The First Five Pounds of Inertia


 I don’t know about you, but I find that weight gain creeps up on me. It starts with a few days of indulgent eating, a few skipped skipped sessions at the gym, a few late nights. At first, it seems okay.  Our modern clothes, especially athleisure clothes which are so popular are designed to be forgiving— forgiving of sweat, forgiving of movement, and forgiving of weight gain. Even the last bastions of one hundred percent cotton– men’s undershirts and jeans, now commonly incorporate stretch fiber. On one hand, it’s great that our clothes breathe better, move with you comfortably and wrinkle less, but a rise in five pounds of weight is less noticeable than when we dressed in stiffer fabrics and fitted clothes.

     Five pounds is the critical mass at which a waistband feels tight and zippers start to strain—five pounds equals one dress size. That’s just the clothes. At an extra five pounds on the body, the stress on lumbar intervertebral discs increases, possibly resulting in back pain. With five extra pounds of belly fat, insulin regulation starts to become unbalanced and it’s easier to get into the cycle of sugar cravings, caffeine highs followed by inevitable afternoon energy crashes.

     For me, with the creep of just five pounds, I start to feel depressed.  My clothes feel tight, my gym outfits show unflattering lumps, my energy starts to flag.  Even thinking about going to the gym or out for a run seems daunting. It feels so much easier just to lounge on the couch, eat ice cream and watch The Last Jedi. Again.


     Isaac Newton can shed light on how to break out of this sad cycle.

     Newton’s first law, the Law of Inertia, states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest tends to stay at rest unless a acted upon by a force.  With weight gain, that extra five pounds of flab just became the weight of inertia keeping us on the sofa and off the trajectory of a health.

     Healthy weight loss, which is losing fat rather than water and muscle, for the average person is about one pound a week (a half pound for the smaller, up to two for the larger). It can take at least thirty days—about the time it takes to form a new habit, before the results of a fitness routine is felt. In the first ten of those thirty days, as the weight comes off incrementally, it feels impossible, like nothing is going to change, and that those five pounds (or more) will never budge. The second ten days gets a little easier, and then in the last ten days of building a healthy habit– clothes feel better, the body moves more freely, metabolism improves and the benefits of your new habit becomes self-reinforces the habit.

     Any change requires getting past the inertia—it takes energy (remember, Newton said it takes a force to change inertia) especially in first ten days to create or recreate good habits.  Hang in there! Losing the first five pounds is a matter of putting in the energy and having faith that the inertia is moving. So get going, and know that a first you’re fighting inertia—and remember, once you get moving, a body in motion stays in motion.


This a repost from my previous blog.


About lindahansenraj

Linda is a NorCal MD who teaches yoga, rides horses, writes about Star Wars (and lots of other cool things) and loves style. Let the adventure begin!

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