Sunday, November 13, 2011

Lifting Update

4 weeks no flex. I feel like my arms look better and I am gaining mass.

Two weeks

The Goal:
To get more cut. For a long time I have had some problem areas despite countless hours dedicated to exercise. I wanted to see if a change in nutrition and routine would help this.

What I have changed:
I have changed things up significantly. I got set up on a strict customized meal plan with higher protein and I began lifting heavy weights an hour a day. I wasn't sure what this was going to do to me. I went from running 35-50 miles a week (over an hour and half to two hours a day) to only lifting an hour a day 6 days a week with no cardio. So now I'm working out less and eating less calories but eating double in volume! I have discovered through the years that as much as I LOVE running it causes my body to hold on to fat in my trouble areas.

Why I made the change:
I have been thinking about this for the last two years. I talked to people about it and studied up on what a program like this would do for me whenever possible. I always felt like I did not have the "know how" when it came to heavy lifting or eating to build muscle. I have been using weights for over 10 years but it has always been high repetitions with low weight since I thought this was best but now I feel like that was wrong. I was thin but not cut. 

For just a side note, because it has been bothering me a little, women do not get big, bulky or look like men when lifting weights, not even when they lift heavy. The women who look unnaturally like men are ALMOST ALWAYS unnaturally on steroids. You DO NOT get that way on accident, and you do not get that way because you are a normal woman lifting heavy weights. That is a completely false. Normal women do not have testosterone levels that support such muscle mass. Lifting for women is still a sport that is misunderstood by some onlookers.

I guess that is how it was with running not too many years ago. In Kathleen Spitzers book, Marathon Woman, she talks about being one of the first women to run the Boston Marathon. People thought that if a woman ran a marathon, 26.2 miles, she would turn into a man. Kathleen said that her greatest opposition for endurance running wasn't the men, however, it was other women. At the finish line other women would often not cheer while the men encouraged her on and cheered loudly. I posted a picture from one of her marathons above where you can actually see this taking place. Why is it that women are often so critical of one another. We need not be so concerned with others. I believe sometimes that Naysayers are often people only expressing their own obstacles to goals that they themselves would like. Either way, this is a great experiment, one that I am enjoying very much no matter what others might think of it.

The Trainer:
I am working with a trainer (Roy Crtichfield) who I trust. He told me to hold off on cardio in order to build more mass. That was like losing my right arm but I did it and I was able to sustain the cut in calories and start to build more mass. He has also told me that I could lift much heavier weights. I again just had to trust. Every time he adds heavier and heavier weight and it gets tough I just have to trust that my body can do it. I always lacked that confidence on my own. I would never have done this on my own. He says "Eating is a full time job" and that is true. It is definitely the most challenging part of this process but it yields the most rewards. I used a sports nutritionist (Lindsay Matthews). I would recommend her. She wrote me a plan for a month. High protein (at least protein calculated out for my body mass and size) and lots of veggies. There are a healthy amount of carbs and good fats in the meal plan too.

The result:
I have lost 6 pounds in 4 weeks (I don't weigh a lot so that is a significant drop but we have monitored my lean mass and it has been good). Also I dropped 3 percent body fat I am hoping for 4 by tomorrow. My muscles responded immediately to this change. I can see definition that I have never seen before. I see striations in the muscle that I never knew I had. My embarrasingly narrow shoulders are starting to fill out. I am pleased with the results. I have never been so happy with a transformation. Not only do I feel like I look a little better but I feel good. I didn't expect the increased mental clarity that I feel with eating so strictly. I used to be in a fog all the time but this keeps things clear, no carb buzz, my glucose levels are nice and level. I am rarely hungry. I still want sweets sometimes but I get an outlet of one cheat meal a week. This seems to work.

The Future:
I am not sure what my plans are but now that I have tasted the benefits of what I have been doing I don't want to go back. I LOVE this. Ya know the whole "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." I am now thinking "Nothing tastes as good as Strong feels" I don't want to be skinny anymore. I want to be strong. I want to run and not be weary. I like the benefits this has brought to my family. I don't want to be in a constant state of over training any more like I was with marathon training to try to stay in shape. I am working out less but getting much better results therefore I am exercising more effectively.

The workout system:
I work one muscle group a day and allow a full seven days of recovery. Monday- Shoulders, Tuesday- Arms/Abs, Wed- Legs, Thursday- Back, Friday- Chest, Saturday- Extra for which ever muscle group needs it the most. Again I just had to trust my trainer on this one. I was unsure of the 7 days rest but now I feel like I work my muscles hard enough that it does take a full 7 days to recover the muscle completely. I am on a 4 week rotation where it gets progressively harder until the 4th week which is super tough then 3 weeks are recovery weeks and are a little easier. This allows the muscle to rebuild and become fuller.

The Eating and making it work
So I am on a 6 meals a day eating plan mostly whole foods, lots of protein but a fair amount of carbs with lots of fiberous veggies. No secrets here. It is everything that most of us know. How to prepare it while trying to feed a family and how to not get sick of it is a different story.
I have tried this so many different ways in the past to do 6 meals a day
  • Body for Life approach - 6 different meals daily, different meal plans each day which totals 40 something meals a week. Pain in the neck and expensive.
  • Live the Life approach- 6 same meals, repeated daily for the week. Very efficient but I start gagging and even chilling by the end of the week because the food is repeated so often that I get sick of it.
  • My approach with my meals- Meal rotation. You can read about it on the side of this blog. It actually works really well but I wanted to try something new.
  • Linsdey's approach that I am using now- Two meal plans. One for lifting days, one for rest or cardio days. 6 meals on each plan. For breakfast, for example, I have xnumber of egg whites and xgrams of oatmeal and a fruit. Then she lists meal options like muffins (grinding up oats to flour), pancakes, lemon bars...all the same ingredients with a slight variation in nonessential and non calorie ingredients. I have really liked this approach.
I have been making my breakfast for the week on Sunday (I freeze 4 days worth of pancakes to stick in the toaster), On Monday I crock pot some chicken and freeze half and keep the other in the fridge. I use it in different dishes that she has in my meal plan like one meal is chicken and veggies and a carb (all of it is actually broken down to grams so I know exactly how much I need) but some days I do stirfry, somedays I have smoked chicken, some days I eat fajitas and with the cooked meat it is super easy and fast to throw together. By freezing half of it like Lindsay suggests it doesn't get the stale taste by the end of the week in the fridge. I dedicate another day of the week to grocery shopping and another day to cutting veggies and having them on hand for the family and me. It sounds complicated but it simplifies things a lot! It frees my mind. I don't have to think about what I am going to eat that day. I do the work up front and it cuts my actual weekly prepare time in half.

Well this has been a long post. There are a million ways to do this, there are lots of roads to loose weight, to gain muscle to make it work but this is what has been helping me. I would love to share specifics but I don't think it would be appropriate to post Lindsey's plan on a community blog like this although she hasn't said so. She works hard to maintain the knowledge that she has and puts a lot of work into the plans. If I come up with something on my own you can bet I will share it with you followers. By the way there is a great macros calculator on body to figure out your need protein, carbs and fats Here is the link. best of luck everyone! Wish me luck this hasn't been easy that is why not everyone does it but it has been worth it ;)

I just read through this. There are lots of errors. Love me anyway. I will fix them later or I will never get this post out! :)


Merri said...

I am very happy for you Susan! You are looking awesome & working so hard!

Helen said...

great info!

Tabitha said...

Can we seriously plan a day to freeze meals? My kids would love playing with yours while you teach me your tricks! I want to be skinny and strong! I feel like I landed in a gold mine having you as a running partner! How lucky for me :) hope it has benefits for you too.

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