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 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! 🙂

SiS: Adventures in Competing – Week 7: Exercise

WEEK 7: Exercise

In our seventh episode of our Adventures in Competing Erica, Stephanie and I share some of our knowledge about exercise. I talk more about exercise, picking up where we left off last time we focused on exercise. I go through weight lifting for your specific goals, different types of cardio and finish off with cooling down… just like you should 😉

Rose Blackman – Young Professional – Eat Clean, Train Dirty, Think Nerdy

Stephanie Laurendeau – Stay at home Mom – Decide, Commit, Succeed

Erica Willick – Finance Exec & Mother – Strong Body-Mind-Life

COMING SOON

Posing is hard… and my legs hurt.

So I had my first posing session with Lisa of Figure911 and let me tell you… it was hard!

My back still hurts (2 days later) as if I had worked out.

On the plus side, my lat spread is actually pretty good. What I have to focus on is my transitions from poses and keeping my hands looking relaxed… and about a million other things, but those were the things I struggled with most. Apparently I do this weird pivoty think instead of stepping to do my quarter turns which looks really funny, but when I tried to correct it I learned that I don’t know my left foot from my right foot… not good. so between my footing and trying to keep my shoulders up and waist in WHILE transitioning through turns, that was definitely the hardest part.

I also have a tendency to flex my wrists up instead of keeping my hands in line with my forearms, which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but definitely not as nice looking as a smooth arm. So that will be my focus for practising.

Erin Stern making the front relaxed pose look easy… it is not!

But the most challenging/tiring thing about posing is actually the relaxed pose… relaxed my butt! this is where arching you back until it cramps comes in, not to mention keeping you stomach flexed, pushing into your front leg to flex your calf, rolling your shoulder back and spreading you front lat to pop your delt and give the illusion of a smaller waist and then staying like this while all the competitors do their turns!!!

What was I thinking entering figure?!

I’m so glad I decided to get coaching for this! Hardest part of the competition prep by far… except for this leg workout I’m going to share with you. 😉

I am starting to taper off my “heavy” lifting session and move into higher repetition, high energy leg workouts. Right now that means reps are around 15-20 and I’m doing mostly triple sets, but my rest period between those sets is still reasonably high (90 seconds). I take no rest between each exercise within the triple set. I am still keeping the weights quite high and they are definitely challenging, but not nearly as heavy as I was lifting 2 weeks ago when I was ok with failure at 6 reps.

So here is the workout I did yesterday that has me walking a little funny today.

Triple Triple Set Leg Workout

Warm up: 5 minutes running and dynamic stretching before weights.

Triple set #1 in the squat rack: Load a bar with about 2/3rds you normal squat weight . I normally comfortably squat 155 for 10 reps, so I dropped that to 95 pounds. Also set up a bar for deadlifts behind you with the same weight so you can easily transition between exercises.

  1. Barbell back squat – 15 reps to below parallel
  2. Barbell forward lunges – 16 reps (or 8 reps each leg)
  3. Straight leg deadlifts – 15 reps

Triple set #2  by a bench: Grab 2 lighter dumbells for step ups (I use 2 20 pound dumbbells) and one very heavy dumbbell for the plie squats and the glute bridges. You will be suprised by how much you can lift with these moves. I normally use 100 pounds for plie squats and 80 for glute bridges, but with the higher reps I use 75 pounds for both.

  1. Plie (sumo) squats – 15 reps – ensure that your tailbone stays tucked underneath you during this move and push through your heels to focus on your glutes

    Jamie Eason demonstrating the plie squat

  2. Weight step ups – 16-20 reps (or 8-10 each side)
  3. Weighted glute bridges – 15 reps – puts your shoulders on the bench and hold the dumbbell across your hips, sink you hips to the floor, then flex your glute and push through your heels to straighten your body and bring the weight up.

Triple set #3 with the leg press and hamstring curl machines: Ideally these machines are close to each other in your gym, if not, don’t dawdle while walking between the machines. The weight for this will vary greatly depending on the machines used, so just keep in mind that you will be doing 15 reps and want the weight to be challenging but not impossible.

  1. Hamstring curls (any machine variation, whichever is closest to the leg press) – 15 reps – focus on a slow eccentric (decline) motion
  2. Leg press with feet in shoulder width position, high on the plate – 15 reps
  3. Calf press on the leg press machine – 15 reps (use the same weight for both exercises)

Stretch well for at least 15 minutes.