This Monday past was a public holiday, so I arranged to go for gym training at 11am. I have been recovering from a bit of minor surgery on my back, so the workout was planned to be fairly light anyway. But, towards the end, when I was doing abs on the vertical crunch machine, I began to feel pretty bad. Nauseous. No good. My trainer stopped me after the second set. The session was almost over anyway. A fellow gym-er remarked that my face had gone all pale.
I told my trainer that it’s never felt like this before – never on the ab machine anyway. I wondered aloud to him if it might be because of the antibiotics I’ve been taking, post-surgery, which has been playing mischief with my bowels too. He said that that might be it, and added that I really shouldn’t be doing training when on medication.
On the way home though, it dawned on me that actually the past occasions when this nausea has happened has generally always been in the daytime, e.g. in morning training sessions. And I began to suspect that it might actually be my high blood pressure medication. I usually go to gym in the late evenings – by then the medication has pretty much worn off for the day. But morning – it’s probably still in my system, relaxing my heart.
So if you’re taking medication, medicines – do be careful if you’re thinking of going to the gym, even if you feel fine.
You should also avoid going to the gym when:
- You’re not feeling well (obviously), or believe you’re going to fall sick.
- You’re exceptionally tired, e.g. did not sleep well the night before.
- You just ate, like within the last 45-60 minutes.
- On an empty stomach.
- When you’re on medication.
I’ll add one reason why you should go to the gym though: when you’ve had a long stressful day at work. Don’t bring that stress home – bring it to the gym, and burn it all away. You’ll feel better for it!
Yesterday at the gym, my trainer and I were surprised to see that my weight had dropped by a kilogram in just two days. But the good news ended there: my fat mass went up. It was mostly muscle loss.
My sleep was ok and what I had been eating was also normal. But upon closer inspection, he suspected that I had eaten too little that day (Friday). I did indeed eat rather less than the usual, especially at breakfast. I explained that it was due to a long day of endless meetings.
That was when he told me something that I found very startling: if you eat too little, your body will burn muscle first. Not the fat.
Apparently it has something to do with ancient biological survival instincts. If you eat too little, your body thinks you’re in trouble (like maybe the nearest food court is 20 km away), so it goes into starvation mode (read about it in the link). To protect its reserves (a.k.a. fat) it burns some fat as usual but also burns significant amounts of muscle mass, because, well, who needs all that extra muscle that needs so much energy and trouble to maintain, right? Stupid body… Your metabolism will also begin to decline as a survival response – and this is no good when you’re trying to lose weight.
I said that I’d always assumed it was the other way around, that eating less will cause more fats to burned for fuel – it seemed more logical.
This is an example of a snippet of bio info that few people really know and understand. Many people assume the “logical”, like I did, and end up causing their body more harm than good. Now it may be the case that it does not affect everyone, some even suggest it rarely happens except in extreme situations (true starvation situations) – but regardless of the validity, you should monitor your own eating and weight loss patterns, to figure out how it works (or not) on you. Something to think about.