Category Archives: My Lifting Log

The Global Learner in Math Class

My other blog…
This blog is to provide information and resources to parents of teenagers. Please share if you know anyone who would be interested. Thank you!

The Online Geometry Tutor

A global learner needs to understand the concepts and see how they fall fit together before they are able to understand the steps needed to solve a math problem.

It’s the global learner who is more likely to ask me “why do I need to learn this?”.

On the other end of the continuum, the sequential learner needs to approach a problem systematically and will want to see the list of steps needed to solve a problem before they can understand the “big idea”.

It is the sequential learner who will request that I “just show them the steps”.

A simple analogy – a sequential learner will be able to start working on a puzzle by playing with the pieces, probably putting the edges together first, then working inward.

A global learner won’t feel like they can start unless they can see the picture of the finished puzzle first.


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How to Calculate Your Macros 2.0 – Guest Blogger Colin DeWaay

Hi!  I asked Colin to do another article for us about calculating macros.   Just in case you don’t already log food, I use an app called Cronometer.  (I’m not sponsored by them or anything like that. )  I used to use the BodyBugg app to track, so when that went away, I searched until I found one that had a simple interface and would show macros easily.  I also needed an app that allowed me to use my desktop as well as my mobile devices.

I hope you like Colin’s post!  Please leave your questions in the comments and he’ll answer them.  Or if you’d rather talk with him privately about your situation, his contact info is at the end of this article.


One of the more common questions I get from people looking to start tracking macros is, well, just how the heck do you know what your macros should be!? It’s a fantastic question really, just because you’re willing to track doesn’t mean you know what to do. There isn’t exactly a guide out there that shows you exactly how to do it. Sure there’s websites with macro calculators, there’s TDEE calculators and every kind of calculator you can think of. There’s only one problem though, they’re just calculators! They don’t know anything about YOU.


We can look at calculators all day long but they are just math equations. They don’t know anything about you, your genetics, your past habits, your current habits, most importantly your dieting history. As I’ve written about before this is arguably the biggest variable in how much some should be eating and why so many people find it so difficult to lose.  There’s just no way any online calculator could know your maintenance calories without know A LOT more about you. So what should you do? I’m glad you asked.


The very first step is simply to start tracking. DO NOT change the way you eat. Whatever you’ve been doing continue to do it. If you would have gone back for seconds, go back for seconds. If you would have skipped eating all day, skip eating all day. If you would have taken down an entire bag of Double Stufs do yo thang! Just track it. I know you’re anxious to start making a difference but this phase is critical. Take a week (two weeks would be even better,) don’t change your eating habits, but track it, track it ALL. It’s critical to be honest during this phase, because you’re getting a look into the REAL state of your metabolism. If you’ve been maintaining your weight eating a certain way and now you know how much that is, boom, you have a rough idea of your maintenance calories. NOW you have a better idea how you can proceed.


Not only does this experience help you see how much you’re actually eating (most people are surprised by how much or even how little they eat) but it also starts to show you what’s in the food you eat. How many carbs, how much fat, how much protein. You start to get a better picture. I can’t tell you how many people tell me they prefer carbs but when they actually track their intake find out they eat A LOT of fat. That’s honestly one of the best parts about tracking macros. It TEACHES you so much about food, nutrition, and your body. Everyone wants to be able to eat intuitively, but how can you be intuitive if you don’t know what’s in the food you eat? You must learn first.


Anyway, now that you have a rough estimation of how many calories you’re eating we have two things we need to do. First is determine if you’re even in a position to go into a fat loss phase. The second is to start calculating your macros. What do I mean IF you’re in a position to go into a fat loss phase? Well if you’re maintaining your weight on a very low amount of calories it wouldn’t make sense to try and lose weight. Think about it. If you’re maintaining weight on 1200 calories, what are you going to do to lose? Eat 900 calories? What about when your plateau on that? 800? 600? At what point can you not possibly do it anymore? If you’re not in a good position to lose? It’s time to start looking into reverse dieting to improve your metabolism and put you in a position to succeed.


Anyway as far as calculating your macros (you’ll want to do this no matter what phase you go into) I actually recommend you take a week eating about the same amount of calories you did before but with more structured macro targets. This way not only do you get a little practice with macros first but you’ll get an even better understand of where you’re at metabolically. Think of it as an opportunity to make your fat loss an even better success.


Now that you know your total calories, and keeping in mind 1 gram of protein has 4 calories, 1 gram of carbs have 4 calories and 1 gram of fat has 9 calories. I recommend you start with a protein target of anywhere between .8 to 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. If you have a lot of weight to lose, you can use lean body mass to calculate this instead of total body weight. Protein is easily the most difficult macro for most people to hit, but also the most important because it’s A) responsible for building and maintaining muscle mass B) by far the most thermogenic macro (your body burns about 30% of protein just processing it vs about 6% for carbs and 2% for fat) and C) it’s also by far the most satiating macro meaning when calories get low more protein will help you feel less hungry. From there you want to set your fats. Choose somewhere between 20%-30% of your calories from fat, I usually suggest right around 25% (rarely will I want someone under 20% ever.) If you prefer more fat aim to the higher end, if you prefer more carbs aim for the lower end. From there the rest of your calories come from carbs.


To try and help this make more sense I’ll show you an example. Say you are 160 lbs and you’re going to eat 2000 calories daily (random number, easy math.)

  1. If you eat 1 gram per pound of body weight that would be 160 grams of protein. Since 1 gram of protein has 4 calories you’re getting 160 x 4 = 640 calories from protein.
  2. Say you choose 27% of your calories to come from fat. 27% of 2000 would be 540 calories. 540/9 = 60 grams of fat.
  3. Since you have 540 calories from fat and 640 coming from protein we know we have 820 calories left to get to 2000 and it’s all coming from carbs. 820/4 = 205 grams of carbs daily.
  4. So your daily macro target is 160 protein, 205 carb, 60 fat.


This doesn’t mean you have to hit those numbers exactly and you can have higher/lower days to get to a weekly average, but it’s a starting point. Understand that it DOES NOT require perfection, and I typically recommend you just try to stay within a certain range. In a more serious phase you may try to stay within 5 grams of everything, just starting out you may aim to stay within 10 or even 20 or interchange some carb and fat calories. The point is don’t get stuck trying to be perfect, just get in the ballpark and understand you can’t bank on success every day, use weekly averages to help balance life.


Now if you’ve kept your calories the same for a week or even if you decide to jump right into a fat loss phase, it’s time to reduce your calories so you can start burning fat. I usually recommend dropping calories from anywhere between about 300-700 calories from your maintenance calories depending on how much I know about someone. If you have a longer more extreme history of dieting? You probably need to be on the more aggressive side. Almost no history of dieting? The lower end will probably be a good starting point. The trick is you need to make a significant enough drop to elicit a response, but not so much that you have no room for adjustments down the road.


See your body WILL adapt to whatever you do so you don’t want to drop your calories too low too fast or you’ll have no room to adjust when this happens. But if you don’t make a significant enough of a change your body probably won’t respond and you won’t see much fat loss. No matter what you do at this point it’s all about monitoring and adjusting. Everything we do is based on a calculated guess but being consistent and tracking will always tell us if it’s working or not. If your body doesn’t respond you have to drop calories more (and/or increase expenditure.) If you start losing weight too fast you can add some calories back in. I usually don’t want to see much more of an average of about 1 – 1.5% of total bodyweight per week because beyond that you’re likely sacrificing muscle to see more weight loss. Remember, not all weight loss is created equal! Understand this is just an average and that weight loss is never linear and progress comes in many forms way beyond just scale weight. I’ve seen people lose 6 inches in their waist before ever losing a single pound. So take progress pics and measurements too! Pay attention to how your clothes are fitting, compliments from people you know, how you FEEL, etc.


Oh I almost forgot. One more thing regarding protein. If you haven’t been eating much protein jumping up to high protein will feel almost impossible and quite frankly you’ll probably feel pretty crumby even if you did so it can be a good idea to start lower and work your way up over time. If you’ve eating 50 grams a day and now you want to eat 150 grams a day, well, good luck. It would probably be a better idea to set a more realistic goal like maybe 80 grams and then look to increase 5-10 grams every week (substituting carbs for protein.) But please don’t get me wrong, prioritize protein! It’s extremely important.


So there you have it, my recommendations for starting with macros. It’s not an exact science and there’s no “best” way to do things, this is just a rough starting guide. Each individual is different and needs to be treated different based on preferences, genetics, history, etc. But if you want to learn and get better, there’s no better way. Just like anything it will take time to understand. You’ll get frustrated at first. You’ll have to put in work. But if you take the time to lay the foundation now you’ll be setting yourself up for a lifetime of success.



For more information from Colin download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on an email newsletter where you’ll receive daily emails with helpful advice.


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




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2017 Prep Update: Day 350- the “Suckiest” Phase to Date is Almost Over

What started as “My 275 Day Project”, ended up becoming a year-long project and is ending with the most difficult phase I’ve ever had as a bodybuilder.  However, even though I’m going to describe the obstacles, please keep in mind that I’m working hard to keep it all framed as a big-fat-life-lesson.  At some point in the future, the objective of the lesson that I’m learning right now will be clearer in the review-view mirror.

After my July show, even though I was satisfied with my progress, I was just a little shy of the conditioning I had envisioned.  If I started my off-season at that point, it would be two years before I could make another run at that goal.  Looking ahead, there is a show scheduled for October 7th, which is the Saturday at the end of my school district’s week-long fall break.  So I decided to keep going with this prep and see how much I could improve between July and October.

I knew there would be new challenges because it was the first time I started a school year while still prep.  And I’ve never competed twice in one season, so I’m pushing my body-fat to a lower point than I’ve ever had.  For my July show, I did appear to be at my leanest body-composition to date.  Deciding to diet for another two and a half months meant that I would doing something I’ve never attempted in the past.  When this is finished, my prep will be 359 days long.  This is natural bodybuilding – it’s a marathon.

I have been apprehensive about sharing this part of my prep publicly because, even though I’m doing everything naturally using the same science the general population needs to use to loose fat, I’m pushing it much farther than is advised for the general population.  Please note that I have professional supervision and it ONLY for my sport.  I do not intend to maintain this level of leanness for very long.  I just wanted to see if I could do it.  My recovery coming out of this prep will also be supervised.

Add to that a career timing issue – this is my 22nd year of teaching and I’m 55 years old.  I have another career goal and not too much time left before I will want to retire, so I need to start working on setting things in motion.  When it’s ready, I’ll share more details, but hubby and I decided that I need to start working on setting up a side business that would grow while I was still teaching and be ready to replace my income when I do retire from teaching.  I’m really excited about it and made a plan to have someone hold me accountable each week for getting certain tasks done to keep things progressing.

After a couple of weeks into this last leg of the prep, with school starting, the work on the side-business starting,  life did what life does.  Boulder-sized obstacles started dropping from the sky.  Hubby needed to be hospitalized the weekend before school started for a sneaky and severe pneumonia.  He remained in the hospital for 6 days and I missed the first two days of school.  (He is fine now, even though he is still on the mend.)  If you’re a teacher, you know that the start of a school year is bumpy anyway, so pushing myself physically, changing my schedule around to deal with life, and having handle the first week of school took a toll.

The first month, I was just putting out fires and dealing with whatever needed to be handled that day.  The whole time, I never missed a lift, never missed a cardio, and followed the diet protocol.  But eventually, because of the caloric deficit and lack of sleep, I got run down a little and picked up a “little” bug from the kiddos.  Wasn’t really little.  Felt like it at first, but after about a week of no change, I started using some sick days and headed to Urgent Care.  A gnarly sinus-infection was making itself at home in my head.  Took a few days on antibiotics and a lot of rest before I could make it through a whole day at work.  Luckily, I had some energy in the mornings and could keep up with my training for all but two days.  But I needed a lot of rest and had to bring calories up for a few days.

So now, we are 9 days out from the competition and I’m getting back on track.  I’ve decided to finish this thing the best way I can and not be too concerned about hitting the original ‘leanness’ goal I set last July.  This week, I’m not trying to do anything epic in the gym.  I dropped my loads and increased my reps.   Coach sent me my peak week protocol that will start tomorrow.  That fall break I mentioned before starts tomorrow and I need it.  NEED.  IT.

Just when I thought I navigated around the last obstacle, they keep a’coming!  My workout logging app was not compatible with the new iPad IOS upgrade, so I’ve just lost 4 years of data.  OK, that’s a first-world-problem and not really a catastrophe, but it’s annoying.   I might be able to fix it, but I think the better approach is to accept it as a sign that I need a fresh start.  I’m going to get a new gym planner today and start tracking with paper/pencil again, with a backup on a spreadsheet.  It will be good. Old-school.

Yesterday, Facebook reminded me of a photo I posted with a student from 2011.  This Facebook memory was a blessing to me yesterday.  (The second picture is a progress picture sent to my coach recently.  Sorry, but I don’t do hair and makeup except on show days.  Most of the time I look like I just got up or just worked out.)  Reminded me of how far I’ve come.  I’m also a bit blown away by how human biology responds to simple, positive changes in nutrition and smart, safe lifting programming.  I know it’s science, but the results come from consistency.  And, for me, the consistency comes from a spiritual place.  The mental game is the hardest.  I use a lot of prayer and inspirational audio books  to keep me going.  I. AM. GRATEFUL.  Humbled a little, too.  It’s hard to look at this and not tear up.

Not sure if I’ll write again before the show on the 7th.  When I have pictures, I’ll share those here or on the Facebook page.  This time around, there is nothing in my mind about placings – this one is about just getting it done.  I suspect the next time I do a year-long prep, it will be easier because I will know what to expect.



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2017 Prep Update: Day 260 out of 275 – Two weeks left?!?! OMG. OMG. OMG.


If you think you know why I’m freaking out, you might be wrong.

I’m an introvert.  I can honestly say that getting on stage in a posing suit smaller than my underwear doesn’t bother me as much as you might assume.  I go out there, they call the poses and I do the poses.  I’m don’t wear my glasses, the stage lights are bright, so even though I can hear people, I can’t see many – just the judges and the front row.  And honestly, I’m so used to tuning out “teenager noise”, I really don’t hear anything except what I’m paying attention to – which will be the head judge’s instructions.  It’s just me and a few other nice women doing this thing.  No big deal.  This will be my 4th time, so I can visualize it.   I can prepare.  I practice every day.  I know what to expect.

Sure, I’ll have some nerves about it this time as it gets closer because of what happened before, but I think I can be ready for that.  Today, that’s not what makes me nuts thinking about competing.  It’s my introversion.  Everything about competing, except the stage, are things I actively avoid in life because they make me really uncomfortable, jumpy, and drain me.

If any of these things resonate with you, please leave a comment!  I could sure use a reminder that even though it is unlikely that we introverts will ever be in a room together, you understand my struggle.


  1. Driving to a big city that has big city traffic.
  2. Organizing everything so I won’t forget anything. (The “to do” lists need to start being written down now.  I can’t keep it in my head without going crazy.)
  3. People.  Nothing I do is more “peopley” than a show.  People everywhere.  People I don’t know. Bored people waiting for their turn who just want to visit because they aren’t introverts.
  4. The competition spray tan.  It’s gross.  It’s uncomfortable. It stinks.  It’s inconvenient. The first layer goes on Friday night, so you have live in it,  sleep in it, which means you need special clothes to wear that you can wreck but won’t wreck the tan, a set of sheets dedicated to sleep in for a couple nights.  And I can’t find my sheets.  I need to head to the thrift store.  I would also like to look for another crappy tanning track suit.
  5. The backstage scheduling is never set.  Need to pay attention to when you are called to pump up to go out.  Before that, eat what you’re supposed to eat at a given time based on that time you don’t know – make sure your tan and glaze are touched up before that…I’m a teacher.  I’m a professional PLANNER.  Not knowing these things makes me nuts.
  6. Hurry up and wait backstage = people.  Talking and stuff.  Socializing, small talk.  NIGHTMARE!
  7. Did I burn the CD with my routine music?  Nope.  Add that to the list.  Oh, and make a few CDs and put them in different places so that when I lose one, which I will, I’ll have backups.  Ugh.
  9. Make up and hair??  Ugh.  I think I’ll have them just spray my face again like last time.  Throw on some mascara and lipstick and that’ll be it.  Hair?  Well, that’s kind of already taken care of with the half-shaved head, right?  Can’t go wrong there.  Back comb and hairspray is all that I’ll need to do.

I do have a few people coming who I’m looking forward to seeing.  My plan is to honor my introversion this time around.  If I’m not with the one or two people who I’m comfortable with, I’ll find a quiet corner, listen to music or an audio book,  and try to keep my internal batteries charged.  Hell, I’d bring my crochet bag except that the stupid tan would get all over the yarn!

CRAP!  Batteries?  Cell phone battery!   I’m going to have to add “bring remote charger” to my list of things not to forget.  Every available outlet in the backstage area will be jammed up.



This last week was a deload week at the gym.  Nothing too exciting.  I spent more time practicing posing and doing cardio than lifting.  Got the plan from coach for the last two weeks and everything starts to wind down now.  I forgot – peaking with my coach is like a vacation compared to how I like to do life normally.  No one peaks an athlete better than Alberto Nunez in my opinion.  It’s all about reducing stress while using science with macros to bring his athlete up from looking like a flat tire to looking like a bodybuilder.  The guy is a “macro-whisperer” when it comes to peak week.  And we don’t cut water.  Should mention that because many competitors do.

Scale continues to drop.  We expect that to continue based on what happened the last time we peaked for a show.  This morning, I hit Alberto’s stage weight goal, so I think he needs to revise that.  I’m one pound away from my personal “aggressive” goal – so we’re probably coming in leaner than either one of us expected.

So other than the stress of having to “people” and “drive” and do other things that stress introverts, my goal is to reduce physical stress as much as possible.  The last week of summer school is next week.  All the work for that is done – kids are just finishing it up.  The final exam has been submitted for copying.  Next Friday at noon, I’ll grade the exam, issue grades for the semester, log-off, lock the door, and walk away until the end of the month.

And I’m about 90% sure I’ll do a second show in October.  At least we can plan for it.  These things are a little expensive, so if something comes up and I can’t swing it, that’ll be ok.  I’ll have photographer hubby do a photoshoot instead.  We should do that anyway.  He has some cool costumes around here.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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




Filed under My Lifting Log

2017 Prep Update: Day 240 of 275

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

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

July 2015, 128.6 lbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taken with a flash.


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



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

How Supplements Fit Into Your Program

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

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

1. Sustainability/Adherence

2. Calories

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

4. Micronutrients

5. Meal Frequency/Timing

6. Supplements

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

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

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

1. Whey Protein

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

2. Creatine Monohydrate

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

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

3. Fish Oil

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

4. Multi-vitamin

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


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

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


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


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




Filed under My Lifting Log