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Motivation

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I started my workout program and I've GAINED weight! Help!

Jena Chopson

Has this ever happened to you before? 

Odds are if you have ever embarked upon a new, relatively more intense workout program, this has happened to you. 

What does it mean? Does it mean the workout program doesn't work? Does it mean you're doing something wrong? 

I see this happen sometimes with my clients during the first week or two of their program. 

The good news is, it's actually quite common, and here's why: 

1.) Inflammation

Exercise-induced inflammation is extremely common, especially with higher intensity programs like Insanity, P90X, or the 21 Day Fix Extreme. 

When many people begin these program, they see a temporary increase in the scale. Notice I didn't exactly say weight gain. With the help of celebrity personal trainer Chalene Johnson, let me help explain: 

"When someone starts a new exercise program, they often experience muscle soreness. The more intense and “unfamiliar” the program, the more intense the muscle soreness. This soreness is most prevalent 24 to 48 hours after each workout. In the first few weeks of a new program, soreness is the body trying to “protect and defend” the effected or targeted tissue. Exercise physiologists refer to this as delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS.

This type of soreness is thought to be caused by tissue breakdown or microscopic tears in muscle tissue. When this happens, the body protects the tissue. The muscle becomes inflamed and slightly swollen due to fluid retention. This temporary retention of fluid can result in a 3- to 4-pound weight gain within a few weeks of a new program. Keep in mind that muscle soreness is not necessarily a reflection of how hard you worked. In fact, some people feel no signs of muscle soreness, yet will experience the muscle protection mechanisms of water retention and slight swelling.

Most people are motivated enough to put up with this temporary muscle soreness. Yet, many, especially those who really need immediate weight loss to keep them motivated, become discouraged and quit!"

Who mostly becomes discouraged by this? Yep, you guessed it--us WOMEN. They key here is knowledge of the science, as explained above. Expect that this will happen, but don't let it discourage you. Know that this is just a temporary gain on the scale, it's normal, and to keep going! 

2.) Dial in your expectations 

I see this one ALL the time. I've even seen this to some extremes. When women don't drop 21 pounds in 21 days, they resort to crazy (and unhealthy) cleanses, fasts, and other unhealthy ways to drop said pounds FAST. After all, if it's not happening fast, it must not be working, right? 

WRONG. For some reason, even though it took us months, and even YEARS to land us in the body we're currently in, we think we can reverse that in a matter of days. 

It simply isn't true. Losing weight, gaining muscle, and becoming healthy is a process. It takes time + consistency to reach those goals. Patience and diligence is key. Trust the process and keep going! 

3.) Muscle is more dense than fat. 

You ever hear the phrase, "Muscle weighs more than fat?" Well, of course, we know that phrase verbatim isn't exactly true. A pound of muscle is the same as a pound of fat. A pound IS a pound, after all! 

But I believe what people are TRYING to get across, is that muscle is more dense than fat. Simply meaning that it's more concentrated. Therefore, it's going to take more muscle mass (and thus more pounds of it) to equal the same amount of mass as 1 pound of fat. 

Confused? Let's look at this image to help us out. 

Clearly, as you can see, these both weigh the same, but the fat takes up more SPACE. 

This illustration is exactly why us health & fitness coaches recommend taking MEASUREMENTS just as often as you are weighing yourself, because, frankly, the scale can be a liar. You can be packing on more muscle and becoming LEANER whilst not seeing any movement on the scale. 

Before photos and measurements will help you to be able to see this picture more clearly. I highly recommend it! 

4.) You're eating too many calories 

I put this one last because if you are truly following your workouts and your meal plan as you should be and the scale isn't moving, it is very likely due to the bullet points above. 

BUT, I've also seen many instances where my clients aren't being truly honest or aware of what they're eating. 

If you aren't tracking your nutrition intake, you should be (at least in the beginning). You need to get an idea of what you're taking in nutritionally on a typical day. Oftentimes, this surprises people. 

At the end of the day, weight loss is all about calories in and calories out. If you burn more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. Please note that this doesn't mean you will be healthy. I've been a shining example in my past on how eating less and burning off excessive calories doesn't exactly equate to health. 

Getting the RIGHT calories in, along with a healthy relationship with exercise is really the sweet spot (no pun intended). If you eat healthy, nutrient-dense foods and exercise consistently, you will likely gain muscle mass and lose fat. 

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No matter where you're at on your fitness journey, just know that I'm here to help! If you are struggling and need help getting all of this right, I'm only a simple message away. 

To your health, 

xoxo

Jena


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A Transformation Story

Jena Chopson

It's funny. When most women are getting ready for their wedding day, they do everything possible to get in the best physical shape for their big day. 

And me? The 3-sport high school athlete with what feels like a lifelong obsession with health & fitness? 

Nah.

In fact, the year of my engagement was probably one of the most UNhealthy years of my entire life. 

I was planning a wedding. While working stupid long hours as a nurse.  And then, as if wedding planning wasn't enough, we decided to put our house up for sale and start searching for our "forever" home. No big deal, right? 

I have never eaten so much fast food, takeout, and restaurant food in my entire life. I quickly ballooned to the heaviest weight I had ever been....ever. And as I spilled over into the "overweight" category on that beloved BMI scale, I earned myself a sit-down chat session with my doctor that I hadn't experienced since my overweight pre-teen years:

Doctor: You've gained weight.

Me: No shit. 

I was stressed to the max. Our financials were out of control. And what's more, I wasn't exactly used to being this uncomfortable in my own skin. I had dedicated myself to being healthy ever since I struggled with anorexia and binge eating in my early teens. You can read more about that here. And then I found myself overweight. Stressed out. Broke as a joke. And maybe homeless (seriously...who buys and sells a house while wedding planning?). 

To make a long story short---a few months after the chaos of buying & selling, the "I dos," the moving, and the new jobs wound down, someone introduced me to workouts I could do at home, in between my crazy nursing shifts. I could do these workouts without throwing on presentable gym clothes and hauling it to the gym. She also showed me how I could make extra income with this gig too. It was divine timing, and I jumped in 110%. 

I lost over 20 pounds and got in the best shape of my life. I would have kicked my own 17-year-old version of me's ass, and wore her prom dress better, too. I finally found ME again, and it felt amazing. 

Seems like the story should end here, right? 

There's one more really important piece to my story: My husband. 

He hates working out. He hates anything that makes him huff and puff. He's a hunter/fisherman type. Activities that get you outside to enjoy nature but don't necessarily get the heart racing. Well....until that trophy deer walks by. ;) 

He rolled his eyes a lot at first when I started my journey with at-home workouts. He was super skeptical about the whole thing. I have to give him credit though--despite his skepticism, his support for my journey was always unwavering. I'll never be able to thank him enough for that. 

I wanted him to go on this journey with me SO badly. After all, he, too had gained weight during our wedding/buying/selling/moving chaos. He ballooned to over 260lbs, officially gaining about 60 pounds since we had first met. We were both out of control. 

I wanted him to get his health back, too. But I couldn't do it for him. You can read more about that specific journey here

Long story short? He came around. And boy, he came around big time. Since deciding to make a change, Doug has lost approximately 75-80 pounds. He's lost a freaking 3rd grader! 

So when Doug posted this picture of us yesterday, it made my heart swell. 

Sometimes we can be so hard on ourselves. Sometimes it's so easy to forget how far we've come. We get so caught up in our daily, small battles that we forget about the war that we've already won. 

I'm sharing all this with you to say that there's a transformation story waiting inside all of us. We all have the power to make a change no matter what our situation, age, gender, finances, etc. All it takes is one decision and a steadfast, consistent commitment to make it happen. 

If we can do it, so can you. 

Do transformation stories like these inspire you? Let me know in the comments. I want to continue to give you stuff that inspires you to live your healthiest, best life. 

And as always, if you're struggling with your health & fitness goals and need help, I'm only an email/message/comment/social media handle away. You know where to find me. 

Cheers to you,

Jena 


SIGN UP TO GET JENA'S MOTIVATION, DELIVERED STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX! Subscribe to the Inspired By Jena Mailing List and receive regular fitness communications that include recipes, exercise tips, featured Beachbody® products, and motivational stories from Beachbody Coach Jena Chopson and others just like you.