A Farewell to (Skinny) Arms

Once upon a time there was a chunky, bespectacled young woman who wanted to look like a comic book heroine. She grew up watching the Super Friends and Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends instead of Strawberry Shortcake and The Care Bears, and spent her high school years (when not buried in academics) reading comic books like the Uncanny X-Men during Jim Lee’s pencilling stint (you know, when Psylocke got turned into the badass Lady Mandarin/Kwannon) and devouring cyberpunk novels like Walter Jon Williams’s Hardwired with its tough-as-nails dirtgirl assassin protagonist, Sara.

Fast forward to the present: That formerly puffy-looking geekette named Maggie is doing pretty well as far as progress goes. After reaching my weight loss goal last November, I went on a deliberate bulk cycle in order to gain muscle. I went from a low of 128 lbs (I’m 5’6″) back up to 139 lbs by eating clean, but eating a lot MORE. I’ve gained quite a bit of muscle in my upper body as I was hoping to do in order to balance out my legs and am now back on the fat loss warpath to get back down to 128 lbs.

I will be honest–it was very disturbing to see the scale keep going up even though I was doing it on purpose and in a controlled fashion. No formerly fluffy dieter ever wants to see the numbers go UP again, you know? But in my case, no gut flab, no glory in the form of arm muscles either, so bulk I did.

Here is a pic of my progression from May 2004 through March 2005:

This is a recent composite:

So I definitely put on more muscle (with some fat in my lower abs, back of the arms, glutes, and legs) and widened my shoulders enough to balance out the bottom half–I’m finally not a pear!–but sometimes when I see my upper body in the mirror I am kind of overwhelmed by even the dinky amount of mass I’ve put on in my arms. As modest as my gains have been when compared to the real figure and bodybuilding pros out there, this is the most muscular I’ve ever been in my entire life.

I had said that I wanted bigger, buffer arms to balance my mega quads, but whew…now that I have them, I am torn between loving being the strongest-looking female in the room most of the time in my town of tubby tourists, overweight office workers, and waifish beach bunnies and sort of wishing I had the more mainstream, slim arms from November, since I only stayed at my low weight for a few weeks.

I know…I’m being an idiot, right?

Maybe when I’m down to goal weight and am lean enough to see more definition and not quite so much blurry bulk from fat I will finally be able to look in the mirror and not feel that twinge of wistfulness for the twiggy arms of November. And really, it’s not the size of my arms that is bothering me right now–I really dig the muscles! But the FAT I had to put on them at the same time irks me every time I see my reflection.

Bulking may have been necessary for me to gain muscle, but yeesh, sometimes I feel so aggravated at the extra flabbage on my body. I just miss the feeling of being lean and streamlined.

Now if you’ll pardon me, I’m going to go Google up some articles on body dysmorphic disorder to make sure I’m not going off the deep end.


Update: Whew…just read up on BDD, and have eliminated it as a possibility as I don’t actually hate my arms or any other part of my body really. I still have the drive to improve myself, but at the end of the day I am content with myself. I am only guilty of plain old OCD, which I’ve known about all along.

5/24/05 P&P Challenge Report

Consecutive Perfect Days = 1 :prop:
Total Perfect Days = 23/62

– 2173 calories eaten / +135 surplus
– 43.9% carb, 29.3% protein, 27.0% fat
– No unauthorized meals
– All supplements taken
– 17 cups water
– All planned workouts performed

Weekly Weigh-In: 135.8 lbs on 5/21/05 (Start weight on 5/1/05: 135.4)

Nutrition: 1600-1700 calorie mid zig zag day

1: 3×1 spinach omelette, 1/4 c. raisins
2: 3×1 spinach omelette, 1/3 c. (dry) oatmeal
3: Chocolate cappucino yogurt banana shake w/1 T. flaxseed oil
4: Turkey sloppy joe, 3/4 c. fiesta mix veggies, 1/2 c. strawberries
5: 3 oz. tuna, 3 c. raw spinach, 1 banana
6: 1 c. FF cherry yogurt, 3/4 c. fiesta mix veggies, 1/2 c. strawberries

Total: 1648 calories, 49.0% carb, 30.9% protein, 20.8% fat

Daily Supplements: multivitamin with iron, calcium 500 + D, 1 T. flaxseed oil
Water: 16 cups minimum

8:00 AM P90X Abs
10:00 PM P90X Back/Biceps
11:00 OARS exercises for Life’s Odyssey challenge and 200 misc. squats for BFL Women’s board daily challenge

The Awful Truth:
1. Nothing. Back in the saddle again!

Brownie Points:
1. Made library book tracker module for HanDbase.
2. Carried 25 lb cube of ATW chocolate blend whey up to my 3rd floor apartment without falling down.

Short-term Goals:
1. Create P90X HanDbase module.
2. Organize Oasis 18 prints.
3. Cook more rice and roast chicken.
4. Pick up 20lb bag of Nutro Max cat food for the boys. ($21.99 for 20 lbs at Petco.)
5. Finish Handbase tutorials 5 and 6.

16 thoughts on “A Farewell to (Skinny) Arms

  1. Hi Maggie. You have every right to be really pleased with where you are now. You’ve done brilliantly. Well done. I am curious as to what your friends, boyfriend, relatives, workmates think about your impressive change in appearance?

  2. You look fantastic! You are such motivation to me 🙂

    I just got my BFL book and my EFL book. I’m ready to rock and roll 😉 I just had one of the butterscotch puddings that I made from the EFL book, chocked full of protein. Fabulous!

    Are you on livejournal? If so, let me know and I’ll add you. I’m Zoevala on there.

  3. Yay! I think I’m going to have to go that route as well–cut, bulk, then cut again. Sooner or later I’m going to have to give in to buying a larger pant size for the bulking… Darn!

    But first, I’ve gotta get through the cut cycle. Its lasted too long already.

  4. You have summed up my feelings about my legs EXACTLY! I miss how lean they were in the past , but the muscle I will have gained during this bulk is worth the fat that I gain as well. I think it took getting my Omron and getting a decent number to get through to my brain that all the muscle I had before my bulk hasn’t turned to fat and that I am gaining some muscle with the fat as well. Not like I didn’t know I’d gain some fat but Damn I just wasn’t prepared kwim? Now I’m definetly ready for the last 4 weeks of my bulk ( yes I extended it)

  5. The transformation you have been making from your first pic to your last one is awesome. You can definitvly be proud of your self and you have completly redesign your shoulders and your symetrie is fantastik. Bulking is hard for the mind when you realized that you will be adding fat. I have been adding fat too while I was on my bulk and it was hard for the mental. You are looking really good and your quads are really good too. I’m sure that when you’ll reach your final cut goal. You are going to tell your self that this cycle bulk was finally a good thing despite that the fat is most of the time part of the game. You are already looking pretty good just imagine when you will have reach your final goal how amazing you will be looking. Keep your good job.

  6. ava – Everyone has been very supportive. Frankly, I think my immediate family was relieved that I’d finally stopped being one of the chubby Wangs. My mom’s family is universally twiggy and small-framed, but my father’s side throws out about two stocky, almost medium-framed mutants every generation. In my gen, it was me and one of my male cousins. My cousin managed to drop the extra weight by taking up weightlifting a few years ago, and I categorically refused to be the ONLY fat (relatively speaking) cousin in my age group. :tongue: Friends, boyfriend, co-workers–they are bemused by my continued obsession with being fit, LOL.

    Zoe – Hey, it’s great to hear that you are starting up BFL! I do have a Livejournal account, but I never use it. I’m causticmuse on LJ.

    Shawn – Maybe it’s all in my head, but I feel like it’s a bit tough to overcome the Asian genetics sometimes. You know–the ones that put us at higher body fats at lower BMI–i.e. skinny-fat syndrome. I know it was a lot harder to put on muscle in my upper body than it was to quad out my legs!

    Pam – Yup…I am pretty sure that most of my friends and family were puzzled by my decision to deliberately bulk up. Skinny is the standard ideal, so the thought that I would actually WANT to pack back on some of the pounds that I’d just busted my ass to lose was completely counterintuitive to folks unfamiliar with the bulk/cut/maintenance cycle. I am willing to get a little fat (hehe…imagine calling 18% fat!) to gain some muscle, but that doesn’t make it any more fun to FEEL fluffy again.

    Nico – Thanks for the encouragement! If I look even half as good as you do at the end of my cut, I’ll be in raptures, seriously.

  7. Hey maggie you should be so proud of yourself cuz your transformation is amazing – you look great!

    My fitness OCD pushed me overboard last year and I got too lean. Then in trying to gain some weight back I had to wrestle with my thoughts cuz of course the extra pounds don’t go where you want it to – it has to go where you dread it most. It’s so annoying.:mad2:

    Anyway keep up the hard work and we’ll keep reading up on your progress.

  8. Come on, don’t trade in your arms for those skinny things. Keep up the good work!

  9. :claphigh::claplow::drool2::shock::love::razz::roll::wig:
    You are so good looking. Your body is almost perfect. I think you could have even more arm (biceps) muscle and still look excelent and even better. How big is your flex increase (unflexed vs flexed). A 10 % bicep increase is considered good and I think you have that.
    You go girl, keep building muscle.

    Ps your legs are also super.


  10. ACK! Plugging ears and singing LaLaLaLa~ I am going to pretend I didn’t hear anthing about wanting twiggy arms!!! LOL! Girl, muslce rocks and you know it!! You look absolutely amazing!!!:claplow:

  11. Hey, I don’t WANT twiggy arms! I just want my newly buffed up arms to be lean again, with all muscles intact.

  12. :dbell:

    Here’s another vote for bigger biceps for Maggie. They look great already, but would look even better with more muscle.

  13. Maggie I am in the no skinny arms camp! :barbells:

    GREAT transformation! :claplow:

  14. I see this quit often with woman…an obsession with the numbers on the scale. Stop It!
    You look great, and many “fitness models’ of your height weigh 12-18 pounds more than you.
    Great Job Maggie!!!!!!!!!!!!

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