I had great muscles hiding under all that fat (And why I didn’t need to exercise to keep muscle mass)

After I’d lost 100 lbs, something amazing happened: muscles started to appear. Most notably, in my legs, but also in other places like my abs. No, I don’t have a washboard yet because of loose skin that has yet to shrink enough, but it’s getting there. I can see my ab muscles already. My arms are another place where my muscles are very visible. This is because when I was fat, my body had to carry all this weight all the time. It’s why it was so hard to move and do simple things like crouch or climb stairs.

The result is now that I’ve lost a significant amount of weight, these muscles are still there. My leg muscles are the envy of every runner I meet. “How did you get such amazing calf muscles,” is the most common question I get from other runners. “I used to weigh over 300 lbs. I built them up over a long period of time.” More than once, they respond with, “I need to gain a lot of weight, then!” I tell them I don’t recommend it as a muscle building exercise, but it made me think.

There are people I see online who talk about diet to lose weight and exercise to sustain muscle mass. I think this advice may be a little misguided. You don’t need exercise to maintain muscle mass. Your muscles will shrink at a much, much slower rate than the fat will. Also, just by being a little more active, you will maintain a lot (if not all) of the muscles. The exercise should be to make your heart stronger and to help with strength and stamina. Muscle mass will take care of itself.

Now that I’m within 7 lbs of my final goal, it’s nice to see muscles popping out from behind the fat. I always look forward to my runs to continue building up my legs, arms, abs, and most importantly, my heart.

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