If you’re sensitve about weight and diets, please read at your own discretion. I’ve opted to share my actual weight numbers in this post as it’s easier to track the changes. And I don’t really care if y’all know how much I weight.
Last year, I started tracking my weight and body fat to observe how my body would change throughout my surgeries. (You can read previous posts here and here.) I don’t write these posts to scrutinize my body but to be cognizant of the changes from muscle atrophy and limited physical activity.
Now, I am 2.5 weeks past my second surgery and 5 days into Paleo eating. This post will focus on weight changes only as I haven’t tested my body fat and BMI again yet. Some very interesting things have happened.
A short overview of weight fluctuations recently:
- Since mid-college, my weight has hovered around 160-165.
- The night before surgery in October, I weighed 165. On my 5’11″ frame, 5 pounds doesn’t necessarily LOOK like much but I can feel it, my clothes can feel it.
- In between surgeries (in my last weight post), I weighed 167 and felt really unhappy with myself for lack of self control. I’d gone overboard with the hamburgers and beer, enjoying too many dinners out and not getting active.
- On the morning of surgery 2, I stepped on my scale at home and it read 165 – back to pre-surgery weight.
- On Monday when I started following a Paleo diet, I weighed 162. I attribute this all to muscle loss in my left leg. Besides hand weights, some ab work and crutching, my physical activity is limited.
- This morning, I stepped on the scale and it read 156.
This week, Alex and I have each been checking our weight each morning to observe the changes of our Paleo diet. We’ve both noticed a drop in our weights but couldn’t figure out where it was coming from – you don’t LOSE 6 pounds in a few days; It’s not fat that’s coming off. So what is it?
I did some research and came across a website called Paleo Plan that offered a great explanation for what is going on with my body:
2. Water Retention
There’s a funny thing that happens when we eat carbohydrates: our cells hold onto the water that comes along with the carbs. It’s an evolutionary detail that helps people do sustained physical work without needing as much water. As you use up your glucose stores (your glycogen), water is released into your body. That was great for the active hunter gatherer type, but now that we are pretty sedentary as a culture, eating way more carbohydrates in the form of grains, legumes and extra sugar, we’re carrying around a lot of extra weight in the form of water. Have you ever watched the show “Biggest Loser”? All of the contestants always lose extraordinary amounts of weight in the first week: 10, 20, even 40 pounds in just seven days. Most of it is water that they’ve been hording in their cells.
When they first go Paleo, a lot of people, including myself, experience increased thirst and more trips to the bathroom to let out some of that excess water. Along with extra weight disappearing during this process, the edema you might have in your legs or feet, your puffy eyes or your swollen hands might start to dissipate, too. (source)
Water retention! Yes! This explains it perfectly. I can physically notice a difference in my stomach area – it’s less ‘squishy’ than it was before, but like I said, it wasn’t a loss of fat. It was loss of bloating. Gross.
The notes about thirst and bathroom trips exactly align with what I’ve been experiencing too. Although I’ve been drinking 96 ounces of water a day, I’ve still been feeling really thirsty, especially at night.
This goes to proves the old adage that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. I have made absolutely ZERO changes to my activity level and have lost 6 pounds. And to be clear, I’m not starving myself at all – I’m eating plenty of food, just different and more nutritious foods. I’m also guzzling water like it’s my job.
It’ll be interesting to see what the next month of paleo eating brings and to recheck my body fat and BMI changes. I wonder how water weight affects these number?