Tuesday, November 09, 2010
NewNarayan asked me to post progress pics, to see any potential muscle growth from my increased weight loads in my workouts. Honestly, I've been lifting like a fiend (for me), in an attempt to build up muscle in the places that needed a little size to make my whole body match. So this morning, on my 44th birthday, I had my daughter take pics.
The first thing I want to point out is that I did NOT do any "tricks" before having her take these. I did not dehydrate yesterday (actually drank some water before these pics were taken and 1 1/2 gallons water yesterday), or reduce my sodium (had a Taco Casa Taco Light and Frijoles for dinner last night), or restrict my diet in any way in prep for taking these pics. And I did not apply self-tanner. If I'd of done these things I probably could have been 5 pounds thinner and less "puffy", therefore showing more muscle definition. But I wanted these pics to give an honest representation of what I look like on a daily basis.
I've posted these pics on my profile, too, but here they are with some explanation:
This is me standing (semi) relaxed. For some reason in these relaxed photos it is more apparent to me that I am bigger through the upper body muscles than it is in the flexed ones:
Here's a close-up, still relaxed (my fav of all the pics):
Side Chest pose. I can see my chest muscles have a little more definition in this one:
Front flexed more traditionally:
I see good and not-so-good things in this. Can anyone see a dif from several months ago?
And here is a rear photo of me flexed:
I am still NOT happy with my hips and the backs of my legs. I have a feeling that unless I did severe and unsustainable diet changes, there simply won't be a dramatic change to this area of my body. I'll always keep working on it, but it's time to stop beating myself up and just congratulate myself for working hard and focus on the parts that I really like. Me thinks it's genetic.
I made some of my own discoveries when these pics were taken. First of all, I was hoping to see a lot more muscle in my legs than the pics taken at the end of my cutting diet, and I don't. That's kinda a bummer.
Second of all, it's apparent, at least to me, that my chest muscles are finally starting to come around. I don't like a hugely developed chest on a busty woman (I just think it looks silly, when thick muscle is topped off by big boobs), but the neglect of my pectoral muscles was apparent and I needed to put SOMETHING on there to make my shoulders and arms look more justifiable.
And thirdly- Holy Bicep, Batman! My arms and shoulders are bigger! Funny thing is, I was never trying to get more developed arms. I guess when I upped the weight load on my chest my arms kinda got drug along for the ride.
Which leads me to the conclusion that bodies are just gonna kinda do what they are gonna do when it comes to weight lifting. I've lifted like a mad woman on my lower half twice a week for months now, without great muscle gains as I had hoped for. I aimed to make my chest muscles more apparent, which I did manage to do (my upper body responds quickly), but my arms and shoulders showed greater gain than my chest did.
At any rate, I'm happy with the overall progress, and don't intend to give up. I'm still in the process of losing about 9 or so more pounds, and I'll get there. I'll keep trying to improve my legs with my best efforts. They're big muscle groups and use a lot of calories, so even if I never do get the hard-leg look I'm after, working them hard will do nothing but benefit me.
Anyway, not too bad for 44, huh?
I feel like Dori in Finding Nemo.... "Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming!........."
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I have had several people inquire about using whole-body exercises as opposed to working separate body parts. Many times it seems the whole-body camp gets almost charismatic about how their way is better. Me? I don't see it that way. I like separating body parts instead of working all, or most, of them at once.
There is nothing wrong with whole-body exercises. If this is what trips your trigger and keeps you going to the gym, by all means: Do whole body exercises! We all gotta do what works for us. But me? I'm splitting them up. Here's why:
- First and foremost, for me personally I get better muscle definition and size this way.
- It allows me to spend more time on lagging parts and lets the parts the are more developed (namely, my back) hang tight until the other body parts catch up.
- When I work body parts separately I can "custom form" my body more to my own taste. For instance: I've mentioned in prior blogs that I naturally have very slight shoulders. By working shoulders separate I've been able to add width to them, therefore helping to balance my wide hips and turn my bowling-pin body into a true hourglass.
- When I do enough whole-body exercises to make me feel like all of my body got hit as hard as I'd like, it takes a REALLY long time. Splitting things up helps me either do less exercises at a time and get out of the gym faster, or hone in and do a LOT of exercises on one part to thoroughly exhaust it.
- I bore easily. There are only so many whole-body-type moves out there. With splitting things up I'm not stuck doing the same moves over and over, so it helps to keep things interesting for me.
Here is my current split (a split is what they call it when you "split" body parts up into different days), and why:
- Monday- Quadriceps, Hamstrings, and Delts (These are all body parts that I need to build up more, so I work them twice a week. For this reason, I put them on Mondays and Fridays, to maximize healing time between workout sessions.)
- Tuesday, early AM- Abs (On Tuesdays I have a Weight Watchers meeting and do yoga, so I try to keep it minimal to allow time for the rest of my life to happen. I would do no body parts this day, but I like to try and work abs twice, if I can [as far as I am concerned, one cannot have ripped enough abs], and this puts them far away from my other ab day on Friday, again for max muscle repair)
- Wednesday- Chest, Triceps, and Calves (None of these body parts need to play "catch up", so they all get worked just once a week. I put calves here to keep them away from my quad days on Monday and Friday, when they usually get hit as a secondary muscle. This gives them suffecient repair time before they are singled out.)
- Thursday- Back and Biceps Again, I don't need to build either of these, so once a week is sufficient.
- Friday- Quads, Hams, Delts, and Abs All body parts that need to be hit a second time to build. If I'm short on time, I'll do less sets of these and leave abs out.
- Weekends- Off
I also do cardio, but this is a blog about work-out splits. For my cardio schedule, you can check my Spark page, right side, under "My Program".
I no longer worry about only doing some body parts once a week and here's why: Most figure and body building competitors only work each muscle group once a week. My workout partner is the most muscular person I know, and sometimes he goes MORE than a week between working body parts. The thing is, when he works any body part, he really goes at it: Multiple exercises (I've never seen him do any less than 5 for any given muscle group), and max effort.
If you are just starting out and want to try splits, I'd advise hitting all body parts twice a week. I did this for years, until my imbalances became apparent. The good news is that the body can be shaped according to how you'd like it to look with splits, so there is no need for these imbalances to be permanent things.
Here is that split. When I used it, I usually did just two exercises per body part (abs I did 6- two for each obliques, upper, and lower). It was quite effective:
-Monday- Legs and abs (Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, obliques, upper abs, lower abs)
-Wednesday- Upper body (Pecs, Back, Delts, Biceps, Triceps)
-Friday- Repeat legs and abs
-The next Monday- Repeat Wednesday from week prior
You continue alternating upper with legs and abs, which means that one week you are doing legs and abs on Wednesday, and the next on Monday and Friday (or whichever days of the week you choose to work out). This still hits all body parts twice within a seven-day period.
If you want to lift four days a week and hit everything twice in a calender week, you could still do the above split, but do legs/abs days 1 and 3 and upper days 2 and 4 (or vice verse).
The following split would be good if you want to lift weights 5 days a calendar week while hitting all body parts twice in a 7 day period. With this split you won't be spending hours in the gym each session:
-Day 1- Quads, Biceps
-Day 2- Hamstrings, Calves, Chest
-Day 3- Back, Delts
-Day 4- Abs, Triceps
With this split, you would just start back with day one the next scheduled lifting day after you have completed day 4. Also with this split, personally I would NOT do cardio on day two, because that's a longer lifting day with three body parts.
The above split would also work if you want to lift 4 days a week and hit each body part once. If that were the case, I'd do more exercises per body part (at least 3) to really give it something to recover from before it gets worked again.
I just came up with this last split off of the top of my head. There are no "Hard and fast" rules to setting up a split. There are some general rules, but it's good to even change those up sometimes, just to keep your body guessing. (I'll blog about that next.)
I know this is a lot of information and I hope I haven't overwhelmed, over-informed, or over-bored you. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me and I'll try my best to answer them. I love helping!
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Okay, I have a big confession: As of this morning I am at 160.4 pounds. This is about 3 pounds over where I was allowing myself to be for the purpose of muscle gain, 8 pounds over the top of where I would like to "normally" be, and 12 pounds over where I would truly like to hold my weight on a permanant basis.
There is a bit of a history to this: I started German Volume Training (you can read about it here: www.bodybuilding.com/fun/luis13.htm ) almost 6 weeks ago in an effort to gain some muscle in my legs, chest, and delts. I was only going to do this for 6 weeks, so this is the last week. At any rate, bodies tend to gain muscle better when they are carrying a little extra weight, so I made the choice to allow myself to hover around 157. My plan was, and still is, to get through the training, then take a week off and start working on losing the weight in fairly short order. I had it worked out so that I could still weigh at Weight Watchers once a month, but had time to get down to my goal weight before I had to do my October weigh-in. Or so I thought. The thing is, I gained 3 pounds more than I had intended, and I'm having a real issue with getting it off. 3 pounds may not sound like a lot, but when you add it to the original planned gain, I'm getting off into some dangerous (for me) territory, here.
I know another part of the reason I am at this weight is because of PMS bloat (Sorry to any guys reading this), but the truth is that this isn't a good enough excuse, because my "normal" weight should be low enough to give wiggle room for this.
The fact is that the REAL reason I am up higher is that because I have let myself have a little too much of this here and that there, and it's adding up. And I've been eating more carbs lately, which really holds water and makes me look a lot "fluffier".
And I love baking! I've started doing that again. Of course, I always want to eat what I bake.....
It also hasn't helped that I have been struggling with finding a goal right now. I made the decision not to do figure competition, which I blogged about last. So I lost that goal.
Then I thought I'd found a photographer to do fitness photos on my 44th birthday, but he started showing signs of not being very reliable, and was going to charge me a pretty penny. (As a friend of mine said "That's a lot of cheese for 2 hours of time in front of the camera!") I felt uneasy about using him for my photos.
So I've been a bit adrift, not feeling anything looming over me as far as a goal.
Regardless of the excuse (and these are all excuses), the fact is I am simply too heavy right now. It not only shows on the scale, but also in the mirror.
So I'm back to the old grindstone of being in weight-loss mode.
I guess for now, weekly weigh-ins with Weight Watchers will have to be motivation enough. And next week I WILL BE weighing in, regardless of whether I have to pay dues for being over my goal or not. With WW the highest I can be is 157 (dressed, or course). So unless I lose about 5 1/2 pounds in the next 5 days, I'll be shelling out $12 in dues next Tuesday.
Additionally, as much as I would like to work with a nutritionist again, budget won't allow it, so I'm on my own. It's a LOT harder to self-diagnose than it is to help others, I am finding. But I'm giving it a shot......
Here's my game plan:
- Keep up my lifting and cardio. Honestly, it'd be hard to do much better in this department than I already am. Lack of exercise is NOT why I am where I am. Diet is.
- I'm going to clean up my food choices. Refined carbs are going to all but leave my diet.
- I'm back to a minimum of a gallon of water a day. Water. Not unsweetened tea w/ Splenda. Water.
- I will continue to log my food by writing it down in my WW Journal. I only log breakfast here usually to get the Spark Points. My regular logging is done by hand.
- I will go back to weekly weigh-ins with Weight Watchers, and will continue to do this every week for eternity, as well as continue to stay for the meetings.
- Daily weigh-ins at home until I am down to where I want to be, and I will daily change my weight on the tracker here on Spark to reflect that number.
So here I am, a little back slidden, but not defeated.
I also want to say thank you to the people who have seen my frustrated status update and contacted me. RachelMac encouraged me to blog about this, and RockinButterfly shared her struggles which led me to come back with a "can do" attitude. Then there's Sheri (GymRatAt_40) who wrote me and reminded me to pay attention to the details.
And as always, Anita (Sunshine667), your sweet encouragement has helped to lift me up at a time when I was threatening to wallow in the mire of feeling defeated.
Onward and up......er....... DOWNward!!!!!!!!
Thursday, September 30, 2010
I frequently have people asking me when I will do my first show, or as someone at the gym asked today my "next show" (like there ever was a first!). I had every intention of competing just a few months ago, but my mind has changed on this. Instead of typing out the reasons over and over again, I thought I would blog about it and have a place to send people to read my reasons. I know this doesn't really go along with the general direction of my blog, so please forgive the diversion.
In posting this blog I want to make it very clear that I don't want to discourage anyone else from competing. It's a marvelous venture for so many and if you want to do it, I say go for it! My reasons are simply that: MY reasons. We all have to do what is right for us individually.
When I did my 12-week cutting diet last spring, life became very much about me. I called it the Nancy Show. It had to be: I've never been one who can partly immerse myself in something and still get full benefit. I knew if I was going to be successful I would have to eat, breathe, and live training and eating plan. So I did. And I was successful. But in being very honest with myself I had to admit being that self-focused felt extremely phony for me. You see, I had come to realize before I made the decision to undertake the cutting diet that one of the big purposes my Creator put me here on this earth for is to help others. I had a very hard time being empathetic and giving practical advice when my own life was being lived at such an extreme. (It's hard not to think EVERYONE should abandon carbs after noon if I am doing so.) It felt like I had lost my balance, to a large degree. It really bothered me that my focus was on myself and not others.
Secondly, my main reason for losing all that weight in the first place was to get healthier. While most of the cutting diet was perfectly healthy, there at the end the diet was extremely limited. My coach had me supplementing well, but there wasn't a very wide variety of food, which I think is important for the best nutrient balance. Additionally, in an effort to show as much muscle as possible, I was pretty danged dehydrated by the time the final photos were taken. Quite frankly, I felt weak and like I was about to collapse. This didn't seem to me to be in line with my main directive to be as healthy as possible.
Now, don't get me wrong: This is the very nature of cutting diets (or "leaning in", as most figure competitors call it), and pretty much what people in the industry accept across the board as necessary to look stage-ready. My cutting diet was the most generous and varied of any I have heard of.
The other big reason I decided not to compete is one that I almost hesitate to mention because it's a very hush-hush subject in the figure world, but one that I found out through some research is extremely common: Steroid use among figure competitors. It's present at all levels, but it's downright common and accepted among the figure pros. As a matter of fact, I've read from more than one source that virtually all of the pro figure competitors are using steroids. And one gal in my own gym who competes pretty much copped to the fact that she used them, and seemed to have the attitude that if I wanted to seriously compete I would, too. Another gal at our gym didn't have to admit she did them: We could all tell just by looking at her that she used them before her last show. And this time she finally placed. Go figure. (No pun intended!)
Quick FYI: The figure competitors who use steroids (it's generally very low doses)don't use them for the purpose of muscle gain so much as for the purpose of fat loss quickly before a show.
At any rate, I don't see any point in dropping a lot of money (the least amount I've heard of anyone I know spending for all of the stuff needed to compete in a show was almost $900), to participate in something I simply can't win. I may look good for 43, but I know darned well that with my body type (all my fat on the bottom) the likelihood of me placing without steroid use is slim.
I've never done an illegal drug in my life, and I don't want to be borrow trouble by intentionally exposing myself to others who use steroids.
Lastly, there is the financial aspect. This is a very distant reason for not competing, but it does factor in. At this stage of the game our family needs to be concentrating our finances elsewhere.
I had first considered competing so I could have a goal looming out in front of me to help keep me from gaining weight back. Now I don't know what I will do for a goal, but please don't think I have quit! I'll think about it and find something.
Even though I don't plan to be a figure competitor, I sure as heck want to continue to be mistaken for one!
I know this blog will stir up a lot of controversy, angering some people and making others look at figure competitors in a new light. Please believe me: There are plenty of amateur and near-pro competitors, as well as a few pros, who are not doing steroids, and the figure industry is a marvelous thing that allows women to celebrate and show off their hard work. But for this woman, it's not the right choice. I am going to return to my purpose: Setting an example for and helping others.
Let me know what you think! I always appreciate your comments!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
The title of this blog was posted as a comment by a gal named Christy on one of my earlier blogs on blogger.com. It struck a cord with me and has been rambling around in my head ever since.
I think too many of us have decided that we've failed in the health game. I know I had! I looked at the fact that I was fat and didn't look the way I wanted as failure. But the fact is that I'd never really given up on myself enough to stop trying to be fit and a healthy weight, so I was never officially at "failure" status. And unless you've thrown up your hands and said "I'm never trying to get healthy again.... Please pass the cupcakes!", YOU aren't a failure, either.
I've said before and I will say again that unless a doctor has said to you "It is unwise for you to eat healthy foods at a calorie level that will enable you to lose weight, and you should not do any physical activity of any kind", any reason you have for not taking care of yourself isn't a reason: It's an excuse.
When I tore my rotator cuff I was informed that lifting weights and any jarring motions would be bad for me. The only exercise I was cleared to do was walking.
So I walked.
When I was recovering from surgery, 3 of them in the past 3 1/2 years, I was only approved by my surgeons to walk for exercise.
So I walked.
Did I like walking? No. Did I feel like it was really exercise, after being accustomed to hitting the weights and doing the elliptical at a vigorous pace? No. But did I understand that not following my doctors' orders and doing any more physical activity besides walking could result in big problems for my body? Yes. Did I want to give my body the benefits that would come from something even as simple as walking? Yes.
So I walked.
And I'd like to point out that none of my doctors gave me a free pass to eat crap. I probably don't need to list reasons why feeding your body garbage while it's trying to repair itself is not a good idea. So I tried to keep my diet high in nutrient-rich foods.
My point is that I did what I could. And I wasn't failing, even though I was fat for two of the three surgeries, because I had not stopped trying.
As long as you are still trying, there is still hope for you. And there is ALWAYS hope for you.
Youu ARE worth the effort: This is something you have to tell yourself if you are to make positive changes. But whatever you want to achieve CAN be done, one way or the other.
It's never to late!
One foot in front of the other. That's trying..... And that's success!
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