The Weighty Question

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Megan came over around 9, and we went for a 4.0 miler.  She was very excited to be running again after her toe surgery!  Weeeeeeeee!

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And I’m glad to have my next-door running partner back.  πŸ™‚

 

Here are our statistics:

 

  • Duration: 39:28
  • Distance: 4.0 miles
  • Mile 1: 9:53
  • Mile 2: 9:46
  • Mile 3: 9:55
  • Mile 4: 9:57

 

One of these days, Megan and I need to duct-tape our mouths shut and actually focus on running as opposed to chattering.

 

After our run, we tried to do pull-ups at the local park.  I could only do 2!  What a wuss.

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Me thinks a blog challenge is coming on… I’d love to be able to bang out 10 pull-ups in a row.

 

And then I made lunch:

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I microwaved an acorn squash for 5 minutes to soften it, and then I cut two thick rings, dusted them with brown sugar, and baked them with the tofu for about 25 minutes.  (I ate around the skin.)

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The tofu was simple, too.  Just a dab of maple syrup + cayenne.

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Plus, bread and buttah for a β€œfiller”:

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And a shot of wheatgrass (shudder!):

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Operation Chocolate Covered Kindness

 

Katie is doing an awesome thing with her blog for the month of November, and YOU CAN HELP!  Katie is donating all the money she earns through her blog to The Enough Project, which works to stop genocide in Africa.  Since she gets paid based on the number of impressions she receives, simply head over to her blog and hit refresh a few times.

 

The Weighty Question

 

Lately, I’ve gotten this question A LOT:  Have you gained weight while marathon training?

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Although I try not to discuss weight on the blog for a variety of reasons, I do want to talk about β€œThe Marathon Weight Gain.”  Based on my entirely unscientific research, many people do gain weight while training for a marathon.  Why?

 

  • Increased muscle mass.  Muscle β€œweighs more” than fat (i.e. muscle is denser, but takes up less space).  If you don’t have a lot of body fat to lose, but you gain muscle mass, you may actually end up weighing more.
  • Running makes you hangryI definitely can recall a time when I came home from a double-digit run and ate an entire box of macaroni and cheese on my own, and then I had lunch two hours later.  It is entirely possible that a person ends up β€œeating back” far more calories than they burned.
  • You think you can eat whatever you want, all the time.  Not only are you hungrier, but you’re also training for a FREAKING MARATHON, so you become convinced that you can eat a pint of ice cream every other night and not gain weight.  However, a woman my size only burns about 80 calories a mile, which is not enough to justify eating loads of crap. 
  • Your body is storing glycogen.  Literally, your body is starting to build up carbohydrate reserves to tap into for long runs, which increases your mass (although, not significantly).

 

So, the million dollar question is…. Have I gained weight?  Actually, I have not, and I’ve actually lost a pound.  Just one.  πŸ™‚ I have tried to be conscious of eating healthy, filling, calorie-dense foods that will fuel my body and help repair my muscles. 

 

Note:  People who are capable of building muscle faster may gain weight more rapidly while marathon training.  Therefore, it’s not fair to say that someone who is gaining weight while training is simply overeating.  As noted above, there are many factors involved in the marathon weight gain.

 

I do believe my body fat percentage has dropped by a point or two as I put on muscle mass.   As my mileage continues to increase, my calories will as well.  Therefore, I fully hope to/expect to put on a few pounds of muscle in the next 7 weeks (I have already been marathon training for 13 weeks). 

 

Does this possibility upset me?  NO.  A number on the scale is just a number.  A number does not tell you how fit your are, how strong your legs are, how fast you are, etc.  I am focusing on all the wonderful things I can do while marathon training, not the number that pops up on a scale.

 

So… there you have it.  My opinion on the dreaded Marathon Weight Gain.  πŸ™‚

 

How much do you focus on the scale?  Have you tossed it out?  Why or why not?

{ 134 comments }

 

  • Sara November 17, 2009, 12:34 pm

    I try not to focus on the scale. It always stares at me each time I got into my bathroom but I really try hard to only weight myself occasionally instead of every day. I want to be fit and healthy and if that means putting on weight through muscle then that is OK by me. I think scales can often hender your excercise because you can easily become obsessed with checking out your weight each day and comparing. It’s hard – but I try to stay away from the scale as much as possible!

  • Estela @ Weekly Bite November 17, 2009, 12:39 pm

    Never focus on the scale! I always go by how I feel and how my clothes fit!

    During my marathon running days, I would put on a couple of pounds…

  • Nicole (dishin') November 17, 2009, 12:39 pm

    I try to weigh myself every Monday…just to keep myself in check. I don’t stress too much about the number because I’m at a healthy weight but it still keeps me accountable.

  • Mel November 17, 2009, 12:41 pm

    We don’t keep a scale in our house. Over time I’ve learned what weight feels best for racing, but I know myself, and I find that if I weigh myself regularly, I think about it too much. On those rare occasions where I do weigh in, if the number is higher than I’d like I can go from feeling great to feeling not great. And why?? Becaues I’m a pound heavier?? So not worth it. I probably average 1 to 2 weigh-ins per month, if that.

  • katherine November 17, 2009, 12:41 pm

    I’ve stopped focusing on the scale b/c it was driving me crazy. I stopped weighing myself in April and kept thinking all summer that I was gaining and gaining. Guess what? I lost 2 pounds! For me, I think this means that my “happy weight” is a little lower than I weigh right now, but I’ll be measuring by the way my clothing fits, rather than the number on the scale!

  • Mary November 17, 2009, 12:42 pm

    Last Spring, while training for my 1/2, I gained weight…mostly due to the hunger/overeating that you mentioned. This Fall with my training, I’ve lost/maintained my weight. The most significant change I’ve made is to have a protein shake as soon as I come in from a run. I believe the shake replenishes the carbs/protein/potassium, etc that I deplete and keeps me from eating like a horse the rest of the day! (my shake is myoplex + 1/2 frozen banana, handful of spinach, either water or OJ!)

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat November 17, 2009, 12:42 pm

    I still weigh myself once a week (or less) but not to obsess, just to be informed. Sort of like a science experiment — it helps me learn more about my body and how it responds to many different things. I don’t use it to punish myself or to see how “good” or “bad” I was the past week. That hasn’t always been the case though, so I can see why it’s good for some people to just throw it out.

    Thanks for your perspective on weight gain during race training. When I ran a half marathon in 2008, I put on a few pounds because I was eating too much of the junk (because I thought I could get away with it) and not the healthy way I normally eat.

    Now that I am planning to train for that same half in 2010, I’m ready to do things differently and see how it all plays out. πŸ™‚

  • Megan @ Megzz Wins At Life November 17, 2009, 12:43 pm

    ugh.. I completely tossed the scale about 6 month ago when mine broke.. Since then I have moved in with 2 girls and the one girl keeps the scale in our common bathroom. NOW I way myself everyday. I try not to but it is right in front of me. I have considered talking to her about it but I don’t want to cause any issues.

  • Mary November 17, 2009, 12:44 pm

    sorry, forgot to say I don’t focus on the scale. i can tell if i’ve gained/loss simply by my clothing…besides I’m running, so I feel healthy!

  • Erin November 17, 2009, 12:44 pm

    I judge more by how how clothes fit and what’s in the mirror … but that said, I weigh myself once a week just to see. It’s amazing that after having a week where I felt like I didn’t eat healthfully enough to find I’ve lost weight. Strange, sometimes.

  • chocolate-KAtie November 17, 2009, 12:45 pm

    Oh my goodness, Caitlin, thank you SO MUCH for blogging about the charity drive. I can’t even tell you how much it means to me that you’d take the time to write about it.

    I was so over-the-moon excited to see it on my google reader! It made me want to cry because I know that your mentioning of the project will raise a considerable amount more money for the cause. Thank you times a million for having such a caring heart to help raise money for those in need.

    Love,
    Katie
    (who still has a scale… for weighing airport luggage ;). I have a tendency to over-pack!)

  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is November 17, 2009, 12:48 pm

    I never focus on the scale! Never!

  • Mama Pea November 17, 2009, 12:49 pm

    I’d kill to do one pull-up.

    I threw out my scale long ago, but I know I have LOST weight since I stopped long distance running. Mine weight gain never had to do with making bad food choices, but more to do with the HANGRY factor. And to think, I thought that cutting back on running would make me miserable and chubby!

  • Sammi November 17, 2009, 12:49 pm

    I try not to let the number on the scale upset me. I exercise 5 days a week and I haven’t lost 1 single pound since I’ve started.. there was ONE day I saw the scale said I had lost 5 or so but it must have been just that day.. or it was before I started building muscle. I’ve replaced a lot of my body fat with muscle.. I eat healthy and I exercise so who cares what some machine says??!! Plus.. guys are starting to get jealous of my guns πŸ˜‰ haha!

    I have noticed exercising making me much hungrier! For a week I was ravenous but I think it is leveling off πŸ™‚

  • Janna November 17, 2009, 12:50 pm

    2 pull-ups! I am jealous, I can do a grand total of ZERO! I think I should probably work on that. But they are HARD!

    I actually used to be a slave to the scale. I have no idea why. So not worth it! I dont have a scale at home… but eery no and then Im tempted when I go to the gym. But then I quickly remember that it really doesn’t matter. πŸ™‚

  • Jenna November 17, 2009, 12:50 pm

    I tossed my scale out a few years ago. I find that weighing myself makes me obsess about the number on the scale, not about how my clothes fit or how I feel mentally and physically.

    When relying on the scale, I found that I was trying to maintain a weight that wasn’t healthy for me. I was always hungry, had no energy, wasn’t happy about my apperance.

    It took me awhile to get to the point where I am at today. But I am sure I have put on a weight, but my clothes now fit, I am happy and am full on energy. Whohooo!

  • michelle November 17, 2009, 12:50 pm

    Since I’ve stopped all dieting and counting and focused on Intuitive Eating I only weigh myself on the 1st of every month and that’s only for use of a guide. It’s astounding- the change in my life- without focusing on numbers. I’ve found so much more TIME and FREEDOM. I refuse to let a number on a scale dictate my feelings about myself.

  • Allison November 17, 2009, 12:51 pm

    I don’t even have a scale! I run three days every week, bike around my neighborhood, eat balanced meals, and just don’t worry about it. I have been a healthy, curvy size 10 for several years and I’ve pretty much accepted it. πŸ™‚

  • Kara November 17, 2009, 12:51 pm

    I’m actively trying to lose some weight, so the number on the scale is still important to me, but I remind myself as often as possible that it is not the only measure of my health and success.

    If I’m living well: eating whole foods, feeling more energetic, sleeping better and getting in regular exercise, the weight will come off eventually πŸ™‚

  • Anna November 17, 2009, 12:51 pm

    I have run two marathons and I would definitely say that reguardless if you gain or lose weight while you are training for a marathon you have to remember you ARE TRAINING FOR A MARATHON and that is a huge accomplishment that comes with cost such as being so hungry you feel like you could eat constantly all day. My roommates wanted to enter me in an eating contest during my first race(so glad I could amuse them with my eating). Anyways I try not to care how much I weigh and what I look and feel like with marathons I have noticed my thighs getting bigger do the muscle build up…but I also got my six pack back and I’m not complaining about that! You never know what yoru body will do when you do an endurance event, but crossing the finish line is PRICELESS!!!! πŸ™‚

  • Joelle (The Pancake Girl) November 17, 2009, 12:53 pm

    So, I’m curious- how does one measure body fat percentage??

    I need to try an acorn squash!

    • caitlin November 17, 2009, 12:55 pm

      they can do it at your gym, but those measures (pinchers) are notoriously unreliable anyway. the real method is to dunk you in a tank of water.

      • Shelly November 17, 2009, 1:16 pm

        My gym makes you stand barefoot on a scale that also measures your body fat. I wasn’t thrilled with my overall % until I learned that my % in my torso (which is where I see the most mooshiness…haha technical word there) is actually really low, which is good in terms of predicting future cardiovascular health- which made me feel pretty proud. My goal is to be a feisty old lady! πŸ™‚

      • Anna M November 17, 2009, 3:34 pm

        Hi! Ive been reading you blog for a while now, and I love it! This is my first time commenting. As an exercise physiologist, I thought I may be able to provide some helpful information. While hydrostatic ( underwater) weighing is currently considered the “gold standard” for measuring body composition, skin fold tests CAN be done properly, and in fact, that is the method most universities use in research studies. It is important to have a trained person ( someone with an exercise science degree, not just a training certification) perform your skin fold measurements. They need to mark the spot, and measure in the same place multiple times. Having the same person perform this test each time you have it done will make the measurement more accurate. Then, even if you disagree with the NUMBER they come up with, the CHANGES you see in subcutaneous body fat will be valid.
        Also- as far as weight gain with marathon training: a few things happen in your body when you take on more training that may make the scale show higher number. 1. blood volume goes up. 2. bone mineral depositing increases and this = heavier skeleton. 3. more muscle and 4. muscle holds water, so more muscle= more water.
        It is a common misconception that people may gain a few POUNDS of muscle during training. It is much more likely a combination of the 4 above, and possibly ( likely) more body fat, due to the HANGRY factor. Hope that helps!

        • caitlin November 17, 2009, 3:41 pm

          Anna – this was really helpful! thank you!!

    • Joelle (The Pancake Girl) November 17, 2009, 9:06 pm

      Thanks all! The underwater version sounds intense.

  • Matt November 17, 2009, 12:54 pm

    I never weigh myself anymore. It causes too much confusion and it doesn’t mean anything. I go by how my clothes fit and how I feel.

    I actually gained about 5 pounds when I trained for a marathon and that was runninf 80-100 miles a week. I think it was just water and muscle because I dropped back down to my normal weight a week after. Even though I was heavier, I felt fitter and my clothes were perfectly fine. This proves that the scale is a piece of crap.

  • Jessica (Mile High Jess) November 17, 2009, 12:59 pm

    I weigh myself once a day. Just to make sure I’m within my normal flunctuations. I do get really hungry afte rlong runs, but it’s usually the next day. Last spring when I was training I gained weight for the first 2 months and then suddenly dropped 8 lbs. I was initially pretty excited but then I realized after tracking what I was eating, I was not consuming enough to properly fuel my body. I’m approaching training this time in an entirely different way. Can’t wait to see how my performance improves.

  • Tracy November 17, 2009, 12:59 pm

    Just wanted to let you know that I’m loving the Putting on the Miles challenge! It’s such a great way to stay motivated!! Do you think there will a new challenge before Christmas/New Year’s?

    • caitlin November 17, 2009, 1:01 pm

      maaaaaaaaaybe!

  • Abby (Abbys Vegan Eats) November 17, 2009, 1:00 pm

    Ive actually never owned a scale. I know my weight from the docs etc but it honestly doesnt cross my mind. I know if I feel different (body wise) but I never look at an actual number on a regular basis.

  • Ashley November 17, 2009, 1:00 pm

    i weigh myself every once in a while to keep myself on track and see where i’m at but i’ve stopped weighing myself daily which was driving me nuts! this is much better for my sanity πŸ™‚ Oh, and for field hockey every pre season we had to be able to do 1 pull-up. I never got one, in my 4 years of training. pathetic lol. my upper body strength is not that great and i’d love to work on it! i don’t belong to a gym though, and i don’t think there are any parks around my house, not sure what to do if you start a challenge.

  • Evan Thomas November 17, 2009, 1:03 pm

    I’ve pretty much thrown out the scale at this point. I don’t ever want to obsess with numbers and what not and that’s all knowing causes. I think the best scale for myself and most americans would be one wheich you can step on and it says “healthy” or “not healthy” too bad such a thing doesn’t exist

  • Graze With Me November 17, 2009, 1:03 pm

    I weight myself on the first of every month to get an idea of where I’m at. I’m at a happy weight right now and hope to stay there. I’m much more focused on the shape of my body and health than some number.

  • Haleigh November 17, 2009, 1:07 pm

    I try not to weigh myself too much otherwise I become obsessed with it and it’s not worth it.

  • Allison November 17, 2009, 1:08 pm

    I don’t own a scale, but I weigh myself a couple of times a week when I go to the gym. I have a range of numbers that I generally consider to be my “happy weight.” I generally go by how my clothes fit. I only get concerned about the number when I know that I haven’t been treating my body right- such as too much junk food and not enough exercise.

    Question: what are your plans for post-marathon exercise? I know it takes a long time to recover from a race like that!

    • caitlin November 17, 2009, 1:09 pm

      post marathon plans include a 15 mile trail race, another metric century bike ride, and a triathlon πŸ™‚ but probably not another marathon.

  • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance...after a 100+ POUND weight loss! November 17, 2009, 1:08 pm

    GREAT POST & FACTS!!! I thought you would actually lose weight while Marathon Training, however you made some very valid points as to why the opposite typically happens. I actually lost weight while doing a β€œ6 week” training program for a 10K I completed this past Sunday, however I have about 15-20 pounds that I want to lose so I do watch what I eat and I also upped my mileage while training so I know that also affected my weight. I was hovering around 146 prior to the race and am now hovering around 142-143. =)

  • Christine N November 17, 2009, 1:08 pm

    I used to weigh myself daily but I stopped. Now I pay attention to how my body feels after running and strength training and monitor change that way. And the way my clothes fit also helps to keep me on track.

  • Britt - Runnerbelle November 17, 2009, 1:12 pm

    I rarely weight myself. I rely more on my clothes and appearance. If my abs aren’t as defined or my pants feel a little tight I know something is up.

    Too often in the past I’ve let the scale dictate how I feel about myself. Actually it was when I ran my first marathon that I hit my highest weight…. it was the most frustrating thing! All that running and it kept just going up. I found some balance though and got back to my happy weight though…. which I have no idea what it is….. whatever weight I’m at that allows me to fit in my clothes and feel good!

  • Tania @ Moment Anew November 17, 2009, 1:13 pm

    Since I’m just starting out and have a decent amount of weight to lose, I am blogging a weekly weigh in, but also looking at measurements, body fat, and MOST importantly, how I FEEL. My rule is this: as long as I feel great, I am a success. I accept that there will be weeks where I may not lose or even gain. That’s totally okay and I just refuse to obsess about it. I’m just going to continue eating well and exercising knowing that I am becoming a healthier person in the process! πŸ™‚

  • Laura Georgina November 17, 2009, 1:13 pm

    I’m really glad to read this post! And thank you for addressing this topic in your usual frank and thoughtful way πŸ™‚

    I don’t weigh myself because I don’t want to obsess over what the numbers on the scale say if I know my clothes are fitting better and I’m feeling healthier. I put on muscle extremely fast, so when I first started exercising daily about nine months ago(swimming and running), my weight definitely went up before it went down. Now, knowing that I’ve lost over thirty pounds (and a whole lot of inches) matters so much less than how much better I feel, how foxily I now carry myself, and knowing that I can whomp (slowly but surely) on any 5K that comes my way!

  • MelissaNibbles November 17, 2009, 1:14 pm

    It’s unfortunate that people somehow relate training for a marathon to weight loss or gain. I know it was just a question they asked you, but come on, you’re training for a marathon, you think you’d get questions about training not about your weight.
    By the way, I think you’re kicking ass with your training and you’re going to rock your race!

    • caitlin November 17, 2009, 1:17 pm

      i agree. the nature of the beast!

  • brandi November 17, 2009, 1:17 pm

    I think that’s a great way to view it – honestly, I know it’s probably something that comes up, but if you’re training for a MARATHON, I would hope that most people would be more focused on that rather than a number, but who knows!

    I do still weigh myself (out of habit), but it doesn’t affect me like it used to. just one measurement of many to keep me on track.

  • Nicci@NiftyEats November 17, 2009, 1:18 pm

    I had to toss it out! It’s not controlling my day to day life and I’m better for not having that affect me!

  • Carrie November 17, 2009, 1:24 pm

    I completely agree with you that training for a marathon can put on weight, but not due to putting on additional muscle mass. You would only put on muscle mass if you were de-conditioned. Training for a marathon puts your body in a VERY catabolic state, rather than anabolic state so the body is not in an optimal state to build muscle. If you look at elite marathon runners, they are skinny and lack muscular bodies.

    Personally, when I trained for my marathon, I lost muscle in my legs and I noticed that I could barely lift weights due to my fatigue level and loss of strength. I also lost a lot of my speed, which correlates with strength/muscle mass.

    Also, calipers are a reliable way to measure body fat. If you find that the reading is inaccurate, then it is the person operating the calipers. I’ve compared some of my professors’ caliper readings to Bod-Pod (air displacement) readings and they are almost exactly the same!

    Good luck in your marathon!! πŸ™‚

    • Katherine November 17, 2009, 2:16 pm

      There are so many more factors involved – diet, stress…to name just 2. It is definitely possible to gain muscle mass while training – perhaps not elite athletes but they follow certain training and diets to ensure they DON’T gain muscle.

      • Carrie November 18, 2009, 12:01 am

        Yes, there are many factors involved. One of those factors being the physiology of your body. Take a look AMPK v. mTOR pathways. AMPK is a catabolic pathway which is activated when energy levels decrease (increase in the ADP/ATP ratio) such as in states of nutrient deprivation, endurance training, etc. mTOR is an anabolic pathway which is activated by weight lifting. AMPK and mTOR have been shown to be antagonistic to each other. Marathon training activates the AMPK pathway. In activating this pathway, it inhibits mTOR, which later leads to the inhibition of protein synthesis. If adequate protein cannot be synthesized, then muscle cannot be built.

        Also, just looking at this argument in a training aspect… Endurance training (especially to the extent of a marathon) GREATLY reduces strength, rate of force production, and other aspects that are associated with increased muscle cross sectional area.

        If you have access to academic databases (or just use Google Scholar), I suggest searching AMPK/mTOR, effects of endurance on strength, aerobic versus strength training for hypertrophy, and any other topics that deal with marathon training and increased muscle mass.

        In just a common sense, think about bodybuilders. Bodybuilders want to maintain as much muscle mass as possible. So what do they do in order to gain mass or maintain mass? They don’t do cardio (or very limited amounts of cardio). When they cut, they carefully watch their nutrition and try to keep their cardio as low as they can while still leaning up. They still will lose muscle mass while doing cardio (unless they are on steroids). In addition, olympic lifters and powerlifters very rarely include cardio in their plans because it takes away from their strength.

  • RhodeyGirl November 17, 2009, 1:26 pm

    Since you brought it up I feel comfortable saying it. You look really awesome! So fit! In the last few months I have noticed that every time you post a new photo of yourself you look leaner and more fit. Congrats! (Also, I hope you realize this is not meant in any way to be creepy haha!)

    • caitlin November 17, 2009, 1:30 pm

      hehe thank you πŸ™‚

    • Lindsey @ Sound Eats November 17, 2009, 6:06 pm

      I’ve thought the same thing!

      • Sarah November 17, 2009, 7:16 pm

        Me too!

        • Lauren November 17, 2009, 7:20 pm

          me three! (four?)

      • caitlin November 17, 2009, 7:21 pm

        thank you guys πŸ™‚ i really appreciate your nice remarks πŸ™‚

  • Shelly November 17, 2009, 1:26 pm

    I know that it’s not very popular in the healthy living blog world, but I own a scale and I weigh myself almost every day. There was a time in my life when this felt problematic, but it doesn’t now because I don’t really feel upset as long as I’m within a certain range. It does help me feel in control though because I feel like I can spot trends before they get out of control.
    I’m training for my first half marathon and I think it has definitely helped me keep my weight at the lower end of my happy range. I am, however, making a point of not eating anything I want just because I am running more. If I am hungry, I will have an additional snack or get second servings of my healthy dinner, but I am being careful to avoid the running more= all I can eat pizza buffet trap. πŸ™‚
    that being said, if I am going to treat myself, it is usually on the day of or the day after a long run. Overall though, I find that my appetite hasn’t increased as much as I thought it would.

  • RhodeyGirl November 17, 2009, 1:28 pm

    oh and also (why do I always leave double comments wtf) I step on the scale every morning when I get up. It is just a way to keep in check. I have put on 4 lbs since I got married and am FINALLY losing it, 4 months later. Even though my clothes were a little tighter and I didn’t feel as good about myself, I still stepped on the scale every day. I think it is important to use something to keep track and for me, working from home, the way my clothes fit was not a good way.

    I think that people run into trouble with the scale when they 1. compare themselves to others and/or 2. focus too much on the number rather than the number in comparison to past scale readings.

  • Julie @savvyeats November 17, 2009, 1:33 pm

    I started wheatgrass shots for the first time this week. I am not a fan of the taste. I am a fan of what it does for my body. Putting them in green monsters seems to help. A little.

  • nancy November 17, 2009, 1:33 pm

    I wish I could say the number doesn’t matter to me but it does. The scale regularly dictates how I feel about myself since I’m still obsessed with the number. This past summer I was running really well and actually STOPPED because my weight was going up. I’m running again now and am noticing the number ticking up. I’m really trying to focus on how well I’m running and how good I feel doing it but it’s hard for me. I hope there will be a day when it’s fitness,health and energy that matters to me more than the number.

    • caitlin November 17, 2009, 1:34 pm

      keep striving for this healthy goal! trust me, if i could let go of the number obsession, i really believe that anyone can.

  • Jenna November 17, 2009, 1:36 pm

    great post!
    jenna

  • Miriam November 17, 2009, 1:39 pm

    I’d really like your answer, superbly formulated and explained! Weight doesn’t matter, it is ALWAYS the way you feel in your body that count!! Good luck on your training!! πŸ™‚

  • Carolyn November 17, 2009, 1:44 pm

    Great attitude!

  • Lauren November 17, 2009, 1:47 pm

    I love your insight on weight loss/gain during training. I lost about 15 lbs. over a year and a half after college and THEN started running to train for my first half marathon (doing my second this weekend!) and have lost no weight in training. My body composition has shifted a lot during the past six months and my clothes fit great so I just have to keep that in mind even though the scale isn’t showing littler numbers.

  • Manda November 17, 2009, 1:50 pm

    thanks for this post today! last night i was mapping out my training plan for the next 8 months, (running my first half in May ’10), and today, this very terrifying thought came into my mind! what if i can’t lose weight while training???? (i’m also trying to lose some body fat % and gain LMM) then i though, heck if i can run a freakin’ HALF MARATHON, i will be ecstatic! THAT is my ultimate goal, and having a healthy balanced life, not the ##s on the scale. so THANK YOU for reaffirming this for me!

  • Lara November 17, 2009, 1:56 pm

    Running doesn’t build muscle. If it did marathon runners would have legs like body builders. You build muscle endurance but that isn’t going to affect the number on the scale. More likely is overeating and/or increase levels of glycogen in the muscles that cause some water puffiness which CAN show on the scale.

    • caitlin November 17, 2009, 1:57 pm

      running absolutely builds muscle, or how else do you explain my currently growing thigh muscles? i cannot even get into my skinny jeans.

      • caitlin November 17, 2009, 1:58 pm

        and obviously i’m not putting on “fat” weight as i lost a pound and my body fat % has dropped.

      • Lara November 17, 2009, 2:01 pm

        Like I said, it is the glycogen. Read the comment from Carrie, explainnig that running is catabolic meaning you actually can lose muscle mass. Do you see any marathon runners/iron men/women/ultra endurance athletes with big, body building bulky like legs? No, unless they have lots of fat. Puffiness/bigger thighs does not equal muscle. Muscle is actually more compact than fat, people who build muscle often lose inches.

        • Katherine November 17, 2009, 2:13 pm

          You can physically build more muscle on your thighs from running. If you have a thin frame to begin with and start doing activity and eat enough protein your muscles will increase in size. If you have a lot of muscle to begin with it is possible that you will los it when training. There are so many factors.

      • Nicole November 17, 2009, 2:53 pm

        I completely agree with you Caitlin! When I run a lot, my butt gets bigger. It’s not fat if my body fat percentage is going down. When I start triathlon training, my thighs get HUGE b/c of the cycling! I think that it also depends on the person. If you are an overweight person, and you train, yes your measurements will go down. If you are a naturally slender person to begin with and you have tortilla flats for a butt, but then you start running, and get a butt, that’s all MUSCLE, baby!!!

        • Nicole November 17, 2009, 2:54 pm

          especially if you running a lot of hills! That definitely builds muscle!!

        • caitlin November 17, 2009, 3:40 pm

          major LOL re: tortilla ass.

    • Shelly November 17, 2009, 4:08 pm

      I’m pretty sure that running counts as a weight bearing exercise for your legs. It’s less weight than if you squat a big weight, but you are definitely using your leg muscles to push against the ground, propel you forward, absorb the impact of your body as your feet hit the ground, and a basically carry the weight of your torso around.
      My fiance has done the body building thing to some extent (i.e. he stopped once he hit his third year of med school and didn’t have time to spend hours and hours at the gym), and he didn’t gain weight because he was lifting weights- he gained weight because he was eating a ton of food. Yes, he gained a lot of that weight in the form of muscle (but some of it was fat too)- and that’s b/c he was lifting weights and eating the right foods, but if he didn’t consume more calories than he was burning, he wouldn’t have gained weight. My understanding of the body building process is that first you bulk up by eating a lot of food and lifting weights and you gain both muscle and fat. Then, you diet somewhat drastically to lose the fat and get “cut.”
      It’s counterproductive for runners to try to gain weight b/c adding weight slows you down, which I think is why marathon runners don’t look like body builders.

      • caitlin November 17, 2009, 4:19 pm

        i agree πŸ™‚

      • Anna M November 17, 2009, 4:29 pm

        ok, one more chime in-
        I agree this can be a very confusing subject. A professor of mine always said “you shouldn’t run to get in shape, you should get in shape to run”, meaning this: Running is not going to increase muscle size or strength. It will however increase muscular endurance. While running is a weight bearing exercise, it is not a resistance training exercise. Distance running IS catabolic. This means you will actually use protein as a fuel source on long runs. In plain english, you may actually lose muscle mass due to running. This is why strength training and cross training are so important to long distance runners.
        Body builders and olympic lifters train very different from endurance athletes. Body builders actually train to increase muscle SIZE, not STRENGTH. They actually increase the amount of sarcoplasm more than myofibrils in muscle cells. ( Meaning they are gaining non-contractile tissue). Caitlin-one reason your quads may be larger right now could be due to swelling. When you are running long distances there is a lot of inflammation that happens in those muscles. ALSO- you could be increasing your intra-muscluar fat storage ( think about a marbled steak). try measuring the midpoint of your quad and calf muscles before and after a run and see if there is any difference. That would be interesting!

        • caitlin November 17, 2009, 4:34 pm

          I am going to measure tomorrow – I am very interested now.

        • Lara November 17, 2009, 4:58 pm

          Ditto to all that what Anna M said.

  • Sarah November 17, 2009, 1:58 pm

    I try to weigh myself every week. I say ‘try’ because I’m not very consistent as the number on the scale doesn’t meant much to me. The reason that I do try is that I have learnt (through a few months of regularish weigh-ins) that there is a magic number – for me – on that scale that’s something of a benchmark of how healthy I am. It links in to some other conditions I have, and matches up to results in overcoming them, and gaining some control in my life.
    To me, it’s not a definition of how healthy I am, but an indicator of just how far I am/not on track with eating healthily and exercising, especially the exercising. It’s just a tool – like a food diary, or a set of dumbells.

  • Krista November 17, 2009, 2:01 pm

    For the pullups (those are actually chinups you are doing, for pullups your palms face away from you…potAYto potAWto) the best way to increase the number is practice practice practice! Try and do one set every day or every other day and you’ll start seeing an increase over time. (Having a home pullup bar is ideal for this, as you will walk by it daily and be tempted to jump up there).
    I’m finally up to 12, never thought I’d get there but it’s possible! My next goal is 15! =)

    • caitlin November 17, 2009, 2:04 pm

      ohhh i didnt know the difference between pull ups and chin ups! thank you! im going to start to practice. we shall see!

      • Krista November 17, 2009, 2:10 pm

        Also wanted to add that trees make wonderful makeshift pullup bars!

        • Tracey@tropicalhappiness November 17, 2009, 3:21 pm

          Which ones are harder, pull ups or chin ups?

        • Krista November 17, 2009, 3:33 pm

          Tracey – for most people pullups are harder than chinups.

  • Jaya November 17, 2009, 2:04 pm

    Caitlin, it must be so great to have good company on your runs! I can’t speak to your scale/weight question because I’ve never thought of the scale as a metric for body comp. However, I can offer some tips on chin ups/pull ups. The grip usage in your photo (in this post) is what is characterized as a chin up (pull ups typically involve a supinated or palms away grip) and are the most difficult variation of the pulling movements. One great method for increasing chins or pull ups is slow negatives (jumping up to the bar and lowering yourself as slowly as possible).
    Using this technique, weighted chins, and lots of supplementary back and core work, I have found that my chin ups have really increased!
    I bet you will have a great time with that challenge and I would certainly love to follow along! Don’t forget, the monkey bars are hands down the most fun way to do it!
    Sorry for the lonnnng comment – have a great rest of the week πŸ™‚

    Jaya

  • Anne Marie@ New Weigh of Life November 17, 2009, 2:05 pm

    I’m trying not to let the number affect me. It’s not who I am, and I try not to let it define who I am.

  • Katherine November 17, 2009, 2:09 pm

    I’ll admit that I do hop on the scale almost every time I am at the gym. I don’t like it at all. I feel fabulous and somehow the number affects how I “feel”. I was on a cleanse for almost the entire summer because I had a parasite and I lost weight while eating MORE food. I ate ALL whole foods and was tired more often than not. Now I feel like I have so much more energy and have gained back the weight (5 lbs) that I lost while I was on this cleanse. It’s not about the number at all. I only focus on these things when I am not truly LIVING my life. When I am having a good time and enjoying life I love my body and weight…but without even thinking about it!

  • Jaya November 17, 2009, 2:12 pm

    Also – just wanted to add that I agree with Carrie and Lara’s comments about muscle atrophy/catabolism that occurs for many runners. When I used to run races, I always saw my strength go down (it is quite tough to make significant gains simultaneously in aerobic training and strength) and I also felt a bit “deflated” after long runs. In terms of the energy systems used and depending on a person’s diet, muscle loss is not only possible but quite likely. Oh! Krista must have posted while I was typing.. she is right on! Grip, tips and all!

  • Nicole November 17, 2009, 2:16 pm

    After fighting an eating disorder, I completely ditched the scale. It’s so liberating and finally, my happiness is not determined by a number on the scale πŸ™‚ I am curious about how much I weigh, but really, it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things!

  • Lauren November 17, 2009, 2:31 pm

    I’m so glad you posted this because I was one of the people that had asked you this question. You give me hope. Thanks for the post!

  • Linzi November 17, 2009, 2:39 pm

    What you said to me about how stressing out about weight can actually cause weight gain has been so inspiring to me. It’s so very true. I thank you for yours & the BL’s words of wisdom. And you can bet I will be keeping the OB note on my scale so I won’t need to look at it to know where I am. I will just know by how I feel & how my clothes fit.

  • Traci November 17, 2009, 2:48 pm

    Great post! I actually keep a scale around to make sure I am not loosing weight. I’m on the small side and loose weight too easy. So like right now in the middle of my 30 Day Bikram Challenge (Day 17!). I’ll monitor and weigh in to make sure I’m maintaining and not loosing weight.

  • Kailey (SnackFace) November 17, 2009, 2:51 pm

    Oh I am so OVER scales. Last year, I weighed myself at least once a week and even that drove me nuts. Then, I didn’t weigh myself at all from June 1 to mid-October. When I finally did, I was completely fine with the number because I realized it didn’t mean a damn thing. I like the way I look, I fit into my clothes, I’m healthier than ever and I’m happier than ever. I wish all women would give the scales a break for several months at a time, especially if they’re addicted to the numbers. But that’s all they are–symbols to represent a quantity. AKA they should never measure self worth, value or happiness.

  • lisa November 17, 2009, 2:52 pm

    Thanks for the heads up about the fundraiser at Chocolate Covered Kidness. It’s a great idea!

  • skinnyrunner November 17, 2009, 2:54 pm

    great post! i weigh myself every day because when i don’t those are the days i let slide and get careless with eating. but i can definitely see how sometimes the scale can make a woman crazy!

  • Nicole November 17, 2009, 2:58 pm

    I don’t own a scale, and I usually go by how I’m fitting into my clothes. If my waist in my jeans is loose, but my thighs are freaking huge, I look at my training schedule. It’s probably the cycling. If I can’t button up my jeans around my waist, it’s probably the cheesecake!

  • Amanda November 17, 2009, 3:01 pm

    I have thrown out the scale because it negatively affected my mood, no matter what the number. I struggle with disordered eating and if I were to see that I lost weight or gained weight, I know I would obsess over the number. Now I feel great if my clothes fit well πŸ™‚

  • Marissa November 17, 2009, 3:04 pm

    I don’t think I can even do one pull up. Oh well! πŸ™‚ I had a wrist/nerve injury the night before my wedding so my hand strength isn’t the same in my left hand due to sensation issues.

  • Sammi November 17, 2009, 3:13 pm

    I hop on the scale every now and then out of pure curiosity. I don’t beat myself up about the number on the scale though and it’s not like I get super excited if I lose a couple pounds. What I pay attention to is how I look and feel rather than the numbers that I see.

  • healthy ashley November 17, 2009, 3:15 pm

    Now I actually like the scale although our relationship hasn’t always been so healthy. Now I weigh myself most mornings and don’t obsess about the number at all.

  • Susan November 17, 2009, 3:30 pm

    I haven’t owned a scale in over a year. It was great for me when I was losing weight, but is kinda useless to me in maintenance. I’m more concerned about the size of my waist than how many pounds I weigh. I think measuring my body is a better indicator of where I’m at. Even then, there’s some discrepancy with self error, bloat etc. So long as you feel healthy and happy, that’s all that matters! πŸ™‚

  • Julie November 17, 2009, 3:54 pm

    I used to weigh myself every day without missing a beat. Then I gained a few pounds and got scared of the scale so I stopped. Seeing the high number would cause me to binge so the point of weighing to “stay in check” was working against me. I stll weigh, but only every few days. I find that when the number goes up, my mood goes down so I decided to cut it out for a while. It’s been working so far, hopefully I can keep it up.

  • Anne @ the doctor takes a wife November 17, 2009, 3:55 pm

    Unfortunately, I can’t make myself toss out my scale. I’ve lost a little bit of weight in the last year, and would really like to lose another 10 lbs. But more than anything, I’d LOVE to drop a jeans size… maybe I should through it out!!

    Keep up the great work, I’m loving your blog πŸ™‚

  • Carolina John November 17, 2009, 4:01 pm

    Someone actually said one time while we were in a weight watcher’s meeting “you can’t eat that unless you’re currently in marathon training”, and we were actually in marathon training at the time. we ate that and it was awesome.

    i always held weight but lost bodyfat % and inches from the waistline (pants) during heavy training. it does not bother me.

  • Laura Smith November 17, 2009, 4:09 pm

    This was great timing! (your post) I actually just started training for a marathon and have been running longer/more times per week (10 miler last week) than I have ever before, and I weighed myself and had gained 6 pounds. I am actually eating the same as usual ( my diet is lots of produce, dairy, PB, and beans) and am thinking it might be due to muscle mass, or maybe i’m just getting bigger??

  • Morgan November 17, 2009, 4:21 pm

    Does anyone lift weights? It seems that everyone that reads this blog is training for a race of ___ distance. Lifting will help you with your overall strength to help you become a faster and stronger runner! In the past 6 months, I’ve decreased my half marathon by THIRTY (30!!!) MINUTES by adding strength training in with my regular runs (which I incorporate speed work, hills, and long runs and every other week, tempo runs). Circuit training is also a wonderful compliment to running.

    I agree with Anna M, Carrie and Lara, running doesn’t build muscle, so these people who “gain” must be doing other things to make themselves feel like they have gained muscle from just running. Are you getting enough calories during your training?

    I just ran a marathon on November 1 and I did not gain one single pound during the course of training for it…I did, however, adjust my calories so I was taking in enough to supply my long runs with adequate energy-but through whole foods-fruits, veggies, grains, etc and not pastas and flour-y items. And I did have one “bad” meal afterwards (pizza), then it was back on to my regular eating plan and total intake of calories…

  • Alicia November 17, 2009, 4:27 pm

    I just had my husband hide our scale on Sunday night. We’ve agreed to bring it out once a month to keep ourselves on track. I found myself weighing myself every day, which was killing me mentally. In my eyes, it’s another step towards a healthy lifestyle!

  • Laurel November 17, 2009, 4:28 pm

    My scale is evil! So I rarely befriend it. I have a dietician who monitors my weight so I don’t have to be obsessed by it. I base my weight on how my clothes fit.

    As for running, I have given up my skinny jeans too – my thighs have no fat, but don’t like skinny jeans either.

  • Eliana >^..^ November 17, 2009, 5:28 pm

    I wish I lived closer to you so I can “stalk” you in your running..hahahaha…

    I live in Miami which is close but not close enough.

    What would you have is the average time for a 5K? Also, how do you know how much time it took you to run each mile, the watch? Sorry for the questions, I am knew to running.

    Thanks,

    Eliana
    >^..^<

    • caitlin November 17, 2009, 5:35 pm

      everyone’s pace is different, so i cant really tell you what an average pace for YOU should be.

      i have a Garmin Forerunner which is a GPS device that tracks mileage. you can also use mapmyrun.com to create your own paths and figure out your times.

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) November 17, 2009, 5:31 pm

    I’ve never gained weight from running but I’m not running double digit runs yet.

    Yeah for your running partner being back at it πŸ™‚

  • Tay November 17, 2009, 5:38 pm

    2 pull ups is great! I can’t even do one!! I love this post because lots of people freak out during training about gaining. I agree with all your points, especially the hungry part. I find that a long run can up your hunger for days and you end up eating way more than what you burned! It’s definitely something you have to watch out for, and still be mindful of what goes into your mouth (okay..that sounded kind of dirty :-/ ).

    As for the scale, I happily stopped weighing myself long ago once I had no scale at school. And it’s beyond freeing! Sure I’ll occasionally weigh myself at home, but honestly? I just find it stressful and depressing. If I’m perfectly happy on a day to day basis, and fitting into my pants, why let the scale dictate my mood?

  • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) November 17, 2009, 5:40 pm

    I weigh myself daily. (I’m actively trying to lose 30 lbs though.) I don’t obsess about the number, rather I find it interesting how the weight changes daily. I get weighed in at weight watchers once a week and that’s the weight that I actually count. I am looking forward to getting to a healthy weight and not weighing in as often!

  • Julia November 17, 2009, 5:42 pm

    Nice post.
    I totally stopped weighing myself since beginning marathon training. (19 more days….eeeeek!) I’ve DEF put on weight. enough that my pants are tight! However, I have never been faster or stronger in my life. So strength># on scale. Who cares if you weigh plus or minus 5/8/10 pounds when your body can now run 26 miles? πŸ™‚

  • Mica November 17, 2009, 6:06 pm

    Man, I can’t even do one pull-up. Two is awesome!

    I definitely put on some weight during marathon training, but worse, I put on more when I stopped. Now, I’m pretty bummed about it because I can’t run as much, and I just feel kind of icky and heavy. It’s a bit upsetting.

    That said, I weigh myself weekly since weighing every day seems a bit neurotic.

  • Katie November 17, 2009, 6:40 pm

    I can’t even do one pull up!

    I wish I could throw out the scale. I do but I can’t. I have been having trouble with me accepting my weight lately feel like I’m gaining, but actually think I’ve lost some.

    I think you have a very healthy approach to it and congrats on the running!

  • Caroline November 17, 2009, 7:18 pm

    Interesting topic. I think I gained a pound or two last year when I was training for a marathon. This was a little disappointing for me since I often fantasized about what I would look like on the marathon day after all that running. Well I looked pretty much the same as I always do but the difference was I was able to run 26.2 miles! I realized that it’s not all about what you look like but rather what you can accomplish and I will never forget the feeling of crossing that line 4 hrs and 20 minutes later! On to the scale, I recently bought one after not having it for a solid year. I bought it because I knew that my pants were starting to fit tighter and that I didn’t have a real idea of what the number was. I am now weighing myself every other day or so just to keep tabs on it and keep me accountable. The number actually helps me with this and keeps me motivated to eat healthy.

  • Kristy (Love Run Live) November 17, 2009, 7:33 pm

    I used to weigh myself obsessively but I became so focused on every little fluctuation that it completely controlled my life. I find that I weigh myself about once a month. Otherwise, I go by the way I feel and look in the mirror. I often found that I felt I looked better before I weighed myself and then totally beat myself up for every imperfection after getting of the scale. I realized that that behavior was so toxic for me that I didn’t need to obsess over it… and mainly because of this blog and Operation Beautiful. πŸ™‚ Thank you.. so much.

  • Diana (Mymarblerye) November 17, 2009, 7:36 pm

    I use to weight myself EVERY SINGLE DAY. I was obsessed with it like eminem is obsessed with mariah. I then read an article on self/shape magazine about healthy weight and it really changed my perspective on things. I go by my JEANS now.

  • Megs November 17, 2009, 7:46 pm

    A good way to get pull-ups is to work on “negatives.” Grab the bar and hold up for 10 seconds. Then slowly descend down to a SLOW count of 10. Also look into learning “kipping” pullups

  • Lindsay Perrone (goodiesgalore) November 17, 2009, 7:55 pm

    First of all, it rocks that you can do 2 pull ups. I don’t think I could even hold myself up just hanging. Secondly. love that you wrote (shutter) after the wheat grass.Does it taste like crap?

    • caitlin November 17, 2009, 7:56 pm

      ugh totally.

      • chandra h November 17, 2009, 8:00 pm

        hehe…. i’m weird, i love the taste of wheatgrass πŸ˜›

        • Shelly November 17, 2009, 10:15 pm

          Me too! Freshly juiced wheatgrass, that is! I didn’t like the way that the amazing grass powder tasted in water.

  • chandra h November 17, 2009, 8:06 pm

    it’s really interesting to me how different body types react to intense exercise programs i.e. marathon training.
    when I’m running regularly (& my longest run has been around 11ish miles) I need food food food and it’s hard for me to keep weight on, what to speak of gaining it. sometimes just reading about your high-teen runs makes me hungry! πŸ™‚ you are seriously inspiring… i’d love to build up to that one day!!

    • caitlin November 17, 2009, 8:16 pm

      thank you – keep working at it and you will! 11 miles is damn impressive!

  • whitney November 17, 2009, 8:53 pm

    Thank you so much for that post it was much needed. I had many questions about what you should/shouldn’t be eating and that helped me out.

    I have not weighed myself in over a month. I feel the scale can make people obsessive and whats the point of 1 or 2 pound difference. I gauge on how I feel and how my clothes feel

  • Kat (Kat's Daily Plate) November 17, 2009, 10:09 pm

    I hate my scale and have been wanting to throw it out.. I just hold onto it. I feel great but I am building so much muscle with my new exercise routine that the scale doesnt reflect my real weight loss. I try to just be happy about how good I feel in my clothes!

  • Hangry Pants November 17, 2009, 11:31 pm

    I rememebet double digit hanger. Kind of miss it. I agree with Sabrina – you looking fly lately.

  • Lu November 18, 2009, 2:24 pm

    I ditched the scale. I explained on my blog how doing it was one of the ways that I lost weight and felt better about myself.

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