Ok, no names mentioned but here is a story of someone who found themselves slipping off the path. It happens to us all; something or a combination of things come along and before you know it you find yourself weighing more than you expected and maybe even heavier than you have ever been. So, in casual conversation I asked someone how things were going with their health and fitness. Maybe it was a sixth sense, maybe I noticed some things. Anyway, I had a feeling and called it. On a bad day this can be like dropping a bomb on someones life - beware! Being a guy I handled it with full tact and diplomacy…subtle stuff, feeling my way to finding out what was going on. "Here…. hop on the scale," can go either way. It can blow up in your face producing feelings of guilt, fear, angst, a dent to the self esteem, trepidation and worse. People can really hate the scale after a while which can turn the fat loss process into a negative experience. On the other hand, when the person is feeling good they may even ask to be weighed - interesting. Well, onto the scale hopped someone who probably would rather not!
How Did I Slip Off My Path?
They had already forewarned me that things were a little higher than the last time we did this. It's funny as I hadn’t really noticed anything (or maybe I had and didn’t want to mention it?) So there we were. Weight was up. Time for some tact and diplomacy - did I mention I am a guy and that may not be a strong point of mine? Anyway, the person in question had in fact been monitoring themselves frequently and that information led to an interesting conversation. What was going on here? What was this client's problem? There had in fact been a slow, creeping weight gain of about ten pounds over the last 6 months.
The person had been exercising in a mixture of cardio and resistance extensively across that time, no shirking there! So, where did the extra pounds come from? On a simple calorie-in vs. calorie-out basis we appeared to have an excess. This made for good discussion, welcomed or not…but hey. So we started to pick through nutrition and like I always do I started with today. All seemed reasonably well in terms of balance between carbs, fat and protein. What else could be going on? The person had recently been training for some long distance runs and during that time felt hungry often.
This may have led to some periods of overeating. You need to fuel to run and it's hard to get that balance right. As a result, some overeating habits may have been formed during that time. Despite the fact that this person's nutrition was good and somewhat balanced there may simply have been too much of a good thing - in this case, food.
I kept digging around for clues, offering advice, pointing out the possibilities (sleep, stress, rest periods, too much work, etc.) but really we went in a few circles without a conclusion. See it can be really easy to let it slide, a pound here, another one the week after, all the time promising myself I am going to do something about it " soon". The little slip can turn into a slippery slope.
To give me better insight I quickly took some body fat measurements to see where our extra pounds had come from. As it happens, some were from an increase in fluid in the body, some were lean muscle and only a couple of pounds were actually body fat! It was prudent to take those measurements as composition can tell us a lot.
The workouts had built lean mass to some extent. And a few pounds were increased water in the body So we agreed to monitor that situation.
Getting Back On Track
Creeping weight gain happens all the time, sometimes the person is not aware or is in denial. I asked the person what they thought they should do and what would help them?Now bear in mind that this person has great exercise and nutritional knowledge, what was going on, what could we do ( always think team) that could help this person. Indeed did the person even want help? And if so at what level.
I kept digging looking for " issues" (sleep patterns, stress, late night snacking....its never usually one thing ) Firstly we agreed (rather than me impose or tell the person what they " should " do) that:
- they required more regular monitoring
- they become accountable to someone
- I would be there as a cheerleader, (support is essential for change)
We also considered other factors like a reduction in exercise and the introduction of a food journal. I am sure people recognize some one who has been in this situation so if you have any comments or questions feel free to make them or ask away. We will be following this with another blog in about a month.