A huge misconception people have about fitness and healthy habits in general is that everyone is doing it to lose weight. Well, not everyone needs to lose weight. Some people need to gain weight. And some, like me, just want a different kind of weight.
We’ve all seen it, the before/after pics of a guy or gal, looking a bit pudgy at one weight, then the next picture is a lean mean cut machine, except the weight on the scale is the same, and depending on where you started, sometimes higher. What they really lost was inches all over by shedding fat reserves and building dense muscle, and gained a boost in BMR since muscle needs energy to do things.
This is what I’m aiming for.
I reached my “goal weight” last year, starting from borderline overweight the year before (BMI 24.9 to be exact) but it was never really about the number on the scale. If anything I was more motivated by the tape measure on my waist, and then eventually the start of visible muscles. My goal was to look good and feel good. And of course, food. Anything to eat more!
Speaking of eating more, I have been enjoying my mini dirty bulk a lot this summer. Beer, ice cream, carbs galore! I pretty much replaced my winter deficit with all the things I told myself I couldn’t have yet while making sure my protein stays top priority.
But with great appetites comes great responsibility – I have been super lax on my routines and portions. Muscle growth has been spot on with what I wanted, but I also gained more fat than I would have liked. Mind you the difference is all of 5, 10lbs tops if Im bloated, but I gained 2 inches back on my waist and it changes the way clothes fit just enough to be noticeable to me.
How do I know if increased weight is fat or muscle? I look in a mirror. Fat jiggles. Muscle flexes. I also know where my fat deposits first: my belly. Which is unfortunate when I get carb bloat, but its also a really easy place to keep track of it.
I’ll stop counting calories for a few days and gain a little, realize I need to count what I eat, get back on track and plateau out, then think I look ‘good enough’ and get lazy on tracking again, putting me right back into the same cycle. It’s a small cycle, but every time I go through it Im reminded why I started tracking in the first place: I have control over my body. I cant grow bigger boobs or add two inches to my height, but I can keep the shape that I do have firm and perky for many years to come. And by the grace of god, butts do grow! Who needs big boobs when you have a Squat Booty?
Now, before anyone goes and accuses me of being unhealthy and vain, I should point out that yes, I am very vain. But I haven’t done any kind of unhealthy dieting or have any distorted eating practices. I eat normal things in a variety of ‘healthy’ to ‘unhealthy’ on any given day, and I make sure I hit certain minimums to keep myself running in peak condition. I can look at myself, note how and where I changed, and not have destructive emotions about it. Its like noticing that your grass is getting long and needs a trim; no one would come over and ask if you’re stripping the topsoil when all you grab is a push mower.
At my current weight, I could go 20 lbs in either direction before Im considered over or underweight. 20lbs is a lot to suddenly gain or lose without a change in lifestyle or something seriously being wrong, so while I note my stats and keep an eye on my body weight in general, I don’t worry about losing everything in one bad day. The muscle I’ve been working hard to build won’t disappear overnight, and I know any fat I put on can be burned off again.
I just dont turn that one bad day into a bad week into a bad month into a downward spiral of ‘fuckit’.
Which is why tonight is Meal Prep Night. I found that if I make and know what I’m eating I have an easier time sticking to my plan without too much variance and with minimal tracking. Eating out every day just leads to either “that cost how much??” or “that has how many calories??” by the time I entered it, which discouraged me from paying attention to the rest of the day. I fell off a bit, but I’m getting right back on as soon as I can.
I have one more month of my mini dirty bulk. After my two September races I’ll be addressing this belly fat with a large cut in carb consumption. My goal is to look trim in a slinky black dress for the holidays, no matter where that puts me on a scale.