My Water Retention Trip

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Me at the helm of the SS Water Retention in Barcelona, Spain.

My vacation wasn’t just a trip to Spain. I didn’t just get to see Madrid, Barcelona, Segovia, and Toledo. I also got to see how sugar, salt, potassium, and drinking a lot of alcohol affects my body’s water retention. Let’s just say it was both enlightening and frightening.

Our body is good at holding water. When your diet contains excess salt, sugar, and potassium, it will cause a reaction within your skin to store water. I’m not talking about edema, but a condition where (as best as I can understand it as a lay person) the cortisone in your body stores water. Weird, but true. And, it’s something I watched happen.

My trip began after a few days in Spain when I gradually allowed myself to eat foods that were higher in salt content than normal. I also began eating foods that were higher in carbs, and eventually, desserts with sugar in them. It’s not that I didn’t care: I did. It’s just that the more I thought about it, I was missing out on foods I really wanted to try, and these were likely once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to have these things. I figured I’d deal with the fallout later.

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Duck Paella in Barcelona. So amazing. I can’t describe in words how delicious this was.

I didn’t expect to gain as much as I did. Two days before I left for Spain, I enlisted into the National Guard, and before my swearing in ceremony, they weighed me. I weighed in at 174 lbs. Fast forward two weeks: I weighed 189.9 lbs. That’s 15 lbs gained in 12 days.

Everything I read said that when you gain that much that fast, it’s mostly water weight, and that it will go away very quickly once you stop imbibing the added sugar, salt, and potassium. Well, I put this to the test, and sure enough, I dropped all but 5 lbs of it in two days. I’m sure that the rest is honestly-earned extra weight, but I also know that within a few weeks, it’ll also be gone.

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There was a lot of drinking done in Spain. This was a delicious Mojito. Note the sugar at the bottom of the glass.

My recent trip with water retention is likely over, and now I’m back into real weight loss territory, but it was an interesting (if not annoying) journey learning about how the body reacts to chemical input. It was also interesting to see how quickly the water retention subsided and how my body got back to normal.

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