Tag Archives: muscle building

Your Questions Answered, Part 1

15 Jan

The other day I sent out a tweet and a Facebook status asking people to send me any questions that they might have in regards to my weight loss journey over the last 2 years and I was blown away by all the questions that came flooding through!  So, I will answer as many as possible over the next few blog posts and you are definitely welcome to keep sending them through!

@enzee17 asked:

I’d love to see an example of a food diary for a day from your old life compared to your new life.

I’ve been thinking about doing a post on this for a while now!  So here it is:

Old me:

Breakfast – would usually be toast with vegemite and margarine or 3 weet-bix with a teaspoon of sugar and milk.

Morning tea – cup of tea with milk and 2 sugars and biscuits from the biscuit jar at work.

Lunch – I used to buy my lunch a lot so I would either get a sandwich, sushi, salad… whatever I could grab really.  I tried to eat healthy where I could but I didn’t really understand nutrition the way that I do now so often my food choices were not the best but I rarely ate fast food so I thought that I was being good!

Afternoon tea – muesli bar, diet yoghurt or a piece of fruit always followed by… more biscuits. 😐

Dinner – I used to use those Masterfoods meal bases a lot or jars of sauces like Kang Tong or Chicken Tonight to make casseroles, pasta dishes and stir fries.  I used to think I was a really good cook when using these things!  A regular Martha Stewart!  I didn’t realise how full of sugar, salt and preservatives they are… Also, my dinner servings would be HUGE and were always washed down with soft drink.  I’d also make buttery mashed potatoes and fatty cuts of meat (pork chops, sausages, lamb cutlets etc) but I would always serve them with salad or vegetables and this made me think that I was being “healthy”.

Dessert – I’d generally always have something sweet after dinner like ice-cream or chocolate.

New me:

I’m not really able to give out my full diet in its exact entirety as my coach has devised it for me and it is her intellectual property but I can say the basics!

I eat a lot of oats, eggs, low fat natural yoghurt, berries, tuna, brown rice, fresh vegetables, fresh salads, fish, chicken, lean cuts of red meat, sweet potato, whey protein, rice cakes, low fat cottage cheese, natural peanut butter, fruit (one piece of low sugar fruit daily)… It’s very varied at the moment!  I don’t know exact calories, I just eat as clean as possible.

I do not have artificial foods or diet soft drinks – everything I eat is as close to its natural state as possible (except cheat meals where anything is fair game)!  This is the way I have been eating for a good 6 months or more now and have gotten great results.

I use flavourings like herbs, spices, chilli, garlic, ginger, tamari and stevia.  Essentially it’s pretty much a typical body builders diet.  In the next week or so it will tighten up A LOT and I will go into a strict comp prep diet that isn’t reasonable for anyone to follow, except if you are competing!

Progress Pic, January 2012

@Addicted_Cloth asked:

I would like to know how you conquered seeing food as a fuel and not pleasure – my BIGGEST problem.

Some time ago I wrote a blog post on this called It’s Time to Disconnect.  I just read it then and I still feel the same way.  Actually, I feel even MORE comfortable with seeing food as fuel because of the results I have gotten from eating clean and the close proximity of my comps!

I guess when you want something SO BADLY all temptation falls away.  I am so intently focused on my goal of rocking it on stage and achieving the best physique that my body is able to give me that I find it easy to switch off the little voice in my head that is begging me for tasty treats when I need to. You just have to make your goal THAT important to you.

But I will be honest here, over the last week or so I have been having more cheat meals scattered throughout the week because I know that in a weeks time I will be going 100% clean so I’m getting any last bits of cravings out of the way now so I can totally switch into machine mode when I need to without feeling like I’ve missed out on something.

I also thrive on routine and repetition.  Knowing that I have all my meals set out for me and ready to grab when I need them is extremely comforting to me and makes me feel really at ease, even if it is the same meals over and over again.  I don’t know exactly why, but I guess it’s because I just don’t have to worry about it and I can focus my mental energy into my training and getting through my day-to-day life.  It’s just one less thing to worry about.  If you make it not an issue, it won’t be an issue.  It really is a mental thing that takes quite some time to figure out, I won’t lie!

Welcome to the Gun Show!

Well, there’s 2 questions answered!  I’ve got a whole heap more coming up!  This has been fun actually and has helped me get my blogging mojo back!  Looking forward to what else you guys come up with and I hope this helps.  🙂

An Interview With ANOTHER Inspiration!

1 Nov

Just as I was lucky enough to meet the lovely Charlotte via the glorious interwebs (I love you interwebs, yes, I’m a closet dweeb), I also have met the amazing Amber.  Well, not in real life, just internetz chatz, you know?  But I have no doubt that we will eventually meet on the comp circuit next year!

Amber’s story was particularly inspirational to me as she has come from where I was and is currently at where I want to be.   Her approach to health and fitness is very similar to mine, I almost felt like I had wrote the interview myself (and she said she often thinks the same of my blog posts!).   Also, her amazing dedication and commitment is something you don’t often come across and what’s more wonderful is she has done it all with her loving partner by her side, literally, every step of the way.

Here is her story.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

You weren’t always in the top-notch shape you are in today, what were you at your heaviest and what made you decide to change your shape?

I was never small – in fact I always considered myself to be heavy set and big boned – and at my heaviest I would have weighed in at around 80kgs (possibly a few more). I was never into sport (or very good at it) – I’m a professional musician, so during my younger years I was always practicing, rehearsing, having lessons. Physical activity was limited to PE at school, and stints at swimming clubs and ballet classes.

For years I had been trying/wanting/wishing to do something about my weight. Different diets and forms of exercise – you name it and I probably tried it! I’d usually lose a little bit of weight, or see some change in my body shape but never anything really significant. I’d often get discouraged by the lack of results, give up for a while and find myself back to where I started if not even heavier. As well as physically detrimental, it was also quite a negative emotional experience. While I ate quite well most of the time, I’d easily turn to food and comfort eating and my portion sizes were more than likely way too big!

After getting engaged in 2009, with our wedding booked for April 2011, I somehow got the drive and determination to get professional help to achieve my goals. I signed up for a 12 week “Get fit from within” program with Michelle Nazaroff and I had some sort of ‘light globe’ moment where sticking to my nutrition and training plans was easy. I was extremely dedicated and began to see results almost immediately – I’d grow in confidence every month as I saw my body change (as well as the number on the scales drop) and it would keep me motivated. Having to be accountable to Michelle every week also helped as I wasn’t only cheating myself if I swayed off the plan, but her as well!

Progress photos - from Aug 10 to Dec 10

Progress Photos - from Aug 10 to Dec 10

Why did you decide to compete in bodybuilding/sports model?

After seeing great results over my 12 week program, I still wasn’t at my goal – the program and lifestyle changes we’d made however meant we could still stick to it, and I continued to see results every month. I was losing fat, and was noticing massive changes in my muscular definition. I must admit, it’s slightly addictive to see such positive changes in your body!! By the time the wedding came around I had lost about 24kgs and was loving my new, lean look!

I had never intended to compete, but seeing how my body had reacted to the change in diet and training, and being someone who likes a challenge, I started to consider it. I did speak to lots of people about the positive/negative experiences they had had whilst preparing for competitions to work out if it was something I could do mentally as well as physically. Many people seem to go up and down like yoyos, emotionally during comp prep, and physically as well (especially afterwards) and that was something I didn’t think I could cope with. Michelle’s approach to nutrition and training means this isn’t likely to happen, and I was reassured that my experience would be a positive one.

We decided that initially I’d compete in the sports model category – I wasn’t quite big enough to compete in figure, and it would also allow me to gain some experience on stage. I did two competitions this year – NABBA/WFF and IFBB. While I didn’t place anywhere in either competition, I had a great time and really enjoyed it. It has motivated me even more, and made me excited about training harder, working on my physique and competing in novice figure this year.

On Stage - Courtesy FTL Photography

Lady in Red! Courtesy FTL Photography

How do you stay motivated and do you have a good support network?

Our diet and training is more just a way of life now and I enjoy the time spent in the gym – while I’m not 100% in to it every day, I know it’s just something I have to do! While I admit there are days I might not feel like it, ill put as much as I can in to training and will leave the gym happy that I actually did it! I think I’d feel worse if I didn’t.

I’m motivated when I see the changes in my body – more muscle definition etc, and having a 6 pack! I’d never have thought that possible! To have other bodybuilders compliment your physique is a huge buzz – especially considering where I came from.

In terms of food, there are times when I wish I could just eat mountains of junk… I don’t let myself though. I’d rather know I was maintaining what I’ve worked so hard for than filling myself up on rubbish – most of which ends up being completely unsatisfying! I’ve become really good at saying no when people offer me food. Unless I know it’s going to be absolutely amazing, I usually won’t touch it…

I have an amazing support network too – my husband, Gary, has stuck to the program with me since we started, eating the same kind of diet and doing the training with me. Without his support, it would have been a whole lot more difficult – especially in terms of food! He has been training at a gym for many years, and surfs and played cricket until recently, so was always in good shape – he’s in the best shape of his life now though and loves his 6 pack! We’ll both be competing next year.

The support I’ve received from Michelle has also been amazing – her and her husband David are so committed to their sport and lifestyle, and ensuring their clients are looked after. Their encouragement makes you want to do well and be dedicated to the food and training programs they’ve written for you.

Amber with her equally buff hubby Gary!

What’s your typical days food like at the moment?

We eat lots of fresh, unprocessed foods – fruit, vegies (especially green ones!), lean protein, good fats (nuts, chia oil etc) and some starchy carbs from oats, brown rice and sweet potato. We also have a protein powder to use for shakes.

My comp prep diet was fantastic -while I ate the same food every day, it was been incredibly tasty and I didn’t get bored of it. I was never hungry! We liked the food so much that we went back to it pretty much straight after the competitions. It is completely sustainable – it isn’t calorie restrictive, or lacking in certain food groups. I like knowing that I’ll be able to continue to see results while eating this way – it was designed to help me build muscle while keeping fat off, which it did! I need to continue to work on my muscle development if I’m going to compete in Figure next year so we may tweak my diet a little to ensure this happens. It’ll probably involve adding more food – it’ll be very clean food, incorporating lots of “RAW” food and “green” smoothies.

We stick to a clean eating plan 6 days a week and have a cheat day for one day a week. This is really beneficial – it makes the clean eating easier, and also gives your metabolism a boost with the extra calories. During my comp prep I was restricted to a cheat meal, but we still enjoyed great food – it would usually involve 3 courses at a nice restaurant!

What’s your training regime currently like?

My comp prep training wasn’t hugely different to what I was doing before. We started with a four day split, and changed to a five day split after a month. We had different workouts every week. This was different to how I’d trained previously – we usually stuck to a program for a month which allowed to see an increase in strength. By doing different workouts every week we were constantly giving our bodies a shock! I found I’d push myself as I knew I wouldn’t be doing the same workout again, so couldn’t “do it better” next time.

We’ve stuck to a five day split since finishing competitions, but will do each weeks program for a month so we can see our strength increase.

I was already quite lean when I started comp prep, so my cardio was quite limited – thank goodness! I did 30 minutes of cardio before breakfast every day, keeping my heart rate between 140-150bpm. We bought a spin bike to make this easier. I want to try and stay around this condition, so will keep doing cardio a few mornings a week.  I’d rather put the effort in continuously than have to work my arse off (literally) when I start preparing for next years comp!!

What advice would you give to women who want to get into shape?

Getting in to shape involves a couple of factors – diet is important. REALLY important! I found that knowing exactly what I was eating, when I was eating it, and having it pre prepared made sticking to my plan so much easier. I didn’t have to think about what to eat, and didn’t have the opportunity to eat off the plan as my food was ready to go. Our freezer is full of portion controlled meat, rice, meals – we prepare as much this way as possible. We also have a fridge full of the fruit and vegies we need so there’s no excuses for not having them! While it may seem hard initially, cutting out the sugar and processed food is so beneficial. It does get easier, and the cravings do go away – I promise! Learn to say “NO!” – you may want that piece of birthday cake in the office staff room, but do you really need it? No one will be offended if you don’t eat it…

Embrace the weights! Resistance work is really the best way to get in to shape, and change your body. Don’t be afraid of lifting heavy weights, your body will thank you for it 🙂 If you get to the end of a set and you could still do a few more repetitions, you need to go heavier – push yourself to your limits, you may surprise yourself!

Stop making excuses! I used to do it, and I’ve heard so many people give me reasons why they couldn’t do what I’ve done. You have to really want something, and be motivated to do it, but you CAN do it if you put your mind (and body) to it. You can make changes immediately – no matter how small – you don’t need to wait til Monday, or next year, or til you’re 30. The time is now!

Courtesy FTL Photography

I’m Mind F&*king You Right NOW

23 Aug

Eating at maintenance calories is, as Diddy would say, a total mind fuck.

After spending so many years meticulously counting calories, making sure I never go over 13oo/1400 calories, the prospect of eating a whopping 1900 calories was extremely exciting at first.  YES!  MOAR FOOD WILL GIVE ME STRENGTH AND ENERGY TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

And then it was daunting and overwhelming.  I found it hard to eat all of my meals and was even leaving food on my plate (GASP!).

Now, it’ just damn confusing.  I’m eating all of my food (although sometimes  it takes me an hour or more to finish a meal) but I’m still hungry.  I feel like I could literally be munching on something for 24 hours straight.  I’m a hungry beast, I’m ravenous, I’d eat your face if you let me.   Some say this is due to an accelerated metabolism but I don’t know if that is just bro-science.  Whatever it is, it’s messing with my head.

Also, there is the fact that the numbers on the scales are all over the place.  Losing, gaining, losing, gaining – I should just throw the damn things out but I’m also fretting the measuring tape as my mind is telling me, “You’re eating so much food, surely you’ve gained centimetres!  All your hard work is coming undone!”.

It’s stupid and lame and I HATE having these thoughts.  I now think that losing weight is the easy part, it’s maintaining or gaining strength that is the hard part.  When you’re losing weight it’s just a matter of following the program and if you follow it right, you will see results.  At the stage I am at now, trying to increase lean muscle mass, it’s hard to envision that there will be results at the end of all this as all I can think about is all the damn food I am eating!

I’m not sure if any of this is making sense to you guys, feel free to call me a lunatic, but all I know if I can’t wait until this recomp phase is over and I can start cutting to reveal the sexy, lean muscle that I hope I am building underneath the bulk!

So, usually I would have taken some updated bikini pics by now but I am still getting used to my new eating and exercise program so I’m going to hold off for a few more weeks.  I did take a couple of pics the other night though to gauge where I am at.

Now I just need to switch of and allow my body to do what it needs to do.  All I have to do is train hard, fuel my body and allow recovery and everything will fall into place… *breathe*

Have you lost weight and are now at maintenance stage?  How did you adjust?

Clean Eats: Turkeyballs

2 Jun

I’ve been pretty slack on the recipe posts front.  I guess because I am eating so clean these days I think nobody wants to see the different ways I eat chicken breast – chicken breast with lemon, garlic & herbs, chicken breast with Moroccan seasoning, chicken breast with Portuguese seasoning… It’s really exciting stuff for you guys, I can’t imagine how you are containing yourselves right now!

But I thought I would do something a little more exciting this week for lunches.  I felt like living on the edge.  I felt experimental.  I felt dangerous.  I felt like gobbling down TURKEYBALLS.

Not literally  turkey testicles.  That’s just gross.  Do turkeys even have testicles?  BRB finding out…  Ew oh my goodness, they do!  And people EAT them!  And oh my god, there’s a Turkey Testicle Festival in the US!  I’m serious!  Google it!  After you read this, of course!

Ahem.  Sorry about that.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, turkeyballs.  I was really impressed with how these turned out!  I had 5 for lunch with brown rice and broccoli but I think that was way too much as I was extremely full afterwards so 3 or 4 balls per serving should be enough.

With the rice and broccoli the whole dish is about 450 calories but would be less if you went with less balls.

Ingredients (makes 3 – 4 servings)

500g lean turkey mince

1/2 cup of almond meal (you can use breadcrumbs if you like)

1 -2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard (or one whisked egg)

1 teaspoon of dried Italian herbs

1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes (or chilli flakes to taste)

 

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

In a bowl, combine all ingredients.

(Official apologies for poor quality photos… I used my iPhone)

Line a baking tray with baking paper and use a 30ml measuring cup to scoop out the mince and place the scoops on the baking tray.  Wet your hands and then roll and form each scoop of mince into a ball.

Place in the oven and bake for about 25 – 30 minutes or until cooked through.

Mmmmmmm! They look appetising, don’t they?  😉

Okay how about now:

Slightly better, yeah?  Slightly blurry too but I apologised about the lack of photo quality earlier, k?!

What’s your favourite type of meatball – turkey, beef, pork, chicken or other?

 

It’s Time to Disconnect

18 May

One of the hardest things that I have had to overcome during my lifestyle overhaul (and especially during Project Tighten Up) was to stop eating food for pleasure.  I loved food (I still do, but not as intensely) and whilst I didn’t eat extremely unhealthily, I still made taste the main focus of my meals.  A lot of people would think, “Duh, taste is what it is all about!” but when you embark on a mission to TOTALLY reshape your body, taste can no longer be the primary or only focus.

When we eat something yummy it sends little signals to the pleasure centres in our brain that says, “Om nom nom, this is GOOD” and we want more.  So we eat more.  And the whole time there is a little party going off in our mouths and our heads and it’s a glorious time.  Ever been to a party and there’s some amazing soft cheese there?  How hard is it to stop at one piece?  Bloody hard, if you’re a cheese-a-holic like me.  That’s because food is almost like a drug – you become addicted to the pleasure it provides.  Hence, fat happens.

So, how do we disconnect these crazy little signals?  It all comes down retraining the way you think about food.  At the moment, I think of food as fuel.  I figure out what I will need throughout the day to fuel my workouts and I plan my menu around that.  I know I will need low GI carbohydrates to give me slow release energy, lean protein to help my muscles grow and aid recovery and healthy fats to keep me full.  I can make these things tasty and therefore give my pleasure centres a lil sumpin sumpin by adding garlic, herbs, lemon and chilli without increasing the calorie content.

People ask me if I get bored eating the same thing every day.  I honestly don’t because I’m now so focused on food being fuel that it doesn’t bother me.  I make my lunches for the week on a Sunday and I will happily eat the same breakfast, lunch and snacks every day resting assured in that fact that by doing so I will be moving closer to my goal of taking over the world of achieving ultimate health and fitness.  And a bangin body to boot.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t reward those pesky little pleasure centres every now and then because I certainly do and would probably die if I didn’t.  Okay, I probably won’t die but I would be a sad little bulge battler.  Once a week or so I’ll indulge and have a treat – that might mean a few pieces of chocolate or it may mean a delicious takeaway thai beef salad but I maintain the discipline not to go overboard and to keep it within a reasonable calorie limit.  Only on special occasions do I allow myself to indulge further and have something that I really want (like my favourite pub meal – steak, salad and chips) and maybe even a few glasses of wine.  But apart from these moments I stay strict on my food and alcohol intake because I don’t workout this hard to go and undo it by eating foods that offer me no nutritional value.  I’m going forwards people!  I do not want to stay at a stand-still or go backwards!

Think before you reach for that chocolate or that piece of pizza next time and ask yourself – why do I want to eat this?  Is it purely because it tastes good?  If so, you’re falling back into the old “food for pleasure” cycle.  Have something that offers better nutritional value instead and treat your body like the temple it deserves to be.

Do you think of food as fuel or are you stuck in the “food for pleasure” cycle?