T Nation

Fat Loss, I know, I know

Ok, I know that this question gets tiring. Hell, I am tired of it myself. But here we go. I was fat, beyond fat (over 200 and I am a chic - yeah, I know) Decided to do some thing about it, lost it all and then some (down to 130). But, I got that way by cardio-ing my brains out (2 hrs. everyday, never missed one) and eating (literally) 300-500 calories a day. I was a miserable human being with no muscle, but HEY, I was thin! Got a grip, starting eating more and gained about 15. Cut back on cardio. I stayed about 145 for a whole year. Ok, I knew I still had fat to burn. So a buddy and me starting getting serious about building muscle. So for the past 2 months, I have started eating more protein and lifting. I LOVE IT! I am getting stronger every day and I am starting to see definition (some thing I have NEVER had since I was THE definition of couch potato as a child. Exercise, to me, was getting up off the couch for another bowl of ice cream and building muscle was trying to scoop it out of the container). I watch what I eat and I still do 4-5 hours of cardio a week. I also weigh myself once a week. Now I have gained 10 pounds… in 2 months. I am a female, that is required freak-out material right there, and I am doing my fair share of that right now. I know my questions are probably obvious to a T-man, but I am new at the whole muscle thing. And now the barrage of questions (I will just apologize now). Am I just gaining fat? I have a hard time believing that this could ALL be muscle. My clothes still fit, but some are tight (grrr). If I do more cardio to burn off the fat, am I just going to kill all of my muscle? Muscle burns fat right? So if I just keep lifting and then, oh I don’t know, sit long enough, will my muscle just start buring the fat? Do you see where I am coming from here? Am I just going to keep gaining? I know I have fat to burn, but I don’t know how. And I don’t want to end up 180 pounds with a crap load of muscle, hidden under a nice female layer of fat that I could just never lose after 2 kids. Or maybe I just need to wait because my body is just not used to it? If it is obvious, sorry for my stupidity, but as much as I love the feeling of strenght, I am mentally beating the piss out of myself and ready to give up.

Okay, you’re on the right track, so take a deep breath and let the heart rate ease up a little. Gunnar Dahlin on the Cyberpump site maintains that it’s possible to gain 30 lbs in a very short period of time, but some of that will be fat. 10 lbs in 2 months isn’t unreasonable for mostly muscle gain. You’re new to lifting, right? You’ll get some rapid changes at first, but they will taper. Is this all fat? The best way to judge that is to look at yourself in the mirror. Are you losing definition? The clothing fitting tight isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Depends on your perspective. Any way, more cardio isn’t the answer. Use lifting to gain muscle, and diet (NOT calorie restricting, as I’m sure you’re aware by now) to regulate body fat. The way you crash dieted down did a number on your muscle mass, and probably brought your base metabolism way down as well. By increasing your muscle mass, you’ll burn more calories at rest (increased metabolic rate), as well as when working out. Your diet needs to be adjusted to allow the increase in muscle, but not so far as to put on fat at a high rate. It’s a balancing act. It’s very difficult at best to increase muscle mass and reduce fat. Look to continuously increase the poundages on your lifts, and watch your muscle definition to regulate body fat. Don’t give up! You’re on the right path.

GirlyGirl, it is my opinion that the weight you are gaining is NOT all muscle. Unless you’re a genetic freak or you’re on steroids, it is rare for women to put on that much muscle that quickly. Not saying impossible, just improbable. You did say that some of your clothes fit tightly. In which areas? If is in the areas that you historically put on fat, then there is your answer. Having said all that, your weight may be fine, depending on your height and bone structure. At a certain point you need to decide between being happy and trying to fit into some impossible ideal of what the feminine physique should look like. I have been at 8% (just a guess, I didn’t have it measured) bodyfat, but I didn’t feel good. I’m up to 12-13% percent and I feel lot stronger and happier. You should have your bodyfat measured. About 22% is considered ideal for women I believe.

GirlyGirl - good on ya for the change, both mental and physical. Basically I’ve found that it’s a ‘two steps forward one step back’ process. The goal is to put on muscle (which, you were right in saying, will burn fat), and to be lean. So you’ve put on 10lbs, great! Some of that will be fat though, you can’t get away from that. Just make sure you manipulate your training and diet so most of any weight gain is muscle, with minimal fat. (And cut out some of the cardio) Do basically the opposite with fat loss (on a seperate fat loss cycle), manipulate all the variables so that you lose the fat, but minimise the muscle loss. And all that amounts to ‘two steps forward one step back’. (You just have to accept that you won’t always ‘look’ to be in ‘perfect’ shape) Just keep reading T-Mag and this forum, learn EVERYTHING you can, and you’ll soon have the killer bod you always wished for. Cheers, Mark.

GirlyGirl- I’ve dealt with this issue before. I’ve had some girls come to me, wanting to be cut and not understanding why their endless hours of cardio is doing it for them. How do you train? I train my girls similiar to German Body Comp. They are constantly moving, keeping their heart rate up, sweating and keeping the reps pretty high. They do this workout anywhere from 3-4 times a week and 45 min. of cardio 3-4 times a week.


Also, I am a strong believer in DIET. You can have the best training program but if your not eating the right way, nothing is going to happen. Maybe you would do well on a 1400-1700 calorie diet, of course, depending on your workouts and your activity throughout the day.
Hope this helps a bit.

Keep going, you’re on the right track! Sounds like you’ve got a great start on the first half of the equation: training. You’re seeing the results in strength and muscle, which have provided you with motivation. As already mentioned, next look at the other half of the equation: diet. Not just how many calories, but the TYPE of foods you are consuming. In any case, you have come to the right place. Read the training and nutrition articles here on T-mag. there is no better online resource. My girlfriend and I share the same training and diet, except in smaller amounts for her. In otherwords, the techniques that work for men will work for the ladies, too. Good luck - Nylo

Don’t give up! Take it from a formerly 210 lb lady (slender now) that you are doing great. As long as you are eating clean and not going way over your BMR you probably aren’t gaining much fat. You said you dieted the wrong way before and lost a bunch of muscle? Your body is trying to put that back on. Forget about the scale - pay close attention to how you eat and kick your tale in the gym. You’ll do great. And - the amount of muscle you put on is not unheard of, not unless you were a weight lifting veteran. My mom gained 15 lbs of muscle in two months when she first began her training. She also lost a bunch of fat but the scale didn’t show the fat loss. I checked her bodyfat every week to keep her encouraged. Her muscle gain has slowed down now, and the scale weight is going down faster than when she began.
Also - when you first start training, you’re gonna gain new blood too - your body needs more than you had to support weight training. And, if you are close to your monthly cycle, that could account for some of the weight. Good luck, scare the guys at the gym and lift hard.

This is great, girlygirl. You have seen the light…keep doing just what you’re doing. It is good to see that you are trying to get in shape the right way (strength training w/ moderate cardio and attention to diet). I have to disagree with Hyok and Mark about some of your gains being fat. Gaining 10 lbs. in 2 months is nothing for someone new to weight training with your background (severe hypocaloric diet and massive cardio - extreme catabolism). I regained 13 lbs. of muscle in 2 months after a 2 year lay off and I wasn’t even working out very consistently or eating real well. Your muscle gains will slow down so don’t worry about being a big bulky 180 lb. freak. I have had to be very anal about being consistent and eating much more to gain any more. Keep reading this websight and don’t be afraid to ask for advice on this forum. As long as you eat sensibly (tons of advice in the t-mag archives) and weight train consistently you will be fine. Moderate cardio is fine too. Good luck and don’t stop…hopefully you’ve started a life long endeavor. BTW go to Yahoo! or another search engine and type in “Krista Scott-Dixon”. She has a great web page dedicated to female weight lifting.