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.”