Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

The secret shame of swimming

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I’ve been swimming. A lot. Over the last seven months, I’ve worked up from barely able to complete three laps to being able to swim three miles  (105 laps) in one session. That qualifies as a lot.

I’ve also continued to bike a bit and to do my PT exercises a couple of times a week.

What’s bothering me at the moment is that I’ve managed to gain weight, even though I’ve been more active in the last three months than I’ve been most of the last three years. The difference is swimming. I think. I’ve never been a swimmer, and I don’t think I’m a particularly efficient one now.

Admittedly, I love my fro yo and other things that aren’t particularly good for me. But my eating habits haven’t changed much while I’ve added exercise, so I would expect that I would at least maintain, if not lose, weight.

I started looking into this because it’s annoying me. I’ve gained less than five pounds, but it’s still annoying to see the scale head the wrong direction.

I haven’t yet found any real research, but it does seem that there is some controversy out there about swimming and weight loss. I didn’t start swimming for weight loss; I started because it’s pretty much the only thing that I can do without hurting. So the anecdotal “evidence” might not totally apply to me, but it still has me wondering.

First, there’s the possibility that I’ve gained weight because I’ve built up some muscle mass. I don’t think this is the answer, despite the fact that there has certainly been positive changes to my right VMO. I haven’t seen enough of a change to warrant weight gain.

Second, there’s the idea that you have to work a lot harder to burn calories in the pool because you’re not towing around your whole body weight. Not sure on this one. I suppose it could be true that I’m not burning as many calories swimming as I do when I’m doing other exercises, but I’m never in the pool less than an hour. Plus, I’m not carting around my own weight when I’m biking. I’d need to know more before determining if this is the problem for me.

Third, there’s the idea that the cooler water in the pool sucks the energy right out of you, making you feel hungrier afterward because the body is trying to warm up (eating is one way to do that). If you’re not careful, you might overeat or eat more than you even realize. I don’t know what I think about this one either, at least as far as it relates to my own situation. As I said, I do get hungry after I swim, but once I realized this, I’ve been careful to drink water first and then eat a snack. It’s also much less of a problem for me now that I swim at night rather than in the morning.

There’s a lot of people with a lot of differing opinions, and most of them are just that–opinions. All I know right now is that I’m annoyed. I need to figure out how to lose the weight I gained before I gain more and start looking like a marshmallow. I think I’m going to start switching up my exercise in the pool. I’m going to do more speed work and try out a few different strokes. I’ve been focused solely on freestyle because I know that one won’t hurt the knee too badly, but I think it’s time to try something new. I think I need to get back to strength training, too. It’s just that there are only so many hours in the day, and I’d have to give something up to be able to do more. It’s a delicate balance between what I want to do and what I probably need to do. Bah! It shouldn’t be this hard.

Author: Laura

I have a fern I named Frankenstein. I like leprechauns, practicing kung fu moves on my dining room furniture, and pretending that one day I will move to Fiji. I dislike my neighbors' kids, anything that is chartreuse, and Ben Roethlisberger.

One thought on “The secret shame of swimming

  1. Pingback: A nice little side effect | Just What I Kneeded

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