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Sticking with Exercise (Despite my Instincts…)

January 13, 2010

Today was a strength training day, meaning I got to inflict the joy of criss-cross abs (among eight other not nearly as diabolical exercises) upon myself without the assistance of my trainer.  Have I mentioned how much I hate that particular method of torture exercise?  I’m still amazed that I’m choosing to spend my free time this way in the evening now. But I’m expecting the results to make it all worth it.

Last week was a little disappointing, though.  It was my first full week of exercising regularly, and I stuck to my routines faithfully.  Four days of cardio and two days of strength training.  I did everything by the book and according to my plan.  My weekly weigh in is on Saturday, and when I woke up last Saturday morning and excitedly jumped on the scale, I was up a pound!  After all that work, and a six pound weight loss the week before, I was a little ticked.  The dog sensed my displeasure and showed her concern by looking up, rolling her eyes, and resuming licking herself.

I went back over my food records for the week with a fine tooth comb.  They weren’t perfect.  A dinner party earlier in the week where I was asked to bring dessert wasn’t right on with my plan, but I exercised pretty good portion control, and I didn’t really see where my total calorie intake for the week should have thrown me off.  So I sent the food records off to my nutritionist for the week, and she responded with good news.  She agreed that my food intake was consistent, and she thought I was likely experiencing muscular hypertrophy as a result of my new found commitment to exercising regularly!  Say what ?  My initial reaction: I knew that criss-cross abs BS was going to backfire!

Apparently, (and this is my very non-expert understanding from reading her e-mail and the article I found on the internet) hypertrophy means the cells in my muscles got bigger from all the criss-cross abs, supermans, and other delights, and retained some fluid – likely leading to the slight weight gain.  (Those of you who aren’t liberal arts types, feel free to correct me here!)  The good news: this was common early in establishing an exercise routine, and shouldn’t be viewed as a setback!

This actually made some of my past exercise experiences make sense to me.  In the past, when I’d tried to add exercise to one of my fad diets, I almost always followed the same pattern of gaining weight initially.  The difference in the past was that slight weight gain would give me a perfect excuse to decide that for some reason my body was rejecting the exercise, and I should immediately stop.  This time, I had a team of experts weighing in and telling me why I should keep going with the exercise despite the initial gain.

So jumping back into the exercise this week was a leap of faith for me, and I’m already seeing some weight loss as a result – providing proof for one trite saying and refuting another: 1) You learn something new everyday, and 2)  You CAN teach an old dog new tricks!

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