12 Nov

Weight Loss (Not What You Would Expect)

Part of the reason I left my last job was that I’d gained a crazy amount of weight over a year, 20 pounds.  I figured, if nothing else, a new job would at least lessen the things I was stressing over.  Well, so far, so good, I’ve gotten 10 pounds of it back in just over 6 weeks.  But that isn’t the interesting thing.

What is interesting, is how the weight loss has worked relative to my exercise, and more specifically to the type of exercise.

To keep this short, I track everything I eat and I assign calories to the exercises I do.  So, I have a good estimate of what I’m doing in my workouts and what I’m eating.  I also track my weight, everyday, so I can see my daily weight change.  In theory, if I go negative 700 calories, I should lose .2 pounds.  I know my break-even from my history but that is a post for another day.

What I found is that not all exercise is created equal.

I’m doing 3 types of workouts: rowing machine, biking and hiking.  If anyone but bot-spam ever comments, I’m not anti-weights, in fact I recommend them, it’s just that my body is pretty beat up and I needed a different approach.  Anyways, this is what I’ve found looking at my exercise patterns over the last couple of months and my weight gain/loss the next day:

Exercise # of Times Net Gain/Loss (Next Day)
Biking 14 +3 Pounds
Hiking 8 -3.6 Pounds
Rowing 30 -4.4 Pounds
Biking/Rowing (Morning/Evening) 11 +3.2 Pounds
Rowing 19 -7.6 Pounds

To be honest, it’s hard to know anything from this.  The sample size is small.  I’m in an easy weight loss phase, where I actually had to work (if eating crap is work)  to maintain the weight, maybe weighing myself from day-to-day is really just measuring water-retention or how much food I ate the prior day?

But I can tell you that this data fits to my anecdotal experience with weight loss: biking, while something I like, something that gets me outside, that I feel better doing, has, for me, not been a very effective weight loss tool.  I’ve done a lot of 2+ hour bike rides and not lost weight.  I always suspected that was due to overeating after the ride but I know that isn’t the case in these numbers.  Heck, I’m gaining weight after a bike ride.

One other factor in play here is intensity.  When I bike, especially when I do a 2-a-day (biking/rowing), my bike ride is a pretty tame 14 mile ride on mostly flat ground.  Unless I run into a windy morning, I’m not working that hard.  Rowing for 30+ minutes is never not hard and the hikes I do, are reasonably hard too.

carbon comp

Tell me this won’t make me fat!

Or, it could be that doing 2-a-days is over-training and that is part of what is limiting the weight loss?  I might be better off doing less as my data suggests that working out more does not equal more weight loss.  This is also something I’ve observed over the years.

I may try going in a different direction for a few 2-a-days and see what happens.  I can shorten my ride by +/- 15 minutes and make it harder by doing this.  Increased intensity may be the key?  The problem with this is that it’ll make it very hard to row as that hits the legs hard too.  But, I can give it a try and see what happens and if it doesn’t work, well, then I can try limiting my weekends to a single workout per day.

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