Monday, 17 December 2012

'We can treat it like its the end of the world' (2012 Chris Brown)

I realise it's been ten months since my last blog update, so many things have happened and 2012 is drawing to a close so I thought it be a perfect time to evaluate my year and tell you about my experiences.

In 2012 I started competing for the IFBB pro league, I turned 30, I won my first professional show and qualified for Olympia 2013, I ended a long term relationship and I travelling to some new places including United States (New York, St Louis, Florida), Canada (Toronto), Portugal, Germany, Tenerife and Czech Republic. 

In March I competed at St Louis Pro Bikini and placed 4th, I was pleased with my result and very happy to have completed my pro debut, I got some good feedback from the judges and looked forward to my next contest.  On 1st June I competed on my 30th birthday in Toronto and placed 9th. I must admit I was not happy with the result but on reflection I feel grateful to even be on the pro stage when there are so many amateur competitors that do not get that opportunity.  After Toronto, I remember coming off stage and thinking to myself 'I'm never doing that again' but it's all about perspective and discovering what you want.  Did I really want to give up the sport?  I would be lost without it and I hadn't achieved all that i wanted to do so  I decided to work on some weaknesses and not give up on my dreams.  I work with Shannon Dey who told me I needed to gain a bit of weight in order to improve, which basically meant I would not be in a calorie deficit so I could develop muscle.   If I'm honest I do struggle with this mentally and physically  but I did my best and I think I made some improvements.  In October I competed at the very first pro bikini event in the UK, British Grand Prix, and placed first. This will always be a memorable experience for me, to have so much support in my home country was amazing.  I qualified for Olympia 2013 which is a dream come true.  Last year I wrote in my blog that I reached my goal of getting a Pro card and this year I am so happy to write that I reached my goal of qualifying for the Olympia.  The week after the British Grand Prix,  I went to Prague to compete at EVL Pro Bikini, I took part in the show with no expectations as I already had the Olympia invite. I placed 5th in a good line up.  Each time you get on stage, you learn something new. I am grateful for the experience. 

In my personal life, I ended a seven year relationship that did not make me happy, my partner was not really supportive and I allowed things to happen that I should not have. Competing can be pretty isolating if you do not have a decent set of people around you, it's definitely not a team sport and travelling alone is not always fun.  I think this year I have grown as a person and my experiences have made me stronger.  I would like to think I am older and wiser and will not make the same mistakes in life.  

Next year I look forward to completing my competitive dream of being the first UK IFBB Bikini Pro on the Olympia stage. I look forward to being able to continue to train and improve my physique and enjoying what training gives me.  Training is my way of life, maybe one day I will give up competing but I will never give up the gym.  There have been days when the gym has been my only friend.  Days when I felt like not getting out of bed but I go to the gym and I feel good again.  Training is not just about the physical body it's about strengthening the mind. It gives me discipline, it gives me strength and courage, allows me time to think things through, evaluate my life and see clearly. 

So 2012 was about 'Doing the things you are most scared of' and for 2013?

Escutar com o coração, confiar em si mesmo - listen with your heart, trust in yourself

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

How do you monitor your weight loss progress?

How do you monitor your weight loss progress? Weight on the scales? Looking in the mirror? Dress size? Body fat calliper tests? This is an interesting subject as the traditional weight on the scales method does not always reflect what is happening to your body. When embarking on a fitness regime, many people are frustrated that the scales do not move or do not move in the right direction. Before I started my fitness program in 2009, my weight was similar to what it is now but I was 21% body fat and now depending on where I am in my contest prep can be anywhere from 11-14%, I weigh on the scales pretty much the same. Okay, so what about body fat tests? In my experience, gym machines are not that accurate and unless you are able to go on a flotation tank, the calliper test or the skin fold site test is probably the most reliable. What are the draw backs with the calliper tests? Well, you are reliant on the accuracy of the trainer to take a measurement from EXACTLY the same site each time and how experienced and skilled the individual is at separating the skin from the muscle. I do get my body fat tested but I use the same trainer each time so there is no room for variation, different people can differ up to 10% each time!! Another thing to consider is water, calliper tests do not take into account water retention under the skin particularly on the Suprailiac and abdomen site. As the body fat percentage is calculated as a total percent of your body, how are silicone implants accounted for? A larger set of implants will make the individual appear heavier indicating the individual has more lean mass than they actually do which in turn will give a lower body fat reading. Another important point to note is that the standard Poliquin Bio signature 12 point calliper test total percentage calculation does NOT include the lower body measurements, in my opinion this is a flaw to the system as many women store the most fat in the lower body, glutes and thighs. My advice on the calliper test is that it can be a useful tool in looking at individual sites, for example if you have changed your diet or training you may want to monitor what part of the body is gaining or losing fat, many factors can influence this including stress, diet and hormonal changes…

What else can you do if you cannot rely solely on the scale and the calliper test? In my opinion the best way to measure your progress is to take and compare regular photographs, record your weight as a guide at the same time each day, preferably in the morning and take the circumference measurements of your hips, waist, thighs etc. and if you wish have a calliper test done by a reputable trainer (I personally use Shaun Stafford as he is the most skilled reliable practitioner of the Bio signature modulation in London You can then look at the picture as a whole. What you should be looking for is, of course depending on your goals and preferences, are marked improvements in comparison pictures and a reduction in the circumferences in waist and positive changes in the circumference of hips, thighs etc. You should also become familiar of your best weight according to how you look rather than what you think you should weigh or what you weighed when you were a teenager! The best way to see where you are really at is open your eyes and be honest with yourself. One point to note that sometimes we can actually be too hard on ourselves so it helps to have someone else look at you or try to look at yourself as if you were looking at a friend.

There is no magic. No supplement, no special exercise, no cabbage soup diet to the rescue. If you want to change the shape of your body, it will come with CONSISTENT training and clean diet, working out your daily macronutrient breakdown and knowing how much you should be eating for your height/weight and goals