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I hear all the time girls saying “I want a big booty” or guys say “I want a bigger chest” but they eat like birds, literally. If you want to grow, if you want to change your body, you need to think about growing then leaning out. Since there is no way (unless you decide to take performance enhancing drugs) to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. You need to do one and then do the other.

It’s unlikely, unless you are very overweight, that only losing weight is going to get you the results you want. If you want muscle definition you need to take the time to BUILD muscle.

If you want to improve your physique, the first thing you need to accept is that you are going to gain some weight during the process. I know this is hard, especially for us, women. Just do your best at understanding that this period will only benefit you.

So if you have been dieting for ages I definitely suggest you increase your calories to maintenance or above and give yourself a break.

Dieting is exhausting. It takes every part of you to do it. Not only does it take all the energy out of you but it is also emotionally draining. It slows down your metabolism, crushes your hormones and sometimes it requires you to miss out on social events.

Dieting forever is not the answer to an improved body shape and composition. It will not improve your metabolism and will not make you more ‘toned’ like some people like to say. More muscle will.

Trust me when I say that eating at a calorie surplus doesn’t mean saying adios to a beautiful body, it means embracing your body for its strength and potential. It doesn’t require you to gain loads of fat, and when done well, this can be minimized.

Calorie surplus means more energy, better workouts, more food, the ability to be more social, the ability to be slightly less strict with tracking. In my case, it means more glasses of wine, more frozen yogurt, more pizza and more cookies.

Embrace your body at all shapes and sizes. Shredded, lean, athletic, or when you are a little ‘fluffy’. I learned how to love my body at both weights (125 lbs vs. 114 lbs) the fact that I was leaner didn’t mean I was better or happier. I am happy. proud, and confident in both pictures. My self worth is not determined based off a number on the scale, and that’s how it should always be! Don’t feel self conscious about your body. You’ve only got ONE, so appreciate it at every stage. Health is so much more than the way you look.

And if for some reason you don’t believe me, go to your IG/Twitter and check out the hashtag #gainingweightiscool (by Arianna Dantone, thank you for starting this amazing movement!). All the ladies and guys that have posted pictures have taken the time to eat at a caloric surplus and lift heavy to build the physique they have now.

-Katherine V.