Coffee

So ya… sorry and all that for falling off the face of the planet.

Things that have happened recently:

  1. I got engaged and have been doing lots of planning and celebrating including taste tests.
  2. I bought a house which required sooooo much house hunting and ate up a huge amount of brain power and time, not to mention stress.
  3. I decided not to compete on June 14ths due to the above 2 things and proceeded to eat delicious food and gain weight instead… it’s been marvellously gluttonous though I am not looking forward to having to take the weight off. :(

So that’s my explanation for basically exiting stage right with no word of warning. I’ve even stopped instagramming and posting on facebook! Ahhhh, I’m a terrible blogger. I’m sorry!

I literally have been in the gym about once a week. I haven’t been that infrequent in YEARS and it kills me.

But enough whining, and explaining. Here some info on coffee for you!

Some of you may have picked up on the fact that I adore coffee. And I espouse it’s beneficence to whomever will listen. I cringe when people say things like “Isn’t it bad for you?” or “You shouldn’t drink that”. I firmly believe that the benefits of coffee far outweigh the negatives for the average individual.

Most (if not all) of the negatives of coffee are either related to drinking too much of it, or related to a condition of the person drinking it. Here’s a snazzy little infographic highlighting this fact. If you’ll notice, all the Pro’s are things like lowers risk of disease… yay! And all the Con’s are things like MAY or CAN cause this issue… if you are prone to that sort of thing and/or decide to drink 10 cups of coffee a day.

What’s funny is it doesn’t even mention the obvious number one Pro. Coffee makes life so much easier, it increases brain function and has been shown to make you smarter in addition to just feeling more awake and productive.

It unfortunately also doesn’t mention some of the softer Con’s. Things like adrenal fatigue which can happen with excessive long-term coffee use to replace appropriate amounts of sleep. Or increased caffeine tolerance leading you to need more and more just to feel human throughout the day. Or the worst one in my opinion, which is the inability to self regulate and relying instead on coffee to run your daily rhythm.

Because of that, about once a year I GIVE UP COFFEE! (for 2 weeks to a month)

Oh my god right? But I love coffee?! WHY?!?!?!

Basically I go on a little coffee detox in order to reset my system, give my adrenals a break, decrease my tolerance and try to get back into a good sleep rhythm. Also, I’m not going to lie, that first cup of coffee after detoxing is magical. Full on bliss.

I’m currently on day 4 of the detox and normally would have a withdrawal headache around now, but I have been drinking black teas so have been getting a little caffeine and seem to have avoided that unpleasantness. I am however unreasonably sluggish in my thoughts and super tired. But the tiredness has resulted in fabulous sleep… so there is that.

If any of you feel that you are addicted to coffee, you are not alone. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But sometimes it’s good to give our bodies a break from things. Food for thought.

Back to Basics

I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of really broad topic style blogs recently. I really like doing those types of things. Or general updates about goals and plans etc. But it’s been ages and ages since I just posted about food and workouts. So that’s what I’m going to do today!

I’m just shy of 11 weeks out from my next competition and I am not losing weight… I blame my addiction to chocolate PB2 and the Lindt Dark Sea Salt chocolate. I only have max 100 calories worth of either a day… but I’m convinced that’s the reason, mostly because it’s always the things we love that we are forced to give up. Ugh… stupid body. Just be skinny naturally ok?! Deal. Moving on.  :)

But all in all I have been keeping carbs higher which I actually find hard to do since I can’t eat gluten. So I’ve been eating oats relatively frequently. My normal go to oatmeal recipes is my pumpkin pie oats (yes I know it’s almost April, no I don’t care). But I figured I should try to branch out flavour wise a bit more. My issue is that I like the volume that pumpkin adds to the oats without too many calories.

Cue Zoats.

While perusing instagram I came across a recipe for Zoats or Zucchini Oats and decided to give it a try. My personal favourite flavour at the moment is ginger molasses. Here’s the recipe:

Ginger Molasses Zoats

Ingredients

  • ½ c. Large flake oats

    Some very yummy Zoats

  • ½ c. Egg whites
  • ¾ c. Water
  • ½ large zucchini (about ½ c.) shredded
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger (or 1 tsp dried ginger powder)
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

Directions

  1. Combine oats, water and egg whites in a saucepan a bring to a boil on med-high high, stirring frequently with a fork so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan
  2. Reduce heat a simmer until desired consistency is reached (about 8 minutes for me) then stir in remaining ingredients and return to a simmer.
  3. Serve and enjoy.

Nutritional Info

Calories – 295      Carbs – 48 g     Fat – 3 g    Protein – 20 g

It’s definitely been a go to breakfast in the past week or so. The ingredients will be scaled down to 1/3 c. Oats and egg whites and Stevia instead of molasses as I cut calories more. It’s a very versatile recipe.

As for workouts. I’ve been doing minimal cardio and lifting really heavy as I love to do. My favourite workouts right now are Back and Bi’s so I’ll give you the layout I’ve been doing for that here. I’ve really taken it back to basics for this. Really just focusing on form and moving as much weight as possible. As always, please keep in mind that I have been working out for many years now. Please do not assume the weights I post are what you should be lifting… it’s just for frame of reference as I am always curious how much other people lift, so I figure someone might find it interesting too.

Back to basics – Back and Bi’s

looking wide :)

Warmup – 5 mins either running or rowing (preferably rowing as it actually warms up the back muscles)

  Set 1 Set 2 Set 3
Lat pull downs 100 x 12 105 x 10 110 x 8
One arm DB rows 60 x 10 65 x 8 70 x 6
Supp. bent over BB rows 90 x 10 90 x 10 90 x 10
Rear delt flyes (w. DBs) 15 x 12 15 x 12 15 x 12
Back extensions BW x 12 BW x 12 BW x 12
Dumbbell bicep curls 20 x 10 20 x 10 20 x 10
Concentration curls 12.5 x 10 12.5 x 10 12.5 x 10

 

Cool down – lots of stretching!

So there we go… a more normal, less rant-y post.

Love and health

Reactions to exercise

Almost at the 12 week mark from my next competition. Hooooo boy. I have been slacking, but on the plus side in 2.5 weeks since I “started” (soft start?) I have actually managed to drop 2 pounds… so yay?

Also I’m pretty out of shape.

Please understand that when I say that I don’t mean I look fat, or have lost muscle tone.

What I mean is I have not done cardio in forever and a day and I nearly cried while on the stairmaster the other day.

Not a joke.

Actually almost cried.

This is not uncommon… and here is why.

I think people react differently to exercise of different types. Everyone has a unique reaction, but in general there are sort of… camps of reactions to the two broad types of exercise. So I wanted to discuss what happens to me versus other people and why it’s important to learn your reactions.

Exercise type #1 – raised heart rate for an extended period of time. This is usually in the form of cardio (either HIIT or LISS of the LISS is at a high enough intensity) but can also be from circuit style weights or active rest etc.

My reaction –crying/getting choked up. I really don’t know why this happens but it does, I usually stop before I actually start to cry, but I have let it go too far once or twice resulting in extreme embarrassment in the gym. Basically if my heart rate is too high, for too long I start to get that “lump in the throat” feeling and my breathing gets a little heavier and then the tears start to prick my eyes.

It’s a purely physical reaction… I don’t feel sad, or proud or anything else other than confused at why my body is deciding to cry from exercise. But the important thing is that I know what the reaction is and why it’s happening… I’m pushing too hard.

I’m a firm believer in pushing to your limit. I’m also a firm believer that your limit is where you should stop. All the “motivational” memes about throwing up and/or dying can go to hell. I stop when my body tells me to, which is ideally BEFORE the tears.

Exercise type #2 – intense heavy lifting or long holds. This is the purely muscular type of exercise and oddly I’ve had similar reactions when I am doing a 3rd set of max weight deadlifts as when I hold a pose too long in yoga (to be fair it’s usually because I have already worked that muscle outside of yoga, but the point stands).

My reaction – yawning and then failing at whatever the task is.

The failing aspect is pretty obvious. Your muscle is tasked past its limit, so it gives out and if, say, you have a 200 pound bar on your back, you are going to fall… hard… and probably hurt yourself (which is why you squat in a rack and/or with a spotter right?!). Temporary muscular failure is a good and useful thing to incorporate in exercise and I am by no means recommending to stop as soon as you fail. You just need to, again, know your limits.

The failure that I’m talking about happens AFTER the yawning. Yawning for me is a sign that my whole body is exhausted and it’s trying to get more oxygen to push through. This is usually about 4 exercises in to leg day and all my energy stores are tapped. It’s also the point where I start to struggle with doing my “normal” weights and have to drop to a lower weight in order to finish. This is a good solution and preferable to stopping. It’s also why I order my workouts from most difficult exercise to least difficult, usually ending with isolation or machine exercises. This cuts down on the risk of injury and mentally helps me get through to the end. Thoughts like “don’t be lame, it’s just calf raises” have definitely cropped up.

I would say that my reaction to heavy training is a fairly normal reaction, the whole crying thing is most certainly not normal, but I’m sure there are other people who experience the same thing. The important thing is to know how YOUR body reacts and whether that reaction means you should stop, ease up, or keep going. So here is a list of other reaction to look for that may help you identify what your body is telling you:

  • Dizziness or blurry vision– usually to do with blood pressure – stop immediately before you hurt yourself and/or pass out. Let it pass and then see if you can keep going once you recover.
  • Hyperventilation – you overexerted yourself. Take a break, get your heart rate down and see if you are able to push through.
  • Nausea – could be to do with what you ate before working out… or you could be going too hard. Either way, ease up on things and consider eating a lighter meal before exercise
  • Tired/sleepy – did you get enough sleep? Yes? You’re pushing too hard, go easier, but keep going
  • Red face/sweaty – you’re exercising… this is as it should be! Unless you are popping blood vessels, in which case you should breath more.
  • Euphoria – of course you are happy, endorphins! Keep at it!

I’m engaged!!!

Wow… ok, focus

My wonderful fiancee and I looking oh so happy.

Ok, so remember how I said I was starting prep for June 14th on Monday this week? Well that didn’t happen… mostly because I got engaged and have been having many many celebratory drinkies with friends and family and decided to take a week to just soak it all in instead.

So now it’s been 9 days since the proposal and I’m refocusing on day-to-day life… and contest prep. So I’m officially starting tomorrow, Saturday March 1st… 15 weeks out from the competition!

I will be blogging about once a week during this prep as my work life is pretty busy and now I have a wedding to plan! So sorry… but I have to be realistic!

Some things that I planning on doing a little differently this time around:

  • Keeping my food more consistent throughout the week (i.e. eating the same thing each day for 7 days (with changes for dinner and late night snack as an option) and then changing on a weekly basis. I’ve always been all over the map with what I eat as long as I hit my targets, and I believe that is the ultimate right way to diet, BUT I want to be able to see how certain foods affect my body and the easiest way to do that is consistency. We will see how long this lasts haha.
  • Taking fewer supplements… I took a boat load of vitamins and BCAA type supplements last prep and I’m just going to try to keep it simpler this time… largely in an effort to save money for my WEDDING!!! (can you tell you will be hearing lot’s about this?)

    I had to find a place for the ring while I worked out… necklaces work!

  • Be better with my HIIT cardio and use active rest – I lift really heavy even when I’m not meaning too and it makes active rest next to impossible because I need that time to.. you know… actually rest. I’m going to try to be better with periodization this time around and actually use active rest instead of resorting to LISS cardio.

Things I am keeping the same:

  • My calories will still be high and mighty! I’m starting this cut at about 2000-2100 cals/day. I worked really hard on my metabolism this offseason (read: I ate A LOT of EVERYTHING)I gained a lot more than I intended but I also put on way more muscle that I thought I could. So I’m not worried. I haven’t tracked my food in a while, but I’d guess that my daily average cals are over 3000. So I should be able to lose weight relatively easily!
  • Lifting heavy (most of the time) – this is what I love and what keeps me coming back… so I won’t be doing too much circuit training or lighter weight higher reps until the very end of prep.
  • I’ll still be flexible and have a life. Just like last prep, I firmly maintain that this should be an enjoyable experience and one where you can still go on a date, or have a dinner out with the girls.

So it begins…

15 weeks and counting!

Also – look at this amazing proposal video I got to watch before he popped the question!!!! Ok enough bragging… sorry. I promise to learn to be modest at some point.

The end of offseason

Time has flown by! My offseason is almost over!

I can say for sure that I have made some HUGE gains… especially in my shoulders and calves (which was the goal of this off-season). I have also added general thickness throughout my body. I am as heavy (i.e. I weigh the same) as last offseason just before I started cutting again but there are 2 major differences this time around

  1. This time I have consistently added carbs and calories (probably too many) and at no point did I decrease my intake because I was freaking out about gaining too much. Even though I gained more than I wanted to, I felt that I would be better off staying at the higher calories and higher weight that if I were to drop my calories and start cutting at a lower weight

    Back and shoulders got HUGE

  2. I’m starting my cut 15 weeks out from competition as opposed to 12. This is because I am taking a trip to Disney World 5 weeks out from my competition and want to have some wiggle room and because I want to get a little leaner than last time and don’t want to have to do too much cardio.

In addition to these facts, this offseason has been GREAT for my mental health. I slowly eased off the diet and then slowly eased off counting calories. I haven’t recorded food in over a month now and it has been quite relaxing!

I gained back about 15-17 pounds this offseason (about the same as last time) but I’m way happier about it this time around. I only got to this weight in the last 2 weeks so it has been a pretty slow progression (4 months) and right up to about 2 weeks ago I have felt fabulous about the way I look. Like 100% willing to wear a bikini and walk around kind of fabulous. These last 2 pounds are right at that tipping point where I feel I need to lose weight to feel comfortable again and conveniently I have planned to start cutting next week. So in total I will have felt “not fabulous” about my body for a total of 3 weeks before starting to diet. I’d call that a win as well as good planning.

Deadlift PRs all over the place :)

Another major “win” in my mind is the massive fitness gains I have made. I am stronger than I have ever been; pushing my PRs beyond what I thought I could which is largely due to the excess calories and not being exhausted all the time.

Loving your body for what it can do and not just how it looks can really make all the difference in the world when you are going in and out of contest prep.

As I mentioned I will be starting contest prep next week by first starting to reintroduced a cardio session or 2 and then I will start officially dieting the first week of March. That means I will be a lot more active on my blog here because I will have a lot more info to share! This will be my third round of contest prep and my 3rd year of competitions, so hopefully I can build on my existing knowledge and nail this one!

The contest date is June 14th… wish my luck! And come back for updates and lots of info :)