Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What's More Difficult Than Losing The Fat? Making The "Turn"

It was challenging to lose nearly 60 pounds last year but altogether worth it. I look better and feel better than I have in 25 years.

What, interestingly, I have found more challenging is what I call "making the turn."

This is the point at which you achieve what you believed to be your ideal weight and then decide you want to put on more muscle.

Sounds easy.

All you have to do is add calories or slow down on the cardio, right?

Not so fast . . .

After spending day after day, week after week, and month after month rewarding yourself mentally for getting on the scale and finding you've lost weight, it is difficult, very difficult, to just change -- to suddenly believe that gaining weight is a good thing.

Indeed, after I decided to put on 5 - 10 pounds of muscle three months ago, I couldn't do it. I simply would not let myself have enough calories to gain weight. And so, on the one hand I'd get on the scales and be "disappointed" on one level but breathe a sigh of relief on the other when I saw I had gained no weight.

It has taken that long for me to get comfortable with the idea that it is OK to gain some weight, and I have carefully crafted a way to do it so that I only add a minimum amount of fat as I put on more muscle.

It is called "lean bulk."

The process is simple and straightforward: I upped my calories above my BMR + exercise calories by about 250 calories per day. If I'm working out hard and tearing up the muscles, this will give them just enough to take those extra calories and work with them, turning much of those calories into muscle.

And that has happened. I look bigger, more muscular. But I also look smoother.

Which means not all of those calories are going to muscle.

Indeed, it is impossible to add muscle and not gain some fat, just as it is not possible to lose fat without losing some muscle when you are in a calorie deficient state.

It is a matter of controlling it but mostly a matter of accepting it.

So, where am I in the process?

I tipped the scales at 170.0 pounds this morning. That is about 7 pounds above my all-time low of 163 during the period of time I was taking 1,000 calories a day out of my diet.

The good news? I still wear the same pants, no problem with the waist, and I am looking more like I want to look. That said, I would be less than honest not to say that I still experience a twinge of disappointment each morning when I get on those scales and find I've put on weight -- even though it is what I'm trying to do.


The way I have been able to deal with it is to keep a watch in the mirror. I understood I would lose some of the cuts and vascularity that comes with being very lean, but I also promised myself that I would "lean bulk" until April 15 and then diet for 6 weeks to slowly, ever so slowly, take off whatever fat I added, trying to minimize muscle loss.

By June 1, I fully anticipate I'll enjoy the best of both worlds, -- 5 or more pounds of pure muscle with less than 10% body fat.

Stay tuned and train hard,


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