During my time in Pittsburgh I noticed that my abs and arms were really toned, more so than they had been prior to my trip. I thought this was strange since I was working out a bit less while away from home (although my training had me on my feet quite a bit), and I was eating less protein.
When I posted “A Candid Look At My Diet” several months ago, I recorded how much protein I consumed and it was about 1.1-1.4 grams/kg. Lately I think I’ve been closer to .8-1 gram/kg body weight (.8 grams/kg is the amount of protein required for a sedentary person). I’ve read research before that has indicated too much protein (>2 grams/kg body weight) can have the opposite effect on our muscles (our muscles will atrophy instead of hypertrophy). Perhaps I was getting too much before, and my 1.1-1.4 g.kg estimation was way off?
Ironically I also found this article a couple weeks ago, which reviewed a study that had indicated the more meat (and poultry) men and women consumed, the more they weighed (and it wasn’t from muscle weighing more than fat)! I realize this isn’t saying that too much protein causes weight gain, but I still thought this was interesting, considering all the recent interest in high protein diets, which focus mainly on meat and poultry.
As I thought more about why my abs and arms were all of a sudden really ripped (haha, not quite….) I came up with a few more possible reasons:
Elliptical: I had quit using the elliptical for a month because I no longer had our gym apartment’s elliptical. For the month of June I had been power walking, lifting, and doing yoga and pilates. Then in mid-July we got Nick’s sister’s elliptical, and I had an elliptical at the hotel. It’s an amazing workout and I think it’s helped me get back my toned figure 😉
Moving a lot during the day: I never sit anymore. When I was working from home I did a lot of sitting (although it was on a stability ball, and sometimes I stood and used my ironing board as a desk). Now I am walking back and forth across the very large grocery store, all day!
No ice cream: The whole time I was in Pittsburgh I didn’t eat any ice cream. It was rough. Could this have something to do with my increased muscle mass?? I’m skeptical because I still ate dessert every night, even though it was never ice cream (mainly Lindt’s Dark Chocolate and some M&M’s). I don’t think I was consuming any less sugar, but perhaps I was!
Less Stress: From April through May, and even into June, I was stressed to the max. I had lost my job, and had a mortgage to pay. My rent had tripled, yet my income had plummeted. I can safely say I have never been so stressed in my life. Not to mention all the work we had to do on the house (and of course, money that needed spending). Stress causes the release of stress hormones, which can actually cause us to gain weight and lose muscle (especially women, and especially in the mid-section). Today I am much less stressed and feel 100 times better about life. I really think this has played a large role in my increased muscle mass.
Right now my goal is to stay toned and keep up with my healthy lifestyle changes. I believe the combination of the elliptical, the walking I do for my job, the decrease in stress, and the decrease in animal protein consumption is really helping. I’ll ignore the ice cream theory, because I am not giving it up.