I felt compelled to write a post about MY definition of ‘lean’ and how it has evolved over the years. I included a collage as reference, each photo goes in chronological order of the past year. Yes, just one year.
I never even really heard of the word ‘lean’ or knew what it meant before I started marathon training last year. When I initially fell in love with fitness 5 years ago, I just wanted a toned body. I didn’t wanna be what we call ‘skinny fats’. and I wanted to eat whatever the hell I wanted while staying trim.
My hubby quickly introduced me to functional fitness training. I became OBSESSED with any ab workout! I loved using the Swiss Ball, Bosu, Medicine Balls and Resistance Bands. I was never a fan of running, in fact I dreaded it. So instead of running, I actually used the elliptical and stairmaster as my only source of cardio; that lasted a year. Damn, was I missing out on the real deal! Quite some time later I started picking up the weights, I wanted to sculpt my arms, back, and legs. I only played with lighter weights, higher reps.
When Derek got a new job he made several connections that made him interested in triathlons and the possibility of competing in Iron Man. Swim, bike, run…. swim, bike, run quickly became his life. Sooooo I became interested in this running idea, the elliptical wasn’t giving me the physical results it once had. I started small at first, running a mile, 2 miles…. working my way up to 6 miles and WHEW, that was workout!
Last summer Derek lightly suggested running a half marathon, he said the Oktoberfest Half Marathon in Leavenworth looked fun, why not give it a shot? I took his offer seriously and started marathon training mid July after his first Half Iron Man in Vancouver. Running was exhilarating, liberating, exhausting, and I reaped so many mental benefits as well as physical benefits.
My body started quickly transforming as my training plan increased the time of my runs, distance, and incorporating sprint and hill intervals. I was dropping weight like crazy! My body was taking on a completely different shape! I was becoming smaller and smaller every day! I reached 118 pounds. My definition of lean quickly became ‘losing weight and being thin’.
After I completed my half marathon, I wanted to take on a NEW challenge and continue maintaining a fit body. I decided to compete in Emerald Cup, the bikini category. I had wanted to compete for YEARS. Ever since I worked at the Marriott; the Emerald Cup host hotel, I have wanted to compete. The competitors were so inspiring, so fit, so sculpted and gorgeous! I mustered up the courage to ask Derek to train me, and he agreed he would as long as I did it the right way. No fat burners, no stimulants, no cheating.
I started my training in January which gave me plenty of time to prepare. I was working out 6 days a week, anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours. Cardio such as running, swimming, and spin biking. Lifting, getting friendly with the squat rack, plyo workouts, etc. Such a wide range of physical activity! Consistency with my workouts and a MAJOR calorie deficit with a diet high in protein, average in carbs, and low in fat helped me drop weight, and FAST!
My whole body composition was changing. I was becoming tighter, harder, and fat was disappearing. My boobs immediately packed up and moved on, my abs were SHREDDED day in and day out, and my period didn’t come back until 6 months later. My definition of lean became, ‘next to NO body fat, shredded definition, deep cuts in muscles.’
Losing weight with that training plan came naturally, the day I stepped on stage I weighed 110 pounds. I was all muscle and no fat, I can only imagine what I really looked like. Some times I feel like I have body dysmorphia and have no clue what other people see when they look at me. Did they see me as a rail thin toothpick? Did they see me as muscular and defined? I know what I saw then, and I know what I see now. Both perspectives are shockingly different.
I have FINALLY found a healthy balance. It’s been a few months but I’m ready to re-define lean for myself. Right now I weight 128 pounds. The last time I weighed that much I was considered unhealthy. I was a ‘skinny fat’ who wasn’t working out, I was doing a lot of unapproved substances, and had horrible eating habits ranging from ‘EAT ALL THE FOOD!’ to ‘I refuse to eat for days…..’ Right now I’m 128 pounds of LEAN MUSCLE!
My current definition of lean: ‘healthy amount of body fat, tight, muscular, and strong body’. My previous definitions of lean were all outward appearances; an aesthetic term. Now it means to treat my body right, fuel it for the strenuous activities I do on a day to day basis, and gaining true strength.