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.
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