200 calories) (What does 200 calories look like).

In my experience of weight loss, it's just really easy to make mistakes and eat more calories than you burn - that's also complicated by the fact that a lot of exercise machines (and maybe the Wii, I don't know) give you inaccurate estimates of calories burned during your workout. The machine just can't know what's going on inside your body in terms of effort and energy expenditure outside of a doctor's office or clinic with specialized equipment. I've done much better managing weight when I track exactly what I've really eaten and stop before going over a total amount for the day/week.

But I also agree that it's just 5 pounds, well within the water weight gain/loss. It helps to weigh yourself the same time every day - I always do it first thing in the morning because I presume I'm at my most dehydrated when I just wake up, so I'm not looking at the weight of whatever liquids I've taken in that day. Keep the whole thing up for a month and then evaluate. If not losing after adding new activity, you can do one of two things or both: start food logging and calorie counting, or increase the frequency, intensity, or duration of your workouts.
posted by Miko at 1:35 PM on February 17, 2011

Response by poster: schroedinger, i didn't think of water retention, since i drink enormous amounts of water a day.

however, what little exercise i started doing is truly an enormous amount for me... i loathe exercise generally, and this is a huge change for me. maybe my body needs an adjustment period.
posted by timory at 1:35 PM on February 17, 2011

My dear woman, let me just say, you are not odd. You have pretty much described me, too.

Nthing water retention. Also, have a look at what you eat when on the diet; do you do like me and amp up the protein and complex carbs? If you do that, and don't drink lakes of water, you will...erm...retain weight a different way, if you see what I mean.

Here's another freaky thing to consider - wearing jeans while weighing yourself will add somewhere between 1 and 3 lbs to the number on the scale, depending on how heavy the fabric is. If you've weighed yourself without jeans, and then with, you may also be seeing a difference that way too.

I never go by the number on the scale - it's too easy for something to go wrong. Go by measurement, as you're doing. It's much better, IMHO.

Good luck!
posted by LN at 1:41 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Firstly, two weeks is too soon to call. By your own numbers, you should have burnt about 6000 calories through exercise when your target is a good 35,000 calories (one pound fat = 3500 calories). Further to this, the muscle changes and improvements in energy expenditure efficiency change quite a bit in the first few weeks of a new activity, which means your body is currently in a state of flux. Give is at least another 4 weeks.

Secondly, don't throw out the scales right away. It's is prefereable that you weight yourself the same scales, because you can't compare your old measurements to any new measurements taken on a new device. If you think the scales are dodgy, you can test them by weighing an inanimate object on them around the same time you measure yourself. If it fluctuates, you might have a case. That being said, even if the scales really were unreliable, you'll still see an effect in the waistline. Eventually.

Thirdly, don't underestimate the effect of walking. It is a very effective weight loss tool. Currently, you are burning about 114 calories a day from walking (200 pounds, 2 mph for one mile = 3.8*30 = 114 calories). If you were walking for an average of 2 hours a day before, the energy expenditure would have been 456 calories. I personally suspect that you had equilibrated to a lifestyle in law school that expended more energy than you realised.

Finally, if you're feeling fitter, then you're on the right track exercise-wise (although more walking would obviously be better). If you're feeling sore then you're making muscle, which will increase your metabolism with time. The key is to hold to the daily calorie intake at 1500.

Good luck!
posted by kisch mokusch at 1:49 PM on February 17, 2011

I want to chime in with another suggestion of your menstrual cycle. I gain weight one week before my period starts every single month. The day after my period starts, I lose that weight. I only discovered this after months of tracking my weight at the same time every day.
posted by rhapsodie at 1:50 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

What colour is your urine, and how does it smell? I'm being completely, 100% serious. I think you may heve been inadvertently dehydrating yourself before you started exercising and, now that you're exerting yourself, your body is pushing back and forcing you to hydrate properly, resulting in normal water retention levels.

Your urine should be light yellow / white, and you should need to pee at least twice a day. You should never feel light headed or dizzy, and if you feel thirsty you're already dehydrated. Hydration is fucking awesome, fuck looking a bit chubby. (But don't drink too much fluid. And for the love of God don't make juice or energy drinks your primary fluid. Water rocks).

Also, do you take any medication?
posted by asymptotic at 1:55 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

*smacks head* hit preview...preview!
posted by asymptotic at 1:56 PM on February 17, 2011

Best answer: It's awesome you're getting the exercise in, then! Keep at it!

ldthomps, she's overweight, not a 70-year-old 400lbs diabetic with a gangrenous foot. She's not overtraining and water retention is perfectly normal and fine.
posted by schroedinger at 1:56 PM on February 17, 2011

I agree with most of the folks above -- two weeks is a very short time; a 5-pound fluctuation is not necessarily significant; make sure you're being accurate and consistent with your measurements.

If you're putting in an hour of the same strenuous exercise every day, you are over-training.

Overtraining has a specific meaning, and this is not it. Overtraining is a systemic phenomenon that comes from the inability of the body to recover from a large cumulative amount of stress, and it involves things like an elevated resting heart-rate, loss of appetite, etc. The OP is not overtraining by playing Just Dance every day.

As for "starvation mode," it has no relevance to the OP, either.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 1:57 PM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Are you weighing yourself as soon as you get up each day? Otherwise, there's just going to be too much variance in how much water you've drank and how much activity you've engaged in for the measurement to be reliable. I've noticed that I gain 3-5 pounds over the course of the day.
posted by ignignokt at 2:01 PM on February 17, 2011

Response by poster: ha! best answer goes to funniest answer, but you're all being super helpful. i feel better already!

also, i'm quite healthy (just had bloodwork done and everything is fine, things like BP and cholesterol are on the low end of normal, no thyroid probs, blah blah), my pee is light yellow and i go more than twice a day (you're all so excited to learn this, i know!), and the meds i'm on aren't affecting this (promise).

but, to be fair, 27 rounds up to 70 and 205 rounds up to 400 and fat thighs round up to gangrenous foot.
posted by timory at 2:02 PM on February 17, 2011

@kisch mokusch: If you're feeling sore then you're making muscle.

Firstly, this is patently false. If you're feeling sore, maybe you're suffering from Delayed Onset Muscle Stress (DOMS), which is indicative of a pretty successful training session. When accompanied by a balanced diet and plenty of rest and sleep you will, over time, "make muscle".

Of course, being sore could mean you've caused yourself an injury that requires basic Rest Ice Compression Elevation (RICE) attention, or something worse. Moreover, even in the absence of injury, soreness and the sensation of burning do not necessarily imply any long-term physiological benefits.

Good luck!
posted by asymptotic at 2:06 PM on February 17, 2011

As usual, schroedinger really knows what she's talking about.

While I understand that you want to ease into things and that even playing Just Dance is a huge step for you exercise wise, I have to pipe up and recommend that you start strength training as soon as possible. This kind of diet/cardio-only weight loss is going to be murder on your lean muscle mass -- and if you're truly only ~30% fat now, you have quite a bit of it compared to the average gal.

Strength training will accelerate your weight loss, improve your coordination, balance, and body awareness, and frankly make you look a lot hotter as you lose excess fat and gain muscle. Ever watch The Biggest Loser? The weight loss methods on that show are pretty insane, but you might notice that all of the contestants do strength training -- because it helps you lose weight, and because NBC wants the contestants to look hot in the "after" shots, and strength training throughout weight loss is how you do that.

This book is supposed to be pretty great for women who are beginning strength training. Personally I started with Starting Strength which is sort of the bible but less "oh my god I'm in the weight room and everyone is looking at me" friendly (I was lucky to have access to a gym in my apartment building that no one ever seemed to visit but me).

Finally, re: this:
Only 2 weeks + zero weight lifting (only dancing around like an idiot!) makes it seem super unlikely that I've gained 5 pounds of muscle.
Even if you were spending a lot of dedicated time and effort lifting weights, you'd be unlikely to gain more than a pound or two of muscle per month, so you're right that it is super unlikely. I'm just adding this as a disclaimer in case you thought otherwise, but lifting weights will not make you bulky. It will make you hot.
posted by telegraph at 2:09 PM on February 17, 2011

Keep in mind it could be medical. I am a guy but this is more common in women. IF you still cant lose weight and seem to be gaining get your thyroid levels checked by a doctor. Thyroid problems are becoming more and more common and can make you gain weight no matter what you do.

Though keep it up for another week or so and then see if you lose weight before going to docotor.

But keep the thyroid thing in the back of your mind.

PS i had to get my thyroid removed due to a tumor so I know what I am talking about.
posted by majortom1981 at 2:23 PM on February 17, 2011

Just wanted to chime in with confirming anecdata: Because of changing my eating and exercise habits in the last few months, I've been weighing myself more regularly, and it's not at all unusual to see 2-3 (or more!) pound fluctuations in a 24- or 48-hour period.
posted by rtha at 2:26 PM on February 17, 2011

Response by poster: as i've said, just got bloodwork done and thyroid is in tip-tip shape, as is everything else, medically speaking.

you guys have prompted me to impulse-buy some wrist and ankle weights to help with strength training and increasing difficulty as this gets easier for me! yay! (i also have free weights and will try to get back into doing push-ups every other day. blergh.)
posted by timory at 2:32 PM on February 17, 2011

you guys have prompted me to impulse-buy some wrist and ankle weights to help with strength training and increasing difficulty as this gets easier for me! yay! (i also have free weights and will try to get back into doing push-ups every other day. blergh.)

Eh don't bother with the wrist and ankle weights. Those are more likely to lead to joint pain than muscle gain.

Strength training isn't something that works half as well if you do half the weight. By that I mean you don't get X% of the benefit by doing X% of the weight. Strength training requires you to lift heavy weights, no ifs ands or buts. That doesn't have to be 400 lb bench presses, it just has to be weights that are heavy to you. If you can lift 40 lbs and you only do 10 lbs you don't get a quarter of the benefit: you get none of the benefit.

OK, so thumbs up to the free weights and push ups. Thumbs down to the ankle weights. ;-)
posted by Khalad at 2:59 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

FYI upping your protein intake can make you retain water (I feel like everything makes you retain water and here's yet another thing). I couldn't figure out how I was losing inches, but not pounds on a new diet until and I went off the diet and my protein intake went back to normal and I lost 3-4 pounds despite the fact I had been pigging out for the last week. It's still great for weight loss and I highly recommend upping your protein, but it makes measuring your progress very difficult (even getting on the scale when I knew I was dehydrated made little difference, it wasn't until I was eating a 'normal' amount of protein for several days that the pounds dropped). So get a measuring tape and measure multiple parts of your body to keep track if you think this might be your problem.
posted by whoaali at 3:11 PM on February 17, 2011

One thing that's made a rather nice difference in my ability to shed weight has been sticking to a rule of no food at all after 8:30 pm. That means no snacks, no dessert, no nothing. I work out regularly and do not have a weight problem.

I've also been incorporating High Intensity Interval Training routines into my workouts. They are, basically, short periods of near maximum output followed by three times that time period in regular speed. I.e. 30 seconds of sprinting followed by 90 seconds of cruising. I do 5-7 of these per cardio session. Sometimes stacking two or three different cardio workouts together for an incredible workout. I get more done in a 15 minute run than most people get in a 30 or 45 minute run and I also don't have too much time to get totally bored.

Mix up your cardio too. Don't just to the dance game on the Wii. Run stairs, ride a bike, jump rope, row, whatever you can do to keep your body from getting complacent and plateauing.
posted by fenriq at 3:21 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: well, the weights are because i'm already getting better at the game, and i want to make it harder eventually.

and yeah, i know about all kinds of other exercise programs i should be doing. i used to be a gym rat in high school (so, um, ten years ago, eek), and i hated it with every fiber of my being.

the thing is? dancing is the only work out i'm actually going to stick with. because it's fun. i know i'm supposed to do a whole bunch of other stuff, but frankly it's either this or nothing, at least for the time being. so while i appreciate all the personal train-y advice, the fact is that i'm just not willing to do it.

for what it's worth, i lost 80 pounds when i was 15-16 and i've completely kept it off all this time. and that's with ONLY walking and not eating like a pig (most of the time). i think i'll be okay without more exercise than this! i just wanted to know why the weight gain... and it seems like water retention is the answer!
posted by timory at 3:57 PM on February 17, 2011

I second the idea of a food diary, though. It's easy when you've upped activity to eat a lot more and not realize it. Measuring food can be very helpful, at least for awhile (like a month or two) until you know exactly "this is what one serving of bran flakes looks like."
posted by k8lin at 6:13 PM on February 17, 2011

"I'm super informed about nutrition. I minimize white flour, sugar, and processed foods, I count calories"

Hmm, calorie-counting as a generic number isn't remotely meaningful and you only mention minimizing white flour. You need to give us a lot more information about your diet. Are you getting enough protein? Are you still eating other grains? What fats are you ingesting?
posted by carlh at 6:14 PM on February 17, 2011

Response by poster: see, this is why i said to just trust me on the nutrition thing.

i count calories religiously (i use sparkpeople and my own spreadsheets). i get enough protein, fiber, vitamins/minerals, etc. i eat fish but no other meat. i eat fresh foods, whole grains, etc. i eat healthy fats, like avocados and olive oil, and i try to keep light on the dairy. i eat breakfast every day and make it as high in protein as i can (eggs, for instance).

and it really is calories in/calories out. for weight loss, i mean, not for health. so in theory it doesn't matter if i eat snickers bars all day as long as i keep it to 1500-calories worth. not that i'm doing that, obviously, but i don't think WHAT i eat matters so much.
posted by timory at 6:20 PM on February 17, 2011

Response by poster: (also i've been counting calories off and on for so many years that i feel like it's a super power. i can look at a piece of food and estimate its calorie/fat count really accurately. it's kind of spooky.)
posted by timory at 6:23 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Whole grains are really not much better than white ones. Especially wheat; there's so many problematic compounds in it that white flour is probably better than whole wheat flour.

If whole wheat was much better than white, then wheat husks would be about the best food ever.

Do you eat vegetable oils? Avoid animal products? These can both be problematic.

Also, number of calories burned is an extremely poor measure of progress. 10 minutes of intense interval exercise does more for body composition than an hour of jogging. Weight is all in the kitchen.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 6:29 PM on February 17, 2011

Response by poster: i've already addressed everything you mention, polliwog. i think i'm going to bow out of this thread because my clarifications are getting completely lost in the shuffle.

thanks for all the info, guys!
posted by timory at 6:44 PM on February 17, 2011

1. You are doing everything right.
2. Throw out the scale. Seriously.

From what you've told us, you are doing all the right things to live a healthy life. Don't add obsession into the mix. Not too many years ago I had many problems with food (ok, an eating disorder), and I was so obsessed with WEIGHT LOSS that I could never stick with an exercise program. If I didn't lose weight very quickly and immediately I thought, well what's the point of exercising, and I gave up very easily. It was all about the number on the scale. Don't let this happen to you -- exercise needs to become part of your lifestyle and not just a tool you use to lose weight.

Many years have passed, and I now have a much healthier relationship with food. I have recently started the first regular exercise regimen of my life -- without a scale in my house. I focus only on doing better every time (doing more push-ups, going deeper into lunges) and on how great and strong I feel. I really don't think I've lost any weight -- and sometimes I do think, ugh, why won't the pounds fly off? What's wrong with me? But not knowing exactly how much weight I've lost or not lost has really helped me keep those thoughts to the minimum.

I do agree that you should mix up your routine and add weights. I've been doing the 30 Day Shred which is super challenging (but not intimidating -- it's all basic moves) and I really, really recommend it. It's resistance and cardio -- it kicks your ass but it feels great.

Good luck!
posted by imalaowai at 6:59 PM on February 17, 2011

Well, your diet is clearly not working for you, so I would posit that you should consider there might be some problems with it.

I do not mean to be harsh; I think you are making a good change in your life and I wish you the best. It is just that the common perception of nutrition is so far from the truth, so far from our evolutionary adaptedness.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 7:12 PM on February 17, 2011

I just have to mention that at 5'7 and 205, your BMI is 32.1, which is just a shade over the "obesity" range. The powers that be are still bickering about the definitions, but "morbid obesity" doesn't start until a minimum of 35, 40 for the more liberal groups. BMI is a contentious measurement that many people argue is meaningless, but I just wanted to make sure your inner dialogue isn't screaming "morbidly obese! morbidly obese! zomg morbidly obese!"

Also, you say you like dancing, and that you're thinking of adding push-ups back in to your routine. If you ever get tired of the Wii, try an aerobics class! Mine is essentially an hour of choreographed"dancing" with high energy music followed by 20 minutes of strength training, mostly pushups and ab work. Even though I have absolutely zero rhythm (yes, I'm the one clapping two beats after everyone else and constantly moving in the wrong direction) I think aerobics is awesome and under-appreciated.
posted by charmcityblues at 7:22 PM on February 17, 2011

Following on that comment, you might like a Zumba class. They're among the most intense workouts I've ever had, but FUN and set to great world dance music.
posted by Miko at 7:37 PM on February 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am about your size and I am currently doing a medically supervised weight loss program. In this program, they tell us to only look at a four week moving total for our weight loss. I don't have any answer for what is going on for you in particular (I assume that your calorie intake is not TOO low compared to what you are burning - I think I've heard that you don't want to go below 1000 calories intake or a 1000 calories difference but I don't know if that is reliable) Anyway - you sound like you are doing just the right stuff, so I vote with giving it more time.

ps. I'm jealous that you have found something that you love that you are happy to do for an hour a day.
posted by metahawk at 9:55 PM on February 17, 2011

I don't see where the "patently false" comes in.

It's pretty simple. Getting sore doesn't necessarily mean you're building muscle or getting stronger, and you can build muscle and get stronger without getting sore. Some movements cause a lot of DOMS, others don't. It's an indicator of exercise, but it doesn't tell the whole story. Equating DOMS with workout success is misguided.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 7:38 AM on February 18, 2011

Since you mentioned that you're concerned about the workout losing its challenge, can I suggest looking into options for dance classes in your area? Salsa dancing is super-fun, social, good exercise, and the community tends to be accepting of a wider range of body types, if you're concerned about that.
posted by psycheslamp at 12:38 PM on February 18, 2011

I'd recommend increasing sleep and adding something very relaxing every day for 15-20 min (meditation, massage, nature, whatever destresses you and lets you get out of your head for a bit). Add those 2 things for the next 2 weeks and I bet you will see a change. My body does very strange things weight-wise when I'm stressed out.
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 4:02 PM on February 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, you're an obsessive calorie counter. I kinda figured. Throw out your scale, cut your carbs and fruit (sugar), and eat meat and vegetables. You'll be fine.
posted by carlh at 4:44 AM on February 19, 2011

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