Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lifting heavy things

Started a new training program with the start of the 98 Day Challenge this summer. Hitting Tom Venuto's T.N.B. workout. Many of the exercises are similar to previous programs I have done but put together with a few variations and a variety of reps/set combos aiming at creating both strength and hypertrophy. Each workout's primary lifts are compound movements taking advantage of using large and multiple muscle groups to build muscle mass and stoke the metabolic furnace. Workouts are either focused on strength gains with lower reps and higher weights or slightly lighter weights with slightly higher rep ranges for hypertrophy, continuing to change up the program from workout to workout with these slight variations provides continued stimulus for muscle growth. The biggest difference for me is that I am lifting much heavier on strength days as I was stuck in a rut of higher rep schemes lately. I have been training with this program for about 5 weeks now and achieving steady strength gains.

Transformation Challenge update: 5 weeks in, 9 weeks to go...
Still training with the T.N.B. workout but considering mixing in some isolation work in a few weeks just to mix it up. Started calorie/carb cycling and posted some good stats for this week, gotta keep the momentum going. Scale weight only down a pound since the start of the challenge- perfect lesson on the importance of monitoring body composition not body weight. BF% down 1 1/4 %, gained a pound of LBM, those are the numbers I keep a closer eye on, they tell the true tale of success in body transformation...unless you're going for skinny fat  :). I'm working on fit, lean and sculpted!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The difference between then and now

Needed to talk myself into sharing the before pictures with the blogosphere but after finding them in a old computer file and seeing where I am now I found the comparison spoke loudly of so many things I have learned and hope by sharing these I can motivate someone and give them push in a positive direction.
These pictures were taken approximately 4 months apart. These photos speak mountains about several key points I have learned in my own transformation and I post them in hopes of inspiring you to commit to make positive changes each day and see where you can be in 4 months. Take photos or otherwise document where you are today and  look back and congratulate yourself for sticking with it, proud of what you accomplished and find yourself in a better and healthier place. Then set new goals an keep the momentum going!

I have learned a tremendous amount nutrition, training and more importantly myself  throughout this journey, thought I would share a few useful and hopefully inspiring tidbits.

The Comfort Zone
My best advice....reach outside of your comfort zone. Go to the big boys area of the gym. Push yourself physically and mentally. Try new foods, I found my desire for continued physique improvements overrode my stubbornness regarding eating/trying certain foods and now some of those same foods are staples in my diet.  As far as training goes, I am lifting heavier than I have ever lifted and continue to get stronger. I have set life goals that include paths I would never have imagined myself traveling and am invigorated as I work towards achieving theses goals! Consider this, you don't know how strong you are until you push beyond what you are already capable of, both in the gym and in how you tackle life!

Body composition
Amazingly the scale/body weight difference between these photos is only about 5 pounds! I look at the before photos and see what I once thought was fit and find that I appear 'chubby.' The hard work in the gym has added lean tissue to my frame as I burned off the fat. So much more pleased with my fit figure now but can see looking back in another year with a more critical eye as I continue to move forward with new goals for my transformation.  Amazing how prospective changes as you continue to make improvements, feeding off your own accomplishments for another boost of motivation.

Commitment and hard work
What you see is nothing more than pure hard work and dedication to a goal. There were no crash diets or magic pills...no fancy, "guaranteed" results exercise DVD or ab belt but commitment to a weight training program and a carefully designed nutrition plan including whole foods, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, egg whites, oatmeal and chicken/turkey breast. The key is sticking to the plan and making it a new lifestyle, a healthier lifestyle. This applies in all areas of life, not just training and nutrition. Commitment is hard, change is hard but the rewards...

The power of setting goals, creating a plan and staying accountable
How often have you said you were going to do something and maybe even started doing it and then looked back in 6 months and found yourself no closer to completing your goal, having fallen off the wagon....You have to want it and your have to set specific goals and create a plan to get yourself headed in the right direction. THEN....frequent check-ins to be sure you continue to move forward, hold yourself accountable! Stop starting tomorrow, use tomorrow to reassess today and determine how to further improve yourself and  make continued progress.
 I continue to keep longer term life goals in the forefront of my mind, keeps me focused and I make better decisions every day that get me closer to those goals. Continually setting and achieving shorter term goals along the way will keep you inspired and insure continued forward progress.

Mental Muscle and gaining confidence
So much of the struggle, bottom line, is mental. We all can list a million excuses why we can't/don't do something. Change your attitude, your outlook and approach. My outlook has become to look at how I can do something, seeing obstacles as challenges, not allowing challenges to become excuses. Time, for example, is a huge factor in everyone's life. People are always amazed when they hear I am a Mom of 2, work full time and still manage to get to the gym 4-5 times a week. How do  I do it? Mental muscle, I make the time, change my priorities and attitude and make it happen. Are there sacrifices? In a way but I consider them a change in priority, all about perspective, I suppose.
In order to improve yourself you have to take a hard look at where you are and have the desire to make a change and move forward from where you are. You'll look back on the experience having gained greater confidence, not only a result of an improved physique but a sense of accomplishment and proving to yourself that you could do it.

I am thrilled with progress I have made so far yet find great pleasure in continuing to set higher and more challenging goals for myself. I continue to pursue challenges and set goals for myself that I never would have even considered a year ago. I see a whole different person in those photos, the latter more fit, more confident, more driven and stronger, physically and mentally.

Make yourself one promise, give it four months.....fully commit and give it all you've got...do something positive each day so when you look back to today you will find you have become a stronger person, physically and mentally, for yourself and for others. You'll be amazed.
Follow, subscribe and 'like' on Facebook, I'll provide information, motivation and inspiration, Post your goals...there's some accountability....So, what are you waiting for? What goals are you going to set? What goals have you already achieved? Challenge yourself to be a even better you! Challenge others by sharing this and spreading the word. I'm sure you'll find inspiring others very inspiring!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

2 weeks down, 12 weeks to go!

2 weeks into the Summer Transformation Challenge, "The Big Burn."
Progress stats so far...down 2 pounds, lost 1/2% BF. Frustrated with the slow start compared to the much more significant drop in the initial weeks of my first challenge. The difference this time is I never really stopped 'challenging,' but became more 'relaxed with nutrition and training since the end of the lst challenge, therefore really only stepping up the intensity vs being a complete newbie to the plan.  Slow progress forces honest and critical inspection of the current compliance to the plan as well as consideration of changing the plan. The verdict: tighten up a little, as compliance overall has been quite good (ok, so I had a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream (it was light)). Have to live a little but if I really want it......But I think the nutrition plan warrants another look. I have been lifting heavier at the gym and increasing weights each workout finding a good working weight with the new program. Possibly need to consider adding in some food cycling to 'feed the muscle' a little more since I have been focusing on tightening up the compliance to maintain a deficit in an attempt to 'burn the fat' I gained with the muscle gains over the last few months.  Hopefully a few changes to the plan will boost the progress along...
Time to reassess and adjust. Heading into week 3 with a new mission.