Thursday, May 31, 2007

The body during IM training...

I'd been told by many people that during intense Ironman build it would be nearly impossible for me to keep weight on. Wrong! I thought I would make a quick blog about what has happened to my body in the past few months because I know I'm not the only one out there who has experience this.

During base training I had lost a fair amount of weight. In February I weighted 116 pounds and was very happy with this, but being a girl, I thought a couple more pounds would be just dandy. So I did my coach's diet cleanse to shed the last couple pounds before the big training began. Well, during the second week I had a major GI bleed. I think this was due to a combination of NSAID use and the diet cleanse. I advise anyone against eating nothing but citrus fruit in the morning and then training for 1-2 hours. It's like ingesting battery acid. But I digress....

It was at this point, when I was VERY anemic that my doc told me that I should start eating meat again. I obliged and added back chicken and fish to my diet and soon after the build phase of Ironman began

My training volume went up to >16 hours per week and all of a suddon my weight started to creep up. I started tracking my intake religiously. On a day to day basis I was ingesting about 1000 calories less than I was burning and I was very conservative with my estimates of calories burned (basal 1400 calories, 500 cal/hour exercise). And I was gaining weight.

I tried a lot of things. I cut out peanut butter.... gained 2 pounds. Starting talking to a nutritionist, gained 4 pounds. The only time I lost was when I totally ignored everything and just ate what I wanted for a week. Just to clarify my diet- I don't eat out, no junk food, pretty much a whole foods diet.

So why was all this happening? I think it is a combination of things. First of all, I've put on a fair amount of muscle mass. I owe that to the popeye gene I got from my dad. We are a muscley breed of people. But there's just nothing hot about big thighs, whether they're muscle or not.

Secondly stress is a part of it. I think women's bodies in particular react badly to stress, and hormones get all out of whack. I know that mine were messed up. After my suspected blood clot my doc suggested I stop taking birth control. I didn't menstruate for 3 months after which I went back on hormones. So my body was clearly not producing hormones appropriately. On top of that, lack of sleep is a big contrbuter to hormonal imbalance and the excess production of cortisol which slows metabolism. Defending my thesis 5 weeks from Ironman was not a smart move.

So yesterday when I went to the doc my weight was 126. 10 pounds heavier than my base phase. This has frustrated me to no end. I feel bloated and fat. My clothes don't fit right, I'm dreading race pictures. But I know that the next month isn't about losing weight. It's about fueling properly for the race and I can't sacrifice my performance for pretty race pictures.

I'm not looking for a bunch of comments telling me I'm not fat, etc. Just wanted to warn people out there that this can happen. Try to destress, get lots of sleep, and fuel appropriately during training. Your body might do weird things. You might lose a ton of weight, you might gain a ton of weight. You could lose muscle or gain it. But I think what it comes down to is the body reacts in unpredictable ways to huge training volume. Training 20 hours per week is not the most healthy thing in the world. But it's a way of life for us Ironman psychos and I wouldn't trade it for the world.



JenC said...

I think you are right. Lack of sleep and lots of stress can throw your body out of whack and cause weight gain.

I know you don't want people telling you that you look great, but I can't help it. You really do look tiny (and I see you naked regularly).

Oh, and big, muscley thighs are sexy. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

Anonymous said...

I've mentioned before that my wife is a sports nutritionist, and I think that she would strangle your coach for suggesting that silly cleanse. She would also suggest that you look back at what "worked" and what didn't during this training period - i.e., you actually lost weight when you weren't restricting calories and gained when you did. That's the body's natural response to the physical/emotional stress you've been under. Bottom line is the weight will normalize when the training eases and you adjust your diet accordingly. But you're smart to forget about all that until after CdA - feed yourself and be strong for raceday.

- John.

TriSonq said...

Two words for you.


Your body is toning up! You muscle bound, babe you!

Ha. ;)

E-Speed said...

girl. You looked great at Cleveland thon. I was so happy you didn't look like a twig! When you did that cleanse I was so worried about you!

I have found when I restrict calories and do high volume training I gain. I think the body gets pissed that you are witholding so it holds on even tighter to everything you ingest.

I live by the motto of eat what you crave. Your body knows what it needs, it'll tell you!

I hope you don't let this bother you too much. It is so hard for us women to just be happy with the body we've got.

E-Speed said...

oh and I am with Jen. Big muscular thighs are hot! There's never been a day in my life when I didn't have huge muscular quads, so I learn to love em, and if anyone has a problem with it I will use my quads to crush them ;)

Wes said...

OK. I won't tell ya your "aren't fat", but you do look great :-) I'm of the old school of doing what I'm supposed to do and let my body do what its supposed to do, and not worrying about it. You are primed and ready, girl!! When you toe the line at CdA, weight will be the furthest thing from your mind.

Cheaper Than Therapy said...

I think this might be more common than it seems; I've heard about it happening to a lot of people. You're doing so much training, so of course you'd expect the weight to come right off, but your body just holds onto it. I'd bet that it comes off pretty easily once you're in post-Ironman recovery and your body has a chance to rest.

In the meantime, embrace it! You're super strong right now, so enjoy that your body can do an Ironman and don't worry about the number.

TriSaraTops said...

Big thighs are HAWT. So are big bellies.

(okay, maybe not the bellies)

I know this is easier said than done, believe me, as I should heed my own advice here...but try not to let your weight get in your head. My IM weigh-in really effed with me. Don't let that happen to you, because it's really just silly. You are the fittest you have ever been--just remember that. Scales can be really dumb. I promise you it's not worth it.

(jeez, now I sound like my Mom)

:) Do what I'm doing at the doc's today and don't look. It's just not important, IMHO.

Sorry I'm out of town this Saturday and next, so I can't make the picnic! :( Hope it's fun!

Will said...

Jodi, eet ees es I heff sedd to Jan many times - you need zeese hyuge mahssles foah vinning races. You vill feel bettah soon.

erichollins said...

Hey, Jodi, you read about what I went through last year with IMFL training. I gained muscle! That isn't suppose to happen. I say eat and you'll lose weight. There is only so much of a calorie deficit that you can go into each day before your body goes into starvation mode and hoards every single calorie. What I heard to do is to eat as much as you want in about 3 days, but eat clean foods and make sure to hydrate well. That should help out a bit.

Also, shapely legs are sexy!

Curly Su said...

yeah, i gained weight like my IM photos, i have a SERIOUS belly...but you know what? i was stronger than ever and I felt great...much better than I do now, even though i'm lighter...

enjoy your strength!

Kate said...

Yup- for me it was just the marathon, but mixing stress at work, no sleep and training is a recipe for gain.

Just think of the donut when you're starting that last half marathon!

mike said...

i'm in the same boat but from a guy's perspective...took up triathlon to lose weight - went from 245lbs to 210 my first year...dropped to 195 last year tuning up to IMLP. This year, with a coach, increased strength and endurance and training fro IM Florida, I am up at 210 lbs and am pretty static. But my swim has stayed somewhat constant, my bike is stronger and my run is too. I feel good and that's all I care, i can race as a clyde this year and kick some serious booty!

Appreciate the improvements you've made in times and endurance and you'll get so much out of it. In fact, I switched from a focus on body weight to body measurement...a much more telling sign of improvement in my mind.

Anonymous said...

Chicken and fish?! Is that really enough for anaemia? How about some red meat? Paula Radcliffe chows down on venison everyday for her anaemia. If you're not satisfied with red meat on sale in shops, take a look at this place: