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In the weight room (pics)

My coach/friend Dominique (http://www.dominiquedurand.com) and I did some candid pics during our training session on Friday. It was back-and-shoulders day. We had a blast!!! Check us out. Yes, she is much stronger... but I am making progress. :) She inspires me and gives me something to work towards. 

 SHOULDER PRESS

 

PULL-UPS

 

STIFF-LEGGED DEADLIFTS (BB/DB)

 

ROWS

 

Break time :)

 

In response to the forum topic about me...

 

If you missed it... 

 

http://www.myfitnesspal.com/topics/show/780124-best-example-of-fat-vs-muscle-i-ve-seen

 

^^It was locked but I still wanted to address it.

 

First of all, I would like to thank FlashBang for starting the topic. I know it didn't exactly unfold as you had intended but that is not your fault. I appreciate the gesture and the intent behind it. You are too kind. ;)

 

Now, there were some pretty unfavorable comments made about me, my body, and my goals. The aftermath that followed was a mix of both hearty agreement and absolute disgust. I sat back and watched some internet strangers pick me apart like vultures while others jumped in like superheros to aid in my defense. It was... incredible! WOW! LOL

 

The last comment I left on the thread was this:

"Thanks again for the encouraging comments, support, and friend adds! There are, indeed, some lovely people here on this site. Truth be told, I'm not all that offended (or surprised) by the negativity that was expressed. When I set out on this journey, it was not my intention to become society's definition of beauty. I march to a different drum... and that's ok. I did, however, hope to encourage, inspire, motivate, and, at the very least, get people talking about their own goals. If I've done that here... whether the opinions are favorable or not... then I am satisfied. :) 

You all keep rockin' it. You will get there. Remember it is a marathon... not a sprint. I have many miles still left to go myself..."
 
^^^And that is truly the way I feel. My "sport" is extreme and I EXPECT a strong reaction to the progress I have made. That's why I posted it!!! Love it or hate it... I couldn't care less. The fact that people were jumping in to talk about lil 'ole me at all was... well... humbling and exciting! I absolutely anticipate that there will be people that say "yuck" when they see my muscles or vascularity. I honestly hope they do. If they notice the muscle at all then my training has been effective. The negative opinion some people have regarding women with muscle is not nor will it ever be a deterrent for me. To put it simply... I don't care what they think. If you are utterly disgusted by the notion of wrapping your arms around a girl like me... I have some great news for you... you'll never have the privilege of enduring that kind of torture. :P
 
Seriously though, I don't get  why some people are so determined to safely straddle the status quo while sanctimoniously hurling insults at those who pursue a loftier (and perhaps unconventional) goal. Such commentary is both ridiculous and comical in my estimation, which is why I chose not to acknowledge it in the topic. I also don't understand why people allow society to define beauty for them. Being "normal" is overrated and beauty comes in so many different forms... the least of which is even based on physical appearance at all. Perhaps I'm just too stubborn to allow myself to be contorted into a pre-defined mold of female attractiveness. I have always been an overachiever. I often take my passions to the extreme. This pursuit is no different. I have never been satisfied with ordinary... I want to be exceptional.

So... to those who thought I looked "gross," you have a right to your opinion and I respect it. I have no desire to engage in a debate with you on the topic. That would be an exercise in futility. I will just take solace in the assumption that I am likely bigger and stronger and could probably take you in a fight. That is enough for me. :P
To those that replied in my defense and/or sent me sweet supportive messages and FR's... thank you so much. You made my night. There was twice as much support as there was negativity and for that I am grateful. (((((hugs)))))) to you all. 
To all my lovely friends and followers who have supported me along the way... you guys ROCK! You are the only reason I even continue to update this blog. You've been so wonderful to read along and comment and I appreciate it! xoxoxo
 

^^UPDATE: It looks like the topic I was referencing was deleted...  

Bulking... the nutrition side...


I got this commend on my last blog post so I figured I'd address it...

moxette wrote:
Hey there,
Congrats on all of your hard work!
I think the biggest issue with talking about bulking and cutting is what it takes to get there. I would love to see a post on what you eat (macros and calories) when you are in a bulk and cut stage. Everywhere I look there is emphasis on eating more. But what is more? One woman's low calorie day is another woman's feast day. There are tons of workouts out there for how to bulk and cut, yet even with the bodybuilders it sounds like when they are cutting they are down to 1400 per day and lots of cardio. What are your thoughts and experience on this?
 
Very good question. Before I craft a response I want to include a disclaimer. I am NOT a nutritionist and have no education or credentials where that is concerned. I will give you my perspective but it will only be an OPINION. Capiche?
 
So, to state the obvious, the amount of calories required to bulk/cut are completely relative to the individual and are based on each person's energy intake versus expenditure. A larger person is going to require more calories to maintain size than a smaller person. Factor's that influence caloric needs are a person's age, size, weight, body type, ratio of body fat to lean mass, and activity level. Given this fact... there isn't a magic number that will work for everyone. Each person has to tailor their own diet to their goals!
 
As for me... there are some general guidelines I like to follow regarding my macros and calories. I try to maintain my protein intake at a minimum of 1 gram per pound of body weight. This is whether bulking or cutting. Protein first and foremost. A certain amount of dietary fats is also important but I never seem to have an issue getting those. Peanut butter tends to take care of that for me. LOL. The rest of the calories I fill with carbs. I try to choose more complex carbs vs starches/simple sugars but when I'm bulking I'm not as strick with those choices. What I have done in the past and what I would suggest to others is to figure out what your maintenance calories are and start off 200-300 calories more for a bulk or less for a cut. Increase and decrease calories gradually.
 
Now, as an illustration, I will give you the actual numbers...

On my last bulk I started at 1800 (around maintenance for me) and gradually increased to 2500-2600/day by the end. I was still doing some cardio here and there so that expenditure should be factored in. When I started my cut I dropped back down to 1800 and stayed there for quite a while. I eventually found I plateaued on that intake so I dropped down to 1600. The losses picked back up again. Towards the end (right before the show) I did increase cardio to get that last little bit of thigh fat off (yes we all hate that stuff) but I never went below 1600 calories. As for my macros... percentage-wise I kept them around 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. I will go on record and say that I am NOT carb sensitive. Other friends/competitors I know have to cut their carb intake much lower to achieve a similar level of leanness. I cut carbs for 1 week and looked and felt horrible so I added them back in again. This is what I mean when I say that you have to tailor your diet to your own body chemistry. We are all different and finding out what works for you may require some experimentation of your own.

I hope that addresses the original question sufficiently.

As for my current intake... yes, I've been kinda lazy and not really tracking (sorry). I've been eating the same foods and meals for so very long that I don't even need to record it all to have a general idea of what my intake is. I have chicken and sweet potatoes for lunch most days. I eat at lot of ground turkey... both in the form of meat patties or ground meat on low-carb wraps. I eat brown rice and asparagus (or some other vegetable) as a side. I eat ground turkey chilli. I eat tilapia. I am eating the same foods as I ate while cutting... just adding a few little extra snacks in there daily and a couple of extra cheat meals per week. I eat ice cream every Sunday... because I like it. I did this even throughout my cut. My diet, with the exception of the cheat meals, is utterly borning. I will eventually get back to tracking when I reach a point where every calorie counts but I'm not ready to right now. For now I will just indulge in a little extra snacking here and there knowing come next spring I won't be able to do that! And on that note... I feel like a bowl of oatmeal.... 

Putting my "fat" into perspective... and other comparisons...

So in my efforts to encourage people to BULK (especially women) I thought I'd share some comparison photos. Lean muscle makes all the difference in the look of a person's body. More of it will allow you to eat more and look good while carrying more weight... even more FAT.

First up... an 18-month comparison from the "fat" me to the stage (the figure show I did in June).

FRONT:

 
BACK:
 
 
So back in my "fat" pictures I weighed about 140lbs. Well guess what... I'm bulking now and I'm about there again. Oy. Does it freak me out a little to once again see my "fat weight" on the scale???? ... uhm... yeah... just a little. But you know what, the scale doesn't really tell the whole truth. You can't get attached to a number. The lean mass I've gained has made HUGE improvements in my body. I haven't by any means met my goals for myself either, I've still got growing to do! If you want to grow... you've got to train and EAT! Otherwise you will spin your wheels and not see progress. The biggest obstacle when bulking is accepting the extra body fat that comes along with the gains. It sucks but you can't let it freak you out. Right now my thighs (my main problem area) are thickening up and the dimples I hate so much are now reappearing. :( Good thing the cooler weather is coming because I'm going to be opting for jeans (or at least burmuda shorts) from here on out. LOL
 
To put in perspective how different 140lbs looks on a body with less muscle/more fat (on the left) versus more muscle/less fat (on the right)... check this out:
 
 
^^Have I convinced you yet??? :D Winter is coming ladies. You'll be covered up anyway so why not make good use of your opportunity to add some muscle! Up your calories and train hard. Your strength will likely improve with the extra food... and if you are like me... you will be stoked to reach some of your own new personal records in the weight room. As for how to get in the extra calories... well, I've never had a problem doing that. I like to eat! For added fun, acquire a bulking buddy and splurge together! Then you can complain about your butt dimples over cookies! By the way, cookies give you super powers... true story!
 

My current leg workouts...

Hey y'all! I just wanted to share what I've been doing lately. As I have mentioned before, I have loosely been following the PHAT training template with the exception of my leg days. I've continued with the same basic leg routine that I started back a year ago (when I started my first bulk) but with modifications along the way to change it up.

 I do two leg days per week. It looks something like this: (the weight amounts are from my first set pyramiding up to my last... 3-4 sets... usually dropping the number of reps as I get heavier)

 

Day 1

Leg press (270lbs-510lbs)

Stiff-legged deadlifts- barbell (135lbs-155lbs)

Plate-load squat machine (180lbs-270lbs)

Good mornings (50lbs-65lbs) Extensions (120lbs)

Glute-ham raises (holding 10lb plate)

 

Day 2

Box squats -below parallel with free weights (100lbs-133lbs)

Regular deadlifts -free weights (133lbs-188lbs)

Walking lunges -kettlebells (30-35lbs)

Glute bridges (105lbs-125lbs)

Calves (110-120lbs)

 

I've had a few questions about the box squats so I figured I'd answer them here. The box I use is the one on the right (image below). The one on the left is about parallel so you can see the one I use is quite low... especially for me because I've got long legs (I'm 5'7")! Going lower is much harder and therefore I don't use as much weight. However I find the depth targets the glutes more which is what I wanted. (I like big butts and I cannot lie... LOL)

 

 

 So, I try to separate the leg days so that I have a few days recovery between them. I often do them on Tuesdays and Fridays but make adjustments based on my work schedule/kid's school schedule. I am hoping to see strength improvements all around throughout this bulk but my main focus is on squats and deadlifts. I'd like to get my box squat up to my body weight for 10 reps and my deads to 200lbs for 10 reps. We shall see how it goes... I'll post about it when/if I do!

So... that's my current leg routine. I'm open for questions if you have any! I will come back and post some on upper body stuff on another day. If you have a request for a blog post/topic let me know!

Yikes! The bulk is on!!!

So I got on the scale yesterday and oy.... 137.5!!! Holy crap! I ENDED my last bulk at 137lbs after 6 months of gaining. I've still got the rest of October through January to gain so I may end up 145-150lbs! It's all good though... because at 137lbs today I look better... leaner and more muscular than I did last time at this weight. It is progress! If you want to build muscle you can't be afraid to gain. It's part of the process. Getting "soft" (putting on some body fat) is also par for the course. You've got to mentally get passed that to make progress.

Here is a shot of me from this weekend... jeans shopping. 

 
Here is my end-bulk shot from the end of January ... same weight. 
 
 
So... if you have decided to take on a bulk, what will your friends and family say??? Unless they participate in this lifestyle themselves, they are likely to tell you you're crazy. Society has such a thin-is-in mindset that the average person cannot even comprehend the concept of gaining weight... even if that weight is muscle! It's all about burning calories, restricting your diet, and being as thin as possible. People that aren't a part of this lifestyle don't understand the value of lean muscle and the time, effort, and nutrition that is required to build it. They see "toned" women and think they got that way from running on the treadmill. The fitness industry has further propagated this myth by using fitness models (who obviously lift) to promote all manner of programs and exercise equipment thereby selling people this fantasy that they will actually look like that without eating up and pushing some real weight. You can't change that mindset. All you can do is pursue your own goals, work hard, build the muscle, and prove to the naysayers that you knew what you were doing all along. Once they see your results they will come along asking for advice... trust me!
 
So... if you were on the fence about bulking... JUST DO IT! I'm getting fluffy myself so you are in good company. Bring on the stretchy yoga pants!!!
 
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