Time To Get The Ball Rolling!

I finally took my ‘before’ pictures for the Dymatize Nutrition 100K Transformation Challenge! For some reason, transformation challenges really inspire me. The last time I did one it really helped whip me into shape, and I made some very positive … Continue reading

Sunday Picture Day: Week 2

This is my first progress picture day since I started this transformation program. Photos are the best way to notice changes in your body, and it is fun to compare before and after pictures. I have seen some fairly substantial changes this week.

I started my new program on November 9, and made a small goal to reach 125 by my work’s Christmas Party. I am already more than halfway to my goal, and I am on track!

week 2 numbers

I am very happy with the change in body fat. On the caliper, I have dropped 1mm, which is a fairly substantial change. I am interested to see my measurements on Wednesday to see where the fat loss came from. All of my workouts were very challenging, and I did not skip any cardio sessions.photo (2)

Overall, I am very happy with my progress so far and I look forward to seeing small changes take place every week.

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Starting Your Day Off Right

We hear time and time again about the importance of a morning routine and the effect it has on the rest of the day. Starting your day off with positive habits has the ability to improve your mood, while keeping you motivated. I notice a huge difference in my ability to be productive and successful if I have skipped over breakfast and exercise, opting to rush out the door or laze around and watch TV. Of course, it is easy to make a routine and not stick to it, especially when lack of sleep comes into the mix. The ability to have a strong start to the day really starts at night, and that has always been my issue. I often find myself stressed out about having to get up early and do cardio since it requires energy and motivation, both of which are often difficult to find in the morning, especially in the dead of winter when it is dark and miserable out.

Excuses will always exist, and persistence is the key to a successful morning routine. I suggest starting off with some easy to manage tasks, and repeating them every day until they become habitual. Getting up early and completing my morning cardio not only gives me pride, but also gives me a necessary energy boost. I have heard conflicting arguments when it comes to morning cardio, whether it is fasted or completed after breakfast. I have done it both ways, and I am no closer to the answer as to which one is better for you.

Right now, I am sticking to fasted cardio because I am taking fat burners, which need to be taken on an empty stomach (with water) 30 minutes before breakfast. This is a perfect opportunity to fit in my morning cardio without having to wake up half an hour earlier just to take the pill before breakfast, followed by cardio. The cardio I do in the morning is low intensity, another well debated topic. After completing Kris Gethin’s 12 week transformation plan, I came to agree with him that cardio that raises your heart rate, but is not intense enough to surpass the fat burning zone, is perfect for bodybuilding. Intense cardio burns off that hard earned muscle I have worked so hard to build, and that is not what I am going for at all.

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My Routine:

I start my morning off with a huge glass of water, and a fat burner (Ripped Freak). I fill my 1L bottle with 1 scoop of xtend and water, and get on the treadmill for 20 minutes. Right now, I am using an incline of 4 and a speed of 4.2 mph. This is perfect for raising heart rate, but keeping it steady and low enough to burn fat and keep muscle. Over time, I will raise the number of minutes I do cardio in the morning. My last 12 week program began with 20 minutes and increased to 30 minutes. I will be doing the same thing again, raising my time by 5 minutes every 4-5 weeks.

Once I complete my cardio, I make a breakfast that is high in protein. I require 30g of protein in each meal (6 meals a day). I like to switch up my breakfasts to keep it interesting, this way I don’t get bored and want to snack before my next meal. I choose a breakfast option, prepare it, and take it with my vitamins and supplements (OptiWomen, Vitamin D, Calcium Magnesium, Creatine). Simple, but effective.

Breakfast Ideas:

1 cup egg whites, 1 piece toast, no sugar added jam

Oatmeal and protein powder (mixed)

Breakfast Shake (recipe and image below)

Protein Pancakes- made with egg whites, oats and protein powder

P28 bread and no sugar added jam

Turkey Bacon Slices (4-5) and Toast

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On mornings where I am rushed for time, I love making protein shakes in my Magic Bullet. These are great because they can be taken to go, and require less prep and clean up than eggs!

Magic Bullet Morning Shake

1 cup water

1 cup berries (I used blueberries)

1/4 to 1/3 cup oats

1 scoop protein powder (I used Chocolate Coconut)

1 tbsp splenda (optional)

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Ice Cubes

A breakfast that is high in protein and contains good, clean carbs will keep you alert and well fueled in the morning. I eat every three hours, and I require a good breakfast to keep my mind off snacking between meals. This is especially a problem working in a building with a cafeteria and vending machine close by, offering an assortment of unhealthy options. Having a routine definitely helps in the struggle to keep away from these tempting items. I also find that when I drink enough water and take morning vitamins and supplements that I do not have as many cravings.

Who doesn’t love a giant bottle of water with Xtend?

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Cheers to the morning!

Weigh In Wednesday

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So apparently this is a thing–Weigh In Wednesday. I have always just selected Wednesday as part of my twice a week weigh in just because it is in the middle of the week, but hey, if everyone is doing it then I must have the right idea. So here is my first of many Weigh In Wednesday posts. Since I don’t really subscribe to the scale being the best form of progress measurement, I will be including a detailed breakdown of all of my measurements. Ever the pessimist, I also do not trust my scale. Not only do I not trust that my scale is the one and only correct scale (since I always seem to weigh more or less on other people’s scales), but I also do not trust that my scale will not lie to me and change the next day. I weigh in twice a week because I feel that if the scale gives me a similar reading over the course of multiple days, then it has earned my trust. I will not get excited about weight loss until I am certain it is a reality. That is just one of my rules.

That being said, I also only weigh myself twice a week so that I do not get obsessed with the numbers that appear on my scale. I’ve gone through that obsession many times before, and it never ends well. I also tend to set very unrealistic goals for myself, such as losing 20 pounds, hitting the coveted 110 lb mark, etc. and fixating on doing this quickly also ends with me upset, eating chocolate bunnies. Even though this may be part of my long term goal, it is much more than that. I tend to prefer body fat as an indicator of my progress, but even that leaves me confused much of the time, especially since it is confusing to use a body fat caliper.

Right now, I have set a short term goal that I will work towards as a healthy Step 1. That goal is to reach 125 by my work Christmas Party, which takes place on November 30. This is a more manageable goal, and I am tracking my progress on my favorite site in the world, http://www.bodybuilding.com

Nov13 Goals

I started with a weight of 131 lbs, on Saturday, November 9, 2013. After my weigh in today, it is evident to me that part of that was probably water weight, or bloat, caused by my unhealthy diet. Four days later, I have dropped 2.4 lbs, but my body fat percentage stayed the same. I can work with this.

Nov13

Like scales, not all body fat calipers are created equally. The reason I say this is that I measured my body fat today and Saturday, and received a result of 23.7%. A few days prior, I used the electronic body fat calculator at the gym, which provided me with a reading of 20.1%. Since I cannot use that calculator regularly, I am sticking with my 23.7% reading, as I can use this to check consistency, even though deep down I choose to believe I am already at 20%. Either way, changes will be made slowly and that is the way it works. Nothing great happens immediately, Rome wasn’t built in a day. If it’s worth working for, it’s worth waiting for. One day at a time.

For me, I will focus on small changes. These changes can be lasting. This is why I do not subscribe to the idea that cleanses and fad diets work. You simply cannot shred 5-10 pounds of fat in a week. It is unrealistic. What you cannot fake is your measurements, unless you start measuring in different places. I try to be really careful to ensure that my measurements are as accurate as possible. The highlight of this bi-weekly measurement is a loss of .5 inches in my waist. This may also be attributed to water weight, and remains to be seen. Either way, I am really enjoying being back in the game and seeing how a healthy diet and exercise can improve all aspects of life.

The Journey

This is my journey to prove to myself that I have the power to stick with the fitness lifestyle. I enjoy clean eating and weightlifting, and even cardio (as long as it is running outside, on a treadmill, or using the stair climber!), so the dilemma I have always faced is why it is so difficult for me to be consistent with it.

In April 2013, I started doing Kris Gethin’s Body By Design program and it changed my life. I was stuck in a terrible job that I despised, and the program took me away from that. Better yet, Kris proclaimed that each transformation program he completed always pushed him forward in other aspects of his life as well. This also happened for me. In those 12 weeks, I gained the confidence to apply for new jobs, and by the end of the program, I had found my dream job. I also managed to shred 14 pounds of body fat, while gaining two pounds of muscle.

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Once the program ended, so did my motivation to continue with fitness. I had to find a new gym, make a new schedule, and move jobs and homes. Needless to say, I fell off the wagon. Four short months later, I regained all of the fat that I had lost before. This was very damaging, as I worked to hard before to get into shape and I could not believe that I had lost all of the results I had achieved. In that time, I went back and forth, trying new programs, and failing at them. This damaged me even further. Something had to change.

Since I enjoyed bodybuilding so much, I had always been interested in doing a fitness competition. My last job was very political, and as such I could not put myself into the spotlight as it could be damaging to my boss’s reputation. I had been talking to a close girlfriend who was motivated by the changes I had made to my figure over the course of my transformation program, and she decided to commit fully and do a show. Watching her face the challenges associated with competing both scared me and tempted me. Finally, after failing again and again, I decided that I needed to take the plunge for real this time. I studied many programs that I had done and aspired to do, and built a program that I feel I can stick with for the next few months. I decided to set a reasonable goal: competing in my first show in a year. I would love to do one sooner, but I feel that one year is a period of time I can work with.

My mission is this: Take my body from what it is now, to the stage in one year. Basically, I am starting at 131.2 pounds, and 23.8% body fat, and I need to work towards a goal of 112 pounds, and 12% body fat. These are approximations, of course, but everyone needs a long term goal. I want to do the majority of this on my own, and hire a trainer 12 weeks out from the show to complete the final shred, teach me everything I need to know about posing and dehydration, and prep me mentally for the reality of the challenge.

I will be documenting the entire journey through my blog, as well as bodybuilding.com. This not only gives me accountability, but it motivates me to stick to the program. Since I have seen myself weigh the same amounts many times in my life, I understand that I will always look different at the same weight, thus I do not put very much emphasis on the scale. I am much more concerned about the fat lost, as well as inches lost. These will be tracked twice a week, on Wednesday and Sunday, with pictures done once a week on Sunday.

Nov 9 Collage

Starting Weight: 131.2

Starting BF: 23.8%

I believe that diet, exercise and proper supplementation are the keys to success. I will be updating changes in diet and exercise, as well as reviews of the supplements I am using, in order to track what works and what does not. Of course, I decided to start this just as we enter another Canadian winter, so motivation is also key, and I will be posting all of the articles and images that keep me going, despite the -40 temperatures, and snow storms.

The journey is beginning, and I have the Power to Shred!