Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Fight against negatives

Happy hump day everyone!

I haven't posted much this week. It's been a harder one, and I have had to really focus and pull out all the stops but it's been worth every bit of grit I have dedicated to get through it - and you know what? I am happy with how I have reacted to the event that NEARLY made me waver.

At the weekend what I thought was a good friend asked why I was training so hard, why I wanted to build more muscle and have an athletic physique (it's apparently not nice!) and why on earth was I entering a challenge against countless others to be an ambassador for the brand I love, and why did I want to live a life of fitness instead of going out and having fun getting drunk every weekend? According to her it's pointless because I'm never going to make it, and living how I do at my age is plain weird!!

Lets just say this took me by suprise! It hit me hard. Why would a friend be questioning me like this? Am I being unrealistic and living with my head in the clouds? It upset me and knocked my confidence a lot. I have never forced what I am doing on anyone. I will offer help and advice but never tell someone what they should or shouldn't be doing. I have just set myself a goal, and got on working hard, day in day out, and giving my all to this challenge - I can honestly say I have never worked so hard for something before, and am loving every minute of it, learning more and developing an amazing new lifestyle and outlook.

Before I started this challenge, these comments would have probably made me give up, worrying that what I was doing/wanted to acheive wasn't right. BUT, who's to say what is right or wrong - the way I am choosing to live my life (not just now but for the rest of my life) is totally up to me, it's my choice and I don't see anything wrong with that.
It's not a sacrifice for me to skip things like drinking alcohol, staying out late every night and eating junk food; it's my choice not to do that because really, I don't want that. And I'm not going to judge anyone who does want that lifestyle because that's their choice. Maybe one day i could inspire someone to change such habits and follow a fit life?

So, although my initial reaction was 'what if she's right?', my gut reaction was 'I believe in my choices, this is what i want and I'm going to work even harder to make it happen'.
What a turning point for me: not only am I working hard and getting physically stronger, I am making vast improvements to my mental strength -- having the confidence that I am doing what is right for me, and not living by other peoples standards or beliefs.

Luckily I have a great support network around me and a lot of inpsiring athletes from Team USN offering guidance and encouragement.
There's my family, who have fought through the dark times of the past with me and are supportive in every way possible.
Friends, who understand how much this means to me and understand that training and nutrition come first for me (one even making sure the menu at her birthday dinner in a few weeks was going to have something suitable for me!).
And a Personal Trainer who also knows the worth of this challenge to me, is there picking me up and motivating me when I've been hit by a drainer, and pushing me beyond where I thought my body could go.

Needless to say, the negative individual has been sidelined, but I would like to thank her. She made me realise just how much I want to continue down this path of fitness and change my lifestyle for the better, and I'm not giving up.
So thank you for making me a little bit stronger than I was yesterday!

"There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be misakes. But with hard work...there are no limits" - Michael Phelps

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Fuel the fire

I want share my current nutritional breakdown with everyone. I don't normally go into detail about this as everyones requirements differ but I would like to show people just how much fuel is needed to build muscle.

For a long time I thought I could fuel my training on very little food (bird like portions) and gain muscle - this is not the case. It wasn't until I started working with my current personal trainer that my intake was directly addressed and I put my trust in his guidance to get me started. Now I have the confidence to increase/adapt my intake as and when required.

For the first 8 weeks of this challenge the aim is to gain lean muscle mass (the final 4 will be a cut to drop body fat)
I have had to tweak my calorie consumption and macro nutrients over the first 6 weeks as I have gained size and hit a plateau a few weeks ago and the intensity of my training has increased. My intake now is working well, I'm gaining around 1lb per week and my body fat % has actually dropped from week 1 by 1.5%

Considering I am a small build it takes an awful lot of food to fuel my workouts and leave enough extra to build muscle. Here is the breakdown:

3500 cals
350g - 370g Carbs
215g - Protein
100g - 120g - Fat

This is spread over 7 meals which look a bit like this:

5 meals = 42g
2 hrs pre w/o = 80g
post w/o = 80g (which comes from Muscle Fuel STS and a Banana)

6 meals = 28g
Post w/o = 45g

6 meals = 20g (I ommit fat from my post w/o meal)

I use these USN supplements to help meet my requirements, help with performance levels and aid recovery.

I try and stick as closely to this as possible and track everything on myfitnesspal. I plan all my meals the day before and prepare all my meals a day in advance so I am never caught out and can always hit my calorie requirements with clean foods. I will continue to follow this plan for the next 2 weeks taking me to the 8 week mark of the challenge.

I am currently researching a few different methods for when it comes to the final 4 week cut. I want to make sure I follow a plan that works for me as I am aware that this will be the first time I have really had to cut calories since I started recovering properly from my eating disorder. I know I will have the willpower to stick to the diet as this challenge means so much and I am dedicated to putting all my effort in to reaching the end goal. It's going to be a shock to the system but I am looking forward to seeing how my body changes and what more I can learn about my body etc. After all, it's all about results!!

Friday, 26 October 2012

When rest is good!!

Happy Friday!!

Week 6 of the challenge is coming to an end, and it's been a great one. Despite suffering from crazy DOMS, tiredness and near burn out, I've made some massive steps forward (for me) and progressed well again.
The main positive was recognising that my body genuinely needed a rest mid week, and I honoured that. With a bit of persuasion from my trainer (who is keeping an eye on me over doing it again) I took Wednesday as a rest day. I had a busy day at work but spent the evening resting up, sleeping and filling up the tank with nutritious food ready to hit the gym again on Thursday.

Guess what?.....It worked!! :)

I woke up feeling fresh and had one of my strongest sessions of the challenge. For the remaining 2 weeks of this bulk phase I will be continuing to take 2 days rest per week as outlined in my new plan of action. One day mid week and one day at the weekend.

Hopefully this will give my body chance to recover and grow!!

Enjoy your weekends :)

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

When "give it all you've got" isn't beneficial

WOW - I ache! DOMS is making every day tasks pretty difficult this week - I'm not complaining either, I like it :)

So, todays post may be a bit scattered, I'm tired so I apologise in advance.

I'm going to be honest, last week wiped me out. This new program is hardcore and I think I underestimated how much rest I was going to need to recover adequately for this week. Since starting the challenge I have trained  6 days per week, sometimes training twice per day - Combined with a busy work schedule, trying to develop a client base for sports massage and personal training and trying to catch up with friends, this has left me on the fringes of burnout.
I can be very 'all or nothing' when it comes to doing something I am dedicated to and passionate about (and this challenge means A LOT to me) and I have taken the phrase "give it all you've got" a bit too literally!

Luckily I have spotted the signs early (as has my trainer) so can do something about it before it gets any worse and I do actually burn out. I can work through the physical pain barriers, preparing myself mentally and just pushing through, however things tend to affect me more from a mental perspective. My self-esteem drops, little things turn into mountains, I start to isolate myslef a bit, I don't sleep well and I generally start to pick holes in myself (not good when you are 6 weeks into bulking and looking a little carby!)

So; what am I going to do about it? A plan of action of course!
It worked well before so lets do it again. After all this is a big learning curve, it's about readjusting/tweeking to make sure we get the best out of ourselves.

Here's the plan for the next 2.5 weeks:
  • Take an extra rest day (it's perfectly acceptable to train 5 times per week)
  • Only train once per day (to stop digging deeper holes and allow my body to repair and grow)
  • Sleep when I need to - allowing myself to lay in on a weekend
  • Keep meeting up with friends - balance is important
  • Concentrate on the positives - how much stronger I am, how I can beast through a gruelling session and how far I've come not only in 6 weeks but in the last 5 years
  • Look at the facts - yes, my weight is increasing but my bodyfat has dropped from week 1and I am lifting heavier which means one thing, more muscle!!
Let's hope this plan of action is a successful as the last one. Keep positive, keep focused, keep learning and keep developing!

"A stumbling block to the pessimist is a stepping stone to the optimist" - Eleanor Roosevelt 

Friday, 19 October 2012

Adapting to a new program

This week marked the start of a new 4 week program with my Trainer (I typically train with him 3 times per week then do 3 sessions by myself). He introduced me to a method called Escalating Density Training (EDT) and I absolutely love it!

I’m a competitive type, don’t like to be defeated, and set high goals for myself which has resulted in me leaving these sessions totally wiped out. I know for sure that I have pushed myself to the max every day this week, and my body has been telling me about it since the first session on Monday!! My hunger has been through the roof, I have DOMS in muscles I don’t even know the names of, and I have slept like a baby trying to get my body recovered (roll on rest day Sunday).

When I train I always put all my effort into it. I believe you only get out of something what you put into it; but the first week of something new is always a shock to the system – the body has to adapt, and QUICKLY! It just highlights how the body gets used to one type of training, and why it’s crucial to change variables such as weight, reps, sets or type if you want to continue developing – whatever your goal may be.

I can’t wait to see what adaptations have occurred this week when I take my measurements; and now I have set the bar high, I am going to have to dig a little deeper and pull out all the stops next week.

Let the good times roll!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Life Changer

What a week so far…I have finally found a bit of time to sit down and update the blog.

As nice as it is to have this time, it’s also great that I am keeping so busy!  And even better that I am now fit and strong enough to cope with a hectic schedule of an office job, sports massages, personal training, my own training, food prep and spending time with friends and family – I really am enjoying every minute of it :)

Before I started this USN challenge I was still very much lacking in self-esteem, confidence, strength and energy. I was putting everything into recovering from an eating disorder, training to build my body up and preparing food so I could stick to my requirements, but that was it. The rest of the time I would be so tired from being previously under nourished and still underweight that all I wanted to do was stay in and isolate myself.

Not anymore!! Now I am a much happier person, I am focused on achieving what I want and forging a career within the fitness industry and am confident that with hard work, dedication and will power I can achieve it. So much so that I am now working part time in my Marketing job to dedicate more time to my training, nutrition and recovery and building clients for sports massage and personal training. This is a huge turnaround from the girl who used to shy away from challenges in case she failed.
I can only put this down to me taking part in this challenge – not only does seeing members of Team USN reaping the rewards of their hard work and dedication make me believe it is possible, but the strength and confidence I am developing physically and mentally from training hard and nourishing myself properly is empowering. I am finally at a healthy weight for my height for the first time in 5 years and feel on top of the world – this is life changing.

Oh and while I remember – the new program I started this week is amazing :)

I have ached from head to toe since Monday evening. It’s a good job they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; I am going to be a beast!

It’s all about results

Sunday, 14 October 2012

When a plan comes together

Hi, hope everyone has had a great weekend!

Just writing a quick update today as I still have lots of food preparation to do for the week.

Sundays are my log in days, where I weigh in, take measurements and check bodyfat % levels.  You may remember that last week their was no changes to these measurements, I had maintained my weight and not managed to put on any size so came up with this plan of action. I've stuck to the plan solidly and consistently and it's paid off! This week I gained 2lb and added 1/2 - 1cm on most measurements with my bodyfat % staying the same as the previous week - lean gains right there :).
Needless to say I was a happy camper this morning!

It just goes to show that if you keep working hard and put the effort in you will progress over time.
So whenever you feel like you aren't getting anywhere with your goals, re-evaluate what you are doing, maybe switch things up a bit, but always keep going - stay dedicated and the results will happen.

Now I'm going to go and finish this prep, rest, and fuel up for the first day of my new 4 week program tomorrow - can't wait!

"The roots of true achievement lie in the will to become the best you can be" - Harold Taylor

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Going out in Style

Today marked the final training session on my current program with my Personal Trainer, and it was done in style :)

Last week when i did this set of complexes was the day I had the world on my shoulders and hit that dreaded stumbling block - I was determined that today was not going to be a repeat of that!!
I prepped well, getting a good early nights sleep and fuelled up before heading to the studio. Everything seemed to click, I was feeling fit and strong and the weights went up. It felt worlds apart from the previous week and I left the session one happy girl.  I think this just shows how amazingly powerful the mind is. Obviously there were other factors to my increased performance but what was mostly responsible was my mentality going into this session, and how my trainer motivated me and kept me focussed throughout. Today I was strong and ready to finish this 4 week phase on a high note.

Since playing around with my nutrition/macronutrients on Monday, I feel like I have had much more energy (even after a hectic week), been stronger and progressed well all week. This highlights the importance of adequate, good quality nutrition when training and pushing yourself hard day in day out is your top priority.
Hitting my requirements for building muscle and recovering well has been made so much easier by using USN supplements, and the recent addition of Muscle Fuel STS is providing some great results (double bonus as both the chocolate and vanilla taste BEAUTIFUL).

Once again, thanks to USN, their team and all their athletes for the support along the way, and for not only providing top class supplements, but also the opportunity of this challenge - It's seriously life changing.

Now bring on next week when the new program begins - sounds like it's going to be hard work and I can't wait!!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Plan of Action

So I’m a few days into week 4 of the USN Body and Lifestyle Challenge. I know I keep saying this but seriously, I can’t believe how fast it’s going!! I have already been thinking about how I want to continue after the 12 weeks (more of that in a later post) 

Right now I have set goals for this 12 weeks and they are my focus and will build me a great base for what I want to progress to.

Sunday was my progress measurement day – I got up feeling apprehensive about it because I want to grow each week and see big changes. This is probably unrealistic, particularly when it comes to building muscle mass – it’s hard going and requires A LOT of calories (all clean too).

Although my strength has gone up in my training sessions, I didn’t manage to put on any size this week. I was very disheartened as I had put all my effort into training hard, preparing all my food every day, getting plenty of sleep at night (my bedtime is getting earlier!! Granny right here) and getting up early at the weekend to make sure I fit all my meals in. I was not in a happy mood :(

BUT; rather than dwelling on how badly I thought I had done for not gaining, I came up with a plan of action!! I have learnt from last week and can look back and see where I may have gone wrong – I am still very new to this gaining and leaning process and have a lot to learn, all of these little glitches teach me valuable lessons.

So here's my plan of action:

After analysing my food intake from the previous week (all documented on myfitnesspal)

·         I have added 200 extra calories per day
·         I have adjusted my macronutrients and will be getting more calories from carbs (~350g per day)
·         I have purchased some Muscle Fuel STS to help get the carbs I require post w/o and will also include a banana with this for an added carb hit.
·         I have increased my protein intake slightly to ensure I am getting 2g per lb bodyweight.

Hopefully these changes will be the shift I need to pack on a little more muscle, and see my measurements increase as they did in week 1 and 2.

One thing is for sure, I’m certainly not giving up. I’m going to work harder – If that’s even possible!!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Facing Fears

Happy Sunday :)

What a week again!! And another one that has flown by. I am still loving the USN Challenge, and really working hard to do all that I can to acheive the goals I have set of increasing lean muscle, and making myself a healthier person not only physically, but mentally too.

This week I addressed a long standing food fear, stemming back to the worst days of my eating disorder, which is red meat. I know red meat has huge amount of benefits and needs to be incorporated into my nutrition plan to ensure I get a varied diet, but until now I've stuck to eating within my comfort zone - potentially reducing my chances of building decent muscle.
Not any more! As of yesterday I will be including red meat twice per week - I am determined to get rid of any fears that could hold me back from acheiving my dreams.

I'd like to thank Melinda from the USN Team for her advice. I used it to back up my own research and the advice from my Personal Trainer to quieten any disordered doubts in my mind.
After having my first Steak in 5 years!! I am very happy to be including it in my diet from now on. It was delicious and devoured in no time :) - It left me asking "why have I not eaten this for so long?!"

I believe that magic happens outside of your comfort zone. More and more often I am pushing myself out of mine. This challenge has been the catalyst for this new drive, and long may it continue.

So, here's to the next week - new challenges, making our comfort zones bigger, and making ourselves the best we can be!!!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Vanilla-Coconut Casein Pudding

When I was devouring my pre-bedtime meal last night and appreciating how amazing it tasted I knew it was one I wanted to share on the blog. I have this very same thing every night (creature of habit that I am) just adjusting the Macro’s to meet either bulking, cutting or maintenance requirements.

This version is what I have when bulking. It contains just 3 ingredients and fits the bill of being clean, nutritious and tasty – Bonus!

Serves 1
·         2 scoop serving Vanilla USN Premium Casein
·         100ml Coconut Milk (I found a pure coconut milk from a Chinese market but canned works as well)
·         20-30g Ground Oats

Simply put the ingredients in a shaker, add about 50ml water (more if you prefer a thinner consistency), shake it up and transfer into a bowl.

Leave in the fridge for 1-2 hrs for the pudding to thicken up a bit more, then dig in!!

You will get a mousse like pudding that will keep you fuelled through the night, allowing your body to do its thing and repair those hard worked muscles.

Again, thanks to USN for developing a super tasty Casein!

Enjoy :)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

1st Stumble

Happy Hump Day!!

I wasn’t planning on blogging today but I wanted to write about my first stumble in the challenge. As we all know, when you are training for something that is important and means a lot to you, bad days are something we don’t want to come across but they are inevitable. Well, yesterday was one of those days for me :(

Training was tough going, my shoulder and hip were giving me aggro meaning my lifts weren’t as strong as I would like, which left me down in the dumps and throwing a mini tantrum. It was a heavy fall from the high times I had been experiencing so far.  Normally this low feeling would eat at me for days/weeks until I finally snapped out of it – but yesterday something was different.

I returned to work feeling like I wanted to cry and wondering what had gone wrong overnight!
The answer: my mind-set.

The day had started with some bad news, I hadn’t slept well and my mind was going a million miles an hour. So although my body was in the studio, my mind wasn’t, resulting in me getting more and more frustrated at myself for not being “perfect” and progressing how I “should” be.

So, instead of wallowing in self-pity for having a bad day, niggling injuries and not being present in my session, I chose to change my attitude. Everyone experiences bad days, it’s how we deal with them and move on that makes us stronger, fitter or wiser. I put the session behind me and focused on the positives – I still put 100% into the session, I completed the session, I got the recovery process started straight away with a post w/o meal, and enjoyed the rest of my day knowing that I would be back in the gym on top form the following day.

Today I can look back and see that the session really wasn’t that bad, I did increase the weight on some exercises just not ALL of them. I also wondered what it was that made me change my attitude for the rest of the day. And I really believe it’s because since lifting weights and becoming stronger physically, I have become much stronger mentally. I have hit many stumbling blocks during my recovery and during training but have learnt from each experience and come back stronger each time.

I know throughout this challenge I will hit many more stumbling blocks and have days where things don’t go quite how I would like them too – but that’s life, and what’s important is how I pick myself up from them and move on regardless. No one said it was going to be easy, and I don’t expect it to be, but I will keep working hard every day because this is the journey towards what I want the most.

Sometimes in life it isn’t how hard you hit, but how hard you get hit and keep going.

How do you get over bad days and pick youselves up to hit the gym again?

It’s all about results   

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Week 3 already!!!

Wow, I am into week 3 of the USN Body and Lifestyle Challenge already! Time flies when I am focused on doing what I love. I’m putting everything I have into this, training hard, resting up with early nights, prepping food, researching different training methods and nutritional strategies and doing my day job so I can pay for my Personal Trainer.

Literally all my thoughts and energy are going into me changing my lifestyle to make me the best I can possibly be in 12 weeks. And it won’t stop when the challenge is over either!! I’m looking into a career change so I can return to personal training more, develop my skills and gain more qualifications. The challenge has already cemented the fact that my true passion is health and fitness, and working in the industry would make the last 5 years of hard work and struggles worth every minute.

I have a lot of plans for the future, and this challenge is making me become more confident and determined to make them become a reality. This is where the hard work and dedication really begins and boy am I ready for it.

I have used USN products since I really started training properly and learning more about supplements, and I’m really happy with the results they have produced so far. These supplements, combined with proper nutrition, solid training and a new found determination from entering the challenge that could be life changing, has resulted in some great gains!

Here’s a quick overview of some developments since starting the challenge to the end of week 2:
·         Weight: Increased 1kg

·         Thigh: Increased 2cm

·         Upper Arm: Increased 1.5cm

·         Bodyfat %: Decreased 1% (very happy with this considering I am bulking)

So as you can see, USN products really do bring about great results, and I am even more excited to see the changes over the rest of the challenge.

Bring it on :) !!!!