Monday, April 11, 2016

Week 2 Progress

I am officially in my third week of getting back on track and I'm feeling pretty good about my progress. Like any journey there are setbacks for every step forward. This weekend I had my daughters and it was cold and rainy. This meant we stayed in and watched movies.... and snacked. I did my best to keep everything in moderation but it also felt good to relax for a day.

So what were the actual results of the week? Well I am 153.4 pounds as of this morning which is a 1.4 pound loss from last week. I actually ended up raising my calories this week because the weight is dropping quickly. I ate roughly 15,000 calories, or 2,150 per day. I've continued lifting heavy and set my sights on possibly competing in a power lifting competition in May instead of doing the NPC Mid-Atlantic Cup again.

Starting to see some definition again

 Abs are slowly reappearing

My workouts this week were as follows:

4 warm-up sets of 10 reps increasing weight each set
5 x 5 increasing weight each set (I ended at 190 lbs)
Reverse Hack Squat
5 x 10 x 180 lbs (not counting the starting weight of the sled)
Leg Press 
5 x 15 x 90 lbs (not counting the starting weight of the sled)
Calf Raise
5 x 15 x 155 lbs

Bench Press:
4 warm-up sets
1 heavy set of 3 reps
4 heavy sets of 2 reps (I PR'd with 115 pounds)
Incline DB Press:
10 x 10 x 25 pound DB's
5 x 7 x 160 pounds
5 x 15 with 60 pounds of assistance

Treadmill 4.0 MPH for 10 minutes
Overhead Press:
8 x 30 pounds
2 x 8 x 50 pounds
5 x 60 pounds
3 x 70 pounds
4 x 2 x 80 pounds
Lateral Raise
10 x 10 x 10 lb dumbbells
Cable Front Raise
5 x 7 x 15 pounds
Treadmill 20 minutes inclined at 4.0 MPH

Treadmill 4.0 MPH for 15 minutes
5 warm-up sets
5 x 5 x 235 pounds
Deficit Deadlifts
5 x 7 x 185 pounds
Lying Hamstring Curls
5 x 10 x 80 pounds
Barbell Rows
4 x 10 x 95 pounds

Supersets of biceps and triceps:
DB curls w/ skullcrushers
4 sets of 8 - 12
Rope curls with rope pushdowns
3 sets of 8 - 12
Incline hammer curls with bench dips
3 sets of 8 - 12
Plate front raise superset with plate upright row
3 sets of 10
3 sets of 10 - 15

And now it's on to week 3 and planning nutrition to get me to the under-148 pound weight class by May 28th!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Meal Prep Essentials

I promise to post my week 2 progress tomorrow! But first I received some questions on meal prep and how to make food that isn't boring as well as time consuming. So here are my week 3 meals and a breakdown on what I consider the essential tools to make prep easy and quick (and tasty!).

First, I recommend investing in a set of containers that will hold a full meal and fit in your lunch bag. I purchased this set from Isolator Fitness but there are many other brands. Tight fitting lids are essential! Second, a scale, measuring cups, and an array of knives. This is about all you will need!

On to preparing actual food! My absolute favorite tools are my pressure cooker, rice cooker, and NutriBullet (but any decent blender will do). I can make 3-4 pounds of chicken in the pressure cooker in only 20 minutes or so. I simply throw in the chicken and some marinade, set it, and forget it! The rice cooker makes several cups to perfection in 15 or so minutes plus has a basket for steaming veggies while your rice cooks! And finally, the blender takes the place of a mixer and also makes some delicious protein shakes.

Using only these tools I can complete my meal prep in 1-2 hours for 4-5 days worth of meals. This week I chose to make protein pancakes for easy breakfasts. I will add the recipe below. My second meal is a venison burger with buffalo cauliflower. The final meal I prepped is chicken (prepared in the pressure cooker) with a side of either frozen veggies and rice or sweet potato (baked in the oven). Dinners will likely be salmon and veggies prepared fresh each night. I also packed tuna packets, almonds, and Quest bars into my lunch bag for snacks. Since the rice cooker, pressure cooker, oven, and stove top can all be going at the same time I didn't have to do anything more then get each one started and cook the burgers and sweet potato while I waited. 

Four days of meals ready to go

I hope this helps anyone struggling with meal prep. I will start sharing recipes from now on as I favor simple, flavorful cooking to anything over the top. I think it will help those of you who are new to this see that you don't have to get food-blogger-fancy to eat healthfully!

Protein Pancakes

2 ripe bananas (I used over-ripe ones that I had frozen)
3/4 cup egg whites (about 4 eggs worth)
1/2 cup quick cook oats
1 1/2 - 2 scoops of whey (I used MyProtein Rocky Road flavor)
4 TBSP flour (I used regular bread flour but feel free to substitute)
1/2 cup coffee, brewed
1 Tsp. baking powder
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender
2. Heat skillet or griddle with oil (I used coconut oil)
3. Measure out 1/2 cup of batter into hot skillet
4. Cook until bubbles form and burst 
5. Flip and continue to cook 1-2 minutes

Makes six 1/2 cup pancakes. Freeze leftovers and spritz with water then heat in the microwave for 30 seconds to serve later. Top with PB2, sugar free syrup, or fresh fruit.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Grocery Haul

One of the things I keep hearing is how hard nutrition seems to everyone. The 'fitness' industry has led you to believe there are bad foods and good foods and super foods. There are expensive shakes and oils and exotic produce that you 'must' eat in order to achieve your dreams. Fats make you fat. Or is it carbs? And this is why people give up...

I decided to take anyone who is interested through a typical shopping trip for me. Let me note that I already had hit up a sale on seafood a couple weeks ago so my freezer is loaded with salmon, tilapia, and tuna. I also already had a large lot of locally sourced ground beef in my freezer. So this grocery trip is light on meat but otherwise fairly typical. So let's take a look at what I brought home.

General grocery store tips:
The outside of the store is where you want to purchase the bulk of your food. The meat/seafood counter and coolers, the dairy/egg section, and produce. Generally most things that come in a box or a can are not the best choices. The exception to this is generally coffee, oatmeal, healthy fats like coconut oil, or tuna and salmon (in cans or packets). Frozen fruits and veggies are fine.

I typically buy about equal parts of fresh produce and frozen. I'd rather not have to make trips to the store every 2-3 days for fresh fruits and veggies. This trip I picked up blueberries (I had a coupon), grapes, avocado, almonds, spinach, frozen broccoli (I also used a coupon for this), and frozen cauliflower (buffalo flavored for something different). I usually wouldn't buy grapes but I had a coupon for them and my daughter loves them. She will also help me eat the spinach!

As I stated above, I have a pretty large freezer stash of meat and fish currently. So I only picked up a few things. Two packages of chicken breasts (they were buy one, get one free), two packages of turkey bacon, two cartons of eggs (I use these for cooking and baking and egg whites. I have local farm eggs for eating.), peanut butter, and tuna packets (because I had coupons and they are super convenient). 

Dairy and Snacks:
I purchased my usual Silk unsweetened vanilla almond milk (coupon) and Arctic Zero faux ice cream (because it can satisfy a craving without blowing my diet). I had coupons for the creamer, oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and cheese (the two smaller cheese packages are chevre, or goat cheese). I also bought coffee, chipotle mustard (I need flavor in my life!), and sugar-free Jell-o (because I can also snack on this when I want sweets and not blow my entire day of eating). The real ice cream I had a great coupon for, so I went ahead and got it, but I will try to stick to a spoonful or two at a time. And finally, Quest bars! These are my go-to snack for taking to the gym or work or in the car. Any time I can't have a real meal I pack a Quest bar (my favorite flavor is the s'more!).

This grocery haul was around $125 after coupons (and that includes some household items I didn't picture). It should last me two weeks or more in combination with what I already have. I'll stop at the store for fresh produce again over the weekend and that should be all of my shopping until next payday (two weeks). I hope this is helpful for anyone struggling with navigating the grocery store!

So how does this become a meal? Well, my 'dinner' (or last meal) today was two eggs (local ones, not the ones I purchased), six slices of turkey bacon, half of an avocado, and an ounce of tomato basil chevre. For a little over 600 calories I topped off with protein and healthy fats. (I didn't hit the gym today so I ate lower carbs.) I prepared burgers with the ground beef I already had and paired them with the buffalo cauliflower for the next several days. I cooked one package of chicken breasts in the pressure cooker with a honey teriyaki marinade and froze the other. The chicken was paired with frozen California blend veggies. Dinners will likely consist of fish from my freezer stash and fresh produce. Breakfast will be something similar to my dinner today or oats and berries. And snacks may be tuna packets, Quest bars, or almonds. 

Thank you for following along. If there is anything you want to know about food shopping, nutrition, or meal planning drop me a comment below! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Week 1 Results

I apologize for this being a day late. I was unexpectedly scheduled for ten hour shifts this week. But on to the good stuff!

My first week of cutting and increasing my workouts has yielded good results. I ate a little more than I had planned with 14,037 calories for the week (2,005/day). However, my workouts were very intense (more on that in a second) and I still lost 2.4 pounds (154.8 pounds). Likely a good  portion of this initial loss was water weight from cutting out processed carbs and junk food. Only another week will tell!

 154.8 pounds

Building a nice V-taper

I've been focusing on more power lifting-style strength workouts with accessory lifts that will build up my physique. This means lower reps with heavy weight for my main lifts (squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press) and lower weight and higher reps for my accessory lifts. I did a quick shoulder session plus 15 minutes of cardio on Tuesday. I believe it consisted of overhead press, front barbell raise, dumbbell lateral raise, front plate raise, and upright barbell rows. I was in a rush and did not write down what I actually did.

Wednesday I benched with a friend of mine. He is competing in a power lifting competition in May and has agreed to help me train for strength and size. Our workout was:
Warmup: Walk on treadmill 10 minutes
Bench Press:
8 x Bar (45 pounds)
5 x 5 @ 75, 95, 95, 105, 100 pounds
Incline dumbbell press:
10 x 10 with 20 pound dumbbells
5 x 7 @ 135, 135, 135, 155, 155
5 x 15 (I used 60 lbs on the assisted dip machine)

Friday I met my friend again for deadlifts and posterior chain (back) training. My workout was as follows:
8 x 135 pounds, 8 x 185 pounds
3 x 225 pounds
4 sets of 2 x 225 pounds
5 x 185 pounds
5 sets of 3 at 185 pounds
Deficit Deadlifts (standing on a 45 lb plate):
5 x 7 @ 135, 185, 185, 185, 185
Hamstring Curls:
4 sets of 10 @ 45 pounds
10 x 60 pounds
Barbell Rows:
4 sets of 10 x 95 pounds

On Saturday I went hiking in Ohiopyle with my boyfriend and his dog. We spent about an hour and a half doing a 4 mile hike out to see waterfalls and then back to the car. And on Sunday we went to see the Pirates vs. Cardinals season opener. There may have been some beers involved but I kept it to a minimum and we brought our own food to the tailgate and ate again at home after the game. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and we saved money too!

Ohiopyle hiking selfie

Some examples of my nutrition this week would be tuna, Greek yogurt, and lots of veggies. I also ate a good bit of salmon, beef, and chicken as well as sweet potato. I felt like this whole week was really hectic and didn't allow for much meal prep so I kept it simple and quick most days.

 Mediterranean Style Tuna (from a packet), California blend veggies, and Greek yogurt

Salmon (marinated in soy sauce and ginger) with wilted spinach and strawberries

For week 2 I plan to drop my calories just a little lower (maybe 1,900 per day average) and continue to workout 4-5 days per week. I'd like to add in more cardio but that will depend on how I feel and my work schedule. I always start my workouts with 10-15 minutes of cardio but I would prefer to get a solid 20-30 minutes at least 3 times per week for health and the extra calorie burn. 

And that concludes week one of my return to fitness! Please comment and share if you are following along! 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Week 0 - Getting Started

I wanted to start off with the basics of how I'm setting up my cutting program and some ideas of what and how much I'm eating. Everyone is different and I've found that I need to eat more than most women my size. Using a standard TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) calculator online I get a TDEE of just over 2,100 calories per day. So what does that mean? Well it means that I should consume an average of 2,100 calories per day to maintain my weight.

I track my daily and weekly calories (2,100 calories x 7 days = 14,700 calories/week) because it leaves more wiggle room to eat a little more or a little less each day as my appetite (or social engagements) demands. The common calculation is to subtract 3,500 calories per week (500 per day) to lose a pound per week. Half that to lose half a pound per week, which is my goal. So, my calculations say I should eat 1,850 calories per day or 12,950 per week (2,100 - 250 = 1,850) to lose 0.5 pounds every 7 days. But I have found this doesn't hold true for me. On 13,000 calories per week I was losing closer to 1.5 pounds every week. I'm not sure if it's because I work a somewhat physical job or if I just have more muscle or a higher metabolism than estimated. So I'm eating 'at maintenance' (2,100 calories per day) for now to see if and how my weight changes over the next couple weeks. I will adjust up or down as necessary to reach my goal loss of 0.5 - 1 pound each week.

The next step in making my comeback was cleaning out my fridge. All of the Easter candy and goodies are gone. There is no junk food in my house AT ALL. I know that I like to eat when I'm stressed or anxious so I have taken away the unhealthy options and replaced them with Quest Bars and Arctic Zero 'ice cream'. I also got back to meal prepping.

My fridge

My current food situation consists of oats, eggs, egg whites, strawberries, Greek yogurt, chicken, beef, sweet potato, rice, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, almond milk, rice cakes, almonds, peanut butter, and coffee. I haven't committed to a set 'meal plan' for this week but I did prepare meals for breakfast and work each day to make staying on track easier. 

Breakfast is usually oats and berries plus a protein shake

Lunch was a 3 oz. lean beef burger with rice and asparagus

Dinner was another burger with peanut butter and sweet potato

My snacks, or smaller meals, consist of things like chicken with veggies, a Quest bar, or 1-2 rice cakes and almonds. I also drink 3-4 liters of water each day and take a multivitamin, fish oil, vitamin D, and a probiotic. Making sure that I get plenty of protein, healthy fats, and all of the necessary nutrients is my top priority for ensuring my metabolism and weight return to normal (and stay healthy).

This is long enough (and probably boring). I will write more about my workouts in my first update post and cover how I decide what adjustments to make to my nutrition. If I missed anything or didn't explain it well enough just drop a note in the comments and I will make sure I cover it in my next post! 

Finally, thank you to everyone who took the time to read and respond to my initial post. It isn't easy to admit I'm struggling and that I don't look and feel my best right now. But I know that I can help people if I swallow my pride and bare my progress for the world. It means more than you'll ever know that so many of you have reached out and offered support and kind words. <3 p="">

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Fit to Fat to Fit In Real Life

I'm sure everyone has seen or heard about the show Fit to Fat to Fit. If not, well, its basic premise is a personal trainer/fitness professional purposely becomes overweight and then loses it alongside their client. I have enjoyed the episode or two I managed to catch but I never thought I would be the 'fat' trainer. And yet here I am.

I set a goal of competing again this year in May. I worked out and ate well but in excess up until the new year. I weighed in around 142 pounds over the holidays. My goal was to put on as much muscle as possible and then cut down to stage ready from mid-January to mid-May. Then I would go through with peak week preparations and step on stage to better my standings from last year.

Warning: If you are squeamish then you may want to skip the next paragraph.

We all know the saying about the best laid plans... I became consumed with seeing how lean I could get. I averaged 1.5-2 pounds a week lost. While this rate of loss is considered safe medically it was too extreme when I was already fairly lean. I dropped down to 129 pounds around Valentine's Day and I estimated I was at 13.8% body fat. With over three months to my show date it was too early to be so close to stage ready. I started to experience problems with overwhelming cravings, extreme hunger, and then my periods stopped. I decided to put some weight back on and reevaluate my competition readiness after 4-6 weeks.

129 pounds

What I didn't expect was how hard my body would rebound. At first I assumed a good bit of the gain was water weight. But the scale kept jumping up... and up and up. My clothes got tighter and people started to notice. I was still happy with how I looked but I worried that I had done metabolic damage with my cut. I finally plateaued at 157 pounds. The heaviest I have ever been.

157 pounds

Now that my body has finally stabilized again I am ready to take off the excess weight at a more reasonable pace. I have planned out meals and calculated my calories needs to lose 0.5-1 pound a week this time. I may not step on stage in May but my ultimate goal is to be healthy and happy. Thankfully I'm still pretty comfortable in my own skin at this weight.

I decided to share my journey back to health and fitness here in hopes of helping someone else. Shows like the one I mentioned only gloss over the details. I want to share every last bit of my journey from meal planning and prepping to workouts to progress pictures. My goal is to share weekly updates for anyone who is interested but also to motivate myself. 

Please leave me a comment if there is anything you would like me to share this weekend when I post my first update! Let's get on track to our summer (and beyond!) bodies together. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Chasing Rainbows

I haven't blogged at all yet this year. In fact, I haven't done much yet this year. Please don't think that I am insinuating that I have been lazy or given up by any means. I simply have taken time to work on myself and reevaluate my dreams and goals in order to build a plan. Normal life (beyond work and the gym and raising children) took a backseat.

I took my nutrition and training back to the drawing board and overhauled everything. I'm keeping a close log of how every change affects my overall package. I have brought my posing back to basics in hopes of having a much better presentation when I finally do compete again. I have kept my focus on building muscle while keeping my body fat down. Now I am finally beginning to 'cut' and start to get into stage shape.

Meanwhile, I have also been working on designing a career path. I have spent ten years in my industry and gathered certifications and qualifications that should be worth quite a bit to the right employer. I have put a lot of thought into what the 'right' job would look like for me versus how I can be of the most value to an employer. I have made an effort to make my current position take the shape of my vision but have not been able to work with my current company to see it through. I'm in negotiations with another company and I hope that I'll be able to make that announcement shortly. I pray it will be the last career change I have to make!

Lastly, I have been working on myself. I have been single for almost eight months now. That's not exactly a long time but it has been enough to clearly see where I can make progress on a personal level. I've always treated happiness and success as destinations to be reached instead of transient events/feelings that occur in the moment. Instead of focusing on these things (which our society places so much value on), I have been working on building my values and morals. I'm not going to espouse that I'm some great theologian now but I'm doing some reading and lots of listening. I've visited churches and schools and talked to friends, family, and the 'professionals' about every topic I can think of. And, while this journey will never be complete, I'm happy to say that I think my current progress will lead to the ability to have a fundamentally happy life through living true to myself. And one day maybe I can share it with a partner that is taking the same journey of self-exploration and growth.

I have missed emptying the thoughts rattling around my head onto a blank screen. And I miss the feedback that my blog received. Most of all I long for the friendships it kindled with people who related to my ramblings. So I'm going to make an honest effort to begin blogging regularly again. I'm not exactly sure of how often or how much but I want to share my journey to the stage and beyond with everyone who encouraged me to take the first steps back in 2014. I wouldn't have made it this far without you all.

Happy Leap Day friends! I'll be back soon!