The Hard Gainer’s Dilemma: Getting On the Horse

I have been ultra-lean my whole life. Last week I disclosed to the family my intentions to “bulk up.” My teenage daughter sneered and said; “why would you want to do that?” Before I could reply, my son retorted; “Look at him! He disappears when he turns to the side. It’s like a sheet of paper with a head on an Adam’s Apple.” He is always so cleaver.  If I wanted their approval, I was getting it in a very unusual way.

I had always thought of myself as being consigned to the “skinny” (read: sickly) category for life. I suppose that’s the reason I historically preferred the running track to the weight room. I always felt intimidated by all of… what one finds in those places. And, I really do enjoy running. I ran two marathons while in the Air Force; my mental reprieve from the anxiety I struggled through during training and education.

My wife’s recent counsel regarding nutrition turned a new leaf for me. She sat me down with one of her macro-tracker books and we hashed out all of the food I had eaten the previous week. The result: I wasn’t eating enough.

Caloric intake for a man of my height and desired size was 900 calories more than I was consuming. The culprit? My lousy appetite. And why did I never feel like eating? Because I’m always stuck behind a desk playing “Pong” with mouse and keyboard. …okay, not ‘’Pong.” Still, my sedentary lifestyle was making me crave less food.

My diet was limited to morning coffee, an office “communal snack” of bagel or doughnut for lunch and then home for a late, rushed dinner. Midday hunger? Coffee. Always coffee. It staves off hunger for sure. It also makes me a nervous wreck and decreases my focus when on task. Not good for someone whose employment it is to sift through seemingly trivial details to find correlative anomalies. Boring stuff. It requires focus, not nervous tension.

I am highly pragmatic about changes like these. I typically use a standardized military concept of operation (CONOP) when approaching things like this. The stages are: Assessment (current state vs. desired future state), Planning, Execution, Assessment and Lessons Learned, [Repeat].

So, I’ve “assessed” a current state (175lbs @ 23%) and a desired future state (195lbs @ <15%). I’ve assessed this desired future state mostly because my dad (nearly identical build) maintained 195 from his separation from the Army and well into his 70’s. I’ve chosen the proposed BMI because 12-15% is a healthy index that can be maintained without having to do the “bulk/shred” regimen. I want to stay away from the “bulk/shred” stuff. Because I think it is evil.


  • Eat breakfast, Plan lunch and dinner with appropriate snacks in between.
  • Eat plenty of veggie fiber. Count my calories (within reason).
  • GET TO THE GYM (not the track).
  • Find someone to work out with (works for the gym and distance training alike).
  • Work with Elisabeth to build a work out regimen that accomplishes my goals.

My name is Jonathan and I have decided to blog my progress for several reasons. Partly to show off the tools and resources available through FitCrush; partly to give an inside look into what it takes to make this happen for someone like me, but mostly to show that it is even possible for someone like me (very skinny, GIANT Adam’s apple, marginally sunken chest, stubborn belly) to get a large chest, prominent shoulders, abs; and generally sport a body I don’t feel ashamed of pool-side. The objective is to sculpt my body with lean gains. It is possible and I want to show the proof of concept.


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