Ask the Personal Trainer

Joni Hyde is a Certified Personal Trainer and owner of WorkoutsForWomen.com

Weight Gain

Q. Nine months ago I was 130 pounds and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. I also had a toned, muscular build. I quit smoking and gained 20 pounds. I started noticing flab everywhere, even on my stomach, where I had never had flab before. I tend to gain weight on my thighs. Three weeks ago, I decided to start going to the gym. I begin by stretching, then move on to the crosstrainer for about 30-40 minutes, then alternate (by days) strength training on the nautilus machines. In these past 3 weeks, I have had to increase the leg weights 3 times, because it kept getting too easy. Now I am no closer to getting into any of my clothes from last year, and I have put on 6 more pounds. I don't each much junk food, and am a vegetarian (have been for 5 years), my diet hasn't changed much, except I started cutting back on bread and cereals. I am 28 years old. I also go to the gym 4-5 times per week, why am I gaining weight and getting bigger? Help!
- Kimberly

A. If you're thinking that you may have gained those 6 pounds from muscle gain in just 3 weeks, it's just not physiologically possible. It sounds like you have a great fitness routine going and I hope you stick with it.

One thing you may want to take a very close look at is your diet. Though I don't know the details of your food plan, I'll share a few facts with you that may help you pinpoint the trouble.

1. Are You Eating Too Few Calories
It has been shown that the body will adapt to the low calorie intake by going into "survival mode", by conserving energy in order to maintain body weight. The less you eat, the harder your body tries to retain fat. In fact, low-calorie, commercial diets stimulate the body to accumulate fat. Experiments have shown that animals eating one meal a day become obese, while those receiving 5-6 meals spread throughout the day kept to an optimum.

2. Are You Eating Too Many Calories
It's not uncommon to misjudge the calories that you are taking in by underestimating 200 to 400 calories a day. Try keeping a food journal. Journal keepers who consistently monitor their food consumption lose weight more steadily and keep it off. Journals also help you monitor your food intake so you can determine where you need to make changes. Journals make you feel more accountable for your actions too. If you have to write it down, you may think twice before having that extra cookie. It really works

3. Other Miscellaneous Factors That Can Contribute To Weight Gain
If you feel sure that it's not too many or too few calories that are causing your weight gain, speak with your health care provider about the following issues which can cause weight gain.

  • Toxin levels in the body
  • The Thyroid
  • Food Intolerances
  • Nutritional Deficiencies
  • Stress
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Candidiasis

Good Luck,
Personal Trainer Joni Hyde

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