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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Trying to understand gym life...

So it's been nearly two months since I first joined the gym and so far I am enjoying it! I have been averaging 3 visits a week and have also started doing some of the fitness classes too. I still get up in the morning and really can't be bothered but once I get there I do really enjoy it!

I have lost about 5lb since the start, which for 8 weeks is isn't the quickest ever but my progress photo (LOL) shows the real change and I don't think it's just weight loss (wishful thinking)... I think there is a little more muscle in there too....


To be fair when that photo was taken I had only lost 2lb on the scales too so I was pretty chuffed with myself.

However, since that picture I have lost more weight but very little gain muscle wise. I have definitely improved my cardio ability though. When I first started I could barely run on the treadmill for 5 minutes. The week before last, I survived 15 minutes and last week 25 minutes!!

From the bare minimum I have read so far, it looks like muscle gain for women is difficult, and much of the work is done outside of the gym. I have started to make small changes in regards to my diet and I have continued to calorie count. But it's not gone much further than that so far. I have mainly concentrated on the calories and nothing else.

I brought myself a smoothie maker and have regularly been having a smoothie for breakfast. I usually skip breakfast. And fruit. So it's a start.


This has been particularly useful when I am at work and fab for my fruit intake because before I could literally go a week or more without touching any! On my days off I'll keep just myself busy until mid afternoon and then feast on carbs of varying types - usually bread or pasta. I get that far though the day with a steady intake of coffee, or tea. I will then stuff my face at dinner time and then sit on my bum until bed.

Work days are usually worse. I get through the morning on tea and maybe a slice of toast mid morning and pick on any naughty foodstuffs that are on the table. This usually comprises of pastries, chocolates and bagels. If I get chance to have lunch at lunch time then that's a bonus but usually it's not until 3pm or later. I then get home at about 8.45pm, have whatever meal Scott has lovingly cooked me and head straight to bed. Always nice food but far too close to bed!

So onto the point of this post; the gathering of useful information to try and boost my training. So here goes....

Macros

CARBOHYDRATES! I love them!! Oh My God.... I need to cut down on them, I completely and utterly live on carbs. To be honest I also thought that this was fine despite most advice out there to reduce carb intake. A few years ago I followed slimming world, their red and green days, but only ever did green days as found them much more filling and easier meal wise. I lost plenty of weight. 

It appears that not all carbs are bad though. basically you want to use the carbs you eat for energy rather than store them as fat. On bodybuilding.com advice, I ate oats before my workout today. Another website also recommends that eating carbs after a workout is good to replace glycogen levels in the body... Now I am a bit confused. Basically, I understand it that carbs are good but in moderation as too many will just be stored as fat.

MyFitnessPal gives you a breakdown of your macro intake which is pretty cool.. Makes you more aware of what food groups your eating and the reality of how balanced your diet really is. Mine isn't.



This is my breakdown for the last 7 days. Blue is carbs... too many carbs! The goals from this screenshot are a bit skewed because It's showing data from the last week, and I only changed my macro goals today. They were on 40-30-30% (carbs,fat,protein). After reading into it a bit more, it appears that the better breakdown is 30-30-40%. My fat levels seem to be pretty much on target. I can work on 1% anyway. 

The other difficulty is going to be increasing the protein intake. I have been interested by these protein supplements you can buy but do feel very nervous about them. It seems a bit extreme. Also, there is sooo much to choose from?! How to I know what I need?! This evening I consciously tried to bulk up on the protein. Even with a shed load of chicken in my curry I only managed 23% and still 54% carbs. GRRR!!!!! 

Protein (yes, talking about protein again) is important as it helps with tissue growth and repair. That's what you hear most of. I am now learning that protein replaces the amino acids that are lost during training. If they aren't readily available in your blood steam then that's when the body will eat at muscle.... Read on.

So whilst writing this post, I have taken the plunge and brought some Whey Protein from Bulk Powders. They get alright reviews on Amazon and seem to be quite cheap.. I'll let you know how I get on. Might be a waste of money but I want a six pack, a round bum and fit arms!

Catabolism

Apparently excessive cardio isn't a good thing. Shame really as I feel like I am getting somewhere with the cardio. It is suggested that more than 45 minutes at a steady state or 30 minutes high intensity interval training is too much for the average person. I have heard of HIIT  but haven't ventured that far yet. I assume that the cardio I have been doing is steady. I usually do around 45mins, depending on how energetic I am feeling. This site suggests that becoming catabolic means that the body breaks down muscle for energy rather than using fat stores or recently eaten meals. I guess that's another reason for eating breakfast before working out.

So it's good that I have increased my fruit intake and am now eating breakfast more right? I always knew fruit had lots of sugar in but apparently I should be careful of that! However (hurrah!), it does appear that bananas a excellent pre-workout foods because they are rich in digestible carbohydrates and potassium which maintains nerve ans muscle function. Oats are also on this list, result! Another defending piece of evidence for my smoothie fettish is that fruit and greek yogurt are great pre-workout foods! It's claimed that the protein from yogurt isn't broken down quickly enough for the workout but the carbs from the fruit provide immediate energy and the protein kicks in later for muscle repair.

I have some food for thought now (pardon the pun)...
  1. Cut the carbs down, but not out.
  2. Don't skip breakfast - specially before a workout
  3. Improve my protein intake.
I think my next research based blog post needs to concentrate on meal ideas. Mainly lunch times I think. I can often get an acceptable about of variation in my evening meal but It's lunchtime  that I tend to just fall back on carbs. More salads for me it seems!

Progress...?

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