After ten months of religiously counting calories, eating at a deficit, and working out, it was kind of odd to think about eating at a level that would allow me to maintain my weight and muscle, but I did it. I decided to try to do a bulk cycle for muscle growth around Thanksgiving, but wasn’t too successful. I lost 5 pounds between that holiday and Christmas. Bulk fail. Of course, the brined turkey debacle probably didn’t help, as that was my big eats day, ha ha.
At the first of the year I decided to try a new lifting program and basically skimmed the first couple of week’s worth of lifts and thought, “Hmmm, four days per week is absolutely doable.” A few weeks in, I realized that the number of days were increasing per week, as were the length of the workouts with the addition of some serious cardio. Now, I am not slack when it comes to lifting weights, but six days per week, two to three hours per day was just a little more than I was willing to commit to. So, I rolled my eyes and told my husband, “Well, hon, back to the drawing board.”
On the recommendation of a friend (actually, she’d been recommending this to me for a few months), I sucked it up and purchased “Strong Curves-A Woman’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body,” by Bret Contreras and Kellie Davis. (Great read, by the way.) I read the book cover to cover a couple days after my biopsy, since I was advised to stay out of the weight room until the following week, and decided when I started that program it would be a great time to really commit to doing a bulk.
Eating to gain weight is screwing with my mind really hard, though. I have been eating a lot of food. Like, a LOT. I’m trying to hit one gram of protein per pound of my body weight, because I understand that muscles LOVE protein. It’s been healthy food, but a lot of it, nonetheless.
So, on Sunday, February 2, I commenced to living the food fest and was happy to get back to lifting the weights. Food = energy, and I found, over the first couple of days, I had a surplus of energy to burn, and that made me a happy camper.
Today, however, I am giving my reflection the stink eye. I look puffy and feel downright fat. OMG, especially in my mid-section, which is always the last place the fat seems to come off. It is becoming glaringly apparent that my belly is also the first place for it to re-appear, and damned if those fat cells didn’t bring friends. And then there are my boobs, which are quick to catch up with my mid-section. So I wasn’t completely surprised when one of my smaller scrub tops was feeling more than a little snug this morning.
Am I really that puffy? I have no idea. Granted, it’s probably not nearly as bad as I think it is, but damn. Talk about taking a hit in the self-esteem department. My rational mind knows that a lot of this is water retention from the change-up in workouts and extra sodium I’ve been eating in those crack-flower seeds I love so much, and regular ol’ weight fluctuations. My vain mind doesn’t see it like that.
I know this is part of the process. I know you have to EAT to gain, and when you gain, you can add muscle. After six weeks, I’ll go back to a decent cut to get rid of the fat which always accompanies the muscle (or so I’m told), which should reveal a much better physique. I’ll re-introduce cardio (I hope to run some more 5K’s this spring/summer) for an additional burn while finishing the final 6 weeks of the beginner Strong Curves program.
Have any of you bulked before? What were your thoughts? How did it make you feel? Did your look better after your cut than you did when you started?
Trusting the process is so hard for me, but I’m going to do it, because, yeah…I really am vain enough to want to look better than the rest of the almost 50-ish women on the beach. ;)
Also, be sure to check back soon for my Q&A blog with personal trainer Lisa Dutchack of Strength in Balance Fitness!
Till next time….