Hi Hayley,

Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to ask Hayley questions regarding working out and getting in shape.

My position is a little different though because I am trying to gain weight, not lose it. I swear I eat like a pig but apparently have a good metabolism and don't put on any weight. My friends tell me I'm crazy for complaining about it, but I really am tired of looking like a stick.

What I really want is to put on some muscle weight and tone up for the summer. I've tried in the past to lift weights and do leg work, but I don't feel it actually works so it makes me think that I'm just not doing the correct workouts or the right amount of repetitions. Any advice Hayley can give me would be great!


Some of you may be shaking your head in amazement that there are women in this world who are trying to gain weight. Like A’s friend, you probably think that they must be crazy to think that needing to gain weight is a problem. Trust me, this can be just as difficult as someone trying to lose weight.  Being too thin can have just as many health problems and complications as being overweight .

First of all, your fertility can be affected (you lose your ability to menstruate).  You have a greater risk of osteoporosis as you get older.  You are also at a greater risk of anemia and your immune system could be compromised, meaning you are more likely to get sick.  Not to mention it is impossible to find clothes that fit and are flattering.   A woman who feels too thin can be just as self conscious of her body as a woman who feels overweight.  If you are one of these women who do struggle to put weight on I offer you this advice.

The first thing you will want to do (if you haven’t already) is go to your doctor and see if you might have a hyperthyroid problem.  It is always good to get medical clearance before starting a new eating or exercise routine.  This will rule out anything that could be contributing to your inability to gain weight.

Second, you need to continue to exercise.  Do not be afraid of burning too many calories.  Exercise is important for so many reasons, including improved muscular strength and endurance, improvements in bone density, cardiovascular health, flexibility, posture and emotional health (to name a few).  As I tell people who are trying to lose weight you also need to make sure that you eat right after your workouts.  I’m thinking that this isn’t a problem with what you are doing in your workout, but it has more to do with your nutrition and metabolism. However, when you are working out, make sure that the weight you are lifting causes your muscles to fatigue by 12 repetitions.   You should be doing at least 3 sets of the exercise.  Unlike how I train Lainey, when you are doing your strength routine you should try and keep your heart rate low (so you aren’t burning fat).  Do 3 sets of 1 muscle group before moving onto the next.   In between each set try doing a core exercise, a posture exercise or a balance exercise so you are not just standing around resting – make the most of your time!

Third - instead of restricting your calories you need to increase your calories, but these need to be healthy calories.  This can be tough to do as you may feel full fast or not be able to consume as many calories as you need to.   Try these tips.

1-    Eat a balanced diet where every meal contains about 60% carbohydrates, 15-20% proteins and the remaining as fat

2-    Choose healthy fats – Omega 3 and Omega 6, unsaturated and monounsaturated.  Try Olive Oil, Udo’s Oils or Flax Oil in your smoothies.  Put hemp hearts in your oatmeal and add avocados to your sandwiches and olives or nuts to your salads.  These are all ways of increasing the healthy fats and calories of your meals without increasing the amount of food you need to eat.

3-    Try eating foods that are very dense in calories.  Nuts are one of the best, but stay away from peanuts and choose walnuts and almonds instead. Also, try granola.  Granola is one of the most calorie dense foods you can eat and it is the number one thing that I tell people to stay away from when they are trying to lose weight. There can be upwards of 20 grams of fat in just 1 cup of granola.  But if you are trying to gain weight then add it to your oatmeal, to your cereal or to your yogurt.

4-    For your lunch and dinner try eating a fattier fish, like salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna and trout.  

A, even though you are thin and can eat anything without gaining weight you need to make sure that you are filling your body with healthy foods just like everyone else. If you choose sugary foods that are full of additives, preservatives and trans fats not only will your body just burn through these calories, you will put yourself at risk of many health problems associated. Sometimes people who are too thin are at a slight disadvantage because conditions like high cholesterol, heart disease and OCPD can go undetected.  
Eating a balanced and healthy diet along with exercising will ensure that the weight that you put on will be healthy.  You will notice you will put on body fat, which is a good thing as a healthy women has at least 18% body fat. Don’t start to panic if this happens.  You will also notice that your body will be able to build muscle and give you that nice, toned body you want for the summer.  Good luck!

Attached - Stacy Keibler leaves the gym on Tuesday.