June 17, 2012

Reader Questions & Answers #17

On Sundays, I will answer some readers' questions in a post. If you have a question that you would like me to answer here on the blog, just send me an e-mail with the subject "Q&A", and I may include them in a future Q&A post. They don't have to be about weight loss or running--anything is game!  (Remember, I'm not a doctor or dietician, or any sort of medical professional--I can only answer questions from my own experience).

Q. When I exercise, I usually wear my polar heart rate monitor and track my distance with an app on my smart phone (either my Couch25K app or MapMyRide, etc). My heart rate monitor often tells me that I burned up to twice as many calories as the apps suggest. Which do you think is more accurate?

A. Using a heart rate monitor is more accurate than the apps that just take into account your weight, distance, etc. But if your heart rate monitor is giving you some crazy high number, than it may not be working correctly. In general, the more you weigh, and/or the more effort you put into an activity, the more calories you burn.

Your heart rate is a way to judge how hard you are working, so that will change your calorie burn. The apps use a simple formula that doesn't take your effort into account, so therefore, it is just a generalization and not specific to YOU. So to answer your question, I wouldn't be surprised it that is an accurate number if you are very heavy, or you get your heart rate up very high.

Q. I've been reading your blog for a while and really enjoy it! My question is this; What did you wear to exercise in when you first started? I have a hard time finding workout clothes in plus sizes... large ladies like to exercise too! :) 

A. I actually had three people ask this question recently... so here goes. When I first started exercising, I knew nothing about proper clothing. I assumed that the whole "moisture wicking" ability was just a way for companies to sucker money out of people. I bought some $7 cotton capris from Wal-Mart and used some old cotton t-shirts. Those worked just fine, because I didn't know any better. I also was a size XL when I started exercising, so I didn't feel like I had many options. This was a typical running outfit:
Cotton shirt (see the sweat?!) cotton capris
However, when I was looking for a new outfit for a race that I was doing, I decided to buy some Under Armour stuff. This was the outfit I bought...

The only reason I chose those capris was because they went up high enough in the waist to hide my belly (this was long before my skin removal surgery). I liked that they were tight (they are compression capris) and they held everything (read: all my loose skin) in place while I ran. They are Heat Gear items, so I wasn't hot, and they were super comfortable. Ever since I bought those, I couldn't go back to running in the cotton stuff.

The moisture-wicking fabric makes you feel dry even when you're sweating heavily. When you wear cotton, the cotton absorbs all that moisture, making your clothes wet and very heavy. There are cheaper options than the Under Armour--I know that Target has a line of workout clothes (I don't know much about them, so I can't tell you how I like them). I bought a couple of items from Wal-Mart that are moisture wicking. They work, but I can tell the quality isn't nearly as good as the UA stuff. I'll wear them when my UA stuff is dirty ;)

But regardless of what brand you buy, you won't be sorry for getting the moisture-wicking clothing! It makes a world of difference. I don't buy shirts anymore, because I use my race shirts to run in. Almost all races give out technical (moisture-wicking) shirts now, so those are perfect to run in.

I know that Wal-Mart has a lot of plus-sized workout clothes (because I bought them), but even the sports brands like Under Armour have larger sizes. If you can't find your size in the store, you could always order some online.

Q. Does your weight fluctuate wildly?  This is my problem.  I can be +/- 4 lbs in one day (and this has no relation to my menstrual cycle).  I don't eat a lot of salt/processed food.  I get really frustrated...I know I'm supposed to look at the "trend," but when I'm up 4 pounds for no apparent reason, I get upset, start eating, and the cycle goes on.  Do you have any advice for fluctuating weight or continuing to plow ahead with good eating habits even when the scale doesn't seem to be responding immediately?

A. My weight fluctuates like crazy!! In fact, when I go away for a weekend, I will usually come home about 10 pounds heavier. But if I go right back to into my routine, the weight drops off within a few days. There are many different reasons for weight fluctuations, and you really shouldn't get upset about being up a few pounds--especially if you know that you're not eating so much as to gain that much (to gain 4 pounds of fat in a day, you would have to consume 14,000 extra calories!)

The #1 thing that makes my weight go up is eating restaurant food. It doesn't even matter what I order, I ALWAYS gain up to 5 pounds in a day from a restaurant meal. Which is one of the reasons I avoid eating out most of the time ;) 

Another is sodium, but you said you don't eat a lot of processed food, so that may not be a factor for you. But even foods that are "healthy" may have more sodium than you think--cottage cheese, or any type of cheese really; breads; soup, etc). The third thing that makes my weight increase is actually when I do a long run. After a 10+ mile run, I will put on a couple of pounds of water weight that hangs around for a couple of days.

I know it's hard not to get discouraged when you see a gain like that, but keep in mind that if you're doing everything right, it's only going to be temporary. Water weight falls off just as quickly as it comes on (for me it does, anyway). So don't give up when you see that gain!


  1. I've bought a lot of the Target workout clothes (C9 brand) and I really like them!

  2. Ditto for Target's stuff! I'm a XL-XXL (depending on the cut of the item) and Target has a great selection of the bigger sizes and the stuff is super cute. I have another pair of capris from Kohl's that I love too.

    This is my current favorite tank they have- it doesn't have an annoying bra insert and are super flattering-

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Sometimes it can be hard to find Under Armour's larger sizes in stores. However, there's no shame in wearing the men's stuff! The sizes are much bigger and go up a lot higher. If you go with the brighter colors, you really can't even tell that they're men's. I actually prefer to buy the men's UA shirts, even though I can wear the women's, because the sleeves are slightly longer.

    I say, if you can't find good quality, moisture wicking workout gear to fit you in the women's department, hit up the men's section!

  4. AnonymousJune 17, 2012

    I'd also say that Champion is great for plus size gear & you can often get free shipping online. Target carries larger sizes, too. And I agree with Mrs. K: go to the men's section if you have to. I like my gear baggy anyway.

  5. Thanks for sharing Katie. I got/get my workout clothes at WalMart too. They have some pretty decent workout pants that are about $10-12 and right now they are on clearance for $5 (at my WalMart anyway). They have up to 4X which is 24-26 (I started in that size.I always buy a size down to have on hand for when I hit that mark and now I wear 1X. I'm pretty happy with those pants and I just double up on the Hanes sports bras, it holds the girls in place and they are cheap. I keep telling myself I'll get some UA stuff when I get a little smaller ; ) Good luck to ladies looking for clothes! : )

  6. Woohoo for Q&A! I have a question if you could answer, either here in the comments or save for a Q&A day. I've lost 30 lbs and my arms have a little bit of extra skin on them. This has made them sensitive! I used to wear an iPod armband but it would chafe and rub and scab a little by the next day. Now that summer's here, I want to ears tanks or short sleeves, but on my upper under arm (not arm pit, maybe an inch or two lower) I got a red spot from rubbing that lightly scabs a little. I know I can just wear long sleeves, but it's hot out! Will a little bit of extra skin ever tighten up? It's def not enough to warrant surgery. But maybe it just needs a lil time to shrink up w the rest of my body? It's just annoying!

    1. I actually have the exact same problem! It's annoying, because I really have to be picky about the sleeves on my shirts. The chaffing hurts badly. I've tried Body Glide, but that doesn't help because it gets worn off quickly. The only thing that works for me is to wear longer sleeves :(

    2. This just happened to me -- under both of my arms during a half! I had massive scabs and thought I was going to die. I found for shorter runs if I put Body Glide on my arms and the shirt, it helps a little. Otherwise, I try to find Dri Fit shirts that have sleeves long enough to cover those hot zones.

    3. Thank you both! It seems to be more irritated by the humidity of summer, so hopefully I can tough it out and not worry about it come fall. I've only used my Body Glide on my thighs so I will definitely give that a try. Thanks again!

  7. I will be hitting up a store sometime this week for a new workout outfit. It'll probably be Kohl's or Target. Gotta look cute for a fun workout coming up!

  8. Yesterday was my first 5k race so I decided to purchase a moisture-wicking tank top; what a difference! It felt so light and I continued to wear it for a few hours after the race was over. If I had done that with my regular cotton t-shirts, people probably would've looked at me in disgust because of the sweat marks lol.

  9. Love your Q&As, Katie! ugh, do not love chaffing either. Thanks for this great info. Also, you have inspired me to really get my act together w/ my eating! It has gotten out of hand. Just because I am in training now for another marathon (towards my goal of completing 50 by age 50!) is no reason to go crazy.

  10. UA clothes really are worth the money. And I've found that even if you are a little heavier they still have things in your size.

    I nominated your blog for the "one lovely blog award"

  11. I started running when I was 3x (and a some 3x clothes didn't even fit). I wore under armour 2x compression shorts (they actually covered me)and (believe it or not) JCPenney 3x Xersion tops. I'm still wearing the tops (I'm a 2x now...working toward real sizes). the loose tops come down long enough that I don't feel obscene wearing the UA compression bottoms, and they are in tons of fun colors. I'm still too big for UA tops. the Xersion bottoms are great in capris for the fall/spring, but they don't seem to carry shorts for plus size. OH, and last but not least, invest in a really good bra...my enell is the only reason I'm able to run (at a 40 DDD, there aren't a lot of options that don't cause serious pain).

  12. AnonymousJune 20, 2012

    Thanks so much for your comments on weight fluxuations, my weight fluxuates a lot. I however, do not feel like it falls off, rather I spend an entire week trying to lose what I gained over 1 day (usually from the weekend). It is so discouraging. I am at the point where I really only have 10lbs to lose and I find it is so hard to lose those last 10lbs.

  13. Old Navy actually has some nice capris for working out in, they go up high on my tummy for belly control, and are a little compressing and sleek. I didn't realize how much easier it is to run & walk in the sleek, compressing fabric until I tried them! No more soft yoga pants for me. The nice sleek material holds my jiggles in and makes me feel like going faster.


Featured Posts

Blog Archive