Are you watching your weight?

While I’m definitely not in the running to becoming the next Ms. Olympia, I have made it one of my goals this year to add a little weight to my muscles. Why? Well, as a yoga-loving brisk walker who has about as much muscle mass as a newborn kitten, I wanted, no wait, NEEDED to build just a little more muscle for the benefit of the greater good. Or, old age.

My guess is that if I have the amount of muscle I do now when I’m 60, I’m going to be hunched over, frail, and hobbling around my house with a walking stick. Which, let’s face it, isn’t really the picture I had in mind. Oh no, Happies, my picture of retirement has flashes of a huge organic vegetable garden in my backyard, lots of cooking, writing, laughing, and running around like I do today. There’s simply no time for frailty.

As we age, our muscle mass decreases at increasing intervals. In our 40s, we lose 3-5% of muscle mass over that ten year period, then, once we hit our 50s we start losing 1-2% of muscle mass PER YEAR. Granted, I’m a while off being 40, but the more I research muscles, the more I want them.

I think the biggest misconception among women is that doing weights at the gym is going to make you bulky. While guys parade around in their barely-there singlets, pumping iron and flexing their muscles in between sets, women take one look at these goons and get turned off for life.

Firstly, it takes years to look like that, a few sessions each week of lifting weights isn’t going to bulk you up, instead it’s going to give you Beyonce-esque tone, and best of all, life-long health benefits. Winner!

Not only is it important to have muscles as we age, but right here and now, muscles are an essential part of our day-to-day life. If they’re not in optimum health, they’re more prone to injuries like tearing or sprains, but on a deeper level, muscles actually reduce the amount of fat cells in your body. Yes, it’s true.

When we were all cave men and cave women and running around hunting and fishing and cooking and cleaning all day, our bodies were happily storing unused nutrients for later. Clearly, we needed these reserves, as we were more active. So, you ate, your body used what it needed, and popped the rest in the cupboard for later.

Now, however, the scene is a little different, thanks to silly inventions like desk jobs and offices and dishwashers (actually, dishwashers are a freaking amazing invention), our nutrient stores simply aren’t getting used as we’re not active enough. The result? An, ahem, growing society. Unless, of course, you have muscles which burn through those nutrients better than anything else. They eat, and eat, and eat them up, leaving you probably eating a little bit more but looking a little less. It’s magic.

While yoga can most definitely help tone and build strength, I was finding my practice wasn’t giving me the results I was looking for. Perhaps it’s my body type, or the style of yoga I was doing, but now that I’ve been varying my workout as much as my diet, hey presto! I’ve got a muscle. Maybe even two. OK, three muscles but I don’t want to brag.

Tell me Happies…

Do you lift weights and build muscle?

Is it something that you want to do?

What do you do to build muscles?

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9 comments

  1. Polly Mae (@polly_mae) · October 14, 2011

    I just started giving Body Pump classes a try and I’m loving it! Such a great way to tone and build (only slightly) on what little muscle my body contains. It feels great (and now I’m looking great, too!). Big WIN for me. X

  2. Tara · October 14, 2011

    Great post, Yaz! Ever since I gave up cardio and began lifting heavy weights, I’ve never felt or looked better! I’m now training for my first figure competition, and love every second of the process. So many women have this silly fear of bulking up if they lift weights. At my gym, I can count on one hand the number of women who pick up weights heavier than 2 kilos. I can tell you from personal experience, developing muscle takes a LOT of work and a very fine-tuned diet.

  3. Annette @ Wellnesss WA · October 15, 2011

    I’m getting some muscles for the first time in my life, too! I am pretty kitten sized as well and I’m working with my personal trainer to build up some strength slowly but surely πŸ™‚ X

  4. Lizzy · October 16, 2011

    Hi Yaz! I’ve recently found your blog and absolutely love it. Seriously, I think I’ve read every article in about 2 days! I have a quick question which I hope you’ll be able to answer. I’m in NYC at the moment too and unfortunately have gained about 6kgs since arriving. I’m so disappointed in myself I can’t even explain it. I’m trying to turn things around though and am going to make some of the muesli that you posted. So, where can I buy raw oats in NYC? I’ve seen steel cut ones but not raw…do you think it matters?

    Thanks so much!

    Georgie

    P.S. I’ve been doing weights at the gym and really enjoy it!

    • Yaz Turker · October 17, 2011

      Hey Lizzy,

      I am thrilled that you’re enjoying my blog, what wonderful feedback. Thank you! It’s so easy to put on weight when travelling, especially here in NYC where there’s so many temptations and eating out is so cheap. Don’t beat yourself up over it though, 6 kilos can be lost no problem at all, especially in a place where walking is the best mode of transport.

      We buy all our grains from Wholefoods – they have a serve yourself area where you can scoop in as much or as little as you like. We get the organic raw oats from there, and the steel cut oats are great but need to be cooked as they’re rock hard (better for porridge etc). So, if I were you I’d get the organic raw oats (they’re pretty cheap) and add all your yummy add ons like sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, raisins etc. If you’re watching your weight, the only thing I’d suggest is keeping the servings smaller of the muesli as it is quite high in calories – but they’re good fats and it will keep you full for hours.

      Hope that helps, let me know if you can’t/don’t find them. I go to the Wholefoods in Chelsea and they definitely have them there.

      Yxx

      • Lizzy · October 22, 2011

        Thank you so much for writing back Yaz! Just wanted to report that I got all the ingredients and am feeling really positive. Thanks for your help! Lizzy xx

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