Sunday, December 02, 2007

Muscle Questions

I receive quite a bit of email as a result of what I post on this blog. At first all of the questions made me uncomfortable, as I am not an expert, by any stretch of the imagination when it comes to muscle building, running or nutrition. I AM, however, an expert on what works for me.

When I began the Leanness Lifestyle program two years ago and cut my processed carbs to almost nothing, but still eating 150 or so grams of carb a day, via veggies, oats and fruits, and 150 grams of protein via lean meats, many emails were sent to me voicing concern over my nutrition. Whew! That was a very, very long sentence. If I had the time, I would correct it. But I don't and this is just an informal blog entry. Anyhow, many were concerned that I wouldn't be able to run long distance by eating a 40/40/20 diet and by cutting my calories I would lose any muscle I had.

That didn't happen. I actually built muscle these past two years as I lost fat. Of course during the past winter and summer I added back some, not many, of the processed carbs (a pasta, a bread serving..yes A), some sugar, I kept my calories as the SAME range, was running the same mileage, was lifting 3x a week as I have for the past years and bammo..increase of 10-15 pounds.

Since September I have again cut the processed carbs from my diet. I have cut sugar. I am eating on average 1500 calories a day, of course during races I am eating much more and I am eating PBJ sandwiches, gels, carbo drinks, calories as high as 4000, but when running my average daily mileage of 7-10 miles and lifting 3x a week I am eating 1500 calories, approximately 150 grams of carb from fruits, veggies and an oat serving and 150 grams of protein from lean meats/egg whites.

I have lost fat, I haven't lost strength, my muscles look strong, I am not weak. I haven't lost any endurance; actually my workouts are stronger than ever and I'm lifting heavier than ever.

When I read in Runners World that a runner should eat a diet of 60/70% carb, 15 % protein and 15% fat I want to scream. I ate that way when I first began to run and I was a ball of dough, and became even doughey-er, thank you Liz Applegate. It does NOT work for everyone.

Again, I am not an expert on nutrition and ultra running. I am an expert on WHAT WORKS FOR ME. Maybe it will work for other people out there that feel like balls of dough?

Yesterday I was at the gym completing a push up/pull up session. A woman came up to me and remarked on my weight loss. I told her thank you for noticing and she told me she is following a program from and that she is in a 'muscle building phase' and that she is afraid she will lose any muscle by completing any cardio. Well, this woman is a good 40 pounds overweight. She couldn't figure out why I haven't run off all of my muscles. She is SO SURE that cardio will eat her muscle that is under that 40 pounds of fat. WTF? I nicely told her what works for me: lean protein, veggies and fruits. Well, she heard that the fruit in the sugar will add fat as does white sugar. Oh man. I talked with her for over an hour and I don't think anything I say penetrated into her brain. She is sure that she needs to eat 1800-2400 calories a day to lift 3x a week, per program, and 10-15 minutes light walking before lifting. Well, that's a great start, but she has been following this for 3 months..guess what..she's gained weight, but she is sure it is muscle.

Thank you for those of you that asked me to post pictures. I guess if Renee can, I can too :)

See, I'm not starving. My body isn't cannibalizing my muscle. I'm doing very, very well, thanks.


Cathy said...

Hey Julie

Love the pictures. You look great! Definitely not loosing muscle.
Sounds like your friend at the gym isn't ready to hear other advice or learn about other programs. Perhaps when she gains a few more pounds she'll be ready to chat with you again. Thank you as always for sharing what works for you & how you do it.

Anonymous said...

WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. That is exactly why I LOVE to read your blog. You are a real woman with a real life. You are a good example of what works for one may not work for another. Or think that might now work for them. Hole impressive muscles batgirl by the way!!

My Mom suffers from crazy high cholesterol. Medicated the whole nine yards. My Uncle went on the Atkins disaster and lost some weight, so what does good ol' Mom do? Yep hops right on. After my sister and I discussed this with her repeatedly that she shouldn't be eating like that and how could that be a lifestyle change you could do forever. Great he lost a few pounds, I am not sure what affect it had on his levels. It didn't even get in one ear to go out the other with her. And her cholesterol was threw the roof and she lost zero pounds.

You keep truckin' you look amazing and sound like you feel amazing. That is the most important part!

Screw the haters, totally jealous!

Hamel said...

Hello, Julie.

Stopped by to visit your blog after your informative and thoughtful post about running with your Border Collie. Thanks for the advice, and I'll be stopping by more often!

kelly said...

Well Julie, you look awesome. I too, eat a lot like you. I am strong and very fit. Keep doing what you are doing. You certainly have motivated me since I have been reading your blog. There are a lot of jealous woman out there. It takes a lot of hard work to look like you do and to run like you do. Keep it up!

Kim said...

No matter what you eat, when or how. I will forever be in awe of your running!

I truly hope to get to one of your races this year.

ollie said...

If/when we meet again at a race, remind me to NOT offer to arm wrestle you. :-)

What ever you are doing, you sure as heck are doing something right!

zoey said...

Julie thanks for sharing...It's important that people talk about what works for them, because we are NOT all the same...and like you, my body does not process those carbs like most people...thyroid is a big issue for it's great to hear that you can make strength gains while cutting the processed's strange how fixated many people become, as if there's really only 'one' way to do things.

Runner Susan said...

you so rock. you are my hero.

Kel said...

Hi Julie,

As you have discovered, we are all unique, so there is no "one size fits all" training or nutrition program. Figuring out the best program is part art and part science - and the reason there is so much art involved is because we still don't understand all of the science. If you're healthy, happy, and accomplishing your goals - keep doing what you're doing ;)

I wish my clients had your determination and work ethic!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am so jealous! You look awesome!


Lisa said...

My heart is heavy as I read this blog entry. I would have expected some level of compassion toward the woman who was 40 lbs over weight...remember, you were there at one time. You say your no expert but your responses and attitute towards her makes me believe that maybe you think you are. She is trying to figure out what works for her like you say you have figured out for yourself. You spent this blog entry justifying yourself to others about your exercise and diet regime...then you go and blast someone else in the same way you have been blasted. At one time I called you a winner. I think I have changed my mind. Winners have no time for pride.

Bob Gentile said...

Julie great pics below u look great... Next year I enter the 100 miler land and I am going to step it up on my nutrition plan...I need to tone down the processed carbs & sugars.

congrats on finding what works for you :-)

Julie B said...

Thank you for the comments.

I appreciate all of the kind words. I thought that I would hear much more negative thoughts. My email has been nothing but positive.

Lisa, I wasn't posting to justify myself. Well, showing that high card/low protein diets don't have to be the one for all for all runners. I didn't think it had come across that way. I was posting to others that not all have to eat a diet of 60-70% carbs; that this doesn't work for all. The woman at the gym; she called me last night and we are getting together on Saturday morning for coffee. I told her that she is me. That I am her and that there is light at the end of the her tunnel. I'm sorry that my post came across as sounding so crass to you. I didn't intend it that way. At all. I am not a crass person. I'm sorry that you saw it as that way. I do feel compassion for this woman, but I feel frustration as well. I'm looking forward to meeting with her for coffee.

Bob Gentile said...

well Julie I had to GO back and re-read ur post to SEE if I missed something ?? and TRY to figure out WHY Lisa's heart was heavy???

...umm I am lost Lisa, no way did Julie come across as crass or prideful to me...Actually for Julie to spend an hour to try and educate her speaks about her helping character.

AND to VALIDATE that the lady was more then happy to get more wisdom on what Julie was talking about CALLED her and now they are meeting for coffee...I don't think someone who was offended would call Julie and say "Hey lets meet some more so you can offend me again"--lol

Way to go Julie and I hope you are able to educate this person more about how different bodies react to different foods.

Julie B said...

Bob, I thank you. Lisa's comment bothered me all day long. It made me feel sad that I may have hurt someone. I tried, too, to see what I said that was so hurtful. I'm very thankful that you posted your thoughts. Thank you.

Lisa said...

Julie; I am glad to hear that you are meeting with the woman from the gym for coffee. This piece was missing from your blog yesterday which totally adds a new dimension to my feelings about what you wrote. Had I known that you shared your phone number and were willing to meet with her to talk more about how you have been successfull really says something new. Otherwise I felt as though you were talking down about her because she hasn't figured out what works for her yet. A place I know I've been and a place, I'm sure, you can understand as well. Thank you for sharing more about the situation. I place you back in the winner's circle again. Let me know how it goes with the meeting.

zoey said...

Thankfully, no one else can 'put' us in,or 'out' of a winner's circle. We either get ourselves there or we don't. Julie, part of becoming the leader that you ARE, means dealing with others who are reacting to their own issues. I hope you know this. If anything, I see you as being exquisitely humble.

milliron said...


milliron said...


Sorry i pressed enter before I "entered" my comment........

I applaud you on meeting with someone to talk about health and nutrition issues. Definetley what works for one does not work for another....and everyone needs to figure that out,whether on thier own or by talking to many people who are succeeding at the job.

I have taught small and large group exercise classes for 24 years and the comments from students that encourage me the most are the ones where they have that AHAH!!! moment. They really start to get it.

What they are "getting" is that long term health is the most important number in the equation. It is hard to get this across to the younger people, but as the gals that have been with me for 20 plus years show the positive effects of a long term healthy lifestyle,(which they had to figure out) the younger ("I need to lose 20 lbs. by next month") gals really start to understand that small changes, some maturity and patience, and like you said "seeing what works for YOU" is the only way to go.

Happy Holidays

Anonymous said...


What I find is just what you say and that is what works for me is the right choices for my by might be hell for others. I think when you really get to know yourself and how you body reacts to food combinations and stress, we learn we are all differ. Depending on the day, I have 65% carbs as my body demands such... I know large people who do not eat many carbs and thin strong people who are over 50% carbs as the diet. So again, I tell everyone who asks me, have a all inclusive diary over a period of time and find what works, no matter what others say. So I applaud you knowing what works and agree I also get frustrated when they have a diet concept for runners or other athletes. we are all unique and people need to stop looking for the perfect solution in a book and study themselves.

Lisa said...

Comment to Zoey;

In this blog entry Julie is responding to the comments and criticism she has received from other people regarding her nutrition. She has explained what works for her and had proven the results with pictures and a written explanation. However, by the same ruler of comment and criticism she has been measured, I felt she passed on to the woman at the gym. Her frustration with the woman not wanting to listen to her and her general comments regarding what the woman said, told me that. Julie thinks that what this woman is doing isn't right and it appears that other people think what Julie is doing will cannibilize her muscles...both feel that neither one is listening.

So, YES, I had an issue with this. I felt sad. My heart felt heavy because I felt that compassion was missing from the equation and pride had gotten in the way. I felt Julie had the opportunity to reach out to someone that struggles the way she has and only found frustration in it. However as the blog continued in this comment area, I learned new information about the situation which gave me a better idea of Julie's level of compassion and understanding. My initial loss of respect turned into a renewed understanding of her willingness to share what she has learned from what she has experienced. In my opinion, my definition of winners are people who in their glory, can lose themselves enough to help someone else attain a goal or a position equal to or better than what they have achieved. I think a winner understands that sharing their joy can only bring them greater joy.

Rebecca said...

Julie, having encountered your blog on precision nutrition and been impressed with your physique and your mileage, I really appreciate this post. I had heard the high-carb stuff about running, so it was good to hear from someone who eats a low-carb diet and runs like crazy that it can work, and one look at your pictures says that it is working very well! I did not agree with Lisa's comment that you were prideful or blasted the woman at the gym. You were pointing out her misinformation, but I didn't think that it was in a judgmental way. Don't worry about it. :)

SnarkyFit said...

First of all, you look great.
Second of all, I was very interested in this post (and ensuing comments) because I was about to start a high protein phase and knew that I would encounter some resistance from people.
Of course, I already have, and addressed the issues in the comment section of my post, referencing your approach, blog, and this specific conversation.
Thanks so much for addressing this, being open and honest, and most of all, for being willing to have a dialogue.

Julie B said...

I enjoy the comments here, very much, I thank you for leaving them. I had a great gabbing/coffee session with the gal at the gym. We talked, we compared, we had a good time. We all need to find our own path. I find it amazing how critical others are when we need to do something different than the masses. I can't tell you how much criticism I receive by the way I eat and how much mileage I put in. It amazes me. So, I thank you for the compassion and the knowledge you have shared here.