Week 9

Latest Picture:

8 weeks into to my transformation and things are moving along!  I’m not as lean yet as I’d like to be but I’m definitely adding lean muscle (my measurements prove this) so progress is happening.   This weeks picture isn’t much of a change from last week but remember progress isn’t going to happen on straight incline.  If you look at my week 1 – 3 pictures you won’t see much of a change.  But week 4 shows I’m much leaner.   Same goes for weeks 5 – 7.  Then look at week 8 you can tell I’ve gained lean muscle and my upper abs are showing.

So take a picture of yourself each week when you are starting your own transformation.  Don’t just rely on the scale to tell you if you are making progress.  Like someone said, a picture is worth at thousand words.  It’s extremely motivating to actually see the week to week progress you are making.  Pictures don’t lie.

Training:

Workouts include 3 supersets with two of each exercise:

Workout A:

Deadlifts + Dumbbell Bench Press

Dumbbell Split Squat + Single Arm dumbbell Row

Seated Dumbbell Curl to Press + Barbell Rollout

Workout B:

Front Squats + Incline Dumbbell Press

Barbell Straight Leg Deadlift + EZ Bar Skull Crushers (aka triceps extension)

Inverted Row + Single Leg Dumbbell Calf Raise

Will be changing things up for the last 4 weeks of my transformation.

Nutrition:

I’ve continued eating pretty clean.  My diet hasn’t been perfect but like I mentioned before aiming for 90% is a good target.

I have managed to avoid eating out since I started my transformation.  I love to eat out but I’m afraid I’ll be easily tempted to order something completely unhealthy so I’m avoiding restaurants all together.  There are simple ways to eat out though and not destroy your diet.   First, order something with a healthy dose of protein like fish, beef, or chicken.  If the entree comes smothered with delicious sounding sauce tell the waitress to have it prepared without the sauce.  You’ll save a tonne of unhealthy calories.  Second, ditch the french fries and greasy side for an extra helping of steamed mixed vegetables or even a side salad.

Bottom line you can eat out and make healthier choices.  Just don’t be afraid to ask for some changes to your meal.  Almost always a restaurant will gladly make substitutions.  If they won’t then it’s not a restaurant worth eating at.  Go somewhere else.

Spinch Tuna salad with balsamic, green peppers & tomatoes

Homemade protein bars without the sugar most commerical bars have

Recipe:

4 scoops chocolate protein powder

2/3 cup of flax meal

4 tablespoons natural peanut butter (also added a couple peanuts for some crunch)

1/4 cup water

Slenda

Not a bad tasting bar and super easy to make.

Double Chocolate Banana Protein Shake

2 scoops of Nitro-Peak protein powder (use your favorite protein powder)

1 cup of chocolate milk

1/2 cup water

1/2 banana

Ice cubes

I drink  a shake like this only after a workout.  It has a decent amount of carbs from the chocolate milk and banana. It tastes awesome and is great for post workout.

Week 8

Latest picture:

Overall not a bad week but I did have some issues which made it probably one the more difficult weeks since I started my challenge.   A massive headache and lack of energy on Monday made it really tough to get started and actually train.  I’m not sure what it was maybe stress but thankfully I got through it and didn’t miss any training sessions.

Training:

Like I mentioned above Monday was really tough due to a huge headache and overall lack of energy.  I had to really push myself to even start my workout. Luckily I did start though and got through it and increased the intensity from the previous week.  Really try and push yourself to not miss workouts even when you’re not feeling 100%.  The reality is we rarely ever feel 100% and could make all sorts of excuses why we shouldn’t or can’t work out, but the people with great bodies push themselves even when they are dead tired and absolutely don’t even want to think about a training session.

I started doing some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) in additon to my 3 scheduled workouts.  Doing high intensity intervals is a quick way to ignite your metabolism for up to 48 hours after.  Try getting that kind of metabolic afterburn from steady state cardio like long slogs on the treadmill.  By the way, you won’t!  HIIT is the way to go to torch fat and keep your metabolism elevated for as long as possible.  Couple that with high intensity weight training a few times a week and your fat burning abilities are at their highest.

I had to cut my workout short on Friday because my lower back started giving me problems.  In the past I occasionally had lower back spasms but this was the first time since I started my 12 week challenge it gave me any problems.  It was really frustrating to say the least.  It wasn’t something that I could continue to train through.

Nutrition:

I only have 5 weeks left so I really need to pay close attention to my nutrition.  I expect noticeable changes in the next few weeks and really want my lower abs to start showing so  getting my protein and veggies in every meal is super important.  It’s actually really important to eat fruits/veggies with each meal to balance out the acid in the protein I’m consuming. Protein is very acidic and if you’re not counter balancing with produce your performance and muscle gains will be affected.

A few meal examples:

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts stuffed with brie and spinich

* It’s a good idea to cook a couple chicken breasts early in the week so you have them on hand ready to eat.  They keep for a few days in the fridge and are excellent source of lean protein you should be eating.

Turkey sandwich on 100% whole wheat with spinich & avacado

* Typically I don’t eat starchy carbs unless I’ve just worked out.

Strawberries, blueberries & cherries!

Since I cut out desserts from my diet I’ve replaced them with a couple servings of fruit as a desert substitute.  Fruit taste amazing, and it’s health benefits are second to none.  (I can’t wait to destroy a nice brownie sundae though when I’m in maintenance mode!!)

Week 7

Latest Picture:

I’ve come to the half way mark of my 12 week challenge. From the beginning until now I’ve been pretty dedicated to my training and nutrition program.  I’m really happy to have finished out the first 6 weeks strong without any major setbacks.  Now I’ve got my sights set on the second half of this journey and am pumped to see the changes that have already happened…and envisioning the changes that will take place over the next several weeks.

Training:

- I changed up my actual training program to reflex a slight change in what I want to accomplish in the next 6 weeks.

- I still only workout 3 days per week but now I’m doing big compound lifts such as dead lifts, front squats (excellent exercises for adding size to the front of your legs) and some other exercises I wasn’t doing before.

- The soreness is back big time!  Doing the “big exercises” that work the most muscle at one time are taxing but really rewarding.  Forget isolation exercises if you want to gain lean muscle, lose fat, and look your best.

*TIP* If you are just starting to workout or coming back after a long layoff sore muscles are inevitable (If you aren’t sore you aren’t challenging yourself enough) You can pick up some Epsom salts and have a hot soak in your bathtub.  The salts will help alleviate some of your soreness and draw lactic acid buildup from your muscles, reducing muscle soreness.

- My rest periods slightly changed too. Of course, I’m still using my stopwatch to keep me on track and follow the rest times I’ve set out in my workouts.

- I’m starting to notice my core is getting really tight. I’ve lost approximately 1 1/2″ off my waist so far. I’d like to lose another 1″ to 1 1/2″ in the next several weeks.

Nutrition:

- Since I started eating carbohydrates again my muscles are feeling bigger and fuller.  This was totally expected.  I am still keeping my carb intake lower than I ever have before, but instead of zero carb a breakfast now might consist of 3 scrambled eggs, 1 whole wheat English muffin w/cashew butter, and strawberries or raspberries.

- When it comes to food I’m making healthy choices. As much as possible I stick with the least processed foods I can.  That means 100% whole wheat breads, English muffins, berries, broccoli, spinach for carbs.  For protein, tuna, chicken, steak, eggs, cheese.  Stay away from the middle isles of the grocery store, you won’t find much nutrition in all those refined heavily processed foods.

- As the day progresses I eat less carbs.

- Currently I’m eating 6 times a day in an effort to keep my metabolism stoked throughout the entire day.  I try not to go over 3 hours without eating something.

- Every meal or snack I eat must have some protein.

- I added a multi-vitamin each morning (which I should have been taking since day one) plus I take omega 3s (fish oil).  Fish oil is well documented and can reduce triglycerides, boost HDL cholesterol, and lower blood pressure.  They are both inexpensive too.

- I’m drinking a casein protein supplement each night before I go to bed.  Casein is a slow acting protein (compared to whey which is fast acting) so it’s good to drink before your body will essentially be fasting for the night.

-  I continue to drink at least 6 liters of water a day.  * Don’t underestimate the power of being well hydrated.  Dehyration = lower performace!

Couple meals I ate:

Week 6

Latest Picture:

Week 5 is now complete!  This week was pretty tough because I changed up my exercise program to make sure my body doesn’t adapt and keeps moving forward.  But the tough part was actually a stomach problem I had for most of the week.  I started having strange lower stomach pains last Saturday and they lasted pretty much all week. It felt like I had some kind of bug wreaking havoc on my insides, so I went to the doctor on Thursday and his opinion was it wasn’t an internal problem, it was muscular. I was surprised because I’m pretty in tune with my body and normally I know when I hurt a muscle or it’s something else.  Also, my appetite was much lower than it should have been for the entire week, another reason why I thought it was a bug.  I woke up Friday morning and I felt much better stomach wise so I was happy about that.

The good thing is I got through each of my 3 workouts although Wednesday I really felt like shit and didn’t want to train at all.  I sucked it up and decided to push myself and I’m glad I did. Once I got going I felt fine.  The lesson here is sometimes starting is the hardest part.  I could have easily blew off the training session instead I got through it and felt good after it was done.  I know for a fact I would have been pissed off at myself if I didn’t end up working out – instead I felt a sense of accomplishment I didn’t back down.  Small wins like this can have a big impact on your progress.

Training:

- I was pumped to start week 5 because I changed my program (meaning I used different exercises) which is important for 2 reasons 1) to keep my body from adapting 2) to keep things fresh and different. I kept rest periods low for this week 45 secs – 60 secs depending on the exercise.

- I worked with a barbell doing Bent Over Wide-Grip Rows and Romanian Dead lifts

- Kept working with dumbbells for most of the exercises – Dumbbell Push Press, Dumbbell Pullover, Dumbbell Lunge, Shrugs, Bench Press.

- Core work included Side Bridge and Swiss-Ball Jackknife.

- I will keep training with these exercises until the final phase begins (3 weeks from today).

- My muscles were really sore again much like the first and second week of training.  Particually my hamstrings and back were fried!

Nutrition:

- I made some slight changes to my nutrition program.  Normally, I would just have protein before and after I trained but now I allowed myself carbohydrates as well.  Also, I can now “carb up” on the weekends.  Basically what I’m doing here is nutrient timing. All other times I’m still eating low carbs for the most part.

- After eating very few carbs for the first 4 weeks of the program I was glad to be able to finally re-introduce some different food choices now (in the form of carbs)

- When looking at what to eat I choose healthy carbs.  100% whole wheat bagels, bread, english muffins. Also, fruit, yogurt, and milk.  These are the types of carbs you should be eating if you want to look your best. Stay away from heavily refined carbs.  The less ingredients on the label the better.

- Here’s are a few meals I ate:

Ceasar salad with grilled chicken

Omelette with cheddar, brie, and mozzarella cheese with sausage

100% whole wheat English muffin with egg, spicy mayo & avocado slices...and fresh berries

Week 5

Latest Picture:

So week 4 is now complete which closes out the first month of my 3 phase training program. I’m really glad I got the first 4 weeks out of the way.

Training:

- I didn’t miss any training sessions and met my goal of 12 workouts (3/week), and stuck to short rest periods (between 30 – 45 seconds).

- Also trained on the days I scheduled, Mon, Wed, and Fridays.

- I will now start the next phase of my program on Monday May 9th.  This phase I’m lowering the reps and adding more sets, and some tricks with rest periods, as well as changing all the exercises. I expect my strength to shoot up and add some lean muscle mass. This strategy is not only going to keep my body challenged and moving forward, but prepare it for the last phase of the 12 weeks (weeks 9-12), which will be the toughest.

- Overall it was a pretty successful 4 weeks or training and eating right.

- I stayed injury free

- built a good conditioned base to get me ready for phase 2

Nutrition:

- kept on a pretty strict diet of low carb.  Will introduce carbs again in phase 2 on the weekends and before/after my workouts.  Goal here is to keep burning fat while adding lean muscle mass.

- added more protein with natural peanut butter for super charged shakes

- started drinking a shake right before bed so I wake up more “anabolic”.  Also, I do it so I don’t go to bed hungry. I always sleep better when my stomach is full.

- I drank at least 5 litres of water a day.

My breakfasts consisted of:

- at least 3 whole eggs for breakfast (90 eggs in a month – a lot for someone who doesn’t really like eggs!) with either sausage, bacon, and cheese plus my morning coffee.

Lunch:

- typical lunch was veggies, cheese, beef jerky, lean lunch meats (turkey)

- I also ate left overs from the night before. If you’re grilling a chicken breast for dinner grill 2 and then have the second one for lunch the next day. Same thing with steaks.

- Caesar salad with chicken, pork, or beef

Dinner:

- different kinds fish with steamed or sauteed vegetables.

- chicken or pork with vegetables

Things I need to improve on:

- preparing meals ahead of time.  It’s also best to prepare meals ahead of time so when you need to eat you don’t have to think about it.

Other Notes:

- I smashed my knee on my bench.  Hurt like a bitch but kept going.  When training at home make sure you keep things as organized as possible.  Don’t leave weight plates, skip ropes, whatever it may be  laying around you’ll eventually trip on something and possibly hurt yourself.

-  sore shoulders/traps from standing dumbbell presses

-  Wednesday workout was good strong day.  Sometimes you have days that you just feel stronger and have more energy.  Push yourself harder these days.

- I can’t believe 1/3 of my 12 challenge is already done.  My body is certainly more conditioned than when I started this April 11th.

- My picture for this week and over the last few weeks I look pretty “flat”. Reason being, I ate very little  carbs for first 4 weeks of my program.  This weekend I’m going to carb up from Friday to probably Sunday morning, then go back to low carb during the week. I can’t wait to eat some healthy carbs…especially some nice bread!

So I expect my next few pictures be noticeably different. My muscles should look bigger and not so flat.

Week 4

Latest Picture:

3rd week started off great.  I upped the intensity of my workouts to 3 sets per exercise  (prior week was 2 sets per exercise) so much like the first week I was sore!  Next week (week 4) the workout will slightly change again, rest periods will drop to 30 seconds from 45 seconds.  The basic principle here is progression.  My program is designed to keep my body from adapting.  Weeks 5-8 and 9 – 12 will be different as well.

Just like I knew would happen I’m starting to feel my progress now.

- My midsection is definitely a lot stronger.
- Energy level is quite good.
- Overall greater sense of well being

For the last 3 weeks I’ve been on a “get back into shape” in other words a “conditioning” program.  This means doing 12 – 15 reps per exercise, 45 second rest periods, and 2-3 sets per exercise.   I have one more week on this phase then I will move to the next phase which is more focused on strength.  I will have built a good solid foundation and strengthened my core so my body will be ready to tackle more heavier weights, while increasing sets, and lowering reps down to 10 – 12 per exercise.

Overall body composition I should start seeing some changes in the mirror.

I went on another shopping trip here is a picture of the haul.  You’ll notice carbs are absent, I have one more week where I’m exclusively eating protein/fat.

3 dozen eggs, white mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, asparagus, cheese.

Every day for the last 3 weeks I’m eating at least 3 eggs for breakfast.  I don’t even like eggs that much but they are an excellent protein source.  To change things up a bit I’ve made omelets with brie cheese, guacamole, mushrooms, etc. Eating a lot of scrambled eggs as well.  I sometimes smother cheese on them then add some low carb ketchup.

The day starts with 3 eggs

Spice rack, essential for giving variety to eggs especially

Eating lots of fish for dinner including tuna, cod, steel head, and a few others.

Cod fillet with broccoli

In the coming weeks I’ll have to keep watch and make sure I’m getting enough total daily calories from my diet.  The workouts will be intense and I want to make sure my body is fueled properly to maximize fat loss while gaining lean muscle.  And yes, you can do both at the same time.

Next week’s update I’ll include my actual measurements to see what if any body composition changes have occurred.  I haven’t done this yet for 2 reasons;  first it’s hard to accurately measure yourself, second I don’t think there is a point to re-measure until week 4 is done.

Measured myself before the program started.

Week 4 complete – measure
Week 8 complete – measure
Week 12 complete – measure

This goes hand in hand with weighing yourself on the scale.  If you take measurements or weight yourself too often it’s very easy to get distracted and believe your not making progress, when in fact you are.