My birthday was a week ago today. 53 now and I’m thrilled. Year #52 was not great and I’m relieved it’s over. Grateful to have had a year 52, but it’s going to be memorable for being difficult. The difficulties of last year presented lessons I needed to learn. I’m excited to compete again this summer. I’m excited about the program I’m doing, and how I’m learning how to do all of this with as little stress as possible. I’ve learned a lot about how to be a balanced competitor from my coach, Alberto, but also from the other coaches and athletes at 3DMJ. Not surprised by that – I did my homework and chose to work with them for this exact reason. However, that decision was made about 6 months before the poo hit the fan last year. Grateful to God for the timing on that.
These are the progress pics I took last weekend.
I’ve been doing some sort of calorie cut/diet deload since last September. The cuts to this point have been gentle to engineer a slow weight loss. I haven’t been tracking bodyfat percentages, so I can only discuss scale weight. In that long span of time, I’ve had a net loss of 11 pounds. As of today, I’ve been off the last ‘diet deload’ for two weeks. We are being a bit aggressive with the deficits for 3-4 weeks before I take another diet break. I’ve been shooting for a daily deficit of around 600 calories. My daily intake has been between 1600 and 1800. That’s low for me, but it’s not unsafe. I keep my protein and fat grams consistent and let the carbs roll up and down depending on the burn, but carbs average around 200 grams a day. (Even on a rest day when my intake needs to roll down, I’m getting about the same amount of food as I had on a “high” day during my last contest prep in 2013.) I track this with the Bodybugg gadget and website. The mobile interface for the Bugg makes it easy to see what’s going on during the day. I’ve been using it since 2009. I’m confident that it’s fairly accurate and I know it’s more accurate than guessing.
I’ve still been eating fairly normally. I just adjust the last meal of the day (bedtime) if necessary.
Last week, I felt good. The expected water retention from the stress of the deficit didn’t happen until the middle of this second week. It’s since released and the scale has been playing nice again. My weight this morning was 146 even. Coach told me to expect some visible changes in the next set of progress pictures next weekend. I’m starting to see it in the mirror and clothes already.
However, I think the ‘feel good’ part is over for this phase for the time being. The last two days have been – unpleasant. Same volume of food, but it’s two weeks into it now so the body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing. And it’s pissed about having to use it’s precious fat stores for energy. Hunger hormones are raging.
My first thought is to revamp food choices. I need more volume. I want 1800 calories to feel like 2400 in my tummy. I eat pretty clean, but once I take a look at it, I can probably find some spots to make some lower-calorie substitutions and increase the volume. Butternut squash, for example. Love it and it’s friendly on the food log. However, I’m keeping those Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches in as long as possible during the prep. I used to make a frozen chocolate protein shake as a dessert. I’m willing to switch out an ice cream sandwich for one of those occasionally, I suppose.
Lifting is going well. Because of frequent injury issues, squats and deads were replaced with leg press and RDLs. I need exercises that are safer and something I can use to track strength progress. My lifting volume was increased, too, so these moves are safer.
Not as much fun, though. It’s also an adaptation to my life – I don’t get enough sleep because it is very difficult for me to go to bed at 7 pm. After a coupl e weeks with this change, I’m recovering better, even with a calorie restriction. I will be able to move heavier weight safely. (A few years ago when I didn’t pay attention to form and had not started pulling everything, I leg pressed 720 lbs a couple times. Doesn’t count because my form sucked.) I’m still doing the occlusion work with my legs, so I should be able to keep my legs from losing size. <Fingers crossed>
Cardio is still not a regular part of my program. I know it’s coming, but doesn’t seem to be needed right now. If I need to burn more calories, I can get more activity at work. My calorie burn at middle school was about 200 more than at high school. Middle schoolers require a lot more ‘proximity management’. I’ve been sitting more lately, because I can, so getting up and walking seems like a good idea, don’t you think? (On the flip side, knees feel better. Always a trade-off.)
I suspect someone reading this now is thinking “Ice cream? No cardio? She must not be serious.” Judge if you want, but I decided a long time ago to never go “Beast Mode” again. I knew after my last show that I’d never do a traditional prep again. The pictures from a day before looked so much better than my stage pictures. I won’t cut water again. If I’m not lean enough to compete, I don’t compete. I knew I would never get lean enough without a completely different approach in my programming, because diet and cardio won’t get me where I wanted to go. I knew everything had to change. And ‘everything’ takes time.
A goal is to enjoy this process and have fun. A goal is to have a contest prep be something I can do at anytime during the year. I don’t want it to impact my husband’s life (too much) and I don’t want it to impact my ability to teach teenagers. I also don’t want to compete very often. I don’t have a physique that can sustain a prep every year. Someday, maybe, but not yet.
Maybe no one doubts that this 53 year-old, post-menopausal woman can become shredded without a ton of sacrifice. Maybe I’m delusional. Maybe I just need to imagine doubters and critics out there to motivate myself. Nah – they are out there. Doubters, anyway.
It doesn’t look like I’m going to blog more frequently like I wanted to do. If you’re interested, I’m documenting daily on Instagram. I’ve been feeling quite joyful and hopeful about my 53rd year and have started a series of little videos about it. Did I say I was excited? I’m excited.