Q: I workout all the time and I am dieting and still gaining weight? -Pam A.
A: We are going to include this whole question because we often have this issue with people that we workout with and you may feel like this person does.
“I usually workout 4 – 5 times a week. I eat pretty healthy over all especially compared with other smaller girls around me. I know I have a really low metabolism and have struggled with my weight all my life. I have recently gained like 10 pounds and I am trying really hard to get rid of it. I upped my workouts to running 3 miles (30 min for her) 5 times a week, 4 (1 hour) cardio classes a week, and 2 (1 hour) strength training classes. I also eat about 1200 to 1500 calories a day of fruits, veggies, lean protein, and complex carbs, and drinking 85 oz. of water. I have been doing this regimen for 2 weeks now and keep gaining weight. Do you have any suggestions for me or is this typical when really upping the intensity? Thanks for your help, I am just really frustrated and I can’t figure it out.”
To start out our number one thing we would have them do is start tracking everything they are doing. We want them to weigh themselves and do a body fat analysis to start out. For at least a week we would have them report all the activity they are doing and get them to track their eating on www.dailyburn.com. We would analyze the data after a week and make sure there was absolutely no fudging of the data. We hate to bring this up, but often times when we are working with clients and they aren’t seeing success losing weight it is because they aren’t reporting what is really going on.
If after a month of tracking everything accurately we aren’t having any success we need to get a professional involved and have them do some testing. Generally they would meet with a doctor and do some testing. For example, they might find that their thyroid isn’t functioning at the level it should be. Sometimes a sign of low thyroid function is feeling tired and lethargic.
In this particular case with what we know from the question we would have them stop doing the long 3-mile runs and just do interval runs or cross train on another cardio machine. The interval runs are 5-minute warm-up HR 135 and 1-minute Hr 175 as fast as she can go 2-minutes HR 135 walking or slow jogging and repeat the 1 and 2 minute interval 3 or 4x as she gets more comfortable with the intervals she can go up to 5-6x and always finish with a 5-minute cool down. This particular cardio program is advocated by Alwyn Cosgrove in his manual AfterBurn. The intervals cause increased calorie burn for up to 36 HR after the workout and help build lean muscle which drives metabolism.
We would cut out at least two of the cardio classes and add an extra 1-2 strength training classes that should be strength training circuit classes.
Nutrtition around the workout is essential. They should be eating or supplementing with protein 30 minutes before or 30 minutes after the workout to maintain lean muscle mass. They should be eating 5-6x a day and eating most of their carbs in the morning or right before their workout.
We don’t want to write a whole e-book here, but we could because this particular situation is something we constantly come up against. We will break some of these ideas down into shorter posts as we go along.