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.

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Running

You may have noticed throughout my blog are spatterings of “I hate running” rants. You may also have noticed that I do it anyways. Why? Because I believe it’s very good for you!

 

It’s one of the only forms of cardio exercise other than fast walking that our bodies are truly designed to do. Man has been running since the damn of time and we’re going to keep running. I don’t believe that we are necessarily designed to run marathons, but I certainly believe that we have evolved being able to sprint, job and walk. So I do all of those things and make an effort to have them make up the majority of my cardio.

 

Finish Line

Finish Line (Photo credit: brixton)

 

A lot of people think that running or jogging is hard on your joints, especially hips and knees, but this is mostly due to incorrect running form. Most people, including myself up until 6 months ago, heel strike. Heel striking is where you run with your forward leg straightening completely and your heel hitting the ground first. This transfers all that impact into your knee and your hips. But if you land on your mid foot with your knee slightly bent and your foot under you (instead of out in front) all that goes away! This is what I mean by saying our bodies are designed to run!

 

Since I have learned this I have switched to minimalist running shoes and started paying attention to my running form. I have more of a lean and try to let gravity do some of the work for me. While I am certainly not someone who loves to run, I have been finding it easier and less painful. I encourage anyone who thinks running is harmful to look up barefoot running, running techniques and heel striking just as a few buzzwords to start with.

 

I have started running more outside because I will be doing 2 Spartan races this summer. Both are only 5 kms, but will still be challenging for me. I have recently discovered Map My Run which shows me my split times and basically allows me to actually evaluate whether I’m improving or not. I love this app!

 

NEW GOAL

 

– Run 5 kms in 25 mins

 

My current time is 32 mins so that would be a substantial improvement… but I’m confident that by the end of June I can do it!

 

Plans, Plans, Plans!

I have noticed that people who are “in to fitness” tend to be those who like planning too. Or maybe we just develop an affinity for planning because “Failing to plan is planning to fail!”. It kind of ends up being a chicken vs. egg argument. The end result being mounds upon mounds of fitness and nutrition plans. I am no exception, except that I tend to change me plans on a an almost daily basis.

What doesn’t change are my goals.

Goals for me are the foundation of a plan, so that is always where I start, and today I have decided that my goal will be a repeat of last years (with a better placing). I will be competing at the UFE Halloween Mayhem Show on October 26th!

I have shown you what my plans tend to look like before, but I wanted to go through my though process a bit more and why I plan how I do.

FIRST – The Goal

This is 2 fold; What I want to achieve before I start competition prep, and what I want to achieve by the show.

The goal is to be a little leaner and a little more muscular!

The goal is to be a little leaner and a little more muscular!

1 – I want my off-season to end with me about 6-8 pounds away from ideal and which a bit more muscle than last time (maybe 4-5 pounds).

2 – Show up slightly leaner with 4-5 pounds more muscle than last year and place top 5 at the show.

SECOND – The Math

So my goals include building some muscle; I figure I have probably put on 5 pounds of muscle already, but the trick is maintaining that while losing fat. And I want to come in leaner.

My stats from my show last year were 132 pounds and about 13% BF. This year I would like to have about 10% body fat and about 4-5 pounds more of muscle, so what does that result in for the scale?

Last year’s Lean Body Mass = 132 lbs / (1 +13%BF) = 117 lbs of LBM

This year LBM goal = 117 lbs +5 lbs = 122 lbs of LBM

This year’s goal weight = 122 lbs * (1 +10%BF) = 134 lbs of scale weight

Therefore my goal weight per my scale for the show is 134 pounds if I hit all my targets, this is completely flexible based on what the mirror is showing! And my goal for the off-season is to end at around 140 – 142 pounds.

My current weight as of this morning is 149, so I need to lose 7-9 pounds in the 15 weeks before contest prep.

THIRD – The Timing

Now that I have the dates and the weights in mind I plan out the timing of things and see what special events I have to compensate for (because I don’t believe in not eating what you want on your birthday and the like). For this I usually download a calendar in word and put in all the dates that I thing are pertinent. Some of the ones I have included are:

  • The contest date
  • The contest prep start date (12 weeks before the contest date)
  • Vacations the will interrupt workouts and eating
  • Special events where I will be going out to eat (like Mother’s day, Father’s day, Birthdays, anniversaries etc.)
  • Active events that may interrupt my training schedule (like the 2 spartan races I am doing this summer)
  • Fitness events that I might want to look good for (like the Toronto Pro Supershow) – this is only relevant if I want to cut back on salt or carbs in order to make sure I’m not all puffy, nothing would change for the workouts or diet and I would never crash diet for something like that

When all that information is in the calendar, I start counting back and labeling the weeks away from the competition and contest prep and divide my goal needs, by the weeks to get my weekly goals.

I have 15 weeks until contest prep would start, minus 2 weeks in San Francisco, so 13 weeks. Therefore 9 pounds/13 weeks = 0.7 pounds per week on average

I have 12 weeks of contest prep. Therefore 6 pounds / 12 weeks = 0.5 pounds per week on average

Once I have those amounts I back look at the special events and estimate any “damage” I might do, for instance, on my birthday I might think I would gain 2 pounds over the various celebrations, therefore I would need to compensate by losing 0.7 pounds per week.

And we haven’t even gotten to the strategy of how to get there yet!

FOURTH – The Workouts

I always start my plans with a workout schedule, this time around I intend to workout more with a routine and in the morning. Since I want to build muscle in the off-season, my focus will be hypertrophy training with between 24-30 working sets and working in the 8-12 rep range. I adjust as I go and the plans I have for workouts will be used only as long as I see progress.

I also what to improve my running capacity because I am doing some races this year, so I am planning on doing 3-4 days of cardio, mostly running, per week.

My current plan is:

Build muscle in the off season!

Build muscle in the off season!

Sunday – Legs + abs
Monday – Pull muscles + shoulders + 30 mins run or Stairs
Tuesday  –   Yoga + 30 mins run
Wednesday – Legs + abs
Thursday – Shoulders + 30 mins run
Friday – Rest day
Saturday – Push muscles + 30 mins cardio
FIFTH – The Diet
This goes last because it is so dependent on everything else! My goal for my diet is to keep my calories as high as possible while still losing weight. My plan right now (which will start on Monday) Is to eat 2000 calories per day for one week and see if I lose any weight, if I don’t lose weight I will decrease my calories by 100 cals/day, but given the amount of exercise I am planning on, I should be able to lose between half and one pound per week. Starting with calories high allows you to adjust when you hit plateaus, which are inevitable.
I also aim for a minimum of 1 gram of protein per pound of LBM and try to keep my carbs between 100 – 150 grams, the remainder of the calories come from good sources of fat.
I don’t want to say too much more about my diet because everyone is so different, but just make sure that you don’t try to go from eating 2400 cals per day at maintenance to 1300 cals per day for 12 weeks, you will destroy your metabolism and after 3 weeks of rapid weight loss (muscle too!) your body will adjust and you will stop losing weight.
So that is my (long-winded) approach to planning for fitness goals.
Does anyone have something that they do differently? I am always looking for new ideas 🙂

April goals

*Peeps head around corner*

 

Hi…

 

*waves shyly*

 

Soooooooo, how are you guys? I know I kind of disappeared off the face of the planet about 2 weeks ago, but I swear I still love you all!

 

I’ve had a really rough… um, 3 months. But it’s the start of a new month and a few things have changed! Most notably that my boyfriend is now permanently living with me instead of crazy back and forth commuting… yay! But also, supposedly, my busy season at work SHOULD be winding down (my schedule so far does NOT reflect this, but here’s hoping). With these changes I am trying to refocus on my fitness and especially incorporating couple workouts in the morning. So I figured why not make some April goals?!

 

April goals

 

  1. Eat clean with no cheat meals until Aprils 20th when I am going to Niagara and drinking lot’s o’ wine with my boyfriend for our anniversary. I figure it will be equivalent to about 3 cheat meals and therefore I need about 3 weeks with no cheat meals to properly earn it 😉
  2. No gluten, at all, not even a little, not even when in Niagara!
  3. Run OUTSIDE 3 times per week (weather permitting) – I hate running outside so this is the big one for me
  4. Weight train 3-4 times per week – my main goal at the moment is to lean out a little so weights will be a little lighter and less rest between sets, with some metabolic movements… you’ll see.
  5. Workout in the MORNING at least half the time

 

Alright, 5 is a good number for goals.

 

Here’s some random thoughts for you, probably more for the girls, but I’m sure it’s somewhat applicable for the guys too.

 

Window shopping at Eaton's department store. (...

Window shopping at Eaton’s department store. (Toronto, Canada) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Do you guys avoid shopping when you have gained weight? I do. And I have been avoiding it since after my competition even though I desperately need some more clothes. Like many fitties out there I use clothes as a non-food reward for fitness goals. I meet a goal and I generally go and get some clothes to give myself a pat on the back. But while I was in competition mode I didn’t really do that because my size was fluctuating so much. And then after the competition I didn’t want to go shopping because shopping when you don’t feel good about yourself is pretty much the worse experience ever…. can someone please explain to stores that they will sell more if they don’t have fat mirrors and fluorescent overhead lighting?! Well I finally went shopping and have some nice clothes to wear for spring and despite some of the outfits looking outright horrendous on me, I actually feel good about it! So don’t avoid shopping when you feel out of shape, it’s akin to punishing yourself and that’s not really productive… it’s spring and we all deserve to look good whether we have gained or lost or leaned down or bulked.

 

Valentine’s Day and Motivation

Anthropomorphic Valentine, circa 1950–1960

Anthropomorphic Valentine, circa 1950–1960 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How was your Valentine ’s Day?

Mine was kind of meh. At the moment my wonderful boyfriend is living in Ottawa during the week so sadly I was alone yesterday. I’m not big on the whole Valentine’s day idea. To me it’s kind of arbitrary especially if your relationship is strong… you probably don’t need an excuse to show how much you love the other person.

Regardless, my Valentine’s Day was spent ignoring the cupcakes at my client (they were store-bought, over-processed monstrosities anyways, bleh) and treating myself to a few squares of 85% dark chocolate followed by a date with myself at the gym.

Allow me to segue here: last week my back and bicep workout was BRUTAL. I mean I slogged through it with no energy and every rep seemed like it demanded twice the effort it normally did. So this week I was, for the first time in a looooong time, slightly dreading back day… which is normally my favourite!

Yesterday, however, I kicked butt! My back is back! HA!

Anyhoooo, so not the point. What struck me was how busy the gym was yesterday. I mean, it was packed! I had expected it to be relatively empty what with it being V-day and all, but it was even busier than normal. So that got me thinking… what are people’s motivations? Why would it be busier?

Well, my motivations were easy:

  • I’m celebrating this weekend, not on the day so why should it interrupt my regular schedule?
  • I am probably indulging a little this weekend so some pre-emptive cardio won’t hurt.
  • I didn’t go the day before because I was exhausted to the extreme.

But what about everyone else?

I think that for a lot of people, V-day kind of emphasizes that you are single. I think a lot of people think that if they were fitter/skinner/more attractive they would have better luck in love, so off to the gym we go. While I’m all for anything that get’s people active, I really don’t think that is sustainable change.

Motivation for change has to be intrinsic – that is, it has to come from inside you. You can’t be motivated by something outside of yourself… like catching someone’s eye. What happens when you are in a relationship? Are you just going to give up?

I really believe that health and fitness has to be motivated by a desire to be healthy and fit, and that is the way to make it last. It has to be its own goal, otherwise it is a short term solution.

What are your thoughts?