Goals

January has been a busy month. With assignments, my dissertation, and exam and ongoing training, I’ve had very little time to myself. I learnt from my experience of this time last year that it definitely wasn’t time to find comfort in food, as last year I managed to put on so much weight that I really struggled to make weight for competitions in Spring. This definitely won’t be the case this year, as I have been finding my way back into my weight class through Kiefer’s Carbnite protocol, which I will post an update on at a later date. Let’s just say that sticking to a structured eating pattern has definitely helped in terms of focusing on Uni work, but may have not been the best for my training. However, I’m a lot more comfortable in my skin and don’t need to worry about my weight at all, which is nice!

Despite lacking motivation at times towards the end of last year, I certainly haven’t been lacking in motivation the last few weeks. I think I struggle when I don’t have competitions in the near future to work towards, but this month I’ve been working hard for the GB squad day and the GBPF South Midlands this weekend. Training has actually been a very welcome break from Uni work; I’ve been arriving stressed and foggy headed and leaving having forgotten I even attend Uni and feeling great from the exercise. I’ll need to keep this in mind in the next few months as my workload is sure to increase and I will need to stay sane somehow!

I’ve bought a few new bits of kit; an SBD singlet which will make an appearance this weekend, an Inzer Forever lever belt and a pair of SBD knee sleeves. Purchases made partly due to changes in IPF equipment rules and partly to treat myself!

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My training has definitely benefited from the addition of these bits, particularly my squat. I had forgotten how springy knee sleeves are! In my first training session using my knee sleeves and belt I shocked myself by achieving a 100kg squat, which was a 10kg PB! As you may remember I set myself some goals a little while back of 100 squat, 60 bench and 120 deadlift. In the last 8 weeks I’ve slowly but surely managed all of them, starting with deadlift, then bench and finally my long-awaited triple figure squat.

As far as I’m concerned, I still haven’t fully achieved my goal as I am yet to lift these weights in competition, however this seems like an achievable goal for this weekend and I look forward to seeing what I can do. This would give me a 280kg total, a 15kg PB. It would also mean I would have added over 30kg to my raw total since moving up a weight class, which would be a big success! Obviously competition days don’t always go to plan, but I have every confidence that I will be able to lift some big numbers this weekend, so watch this space!

It would appear that my ongoing journey on the gain train has served me well, as after attending the GB squad day in London, I was lucky enough to be selected to represent GB at the European Powerlifting Championships in Pilsen. The squad day itself was a mixed experience, as despite not needing to I decided I would try maximal lifts. Having slept on two sofas pushed together, and not had the best experience travelling the day before it is no wonder that I wasn’t able to hit most of the numbers I had previously done in training. This left me frustrated, but it helped me to realise that going big is not always best. Lesson learned!

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As I mentioned before, I will be competing this weekend at the GBPF South Midlands, which I am very much looking forward to. I am in a novel and nice predicament of needing to keep my weight UP before the competition, and make sure I don’t lose anymore weight. It’ll be great to be able to have a nice big dinner the day before, and drink and eat at will in the morning before weigh in. Hopefully this will give me an edge that I won’t have had at other competitions, and will allow me to lift some big numbers.

After this weekend, I will be in full training mode for the Europeans in March. It is such an exciting opportunity, and will be my first raw international. If I stay on the same trajectory I actually might not do too badly! I am still yet to work out any specific goals, I am waiting to see how this competition goes and then how I progress in training in the coming weeks.

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I’ve got some nice low carb high fat recipes to post in the next few weeks, and I will work on a review of Carbnite too. But now it’s back to work for me, this dissertation won’t write itself!

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I’m Back!

It’s been a bit of a bumpy road since the British Classic back in September (shortly after the Western European Cup), which I have yet to update you all on, and will do in due course! But for now, a quick update on the last few months and some things that have been going on in my life 🙂

After the Classic, where I didn’t make weight and weighed in at 52.4kg, I made the decision to move up to the 57kg class, which I had been considering for some time anyway. Ever since, it has been really difficult to adjust to the amount of freedom I have in terms of diet, and to not let this freedom get the better of me. It’s been a constant battle in my head between justifying eating anything and everything, because I can, and trying to eat healthily so I can look and feel great. Yummy food won this battle for quite a while, and I did manage to put on a fair bit of weight, going up to 56kg recently! Although I was strong and eating tasty things, I didn’t feel comfortable with the excess weight and did miss the routine of clean eating.

Getting back into clean eating was no easy task with this constant internal battle, so it has taken me several attempts to get it right. I’ve decided to go back to carb-backloading again, as I really felt this suited my training and needs. It worked wonders for my performance, and I found the high-fat daytime portion to be very satiating, and I hate being hungry so this is perfect for me! I managed to loosely follow it for a fair while but found myself over-backloading. Like I said, it’s taken a few tries to get it right, but right now I’m on the 8th day of the prep phase and going strong, not feeling like death like I did on previous attempts.

With this dietary struggle also came a motivational struggle; not having any competitions until the new year has made it very difficult to focus my training and I have felt a bit lost. Especially being out of kit, which I really miss! Thankfully, I’ve been able to turn this around after getting the news that I’ve been shortlisted for the GB international team for the European and World Classic next year! This was the kick up the bum I needed and I now feel back on track.

Despite feeling a little lost, my lifts have definitely been improving and I’ve been hitting PB’s all over the shop, doing working rep sets with weights equal to or higher than my lifts at the Classic! Here’s a quick video of a recent touch-and-go PB bench of 60kg:

To help keep myself focused I’ve set myself some goals. Time scale: ASAP. On the left are my raw goals, and on the right my equipped goals. My current best competition lifts are 87.5 / 52.5 / 110 and 127.5 / 72.5 / 135 so I feel my goals are achievable yet challenging.

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(100/60/120) (145/80/150)

100kg raw squat is a big one for me, as ever since I have started my coach has been saying I’ll be squatting it in no time, but I’m yet to get close. Having the visual cue nice and big on my wall in my room should be a good reminder to get my foam rolling done, as I’m truly terrible with it. I had a few weeks of not really doing it at all and boy did I get stiff and sore! I think this will be a big factor in achieving my goals, as being stiff and sore is definitely not conducive to massive gains.

I’m going to try and post a bit more regularly now, but understand that being in my final year of university might mean my blog takes a bit of a back seat. I’m going to try and take more videos and pictures so even if I don’t have time to write much I will still have some content to post. I still have videos from the Western Euros and the British Classic to post too, so watch this space!

Crayfish Salad – (and some pretty exciting news!)

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Another interesting flavour combination to tickle your tastebuds!

Ingredients

  • 1 portion crayfish tails
  • 1/2 mango
  • Small amount of chopped chorizo
  • Salad leaves

I used half a pack of the crayfish tails you can get from Lidl, but I didn’t think to note down the pack size, hence the vagueness of my ingredients list! Also the chorizo I bought was a cheaper chorizo-type thing from Aldi of which I used two slices, but I know chorizo usually comes in different forms so I will leave it to you to deduce the amount to use. I found a little goes a long way.

I’m really enjoying combining fish and fruit at the moment, I think the fresh combination of sweet and salty works really well especially in these summer months. I have one more to try out before I move into a lower-carb phase (so no fruit) which I am very excited about, and will be sure to post!

Training of late has been a little frustrating, with my bench shirt difficulties and struggling to get to depth in my squat suit I have been feeling a little unprepared for the British. Sometimes all it takes though, is some outside perspective to remind me of my successes. Speaking to a friend of mine on Facebook I was reminded that although I have been struggling with these two lifts, my deadlift is sailing and the 130kg british standard is well within my reach.

I’ve also tried to remind myself that the weights I’ve been working with inn the region of my opener for squat and bench are still pretty darn heavy, and if I was repeatedly doing singles at an equivalent weight raw I’d be congratulating myself! Kit lifting is such a different game to raw and it definitely doesn’t always go right. I just need to trust that my coach is right when he says we’re just where we need to be at the moment, and the British will go as swimmingly as I need it to!

Which brings me to my next point, which I have somehow forgotten to mention in the past few days! Some very exciting news indeed! Following some email conference with one of the head honchos in the GBPF, I am delighted to announce that I have been nominated for selection for the World Junior Championships in Hungary. This doesn’t mean that I am definitely going, as my performance at the British will be assessed before I am officially selected, but I am definitely in the running. One step closer to my goal!

Although there is a lot of pressure for me to perform well at the British, I will have one less pressure on me in terms of my weight. I weighed myself at 52.0kg this morning, two weeks out and not even having done keto (though I have been restricting my carbs a little) I’m well on my way to being safely within my weight class. I’m going to let this be a lesson to me for future competitions; to start early and put less pressure on myself! It also means that the kit is fitting me more like it will actually fit me at the competition, as even a kilo can make a massive difference.

The frustrations I’ve been having with my kit, while putting me in a grump during training, have actually made me more determined to get things right and make sure I’m fully prepared and confident for the British. Looking forward to the next week or so of training and tuning up, of which I will keep you all updated.

Motivation

Despite having a great deadlift session on Friday, and achieving a set of 3 on my previous comp PB of 120kg, my lack of motivation from the previous week persisted throughout the weekend. A night out, work, and an exhausting trek around the new forest probably didn’t help, but Monday came about and I felt exhausted, overwhelmed and unmotivated. I made the decision to take the day off from work and training and just take some time to recuperate.

I took a couple of naps, did some cooking, watched some mindless TV and just generally chilled out. On top of this I did some perusing about the internet to try and find some coping techniques for when you’re burning the candle at both ends, and struggling with motivation. My friend recently introduced me to TED talks, so listening to a few of those about motivation and happiness really helped, but most of all a couple of articles on Pat Reeves’ website, sent to me by my mother, really helped me feel more focused.

An article about anxiety in lifting really helped, in that it reminded me to recall things I had previously used as coping methods, not necessarily just in lifting but in day to day life. Things like taking time out to just relax and listen to music, saying no to social events if I’m feeling swamped, and writing down everything I needed to do to de-clutter my mind.

Next was an article about achieving goals which really helped me re-focus. My main goal at the moment is to be selected for Hungary, but unfortunately I don’t have a definite time-scale or much detail about this. So I worked with what I had and wrote down all the things I’d need to do to achieve this; stay consistent with my training, stay at 52kg, try and incorporate some assistance work and most importantly stay excited about this amazing opportunity.

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From this, I decided to update my goals board and turn it into a motivation/goals wall. I’m quite a visual person so hopefully having these reminders in a very prominent place will help me to stay focused, and get me to where I want to be.

Taking the day off everything was definitely a good idea, as I had a great 12 hour sleep last night and woke up feeling more able to deal with current pressures. I’ve had a very productive yet enjoyable day today, and feel a bit more like myself.

Training this evening was a bench session, although I did some light squatting to warm up. I worked raw up to 50kg then put my shirt on for 60kg, moving up in 5kg increments to 75kg. Through some fault of my weight, or the way my shirt was put on me, I wasn’t able to get the bar down to my chest, even at 75kg. Although a little disheartening, with not long until the British I’ve decided to go back into my old shirt and work with that. My numbers might not be as high as I’d like, but it’ll be more productive and rewarding training in the short time we have left before my next competition.

 

Work

Again, I can only apologise for my lack of posts, but with my second year of uni drawing to a close, and my final big assessment due in tomorrow my focus has understandably needed to be elsewhere.

Training in the last few days has been a little different. Got back into training on Thursday with a bench session. I tried out a different bench shirt, a lot tighter than the one I currently wear, so worked on getting the bar down as low as possible. Worked up to 70kg but didn’t get the bar anywhere near my chest, which suggests I could get some big numbers out of it! It’s a very different experience than the other shirt, as the neck of it tends to press on my neck when bringing the bar down, making it a lot more uncomfortable. Something I will have to get used to, I am sure. Finished the session with 6 sets of 8 reps, 3 sets at 40kg and 3 sets at 42.5kg. Doing 8 reps on my best lift in my first competition is a great feeling.

Friday was interesting, as I decided to do some olympic lifting. It had been months since I’d done any and really fancied getting a sweat on. I was absolutely soaked after my ‘warm-up’ (work-out) of power clean, front squat, jerk, back squat, jerk behind neck for 8 sets of 3 with only 10 seconds rest between sets. 10 seconds is really not long at all! The rest of the session involved working up to a clean and jerk max (managed to get my previous PB of 40kg, though it was very rough) and complexes focusing on front squats, finishing with a complex of 3 clean and jerks followed by a power clean and 10 front squats. Tough but super fun.

I had planned a rest day on Saturday, but after working all day then coming home to do uni work I was itching to get outdoors. I ran to the park for some hill sprints, sprinting up the hill, doing 10 pushups or decline sit-ups (alternated) then walking back down. Did this 10 times, then I did the sprint, 20 decline sit-ups, run back down, 25 decline bicycle crunches, sprint back up, 20 pushups, run back down and a plank to failure. Then a slow run home, feeling pretty darn great. It really helped to boost my productivity too, I got loads of work done afterwards.

Somehow still able to move after weightlifting and sprints, training on sunday in the dungeon consisted of another 6 sets of 8 reps but this time on squats. As I knew I was tired I started on 60kg for 2 sets, but then did 2 sets at each of 62.5kg, 65kg and 67.5kg which was tough. I was super surprised that I managed it considering how shot my legs were. Then moved onto a little kit lifting, without wraps, just to work on keeping upright at the bottom of the lift.

My legs have been surprisingly ok until this morning, where even walking is difficult! Thankfully I have a day of rest ahead, working in the library preparing for my big presentation tomorrow. Then off to MMA, where I am unlikely to be asked to squat!

After last week’s competition I have changed my diet up to include more carbs, though I’m not sure how much I’m enjoying it. Basing meals on sweet potato, brown rice and oats may be filling but is a lot less flavoursome than a high fat diet. Also, I feel fat already, and am noticing a lot more bloating than when I’m on keto. As I want to be at least a little toned for Summer Ball where I’m going to dress up as a UFC fighter, I am going to get through this lot of carbs in my fridge and go back to keto for the 9 days before. After that I will reconsider and see how my body feels best. I think the low-medium carb diet I did in January might be the best bet for me to follow on a day to day basis, with full keto for competition prep. It’s all about experimenting and seeing what works best for me.

Switch-up

After the competition at the weekend, and a lot of body and CNS fatigue, my diet training this week has been a little different out of necessity more than anything. I think it would have been very unwise to continue with my low-carb diet and equipped lifting directly after the competition.

Training on Tuesday spurred this temporary change, the program for the session was various sets of differing reps on the bench, but after struggling with what I would consider relatively easy weights we realised my body was probably telling me something. I did what I could on the bench (which wasn’t much) then moved onto some strict overhead press with the barbell, which was tougher than I would have liked but enjoyable to switch things up a little. Had a little consultation with the chiropractor and he cracked me and poked me leaving me feeling a little looser, but still rather stiff from the weekend.

Jujitsu yesterday was very enjoyable, drilling arm bars, triangles, omoplata and a combination of all three. I’ve worked on all of these before, so was quite comfortable, but challenged myself to work on using the other side of my body to complete the movements, which is easier said than done! I find it so strange that doing a triangle with one leg is so much easier than the other. Finished off the session with some rolling, I felt like it was about a 50/50 fight with two of the guys I rolled with, and managed to submit them both, but my normal rolling partner has improved loads in the last month so it wasn’t quite so even! Still held my own quite well though.

Unfortunately no powerlifting training now until Sunday as my coach’s daughter is getting married so he is busy with those arrangements. Took the opportunity today to venture into the commercial gym and actually had a really great time. It was really nice to get my blood pumping, which is a rare phenomenon with powerlifting training. Decided to jog down to the gym to really shake things up, and started off with some conventional deadlifts. It was quite an ego boost to approach a man who was deadlifting, ask if I could work in then stop him when he went to strip off the bar because I was going to be using the same weight as him.

Worked with 70kg for my conventional deadlifts, doing 5 sets of 5 (after a warm up set at 60kg). Watching myself in the mirror, I noticed my knees pushing in a little when struggling with the last few reps so I tried to adjust this throughout, thinking about pushing my knees out. Next onto some front squats, got a little enthusiastic with my first rep and smashed into the fixed safeties, so made sure not to go too deep on my next ones (which pained me). Did 4 sets of 6 at 45kg which was tough but enjoyable. Next onto some pull-ups, going to max reps (which ended up being about 3 lol) and finishing up with a hold. Definitely need to work on my pull-ups, time to get my home bar out again! Used the cable machine to do low-to-high wood chop type things (I’m sure there is a proper term for this), to work on my core rotation as my rotational stability has been an issue for my back in the past. Next a few dips with a drop set, followed by some ab work with a swiss ball. It felt so good to just blast music and get on with a session like I did all summer, sweat dripping and heart pumping. Then had to run home, which was a little less enjoyable than the way there, but I felt so accomplished when I arrived home.

Got home and had a banana pancake with a slice of bacon, which leads me onto my next change this week; my diet. I’ve decided to stay relatively low-carb this week, but not quite as strict as previously. I’m allowing myself carbs in the form of a banana and a tablespoon or so of oats after training, and some more carby fruits and vegetables. I think it will probably marginally hinder my ability to maintain my weight, though I am hovering around 53kg at the moment so I’m not too far off the mark. More than anything I think I need a week of change for sanity’s sake before I had back to my diet of protein, green veg and more green veg!

A little insight into my diet for this week:

Breakfast: Salmon with fried broccoli

Meal 1: 
Chicken, bacon, asparagus, tomato, LF mozzarella and mixed rocket salad

Snack: LF cottage cheese, casein and peanut butter mix with some strawberrys

Meal 2: Garlic mushrooms and aubergine with a steak

Meal 3: (Post-training) Banana pancake with a slice of bacon

(Snack: handful of nuts or LF greek yoghurt)

Eating strawberries for the first time in months was an absolute delight, and I am thoroughly enjoying the variety of colours I’ve had on my plate this last week! I plan to continue this until Tuesday, assess my weight and then decide whether or not to go back to keto. If I stay consistent I might not need to go back to keto so early, but with a few social occasions planned (and a very lovely lunch out today) this may be a challenge. This week is for recovery, and part of this is definitely being a little more lenient with my diet and allowing myself to enjoy food and social occasions. Had a little more indulgence this evening, baked with my housemate this great recipe from Paleomg for her sweet potato brownies. Truly delicious and taste almost like the real thing, and not too naughty either! I think this week of switch-up will do me good!

 

Tough

Although training this week has just been competition prep, which is normally not too taxing, it has been really tough for a number of reasons.

Monday’s bench session was frustrating as while I’d had a really good bench session on Friday and even hit some PB’s, it just wasn’t working for me. I was struggling with weights around 60kg which I’m looking to open with. Apparently when lifting off my chest I was pushing slightly away from me, making the lift harder. Frustratingly I couldn’t feel what I was doing wrong, so didn’t know what to do to rectify it. The session left me feeling frustrated and under-prepared but I was happy with the knowledge that I still had Wednesday’s session to sort things.

Tuesday’s session was final squat preparation. The fact that I’d recently washed my suit in a lot of sugar made it a lot harder to get down to depth than it had ever been before. I struggled with having the straps down, due to the tightness of the suit, so I had to put straps up before I normally would. I was seeing stars at mid-depth, and it felt like I was right down deep. Finally managed to get to depth with 115kg, it felt like I was literally folding myself in half to get down, but I got there. Coach was being very tough on me and not taking any excuses I had as to why I wasn’t getting to depth. It was a difficult session but I know it was for my own good. Worked up to 125kg and decided on 112.5kg as my opener, just to make sure I can hit depth. Got some pretty hefty bruises from the session, the picture below just doesn’t do them justice. Ended up with some speckled bruising up my face from the pressure too, which was new!

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With my squat suit being that tight, and having just washed it again, I’m slightly concerned how it will work for deadlift on the weekend, but we shall have to see.

Yesterday’s bench session went a lot better, managing to get up to 67.5kg with ease and deciding on my opener of 62.5kg. Attempted 72.5kg again, didn’t quite get it but it’s definitely an option for competition. Though I need to hit 65kg for a British standard first! It was a bit strange just doing 4 lifts or so and heading home, but I was happy to as I’d been at work all day and just wanted a cup of tea and the sofa! Actually savoured a day off today rather than itching to get out and do something, Kit lifting can be brutal…

Bodyweight is fluctuating around 52.6kg at the moment, hoping I’ll be able to drop in during the next few days. Testing my true morning weight again tomorrow morning, so no food or drink for me at the moment. Not too bothered though as I’ll be going to bed pretty soon, getting up early for a work training day tomorrow. I’m hoping to have time to post another recipe tomorrow, watch this space!