pumping iron maiden


A few weeks ago, I stepped on the bathroom scale, and I think it cussed at me.  What I saw horrified me.

I mean, deep down I knew; I couldn’t fit into any jeans except my baggier ones that I wore around “that time of the month” expressly to make myself more comfortable during those few days of water weight gain, and I couldn’t ignore my morphing mirror reflection.  Clothes didn’t hang as right or look as cute on me.  And I started to get that–ugh–cellulite look.

But, as much as I wanted to believe I was just seeing things, my worse suspicions were confirmed during last week’s regular routine physical in the chiropractic student clinic – I had gained 13 lbs in 2 months.

I never thought I’d have a concern about my weight.  Historically, the only concern was that I didn’t weigh enough.  My how things change.  My BMI is still within normal range, but it doesn’t need to get much higher before it says I’m officially “overweight”.  I never thought I’d ever be in a situation like this.

I admit, I carry it well.  The few people to whom I have confessed my weight say “nuh-uh.  You do NOT weigh that much”.  I wish they were right, but alas.  I have learned how to adapt my dress such that it diverts attention away from my growing middle and makes me look more shapely, but I can’t deny that the side-seam of my underwear is coming apart and I know that can’t be a good sign.

True to form as a nearly-graduated physician, I couldn’t help but to scan the various differential diagnoses – reasons for such substantial gain.  First off, NO, I am not pregnant!  Trust me, I know.  There is no possible way.

Second, YES, I have been eating right.  Not perfect, mind you, but plenty of fruits and vegetables, no wheat or refined grains, no sodas, and all meat and milk is organic except that which is in my ice cream, of which I have one bowl at the end of the night.  I drink water and I go easy on the junk food – in fact, I don’t eat any potato chips.  I could probably use more omega-3s, but I do eat more than the average person.  I’m also the least stressed out (at least, based on what I perceive) that I have been in over 3 years, so I’m not piling cortisol around my midsection.

So, what gives?  Nothing else has changed, except for an iron supplement I started taking to finally start correcting my long-ass-standing anemia.

So, I Googled it, and lo and behold, it seems as though others have the exact same mysterious problem.  Expert after expert says that they haven’t heard of any incidents or research to support such theories, but confused person after person, usually anemic females, claim it’s happening to them, too.  And their symptoms are eerily similar – slight upset stomach at times, but the worst is the unprecedented and unexpected weight gain.  Always around the abdomen, butt, and thighs, and never flattering, it hangs around stubbornly like a bored supervisor who won’t just go away.

So, when the scale cussed me out, I decided to holler back.  I started working out.  With a more lax class schedule, I have more freedom and more opportunity.  I strategically schedule my patients around workout times and I hit the on-campus gym.  My school workouts are usually about twice a week, and they last anywhere from 1-2 hours, and usually consists of a cardio-friendly workout on the treadmill or eliptical and a weight-lifting component, usually upper or lower body. In addition, when I get home, 6-7 days a week, I do a Power 90 DVD workout in the living room, alternating Sculpt (light muscle building and toning) and Cardio/Abs.

The cruel joke is that I haven’t lost any weight.  In fact, I may have gained a pound or 2.  I’m hoping that it’s because I’m replacing fat with muscle, which weighs more, and that the net gain is temporary as I start shedding adipose mass.

I will say this: even though I haven’t lost anything, I feel great.  I won’t stop taking the iron, because I know my body needs it.  Every cell needs oxygen, and a shortage of iron in the body causes you to be low in the oxygen-carrying molecule, Hemoglobin.  Without iron, cells don’t get oxygen, and long-term, that sucks. I also won’t give up on working out; although I wish I were shedding pounds, I do find that I feel a lot better, both physically and mentally.  My body has been worked and I have the resulting feeling of accomplishment, like I did something with my day, for myself.  That’s the stuff real self-esteem is made of.

Also, I feel more brain-balanced, because working out is a huge stress-buster.  My problems sure as hell don’t go away, but I can sure as hell handle them better and I have a healthier outlook.  Yes, I still sit and stew about things at times, but it could very well be worse.

Maybe I’m seeing things, but despite the lack of cooperation from my scale since I began working out, I do feel a bit more toned.  My muscles are rebuilding, and it seems as though my abs are ever so slightly smaller.  Relatively encouraging, since I’ve been doing this only about a week and a half or so.  I have to say, it’s been a blast, and we’ll see if my BMI is still high-normal in a few months.  Until then, I’m grabbing my Ipod Shuffle, my Endura electrolyte water, and a towel, and I’m basking in the idea that the need for new workout clothes gave me another excuse to go to Kohl’s. 🙂


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