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Monday, August 15, 2011

grow lats or die

That's going to be my new motto.

Yesterday I took end-of-contest pictures for the silly little online muscle building competition I've been doing for the past four months and my back, she don't grow width-wise. Which is why not being able to zip that dress all the way the other week was particularly maddening. But anyway, I see very minuscule changes in my before and after pictures all around, even though I have been working hard and working hard at eating. Let me tell you something about this whole bulking business. Eating even when you don't want to is surprisingly harder than you would think if you have never been in the position to do it before. It is in fact work.

This all leads me to the big ol' philosophical upchuck I'm about to spew on you. (See what I did there?) One major reason I entered this competition was so it would commit me to keep bulking for the entire four months. I knew that if I didn't have some kind of outside commitment, it would be very easy to give up on it. Not that making a public commitment to something guarantees I'll follow through, but it helps. But why would I find it difficult to keep on doing something that, on the surface, seems pleasant? After all, eating more, and indulging more, sounds fun and enjoyable, right? And there isn't a chance I'd suddenly decide I didn't like going to the gym, because you know I think it's the most fun you can have with (most of) your clothes on. So what's the prob, Andrea?

Some of it I've detailed (ad nauseum) before. It's scary after having lost a chunk of weight to voluntarily put some back on. Psychologically, you (by which I mean me) can feel constantly one extra bagel away from OMFG obesity epidemic! It's not rational, but feelings are feelings. And, as I have also mentioned frequently, there's the whole cultural piece in which people of the female persuasion can never be too thin or too small. Purposefully putting on weight seems almost like a perversion in our culture. But it struck me in examining my (lack of) progress pictures that there is one more and perhaps most important piece to this.

Why would I decide to stop bulking and start dieting? Because, for me--for most women--losing weight is hella easy and putting on muscle is motherfucking hard. Last spring/summer I lost between fifteen and twenty pounds in three months and totally transformed my body. Like, my body at the middle of May and my body at the middle of August looked totally different. This spring/summer I put on maybe three pounds of muscle and three pounds of fat and water weight over four and a half months. My body at the beginning of April and my body at the middle of August look...not totally different. You gotta kinda squint and use wishful thinking to see any kind of changes in the progress pictures.

Losing weight was easier in terms of effort too. Once you spend the first few days being miserable, you (yeah, by which I mean me) get into the groove and you get used to not eating as much and not eating whatever it is you've chosen to cut out, and there's all this external validation as the scale numbers go down and the pants keep getting looser and looser and everyone keeps saying, OMG! you're getting so thin! Whereas the muscle comes on so slowly and no one notices, except maybe if you have a kind and supportive trainer like Liz who points out the striations in your rear delt and makes you want to very inappropriately kiss her. So you're plugging on and plugging on with no real external validation that your hard work is doing anything, other than that your lifts are going up. (And then, if you are me, you read a bunch of people saying that your lifts should *always* be going up, even when you're dieting, and that makes you feel like, eh, again, what's the point of me eating all this damn food?)

Having realized all this has reaffirmed my commitment to keep on bulking, even now that this contest is going to be over. Why? Because, damn it, I ain't giving up just because it's hard. To steal and twist around someone's hilarious sig line, I may have a vagina, but I am not a pussy. So, yeah. Grow lats or die!


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