Tag Archives: contest prep

2017 Prep Update: Day 254 out of 275

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Contest Prep

2017 Prep Update: Day 240 of 275

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

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

July 2015, 128.6 lbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taken with a flash.

 

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

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Reasons Why I’m “Doing It Wrong”

If you follow fitness pages on social media, you will see many messages that fall into that “go hard or go home” theme.  They are success stories.  They walk into the gym, abs a blazin’, and are pushing to the limit EVERY.SINGLE. DAY.

I don’t do that. I can’t do that.

Here are few reasons why I’m doing this thing “wrong”.

REASON #1: I do as little work as possible.

I don’t go “beast-mode” in the gym.  I used to.  And I got hurt.  Twice.   Not serious injuries, but they still nag at me.  Lifters get hurt – that’s true.  But actively choosing to avoid injuries means I can keep lifting without interruption or work-arounds.  There is a difference between the loads my muscles can handle and what my connective tissues can handle.  Those little pieces and parts have been moving me around for over 54 years – I am always conscious of that.  Random strangers sometime feel the need to offer critique about how I do a movement, and that’s OK because they have helpful intentions.  They might not realize that I actually do know what I’m doing.  Range of motion is a connective tissue issue for me and I send video to my coach to analyze almost weekly.  We both know that over the long term, things have improved and will continue to improve.  Nothing good comes from rushing a biological process.  My body never lets me get away with that.  I also found a coach who shared my perspective and he keeps me healthy.  (Knocking on wood as I type…)  Now I just show up, do what I’m supposed to do that day.  No more, no less.  Every 4th week, a deload is programmed in whether I feel like I need it or not.

If you’re a teacher, this analogy might make sense – think about IEPs and least restrictive environment.  I do as little as possible to get the results I want.  There is nothing further for me to gain by breaking down more tissue and increasing my recovery time.

REASON #2: I eat ice cream every day.

I worked hard in the beginning to redefine “food”.  When I started, I put everything on the psychological table, so to speak.  I got help and learned what nutrition was all about.  I had to develop a new habit of measuring and tracking.  I do believe micronutritents saved me – I remember when my paradigm shifted.  I had just read about cellular regeneration and BOOM!  It hit me.  I could change every cell in my body by consistently providing better nutrition. That was when I became a clean-eating zealot.  Apparently, upon reflection, I needed to be an a-hole for a while.  Sorry.  I was obnoxiously passionate about what I was learning and I also needed a little validation.  I believe it was just an awkward, emotional, necessary part of my journey.  Eventually, I grew weary of feeling like a food martyr who only ate foods on a short list of “approved” items.  I started to research and learned more.  I learned about macros.  I also learned that because of how I trained, because of how I changed my body composition, not only could I incorporate some of “off-limit” foods back into my life, I knew I could control them, and my body used them differently.

I asked my coach (Alberto Nunez, 3D Muscle Journey) if he thought I had any emotional issues with food.  Paraphrasing, he said “No.  You use food as a tool.  You know when it’s necessary to be precise and you know when it’s OK to relax.”  Please know that I do have days when I’m HUNGRY.  Those are planned and necessary for what I’m doing.  It’s also a natural physical response for hormones to trigger hunger when precious fat stores are being used.  Bodies don’t like that.  Bodies want to be plump and ride out the famine.  My body has not evolved itself to support my first-world goal of improving my conditioning as a bodybuilder.  I still believe micronutrients in veggies are my bestest buddies for recovery and general health, but because I eat a little ice cream each day (until I’m deep in contest prep and I don’t want to), that tub of cookie dough has lived safely in our freezer for almost a year.

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REASON #3: I don’t cut water when I compete.

After I did my first show, I started researching how to compete without cutting water.  I did a water cut again for my 2013 show and that just confirmed for me that I would rather quit competing than cut water again.  It’s just not something I choose for myself.  I’ve worked very hard to get off the path of health complications that I was traveling back in 2009, so cutting water, using water pills (or even fat burners, for that matter) just doesn’t fit into my personal philosophy of how I’m going to live.  I continued to research and learn.  That research eventually led me to my coach.  More and more competitors are learning the science behind a peaking process that makes it unnecessary to cut water.  It’s actually counterproductive because I looked flat on stage when dehydrated.  For the 2015 show, I had a water bottle off stage and was drinking as we were being called out for prejudging.  Yes, I did gain some muscle between those two shows, but if you look at the 2015 conditioning, drinking water didn’t have a negative effect.  To improve my stage conditioning, I need to focus on improving my body composition gradually over a long time.  Just that.  Nothing else.

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REASON #4: I won’t do whatever it takes to improve in my sport.

I’m competitive, but I’m working to keep that drive focused on things I can control.  There is a list of things in my head that I won’t do.  I believe I can do this thing on my terms, or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I’m curious to see what I can accomplish doing it the way I want to do it. I’ve seen this sport wreck people and relationships.  I can understand why the stakes would seem higher for younger people.  Me?  Hell, I’m going to be 55 and one year closer to retirement the next time I post a new stage picture.  To me, I’m in the prime of my life right now.  To the fitness world, I’ve been called a grandma.  (Not blessed with kids, btw, so I’m not literally a grandma.)  I hope the lessons provided to me by the Universe about the irrelevance of my ego are over, but if I have more to learn, I that’s OK.  Seriously.  What do I have to lose if I earn a 4th last place?? Nothing.  What do I have to gain if I win an overall?  Nothing really.   The shows and the pictures are cool, but they are not the endgame.  Progress is the endgame. The true endeavor is to show up each day and recommit.  There is joy that for me, but not all the time.  Passion ebbs and flows.  I’m still motivated just to see what is around the next corner.  In some ways, it’s a very long game of strategy of me vs me.  Win/win or lose/lose depending on how I play, right?

 

 

 

 

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3 Weeks Out – Time is Flying By Fast Now

This past week was an emotional one.

  • Two graduations to attend – my new high school and my old one.  I don’t have enough words to describe how proud I am of my students.  Every single one had to work hard to achieve what they celebrated on that day.
  • Had to go back to school to clean up the room, print my grades, and turn in my keys for the summer break.  It’s a short break in our district – we go back at the beginning of August.  I’ll go back at the end of July.  When I locked that classroom door, I was a bit overcome with gratitude to have finally landed in a spot that works with my life and where I feel appreciated.
  • I dropped our parakeet’s cage in the patio by accident.  It wasn’t hurt – but it flew away.  I didn’t think I was bonded to that bird, but I miss it.  I feel remorse that my clumsiness probably killed the little guy.  I try to push back thoughts of how scared it must have been with the thought that, since he was kind of an old parakeet and never been out of a cage, that this was his great escape.  He is off having an adventure.
  • Life happened – no details – but for about half a day, it looked like I was going to have to pull out of the show because we would need to the money I have saved for show expenses to handle the situation.  That made me a bit sad for about half a day.  It worked out differently than I thought it would, so things are still a “go”.  Competing is NOT a life-priority.  I won’t let it be a consideration when we are making decisions.
  • Since I’m not working now, all my daily routines are gone.  It’s relaxing to be able to sleep without an alarm clock.  Still working on getting my days to run a bit smoother.  My training and prep activities do take up a chunk of time each day, but they aren’t the most important things I need to do each day.  Hubby and home are my top priorities.  I spent a lot of free time over the last year dealing with school transfers.  I’m still juggling things a bit to make sure my priorities are reflected with how I spend my time each day.

Look what came today!  I love it!!  Fits great.  I ordered the suit last Sunday night and it was delivered on Saturday.  This is my fourth suit from Saleyla , they are affordable, they have all fit and are delivered in a week.

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New Posing Suit (Photobombed by Tippy)

This week, I chose the song I will use for my routine.   I had to download and learn how to use software to edit it myself.  It was a little more involved than setting a start/stop time.  I needed to figure out how to put three different chunks together and make it sound like it wasn’t three different chunks stuck together.  It can only be a minute long.

This is the song I’m using…

I think I have a rough draft of my routine put together.  Sent a video to my coach for his feedback.  The next three weeks will include a LOT of practice time for the routine and for mandatory poses.

Diet break ended and I was back on deficit days this past Thursday.  Body has dropped every day since.  I was at a prep low of 132.6 lbs this morning.  This is what diet breaks have done for me during this prep.  Haven’t really hit any unplanned plateau’s yet.  Those breaks are planned maintenance periods.  Not exactly refeeds – I have to eat a little under my burn to maintain my weight.  Months ago, these “diet deloads” were nice breaks.  Now, they are stressful.  Obviously, they are a psychologically stressful this close to a show, but the last two have also been physically stressful.  It’s a gear change that I actually feel.  But they are a break for my metabolism, though, which is the point.  These breaks are pushing my fat loss to a place I’ve never been.

Lifting has been going well.  Still no major loss of strength.  There were a couple times during the last week of school when I pulled back a bit, but that was to stay safe when I knew I was sleep-deprived and stressed.  This week, I’ve been able to do what was planned.  I am supposed to test my max lifts next week, but I asked coach if I could skip that.  I don’t need another thing to think about right now.  And I know myself – I get a bit competitive with myself when testing.  I just don’t see the point right now.  Coach said I could just add 5% to my lifts and skip it this time.  I’ll test again after the competition.

New progress pics were taken this morning.  I’m still nervous about being as lean as I need to be, but I am happy that I have already reached my goal of having better conditioning than I did in 2013.  I only post my progress pictures here on this blog.

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7 Weeks Out – Body Builder Brain

  • I’m too small.
  • I won’t get lean enough.
  • I’m too busy and can’t practice enough.
  • I don’t have a routine yet, so I haven’t been practicing that, either.
  • I don’t know where I put my posing suit.
  • Maybe I should just skip this year, too?
  • I lost my pecs.
  • My right calf is too small.
  • Tanning, makeup??  Where IS my suit???
  • I’m 53.  Guys in their 40’s are talking about being old – and I’m just starting??  What the hell am I thinking?  No one is going to take me seriously.  I’m a joke.
  • I am a wife.  I have a demanding job – people depend on me.  I don’t have time for this!  What the hell am I thinking?

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And all of this happened while I was on a diet break.  Five days this week of eating at maintenance – which means I increased my food intake just enough to maintain my weight.  Gave my body a break from the stress of dieting.  And it is stressful.  Body is basically chewing up it’s own reserves to keep functioning.  When in a caloric deficit over time, brain doesn’t have enough energy to handle stress well – which is why dieters can be so much fun to be around!

I think the diet break was stressful for me because I’m feeling the time crunch now.  7 weeks.  Less than 2 months.  It’s already a stressful time because I’m finishing up a school year in a new building.  I can’t bring work home.  Training, resting, food prep, and life just doesn’t allow for that anymore.  But there are piles of things to grade, final exams to write, study guides to write, lesson plans for kids who don’t want to work – classroom management is hard right now.  Most of my students are seniors. They are excited and stressed about graduating and making the transition to adulthood.  So I’m picking up on all the anxiety around me trying to not let it add to my own anxiety about getting everything done.

During this diet break, I maintained my scale weight better than I have on previous breaks.  I kept the calories under my burn because the BodyBugg I wear is probably over-reporting the burn right now.  I’m smaller so it takes less energy to move my mass through space.  Processes adapt over time to use fewer calories when in a deficit situation.  On the first day of the diet break, I noticed I wasn’t as tired at the end of the day.  That’s a big clue that I needed to take the break, huh?  I was ready for it, but I only wanted to do two days.  When Coach said to do five days, I was surprised.

I was also surprised at how emotionally tough it was to eat more for those five days.  I didn’t have this reaction to diet breaks before.  It’s just my Bodybuilder Brain.  I was happy to get back on the diet yesterday.  I missed Hungry.  Hungry = Progress.  It’s not comfortable, true.  It sucks some days, actually.  But it’s necessary and it means I’m moving forward instead of standing still in my prep.

Now, I’m hungry again.  So I’m happy.  Moving forward and excited to be back on the ‘growling tummy grind’.  Today.  Let’ revisit that “happy to be hungry” BS in a week, shall we?  Hahahaha!

Bodybuilder Brain also needs to be managed.  It’s normal, but it cannot be allowed to run amok because one of my goals for this prep was to enjoy it.  There are some things I can do to stay calm and centered.

1) Keep involvement with social media to a minimum.  I do better if I focus on what I need to do and avoid looking at what others are doing.  We’ve talked about that before over on the FB page.  My “teacher voice” starts screaming when I see some of the things I see.  (I’m going to refer those kids to the office for dress code violations.)

2) Go outside.  Often.

3) Read more.

4) Sleep more.

5) Get caught up at work and ride the year out with as little effort as possible.

6) Find my suit!

7) Just keep grinding.  Embrace the suck.  I like it.  I like the self-discipline.  I like delayed gratification.

 

8) Keep perspective – yeah, sure, I’m getting on stage to be judged.  Risking public humiliation, intorvert’s nightmare… yada, yada, yada.  But it’s actually easier than you would imagine.  It’s mostly just fun. The audiences at these shows are bodybuilding fans.  They either know what it’s like to do it, wish they could do it, are family and friends of competitors, etc.  I get more stressed thinking about the travel, the makeup, the tanning – all of that stuff.  Stage is fun.

 9) Blog more.  It takes time, but writing helps me process my thoughts and emotions.  I’ve been using it that way for the last five years.  This prep is different than the last two.  It’s been fun, for the most part.  Life has been nuts for the last year, so the structure of this prep and working with this coach have helped me stay sane.  However, these last 7 weeks could be…interesting.  

 

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Contest Prep, Life, Opinions

16 Weeks Out – Things are About to Get Exciting

Contest prep is exciting.  It allows me to see in a mirror what I think I’ve built, but can only feel from the inside.  Prep is also a challenge.  It’s pushing the fat-loss process further than most need to go.  The goal is “shredded” not “bikini body”.   I can’t lie, I’m running on faith that someone like me can attain that kind of conditioning.  I haven’t done it before.  I trust my coach and the process, but I can’t visualize yet where this is going to end up.   It can be dangerous when people try to do this too fast with extremely low calories, use drugs, or use water manipulation to create a leaner look.  I’ve done two preps with water depletion and  promised myself that I would never do another one.  To avoid it, I need to be a lot leaner.  I’ve worked too hard to regain my health.  I appreciate what it has allowed me to do and I don’t take for granted that I can do extreme things to myself and bounce back at my age.  (I wanted to take a moment to say that before I get into the nitty gritty reporting of what’s going on.  I know most people who follow my journey aren’t bodybuilders.  I want to reassure everyone that even though my goal for this prep is to push my conditioning farther than I’ve gone before,  I’m feeling more balanced than ever this time around.  Kudos to coach for that.)

Quick summary:  I started cutting calories last September.  Coach has had me doing cutting/maintenance cycles since that time.  As of this morning, my total weight loss for that period of time has been 13.8 lbs.  I call the maintenance cycles “diet deloads”.  

The most recent diet deload started on March 4th and ended on March 13th.  During that phase, I used the Bodybugg to keep track of my calorie burn throughout the day and ate those calories.  The goal was to maintain my weight.  I always keep my protein stable and will adjust fats and carbs to do whatever I’m trying to do.   I just went back and looked at the reports.  Turns out that, on average, I ate about 100 calories more each day than I burned.  That’s OK.  It’s a recovery time.  And I am working hard to not get too OCD about things this early in prep.  (Hoping to avoid calorie/marco OCD entirely, honestly.)  During the deload phase, my macro averages were…

  • Carbs = 271 grams
  • Protein = 152 grams
  • Fats = 80 grams

During the week of diet deload, I gained a pound.  Not a care was given.  It was just a normal fluctuation as my  body healed itself.   (A year before, March 2014, in off-season, I was about 5 pounds heavier and eating about 70 carbs less and 10 fats more.  Just throwing that in here because I think it’s interesting.)

I took before/after pictures during the deload phase to see what happened.  Happy to say, not much.  Just some puffy water weight.

I’ve been back on a 500-calorie deficit cutting phase for a week.  A little cardio has been added into the program now, too.  My goal for the week was to burn 800 calories in cardio.  I think I did a bit over 900.  I figured out real quick that I got to eat more on days I had that little bit of cardio because the overall deficit was still going to be 500.  I do cardio for food.  (OK – it was kind of enjoyable, too.  It didn’t take long.  About 30 minutes of walking a day.)

I hit my lowest scale weight of this prep on Thursday at 144.4 lbs.  I usually lose weight in 0.2 pound increments and will bounce up and down after I hit a low.  Got up this morning and my weight was 143.2 lbs.  I expected 144.2.  I’m happy?  OK, sure.  I’m happy.  Its just mentally hard to shrink after spending years trying to get bigger.  The scale game/weight loss process is not linear and it’s not efficient.  Biology doesn’t favor bodybuilders.  Body likes fat.  It will burn new muscle before fat.  So when the scale drops, I am accepting the data as “good” because it’s progress and it has to happen.  And then I take the negative thoughts and put them in a box, shove the box in the back of my head, throw a blanket on it, and walk away.

AND NOW, SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS…

The mental game is hard for me.  Pretty sure that comes from being an introvert and being a little nervous about the stage.   I’m not my biggest cheerleader.  Every day, I tell myself that I’m too small for bodybuilding and I’m just now approaching a decent “figure” physique – which is a good thing, by the way.  But that’s not the goal I have for myself.  But I am closer now than I was in 2013, that’s for sure.  I’m hoping that as the prep continues, I’ll see more of the FBB silhouette I’ve been working on all this time.

My attraction to this sport is the creativity of it.  The longer I do it, the less I’m attracted to the idea of ‘discipline  through deprivation’ and the more I realize that “discipline” for me is just a set of tools (lifting, nutrition, logging, rest, stress management) I use to create a living sculpture from the inside out.  I’m not really not in-love with the idea of suffering and making sacrifices to advance in the sport  I honestly don’t see the point of me, a 50-something female natural bodybuilder, of doing anything but enjoying the hell out of this as much as I can.

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, My Lifting Log, Weight Loss

20 Weeks Out: A Happy Birthday Happened

My birthday was a week ago today.  53 now and I’m thrilled.  Year #52 was not great and I’m relieved it’s over.  Grateful to have had a year 52, but it’s going to be memorable for being difficult.   The difficulties of last year presented lessons I needed to learn.   I’m excited to compete again this summer.  I’m excited about the program I’m doing,  and how I’m learning how to do all of this with as little stress as possible.  I’ve learned a lot about how to be a balanced competitor from my coach, Alberto, but also from the other coaches and athletes at 3DMJ.  Not surprised by that – I did my homework and chose to work with them for this exact reason.  However, that decision was made about 6 months before the poo hit the fan last year.  Grateful to God for the timing on that.

These are the progress pics I took last weekend.

2-15-15 Front

2-15-15 Back

I’ve been doing some sort of calorie cut/diet deload since last September.  The cuts to this point have been gentle to engineer a slow weight loss.  I haven’t been tracking bodyfat percentages, so I can only discuss scale weight.  In that long span of time, I’ve had a net loss of 11 pounds.  As of today, I’ve been off the last ‘diet deload’ for two weeks.   We are being a bit aggressive with the deficits for 3-4 weeks before I take another diet break.  I’ve been shooting for a daily deficit of around 600 calories.  My daily intake has been between 1600 and 1800.  That’s low for me, but it’s not unsafe.  I keep my protein and fat grams consistent and let the carbs roll up and down depending on the burn, but carbs average around 200 grams a day.  (Even on a rest day when my intake needs to roll down, I’m getting about the same amount of food as I had on a “high” day during my last contest prep in 2013.)  I track this with the Bodybugg gadget and website.  The mobile interface for the Bugg makes it easy to see what’s going on during the day.  I’ve been using it since 2009.   I’m confident that it’s fairly accurate and I know it’s more accurate than guessing.

IMG_3831

Yeah, I know. Not enough sleep.

I’ve still been eating fairly normally.  I just adjust the last meal of the day (bedtime) if necessary.

Last week, I felt good.  The expected water retention from the stress of the deficit didn’t happen until the middle of this second week.  It’s since released and the scale has been playing nice again.  My weight this morning was 146 even.  Coach told me to expect some visible changes in the next set of progress pictures next weekend.  I’m starting to see it in the mirror and clothes already.

However, I think the ‘feel good’ part is over for this phase for the time being.   The last two days have been – unpleasant.  Same volume of food, but it’s two weeks into it now so the body is doing what it’s supposed to be doing.  And it’s pissed about having to use it’s precious fat stores for energy.  Hunger hormones are raging.

IMG_3830

My first thought is to revamp food choices.  I need more volume.  I want 1800 calories to feel like 2400 in my tummy.  I eat pretty clean, but once I take a look at it, I can probably find some spots to make some lower-calorie substitutions and increase the volume. Butternut squash, for example.  Love it and it’s friendly on the food log.  However,  I’m keeping those Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches in as long as possible during the prep.   I used to make a frozen chocolate protein shake as a dessert.  I’m willing to switch out an ice cream sandwich for one of those occasionally, I suppose.

Lifting is going well.  Because of frequent injury issues, squats and deads were replaced with leg press and RDLs.  I need exercises that are safer and something I can use to track strength progress. My lifting volume was increased, too, so these moves are safer.  Not as much fun, though.   It’s also an adaptation to my life – I don’t get enough sleep because it is very difficult for me to go to bed at 7 pm.  After a coupl e weeks with this change, I’m recovering better, even with a calorie restriction.  I will be able to move heavier weight safely.  (A few years ago when I didn’t pay attention to form and had not started pulling everything, I leg pressed 720 lbs a couple times.  Doesn’t count because my form sucked.)  I’m still doing the occlusion work with my legs, so I should be able to keep my legs from losing size.  <Fingers crossed>

Cardio is still not a regular part of my program.  I know it’s coming, but doesn’t seem to be needed right now.  If I need to burn more calories, I can get more activity at work.  My calorie burn at middle school was about 200 more than at high school.  Middle schoolers require a lot more ‘proximity management’.  I’ve been sitting more lately, because I can, so getting up and walking seems like a good idea, don’t you think?  (On the flip side, knees feel better.  Always a trade-off.)

I suspect someone reading this now is thinking “Ice cream?  No cardio? She must not be serious.”  Judge if you want, but I decided a long time ago to never go “Beast Mode” again.  I knew after my last show that I’d never do a traditional prep again.  The pictures from a day before looked so much better than my stage pictures.  I won’t cut water again.  If I’m not lean enough to compete, I don’t compete.  I knew I would never get lean enough without a completely different approach in my programming, because diet and cardio won’t get me where I wanted to go.   I knew everything had to change.  And ‘everything’ takes time.

A goal is to enjoy this process and have fun.  A goal is to have a contest prep be something I can do at anytime during the year.  I don’t want it to impact my husband’s life (too much) and I don’t want it to impact my ability to teach teenagers.  I also don’t want to compete very often.  I don’t have a physique that can sustain a prep every year.  Someday, maybe, but not yet.

Maybe no one doubts that this 53 year-old, post-menopausal woman can become shredded without a ton of sacrifice.  Maybe I’m delusional.  Maybe I just need to imagine doubters and critics out there to motivate myself.  Nah – they are out there.  Doubters, anyway.

It doesn’t look like I’m going to blog more frequently like I wanted to do.  If you’re interested, I’m documenting daily on Instagram.  I’ve been feeling quite joyful and hopeful about my 53rd year and have started a series of little videos about it.  Did I say I was excited?  I’m excited.

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, My Lifting Log, Teaching