Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Last night I took my camera to the gym. There aren't any mirrors near the squat rack, and even with mirrors, it's hard to check your own form. It's easier to fix your form when you're just starting - it's like learning to drive...if you never develop bad habits it's a lot better. Here's what I did last night. Remember, if you're a trainer and you're watching this, it's only my fourth time doing weighted barbell squats. Ever. I usually use dumbbells or do Bulgarian split squats. Back in my college days I used a smith machine because my gym didn't have a squat rack. Anyway, I digress.

I'm following the Practical Programming for Novices progression (by Rippetoe). Last night I did 2x5 45lb (warm up), 1x3 60lb, 1x2 80lb, 1x3 90lb (this was supposed to be 3x5 but my left knee felt wonky on the 3rd rep so I quit and lowered the weight), and 3x5 75lb. The video is of the first set. I want to try to work on getting lower, and hinging more from the hips.

I've been following Mark Rippetoe's YouTube videos on weight training. He teaches form, including a all the  mechanics of WHY you should do something a certain way (like I showed in my post on deadlifts). I watched his videos to decide whether to do low- or high-back squat, and what kind of form to use. I'm such a geek, I know. He discusses the merits of a low-bar squat and talks about angles and power and how those two things are related.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

30-Day Consistency Challenge

As most of you know, I've just recently finished a 12-week bootcamp. I lost 17 lb of fat and a whole lot of inches. I gained some muscle and strength, too. I'm at a plateau with my weight right now, and have been thinking about my intake, activity levels, and how to tweak things to continue with my cut.

Almost like she was reading my mind, Jenn from Fierce Fit Fearless devised a "30-Day FFF Consistency Counts Challenge" (FFF=Fierce Fit Fearless) that will run from April 26 to May 25. Can you say "perfect timing" or what?!

This is one of my "after" photos, taken April 13, 2012

Basically, she laid out the groundwork of nutrition and training. We'll eat at maintenance on training days and approximately 20% below maintenance on rest days. She suggests a macro division as well:

Training Day – 40% carbs, 45% protein, 15% fat
Rest Day – 20% carbs, 55% protein, 25% fat

That's fine for "regular" people (ha I don't mean to offend) but I'm grooving on this low-carb Paleo thing so I need to adjust this a bit to better suit me. And I want to do slightly more of a cut, so I'm going to start out with eating at 25% of TDEE on rest days (still an increase from what I'm used to). So here's what I'll be doing for macros:

Training Day (1700 cals) - 30% carbs, 45% protein, 25% fat
Rest Day (1300 cals) - 10% carbs, 45% protein, 45% fat
Please take note that this is significantly more calories per day than I've been eating, and more carbs on training days. It's a little less fat, but that's what you get when you eat at maintenance and need to get in a certain amount of protein and carbs - you lose some fat. Anyway, we'll see how it goes. I'm willing to give it 2 weeks for sure, to see if I lose, stay the same, or gain. I can twiddle with it at that point if I see something I don't like.

This challenge also requires weighing myself and measuring before and after. I'll also take before and after photos, just for funsies.

In the meantime, I decided that I'm not going to count, weigh, measure, or even look at the nutritional labels on foods between now and the 26th. If I want to eat a couple of potato chips, I will. I had a piece of pizza for lunch (and now I regret it, I really should stay away from grains) and I had some gluten-free cheesecake (a very small piece) for dessert. The capper: I had a great big glass of raw milk with that cheesecake. It was delicious. It's totally a nutrient-dense, high-calorie/carb/fat food item (the milk, not the cheesecake!), so it's not something I usually indulge in during a cut. I'm looking forward to hitting my goal weight (and therefore maintenance calories) so that I can add fresh milk back into my daily intake. The point of me not restricting calories right now is to give my body a break before I head back into an extended cut. This will give my hormones a chance to normalize if they have started to go a bit whacky, and will also let me eat the cheesecake I wanted for so long. :)

I have between 8 and 10 pounds left to go before I hit the top end of my goal weight range. I'm looking forward to fitting into my "skinny" jeans again, although I'm not sure they'll fit my new curvy booty. (Thank you squats!)

I will post before and after photos at the end of the challenge.

So, who's in? You can sign up HERE. The link at the top of the post takes you to the info page for the challenge.

By the way, if you're trying to figure out exactly how many grams of carbs/protein/fat those macros require, use THIS awesome online nutrient calculator.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cravings and Overeating

I received the book, The End of Overeating by Dr David Kressler the other day. One of the main things I struggle with is food cravings. I KNOW some foods are bad for me. I KNOW some foods are terrible for me. Does that stop me from eating them, most of the time? Yes. Does it stop me from eating them all of the time? No.

My main problem foods tend to be pizza, chocolate, tortilla chips with dip (usually artichoke and asiago) and sandwiches (like toasted tomato with mayo). You see the trend? Bread (carb) with cheese or sauce (fat) and salt. It's a delicious combination, isn't it?? And once I start, it's hard for me to stop. I'll have a few pieces of pizza, then I'll have half a chocolate Easter bunny, then I'll eat some ice cream...and it goes on. It needs to stop.

The book talks about why that combination (fat, sugar, salt) is so appealing. I've only just started reading it, but it's very insightful and I've learned a lot.

Mainly, I need to recognize (and I think I have) the difference between hunger and desire. For example, not even 20 minutes ago, I literally had the toaster out of the cupboards and in my hands, about to plug it in and throw some bread in there to make a toasted tomato sandwich. Nevermind the fact that this is a rest day, that I'm already over carbs for the day, nevermind the fact that I DON'T EAT BREAD, nevermind the fact that I KNOW I'll feel like shit if I eat it...I still wanted that instantaneous reward feeling going off in my brain.

It's sick I tell you...sick.

On another note, in speaking with a friend, I've realized there are three main condiments I really need to learn how to make myself, so I can control what goes into them: ketchup, BBQ sauce, and ranch dressing. Modern-day commercial versions are filled with soybean oil, canola oil, high-fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial colours and flavours, and are packaged in plastic. I'm gonna get on that.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

BBQ Crockpot Chicken

I love my crockpot. I don't think I can actually express how much I love it. I use it to make chicken, turkey, and beef stock for use in homemade soups and sauces; I use it to make meals for when we'll be gone all day and coming  home late; and I use it to prepare meals for when I won't be home to cook dinner (my husband can't cook AT ALL). I actually have two - a regular sized one, and a super large one. The larger one is great for making large roasts or making stock with turkey bones.

The only thing I love more than my crockpots are the vast resources available online. I've recently discovered the joys of several different paleo cooking blogs and have been trying out different crockpot recipes. I think my favourite so far is tikka masala beef with coconut cauliflower.

Yesterday I made BBQ chicken using THIS recipe by Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations. I used a family tray of boneless skinless chicken thighs (there were 9 thighs in the tray). The only thing I changed was that I reduced the pepper (but only because I ran out) and added a bit of maple syrup to mine when I reheated it for dinner when I got home from the gym late last night. I pulled out three of the thighs, some sauce, and shredded the chicken into a small saucepan. I then added a teaspoon of 100% maple syrup, because I like my BBQ sauce slightly sweet. I heated it all up and enjoyed it with some sliced sweet potatoes fried in tallow. MMMMMMM.

I'm sorry I didn't take a photo before I ate it. I was hungry.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


I love my new gym. It's clean, bright, well-equipped, and has great staff. I've been there for a week now, and am totally glad I signed up. So far I've done all three days of Nia Shanks' workout and one running session. I really should be running more but I've been busy with work and writing and haven't figured out how to work the running in with my weight training. Tonight I'll be going after work, I think I'll be doing Day 1 again (focusing on deadlifts) but I might run, too. We'll see.

If you're wondering what deadlifts are, and want to see the strongest man on the planet (as of 2009, anyway) deadlift 1,008 lb (about 3 minutes in), watch THIS:

If you're a nerd like me and want to know the physics of how things work in addition to doing things with perfect form, watch THIS:

The deadlift works the posterior chain: the low back, the glutes, and the hamstrings. Of course, I'll never be anywhere close to deadlifting (you lift a dead weight from the floor, hence the name), but I'm gonna do my best to eventually get to a place where I can lift twice my weight - that's a 1 rep max, of course. For now,I'll stick with the lighter weights and make sure my form is perfect.