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Confused: building muscle vs. burning fat

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Old 11-11-2009, 08:42 AM   #1
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Default Confused: building muscle vs. burning fat

So a few nights ago, I was doing some reading about weight-lifting and toning and building muscle.... and I began to get a little confused I'm at a point now where I am really just trying to fine-tune my body. I'm starting to develop some definition in my arms and my abs, but I am still pretty squishy in my butt and thighs (pear shaped). I also have that infamous "pouch" sitting on my lower abdomen. I never thought my "ideal body" would be in reach... but I can see it on the horizon, and I know that 6-8 months of really hard work could have me fit and somewhat bikini-ready for next summer.

But I am confused about building muscle. Right now, I am still trying to lower my body fat % considerably. I can feel quite a bit of muscle under my now-thinner layer of fat, and I want to reveal that muscle by removing said layer of fat. But, I also want to build more muscle. Everywhere that I was reading kept telling me that to build muscle, I need to be eating AT LEAST maintenance calories, if not an excess. Mind you, I was reading body-builder-type sites, and maybe that's more for guys who want to bulk up. But, I still have fat to lose, and I am currently eating 1400-1600 calories a day, which puts me at a 500-ish calorie deficit. I work out 60 minutes a day on average, five days a week- 30 minutes doing HIIT and steady state cardio (about 15 minutes each) and another 30 minutes doing resistance training. I've also been trying to incorporate protein into every meal, and lower my overall carb intake.

I guess my question is, what should I be doing different? Should I stick with my calorie deficit, wait until I have achieved a nice, low body fat %, and then worry about building muscle when I start eating at maintenance? Should I increase my calories to create LESS of a deficit? Or, should I switch to maintenance calories now, and worry about just building muscle?

I love the look of this girl:


She is nothing but muscle, and oh-so-toned. I found that picture months ago on a body-building forum, and I was like "THAT, is what *I* want to look like". I showed her to my husband, and his reaction was like "uh, yeah... she is REALLY hot" So, I think she's a good model for me to try to emulate.

It's a long ways away... but I know I have the tools and support to achieve it, thanks to you all!
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Old 11-11-2009, 01:03 PM   #2
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Default warning, bathing suit pics!

So, I decided to post some pictures, to maybe give people an idea of where I am at. I took pictures of all my trouble spots... not easy, but I know it has to be done.

Based on these pictures, do you think I should still concentrate on mostly fat loss, concentrate on building muscle.... or just keep doing what I am doing?

Whole body shot:


A nice shot of my mini-muffin-top (and my back, which isn't so bad):



Very pear-shaped, as you can see:


Here is my biggest trouble spot- butt/thighs/lower stomach (I'd really like to get rid of that last bit of cellulite back there):



Any thoughts? suggestions? Any suggested plans that you think I should be following at this point? I am thinking of picking up Body for Life, but I would welcome other suggestions. Any exercise programs that you suggest? I have done the 30DS in the past. I was also thinking of taking up Zumba.

I am really desperate for advice here. Up until this point, my plan worked for me because I was just trying to slim down. But now, I am not sure how to proceed. I know it's going to take a heck of a lot of work to get from where I am, to the picture of the woman above, but I am really determined to make some real progress this winter.
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Old 11-11-2009, 01:17 PM   #3
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Body for Life is really good as well as the New Rules of Lifting for women. Your calorie intake should be fine where you are at now, you just need to burn off a bit more fat and build muscle. The building of muscle will give you a more defined shape but you won't be able to see it too much until the fat is gone.

Oh and to get like the woman above, it may take years Although there is something called the honeymoon stage in weight lifting where a beginner can make huge changes in the first 6 months. If you look at Body for Life, you'll see some of the transformation pictures in just 12 weeks. Quite a few people from where you are at now to more like the woman above.
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Old 11-11-2009, 11:16 PM   #4
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Thank you, Nellie. I ordered Body for Life after reading your post. It should be arriving in a few days. I guess for now, I will just continue to stick to what I have been doing. Once I read the book, I'll be able to start a more structured lifting program to help build more muscle and still burn fat.
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Old 11-11-2009, 11:33 PM   #5
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To get you started, you should also look at Stumptuous
http://www.stumptuous.com/

Although Body for Life will set you up with a structured program, you can start doing some stuff including some pushups, tricep dips, squats, lunges, etc. I like doing body weight exercises just whenever because they are so accessible.
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Old 11-11-2009, 11:39 PM   #6
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I think you actually look great! But, I understand the desire to look like the muscle model. I think you should focus on the body fat....how about mixing up your routine with some spin classes? Or, can you sign up for a bootcamp type class? They're very popular out here in Southern California. Or, take some sort of a kettle bell class...the idea is to really mix up the routine and to constantly surprise your body. HIIT really works, doing some interval type training would also give you a boost.

You are doing so great! Congrats to you!
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Old 11-12-2009, 06:09 AM   #7
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Nelie- Thanks for the link! I had never heard of stumptuous.com, but I just took a peek and it looks awesome... gives me something to read until I get my book!

And Lucky, thank you for the compliments. I don't *mind* how I look at this point... but it certainly isn't ideal. I think you are right, though, I need to ramp up my routine and start confusing my body a little. My workplace is actually offering bootcamp programs right now... maybe it would be something fun to take my workout to the next level.
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