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.”