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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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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2017 Prep Update: Day 94

Crazy week!  Monday, Jan 9 was supposed to be our first day of second semester after a three-week break.  Didn’t happen.  Weather here made it necessary to cancel school on Monday and Thursday.  We had delayed starts the other days.  Roads were slippery.  No sunshine.  No dog walks.  We all had cabin fever.  I was able to get a ton of  work done to set up for the new semester.  That will pay off for me later since I’m prepping for the show in July and taking an online class to earn CEUs to renew my teaching licence next year.  We live close to the gym I use, so I was able to get in and had extra time…but sadly, it was a deload week.

Every four weeks, whether I feel like I need it or not, Coach has a deload week programmed into the cycle.  I appreciate it because I know that is why I have stayed relatively injury-free since I started working with him in 2013.  Usually, to deload, I’ve reduced loads.  This time, I kept the loads where they were the week before, but reduced the number of sets and reps.  I also skipped all hamstring work for a week to give my left one a chance to heal up.

Usually, I’m happy to have that deload week.  This time, it was hard.  The week was stressful because of the weather, scary driving, and the schedule disruptions.  I didn’t want to increase cardio for stress-management because I needed to rest that hamstring.  Also, I’m three months into a contest prep diet.  Even though my calories were increased a bit, it wasn’t so much that I wanted to divert those resources from healing that hamstring.  By the time Day 92 rolled around,  I was in a funk.

Funk = this is bullshit.  Why do I bother?  I’m not built right.  I’m too old…yada, yada, yada.

Sunday, Day 93 = first leg day in a week.  And no hamstring pain!!!  I was able to do what I was supposed to do on leg press.  I was cautious and brought the weight and reps down for leg curls.  But no pain during the movements at all.  I can still feel it when I stretch that hamstring, but it’s much less intense.  And I’ve noticed the ankle on that leg has become slightly stiff – I suspect that’s the issue flowing down the kinetic-chain.  (That knee was a bit wonky last week, too, but that went away.)  I’m hitting those hamstrings again tomorrow morning.  I know I’m still healing, so I plan to continue to be cautious.

And magically, the funk lifted.

Food wise, I have been struggling with logging.  Monday-Friday, I am on it.  Weekends?  Not so much.  I don’t think it matters too much since I eat the same way – I just don’t want to log.   I’m a flexible dieter, so I don’t feel too deprived from food choices (except I miss pizza – I don’t eat celery, but this is just funny).

I’ve been logging food since 2009, so I think I’m just taking psychological breaks while I can.  Prep progress on the scale is still happening.  Things have settled into the “normal” bouncing that I’m used to.  No change for a few days, up a pound, down a couple, etc.   I look at it as a mathematical pattern.  It’s not linear, but it’s still predictable, so I’m good.  At some point, it won’t be predictable.  I’ll stall for a long time…and then it will get going again but I’ll have to fight for it.  I think that will happen sometime around March.  At least I hope I can make it that long before things get frustrating.

I’m not super concerned, but I don’t think I’ve done a good job with making each day of the 275 day project as awesome as it could be.   And I don’t think it matters all that much.  I’ll probably talk about that in each blog because I need to stay centered on that idea… It.  Doesn’t.  Matter.  I do this bodybuilding thing for much better reasons than what is ever going to happen at a show.

Oh, and just between you and me, I’ve decided to toss in a few extra sets of things not in my program on days where they won’t interfere with what IS in my program.  Nothing crazy.  Today, I did some light lateral raises and these face pulls.  Just getting some blood flow in there.   Recorded the face pulls just to see what’s going on with the rear delts.  Haven’t worked them directly in a long time.   Nothing upper body is scheduled for a couple of days, so it’s all good.  😉

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2017 Prep Update: Day 86

My school district’s winter break is ending.  (We get an extra day off Monday because of some aggrressive weather we’ve got going on today.)  Sleep deprivation and being too busy begins again on Tuesday.  I spent the last couple of weeks lesson planning my entire second semester in anticipation of reduced energy (and brain function) as I get deeper into this prep.  I am passionate about this flipped-mastery format I’m using in my geometry classes this year.  I’m fully invested in it because I believe this makes sense.  I believed in it 15 years ago, but had to wait for technology to catch up.  There is no way I’m going to let a bodybuilding contest prep interfere.  For me, it’s just a stage and a photo.  For my students, it’s a required course with a high-stakes exam also required for high school graduation.  No comparison.

This was a tough week, hunger-wise.  From one day to the next, food volume was constant, but my physical reactions changed.  Some days, I sailed through without much distraction – other days the hunger was hard to ignore.  I think it depended on whether I was actively busy that day and/or what the lift was that morning.  Doesn’t really matter – this is part of the process.  What really gets to me some days is the tracking.   That can be a grind because I’ve been doing it since June 2009.   There were periods when I didn’t track.  After a while, I missed it.  But this flipped-mastery structure has a lot of detailed work involved with it and I get overwhelmed – especially when my reserves are a bit depleted from the diet.  When I’m feeling stressed about tracking, I revert to eating what I ate the day before, in the same amounts, so that if I don’t log it, I’m not deviating much.  In the evening, I will log the whole day.  Because I used the same foods, in the same amounts, logging goes fast.

Lifting last week was uneventful.  I follow Coach’s spreadsheet.  Lifting is something I look forward to each day, but honestly, nothing is happening right now that’s newsworthy.  Just showing up and getting it done.  I’m a bit hyper-focused on form and paying attention to any odd pains here and there.  Left hamstring has been cranky for several weeks. Not too painful, but something is a tiny bit strained. I’ve been working around it if I can’t work with it.  Since I’m in prep and dropping weight (I’ve lost about 10 pounds since October), I feel like I need to be mindful of these things.  I don’t think I’ve lost much muscle, but being lighter has changed my relationship with gravity a smidge, and that changes how much weight I can handle for some movements if my body weight was a factor.

I’m not allowing myself to be too precise about things in the kitchen just yet.  In fact, it would be awesome if I could be a bit sloppy for this whole prep.  (There will be daily ice cream for as long as possible, although I’ve switched from my standard ice-cream sandwich to a lower calorie fudgebar.  And this time, I’m not tracking the creamer I put in my coffee – and I won’t. Ever.)   Granted, “sloppy” in my perspective probably isn’t that sloppy compared to regular folk, but this thing is a slippery slope for competitors. I don’t concern myself if I’m not perfect.  I can imagine other competitors being appalled at my attitude.  And to that I say…

Whatever.

Here are some of my personal realities as a post-menopausal bodybuilder:

  • I’m already months ahead of my last prep and will be improved on stage in July. If anything were to happen to derail that, I’d probably pull the plug on competing in that show anyway because it would be a life thing that needs to be handled. I lift for self-care.  I compete to have a goal for the lifting.  That’s all there is to it.
  • Pretend for a second that I actually don’t get last place again in this next show. What happens next?  I go home. I rest.  On Monday, I start lesson planning for the new school year that will start a couple weeks later.
  • What happens if I do get last place and believe it was because I wasn’t super careful during my prep??  I go home. I rest.  On Monday, I start lesson planning for the new school year that will start a couple weeks later.
  • Now really pretend – what would happen if they let this 55-year-old woman with wrinkles and a bit of saggy skin win her first show? A big show where women fly in from other states to compete?  Where figure pros jump over to bodybuilding to compete??  I go home. I rest.  On Monday, I start lesson planning for the new school year that will start a couple weeks later.  And I’d probably quit competitive bodybuilding because I can’t afford to compete at the next level.

See what I mean?  I’m can’t be motivated by competing anymore.  I’m motivated by the process that ends the day before that competition.  I’m not sure I’m even motivated by that some days – those “hungry days” do make me question my life choices sometimes.  But I’m pretty stubborn about follow-through.  Fierce, actually.  That’s genetic.  I like to think I get that from my Viking ancestors. 😉

Not sure how often I will be able to update the blog, but I think I will try to do a better job now that the prep is becoming more demanding on me physically and emotionally.  I have a smart coach and the prep process with him is about as healthy as a contest prep process can be and this is part of my sport.  But remember – what I’m doing is NOT for everyone!  No two competitors are the same, either, so they shouldn’t be coached that way.  The science of fat-loss is the same, but as a competitor, I’m taking my body-composition to an extreme that is not sustainable or optimum for general fitness.  When my show is done, we carefully plan a way to get back to what is considered sustainable and optimum.  Ok? K.

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How to Make This One Your LAST New Year’s Resolution – Guest Blogger Colin DeWaay

I think Colin’s tips below are targeted to that person who is highly motivated to make this the last time they need to start over.  Share this one to save it.  It could be a great reference for when the motivation wanes and grind begins. ~ Tammy

Well it’s that time of year again. Gyms are being flooded with people vowing to make a change. I actually LOVE this time of year, despite it making my own workouts a bit hectic. Seeing so many people trying to change for the better is awesome. There is only one problem though…. VERY few will succeed. So what I want to do today is go over why I think the majority of people fail and talk about ways you can make sure this year is the last year you EVER make a New Year’s Resolution to get in shape.

At the very top of the list of importance is sustainability. Cliché or not fitness is in fact a lifestyle and if you’re not in it for the long haul no matter what you do you’ll eventually fail. What that means is you have to find something you enjoy and you can see yourself doing long-term. If you hate every second of what you’re doing, how long do you really expect to keep it up? Even if you manage to lose the weight, how will you keep it off when you stop?

It also means you need to focus your attention on the process and not any quick fixes. I promise you no pill, “detox” (don’t even get me started,) green sludge or plastic wraps are going to do the trick. It comes down to diet, exercise, and consistency. But once again, this is where most people go about things completely wrong. They think to see results they have to eat nothing but cardboard and rabbit food and they must suffer endlessly. In fact most people seem to seek out the most difficult “hardcore” plans they can find hoping this might be the answer. They’re doing it wrong….

So with that said, let’s go over 5 tips to help you finally get where you’ve always wanted to be…. And STAY there.

Tip #1

Don’t try to “kickstart” your weight loss

Of course you want great results and you want them now, who can blame you? We ALL want fast results. So naturally you should do something dramatic to get things going right? Couldn’t be more wrong. In fact that’s the exact opposite of what you should do. You see when you lose weight your metabolism slows, there’s no way around this. So sure if you dramatically cut your calories and/or do a lot of cardio you’ll drop weight fast. Everyone loves that! Well, at least until you get stuck. Which if you take this approach I promise you will.

Think of it this way. Your body cares about one thing above anything else. Survival. It could care less if you have a six pack or “toned” arms. It’s job is to keep you alive. So when you cut calories low it’s going to do everything it can to hang onto what you give it. Basically your body gets really efficient at utilizing the food you eat, which in theory sounds good, but it’s not. You begin to burn less calories from the exercise you perform, the thermic effect of food decreases, you burn less calories at rest and what’s arguably worse is you get a shift in hormones that not only makes you feel hungrier but also prevents you from feeling full. (1) Yep, your body gets more efficient at making sure you don’t starve yourself to death by making it easier to store fat and overeat. Recipe for disaster if you ask me. Make sure you eat as many calories as possible while still losing so you can keep making adjustments. Plus who doesn’t want more food???

 Tip #2

Don’t deprive yourself

Remember that thing I said about sustainability? You’re not going your whole life without eating the foods you love. And the big problem is when you tell yourself foods are off limits a few problems arise. 1) When you tell yourself you can’t have something what’s the thing you automatically want? (Forbidden fruit.) 2) You’re relying on willpower which is not infinite. Eventually you WILL run out of willpower and you’ll be caught in a bad situation which is what leads to binge eating. 3) You’re going to be miserable, and if you’re miserable do you really think it’s going to last? There is no happy ending to an unhappy journey. If what you’re doing now to lose the weight isn’t something you can keep doing after the weight is gone you’re doomed to fail. 4) You form a bad relationship with food. You find yourself feeling guilty just cause you ate some cheesecake. You find yourself avoiding social situations or if not you’re stressed out about all the “temptations.” Guilt should never be associated with food… Ever.

I’m not saying your diet should be nothing but pizza and ice cream, but they certainly shouldn’t be completely off limits either. You have to learn moderation and this will never happen with a restrictive diet. Despite what most “gurus” will tell you there are no magic foods and there are no foods that inherently make you fat either. Yes certain foods have a more nutrient dense profile and help you feel fuller, but it’s all about context of an overall diet. Is eating broccoli better for you than a scoop of ice cream? Sure. But if that scoop of ice cream helps you stay on track, avoid binges, enjoy your diet and stick to your diet than I’d actually argue the scoop of ice cream is BETTER. Everything in context. Besides, believe it or not there is actually data to support whether a diet had mostly simple carbs or complex carbs it made no difference in body composition OR health markers when calories are equated. (2,3,4)

Tip #3

Focus your exercise around strength training

I’m kind of known for bagging on cardio and I’m often asked why I think cardio is “bad.” I don’t think cardio is bad by any means, it just needs to be utilized wisely and it shouldn’t be your primary source of exercise if you want to do things optimally, especially if your goal is body composition. New research even supports the use of strength training for reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease even independent of aerobic exercise. (5)

While cardio does tend to burn more calories during the actual exercise itself it’s nothing compared to the fat burning machine your body becomes with strength training. When you’re done with cardio and your heartrate returns back to normal you’re done burning calories. With strength training you get what’s called EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) which means your body continues to burn additional calories even while at rest as it recovers and repairs from the stress you gave it. This effect can happen for a few hours or even up to almost two days depending on several factors. (6) Not only do you burn more calories recovering, but the more muscle you have on your frame the more calories your body burns naturally. (7) And no ladies, it won’t make you bulky or look like a man… Pinky swear.

So how should cardio be treated? Like calories only in reverse. You want to do as little cardio as possible while still losing fat so you have more options when things stall out. If you’re now eating high calories and doing low cardio you have plenty of options moving forward to bust through those pesky plateaus. Guess what happens if you’re already eating hardly anything and doing cardio every day?

resolution

Tip #4

What you did before DIDN’T work

I can’t lie, this one drives me nuts. So many people will go back to old plans they did before because they lost a bunch of weight. But if you did this and gained all the weight back, did it really work? Of course not! It only works if you can sustain it. “Well that’s just because I stopped doing it, this time I won’t quit.” Sure you won’t, best of luck… Sorry but chances are the reason you stopped was because you were doing many if not all the things I’m telling you not to. You quit because you couldn’t rely on willpower anymore. You couldn’t eat the same 7 foods the rest of your life. You couldn’t run on a treadmill for hours on end anymore. You hated what you were doing and you stopped. So why would it be different this time? Yeah you want it bad now, but motivation doesn’t last forever.

Tip #5

No more “all or nothing”

This one absolutely kills progress. People think they need to be perfect and if they can’t be there’s no point in even trying. The truth is chasing perfection is a losing proposition. In the battle of all or nothing, nothing will win 100 times out of 100. There will be times in your life you need to be more strict and there will be times to be more flexible. You must learn to be okay with not being perfect. You’re better off being 80% “on” all the time then being 100% “on” half the time. There will be times you have to back off more and there will be times you kill it and that’s totally fine.

So bottom line, what should you do? Take things slow and don’t rush the process! Eat as many calories as possible while losing weight and focus your training on resistance training. Losing between .5%-1.5% of your body weight on average weekly is a pretty good pace for most people but understand that scale weight is far from the only story and the leaner you are the less it means. Focus more on how you look, how your clothes fit, how strong you’re getting and possibly most importantly how you FEEL. These things mean way more than any number on the scale.

Do this and you can continue to make adjustments when you hit plateaus. Remember that your metabolic rate is a moving target and adapts to what you do, so if you make huge drops right away you’ll lose plenty of weight fast but it will stall quick and then what will you do? You can only drop calories so low. Take it slow and make adjustments when necessary and you keep the good times rollin’! Remember, you didn’t put the weight on in 2 months, so don’t expect it to come off in 2 months either.

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If you’re 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’ll 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’re 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 to take that next step and want to make sure you do things right this time just head here and I’d be honored to help you reach your goals. But only if you’re serious! The program only works if you do.

 

 

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2017 Prep Update: My 275 Day Project

My prep will be 275 days long, but I changed my life 2750 days ago.  Started – didn’t stop.  I’ve had to make a lot of adjustments.  Things that worked for a while stopped working. Other things that were hard at first, like logging food, have become second nature.  Sure, some things have been disappointing and frustrating.  But this sport challenges me in unexpected ways.  It has made me a better wife.  It has made me a better teacher.  Training calms me and helps me handle life.  I’m careful and train safely.  I’m proud of what I’ve done and grateful that I’ve been able to do it.

I need to apologize for my long absence from this blog.  It’s true that I’ve been busy – I’ve retooled my geometry class to be one where all students move through curriculum at their own pace.  I have about 170 students who needed to master 38 skills before Christmas break.  During this break, I’m organizing the activities for them to do during second semester.  Yeah, I’m busy.

That’s not the only reason I haven’t been writing.  I spent most of 2016 learning how to disengage my ego from what I’m doing as a bodybuilder.  The problem isn’t that I think I’m so awesome.  It’s the opposite of that.  I don’t think I’ve accomplished much at all and have been battling the urge to give in and “be realistic” about competing.  I haven’t had a healthy perspective on this thing.  I’ve worked hard, so part of me feels like I “deserve” to have some tangible success, but based on some things I cannot control, it’s possible that I will always place poorly.  Hard work doesn’t matter.  That’s a given.  Everyone up there worked hard.  Do I keep going anyway?  Others have quit.  If this isn’t going to be about being competitive, what is it about for me??  The initial excitement is gone, I got knocked on my ass, and I’ve spent a long time finding a way to get back up.

It’s been a hard year and a half of self-reflection about what I can control, what I can’t control, and what is it about this sport that keeps me engaged.  The July 2015 show really rocked my confidence.  I am afraid to compete again.  I’m not getting younger – 55 next time I’m up there.  Genetics aren’t going to change.  How do I justify continuing when I’ve had so little success?  I have a full plate.  I have people who depend on me.  I have responsibilities.  Why am I spending time and money on this bodybuilding thing at my age?

Why? Because I love training.  And it keeps me from sliding back into my old, unhealthy habits.  Based on what the doctors told me back in 2009, it’s critical that I do self-maintenance if I want to have a normal life-expectancy.  I’m goal-driven and the scarier the goal, the better.  In my mind, it feels more like an individual quest for excellence.  If my measure of success becomes improving form, increasing strength, being consistent, grinding on days I need to grind, learning when to push and when to hold back, controlling all the variables that are mine to manage – can I do all of that?  And can I make myself stand there for another stinky spray tan, get back up under the lights, and be vulnerable again?  I think I can. I think I can keep doing this for a long time, too.  I also think there is something more I’m supposed to learn.  There is something more going on here – I just don’t know what it is yet.  So I’m “all-in” with this thing, I guess.

Ok, so how do I prepare for the next show when I have so much anxiety wrapped around the idea of it?  I’ve been working with the same online coach for three years, so he’s handling the nuts-and-bolts of the prep.  It’s on me to handle the mental game.  If you’ve been following the few posts I’ve made, you know I’ve been on it.  Lots of audio books.  Lots.  After some frustrating experiences, I’ve chosen to limit my exposure to almost everything online that relates to bodybuilding.  That alone has cut down on a lot of stress because my value system is a little different.  I never feel so old as I do when I look at what people post.  If I avoid it, it is easier to focus on what’s important to me and what I need to do.

Most people who compete talk about prep in terms of a countdown.  “I’m 20 weeks out”, etc.  I’ve done it that way before because I was excited about the destination.  Thing is, I’m not now.  Counting down to something that scares me increases my anxiety about it.   Plus, it’s too ‘future-focused’ for me.  I prefer to focus on what I need to do TODAY.  So let’s flip that around.  The project is now the prep itself.  It is not a “means to an end”.  It is the goal.  Can I do this?

The day I started prep on October 14th was Day #1 and there will be 275 days in this project.  The overall goal is to push fat-loss farther than before.  This is NOT something a non-competitor should attempt.  If you’re not going to compete as a bodybuilder – literally in a division called “bodybuilding” – don’t do what I’m going to do.   Can I, a formerly obese 55-year-old woman, get “shredded”?  I’m sure it’s been done before, but I haven’t done it.   And can I do it safely so that I won’t have issues later?  I have a smart, protective coach and we have worked our way through a plan over the last three years to be in a position to make this attempt now.  But I can already tell we are way ahead of our 2015 prep.  Months ahead.  I don’t think July 2017 will be my ‘final form’, either.

The result of the 275 day project will be an accumulation of what I do each day.   That makes each day a separate challenge and the goal is to do that day as well as I can.  Did I make every rep of each set count?  Did I do what I needed to do with food?  Did I get enough sleep?  Did I have enough energy to take care of life?  AND… am I not getting my undies bunched up about how I do that day?  Yes, it’s true.  “Not caring that much” is really a daily goal.  I refuse to up-end my life just to get a little leaner.  Sure, there are some sacrifices to be made, but gosh, this is just for fun, right?  It’s just my version of climbing Mt. Everest.

I hope to find time to write every so often and update this blog on where I’m at inside this prep, my 275 Day Project.

CURRENT STATUS:

Today is Day 76.  This phase of the cut has been aggressive, but calories were increased a couple weeks ago and will be increased again soon.  So far, I’ve lost about 10 lbs.  I am also about 10 pounds over my previous stage weight, but the plan is to come in lighter.  There is more muscle, so coming in even a couple pounds lighter will look a lot leaner.  My personal goals are more about things that have been issues for me on stage.   There are certain poses that have always been hard for me because I wasn’t lean enough to perform them properly.  I don’t want to deal with that issue this time around.

I will do today as well as I can.  And I will do that 199 more times.  And my undies will remain as unbunched as possible.

Here is part of my video report to my coach last week showing my workouts for days 65 through 71.

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Fix Your Metabolism With Reverse Dieting-Guest Blogger Colin DeWaay

This is an important topic.  Many people (including me) learned this lesson only after hitting a plateau.  Please share this one with people you know who are starting a fitness transformation. Knowledge is power. ~ TW

Are you someone with a long history of dieting? Have you lost weight only to regain it? Do you find it to get harder and harder to lose with every attempt you make? There’s a reason for this, and the last thing you want to do is go on another diet. Even though your intentions are good, you’re probably not going to do yourself any favors in the long-run.

I’ve written before about the importance of keeping calories as high as possible and cardio as low as possible while still losing. I’ve also written about how if you want to not only lose weight and keep it off your diet must be sustainable. That’s all well and good and I stand behind everything I said. But what if you CAN’T lose doing this? What if you’ve done everything right but it’s still not working? You just keep cutting calories right? Unfortunately, it may not be that simple.

One thing you have to keep in mind is your metabolic rate, and that your body doesn’t care about a six pack or getting ready for beach season. It cares about one thing, keeping you alive. So when calories are reduced for an extended period your metabolic rate will slow. This is why no nutrition plan can possibly work forever. Especially when you do extreme dieting, your body wants to hang onto everything it can thinking there is a shortage of energy supply. Eventually your body will adjust to the new demand, your metabolism slows, and you now have your new maintenance level. So when this happens the only way to get fat loss going again is to drop more calories and/or increase expenditure.

Seems pretty simple, but it’s so much more complex than that. Given how much misinformation there is out there people are set up to fail. Especially this day and age where everywhere you look someone is promising some quick fix, TV shows are showing people dropping 15 lbs a week like it’s normal and contestants are upset losing 6 lbs in week and the media is plastered with the latest fad diets. On social media everyone applauds the person who lost 30 lbs in 21 days even though it’s about 99% likely that person will regain it all but nobody bats and eye at someone who is slow and steadily winning the race. Unfortunately, it’s become the norm for people to lose weight quick only to regain it. With the long history of dieting so many people have, they are left with a metabolism running much slower than it should and every new attempt they make to get healthy only makes it worse.

When you diet hard not only does your metabolic rate slow, but you also burn less calories from the exercise you perform, there is a decrease in the thermic effect of food as well as many other factors that lead you to burning less calories daily. (1) Add on top of that negative changes in hormones such as decreased thyroid hormones and leptin (tells your body you’re full) as well as increases in cortisol and ghrelin (hunger hormone.) Yes, the hormone that tells you you’re full decreases while the hormone that tells you you’re hungry increases. NOT a good combination, especially for anyone with a history of binge eating.

Another problem is when coming out of a fat loss phase where leptin has dropped well below where it should it tends to stay low even after you’ve regained weight. (2) When it comes right down to it, basically the more times you’ve dieted in your life, especially with extreme measures, the more efficient your body becomes at hanging onto the calories you give it making it harder to lose weight and easier to gain. (3) Yes, I’m saying dieting (or I should say unsustainable dieting) actually makes you fatter. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people who lose weight put it back on and many end up gaining even more. (4)

Seems pretty grim doesn’t it? Honestly yeah, it kind of is. But there is a way out if you’re patient enough. Yes you can speed your metabolism back up, but it’s not through drinking some green drink, taking pills, adding more hot sauce to your food, “detoxes,” eating “clean” or doing lots of cardio (quite the contrary actually.) It’s through a process called reverse dieting, and it’s something a large number of people should do before they go on another diet, which as I’ve stated would likely only make things worse.

What is reverse dieting?

Reverse dieting is just like it sounds, it’s where you increase your calories. You should also slowly reduce cardio during this process. “Woah woah woah!” I can hear you already. “I want to shed the fat NOW, not GAIN weight!” I hear you loud and clear and I get it, I really do. One of the hardest things I have to do as a coach is tell someone who comes to me that they shouldn’t even try to lose weight. But unfortunately if you’ve put your metabolism (granted unknowingly) in a bad place and losing weight, even on low calories, has become nearly impossible. It’s most likely going to be the only way to get where you eventually want to be. I’m not interested in doing something drastic to help someone lose a few pounds. My aim is to put an end to dieting and create FOREVER results.

Honestly I used to think of reverse dieting as something only bodybuilders need after getting stage lean. The average Joe and Jane couldn’t possibly have to worry about this since they never get anywhere near that lean right? Couldn’t be more wrong, and the longer I’ve been a coach the more I’ve realized it’s almost the norm for someone to start their diet in a less than desirable place metabolically. I’ve seen it pretty consistently, someone who doesn’t have a history of dieting can get results MUCH easier than someone even in a similar spot “stat” wise who has a long history of dieting. So don’t think this is only for extreme cases, if you have a long history of dieting, chances are you may not be in the best place to try and lose.

Just because you’re adding calories, however, doesn’t mean you’re doomed to gain 20 lbs. You just have to go about it in a smart way. If you’re currently eating 1200 calories and you’re maintaining your weight you can’t just start eating 2000 calories today. Your metabolic rate will not be able to handle the extra calories and you’ll surely store fat and store it quick. However, if you take gradual increases in calories over time your body can keep up with the changes while minimizing fat gain (if any and in some cases people even lose) while ramping up your metabolic rate. It takes time and patience but if you can stick with this while utilizing an effective strength training program you’ll start building muscle (which also helps with increasing metabolism.) getting stronger, FEELING better (very underrated) and hey who doesn’t want to eat more food?

How fast of a pace you take is up to you, there are positives and negatives to either scenario. If you increase your calories more slowly you’ll be less likely to store additional fat but it will take you longer to feel better and reach your metabolic limit. If you increase your calories faster you’ll feel better faster and reach your metabolic limit faster but you’re also much more likely to put on additional fat in the process. There is no right or wrong answer, you just have to ask yourself what’s more important to you.

Once your calories and metabolic rate are in a better place and you hold it for a while then you can start your cut in a much better place and this time around it won’t be so difficult. Think about it this way. If you start losing weight on 2000 calories or on 1400 calories, which one is going to be easier and more realistic to keep up with? Just remember to take your time and not rush the process, you want to diet on as many calories and do as little cardio as possible while getting results. Somewhere around a .5-1% reduction in body weight on average weekly is reasonable pace, but of course it will never be linear. Remember, your metabolic rate is GOING to slow during the process so you need options to get things going again. It’s also important when you do reach your goal to go through another reverse diet to make sure you can sustain your results. You don’t want to stay on those low calories forever.

Reverse dieting may not be sexy and the idea of taking several months or even a year (really depends on each person and what kind of state their body is in to begin with) can seem overwhelming and like it’s not worth it. However, it’s what many people need and it’s only going to make your efforts easier and more enjoyable in the long-run.

Anecdotal Evidence

I currently have two clients who have been reversing/holding now for about 7 months. I’d like to show you so you can see that adding calories does not mean you’re doomed to getting fat. (Plus keep in mind even if you do gain, it’s short-term and the long-term payoff is HUGE.) Both people had a long history of restrictive and yoyo dieting and were in a spot where losing weight would have required way too low of calories.

Shannon responded better than I ever could have imagined and I’d like to mention this is NOT the norm, but it’s awesome to see what can happen when you give the body what it needs. When she came to me in February she was eating around 1200 calories and maintaining her weight. Now she’s eating up over 2100 calories daily, she’s lost 4 lbs but there’s been a remarkable change in body composition furthering the proof the scale weight is just a number.

revdiet-pic-1

 

My other client started at 1600 calories and has worked her way up to 2200 calories daily where we are currently holding. Scale weight has actually gone up about 4 lbs but there’s noticeable improvements in body composition. That said even if she looked exactly the same that would be a WIN.

revdiet-pic-2

Both are getting close to starting their cut and I’m fully confident given the fact they haven’t been doing any cardio and have their calories high we’ll be able to get them down where they want to be and it will be a much less painful process thanks to them taking them time and having the patience to do things the right way.

I also feel it’s my duty to say not all people I put in a reverse respond this way. Some hold weight or even gain a little and body composition stays pretty much the same. Some may even notice their pants feeling a tad bit snugger. But the payoff to get the calories up and metabolism in a better place is HUGE. Changes in body composition is just a nice added bonus for some. You just have to remember when you’re in a reverse what the real end goal is. To improve metabolism and put you in a position for long-term success.

Tips for a successful reverse diet:

For the record these tips are for general population and not meant for competitors coming out of a show.

  • Understand what your current maintenance calories are. If you are unsure track what you eat for a week and see where your calories are at.
  • Get on a solid strength training program if you aren’t already.
  • Aim for around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. If you have a lot of weight to lose, aim for around your goal weight. If you find it too difficult to reach this number lower your protein with the aim to raise around 5-10 grams weekly.
  • Weigh yourself daily first thing in the morning wearing the same clothes and use your average weight for the week as your “actual” weight. Track this and make adjustments in calories based on your pace. If you are more concerned about gaining weight keep your increases around 20-50 calories per week, or even hold steady if you don’t like seeing increases. If you would like to take a faster increase you may want to increase 50-150 calories per week.
  • Keep track of body composition as well as weight because scale weight does not tell the whole story especially the leaner you are.
  • If you were doing a lot of cardio aim to take out a little cardio every week or two until you’re down to either none or very limited.
  • Plug your stats into a TDEE calculator to give yourself a rough idea where your metabolic limit should be (how many calories you should be able to consume while maintaining weight.) Please note this is just to get an idea and it’s highly individual. The higher you can get your calories the better so if you can keep adding without gaining keep it going!
  • Once you reach your metabolic limit hold there as long as you can before cutting to ensure your body has adapted to the new calories. I recommend a minimum of a few months for most people but again this is highly independent. The longer your history dieting and the more extreme you’ve been, the longer you’ll need.

 

 

 

If you’re looking for a coach to help take the guess work out and hold you accountable I am accepting clients. Just head here and checkout.

 

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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