(Actually, it would probably be beneficial for men to know this information too, especially if they strive to better understand women!)

 

You decide that you want to lose weight and you begin a program.  You are working out.  You are making healthier food choices.  You have followed the exact specifications of the plan.  It is weigh-in day and BAM!  You are 5-10lbs heavier than you were last week.  WHAT HAPPENED?????

Well, there are several things that could be at play here, but I will focus on the two most common causes, one being especially relevant to women- excessive sodium intake and an impending menstrual period.

SODIUM: The body needs some sodium to be able to adequately function.  However, when you take in sodium exceeding approximately 2300mg per day, your body responds to the increase by retaining fluids.  The next day you will notice that your wedding rings are tighter, your clothes are tighter, your skin looks puffy, and your ankles are likely swollen.

SOLUTION: Increase your water intake throughout the day. This works both on a day when you are consuming excessive sodium and on the day after a high sodium consumption.  By adding the extra water to your system, you help to flush out some of the sodium and push the retained fluids out.  Additionally, exercise is very helpful here.  Sweat will help to release the retained fluids and sodium.

NOW FOR SPECIFICALLY FOR WOMEN:

There is that one week every month that most women DREAD… the menstrual period.

It has been my experience that the week before my period I can expect a 5 to 10lb weight gain from retained fluid.  This is a normal process that a woman’s body typically undergoes monthly.  Additionally, during that week we tend to crave chocolate or other foods that we would not normally consume during the rest of the month.  The added calories, while temporary, will add a couple of pounds to the scale, as well.

The good news is that once my menstrual period starts all of the retained fluid is released and that will be reflected in the number on the scale.  If your luck is anything like mine, though, the week before your period will just happen to be the week that you have to see your doctor.  Your doctor will ask you to step on the scale and you will want to cry (we are pretty emotional during that time period anyway) because despite all of your hard work, it appears that you have GAINED weight since you saw the doctor last.  Don’t cry and don’t make excuses.  Just explain to yourself and your doctor, if he/she asks, that you are working a fitness and nutrition program that will show results in the long term.  Also, you should be aware of this occurrence and try to schedule your doctor’s appointments for the week after your period when you are generally lighter.

The best advice that I have for the week before your period is to consume at least 60-80 ounces of water a day and exercise.  Make sure that, even though you may not be feeling the best, you force yourself to exercise at least 30 minutes a day to keep your body moving.  This will not only make you feel better, but it will also help to reduce the amount of fluid that is being retained.

During the course of your fitness and nutrition program, you will learn that short-term expected increases in weight, such as ones that are sodium induced and the one around a woman’s menstrual cycle, should not be something that causes alarm and worry.  Generally, you will be able to tell if the increased number on the scale is from one of these causes or if you have not paid close enough attention to caloric intake or not been as physically active as you needed to be to burn your calories.

FINAL NOTE:  These are universal issues that everyone has to deal with- skinny or not.  Get used to these fluctuations and learn to accept them.  Thankfully, they are only temporary!

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