Losing Weight by Swimming

Happy New Year. Last night was difficult. I hope the worst is behind me now that the holidays are behind me. First, I just didn’t like dinner. I know I should like fish and should eat fish but I am a really picky fish eater. Mom prepared salmon with an arugula yogurt sauce and I didn’t like the salmon or the sauce. I felt bad for wasting and I felt bad because my dinner mostly consisted of a small serving of white rice and a small slice of baguette, along with a third of a piece of salmon I gagged down.

I went to bed at 11 but by 1:30 a.m. I was up, unable to sleep. While I was up I ate two Fig Newtons, three big chunks of black licorice, and a handful of chocolate chips. Awful. I don’t even like black licorice. But this was pure depression eating and I’m not going to let how I ate last night discourage me from my path of weight loss and fitness.

I miss my husband. I can’t believe we’re over. I can’t believe he doesn’t want me.

I wish the pool were open today because I really need it. I hope it’s not too crowded tomorrow with all the resolutions! It’s cold and foggy today and I feel I should bundle up and take a walk, but I am also so tired and my ear hurts and I just feel like babying myself.

Enough whining. That’s my whine quota for today.

I spend a fair amount of time looking for articles about people who swim for fitness and there’s some pretty cool stuff out there, but as usual there is also a a lot of conflicting information. And it’s surprising how often people write about, or assume, that swimming will not really help you to lose weight and in fact may cause you to gain weight.

First off, the swimming if I’m lucky only burns about 600-700 calories an hour, so using it (or any activity) solely for weight loss is really not that efficient. For me, my food choices (last night excluded) are primarily why I lose weight. The exercise just puts things where I want them to go. It also gives me muscles, including a stronger heart and lungs. A side benefit of all exercise is that you also burn more calories when you’re not exercising.

One article I read about swimming and weight loss said that people are famished after swimming and that is the reason some people don’t lose weight with that activity (I guess because they give in to the hunger). I am curious to know why we would be hungrier after swimming than we would after running. I am hungry and thirsty and weak after swimming, but I don’t drive to Carls Jr. and undo all my work. In fact it’s because I’m often slightly sore that I am very aware of my changing body and am reminded about what my goals are.

If you Google, “why am I hungry after I swim” one of the first explanations is this:

Question: “I’m always famished after I go swimming. What makes this happen?”

Answer: Researchers don’t know exactly why this occurs, but they suspect that it’s because the cooler temperature of the water causes your body to lose heat and the blood vessels in your skin to constrict. This prevents the release of certain hormones that suppress appetite during and soon after exercise, says Rudy Dressendorfer, PhD, an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta’s Human Performance Laboratory in Edmonton.

One study conducted by Dressendorfer and his colleagues found that people who exercised in colder water consumed 44 percent more calories following their workout than those who expended the same amount of energy in warmer water. But you don’t have to fall prey to after-swim hunger. Dressendorfer says that you can reduce it somewhat by taking a brisk 15-minute walk to warm up your body immediately after you get out of the pool.

Ok, the above makes some sense, but c’mon swimmers, do you feel cold after swimming? I don’t! I walk to the car in my flip flops in the snow!

And a doctor in this video (at about the 1 minute mark) claims that you can lose weight by swimming, but you won’t lose as much because the water is cold and so the body keeps a layer of fat to keep you warm — utter bullocks. You can see from the comments below the video that almost everyone disagrees with him. Perhaps it applies to open water swimmers, I don’t know. But I do know that I am losing weight swimming and the water provides an aerobic workout, a weight training workout, and a heavenly emotional release!

And exercising in water is terrific for people who have been extremely inactive and are just trying to get back into an exercise routine or who may be self conscience about working out in front of really fit people in a gym. It may be the only activity they can spend 30 minutes doing right away, giving them a real sense of accomplishment. As time goes on, they can not only increase their time in the pool, but they can increase the intensity of their workout.

Swimming, for me, is not only the perfect exercise, but it is nourishing my soul because I have been a lifelong water lover. I don’t expect non water lovers to understand my love for the water and I doubt that water sports are the best exercise for people who don’t love water.

In my path to normal weight and fitness I will try many activities including tai chi, yoga, cycling, walking, and more, but for me swimming and water aerobics will remain my primary exercise.

Bottom line: If it works for you, then it works.

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