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


Countdown: 2 months

Today in August 26, 2013 and today marks 2 months to my 2nd ever fitness competition or just under 9 weeks out.

It also marks the introduction of steady state cardio into my plan.

If you read this post you’ll understand that I really was trying to avoid lots of low intensity steady state cardio or LISS because 1) I find it boring and somewhat painful and 2) it can be just as damaging to your metabolism as decreasing your calories.

Unfortunately I am not losing weight, so the planned 1 LISS cardio session a week has been upped to 2. HIITs will still be performed 3 times per week though!

This morning I decided to do some fasted cardio, which in case you don’t know, is all the rage amongst bodybuilders. Unfortunately many people get prescribed this but don’t really know why they are doing it. So being me with the Eat Clean, Train Dirty, Think Nerdy mindset, I did the research.

There are mixed views on fasted cardio, but the reason for doing it are:

  1. Exercising in a fasted state means that your glucose stores are at there lowest point in the day, therefore it is easier to burn through those stores and start burning fat stores sooner than if you had to burn though 40 grams worth or carbs from breakfast.
  2. Being in a fasted state also means that your insulin levels are low which will improve your bodies ability to process fat for energy. Insulin is the enzyme that stores fat, and it is also anabolic. It’s pretty hard to access fat stores directly when there is a lot of insulin present.

This morning’s bout of fasted cardio left my tomato red and uber sweaty… my body doesn’t really understand “moderate intensity”

The main draw backs of fasted cardio are that it can break down your lean muscle mass and you can lose some of those hard earned muscles! Obviously that is not what we want. Thankfully, you can take steps to minimize the muscle loss while still reaping the rewards of the fat loss. Taking 5-10 grams of BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) will allow your body to use the BCAAs from your supplement instead of from your muscles while you work out and minimize the muscle damage. You should also only workout at a moderate intensity for not longer than 1 hour for the best results. High intensity training while fasted can do a lot of damage to the muscles AND can be dangerous with the potential to make you feel nauseous or faint.

Hopefully with the extra cardio my body will finally drop some weight. I am making some visible progress, but I’d like it to come a little faster. If you want to follow my progress you can check out my instagram @otgfitness


Weekend Workouts

This weekend I did 2 great workouts with what I would call a posse. On Saturday my boyfriend and best friend joined me for a killer leg workout, then on Sunday my best friends boyfriend joined in too for a rocking chest and shoulders sesh. Since this weekend had uncommonly nice and mild weather for this time of year, my boyfriend and I walked back and forth to the gym at a pretty quick clip instead of doing cardio. It’s about 2 kms each way so it’s not cheating! I am well and truly sore today, but it was awesome! Want the deets? Ya you do…

Legs for 3

Warm up (or walk 2 km to the gym)

Exercise Sets Reps Weight
Kettlebell swings 3 20/20/20 16 kg (moderate)
Barbell back squats 3 10/8/8 135/155/155 (moderate)
Bosu ball squats* 3 10/10/10 10 lb bar (light)
Deadlifts 3 10/8/6 155/155/185 (heavy)
Seated hamstring curls (superset) 3 12/12/10+pulse 105 lbs
Leg extensions (superset) 3 12/12/10+pulse 105 lbs
Back extensions 3 15/12/12 10 lb plate held far in front of body
You can kind of see the scrunched up face I'm making... this was HARD

You can kind of see the scrunched up face I’m making… this was HARD

* I did one-one legged squats on the bosu ball and used the bar for a couter-balance, but this is a very challenging move for balance. My friend and boyfriend did the more stable two-legged bosu ball squat (which is still very challenging for stability) and used a 25 – 45 lb weight plate held at chest height. Either one will be a great workout and will earn you some curious glances from onlookers.

Stretch for at least 10 minutes and cool down

Push for 4

Warm up (or walk 2 km to the gym)

1 set of tabata sprints (just because)

Exercise Sets Reps Weight
Spiderman push ups* 3 12/12/12 bodyweight
Bench press 2 10/8 95/115
Military press 3 12/12/12 25 lbs
Lateral delt raises 3 12/12/12 10 lbs
Front delt raises 3 12/12/12 10 lbs
Tricep bench dips** 3 12/12/12 45 lbs (on thighs)

* These are push ups where on the down motion you bring one leg out to the side and bring your knee to your elbow. See more description here.

** I did these with my arms on one bench and my feet on another with a weigh plate on my legs for added resitance. To make these easier, remove the weight plate, put you feet on the ground or bring you feet closer to your body.

Stretch for at least 10 minutes and cool down

Having 4 people go through a workout can be tough, so we basically worked in pairs for everything except the bench press (which is why we only did 2 sets). Most of the time 2 people would be doing the exercise while the other 2 spotted and then switch. Thankfully, it wasn’t a busy day at the gym so we managed this without too much trouble. Working in a group could definitely have it’s down sides

Goals are just dreams with deadlines

One of the fit chicks I follow on twitter – @StephPaplinskie posted this photo from pinterest today and I loved it! It’s so true!Dreams

Every single goal I have (that I am not forced to make through work or something) starts out as a far flung dream. I dreamed one day that I would compete in a figure competition – check. I dreamed of writing a blog about fitness – check. I dreamed about making delicious fudge – check… does that last one count as a goal?

What differentiates a dream from a goal is the plan. You have to have a time line and an action plan if you ever want to achieve you goals. Last year I set my goals for the fitness competition up and I saw myself slowly but surely move in the right direction. This year is no different. With christmas coming up I am cutting myself some (probably too much) slack with my diet, but my exercise it still mostly on track. Nonetheless, New Year’s resolutions will come shortly after the Christmas feasting and I will partake in these declarations of resolve.

I normally don’t put much stock into New Year’s resolutions because I firmly believe that if you want something you should start now, not 3 weeks from now. BUT it coincides nicely with post christmas weight gain AND it works with the timeline for my goals this year!

Wait… what goals are these?

Oh haven’t I told you? I have decided what I’m doing for my fitness goals this year and they are (dun dun dun)

  1. Compete in The GNC Stephanie Worsfold Natural in London Ontario on May 25, 2013
  2. a) if I qualify at the London event – compete in The GNC Toronto Pro SuperShow on June 1, 2013 (the provincial show) or b) if I don’t qualify at the London event – compete in the Oxygen Model Search at the Toronto Pro SuperShow on June 1, 2013
  3. Rune a 5km race in July 2013 – specific race TBD
  4. Race in the Toronto Super Spartan (8 miles, 20+ obstacles) in July 2013 with my boyfriend

My favourite part about this plan is that regardless of whether I place at the regional OPA event in London, I will compete in a competition the following week in Toronto. I will also be making a dream board about the journey and some milestones that I have. To give you guys (especially those of you who are thinking about competing yourselves) a rough idea of what my plan is to get ready for the figure competition… here you go.

My overall goal in the ‘off-season” is to stay about 8 – 12 pounds away from my contest weight which will change as I try to ass muscle.

January – February

Weight goal – stay in the 8-12 pounds from contest weight range, while trading some fat for muscle.

Training – Workout legs (specifically the posterior chain of hamstrings, glutes, lower back) at least 2 times per week, upper body 1-2 times per week and use running as my main source of cardio in order to train for the races 3-4 times per week.

Nutrition – Eat 5-6 meals per day, completely eliminate gluten and maintain balance of moderate carbs, moderate fat and high protein. Use BCAAs and carnitine before and during workouts, glutamine and protein powder with a simple carb (like fruit) directly after all workouts. 1-2 cheat meals per week and limit sugar intake.


Weight goal – Lose between 1-2 pounds per week depending on how far I am from my contest weight at the beginning of the month

Training – Continue training legs heavy 2 times per week, increase upper body to 2 times per week split between push and pull muscles, train cardio 4-5 times per week 30-45 minutes per session with at least 2 sessions running and use HIITs for at least 2 sessions.

Nutrition – Continue with the same nutrition plan as before but limit cheat meals to 1 per week start tracking macronutrients and calories. Modify calories and macros based on whether I am hitting my weight targets. Continue same supplementation as above.

April (AKA 8 weeks out)

Weight goal – Lose between 1-2 pounds per week depending on how far I am from my contest weight at the beginning of the month, same as above.

Training – Train legs 2-3 times per week but increase the volume of work and incorporate circuits alternating 1 heavy leg day and 1 high volume leg day. Train upper body body to 2 times per week split between push and pull muscles as above but train in a circuit to increase cardio. Train cardio 5 times per week 3o minutes on circuit days, 60 minutes on non-circuit or rest days.

Nutrition – Continue to eat 5-6 meals per day. Evaluate nutrition based on weight loss progress at this point and restrict calories as needed, maintain high protein. Eliminate use of BCAAs during upper body and cardio workouts (only use for leg workouts).

May (AKA final month)

Weight goal – Lose 1 pound per week up to peak week

Training – Same as above, but modify cardio as needed depending on weight loss (i.e. increase to 6 times per week, longer sessions etc.).

Nutrition – Continue with the same nutrition plan as in April, but evaluate whether carb cycling or carb restriction is necessary, start to reduce carbs as peak week approaches. No use of BCAAs during workouts.

Hopefully I can look like this by about 2 weeks out and surpass it by the time I compete.


I will post what my monthly plans are each month in more detail as I tend to change things as I see how my body reacts. If you have any questions or want to chat you can reach me by commenting, or through facebook


All or nothing?

Yesterday in the gym I met a lovely lady who was doing what looked like a very fun, but very hard workout with a trainer. We were stretching near each other (always stretch after workouts please) and we got to chatting a bit. She mentioned that when it comes to dieting and exercise she has an “all or nothing” attitude. Now that sounds familiar!

I don’t know about you but I have definitely applied that attitude in the past, and as recently as a few weeks ago when I tried the sugar detox. While that style of diet can work for a short time, for a specified goal… health is so much more than that. Health is a lifestyle, and all or nothing does not work for life.

Let me walk you through what happens to me, and from what I’ve heard, happens to most people too.

Step 1: You decide you need to change and you set a goal. “I need to lose 10 pounds” for example.

Step 2: You set a timeline. “I will start next week” or maybe if you are ambitious “I will start tomorrow”

Step 3: You start to plan… this entails setting rules, limitations, regimes, measurements, and the dreaded restrictions!

Step 4: you freak the hell out because you can no longer have foods that you rarely eat anyways and your days will be occupied with cardio and weights so you eat a bag of popcorn, a mug of hot chocolate, and a bowl or 3 of ice cream and sit on the couch until 4am watching the entire third season of big bang theory because you can’t sleep from all the sugar.

Step 5: You may or may not start you diet and be successful but you have introduced a bunch of sugar right beforehand that you will now crave and will make the diet all the harder.

Sound familiar?

Well I’ve tried that approach, I’m not a fan. You know what I am a fan of? Things that work long-term. And yes I fall off the wagon, but it’s about a lifetime of fitness.

So what works for me?

Well I find the exercise part of fitness pretty easy. I like exercise, it makes me feel happy and accomplished. So I start there. I start with what I find easiest and most enjoyable. I get that on track and some things come with it.

The PWO meal

The PWO meal

Once I start exercising I like to get my nutrition timing in check. I hate feeling like I’m not getting the most out of a gruelling workout so I make sure that (depending on my goal) I have a simple carb (like fruit) and a protein shake with extra glutamine right after a workout. I might even include some BCAAs during the workout.

Then I might do some more cardio to go with my workouts because it helps me warm up the muscles and get a better stretch.

And if I’m putting in the effort to do cardio there is NO WAY I am going to waste that effort by eating a bunch of ice cream right after.

Omelette of 1 egg, 1/2 c. egg whites, 1 slice proscuitto, 1 oz. goat cheese, wilted spinach and fresh tomatoes

Omelette of 1 egg, 1/2 c. egg whites, 1 slice prosciutto, 1 oz. goat cheese, wilted spinach and fresh tomatoes

Slowly but surely the pieces fall into place and I have it together. My healthy lifestyle is back on track. My mornings get filled with beautiful omelettes, my sugar intake gets slashed and my protein intake goes way up.

Hello health… I missed you.Do you guys have this problem? What are your strategies for tackling the all of nothing approach?