Thursday, September 7, 2017

My Vacation Weight Gain Experiment

For years now, I’ve been frustrated by the inevitable weight gain that occurs during the latter part of my vacations. All due, of course, to my lack of interest in monitoring my caloric intake when I’m fully engaged in the enjoyment of the experience of wherever I happen to be. Thus, I’ve been on a quest recently to try to figure out a way to have my cake and eat it too so that I don’t return home with 7 extra pounds that take 1-2 weeks to get off. 

Previous vacations would start off with great intentions of trying to monitor what went in my mouth, only to be intercepted by that first picturesque outdoor restaurant where a beer at noon enhanced the experience to the perfect level of enjoyment. So, with previous attempts to control (and subsequent failure) to conquer my voracious appetite, I decided to try something different during my recent trip to Kauai. 

In the beginning, I went along as normal, eating and drinking whatever and whenever I wanted until about five days into the vacation when the skin started to migrate outward from the top of my bikini. This is the breaking point for me; not the loss of tone around the tummy or the touching of the inner thighs, which probably occurs around day 2 or 3. No, it’s when the tucking into the top could no longer solve the problem! That’s when I took the dreaded walk to the fitness room to step on the scale to find out just how much damage had been done (inevitably, it’s more than 5 pounds at this point). And yes, 7 pounds it was and I had 3 days left (including the flight home) to solve the problem! 

I had been leery of fasted cardio because I learned that cortisol can be released in response to the stress of not eating. Cortisol can promote fat gain. But, the idea that increasing the amount of time before my body released insulin (the fat storage hormone) made sense to me, and my mind was open to options at this point! 

Our liver glycogen stores are pretty much depleted by the time we wake up in the morning. As a result, cortisol is released to make us hungry for breakfast to get some sugar into our blood. Once we eat carbohydrates (chocolate muffins), insulin is released and any unused sugar is tucked away as fat for later use. Intermittent fasting has you skipping breakfast in order to keep insulin at bay. This concept sounded doable to me. 

By skipping breakfast and only drinking coffee, I delayed the fat storage process and instead encouraged the breakdown process. I know that we need carbohydrates to initiate the fat-burning process, but my hope was that the glycogen in my muscles could be broken down to provide the glucose that would be needed. This process was not too difficult for me as I love coffee and caffeine is an appetite suppressant. Amazingly, I had tremendous energy despite skipping breakfast and when I weighed myself the next day, actually lost a pound! Since this was done without monitoring my caloric intake for the rest of the day, I decided to do it again. On that second day I went hiking for 5 hours, so my fat utilization had to be significant. Again, I didn’t monitor my caloric intake the for rest of the day and my weight stayed the same. It wasn’t until day three, the last day I skipped breakfast, that I really noticed a decrease in the excess skin around my arms. Without too much sacrifice, the experiment seemed to be working! I will try this again on my next vacation and hope that I finally the found a way to have my cake and it eat too.

To see short videos of my experiment, search for shelspinsfitness on Facebook or Instagram.
It’s when the tucking into the top could no longer solve the problem
Bubbs, Dr. Marc. "Balancing Hormones For Optimal Weight Loss." IDEA Health & Fitness Association.

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