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  1. #1
    devotchka's Avatar
    devotchka is offline Junior Member
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    Unhappy confused about how to build muscle

    Primal Fuel
    This probably will sound like a silly problem.. and partly I just want to rant.

    Im a very tall lady, and super skinny (about 122 lbs currently). LONG story short - I lost about 15 pounds over the last year and a half experimenting with paleo/primal/whole30. Didnt plan on losing weight but I was 'skinnyfat' and that was just the result of the drastic diet change. I am unable to work right now because I have constant pain in neck and shoulders and arms and hands. I have arthritis-like symptoms in my hands at night. and to top it off I have some lower back pain, and just to add spice to life, bunions on both feet from years ago walking when I didnt have a car (college). I am exhaused all of the time and trying to work out with all of these body pain problems is no picnic.

    Basically a number of my drs are telling me to build muscle any way i can, because being super weak is the beginning of what started the neck shoulder issues. my one dr is telling me to eat 2500 calories. =/ This feels ridiculous, as I will normally eat around 1500 or 1800 left to my own devices. (not that i ever calorie count willingly).

    1. I have not even been able to eat that much food. That the closest I got was 2200 and that was like non stop eating all day and night.

    2. I have IBSD Im drying to resolve and Im concerned adding tons of dairy to try to get my calories up will sabotage my efforts to normalize my digestion issues.

    3. I come from super skinny people and I am the skinniest. I know I have gained slight addition of tone in my legs, from going to the gym for at least 3 months now. But that is just a SMALL gain. Is it possible my genetics just wont let me build muscle?

    4. I have to be very careful not to do anything to strain my neck and shoulders which has left me clueless for how to strengthen my upper body (the muscles are extremely sensitive in the current state). I am thinking of swimming, but I need to learn how.. and also swimming is a lot of shoulder movements. I feel like no one is giving me anywhere near the specific plan I need =/ Exercises from physical therapists got me nowhere and frequently aggravated my problems and sometimes made the issue even worse.

    5. Im really frustrated with the calories. how do athletes consume thousands of calories a day? Im trying to eat naturally, but now im thinking I might really have to do some kidn of hardcore consumption of protein or meal replacement shakes (in addition to regular food) to get my calories up. Even Marks meal replacement is only about 180 calories. If I did that a couple times a day, it would get me closer to my goal, but I dont know if its ok to drink that much. PLUS thats a lot of friggin money.

    sigh.

    suggestions welcome. I just feel like my goals are kind of impossible at the moment and frustrated cause the drs dont understand.

  2. #2
    jfreaksho's Avatar
    jfreaksho is offline Senior Member
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    A. Make sure your shoes are wide enough for your feet. Start going barefoot as much as you can.

    B. Heal your gut. If you have bad digestion issues, it won't really matter how much you are eating, as there is little chance that you are getting what you want out of it.

    1. If you need to eat more calories, then adding fat is a pretty easy way to do it. Upping carbs can do it too. Cook your veggies in liberal amounts of coconut oil or butter. It might take your body a little bit to get used to eating more, but it'll help.

    2. Don't do dairy then. Drinking calories does make them go down easier. Do you have a blender? I'm sure you can come up with your own blends of fruit and coconut milk that taste reasonably okay.

    3. Short answer: NO! You can build muscle. You don't state your age or gender, but I'm guessing female (men don't have the tendency to wear overly-narrow shoes and get bunions) and middle-aged, or at least approaching it, from your comment about how long ago college was. Building muscle does rely on hormones, one of them being testosterone. You probably don't have much at the moment, but the more you increase your muscle the more you will develop. Lack of muscle at your level is simply a lack of stimulating the muscles to grow. You need to work your muscles, and eat to feed them.

    4. I don't know what your specific issues with your neck and shoulders are, but you need to find someone who can tell you, and who can help you find ways to fix it. Kinesiologists, chiropractors, physical therapists, Pilates instructors, yoga instructors, Alexander Method trainers, ...etc. There are a lot of people who have the training who should be able to help you fix yourself. If it is as bad as you say, it's not really something that can be really fixed over the internet. Something as small as holding your head and shoulders in a correct posture might be more than you can do right now. Find an expert to help you. If they aren't helping, fire them and find a new one. Yes, it might be expensive. How much is a functioning body worth?

    5. Protein makes you feel full. It makes pretty much everyone feel full. Some people get really full from fat. Some people get really full from carbs. You need to figure out which of those you can eat more of, and eat more of it. You are trying to gain weight. Have people add food to your plate when you aren't looking. Eat before you get hungry. Don't be afraid of the primal "gray area" foods, like rice, if your stomach can handle it.

  3. #3
    devotchka's Avatar
    devotchka is offline Junior Member
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    I appreciate the pep talk.
    I'm female, and 35 yrs old. So, not middle aged yet (but I definitely feel like it).

    I think I just dont get the high calorie thing cause I already eat lots of high fat foods like nuts and coconut milk and meats and eggs. some fruits and veggies too, but increasing those is not going to give me a calorie boost that Im aware of. I think my stomach is just not used to this much food.. and I need to try to ease into it and see if I can get it used to more.

    As for finding a dr who can help with the debilitating neck/shoulder issue, ive been through at least a dozen thus far. finding one who actually knows how to fix it is easier said than done. but i agree, you have to keep looking. the newest dr is the one telling me to eat so much and concentrate on building muscle. its just frustrating that he doesnt tell me how. I guess that part is up to me.

    Exercise muscles + more food. got it. It really shouldnt be more complicated than that, huh

    If I learn how to swim will that make me overall stronger? or is swimming more cardio...

  4. #4
    Kharnath's Avatar
    Kharnath is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by devotchka View Post
    If I learn how to swim will that make me overall stronger? or is swimming more cardio...
    Swimming will improve both your cardiovascular system and strength. And it's easy on the joints.

  5. #5
    RichMahogany's Avatar
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    Swimming will build some muscle, but not to the degree that lifting heavy things will. Also, I'd be worried about developing osteopenia/osteoporosis if I were you, and would definitely want to do load-bearing exercise on a regular basis.

  6. #6
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    I can't help but recommend a chiropractor in addition to a doctor.
    Try to find a chiro that comes highly recommended by someone you trust, and as a bonus look for one with knowledge in sports medicine. I've been lucky and had a good chiropractor who fixes aching joints and muscles. As I think about this, he's never once cared about, or told me, what to eat.
    True, I don't have much chronic muscle and joint pain, but when i have an injury I find that he can always tell me the root source of my issue, and he doesn't try to get me to pay for something I font need, be it treatment or 'extras'.

    I dont know NY, but if you find yourself in Denver, ping me and I'll share his name.
    Good luck!

  7. #7
    primalrob's Avatar
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    swimming is great, but i would focus on more resistance work than cardio. if you're not comfortable lifting weights, you can build plenty of muscle and put on some weight with body weight exercises. mark's primal blueprint fitness is terrific for that. it starts at very basic levels and you move up as you get strong enough. i would do the movements slowly...just to build a good base and keep from injuring yourself if you're concerned about that (but body weight work is pretty safe).

    as for food, fat is definitely the way to add more calories. nuts and coconut milk are great, but i think you're going to be able to add more calories by simply adding fat with the meat, eggs, fruits and veggies. slather some butter on that meat, put oils on the veggies, and eat those fruits with some nut butters.

  8. #8
    ryanmercer's Avatar
    ryanmercer is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by devotchka View Post
    5. Im really frustrated with the calories. how do athletes consume thousands of calories a day? Im trying to eat naturally, but now im thinking I might really have to do some kidn of hardcore consumption of protein or meal replacement shakes (in addition to regular food) to get my calories up. Even Marks meal replacement is only about 180 calories. If I did that a couple times a day, it would get me closer to my goal, but I dont know if its ok to drink that much. PLUS thats a lot of friggin money.
    I can eat 5000 kcals as a snack. What are you eating? Give us an idea of your diet... you can easily add calories with fats.
    -Ryan Mercer my blog and Genco Peptides my small biz

  9. #9
    sbhikes's Avatar
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    I honestly think you should lift barbells. You also need protein and calories to build new tissue. You can't build tissue from nothing and you need bone and muscle tissue. If 2200 cals is difficult now, it won't be once you lift some real weights because it stimulates growth hormones in the body. You can start with small, light barbells and work up, but go for the big movements (squat, press, deadlift) right away because they build more strength overall in the most natural way. I started with 20lb presses. I'm up to only 50lbs but I'm not ashamed. I wasted a lot of time with body weight classes and still struggled with 20lbs so don't waste any more time if you don't have to.

    Here are two resources for you to consider:
    Starting Strength: Article

    Meet Staci: Your New Powerlifting Super Hero | Nerd Fitness <- scroll down to what she eats. Maybe it will help you figure out how to eat more.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    Starting squat: 45lbs. Highest squat: 167.5 x 2. Current Deadlift: 190 x 3

  10. #10
    RichMahogany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes View Post
    I honestly think you should lift barbells. You also need protein and calories to build new tissue. You can't build tissue from nothing and you need bone and muscle tissue. If 2200 cals is difficult now, it won't be once you lift some real weights because it stimulates growth hormones in the body. You can start with small, light barbells and work up, but go for the big movements (squat, press, deadlift) right away because they build more strength overall in the most natural way. I started with 20lb presses. I'm up to only 50lbs but I'm not ashamed. I wasted a lot of time with body weight classes and still struggled with 20lbs so don't waste any more time if you don't have to.

    Here are two resources for you to consider:
    Starting Strength: Article

    Meet Staci: Your New Powerlifting Super Hero | Nerd Fitness <- scroll down to what she eats. Maybe it will help you figure out how to eat more.
    +100

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