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A cautionary tale of overtraining and setbacks…

So, apparently people still read this blog! I am surpised as I haven't updated it in forever. I suppose I'll do that now. I must warn you, however, it is not all good news. 

Well, after my show last year (in which I won my class and placed 3rd in masters)... I began another bulk that was intended to last for 7 months. I was training hard and often, 4-5 days per week with weights. I wasn't just training heavy... I was also training with high volume (lots of exercises, sets, and reps). I even continued to do cardio. I saw some progress but I was starting to feel burned out. By October I was REALLY burned out. I took a week off and when I started back I cut out all cardio and I cut my weights back to 4 days/wk. Unfortunately, my training continued to be high volume. I was still doing too much. I still felt fatigued but I pushed through it.

Through the end of November I continued to bulk, gain, and make progress. I had put on 18lbs (from 135 to 152) but still looked fairly lean. I felt good about my progress... but I was still having overtraining symptoms (persistant muscle soreness, fatigue, insomnia, elevated resting heart rate, irritability, and depression). It was at this point the myriad of mutiple infections started. I could not stay well. Every 3-4 weeks I was sick... colds, flu, strep throat, etc. I knew I needed a break but I was stubborn. I didn't listen to my body. I pressed on...

December through February were rough. My symptoms increased and the infections kept coming. I also started noticing something weird going on with my body. While I was getting stronger in the gym... I didn't look as muscular. I had started to lose muscle and put on body fat. My weight did not change... I just got fatter. I kept telling myself that I was crazy and that I wasn't really losing muscle mass... but others started to notice it too. My weight didn't change but suddenly I just looked FAT!

We took a trip to Disney during Mardi Gras week. If you've ever been to Disney you know it's go go GO. You get up early. You stay up late. You walk all day. By the end of the week I was miserably sick. I had a horrid sinus infection AND a bladder infection. I couldn't breath, I had fever, and my lower back throbbed constantly. It was the last straw. As soon as I got home I made an appointment to see a sports medicine doctor. 

I went in and described my symptoms. The NP (nurse practitioner) agreed with my self diagnosis that I had been overtraining. She ran bloodwork. The results were shocking. I had NO testosterone, progesterone, or DHEA left in my system. My body had been working overtime to deal with the stress of training and in doing so it had ramped up my production of cortisol. Eventually my adrenal glands could no longer keep up with the high demand for cortisol so my body started converting my other hormones into cortisol to keep up. I was diagnosed with "adrenal fatigue." I was devastated. My NP put me on all kinds of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and some hormone creams to supplement me in my depleted state. The most upsetting part of my "treatment" ... no training. :(

Recovery has been (and continues to be) challenging. The hardest part was no gym time... at all. I took 8 weeks off completely. At the end of that 8 weeks I was retested and my hormones had rebounded back into "acceptable" levels (this was with supplementation). I started training again at that point. I did only 3 days/wk... push/pull/legs split. No cardio. I kept my workouts no longer than 1 hour. Over time I got brave and started to add cardio back in. This did not go well. My overtraining symptoms began to resurface and I got a nasty infection. It was my 6th time being on antibiotics in less than 6 months. Needless to say, I cut out the cardio again.

So, there is some light at the end of this tunnel. It took about 10 weeks back in the gym (on my new lower-volume training program) to re-gain the muscle and strength I had lost. I've even gone on to hit new PR's! Woot Woot. I am looking and feeling better. I have gained and am now up to 155. I am still doing only 3 days/wk and no cardio... and will continue with this for a while longer. I have read that it can take quite a while (a year or two) to fully recover from adrenal fatigue. I still feel like my body is struggling to recover at times... but now I've learned to LISTEN TO IT! 

As for dieting... I don't. I make sure to always get enough protein but beyond that... I eat whatever I want. When I'm hungry, I eat. My goal right now is to build my body back up. A calorie deficit is just not a good idea right now. I'd rather eat at maintenance or even a surplus. I'm not lean right now... but I'm ok with that. At least I'm lifting regularly... after all I've been through I'm happy with that! 

Here is a recent pic at 155lbs...

My recent sumo deadlift PR...

232 x 8! ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T-2YFJLRxEg 

 

^^Notice the guy curling in the squat rack next to me.... bwahahahahah!  

Drumroll please...

Hey people!!! It's been quite a while and I'm still trucking along. I thought I'd post an update about my cut. I have not changed anything about my diet/cardio since my last post. I am still eating 1800-1900 calories. I have not lowered my carbs either... I'm still eating 170-200 carbs/day. I am doing 3-4 Zumba classes per week or 35-45min of cardio on a machine... cardio 6 days/wk. 

Here is the "before" picture that was taken at the end of my 7-month bulk.  

Here was 2 weeks ago...

 

I have since lost a couple more pounds and last weighed in at 136. I like where I am right now and don't want to lose much more body fat. My competition is 4 weeks and 5 days away. I'm ready to get this show on the road!  

Here is a shot to show how much progress I've made in developing back thickness...

 

TFL!! 

Me In Action!! (vids)

Anyone know how to embed these? 

Disclaimer: I do NOT claim to have perfect form. I'm learning just like everyone else and doing the best I can.  

Sumo Deadlifts 199 x 8  --a little shaky but I pulled through ;)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YJESSDNZ2Q

Box Squats 133 x 10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Smo3shNhBmk

DB Shoulder press with 45's

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9z8T_ZJkJw

Chin-ups

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QM7PfS0XdA

DB inclined bench with the 50's

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P21xoILjV6M

Good Mornings

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CCfkLZreScs

Barbell Bicep curls

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otLsft0S9r8

Reverse-grip Cable Lat Pulls

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUfMXgnI_AM

Plate-load Row Machine

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mhlJW3mNSk

Stiff-legged Deadlifts

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pa65umvupCE 

 

 

The Cut Has Commenced!

So my cut started 5 weeks and 3 days ago. I am down 10lbs total and weighing in at 143lbs. I am eating 1800-1900 calories a day. My training has remained a push/pull/legs split with 4 training days per week. I am doing cardio 4 days/wk also... either a 1hr Zumba class or 35-45 min on a cardio machine (stepmill or elliptical). 

Here is a back comparison picture. This is after 2 YEARS of progress. In the picture on the right I had been cutting for 2 weeks and was down 6lbs (mostly fluid).

Here are a few pics at 145lbs...

 

This is my most recent picture from about a week ago...

 

Just for kicks... some new workout pants I got a couple of weeks ago. My bum is still big (and I hope it retains some of that size in the cut!)

 

That's all I got for pictures for now. I'll take more along the way of my progress!!

 In the next post I will attempt to share some vids of me actually lifting in the gym!  

End-of-Bulk Pictures

Wow! I haven't updated this blog in forever. I think it's time I do that! :)

So I bulked up to 153lbs giving me a total of 28lbs gained in 7 months. It's a little more than I intended to gain but I'm certain I'm holding a LOT of fluid so we shall see! Here are the official end-of-bulk pictures....

 

 

 

This was back in February. I went to Disney for a week after I took these then I started cutting on February 18th, the Monday after I got back!

 Stay tuned for cutting progress in the next post!  

Picture update: the bulk continues...

So I've been on my new training program now since just after Thanksgiving and it has been going spendidly!!! I have been hitting new PR's with every. single. workout! I may have trained more (more sets/reps/exercises) and with longer sessions in the past but I have never trained with this much intensity before. As some of you are aware, intense training like this is very taxing on both the body and central nervous system. I started "feeling it" late last week so I'm now deloading for several days to fully recouperate. So far I've just done a little cardio. I could go back in the gym and do a "light" workout (50% of my max) but I don't know if I can trust myself to do that. I'm too hard core. I'll get in the weight room and unleash the beast whether I want to or not! LOL However for those of you who have been hitting the iron... please be aware that recovery is just as important as training. Those muscle fibers are torn down in the weight room but built back up during your "rest time." If you aren't recovering properly you will not make progress and reach your goals! 

Oh yeah... I promised pictures. :D

150lbs (I think) and 6+months into official bulk #2

 

 

 

Happy Lifting!!! 

For those who are interested...

I have started a journal on Bodybuilding.com to log my training and progress. Here is the link: http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=150909103

I will post my workouts there and when I start cutting I plan to log my nutrition details. :) 

 Btw... here is an example of doing it wrong... :P

 

^^I love how he does a curtsy between reps...  LOL

 

Happy New Year!!! (A two-year comparison)

What would a new-year's day be without a couple of comparison shots!!?! :D Today I'm reflecting on the progress I've made over the last 2 years and setting goals for 2013. 

If you follow my blog regularly you know that I'm currently UP 10lbs MORE than when I started with MFP two years ago. Here is the difference...

 

 

Wow. I didn't realize the difference myself until I saw these images side-by-side. I'm thrilled with my progress and I'm gearing up for the "cut" that is soon to come. My goal this year... hit the stage again in July looking better than I did last year. If I do that I'll be thrilled. 

If you are just getting started on your journey to "fitness" (whatever your goals may be) I encourage you to stay the course and remember to be patient. Getting where you want to be takes time. Happy New Year and happy lifting everyone!!! 

Another pic at 150lbs...

Showing abs/back...
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