Why I’m excited that I only lost 1lb during the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic

Once the 2019 holiday festivities were behind me I switched my focus and training to my March 15th goal–complete my 2nd half-marathon and crush my previous time. I trained hard, completed many runs, and was ready to line up and race. Then, 3 days before race day, the race was canceled and the state of North Carolina joined many other states in a Coronavirus/COVID-19 lockdown and keeping everyone at home.

I was devastated, but instead of quitting altogether, I adjusted my plans and worked harder than ever on my health. Over the last 3 months, I have stayed committed to my diet, exercise, and mental health plans and, after weighing in this week?

I lost 1 pound–and I’m pretty happy with that number. Here’s why…

weight loss chart

My plan for the past 3 months was a “body recomposition.” You may have heard this expression before, or perhaps it’s as new to you now as it was to me when I started my exercise journey. Basically, body recomposition means focusing on a diet and exercise regime that exchanges fat with muscle.

Now that I had no running races to train for, I decided it was time to switch my focus from fat-burning cardio to building more muscle. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I still ran, biked, played tennis, and enjoyed some “mental health” walks with my beautiful wife. However, I did make some key changes:

  1. I added more protein to my diet. On average I would say I added around 30% more protein to my daily diet. Protein is key to muscle growth. However, it was also hard to hit my target number of at least 150g. I drank at least 2 protein shakes per day in order to help reach that number.
  2. I didn’t watch my carb intake quite as closely. While protein is key for muscle growth, I also needed some more carbohydrates in order to fuel my workouts. I tried to keep my carbs on the healthy side but didn’t watch numbers as closely. Protein was the only macro I measured.
  3. I increased my weightlifting workouts. I went from 2 workout sessions per week to 3. I also increased the number of exercises per session from 5 or 6 to 8 or 9. As training for a race was not on the cards, this increase also included more leg exercises (that may sound counter-intuitive, but when training for a race, I don’t need sore legs hindering my runs).
  4. I dialed back my cardio a little. I still did all of the types of cardio that I enjoy, just not quite as much of it. And, if I did happen to do a long run or play 90 minutes of singles tennis before lifting weights, I would slip in an extra meal–packed with protein and carbs.

Still reading? 🙂

The end result is that I estimate that I dropped around 6lbs of fat and gained around 5lbs of extra muscle. How could I tell?

  • I added 1/4 of an inch to my biceps and also my triceps. Doesn’t sound much, but then again my arms aren’t much to look at either. 🥳
  • I lost an inch on my chest, but that was from fat. I added more muscle and my pecs are slowly starting to look like something I never dreamed I would have when I started out nearly 3 years ago.
  • I lost half an inch on my waist. This is probably the most important thing to look for when the scales don’t move as much as you hoped. Measure your waist. If your waist measurement reduces–even if the scales increase–then you’re doing the right thing!

“Enough with your own personal update, what’s the lesson for the rest of us!” (at least one of you thought that, right?)

TL;DR takeaway? ⬇️

Don’t be discouraged if the scales are not reflecting the hard effort you have put in. Anyone that comes to me for help reaching their fitness goals will be asked the same thing: take your body measurements as scales don’t tell the whole story. In addition, keep a journal–whether mentally, on paper, or via social media selfies (guilty!)–so that you can see far more progress than what the scales show you.

So, what’s my plan now?

My goal now is to lose another 10lbs of body fat, while maintaining the muscle growth I worked hard on. That means I will be upping my cardio a little, dialing back my weight lifting a little, and overall reducing my caloric intake by 300-500 calories per day. In an ideal world, that means I achieve my next goal in roughly 10 weeks. But, I tell myself the same thing I would tell you. Try your hardest to achieve your weight loss goal, but don’t let your diet and exercise plans become so strict that they rob you of the joy of life. If you stumble, pick yourself back up, remind yourself that this is a marathon, not a sprint (sorry, runner’s logic), and take your next best step forward!

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