Monday, August 29, 2011

Post #100!!!

I logged in to add an update and saw that this is my 100th blog posting. I can't think of a better way to celebrate than to take a look back at where I started back in January (top photo) and compare to where I am today, August 30, (2nd photo) - almost 9 months later.

I have to say it's been a long road, and I have not yet reached my destination, but my progress since January is unmistakable. I've already learned a lot from my journey through IF and Leangains - patience, determination, the importance of setting goals (both big and small), and how much it helps to have a support network to help you when the road gets bumpy.

So, thank you Martin Berkhan for Leangains and your continued encouragement and support to all of those people who are changing their lives by applying what you've learned;

Thanks to Scott Black for your constant support, honesty and so many laughs;

Thanks to my FFF ladies - you are hands down the BEST group on Facebook. Keep up the great discussions, I learn something new from you all nearly every day.

Thanks to Chase for not making too much fun of me for eating like a linebacker or getting annoyed when I break out my digital food scale before plating my meals.

And thank you to all of my friends - near and far - for not judging/hating - though you think I'm insane for how much I eat and the weights I attempt to lift, you're all still there for me in spite of my insanity.

Stay tuned for more updates coming soon.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 9 PSMF - Pics

No time to write - got a plane to catch. Here are some pics from the beginning of Day 9 of my PSMF experiment.

More to come...stay tuned!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Addressing a Naysayer...

Ok, I know it's not Wednesday - your traditional "hump day," but it is day 6 of my 12-day PSMF experiment. It's all downhill from here...I hope.

I've made it 6 full days so far without a carb or fat fest. My weight is slowly creeping down as is my BF% according to my crappy Tanita. 113.6 lbs, 26.0% bodyfat. I still think that's off, and I know it has a lot to do with water retention, etc., but I am still carrying a lot of softness in my belly still, so it's probably, sadly, accurate or at least close.

Anyway, as an aside from my boring protein-rich meals, I wanted to share with you all an email I received in response to my last blog. It's from a man named David.

Now, David, if you are reading this, I hope you are not upset that I posted your email. I mean, if you are going to question the validity and necessity of what I'm doing and writing about in a public forum, I thought I would open the floor for debate starting with your letter.

Here's what David wrote (edited for grammar and spelling b/c typos and misspelled words make me crazy):

I understand what your doing but really, what does it have to do with fitness and weight loss? Short term gains for aesthetics is anathema to overall fitness, good habits and total image of ones self. Your goals are your own, but this recent bout of "diet" is unhealthy and in my opinion counter-productive. What is more important, a strong woman with a body that may not conform to the magazine's image of a fit female, or that small section of that is a hindrance to the prototypical six pack. Frankly, I think you're stronger with the you, that is really you.

Best wishes and good luck with what ever makes you happy. I pray though, that you actually derive happiness from your goals.

Your friend in training,

So wonder what any of this has to do with fitness and weight loss? Let me address Fitness first.

Would you or would you not concede that a 115 lb woman who can deadlift 200 lbs, benchpress 105 lbs, do weighted chinups with 30 xtra lbs strapped to her, weighted dips and pullups with 20 xtra lbs strapped to her is somewhat fit?

I can deadlift nearly twice my weight then do 5 sets of RPT style weighted chinups and STILL do 7 or more bodyweight chinups when I'm finished. I'm not a fast runner - I am not training to run - but I can easily run a 5k right now if you wanted me to and finish in the middle of the pack somewhere.

I was nearly 130 lbs and 30% bodyfat in January of this year. I used to train like a mad woman - probably overtrained - and never saw results. Why? Because my diet was terrible. I never counted calories. I never cycled carbs. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. And though I was not obese by any standard, I was setting myself up for an unhealthy future. My mother has adult onset diabetes...she loves carbs. I myself had cancer 12 years ago - you would know this if you read more of my blog than a couple of posts about an experimental high-protein diet. I am on a quest - one that will last for the rest of my life - to get lean, be strong and stay that way until I die - Which, statistics show, will likely be later in life the leaner I am.

Weight Loss? Well, I'm not sure I ever said I need to lose 'weight.' If I did, I misspoke. I'm not concerned with just losing lbs on the scale. I don't care what the scale reads if my bodyfat is low enough to see my abs - even if just a shadow of them. Whether that's 105 lbs or 125lbs, it won't matter to me. Muscle is compact, dense and, when in the right proportion, is sexy as hell and i want to build it and show it off.

To strip my body of nearly 39 years of accumulated fat and toxins, I'm experimenting with fasting and macros cycling to see what works for me with as little discomfort and muscle loss as possible. I've done the 'eat 6 meals a day' thing. I've run mile after mile after mile. I was even a personal trainer and spouted all of this nonsense to others (for which I will be eternally sorry). I bought it all - hook, line and sinker.

Not any more.

I don't take expensive designer supplements. I use creatine, whey, casein, fish oil and vitamins. That's it.

When I eat, my plate is generally half protein and half vegetables. I eat more fibrous veggies in a single day than most Americans eat in a week. Carbs, mostly in to form of complex carbs, come in after workouts and that's it. I drink water, iced and hot green tea, black coffee, unsweetened almond milk and diet soda (with vodka, of course) when I need something sweet. Tell me, Dave, how is my lifestyle unhealthy? Because I'm on a reduced calorie diet for 12 days? Puhleeeeze. My PSMF experiement has more to do with training my brain to recognize true hunger while teaching myself a little discipline than anything else. As a result, I should also shed some true bodyfat - notice I said "bodyfat" and not "weight."

I eat broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, blueberries, strawberries, pork, lean beef, bison, seafood and chicken. When not on PSMF I eat Greek yogurt and tons of cottage cheese, natural peanut butter, sweet potatoes, brown rice and a plethora of additional vegetables. I do LOVE Oreos - they are my vice. I take a multivitamin, fish oil and calcium, when I remember, due to the suppressive dose of synthroid I'm on from the cancer. (As an aside, check out this blog post about the effect of fasting on my medication dosages.)

Where am I going wrong? Would you be more comfortable if I was blogging about my latest obsession with Bavarian Cream Doughnuts? Would it be more acceptable if I logged dozens of miles of running each week while complaining about the repetitive stress injuries I'm suffering from due to overtraining? Tell me Dave, what would be acceptable?

How is a long-term eating and training program that I have sustained since I started in January - with no lapses - deemed "counterproductive?" How is getting strong as hell at the same time I strip off unnecessary, and unhealthy, bodyfat "counterproductive?" And exactly what part of these past 8 months worth of my blogposts archived here ----------->>>>>> give you the idea that this is a short term goal aimed and improving aesthetics?

I'm getting strong. I'm getting lean. As a byproduct, I'm going to look hotter at 40 than I ever did at 20 and you see something wrong with that? Am I missing something?

Tell me, Dave, did you read any of my blog posts or just this one you commented on? Because the PSMF is just a 12-day think to kick start fat loss - it's not something you continue in perpetuity. That doesn't mean I wouldn't go another round in a month or so, but PSMF is not intended to be a permanent eating lifestyle. Maybe you just misunderstood....


For all of my readers - if you have a stand on this issue - for or against what I do and how I'm doing it, I welcome your comments. Please do not hesitate to weigh in - I ask only 1 thing before you do so, however. Before submitting any comments, ask yourself if you're making a constructive point or just being a nay-saying PITA.

Thanks everyone. I'm tired. Day #7 has literally just begun!

And, Dave, I truly thank you for opening this debate. I'm sorry I was harsh; it's been a helluva day and I'm hungry. :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Days 4 & 5

It's Day 5 of Jenny's road to fat loss via the PSMF highway and I wanted to give you all an update on how I'm feeling and how the "diet" is working out.

Day 4, yesterday, was a definite test of my mental fortitude. I was hungry most of the day - even shortly after eating 10 oz boneless pork, piles of fibrous veggies, and a 2-scoop casein shake.

In the afternoon, I met a friend at the local fairgrounds where he was working a horse show. His company was one of the sponsors, so we got to hang in the VIP tent which, btw, was loaded with FOOD. Cheese, crackers, fruit, those giant cookie and brownie squares, pasta, sausage and peppers, and some kind of crabcake sliders...and I couldn't eat ANY of it. On our way out, I grabbed a teeny square of cheese which my dear friend, bless his sole, immediately wresteled from my hand and promptly threw away. It's so good to have support!

For dinner I had chicken and broccoli and then went out to meet friends at the Tiki Bar for one of their b-day and just had diet coke. Apparently I am allowed to drink straight vodka - gotta love it - but I was driving and also quite hungry and didn't think alcohol would have been a great idea. I was short on protein for the day by probably 30 g, so I need to do better at getting in the required amount or I'll be even hungrier!

Physiologically, it took a bit to get everything, uh, moving through my system. But I've increased my veggies and added psyllium husk fiber and more fluids which seem to have done the trick. Long walks with my dog also help me to keep everything going.

Today is supposed to be a training day, but my lower back is still not right (messed it up a week or so ago and it still feels out of whack). Will push my workout to tomorrow afternoon so I can get in to see my Chiropractor. He's had really good results when I get twisted like this.

It's 10:30 a.m. and I'm hungry - but I usually am anyway. Time to keep busy and keep hydrated!

Friday, August 19, 2011

PSMF - Day 3

It's day 3 of my PSMF experiment and I don't feel any different than I have been feeling prior to beginning this diet.
  • Hunger Level - moderate at wake up - as always!
  • Abs Progress - tummy honestly feels tighter and more compact already...but that could just be wishful thinking. Took pics today and posted here - I'm going to try to take pics every few days and will also post all at once at the end of this to compare progress as time goes on.
  • Training Report - Did chest and shoulders yesterday and was able to maintain on my max bench (100 lbs x 4 without a spotter); added reps with incline DB press (40 lbs each hand x 6); DB military fell in weight, but I think it's because I killed my shoulders with the incline DB press; and dips jumped bigtime to bodyweight +20 lbs x 7. *These are all first set numbers. I completed two sets of each and three of dips RPT style.
I made my 170g protein for food intake yesterday thanks to a pound of boneless country style pork ribs and a pasta bowl full of steamed cauliflower yesterday along with the chicken, cabbage and egg whites I had at lunch time. YUMMY.

Today I have 330g (11 oz) of pork ribs left for lunch (66g protein), a single scoop casein shake (24 g protein); more cauliflower and not sure what I'll make for dinner. Maybe more chicken or a giant pile of tilapia fillets I have crammed in my fridge with a pile of broccoli. I think a little variety is a good thing or I'll get so sick of this diet I'll never make the next 9 days.

I also wanted to give a shout out to my FFF girls. Thank you all so much for your support of our Facebook group and, well, of me while I undertake this fairly hardcore "diet." You chicks rule.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

An Exercise in Mental Discipline

Ok....This week I will use the very last page of Jenny's LG Training Log - Volume I. I started back in early January and my log outlines what started as a convoluted journey full of twists and turns as I experimented with different routines and pushed to find my limits and has since straightened out to a nice, consistent routine of compound movements and heavy weight, low volume sessions with a few supplementary exercises added in at different points to help round out my weaknesses.

So, the other night, I was thumbing through the numbers to see just how far I've come. The first picture here was of my log about three weeks after I started fasting and was trying to settle into a routine. It was also the beginning of my deadlifts which were very low - not because I couldn't lift more, but because I wanted to ensure I didn't hurt myself while I was feeling out my limits.

The second photo (right) was taken just the other day. You'll see that my deads went from 115 x 5 in January to 200 lbs x 2.5 in August. (The half was me being honest about not being able to stand up straight the third rep). My chins also went from barely being able to do a few with no weight added to doing 4 with 25 extra lbs. I realize my volume is too high, but I am still happy with my results to this point.

Now...why am I still "fat." Well, first, many would argue that I am fat at all. I'm down to 115 lbs and have made massive strength gains indicating that I have packed on a fair amount of muscle since starting this training program and fasting lifestyle. My goal is not to just look "trim", however, my goal is to be LEAN. I don't want to be show-ready (10% BF), but am seeking whatever bodyfat level will show my 6-pack. As of now, I don't know what that will be.

My crappy Tanita BF scale is still telling me I'm around 25-26% BF - Since I am still soft and have many areas which are squishy, I'm inclined to believe it's close to the truth. And, of course, my abs still elude me. I think they've grown too attached to the inch of insulation that's been keeping them safe and warm.

Anyway, after conversing with a LG friend (Thanks, Scott Black), I've decided to take on the mother of all "crash diets" to strip off bodyfat. It's called the Protein Sparing Modified Fast and I will be testing the limits of my mental discipline for the next 12 days (well, 11 as of today) as I eat 1.5 g of LEAN protein per pound of bodyweight (approx 175g protein daily) and unlimited leafy green and cruciferous veggies. Only trace fats and carbs. This will put me in a pretty sizeable calorie deficit and, hopefully, my body will go into in serious fat-burning mode. I'll be hungry as ever as this will no doubt send my leptin (hunger hormone) through the roof. But, if it works and I notice changes in a couple of weeks, I will probably do it again after a brief respite to reset my leptin. If you want to get a general overview, Protein Sparing Modified Fast is explained in this guy's blog.

Many people who try this for the first time (including the guy who's blog I just linked to), don't make it for the full 12 days without a carb/fat refeed of some sort. I am blogging about my experience in an effort to keep me on the straight-and-narrow. I will also take some "before" pics tonight and post with "after" pics and measurements in two weeks to see if the diet accomplished anything.

Day 1 was yesterday. This is what I ate:
  • 8 oz skinless chicken (50g protein)
  • 8 oz flank steak (48g protein)
  • 8 oz grilled shrimp (34g protein)
  • 2-scoop casein shake with water and splash of unsweetened almond milk (48g protein)
  • Piles of sauteed cabbage and cooked cauliflower for fiber and regularity...
  • **5 grams fish oil (with EPA, DHA and other Essential Fatty Acids)

This totals approximately 180g protein for the day and about 16 g of fat with a ton of fiber and trace carbs from the veggies.

Day 2 -
Today for lunch I will be eating 8 oz of skinless chicken, a pile of cabbage and broccoli and almost 1 cup of cooked egg whites with Splenda and cinnamon = about 70g protein and only trace fats and carbs - a good start to the day.

Dinner will be 8 oz of boneless pork ribs (48g protein, 10g fat), more cabbage; and my bedtime snack will likely be protein fluff or another 2-scoop casein shake. It's pretty good with water when you use two scoops because of the thickness...All of that should get me close to 170g+ protein for the day...and so it goes for another 10 days.

Stay tuned to see if I'm able to beat my cravings and ignore my hunger while I seek to uncover the awesome six pack that I just know is there waiting to be seen.

Friday, August 12, 2011

IF - High Level Overview

A friend of a friend reached out to me recently. She's frustrated and looking for a weight-loss approach that actually works and is sustainable - same as the rest of us. I started typing her response, but, what came out was a fairly detailed outline of what I've been doing and why it works.

It's not super technical or scientific. If you want to read about the science behind the theories, go to Martin always does a thorough job of explaining things in fairly simple terms. What follows is more of how I would explain my lifestyle on Leangains to a friend. It is in no way complete and does not cover all aspects of IF, but I think it's a decent introduction to the average person who may be curious about what IF is and why the way we eat is primarily responsible for how we look.


No matter whether it's 10 lbs or 100 lbs, I see people every day killing themselves in the gym on treadmills and elliptical trainers and wondering why they're not losing weight. To be honest, and you may not want to hear this, the way we look is shaped more by WHAT we eat and WHEN we eat it than by how much we exercise. Our diet is probably 85% of the fat-loss battle.

If you want to do it right, nothing is off the table when it comes to what you are able to eat, but the timing of when you eat different kinds of foods will make all of the difference.

In case you're new to my blog, the lifestyle I've adopted includes what is called Intermittent Fasting (IF) combined with a heavy weight/low volume strength training program.

I discovered IF in January when I was just browsing internet blogs and forums. A Swedish nutritionist, Martin Berkhan, has a great website/blog that is FREE and full of tons of information as well as the science behind why it works. The site,, is overwhelming, so I would recommend starting here :

What is Intermittent Fasting?

Brief Summary of Popular Approaches to IF - there are different variations; find one that fits YOUR life.

Leangains is a variety of IF that uses a 14-hour fast with a 10-hour eating window (women) or a 16-hour fast with an 8-hour eating window (men). For example, I will eat my first meal of the day at 11 am and my last meal at 9 pm and nothing with calories until the eating window starts again the following day.

Now, just fasting isn't enough because what you eat during your allotted window is critical.

How many calories should you eat for fat loss? There are many formulas out there, but one of the simplest is to take 13 and multiply by your body weight. If you weigh 150 lbs (just using a round number), that would mean you need to eat 1950 calories a day to experience fat loss. If you're honest about what you're eating and you're not losing, then lower your calories a bit and see what happens.

Now, when creating a calorie deficit, hunger is always a problem. This is where WHAT you eat makes the biggest difference.

Protein is king.
Chicken, seafood, beef, pork, cottage cheese, eggs...learn to like eating meat and/or fish. This will comprise at least half of your daily calories EVERY DAY.

How much protein?
You will notice changes quickly by simply increasing your protein intake dramatically - aim for at least 1g protein per pound of your bodyweight. You are supposed to use Lean Body mass for this calculation but, if you can't figure that out, just start with your scale weight and play around until you start seeing the fat fall off. For example, if you're 150 lbs (just using a round number), you would aim to eat a minimum of 150g protein per day. Since protein is 4 calories per gram, that's the same as 600 calories in just protein alone.

But that's not half of your calories, so you should really be eating more protein per day for best results. At 2,000 calories per day, you'd need to eat 250g of protein to comprise 50% of your daily calories.

Basically, you cannot eat too much lean meat, fish, seafood, pork, chicken, cottage cheese, plain greek yogurt or eggs.

Fat and Carbohydrates
Where this lifestyle differs from probably every other diet you've ever tried is the cycling of what are called macronutrients – Protein is a macronutrient. So is fat and so are carbs. The timing of your fat and carbohydrate intake will have a tremendous impact on your satiety (feeling full), mental wellbeing as well as fat loss.

1g of fat = 9 calories. Since fat is nearly twice the calories of both protein (4) and carbohydrates (4), you can't eat as much of it – but you CAN eat it. Bacon (low salt), avocados, natural peanut butter (low sugar), egg yolks, fatty meats, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), cooking oils, etc. Fat will make you feel full and improves flavor of the foods we're eating.

I have a love-hate relationship with carbohydrates but, to really get lean and strip off body fat, carbohydrates have to be used sparingly and only at the right times - preferably after a strength-training workout (I'm not talking about cardio, but weights).

Carbohydrate sources matter. Straight sugar will not help you – it will only make you hungrier and crave more sugar. This is where the myth of "Fat Free" foods is screwing our society. Fat is not the enemy; carbohydrates are, yet we still need them - in the right form and at the right time - for recovery and psychological wellbeing.

Sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, beets, tomatoes, fruit, etc, should always trump cookies, candy, cake, donuts, ice cream, frozen yogurt, fruit juice, etc. They contain more fiber and vitamins/minerals and will help you to feel full longer than eating a sleeve or Oreos (which you can still do from time to time by the way).

Why should I only eat carbs after I train?

Our muscles are our biggest storage centers for carbohydrates. Muscles pull in glycogen (byproduct of carb digestion) to keep at the ready for an energy source when needed. Here's the rub - IF YOU'RE NOT USING THAT GLYCOGEN, ANY ADDITIONAL CARBS YOU EAT WILL BE STORED AS FAT. So, what do you do about it? You use the glycogen before you eat more carbs.

Perhaps the fastest way to use the glycogen stores in your muscles is by weight training - heavy weights, low repetitions, low volume (meaning not often). For example, I work out 3 days in a 7-day cycle with 2 rest days between each workout. I use compound lifts that use a number of muscles in a single movement - like a squat or bench press.

My routine is on my blog here - . I do not do cardio other than taking my dog for long walks and surfing when I am able to.

By training and then eating your carbs, you are more likely to shuttle that glycogen into muscles instead of storing them as fat.

Confused yet? I don't blame you. There's a lot of information. To break it down simply for you, try this for a while:
- Fast for 12-14 hours a day (this includes time sleeping). You can drink diet soda, water, tea (no sugar), coffee (no sugar, only a tsp of cream if necessary), sugarfree gum, etc...

- Eat only during your "feeding window"

- Only eat carbs on days you workout, preferably after you workout or you can have a small meal a few hours before you workout with some carbs and the rest post workout.

- On days you are not working out, eat protein and fats with as much leafy green and non-starchy veggies that you want - broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, green beans, lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, celery, etc...

- Learn to read labels and try to estimate your calories. This is nearly impossible to do when eating out, so try to prepare as much food as you can yourself. Read the packages. Weigh your food. Know what you are eating. This is the hardest part, but worth the effort to make it a habit.

- Calculate your caloric needs by taking your body weight and multiplying by 13. If you don't lose weight, you're either not being honest about what you're eating or you need to cut more calories.

- Indulge once every couple of weeks. Stretch one of your fasts a bit longer and then eat anything you want for one meal. I once ate nearly an entire deep dish Chicago style pizza. LOL.

- Do not mix alcohol with fat or carbohydrates. When you drink alcohol, your body stops processing food, stores everything as fat and tries to rid your body of the booze. Protein can't be stored as fat, so feel free to eat lean meats, fish (not breaded, no tartar or heavy sauces), etc. before and during...

- Train heavy - see my routine. (Start light while you're learning your limits and work your way to your maximum). Get a small notebook and log every workout. A good way to start for a beginner is 5 x 5. That means find a weight you can do 5 sets of 5 repetitions with at least 2 minutes rest between sets. The last couple of reps should be challenging, but not impossible.

Let me know if you have any questions...If you're female and on Facebook, friend me and join my IF group for women only (it's private. No boys allowed).

me -

group -

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Heart Avocadoes

It's been a few weeks since the Warrior Challenge and my strength has been steadily gaining. I'm nearly back to my PR of 205 x 3 for deads...about 5 lbs and another couple of weeks away and I'll bust through that plateau.

Weighted pullups and chinups are increasing again as are weighted dips, bench and DB military press. I've also added stiff-legged deadlifts to my 20-rep breathing squat day and I feel good..I'll give a more specific accounting soon as I don't have my training log with me right now.

The diet -

going to a 2-day rest period interval in between workouts instead of just 1 day. So workouts will look like this:

Day 1: Deads, weighted chins
Day 4: flat bench, incline dumbbell press, seated dumbbell military press OR standing barbell push press; calves and dips if I have anything left.
Day 7: breathing squats, stiff-legged deads, weighted pullups

For macros, on rest days, I'm keeping carbs at 50g or less and eating the rest almost split between fat and protein - ensuring I get a minimum of 140g protein a day; remainder will be fat.

On the menu most days will be protein, protein, fat, fat, protein, fat, protein...leafy greens/calciferous veggies. Keeping under 1400 calories on rest days. Will add in some good carbs only after training and low fat on training days - every third day.

Stay tuned and I'll let you know if it's working.