Julie is a 32 year old mother of two, started lifting weights in order to help her lose some weight and build up her strength. She was tired of how she looked and was tired all the time, but after she started lifting she started feeling better. After a month or so she noticed her clothes were starting to fit differently and at first she was impressed. Now, several months later she tried putting on her new pair of pants and noticed that she couldn't fit into them and her shirts were becoming stretched in the shoulders and arms.
How is this possible, Julie thought. She was working out religiously for an hour every other day with her weight lifting program her friend Susan had given her and she was making good progress. She was stronger than she'd ever been and the scale had dropped several pounds initially, but now had been stuck.
What was wrong? Were the weights having another effect now other than fat loss?
She picked up her iPhone and called up Susan to find the answer.
The phone rang several times before her friend, Susan picked up with a courteous hello.
"So what's up?" Susan said.
"I can't fit into my jeans," Julie said in a panic.
"Okay, so have you been doing the weight program that I put you on," Susan asked.
"Yes, I've been sticking to it diligently. My weights have all gone up, but my body weight has stayed pretty much the same for the last month and I haven't seen any other changes in the mirror. My shirts don't fit anymore and now my pants don't fit. I think the weights have made me bulky," Julie said fretfully.
Susan calmly replied, "have you changed any of your nutrition program to accommodate your weight lifting?"
There was a silence. "No, I haven't changed anything that I've been eating. But I've been eating good."
"Well, what does good mean," Susan said. "Because if you're not monitoring your nutrition your basically adding muscle underneath your fat, which will make you look bulky or bigger." "Essentially, you're just overeating and not burning off enough calories to burn fat."
"Oh," Julie said. "I didn't know I had to make changes in my nutrition for weight lifting to help."
"Your weight lifting will help improve your overall muscle tone and definition for sure, but you have to be eating less overall calories to burn off the extra fat to actually see the muscle definition. Keep lifting those weights, but let's get you started on a better nutrition plan that will have you burning more fat."
"Okay, I'll see you soon," Julie said. "I just have to fit in these jeans by summer!"
Weight lifting is commonly slighted as the cause of women getting bulky, but what's really happening is that women are adding muscle tissue underneath the fat which makes them appear bigger. You're just not burning enough fat to cause the body shape to change.
You have to focus on both elements, both the exercise component and nutrition at the same time to achieve optimal results. It doesn't matter how hard you're exercising, lifting weights, running, etc., if you're not eating appropriately to burn fat.
Burn the fat, build the muscle, get the body you want. Time to get busy! And lift some weights, and not the pink ones.
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Jesse “Captain Smash” Howland is the owner of SMASH’s Strength Lab, which offers targeted personal training to reach a variety of fitness and physique goals. A natural bodybuilder, competitive powerlifter, certified personal trainer, and nutrition coach, Jesse is often the go-to resource for personal training Ottawa. He studied Exercise Science at Oregon State University and even trained at the world famous Gold’s Gym. He’s a former US Army Captain with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a former blog writer at Veterans Fitness Career College, and former Chief Executive Officer at U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). His workouts and personal training are army-inspired to help reach your weightloss, athletic, or physique goals.