Fitness Diary: The Mental Battle Of Purposely Gaining 10 Pounds

I stepped on the scale yesterday and saw a number I haven’t seen in years. I was up 8 pounds…

Today is a different type of post than I normally share. Normally, I write informational posts on helping you to achieve fitness and nutritional success. While I share my personal stories, I rarely aim to allow them to take center stage. Instead, most often my life is used as a backdrop, a way to relate and move into the “how to’s” of life/fitness.

Today is different. Today, I am using my blog as my dairy because indirectly that is exactly what it is.

I hope that you stick around today, share your opinions and please realize that this is my own personal situation and keep all comments positive, though I know you’re all my friends.

The 10 Pound Challenge

It all started back in January when Dan challenged me to gain 10 pounds. Why would he do such a thing?

Because for years I have pointed to strong, muscular, yet feminine women and said… that’s what I want. I was inspired by their strength and their amazing physiques.

You see, for years I called myself a “hardgainer” one of those people who could easily build strength but not actual muscle/tone. While I wanted this to be true, I knew the real reason I didn’t have muscle to reflect my strength was because I wasn’t trying to.


A Year Ago – Palmetto70 Race

It’s hard for the body to pack on muscle, it takes not only good workouts but also extra calories. For a girl that has watched her caloric intake for years, the idea of purposely eating more was/is a hard thing to take in.

So I didn’t, I continued to eat low calories, run lots and lots of miles and complain that I wasn’t genetically gifted in the “muscle” department.

It was a lie.

To gain muscle I had to eat more, I had to be okay with gaining weight (muscle weight). All the ladies I adored had one thing common… they weighed at least 10 pounds more than me yet clothes size was the same.

So that’s where the challenge came in.

It came right after my running injury and right around the time I decided I wanted to dedicate myself more to kettlebell training.

Weight Gain Hesitation

Of course I was hesitant to accept the challenge. The first month I just brushed it off, no way jose was I going to gain weight.

Yes, I was at a low weight for my height but I liked it that way… I had pride seeing my weight pop up on the scale. And to be honest, secretly I would have been just fine if that weight went down even more, because that’s how women are. The lower the number, the better we feel. And at 5’5 (and a half) weighing 112 probably wasn’t something to be proud of. But I was.

One thing you should know about Dan is he is persistant (very very persistent) and right after the New Year I decided to go for it.


Last weekend

The only peace of mind I had was knowing that if I didn’t like the outcome, I could change. I’ve lost weight before and I could do it again if needed.

Worst case scenario, I would just go back to my old ways of training.

Having A Competitive Mindset


Yesterday – Never thought I would be able to do this!

I’m a competitive woman… there is absolutely no denying this. If I didn’t have Dan giving me this challenge, I probably wouldn’t have stuck to it.

But I don’t like to fail, and I sure as hell didn’t want him to be able to throw it in my face if I gave up.

So that’s the goal that I’ve been chasing. I haven’t shared it until now because it’s taken until now to get my thoughts together and decide how I feel about the whole challenge.

The Mental Side Of Weight Gain

Back to the where we started… as of yesterday I am up 8-pounds. Did I celebrate, throw my fists up with pride knowing that I am just 2 pounds away from my goal?

No. I had a mini pack attack.

I took a deep breath in and did my best to push away negatives thoughts. Isn’t it funny the power that a number on the scale has? That it can bring us up and tear us down so quickly? Why?

My clothes fit the same, my arms are more toned than they have ever been and I am doing things in my workouts that I never imagined. Those are the results I wanted.


So then why was my mind throwing a hissy fit upon seeing a number? That number doesn’t show anything. It doesn’t reveal anything about me.

Fear. It all comes down to fear. Guess what? Screw fear.

Fear, I’m Over You

No Fear At The Gym

For about an hour after seeing the number, my mind went back and forth trying to decide how it felt about this 8-pounds. Then I said screw it… I’m tired of playing it safe. Tired of being afraid of a number. Tired of holding back on what I can achieve. Just tired of being afraid.

Yes, I might be 8 pounds heavier. But I’m 8 pounds stronger, 8-pounds toner, and more importantly 8-pounds healthier. 

I have 2 more pounds to go before this challenge is over. And I am excited to see what the end result is. I know that 2 pounds isn’t a lot physically, but mentally it’s equal to someone that has just 2 pounds left to lose… it’s a big deal.

It’s a big deal that I am excited about. I’m learning more and more about myself and my body. Overcoming old demons and embracing new habits!

What I’m Doing To Gain 10-Pounds


I’ll keep this short and sweet but I also know that some of you might be intrigued to know what I’ve been doing to put the muscle on.

–> Eating more. Not eating more with junk food, but eating larger portions of clean foods. It was hard at first, but not so bad now. Changing my diet helped make this a lot easier. I’m not counting calories.

–> More protein. Again, since going away from my vegan diet this has been a lot easier. Each meal now has a strong protein make up with my staples being eggs; chicken (1-2x/week); fish; and protein powder. Protein pancakes have made a re-appearance!

–> Less running. Last year running was center stage. I made it a goal to run a race every month and succeeded. Most months I was running between 75-100 miles. Since recovering from my foot injury, I’ve kept the miles scaled back. Still running as frequently just not as long. Running breaks down muscle mass, so this was a must for me. Rarely do I run over 7 miles now and after the Palmetto200, I will scale back more while adding more intervals.

–> Lifting heavy. With the proper fuel, my body was ready to add mass! It just needed to be told what kind of mass (fat vs muscle) that is where my training sessions have come into play. I’ve been working diligently with kettlebells and working to move up with my weight. Each training session I go into with my goal on my mind to keep me focused. Dan helps a ton with this too… yes, trainers need trainers!

What’s Next? 

After the 10 pounds, the work isn’t done. It’s close to impossible for anyone to gain JUST muscle mass so I will go into a mini lean out mode. Not much will change except a few tweaks to my nutrition. I’ll keep you in the loop and perhaps do some before and after pictures?

Let’s chat…

Would you have a hard time purposely gaining weight? 

Would you be interested in me giving weekly recaps of my workouts and progress? <– Honestly, if you don’t care then I won’t share. Won’t hurt my feelings!


  • Wow, this came at the perfect time! I am trying to gain weight right now and am really struggling. Progress is really slow and I seem to just be maintaining, but my weight is way to low right now. I know that if I am able to gain I will be able to have so much more muscle and that really is all I want. But it definitely is a mental struggle as well as a finding time to fit in so many calories struggle when gaining weight. It is the biggest contradiction to everything you hear on a daily basis!

    • Keep working at it! It is such a mental game but you (and I) can do it! Make sure to eat, it sucks at first because I wasn’t hungry but knew I had to up the calories. Good luck!

  • steph

    Thank you! When I tell other friends about my goal they give me the “cue the violins” look. I went to the dr a few weeks ago and found I lost weight and I hated it, knowing that meant lost muscle. I just can’t help getting outside on those nice days and fear the extra cardio is having ill effects. I miss working in a physical job and would love for you to share some good outdoor muscle building exercises 🙂

    • It’s funny that people roll their eyes, but it is just as much of an issue as someone trying to lose weight… especially when you’re trying to gain it the right way and not just pigging out on chips and ice cream. You can do it! I will def. work on some moves, you can also see for great workouts!

  • Carol Nolan

    Great Post! I am 5’6 and have weighed 120 for years. I was very lean but wanted to gain muscle. So starting January 1st, I started lifting 4-5 days and week and reduced my cardio. I have gained 5 lbs but feel much stronger than ever! My clothes fit better than before.
    None of my friends can understand this so I have not revealed my goal to them. They think I’m crazy just for working out as much as I do! By the way I am 54 years old and will continue to improve on my health as I continue to get older!

    • Wow, you’re an inspiration! Keep it up!

  • Love this post and would love to hear more about this in terms of weekly recaps! I know it’s really hard for women psychologically to gain weight but there is something so empowering about choosing to put on muscle for health rather than lose pounds. Congrats on your 8 pounds!!!

    • It is so empowering, thanks Abi!

  • I haven’t purposefully gained weight, but since starting to run in junior year of college, I put on about 10lbs, mostly in muscle. I was at a really low weight in college and it was just not good for me. When I started training for my first half marathon, I just ate more and slowly started gaining the muscle. Even though I am about 16lbs more than my lowest weight, I look and feel so much better!

    • Congrats on your transformation! Strength is so much better for the body and mind!

  • Sheena

    I know exactly how you feel about seeing the number on the scale and being shocked. I decided to focus on my fitness level and just try to eat clean so that I’d be ready for the obstacle course this summer. Monday night I hopped on the scale and I’m heavier than I’ve ever been before! This shocked me most because I don’t feel like I’ve accumulated much fat but by Tuesday I was glad because it’s MUSCLES!!! 😀 I’m excited to hear your progress and would love to see some updates, you can do this and then you can show us how strong you’ve gotten by dead lifting something ridiculous at the end 🙂

    • Exactly! The trick is to focus on your fitness and making good decisions in the kitchen. Congrats on your progress! That’s awesome

  • Kim

    Well, since I’m already at the top of my comfort weight, I would have a very hard time allowing myself to gain weight. In fact, I would like to drop the 5 pounds that have gone on in the last month!!!

  • Eveliz

    Lately your blogs could not be more perfectly timed. I’m not trying to gain weight but lose so I can relate when I look at the scale and don’t see the number going down and getting bummed out. My thoughts always go to why try? Why keep pushing myself? But then I see your determination and that you truly believe in fit women’s weekly so I should also. You should know that you are very inspiring! You can do it!

    • Thank you Eveliz, I am glad you can relate. Keep pushing, even when you have those down days because regardless of what that scale says you’re doing something wonderful for you and your body. Keep it up! Thank you for your kind words, it truly means the world to me.

  • It’s really brave of you to open up about this. When a girl tries to gain weight, even for healthy purposes, it can be pretty taboo. I’d be pretty scared to gain 8-10 pounds, even of muscle. I think most women are. Plus, it’s not like you’re eating and being a slug, you are still working out like mad and being a great role model teaching the boot camp classes. This shows that women can gain weight in a healthy way and not by slurping milkshakes in front of Netflix, ya know?

    And as someone who sees you on a fairly regular basis… I can assure you, you do NOT look like that belly picture either ;). You look great and if you feel great too, that’s what matters!

    • Thanks Amy! Healthy weight gain is key, though now that you mention it a shake would be good! So would a movie! haha. Can’t wait to get back to the track though!

      • Me either, just let me know when! y’all are rockin’ out the 200 right now!

  • Kathryn

    Love that picture of y’all!!!

    • Thanks lady! Can’t wait to see ya!

  • Cristina

    This is my absolute favorite post from you, ever. Thank you.

    • Thank you Cristina, that means a lot!

  • I would definitely have a hard time purposely gaining weight. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ve gained weight over the last year after my wedding. Unfortunately, I’ve noticed less definition than before so I’d imagine it’s not primarily muscle.

    I’d love for you to share your workouts and progress! What you’re doing is so inspiring to me. I’m realizing that there is something that I need to change in my workouts/nutrition and while I thought I knew what I needed to do, now I’m really unsure.

    • I think every bride gains weight the first year, I know I did. Then you get into a rhythm and it comes back off. Let me know if I can ever help!

      • Come back to Cali and kick my butt! Haha but seriously, I think I need to up the intensity of my workouts and am trying to figure out how. You know, without killing myself.

  • been there! still there. I’m up 20lb. but its needed. mentally it’s hard but oh so worth it

    • what? you up 20? I can’t imagine you at less, you are tiny!

    • Good job! Glad you’re getting there! Health is key!

  • This actually made me be happy with my body, bc, absorbing what you are striving to do (*run less, do more intervals, and lift more weights) is what I do all of the time. I don’t like to run, but I do. But its only for 1 mile , warm up and cool down, unless its the bridge or some marathon, which will never be more than 15K for me :-). I always wonder if I’ll have that great flat tummy and wear a size zero, like shorter girls-my size- do. Its wasteful thinking; that body is not for me. It would likely last for only a month if I ever got there. So I live my life as a 5’3” girl who should be 112lbs, but will always be 130lbs at my best. This blog encouraged me to think more of what I do have and not what I think I want. It motivated me to feel like the way I work out and nourish my body is not wrong because I don’t run 60+miles a month or ever see that size zero in the dressing room, and most importantly, it doesn’t make me weaker, bc I feel great! Thanks for the pump-up.

    • Thanks Erin for the great comment! I love it… go with what you have! Go with what you’re doing, your body knows best!!

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  • CP

    I’d love to see your routine! I’m working on my body composition. I’ was a former cardio queen, but I’ve been lifting this year and have seen a huge difference in the results. I’m still trying to figure our how much cardio I should actually do to eliminate a little extra fat and continue building muscle.

  • KUDOS for sharing this! I think the mental side of it is huge for many women because we have spent so many years thinking about the scale even when we now know it’s not the best measure of our fitness or self! I am actually up a little the past few months and I do think it’s muscle, but I’ve been trying to make sure I’m not just telling myself that!

  • Wow, I gotta hand it it ya Taylor. I respect that you made this decision, as I do believe in prioritizing muscle. Not an easy task to take these necessary steps, but having the knowledge and a very competitive spirit certainly help! Nice job.

    • Emma

      Funny that you should comment on this, as I just did too:)

  • I made a similar decision recently, but didn’t set a goal of “gain 10#”; rather it was “I’m okay with gaining weight for my goals.” I recently wrote about my own acceptance with this ( and know it’s such a strange feeling when you see a number on the scale that you never saw there before!
    But then you have to look at wow, this body part looks better than ever, or wow, I just lifted xxx that I couldn’t do before.. It is definitely an internal struggle sometimes, but I am all for breaking the mold that girls need to stay thin and lose weight; keep it up, lady!! 🙂

  • Thank you for sharing this! It’s amazing how much the scale plays a role in womens’ (& mens) insecurities. I’m always trying to tell other’s the scale is just a number, but when it’s MY scale & MY number, I face the same fear you do (did). The strength I gain from weight-training is so much more than physical. I’ve stayed the SAME weight,after months of eating clean & training hard & it’s hard not to feel discouraged by the scale. That’s when I remember that I’ve dropped 2 dress sizes (4 in some) and feel 10000% better than I did when I wasn’t training. It’s hard to break away from the number on the scale but the way we feel should be more than enough proof that we’re stronger- physically & mentally.

  • Emma

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I’ve been half heartedly training to gain muscle for the past year. Every week my trainer & fiancée chuckle at me when I complain that I don’t seem to be adding any muscle. As they both emphasize over and over I have to eat more to gain weight. And yet every time I sort of attempt and see the scale go up I pull back to drop my weight back down. And yes half the time I’m happy to see it drop and wouldn’t even mind seeing it drop more out of habit. Totally a mental battle! Maybe seeing it as a challenge is a good way to view it. As you said I know how to get the weight off if I want to so what am I afraid of? Hard this year though as I’m getting married and so the idea if gaining is extra scary! Anyway thanks for sharing your experience!!

  • Joy

    Thanks for posting this–it’s really relevant for me right now too. My weight (117) is on the low side for my height (5’7) and so I really want to gain muscle mass and look strong yet feminine, like you! Please keep posting your progress and nutrition information for people like us, it’s very helpful! 🙂

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