I love looking through my old gaining photos. My first year in DC was fun, because I gained 70 pounds and have such a collection of comparison shots. Here’s some from the complex’s gym I may have never posted. (March to November 2011)
How To Get Big
For all of the difficulty I had doing it, it’s undeniable that gaining fat is a simple process. It may not always be easy, especially for hopeless people like me, but it’s definitely simple—just consume more calories than you burn, and you will gain weight. If you’re not gaining weight, eat more. Nothing more to it; couldn’t be simpler.
On the other end of the spectrum, though, is gaining muscle. On the surface, it seems like it would be equally as simple, right? Go lift weights, get bigger. A lot of people certainly think that. (I’ve heard too many people say they’re afraid of ‘accidentally' getting too muscular.) While that's the oversimplified gist of it, when you start to delve deeper, it feels like things get exponentially more advanced. Suddenly, there's a ever-growing list of factors to consider.
What routine do you follow? How much weight should you lift? How many sets? How many reps? Slow or fast motions? How long should you wait between sets? How long should your workouts be? How often should you go? Can you go too often? Should you do cardio? And then there’s food. How much should you eat? How many grams of protein? How many carbs? How many calories in general? What foods are ideal? How many meals per day? Can you eat too much? How much rest should you get? What supplements are worth taking? Which ones are bunk?
There are answers to these questions, but the trouble is that the answer you get depends on who you ask. Simply Googling any one of these common questions returns countless contradictory articles and guides that people just tend to pick one that sounds compelling. As such, everyone tries to make their answer the most compelling. Endless ‘bro science’ with questionable terms, promises of bodybuilder-quality results with no need for illegal drugs (despite the promises being made by people who unquestionably are taking such things), and just plain-and-simple exaggerations and misinformation.
After much trial and error, what happens next—or at least what is happening to me lately—is that you begin to believe that no one actually knows what the ‘right’ thing to do is. You begin to distrust everyone equally. Everyone’s full of shit, even—or more often especially—the ones who claim to know what they’re saying.
I love weightlifting, I really do. It’s one of the most enjoyable activities I’ve ever done. It’s satisfying and I’m proud of how dedicated I have been to this path. I don’t care if it takes longer or it’s a lot harder or will yield worse results towards my goal of being ‘big,’ I can accept that. I am patient. To a point.
I simply hate spinning my wheels. I hate the feeling of futility. I hate taking someone’s advice and then later finding myself disappointed with my progress and learning that they were full of shit. I hate feeling comfortable with my routine or my diet and then being told unprovoked that I should be doing it a completely different way. This happens constantly. It’s infuriating.
I’m very proud of how well I’ve been able to stick to what I’m doing, even if it’s out of my comfort zone. I just want want to know what what I’m doing is what I should be doing. And I’m convinced I’ll never really know that.
Apologies for the rant, but I feel much better having done it. The world of muscle-building is just so much different than the low-stress world of gaining. It takes some getting used to.
One month in. Feeling good!
Another Fresh Start
It hit recently me that I’ve been working out for nearly 9 years. The very day I started college, I braved the crowds of hot frat boys of the campus gym. Fueled by the desire to not be such a skinny twig, I stuck with it for two years and gained nearly 40 pounds. After that, my focus shifted to gaining, but I never stopped lifting. Even when I had no access to any equipment but the shitty exercise room in my apartment complex, I still lifted.
People look kind of shocked when I say that, and I don’t blame them. With nearly a decade of dedication under my belt, I feel like my body doesn’t reflect all the work I’ve put in. One of my biggest frustrations when I was gaining was that people only saw me as a fat guy, even though I knew I had some strength and muscle to me. When the fat started coming off, I was excited by the possibility of my muscular body being exposed like some sort of weightlifting butterfly, and have people actually finally notice for once.
The more weight I lost, though, the more it became apparent that that body really just wasn’t there. I resisted going below 200 for a while because I didn’t want to believe that I hadn’t made as much progress as I thought. At the end of my diet, I was down to 190 pounds—or roughly 15 pounds more than I weighed before I started gaining, and I still had more fat to lose.
It was all very hard to accept. It didn’t make sense. Did I lose a lot of muscle during my weight loss? Had I really just not made much progress at all? No matter the answer, I was a bit devastated.
It took some time, but I’ve accepted that the answer doesn’t really matter. I have a fresh start now, and I’m going to make the most of this new journey. Nearly a month in, I can say it’s going quite well. Progress reports coming soon.
That sort of raises the question, though—just what is so different this time? How can I actually get the results I want? If you’re interested in even MORE ramblings, I’ve cut the rest of this mile-long post behind the jump link below.
Anonymous asked: Do you have any suggestions for how someone could gain weight but also not lose too much mobility/stamina?
This is the kind of question that I wish I could give you an answer that you want to hear, but I’m not sure that I have one. The unavoidable truth is that being big comes with a price, and in many cases there’s no real way around it.
In this case, the truth is that the human body just isn’t designed to carry a lot of weight. Being heavy is very taxing on your body, and it’s just something you have to accept as a side effect of being a gainer. As you get bigger, you will move slower, get worn out easier, and you will get in your own way more often. Whether or not this is a deal breaker depends on your situation, but your lifestyle will need to change in some ways.
Being big forces you to take life a bit more leisurely. No more running to catch that train, you can wait for the next one. If you need to get to the second floor, you might consider the elevator more often than the stairs. Even if walking somewhere would be faster, you might choose to drive instead.
You may have been hoping that a good way to mitigate this would be to increase your strength; to make it easier to carry this weight. Of course, I will always recommend lifting weights to help keep your body as ‘in shape’ as you can and mitigate some of these downsides, but increasing your strength really won’t help your endurance much. You’ll be able to heft yourself around more, but carrying yourself around for extended periods of time will still be exhausting.
Mobility concerns are of a lesser impact, in my opinion, as they don’t really pop up until you get really big. Still, it makes sense that the bigger you get, the more you will get in your own way. It gets more difficult to do certain things that were effortless in the past, as now you have to reach around yourself to get to certain parts of your body, or due to the lost flexibility from your bigger joints.
While this sounds really negative, I’m just trying to be as bluntly honest as possible. These things are all downsides, but as I said, how much of a drain they will be on you they will be depends largely on your lifestyle and your outlook on the situation. If you can’t or won’t give up the sort of things that are exhausting for a big guy, it may not be worth it for you. If you’re able and/or willing to make adjustments to your lifestyle as you get bigger, then you really may not think much of it at all.
Thank you everyone for the very uplifting words of support on my last post. I appreciate it so very much.
By the way, for those of you who may be curious, here’s a link to the new transit blog I mentioned.
Things have certainly slowed down around here. It kind of bums me out, but I kind of intentionally have a lot less to talk about. Back when I started losing weight, I made it a point to also try and shift my priorities so that my size wasn’t so critical to my happiness and self worth. While my gaining journey was immensely fulfilling, I also unfortunately began to value myself too heavily on my weight and growth. Bad idea.
So, as I’ve been shedding the pounds (which is a passive and boring activity by comparison), I’ve tried to focused my now-unused drive and motivation into creative outlets. Some highlights being a new blog I started about public transit (a nerdy interest close to my heart), a winning logo I designed for a local contest, and trying to draw more with a focus on quantity over quality—lots of rough sketches for practice.
Don’t get me wrong, I can only change so much. I still have goals for my body to chase, but I like to think that the motivation behind them is much healthier than before.
Right now, I’m nearing the end of my cutting period. I had originally planned to end it a month or two ago, but I was making good progress and I wanted to see how far I could take it. Originally I was scared to dip below 200 pounds because that sort of signified the return to ‘normal’ territory. More than anything, I hated that as I lost weight, I was becoming less unique as a person.
But as the pounds fell off I shifted my priorities, that fear quieted down a bit. I’m definitely not proud that I’m only about 190 pounds now (a number I haven’t seen since I first started in 2007!), but I’m not ashamed of it either. I’m not sure how much more I could lose, but I think I’m about ready for a break.
Mostly because a couple weeks ago we moved to a different part of town, and in addition to the glorious return of mirrored closet doors to my life, two blocks from our new place is a new gym. It’s a total jock hangout; the atmosphere is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum than our previous gym. Being around so many meatheads has oddly reignited my motivation to lift, and I can’t want to begin again.
So, I hope y’all don’t mind, but I suppose this will be more or less the new frequency for updates, but it’s probably better that way to encourage me to maintain this healthier balance.
Anonymous asked: what is it about washington dc that makes you want to move away?
Like most people these days, after college I had a really hard time finding a job. I had a brief unpaid internship, but other than that I was working at Starbucks. I knew I wanted to move, and I knew what sort of places I wanted to move to, but nothing was working out. My cousin (who is twice my age, because my mom’s side of the family is huge) was the only connection I had outside of Kentucky, but he was a big Navy guy and all of his connections were in Washington DC.
DC was at the bottom of my list (well, maybe above Detroit but you get the idea). My favorite quote is from Dave Barry, who called it a town with “no industries and a workforce consisting almost entirely of former student council presidents.” My perception was that it was a town for suits, that it was all formalities—business cards, business etiquette, business networking—and I hated that stuff. I yearned for casual, relaxed atmospheres, and that wasn’t going to be found anywhere that my cousin could get me in. So, I refused his help for a long time, until it was pretty clear I had no better option.
When I went out for in January 2011 to get shown around some, my fears were kind of confirmed. I rode around the Metro, wearing a suit my parents had bought me, frustrated at how easily I blended in with the other frowning businessmen in a sea of black around me. I had a handful of meetings with various people who humored me as I sat uncomfortably and nervously lied about how much I wanted to work for their stupid think-tank or lobbying firm. They all gave me the usual “good luck with your search” line, and despite my urgent need for some actual, degree-worthy employment, I was relieved they didn’t like me.
There was only one job on my list of potential meetings that I actually wanted enough to make it worth moving to that town, and my interest was thankfully enough for them to give me a shot as a paid intern (already getting paid much more than I did at Starbucks). I enjoy my job immensely, and it’s definitely the only real reason we came here—and why we’re still here after three years. It’s engaging, helps me develop skills for future careers, and pays really, really well. I’m making more money than I thought I’d be making 10 years from now, and it’s hard to be depressed about that.
That’s the thing that brings in most of the transient young DC crowd, I suspect. You can’t really beat Washington in terms of pay and work stability, you just need someone to get you in the door. I’ve met scads of people at bars and such who moved in from outside of the region and they all share the same feeling—DC kind of sucks, but my job is too good to leave.
I could go on and on about why exactly DC sucks. The people you encounter on a daily basis are hostile and unfriendly. Tourists will be in your way and clog the transit system for 10 months out of the year. The District itself is in a constant state of gentrification—walk two blocks from a nice part of town you’re in and you’ll likely be shot. Traffic is horrendous, there’s not much to do if you don’t like museums, and the food sucks.
But as much as that stuff bugs me, obviously it would be pretty be idiotic to leave my job for such petty reasons. I can deal all that for a while, but in the long term, there’s a bigger aspect to DC culture that makes me want to leave. It’s what what makes this town, despite spending three years here, just not feel like anything like what I would consider ‘home.’
It’s hard to describe it succinctly, but it has to do with how terribly out of place I feel here. Yet despite that, I need to spend so much energy just to keep it that way. I don’t want to fit into this town, with these people. I don’t want to be another suit on the Metro. I don’t want to go to networking luncheons and exchange business cards. I don’t want to compulsively check my email during the brief moments of my commute that the train is above ground. I don’t want my idea of casual clothing to be an untucked dress shirt (scandalous!).
There isn’t a single person that I’ve met here that has a life that I envy. Everyone makes a shitload of money, yes, but their jobs rule their life. They have no interests outside of that, other than drinking. That kind of makes it hard to make many friends, too.
And yet, another common trait among these people is that they really don’t have any particular… skills. Their career advancement has been largely dictated by the fact that they know a lot of people, because that’s what’s important here.
This really clashes with my work philosophy (and my social anxiety). My goal with any company has always been to make myself invaluable—to be someone that they will do anything to keep around, because replacing me will be nearly impossible. I do that by working my butt off and actively developing new skills to try and set me apart from my peers.
So far, that philosophy has really paid off, and thankfully has made up for the fact that I refuse to network. The trouble is, all of it has been pretty self-motivated. I’m not encouraged to develop these skills, I’m just encouraged to schmooze and develop connections.
It’s all wearing on me. I’m tired of putting in so much effort just to keep this town from changing me. I just want to live somewhere that feels more natural to someone who shares my feelings about work. I want to get out of here and finally feel at home with where I live. Hopefully it won’t be much longer.
(Boy, that turned into a rant, didn’t it! Apologies for the length, I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while.)
A Late 2013 Look Back
2013 was a good year. Looking back, I’d say it was a year of stablization. It wasn’t the most exciting year, but there was a lot of good in there that I’m proud of. My body stresses have settled quite a bit, and I’m very happy with how things are going. Despite my concerns, I actually ended up drawing more last year than the few before it. I’ve done a handful of graphic design projects for my portfolio. I amazingly completed my 365 Project.
This past year was the third year we’ve lived in DC, and our opinion of this town has not changed. Though the desire to move is still strong, but it’s not quite time yet, unfortunately. My job is going very well—I managed to get a little raise and a bit of a bonus despite this year being a very tight one. My boyfriend actually stumbled upon a very lucky opportunity (which was partially my doing, I must brag) to work as a personal trainer at a private little studio. It was a risky move for us financially, but it’s now starting to pay off and his situation in general has improved. So overall, we’re a bit more settled here. I’m still setting a soft deadline for us to get the heck out, though. I think five years may be our limit.
In terms of regrets for the year, I thankfully don’t have too many. One of my big resolutions was to travel overseas, and I amazingly managed to do that, but just for a business trip without my boyfriend, so that only sort of counts. In fact, I only took two no-strings personal days off of work last year, to go to New York City with him. I never did take an actual, long personal vacation like I did the year before with the cruise, and it definitely showed in my overall stress levels. I will need to take an real, relaxing vacation this year, and probably soon.
In the coming months, we’ll move apartments to be a bit closer to his studio and to spice things up a bit. I’m trying to plan a vacation so that we can get some actual relaxation time to ourselves. I’ve got fun plans for graphic design projects and new skills I can add to my resume. In my usual fashion, it’s all nothing too spectacularly exciting, but that’s just how I like it.
dadamod asked: I have a love/hate relationship with gaining? I'll gain and then hate it but then I want to. When did ur goals become clear?
I’ll let you know when that happens.
In all seriousness though, it’s not a shock that anyone would have a love/hate relationship with gaining. In fact, most of the gainers I know have one, to some degree.
It’s easy to understand why. Gaining, as an activity, is pretty great. You don’t have to worry about watching what you eat, you get to enjoy the wonderful process of growing, and of course you can indulge in all your favorite foods all the time forever. Sure, there are some downsides (like being full all the time), but overall, it’s just very enjoyable.
On the other hand, being fat is quite the opposite. For gainers, there are some upsides, but overall it’s a net negative on your life that gets worse the bigger you get. You’re out of shape, develop health issues, have to deal with the social stigma… It’s the pleasures that come from gaining that make it worthwhile, at least for people like me.
So, there will always be things to love and hate when you’re gaining. To get past it, it’s important to look at the big picture and think how it’s impacting your life overall.
For me, it was a great thing for a long time. I obviously had my complaints, but overall I really enjoyed it. It was only a year or so ago that it started to not be worth it. The negatives began to outweigh the positives. That’s why my goals changed.
Best of 2013 Selfies
December! December was… somethin’. Work, home for Christmas, and ended the year with a nice bit of food poisoning, wahoo!
I’m also officially done with my 365 project! Flip through my pics if you wish over on my instagram page.
Ever wonder what gaining / losing about 100 pounds looks like?
I’ve taken a bunch of intentionally very raw progress shots like these a few times over the past couple years, documenting my weight gain and loss over time. I’m up to seven instances of various weights, and it’s just endlessly interesting to see the effects of it all. Stuff you would never notice otherwise. I was pretty hesitant to share this, as these ain’t very flattering photos, but I felt like it was a pretty powerful image. Hopefully it helps someone.
Cleaning up some folders and found an old video I never posted. It’s from August of last year, I was probably about 280.
If the embed breaks again, use this link to see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxQBlQVRweY