A quick recap for those of you who haven’t been following along:
I had been maintaining my weight around 165 for many months, fluctuating between 163 and 167. In October and November, I did a 30 day yoga challenge during which I did no other exercise. This meant I stopped doing quite a lot of cardio and other heart-pumping activities and instead did 75 min of yoga every day. Yoga is wonderful, and I really hope nobody is discouraged from trying it because of my experience. I don’t regret doing the 30 days at all, but the result was that I gained about 5 pounds and my weight has been hovering between 169 and 174 since then.
I have since been hearing some interesting points about yoga. I figured that I gained the weight because I stopped doing the strenuous work-outs I had been doing, but it turns out that there might be more to it than that. Yoga has been the subject of some controversy this month as author William J Broad has been promoting his book, The Science of Yoga. It should be noted that Broad is an avid practitioner of yoga, but most of the media focus has been on so-called “yoga myths” he enumerates in his book. One of these myths is that yoga will help you lose weight.
Yoga is really good at one thing, Broad stated in an interview I heard on NPR, and that is relaxation. Relaxation slows the metabolism. Slowing the metabolism, with no other changes leads to weight gain. Ah ha! When he said that, it made so much sense to me.
Now I can see how one might lose weight by practicing yoga, but it would depend upon your starting point. Yoga seems to have the effect of making one more mindful of what one eats, so I could see a natural drop in overall food intake, or eating better foods as a result of practicing yoga. Alternatively, if a person was doing no exercise and then took up yoga, that would be an increase of activity and could possibly facilitate weight loss. However, that was not the case for me. I was extremely active in my usual gym exercise with things like Body Pump, heavy weight lifting, and running. There’s no way the calorie burn from even the most strenuous types of yoga could compete with that.
So there you go, I gained 5 lb. There’s more about it in this post along with many charts if you’d like to know more: Weight Maintenance: What it Really Looks Like.
Then, I moved. Needless to say, moving over the holidays adds a whole new dimension of stress to an already stressful season. I am proud to say I did not gain any additional weight during the process. As soon as I arrived in my new city, I joined a gym and then ok I am ready to get back on track and… I got really sick :( I had a nasty flu for two solid weeks. Once the flu passed, ok I am ready to get back on track and… I get slammed with a massive project and have been working a ton of extra hours including weekends since then.
Sometimes life doesn’t cooperate with your weight loss plans! No big deal. But one of these days, I really would like to get back to my 165 range. It’s just proactive. I actually feel pretty good about myself at the weight I currently am, but I like that cushion. I do not want to go back to 175, or even 180. So I’m working on it. Despite the project, I’ve been hitting the gym 4 days a week and doing a lot of weight lifting. Once the project slows down, I will add another day or two which will get me back where I was in terms of exercise before the yoga challenge.
I am also counting calories again. I’m keeping myself in the 2000 calories a day range and will see what happens with that before I decide to change it further. Just trying to get back into the habit of calorie counting was a little tough. I had a few false starts, but I think I’m back on it now. I can easily maintain my weight without calorie counting. I cannot lose weight without it. I just know myself. And I think it’s really important when you are trying to eat less, that you are aware of what you’re eating so you don’t end up eating too much less- it’s easy to do if you aren’t careful. I’m a huge advocate of calorie counting for weight loss, but more importantly for self-education. If you don’t know where you are going wrong, how can you fix it?
Eventually, I would love to add a yoga class or two into my routine, but I won’t be replacing regular exercise with it. However right now, I’m really enjoying my gym time and I don’t need the added expense.
And the journey continues. It’s been over three years since I started on my quest to change my lifestyle. Weight doesn’t keep itself off. There’s really no end to the journey. I could be upset that I weigh 5 lb more than I did 6 months ago, but I’m really not. It’s so nice to be able to say that I am not emotionally tied up in my weight anymore. I am able to look at it objectively and that makes everything so much easier on so many levels. I am sure I will be back to report that I have returned to my pre-yoga-challenge weight withing the next few months.