In this month's newsletter, I shared what I'm trying out in order to get my body and confidence levels ready for summer clothing. I talked about how some individuals really respond to less grains in the diet and more cardio by slimming down. So, I've been reducing my grains to 2 or 3 portions a day and I increased my cardio significantly. Since the beginning of April, I've been running about 3 times a week and at longer distances than in the past (in addition to more cardio-focused cross training at home). And guess what? I flipping gained 5 pounds.
But I wasn't that surprised.
The reality is: all bodies are different! While some of my clients can see major progress on the scale when they take these steps, my body does not respond in the same way. There are a number of factors that should be accounted for when analyzing weight loss (metabolism, age, gender, blood type, etc.), but what I want to focus on today is my body's response to weight experimentation. I hope it makes you think about what your body might be trying to tell you, too!
I use the word experimentation because the truth is that I was not actually trying to lose weight. And the beauty of residing in the healthy weight category is that there's room to experiment with what works and what doesn't. I simply wanted to tone some areas of my body--to turn them from fat to muscle. You might be thinking, "I've heard muscle is more dense than fat! Maybe that's what accounts for your weight gain," however, I really have not gained much muscle with this summer-slim-down experiment. I've rather had something confirmed for me that I've long suspected to be true: the thing my body wants most in order to let go of weight is to be rested.
When I follow a gentler approach to exercise (power walking, hiking, stretching, and light weights or pilates at home) and get some of this type of movement in daily, I remain operating in the parasympathetic nervous system, where my body is in homeostasis. I enjoy this type of movement and I feel both energized by it, and set up for better rest at night because of it. My body knows how to get energy from fat stores here. However, when I increase my cardio, something that causes me some stress (especially since I've had to do a lot of soul work to get over my emotional fears of exercise), I'm operating out of the sympathetic nervous system more frequently, thus exposing my body to more adrenaline. This hormone will demand energy from glucose stores (neglecting those fat stores).
So what do I do with all of this information? I take it to heart, but I don't necessarily let it rule my decisions for the next month. My intention was to try decreased grains and increased cardio for a full two months. I want to afford my body the time to get used to running. Who knows--maybe once it becomes less emotionally stressful and my cardiovascular system is stronger, I'll let go of those 5 pounds I gained because the form of movement will become enjoyable. I'm not continually gaining weight; if I was, that would be another story. I have room to move either up or down, but one thing I don't have room for is freaking out or ignoring my body's messages. I'm balancing listening to my body with trusting my common sense and I know I'll come out of this experience more self-aware and physically stronger.
What has your body surprised you with this week?