Is Exercise a Part of Your New Year’s Resolution?

January is filled with the best of intentions when it comes to fitness and health. Unfortunately, most don’t last longer than 3-4 weeks. (Insert sad face here.) When it comes to beginning an exercise routine, there are several things you need to know for your new commitment to be successful. The biggest thing you need to know is why some folks gain weight with exercise (and, no, I don’t mean putting on muscle), as this is one of the common reasons they quit exercising.

Trauma Alert!!

When you go from being somewhat sedentary to being active – particularly intense activity such as lifting, running, etc – your body will be saying “WHAT THE HECK?!?” It may be in a bit of shock. You’ve just taken it from it’s nice comfy place and introduced it to an entirely different activity and routine. You may be sore, built up a bit of lactic acid, and may even feel swollen and stiff. Think about it… you put your poor, untrained muscles through something traumatic. What happens when any part of your body experiences trauma?

When the body undergoes injury, even micro-tears in the muscle as a result of completely appropriate exercise, it will send fluid to the area to begin repairing the damage. This may sound like you are doing something harmful, but you aren’t! It’s an entirely appropriate response! It’s no different than when you sprain your ankle and it swells because of fluid and inflammation. Your muscles can undergo the same process – the fluid and inflammation bring needed chemicals to the area to begin to repair your muscles and prepare them for your next workout.

This fluid comes from the body holding on to excess water as a response to the new activity. This will contribute to extra pounds on the scale. It’s NOT FAT!

Your Body Wants to Make Exercise Easier!

Your body is impressively adaptive. Now that you are working out, your body will take steps to prepare you for your next workout. This happens independent of the process described above – where your body attempts to repair any micro-damage done by hard workouts.

Your body has the ability to be ready for activity by storing sugar inside the muscles so you have immediate energy for your workouts. It says “okay, I’m gonna be ready next time!” and stores glycogen (the storage form of glucose/sugar) within the muscle.

THIS is when people quit their routine because they weigh themselves after a week and expect the scale to be down. On the contrary! The scale may be up several pounds! Your brain says “this obviously isn’t working!”, so you stop exercising and those pounds go away. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard people say “I gained weight when I started exercising, but lost it all when I stopped.” We know exercise is good for us – so this doesn’t make sense….but, yet – it happens just this way! WHY??

Glycogen Storage – Your Body’s Gift to You

In an effort to be ready for the next workout, your body will store glycogen (stored form of sugar) in the body as mentioned above. This is great! This enables you to start your workout fairly intensely – as your muscles have an immediate fuel source RIGHT THERE! (Of course, after appropriate warm-up and stretching.) However, glycogen doesn’t last forever. It’s purpose is for immediate usage, not long-term usage. It’s used up rather quickly, actually. Your body then turns to fat to fuel the rest of your workout. Your body works harder to use fat as a fuel source…glycogen is EASY to use! Thus, our bodies WANT to store glycogen for us!

When the body knows you are really going to stick with this exercise routine, it will store more glycogen in your muscles. Here’s the kicker….. To store ONE molecule of glycogen, the body has to store approximately 3 grams of water! Yes! That means you will retain fluid to store this precious glycogen! This will lead to a heavier weight on the scale. This is also dependent on what muscles have been worked! What will store more glycogen?…. your glutes or your forearms? So, yeah – when you work those big muscles (glutes, back, hamstrings, quads) – there’s a lot of potential for glycogen (and thus water) storage! This will reflect on the scale, but it isn’t true weight gain!

Losing Weight When You Stop Exercising

This explains why you lose that weight when you STOP exercising. It’s not true weight loss. It’s simply ‘pound loss’ – you see the number on the scale drop, but you’ve lost absolutely no fat. When you stop exercising, your body does’t need to store that glycogen. So, all that water you retained as a part of this wonderful, natural process begins to leave your body. This results in a lower number on the scale. That’s it.

So, What’s The Answer?

The answer is to just stick with it. Tune into your logical, rational brain and KNOW you are doing what is right for your body. Know that this is what is supposed to be happening! Drink lots of water (counterintuitive, I know…but it’s a must!) and wait for the scale to begin to show your true weight loss. Or, don’t get on the scale at all and just wait for your clothes to fit differently, or for others to compliment you on your new physique. Or, simply focus on your performance. Are you getting stronger? Faster?

So, You Must Have Numbers?

One way to truly measure if your efforts are working is to have your body composition tested before and during exercise. Before starting a routine – get a baseline body composition test. Then, about every 4-5 weeks. This tells you so much more than the scale ever could! I have patients who have been working with me for months and have only lost ONE pound according to the scale. However, their body comp shows a muscle gain of 11 lbs and a fat loss of 12 lbs. There’s your ONE pound net loss, but obviously things have changed!

My office uses an InBody to check body composition. There are other brands out there – simply google your area and “body composition” to see if there’s a way to do this. Personal trainers also can do this via skin-fold methods and measurements. The scale isn’t the only number that you should be looking at!

In Conclusion

You know exercising is good for you – stick with it despite what happens with the scale! This weight gain is protective, normal, and adaptive! It means your body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. Have faith in your body and it’s ability to look out for you.

-Dr. Hodges

This, as well as other essential information for weight loss, can be found in my new ebook!  This new ebook prepares you for your next weight loss program – to make it your LAST weight loss program!  Weight loss starts with your MIND….not with your BEHIND.  Get your mindset right and your chances of weight loss success SKYROCKET!

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Guess What?!  Everyone Likes Cake!


A lot of my patients play the blame-game.  I don’t mean they blame their weight issues on others –  exactly the opposite!  They blame themselves for things that have nothing to do with them personally.  This guilt-blame type of thinking can really interfere with weight loss.

If you have some weight to lose, whether it be 10 lbs or 100 lbs, have you ever said (or thought) to yourself “if only I were thin, I’d be able to…..”?   Well, I’m here to tell you that many of the things that finish that sentence have nothing to do with how big or small a person is.

Patients will sit in my office confessing their latest nutritional indiscretions (which usually aren’t all that big of a deal) and rarely does the confession end with just the confession.  More often than not it comes with a “if I were thin, I could have walked away”….or…..”if I could eat normally, that wouldn’t have happened.”  But, my favorite is “if I weren’t so fat, I wouldn’t even like cake*.”  What!?!  (Btw – I hate the F-word…..  Fat is something you have, not something you are.)

Wrong! Weight loss has nothing to do with you liking cake!

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but no one “likes cake because they are fat” – we like cake because we are HUMAN and cake tastes awesome!  I know I furrow my brow when I hear these things, because I’m thinking to myself “wow…Iike that stuff, too!”  Sometimes, I joke with my patients and tell them to get over themselves – they aren’t the only people on the planet that like cake!  🙂


I try to take the conversation in another direction – one where my beloved patient can (maybe) understand that certain actions and desires are 100% normal from a human perspective.  It’s not a character flaw that you enjoy foods that taste good to 99.9% of people on the planet.  But, this is sometimes difficult to comprehend.  When we “like” things, it can be a bit of an identifier of who we are.  And since we obviously need to drop some pounds, we obviously should NOT like cake…but we do…so there is obviously something wrong with us!  NO!  It’s perfectly normal to like cake!  Liking cake does not define who a person IS.

When talking about your neighbor, you may say “that Jim – he loves cars.  He’s a total car guy.”  But, would anyone ever say “that Jim – he loves cake.  He’s a total cake guy.”  No.  Because liking cake is a fairly universal thing, while being into cars tells us something of Jim’s personality.  Liking cake tells us nothing.

Imagine someone comes up to introduce themselves to you.  They extend their hand and say, “hello, I’m Jim and I like cake.”  Unless you are at a cake convention – this tells you absolutely zilch about Jim.  And you’d think…um…yeah, me too.  (Okay, so maybe in THAT example, Jim would be forever known as the guy who likes cake….but that’s not the point!)  The point is….  the fact that you like cake has nothing to do with YOU, who you are as an individual, or what anyone will remember about you when writing your eulogy!  (“Let us all gather to remember Jim, he was one cake-eating accountant…..”  Guarantee you won’t hear that!)

What Matters:  Not that you like cake, but your RESPONSE to liking cake!

What may not be beneficial for health is the excessive indulgence that may be taking place between you and your cake.  This is where the focus needs to be.  We are all faced with situations where there will be cake.  Some people can walk right by it, some people can take one piece and be fine, and some people take 5 pieces and only eat the frosting off of each.  (Not that I know first hand that this happens….)  But, then there will be individuals who simply can’t stay out of the cake.  It goes into the fridge – but they will make several trips, eating a bit more each time.  Does this person like cake more than other people?  No! – and that’s where I come in.

Everyone Likes Cake!

The first thing I make very clear to my patients is the fact that they should not feel guilty for natural human desires.  I’ve had patients feel terribly guilty because they even WANTED cake – when they walked away and didn’t have any!!  It’s natural to like and want cake!  What isn’t natural is excessively consuming cake.  Those are two very different things.

What’s Next? It’s time to find what’s really causing the problem.

What to do about a cake obsession is beyond the scope of this post.  However, I do spend a lot of time talking about over-indulging in cake.  Most cake over-indulgers know quite well it has nothing to do with the cake.  Is it anxiety?  Is it an addiction?  Is it binge-eating?  I don’t know what it IS…..but I know what it’s NOT.  It’s NOT the CAKE**!  Cake is a part of life that you SHOULD enjoy, within reason.  And you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so.  Why?  Because that’s what it’s meant for!  If it wasn’t meant to be enjoyed, it would be broccoli!

Bottom Line…

Be kind do yourself.  Give yourself a break!  Yes, there’s a problem – and we’ll find it!  But, don’t vilify yourself for something entirely natural.

~Dr. Hodges


*please substitute your “thing” for cake – candy, pasta, bread, etc.

**No cake was harmed during the writing of this post.

This, as well as other essential information for weight loss, can be found in my new ebook!  This new ebook prepares you for your next weight loss program – to make it your LAST weight loss program!  Weight loss starts with your MIND….not with your BEHIND.  Get your mindset right and your chances of weight loss success SKYROCKET!


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