Since I have no plans to compete in any body building shows soon, I decided to take this opportunity to do some experimenting with my fitness and nutrition. The first thing that came to my mind when I thought of experimenting, was to see what would happen if I allowed myself to gain some extra weight to build more muscle. I knew that if I ever wanted to compete again, then I would need more muscle on my frame. In addition, the lean look that I want in general, requires more muscle on my body. Through my education and watching others, I’ve seen this strategy work as an effective way to build muscle. Even though rationally I knew this was a good route to take, my mind was freaking out! The thought of intentionally putting on extra weight was an extremely scary thought for me. I knew that seeing the scale rise, my clothes becoming tight, and seeing my body change would be difficult for me. I also had lots of thoughts like “What if when it is time for me to cut, I can’t lose the weight” or “What if this doesn’t work out the way I’m hoping it will”. I know this might sound silly, but I was also worried about what other people would think about my weight gain. Would they think I had just let myself go and stopped caring about my body?
After going back and forth A LOT about whether I wanted to move forward with this plan, I decided to go for it. There were two reasons that convinced me to proceed. First, I had been thinking about trying to do this for a while. I did not want to look back on my life and wish I would have at least tried. The second reason was I ask my clients to do things that are out of their comfort zone, and I thought if I am asking them to get out of their comfort zone, then I need to be willing to do the same.
I started my gaining phase on February 28th. Since that day I have slowly increased my food intake to the point now that I am eating the most I have ever consistently ate in my life. Most of my foods are whole foods, but since I am eating so much, it does allow me to add in foods that I would not have chosen when I am eating fewer calories. In addition to eating more, I have cut out all cardio and only get in general movement throughout my day. My current exercise is lifting heavy five to six days a week with a focus on legs as that is the area in which I feel needs the most attention.
As to be expected with these changes, I have gained weight and I currently weigh the most I have had weighed in years. Since I have gained weight, most of my clothes do not fit. I remember when I tried to put on a pair of jeans, and I could not even get them past my thighs! I have struggled with my body image most of my life, so it has been hard to see my body change and my clothes not fitting anymore. Honestly, I have cried several times over it. Since body image is something I’ve struggled with, I am also hoping this process will teach me how to love my body in all its stages and to really appreciate all that it does for me.
One thing that makes this process so difficult is that I am not seeing the changes yet from what I am doing since those will not be truly visible until I cut. So not seeing any progress can make it difficult to want to continue. I’ve questioned several times if this is something I want to keep doing, especially because of how uncomfortable I feel in my body right now. But I know quitting is not the answer. No matter how uncomfortable I feel, I am going to continue moving forward as I know it is what is going to be best for me in the long run.
My plan is to continue with this gaining phase until August and then begin a cut for our vacation in October. This cut will give me the chance to see what I have built over the five months I was eating in a surplus. So let’s see how this goes!