No I’m not going to talk about a historical event but instead a daily issue for a lot of people.  Some of you might get annoyed by this post, but I have argued for years that weight issues are a two-way street, and sometimes it’s a four-way intersection.  Yes, the average American struggles with being overweight while carrying around too much fat, but there are others with different issues when it comes to weight.  For the majority of my life I was the ultra-skinny kid who couldn’t eat enough food to gain weight, and sometimes it was difficult to maintain without losing.  I was constantly told to quit my crying as I complained about not wanting to be so skinny, as if my problems weren’t really important.

I got over that problem as I got older, and my dreams of being a meathead were realized.  For a long time I had to give up running because of my knee issues, and that time allowed me to change my metabolism.  Yes, it still runs high but not at the six to seven thousand calorie level it did when I ran a hundred miles a week.  All the running made it impossible to put on any size.  Getting nearly a decade of downtime allowed that to change a bit.  I was able to drive my weight all the way up to 196 from a scrawny 145 average in high school and about 155 in college.  At 196 with eight percent body fat I felt huge, and I was a big boy.  It actually got bad enough that I felt uncomfortable, and my joints ached.  The turning point for me was when I couldn’t reach across my chest to scratch my shoulder.  I knew then that I didn’t really enjoy being big like that so I decided to cut down to 185, and that felt pretty good on my frame.

After about a year at 185 and getting back into running, I felt like I needed to drop down even more to facilitate my regained hobby.  Over a year and half or so I pushed my weight down to 170 this past January in my prep for Disney’s Marathon weekend.  If you read about my experience that weekend then you know I came home broken and beaten leaving me with a prescription for a lot of rest.  I sat idle for a month.  I then started doing some strength training to try and regain what I lost through injuries and all the sitting around I had to do.  I noticed during that time my clothes were getting tighter.  My sleeves had less room in them, and I felt restricted through the chest and shoulder area in most of my shirts.  My pants and shorts were getting tighter through the rear section, and I thought that maybe I should get on a scale.  I’ve monitored my weight since then, and from January 8th to now I have gained seventeen pounds.  I weighed in at 170 when I left for Disney, and I now fluctuate between 186 and 188.

Not all of it is bad weight.  In fact, almost none of it is, as I’ve been gaining muscle.  I cut out my resistance training to help me achieve my weight loss because I don’t carry around a lot of body fat.  I average between 10 and 12 percent when I’m training steadily.  Here I am with the tables turned on me.  I once dreamed of being able to gain muscle, and now I wonder how to manage my training so I don’t gain muscle; at least not too much.  I want to be lean and light with strength so I can produce speed.  If I continue to gain weight then I run the risk of slowing down instead.

This is the part where I think a lot of you might be thinking I’ve got some nerve to have such complaints, but it’s valid, and I think there a lot of others like me out there.  Yes the majority of people out there are the ones who struggle with gaining the wrong kind of weight, but what about the other body types out there?  What about the ones who lose too much weight when they train or gain too much when they lift?  The point is that there are many body types, and it can be as difficult a task to manage those as it is to lose a hundred pounds.

So what’s the solution for those of us who are in the minority of the weight battles?  It’s different for everyone, and it’s not a perfect science with one answer.  If you’re too skinny it’s easy to say eat more, but what if you’re already eating six thousand calories a day like I used to?  That’s a tough task to do if you’re trying to eat healthy, and you start to find that there isn’t enough time in the day to do all that eating.  It might also be easy to say I should just go back to not lifting weights at all, but then I run the risk of losing strength and muscular balance.  If the muscles get out of whack you can develop major joint issues, and things like resistance training help you avoid those, so losing it all together really isn’t an option.

For me it becomes about quality not quantity.  I have to do less and do things differently in order to get the strength without the size.  My routine doesn’t involve machines or benches, and a lot of the time it doesn’t even involve weights.  I have to be functional and get creative with my routine.  Things like chin ups, squat jumps, bear crawls, pushups, and throwing have become the backbone of my routine.  Doing active exercises that keep the heart rate up but also call upon the muscles to perform the action is the key for me now.  I also don’t do a lot of sets or use heavy weights.  If I’m doing a classic style exercise like curls then I only do one set.  My goal is to get some focus time on the muscle group but not push it into a growth phase by breaking it down too much.  Only doing one or two sets will work the muscle but not cause it to react with a lot of growth.  Things like bear crawls are great because they force me to work my muscles heavily but in an indirect way so I don’t bulk up.

If you are one of the fringe folks out there who are like me then you have to be creative with your routines and nutrition.  The fitness world revolves around weight loss, and I have earned a living helping people with that, but don’t feel like you’re forgotten.  The key is research.  Learn about body types like yours and how to get the most out of them as well as how to drive them to your goals.  If you don’t know where to go or need help then hire a coach like me.  A good coach can work with any body type and has the experience to get you the results you want which will make it a worthwhile investment.

The only question now is “Do I try and lose the weight again or try and keep all this new muscle?”



3 responses »

  1. C. Beth says:

    Hey, Jimmy, I appreciate this post. I have a good metabolism and a not-that-big appetite, so I tend to be really skinny. I don’t gain muscle easily, and I always have low body fat but it’s REALLY low when I’m running. For me it’s about…do I feel healthy? Look healthy? Is my body telling me that it’s running well? Right now, I think the answers are yes, so I’m okay. But I do often wonder if I should gain some weight.

  2. Les says:

    Seems to me your problems may emanate less from types of workouts than from nutritional imbalances, particularly protein overload. Excess intakes of protein may result in muscle bulk, but over the longer term the protein affects the functionality of the liver and kidneys. Course I’m guessing, not knowing any details of your dietary habits. Fact is its difficult to assess weight loss/gain, without analyzing the combined effects of nutrition and exercise.

    • Very good thoughts Les but to be completely honest I take in too little protein for the level of exercising I do. In fact my diet is probably too high in sugars and fats on any given day. For someone who is a certified nutritionist it is sad that my diet isn’t perfectly balanced and clean but I love my treats!

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