Todays post comes from my wife, Ellie, who wanted to talk about her recent experiences and frustrations. For those of you who don’t know Ellie, she loves going to the gym for a couple of hours at a time and really working hard to burn calories. Due to her small frame and size she has struggled to maintain her weight (mainly because she is married to a 210-pound guy who likes to order pizza and eat bad things all the time). Each bite of food for her is substantially harder for her to work off than for me, who burns roughly twice as many calories for the same distance and duration of runs as her.

Hello, 2FNs readers. I wanted to write a post today to talk about what I feel is a common issue for girls. Sorry, guys. But I bet you know at least one girl out there who has mentioned what I am going to talk about. . . .

Bulking up! And why it stinks, at least for me.

When Jon got back into running and started this blog, it also gave me a bit of a kick in the pants to get back into a more regular workout routine. Soon I was running outside, going to Zumba classes, and hitting the gym by jumping on the elliptical, killing it on this other awesome leg machine, and running in my VFFs on the treadmill. It also got me to pay attention to what I was eating, which has always been a struggle for me because, let’s face it, I eat a lot. (Food just tastes so damn good!) So we were doing all the right things, and for a while I was seeing results! I dropped a few pounds and was feeling pretty awesome when suddenly . . . the scale tipped the other way.

What had I done wrong? Was I eating too much? Maybe. But I was being so much more attentive and healthy than before. Was I not working out enough? . . . Less likely, considering I was putting in about three or four one- to one-and-a-half-hour workouts per week. So what was it?

Bulk. I started to see it in my calves. I have always had muscular calves. (Thank you, high-school soccer and tennis! I may not have been a starter, but I did go to practice every day!) But something was different this time, something was changing. They just looked so different. Now, after about twelve weeks of steady working out, I swear my calves look like something you would buy from a food stand at a Renaissance fair (Ye Olde Rotisserie?). So, I’m bummed. I know it might sound silly that I would be upset for getting healthier and stronger, but with a five-foot-one-and-a-half-inch frame, it doesn’t leave much room for hulking muscles and makes for an oddly disproportionate reflection. So that got me to thinking. I’ve heard and read it a million times; girls say, “I don’t want to bulk up. I just want to trim down and tone up.” Now I understand why. But I just don’t know how to actually achieve it. I love my cardio workouts. I love getting on that cool leg machine thing (I have got to figure out what that thing is actually called) and just going hardcore with all the energy I have, which is a lot on most days. I even crank up the incline and leave the resistance low because I thought it would keep me from bulking up. Maybe I am going about it all wrong. But I am bummed at the thought of giving up my current workouts and exchanging them for . . . what? Lighter, less intense workouts? I don’t know how much lighter I can go without A) being totally bored and B) without being forced to just sit on the couch and let everything atrophy. Not cool. And not healthy.

I’m not saying that every girl (or everyone, to be gender neutral) should do the “I only want to trim down and tone up” thing. I am all for people building muscle and getting healthy in their own ways. But for me, I am just not looking to tie a shotgun into a bow like in cartoons. So now I am in a stage of not knowing what is going to work for me. I’m testing out different options with both food and exercise. It’s been frustrating to say the least. I think the most frustrating part is not seeing results soon enough. I’ve heard amazing things about pilates and I have dabbled with yoga, but the results—actual, visual results—take so long to be visible! And apparently I am impatient.

What is a girl to do?