Fat: 2 vs Muscle: 0

Well I have just had the oddest dexa result. Between this one and the last dexa – so 16 weeks – I have put on 2kg of muscle and 2kg of fat.

Fairly reasonable on the surface given that I am actually trying to get bigger – and you can see that I am succeeding quite well!
I was down at Derrimut yesterday training with someone who hasn’t seen me for…long time…months and their comment was how ‘solid’ I was looking.
I’ll take solid.
Solid is good.
This is what ‘solid’ looks like at the moment.
sarah taylor back jan 2013 Baker Personal training and fitness
sarah taylor front jan 2013 Baker Personal training and fitness sarah taylor side jan 2013 Baker Personal training and fitness sarah taylor side jan 2013 Baker Personal training and fitness
What is not good, is that mr dexa is saying that in the last 8 weeks I have ONLY put on FAT, whereas at the previous dexa I had ONLY put on muscle and indeed LOST fat.
You can see I’ve got leaner recently – I’ve got some nice shape and definition in my shoulders (YAY!)…or do the gym mirrors lie?
What gives? How is that possible?
Well between August – October was when my body really started coming together and we were ramping up my training in chunks (5-10kg at a time in some cases) rather than small increments, so my previous dexa period (sept – Nov) was right in the middle of this rapid progression.
By October I was still progressing but not quite as rapidly and through Nov to Dec there still has been noticeable improvement but now in much smaller increments (2-5kg at a time), but for the last 4 weeks or so I have been feeling like I’m going backwards, because my elbow is stuffed so I haven’t trained arms, and any sort of pressing is hampered (chest, shoulders…)
There’s also been Christmas and no I wasn’t as diligent with my diet. I’ve just had a scheduled rest, I’ve also been massively loading on the fish oil to try and fix my elbow, as well as deliberately trying to eat more carbs to try and fix this energy issue – I still struggle to get above 100 – 120g most days, I feel like I’m force feeding myself.
So it is entirely possible that I haven’t put on any muscle in the last 8 weeks – unlikely, but theoretically possible. What I can train I’m still hitting as hard as possible (back and legs – big compounds…)
I did gain 2kg over between Christmas and New Year (must have been those 3 champers at the races! Wouldn’t be the Banana and maple syrup Pancake stack with bacon and egg on toast chaser breakfasts in Bright…noo…)
I lost it almost immediately that I cleaned up my diet – maybe I kept the 2kg of fat and lost 2kg of muscle instead?
Whatever is going on, the result is the same. Mr Dexa says I’m fat – I have gone above my ideal body fat % range, and I’m looking at a 24 week comp prep at the moment…eek.
With upcoming workshops, I know we don’t look in stage condition all the time, but there’s a difference between ‘not in stage condition’ and ‘not in any sort of condition’ – although for a ‘fattie’ I don’t think I look too bad… (denial???)
Besides, I don’t want to be Vicki’s posing bunny and instead of the abs and thighs pose it becomes ‘flabs and sighs’…
and you can see I’m badly in need of some of Vicki’s coaching! 16th Feb folks – put the date in your diary!!
So I’d better do something about it – I’m going to reimplement Lindys eating rules – they worked before, no reason they won’t work again.
I also haven’t been very diligent…read completely slack…with my one stair session a week (Don’t tell Aiden!) so that needs to be redressed asap.
I’ve got 7 weeks before the rematch with Mr Dexa…and this time I expect the result to be (some) muscle and less fat
Let the correct eating begin…
Before I forget – BIG shout to Maria – get behind her on her health journey, she is already kicking some big goals.
Keep it up!


2012 That was the year that was

And what a year!

You know it is only 13 months ago that I started this blog and re-reading my intro I was full of hopes and had goals to really have a go at building on the success of my novice season. Even though I knew I was in trouble with my shoulders, I guess I was very much in denial, I was hoping somehow that they would just start working again and everything would be ok.

But it wasn’t to be. Everything I hoped for, planned for with regards to training and competing just didn’t happen and instead the worst case scenario did – double shoulder surgery.

And it didn’t stop there.

Torn hamstring tendons in both legs, torn elbow tendons in my left elbow – both sides, and degenerating hip inflammation soon put paid to any thoughts of not only competing but even being able walk or do the simplest of tasks like getting dressed, eating, sitting, standing all became a blur of pain. For months and endless months my life revolved around physios, chiro, doctors, sports doctors, acupuncture, needling and laser treatment – needles, blood injections, cortisone injections, xrays, mri’s, ultrasounds…and none of it seemed to be working, and none of the so called experts seemed to have any answers.

It was frustrating, and tough – I remember sitting on the tram in March with tears pouring silently down my face having had 2 blood injections into both sides of my elbow, blood injections into my right hamstring tendon, double cortisone into my left hamstring tendon and double cortisone into both hips – all in the space of 2 days.

That was the lowest point I think, the situation seemed hopeless, I was doing every thing I knew how to do, seeing every expert I could find, getting every test or treatment done to fix up my battered body, but it just wasn’t working.

And by April I had doctors ordering me not to even get out of bed if I could possibly avoid it. Everything stopped at that point. I almost lost hope. It was as close I have come to quitting – I  mean what was the point, why was I even bothering to fight it. I became apathetic about everything, merely going through the motions of existing – I couldn’t train, I couldn’t compete, I had nothing to work towards so what was the point of anything?

I think apathy has to be the worst place you can be – every other negative emotion – fear, depression, anger, overwhelm, grief are strong emotions because deep down there is something triggering that emotion that you do actually care about.

With apathy you just don’t care, you can’t even be bothered to care, its too hard.

I gave up, I stopped fighting. I didn’t care anymore.

And once I stopped fighting, I finally allowed myself to accept what was.

My body was telling me to stop. Just stop. It needed a break – I’ve been pushing myself incredibly hard physically for 2 years ever since I’d decided to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, and the only way it could force me to take a break was by breaking down so much that I couldn’t do anything physical at all.

It might sound strange to you the way I talk about my body as if it is in isolation to me – but to me my physical body is just one part of a whole that is composed of many parts, mostly non physical. But whatever is going on in the non physical parts are usually manifested in the physical as injuries or illness…a kind of last resort attempt to get me to pay attention to something that I’m neglecting.

My first body talk session with Greg Dolman in May was a revelation!

And it worked in a funny sort of way. Competing is an intense experience, you become so focused on yourself and what you have to do to get onto stage, you can get lost in it, and I guess I had allowed competing to become the sole focus of my life – which is why I fought so hard against the concept of not being able to compete and why I was so upset about not being able to train and seeing my goals for the year disappear down the drain. But it was only when I finally did give up, stop fighting and look outside the gym walls that I allowed other things to happen.

You see, when you’re stuck in a problem, all you see and all you focus on is the problem. And in focusing solely on the problem you close off your ability to find solutions.

How many of you have found yourself worrying endlessly in the middle of the night about something that is bothering you? how many of you have found that when something distracts you for long enough away from whatever it is that is bothering you, you suddenly find the solution or at least a more acceptable alternative?

Writing,  photopgraphy, starting up the magazine – with my focus on creativity and exploration of new ideas, I guess I became softer and less driven (sort of – starting up a magazine is hardly the easiest thing to do!)  and by moving my focus away from my body being the problem, it stopped being the problem…and started to find its own solutions.

In May I quite my job cold because I hated it so much – so then I had to worry about how I was going to live, in  June I was flat out trying to work out how to turn Figure & Physique from a dream into a reality, so it took a while before I noticed things were getting better.

I started back in the gym once a week in June more to just get some movement back, by July I could sustain 2 very light training sessions a week – enough of me was working that we could do an upper body shake out and a lower body shake out – no bench pressing or lifting overhead though at all and anything that recruited my anterior delts was completely out.

Rehab, lots and lots of rehab work and pilates was mainly what I was doing, and each training session was an exercise in delicacy – feeling out what I could and couldn’t do. By this point both myself and Aiden were fearful of pushing too hard too soon – each session was more a matter of ‘should’ we try something as opposed to last year when it was ‘just do it – and make it harder!’. Every time I winced or said ‘ouch’, we’d instantly stop or drop the weight back to something much lighter (bit difficult when its only 1kg in the 1st place!)

To say I wrapped myself in cotton wool would be an understatement!

But it has worked. Through July and August I made significant improvement, to the point were we were using weights heavy enough to get muscle soreness – how good was it to feel just muscle soreness! And then of course, with heavier weights muscle memory kicked in – I didn’t believe that there was such a thing, but all of a sudden every week my body had changed somehow – I think even Aiden was surprised just how well my body has responded and bounced back.

With improvement comes hope, hope that it will continue, hope that I don’t relapse. With improvement also comes optimism and possibility – will I be able to keep this going and make it back onto stage. Its a long road, will I be able to keep my head together and stay focused on the bigger goal?

By September I could sustain a full 5 day split – and I upped my sessions with Aiden to 3 a week in order to maximise my progress as much as I dared and by November I upped my sessions with Aiden to 4 a week because my improvement seemed to be gaining in pace.

My last dexa scan 3 weeks ago revealed that I have managed to restore the muscle I lost and am back to the same lean muscle mass as last year, which was very exciting news. Now I just have to build on that, try to add as much as I can in the next 10 months.

I have to say that I’m loving my training, I appreciate it so much more having had it taken away from me – there is still an edge of caution to our sessions, each time I wince or say ‘ouch’, still elicits an immediate halt to whatever we were doing until we work out whether it was a real issue or just me being a princess, each warm up set is done more carefully with a stop to assess whether its ok to continue on to a full set.

But weekly there are changes and the Possibilites are exciting…

as long as my body holds together!

Every year, just before New Year, I usually find myself some quiet time where I can do some writing.  I write about the year that has just been, I write about the year to come, I write down a list of goals and things I want to achieve/see/do, I write about how or why I did or didn’t achieve the previous years goals.

This years writing is going to be interesting as I haven’t achieved a single thing I set out to do at the beginning of the year!

Am I upset about that?

Not on your life!

because I have achieved so much more than I could ever have imagined. By taking the time away from the gym I have allowed other opportunities to appear and have fully taken advantage of them – who know where they could lead? I certainly intend to keep pursuing them to find out!

I thought last year was probably the most crazy, unsettling, biggest rollercoaster of a year, but this year is also very strong contender and next year…?

Well, who knows..but there’s an international stage or two in the plan thats for sure!

Have a Great Christmas, stay well, enjoy yourself, take some time off to relax, reflect, review and then refocus on what you’re going to achieve where you’re going to take yourself in 2013.


Rest Easy

We all know or have been told how important rest is and how its when you stop that you will progress, but
lets face it when you’re enjoying your training or you’re so focussed on a goal, taking time off can be the
last thing you want to do and can seem counter intuitive or just an inconvenient pain in the back end.
And until now it certainly seemed so for me, but then looking back on the last year I probably haven’t been
in the situation where its actually been required – I don’t think I took any ‘official’ rest breaks last year,
but thats because I wasn’t doing bodybuilding.
And when I did start the bodybuilding I only had 10 weeks to prepare so no time to rest before
the vic titles, and between shows there was no time for a whole week of rest as we were working as hard as possible
given the state of my shoulders to try and get any sort of muscle onto me.
After my shows there was surgery and everything else falling apart so I couldn’t even train, then when I did
finally get back into ‘training’ it was so gentle that it couldn’t really be classed as training.

So this is probably the first time I’ve really needed a designated rest. I knew I needed the rest cos I was stuffed and the 2 weeks
before my holiday my head wasn’t in training mode at all, there was at leat one session when
I whinged ‘do we have to do legs…?’ definitely not my usual approach to a training session
which of course just makes it harder…

wow! what a difference it makes,
I thought it would take me a week or so to get back into the swing of things, but not so – every
training session last week I pushed, pulled, shrugged, chinned, rowed or squatted heavier for more reps
or if I didn’t then at least I wasn’t worse than before I went away.
yesterday I had a really good shoulder session – very pleased am up to 8kg on the DB Shoulder press! watch out – boulder shoulders coming to a gym near you…probably in about….3 years at this rate!
still it was better than last week.

and yesterday I did a PB on the deadlift

Now I get it!
so rest up folks – schedule it in and enjoy your time off.

now then, been back 1 week…5 more to go…excellent! that takes us to Christmas.

I can offically eat, drink and be merry – its all part of the plan!