Category Archives: 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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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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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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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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[Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Delete]

Everything happens for a reason, right?  You may not believe that, but I do.  I believe that if it’s not a blessing, it’s a lesson – if something is “off” in my life, if something isn’t working, there is something I need to learn.  The “Great Birthday Funk of Year 54” certainly hasn’t felt like a blessing.  Must be a BIG lesson I’m having trouble learning.  I’ve already shared one thing I’ve learned-I think I’m what is called a “highly-sensitive-personality” – which means my brain processes things differently.  Not sure how much of that was hard-wired from birth, but I would bet that being a teacher, having to observe and listen to 30+ kids every hour for 20 years will change the brain to be able to process a mass amount of stimulation every minute without going nuts. (Which is one reason why teacher-interns are so tired.  Most people do not have to process as much input as a teacher.)  I will not notice some things – husband will move something in the yard and I’ll notice it weeks later.  But I will notice things other people miss.  And I’ll ruminate on them.  If I’m feeling a bit blue, I’ll notice things that will feed that funk monster.

OK, sure – getting sick may have been prolonged my funk a bit because I may have been fighting off that virus for a while before I knew I had it.  It’s also likely that getting sick may have been a consequence of the internal stress I felt.  My immune system needs to work pretty darn hard because of how I train (especially during times of slightly restricted calories) and because of what I do for a living – teach geometry to sophomores. (Can I get an “Amen” from my fellow high school teachers?)  Getting sick was probably a logical outcome from being exposed to sick teenagers when that immune system was stretched a bit thin.  However, getting sick meant I couldn’t workout, so couldn’t work through stress.  That meant I indulged the birthday funk longer than I usually let funks last.  I don’t mind being a bit pissy from time to time, but letting myself get run down so I couldn’t lift, well, that’s just unacceptable.  Time to Work. The. Problem.

What can I [Ctrl]?  What can I alter [Alt]?  What can I [Delete]?  Seems like a good process to do every so often, doesn’t it? A little “reboot”?

I decided that I may not be able to [Ctrl] some things, but I can control many things.  For a few days, I paid attention to what was happening around me that triggered negative emotions.  I wanted to find things I could change.  We all have negative things we must deal when we are doing important work.  For example, on any given day, working with a teenagery teenager IS important to me.  Out of the 170 kids I see every couple of days, any one of them can have a bad day and some have many bad days.  I can’t help that.  I have learned how to work with them without internalizing their negativity, but it does take a lot of patience and it can drain my reserves for things that happen away from work.  So the TV in the weight area of my gym that is set on a channel that plays UFC highlights every morning was something that I saw as a negative, but might be something that could be fixed, right?  I asked for it to be changed and it was… for about a week.  I must be in the minority of members who use that part of the gym who think watching people do violence on each other at 4 am every morning is unpleasant.  And that’s OK.  (It’s like strawberry ice cream.  I don’t like strawberry ice cream.  Many people do.  No judgments. No worries.  I won’t eat it.  Problem solved.)   If it bothers me and it cannot be changed, I will change something I do [Ctrl].  I made an [Alt].  This week, I used the gym that is closer to work instead of the gym closer to home (same gym, different locations) on the days it was convenient to do so.  Honestly, I like that I have this option.  So this wasn’t just a negativity to [Delete], but also a nice change.

Controlling the negativity is also part of classroom management.  Teenagery teenagers can fuel each other’s negativity, which is almost all directed at me, the math teacher.  New seating charts work wonders!  I don’t just move the  kids, I move the desks.  I rearrange the furniture to increase the efficiency of whatever the activity will be that day.  I also spent some time thinking about repetitive tasks I do and found ways to make them more efficient.  Boom.  More negativity to [Delete].

What else can I [Ctrl]?  Too much time on social media.  Too much thinking about what to post on social media and monitoring comments.  Too much fitness/soft porn on Instagram, which just got on my “what the hell are you thinking” social justice nerve.  And one single minute spent with negativity on social media is a waste of time that could be spent in the real world doing something joyful.  I can [Ctrl] oodles of that.  So for the time being, Instagram has been deactivated [Delete].  I reorganized ( an [Alt]) my personal Facebook page a little so I can [Ctrl] who sees what I post.  My Lifting My Spirits page is almost always a positive place to hang out, but it has been a lot of work to keep posting content and monitoring comments to keep things positive.  I will post a little less often.  People don’t really need to watch me do lat pulldowns twice a week.  And I’m allergic to selfies.   Anyone with a page knows we have to deal with trolls occasionally – fewer posts will reduce my exposure to that unpleasant task.  It’s like picking up dog poop in the back yard.   More negativity to [Delete]!  I’m not bothered by what they say, but by the incomprehensible rationale as to why they give themselves permission to say it.  It’s annoying.  I don’t have an obligation to be exposed to that.  It diminishes my energy.

These [Alt]s have been a little bit of an adjustment.  Not being on Instagram has made me feel a bit disconnected, but that’s OK.  I can contact my friends directly if I want to know what they ate for lunch.  🙂

Today is the first day of our spring break from school.  It’s a beautiful day.  Just hung my first load of laundry out for the season.  I feel light and joyful.  [Ctrl][Alt][Delete] is a good process.

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Max Lift Testing Results

Took me nine weeks to get through the last “8 week” cycle.  Such is life.  (The new one is getting off to a slow start, too, thanks to a crappy head cold.) At the end of this last cycle, I tested the main lifts in my program with AMRAP (As Many Reps As Possible) sets with a certain weight.  From that, my current 1 rep max (1RM) is calculated and entered into the next spreadsheet sent to me by my coach.  Each spreadsheet cycle is adjusted based on what we want to accomplish during that cycle.  During the last cycle, the goal was to at least maintain strength during a mini-cut, hopefully build some lean mass and get stronger.  My personal goal was to improve strength on my bench press.  That lift has not been progressing at the same rate as all the others.

Results…

Leg Press

This is a hard one to compare over time because I’ve used different machines in different gyms.  And I’ve worked on improving range of motion, so I’ve had to start over a few times.   But I’ve tested on the machine I’m using now a couple of times, so I guess this is a lifetime PR on this machine, right?

Dec 20, 2015: 1RM = 563 lbs

Feb 26, 2016: 1RM = 609 lbs   Increased 7.6%

RDL

A bar with weights.  Easy to compare.  I set a lifetime PR with this one.  This lift just keeps getting stronger, but I suspect I’m going to hit a limit with it soon because of physics.  My bodyweight isn’t going to go up, so the leverages have to have a limit, right?

Dec 22, 2015: 1RM = 264

Feb 28, 2016: 1RM = 270  Increased 6%

Bench Press

Dec 21, 2015: 1RM = 124

Feb 25, 2016: 1RM = 126 Increased 1.6%

Disappointed.  This lift was stronger back in May 2014.  My 1RM then was 127.  This lift just doesn’t progress like the others.  And I lose it and have to start over after each show prep.  So to test this time and miss my lifetime PR by one pound was frustrating.  I actually tested this lift twice, once at the beginning of the week and a second time the following weekend when I had more rest.  Same result, so it’s real.

HS Shoulder Press

I use this machine for my main shoulder work because the impingement issue in my right shoulder makes free weight work feel unstable.  The improvement on this lift was a surprise.  I did what I needed to do with the AMRAP set – and it was easier than it should have been.  So I added weight and did another AMRAP.

Dec 23 2015: 1RM = 45

Feb 28 2016: 1RM = 52 lbs   Increased 15.5%

Barbell Row

Like the RDL, this lift progresses predictably. I hit another lifetime PR with it.   And also like the RDL, I think there is a limit coming up soon.

Dec 26, 2015: 1RM = 169

Feb 26, 2016: 1RM = 186 lbs  Increased 10%

Pulldown

Like the leg press, this one is hard to compare over time because I’ve used different pulley machines in different gyms.  On paper, it looks like it has regressed, but I know that’s not true.  I did use the same pulley machine for these two tests.

Dec 23, 2015: 1RM = 156

Feb 29, 2016: 1RM = 163 Increased 4.5%

 

I passed all my tests.  Basically lifetime PRs in everything that I can compare over time, except the bench.  But it’s progressing and I’ll get there.  And I’m not a power lifter.  It’s just my ego.

It’s worth noting that I’m basically healthy.  My coach has done some smart programming – both in the gym and with my food.  He also makes a point to support me when I’ve decided to back off from something I’m supposed to do if I’m not feeling it.  (I assume he knows I will push when that feels appropriate, too.)  54 years old, scoliosis, lifting heavy things, and the only issues I have are minor.  A little tendonitis here and there.  I’ve got an old quad pull that likes to act up every so often.  I respect these things.   I listen to them.   If something feels funky, I pull back.  I’ve learned my lesson with that.  I have been “beast mode” and ended up getting hurt, nursing something for months – years.  Nope.  Not worth it.  It’s true I need heavier weights to progress, but not all the time.  One more rep is progression.  An extra set is progression.  If I had completed one more rep in that bench press set, I would have set my PR.  But it wasn’t going up easily enough from the bottom, and had I grinded it at the weakest part of my range of motion, I could have injured my right shoulder that has impingement issues.  Not. Worth. It.  I know what PRs feel like when I’m strong enough to get them with good form.  I also know I’m not competing with anyone – I’m setting up the next spreadsheet cycle.  It’s ok to take some more time to get stronger.  Even if I hit it, I’d want to set another one next time, so it doesn’t matter.

Made a video of the lifts.  Sorry, no narration.  I’m sick today, so I’m saving my voice.  Had to teach with a bullhorn on Friday.

 

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