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As I write this I’m approximately 3lbs heavier than my average fluctuation (between 135 to 138). While 3lbs is certainly no cause for a full-on meltdown, it’s a number worth paying attention to. Think of a 3lb bag of onions. Now think of that bag of onions added to your waistline. It’s not nothing.
So what to do when you’ve gained a few?
Realize it may not be fat. It could actually be:
- Water retention based on carb intake, menstrual cycle or medications,
- Inflammation from over training, food irritations or chronic stress,
- Muscle development. Now, 3lbs of muscle doesn’t magically appear from nowhere (I wish), but if you haven’t weighed yourself in 6 or more months and you find you’re heavier, but your clothes fit the same or better, it could be an improved body composition (lucky you!).
But it could very likely be fat. (Sorry)
So how do you know what it is?
You can’t know entirely, but by asking yourself if you’ve recently had a lot of starchy carbs or felt run down and achy from your training, then that’s a good indication that it could be inflammation or water retention.
What to do about weight gain
If you think it’s just Inflammation or water retention:
If you suspect you’ve been overtraining or just really stressed lately, I recommend more rest, less stress. Opt for yoga and weight lifting instead of HIIT style workouts and high impact cardio. Also, focus on more/better quality sleep which will help you melt those pounds off regardless of what they’re caused by.
From a nutrition standpoint, aim to eliminate or drastically reduce processed carbs. Cut out things like bread, crackers, cookies, pasta and the like. This is low hanging fruit and the first step in reducing weight, regardless of the cause.
If you’re overtraining or over-stressed, you may not want to knock out carbs entirely. Keep sweet potatoes, squash and maybe a little rice or quinoa in your diet, but not much. Try to stay under 100g – 150g of carbs a day (for most people, although you need to decide what the right number is for you).
If your weight gain is just plain o’l fat.
If you’ve been eating more, drinking more, or sitting on your butt more, chances are, you’ve gained body fat. Not big deal, but it’s a good time to nip that trajectory in the bud.
So like I mentioned above, aim for low hanging fruit first – cut out processed carbs and most fruits (except for berries, apples, and citrus). Up your workouts, if you can. If you don’t have extra time to workout more, increase the intensity of the workouts you are doing and also concentrate on increasing your non-exercise related movement, so stand more, take the stairs, walk more, do gentle stretching during commercials or 10 air squats an hour. Just do what you can where it’s appropriate.
Also, focus on sleep!! Regardless of why you’re heavier, having good quality sleep will help you control cravings and appetite, maintain a healthy metabolism and keep your energy sustained for your workouts. I cannot stress enough how important sleep is to your weight management efforts. So important.
The key thing to understand is that a few pounds of weight gain isn’t an issue for your health, but it’s an indicator of where your current behaviors are leading you to… which is perhaps more weight gain. So you need to examine what is is that you’re doing right now that’s making that scale go up, and just ease off of that behavior. No need for drastic diets or full on panic. That will no doubt backfire.
What do you typically do when you noticed you’ve gained a few? Do you immediately go into diet mode? Does that work for you?
Caren is a certified yoga teacher, fitness instructor and author of The Fit Habit. Here she shares simple, healthy recipes, home workout ideas and practical ways to foster mind + body wellness.