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 :)

I love Lifting!

Sometimes people say they wish they could be motivated to weight train like me, or they wish they could compete. I usually follow this by asking why? Usually it’s something like I want to lose weight, or the magazines look so good etc. Almost always I give them the same piece of advice; “Do what you like.” Not in a snarky, do whatever you want, I don’t care kind of way. But literally, find something you like and do it.

Gains are made when you are loving the gym :)

Not everyone likes weight training, even though it is a great way to get in shape. There are other ways! (blasphemy) Some people prefer running or swimming and like to just do cardio. Other people like team based sports. And still others like the competitive workouts of crossfit or martial arts. These are all legitimate ways to get in shape and I bet every person could find something fitness related that they LIKE to do.

I don’t just like lifting weights. I LOVE it. Very few things make me as happy as picking up heavy things and putting them down. I guess I’m pretty simple that way. ;)  haha

But sometimes I get it in my head to do workout “programs” or “methods”.  And I do. I experiment with these things all the time. But then I find myself skipping the gym a little too often. And when that happens I often go back to what I normally do… and I have an epiphany.

I have an epiphany that I have about once a year. A Re-piphany if you will.

And that is that I really like doing my own thing in the gym. My love of weights is contingent on it not being overly structured or programmed.

I’ve even blogged about it before! So why do I forget?

Well I’ll tell you why, but first let me tell you what I mean by “my own thing”

I like following frameworks, and not schedules. Principles and guidelines instead of a strict timeline and regimen. It keeps me engaged with the process and gives me the flexibility to adapt to my schedule outside of fitness or even how I am feeling that day.

If I follow a strict program that someone else designed I don’t feel like I’m really working towards MY goals… I’m working towards THEIR goals (or the ones they imagined for their user). And that’s great for the most part. But I inevitably can’t follow it to the letter because of such and such a reason and I end up modifying it, and then I am basically doing what I normally do anyways. EXCEPT now I feel guilty because I’m supposed to be following this program.

So now I have this ridiculous, self-imposed guilt that I’m carrying around, and my workouts start to suffer. I’m  not giving it my all, or if I am, I’m just not “feeling it”.

Stop that!

Let’s stop with the theoretical now. Yesterday I went to the gym and decided that I was getting really bored of the tempo I was imposing on myself from the program I’ve been following. It has a 1-0-3 tempo (1 seconds contraction, 0 second pause, and 3 second decentric movement) So that’s a slooooow down phase. It forces you to focus on form, and also means you probably have to drop the weight.

But I like lifting HEAVY. It’s motivating for me. So yesterday I decided to shed the tempo counts and just lift like a beast. It was back day and I really wasn’t feeling that into it at the start. There were no treadmills so I decided to warm up on the row machine. I managed to bang out over 1000 meters in 4 minutes! (1 min intervals) So that put me in a good mood.

Then the lat pull down machine was being used, which is normally where I start my  back day… ok well second in line is one arm rows, so I decided to start with that instead. With the slow tempo I had been using 40-45 pounds and struggling. But without the tempo restriction I decided to give 50’s a shot. After banging out 12 it felt pretty light. So I decided to try 60’s – My previous PR is 55 for the record. I did 10 clean reps with the 60’s and did a second set! It still felt pretty easy. So I upped it to 65 pounds and still managed a last set of 10 clean reps!!! I couldn’t stop smiling and definitely got a couple of weird looks.

After that I thought I would be completely toast for the rest of the workout. But I wasn’t I upped my weight on every single exercise. Partially because I was using a much faster tempo with gives you some momentum, but I think a lot of it had to do with me ENJOYING my workout.

OK, so here is my point.

I often want to try new programs because I see them around all the time. So and so it one this diet, that persons doing these workouts etc. So I give them a try, but in the process I lose sight of what I love about my workouts and they become a chore. It’s such a small change too! I’m not forcing myself to try to become a runner, I’m just using a different structure to my weight training sessions.

So listen up… if you feel like you can’t get in shape, or weight lifting just isn’t for you… that is OK. You are a unique person with individual likes and dislikes. But I promise you there is some form of fitness out there that you will fall in love with. You just have to find it! So experiment, try new sports, methods, times of day even! Just keep trying until you find what you love. And once you do, keep doing it! :)