‘You can have a stone of mine if you want’, ‘I bet that you can eat whatever you want and don’t have to worry’, ‘you’re so lucky, I put on weight just looking at a cake’.
I’ve heard them all. I’ve seen magazines, blogs, social media accounts all focused around losing weight for your new ‘summer bikini body’. PAH! I look in dread! What about us skinny folk I think to myself. What can we do to gain weight? But, to gain weight in a healthy way which does not put me at risk of high cholesterol and the other repercussions of a bad diet.
I must say that the comments mentioned above are all said in the nicest way possible and I do not take offense, just giggle with amusement whilst crying on the inside. It has been a constant battle for me throughout my teenage and adult life to gain weight. I think the major factor of this is being 5ft 10 with long limbs and a fast metabolism. Who needs to be this tall? Yes, I can see over crowds at gigs, yes it’s nice to reach high shelves in supermarkets, change the light bulbs etc, but that’s about it really. Nothing a kick stool or chair couldn’t solve. I have constantly weighed in at around 8 ½ stone since my early 20’s, a hindrance I have always thought, not a blessing.
Firstly, I have always had a healthily relationship with food, I eat well and often. In fact I could genuinely give Man Vs. Food a run for his money. ‘Crunchynut’ has been a nickname within the family since I was 10 years old due to eating my way through 4-5 bowls a day of those glorious golden flakes between meals. Perhaps this hunger was due to my athletic youth, having competed in regional and national Track & Field events up to the age of 18 before an injury forced early retirement. Or maybe it was due to puberty and having a healthy appetite to feed my growing pains. Either way, the rents weren’t happy about the cost of food shopping. So how do you gain weight when all you seem to do is eat anyway? Well, I have the answers, or I hope that I do!
Now I cycle more than ever before and I am extremely happy to be back doing an activity; hobby, sport (whatever you may call it) that I love. Despite the many positives, I must also take into account my weight and nutrition and make sure that I can maintain this and it not decrease. The only downside of cycling is that it is a high cardio activity and it is not fantastic for those who are wanting to gain weight. Yes, muscle can be built over time but it would be beneficial to lift weights and endure compound exercises in order to achieve this rather than choosing an activity which increases the heart rate. So, what the heck do I do? Well, my good friend and housemate Kelly may have solved the problem. There’s an App for it. MyFitnessPal tracks your height and current weight then allows you to input your desired end goal. Mine is currently to add 6KG / 1 Stone before the big bike packing adventure in 8 weeks’ time. The app then calculates how many calories you need to consume daily in order to achieve this goal. If there is an app that I need more than Instagram, it’s this one!
2710 Calories a day are needed. 136g of Protein, 339g Carbohydrates, 25g Fibre, 102g of Sugar and so forth. The nutrients list is ongoing for your detailed comprehension and once a food item is typed in and searched for, or you scan the barcode, you will find out which foods have certain percentages of nutrients. These can then be added to your daily intake and the total calories counter will decrease as you eat. I have never in my life read the labels on foods, and I still don’t have to! This App does it all. Phew!
I read an article a few weeks ago about the actor Chris Hemsworth and how he had to eat 3300 calories a day in order to bulk up to be superhero Thor. Mine wasn’t too far off his calorie intake so my initial thoughts were, How will I be able to eat this much food a day?! I also thought, despite being a fellow blonde, I don’t want to look like Thor I just want to add a bit of chunk here and there. (Butt & Legs). My butt, firstly because we all know and love Kim K (joke) and secondly, I can’t rely solely on my Brooks saddle for support. Legs, because I will need them to be stronger than ever for the elevation in Norway, Nepal, and Spain – pretty much the full journey. EEK!
I’ve been doing this eating routine now for the past three weeks and I must say I thought it would be harder. Don’t get me wrong, on some days which are work heavy and there is little time to eat, I consume a lot more food in a shorter space of time cramming it in and feeling like I could pop. However, most days I try to think ahead and prepare my lunches in advance. As the app takes my daily commute into consideration, I also try to eat the same calories when I don’t cycle to pack in even more calories as and when I can. I have been hitting my daily target of 2710 cals and feeling full. It’s a miracle.
So what do I eat?
Well, my main sources of carbohydrates and protein are avocados, almonds and mixed nuts, high protein yogurts and drinks, chicken breasts (usually two as my dinner) with vegetables, rice, pasta, mackerel on toast, steaks, dark chocolate, pints’ of John Smiths, cheese, sweet potatoes, bananas, raspberries, olive oil, eggs (usually 3 at breakfast), bread and a Yorkshire must……Yorkshire Tea. I can’t say that I eat more than I usually do, but I eat targeted food. Food which is high in good calories and healthy fats. Up until this point I have been eating, eating and more eating. However, it has suddenly dawned on me that this will just turn to fat and not muscle if I do not exercise accordingly. Not that this is a bad thing for me, but still I don’t want any added weight to go just to my belly.
I have always hated the gym, I find them intimidating, confusing and narcissistic places. I’ve only been a number of times but I always seem to catch people eying themselves up in the mirror whilst lifting the heaviest weight on the rack. I just roll my eyes in a state of confusion whilst trying to figure out how to work the menacing machines. Plus I’m absolutely rubbish at sticking exercise out long enough to finish the REPS, I get bored and my mind wanders. Gym or no gym, I have read that I must do squats, deadlifts, bugs, dips, pull ups in my daily routine. Maybe I’ll make it every other day! These will help me to build muscle, plus I can do them in the comfort of my own living room with Kelly (my new personal trainer). She doesn’t know it yet!
With 8 weeks to go, my aim is to feel stronger, add a bit more chunk to my bones, feel healthy and be at the best fitness I can be for the world trip. 3 weeks in, I now weigh 9 stone 4 and at a comfortable BMI. Slowly but surely this is working and more importantly I am enjoying it and feeling good.
I hope this will help anyone who is wanting to pile on the pounds in a healthy way in order to feel fit and strong, especially when cycling.
We need advice too! 🙂