Smorgasbord Sundays: Working Out

Working OutA few years ago, I used to hit the gym every single day after work for an hour. It gave me a boost of energy, even if I had initially felt drained after work.

Then I stopped going and haven’t returned since.

Now, I’ve decided to start lifting weights to exercise my muscles and to bulk up a little bit.

Do you exercise on a regular basis? Do you have any suggestions for specific weight-lifting techniques that I can use to gain bigger muscle mass? Any nutritional tips are also appreciated!


Working Out

Lately I’ve been losing weight unintentionally, which is really alarming because I’m already extremely skinny due to my high metabolism. (I’ve always been very skinny and have had a healthy appetite that rivals people who are bigger than me. And I’ve never tried to lose weight because…heck, that would mean that I’d be 6 feet under…)

So, you can see why I’m really concerned that I’ve been losing weight recently without changing anything in my lifestyle.

Some friends have suggested that maybe the unexpected passing of my father back in 2010 is now having physical effects on me. And I’ve seen the doctor to run a myriad of tests, but as of right now, I’m still undiagnosed.

It’s pretty scary and frustrating because the doctor seems to think that just because the tests come back negative, I’m perfectly fine and healthy. But…I don’t think losing weight unintentionally is healthy, and clearly something is wrong.

The doctor just said to come back in 2 months and redo all the tests again! I hated that answer because what if I have something that they’re not testing for? Then the results will always come back negative, but my symptoms could worsen significantly in 2 months.

And because I recently switched to a new family physician and went into the office several times already, I’m getting tired of doing the ‘back and forth’.

I’ve stopped visiting medical websites and essentially scaring myself with the stuff I’ve read.ย For now, I’ve decided to take matters into my own hands…literally.

I bought a scale and two 5-pound weights. My goal is to gain weight in the form of muscles, since muscle weighs more than fat.

In addition to lifting weights, I also plan to eat more food (with lean protein) than usual. I’ve also already started taking multivitamins with iron, calcium, vitamin D, and all that good stuff in addition to a separate protein supplement to feed my muscles.

I’ll be weighing myself every morning and keeping track of it on paper. Plus I’ll also include all the food I ate that day and how much weight lifting I did.

Argh…I really hate to have to record all the food I ate, and I’ve never done it before because I just eat whatever I want whenever I want. But for me to see if I’m successfully bulking up or still losing weight, I have to force myself to do all this.

In a month, if I still find myself losing weight despite my efforts, at least I’ll have documentation to show the doctor. Maybe then I’ll be taken more seriously.

Do you have any specific weight-lifting techniques or nutritional advice you can suggest for me to put on weight and muscle mass?

(Because I’m so skinny – size 00 to give you an idea, I don’t want long and lean muscle mass…I need to actually bulk up a little so my arms look bigger. Haha, don’t worry – I don’t plan on getting huge like a body builder!)

I appreciate any and all suggestions! Haha, but just don’t say, “Eat junk food!” I enjoy junk food, but I need to get healthy muscle and not just pack on fat since fat weighs less than muscle.


20 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Sundays: Working Out

  1. Gelic' nail art

    I understand that you are concern that you’ve unintentionally have lost weight when already being skinny. But from what I know it can be perfectly normal to gain or loose weight without doing something special, and without being sick in any way. It depend on how much you’ve lost comparing to your original weight before (thinking percentage). One thing that can cause weight loss is stress (ironically since you get stressed by loosing weight and it’s one evil circle) and if you sleep bad. I think it’s wise and healthy to do like you do, to train yourself bigger. Now I’m not claiming myself to be a pro, but one thing is a key element when training to build up muscles (either for weight loss or weight gain) and that is to eat within 20 minutes after practice, it can be a banana (great choise, lots of fat, vitamins and energy), or a mรผssli bar (not the candy thingy filled with sugar) or any fruits of your choice, raisins, yougurt, or if your’e at home -any food and with that drink some water/milk (not sugar filled soda). The reason you must eat after practice is because after a work out the muscles need energy to build new muscles threads within=this is what you want. And if they don’t get any energy they are forced to take what the body already has, namely the muscles you got (they are not taking fat from the bum if you’re not eating;)), and the the body break down the muscles.=bad. I don’t think it matters if you lift heavy handles and just a few or light handles and many, the most important is to eat afterwards. Even though I would recommend you have something in the middle, not to heavy and not to light; balance is key. I’m not saying that you or anyone would “die” if you wouldn’t eat afterwards or if you miss it sometime. I’m just saying that doing it would increase your result.
    Thumbs up that you’ll get better. ๐Ÿ˜€
    Gelic’ nail art recently posted: Cute flamingo bird nail art

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Gelic’ nail art!

      I’ll need to keep a closer eye on my weight to see how much weight I lost and if it’s really significant. I’ve never owned a scale before now, so I couldn’t really monitor my weight before. It could be that I’ve noticed my weight loss because I’m really skinny, so I don’t have much to lose before I look even bonier.

      Oh yeah, after a workout it’s really important to eat something afterwards to feed your muscles. I’m going to take the protein supplement after the workout so it helps and maybe a banana as you suggested.

      Thank you for all your suggestions!

  2. Janet "The KnitMaster"

    Do you have any symptoms other than weight loss: If you do, make sure you’re checked for hyperthyroidism and make sure they use the correct parameters. A normal TSH level should be between 0.3 and 3.0. This link will give you a symptom checker for hyperthyroidism:
    There is a great website for tracking your food and exercise and there’s an iPhone app! With the app, you can scan the barcode! It’s called They also have a section where you can add friends who can post comments about your progress.

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey The KnitMaster!

      Yes, I have a couple of other symptoms, but I’ve told the doctor everything I could think of that might be related. The doctor ran all sorts of blood tests, one of which was testing the thyroid. But everything came back fine. Hmm…I didn’t think to ask what TSH level I had (because I didn’t know the values that are considered normal). Now I feel like finding out just to see if it falls within the right range…

  3. Aline

    Having a lot of muscle will speed up you metabolism even more though.

    I would suggest eating lots of healthy fats – avocado, salmon, olive oil, … just add a little bit to everything you eat. Avocado smoothies are super tasty and high in calories. You could add a little bit of avocado oil or olive oil to every dish you make. My daughter (who is only 16 months old) is also on the skinny side, so I add healthy fats to everything. One of her favorite meals is pasta with a bit of marinara and on top of it – olive oil and cheese. It tastes really good (I always have to restrain myself from not eating it, as I am trying to lose weight).

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Aline!

      Hmm…well, at least if I put on some muscle, I’ll gain weight. Even if my metabolism increases, I can just eat more often (like I usually do anyway). But your suggestion to include more healthy fat is a good idea, too. I love avocados, so it’ll be easy to incorporate more of those into my diet.

      Mmmmmm! Pasta with marinara, olive oil, and cheese. Making me hungry now. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Erica

    Wow, that is scary. My fiancรฉ is a personal trainer so I’m in the gym 4-5 times a week, and I can’t really get away with not going, lol! I did an intentional weight-loss program that started last Thanksgiving (the Canadian one ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) and I did it until the end of February (when we went to the Dominican). I went from 129lbs to 111lbs in that time frame. Most of it was the diet, I was eating extremely “leanly” .. basicallly only what I needed to survive. It was really hard to follow the diet as I am used to eating only what I want, not only what I should.
    I hope you get everything figured out, but I do agree with Gelic nail art that stress could be something that is making matters worse, so I know it’s easier said than done, but try not to worry about it more than you should. *hugs*
    And I understand your frustration with your doctor – the healthcare in Canada.. well quite frankly it stinks. It’s free and all, but sometimes I think that if we had to pay for it we would get much better treatments. I had a famiily doctor that sent me for x-rays and an untrasound for a problem I was having with my hip and never, ever heard from her about it. I was doubling over in pain every time I would stand from sitting. She left the practise and a new doctor came in her place and I mentioned to him that I had never heard from her. He looked and the results were there and he sent me for more x-rays so he could get more of a look at the problem area. We found out that I have an “extra” vertebrae (where the vertebrae are fused at the tailbone, my top one isn’t fused so there is extra movement in my lower back), but if I didn’t get a second opinion I would never have known what the cause of the pain was. So maybe you should see another doctor/healthcare professional and see what they say about it/what tests they put you through, there could be something that your family doctor isn’t looking for, as you said.
    Good luck with everything! I know how hard getting to the gym/working out after a long day at the office can be. Make sure to let us know your progress ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Erica!

      Yeah, it is very scary! It would be different if I was overweight. It might not be such a big deal then. But because I’ve always been very skinny and a size 00, when I lose any weight, that sets off the alarm. Never had a problem just maintaining my weight without trying…but I have a very hard time gaining weight just from eating. That’s why I’m going to start lifting weights. Plus I think it’s just a healthy idea anyway, so it couldn’t hurt.

      Wow, good for you for going 4-5 times a week to the gym! That’s great commitment. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’m definitely trying to relax and not get stressed out about it since that could exacerbate the whole situation. I’ll admit that when I first started noticing the weight loss, I was freaking out a lot. But now I’ve switched to the proactive mode of trying to do something to fix it instead of just worrying and running to the doctor (heh and the doctor not helping, either).

      I agree with you about the Canadian healthcare system. A lot of the doctors I’ve seen are pretty lax, and sometimes I think that if we had to pay them, maybe they’d put in more effort. But…who knows? Maybe they’d just take our money and treat us the same. No idea…It’s really tough to find a good family physician who’s taking new patients these days. Why is that? Are they all overworked. ๐Ÿ™

      Wow, I think that was terrible how your previous doctor didn’t even follow up with you about your x-ray, especially since you were in pain! I went for x-rays recently, and the doctor was supposed to call me about the results, too, but didn’t. I just ended up calling and then going in to discuss everything. Didn’t want to wait and wait and wait.

  5. Lacquerliciouslove

    Hi Mary!
    I’m a certified personal trainer, so I might be able to offer you some advice. Like others before me have said, I would pay attention to mental wellbeing. The mind leads the body, and weight loss is a common reaction to stress. So make sure you look after yourself and get enough sleep and do relaxing things for yourself, whatever that may be. As far as diet goes, if you are looking to increase muscle mass you will need to eat a caloric surplus, with an emphasis on lean protein. Basically if you burn ~1,500 calories a day, you need to eat more, say 2,000. Eating protein and carbs in combinations helps with digestion and keeps you feeling full longer. Complex carbs like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, etc are great for you. Protein choices can be things like chicken, any fish or seafood, lean cuts of pork, extra lean ground beef, and leaner cuts of steak. Fats are still an important part of your diet, and healthy sources include nuts, nut butters, avocados, olive oil, and even cheese. Vegetables are always good too! The important thing is to keep within the proper portion sizes, and try to eat every 2.5-3 hours to keep your metabolism humming smoothly. You shouldn’t be stuffed, but you shouldn’t be starving either. And of course you can still have the “fun” foods, a deprivation diet will always fail in the end. An 80% healthy 20% “junk” rule will still get you headed in the right direction! Btw, I’d also recommend you get a good-quality protein shake like Isoflex. They’re great for when you’re short on time and the flavours are actually good! A shake, handful of nuts, and a banana hits all the macronutrient bases and can even be eaten in a car!
    For exercise, the 5-pound weights are a start, but if you want to add muscle you will eventually need more than that. I can’t stress enough how beneficial weight training is for women, it is incredibly healthy for bones, the cardiovascular system, injury prevention, etc. Plus it makes you look great in and out of clothes!! ๐Ÿ™‚ At home, you can use the weights for things like: bicep curls, tricep extensions or kick-backs for arms, shoulder presses, lateral raises for shoulders, one-arm rows for back, or lunges or step-ups for legs. (Look on youtube for demos) And for growth, aim for 8-15 reps. So if you can do more than 15, the weight is too light, but if you can’t finish 8, you’re lifting too heavy. Keep your form solid too, make sure you can feel the muscle you’re supposed to be working!
    So you can still get a workout in with those weights at home! But the key to muscular hypertrophy (aka growth!) is progressive resistance, because when your muscles adapt to the 5-pound weights, the workouts will no longer be challenging, and you will no longer progress. The easiest way to keep progressing is to lift more weight. So you may want to look into a gym membership for yourself. It doesn’t need to be the best, newest, fanciest, or most expensive. It just needs to have good equipment! Anyway I have been going on for ages, if you want to know more feel free to shoot me an email and I’d be very happy to answer any more questions you have!

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Lacquerliciouslove!

      The protein supplement I bought comes in a powder form and says it can be mixed with water, juice, or milk. It is GMO-free soy protein with no cholesterol and low fat (2% fat). For every 28g of this, you get 14g of protein, 45% calcium, and 15% iron, among other things. It also includes 9 amino acids. This is the first protein supplement I’ve ever used. Does it sound good?

      I’ll definitely want to work my way up higher with the weights. Haha, I’m pretty weak, so these 5 pound ones are pretty heavy for me.

      Thank you for the specific exercise suggestions and for being incredibly helpful! I’m going to look them all up online so that I learn how to execute them properly.

  6. Mara

    Hi Mary, I’m sorry you’re having this health issue. I think you need to find a second opinion, because you’re not feeling well! Doctors can make mistakes, and as you said, maybe they didn’t test you correctly!!
    If you want to gain muscle, you have to lift more weight and less repetitions. It would be great if you can go to a club and talk to an instructor.
    But if you’re feeling weak and tired, don’t stay with just one opinion! Go see all the doctors you need until they find out what is going on.
    I have a problem in my hips and if it were for the first doctor i went, i had a scary and big surgery replacing bones from my knees!!
    I hope you find an answer soon!! <333
    Mara recently posted: Sephora + Pantone Universe Jewel Lacquer in Parachute Purple

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Mara!

      I’ll probably be getting a second opinion, but I need to gain my energy and try to put on some weight myself. Perhaps it’s stress-related or me not getting enough sleep. If all my efforts don’t work, well, I’ll be forced to head into another doctor’s office. Sigh…I really hope that just changing my diet and starting to lift weights will help me pack on more pounds.

  7. maria emma

    i totally get your feeling. people is always telling me i’m crazy because i need to gain weight.. i’m more than 20 pounds under my ideal weight and i have trouble all the time buying clothes! haha. XS is too big for me most of the time.

    i agree with Sara, you need to be at peace of mind to fully relax and let your body gain all the weight back.
    i went to a nutritionist once, and she recommended me a 3k calores diet, it helped me a lot..!
    combine your exercise routine with a high calories diet and i’m sure you’ll gain weight again, maybe not fast.. because, at least in my case, is so easy to lose weight but so difficult to gain it again!!

    i wish you luck! and if something works, let me know, i’m trying to gain the 10 pounds i lost one month ago when I moved to my new place!!
    maria emma recently posted: arcoiris \ rainbow nails

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey maria emma!

      Oh boy…we are in the same bought. Yes, sometimes even XS is too big for me. Normally I fit into XXS or stuff that have silhouettes suitable for teenagers!

      Sometimes it’s really just a ‘vanity size’ – i.e. the actual size is bigger, but they stick on a label with a smaller size to make some women feel better. It’s really ridiculous. Who cares what the label says? If clothes fit you, you look good. I wish that more women would see it that way. Labels mean nothing.

      Thanks for your encouragement! I’m trying to stay positive and be proactive about the whole thing. Freaking out about it isn’t going to help me. And, thankfully, I have such caring and supportive readers. That also helps and motivates me greatly! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. maria emma

        good luck, and if you’re getting tested again in a month.. check if you’re including the thyroid.. my mum was sick for many years, and she gained a lot of weight and slept a lot, she was worried, went to the doctor, she was sick of her thyroid now she has to take medicines 4e, but she noticed the difference once she started taking meds.

        when i get stressed it helps me to think that every problem come to an end, so i don’t have to worry, it can wait.
        maria emma recently posted: mitaโ€™ y mitaโ€™ \ the half

        1. Mary Post author

          Hey maria emma!

          That’s a really hood attitude to have. I hope that it turns out just to be stress related. Otherwise, that’s a whole other can of worms.

  8. Rose

    I’m another in the too low but still feeling healthy weight category. Everything everyone else has said so far covers what I was going to say, other than reminding you you aren’t alone in being super thin and wanting to put on some muscle mass instead. I’ve always been thin, but until I started lifting a 15kg 3-year-old everyday, I didn’t have all that much muscle.
    Rose recently posted: Steve Smallman & Joelle Dreidemy – The Lamb Who Came to Dinner

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Rose!

      Hahaha, yeah, lifting your bundle of joy will certainly help you build your biceps. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Maybe I’ll try picking up my nephew and niece more the next time I see them…hehe!

  9. Gosia

    I’m no personal trainer but I do take big interest in health and weight lifting. I also want ‘bigger’ muscles as they are necessary for my mountain climbing. Well.. All I have to say is that I agree with LacquerliciousLove! I eat every 3-4 hrs, besides meals I snack around a lot (all snacks have protein, carbs and fat). I found that the protein shakes (I like Muscle Milk the best) are great, and you could easily up your calorie intake by getting the high caloric shake.
    Being a health professional, 2 problems come to mind. One, as someone mentioned here, would be hyperthyroidism, but as you said, you checked that out and it is ok. The other one would be some kind of digestive tract disease, like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis. In that case you don’t absorb all the nutrients and as the result you lose weight for no apparent reason. You may (but not necessarily) have diarrhea or constipation with both. Most likely you’d see some electrolyte imbalances though that would show in your labwork, and/or fatique on a regular basis.
    I would try to increase your food intake (no junk food! just good nutrition), and I think that the journal is excellent way to go!! if that doesn’t help… checking out your digestive tract would be good to do (I’m sad to say that my good friend had unexplained weight loss too only to find out he had Crohn’s =(( ). I don’t want to scare you though!!! please keep up posted Mary!!! {{Hugs}}
    Gosia recently posted: Y is for OPI "Yodell Me On My Cell"! Monday Blues

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Gosia!

      Love that you climb mountains! I’ve only done indoor rock climbing (once)…and the only other thing I climb is the corporate ladder. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Interesting! I looked at the Muscle Milk shakes online right now. Looks like it is chock full of other vitamins, too. Pretty cool. I’ve been taking my protein supplement (a powder that you use in water, milk, or juice, but it’s not a shake) every single morning recently. But comparing mine to Muscle Milk, it looks like Muscle Milk contains a LOT more that this one. When I finish my huge container, I’ll consider switching over.

      One of my friends has Crohn’s disease, and it just sounds awful. Thankfully, he’s taking medication to keep it controlled at least.

      Haha, okay, this is going to sound gross talking about this on Swatch And Learn, but…I DON’T have diarrhea or constipation. Thank goodness I’m uh…regular…hehe…and don’t have bowel problems.

      Thanks for the suggestion to check my digestive tract. I never even though that it might be an issue. We’ll see how my plan goes and if it helps. *Fingers, eyes & toes crossed*


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