48 Weeks Out – Quick Update

It’s been a very busy week of faculty meetings and prepping for school to start next week.  I have a lot to do this weekend and don’t think I’ll have time to write again.  I’m overwhelmed as I prepare to teach three new classes in a new school to kids younger than I’ve ever taught.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had to teach routines and procedures.  Or behavior skills, for that matter.  It’s also quite invigorating.  I’m excited to be nervous again.

Met with my coach on Monday.  Always energized by those conversations.  He sent me a new lifting program, which looks like it will be as challenging as the others he’s given me, but in a different way.  I thought for sure he’d want to start a cut, but no.  No change.  Continue to keep protein and fats the same everyday and eat more carbs each day to bring intake up to match burn, give or take a couple hundred.  He said we might increase food later.  That was unexpected.  Increase?  Cool.  Guess my progress pictures are OK.

I started the new lifting program on Wednesday.  Took yesterday and today off from lifting. One was a planned rest day, but today was an extra day off because I strained my low back that day. I did very light squats, but I haven’t done them in months, so the body rebelled a bit.

At 7:15 pm this evening, I syched my BodyBugg and saw that I’ve already burned more calories today than I do on a regular rest day.  The projected burn is going to be close to 3000 and that’s a new high for me. Biking to work, on my feet all day setting up my room, and then biked home.  I wonder how a ‘regular’ teaching day is going to go next week?

Heading back to the kitchen for more food.   :)


Filed under Bodybuilding Journal

49 Weeks Out – Progress Pics of Room and Me


Jump start last week was fun.  I only had four 7th-graders.  It was a nice way to ease back into the routine.  I was able to make some progress getting the room pulled together.  I was too fixated on getting two bulletin boards recovered – the pink and red one.  This is likely not my final form for this board, but it’s OK.

My teacher meetings start tomorrow with my new colleagues.  I should be more ambitious – food needs to be prepped, laundry folded – but I’m writing and watching Hulu.  Holding onto my relaxed self while I still can.  Tomorrow is a rest day, so I have some time in the morning to pull meals together for the day.  We have meetings almost every day, meet and greet with parents one evening, I have to finish setting up the room, and do some lesson planning.  I’m starting from scratch with everything at this new school.  I’m sure I will be overwhelmed.  Yeah – chillin’ right now.  Calm before the storm, I suppose.

I got some good news last Friday!  Or at least I’m happy about it.  Got another DXA scan a couple days ago.  The last one was done back  in February after a mini-cut phase.  Two days after that DXA, my husband had his car accident.  (He is doing great, but there were a lot of life and financial complications that are on-going.)  And then I had to change jobs.  The last six months have been the most stressful period of my life since my mother died in 1990.  It was truly a test of my new life as a bodybuilder.  There were plenty of days when I didn’t want to workout.  I’ve only been at this for five years, so it would have been easy to slip back into my old ways.  I know I have a cortisol issue, so stress isn’t something I can take for granted.  I’ve had these DXAs done a couple times a year since 2011.  When under stress before, I’ve lost muscle and gained fat while lifting and doing cardio.  This time around, I’ve been avoiding cardio since that can be a cortisol trigger for me.  My plan was to eat enough to keep the muscle growing, but not so much that I would gain a ton, but I knew I’d gain some fat.  That’s how I work.  But I was still not sure what to expect.  It was entirely possible that I would gain fat and lose muscle again.

It looks like I’ve gained about a pound of lean mass and six pounds of fat since February.  I’m thrilled to have gained any lean mass at all considering the stress.  I expected about 5 pounds of fat, so that wasn’t a shock.  Not concerned.  I started biking to work this last week.  Between the biking and teaching on my feet all day, I should be able to create a sufficient caloric deficit without having to cut much food.  Meeting with my coach tomorrow – hoping for some big changes in the program.  Because I’m a bit fluffy, I’d like to start a cut and I really need a new lifting program.  Some things have worked very well, but other things are just frustrating and it would be nice to do something else.

Progress pics – this should be my most “fluffy” phase.  My picture from May is first, then today’s.  I am about 3 pounds heavier today than in the May pics.  I don’t see much difference, but I’m not good at judging my own progress.  I gained grams most places – that’s hard to see right now.  I only know that from the DXA scan.  I can’t flex fluff.


May 2014 / Aug 2014


Top: May / Bottom: August

Pictures like these stir up negative thoughts like mud from the bottom of a clear pond.  The best way for me to deal with it is to share the pics and move past it.  As uncomfortable as I feel physically, I believe I only need to lose 20-25 pounds over the next 11 months – and that’s not extreme at all.   I’m working with a coach who has the experience and perspective about making prep work with life that I need right now.  Just anxious to get started.



Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Cardio, Competing, Cortisol, Life, Teaching, Weight Loss

50 Weeks Out

The goal this week was to get my new classroom pulled together just enough so that I can start working with kids next week.  My new school is doing a summer jump start program for kids who might need a little refresher to get off to a good start.  It’s just a couple hours in the mornings for four days.  The actual school year doesn’t start until August 11th.  I’m not finished, but there is room for kids to sit down, I can use my desk, and I have a pretty good idea where things are at.  I’ll deal with the rest – recover bulletin boards, unpack more boxes, organize my desk – next week after the munchkins go home.

The fun part of going through all this stuff I’ve saved for so many years is that I’m finding things I can use in middle school.  I found a baggie full of laminated fraction cards!  No use for those in calculus, but I will be able to use them in 7th grade math.  I found old games and activities I haven’t used in years.  I’m excited.  I’m certain there will be challenges.  I’ll handle them as they come up.

Started using my new wheels!  I don’t have far to go – a couple miles.  If I take the shortest route, the ride is uphill for the first mile.  It is a HIIT for the first 15 min and easy going for the last 5 min.  Perfect on days I want a HIIT.  If I go the longer route to avoid the steep climb, there is still an incline, but it is longer and not as steep.  That route takes me about 25 min.  Coming home is a breeze – all down hill!


Lifting is… uneventful.  I was able to do what needed to be done.  To be honest, I’m really, really bored with this program.  There is only a week of it left assuming my coach has the next phase ready to go shortly after we talk.   I’ve made the workout with push-ups more interesting by changing the variations.  This is what I did today after nine sets of bench press…

This was part of an upper body volume workout.  Afterwards, I snapped a pic of my arms and decided to compare them to my last two shows.  2012, 2013, 2014 in that order.  It’s so hard for me to see anything with that layer of fluff on me, but I have to believe there is progress here.  It’s been two years, after all.


My moods continue to swing.  (I wonder if I should track this?)  It’s been like this most of the summer.  Pretty blue today.  I don’t think it’s due to one thing.  There have been some pretty nasty real-life stressors in our lives since February.  Hubby and I keep each other going by reminding each other to live in the moment.  Our “normal” has changed and it’s just a matter of getting acclimated to it.  I always get a little anxious as a new school year approaches.  This one is a big one – new school, new level, new everything.  I have a steep learning curve that will last all year.   I’ve been told that I can’t have a fridge in my room, which is a drag.  I used to cook a week’s worth of stuff and store it in my room.  That simplified my food prep a lot because I didn’t have to deal with bringing food each day.  So now my food prep routine will need to change, too.

So the new stressors, the new school – all weighs on me when I’m in the world dealing with life.  At the gym, I can forget for a bit.  Yesterday, Hubby and I drove an hour, took a short hike up a mountain in high desert terrain, turned a corner and found this waterfall oasis…

It was an amazing thing to find because we are having a severe drought this summer.  Secluded and peaceful.  We both felt rejuvenated.  We will need to find a quiet spot with trees and water that is closer to home.  We have a plan for exactly where that will be.  There is a lovely, large park not far from us.  Hubby likes to do photography there.

I’ve been thinking about ways to simplify my life again.  Changing schools was one big change to make life simpler.  Now, I’m looking at how I use social media.   I want to keep blogging.  It’s how I process things and how I document my journey.  I think I will do less direct posting on the LMS facebook page.  Most days, I just don’t feel I have anything to offer.  In real life, I am a wife and a teacher and both of those things have always been more important, and both require more of my time now.  Anyone who has a page knows it’s more work than people expect and there is a certain amount of drama.  I can’t handle either right now.   I expect learning how to be a middle school teacher is going to take a lot of energy.



Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Life, Teaching, Videos

51 Weeks Out

We’ve been having a bit of a heat spell here this week.  I’ve had a hard time getting sleep.  My body is holding a bunch of water.   A “bunch” = weight jumped 4 lbs in one day.  Last night, I took a couple OTC sleep aides and managed to get a fitful 7 hours of sleep laying in bed for 9 hours.  Weight dropped a pound because of that.  Need that sleep to keep the cortisol levels normal so the body won’t be stressed.

There seems to be something going on with my right shoulder – nothing serious.  Feels a little inflamed, not injured.  I have pain in my right forearm that feels like nerve pain.  I rarely take anything, but I just took some ibuprofen to see if that helps.  Right hip has been tender for a couple weeks now, too.  I suppose the extra water I’m holding isn’t helping things.  When I get to the gym this afternoon, I’ll do some extra stretching.  I need to do more mobility work anyway.  A tight budget has cut out massages and my scoliosis and deformed feet cause a lot of aches and pains in general.


A few things are going well.

I did get a bench PR this week!


Not an epic lift in the big picture, but this lift was going no where for the longest time.

I bought a couple new tank tops to wear to the gym.  I needed larger ones because mine are getting tight across the upper chest.  That’s really awesome!  Means my chest and/or my back are growing.  I don’t think I’m growing evenly though.  The left pec is larger than the right, just like the left lat is bigger than the right one.  My left side compensates on barbell work because of the nagging impingement pain I’ve always had in the right shoulder.

I meet with my coach again at the beginning next month.  I am hoping I will get to start the “cut before the cut” we have talked about.  I’m not too heavy, but I’m fluffy enough.  For this next show, I want my conditioning to be better.  However, I am nervous about what my formerly-obese-50-something-post-menopausal body will allow to happen with fat loss.  That’s why I’ve been trying to eat more without doing any cardio.  I’m trying to set up for a long, gentle, efficient contest prep that gets me on stage leaner than I’ve ever been in my life.

I’ve lost my enthusiasm for food prep and logging.  I’ve felt myself wanting to rebel.  So I’m taking a break from logging for a couple weeks before the cut starts.   I can get a little OCD about macros, which is why the break is needed, but I will have to be mindful about getting enough protein when I’m not measuring and logging everything.  I’ve done this before and know that the issue will be eating enough, instead of eating too much as you might expect.  I’ll start logging again as soon as it bugs me or when I get new macros, whichever comes first.

Since I’m holding water, I expect that today I’m at the heaviest weight I will be at during this off season.  So I took a picture.   And video of my latest battle with overhead squats.  I’ve worked  up to 10 pounds now!  I bench 120 lbs, but can only do 10 lbs on an overhead squat?  I think I’m being conservative.  I bet I can handle 20 pounds.  Hahahaha!

No thigh gap on this gal!  Hoping there has been some quad growth under that layer of fluff.  I’ve done a LOT of occlusion work on the quads and glutes these last few months.  There isn’t much I dislike about what I do at the gym, but single leg hip thrusts with blood-flow restriction – well, that’s not fun.  No ma’am.  Not fun at all.  It better be working, that’s all I can say.



Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Cortisol, Legs, Videos

Have There Been Improvements During My “Improvement” Season?

I still haven’t picked a specific show, but the plan is to compete somewhere in mid July 2015.  There have been so many changes in my life this year (Hubby’s accident, new job) that I cannot assume everything will go as planned for the rest of 2014.  I’m taking each day as it comes, but I need a goal.  So  “July 2015″ is the target and I will begin the first cutting phase in August or September. (Coach calls it “the cut before the cut”.   I’ll tell you about it when I know more.)  I have about a month or two left before I have to switch gears.

Am I making any progress???

Body Composition

I’m feel like a marshmallow covered rock.  Very solid on the inside, more so than I’ve ever felt.  But I’m a tad fluffy on the outside.  I haven’t been “bulking”.  I watch my burn and eat as much as I’m using, plus an extra 100 calories  most days.  My current weight has been fluctuating between 151 and 155 pounds for the last two months.  My body weight at the end of last November was 153.  The last time I was on stage was a year ago, June.  It was around 135 then, but it wasn’t what I would call a ‘healthy’ 135.  I did a traditional water depletion for that show, so once I was rehydrated, my weight jumped up to 140.  I don’t ever want to do a water depletion again, so 140 should be considered my last ‘stage weight’, in my opinion, when considering how much over ‘stage weight’ I am right now.  (I wasn’t lean enough at that show.  To avoid water depletion, I need to be leaner. )

I kept my weight under 145 from June until the Strongman competition last September so I could compete in the smaller weight class.  After that competition, I let it creep up to the low 150’s.  Last winter, I did a very gradual cut and dropped as low as 149, but gained a couple pounds back when the cut was over at the end of February.   I’ve maintained in the low 150’s since then.  I feel good in the low 150’s.  I had a DEXA scan done last October and my bodyfat percentage was 26%.  I bought one of those handheld impedence monitors a few days later so I could check it at home.  It’s reading was 27%.  Close enough for me to keep an eye on it.  That number hasn’t changed, so it’s hard to tell from the scale and that device if I’ve improved my body composition much.  I feel like there is more muscle.  But I know from years of DEXA scans that when I’m anabolic, I gain everything – muscle, fat, and bone density.  My bodyfat will always be calculated higher than it appears because I’m older and have more visceral fat around my organs.  Mirror is more important than the number, but I care about the percentage.  If I’m gaining fat, I better be gaining muscle, too.  I am pleased that I’ve been able to keep things fairly consistent.  But is that an “improvement”?

So I looked at other data.


I use a Bodybugg and the website has the capability to generate reports.  This is interesting data.  I compared the month of December 2013 to June 2014.   The reports I ran calculate averages for 28 days.  Remember, my body weight has stayed within a couple pounds of 153 for the last seven months…

Average Daily Calorie Burn Average Daily Calorie Intake Average Daily Carb Intake
Dec 2013 2147 1864 156 g
June 2014 2254 2391 249 g


I’m encouraged by these numbers.  I haven’t been cycling carbs according to a plan, but rather I cycle them up and down depending on my calorie burn for the day.  My hope is that I’m setting myself up for an effective contest prep.


The programming I’ve been given has been solid, but I haven’t done the big three lifts (bench press, squat, deadlift) consistently.  One of those lifts has always been there, but not all three at the same time.  I’ve been doing a LOT of rowing to bring up my mid back.  I’ve been doing occlusion training to bring up my quads and glutes without having to do heavy squats because I suck at squats.  I use my back too much on deadlifts, so I’ve been doing partial deadlifts since May.  To be honest, I’m not really in love with the current program, but  I’m going to stick it out until August.  I’ve been doing a lot of stuff to address weaknesses, which is why I’m not loving it.  It’s frustrating and I feel like I suck at it.  I record my form all the time and look for problems.  I find plenty.  Good stuff to do.  Just not fun.

Again I ask…how do I know if I’m making progress?

I use an app on my iPad called Gym Buddy to record my workouts.  Not a lot of bells and whistles in this app, but there is some good data.  Check out these screen shots about how my lifts have changed…


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Since I’m not doing the big three lifts consistently, I picked few things that I’ve been doing and looked at that data…

Some Upper Body Lift Stats

  • Hammer Smith Row: up 115%
  • Seal Row: up 19.1%
  • One Arm Dumbell Row: up 58.5%
  • Bench Press: up 22%
  • Kettlebell Overhead Press: up 5.7%
  • DB Curls: up 25%
  • Tricep Rope Pushdowns: down 19.4%

Some Lower Body Lift Stats 

  • DB Split Squats: up 29.9%
  • Partial Deadlifts: down 4.1%
  • Hex Bar Deadlift: up 45.8%
  • Calf Raise: up 101.1%

These stats are a tiny bit misleading.  The program uses all the data, no matter how long I’ve been doing the exercise.   Some of these are new to my program.  You can see how many times I’ve done that exercise on the screenshots.  (I may not have included all the screenshots – just wanted to give you an idea of where the data comes from.)  I don’t think my triceps have become weaker – it’s just that I do that exercise at the end of a workout that starts with bench presses.  They are toasted!  I am having a hard time with partial deadlifts.  I don’t like them.  Decided to bring the weight down and work on technique.

Seal Rows


Mental Game

Overall, I should be pleased with how things are going with the lifts, but I’m not.  Nothing exciting, just putting in work.  I might just be a frustrated powerlifter-wanna-be.  I want to deadlift 250 pounds!  I know it’s there, but when I tried a couple weeks ago, the bar didn’t budge.  Squats were removed from this phase of my program, so I have no idea what I can do with that lift.  Bench is coming up very slowly.  I’m at the point where I’m not adding weight, but trying to add reps.  Heck, I feel like a wanna-be all the time.  Too old.  Too weak for my size.  Maybe this is just “off season blues” of an intermediate lifter?

So I’m struggling.  Like I said at the beginning, I’m just focused on what I have to do each day.  Small, daily goals to keep progressing.  I feel like I’m just crawling.   After my husband’s accident in February, a lot of things changed.  I’m a little overwhelmed dealing with insurance companies, medical bills, processing the crazy crap at work, the decision to transfer schools, and adjusting to the reality of all these changes.  The thought of competing seems frivolous today.  There is a show next weekend a couple hours from home.  It is one that I might do next year.  I’m going to make the drive to watch and hope it snaps me out of this funk.

And while I’m going through what is the most challenging period of my training life do date, I feel pressure to continue to be ‘inspirational’.  I’m sure anyone who has been following can tell I’ve been off my game.  I haven’t been able to write as much as I used to.  I haven’t been posting as many little pep-talks as I used to.  I’m stalled out.  It hasn’t been easy to be transparent with my program .  I post something meaningful to me on the page, or a current picture, and the ‘likes’ drop.  I am not looking for approval and I’m not interested in being a fitness personality.  I’m awkward and fluffy and OK with that.  I’m an introvert and my inclination is to NOT post.  I’d like to hide, do my thing, and post pictures from my next show.  But that’s not an honest way to document the process, which I want people to see.  I do it because I’m a teacher.  Health is more important than bodybuilding.  And by ‘health’ I also mean self-acceptance.  I like my fluffy self – she’s big and strong and healthy.  I’m not concerned at all about not being stage lean.  It’s not time for that.

I’ve got my daily routines and I love to lift.  No matter what else is going on, I’m grateful to be able to do this.  I know many of my peers cannot.

This is the grind.  I’ve been here before.  It will pay off.















Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Life, My Lifting Log, Nutrition

“Eat Clean” vs “IIFYM”: Best of Both?

Disclaimer: this is not an educational article.  If you want to know more about Clean Eating or IIFYM, you will find oodles of information online.  Probably too much information, actually.  I’m writing this piece today to share how I’ve changed over time, why I did, and how I’ve blended the two nutrition philosophies in my current food choices.

I try to avoid it, but every so often, something blows up on Facebook about how to eat.  I thought the women on some fitness pages were bad, but the guys can get very aggressive.  I saw some bullying behaviors this weekend that would be actionable if it were done by kids at school.

I’ve said it before…


We aren’t talking about politics or religion here, but…maybe we are?  In the fitness world, it sure seems like it sometimes.

I’m not an expert and I’m not going to cite research.  I’m going to share my nutritional evolution because I thought it was interesting when I reflected on how it has changed and why.  To be honest, what works for one person, may not work for the next.  We are genetically and environmentally different.  Heck – I’m different.  What works for me now wouldn’t have worked for me when I started.  My body is different now.  My daily activity level is different.  My body composition, chemistry, and my goals are what determine how I eat.  What used to determine how I eat was convenience and emotions.


When I started in 2009, I knew as much as any regular person not involved in fitness.  “Eat healthier” meant “eat a vegetable every once in a while”.  I started by getting help.  I consulted with a nutrition coach once a month on the phone and through email between those consults.  She taught me how to log food, how to use the log to monitor how much I was eating, and she helped me with food substitutions that were less calorie dense so I could eat more while still creating a calorie deficit each day.  That’s how I gradually evolved into a “clean eater”.  Whole foods have fewer calories than processed ones, generally.  I also felt better eating whole foods.  Felt better not eating sugar, too.  Go back in this blog and I’m sure you will find a reference to how eating “food grown by God” seemed like the best way to feed a body.   I naturally moved away from sugar and chemicals in my food because it felt good.  Felt good psychologically, too, since I was at the beginning of my transformation.  I needed to do something completely different than what I was doing before.  

When I started bodybuilding, eating became more technical.  It wasn’t just about calories, it was about macros – proteins, carbs, and fats.  The bodybuilding culture has a short list of clean foods that some call “bro-foods”.  The bro-foods include eggs, chicken, tilapia, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, sweet potatoes, rice, oatmeal, almonds, and olive oil.  I’m sure there a few things I missed.  I was going by my own memory.  But the gist is that there isn’t a lot of variety.  As in all things “food”, there is a social component to this approach.  There is a sense of belonging to a particular group if you eat like this.  Tuna!  I forgot tuna.  I remember when I was in my 20’s and first learned about bodybuilding from a guy who put a can of tuna on a baked potato.  That’s it.  I was fascinated.

In the last couple of years, the acronym, IIFYM, If It Fits Your Macros started flying around.  The basic idea is that a daily goal for each macro is set and what is eaten is not as important as hitting those targets.  This approach is infamous for the amount of processed foods, like Pop Tarts, consumed.  That’s the hype, not the reality for most who use IIFYM.   This is something I see discussed by guys more than gals.  Younger guys, in particular.   The online conversations I’ve read are dominated by guys.   They sometimes argue a bit about the merits of eating “bro-foods” vs IIFYM.

From the time I started bodybuilding and eating macros, I’ve been eating mostly bro-foods.  It was just easier – boring, but that didn’t bother me.  However, since the last time I was on stage in June 2013, I’ve been more flexible with my food choices.  Still following macro targets, but getting there with some foods that I used to think were “off limits”.  Some days are mostly whole foods – other days, not so much.  I’ve managed to keep my body weight and body composition fairly stable for the last year at a weight that is not contest lean. Instead, I’m about 15 lbs over stage weight at a body fat percentage that is healthy for a 52 year old me, 27%. (I may not get as lean as younger women because of visceral fat on my organs. I think i was around 15-16% when I’ve competed. That’s something I believe can be improved, btw). I am still over a year away from my next competition, so it’s all about lifting and recovery right now. .

Since I’ve played around with both approaches, here is what I’ve learned that works best for me.  Let’s keep score:

  • I feel better when I eat real food and not a lot of sugar.  However, being flexible has helped me put balance back into my life.  I had lasagna with the hubby last night.  Yum.   Clean = 1, IIFYM = 1
  • Because I’m in maintenance mode right now and my calorie burn each day seems to be creeping up, and the directive from coach was to keep fats and proteins stable, but cycle carbs to match the burn – well, I need carbs.  Lately, it seems I need more than you might expect and it’s easier to get them from non-clean foods like ice cream sandwiches.  (I get Skinny Cows because their macros are lower.  Some days, I only have room for one.  Other days,  two or three.)   Clean = 0, IIFYM = 1


  • My bullet shake gives me more energy than just about anything I’ve ever consumed besides sweet potatoes. Clean = 1, IIFYM = 0


  • Quest bars – not so much.  They’re good, but I don’t need so much fiber at one time. Clean = 1, IIFYM = 0
  • I don’t have a major problem with bread anymore.  I think not eating it often caused what I thought was a problem.  I keep the low-carb torillas in stock for the same reason I get Skinny Cow ice cream.  If I don’t have a lot of wiggle room, like on a rest day, I will use a tortilla instead of bread. Clean = 0, IIFYM = o


  • Once a week, I don’t log food.  It’s usually a Saturday because that’s the day when the prepped food runs out and the new food isn’t cooked.  I end up eating fairly normally, but that’s also a day I’m likely to go out with hubby for a meal.  This is not a rule – it’s just something I’m doing right now to give myself a break.  I’m not in contest prep mode, so it’s OK.  A lot of people don’t log at all when they aren’t in prep mode.  I don’t mind logging.  I like data.  I’m a math teacher, you know. Clean = 0, IIFYM = 1 because I know what I eat on those days
  • I’m sitting in my kitchen right now.  As I look around I see apples, limes, bananas, squash, a beet, pears, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, avocados, dried cranberries, bread, and bagels.  Clean = 1, IIFYM = 0


Clean = 4


So I guess I’m basically a “clean” eater most of the time, but I’ve worked in some other things because I like them.  That’s how I eat now.  I could not have been as flexible when I started.  I didn’t have a structure in place, like the macro targets, to slam the breaks on binging.  Each day I have one of those moments when I’m hungry and just want to grab whatever, but don’t because 1) I am saving room in the macros for the rest of the day, or 2) I’m too lazy to log it.

I guess you could say that I’m using the structure IIFYM, but usually choosing clean foods to hit my macro goals.  I honestly don’t care to put a label on how I eat – it’s just food.  I eat to recover, to get stronger, to grow muscle, to be social, and some things just because they are yummy. When it’s time to cut, I’ll probably get better results this time around – or at least that is the plan.






Filed under Nutrition

It’s My 5th “Other Birthday”!!

If you already know my story, skip down a bit for my regular update where you can see video of me NOT getting my deadlift PR today.  So sad.  

My Story – the moderately short version with links to other relevant posts.  (For the long version, start reading my blog here.  There have been people who have read the whole thing and said it was interesting – I am humbled and honored that they did that, but I won’t guarantee it is a great read.  I just documented what I was doing and feeling at the time.)

On June 19, 2009, I started my work to fix things.  That was a year before I started this blog.  I didn’t have the bodybuilding goal at the time.  I just didn’t want to die early from personal neglect.  By June 2010, I set the big, scary goal to compete.  While on this journey, I found my bliss.  I found me.

I let those extra pounds grow on me for years. Blamed age and menopause.   Too busy to do anything about it. My wake up call was in March 2009 with an ER visit for what I thought was a heart attack.  I was 47, overweight borderline obese, overworked, over-stressed, on high blood pressure meds, and the doc was considering cholesterol meds, too.  The ER people took it seriously – I was there for 4 hours while they observed and tested my blood for markers of a cardiac event.  It was negative “this time” the doctor stressed.  THIS TIME.  My mother died from a brain aneurysm when she was 56 and I was 29.  As I got older, I became fearful that I would have a similar fate.  And I put myself on that same path.  I had tried to lose weight using various programs and gained it all back.  I promised myself that this time, it would be the last time.

I knew I would have to change a lot of things.  I used the time from March until June to finish the school year and research my plan of attack.  As a math teacher, I love data.  On June 19, 2009 I bought a BodyBugg and the phone coaching that they offered at that time.  I told myself that since it was important enough to spend money on, and that this was the last time I would need to lose this weight, so I would damn-well follow directions.  Kim, my nutrition coach, taught me a ton and I was a good student.  I screwed up from time to time and she taught me to log it and plan around it.  She taught me that it didn’t matter what I did occasionally, what mattered is what I did most of the time.  She taught me to look at the week, not the day – and that applied to food and weight.  I learned to use the scale as a tool – watched the fluctuations and when they happened.  I learned how my body worked.

I spent the first year just doing cardio.  I either walked outside or used the ellipticals at the gym.  The ellipticals were up on the second floor and I would watch the people lifting weights.  I played on the machines a little, and even though I’ve been facinated with the idea of lifting for decades, I didn’t want to look stupid, so I was too intimidated to do much.  Lost 40 pounds and plateaued.  I’ve since learned a lot about why that happened. Started to research cortisol and realized that it was a major player in my life long before I started this journey. (I have a category called “cortisol” since I’ve written about it so much.)

By the spring of 2010, everything stalled.  I wasn’t motivated and I started to gain weight back even though I was still consistent with the diet and cardio.  About that time, I reconnected with a high school friend – someone who I admired for her spunk and courage – she lost her fight with breast cancer.  I realized that nothing is guaranteed and that maybe I needed to grow a pair myself, and start living my life on my terms.   I researched more and learned that I needed to lift to change my body composition.  And then I remembered – back in the early 80’s, I used to be fascinated with bodybuilding.  I loved watching women doing routines at competitions – I thought they were so beautiful.  I was a Cory Everson groupie.  I worked at the desk in a gym and remembered how I was enthralled by this guy’s meals – tuna fish and backed potato.  I remember thinking that it was so cool to have a goal so big that it changed how you ate.

So in June 2010, when I was 48, I hired a trainer to teach me how to lift, set the goal to compete the summer I was 50 years old.  Did it.  Twice.   I decided to take a year off to make progress without being interrupted by contest prep.  I’m working with a new coach and doing some new, interesting things with my program.

And that’s my moderately short story.


The Update…

This has continued to be an emotional time for me.  I didn’t just finish the school year, which is always a little bittersweet as my seniors graduate, but I also packed up and moved all my stuff to a new school.  I’ve started to feel a little closure and am getting excited to learn new things as I teach at a new level.


I wasn’t planning on making this move, and had to make the decision rather quickly, but I have a feeling that this is going to be a good change.  I started packing and moving some boxes last week, but worked on it all day Monday and Tuesday, and half a day on Wednesday.  The lifting wasn’t heavy, but the volume was high.  I knew it took a lot of energy because my calorie burns were pretty high.  I had to ramp up the carbs I ate on those days to keep up with the burn.  I didn’t get enough sleep, as usual.  Skipped the gym while I was doing this move.  My legs and glutes were sore every evening, so I thought it might be a good idea to just power through the move and get back to the routine when it was done.

So today, since it was my “birthday”, I wanted to set a new deadlift PR.  Maybe I could do it even though I moved all those boxes for three days prior?  Um…no.  It didn’t work.  Oh well.  I’ll get rested and take another run at it sometime soon.  I am off for summer break until the end of July, so I need to just relax and work my program.  The PR will happen.

My mental game is off lately.  I don’t really enjoy the program I’m doing right now.  But I don’t think it is the program.  I think it’s just the amount of stress I’ve been under the last couple months.  There hasn’t been enough sleep.  This is a tough transition for me to a place and a program that I worked so hard to build and start over at a middle school.  I pulled a pec a couple weeks – that sucks.  Overall strength is stalled – also sucks.  Once I’ve had a few days of vacation, a few days of sleeping in, I’m sure I will get back into the swing of things.

However, I have been happy with the amount of food I’ve been able to eat without gaining weight.  I’ve been trying to keep my fats and proteins consistent and increase carbs as needed to be at maintenance.  The BodyBugg gives me the data I use.   I know that the big jumps in burn are connected to the increased activity of moving my room, so I’ll have to bring those carbs back down when my burn drops.  Maybe.  Sometime in the next week, I will get a bike which will be my main mode of transportation to work from now on.  And that means…more carbs for me!  Yay!!!  Well, at least until it’s time to cut.  I do have to admit that eating some fast food for a few days while I was moving my classroom was kind of fun, but it didn’t feel good.  My energy wasn’t great.  It was nice to have something more “normal” on the patio when I got home after dropping off the last load of stuff at the new school.  Chicken breast, broccoli slaw, radishes, green onion, Annie’s Papaya-Poppy Seed dressing with an ice tea…


I tend to get so preoccupied with what I need to do each day that I don’t take time to appreciate what I’ve accomplished. In the last 5 years, I’ve gotten off meds, became healthier than I’ve ever been, competed in two bodybuilding shows, and participated in one strongman meet.  At 52, I feel like a beginner in a sport that I hope to be able to do for a long time.  I love to lift.  I love to set and achieve goals.  I even love that I fail frequently.   My ego takes a beating regularly. There is always something I can’t do – lots of things I don’t do well. But I’m making progress. That’s what I love about my new “hobby”.  It gives me hope.  It gives me something to strive for.  And I’m addicted to the endorphins – and that’s not a bad addiction to have.  



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Filed under Cardio, Competing, Cortisol, Life, Motivation, Teaching