Well, as the years passed and more children joined the family, it stopped being quite so easy. I'd go through bouts where I'd start working out again and maybe counting some calories and I'd lose a few pounds and then I'd go back to my wayward habits and put them all back on. Everyone has that moment of truth I think, where they look in the mirror and hate who they see. Not the inside obviously, although my insides were sad and depressed, angry and frustrated, and just purely miserable. All because of what was happening on the outside. The final straw came when someone asked me when the baby was due. After so many children the weight pulled at my weakened stomach and I truly did look pregnant. I figured I was just a little overweight so imagine my surprise and horror when my bodyfat was taken and it turns out I wasn't just overweight, I was clinically obese. That was the moment I knew something had to change and something had to change FAST.
I started with cleaning up my diet and going to the gym several times a week. I was able to lose the first twenty pounds in two months and felt pretty good. This was when I knew what it was I wanted to do. I've never been satisfied with normal goals, like, look great in a bikini this summer. I knew it had to be something drastic if I was going to keep up with it. So I hired a coach and signed up for a figure competition. Figure for those who are unaware is like a much smaller version of bodybuilding. For those who are old enough, you might recall the days when ESPN would have these amazing fitness competitions where beautiful fit healthy women would have physique rounds and routine rounds where they would dazzle the crowd with their skills. Figure is basically that, without the routine. (That's fitness!). On May 28th of 2011 I met my goal and lived my dream of being a figure athlete. Over the course of roughly six months, I dropped from 160lbs to 123 and never looked back.
Nowadays I'm training with the amazing Roxie Beckles and together we've made some amazing changes to my body, my diet and my training methods. As I mentioned yesterday, I'm gearing up for the new competition season and I'm more than happy with the changes I've made. last year my methods mainly involved low calories, lots of circuit training and insane amounts of cardio. The rebound wasn't all that pleasant but wasn't harsh enough to mess my body up. Instead this year with Roxies guidance, I'm following her unique PEAT method of training (Physique Enhancing Athletic Training) so not only am I training to look like an athlete, I feel like an athlete too.
With that being said, here's a bit of a breakdown on what my week looks like:
I start each week with three depletion days. For me this means very low to no carbs with higher fats and proteins where the workouts are lighter, but more taxing with more reps. The goal is to use up all the glycogen (or stored energy from carbohydrates) in my muscle fibers. Think of it like a sponge. You're basically squeezing all of the water out of the sponge until it is bone dry. I also do HIIT cardio on those days (High Intensity Interval Training) where I alternate between 30 seconds at a maximum effort and a minute of recovery for around twenty minutes or so. The third day is just cardio. Today for instance I did steady state cardio for an hour. I hate being on machines if I don't have to so I went for a five mile run instead.
The fourth day of the week I have a Refeed day which to me is just...epic. This is where I have fun! I get high amounts of carbohydrates with moderate protein and low to no fat. Pancakes, hamburgers, potatoes, cereals, breads pastas, you name it. My intake on this can be anywhere from 1700-2000 calories that day. This shocks the hell out of your system, reminds the body that you are in fact NOT starving, and keeps your hormones running smoothly. Basically there's this hormone that tells your body when you're hungry and keeps your metabolism running like it should. When you diet too long, it's production drops off and you get all these crazy cravings and you feel run down and depressed and your workouts don't work quite like they should. This keeps it running smoothly. (I'm probably doing a HORRIBLE job of explaining this mind you but here is a great article from bodybuilding.com that explains it better. I do most of my really heavy lifting on this day and the day or so following where I'm eating a more balanced diet in terms of fat and carbs. I have more energy on these days and have better performance in the gym because of the increased glycogen in my muscles (remember the sponge? The refeed is taking your bone dry sponge and sticking it in a bucket of water so it absorbs even more water). I have a second steady state cardio
Now, specifically addressing cardio. Nobody HAS to do cardio. Nutrition is the biggest part of weight loss, especially fat loss. Not all calories are created equal and different kinds of foods process differently. So 100 calories of cookies and 100 calories of rice are going to burn differently and do different things to your body, so your best bet is to stick with lean meats, whole grains and healthy monounsaturated fats like Olive Oils, nuts, nut butters, flax seeds, avocados and cheeses. When your diet is on point, and you engage in a good strength training program then you're going to lose weight. By strength training I do not mean fifty reps of random things with hot pink barbie weights either. You are MUCh stronger than you give yourself credit for. How heavy do you think your purse is? What about that toddler you're picking up and putting down all day?
Lifting weights, heavy weights, increases your metabolism and shapes those muscles that you want to have. As a woman, you are NOT going to get bulky so please don't think you are. Female Bodybuilders have to eat a very specific way, train a very specific way, supplement a very specific way to get where they want to be. You are not going to look like that with some heavy lifting and dieting. What you will do is raise your resting metabolic rate for the rest of the day when you lift weight. With cardio you're only burning WHILE you're exercising (except for HIIT which also keeps your engine revving all day) but with strength training, the work your body does to repair the cells after a strenuous workout will burn more calories over the course of the day.
Here's the single most important thing I can tell you. Stay away from diet pills. Unless your training and your diet is on point, those pills aren't going to do anything anyway. They can make you sick, they can mess up your heart, your thyroid, etc. There is absolutely no quick fix miracle drug that will let you lose weight without any effort so don't bother asking me about it. I can tell you that if you really are determined to take something in addition, I will recommend Green Tea Extract. It can keep your metabolism up but more importantly it's packed with polyphenols that can keep you healthy and have been shown to help prevent some kinds of cancers. Fish oil too.
if you have any more questions on that, I highly recommend you check out my coaches new website, Muscle is the New Sexy. Roxie has great articles, free cardio programs and workout programs, even fashion advice on what to wear to the gym (here's a tip, sports bras are not actually tops. You should still wear something over them.). Tomorrow I'll break down my cleaning schedule a little bit for you and tell you how even an unorganized person like me can keep her house humming along, without slaving away at it all day long!
if you have anything you'd like for me to discuss, feel free to hit me up on my facebook page or email me.