The Law of Unintended Consequences

When I was considering posts for my ‘Debunktion Junction‘ series, I roughly drafted one about the (pretty uniquely feminine) fear that working out will cause you to bulk up.

Almost every woman who trains with my husband begins by stating that while she wants to get stronger, she does not want to get ‘big.’ She doesn’t want to get ripped, she just want to ‘tone up’.

This amusingly predictable hand-wringing causes a lot of eye-rolling in the personal trainer community.

Generally speaking, you won’t bulk up in the gym if that’s not your goal. Especially if you’re a woman. We’re just not programmed that way.

Trainers spend a lot of time talking women off the ledge. “Don’t worry, just because I’m going to have you working with weights doesn’t mean you’re going to Hulk Out.”

I was going to blog a request that women stop worrying about something that won’t happen unintentionally. But I pushed the pause button, because I don’t like to blog about things I haven’t personally experienced. I had never really worked with weights. I had no first-hand knowledge of what would happen.

Then I started working in the Boy Zone of the gym (see: Stranger In A Strange Land). I lifted weights every day. I was just improvising, using lifts I learned from Jillian Michaels in No More Trouble Zones. I was unsupervised, with no trainer on hand to recommend weights/reps.

Then, on the 4th of July I posted this picture on Facebook:

Sun's Out, Guns Out

Sun’s Out, Guns Out

I wasn’t expecting it, but I got a lot of positive feedback about the visible muscles in my arms. And you know me, I’m a sucker for compliments! Flattery will get you everywhere.

When I went out for lunch with my brother shortly thereafter, he said I have Michelle Obama arms. *swoon!*

Good thing I’ve been working so hard in the Boy Zone, huh? Rad.

So, I kept at it. I got my heart rate up higher lifting weights than I do spending an hour on my favorite cardio machine. I was building muscle left and right.

Well… then my husband took this picture:



Those arms are bigger than I wanted them to be. I mean… I look like I could kick someone’s ass! And, as I’ve said before – I’m in the girly-girl business. My ideal adjectives include “slender, willowy, sleek.”

“Holy crap, that chick has guns” is not my personal ideal.

I’m so glad that I didn’t post that you don’t get bigger than you want to!

My brain may have been saying “I don’t want to get any bigger” but my actions in the gym were the actions of a woman trying to build muscle. I had incorporated weight lifting into my daily routine.

What happens when you lift weights 6 days a week? Arm muscles. Kinda big ones.

I discussed the situation with the resident trainer. He reminded me that the more you lift, the bigger you get.

Mental note: No hand weights heavier than the 5 lbs I’m using now.

My man says if I don’t want as much muscle mass, I should try backing off a bit and only working out my arms a few times a week.

Less working out in pursuit of a personal ideal? A-W-E-S-O-M-E!

While it’s interesting to know what I look like when I have guns, I don’t really want to keep them. Don’t get me wrong – I love having strong arms, but the stay-at-home-mom game doesn’t really require lots of heavy lifting. My ability to do my job won’t be harmed if I surrender a bit of arm strength.

Can’t say I’ll be sad to see these biceps go.      #GunControl

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