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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Happy New Year!

Hey guys – it’s been a while! Hoping everyone has had a lovely christmas and new year, I know I have. I had such a nice time being at home with my parents and cats having not been home since August. There really is no better place than home – though it was odd not having my big brother around!

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Anyway I’m being a bit of a hipster and not doing my new year’s post on new year’s day – mainly because I wasn’t functioning too well after two late, alcohol fuelled but very fun nights with my friends rolling in the new year. I’m not usually one for resolutions as I’ve always thought why wait for a socially constructed time to set yourself some goals? Just go for it! But this year I’ve made some resolutions of sorts – or maybe just continuations of goals that I thought might make an interesting blog post 😛

So here we are; my new years resolutions!

1. Be kinder to my body

In 2014 my weight fluctuated a fair bit  and when my weight went up it generally wasn’t in a good way. Competition prep meant dieting and breaks from competing meant putting the weight back on after enjoying the ‘forbidden fruits’ a little too much. Of course this didn’t happen every time, and I did find a good balance when I implemented Carb Backloading however I feel I did put my body under a lot of stress. In April for example, what I then thought was a mystery virus, is now clearly a manifestation of overtraining combined with a caloric deficit. I went up to 56kg after a particularly stressful week in January and didn’t do much about it until around March. Then inexperience with dieting and losing weight meant quite a battle to get back under 52kg which led me to feel horrible for about 10 days or so with aching muscles and horrendous fatigue. I now recognise those tell tale muscular pains as a time to back off training and eat more – I’ve discovered that particular type of pain has no other cause. So in that respect I’m already working towards my goal. I’ve also made the decision to go up a weight class which I think will help me no end in the long run. Around the same time I chose to stop MMA which will also probably be better for me too – less minor injury and more rest from intensive exercise. I do miss it sometimes though.

Anyway this year I’m hoping to find – and stick to – a way of eating that gives me everything I need without compromising my health. I very much enjoyed Carb Backloading and am interested in trying CarbNite – or seeing if I can find the best of the two, as I found the strength gain on Carb Backloading to be unparalleled by any other diet. This is still quite a restrictive way of eating so I will have to weigh up my options.

Another way I need to look after my body is all the extra stuff that needs to be done outside of the gym – I’m talking lacrosse balling, foam rolling, doing yoga, assistance exercises and stretching. In the last few months I’ve become particularly lax with this – but like I said before, these are goals that I’m already working on. It doesn’t help that I haven’t had any major competitions to work towards, which usually motivate me to be a little better with these things. To reduce day to day niggles this is unfortunately something that needs to be done and if I want to be the best I need to get on it! I must mention though that having started doing assistance stuff in the last few months (though maybe not as regularly as I’d like) I’ve definitely seen an improvement in my lifts – particularly working on the smaller and weaker muscles. I have my wonderful physio to thank for these improvements and hope to continue in the same vein.

2. Be kinder to my mind

The previous point brings me on to this – something I have struggled with for pretty much my whole life. As quite a perfectionist personality I can be quite hard on myself when I don’t meet my own high standards and this is something that has contributed to some pretty difficult times in previous years. Thankfully that period of my life seems to be over and I’m happier now than I’ve ever been – however there is still a part of me that expects too much.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given is to be your own best friend. If your best friend didn’t achieve all they set out to that day would you be disappointed? Or would you tell them there’s always tomorrow? I work damn hard a lot of the time and I’ve got so much better at appreciating my own efforts, but I imagine this will be a continuous process for years to come. So every time I can’t be bothered to foam roll, miss a bench, leave the library an hour earlier than planned or stay in bed til 3pm I’ll tell myself there’s always tomorrow. And if I don’t manage to tell myself that then oh well, I’m only human! 🙂 (see, I’m doing it already haha)

This will be particularly necessary in the coming few months as I wrap up my degree – there’s going to be a lot of hard work involved! I originally aimed to get a 1st as I have been a high achiever my whole life, but I am currently sitting on an average of a high 2:2. I’m still going to aim to get the highest grade that I can but I’m not going to compromise my mental health to achieve a certification, after all I feel I bring so much more to the table than just a degree.


3. Be more helpful

Some of the people I admire the most are those that continuously help others, and I often find myself taking a back seat as I let others do the hard work. This year as well as continuing to improve my own life, I strive to help others as much as I can. Hopefully in terms of my goals this resolution won’t need to take a back seat, but this year will be the year of my own personal achievements and I’m not going to let anything get in the way. In the meantime though, I’ll be the one clearing up the weights at the end of the session.

4. Explore my potential

I know I said early that I work hard a lot of the time, but a lot of the time I don’t. I’ve been known to ‘coast’ and do the bare minimum that I can do to achieve. Maybe this is my self-critical mind coming into play a bit here, but there’s no harm in wanting to better yourself right? It seems finding the fine balance between this point and number 2 will be tough.

There’s so much out there that I can do. Every time I pick up a paint brush (which isn’t often!) I astound myself and I always wonder what I could create if I spent more time practicing and honing my skills. Similarly I wonder how much better I would lift if I managed to do all of my assistance exercise, keep to a healthy diet and train to the best of my ability.  This may also be true for my degree, though I feel I do work very hard already and I don’t want to fall behind on other areas of my life which are helping keep me sane. There are a few other things that this relates to as well so hopefully 2015 will be the year of achievement.

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Grow a big fat butt 

Self explanatory. This year will be the year that I grow out of my white-girl butt and grow into my powerlifters butt that I know is there somewhere!

2014 was hands down the best year of my life – I made new friendships and strengthened old ones, continued to enjoy and compete in a sport that I love and just generally had a blast. I have every faith that 2015 will be just as great – particularly as I have two of the best lifting partners to share it with ( @amyyspencer and @shax2 on Insta – go check them out!)

Starting the year on a PB at my first training session of 2015 wasn’t bad – managed a 90kg paused squat after achieving this weight as a new PB at a fun comp in mid-December! I’m hoping 2015 will bring me even more gains and I haven’t peaked early haha.

As has been the case for some time now I probably won’t be able to post as much as I would like to in the coming months due to that pesky little thing called a degree – but you can get more regular updates on my lifting, nutrition, and day to day antics on my Instagram which is @susiebboo

Happy 2015!

Peace and love x

All England Powerlifting Championships

The run up to the All England was quite smooth; I’d recently hit a PB deadlift, felt confident with all my openers and didn’t have weight as an issue. I also found out it wasn’t going to be my last chance for my 130kg deadlift as I had thought, so this took some stress off (although this was in some ways mistaken – will come onto this later!). However, the week prior was full of travelling, life-sorting and trying to find someone to wrap my knees on the Sunday. All of this along with the stress of managing my mum at her 2nd competition on the Saturday meant I didn’t have much time to feel nervous, which I guess is a good thing! 

I’m still not sure whether the distraction of coaching my mum the day before the competition was a help or a hindrance to me in the long run; all I know is that it was stressful, exciting and a completely new experience! I’ve never fully appreciated the amount of energy that goes into managing a lifter at a competition, and it has made me all the more grateful for the support we receive as a club. Keeping a close eye on the clock, carefully selecting next lifts and making sure the lifter has everything they want and need is definitely not an easy job. Thankfully the stress paid off and my mum had a great competition, she managed 7/9 lifts and finished with a 200kg total (10kg above her aim) with a 75kg squat, 37.5kg bench and PB 87.5kg deadlift. I’m a very proud daughter. The whole experience completely drained me, but I used this to my advantage to get a solid 9 hour sleep the night before my competition, quite the feat as I’m sure many lifters will agree!

Another new experience for me was a 3pm weigh-in; I’ve only ever had an 8 or 9am weigh-in which makes it easier to restrict food and drink beforehand in order to make weight. Thankfully due to the success of carb-backloading making weight wasn’t going to be an issue. Hovering at around 51.7kg while still backloading, I was able to drop to around 51kg after dropping carbs for my rest days, allowing me a backload the night before the competition and to eat and drink as normal before weigh in. I weighed in at 51.3kg, the lightest I’ve ever weighed in a competition, in the middle of the day, and on creatine which can make you hold water. Result!

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Lifting was delayed due to the groups before us going on longer than intended, so we were unsure as to when we would actually start lifting. Although a minor hindrance, this meant that our final warm-up lifts for squats were a little rushed! Unfortunately our coach couldn’t be with us on the day so were relying on another coach (who will be coaching when I go to Italy) to help us out with timings and warm-ups. I was very grateful and reassured to be introduced to him the day before, as it meant I had someone to do my wraps for me, and also gave me experience being managed by him before my first international in Turin. 

The warm-up itself wasn’t the smoothest, as I think I had forgotten how to squat with my new technique a bit, and wasn’t taking as much time as I maybe should have to set up for the warm-up lifts. However, my final warm-up of 110kg was fine and deep enough which gave me the confidence to open with a very easy 115kg. Comp nerves and feeling a bit out of practice from rest days meant my form was not completely up to scratch, but still miles better than it had previously been. I then went on to do my second lift of 122.5kg which is shown in the video, setting a new u20 British Record. As this was somewhat tough and I had broken my record I made the tactical decision not to do a third lift as I wanted to save my energy for deadlifts. 

10514410_246741888869786_1518619450639784693_o We had the same issue with bench of not knowing the exact lift-off time until part-way through the warm-up. This meant I actually only did one lift in my bench shirt before stepping out onto the platform to do my opener of 62.5kg which absolutely flew up. My second lift was 67.5kg which was tougher than I had liked as I think I had my belt on a little high making it harder for the bar to come down to my chest which threw me a bit. Still got it up. Decided on 71kg for my 3rd lift attempt, as the record I hold is 70kg and felt 72.5kg was a little out of reach on the day. Unfortunately I missed this lift; lack of strength, wrong line, shirt on wrong…. who knows. I wasn’t deterred as I already held the record and had two good lifts in. Onto deadlift!

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Deadlift warm-ups ran smoothly, despite feeling a little tiredness in my hips and a minor twinge in my left calf, my suit felt tight and I still had buckets of energy. I was also very excited to try for the 130kg I had been striving for. My final warm-up was 110kg which shot up, so I stepped onto the platform to do an easy 120kg. Next was the lift I had been waiting for; 130kg on the bar. Unfortunately I didn’t get it captured on video but as you can see in the picture above I got it up! It wasn’t easy but it definitely wasn’t a massive fight. Pleased I had got this and with nothing to lose, I tried 135kg but my foot slipped a fraction and I narrowly missed it. Definitely got it in me! This left me with a PB total of 320kg. With the slipped foot and slight twinge before the deadlifts had even began, my left calf is now a little more than twinged so there is a lot of stretching and some rest on the cards for me at the moment. I am still walking and it only feels like a small pull so I should be back training in no time.  

Now is probably the time to mention my slight mishap. For months I have (somehow) mistakenly thought that the British Standard for deadlift is 130kg so have been striving to get it in a national competition for around 2 months. Thinking I had achieved this, I checked the records on the way home to see if I had managed to set a total record too. Turns out the deadlift standard is 140kg so I am actually 10kg off, but the total record is 322.5kg so I was only 2.5kg off which would have been easily achievable in the competition with another squat or a lighter third attempt deadlift. I was surprised at myself in that I’m not upset and am actually pleased I had the (mistaken) motivation to achieve the 130kg in the last few weeks. It also means I now have the 140kg to strive for at the Western Europeans, and having big goals definitely spurs me on. Operation add 10kg to my deadlift in 3 weeks starts now!!

I had great fun at the competition with my family, friends and fellow club members, and really enjoyed meeting some new faces. Some very strong ladies on the powerlifting scene at the moment. For such a massive competition it was run incredibly smoothly and as ever the referees, spotters and commentators were fantastic. My thanks in particular go to Arun who helped me in a time of coachlessness (although we did stay in contact throughout the competition) and without him I probably wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I did and maintain my composure. I’m very much looking forward to being coached by him at the Western European Cup in September and am very excited for the coming weeks of training! 

Another reminder of my fundraising page where I am hoping to raise a bit of money towards my upcoming international debut in Italy! Anything you can spare would be a big help 🙂 

Change of Plan

It is with disappointment that I am posting this, as I have unfortunately not been selected for the World Junior Championships in Hungary for which I had been nominated. I’m not sure why I was not selected but perhaps that is a question for another time.

Of course I am upset, I’ve worked my butt off in the last few months and was so excited to even be nominated, but as with other aspects of the whole training process sometimes being able to adapt to any situation, however positive or negative is key.

In this particular situation the prevailing positive is that although I was not selected for the World Championships, following my recent nomination I have been selected for the Western European Women’s Championships held in Torino, Italy in September.

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Although I’m sure there are still some nominations to come in, and the lifters in my category will have improved come competition time (as I hope to), I seem to be in good stead to make my mark in this particular competition.

I am still getting my head round this whole situation, but one thing I know for sure is this doesn’t change anything apart from the date of the competition I am training for! Feeling a little lacklustre at the moment, but in the next few days I’m sure I’ll be able to throw myself back into my training with my usual enthusiasm… bring on Italy!

 

Adventures in Carb Backloading

Having heard about it from a friend of mine several months back, ever since I’ve been intrigued to try Carb Backloading (CBL), a fat-shedding, muscle-gaining dietary plan devised by John Kiefer. 

The plan essentially entails following an ultra low carb diet during the day, then replenishing glycogen stores with high GI carbs in the evening after training, with a few other modifications such as not eating breakfast. 

In recent months when following my keto-ish diet to drop in to my weight class, I’ve sort of crudely followed this diet, having kind of worked some of it out for myself, but it seems I run out of energy after more than a week or so and just isn’t sustainable. As the plan is a bit more structured and contains higher GI carbs for my post-training nutrition, I’m interested to see if this plan leaves me with a bit more energy. 

As you’ve probably noticed my weight is quite often an issue and although I did find a ‘sweet spot’ recently with a medium-low carb diet, I still feel there are improvements to be made. I’m hoping to be able to put on a bit of muscle in the next few weeks, and being able to do this while losing a bit of fat (which is what the plan promises!) is an ideal situation.

The first 10 days of the plan involves going full keto, with an intake of just 30g of carbs a day. This is  to ‘train’ the body to use fat for energy, and to fully deplete glycogen stores. I started doing this yesterday, and as ever am constantly looking for new recipes for a bit of variety in my diet. As much as I love chicken legs and burnt broccoli, it can get tedious after the 8th day in a row!
So in the next 10 days or so you can expect some more low-carb recipes that I’ve devised. I’ve bought myself a bunch of spices and have made friends with chilli, so look forward to some aromatic and spicy concoctions. 

I’ve taken a pre-CBL progress picture, and have recorded my weight so hopefully I will be able to use these for reference a few weeks down the line. Then I’ll write a review of my experience with following the plan as a woman as it was predominantly aimed at men. 

Kiefer’s CBL is available as an e-book here.

 

GBPF British Senior and Junior Powerlifting Championships

The evening before and morning of the competition were relatively stress-free for me. Despite the pressure that I’d put on myself to perform I knew I’d make weight, I knew I’d done as much preparation as I could and I was in good company.

The morning of the competition came and we arrived literally about a minute after I’d been called for weigh-in so I had to wait around for half an hour before I could be weighed in, which was not too bad as I’d been able to drink a little, but I did start to get quite hungry! Although I didn’t feel nervous in myself, I did notice that I was a little shaky and breathing a little more quickly than normal so I tried my best to calm myself down. I weighed in at 51.55kg, the lightest I’ve ever been, and sat down for a short while to refuel and rehydrate.

Warm up for squats went entirely to plan, just hitting depth on my last warm-up of 110kg. Again, I didn’t necessarily feel nervous but I must have been quite nervous as I was sweating so much more than everyone else in the warm-up room! I hit my opener of 115kg with ease, though this was unfortunately my only good lift of the squats. My next lift of 122.5kg was not to the referees’ satisfaction depth-wise, and I rounded my back more than usual on the way up, tiring out my core. I re-took the same weight but it was again not deep enough. This upset me quite a lot, as hitting depth had been my main concern for squats, rather than having the strength to do the lifts.

10501676_1501249470109963_6698146270993292179_nAlthough I had previously managed to hit 130kg in training doing my own wraps, I think I possibly didn’t have enough confidence in my own wrapping on the day of the competition as there was a lot of time pressure, and my hands had been shaking (leading to a small sliver of my finger being removed at some point during the wrapping process!). I have invested in some tougher wraps, and in future I will either hopefully have someone there with me to wrap, or have built on my own wrapping skills. I have kept the videos of my failed 122.5kg lifts, as in the next few weeks I really want to work on my squatting technique, and will be able to use them for comparison purposes.

After a short break to gather my thoughts and calm down a bit, we moved onto bench warm-up. This went really well, as the warm-up weights felt light, particularly a 50kg paused raw press which is usually a bit of a struggle! My shirt went on and felt nice and tight, and I hit 60kg twice to prepare for my opener of 62.5kg. This went up nice and easy, so I went on to do 67.5kg for my next lift, beating my own British record (though this was not mentioned by the commentators despite my telling them). This also went up a treat, so after some consultation with my coach I went on to do 70kg for my next lift, as I knew I would definitely get it and wanted to beat my own record again! This was definitely the right choice of number as there was a little struggle on the way up, and any heavier might have made for a failed lift.

Although I have done a little heavier in previous competitions, I am still happy with my bench performance as I managed to beat my own British record and somehow stay composed after being quite upset about my squats. I think it is time to move onto a slightly tighter bench shirt, as while my current shirt has served me well, I think I have possibly reached its limits.

Warm-up for deadlifts were not as I had planned, but I had anticipated some difficulty after tiring out my core from the squats. After reaching 110kg in the warm-up room and finding it quite a challenge my coach and I made the decision to move my opener down to 115kg (we had previously planned 120kg). Although I knew this would make my coveted 130kg a little out of reach, based on how my body felt I knew it was the right decision. I got my opener easily enough, but knew my body positioning wasn’t quite right, so really concentrated on setting my scapula back for my second lift of 120kg. This went up with a little struggle near the top, so went for 125kg for my third lift as I was never realistically going to get 130kg. I think by this point I was just ready to stop so didn’t go into the lift with as much composure as normal, and got it half way up before failing. I didn’t mind though, as I had hit an equal comp PB for deadlift and had at least one good attempt for each lift.

After my final deadlift I was completely drained, struggling to even put food in my mouth! I was glad the competition was over, and although a little disappointed with my performance, excited for the coming months of training having pinpointed lots of areas to work on. In the few hours after my last lift it was nice to sit with my family and watch the rest of the competition and have a much-needed catch-up session. In this time my coach informed me that along with my nomination for the Junior Worlds, I’ve also been nominated for the Western European championships, which is the following week! I’m not sure if I’ll be able to attend due to University commitments, but it is still very exciting news, especially as I have been nominated as a senior!

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In the prize-giving I placed first in the Junior 52kg category, placing above a girl who lifted raw. She managed to achieve (and smash!) the records that I was hoping to set at the All England in August, so I have decided to do that competition equipped, to give me more experience and have another chance at some records! An experienced equipped lifter won the Senior category, and it was lovely to finally meet her as we had only ever spoken online. I have had the privilege of being handed down one of her old squat suits, which is tiny compared to my current suit, and I just can’t wait to use it!

As ever with GBPF the competition was smoothly run, with fantastic referees, spotters and loaders making for a fantastic day. Now to get back in the gym and make some more gains!

Flavour Combinations – Mackerel Salad

I’ve been trying out a few new flavour combinations for salads in recent weeks, but it feels a bit wrong to post them as recipes, as combining the ingredients in a dish is hardly taxing!  So I’ve made a new category; flavour combinations, where you will be able to find all my ‘recipes’ for interesting salads.

First of which is a delicious but slightly weird mackerel salad, inspired by my mother.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 fillet smoked mackerel
  • 1 steamed beetroot
  • 1 satsuma
  • Salad leaves (I used a mix with rocket)

I know it sounds weird, but the sweet of the satsuma really complements the saltiness of the mackerel.It’s also quite a stunning salad with the purple of the beetroot and orange satsuma. Don’t knock it before you try it!

This salad is a nutrient powerhouse; mackerel is an outstanding source of omega-3 fatty acids and is also rich in vitamins B6, B12 and D. Beetroot is high in folate and manganese, and also provides magnesium, potassium and iron. Satsumas are high in vitamin A and C, and full of antioxidants, while rocket is a great source of vitamin K and alpha-linoleic acid. Makes you wonder why people rely on multivitamins when combinations like this exist…