There was a time during my teenage years when I could honestly say that I was what you’d call a “hard-gainer.” That’s someone whose body frame is essentially very small and therefore, they find it hard to gain muscle mass and any sort of weight they may feel they want to add.

Building a bit of muscle or “bulking up” was quite the fashionable thing back then and it was definitely something I was keen on myself. I didn’t quite manage to figure out exactly how a hard-gainer should go about bulking up until my early adult years, but the tables have turned now and the focus is completely different.

Slimmer and Leaner

I eventually learned that in order to bulk up as a hard-gainer, one needs to pack on the pounds through the intake of more calories than the body can dispose of. At the same time, weight lifting to build muscle mass goes some way in ensuring all those calories don’t turn into fat, which just has a way of collecting in the most awkward of places, like around the stomach to form a gut; not ideal! It’s not nice looking like you love about 10 pints on a weeknight!

Now since my early adult years I’ve been focusing more on losing weight and managing a much slimmer yet leaner body as this has many health benefits in addition to looking good, of course. Yes, I sort of like seeing that crease that develops between my girlfriend’s eyes when other ladies ask me if I’ve been working out, but it’s about more than that. Part of it is just enjoying the ability to quickly shed some fat which may have snuck its way into those awkward places.

In the aftermath of finally figuring out how to pack on the pounds and build muscle mass, it took only one or two mad and hectic months at work to disrupt my training regime and convert all those calories into unwanted fat. As the struggle shifted, I fell victim to perhaps the biggest weight-loss myth perpetuated mostly by big chain gyms, being that you can essentially eat as much as you want of whatever you want, so long as you put in enough hours at the gym, you can “burn it off.”

This is definitely a myth, as I’ve come to realise. It takes more than just pumping iron or even running a marathon every couple of days to burn off fat, especially if you plan to do so in a healthy way.

Exercising is only Half of the Equation

Well I reckon in reality it only makes up about 35% of what’s required to effectively lose weight in a healthy way, and lay the groundwork to keep that extra unwanted weight off. The other 65% is diet!

I learned this the hard way, but it’s a good lesson learned nonetheless and one which I’m extremely grateful for because I can truly say that I’ve reached a stage where a binge or two (or three, or six), or skipping some days at the gym, never throws my overall health and fitness goals off course. I can recover quite quickly whether I need to put on some weight or lose some to return to my optimal BMI.

It’s not about crash diets or fads either, but rather about fuelling your body with just enough nutrients to be able to perform all required bodily functions efficiently.

Unfortunately, the hard part is tweaking and tuning the diet in order to get the portions and food types just right, simply because we’re all built differently and therefore have different nutritional needs.

Nutrition is indeed the key to effective weight loss, though, not exclusively exercise as the gym chains would have you believe.

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