Friday, March 25, 2011

Changing Perceptions...

For my early readers, do you recall the story, Is no place sacred that I wrote after I saw a Craisins ad on the wall at my gym? In it, I compare Craisins to their close cousin, Mike n Ike's...

Anyway, not long after I posted my story, (and I'm sure a total coincidence) the Craisins ad was replaced by an ad for egg whites! Yes! Seems I may not have been the only person to complain about the candy, er, I mean Craisins ad they had posted.

Well, I'm even happier to report that the powers-at-be have decided it is better to push healthy items to the members of their club and have brought in their latest poster below. I definitely approve:
At any rate, I'm still IFing, working out, and trying to keep my shit together while I undergo some major life events. The good news is that I seem to have busted out of my fat loss stall and have hit 115 lbs, but am maintaining my strength. I'm working to tweak my diet as I know I've been slacking big time and am already seeing changes now that I'm back on track. With amped up protein and more calories on training days and a lot less calories in general on rest days, I think I'll be seeing those long-lost abs by summer. Only two more months until Memorial Day, so it's time to get SERIOUS. Who's with me?

Also - for those of you who don't think you can reach your goals without the help of hundreds of dollars in supplements, check out this really informational - and kind of frightening - video about the supplement industry. I have no ties to these folks at all; just passing it along.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lift Like a Girl - You just might like it

After I sent Martin ( my chinup vids so he can post them, he asked me about my routine so he could offer some background to the videos. He felt it may help give some direction to other IFing women out there; and I hope it does. I think he's going to post this sometime soon as well, but I wanted to archive it on my own blog.

I created this routine from bits and pieces found scattered like confetti across his blog. I know everyone is slightly different and has different goals, so this routine may not be for you. I also know that, after two months of this, I'm stronger than ever before, but will likely have to find a way to shake things up a bit to keep things moving...but I'm not sure how to proceed.

In case you rush through the routine without reading the fine print, I generally rest from 3 to 5 minutes between every set. Since I'm only doing 2-3 types of exercises at 3-4 sets each, I'm in and out of the gym in under an hour. Oh, and I only workout 3 times a week. No cardio. No more HIIT. AND NO CURLS (they're so boring).

At any rate, I also keep a daily workout log to gauge my improvement. I'll post some info on that later. Without further's my fairly basic, Super-Hero-inducing, strength-training routine:

A SuperHero Workout for Anyone

* Typical rest is 3-5 mins between sets of anything
RPTR (Reverse Pyramid Training Rocks!)

Day 1
5-min walk for warm-up

Deadlift (up to 165 lbs x 5 reps and I decrease by 10 lbs for 2-3 more sets of 5)

rest 5 mins

Leg extensions - up to 120 lbs x 5 and same decrease for 2-3 sets

rest 5 mins

chins - as in the video

stretch, go home, eat and sleep

Day 3

Flat Bench (struggling with this one) Stuck at 95 x 5 and then decrease by 5-10 lbs each set for 3 more sets. Maybe my problem is I've been doing a set of 10 pushups between each set? (Martin says push-ups are useless...but I like being able to do them).

Rest 5-10 mins

Pull-ups (not chins - wider grip, palm away)
3-4 sets. up to 8 Bodyweight pullups, so it's time to start adding weight to those now, too.

stretch, go home, eat, sleep

Day 5
Squats (95 x 5) and same decreasing routine. I'm trying not to hurt myself with this one just yet.(I believe you can use leg presses instead of squats if you prefer, but I like having to stabilize my entire body through the squat).

Walking lunges with barbell on my shoulders. Can do up to 95 lbs x 5 steps each way, but difficult for me to get the bar up on my shoulders without help. :) So I've been using 70lbs, 60, 50...

Rest 5-10 mins

Weighted Dips (last time I did BW+15 x 5, BW +10 x 5, BW +5 x 6, BW x 6-8)

stretch, maybe walk, go home, eat, sleep

Sometimes on a leg day I'll throw in push presses (65 lbs start), seated rows or some ab work if I feel motivated enough to do it separately.

That's pretty much it. The weather's just starting to warm up here (though we did get a dusting of snow this morning) so I'll be surfing, riding my bike with my daughter and my dog and generally being more active outdoors.

Hope this helps some of you.

Happy lifting!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New PR with Weighted Chin Ups

The videos are a little shaky, but that's what happens when you let your 12-year old daughter film you. Only got two sets recorded - no idea what she was doing the other sets...but you get the idea. I'll post again when I break the 25 lb barrier!

First set - Body weight + 17.5 lbs - a new PR!

Only did 5, but that's ok with me!

Followed with 15 lbs x 5, 10 lbs x 5, BW x 6, and BW x 6!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Moving is Really Hard Work!

Spent the weekend moving into my new apartment and MAN am I sore! The muscles in my neck, middle and upper back and thighs are especially tired and heavy today. I was going to shoot my weighted chins vid today for Martin, but it's going to have to wait at least one more day. I have to eat and rest before I'm going to take that on. I don't want to disappoint everyone who's rooting for me out there!

Hope you are all keeping to your programs and seeing results. I'm looking forward to another week of heavy training, heavy eating and lots of sleeping!

Stay tuned...I'll publish the video later this week.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Finally - Progress Pics

Recently I've been struggling with my motivation. I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. My workouts stalled (poor diet, lack of discipline and no sleep). Then, today, I hopped on the scale to a solid 116.0 lbs (was literally 117.8 yesterday at the same time). I think the two pints of Guinness I had to celebrate St. Patty's with my girlfriend and the bar appetizers I shouldn't have eaten may have given me the "Whoosh" that Martin Berkhan speaks of.

"By the way, a nice bonus after a night of drinking is that it effectively rids you of water retention. You may experience the "whoosh" effect, which I've talked about in my two-part series about water retention. That in itself can be motivating for folks who've been experiencing a plateau in their weight loss."

In any event, I'm pleased at my results so far and look forward to seeing how I will look in another two months - just in time for Memorial Day at the Jersey Shore.

Here they are - Pics from my IF journey over the past two months. I started in mid January and took the last pics this morning. All in all, only two months so far, but I can see some results already. Looking back at how soft I was just a short while ago has had a bonus. The fire's been lit! I have been improving and I have a fresh motivation to keep it up.

January 15, 2011 (The Beginning)

February 15, 2011 (1 month in)

March 18, 2011 (2 months in)

March 18, 2011 (those close-grip chins are working!)

January 15, 2011 (no muscle tone to speak of; chicken wings and yuck...)

February 15, 2011 (slight improvement)

March 18, 2011 (now we're getting somewhere!)

March 18, 2011 (A bonus! - getting obliques and lats)

My abs are still hidden under a nice insulating layer of fat, but I'm sure that will be the last to go. Only two months of IF and I'm down to 116 lbs from 128 - and, while I have no reliable bodyfat measurements - I've definitely lost fat and gained some lean mass.) I still have quite a ways to go to get lean, but this is a marathon, not a sprint!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Not following my own advice

So, to make up for my crazy schedule and lack gym time, I spent the last week and a half working out about every other day.

Things were holding steady until last night. My bench was a struggle; I could only do 4 weighted chins with 15 extra lbs... (down 1); and I just felt off.

Realizing I'm not taking my own advice to rest I am going to regroup, drink some green beer with my girlfriend tonight and rest for the next few days.


Some of you have been asking for progress pics...I will post some this weekend after I take the latest batch. Please be nice...I was pretty chubby for a size 4. :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Surprising, but welcome news from my doc

This is the culprit. Why I can't stay awake past 10 pm, but can't stay asleep past 3:30 a.m. Why I have no appetite. Why my hairbrush had decidedly too much hair stuck on it lately. Why I have this anxious feeling in my gut ALL THE TIME. Why I wake up sweaty almost every night. Even why my periods have nearly disappeared.

This tiny blue pill that I have no choice but to take every single day for the rest of my life has turned my life upside down. Those of you who blamed my symptoms on IF - and you know who you are - guess what? You were right .... kind of.

So, what is this little blue pill, you ask? Synthroid.

The Back Story

On Good Friday, 1999, I was given the cheery news that I had Papillary Carcinoma of the thyroid gland.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this butterfly-shaped organ, the thyroid gland is a small gland, normally weighing less than one ounce, located in the front of the neck. It is made up of two halves, called lobes, that lie along the windpipe (trachea) and are joined together by a narrow band of thyroid tissue, known as the isthmus.

The function of the thyroid gland is to take iodine, found in many foods, and convert it into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid cells are the only cells in the body which can absorb iodine. These cells combine iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make T3 and T4. T3 and T4 are then released into the blood stream and are transported throughout the body where they control metabolism (conversion of oxygen and calories to energy). Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism.

Since my thryoid gland was clearly not going to be doing me any favors, they removed it. And, since as noted above in bright red bold type, thyroid hormones are kind of important, I have to take a man-made version.

Enter SYNTHROID® a synthetic T4 replacement that is identical to the hormone produced in the human thyroid gland (pictured top).

I've been taking the same dose - a suppressive dose of 150 mcg - since the surgery in 1999. They amped up the dosage to ensure there is no further thryoid tissue activity of any kind anywhere in my body to prevent any recurrence of the cancer if any cells escaped the great excavation of my neck.

Anyway, in 12 years, even though I gained a few pounds here and lost a few there, my labs were always nearly identical - until today.

Compared to my last blood tests done in July of 2010, my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) has been beaten beyond the point of submission and my T4 levels have traveled to a land never before seen in my body and are well above the high of the normal range.

Comparisons of my blood tests in July 2010 and Feb 2010 - with the only difference in my life being my intermittant fasting program (and the ensuing 12-lb weight loss) - here is where I stand:

TSH: Then: less than 0.068 / Now: less than 0.006

(Thyroid Stimulating Hormone is what they want to keep quite low, but not this low)

Antithyroglobulin AB: Then:92 / Now: 96 - slightly elevated today

T4, Free (Direct): Then: 1.69 / Now: 2.12 - quite elevated today

Basically, what these numbers mean is that I'm now hyperthyroid. Hence the symptoms outlined above. So, to correct the situation and prevent worsening symptoms such as heart palpitations and bone loss, the doctor has lowered my dose to 137 mcg for two months and said he may have to lower it again depending on my test results at that time.

What I find the most interesting is that it would seem, as illustrated clearly in my labs, that my IF lifestyle has made my body more sensitive to the Synthroid, thus increasing the uptake. Therefore, I now need less medication to achieve the desired result of a suppressed TSH.

And less of any kind of medication can't be a bad thing.

Stay tuned and I'll let you know in a week or two if my insomnia and other symptoms are improving.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Stress is Stress

I've been reading the Facebook posts of some of my friends and fellow health nuts and I still can't get over the volume of physical activity some of them are undertaking nearly every day of the week. Interspersed between their postings of a zillion supersets of this and a bazillion reps of that are complaints about how tired they always their joints they just can't seem to get enough REST. Well, duh.

Now, I used to subscribe to the same program. I sweated my ass off, running mile after mile of sprint intervals; I did speed rope sessions combined with various plyometrics - and this was all DURING a strength training session. But, no matter how many miles I logged or how fast I ran or jumped rope or did box jumps or all of the above simultaneously, I wasn't getting anywhere. In fact, I was only getting fatter and softer.

It wasn't until I stumbled on Leangains this past January when I discovered my problem, well, problems.

First off, my diet sucked. I ate constantly, trying to "maintain constant blood sugar" and a "humming metabolism." Little did I know that if I never went without a meal, my body would never - and I mean EVER - burn what fat it had accumulated. Do you know why?


If you're constantly eating, your body will never need to look for an alternate source of energy; i.e. FAT.

So, problem #1 was rectified by intermittent fasting. I generally eat all calories between noon/1 pm and 8/9 pm and I try to stay in a set amount of calories - a deficit for now so I can enjoy the benefits of fat loss.

My SECOND problem was a combination of overtraining and wasting my time. Since I began Leangains, I've stopped all cardio (and for those of you out there who I think my heart is going to shrink up and stop working, try deadlifting 160 lbs five times when you weigh 116 and tell me how long your heart stays elevated). Then follow that with three more sets with slightly decreased increments. With 5 minutes rest between sets, my heart is elevated for more than 20 minutes on one movement alone.

But I digress...

I cut out the BS HIIT routine (while on restricted calories and high weight/low volume training) and have seen personal records EVERY week since I started. I'm going on two months now and here's how far I've come...

Then 117

Bench 115

Deadlift 160

Bodyweight Chinups

Bodyweight Pullups 8

I do walking lunges with 90 lbs on my back and I can do leg extensions at 115 lbs. Oh, my standing military press is at 65 lbs last time I checked...but it's been a couple of weeks.

Anyway, here's my point. I workout less than I ever have and I have lost weight, I'm getting muscle definition in my arms, shoulders, chest, obliques, back, legs and the very beginning of my abs. I've gone from near 30% bodyfat to low 20% (no accurate method to check except my tanita scale)...

Generally, when I rest 5-7 days before repeating an exercise, I add weight with no problem. When I get antsy and push for more, I lose reps. You do the math.

So, for all of you out there trying to exercise your way out of your crappy diets, I have just two words for you:


That's right. REST. RECOVER. GROW.

When it comes to exercise, more does not necessarily mean better and your body doesn't distinguish from the stress in exercise and the stress you might feel after a bad day at the office.

If you don't believe me on the consequences of overtraining, check out these two articles I found:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Another Business Trip...

Traveling again - I'm in Wichita this week. Yee-haw! Nice place. I actually kind of like it here. The folks are all very nice. There's no traffic that I have seen and the pace of life feels a bit less frantic - that is, until I get to the office. But hey, I have a job. I mostly love my job and I totally love the people I work with.

With the 12-hour work days we've been putting in, I haven't had time to workout, but I'm keeping the diet pretty on par with leangains...

The lunch options don't afford me the opportunity to really protein up, so I've been keeping them very low carb and as much protein as is possible. I didn't pack protein powder, but I did bring beef and turkey jerkey and some of those packs of mixed nuts for emergencies. Since I'm way low on calories, I've been trying to load up at the only real meal I get each day - Dinner.

On Monday I had the top sirloin with a double serving of veggies. That white stuff on the top of the meat is chive butter.

As you can see, I hated it.

Last night my options were a bit more limited, so I opted for the Pumphouse Double Deluxe (2 burger patties with sauteed mushrooms on top.

I didn't clean my plate this time, but I did eat all of that meat. YUM.

As for my training successes, during my last workout on Saturday I wanted to see how many bodyweight pullups and chinups I can do so I did the following with a few mins rest between each set:

10 chins, 8 pull ups, 8 chins, 6 pull ups, 6 chins, 3 pullups, 4 chins,

45 reps in total. I'll go back to training with extra weight and lower reps for another month and test myself again. Also benched a new PR of 100 lbs x 3.

Before I left, I was still weighing around 116 lbs, so we'll see what I am when I get home on Friday.