Sunday, June 20, 2010

Post-Cheat Meal Food Coma

As I write this, I'm laying in bed half asleep after finishing my weekly cheat meal. That being said, I can't garauntee a coherent blog there's your disclaimer.

Well, I'm officially at the 16 weeks out mark (when I normally would start my diet), and I'm feeling pretty good. I lost 4 pounds this week, which was exactly what we were going for. Right now I'm at 142.8 and am very much looking forward to breaking the 140 barrier. My workouts this week were good, particularly Tuesday's back workout with Mike and Kevin. Let me just say, that workout went even better than I thought it would, and I got a nice ego boost out of it, too. First of all, the training chemistry that Mike and Kevin have is rare. They just flow through their workout with great intensity and focus and always seemed to be right on the same page with one another. Though, it's funny because Mike is like a little speed racer practially running from one exercise to the other while Kevin just strolls on over at his own turtle pace. I felt very lucky to have the opportunity to train with those guys, and while I thought they would mop the floor with me, I was surprisingly able to hang with them. In fact, they actually said they were impressed with my strength. And when Mr. 202 Olympia and his trainer tell you they think you're strong, well, it makes a meathead like me feel good about all the work I do. They also helped correct my form and execution on some exercises, which will hopefully help me improve my back even more.

This morning, we hit a pre-cheat meal leg workout, which left me quite humbled. I always struggle with the fact that I run out of gas much faster on a contest diet. My strength usually maintains very well, but I want it all....strength and endurance...AND fat loss. I know, I'm so greedy. Thank god for my training partner, who always puts things into perspective though and reminded me that it's not my strength that's dropping off this early in the diet. Rather, it's the lack of carbs that leads me to fizzle out in the later part of the workout. I'm sure, if I went back and looked at my entries from last year's prep that I would see I wrote some of the exact same stuff that I'm writing now, so this is really nothing new to me. I just need to adjust my workouts accordingly, that's all.

For now, things are rolling along well in pretty much every aspect of my life. There's minimal stress, and I'm embracing the quiet instead of considering how "bored" I am. This is huge for me, since it's common knowledge that I'm a stressed out head case, which inevitably makes it twice as hard for me to lose fat when I'm dieting. And speaking of embracing the quiet, I'm about to do just that, as I slip into that fantastic cheat meal coma. Good night :)

Monday, June 14, 2010

No-Carb Brick Wall

And I've hit it at 100mph. Yup, my torrid, offseason love affair with high volume training has been forced to a grinding halt as the keto diet kicks into gear. There's nothing like cranking out the first 5 or 6 reps, thinking you could easily get to 10, and then hiting reps 7 and 8 and realizing that the dumbbells are about to come crashing down on your chest. All I can do is laugh as my training partner has to bail me out of the set. When I proceed to whine about how the lack of carbs is putting a damper on things already, his response is, "If you love them, set them free." Oh, easy for you to say as you sip on your Carbolyze/Isolyze shake.

While this no-carb "wall" is nothing new to me on a contest diet (since I've been following a keto type diet for the past two contest preps), there are a lot of things that are different already. First of all, I'm not following Dave's typical precontest protocol for women. For now, I'm keeping my calories a little higher over the course of the week and including fats in three of my five meals every day (instead of the typical PV/PF rotation). While this will ideally allow me to hammer away at my workouts in this early part of the diet, it is unfortunately countered with more cardio to start. I'm trying to be open minded about this approach, but I'm so resistant to change. Dave's protocol has worked so well for me, especially last year, that I have a hard time trying something else....if it ain't broke, don't fix it, is my thinking. My first week on this new plan didn't yeild the weight loss results that I had hoped, having only lost about 1.5 pounds (Saturday's weight was 146.4). I've got a lot of weight to lose, which is a huge reason why I started two weeks early. A pound and a half isn't bad, but I was expecting a much larger drop in the first week, somewhere around 3 lbs or so. Anyway, I think mother nature contributed to hindering that loss, so hopefully I'll have better results at this week's weigh-in.

As I mentioned before, another thing that's hugely different for me is the mindframe that I seem to be going into this prep with. This offseason was about growth for me in more ways than just trying to bring up my back or fill out my frame. I have come to a lot of realizations over the past 8 months, some encouraging but many very disappointing. While I'm still working through some of these things, I have this strange sense of clarity going into this prep. I'm just as excited as I was last year, if not more so (didn't even think that could be possible), but it's not just a feeling of excitement. There's a lot to be said about having clarity of mind. I would not describe myself as a "spiritual" person at all, but having gotten rid of certain toxic or negative things/people in my life has really brought a lot into focus for me. I'm still working on trying to accept things for what they are and appreciate things as they happen instead of always trying to plan and control everything. In other words, I'm trying teach myself how to roll with the punches and even try to enjoy the moment rather than stress about what lies ahead and trying to figure out how I can prevent anything bad from if that's even realistic. What can I say? I'm a true control freak at heart.

Ok, enough with the serious, psychobabble. But speaking of planning things, I know it would be no surprise to people to find out that I've already registered for my NPC card, booked my hotel room for Nationals, and ordered my suit. I made out a little list of things I'd like to have taken care of by about 8 weeks out from Easterns, and right now, there are only two things left on that list....register for Easterns and Nationals. The less I have to worry about while dieting, the better off I am as well as those around me. So for now, things are definitely starting off on the right foot. And tomorrow will hopefully add to that. I'm headed down to Long Island to have Mike work on my hamstring again and then it's off to Powerhouse to train back with him and Kevin English. Ummm, yeah, I get to train with Mr. 202 Olympia and his cool is that? I know, I'm like a little kid going to see Sesame Street and hang out with Big Bird and Snuffalufagus, all giddy with excitement and all. Next post I'll be sure to write about that training session because I'm sure they are planning on murdering me. I say, bring it on, boys!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ready to Rock

It's funny how I can have a plan in my head sometimes that seems so solid, and then something out of nowhere just flips the switch, and I find myself on a different course. My entire offseason had been planned around me starting my prep on June 19th, yet here I am, two weeks early starting my prep. After losing a few pounds from the recent diet and cardio changes, I couldn't help but feel like, what the hell, might as well just jump into the contest diet full force. Pull out the carbs, add in the extra 2 days of cardio (I was doing 5 days/week) and just get this going. Hell, I have almost 30 pounds to lose....two extra weeks can only help.

Plus, it's amazing to me to think that just a few months ago, I was contemplating not competing at all this year. I had no desire, no motivation to get back on stage. I felt blah and wanted no part in anything bodybuilding-related. I was so nervous (and sad) that the spark and excitement were lost completely. But something, and I have no idea what, changed. And that spark is back with a force. In the past, I have had a bad habit of using my contest prep as a way of avoiding dealing with certain situations. I have used at least two preps as a way to not deal with a broken heart, and I've buried myself in prep as a way to not deal with family problems and several other things. This was always part of why I looked forward to prep...I saw it as a mental break from dealing with certain stuff. But this year is different. For the first time ever, I'm looking forward to this season for the sheer fact that I just LOVE to train, and diet, and compete. I want to see my progress and what my offseason work has done for me. Sure, I still have bullshit going on, but this prep is NOT my way of avoiding it. I have a much clearer mind going into this prep than I ever have before. Though, I will say, having certain pieces of bullshit out of my life for the first time makes for a much more stress-free prep.

My goal this year (outside of the physical aspect of the sport) is to improve on my ability to balance prep and my life. I get better at it every year, but I still suck at it. Also, I have a few select people who are behind me 100% unconditionally, and I need to do a better job of letting them know how much I appreciate their support, because there are also a few people who should support me but don't.

Anyway, enough serious stuff. If last night's sick ass leg workout was any indication of what's to come over the next 18 weeks, then I say it's go time!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Only Thing That Seems to be Going Right

Lately, I seem to be faced with one hurdle after another. At this point I feel like, if it wasn't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all. Fortunately, my training is the one bright spot in what otherwise feels like just bunch of shit. After finding the body of a man on my caseload after he committed suicide a couple weeks ago, I didn't think things could get much worse. Unfortunately, they kinda did. This past Friday, I was in a four-car accident, and my car had to be towed. Ok, not such a huge deal, that's why I have insurance, right? I got myself a rental car and was on my way. Literally 24 hours later, I find myself in another fucking accident. A drunk driver crossed over into my lane and struck my side view mirror (of the freaking rental car). Good thing I was paying attention because I was able to swerve out of the way and narrowly missed a head on collision, literally. The drunk bitch then proceeded to drive off. Fortunately, the police caught her just down the road. Another driver called in the vehicle just before my accident and informed the police of a potentially drunk driver, so they were already looking for her. Turns out the woman had a BAC of .23, nearly triple the legal limit. She told the police that she was coming from a graduation party in Plattekill (which is about an hour away from where the accident happened and on the other side of the Hudson River). She also told them that she'd drank a case of wine coolers...WTF?!?!

Somehow, in all this, I have actually managed to keep my head on straight and continue to get really good workouts in. With three weeks to go before prep starts, I'm getting more and more excited. Even though I have my down days where I question whether or not I've made any progress and how things will unfold this season, overall I'm confident that I am in a very good place to present a noticably improved look this year. While I know that I still need to fill out my frame a little more, I'm happy with the work I've done this year. I am slowly accepting that it's going to take time for me to fill out, but if there's one thing I am, it's persistent. Not very patient, but definitely persistent. And I know I'll get there, wherever "there" is.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Where Have I Been?

Instead of spending my time whining on hear about how fat I am and how this hurts or whatever bs I can come up with, I've been hammering away in the gym trying to make progress, and it seems to be working. I've been in a really good place lately with my training, physically and mentally. Of course, I still have the usual nagging injuries of mine, but lately I've been able to be mentally strong enough to work through/past them. I've surprised myself with my strength increases over the past month and a half. As my coach has reminded me a million times, when I get in to a bad funk, everything follows suit, and my progress just stops. Once I get my head on track, everything seems to fall into place and things move in the right direction. And I have finally seemed to have gotten back to myself, for the most part, and it shows. Unfortunately, I do think I've reached a point of diminishing return and am now putting on more bodyfat than muscle. So we have changed some things up with my diet and added another day of cardio in, all in hopes of trying to keep the fat gain at bay for the next 5 weeks until the diet starts.

That's right bitches....the diet. I gotta say, I can't wait. That's right, I am finally completely excited about starting to diet. I was so scared a few weeks back that I wasn't going to be able to get my head into it this year and that it would be a (mentally) half-assed prep. But after taking another set of progress pictures yesterday, I'm ready to GO! Granted, I have quite a bit of extra fat hanging around, but I can still see where there's been some serious progress. According to my coach, I have some "freaky" bodyparts this of them being my quads. Holy hell have they grown like weeds. I think I'll have a little better sweep in them this year, but mostly I think the difference will be just have more lines and crazy separation. I don't seem to have the genetics to have massive, sweeping quads. And that's just fine by me...I like crazy striations. My back also seems to have made quite a bit of progress, both in width and especially in thickness. It's hard to tell just how much improvement there's been in my back width because I have quite the spare tire, so there's very little v-taper going on these days. As usual, my shoulders have made steady progress and are still probably my standout bodypart. Anyway, I'm ready to start dropping some of the fat and seeing what's underneath...will I reach my goal for the year of 120?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Another Good Week Down

It's officially been a month of good workouts and feeling back to my normal self again. While I have my typical disgust with my offseason look, I have to say, that in the grand scheme of what my goals are for the year, I'm very happy with where I'm at overall. As of today, my weight's 148.8, and I've been putting on about a pound each week, give or take a couple tenths of a pound here or there. I'm pretty sure I got up to 152 last year, but that's not where I started my contest prep. I'd have to look back to make sure, but I think that somewhere around 6 or 9 weeks before my diet started, I cut my calories back to a decent maintenance level, and wound up starting prep around 145ish pounds. There's no doubt that today's 148 looks different (AKA better) than it did a year ago. But I was so effing stubborn last year about taking pictures because I hated what I looked like, so I don't have anything to make a comparison. I can say that I'm actually outgrowing my bras....I know, who'd have thought? But it's not because the girls are growing, it's actually because my back is finally growing. While I shudder at the thought of having to drop a ton of cash on some new Vickis, this certainly isn't a bad problem for a bodybuilder to have. I imagine that, at the pace I'm going, I'll probably wind up around 152 or so by the time my prep starts.

I'm finally getting excited at the thought of competing this genuinely excited. I get those little butterflies in my stomach thinking about prep and being able to find out on a weekly basis what kind of improvements were made over the last several months. I think that I'll be able to reach my goal of getting to 120 this year, which puts me right in the middle of the middleweight class (none of that sucking down to make weight, well at least for this year anyway). As I've said before, my "long" short-term goal is 125--the top end of middleweight.

One of the things that has helped me get back this spark is that I'm really working hard on accepting the fact that some people who I had hoped would be my biggest supporters have turned out to be my biggest critics, and in more ways than just this sport. Fortunately for me, it's opened my eyes to see and really appreciate the support I do get from the few close people in my life.

Monday, April 26, 2010

8 Weeks Out

Most people only count down the weeks in their contest prep. But when you're OCD like I am, you count down the weeks left in your offseason. It gives me a good idea of how much time I have left to accomplish my offseason goals. There's a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, and I know I only have a certain amount of time left to grow. I know it's very black and white to think this way, but the way I conceptualize my offseason vs. my prep is like this....I spend the offseason trying to pack on as much muscle as possible (without getting too fat and sloppy), and then flip the switch at 16 weeks out. At that point, my focus is on holding on to whatever precious muscle I've put on and getting rid of all the fat. I know some people say you can still build some muscle during early stages of prep when you still have a decent amount of calories, but as far as I'm concerned, my hard work and focus for building is done in the long, cold months before the cardio and tilapia start.

And speaking of starting the cardio and tilapia, I have finally decided, after weeks of constant back and forth, that I'm going to compete this year, and Easterns is going to be the target show. That means that my diet starts June 24th, and like I said, I have 8 weeks left of my offseason. I have had three great weeks in a row as far as training is concerned, so I think I'm pulling myself out of the deep funk I was in. I've already touched base with a friend of mine to work on a mix for my posing routine (I know, it's the OCD), and I'm looking at suit possibilities. Here's to hoping I stay on track...