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Really dumb question - why do we care about preserving lean body mass?

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  • #31
    I am 5'3" and my calves at the widest point are 15 1/2 inches. I have done leg-dependent exercise regularly since 1997 but really I have bicycled, walked and run all throughout my life. It's the only exercise I've ever really enjoyed. I don't like the ocean much and that's where you'd do the rowing, paddling, swimming and surfing but I don't do those things. Living where I do people mostly get their exercise outside.

    Actually, my thighs look proportionally small compared to the rest of me, if you can believe that. Overall, I am huge compared to people my size. Yes, a lot of that is fat but a lot of that is just hugeness. I think even my toes are bigger than the average person's. Sometimes I put my foot over the prints left in the dirt from other people's shoes and my bare freakin' feet are about 2 inches wider than some of these obviously ladies shoe prints.

    I don't know what I'm asking, really. I see all these slender women with really amazing muscle definition but I look at my own legs and figure I'd have to eliminate bone to be that slender and then I wonder what is wrong with me. I am wondering what to do next. I've been running and enjoying that but everybody says no, that'll lead to muscle wasting, but I swear it just makes me even stronger and even more massive in the legs. I lift dumbells in the living room when the TV is on in the evening but that does nothing for the flab up there. 9 months of body weight training and sprints did nothing visible, although it did make me stronger. What do I try next? Old-school weight lifting? Will they let me ignore my legs so they don't get even bigger?
    Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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    • #32
      I also have big calves and feel frustrated with boots, but I think the health benefits of more lean mass outweigh my frustrations. My partner got really sick this summer and lost about 32 pounds in about 3 weeks. The thing that saved that from being a lot worse was that he had loads of muscle mass to begin with, so he came out of it thinner and weaker than he started but still in far better health than most people would have been. His doctor attributes that to the high quality of his diet and his level of fitness before he got sick. His recovery has gone far better because of that too and he its able to regain healthy mass fairly quickly. People with more lean mass are simply more resilient in the face of significant illness because their bodies have more resources than people the same size with less muscle and bone density.
      “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

      Owly's Journal

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      • #33
        Originally posted by Owly View Post
        I also have big calves and feel frustrated with boots, but I think the health benefits of more lean mass outweigh my frustrations. My partner got really sick this summer and lost about 32 pounds in about 3 weeks. The thing that saved that from being a lot worse was that he had loads of muscle mass to begin with, so he came out of it thinner and weaker than he started but still in far better health than most people would have been. His doctor attributes that to the high quality of his diet and his level of fitness before he got sick. His recovery has gone far better because of that too and he its able to regain healthy mass fairly quickly. People with more lean mass are simply more resilient in the face of significant illness because their bodies have more resources than people the same size with less muscle and bone density.
        This....I know someone who was in a serious car accident and she said that if she hadn't been in such good shape to begin with, she would have never recovered as well as she did. She actually went on to do some body building in her forties and this was after the accident.

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        • #34
          Do starting strength. No direct calf work, but lots of heavy squats that will work you all over. Lifting dumbbells in front of the tv almost guarantees you're not lifting as heavy as you can, because you're attention is divided. Start moving some real iron in low-rep sets - ss is 3 sets of 5 for all core work sets.

          Don't give up hiking, because you love it. Give up the tv workouts and maybe ease up on the bodyweight exercises for awhile until you build up a good base of strength, then add them in as accessory work.

          Seriously, my first month of ss my weight stayed the same but my bf% went down by 5. It really works fast, and seeing yourself move real weight is incredibly empowering. You'll see better muscle definition even eating maintenance calories, because the energy to repair the muscles has to come from somewhere (stored fat).

          It's a little scary at first, but you'll quickly fall in love.

          And the calves? I always had muscular calves, too. They've gotten smaller but more defined since I've been on ss. In the meantime, forget the uggs and rock a killer pair of stillettos every once in awhile. Muscular calves look ravishing in high heels!

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          • #35
            honestly I don't really understand how people are that self concious about their looks. I do SS and it makes me happy to see myself lifting more than in the past. And I doubt your body is freaking ugly. And I have no idea how hard it is, but if you think you're too big, maybe you should just lose some weight in general.
            well then

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            • #36
              There is no way in HELL I will wear high heel shoes. Well, actually, Hell would be to wear high heeled shoes.

              I'll see if one of these personal trainers they have here where I work can show me how to lift regular weights. Being a working stiff, there's so little time to go lift weights. The whole world goes to the gym on campus at lunch so using the on campus gym is a terrible option for us work slaves. I'll have to get up in the pitch dark of early morning, in which case I will probably have to find a gym near where I live, not where I work. But I could pay one of the trainers on campus to show me around and then be assured to get time on the equipment at least for those three sessions. Then move on to somewhere else.

              At least smaller weights can just sit in the room unobtrusively, but larger weights take up too much room to keep at home.
              Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by Gadsie View Post
                honestly I don't really understand how people are that self concious about their looks. I do SS and it makes me happy to see myself lifting more than in the past. And I doubt your body is freaking ugly. And I have no idea how hard it is, but if you think you're too big, maybe you should just lose some weight in general.
                I believe you were pretty darn self-conscious about being so skinny. Or maybe you weren't. For sure you were really self-conscious about how much you ate.
                Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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                • #38
                  Amen sister. High heels are pure misery.

                  The nice thing about big weights is that you can actually save a lot of time at the gym since you do very few short heavy sets and you're done, maybe with some assistance lifts thrown in. I can be in and out of the gym in well under an hour including my main lift plus assistance sets. It's simple and effective.
                  “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” --Audre Lorde

                  Owly's Journal

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
                    Okay, so here's another illustration. I can wear a size 4 woman's pants. That's a respectable size. I even have a size 2 in my closet that fits comfortably. However, I cannot wear a pair of Ugg boots. Now don't just poo-poo that with "ugg boots are ugly." I cannot wear any boots that come up to your calves. I don't think I've ever had any hair on the backs of my calves due to how tights pants tend to be there. I don't lift like Staci, either.

                    I guess Dan understands here. That if you lose weight you won't need so much muscle. I want more muscle on my upper body, but less fat AND muscle on the lower body. I just want to be strong enough. I don't want to be an upside-down Pop-eye.
                    Right - and that sort of spot work is exceedingly hard to do!

                    Also, if one is walking, as per the PBF, etc, then one uses the calves!

                    But as far as boots go...my wife's legs are similar to what yours appear to be from the picture, and she has numerous pairs of boots that cover the calves.

                    Of course, she also wears heels which, given your other posts, you would consider rather hellish!

                    Her method of boot and shoe shopping involves ordering ten pairs at a time from companies with free return polices, trying them on, and sending them back. Of course, if you have a space issue, all those packing boxes might be a show!

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                    • #40
                      If all you're doing for your upper body is dumbbells, I agree you aren't lifting heavy enough. To build muscle I did SS, to lean out and lose fat I do PBF. I will be trading SS for a weight lifting circuit once we move because I enjoy that more than SS. I have seen great changes in my body over the last 3 months. I'm often told I look like I've lost much more than I have, because I've traded a lot of fat for muscle. Yet my workouts only take ~30 minutes 3x/week.

                      Give lifting real weights a try and see if it works for you. PBF does well challenging me and I've found it slims me out if I keep changing the levels to ensure I'm challenged.

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                      • #41
                        I do pushups and dips, too, in my office.

                        I think I'll see if I can find a personal trainer who can give me a fitness assessment.
                        Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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                        • #42
                          Okay, so here's another illustration. I can wear a size 4 woman's pants. That's a respectable size. I even have a size 2 in my closet that fits comfortably. However, I cannot wear a pair of Ugg boots. Now don't just poo-poo that with "ugg boots are ugly." I cannot wear any boots that come up to your calves. I don't think I've ever had any hair on the backs of my calves due to how tights pants tend to be there. I don't lift like Staci, either.

                          I guess Dan understands here. That if you lose weight you won't need so much muscle. I want more muscle on my upper body, but less fat AND muscle on the lower body. I just want to be strong enough. I don't want to be an upside-down Pop-eye.
                          Calfs are what they are and you hike so will have larger than normal calfs. Boots....are made for women who sit on their asses. I ride horses and where knee high boots. ANYONE with a modicum of activity has to get custom boots because off the shelf boots are made for tiny calfed women.

                          Your calfs are SHAPELY. You don't have cankles.

                          http://maggiesfeast.wordpress.com/
                          Check out my blog. Hope to share lots of great recipes and ideas!

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                          • #43
                            Also, j crew has extended-calf boots. Or, get a pair of lace-up boots. Sexier, imo. I used to have a pair of stacked-heel lace-up boots that hit right below the calf muscle, and I wore those babies every single day until they wore out. I'm still mourning the loss... They were so perfect - black leather, squarish toe, chunky heel, looked great with everything. Haven't found a similar pair since.

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                            • #44
                              I don't know what I'm asking, really. I see all these slender women with really amazing muscle definition but I look at my own legs and figure I'd have to eliminate bone to be that slender and then I wonder what is wrong with me. I am wondering what to do next.
                              there are certain weighted exercises i point blank refuse to do in case they make me bigger. i know it is me being neurotic but for example i wont do leg extension in case i get huge quads. the guy who taught me the gym based paper when i did personal training said to measure your whatever and then keep measurements to track if they really are getting bigger or more defined. i never used to do upper body till relatively recently as i feared ending up looking like arnie. i have done lots of recent. once a week i go hard at the gym. i now have arms more like madonna than a female body builder as i had just gotten more defined and not bigger at all.

                              i occasionally do compounds with dumbbells at home. the idea is you use the weight you can do the weakest exercise on which is in my case the overhead press. i have 6kg dumbbells. prob could go a bit heavier. i also have some 6kg clubbells which are awesome. even look at something like convict conditioning as none of those body weight people are huge. i have a copy in the post atm as i am gonna get locked up with the kids for 6 weeks during the school hols lol

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by sbhikes View Post
                                I believe you were pretty darn self-conscious about being so skinny. Or maybe you weren't. For sure you were really self-conscious about how much you ate.
                                I wouldn't sweat it. Everyone is a critic It is your body. Unless you are ill (ie anorexia, bulimia, etc), which I don't think you are, there is no reason why you should feel bad about your aesthetics (or should listen to other people telling you you should gain more muscle).

                                If you want to get lean, than you need to train to get lean. I don't think there is any reason that you couldn't/shouldn't decide to that you have too much muscle mass (in your legs, for example) and should do something about it.

                                One thing people here don't like to talk about is that calories matter, even when you are eating primal. You need to do two things if you want to stay healthy and lose muscle mass.

                                1. Count your calories. You probably need to go into a caloric deficit, stay off carbs, and only have moderate protein rather than lots of protein. You still should eat, though. THis means most of your macros will be fat (maybe 35% protein, 50% fat), BUT keep yourself in a caloric deficit (like 200 calories less a day than you need for maintenance). It is gonna stink, though.

                                2. Exercise very heavy with lower reps. Upper body you can do heavy with moderate reps, lower body should be heavy with few reps. If you are running, it does take a fair amount for that to start being catabolic. Like 20+ miles a week at a minimum.

                                My two cents.

                                Me

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