Sunday, August 31, 2008

That's what it's all about

I love it when one of my clients achieves a major goal. I had a young lady contact me a few months ago asking about online training. She wanted to lose a few kgs, and shape up, but her Big Dream goal was to complete the Perth City to Surf. That's a 14km run, and she wanted to RUN the entire distance, no walking allowed.

She had a few trials and tribulations along the way, and seriously lost her mojo for a couple of weeks following a holiday. She just couldn't seem to get it together, and only a month ago, I got a desperate email from her. I could feel her frustration and pain as she wrote:

I haven't managed to get back on track since coming back .....Yet again, I've started something and failed to finish it. There are only 4 weeks until City to Surf and am worried that I'm not going to be ready for it and pull out at the last minute again.

I often see people go through similar phases, and sadly, they often don't pull out of a slump, and slide back into old behaviours. They give up, and may find themselves stuck in a repeating cycle of starting and stopping exercise or weight loss programs, seeing no real progress.

Luckily, this particular story has a happy ending. I got my client to do a few practical things to get herself organised to begin training and eating well again, and I also told her this:

If you tell yourself that you can’t do it, chances are, you won’t. You have to start seeing yourself achieving the things you want. I had her begin doing some visualisation exercises, seeing herself lean and fit, seeing herself crossing that finish line with a smile on her face.

I gave her a pep talk, and a new program, putting most of the focus on getting her running up to speed, and she buckled down and did what was required. I watched her go from "I'm not ready" to "I know I can do this!" And today, she ran every step of that 14km, no walking, and crossed the finish line 5 minutes ahead of her goal time. She described the feeling as "bloody awesome!"

THAT'S what makes personal training such a great job.

Nice one, Kelly! I know you're proud of yourself, and so you should be.:o)

The score

The Veggie Nazi (she knows who she is) inspired me to try some new things, and also challenged me to get a lot more veggies into my day, to make my body work that bit harder for its calories. Not that I normally skimp on the green stuff, but there's always room for improvement, especially when fat loss is a major goal.

So this is what I ate today:

Tomato, spinach, onion, capsicum, avocado, coriander leaves (breakfast), red cabbage, zucchini, carrot, asparagus, sweet potato, potato (lunch), celeriac, garlic, potato, broccoli, more carrots, more asparagus (dinner).

I make that 15 different kinds of veg - although if you want to get technical, tomato, capsicum and avocado are fruits....

Can anybody beat that?

Veggie Quest 2008

The veggie of the week is:


Weird, knobbly-looking thing it is. But not bad in a celeriac, potato and garlic mash.

We had it for dinner, topped with lamb loin (backstraps), which I prepared with this rub:

Lemon zest
Dried oregano
Dried thyme

Mixed it, rubbed it on the lamb, left it for an hour, then browned the meat quickly on all sides and baked for 10 minutes. Rest, slice, bang it on top of the mash, add some veggies on the side and try not to gobble it down in 2 minutes flat.

It's noice, it's different, it's unusual.....

Apparently, you can use celeriac in salads too - I saw a recipe somewhere for a Waldorf-type salad, where it was substituted for celery.

Friday, August 29, 2008

My secret weapon

So, last night, after my mini carb-fest and a bit of a veg-out on the couch, I was feeling - well, normal. Then I stripped off my hoodie and MAN! I had veins a-popping all over my arms! This morning my muscles look sensational, bigger and fuller - especially my legs.

I'm thinking Brown's could make a fortune selling their Chocolate Dream cakes to figure competitors as part of their comp-day nutrition plan. :o)

OK, the oats probably had something to do with it too....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I really must be a slow learner

It's very difficult to think rationally through a bad case of carb-depleted brain fog. Today was really GRIM, in spite of being a higher calorie day, with a treat meal to look forward to as well. I felt awful - miserable, crabby, and just as though life really sucked. I put it down to having a not-so-good night's sleep. The headache I woke up with yesterday and today? Those I attributed to my tight trapezius.

I was sad, tired, and my day was a great big fun-suck. My sense of humour had exited, stage left and I had no idea where my happy place even was. As for my work performance - pfft! I may as well have not bothered turning up, for all the use I was. Thank goodness I didn't have to stand up and do a presentation at any meetings, because I'd have been hard-pressed to sound intelligent. Or coherent.

At lunchtime, I went out for a walk. It was cold, I had no energy and as I said to Liz, my effort was so pathetic that I swear snails were overtaking me. Around 4:00pm I suddenly realised what the problem was. It hadn't occurred to me that my glycogen might be getting low, because I'd been easily hitting 40% carbs all week. But most of that had been coming from veggies - starch was in short supply. Hmm.... Seems I don't do well on low-starch.

So then I was in a bit of a quandary - if a higher calorie/carb day wasn't enough to restore the balance, how the HELL was I going to get through another low cal day tomorrow? Should I drop the veggies to get more starch in? Or lower protein? Or do something else altogether?

Luckily coach raised herself from her sick bed and came to my rescue. The solution? Eat some carbs. Right now. Duh! Why didn't I think of that? Maybe because of my impaired mental capacity....

So, my home-made hamburger for dinner got shoved into a soy & linseed roll, and that was followed up with a big bowl of oats & whey. :p My tummy feels full for the first time in days and my emotional equilibrium appears to have returned from wherever it buggered off to.

AND I still have this to look forward to for my treat meal:

It's from Brown's Bakery and it's enticingly called a Chocolate Dream. Rich chocolate cake, with a ganache-filled centre.

I have to go now. Chocolate beckons.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

About that Plan B...

Weight is stubbornly refusing to move (except for 200g UPwards from Monday to Tuesday - not exactly what I was aiming for), so today I am doing what Coach calls a low grinder day. Ugh. 1200 measly calories.

It's actually not so bad, since I'm cramming in the veggies like nobody's business, especially the green stuff. I was well prepared too, making time yesterday to cook a veggie bake thingie, just in case. It consists of grated potato, carrot, zucchini, onion, an egg and a little bit of brown rice flour to help stick it together. A serve of that, along with broccolini and lots of baby spinach, and accompanied by (of course) chicken made a warm and satisfying lunch. And naturally, I still got my breakfast oats in AND my daily serve of yoghurt. I can't imagine a day without yoghurt....

The good news is, I get a treat meal tomorrow. Yay; no chance of Thursdayitis! (KatieP will know exactly what I'm talking about...). I'm leaning towards a Magnum, but who knows? I may change my mind by tomorrow evening.

The other good news is that I kicked BUTT at the gym this morning. Not only was cardio awesome, but my continuing mission to do 10 close-grip pullups in a row is getter closer to reality. Today I managed 5/4/3 - a total of 12. Next time I'm aiming for 6/4.

So I'm not sitting around whining about how unfair it is that I'm doing everything right but the scales won't play nice. Well, not much, anyway. I'm just staying firmly focused on doing what I have to do: Eat well, train hard, drink my water and get enough sleep. It's a winning formula and eventually has to add up to success. The laws of physics don't lie.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Weight is heading downwards, but time is getting short now, so the urgency is increasing. I'm staying right on track with EVERYTHING again this week, and should be able to do justice to my cardio workouts - now that my carb stores are topped-up and I'm feeling more energetic and less psychotic. :o) I'm also adding some daily walking and paying close attention to getting lots of veggies in (not that I usually have a problem with that!).

If there's no movement on the scales over the next couple of days, I shall have to implement Plan B.

Don't even ask.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The story continues....

When last we saw our heroine, she was preparing madly for her upcoming comp....but hmm ...not much mention lately of training and progress-type stuff.....

That would be because I've been BLOODY busy, OK? And just a teensy bit freaked-out and overwhelmed (yes, AGAIN), thanks to impending house completion, the thought of moving, a bit of a sudden rush of extra work, general too-much-stuff-to-do-ness, and on top of all that, THE FREAKING AGENT WANTING TO TURN UP AND INSPECT THE BLOODY PREMISES NEXT FRIDAY AND WHO'S HAD TIME TO DO HOUSEWORK??? Inspection? On a weekday? With one week's notice? I don't think so, Buster!

In spite of the fact that I shall be ringing said agent tomorrow and telling them that next Friday doesn't suit, so sorry, you'll just have to make it some other, uh - how about December? ...I thought it prudent to make a head start on the necessary chores by cleaning the bathrooms today. Ugh. I also did my cardio workout, some posing practice, completed a client program that I ran out of time for yesterday, cooked myself 3 healthy and yummy meals so far, and got 3 loads of washing out of the way.

Now I just have to do the folding and ironing, try to get my head around my routine, cook a couple of kilos of chicken breasts, clean up after dinner (which Bike Boy will be cooking), organise my training gear and food for tomorrow, and then I can relax. For approximately 10 minutes, by which time it will be bedtime.


As for training, that's been a mixed bag over the last week. My weights workouts have been extra-good, but cardio was just uninspiring. Until today - I kicked arse with my Spinervals workout this morning. Maybe the rest day yesterday helped. Or adjusting my carb/fat balance. Whatever the reason, I'm happy to have my cardio groove back.

Progress-wise, things have been slow on the weight loss front. There was a bit of a whoosh last week, but I've been sitting at around the same weight, give or take 200g, for the past 4 days. I'm just keeping nutrition tight and my fingers crossed. Sometimes I think I see improvements in the mirror, other times, nope - nothing. *sigh*

Consequently, I'm having lots of typical figure competitor's OMG I'll never be ready on time! moments lately. I'm trying to counter those with alternating calm assurance and a bit of screeching at my Inner Fat Girl to just shut the f*** UP!!

Not sure it's working..... can I get a little help from the scale deity, thanks?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Recipe alert!

I outdid myself with tonight's dinner. AND I fulfilled my Veggie Quest mission to find the perfect fennel recipe.

Meet the Marshmallow

Today I'm off to meet Raina, who's visiting Melbourne. :o)

We're meeting at Melbourne Central and she's under strict instructions to rugby-tackle me and tie me down, if I so much as LOOK like going near Max Brenner's.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fun with food...

My foray into a low-carb, high-fat meal plan was a lot of fun. It also made me very carb-depleted, very, very quickly. My plan was to stick with it for a few days, then throw in a higher carb day, then back to the lower carbs, higher fat.

I loved having lots of nuts and oils and butter and egg yolks and (mmm!) peanut butter and avocado. My body didn't love running low on glycogen. The last couple of days, cardio SUCKED. I knew I was at my limit yesterday morning, when I got halfway through a pathetic attempt at cardio, jumped onto the elliptical and was struggling to keep it at 60 rpm. Sheesh. How embarrassing! I called it quits, grabbed my towel and water bottle and sensibly headed home for some oats and whey.

I hung on grimly throughout the day though - it's not that I was hungry, or having cravings. In fact, I was fine in those departments. I just felt like C.R.A.P. Last night I was sitting on the couch, watching House and I could not stand The Baby's fidgeting or chattering. Snappy, cold, miserable and exhausted is not a fun way to be.

Today I threw in a higher carb day and I feel much better, thanks. The experiment did the trick, sending the scales downward - although I know they'll bounce back up a bit after today. But I'm not in a hurry to repeat the experience. Apart from the glycogen-depletion crash and burn thing, today was a Hungry Hippo day and I had to chuck in some extra calories to prevent myself from falling face-down into the fundraiser chocolates at the office. I doubt that my metabolism suddenly revved up overnight - it's more likely a 'survival' response, prompted by messing with my carb ratios.

I think from tomorrow it's back to 40/40/20 for me! (Yes, Coach, you were right, of course....) I mean, seriously, those ratios have been working for me for the past 4 and a bit years, so why mess with success?

Recipe alert!

I'm getting ahead of myself here. I had already decided that my next adventure in Veggie Quest 2008 would be with fresh beetroot. Today I was looking for a recipe for lamb fillets, and came across one that included beetroot, so dinner tonight was:

Arabic spiced lamb with roasted veggie salad.

Hmm, I'll have to think of something else for next week's veggie of the week....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Update: Veggie Quest 2008

The fennel was fab. I need to perfect the cooking time and technique, but you only learn by experience. This was what I did:

Remove the tough stemmy bit at the bottom, and the grotty outer bits. Lop off the stalks and foliage and slice the bulb. I sliced it across the width, but next time I'll do it lengthwise. Lay the slices on a baking paper-lined tray, sprinkle olive oil over, then splash some balsamic over the top too. Bake at around 200C for about 20 minutes, maybe a bit more.

I served it with baked pecan-crusted salmon and some asparagus (Bike Boy had a baked tater as well). The flavour was delish, but it needed a little more cooking - next time, I'll cook it in a pan of water for a few minutes to soften it before baking.

No photo (sorry) - my blood sugar was so low by the time dinner was ready, I almost ate it straight out of the way was I pausing to take piccies, not even for you lot.

I have a couple more recipes to try, and luckily I have another fennel bulb in the fridge, AND it's only about 60c a piece at the mo', so I can go nuts experimenting with this one.

Recipe alert!

I'm still having fun with breakfast....and eggs. Today's effort was a copy of cafe meal I had recently.


Food aside, my other current obsession is going well - That would be the mission to complete many, many unassisted pullups.

This morning, I walked into the gym with my scary face on, adjusted the bar on the nearest Smith machine (I've given up on the pullup station thingy - way too high for me!) and cranked out 4 ....then 3 .... then 2 more close-grip pullups. That adds up to 9 if my maths is correct.


It's always a good way to start a workout by beating your previous PB on something. The rest went well, and my spin session at home wasn't too bad either. Well, considering the pretty bad DOMS in my legs from yesterday. And the interruption caused by the postman knocking on the door halfway through to deliver some parcels.

Thanks to the Postman's badly timed visit though, I have some new supplements to play with, and some agave syrup, which is highly recommended by Charlotte and which tastes pretty damn good (It's not in Cal King, but I only dipped the tip of a finger in it - honest, Coach!). Who knew cacti were actually useful for anything?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Veggie Quest 2008

Even the most experienced cook sometimes gets stuck in a boring culinary rut. I'm pretty good at making my meals interesting, but I've had a bad habit recently of sticking to the same old veggies. Broccoli, spinach, asparagus, carrots, cucumber, rocket, various salad greens, parsnip, cauliflower, tomatoes, capsicum, bok choy, mushrooms, onions of various kinds ....there are a few others, but those are the mainstay of our meals. And, as the saying goes: variety is the spice of life.

Last weekend I threw in some cabbage, previously I've reignited my love affair with parsnips and discovered the delights of cauliflower mashed with brown butter. But it's not enough. I want MORE. Enter Veggie Quest 2008....

The challenge: to try one new veggie each week.

This week's featured veggie: fennel

I shall report back on my adventure with the aniseed-flavoured one, so stay tuned.

Anyone care to join me? *looks around for the veggie nazi*

Sunday, August 17, 2008

MORE recipes....

Blogging is great for widening your horizons in many ways. One blogger I've had the pleasure of meeting is Charlotte, and she's given me some great ideas for living wheat-free (well, -ish in my case).

Her meals always sound both delicious and adventurous, and she's inspired me to get out of my sometimes boring culinary comfort zone and try some new things. Like this chicken stir-fry with cashew 'satay' sauce.

And another....

If you prefer something simpler and quicker to cook....... still in keeping with the egg and smoked fish theme, this was breakfast a couple of weeks ago.

My favourite meal of the day

This morning I got up late and felt like having a BIG breakfast. It was one of those "what's in the fridge?" kind of meals and it turned out extremely yummy!

If you like eggs and smoked salmon, you'll love this!

I really, really love's my favourite meal of the day. I'm sure I must be part hobbit.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Selfless and devoted

I was trawling around the net this week, when I came across an article I'd seen before and had forgotten about. It's by the very clever Krista Schaus, and being an old Queen fan, the title grabbed my attention: Solutions for Fat Bottom Girls. (And yes, I did begin singing under my breath: I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my biiiiike......) *ahem*

It's a great article, with a couple of things I knew and a lot I didn't.... but among her suggestions for overcoming the handicap of being a pear-shape, which all revolves around taming the oestrogen beast, via things like training, nutrition and supplementation, was this one:

Have more sex.

It was no surprise that Bike Boy very unselfishly offered to help me out with that one. What a guy!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday snippets

The scales still aren't budging, but I'm not concerned. Seriously. No, I'm not. Am I not convincing you?

Nutrition is as tight as can be, I've hit the gym and given it 100% all week, water consumption is great, and I'm even doing OK on sleep. Short of grabbing the nearest sharp object and surgically removing the flab, I can't do more than that.


I think my posing is getting better. At the very least, I'm getting better at picking all the faults in other people's posing. LOL.

I'm sure my hamstrings and glutes are going to be on the small side, but my upper body is looking pretty good overall. And I do have good calves and biceps, so let's hope the judges are so mesmerised by those that they don't notice my defects. *snort*


My videoed routine and music CDs arrived in the mail today. Now I can add learning my routine to my list of stuff to do. Yay.


I made a decision on whether to let my hair grow for the next 7 weeks, so I could put it up for the show, or keep it shortish. After a discussion with my hairdresser, shortish won. Had it cut and coloured today and I feel a lot less frumpy.


I managed 7 - count 'em: 7 - close grip pullups yesterday. Sure, I had to take a short break after 4, then do another 3, but it's still a PB for me. :o) Even with mixed grip pullups on the assist machine I'm only adding 30 or 50 pounds (depending on which dodgy machine I use, and who knows if either is right?), and I'm cranking out a couple of sets of 10.

I'm impressing the hell out of myself, even if nobody else is gaping in awe.


Thanks to some hard and heavy leg training this week, Amy Bento's A-Team Bootcamp and a little delight Liz dreamed up, known as the Killer Figure Legs Workout, my butt is ACHING. Ouch.


Business is hotting up. Seems people are getting in before the spring rush, in an effort to get a head start on losing the winter jiggle. It's all good - I have space for a few more onliners, and even a couple of one-on-one spots at the moment.

Looks like Precision Nutrition is a hot item right now.... I'm gonna be busy!


Sara has booked her flights from New Zealand to come over and cheer/support/apply tan/bully me for my comps, Liz is planning a trip from BrisVegas, and now my friend Amanda is coming down from Canberra for a flying visit too. No pressure.... geez.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

You can't out-train a bad diet

This is a saying that I know to be true. There have been times in my life when I've been training my guts out, yet not seeing results in terms of body composition. And when I've sat down and really taken a hard look at the nutrition side of things, guess what? My nutrition was always less than ideal.

Doesn't matter what your goals are - fat loss, muscle gain, maintenance, sports performance, whatever... you can't eat a whole bunch of crap, then hit the gym hard and expect great things. It won't happen. You know the old saying: rubbish in, rubbish out.

I just read an article by John Berardi that backs this up with some scientific data. I'd post it, but as far as I can tell, it's only available on the Precision Nutrition members-only forum, so better not.... don't want to land in trouble....

Anyway, in a University of Texas study, two groups of overweight and sedentary people were set up. One group followed a carefully supervised exercise program, the other didn't. No change was made to their dietary habits. Both groups were made up of people who were not previously exercising. And guess what happened? At the end of the 12-week study period, there was almost NO difference between the groups in terms of weight loss or body composition. Hmm..... What was the missing factor? A well-designed nutrition plan.....

I've been working at various fitness goals for 4 or 5 years now, and coaching clients in their fat-loss and training efforts for 3 years, and I can tell you that when people don't see results from a program, it's almost ALWAYS because their nutrition is off. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. Either way, it will impact on results.

Too many "free" meals, overblown portions, too many processed foods, eating the wrong things at the wrong times, not enough veggies, not enough water, thinking that peanuts are a good protein source (I mean, seriously!) ....there are a million ways you can go wrong. And if you add several small oopsies together, they can add up to a big, fat NO PROGRESS.

If you're struggling with results, take a long, hard look at your nutrition. Go back to basics with food - count calories, watch your macronutrient ratios, stick to 90% unprocessed whole foods, cut out alcohol, drink your water, and see what happens. And watch those "free" meals. I bet you'll see a difference.

I posted this on a BFL forum earlier today, but thought it was worth sharing with a wider audience. :o)


I had to remind myself of all of this recently, when I realised that my brain had wandered off into dieter's la-la land - you know, the alternate universe where eating 5 chips off the kids' plates doesn't count. Where scoffing the last piece of garlic bread to save the little darlings arguing over it is your DUTY. Where licking the spoon (OK, the bowl *sigh*) after making choc-chip muffins for the kids - which you virtuously don't touch - is OK. Where you don't even remember buying that Caramello Koala when you stopped to get petrol. And so on.

A serious review of my week revealed exactly why the scales were playing silly buggers. There's always a reason....

This week, nutrition is so compliant it's positively startling. The scales still aren't playing all that nice, but I refuse to be thrown by that. I'm blaming DOMS from my leg workout yesterday ...I dutifully followed coach's instructions to Go hard or go home! so naturally - OUCH!

I was thoroughly pissed off this morning when I discovered that the scales had drifted slightly upward since yesterday. It was one of those WTF? moments. And as I drove to the gym, I could feel myself working up into a really bad mood. There were a lot of thoughts along the lines of "this sucks. I've done everything right. No cheats, no amnesia with food. Training has been awesome. Not fair!"

Luckily I caught myself starting the old "not fair" routine, took a deep breath and asked myself: Self - what are you going to do about this? The answer (of course) was that I should worry about the things I can control, and let go of the ones I can't.

I can't control the scales directly. I can control my training and nutrition, so those are the things I'm focusing on. And if I do that, day after day, then the results will follow. I just need two things: faith and patience. And a kick-arse attitude. OK, that's three things. I never said maths was my strong point.

I must have done a good job of turning the crappy attitude around, because after my gym workout, I stopped at Coles, breezed right past the chocolate displays and walked out with only cottage cheese, oat bran, some almond meal, a jar of unsweetened apple sauce and a box of tissues. The cafes and bakeries were in full 10:00am morning tea mode and the smells drifting out must have been awesome - but I didn't even notice.

I still have posing practice and cardio to get through this afternoon. That's only a couple of bites of my daily training and nutrition elephant. Easy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Are you winning?

Last week when life sucked, my brain was overloaded and the simplest things were all too hard, I was struggling to see the brighter side of things. In an effort to not be a Negative Nelly ALL the time, I started to write a daily win list - just a short list of 5 or 6 things that I did well, or that happened to me, or that I'm grateful for. Just stuff to feel good about.

It really can help to change your perspective, to bring home to you that, you know what? Life really isn't all bad. I suppose I've done a version of this on and off since I first found Body for LIFE (or more accurately, Body for LIFE found me....). Author Bill Phillips has a little daily exercise where you write down 5 things you did well that day, plus one thing you can improve on. There's more to it, but that's where I took the idea from. I used to climb into bed with my journal and pen each night and spend 5 or 10 minutes reviewing my day and planning the next one. It was a great tool for staying focused, and also for making sure I didn't dwell on a "bad" day.

So, some of the things that appeared on my win list for various days last week (in no particular order) included:

- I kept my temper during a particularly awful customer service experience. I simply dumped my intended purchases and walked out. Go, me!
- Meals were all to plan
- I went for a walk in the sunshine at lunchtime
- Got my training done, even though I didn't feel like doing it
- I stayed in bed till 7:00am
- I got a couple of lovely emails, one from a blog lurker, the other from a former client, both thanking me for inspiring and helping them (boy, I needed those right now!)
- I bought new fluffy bed socks.
- I got to spend some quality time with my husband. :o)

As you can see, most of them are really simple things; no huge achievements or PBs amongst that lot. But sometimes all it takes is one small 'win' to turn your attitude around.

What's on your win list?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Moving on

A relaxing weekend, plus some extra sleep, did the trick - I'm starting this week feeling capable, strong and raring to go. That's a nice change from last week, which felt more like grumpy, hopeless and OMG, I can't DO this!

I've taken a few more small bites of my competition elephant in the past couple of days, so that has me feeling well-organised and as though it really will all come together in time. And in spite of feeling a bit pudgy and bloated (note to self: do NOT eat cafe-sized serves of bread twice in one day), and the scales not exactly behaving as I'd like them to, I'm quietly confident that this week I will totally nail nutrition and see some good progress as a result.

I may have sworn at the alarm this morning and gone back to sleep, but I forced myself to do battle with the hordes at the gym tonight and got my workout done anyway. The crowded conditions were less than ideal, but since there was nobody to blame but me, I just had to suck it up. Why do the men feel the need to hog ALL the benches? I had to go into the dinky little ladies' area to find one....

My plan for this week is to get enough sleep, have a little time off to relax and just take a day at a time.

I can do that.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Brain hibernation and nutters

This has been a full-on week in all respects; work, clients, dental and other appointments, kids needing to be driven here and there, AND training, meaning I had to be super-organised to fit everything in. By Thursday night I was seriously dragging my feet.

Getting up at 5:15am to train isn't my favourite thing, but I usually balance it out with a couple of later starts, normally on Tuesdays and Fridays. And if one of my office days coincides with a home workout, I get the bonus of a little extra sleep then too. Not this week... apart from Tuesday, when I got to sleep till 6:00am (And by the way: exactly when did I move to some alternate universe where 6:00am is a sleep-in?), I was facing 4 days of dragging myself out of my warm bed at stupid o'clock to train.

I managed extraordinarily well from Monday to Thursday, but by Thursday evening the thought of getting up that early the next morning was making me anxious and teary. Uh-oh.... sleep-deprived much? I was meant to train back and triceps, and follow that up with a 30-minute bike workout, and no matter how I looked at it, there was no other way to fit it into my day. That's when my brain creaked back into normal action (I swear it's been in hibernation for the winter) and I realised that I didn't HAVE to do both on Friday. I could do my cardio at home, meaning I'd get to sleep till 6:00, and then push my weights workout back to Saturday, doing it back-to-back with Saturday's cardio, when I had plenty of time at my disposal, thanks to a rare client-free day.

Perhaps if I work harder on the sleep thing, my cognitive function might actually improve and I wouldn't waste so much time and energy getting into a tizz over something that (duh!) has a simple solution.


Speaking of training, this week's schedule was packed full of Liz Nelson specials. Translation: completely crazy workouts that have everybody else at the gym sneaking furtive glances at you, wondering what on earth you're doing.

This week's treats included the psycho bike and leg complex - that one I got to do at home, so there were no witnesses to question my sanity - and today's effort was entitled Who's the nutter on the treadmill?

The fun involved 5-minute tready intervals, running, running faster, running uphill (ugh!), interspersed with walking lunges.... on the treadmill. Yeah, those were a challenge, and definitely not for the faint-hearted. I was using a treadmill in the front row of the cardio machines and I could feel the eyes boring into my back.

After finishing that part, I had the thrill of doing some Cathe-style firewalkers, alternating with slo-o-o-ow sumo squats (ouch!). Again, with the looks..... And the finale was a set of clams - if you've ever done Pilates, you'll know how those burn! I was making the ugly face, no question about that.

Tomorrow is a rest day, and I plan on taking full advantage of it. No training, no housework, and a bit of quality time with my beloved. We're off out for breakfast, followed by a movie. Boy, have I earned it!

Friday, August 08, 2008

My personal elephant

There's a quote that goes:

The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

It's one of my favourites, and yet I seem to have forgotten it lately. I've been completely overwhelmed by so many things in recent weeks, when in reality all I need to do with most of them is to make a start - take one small action, a step in the right direction.

Competing has been just one more thing filling up my head space, adding to my stress levels and sapping my energy. It's not the training or the nutrition that's doing it, although the decreasing timeframe and some funny business with the scales lately isn't helping.... Rather, it's all the STUFF I have to do before that first weekend in October. It's just been going round and round in my head, a seemingly never-ending list of jobs that have to be done, and it's making me CRAZY.

Today I was reminded that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (thanks Mick!), and suddenly competing shrank into perspective. In yet another Aha! moment, I realised that a figure competition is just another elephant. And (of course) the way to deal with it is one bite at a time. So I've written up a list of tasks that need doing over the next 8 weeks, and surprisingly, quite a lot of them are already ticked off. That's several bites already taken care of. Sometimes it only takes a small shift in perspective to really ease the load on your shoulders.

Now for the next elephant in line. Hand me that knife and fork!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Recipe alert!

Mmm, nothing like a good curry on a cold winter's night. Or anytime, really.



There's this newish shopping centre not far from us. It's a bit unexciting, just a Coles, a butcher, a couple of junky stores selling cheap crap, a bakery, hairdresser and a few cafes. Oh, and a Priceline - how many new stores have that mob opened recently? They're everywhere!

There are big plans for further development and for the past year or so a factory outlet, DFO-style complex has been under construction. I drove past today and the billboards out the front are now proclaiming the grand opening date - November 7th. Great, thinks I. Then I spot these words on the next billboard:

Lorna. Jane.

I was so excited I almost drove off the road. Billboards really should be banned, you know.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Recipe alert!

Who says you can't have dessert for breakfast?

Hypothetical question

Let's say you're prepping for a figure competition in... oh.... about 9 weeks' time. And your husband comes home late-ish on a Friday night from an interstate business trip, tired and a bit hungry, because the airlines have cut back on the food service.

So you settle down to watch a movie, and around 9:30pm he decides to ring for a pizza. With pepperoni. And mushrooms. And other yummy stuff. Which he then proceeds to eat whilst sitting next to you on the couch.

So, my question is: if his dead body was found with a 6-inch perspex platform stiletto sticking out of his chest, do you think any jury in the land would actually convict you?

I'm just asking.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


The final clue that you're carb-depleted:

Dinner's almost ready and you try to tell your husband that you're getting hunger pangs, but it comes out as HANGER PUNGS.

Shut UP and just hand me that potato, would you?

The afterburn effect

Being the owner of a copy of Alwyn Cosgrove's Afterburn program, I receive regular email newsletters and updates from the man. This morning's message reminded me of another reason why I don't count exercise calories. Here's an extract:

In the past - fitness professionals and researchers have looked at how much fat is burned during the exercise session itself. This is extremely short-sighted.As my colleague Alan Aragon said:

"Caring how much fat is burned during training makes as much sense as caring how much muscle is built during training."

Think about that. If we looked at a weight training session that started at 9am and finished at 10am - how much muscle would we see built if we stopped looking at 10am? None.

In fact - we'd see muscle damage. We could make the conclusion that weight training does not increase muscle - in fact it decreases muscle right? It's only when we look at the big picture - and look at the recovery from the session - that we find the reverse is true - weight training builds muscle.

Fat loss training is the same way. Someone talking about the benefits of the "fat burning zones" or "fasted cardio" is a sure sign that the individual has stopped looking at the end of the exercise session. They have come to the conclusion that fasted, lower intensity steady state exercise burns the most fat and made a massive leap of faith to suggest it is best for real world fat loss.

Using that same logic these same people would suggest avoiding weight training if you want to grow muscle.

Take home message - focus on the
Afterburn effect, not just what happens during the exercise session.

The email references a study, which looked into the effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management.

So if you're madly calculating, recording, subtracting exercise calories from your daily food calories, trying to figure out your basal metabolic rate and scratching your head wondering why it all doesn't seem to correlate with what the scales or tape measure are telling you, maybe it's time to retire your spreadsheets or calculator.

I love that using the right training methods (and eating enough good food) manages to turn up the dial on your metabolism to red-hot. I swear, I can actually feel my body burning fat while I'm sitting doing nothing.

Allow me my delusions.... a little positive visualisation is always a good thing. :o)