Asides

Continuous Adaptation: Why you don’t need to change your program every 4 – 6 weeks

As you know, I’m a classic ‘bright shiny object’ person – I start many projects, being all enthusiasm and energy for a while, until the shine starts to wear off i.e its not challenging anymore and I find something else bright and shiny to jump into.

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Every now and then though something sticks, and when it does, it sticks good and tight and I end up completing whatever project it is exceptionally well, often exceeding my own very high standards or expectations in the process.

Why am I reminding you of this?

Well, I got involved in a discussion with a well known industry person who was touting the theory that competitors only 4-6 weeks out from their competition should all be feeling miserable, cranky, deprived, hating their training, doing hours of cardio and by this point should be changing their training program from heavy weight low reps to light weight high reps.

After immediately thinking ‘why?’, I suggested that this might be an overly generalized, narrow perspective, as I was loving my training, was not miserable, cranky or deprived, was definitely not doing hours of cardio and had not made any changes to my program in ages.

And there in lies the can of worms.

The repsonse (rather smug in tone) came back suggesting that I might want to look at the fact that my program had not changed as I should be changing it every 4 weeks.

huh.

reeeeaaaally.

Well, lets just look at my training in detail and you decide. This is the bit that was unfortunately not included in my training vid by the muscle project guys – I explained it all before the cameras were rolling 😦

Firstly I did some googling to see if I could find out some research based scientific reason for changing training programs every 4 weeks. 6 and 8 weeks are also common mantras. But I came up with nothing. No studies proving that changing training program every 4 weeks is optimal. So where did this much mentioned ‘fact’ that you must change your program every 4-6 weeks to make progress come from? If anybody knows of any such study, please point me in that direction.

Now I know that the reason for changing programs regularly is to prevent your body adapting and becoming more efficient meaning less energy expended/growth/plateaus etc. But think about it, your body is a super adapting machine – how long does it take to switch into fat storage mode when you drastically cut calories?

2-3 days.

If you water load, think how quickly you get used to it and start feeling thirsty even when drinking 7+ litres?

2-3 days.

When you cut water the day before a show, how quickly does it take your body to realise that its not drowning and you stop peeing every 5 minutes?

less than 36 hours.

Given this do you think that it would take your body 4 whole weeks to adapt to a training program? May I suggest it could adapt within 2-3 days…?

bean

Which brings me back to the whole bright shiny object discussion.

If my training program was exactly the same for 4 whole weeks, I would be bored out of my brains by now and would probably have quit.

But I haven’t. Bodybuilding has stuck and it has stuck good and tight.

Why?

Because although my program rarely changes, Aiden changes the elements within my program every single session which not only keeps me guessing (very important!), but it keeps my body guessing and challenged – it can never adapt to the infinite variety and stimulus provided and hence is constantly growing and growing symmetrically.

This is the principle of Continuous Adaptation.

It’s very smart.

Before I go any further, I think I should just clarify my definition of ‘program’ as I suspect it’s not the same as yours.

By Program I mean the overall goal/purpose of the training. The ‘Why’ and ‘What’.

Elements are the bits that make up the program and get me to my goal.  The ‘How’.

My overall purpose and outcome of my program is to grow as much muscle as possible in as symmetrical way as possible. Pure hypertophy. And its working exceptionally well as last years comps clearly illustrated.

With respect to this aim, my program has not changed for 2 years, and nor is it likely to, until I achieve my ultimate goal of competing at Natural Olympia.

The elements within my program include split, sessions/week, exercises within a session, tempo, emphasis, intensity, volume.

So the bits that I call elements, equates to what most people would call their program.

Now, let me show you why I do not need to worry about changing my ‘program’ every 4 weeks.

Some of the elements within my program change less than others, for example my split (Legs, Back/Tri, Shoulder/Ab, Chest/Bi) has been the same for well over a year.

Sessions/week have also remained much the same (4 or 5) for well over a year. There were 5 weeks during comp prep when I went up to 6 sessions, but that was just to give my prep a quick turbo boost, before going back to normal.

With my split I can keep it to straight 4 days on 3 off, I can break it up 2 on, 1 off, 2 on, 2 off or 3 on 1 off, 1 on 2 off or if I want to ramp up the intensity roll straight into 4 more days with no rest.

If I go up to 5 days/week I tend to roll the split and do 5 days straight with one body part getting hit twice in 5 days, then 2 days off, then the next set of 5 days starts with a different body part which gets hit twice – so I roll the split within the roll.

for example:

week 1: Chest/Bi, Legs, Shoulders/Abs, Back/Tri, Chest/Bi

Week 2: Legs, Shoulders/Abs, Back/Tri, Chest/Bi, Legs

Week 3: Shoulders/Abs, Back/Tri, Chest/Bi, Legs, Shoulders/Abs

etc

And then I could split the 5 sessions:  3 on, 1 off, 2 on, 1 off or 4 on, 1 off, 1 on, 1 off or…

Even if I didn’t change any other elements (exercises, tempo, emphasis, intensity, volume) within a session, already you can see I have months of sessions before I get back to the same split/week combination.

Now lets really get down into the nitty gritty…the actual exercises, tempo, emphasis, intensity and volume within a session. To keep it simple I’m just going to illustrate how Aiden might stack 2 exercises from my shoulder workout:

The theory behind my shoulder workout (indeed all of my workouts) is to hit each of the delt heads at least twice in a session from different angles, I usually start with a shoulder press supersetted with a front raise.

so I often do DB Shoulder Press w BB front Raise

or DB Shoulder Press w Plate Front Raise

or DB Shoulder Press w DB Front Raise

or DB Shoulder Press w Single Arm Cable Front Raise

or DB Shoulder Press w Cable Bar Front Raise

We might dropset the last set of the DB Shoulder Press or dropset the last set of the Front raises or dropset both last sets or we might wave load/dropset the DB Shoulder press and not do a last set of front raises.

We might just do the DB Shoulder Press and go really heavy, low reps – to add strength as well as mass.

We might do 3 sets of 12 reps or 4 sets of 8 -10. We might do a 2 up 2 down tempo, or 1 up 4 down tempo, we might go explosive on the last set to make sure both fast twitch and slow twitch fibres are hit.

We might switch the DB Shoulder press to machine, cable, behind the neck BB shoulder press or smith machine shoulder press with all combinations of front raises…

And then if we giantset the press and front raise with rear delts or another medial delt exercise…

So just with these 2 exercises alone and the combinations that I’ve mentioned there is at least unique 85-90 training sessions even if every single other factor remained the same.

Multiply all of that by another 3 or 4 superset combos for rear/anterior and more medial delts over the course of the session…

The levels of combinations grow exponentially…

So just with my shoulder session alone, I have YEARS worth of completely unique training sessions before I get back to the exact same session that I started with.

And I haven’t even mentioned abs…

And then there’s the other 3 body part splits….

Another issue I see with the ‘4 weeks’ is, as  I mentioned before, boredom, which reminds me of another conversation I had relatively recently about being stuck in a training rut…I don’t think that’s something I’ll have to worry about as that would only happen if the same thing is done over and over again.  

As you can see, Continuous Adaptation provides endless variety, constant stimulation/challenge/growth for my body because we hit every muscle from every angle with a variety of tempo’s, intensities and volume. No equipment is overlooked, there are no favourite types of equipment and because of this my body also does not get used to moving and activating in the same way each time. The benefit of this is that muscle fibre recruitment is maximised, whilst dominance and imbalances are minimised, leading to improved symmetry.

Admittedly when I write it down it may does sound complex (and Aiden has it all logged away in his head!), but once you understand the purpose behind the the structure it becomes very easy. I don’t have to think about it anymore and can create any workout on the fly knowing that it will still achieve the aims of my program.

Which of course its perfect for someone with the attention span of a goldfish with A.D.D!

If 4 week programs work for you then do what works for you, but if you’re stuck in a rut, or don’t know how to change your program, or you just want to try something a little bit different – maybe you could borrow Aiden’s bright shiny object for a while

🙂

BAKER Personal Training & Fitness

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Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

As you know I read a lot…or maybe you don’t, although now you do 🙂

I read anything and everything I can get my eyes onto – training techniques, new methods for mass gain, getting shredded, tweaking your program to gain that 1% extra. I love reading about nutrition, diet styles, eating philosophies and practices, food for healing – especially food for healing.   I love learning about photography, life, business, entrepreneurship, goal setting, mindset you name it I will read it.

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So I was halfway through a post ‘10 things people who live their dreams don’t do’ on one of my favourite blogs ‘Lifehack’ when the following lines jumped out at me:

Do you ever look in at your life and wonder where you could have swerved wildly left to lead you down a different, more thrilling path?

 As we approach the end of 2013, its a good time to evaluate a few important questions:

 Did you accomplish everything you set out to do this year?

What would truly make your life meaningful and fulfilled?

Are your current experiences in line with your desires?

If you could do anything, what would it be?

Ponder these questions with uncensored thoughts and formulate some new intentions.

 So as we’re at the end of 2013 and I’m about to head off on a well earned and much needed holiday, I thought I’d go through these questions and see where my wild swervings have taken me this year.

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Did I accomplish everything I set out to do this year?

 

The answer to that can only be a resounding ‘hell yes!’

I planned to double my magazine subscriptions and take it from about 150 in January to over 500 by June. I reach the end of the year with over 1000 subscribers!

Along the way I have met, trained with and interviewed some beautiful, incredible people. All of this took me right out of my comfort zone by approaching people to ask for their help and I was blown away by how generous many people are with their time, and knowledge.

An absolute highlight of this year was not only meeting my ‘idol’ Erin Stern in person, but tanning her backstage and then scoring an exclusive interview…never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I’d be tanning and interviewing Erin Stern!

I also met and interviewed Candice Keene…and gave her some shopping advice as well.

Wow.

Lil’ole me doing exclusive interviews, tanning, photographing and talking shopping with the top two IFBB Figure Pro’s!! (pick jaw off the floor!)

Erin Stern Candice Keene Erin Stern Erin Stern Mallory Haldeman Candice Keene Erin Stern Mallory Haldeman Candice Keene

On a whim I asked the INBA if I could blog for them and am very grateful for them for saying yes and giving me such a huge opportunity. Again, I have met and had some great feedback from many people. It still humbles me every time someone tells me they follow my blogs – so thank you all of you for letting me ramble on, whinge, cry, rant and maybe even offer up a shred or two of something sensible  🙂

I also continued to photograph shows, do write ups and blog for the ANB all of which I have loved doing.

Another incredible highlight this year was my comeback to stage. It has been a long, difficult, often frustrating journey, patience is definitely not my strong point and it has been tested to its limits many times in the last 2 years. Aidens strength and belief as well as his ability to adapt to every obstacle that has come across our path has been the critical factor in not only making a comeback, but coming back and smashing it out of the ball park – it certainly exceeded my expectations (I think Aiden was quietly confident, but he didn’t want to count too many chickens too soon!).

We now have an incredibly solid foundation on which to build for 2014 and that is exciting.

Sarah Taylor Janet Kane Molly Gibson Stewart backsym frontsymme

So yes I achieved, and exceeded everything I set out to do.

What would truly make my life more meaningful and fulfilled?

Tough one!

I love my blogging, I love the feedback I get, I love that fact that by being out there, being real – succeeding and failing publicly there are lessons to be learned and I like to think that my learnings can help people in similar circumstances to see a way forward.

My writing is my serenity and I’m very grateful to have discovered it, having more time to write more would be deeply satisfying.

I love taking photographs at shows – I love the intense focus, concentration and connection with the subject trying to capture the perfect moment – again I think it gives back to people and brings them joy and that can only be a good thing.

I sponsor businesses around the world through Kiva.org. I don’t believe in handouts that just encourage dependence, but donating $50 to a mother of 3 in Somalia so she can buy a cow and sell any excess milk to buy seeds to plant crops to feed her family – that is a worthwhile cause. It encourages people to help themselves, and it gives me great pleasure to see the people who I have sponsored, succeed and then go on to bigger and better things.

On a personal note, I adopted (with Aidens help) a badly neglected cat with a broken leg that had to be amputated to save his life. Shadow has firmly established himself as my favourite little man, he’s added a whole new dimension to my life. I love him to bits and wouldn’t be without him now. It really has been a very rewarding experience – just look at that beautiful face 🙂

shadow

I find I get more out of giving than getting, the rewards come back to you 10 fold, I love that.

Are my current experiences in line with my desires?

Another tough one!

On the whole I would have to say ‘yes’. As soon as I was told I would have to have surgery or stop doing all forms of training all I wanted to do was to be able to get back on stage and take bodybuilding as far as I could.

I did, and I did it brilliantly, and I still haven’t reached my full potential.

I wanted to get better at writing, photography and reach a wider audience – suddenly the perfect platform came to me – a magazine! So what if I had no idea what I was doing, I was going to give it a red hot go anyway – there’s a great book by Susan Jeffers ‘Feel the Fear..and do it anyway’

Yep, that’s me, all the way – jump out of the plane, then ask where the parachute is!

And now I’m global!

🙂

In 2014 what are my desires?

Improve my physique, win Natural Olympia, pull all my disparate blogs/talents into a coherent well thought out strategic plan, find the perfect mentor to take me to the next level…but do it gently in a more holistic, nurturing manner that allows me to take life at a more relaxed pace.

I guess when I originally decided I wanted to change my life, my experiences since have totally been in line with that desire – I’ve been doing nothing but change for the last 4 years – jobs, careers, houses, my body, friends, pretty much everything. I have achieved so much and am heading towards a place I want to be, so now I desire a period of stability and of consolidation.

If I could do anything, what would it be?

A wildlife photographer for National Geographic.

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So goodbye 2013, it’s been a crazy, full on, often frantic, whirlwind with many ups and downs and a lot of success. In the last 4 years or so, I’ve been on a path that is twisty and winding, with the next bit of it often hidden around a hairpin bend, with rockfalls blocking the way creating diversions and going off the beaten track. But the path is leading somewhere, the destination is getting closer, I can feel it.

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I am optimistic about 2014, which will contain plenty of surprises and tumbleweeds I’m sure, but hey, that’s what makes life interesting!

Confuscious say: ‘May you live in interesting times’

I am, Confuscious, I am.

It may be thrilling, it may be wildly swerving…it may even start to straighten up – just a little.

And of the 10 things livers of their dreams don’t do?

I don’t do 9 of them

🙂

Happy Christmas, see you all in 2014

Xx

Adrenal Fatigue

I have severe adrenal fatigue.

Phew.

It’s almost a relief.

After 18 months of feeling emotionally, physically, mentally strung out, frazzled, unable to functional normally and feeling like an elastic band stretched to breaking point; seeing doctor after doctor after doctor, telling them that there is something wrong and having blood tests followed by more blood tests, liver tests and liver scans, I finally have an answer.

Severe Adrenal Fatigue.

How do I know?

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Well I had blood tests about 2 weeks post comp and despite everything else being perfectly normal, my oestrogen and progesterone levels were both flatlined. No change from when I had them tested in May immediately pre comp. Another blood test, 7 weeks post comp also showed no change. Both hormones below detectable levels, which is unusual, and they’ve been flatlined for at least 7 months that we know of.

Oestrogen level is a marker for Adrenal fatigue.

Symptoms of low oestrogen levels include:

  • Sleep disturbances (yes)

  • Mood swings (yes)

  • Depression (yes)

  • Problems with mental clarity (hell yes!)

  • Lack of sex drive (not had one of those for about 4 years!)

  • Night sweats (sometimes)

Hmm…

Lets take a look at progesterone.

Primary functions

  • Normalise blood sugar levels (light bulbs!)

  • Boost thyroid function

  • Help use fat for energy

  • Anti inflammatory effects

  • Reduces swelling and inflammation (!!!)

Symptoms of low progesterone levels include:

  • Sugar cravings (YES!!)

  • Allergy symptoms (yes)

  • Brittle nails (yes)

  • Cracked heels

  • Decreased sex drive (see above)

  • Menstrual cramps (yes)

  • Depression or anxiety (yes)

  • Fatigue (BIG TIME)

  • Foggy thinking (Constantly!)

  • Mood swings (yes)

  • Weight gain especially around the middle (yes)

Hmm…

Lets take a look at Adrenal fatigue symptoms:

  • Morning fatigue (yes)

  • Afternoon “low” (yes – except morning and afternoon low is the same thing!)

  • Burst of energy at 6 p.m (yes lasts until about 8:30, by 9 I crash again)

  • Feeling generally unwell

  • Extreme tiredness (yes, its like I exist in wet concrete, everything requires an enormous effort)

  • Low energy (completely!)

  • Decreased sex drive (see above)

  • Muscle weakness (Yes, primarily my brain. Didn’t I say my lifts were about 30% down in some cases)

  • Mild Depression (yes)

  • Anxiety (yes)

  • Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms (yes)

  • Craving sugary or salty foods (YES!)

  • Feeling rundown (yes)

  • Feeling overwhelmed, unable to cope (yes)

  • Decreased ability to handle stress (yes)

  • Lightheadedness when getting up from a sitting or laying down position (or when lifting weights!)

  • Have trouble getting up in the morning, even when going to bed at a reasonable hour (yes)

O.M G.

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So many light bulbs going off right now. It completely explains everything I’ve been complaining about in my previous blogs to do with diet!

It explains the out of character cravings and binge behaviour, the mood swings, the exhaustion. It explains why I get irrationally angry at little things like my bike lock being sticky or dropping my keys or not being able to find a matching sock in the morning (and why I don’t have the energy to sort them when I’ve done the washing!). It explains why I can’t be bothered to cook dinner because it’s just too hard. It explains why most of my new fat gain has accumulated on my waist. It explains why I can’t get my head into training mode properly, and why I have been known to just stop in the middle of a set of static lunges, put the kettle bells on the floor and cry. It explains why I sit for hours in front of the computer at work reading the same sentence over and over again and trying to figure out what the words mean, it explains why if I sit on the floor to play with my cat I fall asleep in less than a minute, it explains why in May before I went away on holiday I was feeling so emotionally strung out from the never ending exhaustion that I’d burst into tears for no reason at all often while cycling to the gym…

It explains EVERYTHING.

Now I’m going to state here that it is not CAUSED by the bodybuilding or comp prep. Yes they may be contributory factors given that I put everything into it – I’m so utterly focused, driven and unbend-able, I switch into a whole other world of intensity that does take a lot out of me – ironically enough, I have stated in previous blogs that during comp prep I run on adrenaline!

Doh!

But I say again, that it is not what has caused Adrenal fatigue.

Why do I say this?

Well, I’ve been blogging about the crushing fatigue for nearly 18 months i.e last year when I was so injured I couldn’t do ANY physical activity.

In early 2011 I was diagnosed with depression. Bodybuilding didn’t exist in my world at that point, but I probably still hadn’t recovered from the hell I put myself through training for Kilimanajro just a few months earlier. In fact, if anything it could have been my Kili training that initiated it. This is how I trained for Kili:

3hours a day: run 5k to gym with approx 8k backpack, add 10k to backpack get on stepper do 200 floors as fast as pos, every 20th floor do 10 box step ups each leg, 20 mins rowing, 13min spin hiit, then 38 floors x 4 with 10kg jacket at lunchtime, run home with 8kg backpack. No wonder I find bodybuilding so much easier.

 MtKilimanjaro

When I was doing biosignature modulation (2010/2011) after losing 25kg and climbing Mt Kilimanjaro the issues we constantly tried to fix were poor sleep (crash out about 9pm, wake up wired about 2am…sound familiar?) and belly fat (cortisol..the stress hormone!)

In fact when I look back over the last 4 years at everything I’ve been through and done it really is not surprising that my body has finally given up.

This is how you get Adrenal Fatigue:

  • ended 10yr relationship

  • 9 months training for Mt Kilimanjaro

  • Do Kili training whilst on low calories – approx 1500-1700cals/day.

  • Beat yourself up for not training 5 hours a day like for the Bhutan trek.

  • Climbed Kili – got on plane with onset of bronchitis, 2 panic attacks on summit climb, acute bronchitis by time got home

  • Lost 25 kg training for Mt Kilimanjaro climb

  • Change jobs 6 x…3 times the job ended in November which resulted in severe financial distress and additional pressure to ensure I got new work in time for Christmas so I could get through the christmas period. I’m developing an intense dislike for November.

  • Moved house 3 x (about to move again!)

  • 4 house floods in less than 12 months

  • Protracted 6 month long tax audit

  • Sold my apartment in Sydney

  • Health scare (I christened my ‘perfectly normal’ lymph node lump, ‘Lance’ as in Armstrong – sick sense of humour!)

  • Changed/removed my entire social circle after an incident revealed true feelings and lack of support some of these ‘friends’ I’d known for over 10 years

  • Depression for 6 months (caused by the previous 5 items all going on at the same time in the space of 2 months)

  • Started bodybuilding

  • Double Shoulder surgery

  • Tried to continue training immediately following surgery (hill sprints 5 days after surgery with 1 arm in a sling?? Doh!)

  • Tore both ham tendons

  • Tore both tendons in both elbows, left arm 3 x.

  • Spent 3 months (+ a lot of money!) trying every treatment known – acupuncture, dry needling, laser, cortisone injections, blood injections, physio, massage, laser. Both elbows still not fixed 18months later.

  • Both hips out of line – gross bursitis (cartilage inflammation)

  • Spent 9 months doing rehab for injuries

  • Written 6 blogs – all of >200,000 words, 3 ongoing at the same time

  • Became a bodybuilding photographer – show shooting is fast paced and intense, processing up to 1500 photos in less than a week is full on and takes a lot of concentration

  • Created a magazine – sourcing articles, sourcing interviews, running competition, organising events, managing staff, being support, writing articles – it’s a full time job in addition to my full time job

  • Ongoing diet experiments on myself – Lindy Olsens rules, Australian dietary guidelines (lo protein, high carb), comp diet 2 x, reverse diet 2 x, high carb high cal

  • Last 18 months solidly have been working 70+hours/wk, only 2 weeks off

  • 2 seasons of competing, this time round doing back to back competitions on 2 weekends consecutively.

Every single one of those events in their own right is stressful in some manner, but often there’s 2,3…6 of them happening all at the same time. In short, I have pushed myself too hard for too long, the only constant in my life has been change, and now my body is saying enough. Its no wonder my elbows will not heal – my body is working overtime just to keep me upright, let alone have anything left for extras like knitting tendons!

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Adrenal fatigue is not something to be taken lightly (good article here), it can take anywhere between 6 months to 2 years or even more to recover and I’m only just starting to realise that I’m not bulletproof or how long this might take.

I have to unlearn being me, I can’t continue to charge at everything like a bull at a gate…for example last weekend I went house hunting (yeah more change!). Now there was one place in south Melbourne, one in Richmond, and one in north Melbourne. Usually I just hop on my bike for the lazy 5km from South Melbourne to Richmond, another lazy 5 km Richmond to North Melbourne, stop at vic market to get meat, lazy 2 km back to Southbank. Easy. Job done.

But when I thought about it, that is exactly why I’m in this state

So I hired a car.

It still made me so exhausted that I slept Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday. 4 days later I’m still wiped out as I also haven’t been sleeping (another problem with AF is staying asleep at night).

I had a massage on Thursday and its only 2 flights of stairs, but these stairs always leave me tired out and breathless. Considering I was doing 7000 stairs/day training for Kilimanjaro, this mere 50 have turned into monsters.

I took the lift.

I’m getting the tram from Flinders St to Vic Market to get to work, I go on escalators instead of stairs when I can. I have to stop and think through every situation to see if there is any way I can expend less energy.

I have to tell myself that it’s not being lazy…its smart conservation of a limited resource (energy)

Yes, I know not training at all would probably be a very good idea right now.

But its only 11 sleeps till I head off on my beach holiday and there will be plenty of relaxing there.

So how do you ‘unget’ Adrenal Fatigue?

I don’t know.

The key to getting better is to reduce the stressors that are draining my adrenals and rebuilding them by making lifestyle changes – diet, nutrition, sleep and stress being the 4 pillars of recovery.

How am I going to do that?

As usual I do have a plan, but me NOT being the usual me, for once I’m going to take this lying down.

Ta-da!

Lying down (lots) is the plan!

It’s brilliant.

I’m going to simplify my life. Cut back. Let things go, prioritise stuff that cannot be avoided and above all, rest.

  • I’m going to put the magazine on hold – I’m working 5 days a week, I just don’t have the spare time or energy to continue doing another 20-25 hours on top of that.

  • I’m going to only run one blog – my blog (www.sarah-taylor.com)

  • I’m not going to do all the crazy diet experiments I had in mind or blog them

  • I was going to study photography and nutrition next year, but that can go on hold.

  • I’m going to have at least one day a week when I do nothing except sleep or whatever non physical, non thinking relaxing activity I feel like – e.g read, write, eat, veg on the sofa watching movies, sitting on a beach, in a café, playing with my cat – whatever.

  • The doc has got me back on the oestrogen pills so at least my moods have stabilized somewhat.

  • Cut back training to only 4 sessions/week

  • We may have to shorten time between rest breaks or have more mini breaks, but we’ll see

  • Be more selective of which competitions I go to and photograph.

  • Learn to say ‘No’

Diet is a key part in recovery. Caffeine and sugar are public enemies number 1 & 2 and it turns out that my style diet is the perfect diet for adrenal fatigue – good quality protein, lots of good fat, lots of fresh veggies and lo carb – anything that minimises blood sugar spikes. There’s a really good article here about diet, and I’m actually already doing everything right, and strangely enough, now that I have something to ‘aim’ for again (getting healthy), it’s totally straightened me up!

Now I know that there is a reason behind the cravings, I know how to deal with it and in the last 3 weeks I have not had a single binge, I have only had sweet stuff after dinner once, or twice (85% cocoa chocolate only, no honey). I haven’t had tea, coffee or pre workout for 4 weeks. I’m only having (savoury) carbs immediately PWO and mid morning snack and I’m probably back up to about 90% sticking to really clean eating.

I do miss my morning cup of tea though – its just not British without it!

I have reduced my stress a bit, I’m 4 weeks into my new work contract and today my project manager strongly hinted that I’d be kept on till 2015!!! Take that November 2014, you lose.

Holiday will help the stress, but I move house immediately I get back so the next few weekends are going to be busy packing.

Sleep is my perennial problem. I totally crash by 9pm, then wake up wired at 2 am before snatching another half hour or so before getting up at 5:30…feeling like death. I’m really not sure how to sort that one out, as its something I’ve always had a problem with.

So my day to day coping strategies are:

  • Eat well!!

  • Eat frequently

  • always have a protein/fat brekky

  • always have lots fresh veg, no caffeine, no sugar

  • be as productive as possible when I have some energy – tackle more involved tasks

  • do simple tasks in crash phase

  • Learn where the couches are at work and if possible sneak out for a nap 🙂

  • Lunchtime get outside if sunny and sit in university courtyard or on lawn by state library and have a snooze.

  • Drink lots of water with a pinch of Celtic sea salt

  • Drink lots herbal tea

  • Extra vit c supplements, adrenals love vit c. Guess what vit c is also required for….healing wounds.

  • Get to bed by 8:30 – 9pm

  • Turn the computer off at 8:00 latest, if pos do not do any work at all at night.

  • Read if have a book available (get books to read maybe?)

  • Mediate more

  • weekends – sleep in if I can

  • weekends – take nanna nap whenever I feel like it, better still don’t get out of bed if can possibly avoid it! 

  • weekends – do as little as possible, get all admin/food shopping done sat morning

  • If I don’t feel like cooking, don’t cook. Go out somewhere – as long as the 2 rules are applied (always have protein, always have veg/salad) then I’ll be ok.

It’s been an emotional few months this post comp, in fact it’s been an emotional few years but I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere. I now know that metabolically I’m not in a good state, and it’s going to take a while to heal, but it is fixable. I have to unlearn my usual habit of charging at everything full tilt, but I guess having fought myself to a standstill, slow is the only mode I’m capable of right now.

I will do everything right and let it happen as it happens…

well I’m going to try anyway.

I’m not going to anything drastic like quit bodybuilding and go sit in a cave on a mountaintop for months to contemplate the universe. But I am going to have to be very aware of everything I do and think it through before acting.

I’m going to have to learn to nuture myself.

Wow.

I may have to cut back my training further, I may have to increase rest frequency, I don’t know what’s going to happen yet. It will unfold as it will and I need to be open to all possibilities.

There will still be a little bit of the usual me in this process – my natural curiosity is wide awake right now because this journey is going to be a learning process all the way through, and I’m sure I’ll find all aspects of it – good and bad – completely fascinating. So maybe next years studies are not on hold…maybe the study is not meant to be photography or nutrition…

its me!

11 sleeps to go until my holiday…

and if I don’t speak to you beforehand, have a very happy Christmas and New Year and I’ll see you on the other side – fat, relaxed and sporting a very nice tan.

🙂