Side effects may include … (by Dana McMahan)

Something interesting happened while I was busy lifting, pulling, pushing and carrying all those heavy weights these last three months. I dropped some weight. Almost 10% of my own starting weight, actually.

This seemed to alarm Ben, who didn’t expect (or maybe even want) me to necessarily lose weight. And this is anything but one of those gyms that plasters tawdry photos of people holding up their giant jeans next to their svelte new physiques in slick ads. But the loss was bound to happen.

Going from almost no activity to knocking out chin-ups and body-weight squats took a lot of seriously challenging work — work that obviously burned calories. And work that built strength and muscles. And although I know studies conflict about how many more calories muscle burns than fat, I just feel like my body needs more energy to fuel the new and growing muscles. And combined with trying to not overeat, it’s just math. The pounds came off.

I’ve had to dig further and further into my closet to find pants that don’t hang on me, going back to jeans and trousers I hadn’t worn in two or three years (since I began food writing and the gradual increase that left me at my highest weight in ten years when I first walked into CrossFit). When Ben told me he was worried at this weight loss I explained that my work there had just brought me back to my normal size — the size nature intended me to be before I started doing things like eating at ten restaurants in 24 hours in the name of duty. Only with the added bonus now of being strong!

The picture (I couldn’t resist my own version of the giant jeans before and after) shows me this summer, actually the inglorious, gluttonous, researching 10-restaurants weekend, and in the same dress just recently. I hadn’t looked at the difference like that before, and even I was a bit amazed at the change. As much as I’m hooked on getting stronger and fitter, I have to admit I also like the side effects.

before CrossFit - and now

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