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

Intermittent Fasting

Yes I do <3 <3 Doctor Who.

Yes I do ❤ ❤ Doctor Who

So this post was promised quite a while ago. But then I have been suffering from a severe bout of laziness and basically haven’t been writing or doing anything much except watching the new episodes of Sherlock, Doctor Who and Merlin and basically flexing my anglophile muscles. Yes I am in fact a huge geek and very proud of it. I have proudly converted my sister and brother to Whovians. But that’s not why you are here (but do go explore BBC and become obsessed with these shows), you are here to find out more about fitness.

If you follow me on instagram you may have caught that a little while ago I did a N1 (self) experiment with intermittent fasting. I had a couple of reasons for this (1) I had been eating a lot at night and naturally was drifting away from eating as much in the morning (2) it seemed like a good cutting tool and I wanted to do a “dry run” before actual cutting season to see if it suited me.

Before I get in to how the week went, here are some resources if you are thinking about giving it a try yourself.

 IF’s impact on women

Bulletproof Coffee and how it improves hormone response (especially in women)

Mark Sisson’s take on IF

Precision Nutritions “How To” on IF

Based on the reading I had done, intermittent fasting (IF) seems to work better for men than it does for women for a few different reasons. But most of the problems seem to come from extended fasting windows. So I chose to only do 15-16 hour fasts.

There are different ways of structuring your days on IF. Ideally, I would have worked out toward the end of my fasting window and then ate the biggest meal right after that. But I work and stuff haha, so that was not really an option. Instead I tried to stop eating between 8-9 pm and then just had coffee in the morning  (more on that later) until 12ish. I would eat based on my macro and calorie goals during the 8 hour window. I worked out after work 3 of those days and in one case it was a late workout and I did not eat after… the horror!

Because I`m a huge nerd (as well as the aforementioned geek) I actually took notes on how I felt and what happened each day so I could take you through it.

Day 1

This was not too hard of a day. I had lots of distractions at work until 12 when I broke my fast with a large meal including a fair amount of carbs. I did limit my total calorie intake this day to about 1500 as I had over eaten the day before. I found that my brain was not quite as quick as it normally is, especially throughout the morning. I don’t think it got the signal to “wake up” and things were just a little harder to process than normal. After work I went to the gym and had a good workout, not my best, but I definitely didn’t feel that I had less energy or anything. I had a meal after I worked out and stopped eating around 8 PM.

Overall this was a good day and I felt good for the majority of it.

Day 2

I woke up and was not particularly hungry but was feeling very fuzzy headed. I tried to make do with a cup or 2 of coffee with some 10% cream (which should not affect your fasted state), but I was still really struggling to think straight. Again, I broke my fast around 12, a little after 12 as I was in a meeting and had a large meal with some carbs. I had about 1800 cals today, but even with the increase food my brain felt a little lethargic. My boyfriend and I planned to go to Muay Thai this evening which is from 8 – 9:30 so I decided to not eat afterwards to keep my eating window consistent. I was surprised that I did not feel particularly hungry afterwards and went to bed no problem on an empty stomach. This is NOT ideal and I would recommend trying to avoid this if you want to retain as much muscle as possible.

This day was significantly harder.

Day 3

Enjoying my Bulletproof Coffee before work

Enjoying my Bulletproof Coffee before work

In order to combat the “fuzzy brain” feeling of the past 2 days I had a bulletproof coffee (really just coconut oil and coffee and noticed an immediate improvement. I also noticed that I was even less hungry through the morning. I would HIGHLY recommend using this if you plan on trying IF. I did not work out today, but instead saw my family. I was able to eat a bigger meal as you are fitting all of your calories into a smaller time frame. So it was nice to be able to eat a sizable portion with family.

This was the easiest day so far, but as there was no workout, it was hard to tell what my energy levels would have been.

Day 4

I again had a bulletproof coffee and felt amazing all day. I had about 2000 calories as I had lost about 1.5 pounds at this point and did not want to continue losing… it is the building season after all! I did a leg workout after work and wasn’t really feeling it, but more likely from lack of sleep that a disruption in my normal eating habits. I did find today a little hard to fast until 12 and because I got home later my eating didn’t end until around 9. I still consider that a successful day.

This day was about on part with Wednesday, thought the morning was a bit harder.

Day 5

The final day of my little experiment. My boyfriend and I had to drive to Ottawa that night which made the evening a little difficult, but nothing too bad. I just made sure to pack food for the road and stop eating at 8. I also made sure not to eat anything once I got to our destination which is a bad habit of mine. The morning of this day was the easiest by far. I had another bulletproof coffee and loved it, and had lots of energy. I think my body had started to adapt at this point and expect that food was coming, just not yet.

In total I think it was a very successful experiment. I feel that with more consistency, my body would get used to that eating schedule and it would not be a mental struggle. But the first 2-3 days were quite difficult. It would definitely be a good cutting strategy as it’s a lot easier to avoid overeating with a shortened eating period. I have not decided if it’s a tool I will be using, but it’s nice to have in the arsenal.

An added perk was that I could sleep in because I didn’t have to worry about breakfast in the morning… which is very appealing to me!

Overall, it’s NOT something I would recommend to someone who just wants to lose a few pounds or shift to a healthier lifestyle. This is really something I would recommend to a person who wants increased control and is already well educated about diet and exercise and how those things affect their own body. I think you need to have an awareness of your own needs first so that you can evaluate whether this is helping you reach your goals WHILE having a happy life. No one wants to say “Oh I can’t eat right now, it’s not my eating window”.

2014 goals and bulking update

My last post alluded to the fact that I have already decided on plans for the next year. And I have. Oh I have.

But first… an update!

The short version: Off season is weird and frustrating and hard to navigate especially during Christmas time.

The long version: I have already gained back all the weight the I wanted to allow myself to over the next 3 months. Which means I just want to maintain… that was not my plan. To be fair I am only 2 pounds over where I planned to be at this time, but it’s definitely 2 pounds of fat and not muscle. Nonetheless, I don’t want to try to limit my calories to come back down, because my goal is to rebuild my metabolism in this off-season. My crappy metabolism is the reason I am 2 pounds heavier than I want to be in the first place!

So vicious circle goes like this:

1 – I want to rebuild my metabolism so I eat more calories

2 – My metabolism sucks, so I gain weight (also because I randomly have no self-control and eat a lot of food)

3 – I continue to eat at this level to try to rebuild my metabolism, but continue to gain weight in excess of my plan

4 – I am now over my planned weight gain and need to lose MORE weight to get competition ready

5 – I diet down for a competition, but have to diet more strictly than anticipated because I have gained more weight than planned

6 – My metabolism suffers and I can’t lose or maintain weight easily… go back to step 1. 😦

ChocolateTo be completely fair I am only 5 pounds over contest weight at 6 weeks post contest which is not terrible. And I have been doing no cardio for about a week… and I have been slightly indulgent in the last 2 weeks… so really it’s my own damn fault. But why is it so easy to pack on pounds and so freaking hard to get rid of them?!

Side note – did you know that the “?!” punctuation mark is called an interrobang?! Well now you do 🙂

Also, I decided to do a deload week this week because it’s been approximately 5 months since I’ve gone more than 2 days without weight training (other than getting sick) and I think my body needs a rest. So that probably also contributed to the extra pounds on the scale.

I want to emphasize at this point that I am NOT calling myself fat. I am still quite lean and I actually love the way I look. I like curves and I don’t mind looking softer. What I am concerned about is getting too far from my contest weight and having to go through a “difficult” contest prep again. i.e. one where I potentially further reduce my metabolic capacity.

And on that note, let’s segue into my plans! I know most people do this at new year, but I like to have my goals and plans in place before Christmas because I love planning… and lifting. Lifting’s my favourite.

Fitness Goals:

1 – Get Pro status with UFE *oh gosh, I’m actually admitting that I want this… breathe, ok, whew* by the end of 2014

2 – Compete at the regional level with OPA and place top 3 in my category.

3 – Complete at least 2 non-bodybuilding related sporting events.

Ok, so that first one is a big one. UFE is only getting bigger which means the caliber of competitors is only getting higher. So getting pro status is no easy task. I plan to compete at Halloween Mayhem again and the World Championships 2 weeks later. These are both fall shows and would be a year after the last competition I did.

The second goal is to compete with the OPA, which is the federation that flows into the CBBF and then the IFBB. I mostly just want to see what the difference is between federations and which one I like better. I plan to compete in the spring with OP (June 14th in all likelihood) and so I will be competing at 2 separate times this year. Therefore I’ll be going through 2 separate preps.

My hope is that by competing twice I can get into a better rhythm and also get my body more accustomed to a leaner physique. Your body actually needs time at a new weight to get acclimatized, otherwise it will go back to its comfort zone. BUT, if my body is not reacting well, I will stop and just compete in the fall like I did this year. I only want to do what is maintainable and healthy.

The third goal is one I haven’t fully fleshed out yet. I definitely want to do another obstacle race. I like having a non-appearance based goal to keep me focused on functional fitness. I haven’t fully decided what the second event will be, but I secretly want to try powerlifting… or not so secretly now I guess :S But we will see what come of that. I may try something with martial arts instead. It’s all about learning new things and branching out.

Taco Salad and Stuff

From my inspired title you can probably tell I’m still feeling pretty (very) under the weather. But I managed to get my butt into work today and even got in a decent workout. I did a very short chest and tri’s workout that got me a great pump and then hopped on the elliptical for 30 minutes, followed by the stairmaster for 30 minutes. Yes I did an hour of cardio.

Evidence of the wonderful pump I got :)

Evidence of the wonderful pump I got 🙂

If you have been following me you might recall that I was not planning on doing hours of LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio. Well turns out trying to do circuit style workouts AND HIIT cardio puts a hell of a lot of strain on you central nervous system and makes you want to crawl in a hole and sleep forever. Who knew? It’s also most definitely NOT recommended for you to do high intensity anything while you are sick because it puts stress on your body and will make your recovery waaaaay longer. So I will be doing between 45 mins to an hour of LISS cardio until I feel back to 100%, then I will start alternating and doing 20 minutes of HIIT 2-3 times a week and LISS on the other days.

This is much more cardio than I had planned, but I’m really struggling to drop weight so “needs must”. Because I know that this much steady state cardio will have an impact on my metabolism I have to make sure that I don’t just stop doing cardio cold turkey after my competition. Just like a reverse diet, I will have to reverse out of my cardio too. First by dropping the duration, and then the frequency. Hopefully by doing so I will not gain a lot of weight back and will be able to build back my metabolism.

Anyways, that enough whining for one day.. on to food!!!

I wanted tacos the other day… actually that’s a lie, I wanted nachos because the cheese to everything else ratio on nachos tends to be a million times better, or maybe that’s just the way I make nachos. Regardless, nacho/fajita/taco/mexican type food was wanted and I needed to make it low carb. So I asked my boyfriend to pick up some ingredients like ground turkey, bibb lettuce and taco seasoning so I could make tacos and wrap them in lettuce… voila low carb tacos. And he graciously agreed… and then proceeded to forget to do that entirely, haha, happens to the best of us. So when I got home there were no makings of tacos to be had, but gosh darn it I wanted something mexican tasting. So I made this salad and it hit the spot perfectly, so sometimes things work out just fine 🙂 And now you can make this taco inspired salad even when you don’t have anything that you would normally make tacos with.

Low Carb Taco Salad (serves 1)

Ingredients

  • 6 oz chicken breast (or whatever amount you need based on your macros/diet)

    Taco salad number 1 with cheese

    Taco salad number 1 with cheese

  • Some sort of taco/buffalo/spicy seasoning – I had buffalo chicken seasoning in the cupboard so that’s what I used
  • 2 cups salad greens
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1/4 cup non fat greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp salsa
  • 1/2 oz grated cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Season Chicken with taco/whatever seasoning you are using to imitate taco seasoning and cook either in a skillet or the oven (I assume you all know how to cook chicken breasts – just cook ’em!)
  2. Mix greek yogurt and as much of the seasoning as you want together to your tastes, mine was pretty spicy!
  3. Cut the red pepper into strips and arrange on top of salad greens, then slice up the chicken and top with the salsa, greek yogurt and cheddar cheese.

Super simple, but so satisfying!

Low Carb Taco Salad number 2 without cheese and not as nicely arranged because the first was so yummy I wanted it again!

Low Carb Taco Salad number 2 without cheese and not as nicely arranged because the first was so yummy I wanted it again!

Nutritional Info:  Cals – 345  Carbs – 12 g    Fat – 9 g    Protein – 50 g!