Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Confessions of a Recovering Clean Eater

Yes, I used to be a “clean eater” and am proud to say I no longer am. I used to smoke too, and when I realized I was slowly killing myself, I stopped.

The clean eating change was almost the same for me. Obviously “clean eating” wasn’t killing me, but it was killing my relationships with people and my passion for life.

What is “clean eating”? If you are reading this you have certainly heard the term before, but exactly how would you explain it to people? How would you define clean eating? I would like to hear your definition and why you feel that way.

My definition (back when I was a CE’er) was whole foods, nothing from a box, low fat and low carb. Six meals a day (gotta eat every 2.5 hours to keep the metabolism burning)! I ate the same old thing each time and “always carried my food”.

Most competitors I know define it as broccoli, asparagus, sweet potatoes, chicken breast,  tilapia, rice, (usually brown), and maybe 10 almonds. Six  or seven times a day, every day for weeks or even months on end. And not much food either.  Many people think that it is the only way to get lean. Of course most of the same people spend hours and hours a week doing cardio, and even worse “fasted cardio”. Yup, starve themselves then try to exercise, often to the point of exhaustion.

Of course you can get lean like that! You are severely restricting calories, controlling the food like a Nazi guard and eating the same stuff over and over so you get sick of it and would not even consider over eating.

You start chewing with your front teeth only because all you want to do is chew and swallow, you are sick of the stuff you are putting in your mouth and don’t want to really even taste it! I remember each competition when I got to that stage it was mind over matter, I wanted real food and had to choke down the same old dry crap meal after meal!

We all want to look good. And for competitors that desire is even more ingrained in our day to day lives. We NEED to look good all the time, when we go off our competition diets and look like a “normal” person, we feel fat so we start eating like we are prepping again for a competition, even though we aren’t. It’s a sick and viscous circle that we put ourselves through.

At some point I took a long look at my life and those around me, whom I love very much. My family, my friends. I no longer ate many meals with my family, or if I did, it was cold chicken out of a plastic bag. I didn’t go to many social functions as it was too much eating and drinking, I really didn’t want to be around it.

I knew there was a better way, there had to be. Life is not meant to be lived in purgatory, it’s meant to be enjoyed.

If you have read my last few posts you know I started working with Dr. Layne Norton for my nutrition and now he is doing my training programming also (only because Roy closed his gym, and that’s a whole other story!).

The change was scary at first. We all see the “IIFYM” (If It Fits Your Macros) people, they love to show all the ridiculously unhealthy looking recipes they concoct with fat free this and low cal that. It’s frightening when you come from the belief that there are many “bad” foods out there!

Unlike what most traditional bodybuilder/competitors believe, those of us who follow “flexible dieting” do not all eat crap, at least not all the time.  I rarely eat packaged foods, although I eat a lot more than I used to.

It took me a long time to actually believe that “a carb is a carb”. Seriously! I did as I was instructed, and at every weekly check in would ask things like “Is sourdough bread ok?” “May I eat mangoes?” Doesn’t that sound ridiculous?! He would laugh and say “Of course!”

As of this writing, I have had exactly 6 pop tarts! (in a six month span of working with Layne). And…. I LIKE pop tarts now! You see, a carb is a carb and if you tell me that my body knows the difference between a piece of whole wheat toast and a pop tart and will build muscle accordingly (or gain fat), I will tell you to show me proof. Show me a study. I am not going to rely on a steroid taking old school bodybuilder who insists that is true “just because it’s always been done that way”.

One large slice of whole wheat toast has the same (actually a bit more) carbohydrate than one pop tart. I am eating 310 grams of carbohydrate a day, which means I eat 108.5 grams pre training! Sometimes I don’t want three pieces of toast, so I have two pieces and a pop tart (along with yams, raspberry & dark chocolate Greek yogurt and whey protein).

I tend to eat whey to fill in missing protein now. I like whole food best and as much as I can get.

No foods are off limits, but I have learned that there are some that are much more calorie dense than others, and I have also learned that if I want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it means on very low carb bread and not pre or post training, the meal timing is crucial as I am working to maintain a very low bodyfat while adding muscle.

I don’t eat “cheat meals”, there is no need as I can eat anything I want, as long as I stick to my macro nutrient ratios, meal timing and calories. If I want a glass of wine, I have one, but it means less food that day (the food wins 99% of the time).

I also eat fewer meals. I eat five meals Monday through Thursday and only four on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It allows me to have larger portions when I have fewer meals, I sometimes go 5 hours between a meal, I have not lost a leg, all my muscle or died, I look good. And I have muscle, believe me.

My favorite dinner is a cheddar cheese omelet (real, full fat cheese and egg whites) with mushrooms and broccoli raab, all cooked in a small amount of raw butter and garlic sourdough toast. I frequently eat 2 pound salads made of mixed cooked vegetables, hard cooked eggs and chicken breast, all tossed with fresh lemon and tahini sauce, followed by a crisp apple and almond butter

I tend to eat meals that are very filling, so lots of vegetables and leaner meats then I add tahini sauce or almond butter or avocado for fat. I can eat the fattier meats but then I cannot have the almond butter! Decisions, decisions!

People are willing to try everything it seems. Many eat “gluten free” even though they do not have celiac disease; thousands follow a Paleo diet when there is no reason to believe we should eat like cavemen ; there are vegetarians, vegans, dairy free, fish free, you name it there is a diet! They all work for one reason- calorie restriction. BOOM! You cut a major food group out of your diet, or decide you can only eat a few things and you are controlling portion right there.

If people want to be “clean eaters” I support them for attempting to live a healthy life and take control of their nutrition, but I do want to express that there are other ways and other diets that work just as well. People become very passionate about what they strongly believe in, often to the point that they lash out at others who disagree. There is no need for “diet wars”, we should all be free to choose our own method to our madness; however, I hate seeing poor misguided young women (and it’s usually women), fall into the belief that the unhealthy starvation and excess cardio routine is the way to go. These same women are the ones who live “cheat meal” to “cheat meal” and often binge.

Do I think you are less a person for following a clean eating diet? No, not at all. Nor do I think I am superior, I too followed it for many years and swore it was the only way. But in life, we learn as we progress. Change is never easy, and if you don’t want to change, it is even more difficult. When you are ready for a change, when you are no longer happy with the way your life is, you may take a peek and see how the other side lives, the side I am on. Yes, the grass is greener over here!

It’s been almost six months now; I actually just entered into an agreement with Layne for training and nutritional coaching for another year and a half. I was planning a May 10 competition, but I have gotten so lean, that he is encouraging me to do a competition a month earlier, he said I won’t need to diet long and it shouldn’t be difficult.

Did I mention I have lost 10 pounds doing this? Yes, I went from eating 1550 calories a day and weighed 131 pounds in August, to eating 2510 calories a day and I weigh 121 pounds. I am lean and ripped, and I am doing cardio two times a week, for a total of 24 minutes each time (that is including the 5 minute warm up and 5 minute cool down).

Eating this way, reverse dieting (adding calories slowly, the opposite of dieting where you subtract calories) and following a flexible diet have been one of the most challenging things I have ever done, but one of the most rewarding. It’s been six months of daily calculations of every single thing I eat and drink, preparing way ahead, and reviewing restaurant menus before stepping foot into the restaurant. But my body has responded well. I am muscular, very lean, strong, physically and, more importantly, emotionally healthy. I do not feel deprived at all, I feel liberated actually. I am not worried about how I look constantly, or worried that I will “blow up” from eating a certain food. I am no longer bound by the self imposed chains that held me so long.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Interview with Strength Addicts

"If you get on this train in the beginning you have to stay till the end."

It's a saying that has stuck in my head for a long time. It's sort of my outlook on life. If you start something, you had better finish, see it through till the end.

And I'm not done yet, I am not finished, I am not at the end!

It's been a while since I have written, and as I mentioned on my last post, I have been so active on other social media sites that there just isn't enough time in the day! I have a feeling when I finally retire, that my days will be even more hectic than they are now!

I post many pictures on Instagram, its a fun site that is pictures, 15 second videos and short messages, usually viewed on a mobile device. I think of it like Facebook without all the drama!

A while ago I was contacted by the editor of a website called Strength Addicts (strengthaddicts.com). Christian liked my "look" and asked if I would consent to an interview. I had fun answering his questions, he doesn't  ask everyone the same thing, its tailored to the person and their look and division in Bodybuilding.

If you follow me on other sites (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, YouTube), you may have seen this interview already, but I know some of you don't so I am sharing it here too!

Please take a few moments to read it and catch up on what I am doing, and how I look these days (along with the pictures here), I think you will be pleasantly surprised! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Flexible Dieting After 3 Months

It's now been three months that I have "eschewed" the traditional bodybuilders diet, and I could not be happier! I look......good.....don't you think? 

The photo above was taken Monday evening, after training hamstrings with Roy at BodyComp Gym, it is always a brutal workout these days, I don't  mean "brutal" as in bad, I mean, I am pushing myself as hard as I possibly can. I know I am improving and getting stronger, not only can I tell by how I feel, but the weights go up, every time. 

Roy and I stick to 2 or 3 exercises at the most, heavy weight and long rest periods (for the most part, some are shorter for smaller muscle groups). On Monday nights we target the hamstrings (which of course hits my glutes too); we do the laying leg curl and then a single leg back extension (with heavy weight) on the Glute Ham Raise. Roy remarked that I had improved, he tracks every single rep and time from every workout, I increased my reps! As with most of my other training, I will repeat my workout on my own, and I will increase the weight. Hamstrings have a slight modification though as we need to hit all the areas so on Thursdays I will do standing leg curl on my own, then the single leg back extensions on the Glute Ham Raise.

The picture above was last Friday as we trained shoulders, my chest is looking ripped and my deltoids are getting rounder, I am pleased with the progress.

So what have I changed besides the eating? I am taking a couple new supplements, Alpha Lipoic Acid pre and post training, and glucosamine, that's all that is new in the arsenal.

I actually discontinued several things I was taking, after I read about their lack of effectiveness on the website examine.com it's a great site to learn about supplements from an independent third party! I purchased the $29.00 membership and feel it was well worth it considering how much mis- information is out there regarding supplements.

Below is a little .gif of my pictures that I sent to my nutrition coach, Layne Norton today. It's funny, I am eating over 2000 calories a day (up over 500 a day from late July) and I have...ahem....lost weight! In these pictures, which were taken in the middle of the day, I am 125 pounds, but in the morning lately upon waking, I am 124!

In my last few posts I believe I discussed how hard it was to "believe", to "let go" and to "trust" this process, for so many years I was following the crowd of "chicken breast/broccoli/brown rice" eaters.....no more!

I still love brown rice and eat it almost everyday, but I also eat bread, English muffins, yams, quinoa, fruit, lots of fruit, yogurt (oh you didn't know those last two were carbs huh?) In my diet, there is no such thing as "starch" or non starch, it's all carbs! Some meals when I want a lot of food I will eat a huge plate of vegetables to make my carb numbers, but other times when I don't want a lot (like right before lifting) I will have some warmed mashed yams and cinnamon and a yogurt with my whey protein drink.

My new favorite yogurt! I love all of their "bite" flavors, but this is by far the best! This is mint with dark chocolate chips. 100 calories.

Below is Friday again, the legs have certainly filled out haven't they? The secret? Food. Good food, sufficient food, more food, real food. David and I go out regularly now, and I eat right off the menu. Sure, I have to sometimes choose very carefully, but I still eat at restaurants. I am a normal person (as normal as I can get). 

Lifting these days has been very satisfying, the extra calories give me the physical and mental energy required to keep up the rigorous training (I still train once a day four days a week and twice a day three days a week). The "diet" is allowing me to very slowly add muscle and drop fat, the magic trick everyone is seeking! I really could just stay right here where I am, but alas, Layne has increased calories again this week....

And the glutes again, getting rounder and more prominent, but not from the sides! 

Ah, and an update on the feet- You may (or may not) recall that I was being treated for Plantar Fasciitis, a very painful inflammation of the foot, I had it in both feet. I wore night splints for 25 nights (I chucked them the last 3, I couldn't stand it any longer); I iced and rolled them on lacrosse balls daily; and I took powerful anti-inflammatories. I went back to the Podiatrist, my right foot is great- but the left is not 100% healed. He said a cortisone shot would probably be more painful than the relief it would give me, especially since I was 95% healed, so he has sent me off to Physical Therapy for 6 weeks! I haven't started yet, but hope to next week. 

For those of you who may have an unhealthy relationship with food, I highly suggest you start to consider "Flexible Dieting" or "IIFYM" (If It Fits Your Macro's). Find a reputable coach who can help you establish your macro's or go to a great site called IIFYM.com that is full of useful information for the do-it-yourselfers! 

Feel free to email me if you have questions about it, and join me on Google+, I have been having a lot of fun posting there these days!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Relationship with Food and Training

My life seems to now revolve solely around weight training and eating, seriously. I go to work and then all my time after (and before) is devoted to calculating my marco nutrients, training and sleeping.

I love it, I am spending all of my free time doing exactly what I love. It's been almost 11 weeks that I have been working with Layne Norton for my nutrition and cardio; I never knew how much food can make or break a physique.

All of these pictures were taken in the last two weeks weeks. I am at 125.5 pounds, lean and eating a great deal of food.

I have eaten "healthy" for years, but the timing of the foods and selecting the proper macro nutrients for the specific activity or time of day is essential and I have learned just how important this is. Not only to try to add lean mass, but to maintain a low bodyfat percentage.

I used to eat the same old thing at every meal: for example  4 ounces lean protein, some starch early or vegetables later, a very small amount of fat with each meal, but it was a very little amount. I  got lean, I got ripped, I got bored.

I have been eating so many foods now that I never thought I could, and I am still very lean, I actually still weigh less than when I started with Layne and I am eating approximately 500 calories a day more. Above is a French Toast breakfast I made, sourdough toast dipped in egg whites, cinnamon and vanilla; the remaining egg whites, scrambled; one whole egg; fresh kiwi and mango and some calorie free syrup and jam (use VERY sparingly, they can cause bloating and gas due to the artificial sweeteners).

As you can see in the picture below, my glutes have really grown, and the hamstrings and quads are getting bigger. 

 My delts and arms look amazing, although I still try to grow them bigger every week.

Food, it seems, is always a battle for competitors, and most of them tend to under eat - they are afraid of getting fat. Once you see yourself lean and ripped, it's very difficult (mentally), to allow yourself to get back to a "normal" weight, even then, what most competitors consider "normal" is still much leaner than the average woman considers normal. Yes, the rest of the world thinks we are crazy.

My obsession now seems to be the fact that I am eating so much, I am constantly verifying that it is correct.  I am responsible for my diet- Layne does not tell me what to eat, that is entirely my decision. He tells me the macros- how much carbohydrate, protein, fat and fiber to have each day. 

Sometimes it is so good, I cannot believe I calculated it correctly, and by the way I look, it appears I have been doing an excellent job at it. It's interesting,  I seem to see "flexible dieting" and "IIFYM" everywhere these days, but I'm not sure if it's because I am paying attention to those things, or there is an increased number of people changing to a more civilized way of dieting. 

So far, three people from my gym and two friends have contacted Layne about working with him, based completely on seeing what I eat, how happy I am, and what my physique looks like. Unfortunately he has not been able to take on more clients at this time, but things can change any day so if you are interested, I would check out his website and contact him.

Pasta, I eat pasta and I am not fat!

What am I planning now? I finally, finally feel that I can go out and eat at a restaurant and do a good job of calculating my macros; I am eating dinner with David every night that I am not training with Roy at BodyComp Gym (those nights I get home late so I just have a shake, banana and toast usually), and while we eat the same foods, I will eat a different ratio of the foods than he will;  I am lifting and getting bigger! Lately shirts I have been wearing are tight, uncomfortable tight,  and when I look at myself, I do a double take, I see the changes, I like the changes. 

I don't have any plans right now, and that is very, very unusual for me. I am happy, very content in what I am doing and where I am in life right now. I love waking up early everyday, I hop on my scale to check my weight (I never had one before, and it's one of the things I took from my father's house after he passed away, so I say hi to Dad everyday!). I go to the gym and lift heavy and enthusiastically.

I train with Roy at BodyComp Gym three days a week after work, those are the highlight of my week. We don't do the silly little things I see so many women with their trainers do, like stand on a bosu ball while flapping my arms about, or lift teeny tiny weights to "tone", or do hundreds of bodyweight exercises.  In the pursuit of "bootie, brawn and awesome deltoids", I know two more women who have started training with Roy, he's the man who is responsible for my physique and I wouldn't trade him for anyone! He has some openings, give him a call!

We lift heavy, and hard, and long. Sometimes I sweat and my feet are not even moving! 

I do have a plan in that I am staying the course, eating on target, changing my body composition very slowly but very dramatically and spending all my free time doing what I love - training.

Off season just might be my best season!

I have been using other social media a lot more than blogging these days, so if you want to keep up, connect on my other sites.

Google+ Kristy Wilce

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Eating and Training to Add Muscle

I have absolutely no desire to look like a bodybuilder, yet many people think I do, they are just "uneducated" in the sport and think that all women with muscles are Bodybuilders. I am trying to add muscle, still. 

The last month has been a whirlwind for me, it's month two of adhering to my new diet, I am no longer eating chicken, broccoli and brown rice meal after meal.  Oh I still love those things and eat them every week, but I eat so much more than that! I think it would be easier to tell you what I do NOT eat.

Most packaged and pre made foods. I will eat Greek yogurt, breads and cheese, but no boxes of low fat chips, crackers, snack foods. I don't eat sausages, although I probably could and I am not a bacon eater by choice. I still refrain from drinking much alcohol, although Layne has taught me how to incorporate it if I want a glass or two on occasion; I prefer to save it for special events, I feel better without it.

Things I am enjoying that I really rarely ate for the last several years: Greek yogurt, fruit (lots of fruit - especially watermelon and apples), cheese, fatty meats (all cuts of beef, lamb, pork, chicken), breads, English muffins, toast and jam, olive oil on foods, pasta, french toast, you name it!

I just have to meticulously account for everything I eat and it must be timed correctly around my training. 

I have learned so much about how my body responds to certain foods and amounts, there is no need to be a martyr, you can live your life, compete or just look amazing! 

I shall never, ever, ever again be one of the competitors who starves herself and eats only the few staples: Tilapia, broccoli, asparagus, brown rice and yams. Never will I be a cardio queen! I never really was anyway, I always knew that a lot of cardio is bad for your body and makes you look drawn, tired and depleted, and I have always believed that someone who does hours of cardio just doesn't have their diet dialed in correctly.  

However,  I used to enjoy doing cardio more often than I get to now. I used to like hitting the stairs across the street from my house! I am currently only doing High Intensity Interval Training two times a week, and the duration is so short it leaves plenty of time to spend on abs, something I always skipped! 

The pictures above were taken 3 weeks apart. On the left (September 8) I was 126.5 pounds; on the right (September 28) I was 126 pounds. Almost exactly the same weight but in the right I look much more muscular and shapely. My shoulders are rounder and more prominent, and do I even need to say anything about the infamous glutes? 

It's a combination of the hard training and lifting I do everyday: my trainer, Roy Ganju, the owner of BodyComp Gym, is pushing me to lift heavier and heavier now that I am eating more; and the food, the variety and the timing of it all. I never realized just how important the timing was. 

I must say that I feel better and look better than ever. My weight fluctuates but is still lower than when I started working with Layne Norton, I believe I have lost bodyfat, but it's odd how much bigger, fuller and more muscular I look.

My emotional state is better, David is always telling me that (is he dropping hints???). I am happier, I feel much more freedom, although the daily meal calculations are still quite a job for me. I just have to plan ahead a couple days.

No longer do I have the massive food prep days, since I don't eat the same thing everyday it's not realistic or necessary. And, Layne changes my macro-nutrients every week, so I prepare my meals two days ahead, that's it.  I still cook a lot of chicken at once, or rice but not at all like I was doing in the past.

My squat has really improved, and this has no doubt helped my glute development, and that's in part due to an injury I sustained back in July. I developed plantar fasciitis again, I last had it about 10 years ago and it took two years to heal.

I am squatting lower, my back is better aligned and I am squatting heavier. I don't discuss "one rep maxes" I am talking reps here! I am squatting 170 pounds now!!

I have been taking some heavy duty anti-inflammatories, icing my feet 15 minutes daily with water frozen in coke bottles.

And I am rolling them for 15 minutes daily on lacrosse balls. Stretching, I am doing a lot of stretching too.

In addition to that, I have to sleep with night splints on. These are basically hard casts that go from my toes, along the bottom of my feet, up to my knee. I place my feet and legs in them and then wrap them with ace bandage. My foot is in a constant stretched position, all night long. The doctor had them made for me and he is confident this will "cure all my ails" 

For someone who sleeps naked, this is a very, very uncomfortable event, let me tell you!

But, one of my issues for years has been very tight calves and poor dorsi-flexion, these night splints seem to be solving the issue! I can now drop down to the ground, right into a squat, almost like a child! 

Below you can see the progression as I wrap my feet and legs up before bedtime, this is a nightly ritual now for four very long weeks! 

The end result below, nothing on but my casts on my legs! David and I laughed and laughed this first night, and I have since learned to wrap them up very quickly on my own. 

Sleeping as I said is difficult, and then of course there is the whole getting up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night issue too!

But I think about people who may not have a choice and have to live with something like this (or actually worse) every single day of their lives, for me it's a temporary setback, and I can wear regular shoes during the day. I will survive this event in my life.

 10 nights down, 18 to go! then watch me squat!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

DXA Scan for BodyComposition

Here I am, all 126.5 pounds of me, soaking wet. Literally! I just got out of the shower, hair is still wet, and even when I am in the bathroom getting ready for work I have my water bottle with me (strategically placed so this doesn't become a lewd picture). Seriously  always, always, always have water with you, everywhere you go. Most people are dehydrated.  Your brain and joints cannot function when you are dehydrated and you look like garbage too! 

When I decided I wanted to work with Layne Norton, I had to find out exactly where I was starting, and that meant bodyfat testing.

My goal is to increase lean muscle, and you can measure and use visual clues, but nothing is more scientific than real body composition testing.

Over the last few years I have had mine tested on a regular basis, with Hydro-static testing. It’s done in a tank of water and is pretty darn accurate. It’s not very fun though. You can read about my previous sessions below.

Hydrostatic testing 2013

Hydrostatic testing 2012

Hydrostatic testing 2011

I still keep in touch with friends from my last gym, and “R” said she was having her body composition tested with a DXA scan (formerly known as a DEXA scan).  
I didn't like the idea at all, getting an x-ray for shits and giggles? Sounded rather irresponsible, I mean my body trusts my brain to treat it right, it’s not fair to abuse that privilege.

I happened to have an appointment with my physician coming up so I asked him how safe it was, and he said it was very low dose and once or twice a year wouldn't hurt, and I could see my bone density too.

I scheduled it at the Body Composition Center in Redwood City

It was easy, didn't have to get wet and I just lay there on the table.

I was surprised at the outcome. First, I had calculated my bodyfat to be in the 11% range and I was wrong. I had been using the numbers from my previous Hydro-static testing and didn't realize that tells you only two things:  The amount of fat in your body and then everything else all lumped together.

It doesn't separate muscle from organs!

So once you account for my very heavy brain (yuck, yuck, yuck) and other internal organs, it turned out I was at 13.7% bodyfat, a normal “off season” for me, as I have mentioned, I stay lean your round (and I know that’s should change slightly).

But as I said, it wasn't the bodyfat I was interested in, it was muscle, I wanted to see how much muscle I had, because after I am done with my program, and before I start to diet for my next competition, I want to gain muscle and I want to have this done again to see how much I gained.

I have 106.1 pounds of muscle on my body.

I have 17.7 pounds of fat on my body.

I have 5.5 pounds of bone and organs in my body.

The analysis goes on to show exactly where it is located, and further divides it by the right and left sides!

Actually I have lost three pounds since this was done, so my bodyfat is a bit lower now, but as I said, with my new diet it may inch up a it, but I am prepared!

What was most interesting to me was the technician stated she had never seen a man or woman with as little visceral fat as I had. I have a whopping .15 (yes, that is point 15) pounds of fat around my internal organs. I guess I am pretty darn healthy!

And my bone density? A whole other page is devoted to that and it’s stellar! Weights are a girl’s best friend!

I have a link to the actual readout here for you to check out.

My goal now? Get that 106.1 up to a higher number, and not focus on the bodyfat, enjoy the food and the fun, and then see what I can create with my nutrition coach Layne and my trainer Roy as I head into my next Women’s Physique competition in Spring of 2014!

Monday, September 2, 2013

A New Diet with Dr. Layne Norton

It’s been a while since I wrote, no I didn’t fall apart after the death of my father, and on the contrary, I am doing really well.  We had been preparing for his death for some time, it was not a surprise, and although that does not make it any easier, it brought closure to his constant treatments and pain.
I just happen to be really busy! I have a crazy hectic life. I work full time; have a husband and a son in college. Weekends are consumed with household duties, food preparation, laundry, etc. and I try to have some fun! To top it off, my job at the University is busiest in July, August and September.
Since 2009 I have dealt with four deaths of loved ones, and each time I take some time to reexamine my own life and it prompts me to make some changes.  The first, with my mother‘s death in 2009 is when I started to learn about proper nutrition and how much it affected my physique.  I’ve learned an awful lot since then, not just about food and nutrition, but about myself. I then lost my mother in law and a friend I took care of as she died of cancer, her husband had kicked her out of her home for being a burden to him.
After my father died, I thought about my life, at the age of 52 I really have so much to be thankful for, and I am very happy but pieces were just not quite fitting as nicely as I wanted them to.
I have a passion in my nutrition, health and weight training, I never feel going to the gym is a burden, in fact sometimes I go to bed earlier just to get the day over with so I can get up sooner and go train. I belong in the gym.
When I decided to switch to Women’s Physique, my trainer, Roy Ganju,  was more than excited; he too enjoys the challenge of sculpting my body as much as I do. He is very knowledgeable, patient and great fun to train with. Of all the trainers I have worked with, he is by far the best as far as I am concerned and he constantly reads to educate himself on the latest information regarding training. He has been successful in helping me to add muscle, change the shape of my body and we constantly strive to achieve the look I want. I wouldn’t train with anyone else!
Training is a huge piece of building a physique, and you should seriously consider a trainer if you are doing it on your own. If you live in the San Jose, California area, look up my trainer, you can see what a great job he has done. Contact Roy at his website or send him a friend request on Facebook.
What I realized was lacking was my experiences with food.
I have essentially been on a diet since 2009. Sure, when I’m not competing I am not as strict, but I have always been concerned with maintaining a really low bodyfat, yet I wanted to gain muscle. Not an easy task. Your body needs the proper nutrients and calories to add muscle, and if you want to stay lean you can’t be eating a ton of calories. I felt stuck.
When my mother died in 2009 I hired a nutritionist, it was my first step to learning about my diet. I had no thought of competing, I just wanted to take my physique to the next level, and I did, I did very quickly. We only had a few appointments, she taught me the basics and I was off running on my own.  After that I always did my own diet, learning what worked as I went along.
In 2011 I paid for a one time competition diet from a well known Pro Women’s Physique competitor, it worked like a charm and I stuck to it. The problem was, I pretty much stuck to it year round. When not competing I just added in a bit here and there, but for the most part stuck to the same boring foods over and over. I would go out with David and Cooper on occasion, but each time was rather stressful to me. I felt I couldn’t just eat what I wanted, and it turned what should be an enjoyable evening into a stressful one.
I never worked with a “diet coach”, I know many friends and competitors who do, but honestly I have questioned their credentials and their knowledge on more than one occasion. I also think we should learn ourselves, and these coaches would just tell their clients what to do and most would blindly do it, without asking why or questioning odd sounding instructions.
I know one competitor whose coach told her she couldn’t eat tomatoes. I asked her if she asked why. His response to her was “Most gals I know can’t lose fat till they cut out tomatoes”.
Right.  Run I say, run away from stuff like this.
Now if he had said something like “tomatoes are high in natural sugars and carbohydrates, so limit them” THAT might make some sense, but he didn’t.
I guess they will need to go to their coaches the rest of their lives if they don’t learn the “why”.
I am probably a pain in the ass to anyone I work with because I want to know why and why not. Some people like this and some don’t, if they can’t work with me then they need to tell me that.
After my father died, I decided I really wanted to focus on my nutrition, and add some muscle;  that meant getting a little bigger, I prepared myself.  I knew I was floundering and needed guidance; I needed to learn more so I took the plunge and contacted the person I feel has the most credible credentials and knowledge out in cyberspace.
If you are not familiar with him, he is known for his expertise in Natural Bodybuilding (drug free). He has a BS in Biochemistry from Eckerd College with honors, a PhD in Nutritional Sciences with honors from the University of Illinois and his thesis title was “Leucine is a critical factor determining protein quantity and quality to initiate muscle protein synthesis”.
In other words, he knows what he is doing; it ain’t “Bro Science”
I contacted him and explained I wanted to add muscle, I am not trying to lose fat, and I want to add size. I think I may have corresponded with an assistant first, and they seemed to almost be interviewing me! I passed the test and then after more discussion we agreed on a nine month program. I chose nine months because that was a reasonable amount of time and would allow me to then work with him on a competition diet to compete again in late Spring of 2014.
I shake my head when I hear women say they “add muscle fast” or they “don’t want to get bulky” so they only do cardio. I bust my butt to add muscle, and when you compare me to the average fit chick, yes, I carry a lot. But when you compare me to the average Physique competitor, I am small.
Layne said I would gain some weight and wanted to make sure I was OK with that. Really no, I am not, but I am, it’s hard to explain. I know I need to, but it will be a mental struggle to “get fat”.  Just how fat and how big? David was a little scared at first; he already thinks I am very muscular. I asked Layne if five pounds of muscle might be a reasonable amount to gain in nine months.  I won’t quote him, but basically it’s not, not in his opinion for a woman who is well trained (not a newbie) and one who is not taking anabolics.  Sure, I could stick a bunch of drugs in my body and gain muscle that way, but then I wouldn’t need to work with Layne would I? I am not taking the easy way; I am taking the smart way. I also want to be able to look myself in the eye and maintain my self respect. I want to earn it.
Below is a comparison, the left just before I started with Layne and on the right 4 weeks later. My shoulders are rounder and lats wider, stomach is flatter and tighter.

So, if adding five pounds of lean mass will be difficult, and I can really only add a couple, the total weight gain should be quite minimal, about what your average “cookie eater”  gains at Christmas I suppose!
The diet is much more intense than I ever experienced before. In the past, it was easy; I ate the same thing over and over and over. I could prepare my meals with my eyes closed.
Now, now I can eat almost anything I want, as long as I meet my macros (and for those of you unfamiliar, that is the term for macro-nutrients: Carbohydrate, protein, fat and we add fiber in here too). Meeting means not under, and not over, it means right on target to the number of grams at every meal.
It’s been a challenge as it requires me to think! Ha ha ha. And I have choices! So many that I haven’t yet experienced all the food I have been missing for so long. Sometimes, my meal is so good; I go to the macro tracker on my phone and check it three and four times to ensure I created the meal correctly. Then I go over to my spreadsheet and double check that too (yes I have spreadsheets).
I check in with Layne every week, and he adjusts the diet ever so slightly, my calories have been inching up weekly, the food getting more and more, and my excitement is growing. I wait every Tuesday to hear what the rest of the week will bring me, how did I progress? Am I on track? It’s all so exciting to me.  
I want more fat! I love fat. I can eat chicken THIGH now. I love chicken thigh.
My glutes, which have always been rather prominent and round are even harder and rounder! The picture on the left was taken just before I started with Layne and the one on the right is 4 weeks later. A guy at work has even started calling me "fire hydrant butt". I thought it odd and asked him why and his response was "It's as hard as a fire hydrant". Hmmm... OK, I'll take it!

How do I feel? I feel free. I feel like a whole new world has opened for me. I never had an eating disorder, I never weighed less than 118 pounds (at a competition) and at my heaviest I was 142 pounds at the age of 38, but I developed an unhealthy attitude about my food. Sure, I still believe it is fuel, but it should be pleasurable fuel.  Eating the same thing day after day, fearing that one wrong food will wreak havoc in your body is not healthy, physically or mentally.

Layne embraces a term known as IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros). That means, in a nutshell, meet the requirements as established and then don’t worry so much about how you do, just get there. Some take the winding road, and some take the highway, but they all arrive at the same destination, eventually.
I know many who “embrace” this a bit too enthusiastically, potato chips, candy and ice cream should be eaten only on occasion, making them fit into your macros on a daily basis will leave you hungry, most likely not meeting fiber or nutritional needs and your physique will not look as good as it should nor will it perform optimally. I have had two pieces of dark chocolate (9 grams each) and four glasses of wine (all planned and fit into the days macros).
How do I look? Really good! In fact, better than I have in ages. My muscles are full, I look healthy, my belly fat is gone and I have energy. Several people have asked when my competition is (and I am not dieting for one) and the other day, I walked into the kitchen naked and David looked at me and said “You look great! Isn’t there a competition you can enter soon?”
“No- I replied. I mean, yes, there is, but I will not, I have a plan, and I’m sticking to it.”