I thought I’d start a journal to document my progress in my quest to get stronger, increase muscle definition, and drop more body fat.
I have struggled with my weight for most of my adult life. I slowly gained after graduating from University and starting to work full time. I made half-hearted attempts to lose at home just doing cardio, but never stuck with it. I eventually joined a gym when a new one opened up close to where I was working. They had a routine that they introduced all new clients to - a 20 minute weight circuit where you did the generic 2 sets of 12-15 reps. This was my first introduction to weight training. I also started running on the treadmill and attending fitness classes. Without changing my eating habits I managed to lose about 20 lbs. I kept it off for a while but regained most of it following the birth of my first son (yes I said following, not to be confused with gaining during pregnancy which I didn’t). I wasn’t able to get into gym on a regular basis and so gave up exercising completely.
Finally 2 years later after the birth of my second son, I was bound and determined once and for all to lose the weight. I signed back up at a local gym and this time I hired a personal trainer. In addition to the machines, I had my first real introduction to free weights. It was a small gym so mostly we stuck to dumbbells incorporating stability elements. It was again though a high-rep focused program. I also changed my eating habits and started tracking my calories.
It took me 8 months to finally get to my goal weight and in the process started running again. It was my trainer who talked me into my first 5k race. From there I was hooked. I did a 10k running clinic through the gym and then progressed to ˝ and full marathons through a local running store. I raced for about 5 years and added triathlon in the summers for 2 years. Then I burned out. I had no more immediate goals and I didn’t want to train through another winter. As my running mileage had increased, my weight training had decreased to the point where I was no longer doing weights. Also as my mileage increased, so did my weight. My training was getting harder and my times were getting slower. Feeling completely discouraged I sat my but down on the couch and it took me 2 years to get back off. In that time I stopped tracking my calories and my weight continued to creep up.
It’s taken me almost a year to get my weight back down again. I returned to the gym and once again hired a personal trainer. This time my training was different. Last time I worked out at a small women’s only gym and this time I was at a large co-ed gym (same company, just different location). I became much more comfortable in the weight room and learned how to do barbell squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. We still did mostly higher reps and super sets, but with more technical lifts. I also discovered bodybuilding.com and learned all about the importance of macronutrient targets. My diet this time around has looked a lot different than last time and once again I’ve been counting calories.
I’ve been working with the personal trainer at the gym 3 x a week for the past year and have incorporated a fair amount of cardio while eating at a deficit. Now that my weight is in a healthy range I’m ready to switch my focus to building strength. I have of course experienced strength gains over the course of the past year, but it hasn’t been my main goal, and my nutrition has not been geared for optimal strength increases. I plan to eat as close to maintenance as possible, but expect that I should still be able to make considerable progress. I’ve been slowly bringing up my calories for the past few weeks from 1500 cals/day. My goal this week, is 1800 cals/day. This is probably still below maintenance, but I’d rather err on the side of caution and see how it goes before increasing any more.
I have to give credit to 2 posters in particular for pointing me on this road. First thanks to Rowyn and her suggestions for Recomping. This approach really appeals to me. I know it’s a much slower approach than repetitive bulk/cut cycles, but after having spent the past year dieting down and losing 50+ lbs, I’m not psychologically ready for the idea of a bulk. I certainly don’t want to be cutting again anytime soon.
The other poster I want to thank is ironwill2008 who in response to my training questions steered me in the direction of a strength building program. From the research that I did, I settled on Rippetoe’s Starting Strength.
I’m booked with my trainer until the end of June. With summer holidays and the kids being home, it’ll be difficult for me to get into the gym so my plan is to workout at home and officially begin the Starting Strength program. We have a Power Rack with sundry attachments and a variety of dumbbells and weight plates, so I should be able to continue training without too much disruption to my schedule. My runs will go from treadmill to outside and we have an outdoor pool to help keep generally active.
Until then I’ll just be following whatever plan my trainer designs and using the time to really perfect my form, especially for cleans and push presses.
For the next 3 months, my workout schedule will be the following:
M,W,F – 15 min warm up/stretching + 1 hr with trainer
M,F – 30 min SS run + 5 min cool down following strength session
Tu – 1 hr spin class + 1 hr yoga style class
Th – Off
Sat – TBD, probably some supplemental weight work at home
Sun - Off
Prior to this I was also running on Wednesdays, spinning on Thursdays, and Saturdays were off. This new schedule reflects 2 hours less of cardio and 1 hour more of weights. I’ve also changed my run pace from LT (7.2 mph) to SS (6.2 mph), though I tend to throw in a burst of speed for the last 5 minutes depending on how I’m feeling.
Weight 124.5 lbs
Chest - 33"
Midriff - 26"
Waist - 28"
Hips - 35.5"
Thighs - 20"
Calves - 13"
Biceps - 11"