As my aunt recently commented, “I don’t see how you have time to do anything but train… and EAT!” And after seeing everything I eat in a day, you’ll probably agree!!
I’ve always had a ridiculously easy time gaining weight… until I started trying to gain muscle. (Let’s be clear… no one tries to gain fat, it just happens… right??) In the 12 weeks of my training program thus far, I’ve gained about 2kg (4.5 lbs) of muscle, and lost 3/4 kg (1.5 lbs) of fat, for a net gain of 1.5 kg (about 3 pounds.)
That’s pretty good progress, but sometimes seems painfully sloooooow. But through this process I’m learning a few things:
- I can’t get behind on my eating… or it’s hard to catch up! My calorie level is super high right now to allow me to build, and I can only eat so many calories of healthy food at once. I break it up into 5 pretty equal-sized meals… and I don’t want to miss any, because the thought of doubling up just makes my stomach hurt. So that means getting up and eating at about the same times each day, even on weekends… for me that’s 6am, 9am, noon, 3pm, & 6pm.
- I definitely save time by doing a lot of meal prep once a week. For instance, I’ll pack up ingredients for 6 smoothie bowls and 6 smoothies at a time and keep them in little baggies in the freezer, so when it’s time to eat, I can just dump it into the Vitamix with the couple of fresh ingredients, and my meal is ready in one minute instead of 10. I also cook sweet potatoes, tofu, brown rice, ground turkey, boiled eggs, and veggies in advance so they’re just ready to go when it’s mealtime.
- As I watch my weight creep up, I have to keep telling myself it’s “just a number,” or rather, this number that used to make me freak out a little and incite an immediate cut-back in diet… is now a measure of success. This is still hard for me, I’ll be honest. But it’s good to push past this mental barrier in order to make the progress that I need to. So rather than see the “danger zone number” and cut back, I just keep pressing forward with all this eating, knowing that the work I’m putting in in the gym will turn all this food into muscle.
- Metabolism increases to accommodate extra calories. My coach & I have had to adjust my calories upwards 3 times in order for me to start (and keep!) gaining weight. So just like you plateau at a given calorie level for weight loss, the same happens for weight gain. The body is an amazingly adaptive machine, and you have to keep pushing yourself to progress.
- Sometimes it’s hard to eat all this food now, but when I start “cutting,” or reducing my calories in order to lose body fat for the show, I’m sure gonna miss it!!!
It’s a transforming process for sure. Even with this generous allowance, I still weigh, measure, calculate and record everything I eat to be sure I hit my calorie, protein, carb & fat targets. But it’s given me a much better awareness of what’s actually going into my body, and I think even when my competition is over and I don’t have to measure or record anymore, I might sometimes, just to see…
Happy eating, friends!