Eating More Calories While Staying Fit?
At the start of February, I decided to add more calories into my daily-intake after about two years of consistently eating in a deficit. The possibility of eating more calories sounded foreign to me and extremely exciting—Oh man, I could gorge on cereal?!
cutting / eating at a deficit : means eating less calories than you burn each day, so you lose fat
maintenance : means eating the same amount of calories you burn, so your body stays the same
bulking / eating at a surplus : means eating more calories than you burn each day, so you gain weight
Eating more freaked me out
It's been fun to try new things and just be able to eat more every day. I'm buying desserts I've always wanted to try and going out to restaurants more. But my ego wasn't too happy about this. My weight has been slowly moving back up and I no longer look as lean as I did. I panicked. I wanted to cut back on calories again. It felt safe, I wanted to go back to my safe place.
When I told my boyfriend this, he explained something important to me—I needed to build some muscle if I wanted to look the way I wanted. I couldn't cut forever.
Our muscles need food—this is why people bulk. They feed their bodies more calories than they burn so their muscles can grow and they can perform better in the gym, which will in turn cause their muscles to grow. I'd been eating less than I burned for so long that my strength progress was slow and I had little to no muscle on my bones.
Here's my weight during the month of February. It looks a mess, but you can see that I'm going up in weight.
I like to look at the month as a whole because there are many different factors that contribute to weight every morning. On mornings after rest days, I'm usually a bit heavier. I'm heavier before my period, I lose weight during my period. (It's fun being a girl...)
After a month of eating for recomposition, I might have some belly fat but I can see the definition in my quads and my glutes and even my biceps look a bit more muscular. It's wintertime. I'm taking this as a time to hibernate and bundle up. So what if I don't feel comfortable wearing crop-tops in the gym right now? Is it really the end of the world to wear a full-length shirt? I need to stop caring about how cute my outfit looks and focus on the weight on the bar.
I spoke about this in a previous post when I was figuring out what program worked best for me. Robin Gallant's program focused on building a butt, but it was a lot of accessory work with high-reps to get a pump in the muscle. It wasn't as fulfilling as lifting something heavy and feeling strong.
Eating more has reminded me that I enjoy fitness for the athletic aspect of it as much as I enjoy it for the aesthetic aspects. There's a reason I go to the gym 3x a week and never skip—it's because I love the process as much as the after-affect.
I'll continue to eat in the 1500-1800 calorie range until I feel like I've made some good progress and I'm ready to cut for the summer. I'm interested to see what lean will look like for me now that I'll (hopefully) have more muscle.
Bulking on Social Media
I watched a video recently of Christian Guzman, a well-known fitness YouTuber who is currently bulking and people were giving him flack, saying he looks terrible and lost all his gains. He was embarrassed to show off his mid-bulk physique but he grit his teeth and did it, and explains to his viewers why he feels great about it.
Everyone is different with different goals. Please don't read this and think I'm saying everyone needs to lose weight and have muscle definition. I'm just talking about my own experiences and what I want. I'm not perfect, so yes, that means a lot of the time I care too much about how I look in the mirror and how people will perceive me. This is why I write about it—I want to let people know what goes on in my head and how I work on having a healthier mindset.