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Old 01-15-2010, 08:49 PM   #1
Bethany Glaser
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Beginner Weight/Body Composition Fluctuation (and Frustration)

Hi there! I'm brand new to the message Board and relatively new to Crossfit. I am frustrated with what's been going on with my body lately and I'm wondering if other women had similar fluctuations at the beginning of training.

My main goals are to firm up, get back to my 135-140 weight range and most specifically: trim my tummy. It holds the majority of my unwanted fat.

I am currently 152 lbs. Until about 3 years ago I was consistently about 135 lbs and trim, but not very strong. I experienced some extreme personal situations and stress and became inactive, and really let my diet go. (Eating a high sugar and high starch diet). I got up to 164 at my highest. At this weight I was very uncomfortable with my body (I'm 5.8) and in my clothes. Through minimal to moderate exercise and portion control, I lost 10 pounds, along with great strides in emotional health. I started eating Paleo in July at 154 lbs. I'm pretty strict but cheat with a glass of wine or chocolate here and there. I lost 10-12 pounds over about 2.5 months to 142-144. and I have to say was pretty excited. I do limit red meat, or too much meat in general and I make sure there are healthy fats in every meal.

I started Crossfit in November and have been going 3 times a week. My weight has been steadily increasing. I'm sure there has been some muscle build, but it is not readily evident in the mirror or with being able to lift more weight just yet. I'm still scaling most workouts weight-wise. My cardio endurance is much improved. My arms and breasts have lost some size (which is good), however my stomach is still holding fat. It looks like I'm holding more fat then when I started. My butt looks better, though a little bigger, and my thighs are firming up but have a ways to go. I recently (2 weeks ago) ramped up my Crossfit attendance to 4-5 times a week.

If my weight was increasing and it was clearly muscle, I wouldn't be concerned with the scale. Based on my dramatic diet changes and going from 0 to 60 with exercising, I thought that there would be more dramatic changes.

Did anyone else build muscle before losing fat? Did anyone else have lots of fluctuation in the beginning? Is it reasonable to expect my weight and body fat to reduce eventually? Soon even? Is there something I am doing wrong?

Sorry this is so long! Thank you!
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Old 01-15-2010, 09:05 PM   #2
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Beginner Weight/Body Composition Fluctuation (and Frustration)

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Originally Posted by Bethany Glaser View Post
Did anyone else build muscle before losing fat? Did anyone else have lots of fluctuation in the beginning? Is it reasonable to expect my weight and body fat to reduce eventually? Soon even? Is there something I am doing wrong?
Yes, building muscle before losing fat is a fairly common experience among female Crossfitters. After only two months, I'm not surprised that you can't yet do the workouts as Rxed, but you should be seeing some strength increases. Are you following the main page, or some other programming?

Yes, it is reasonable to expect your body fat to go down. However, it's possible that getting more exercise has ramped up your appetite as well, and so you're eating more than you realize. A food log might be helpful.

Definitely pay more attention to the mirror than the number on the scale. Muscle is denser than fat, so muscular people look smaller at a given weight. 135 sounds a shade low if you're 5'8" and fit.

Katherine
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Old 01-16-2010, 02:54 AM   #3
Matth Challoner
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Re: Beginner Weight/Body Composition Fluctuation (and Frustration)

Katherine is right as usual!
Good Luck and keep at it.
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Old 01-16-2010, 10:36 AM   #4
John Jaeckel
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Re: Beginner Weight/Body Composition Fluctuation (and Frustration)

To me, there's one clue in your description of what you're doing that might tell the story.

If you're following Paleo as strictly as you say, but you also limit meat (as you say), where are your calories and protein coming from, especially at enough quantity to make you gain weight?

Are you on GOMAD?

Or are you eating things that aren't really Paleo, but thinking/rationalizing that they are (pasta— even the organic/whole grain variety, multi-grain bagels, SOY, etc.).

Please don't take this the wrong way, but I think Katherine's suggestion of a food log— rigorous, detailed and honest— would provide the answer.
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Old 01-16-2010, 11:02 AM   #5
Bethany Glaser
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Re: Beginner Weight/Body Composition Fluctuation (and Frustration)

Thanks for your comments! I don't keep a food journal, because in my mind I only notice cheats and they are pretty few and far. (My boyfriend is a health and wellness doctor who teaches strict paleo but was also vegan for a few years. I've got plenty of food accountability.) But I am going to start. And then meet with my trainer to go over it.

I almost never eat grains (pasta, soy, etc). I do have oatmeal maybe once a week (usually do it with blueberries, raisins, walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc.) My calories come largely from nuts and avocados. I eat carrots with almond butter as a snack a lot. Or hummus as a treat. And I do eat sweet potatoes maybe once a week. (They keep coming in our winter CSA! I never buy them.) The majority of my meals are just super heavy on veggies. Typical dinner is a stir fry with chicken and 4-5 different veggies, with a little coconut oil and vinaigrette, or lentil burgers with tomatoes, spinach, boston lettuce, and avocado (no bun). I make soups and chili a lot. This week I did a french onion (no cheese or bread obviously) beefed up with kale and mushrooms and a little hot sauce. We had spaghetti squash this week with roasted brussel sprouts and red sauce. We eat grass fed burgers, no bun maybe once a week. Eggs scrambled with veggies or smoothies with veggies and flax seed in the morning... I'm never hungry and I don't eat as much as my 6'4 crossfitting boyfriend, but I'm not in search of calories by any means. The only other cheat I can think of is we have sushi every so often and usually get a mix of sashimi and rolls, so there is some rice.
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Old 01-16-2010, 11:08 AM   #6
Bethany Glaser
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Re: Beginner Weight/Body Composition Fluctuation (and Frustration)

Oh and I'm not familiar with GOMAD? Is that the gallon of milk thing? I don't eat dairy at all. I don't even really like milk.
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Old 01-16-2010, 11:10 AM   #7
Bethany Glaser
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Re: Beginner Weight/Body Composition Fluctuation (and Frustration)

Oh and I follow the North Shore Crossfit programming, not main page.
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Old 01-16-2010, 12:03 PM   #8
Tamara Cohen
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Re: Beginner Weight/Body Composition Fluctuation (and Frustration)

I'm also going to plug the food log. I really like FitDay.

After I started Paleo in October, I dropped a few pounds (that was not a goal), but then I kept dropping. I'm down to 135 lbs at 5'8, which is definitely really lean for me because I know I'm carrying a good amount of muscle. I lost 5 lbs in the last 4 weeks, and that coincided with me feeling very tired and sluggish. My strength stuff was right on, but I felt like I was dragging in metcons. I assumed I was eating 2200-2400 calories a day, but when I plugged everything into FitDay, I realized that I was only hitting 1900-2000 on most days. So, I upped my calories by adding some more fat with coconut milk, walnuts and avocado. I definitely felt better this week and didn't drop any more weight. I mean, I thought I knew what I was eating everyday, but I was pretty off on the total calories (and yes, I did buy a food scale to weigh portions to be accurate, UGH).

I would say focus on how you are feeling and performing more than how you look. Two months of CrossFit isn't that long, and you said you have definitely seen some body and performance changes. Also, I pointed this out in the "Girl Power" thread a little while ago (definitely check that out if you haven't already), but we sometimes focus so much on CrossFit making people "hot" that we forget that CrossFit builds all sorts of bodies. Look at the videos from the 2009 Games and compare body types - Jocelyn Forest, Sarah Dunsmore, Gillian Mounsey, Carey Kepler, Jenni Orr - right there you have 5 drastically different body types on 5 amazing athletes.
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:20 AM   #9
Allyson Dill
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Re: Beginner Weight/Body Composition Fluctuation (and Frustration)

I'm definitely in the same boat as you - I've been CFing since October and have seen incredible gains in muscle mass, strength, and endurance, but my body fat % is still quite high and I've not lost much fat in the places I want it gone. Over the past year my weight jumped from 150 to 165, and I've managed to lose about 6 pounds since starting CF. However, the scales have never agreed with me...I've always been significantly heavier than my peers, and at 5'3", conventional measures of fitness (BMI, etc.) indicate that I am a hair's breadth away from being obese. Being large-boned and quite muscular can be very frustrating for women, as today's health (and fashion) standards rarely take our kind into consideration. Tamara is correct in stating that some solace can be taken when observing CF's female athletes. It may take longer for you to see the fat loss results you want, but the strength gains are well worth the wait.
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Old 01-17-2010, 09:31 AM   #10
John Jaeckel
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Re: Beginner Weight/Body Composition Fluctuation (and Frustration)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bethany Glaser View Post
Thanks for your comments! I don't keep a food journal, because in my mind I only notice cheats and they are pretty few and far. (My boyfriend is a health and wellness doctor who teaches strict paleo but was also vegan for a few years. I've got plenty of food accountability.) But I am going to start. And then meet with my trainer to go over it.

I almost never eat grains (pasta, soy, etc). I do have oatmeal maybe once a week (usually do it with blueberries, raisins, walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc.) My calories come largely from nuts and avocados. I eat carrots with almond butter as a snack a lot. Or hummus as a treat. And I do eat sweet potatoes maybe once a week. (They keep coming in our winter CSA! I never buy them.) The majority of my meals are just super heavy on veggies. Typical dinner is a stir fry with chicken and 4-5 different veggies, with a little coconut oil and vinaigrette, or lentil burgers with tomatoes, spinach, boston lettuce, and avocado (no bun). I make soups and chili a lot. This week I did a french onion (no cheese or bread obviously) beefed up with kale and mushrooms and a little hot sauce. We had spaghetti squash this week with roasted brussel sprouts and red sauce. We eat grass fed burgers, no bun maybe once a week. Eggs scrambled with veggies or smoothies with veggies and flax seed in the morning... I'm never hungry and I don't eat as much as my 6'4 crossfitting boyfriend, but I'm not in search of calories by any means. The only other cheat I can think of is we have sushi every so often and usually get a mix of sashimi and rolls, so there is some rice.
Listen, I am by no means in position to preach, except, I am also not having difficulty shedding pounds. Just offering a devil's advocate opinion based on what you're relating.

See above: if you're deriving that many calories from nuts and avocadoes, then a very high percentage of your calories are coming from fat. Good fat, but fat.

Hummus and lentils are not paleo and they are pretty starchy to the best of my knowledge.

Are any of these things, on occasion, or in their proper proportion, a big deal? No. But you have to honestly ask yourself, how much of your diet do things like legumes, beans, nuts and avocadoes take up? Especially if you generally eschew meat.

Let me take this a step further. Speaking for myself, when i started CF, and at earlier times in my life where I've trained hard and hypertrophically, I have found myself craving calories, and especially protein. If your sources of protein are to a large extent nuts, legumes, etc., I would then say you are also ingesting a lot of fat AND starches, maybe too many starches.

If your boyfriend is 6'4" and a committed crossfitter, his size, metabolism and caloric needs are likely different than yours at this point, and might permit him to get away with that kind of diet.

No indictments here, just hopefully helping you see some areas worth exploring.

From an anthropological/biological perspective, which the Paleo diet is entirely based on, lean meat (especially wild game, which includes lots of "red" meat) is a good, if not necessary thing, especially if you are performing intense exercise like CF.
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Last edited by John Jaeckel : 01-17-2010 at 09:33 AM.
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