“I have been underweight my entire life and no matter what I eat I never gain a pound. I eat A LOT and can’t seem to put on anything! I’m sick of being the skinny guy/girl.”
Sound familiar? Well, if you’re one of the people out there who has never been able to gain any weight, I guarantee you’ve uttered this exact statement before.
Although today’s article won’t get into the specific nuts and bolts about exactly what to do to gain weight such as calories, lifting, rest etc (That is located in MyTransPHORMationStartsToday.com). This blog post will tackle three of the biggest mental mistakes people make when trying to gain weight. Like most battles, gaining weight is a battle that is mostly won or lost between the ears. It’s very important to address and eliminate some of the most common mental mistakes made before you actually make them. So lets start by pointing out and correcting a few self-sabotaging thought processes that keep a lot of people out there shopping at Baby Gap.
RULE #1: You need to understand and accept that you are not the only case on Earth like this.
99% of skinny folks have it stuck in their heads that they are some sort of genetic abnormality to the human race with the fastest metabolism on the face of the planet. Let’s get one thing straight here: You do not have some kind of extra special condition (unless you have Cystic Fibrosis or another legitimate diagnosed disease) that keeps you from gaining weight. You also do not have the “world’s fastest metabolism”. You are not some freak of nature. The point is, regardless of what your mom may have told you your entire life…you just aren’t that special…well, at least from a metabolism standpoint anyway. You are a regular, living, breathing, bleeding human being that responds to dietary adjustments just like everyone else. Sure, some people are naturally very thin and some people are naturally heavier but everyone, if healthy, can make simple dietary and lifestyle changes consistently over time to look and feel the way they want…but to accomplish that, it takes work!
Most people who have a problem gaining weight typically adopt the mentality that they are some sort of special case that can’t be cured. Talk about a self-defeating mentality! This attitude is much more prevalent with people who are thin trying to gain, than with people who are overweight trying to lose. This comes from the fact that overweight people have tons of role models to look at. Everywhere you look these days you can see dramatic weight loss transformations. Just look at the magazines next time you’re in the checkout line at the grocery store…stories of people losing weight are EVERYWHERE. These examples are very helpful to people who need to lose weight because it helps them eliminate the idea out of their brain that they are a special case. Instead, they adopt the mindset of: If that person can do it, I can do it too! Which is a very powerful and accurate mindset! Skinny people that gain 30 pounds through healthy diet, exercise and proper supplementation just don’t get the same publicity because they aren’t viewed as having a major problem to begin with by most of society. This is vastly different for obese people, who sadly are portrayed as freaks of society in shows like “700 lb woman” or “1,000 lb Dad” (Yes, unfortunately, these are actual show titles).
Imagine if you never, or rarely, saw someone who had done what you wanted to do. How much harder would it be for you to believe that it could be done? It would be a hell of a lot easier just to accept that you were just going to be whatever you are and that nothing could be done about it. This is what skinny people have to deal with. Many times skinny people accept defeat without even putting the effort in because of the lack of successful publicized role models.
This mindset is total garbage. Just because mainstream America doesn’t publicize it, doesn’t mean there aren’t people every day out there, just like you, doing what it takes to get where they want to be. If you think you’re some sort of special case, you need to lose that attitude or just get really accustomed to your body as it is right now because it won’t change.
RULE #2: Stuffing yourself with crap food once per day doesn’t constitute “eating a ton!”
Most skinny people will tell you this: “I eat a TON! I eat everything I can until I’m stuffed. No matter what I eat my weight won’t go up.” So I dig in with a more specific set of questions:
Me: “What did you eat this morning?”
Skinny: “Well, uhh, this morning I had an Eggo waffle.”
Me: “What did you eat for lunch?”
Skinny: “Ummm … today was real busy so I had to skip lunch”
Me: “I see, so what did you eat for dinner?
Skinny: “I ate two Big Macs and a large fry! I told you, man…I eat a ton!”
Me: “What did you eat for breakfast yesterday?”
Skinny: “Uhh…I was late for work so I had to skip breakfast”
You guys see the point here? These half-assed, inconsistent “eat what you can when you can” method is NEVER going to help you put weight on. You have to plan, you have to eat quality foods and (and this is really key) you have to eat them CONSISTENTLY.
The problem with eating these huge once a day type meals is four-fold:
- When you do this, you eat yourself so full that you can hardly eat again for the rest of the day.
- What you interpret as “a ton” of food is nowhere near enough calories to cause you to grow.
- The “ton” of food you actually are eating is filled with empty calories that don’t provide the essential building blocks for you to grow.
- You need a steady feed of quality calories all day long to keep your bodybuilding muscle. A once a day massive feeding doesn’t allow your body a chance to do this.
You do need to understand that the mechanics of what’s going on internally are slightly different and you need to work in synchronicity with your body to achieve your goals. Your body fat is likely very low. Which means you have a very large amount of muscle in proportion to body-fat. Muscle is metabolically active tissue. This means that muscle requires calories to sustain it self. It’s the alpha and the omega of your metabolism. Because you have such a low body fat percentage, your muscles, which make up much more of you than an obese person, take a greater number of calories to operate directly from the food you eat on a daily basis. You have to eat above and beyond the number of calories your body is burning up for it to ever store any…and you have to do this consistently, every single day! Just as a person wanting to lose weight has to eat less calories than their body needs to function so that the body will pull calories from stored body fat. Make sense?
Because you aren’t feeding your body quality foods and you aren’t feeding it consistently, you are either burning up or dumping in the toilet everything you eat. After your body burns through your dietary calories it turns to burning up fat and muscle…this is what ultimately keeps you skinny. You never make any headway toward gaining weight because your body is basically, for lack of a better term, cannibalizing itself just to function. The quantity and quality of the foods you eat are extremely important (along with a steady meal frequency) to you gaining any weight.
Consider this analogy: You own a construction company. You have a team of construction workers who are working hard at building a house. The guys are professionals, real ass-kickers, not only do they get the job done, they get the work finished way ahead of schedule on a consistent basis. But they have on problem…By noon everyday they run through all the material you provided your team to get the job done. So at noon every day, the guys start to take down other parts of the house they have already completed and then use that material for what they are working on that day. Everyday you visit the job; the house never gets any bigger. Instead it just changes shape little by little, but never grows in physical size. What would you do in this situation? Well, if you ever want to build bigger houses you’d better get these guys enough material to work all day and then some extra! Get it? A skinny body that has a lot of muscle to little body fat works the same way. You have got to supply plenty of building material, in this case…quality food!
RULE #3: Gaining weight, just like losing fat, takes a consistent focused methodical effort.
For the same reason society doesn’t publicize the success stories of skinny people (because its not viewed a legitimate problem by most of society), most skinny people don’t really understand the kind of commitment it really takes to gain, and keep, a significant amount of quality weight. Just like people trying to lose weight have to plan out their diets, exercise and supplement programs and stick to them consistently long term, if you want to gain weight you have to practice these things too…consistently and long term! The commitment level needs to be the same for both groups; it’s just a different game plan.
So many skinny guys/girls think that because they can eat as much as they want and not gain fat that means that they’re doing all they can. Guys, I’m sorry but eating a donut in the morning, a Mountain Dew and bag of chips for lunch and a “huge” (remember this is a completely relative term) bowl of pasta at night does not count for a solid nutritional weight gain formula. This would be the equivalent of a person on a weight loss program eating one healthy meal per day along with four entire pizzas and acting confused as to why they aren’t losing weight. Stop complaining, use the plan in your TransPHORMation Challenge Dashboard, work the plan consistently and you’ll get results…period.
You must address and overcome the above three mentalities if you ever want to gain weight. I’ll guarantee you that if you’re a skinny person who has been unable to ever have any success in gaining weight the above points hit home. Like I said earlier, most battles are won or lost in your mind; You have to get straight on what it’s going to take to succeed on your journey to no longer be “the skinny guy” or the “skinny girl.” So take some time, get your mind right on the above points and soon you’ll start to see your efforts paying off. If you have any questions at all, never hesitate to reach out to our NASM Certified Personal Trainers and NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialists by clicking HERE!
– Andy Frisella