Alex started the study with me on January 1st, 2015. She has dieted and exercised before, but this is the first time she did it with a structured and supervised strength training program. Her weight loss program the last time consisted of a high protein, low-fat and low carb diet, coupled with a walking program. The rationale behind both low-fat and low carb was because her practitioners considered fat to be bad for you (I disagree. You need fat…good fat to be healthy). Since the diet was low with two macro nutrients, it was also by default a low-calorie diet. She was averaging 600 to 900 calories a day. The results were good, as far as weight loss was concerned, for she lost about 25 pounds. The problem was that she had no energy (big surprise) so if she wanted to do anything more strenuous than walking, she did not have the reserves to do so. Moreover, and more importantly, she lost muscle mass, I am sure. This will slow down the metabolic rate. She was able to keep the weight off for about a year, and then it crept up. She weighed 160 lbs when she started the program and dropped down to 145 pounds. When we took measurements at the start of our program, she weighed 202 lbs with a body fat percentage of 41 to 42%. Thus she not only gained the original weight back, but she added another 42 pounds.
There is no question that the program she was on is unsustainable, for simply eating a lot of protein and really nothing else cannot be satisfying. Furthermore, it is a semi-starvation diet, and that never lasts.
I have her on a low carb/high fat diet combined with the Hystrength exercise program. The workouts are in large part intense strength training combined with both functional and stability training. I started them all with three times a week for the first month and I will drop their training to twice a week for the final two months. For a quick refresher, see My Study on Cellulite Loss for more detail.
Here is how she is doing so far: She lost 7 pounds in the first week, but she has since gained back three pounds. Her strength also improved dramatically.
Her leg press went from 130 lbs for 14 reps to 320 lbs for 15 reps.
Dumbbell press from 15 lbs for 12 reps to 25 lbs for 12 reps.
Her Pull-downs went from 50 lbs for 10 reps to 65 lbs for 9 reps with 1 assisted.
What does all this mean? First of all, she has gained some muscle, although a part of her strength development has more to do with improved neurological drive at this point. As for the weight gain, it is hard to pin down. It could be one of two things: one day she ate some brownies she thought was Paleo/low carb made by her sister, but she later found out that her sister put honey in it (I had some too…a lot actually not knowing it had honey in it. No wonder they tasted so good and I couldn’t stop eating them). This may have triggered fat storage. The other possibility is that here body as rebelling to the new regime. It is under new stress, and it may not know what to do just yet.
She thinks it has to do with the brownies, but I suspect the latter, for I have seen this fairly often with clients after a few weeks of training. I have two reasons to believe this. One is that I had her do some intermittent fasting to get back to burning fat for fuel again, and that should only take a day or two. The second reason why I believe this may be the case is because three out of the four women I am doing the study with did gain back some weight at around the same point. The other two women are already back to losing weight again. Alex will not be far behind. It must also be said that Alex lost the most weight of the four women the first week. It is yet another reason why I think that her body is being a bit stubborn right now.
What I like about this study is that we are documenting everything that is going on. We are showing that fat loss and body reshaping is a journey. The body has its own time clock, so to speak, and these highs and lows are part of the process. I do know from experience that if she stays with it, her body will change. It has to with the interventions we are making.