Binging On Audio Books

A year ago today was the day before my most recent competition and my nerves were off the charts.  I was unpleasant to be around.  I ended up having an EPIC anxiety attack that evening, sat in the bathroom of the hotel, texting my coach who calmed me down a little.  The next day, I had the most humiliating public experience I’ve had in my life.  You know that nightmare where you go to school in your underwear?  Yeah.  That.  To say my ego was dented and damaged – well that’s accurate.  I’ve spend the last year trying to sort things out.  If I were a normal person, I’d probably walk away from this sport.  But I’m not normal.  I’m stubborn.  And I love this sport.  What happened was a little bit shitty, yes, but it shouldn’t have rocked me like that.  Something about it kicked every single insecurity I’ve got like a gut shot.  No – more like drilling a tooth before you’re numb.  I did not see it coming.

After a few years of investing in my physical health and discovering that competitive bodybuilding added value to my life, I came home from that show wondering if I had it in me to ever step on stage again.  A long time ago, I promised myself to never let fear define me, or rather, never let fear stop me from doing something I wanted to do.  Unless I break that promise, I have to do this work now, too.  I might blog about the things I’m learning and how I will apply them, but I’m not sure yet if that’s something I want to share publicly.  A big part of my work is to disengage my ego and just do the work.  Haven’t really reconciled how to share that process in public yet.

However, the list of books I’ve devoured might have some value for others.  All audio.  I don’t have time to read, but while I’m grading, walking, or driving, I listen and learn.

Here is a list of the audio books in my Audible library that I have found the most enlightening.  “Enlightening” in the sense that I enjoy uncomfortable self-reflection and forced psychological growth.  Putting introspection on Beast Mode, I guess.  Hahahahaha!  They are in order of how I listened to them.  In some way, each book led me to the next.  Some I’ve listened to a few a couple of times.  I revisit parts when it seems I need a refresher on that particular lesson.  Each time I listen, I pick up something new.

Almost all have had an impact on my teaching, too.  I think that’s what has hooked me the most.  While following my own instincts about what I want to learn personally, I’ve enriched my practice as a teacher of teenagers.  I had a conversation with someone once who said he thought we were all stuck at 17 on the inside forever.  That might be true.

The last book, “The Ego is The Enemy” by Ryan Holiday, has been the most beneficial in addressing my competition experience, but I don’t know if I was ready to hear it until after I had listened to the others.  It also wasn’t published until last month, so it wasn’t available.  It’s probably that “when the student is ready, the teacher appears” thing, huh?

I’m grateful for the lessons in all of these books.   I got something from each.  (It’s a bit overwhelming to see the list together – this isn’t even all of them.  Just the best ones.  And there were a few fiction books in the mix over the last year, too.  Brain needed a break every so often.)

Pictures are linked back to Audible descriptions for each book.  Just click…

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Filed under Competing, Life, Teaching

Reasons Why I’m “Doing It Wrong”

If you follow fitness pages on social media, you will see many messages that fall into that “go hard or go home” theme.  They are success stories.  They walk into the gym, abs a blazin’, and are pushing to the limit EVERY.SINGLE. DAY.

I don’t do that. I can’t do that.

Here are few reasons why I’m doing this thing “wrong”.

REASON #1: I do as little work as possible.

I don’t go “beast-mode” in the gym.  I used to.  And I got hurt.  Twice.   Not serious injuries, but they still nag at me.  Lifters get hurt – that’s true.  But actively choosing to avoid injuries means I can keep lifting without interruption or work-arounds.  There is a difference between the loads my muscles can handle and what my connective tissues can handle.  Those little pieces and parts have been moving me around for over 54 years – I am always conscious of that.  Random strangers sometime feel the need to offer critique about how I do a movement, and that’s OK because they have helpful intentions.  They might not realize that I actually do know what I’m doing.  Range of motion is a connective tissue issue for me and I send video to my coach to analyze almost weekly.  We both know that over the long term, things have improved and will continue to improve.  Nothing good comes from rushing a biological process.  My body never lets me get away with that.  I also found a coach who shared my perspective and he keeps me healthy.  (Knocking on wood as I type…)  Now I just show up, do what I’m supposed to do that day.  No more, no less.  Every 4th week, a deload is programmed in whether I feel like I need it or not.

If you’re a teacher, this analogy might make sense – think about IEPs and least restrictive environment.  I do as little as possible to get the results I want.  There is nothing further for me to gain by breaking down more tissue and increasing my recovery time.

REASON #2: I eat ice cream every day.

I worked hard in the beginning to redefine “food”.  When I started, I put everything on the psychological table, so to speak.  I got help and learned what nutrition was all about.  I had to develop a new habit of measuring and tracking.  I do believe micronutritents saved me – I remember when my paradigm shifted.  I had just read about cellular regeneration and BOOM!  It hit me.  I could change every cell in my body by consistently providing better nutrition. That was when I became a clean-eating zealot.  Apparently, upon reflection, I needed to be an a-hole for a while.  Sorry.  I was obnoxiously passionate about what I was learning and I also needed a little validation.  I believe it was just an awkward, emotional, necessary part of my journey.  Eventually, I grew weary of feeling like a food martyr who only ate foods on a short list of “approved” items.  I started to research and learned more.  I learned about macros.  I also learned that because of how I trained, because of how I changed my body composition, not only could I incorporate some of “off-limit” foods back into my life, I knew I could control them, and my body used them differently.

I asked my coach (Alberto Nunez, 3D Muscle Journey) if he thought I had any emotional issues with food.  Paraphrasing, he said “No.  You use food as a tool.  You know when it’s necessary to be precise and you know when it’s OK to relax.”  Please know that I do have days when I’m HUNGRY.  Those are planned and necessary for what I’m doing.  It’s also a natural physical response for hormones to trigger hunger when precious fat stores are being used.  Bodies don’t like that.  Bodies want to be plump and ride out the famine.  My body has not evolved itself to support my first-world goal of improving my conditioning as a bodybuilder.  I still believe micronutrients in veggies are my bestest buddies for recovery and general health, but because I eat a little ice cream each day (until I’m deep in contest prep and I don’t want to), that tub of cookie dough has lived safely in our freezer for almost a year.

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REASON #3: I don’t cut water when I compete.

After I did my first show, I started researching how to compete without cutting water.  I did a water cut again for my 2013 show and that just confirmed for me that I would rather quit competing than cut water again.  It’s just not something I choose for myself.  I’ve worked very hard to get off the path of health complications that I was traveling back in 2009, so cutting water, using water pills (or even fat burners, for that matter) just doesn’t fit into my personal philosophy of how I’m going to live.  I continued to research and learn.  That research eventually led me to my coach.  More and more competitors are learning the science behind a peaking process that makes it unnecessary to cut water.  It’s actually counterproductive because I looked flat on stage when dehydrated.  For the 2015 show, I had a water bottle off stage and was drinking as we were being called out for prejudging.  Yes, I did gain some muscle between those two shows, but if you look at the 2015 conditioning, drinking water didn’t have a negative effect.  To improve my stage conditioning, I need to focus on improving my body composition gradually over a long time.  Just that.  Nothing else.

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REASON #4: I won’t do whatever it takes to improve in my sport.

I’m competitive, but I’m working to keep that drive focused on things I can control.  There is a list of things in my head that I won’t do.  I believe I can do this thing on my terms, or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I’m curious to see what I can accomplish doing it the way I want to do it. I’ve seen this sport wreck people and relationships.  I can understand why the stakes would seem higher for younger people.  Me?  Hell, I’m going to be 55 and one year closer to retirement the next time I post a new stage picture.  To me, I’m in the prime of my life right now.  To the fitness world, I’ve been called a grandma.  (Not blessed with kids, btw, so I’m not literally a grandma.)  I hope the lessons provided to me by the Universe about the irrelevance of my ego are over, but if I have more to learn, I that’s OK.  Seriously.  What do I have to lose if I earn a 4th last place?? Nothing.  What do I have to gain if I win an overall?  Nothing really.   The shows and the pictures are cool, but they are not the endgame.  Progress is the endgame. The true endeavor is to show up each day and recommit.  There is joy that for me, but not all the time.  Passion ebbs and flows.  I’m still motivated just to see what is around the next corner.  In some ways, it’s a very long game of strategy of me vs me.  Win/win or lose/lose depending on how I play, right?

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Contest Prep, Nutrition, Opinions

The Importance of Mindset To Do Scary Things

Still working on developing a consistently positive, growth mindset about when I compete again next summer.  Now that it’s a little less than a year out, nerves switched on this week. If that seems like an odd problem for a competitive bodybuilder to have, check out this blog because in it I briefly describe what happened the last time I was on stage.  The discovery path I was set on because of that experience has changed my teaching practice and my life, I guess.  For that, I’m grateful.  Still, my “fight or flight” response gets a bit stuck in “flight” when I think about another sticky spray tan, posing suit, and stage experience.  I told my coach this week that I’ve developed a little learned helplessness about what I’m going to be able to accomplish in this sport.  I call it that because I recognize in myself what I see in my students when they come into my classroom to take a geometry exam.  “I’m going to fail”, they tell me. What do I tell myself?  “I’ve been placed dead last three times.”  “My pelvis is too wide.”  “My shoulders are too narrow.”  “I’m too old.”  All of these are my version of “I’m going to fail, so why bother?  Who am I kidding?”   And nothing anyone says is going to change ‘reality’, right?  You know how this goes.  It’s uncomfortable to admit, but we all do it at some time about something.  That is a sign of a fixed mindset about one’s ability to do a particular thing.  Working towards a  growth mindset allows for the “I’m not ready, but I can improve” attitude.  Once I recognize it, I can deal with it.  Trick is to catch it before I end up ruminating on it.  I’ve been going back and forth on this one for almost a year now.

Thank you, readers, for hanging with me while I work through these things.  I don’t expect this to be resolved until after I’m on stage again.  Oh and, I kid you not – as I type this, I’m watching a baby bird through the blinds of my window.  She will be ready to fly soon and is tentatively exploring the opening and perch of her birdhouse.  And…she goes back in.  Not ready yet.  Hope she doesn’t decide there is no point…

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Way back in 2010 when I first set my mind on bodybuilding as the “big, scary goal”, I wasn’t a person who had any business making a goal like that.  Almost EVERYTHING had to be changed – how I ate, had to make time to train, and I had to retool all my routines about teaching because I no longer had time to bring work home.  I’m still married to the same wonderful man, but he was forced to make some adjustments because his wife just up and decided that she was going to be a bodybuilder now.  What was I thinking?  How would I do this thing?  The mental game was so hard then!  Looking at what I’ve done, it seems really silly to still be fighting dragons, but I’ve obviously developed a habit over the years of falling back into negative self-talk when I’m insecure and doubtful.   Back then, I put a small bulletin board up in my bathroom and filled it with motivational quotes that meant something to me.  Basically, I left myself reminders where I would see them to counter negative thoughts with positive ones.  I think I will do that again.  And I just happen to have a bigger bulletin board!

Something else occurred to me this morning while I was at the gym.  It would be useful for me to mentally redefine what is real for me about being on stage and then rehearse those thoughts.  I’ve competed three times.  I know how warm it is under the lights.  I know what it smells like – a mixture of spray tan and hairspray.  I know what the stage feels like under my feet.  I know I can’t see much past the first two rows in the audience without my glasses (which is a blessing).  I can completely visualize it now, which is a plus.  My thoughts up there are loud.  I can create a new set of thoughts to put with that visualization.  When I got home from the gym, I wrote this out.  I don’t think this is final form.  At some point, I’ll print it, laminate it, and put it up on that bathroom bulletin board.

I’m here to celebrate.

I celebrate the joy and gratitude that I finally get to do this.

I celebrate the useful, purposeful pain that forced growth and renewal.

I celebrate the courage I found minutes ago to walk out and stand here.

I celebrate the discipline to push myself to do things I could not do when I was a younger person.

What you see is the PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION of my MINDSET.

I’ve overcome obstacles to be here.

I’ve slayed dragons.  I got back up when dragons slayed me.

See those people there?  The judges?  They have a task to do for the promoter of this show.  I am not here for them and what they do is not my concern.  I’m here, on this stage, on this day, for my own reasons.

I’m here for the people who love me, who inspired me, who helped me, who believe in me, and who need me to be here.

I’m here for my mom.

I’m here for the pictures that will document the inner strength the struggle built.

I’m here to show others how to slay dragons, too.

I’m here to celebrate.

 

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Filed under Competing, Life, Motivation

Online Coaching – How to Get the Most Out of Working with a Good Coach (And how to tell if you have a bad coach)

In response to questions from people on the Facebook page a little while ago, I asked Colin to write this blog about online coaching.  Online coaching is an affordable option to working with a trainer in person.  Personally, I’ve done both and think each has its place.  When I first started lifting, I was worried about getting hurt and was intimidated at the gym.  I felt I needed to work with someone in person to get started.  However, technology has advanced to a point that has allowed online coaching to become a good alternative if you have some experience and aren’t a complete fearful mess like I was back in the day.  Because my online coach (Alberto Nunez, 3DMuscleJourney) only works with competitive athletes,  I asked my friend Colin to write about this topic since he has more experience working with people who have general health and fitness goals.  

As someone who is not only an online coach but also has an online coach, I have perspective from both sides of the coin. A lot of people seem to have interest in getting help and taking the guess work out of training and/or nutrition and in fact many do hire themselves a coach, but how do you make sure you get the most out of your investment? That’s exactly what I want to talk about today.

As I mentioned I have my own coach despite being a coach myself and many of the greatest coaches in the world (no I’m not calling myself one of the top coaches by any stretch) have their own coach too. No matter how much knowledge you have on a topic for many people you are just too invested in your own results and you have a tendency to do things you know better than because it’s YOU. You are too emotionally invested in yourself, most people are, coach or not. However, this is not meant to be an article explaining many of the benefits a coach can bring but more a way to make sure you get everything you can from one if you do decide it’s for you.

Before I get into that, however, I do feel it’s my duty to make one thing very clear. No matter how good a coach is they can’t get you results via osmosis. You MUST be prepared to do the work. A good coach can certainly simplify the process and help you get the most out of your efforts but no matter what you have to do the work. If you’re looking for the next “thing” that will work for you so you don’t have to work hard, hiring a coach won’t get you anywhere. You’ll just be left frustrated, and so will your newly hired coach. I hate to say it (okay no I don’t) there are no magic pills. So if you’re not ready to dig deep and work on yourself, save yourself some time and money. Now with that said, let’s dig into what you can do to make sure you get the most “bang for your buck.”

  1. Communication, communication, communication

Yes, this is worth stating multiple times. Honestly I could easily have made this entire article about communication and it will be a huge portion of it. It’s without question the most important part of a client/coach relationship. This can be taken in many ways. First you have to be totally open and honest with your coach. Your coach (or at least a good coach) won’t berate or criticize you if you slip up, end up in a massive binge, miss workouts, whatever. But they do need to know exactly what’s going on to best be able to help you. Sure we want you to follow the plan and do well, but if you don’t it’s you that you ends up hurting, not your coach.

Make sure to send your check in on time. If you’re not doing the work and get in a bad place mentally, tell them. Good or bad your coach needs to know what’s going and NEVER assume they know what’s going on, they can’t read your mind. If you keep information from your coach he/she will be left blind and could possibly even make things worse. If you’re eating more calories than you say you are and you aren’t getting results, your coach may reduce calories and/or add in more work to compensate when unnecessary or even put you in a reverse diet when it’s completely unnecessary.

Along the same lines you should never feel like you are “bugging” your coach by asking them questions. You hired this person for a reason. You are PAYING them your hard earned money, use them! You should never feel bad for wanting your questions answered or even questioning why they do things the way they do. A good coach will explain why they do things the way they do anyway and if a coach ever says something along the lines of “Just do what I say” you need to fire them immediately.

Remember there is no such thing as TMI. We need to know everything INCLUDING outside factors. Yes, being extremely stressed out at work or depressed or other stressful things in life can and will absolutely make a difference in your programming as well as help explain things with your training that may otherwise not have made sense. This doesn’t mean you have to or even should explain every detail of your life and treat your coach like a counselor, but they do need to know if there’s something going on that could impact focus, hormone levels, recovery, etc.

  1. Take advantage of EVERYTHING they offer

A big mistake a lot of my clients make is not taking advantage of certain services that come with my coaching. The most common one being form critique. I set them all up on a training space with an app called Edufii where they can take video of their technique and send to me to take a look at. The biggest downside of an online coach over a live trainer is we can’t be there to see how things look and guide you on the spot. So not only is it in your best interest for your safety, but also to make sure you’re working as efficiently as possible too.

I know for a lot of people it’s uncomfortable taking video in a gym setting. And some clients can be uncomfortable sending progress pictures and things of that nature. These things are in place for a reason and as previously mentioned, a coach needs to know/see everything possible to make the best possible decisions for your program. If you’re working in an inefficient way or worse an unsafe way you may end up with a serious injury that could have been prevented. At the very least your coach won’t be able to get you as good of results as they could have.

  1. Trust the process

At the same time, however, don’t have blind faith. What I mean is your coach is doing things the way they do it for a reason. As I already mentioned they should be explaining why they do things already, but if you get a bad feeling about anything just ask them to explain. Ask them for reassurance. You’ll find out fast if they know what they’re doing or not. If they truly have your best interest in mind and are knowledgeable, you need to have faith everything is going to work out. Remember that progress is never linear and there are many stages to building a better body. But if you’re going to get there you need to be “all in” and to stick to the program to the best of your abilities. It will never be perfect, but you have to believe in what you’re doing.

It’s also best to ignore outside voices and opinions. EVERYONE will have an opinion on what you should or shouldn’t be doing. If you listen to everyone you’ll end up running around in circles and going mad. As I mentioned if you have questions or hear things you’re interested, bring it up to your coach. But it’s wise to try and block out as much as you can and get all your information from your coach because there is a lot of bad information out there.

 

So there you have it. The biggest thing is you have to LET your coach help you and not let yourself stop you. Never assume you know what your coach is thinking or how he/she will respond to what you have done or say. Most of the time you’re just basing it off your own feelings which most of the time we as humans let our own thoughts run us over. Thoughts that we’d never believe about anyone else. Let go of control and let them guide you to become the best you can be.

Now I’ve talked a lot about a “good coach” in this article, and that’s important because a BAD coach will not only make your experience miserable but they can do WAY more harm than good. You wouldn’t even believe some of the horror stories I’ve been told. A bad coach could mess with your metabolism and can even go as far as helping create an eating disorder for a client. So with that in mind, I thought I’d put together a little list of signs who you’re working with is a bad coach:

  1. They yell at, demean, scold or belittle you
  2. They recommend hours of cardio daily
  3. They force you to eat extremely low calories for your body (“low” calories means something different for everyone)
  4. They take any “extreme” approach on anything
  5. They never explain why they do anything
  6. They never ask you about your training/nutrition history before creating your plan
  7. They get mad when you ask questions
  8. They don’t return emails for days
  9. They tell you sugar makes you fat
  10. They ban certain foods (assuming no allergy/intolerance)
  11. They think certain exercises like the squat should look exactly the same for everyone
  12. They force you to do fasted cardio
  13. They recommend 2x-3x bodyweight in grams for daily protein
  14. They tell you carbs at night make you fat
  15. They recommend more ab work to burn belly fat faster
  16. They tell you they can speed up your metabolism while losing weight

 

If you ARE looking for a coach to help take the guess work out and hold you accountable I am accepting clients for training and/or nutrition help. Just head here and select the option you’d like.

If you’re looking for more information you can follow me on Facebook and you can also download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on my email newsletter where you’ll get daily emails for a little motivation, guidance and a kick in the rear from time to time. WARNING – I tell you what you NEED to hear and not what you WANT to hear. So if you’re sensitive and like to place blame instead of take action, you’ll definitely want to pass. But if you’re serious about taking responsibility and changing your life, you should love it.

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I’m 7 Today! It’s My “Other Birthday”!

Seven years ago today, I made a leap of faith.  Three months’ prior, the event that sent me to the ER was an anxiety attack, but I didn’t know that on that afternoon in March 2009.  I thought it was a heart attack.  It could have been.  I wasn’t healthy.  I was being treated for high-blood pressure.  I was not taking care of myself.  I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror.  The old woman I saw wasn’t the image I had of myself when I had dreams at night.  I didn’t know how to be happy.   I was stressed because I felt like I needed to do everything and handle everything alone.  Many years before that, my mother died from a brain aneurysm when she was 56 – I was 29 at the time.  I guess I was just waiting for a similar fate and didn’t feel I could control it.  I loved my mom, but I didn’t want to die early, too.  That ER visit scared me and something changed.  I saw things differently. I decided that I was given a warning.  Maybe my mom was given one too, but didn’t recognize it?  Instead of thinking about myself from inside my fears and stress, I stepped aside and looked objectively at who I had become.   I saw a 47-year-old woman who volunteered to carry a lot of responsibilities, was going through the motions of daily life. but was also waiting for that thing to happen that was going to end me.

No.  NO!  I’m not going to go that way.  No.

I used the rest of that school year to research and plan.  On June 19, 2009, I bought a Bodybugg, signed up for the nutritional coaching that came with it, and resolved to do whatever I was told to do. Seven years later, I’m working with a coach now who works with competitors.  The details of what I did are not nearly as important as the fact that I decided to act and not look back.  I promised – no I vowed – that this would be the last time I started over.  I would not quit.  I would not stop.  I would adjust things, I would power through things, but I would not stop.

It’s been a twisty path.  I’ve had some great successes and some disappointments that almost derailed me.    I’ve learned the mental game is more important then everything else.  For me, it is the most slippery thing to keep on track.   I know that negativity takes me off my trajectory.  I cannot indulge it, but I can’t ignore it either.  I lean into it.  I dig under it to figure out what I’m afraid of.

Based on my placings at the three competitions I’ve done, I’ve accomplished very little as a bodybuilder.  Last place three times.  There are days when that weighs on me.  But I am getting better at re framing that faster.  I still have a lot left to do in this sport.  It’s a bit of a mind-trip to be 54 years old, a 20-year veteran in my career, but starting at the bottom in this new thing.  But that’s OK.  I know it doesn’t really matter.  Let’s pretend I actually won at one of those shows I’ve done.  How would my life be different?

It would not be different.  Not one bit.  Nothing would change.

I’d still be married to the same awesome guy.  The dogs would still need to be walked.  Laundry and food prep would still need to be done.  Bills would still need to be paid.  I’d still train how I’m training.  I’d still be teaching and don’t think my students would learn geometry better if I win an overall.  In fact, I am beginning to figure out that being placed last three times has compelled me to learn more about growth vs fixed mindsets, positive psychology, and overcoming fears – all of which are impacting my teaching practice profoundly.  I’ve never failed like this before.  Learning how to cope with this is something I would never, ever have had to learn had I not decided to be a competitive bodybuilder at age 50.

There is a big BIG picture here, too.  No trophy is going to be as important as fixing my health.  A placing on stage won’t be celebrated more than what I’ve  accomplished already.  No matter what I’m doing in 2016, it’s what I did before that I’m asked about most often.  I did a transformation post-menopause, which is something I was told I wouldn’t be able to do.   Others look and think “I can do that, too.”   Having me standing over here, doing this thing, flies in the face of what people believe s possible – and that’s a big deal.  (And for my friends who know that I’m not always this enlightened,  I sincerely thank you for listening and not slapping me around too much.)

This is a photo of who I used to be back in June 2009 next to who I am now.  Please, please don’t be distracted by appearances.  It’s not about how I looked, but how I felt and how disconnected I was from everything.   My current situation – seven years of self-care, six years of lifting, three competitions done, and a year out from my next competition season during the summer of 2017.  (A not-so-fancy-first-thing-in-the-morning-over-exposed-lighting progress picture for coach.  I didn’t take a special picture for this blog, which I think now was a mistake.  LOL!) Same dog in both pictures.   You can’t see Peanut in the first picture, but he’s on the end of that leash.  And Peanut finds a way to photo bomb most of my progress pictures.  :)

 

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I can’t make it easier for anyone.  There is nothing complicated about what I did, but it isn’t easy.  It will probably take longer than you think.  It will be easier some days and harder on others.  Stars and planets will NOT realign to help you out.  No special workouts.  No special foods.   Just consistent work and doing what I knew I should be doing all along.  I’m just standing here saying it can be done, so adjust if necessary, but don’t quit.

HAPPY OTHER BIRTHDAY!!!!

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Filed under Competing, Life, Motivation, Weight Loss

Guest Blogger Colin DeWaay: Training For Long-Term Results

The smartest way to train and/or diet is to do as little as is required to get results.  Don’t feel like you’re slacking- the body adapts and you will need to dig deeper at some point.  And eating a lot less or training a lot more will backfire and take you off track at some point.  With consistency and patience, you can reach your goals and find a nice balance to maintain your hard-earned health and new physical abilities.  I am a competitive bodybuilder, so I take the process a little farther, but the principles are the same.  However,  I don’t ever think that what I’m doing in the gym is any sort of “beast mode”.  I do what Coach Alberto programs for me to do each week.  Despite what my pictures may lead one to believe, I did not get younger as the years went by.  My joints and connective tissues are at least 54 years old – possibly older considering how creeky I feel some days!  My program is based on the principles my friend Colin describes in this article.  To read Colin’s other articles in this series, look under the “Guest Blog” category in the menu on the right. ~ Tammy

 

In my previous blog I went over some tips on how to get started with weight training if you are in the beginning stages. Today I want to go over some more advanced topics of training. This will be an article for you to reference back to once you’ve been training consistently for a handful of months and the “newbie gains” have started to slow.

As I previously mentioned when you’re new to training it doesn’t take a lot to start seeing some decent results from your training. Just show up consistently, do the work and your body is going to change (it’s that pesky consistency part that usually stops people from seeing any real results.)  So in the beginning life is good. You’re showing up, you’re building muscle and your body composition is changing. You just keep showing up and you’re rewarded for you efforts.

What happens though, when your body is no longer changing? Fast forward a year down the road, you keep working out hard but you’re just not seeing improvement. You are working just as hard as you were before, why aren’t you changing anymore? It’s because your body has adapted to the stressors you’ve given it. It can handle everything you throw at it with ease now, so it has no reason to adapt any further. (It’s also worth mentioning that results WILL slow down the longer you train, even if you are doing things “right.”)

You see, in order for your body to change it must adapt to what it’s doing. Yes, adaptation is a GOOD thing. Your body adapting to what you’re doing is what facilitates change. The thing is, once your body has adapted, it needs a new training stimulus to further advance. So in the beginning you want your total volume to be relatively low (volume is simply sets x reps x weight) and it should continually increase over time. This is called progressive overload which basically states that your body will not change unless it’s forced to adapt to a tension above what it’s currently used to. So for your body to continue to change over time you must be doing more volume over time as well.

Now volume is extremely important when it comes to building strength and muscle. It’s most likely the most important part of training, however, that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing that comes into play. Other things such as time under tension, metabolic stress and muscle damage are all factors for muscle-building. The problem is, many people place those things things ahead of total training volume and that’s a mistake.

For instance, a lot of people like training to failure on every set of exercise because it will create a lot of muscle damage and metabolic stress. While it’s true training to failure does have its place, if you do it too frequently, it will significantly reduce your training volume.  Just think about it.  Say you are doing 3 sets of 10 reps on bench press. Perhaps you can normally do about 100 lbs for 10 reps before failing. If you take your first set to failure and get all 10 reps and fail trying to get an 11th you will be really fatigued for you next set. So on your second set you may only get 6 reps. Now you’re extremely fatigued for your 3rd set and can only get 4. You’ve now done a total of 20 reps at 100 lbs for a total volume of 2000 lbs (remember volume is sets x reps x weight used so in this case it’s 3x20x100.)

Now let’s say instead of training to failure you leave a rep in the tank. You do your first set to 9 reps and since you haven’t fatigued yourself so bad you are able to get 9 reps for all three sets. Now you’ve done 2700 lbs of volume, 700 lbs more than when you were going to failure or 35% more total volume. Certainly with training to failure you’ve created more stress and muscle damage, but you’ve significantly sacrificed the most important aspect of training to do so – volume. This is why I don’t like to put a limit on rest periods as well. Longer rest periods have actually been shown to produce greater results in hypertrophy (essentially muscle-building) than shorter rest periods and I’d personally contribute that to being able to move more total volume with the extra rest. (1) Obviously not everyone can spend several hours in the gym nor do you have to, but the point is volume is important and it’s not smart to sacrifice volume where you can help it.

One question I get frequently is if volume is so important and is the key to strength and muscle gains, why wouldn’t you just go out and do as much volume as possible? Quite simply it’s because if your body isn’t used to high volume, the chance for injury becomes high. Plus if you start with high volume, even if you get lucky and don’t get injured, see tremendous progress, but now you’ve set your volume threshold high.  To see further progress, you’ll have to do even more volume to see better results again.

So while you want to continue to see volume increase, you want to progress at a reasonable rate. Basically, the less volume you can do while still seeing results the better off you’ll be down the road. (I hope you’ve been paying attention through this series because that’s been a pretty common theme throughout.)

This is why I strongly suggest keeping some sort of training log so you can look back at what you’ve done and make sure you’re continuing to see progress going in the right direction. Plus, it’s fun to look back at how far you’ve come. Especially when you inevitably get to a point where you feel like things aren’t working, it can be a real boost in morale to see how much progress you really have made.

Pic for Blog 6

Okay so that’s the article for today. The main takeaway from this should be that in order to continue building muscle over time you have to continually do more work over time. Your body will adapt to what you give it, and if you never give it a reason to adapt to a new stress it will never have reason to make further change. If what you’re doing right now is producing results by all means keep it up, just realize that eventually it won’t be enough.

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If you are looking for more information from me you can follow me on Facebook and you can also download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on my email newsletter where you will get daily emails for a little motivation, guidance, and possibly a small kick in the rear from time to time…  Warning – I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. So if you are sensitive you may want to pass. But if you’re serious about changing your life and taking ACTION, you should love it.

 

Lastly if you’re ready for change RIGHT NOW and want to take the guess work out of it, I am accepting clients for both training and/or nutrition help. If you’re looking for coaching just head here and choose the option you would like. I’d love to help you reach your goals!

 

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Filed under Guest Blog, Guest Blogs

Getting Started with Weight Training – Guest Blogger Colin DeWaay

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If you read my last blog you understand the importance of a good strength training routine when it comes to losing weight and that building muscle can be your best friend. However, if you’re new to training you might be wondering where exactly you should start. So that, my friend, is exactly what we’re going to talk about today.

The first myth I want to dispel right away is that in order to see progress you have to beat your body to a bloody pulp and leave the gym crawling out on your hands and knees leaving a trail of your own filth along the way. It’s just not true, and likely counterproductive. Especially as a true beginner, the truth is you can actually do very little (and should) to see results. If you’ve never lifted before, to start out you can just show up to the gym, do a set or two of a handful of exercises a few days per week and you’ll be surprised just how well it will work. Those of us in the business call that “newbie gains” and trust me, anyone who’s lifted a long time is jealous of how easy you can see progress!

As you get more experienced it takes more complex and systematic approaches to training but as a beginner the training response is so powerful that literally all you have to do is show up, do some work, be consistent and you’ll see progress. This is not the time to look for complex or extreme programs, you don’t need it. As a beginner the emphasis should be on building good habits and work ethics, learning proper form/technique and finding something you enjoy. It’s later on down the road you’ll need to worry about things like periodization and progressive overload (which you probably have no clue what they mean nor do you need to at this point, but I will explain in the future.)

If you are totally new to training, start small. Do something manageable that you KNOW you can do each and every week. If that means lifting two days per week, doing 4 exercises and just a couple of sets of each one, do that. You want to gain confidence and momentum and if you start off with a program that requires a lot more work than you’re used to chances are you’ll become discouraged and you’ll be much more likely to quit. Get in there and get some wins, show yourself that you can do it, then start adding more work after you’ve done it consistently for a while.

Keep it simple, make it enjoyable and don’t get caught up on picking the “perfect” exercises. Also don’t worry about performing the movements perfect either. Don’t get me wrong you’ll want to learn proper technique for sure, but you’ll never master it before ever starting. So get in there, do the work and learn as you go. People who wait to have all the knowledge (no such thing as knowing everything) before they start will struggle. In fact doing too much research ahead of time will likely overwhelm you and keep you from even attempting to start. Step one is just showing up and starting, doing ANYTHING.

Where exactly you should start and what you should do unfortunately is not something I can tell you with generic advice in a blog. That is highly dependent on each individual and their training history amongst other things. But what you can do is use the above advice to try and set a starting point for yourself and just make sure you keep working. While there are certainly more optimal ways to do things there is NOTHING more important than consistency and adherence to your plan. You can do a lot of things “wrong” and still get great results, as long as you don’t keep quitting. Maybe it’s possible but I’ve yet to see anyone who worked hard for multiple years at something without quitting that didn’t get some pretty darn good results. There is a time and place to try and be as “perfect” as possible, but most of the time the most important part is just showing up. Oversimplification? Possibly, but I dare you to try it and prove me wrong…

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If you are looking for more information from me you can follow me on Facebook and you can also download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on my email newsletter where you will get daily emails for a little motivation, guidance, and possibly a small kick in the rear from time to time…  Warning – I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. So if you are sensitive you may want to pass. But if you’re serious about changing your life and taking ACTION, you should love it.

 

Lastly if you’re ready for change RIGHT NOW and want to take the guess work out of it, I am accepting clients for both training and/or nutrition help. If you’re looking for coaching just head here and choose the option you would like. I’d love to help you reach your goals!

 

 

 

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