Weighing In

As part of women's lightweight rowing, all athletes competing are required to weigh-in at or under 130 pounds (59kg) the day before competition. This is no easy feat considering our training schedule, daily weight fluctuations and needing to balance muscle with body fat.

This is my first year rowing as a lightweight, and I came back to school this fall at 142 pounds. It has been quite a process making weight.

In the fall, our coach requested that we all maintain weight under 136 pounds. Although we raced a few longer races in the fall, the weight requirement was 133 pounds during that portion of the season.

Over the first few weeks back at school, my weight quickly dropped from 142 pounds to around 136 pounds, just from the increase in training volume and the change to dining hall meal plans. Still, I had an incredibly amount of willpower for the first few months on campus, restricting my dessert intake, and eating between 1500 and 2000 calories a day.

In the winter, our coach requested that we all start to drop our weight down, and the new weight standard became 135 pounds. Of course, 135 pounds seems like a very concrete number when you realize how much your weigh fluctuates on a daily basis. My weight often fluctuates 4 pounds in a day, with my lightest weight in the morning and my heaviest right after dinner.

Trying to stay under 135 at all times, I became very aware of how much each item of food weighed. Peanut butter made a surprisingly regular appearance in my diet precisely because of its high calorie density.

Over winter break, my weight crept up to 138 pounds, and then dropped quickly back down when we arrived back on campus. Our January workouts consisted of regular half-marathons or more on the rowing machine, 2 hours of straight work on Saturdays, and serious weight-lifting. Despite my best efforts, there was little I could do to keep weight on my frame.

By the beginning of February, I was down to 129-130 pounds. After talking to my coach, we decided it was best to keep my weight between 130-131 pounds. Lifting weights helped me put some muscle on, which brought my up to just over 131, which is where I sit now.

So if I'm 131 pounds, how do I weigh in under 130 pounds once a week? Dehydration.

I know, that sounds really bad to do the day before competition, but it's exactly what you do whenever you work out and don't drink enough water!

Here's how I prepare for a weigh-in:
Thursday night:
     - Eat a light dinner, usually a sandwich and a big glass of half chocolate milk, half skim milk
     - No snacks after dinner, but a few big glasses of water right before bed to make sure I'm fully hydrated when I wake up
     - Wake up early to check my weight on the scale. Weigh-ins are usually around 3PM, and I naturally will sweat about a half pound between morning and mid-afternoon
     - Eat a bar for breakfast, usually going for the most calories in the lightest bar
     - Go for a light 20-minute jog to get some sweat flowing.
     - Sip on orange juice or a VitaminWater, snack on light, calorie-dense foods
     - About an hour before weigh-in, I head down to the boathouse (or wherever we're weighing in) and do a light paddle on the rowing machine to get the rest of my sweat going if need be.
     - Weigh-in! Then immediately refuel and rehydrate with lots of fruits, vegetables and juice.

The process has been incredibly helpful for me in maintaining weight loss. Because the weight standards are there, I have no choice but to stay on track. My mom is convinced that my weight will yo-yo back up when I'm done rowing and those weight standards are no longer there. I find that hard to believe.

My eating is so much healthier and cleaner than it was a year ago and I am so much more aware of how food affects my mood and my body. At the same time, I'm also much more aware of the scale--how much it tells me and also what it doesn't tell me. Finally, I have a lot more confidence in what my body can handle.

For a long time, I believed that I had no choice but to have a little bit of extra fat on my body--I thought it was just part of my body type, just as a believed that skinny girls were born that way. But I know now that 2 is not an unattainably small size (especially with the help of vanity sizing) and that there's no reason for me to be wearing a size 10. My body will be what I choose for it.

I'm sure that sometimes, I will choose to eat more than my fair share of ice cream. Just now, I actually know what a fair share is.

How often do you weigh yourself? How do you keep track? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or emailing me at piquantprose [at] gmail [dot] com.

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1 comment:

  1. What an interesting article! In answer to your question, I don't weigh more than once a week. I go more by the fit of my clothes. Scales to something weird with my brain. :-)


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