Weighty Matters

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Assessing Hunger after Exercise

I woke up a few minutes before 6 a.m. today. Since the day was a bit windier than it had been the previous days this week, I decided to change up my exercise routine and do my in-home walking program. I opted for the brisk 3-Mile program which kept me at a good cardio pace for about 45 minutes, working legs mostly but with arm exercising too. I then took the dogs for a walk before showering and getting ready for work. I made and drank a yummy fruit smoothie with protein powder while I packed my snacks and lunch.

Normally I eat something six times a day. I time the mid-morning snack for 10 a.m. It’s usually something light with protein — a small handful of nuts, a cheese wedge, a little bit of hummus with some veggies. You get the idea. This schedule has worked well since I went back onto food after surgery.

For the last couple of days, I’ve gotten hit by hunger at least 30-45 minutes earlier than my scheduled snack. I couldn’t figure it out and had to do a gut check to make sure that it was legitimate physical hunger and not emotional or mental issues trying to make me think I was hungry. I sat with the feeling for a little bit but all my gut said was, “Yes. You really are hungry. Feed me, now!” I ate my peanuts slowly, literally nut by nut and thought about it some more.

I wondered if the more intense activity in the morning was boosting my hunger intensity. I always thought that exercise decreased hunger. I went online to look at the subject and found conflicting, or at least, confusing ideas and studies. My boss is a runner and used to compete in triathlons. She said that after an intense workout she’d get ravenous.

I’m sort of latching onto one thing I read today. Checking in with myself before I ate was, apparently, a good idea. Our mind can play tricks on us from making us think we’re hungry when we aren’t to telling us that we deserve the reward of more food because we worked out and burned off calories.

When all was said, done, and consumed, at least I did not eat more than I’d planned. I just ate it earlier than the time to which I’m normally accustomed. So, I still had a good recovery day. I decided that even if I might not understand what’s going on with my body and hunger triggers around the early morning exercising, it’s good for me to stay aware. That way, regardless of what triggers the hunger, I won’t compulsively eat in a way that doesn’t follow my plan.