swimming to lose weight

FAQ – Part Two

Did you miss Part One of the FAQ? Check it out here. This will be an ongoing series as I get emails and comments with questions from readers. If I haven’t answered something, just leave a comment below.

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I just found your blog recently. Where should I start reading?

My blog has evolved a lot since it’s inception in 2010. In the beginning I didn’t really have a vision for this website, partly because I didn’t really think anyone would read it! As it grew, my style changed. I got away from the “This is What I Ate” type of posts. I was personally bored writing them, so I assumed readers were bored reading them. I do post recipes here and there. As a result of this evolution, I think a lot of my newer posts are probably better. Here are some suggestions:

My first Blog Post

My Fat History – this is sort of an “About Me” type of page.

How I Lost 110 Pounds – answers the basic questions about how I lost the weight.

Best Of 

Why Wednesday – Why You Should Lose Weight Slowly

Lap Swimming Etiquette

Swimming Tips for Beginners

Polar Heart Rate Monitor Tutorial

Overcoming Exercise Obstacles

My Thoughts on The Four Hour Body Week

My 100 Pound Anniversary

Fitness and Finding Love

Don’t Break the Bank Getting in Shape

I Can Barely Walk, But I Can Definitely Swim

How to Plan Some Awesome Meals

How often do you weigh in on the scale? Do you still record your weight and calories at myfitness pal?

I weigh myself once a month. I’m at the stage right now where I don’t fluctuate in my weight very much beyond a pound of water retention. I use the monthly weigh-in just to check in with myself. Even though I don’t see a change in the scale, I still want to be aware. I went scale-free last summer and it really helped me to not care about that number on the scale as much. It did wonders for my self-esteem!

Yes, I still use MyFitnessPal to record my weight, my food intake and my exercise. I also track on the site Cronometer. It’s a great website to log foods and analyze trends in eating and nutrients. Even though I am in maintenance mode and not trying to lose, I still have to do what worked to lose the weight. I will always count my calories. I may not be restricting in order to lose, but I still have to be accountable to myself.

I may not talk about it much on my blog anymore since I don’t post my weigh-in or post my food as often, but I still do it. It’s a MUST. I have to be accountable if I’m going to keep the weight off long term.

What do you do if you start seeing an upward trend on the scale? ( like a gradual, slow gain).

This doesn’t happen often anymore. Like I said above, I’m maintaining and my weight doesn’t change much. It may fluctuate a few pounds during that time of the month, but I don’t count that. Month in and month out I’ve been the same weight —somewhere in the 144’s (144.4, 144.6, etc).

There was one time after I reached goal weight where I did gain weight. I started taking a medication that unfortunately caused weight gain. Sadly, I didn’t put two and two together until almost a year had passed and I’d gained 15 pounds. As I saw those numbers tick up on the scale, I ignored them. I was running all the time, I was training for Hood to Coast, and I blamed the numbers going up on that. It wasn’t until I realized that the drugs caused weight gain and that gaining 15 pounds even though I was counting my calories AND exercising 5 days a week was NOT NORMAL, that I stopped the medication. I lost weight pretty quickly and it reaffirmed that the medication was packing on the pounds.

Now, medication-free and doing all the “right” things, if I saw a gain I’d pay attention. First, I would measure my body and see if I was gaining muscle. Second, I’d start being more careful with measuring my food and not “eye-balling” it. Lastly, I would pay attention to my sugar intake. Am I drinking more alcohol more frequently?

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Am I digging into the Candy Room at work more often? Am I having too much dessert too often? 

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When you first started swimming how did you get into the swim suit? Were you embarrassed by your thighs or butt?

I knew that swimming was the right exercise for me as a way to lose weight. First, it was something I’d always loved doing as a kid and as a teen so I knew I’d stick with it. Second, swimming was a good activity for an obese person with sore joints.

Getting into that swim suit was the only option. I had to in order to lose the weight. I just knew it was something I had to overcome. No matter how embarrassing or uncomfortable it was, I had to do it. Something that helped was wearing a swim suit that had a skirt attached to it like this one:

The suit I had was nowhere near as cute as that one. But it had a skirt that covered some of my thigh region–the part I was most self-conscious about. That helped. And honestly, once I was in the pool it wasn’t even an issue because no one could see me under water. 🙂

It looks like you like beer. Isn’t that high in calories?

Why yes it is! Especially if you like the IPAs that I drink almost exclusively. IPAs are often between 180-220 calories a pop. That’s quite a bit. I follow my “90/10 Rule“, which means I eat in a healthy way most of the time, but I splurge and indulge, too. It’s called enjoying everything in moderation! Even beer! If that means I only have 1 beer once in awhile, that’s okay by me. Because I’m not DENYING myself anything. I’m not on a diet. I made a lifestyle change.

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What kind of camera do you have?

I have a Canon Rebel and I LOVE IT! It’s my “precious.”  I love my camera so much. It’s a great camera, takes wonderful pictures–while I am still learning how to use it. I took one camera class but for the most part I’ve been teaching myself with just practice, practice, practice. I use LightRoom to edit my photos.

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How often would you run when you trained for a race? Did you give yourself days off for rest? How many? Did you cross train during that time? I just started running and wondering if I could run more than 3x/week.

Great questions! I was running 3 days a week on average when I was running a lot. In the beginning I had to give myself a few days in between my runs because my thighs would be really sore. But as I conditioned my body and got better at running, I could run two days in a row if I wanted to.

I did a lot of cross-training simply because I’d always done it. I swam two days a week no matter what because swimming was how I lost my weight and I loved doing it. I tried to fit in a yoga class here and there as well. I also spent one day a week doing cardio at the gym (stair-master usually).

If you’re just starting out with running, I really suggest following a plan for beginners. Increasing mileage, speed or frequency too much too soon leads to injury or over-training. While I did not follow a “program,” I have heard really good things about the Couch to 5k Program. It’s worth a try. Good luck!

QUESTION: I love getting reader mail, so ask away if you have any questions!

Three Swim Workouts

It’s been awhile since I talked about how much I love and enjoy swimming. Even though I haven’t mentioned it lately, never fear–it’s something I will always do, even if I don’t write about it. My workout routine currently is as follows:  1 spin class, 2 cardio days with weight lifting and 2 days of swimming. The swimming is always there and always will be. I love it. It’s the perfect activity for sore muscles the day after a really hard weight lifting session. Swimming is the perfect activity after a long work week when I need to decompress.

If you are looking for some ideas on how to spice up your workout, give one of these swim sessions a try. You can shorten it or lengthen it depending on your abilities. Don’t be ashamed if you’re only doing 2 lengths at a time, or if you need to rest. We all start somewhere! When I first started swimming I was tired and out of shape and needed to rest after each length of the pool.

Here are three workouts that I alternate between depending on my mood and whether or not I’m swimming as a “recovery.” My recovery swims are slower because I’m sore. It feels so great to swim when my muscles are sore! And it’s even better when I can sit in the hot tub afterward.

Workout #1 – About 50 minutes

  • 50 lengths freestyle, fast no stopping
  • Rest 2-4 minutes
  • 10 lengths medium pace w/kickboard, no upper body
  • 10 lengths freestyle with buoy, no kicking
  • 10 lengths breaststroke
  • 10 lengths freestyle with buoy, no kicking, and using hand paddles
  • 10 lengths breaststroke

Workout #2 – Between 45-55 minutes

  •  30 lengths freestyle, fast no stopping
  • 10 lengths breaststroke
  • 10 lengths freestyle with buoy, no kicking and hand paddles
  • Rest 30 seconds-1 minute
  • 10 lengths medium pace w/kickboard, no upper body
  • 8 lengths freestyle with buoy, no kicking, and using hand paddles
  • 12 lengths freestyle, fast
  • 10 lengths breaststroke

Workout #3 – Between 40-50 minutes

  • 30 lengths freestyle, fast no stopping
  • 20 lengths breaststroke
  • Rest 2 minutes
  • Interval sprints freestyle as fast as possible down and back then
  • Rest

Be sure to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!! Swimming makes me really thirsty, especially if swimming in a salt water pool. I think the salt water sucks the moisture out of my body while I swim or something. I drink one water bottle through my hour long pool session and try to drink water when I get home too. Also, don’t forget to hydrate your skin after you clean up to prevent the swimmer’s “itch” (dry skin from chlorine).

As with every really hard workout, follow it with a hearty, healthy meal. My most recent swim session was Workout #2 and when I got home, Michael and I made homemade turkey burgers. What I love about turkey burgers is that they are tasty, filling and pretty low in calories.

The turkey burger itself was about 200 calories, the slice of Swiss cheese 70 calories, sandwich thin 100 calories, lettuce and tomato. In addition to the turkey burger (which was juicy and satisfying), we steamed broccoli with Goddess dressing:

And I had some red grapes with dinner. And maybe….a glass of some other kind of grapes….

I’ve been adding some fruit to my meals lately, and not just having fruit as my snacks like normal. I liked having something sweet after eating my breakfast or dinner because I tend to want SWEETS. Eating some fruit with dinner makes it easier to limit the sweets I have for dessert. Win-win.

Swimming is how I lost 110 pounds and I firmly believe swimming is how I’ve kept the weight off. No matter what happens (injury, etc) I can always swim! If you’re on the fence about whether or not to try swimming, I say take the plunge. Give it a try. If I could dare to get into a swimsuit at 250 pounds, anyone can!

QUESTION: Are you a swimmer? What’s your favorite routines?