2017 Prep Update: Day 254 out of 275

About three weeks left until my competition.  So far, everything is still happening in a predictable fashion.  My nerves are coming up just as I knew they would.  My scale weight continues to drop.  Currently three pounds UNDER my previous stage weight.  I’m about 1.5 pounds away from my coach’s goal for my new stage weight.  I think I can beat that, too, because there are some things I’d like to see that I don’t see yet.  I think the glutes will lean out more because I tend to loose weight once food comes up a bit during the week.  Coach remembers that I lost weight during peak week last time, too.  Since we are this close, I’d like to find out where I need to be for the lower abs to be visible.  Not there yet.  It’s hard for me to talk about this stuff because I know the general population has a misconception about what “health” looks like.  Visible abs are not a measure of “health”.  Please read the disclaimer below.  This is part of my sport.  I really don’t give a shit if my abs are visible as a human walking around.  Doesn’t make me a better wife or teacher.   Doesn’t make me smarter or kinder.  It’s important only in context – there is a mandatory pose that I will be judged on called “abdominal-thigh”.  I would like to confidently have that one in my repertoire at some point.

DISCLAIMER: I share my story because I was able to transform my health after menopause using nutrition and exercise.  And the science is the same for general fitness as it is for bodybuilding – most of the time.  But remember – I’m now in prep for a competition.  My division, bodybuilding, requires a body fat percentage that is lower than what is considered “healthy” for the general population.  I’m post-menopausal, so I don’t have any issues with that to consider.  My thyroid function has been checked and everything is working optimally because that is a priority.  And for almost four years,  I’ve been working with a scary-smart and patient coach who I trust to prioritize my health over a placement.

Took progress pictures last week and realized that the suit I have that I wanted to wear is now, officially, too big.  The bottoms needed to be pulled up so far that it reminded me of that stereotypical “grandpa pants” look.  I’ve ordered my suits from the same place all this time and I know they can turn around an order pretty quickly, even a custom suit.  Sent them measurements and had the suit in a week.  I asked my coach to pick the color.  I really don’t care about my suit this time.  I just want it to fit and I want to feel comfortable.These are my pictures from this morning compared with my pictures from last August shortly after a mini-cut in my off-season.  Prep didn’t officially start until October.



I started a scheduled deload this week in the gym.  I haven’t noticed much of a loss of strength, but I’m a little paranoid about injuries right now.  Pulling back a little is just fine.  I can push a little on cardio and fat loss for about another week, after that, two weeks out, cardio is going to be cut back a bit.  I’ve been going to the gym twice a day for about a month now.  Things need to be lifted.  Posing needs to be practiced.  If I didn’t get enough activity during the day, I will do another cardio.  They also have a water-massage table that I need to use every couple of days.

Nothing has changed with food. I’m still running 4 days a bit lower in carbs (around 130 g)  and then 3 days a little higher (around 200 g) to recover.  Protein was dropped once early in the prep and I hated it.   Since then, we brought protein up to 160 grams a day and never changed it.  I do well without a lot of fat – less than 25 grams usually.  My food preferences are lean and veggies all the time anyway.  Prep isn’t really much of a change for me – just a couple of food swaps here and there.  Regular peanut butter got swapped for PB2.  Used to use a whole egg with whites in the mornings, now I use just the whites.  Traded my favorite Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches for sugar-free popsicles.  (I’m not a ‘clean eater’.  I eat what I like.  I just actually like real food with a few exceptions.  I don’t feel like I’m deprived.)   Got a little more food-focused in the last couple of weeks, but I know that’s because I’m pushing myself to be leaner than I’ve ever been in my life.  I’m pretty sure I’m working on some fat now that I’ve had since high school!  That makes my fat older than my coach!!  LOL!!!  And getting this lean is a new, sometimes scary, experience. I see things I’ve never seen before and don’t always recognize. “What is THAT?” “Is that a TUMOR?” No.  It was a vein. Cut me some slack on that one – at 55, we start looking for things that 20-somethings would never imagine, right?

Most days, I feel really good – or at least “normal”.  That surprises me a bit.  Grateful for it.  One of my goals for this prep was to do it as gracefully as possible.  I think that the mindset of “this is voluntary – I’m doing it for fun” helps.  I also know that I’m working with a coach who puts my health before results.  Results are long-term side effects of science-based protocols.  I’m patient.  I trust the process most days.  On the bad days, I just have faith in the consistency of it.

Honestly, I’m not a diplomatic, sugar-coating, sort of person anyway.  I’m pretty blunt and straight-forward when I’m not stressed.  Physically, I’m stressed right now.  Keeping the mental game positive (if you’ve been following along you know why that’s a challenge for me going back to this show) is also a little stressful some days.  My tongue is sharper now.  And I’m faster to use it.  All I can do is promise that I’m doing my best to be a nice human – which is a challenge for me even when I can have comfort food.  😉

Started thinking about doing a second show this fall.  It’s local, so there won’t be transportation and hotel costs.  Let’s see how this first one goes.  I’ve been working hard for a couple of years now.  If I think there is a little more that can be accomplished with this version of my physique, I’d like to keep pushing.  It hasn’t felt like too much of a grind – teaching is harder, actually.   Isn’t that an interesting observation?

In other news, summer school started last week.  I have 26 kids working in the mornings until noon.  I set up everything so they could work at their own pace and get help from me as needed.  They jumped in and are doing great!  There were some stressful issues over the first couple of days since I didn’t have access to the district’s online attendance and gradebook program, but once that was fixed, I got things caught up.  And then the AC broke.  But again, our building’s maintenance staff got on it, had the district out to fix it by the end of the week.  I wanted to teach summer school to help keep my mind off the show.  Nerves are going to be an issue this time around.  I also knew I wanted to run bleachers in the morning – but even that’s not working out.  The track is being replaced and the field is locked up.  Plan B – walk around the school a few times in the morning before going in.  It’s a big building, so that’s not trivial.  Definitely safer.  Need to just trust that things are working out exactly how they should, right?

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Contest Prep

What To Do When Dieting No Longer Works – Guest Blogger Colin DeWaay


“How did I get here again?” That’s the question you find yourself asking as you step back on the scale for the first time in months. You had done so well, lost a bunch of weight, feeling good about yourself, but you somehow put it all back on… AGAIN. This isn’t the first time it’s happened to you, hell it’s probably not the 4th time it’s happened. But this time you’ve had enough. This will be the last time. You go back to your old routine. You start cleaning up your diet, exercising daily, doing all the right things. “Why isn’t the weight coming off?” It seems like no matter what you do now, dieting no longer works. So, you get a little more extreme, still nothing. Eventually you get frustrated and give up, go back to your old habits, until once again you can’t take it and start over. You’ve tried every quick fix, fad diet, and gimmick you could find but nothing ever sticks. Does any of this sound familiar? You’re not alone.

You probably think the reason it’s not working is because you’ve gotten older. Sure, age is somewhat of a factor, especially for women when menopause starts (I’ve written about this before here) but that’s still not the main reason. It’s actually your long history of dieting that’s making it so tough. In fact, the more times you’ve dieted in your life, the harder it likely is to lose again. (1) It’s not uncommon for people to have dieted on and off most of their life. I have clients who admit they’ve spent the last 25-30 years of their life yoyo dieting. With how adaptive the human body is, losing weight in that scenario will be next to impossible unless you take the time to improve your metabolism, which I’ll cover here soon, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

First, let’s talk about just how well the body adapts to low calories. Remember that your body doesn’t care about achieving low levels of body fat, it cares about survival and when calories are low, those survival instincts are going to take over. Your body becomes very efficient and holding onto what you give it. Your hormones change, thyroid and leptin levels drop, cortisol and ghrelin rise. Not only that but even when weight increases fast, your hormones still don’t return to normal. On top of that you burn less calories from exercise, the thermic effect of food drops and your metabolic rate slows. (2, 3)

In fact, lucky for me the day I sat down to write this article Dr. Layne Norton posted a new study showing how metabolic adaptation happens during low calorie periods. In this study they showed just 3 weeks of a 50% calorie reduction reduced total daily energy expenditure much more than predicted based on the amount of bodyweight actually lost. During this small time frame, total daily expenditure dropped 42%, resting metabolic rate dropped by 40% and non-resting metabolic rate dropped by 48%! (4) Keep in mind this is just a 3 week period, imagine if you’ve done something similar for months or even years on and off? Clearly the body is good at adapting to low calories and this is just one more sign why so few people are able to lose weight and keep it off long-term.

So what does all this mean for you? Well for one it reminds us just how important it is to NOT diet with extreme methods and keep calories as high as possible while still losing weight. It also brings to mind the importance of sustainability of your diet, which is why I believe flexible dieting is much more effective than rigid plans. But most importantly if you’re someone with a long history of dieting the last thing you should think about doing is trying to diet down once again. Yes, I’m saying even if you’re overweight and unhealthy you SHOULD NOT try to lose weight. Wait, what? What kind of a coach/trainer would tell someone out of shape NOT to diet? Well, one who actually cares about your long-term success… If calories get low, if dieting is no longer working, dieting more will only make things worse. So what SHOULD you do then? Well I’ve talked about it before, but this is where reverse dieting comes into play.

I’m not going to go into a ton of detail here because as I mentioned I’ve covered it all here before, but I do want to touch on it. If you have a long history of dieting, if you’re eating low calories and the body isn’t responding, you’re going to need to take the time to improve your metabolism if you’re ever going to see long-term success. Think about it this way. If you’re eating 1200 calories and not losing, what are you going to do? Eat 1000? 800? 600? At some point it’s just not realistic. I’ll be honest too, reverse dieting isn’t a fast process. It’s going to take a lot of patience, you may gain some weight in the short-term, but the trade-off for an improved metabolism and a LIFETIME of success is well worth the trade-off of short-term frustration. It can’t be any less frustrating then dieting hard and not seeing any results, can it?

Hey I get it, this isn’t what you want to hear. And believe it or not I completely empathize with your frustration. You didn’t know this was happening, you didn’t know you were doing more harm than good with all this dieting. You had good intentions! Unfortunately, that doesn’t change reality and it’s important to operate from a position of acceptance, rather than blame or anger. Now you know better. Now you know what you’re up against. You don’t HAVE to reverse diet and take the time to do things the right way, but if you don’t you’re also probably better off not even thinking about getting in shape. I’m not here to tell you what your priorities in life should be, and there’s nothing wrong if health and fitness isn’t your priority. That is completely up to you. But if it IS a priority, this is your new reality. What are you going to do about it? Starvation diets and extreme methods have never worked, restrictive dieting only leads you to binge. It’s time to give up the quick fixes and start doing things in a sustainable manner. Remember, if what you’re doing to lose the weight isn’t something you can do when the weight is gone, you’re doomed to fail. Break the cycle!

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If you’re looking for more information from Colin download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on an email newsletter where you’ll get daily emails. Warning – I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. So if you’re sensitive you may want to pass.

Colin DeWaay holds a personal training certification with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He’s the owner of Colin DeWaay Training LLC, an online strength and nutrition consulting business that fully customizes training and nutrition programs for those interested in general fitness all the way up to advanced powerlifting programs. He specializes in helping people with a history of yoyo dieting create a more sustainable healthy lifestyle, improving metabolism through reverse dieting if necessary, and helping make binges a thing of the past by creating a healthy relationship with food utilizing flexible dieting. His goal is not to produce quick results, but to help produce realistic, sustainable results that last.

http://colindewaaytraining.com/

https://www.youtube.com/c/colindewaay

https://www.facebook.com/ColinDeWaayTraining/

 

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2017 Prep Update: Day 240 of 275

School is out for summer!  Yay!!  I’m teaching a morning session of summer school starting on June 19, so I only get a week off, but that’s OK.  The summer school session will help me stay busy and that might help a little with the nerves I’m going to feel as the show gets closer.  The negative voice in my head keeps reminding me of the last time I was on stage, when basically, my biggest fear that I would not be taken seriously as a bodybuilder was confirmed.  So I’m getting back up there to be judged again.

Have I done enough?  I don’t know.  Improvements have been made.  I have worked hard and continue to work hard.  It’s impossible to know what will happen in a bodybuilding competition because some factors, like genetics and age, are beyond my control.  But no one will out work me.  I’m consistent and methodical.  I can control that.

July 2015, 128.6 lbs

A couple weeks ago, I lightened the loads on my leg press.  I’m smaller now and the loads I wanted to use started to strain some old quad pulls.  Better to lighten things up a bit and keep working than to risk an injury.   Coach took direct shoulder work out of my program for 4 weeks to allow for a full recovery in those joints.  I got my lateral raises back last week – so happy!  I felt like a kid who got her favorite toy back after having it taken away.  My back movements are still progressing, but progress is slowing down.  Tricep work is stalled out now and I have to keep using the same loads.  After this many years of lifting, I’m at the point when progress can take months or longer.  It did take me about 3 years to add 5 pounds to my bench press.  That’s another lift where I needed to drop the loads.  It seems I lose my strength there right away when I’m in prep.

But lifting is still going well and lifting is the thing.  Competing sets a goal for the lifting – which is something I need.  I don’t enjoy competing that much that I look forward to it.  It’s just a finish line for a certain phase of training.  I love the look of bodybuilders on stage – the tan, the poses, the lighting – but I’m an introvert, so spending the day hanging out with all those people…well, it’s a bit stressful.  The first two times I competed, the stage part was fun.  I’m getting back up there with the intention of fighting off a bunch of negativity and finding that fun part again.

DISCLAIMER: In order to be competitive in the division called “women’s bodybuilding” ,  fat loss has to be pushed to the extreme leanness that the athlete is capable of achieving in that contest prep. When I talk about what I’m doing, please keep that in mind.(Bikini and figure divisions have a different criteria for leanness.)    Even though I’m losing fat by creating a caloric deficit, which is how anyone who wants to lose body fat has to do it, I’m doing it longer and trying to lose more weight than is appropriate for general fitness.  Most people should not compete.  Anyone who struggles with food-related issues should not compete.    I’m not jeopardizing my health and would stop if I was because competing isn’t what is important.  I don’t use fat-burners,  I don’t cut water,  I eat well, and it’s all monitored by an extremely smart and protective coach.  And we will carefully reverse the diet afterwards to keep my metabolism healthy – like we did in 2015.

Ok, that said – my scale weight is currently fluctuating between 1 and 2 pounds below my previous stage weight.  Which means, assuming I’ve gain a little muscle in the last two years, I’m leaner, lighter, but might have more muscle density.  I think the fat I’m working on right now has been there since the 70’s.  LOL!!  Even so, the meno-pot on my lower abs is hanging in there.  I’m seriously on a mission to lose it just to prove it can be done, damn it.  The loose skin in various places is a bit discouraging, but there isn’t much I can do about it.  Just looks like my skin-suit is getting a little too big, like my clothes.  The plan coming out of the 2015 show was to limit the amount of weight I gained in off-season so that the skin wouldn’t be stretched more.  I did that, but I do think it will take YEARS to tighten up, not months.  I’m not interested in using fancy lotions, wraps, or anything like that.  Solid nutrition and time will either take care of it, or it won’t.  I’m 55 and I’m grateful to be 55, so if I look like a 55 year old bodybuilder, so be it.  I’m just getting started, so I expect to look like a 70 year old bodybuilder when I’m 70, too.

Hair game took a dramatic turn in recent months.  First, I asked my hair coach to shave off half of it.  Then I asked her to start adjusting the color so that my natural gray would blend better.  The current color looks gray in some light, but usually looks more ash-blonde.  I like it.  Still want more silver highlights in there, though.  Especially for stage.  And speaking of stage – decided to use my velvet black suit for pre-judging and night show.  No sparkles.  Might wear simple stud earrings at the night show, but that’s going to be the extent of the sparkle.  I’m going to do this one “old school”.  I’ve been watching video from the 1980’s, which is when I first fell in love with this sport.  Those are my peers – even though they are retired now and I’m just starting.  Doesn’t matter.  I don’t care.  Everyone else can sparkle.  I’m here to do this thing the way I want to do it.

My “Yay I’m FREEEEE for summer vaca!!” post on Facebook from last Friday…

Taken with a flash.

 

As I said before, I expect my nerves and battle with my internal self-doubts to be more of a challenge this time around.  Which is why I’m so grateful that my friend Michelle will be flying in from across the country to be there for this show.  In the last few months, I developed a little game I play with myself called “I don’t have to actually go to the show if I decide not to”.  Knowing she is coming out stopped that destructive little train of thought at least 3 times this last week.  Just in case anyone else is in the Sacramento area, here is a link to the show information.  If you’re up for it, I’d love to have some screaming support at pre-judging.  I think I can battle back the self-doubt by telling myself that because I gather courage from others to do this scary thing, others will be able to gather courage to do something that scares them, too.  If I can meet you in person, wow.  That would change the dynamic of this day in a big way.

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Contest Prep, My Lifting Log

How Supplements Fit Into Your Program


Colin’s list here is basically my list. I also add glutamine to my post-workout shake.  When research came out a few years ago showing that glutamine didn’t do much for recovery or muscle gain, I stopped taking it. Over the next few months, I caught every little bug the students brought into my classroom, which was weird since I hadn’t been getting sick since I started lifting. Put glatamine back and my resistance went back up. Sure, it’s anecdotal, not scientific, but it works for this teacher, so I’m throwing it out there.  Research everything yourself before taking anything. 

When Tammy reached out to me to write an article on some of the supplements that could be useful, it’s not that I didn’t want to write it. But I’m always a little apprehensive to talk about supplements especially when it comes to the general weight loss community. See for most people, when it comes time to try and get in shape, they tend to look for ways to get results almost in the exact opposite order they should. It’s not uncommon at all for “what supplements should I be taking?” to be the first question out of someone’s mouth when they get started.
The truth is supplements have very little to do with losing the weight and keeping it off. In fact when it comes to nutrition it’s probably the LAST question you should be asking. It doesn’t mean there aren’t any supplements out there that can be of use, but we’re talking about the last 5% here. There are no pills, powders, potions or wraps that will get you where you want to be. So before I get into some of the supplements I DO find to have some benefit. I would like to take a moment to discuss what I consider to the order of importance when it comes to your diet (largely influenced by Eric Helms’ e-book “The Nutrition Pyramid.”) So with that being said, when it comes to your diet here is what you should prioritize in exact order:

1. Sustainability/Adherence

2. Calories

3. Macronutrients (protein being the most important of the three)

4. Micronutrients

5. Meal Frequency/Timing

6. Supplements

Do you see where supplements fall on the list? Unfortunately, when people get into this stuff the majority of them take this list and flip it upside down. They want to what supplements to take, what exact foods they should eat (there are no magic foods,) when and how frequently to eat, etc. While it’s not that these things make NO difference at all, they are very minor and you can quite honestly get great results just focusing on the top 3 of the above list.

You don’t want to sacrifice something higher on the list for something lower. Don’t worry about what supplements to take if you have no clue how many calories you’re eating. It’s a waste of time to worry about how many times a day to eat if you have no clue how much you’re eating. Most importantly it doesn’t matter what you’re doing if it’s not something you can adhere to and sustain in the long-term. (This is why so few people lose the weight and keep it off, but we’ve talked about this before. How “optimal” something is means nothing if you can’t keep doing it.

So again, unless you have the bigger things down I wouldn’t personally bother worrying about what supplements could be beneficial, don’t major in the minor. Remember, supplements are supposed to supplement your diet, not be the focus of it. But with that said, if you’ve gotten more experienced, your diet is in check, you’ve been consistent with your training, and you want to potentially take things to the next level? Well then maybe there are a few supplements you may want to consider. So without further ado, let’s talk about some potentially beneficial supplements:

1. Whey Protein

I always hesitate to put whey protein on a supplement list because personally I don’t consider it a supplement, I consider it food. When it comes to your macronutrient breakdown getting your protein in is without question the most important. Protein is not only primarily responsible for building/maintaining muscle mass but it’s also very satiating (helps you feel full, especially important in a deficit) and is by far the most thermogenic of the 3 macros. Your body burns about 25-30% of the calories from protein just processing it, whereas it’s about 7% for carbs and 3% for fat. (1) So whey protein can be beneficial because it can make it easier to hit the higher amount of protein typically recommended (around 1 gram per pound of lean body mass, depending on several factors.) It doesn’t mean whey protein is magic or even necessary, it’s just convenient and cost effective.

2. Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine monohydrate is probably the most studied supplement on the planet and easily has the most research supporting it’s benefits. Creatine works by allowing you to train harder and longer. It does so by increasing your body’s ATP stores. (2) Your body’s first source of energy when lifting is creatine phosphate. By supplementing with creatine you give your body more creatine phosphate stores and like that you have more energy for your anaerobic workouts. Creatine also allows the muscle cells to hold more water. So not only does it benefit energy and strength, but it gives the appearance of a larger muscle. It’s worth noting you may see some slight weight gain when you start supplementing with creatine, but this is due to increased water retention in your muscle cells and has nothing to do with fat.

When you take creatine doesn’t appear to matter as it’s a stored energy so whenever you’ll remember to take it daily is the “best” time to take it. There also does’t appear to be any benefit of taking other forms of creatine (for instance creatine ethyl ester) over creatine monohydrate as they are more expensive and no more effective. (3) Taking between 3-5 grams of creatine daily would be suggested for most. Some people recommend a “loading” phase where you take more creatine the first week, but this will not saturate your muscle cells “better” only faster but with a higher likelihood of bloating as a side effect.

3. Fish Oil

Supplementing with EPA and DHA has been suggested to potentially increase heart health, reduce inflammation, improve exercise recovery, lower blood pressure and even support muscle-protein synthesis. (4, 5, 6) Make sure you are taking 2-4 grams of combined EPA/DHA daily to get the most out of it’s benefits.

4. Multi-vitamin

This one is more of a “cover the bases” kind of supplement. Taking a multi-vitamin can help cover any nutrient deficiency gaps you may have from your diet and/or genetics with what appears to be minimal risk of negative side effects. (7) Honestly one of the best things you can supplement with is anything you are deficient in and of course that will vary person to person. However, unless you’re going to get blood work done to find out what that is, a multi-vitamin can at least potentially aid. You don’t need anything with crazy high 1000% of everything pills (in fact those would likely be the ones that could harm you) but just seeking something with around 100% of most vitamins and minerals is a good place to start. There are also specific vitamins for certain age/gender populations as you may be more likely to be deficient in certain vitamins in those instances.

 

So that’s it, pretty short list huh? Now I’m not saying there aren’t any other supplements that show benefits are there actually are plenty more that can be beneficial in certain instances, but for the general population this list is what I typically recommend. Even then, as previously mentioned, if you don’t have the higher priority stuff down, thinking about what supplements to take is a pretty big waste of your time (and money.)

With that said, however, if you do have any questions about any supplements. Just drop a comment below and I’d be happy to give my opinion on it.

 

If you’re looking for more information download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on an email newsletter where you’ll get daily emails. Warning – I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. So if you’re sensitive you may want to pass.

 

Colin DeWaay holds a personal training certification with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He the owner of Colin DeWaay Training LLC, an online strength and nutrition consulting business that fully customizes training and nutrition programs for those interested in general fitness all the way up to advanced powerlifting programs. He specializes in helping people with a history of yoyo dieting create a more sustainable healthy lifestyle, improving metabolism through reverse dieting if necessary, and helping make binges a thing of the past by creating a healthy relationship with food utilizing flexible dieting. His goal is not to produce quick results, but to help produce realistic, sustainable results that last.

http://colindewaaytraining.com/

https://www.youtube.com/c/colindewaay

https://www.facebook.com/ColinDeWaayTraining/

 

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Filed under My Lifting Log

2017 Prep Update: Day 164 or Why I Shaved My Head


Oh, hi!  Haven’t written in a long time.  Sorry.  Part of that is because I am a busy teacher.   But when I’m quiet, it usually means I’m having a difficult time and I just don’t want to write until I’m through it and can reflect back.   This might be a long post.  I’ll break it up into sections:  Training, Diet, and Hair (or why I shaved my head)

Training

That new training split I told you about in my last post in February didn’t work well for me at all.  It was too much…everything.  I’m an introvert who teaches high school kids – and right now, I have 189 student on my roster.  Each of those students is working at their own pace.  If you’re a teacher reading this – yeah.  It’s like that.  So to say my brain is fried at the end of the day is not an exaggeration.  Lifting is how I manage stress and bodybuilding gives the lifting a goal so I will do self-care when I realistically have no time for self-care.  That phase with whole body lifts pushed my central nervous system too hard each time.  And having to deal with RPEs at 4:30 in the morning – it was not fun.  It was stressful.  When I was in the middle of it and I could not make it work, I was frustrated. Using Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a well-documented technique.  Many lifters like it and have had success with it.  It was hard for me to accept that I couldn’t do it.  I tried to communicate what was wrong to my coach, but I didn’t know how to explain what wasn’t working.  Initially, he thought I didn’t understand the philosophy, so we lost a couple of days trading emails about that.  There were days I hated going to the gym – and that never happens.  I was getting hurt because I was distracted from paying attention to my form.  I literally cried during a couple workouts.  I felt like my coach and I were not working together well and that bothered me more than the issue with the program.   I finally just quit that split.  I didn’t quit lifting.  I just put myself back onto a familiar split.  Told my coach what I was doing.  We agreed to just go back to an older split that worked well.  I updated a couple of exercises.  And since I’ve been back on that split, I’ve hit a couple PRs on accessory movements each week.

Reflecting, I’ve learned…

  • I hate whole body lifts. I can handle upper/lower splits, but not whole body.  It’s hard to describe, but it almost feels too “confusing” to my nerves.  I felt my stress hormones go up during the lift instead of feeling the expected dopamine release.  I haven’t done research on it, but I suspect it has something to do with the physiology of being a highly sensitive introvert.  The “highly sensitive” part isn’t about emotions – it’s literally about a heightened sensitivity to external stimulation of the senses.  Windy days annoy me because I feel like I’m being assaulted by air.  As much as I love my job, I crave/need those breaks in the day when I don’t have kids around so I can recharge a bit.
  • I hate RPEs because I mentally rehearse my major lifts for hours, or even days, before I do them. When I look on the spreadsheet and see I have a 520 pound leg press coming up in Week 3, I subconsciously psyche up for it.  I’m totally fine picking a weight for an accessory movement if you tell me I need to do 3 set of 12-15 reps.  Given two conditions, I can select the third variable without stress.  But when asked to pick a weight so that I’m using 60-80% of maximum exertion, I get too caught up in the mathematics of that and I stall out.  Honestly, I’m perfectly capable of writing my own programs, but I don’t want to think about my lifts other than everything I pay attention to just to execute them properly with correct form.  I analyze every part of a rep while I’m doing it to make sure I’m activating the muscle intended.   I just want to open the spreadsheet and do what it tells me to do.  I hardly ever miss a rep.  If it says 3 set x 12 reps x 100 lbs, I will lift that damn thing 12 times just because it’s on the spreadsheet.  I will also do 3 sets of 12 because it makes recording it easier.  A set of 12, a set of 10, and a third set of 8 looks like this… 1x12x100; 1x10x100; 1x8x100.  That’s just a pain in the ass.  So I move the thing.  Every time.  And I believe my laziness in recording is one reason I build muscle.
  • I’ve also told my coach that from now on, when things aren’t working, he can expect a text or a phone call – not an email. We’ve worked so well together for over three years that this really was the first time we had something go wrong.  I didn’t really know how to handle it.  As a result, I feel like I was on a deload for a month.  I didn’t lose ground – the number of PRs I’m setting now is reassuring.

Diet

Our school district has a two week spring break.  Today is Monday of the second week.  I told Coach that right now is the best time to dig.  I have time to workout and sleep.  So that’s what I’ve been doing.  Scale has been dropping a little every day.  I am now about 1-2 pounds over my scale weight before we did peak week for my last show.  I still have 3 months.  Conditioning this time will be better.   This isn’t a surprise to me.  We planned this back in 2015 after the last show.  Last week, I brought the calories down to about 10 kcal/pound of body weight for 5 days, then 2 days of slightly more to recover.  I will repeat that again this week.  Coach decides what happens after that based on where we are at.   The actual macro breakdown has my protein set at 160 grams, carbs range between 130 and 150 grams, and fats are coming in under 20 grams.  I don’t stress about hitting any number exactly except for the protein and the calorie.  I’ve got this thing dialed in most days, though.  Since Coach brought protein up, I haven’t felt super hungry.  I also figured out that if I split my morning meal in half and eat more frequently after my early morning lift, I feel better.

I’m satisfied with my progress.  There are 111 days left in this prep.  There is an end-goal for stage, but the real goal is just navigating through these next 111 days as an endurance challenge.  Can I do my life while pushing myself physically in ways I’ve never done before?  Will I be able to manage stress of life while under the stress of what I’m doing to my body composition?  And can I do this with a little grace and sense of humor?  I have stayed on course, but I haven’t been that graceful about it over the last month.  I hope to have learned a lesson I can use over the next 3 months.   This is all for fun, right?  Nothing life and death about this thing.

Hair

This next show is pivotal for me.  I’m heading right back to the same show I did in 2015 that wrecked me a little bit.  I have no idea what to expect after what happened the last time I was on that stage in front of those judges.  And then I had that frustrating lifting month in February.  In hindsight, I see it as a blessing now.  I had every reason to quit – lifting sucked, I turned 55, I’m busy, it’s hard to do, and there isn’t a tangible reason to compete… but I didn’t quit.  I couldn’t quit.   I don’t quit.  But there wasn’t much positive pulling me towards something instead of a general “I don’t quit” stubborness.  Then one day I woke up and a switch had flipped.  I needed to commit and commence with the “ass-kickin’-takin’-names” part of this prep.  That morning, I registered for the show.

I’ve felt different since then.  It’s about redemption now.  Maybe I will always be put in the last place.  So what?  I’m still showing up, aren’t I?  This is amateur women’s bodybuilding.  There is no real-world difference between “overall” and “last place”.   There aren’t cash prizes.  There will be no contracts or sponsorships.  Those of us who do this are motivated by something else.  If the width of my pelvis screws up my symmetry, I can’t give a fuck about that because I can’t change it.  But I can prep hard to lose enough fat so that the glutes attached to that wide pelvis will be visible.  If it’s possible, I can do that.   I have built my delts and quads a little.  That will help with the symmetry a bit.  And I can get creative with posing to emphasize some things and distract away from others.

But how can I be braver?  How can I make sure I hear that little voice in my head that reminds me to be a badass every day when the doubts can be so loud????

So that happened.  This is my signal to myself to remember who I am and why I’m doing this.  I get a reminder every time I see a reflection.  I get a reminder every time that side of my head gets cold, too.  Hahahaha!  To be honest, it was an impulsive thought at first, but I thought about it for a week.  I pulled my hair back and tried to imagine it.  I was beyond excited to get this done.  After I walked around with it for a few days, I figured out why I needed to do it. I’ve had it about a week and I love it.  Not a single regret yet.

Sorry about the length.  Thanks for hanging in there with me!  The support I get keeps me going.  Thank you!!

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Contest Prep, My Lifting Log, Nutrition, Weight Loss

Oh Hey – It’s My Birthday Again!

Eight minutes from the exact time I started writing this post, I will precisely be 55 years old.  I always miss my mom on my birthday.

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Me and Mom

Took some progress pictures today.  I’m not competing until July, and based on how this prep has been going, it highly likely that my conditioning will be better than it was the last time I competed.  I’m humbled and grateful that I’m able to do this considering I didn’t become any kind of athlete until later in life.   I’ve become less comfortable sharing my progress pictures for many reasons.  But this blog started when I started this new life, so I also think it’s important to document where I’m at now.

Today’s pictures compared to October when I started this prep…

Oct 2016 - Started Prep

Oct 2016 – Started Prep

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10-8-16-back

 

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Can’t lie.  I’m a bit freaked out about this birthday.  I remember being younger thinking that being 55 would be close to retirement – which I might be, but haven’t really decided on that yet. (2/16/17 edit – at the end of this day, I’m leaning towards “sooner rather than later” on that retirement thing.  Love, love, love the kids. It will never be anything about them that pushes me out.) Digging what I’m doing as a teacher right now and I passionately believe it’s a better way for humans to learn mathematics.  I’d like to hang in until I work out the bugs and evolve it.

55 is also a big one because my mother died when she was 56.  Intellectually, I think I’ve done enough to alter my own path, health-wise, to live longer than my mom did, but she died of a brain aneurysm.  We don’t know if that was a hereditary condition or a consequence of her smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, and stress.

Did I say I am grateful?  I woke up today extremely grateful to be here.

My husband created most of the gifts he gave me.  Aren’t they amazing?  His time and the little things he included in these paintings (he used his thumb print to color the heart with the tree) made these the most memorable gifts I’ve ever received.

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Hubby had to work today, but I took the day off.  I needed to renew my driver’s license since it expired today.  Took my little girl pup with me.  We stopped at a local duck pond for a short walk on the way home.  Poor thing has been cooped up in the house.  Weather here hasn’t been conducive for walks.  I also have a nagging issue with my left ankle and foot.  Nothing serious, but long dog walks aggravate it.

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Started a new training phase this week.  It’s a very different split than what I’ve ever done before.  Coach has me doing full body four days a week for a month with a bit lighter loads.  It’s probably going to be good.  The first week will be bumpy because I need to adjust my habits.  My little gym doesn’t have everything I need, so I have to travel to another one for that one thing I do need on that one day – the logistics need to be worked out.   He also incorporated the use of RPE (Rate of Perceived Exersion) to determine the loads I use.  It’s an uncomfortable adjustment for me to make.  I mentally rehearse my lifts the night before.   When I don’t have an actual load given on the spreadsheet, I ruminate on it a bit – and that’s not relaxing at all.  It’s probably just difficult for me right now because I’m working so much and I’ve been dieting for 123 days.  I’m not mentally flexible right now.

It was a memorably wonderful birthday.  And I will have a carb hangover tomorrow.   It’s all good – I’m leg pressing in the morning.  I’ll turn it all into muscle.  😉

(I didn’t eat all of this candy today. Milk Duds are gone.  And there was a heart-shaped pizza. And a big slice of cheesecake.  This won’t be my last refeed, but it could be my last REFEED until July.)

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Contest Prep, Life

2017 Prep Update: Day 100

Day 100 was last Sunday.


An interesting, unsettling, and maybe a bit impulsive decision was made on Day 100…

Facebook deactivation.

I know – so what?  Who cares? (Is it ego to wonder if anyone noticed?  Probably.  Is it ego to write about it?  Definitely.)  It’s not a statement about social media – I’m obviously still involved since I’m writing this blog post.   I had to find a work-around to keep the Lifting My Spirits page up and plan to keep posting there. Thought about taking a hiatus from that page, too, but it has a purpose and the people who comment there are amazing. They inspire me.

I think I’ve been getting ready for this for some time.  Had a privacy violation a couple years ago that bled into real life.  I stopped accepting friend requests from people I didn’t know and have been posting less.  I’ve been more careful.  I’ve “unliked” or “unfollowed” pages that posted things that yanked my chain.  Deactivating for a time could be the next step in that process.

I like how it has forced some changes in my head the last couple of days.  It’s quiet in here.   I love my job, love the kids, but I am an introvert and working with full classes of teenagers all day drains me a bit.  I’m working about 55 hours a week, training, and I’m working on earning some CEU credits I need to renew my teaching license next year.   My plate is always too full.  (Figuratively, not literally.)  I started paying attention to things I did away from work that recharged my batteries and what cause my brain to spin.  I deactivated Instagram last year.  It took a few days to get out of that habit, but it felt good to share less.  I’ve been on Facebook a lot longer and this feels like I just fell off the planet.  It’s going to be a hard habit to break, but a good thing for me to have less external input in my day.

It’s hard, though.  I don’t want to lose touch with people, so I need to make a new habit to stay in contact.  Learned that Messenger still works and that’s a relief.  Fits my personality better to have private conversations, anyway.  This may be a temporary decision – when my prep is done and I have a little less on my figurative plate and more on my real one, I’ll probably activate it.  It does feel weird.  How did we do this before??  We didn’t even have email growing up.  Were we just…quiet?  The fact that it feels like I’m in withdrawal just confirms that it’s a good thing for me to do.

Whatever…what about bodybuilding??

Training went well this last week.  Got a PR on leg extension this morning.  Coming off the deload week, my loads were scheduled to increase.  Hamstring feels better, but the ankle below it is still tight.  Seems like the hamstring healing up might be pulling on everything below it.  I plan to do more stretching in that area.

Less walking needs to happen since my feet are feeling beat up.  We have a 20-year old recumbent bike at home.  Most years, it was out in the patio.  It’s weathered and a bit beat up.  This adorable puppy has used a pedal as a chew toy when she was working through separation anxiety.  It still pedals, so it’s all good.  Jump on there for a bit on days when my normal activity was low.  We’ve had many of those days here the last few weeks thanks to some winter weather.

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Oh, and weight is still dropping, but not fast.  Much more scale bouncing these days, which is expected.  So far, over the last 100 days I’ve lost about 12 pounds, give or take a daily bounce.  Stage weight goal is in another 13 pounds.  If I make it, this stage will be 4 lbs lighter than last one.  It probably won’t be easy to get there, but it’s part of the game.  The reverse diet out of this one will be just as hard.

So that’s my update for Day 100.

Recap…

  • Training is good.
  • I’m now a hermit.

 

 

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Filed under Contest Prep, Life