WWAC Warriors: The Superhero Journey Continues

TW: This piece involves discussion and one image of body measurement

So, I’m back again to follow up with my original piece about bodybuilding or rather muscle building for a novice like me. It has currently been about four months since I started, and I’m happy to say some progress has been made. More importantly, I’ve learned a lot on the way.

I’ve gotten better at understanding nutrition. Pinterest is helpful, but only to a point; nothing beats reading up or having someone who’s already knowledgeable help you. For me, that’s my trusty friend Cap who knows nutrition forwards and backwards. One of the main things he’s repeated to me over and over is to eat. Period. You don’t eat, you are going to gain weight. And drinking lots of water too. This all seems like simple advice, but the basics are the most important. If you don’t eat and drink water, you’ll actually retain weight. Your body goes into “starvation mode” and stores away all your fat.

So I try to eat about five or so times a day. I get up, have coffee, make a small breakfast, eat something before I leave for work around two, have a snack at work, come home, have something small, and eat a snack about two hours or so before bed. It seems like a lot of food to eat in a day, but I eat small meals. The purpose is to keep your metabolism consistently going throughout the day. This helps burn fat and calories.

Of course, you have to eat the right things, and coming up with recipes can still be difficult. I use Bodybuilding.com a lot and recently attempted a crock-pot recipe for salsa chicken. It’s two ingredients: chicken breast and salsa.

Pictured: Salsa Chicken from Bodybuilding.com
Pictured: Salsa Chicken from Bodybuilding.com

I included a few extra ingredients to add a little more spice, such as sazon, adobo, sofrito, and recaito. I figured salsa chicken meant I could improvise with a little Puerto Rican flare. In hindsight, I should have added black beans for the added protein punch.

I also started mixing some protein in with my basic pancake mix. Bodybuilding.com has a recipe for protein pancakes, but I simply add a spoonful of organic sugar, about quarter of a cup of protein powder Syntha-6 Peanut Butter Cookie, and a cup of pancake mix. I use a generic brand because it’s cheap.

I also incorporated more vegetables in my diet. Ironic since I prefer fruits, and yet vegetables are what I need to eat more of. The trick is finding produce on sale. I downloaded an app for our local supermarket, which so far has helped in building up weekly meal plans and getting produce when it’s on sale. I’ll have to see how this works out in the long run.

I’m sure everyone really wants to know if I’ve lost weight and gained any muscle. The answer is I have. About ten pounds or so, but more importantly, I’ve lost body fat, which means I can finally start building up muscle. I’m honestly not impressed with my progress, but it does make me want to push for more. Now that I’ve lowered my body fat, it’ll be easier to build up the muscle. I was never interested in losing weight, but gaining muscle and strength.

I’m always going to have thick legs, I’m never going to have a thigh gap, and I’m more than okay with that. I want legs like America Chavez, all muscle used for kicking inter-dimensional space booty, and arms like Wonder Woman that I can flex to my hearts content.

To get there I needed to lose body fat which has contributed to the weight loss. I like to think of it as peeling away an onion, shed one layer off to get to the center. Perhaps a Charms Blow Pop would be a better metaphor. Point is, I needed to shed some layers of body fat to get to the squishy muscle underneath. To do that I needed to start pushing myself harder.

Pictured: Taping my waist
Pictured: Taping my waist look at those baby muscles!

I’ve upped the amount of reps when it comes to the machine exercises. I can lift about twenty pounds more on the shoulder press and a good sixty pounds more for the leg press. I can run longer distances on the treadmill, and I can lift about five pounds more for dumbbells. I’ve lost an inch or so around my waist which doesn’t seem like a lot, but I can tell and feel the difference, especially considering that I only just started including ab exercises in with my new routine.

I changed up my routine a bit to include more leg exercises since the machines at my local gym broke. Donkey kicks, leg lifts, and body squats are now part of my routine, as are curl crunches and upping my push-up game. I’m also stretching before each workout, which I slacked on before.

It’s been a slow process, but I also took some time off. The holidays were not kind. The important thing is to keep improving and enjoy doing it. I feel down if I don’t go to the gym now. I’m actually excited about going and exercising.

My roommates and I just received news of a 5k where participants can dress up as superheroes. How amazing does that sound? It’s next month and all four of us are planning on going. It sounds like a blast, and I finally feel fit enough to participate in an event like that. I’m thinking of rocking an America Chavez look.

Remember, being a warrior doesn’t happen in a day; it happens over time with a ton of effort. I’m keeping up with this because it’s fun and I enjoy it. I want to do more physical activity outside of the muscle building too. Dancing is next on the list, along with self-defense. I wouldn’t try hiking or running long distances because that’s not for me. So do whatever works for you, and you’ll be your own personal warrior in no time.

Desiree Rodriguez

Desiree Rodriguez

Desiree Rodriguez is currently majoring in Converged Communications. She's a writer, geek girl, and proud queer mestiza woman. Desiree is an entertainment writer for The Tempest, and contributor for Nerds of Color. Desiree has written for The Young Folks, The Feminist Wire, and Geeked Out Nation.