Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Big Words, a Simple Solution...

I've been getting dizzy. For the past few days, whenever I sit up too fast from lying down or if I move too quickly, I get that odd out-of-balance feeling and feel like I may fall over - just for a second or two. Curious as to whether this phenomenon was diet or life-threatening-malady related, I did what anyone would do: I Googled it. 

"dizzy, low carb diet" yielded the following diagnosis:

Orthostatic hypotension, also known as posutral hypotention, orthostasis, and colloquially as head rush or dizzy spell, is a form of hypotension in which a person's blood pressure suddenly falls when the person stands up or stretches. - Wikipedia.

I also found a number of forum discussions on various low-carb diet websites discussing this very problem. Some say it's sodium related. Some say it's calorie related. Some say it's fat related...and so on. But the idea that this has something to do with a lack of sodium makes the most sense to me - and it fits.

I have always had low blood pressure. I'm not on medication for it, but I usually come in around 90/50 when I'm at the doctor's office - and this is often after my morning coffee. I am on a very low calorie and low carb diet at the moment which, on its own will help the body rid itself of a lot of water. And, since I use salt very sparingly on my food, and drink two quarts of homemade iced green tea a day, I think that perhaps I do have a sodium deficiency. 

Think about it, people with high blood pressure are asked to reduce their sodium intake. This is because sodium causes the body to hold excess water intended to flush the excess salt from the body, thus thickening blood volume resulting in increased pressure within the circulatory system. If I'm flushing out all of my sodium and not consuming enough of it, my blood volume will actually decrease. 

So, I'm going to up my salt intake over the next few days and see if the spells decrease or disappear altogether. Stay tuned. I'll get you an update this weekend - oh, and will post my month 1 pics from the cut I'm on. Not sure there's a huge change, but we'll see when I take pics and measurements on Friday.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

STFU and Squat

Yesterday I went to my new gym for my first Saturday workout with a group of men - and one woman - who meet each week to squat, deadlift and bench press. The most helpful of these folks was Jack (#1). Age 77, Jack #1 is a former team USA powerlifter who deadlifts around 440 lbs. Did i mention, he probably weigh 150 lbs soaking wet? He helped me rack and unrack the weights and set up for each person we were working with. He also followed me at the end of each set to ensure I got it racked correctly and safely.

Also in the mix was Jack #2 (nicknamed 'the old Russian'). Aged 60-something, in his day, Jack #2 held 14 powerlifting records. I'm not sure if they were state, National or International - I will find out and get back to you. Anyway, the two Jacks were quite helpful and I found it very motivating to work in with them.

Since the rack we were using was not adjustable, I had to step outside of it to get ATG in my squats. They all said my form was spot-on and, if anything, that I was going "lower than I needed to." These guys all think in terms of competitions, not necessarily full ROM or even functional strength, so they were giving me tips related to "the rules" of meets. Regardless, I performed all of my squats, except my heaviest set, outside of the rack and even heard some of the guys watching me say things like, "she's really going low," which motivated me to keep my form and continue going as deep as I could while focusing on the rebound off the bottom. I have found that it's true, if you hesitate at the bottom of your squat, you lose the energy that was stored in your glutes and hamstrings on the way down. You have to literally 'bounce' off the bottom of the movement and explode up through your hips to complete the movement.

I also love the fact they they put a sheet over the mirror where you squat so you can't watch yourself. All you can do is pick your spot on the wall and focus on the movement. While it was a bit intimidating to work out with so many critical eyes on me, I believe it will ultimately only help me to improve my form, increase my motivation and even make a few new friends.
As for the diet, I've taken it quite loosely over the weekend as I was feeling weak, a bit sick and not great late last week. I'm still eating mostly protein and veggies, but I gave the scales a break - no weighing food and no weighing me. My mood has since improved and the bit of extra carbs I ate on my rest days are helping. I'm still under 75g carbs and within my macros, so I think I'll be ok.

It's Sunday and time to get moving. I've got lots to do today and don't have time to sit here, chatting with you folks all day. Take care. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

A look back

Just a quick look back at, well, at my back...to remind me that I am making progress. The cut diet is hard and I'm struggling, but I'm trying to stay positive and stick to it. Every now and again I like to look back to find the motivation I need to stay the course. The harsher flash in the second pic washes out what I believe are my improving back muscles...anyway, here's today's inspiration:
January 2011 - 129 lbs of 'skinny fat' 
January 2012 - 119 lbs; goodbye 'skinny fat'

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Let the games begin!

This is me Jan 3 - before I started the cut.
Ok, I'm on day 7 of my 12-week cut with Andy Morgan and I'm feeling good. Days 1-3 were pretty brutal as I adjusted to the wakeup call of very low calories. My first workout, which fell on Day 3, was absolutely horrid - and it wasn't even fasted. My lack of energy and poor performance was probably related to a number of factors - diet, sleep, stress, etc - but I was weaker than I had been in months.

Then, just two days later I headed to the gym for what would end up being my best squat workout to date - this time fasted and on hour 17 with only BCAAs and 200mg caffeine on board. 

Those of you who have been following my journey know I only began squatting a couple of months ago due to a knee injury, so my weights aren't all that impressive. At about 119.6 lbs, my back squat on Sunday was 135 x 5 (top set) - still a new record for me. And I went below parallel for each - super low. I also added a third drop set to each movement that day - back squats, split squats and standing barbell OHP and hit new bests on top sets of each.

Now I'm about a week in and I feel great. I won't weigh myself until Friday, so I can't tell you what my initial weight loss was as of yet - but this is probably best as the first few days is all water anyhow. And boy can I hold water!

I'm still dialing in my macros - it's hard to eat exactly as instructed when I'm not always home - work, friend's/boyfriend's house, restaurants - but I think I'm staying very close and this should get easier. The hardest is when out with friends. Restaurants don't serve s#it for protein. I'm also hungry a lot - but not the "omg my stomach hurts" kind of hunger - though I did have that the first super low-cal night. I'm just always a bit grumbly and feel the hunger hormones at work on my brain. Then I'll have a training day meal and it will go away until the end of my rest day...and so the cycle continues.

Stay tuned for more updates as I chronicle my experience. I'll post photos and my week 1 weight sometime this weekend if I can. I'm traveling for business - another challenge to the diet - so it may not be until week 2.