What I’ve Been Up To (And Down From)

It has been such a long time I wrote this blog that a lot has happened. To point out that I have done something else than just sleeping and feeling awful I wanted to share some highlights from this year 🙂 . I’m blessed with lots of friends and possibilities to do all kinds of fun and interesting stuff as long as I have some energy and a chance to rest enough afterwards. I’m not giving up on trying to live my life even when my adrenal insufficiency makes it difficult. But I do have to say I never thought or understood how tired one can become when pregnant! If AI exhaustion was bad, then this… More times I can count I’ve literally fallen on the sofa or bed, just to fall asleep the moment my head hits the pillow, or have my feet give up under me completely. No amount of willpower could keep me awake and functioning.

Me with Anni celebrating her book launch on February ❤

On Feb I had my 35th birthday (that I spent working) but before that I had the chance to go and celebrate my former coach and friend, Olympic athlete and weightlifter extraordinaire Anni Vuohijoki’s book launch. Anni published her first book, Voima kanssamme (Power with Us) this year and yes, it’s a great book and especially I recommend it to all women who are interested in becoming strong both mentally and physically in their lives ❤ .

I couldn’t have been happier for Anni when she won her first weightlifting European Championships medals this year – bronze on clean&jerk and on total ❤ ❤ !! She is an exemplary athlete with professional team supporting her and has made huge progress the whole time I’ve known her. She makes a great example that if you want to reach the top, you need to have everything in order – your health, nutrition, mental game, finances, great coaching on all aspects and still remember to have fun!

Anni also keeps an English vlog nowadays, go and check it out here !

Anni is simply the best !!<3

I’ve had lots of issues with my pregnancy that are still difficult for me to go through without crying. I will try to write about the health stuff later. But there was a scare that my baby wasn’t growing normally – there are still issues that are followed, and I had to change my maternity hospital because of not getting treatment and consultations I needed due to both my adrenal insufficiency and problems with extremely low blood sugar that caused symptoms and was one factor why I was unable to work. I got symptomatic hypoglycemic attacks they simply refused to study and treat and was forced to go to private doctors and registered dietitian to try and sort things out with my health. The mental strain was unimaginable and if I wasn’t fighting not only for myself but also for the sake of my unborn child I don’t know how I would’ve made it sane.

I also had troubles believing I was pregnant as I didn’t have a big baby bump until on my fifth month. Because of some suboptimal nutritional decisions made in the early pregnancy I gained almost 6 kilos in the first trimester (!!) and mostly felt like overweight person, not a pregnant woman. Also my placenta is placed very anterior so that I only started to feel real kicks on weeks 23-24 – I had only slight, weird, light touch sensations that could have been anything before.

I had to look at the ultrasound pictures over and over again to realize I was pregnant before the constant kicking started 🙂

On Easter, my Christmas came early when my favorite lecture team from Renaissance Periodization finally came to Finland to present all things related to recovery and nutrition for serious athletes ❤ . Science is truly stronger! Last time I saw Drs Israetel, Hoffman and Davis was on their London seminar two years ago. Read more on my trip on post “Nutrition, Training & Recovery” -seminar in London 🙂 .

Once again, the seminar was absolutely fantastic. I can wholeheartedly recommend everyone serious about their fitness and progress to check out RP’s website and especially their ebook section as well as RP+ membership!

As a RP fan who follows their work there wasn’t so much new to learn as for many others attending, but I got some cool new insights into volume landmarks in training and was able to ask tons of questions at their Q & A and also got them on video to share with my fellow fitness coaches on my fitness team Finnish Physique Academy with their permission. That was great! Especially I benefited from info about transitioning from diet to mass phase with female physique athletes and different methods of progress during a mesocycle when training petite females. I also got to ask questions my fellow coaches wanted to find out.

Dr. Mike tells more about MY favorite type of massing diet!

More on high carb, low fat massing:

Dr. Hoffman presents everything you need to know about recovery strategies!

To really learn all you can about recovery and adaptation and training volume, get RR’s books Recovering From Training and How Much Should I Train? as they are both golden!

Melissa’s diet presentations were great as well – especially the dieting mindset part! ❤
We had a great gang of eager students and simply the best teachers ❤ – and special thanks to my friend Ulrika and her husband for company during the course!

I have had issues with training as my tiredness and low mood have prevented me from doing as much as I would’ve liked, and then not accomplishing anything has made my mood even darker with lots of self accusations and shame. I know a lot of women are too tired to exercise as much as they’d like during pregnancy and I have my AI as complicating issue as well. If I was all fired up and energetic and feeling good I wouldn’t be on sick leave now would I?? But coming to terms that my brain wasn’t working at all and my body didn’t respond to my wishes was a tough thing. Having friends to cheer me up was really important. There were a lot of times I felt really alone and sad in Hamina, as I only have one close friend there and I was too tired to reach out to even her most of the time.

Luckily I have lots of good friends in the Helsinki metropolitan area I got to see every time I had energy to drive to stay with my mother in Espoo ❤ . We went to train and have lunch with my personal trainer friend and see a mutual friend’s gig in Helsinki with another. I’ve been to water running again – only once, but this week I’m going again with a friend to a nearby swimming hall. It also has outdoor swimming pool open in the summer and I’m already waiting anxiously to go! I’ve had troubles to go and do stuff by myself due to tiredness, brain fog and depression issues. Especially starting something has been almost impossible. I just procrastinate until forever, it seems.

A good meal after a good workout with a friend ❤
I had a chance to enjoy a friend’s gig at legandary Raffaello’s terrace in Helsinki with good company
Dance Storm, you rock !!

On Mother’s Day, we drove to Loviisa to visit my mother-in-law with my husband and the dogs. The weather was wonderful and afterwards we sat for a while in the city marina. We also visited the ruins of Loviisa bastioni, a fortress built in the 18th century.

The weather has been exceptionally warm and sunny for most of May here in Finland. Even warmer than in Spain I heard !! I don’t feel so good in high temperatures especially AI wise, so most of the time I try to spend the hottest hours indoors and go out later in the evening. We had a nice picnic with my hubby one day at local Pitkäthiekat (Long sands) and he took both Franz and Maksim swimming. Franz actually hates to swim but he can if he has to… Maksim seemed to enjoy his first dip in the ocean, though! Afterwards they both were satisfied as the grueling heat had gotten to them, and refreshed from their swim they played at the beach for a while. There is still birds’ nesting season and they were on leash and what a circus they made as they got tangled all over…

Franz and Maksim enjoying a wonderful Mother’s Day weather in Loviisa
Taking my little ones and my tummy out to check Loviisa bastioni with hubby ❤
Maksim after his first ever swim in the ocean (!)
In our first picnic this year enjoying the weather at the beach in Hamina ❤

These past two weeks have probably been my happiest during this pregnancy. I’m not crying anymore, and I feel I have more energy to do things. I still sleep about 12 hours per day, but I’m not as brain fogged all the time as I was and have been able to exercise more consistently 3-4 times per week at the gym and do some light walking as far as I can. I’ve started to get contractions and low back pain if I walk too much. But I’ll write about my pregnancy exercise routine more thoroughly next time!

Wishing you wonderful summery feelings,

xoxo,

Veera

Advertisements

Cruising Forward

Image source

Truly Happy and Joyous Easter to all my readers ❤ !

I had a wonderful Easter on a cruise to Estonia with some old and new lifting friends aboard Silja Europa ❤ . I was really happy I got invited to the cruise with coach Anni and her fellow weightlifters and friends 🙂 .

Me and Anni ❤

I don’t have that much friends who lift seriously or at all so I’m happy whenever I get to meet like-minded people who also don’t wonder when I contemplate already on cruise when will my next workout be or roll their eyes at the quantity of food I eat even when dieting – or start lecturing me that I shouldn’t even diet in the first place as I’m already lean and blah, blah. I want to be an athlete and I may have different goals than regular people. That doesn’t mean that I can’t eat anything or don’t know how to relax and party.

Our merry crew 🙂 ❤

I had decided to play safe and took a HUGE amount of cortisone – 30 mg prednisolone during the 23 hour cruise, that is 4 times my normal dose – to be able to stay up late and do what normal people do. We danced in the ship’s disco until I called it quits ad 3:30 AM ❤ .

I also got to eat a lot at the ship’s buffet as I had decided I’ll have free 24 hour period to eat whatever I want to and sure I hit the dessert table 😉 I have such a big sweet tooth 😀 … Luckily, or unluckily depending on viewpoint, my 7 weeks of dieting had shrunk my stomach so that I couldn’t eat that much as I would’ve liked… I did buy a chocolate bar and one bag of candy but in the end didn’t even eat those as I just wasn’t hungry after a good sized dinner and breakfast buffet’s.

The weather in Tallinn was amazing:

Our ship, the Silja Europa was under major refurbishment last year when it returned to Finland from Australia to begin cruising the Helsinki-Tallinn route. Some pictures of the ship:

Silja Europa – image source

Image source

After I got home things haven’t been quite as nice, which should’ve been expected. I tried to return to my normal cortisone dose immediately after the cruise even though I was still recovering from lack of sleep and lots and lots of activity – idiot me… On Saturday alone I walked almost 17,000 steps in Tallinn doing some shopping.

Now I’ve updosed and hope my tiredness, vertigo and nausea will pass soon. It’s not nice when you can feel your heart thump so hard you think it will jump out your chest any minute and try to not take notice that you feel like you’re going to puke but then again can’t. Even if I try to rest it doesn’t help, I simply lie on the bed with my eyes closed but can’t sleep as I feel so horrible. Normal people at least get the hangover straight after cruise, not delayed and lasting for days and days… 😦

If I start to feel better I’ll try to make it to the gym to do my deload workout. Next week I’ll be starting a new training cycle and am already thinking about what exercises I’ll select. Now I’ve gone 5 weeks without barbell squatting as I did belt and hack squats to try to work on my quads more and get them to grow without my stronger back getting in the way of quad gains. I guess now it’s time for regular back squats and leg press, then. I’m still doing longer sets, approximately 6-15 reps and lots of sets. With bench I think I’m going for regular and close grip bench in the new cycle.

Though I’m still dieting I feel like I’ve recovered well enough for the most part. My sleep is always a bit of an issue, I sleep very restlessly and fidget a lot. It’s usual that I wake up several times a night as well. I guess that is one of the reasons I need 9-10 hours of sleep; I just don’t sleep deep enough. I used melatonin for about 2 years but recently have tried to go without, just to reduce the amount of pills I take, and don’t really see any difference in my sleeping patterns if I compare how I slept with the drug to how I sleep now. Though I only have my Fitbit tracker’s sleep data to analyze.

The only nagging thing regarding recovery is still my left glute, namely the small, annoying quadratus femoris muscle that has again mildly aggravated from high volume training. It’s tight and sometimes a bit achy, especially when it’s stretched like when doing stiff legged deadlifts and good mornings. I’ll try to get it massaged well, take some NSAID painkillers and let it rest properly during my deload. I’ll have to select exercises that won’t aggravate the condition more for my new training mesocycle and hope the situation will improve with time. I’ve still been training my glutes with direct work like bands, cable etc. and at least my medial glute tendinitis is completely healed.

More about quadratus femoris rehabilitation here: http://www.eastwestmassageboston.com/quadratus-femoris-muscle-treatment.html

Next week I’ll also start my personal trainer studies. I’m excited and happy, not at all nervous as we’re now having some basic studies about good nutrition, recovery and fundamentals of resistance and endurance exercise. Maybe I’ll find new friends interested in lifting from the course! 🙂

Nice and relaxing Easter Monday for everyone,

xoxo,

Veera

Image source

New Career Path Ahead

I have wonderful news! I’m since this week a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified nutrition coach 🙂 !!

I finished my studies after two weeks of intense reading and doing online exams. I’m really excited and anxious to get new clients I can use my skills and all the knowledge I’ve gathered about dieting, mass gaining, healthy nutrition, change psychology and making permanent life changes 🙂 . This is all the stuff I’ve wanted to do with my patients as a doctor but haven’t had time as usually appointments are very short and we aren’t allocated time to talk about lifestyle interventions, which is so sad. I’m planning to open an online consulting business so I can help people no matter their location as I’m still living half the time in Espoo and other half in Hamina.

And this isn’t the only change in my life – next week I’ll be starting personal trainer studies!  I’m enrolled to graduate as a Trainer4You personal trainer this December 🙂 . I’m really psyched up about this and extremely happy that all my beloved ones and friends have been really supportive about my new career path. I’ll be also starting studies this autumn to become a certified fitness coach. The course is meant for people interested in coaching fitness competitors in fitness, body fitness (figure), bikini fitness, men’s physique, women’s physique and classic bodybuilding. The Finnish Fitness Alliance is Finnish Olympic Committee member and under IFBB umbrella, and is committed to drug-free sports and competitors are subject to WADA testing. I’ve been a fitness enthusiast since the 90’s and it will be so fun to connect with my old love again ❤ .

I’ll be continuing working as geriatric consult as usual but I hope I can start my side business with lifestyle medicine and getting people in shape and encouraging them to adopt healthy eating habits and maybe even help someone to step on stage in high heels one day 🙂 .

xoxo,

Veera

 

Dieting Fundamentals

Here’s a great new podcast where David O’Connor from Doc Fitness interviews Sigma Nutrition‘s Danny Lennon, who I’m a great fan of and have written about several times.

If you’re interested in losing weight the right way, and finding out what the right way for YOU is, give this a listen!

Listen the podcast here (sorry couldn’t get the player to work directly on this page).

My diet is progressing well. No cravings and good energy for a change 🙂 . Last week I reduced calories by cutting my fat intake as my weight loss has now stalled and my weight actually bumped up almost a kilo. This was the first time I had to decrease calories so as I’m now in week 5 of my diet things are going well. When looking at the mirror I appear to have lost weight – my face is more gaunt, and I seem to have more muscle definition allover. The weight increase is probably due to water weight.

Even the masochistic RP powerlifting hypertrophy workouts have been fun – so far 😉 … I have one more workout left from week 2 and the next two weeks will be considerably more challenging. But hell, bring it on! Progress is inevitable 🙂 . I love to train so lots of volume and sets is a nice change.

Losing size from waist, preferably not from my tiny quads…

Last Saturday I did:

Hack squat 8 x 65 kg 12, 11, 10, 10, 10, 8, 8, 7

Incline DB press 6 x 15 kg 7, 7, 8, 7, 5, 7

Parallel pullups assisted on machine 5 x (-17.5 kg) 8, 7, 6, 5, 5

Cable upright row 4 x 40 kg 8, 9, 9, 8

Cable donkey kicks 2 x 15 kg 15, 13 – I’m doing these to rehab my glutes after my tendinitis problems. Doing direct glute work with bands etc has helped tremendously and I’m completely pain free at the moment 🙂

Sit ups with twist 3 x 5 kg 12, 8, 8

Rest is also very important and I’ve been focusing on getting enough quality sleep, 8-9 hours per night. It means getting ready for bed early enough and shutting off all the distractions like TV and putting out the smartphone – ouch! Luckily we all value sleep very highly in my household 🙂 ❤ .
Franz knows the essence of recovery!

Another important method of winding down and getting my parasympathetic nervous system on the groove is doing stuff I enjoy on rest days, like reading and watching movies. Last weekend we watched The Accountant – it was great! Highly recommended, I’d give it 4.5 stars out of 5. If you have a great plot, action, Ben Affleck and sniper rifles in a movie, you can’t go wrong ❤ .

Exciting new week folks,

xoxo,

Veera

Back To Diet Mode Again

How fast time flies… I returned to work two weeks ago, and luckily have coped better than I expected. No stupid mistakes or brain fog. That’s thanks to my wonderful colleagues and friends who talked sense into my thick skull and got me to start taking my SNRI medication again. That was one of the medications I wrote about earlier that I was trying to quit in my post Not F***ing Giving Up. SNRIs are a group of drugs called selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake and are used used to treat depression. The drug I was taking, venlafaxine, can also increase pain tolerance and alertness. At least it did both of those things with me. The withdrawal symptoms were only getting worse and also my mood darkened so I had no choice if I wanted to be able to function normally but to start taking venlafaxin again. I know there is a possibility that with enough weeks of suffering and triple-dosing cortisone might hae helped but as I really had to return to work I saw this wasn’t a viable option at the moment. I had to choose the lesser of two evils. Now I feel both mentally and physically fine – at least most of the time 🙂 .
This might not have been the perfect moment to start a new diet, but… Well, I kinda did. What can I say? An idiot is always an idiot… And I wanted to stick to the plan I had made earlier about starting a diet together with my man and a couple of friends so we could cheer and support each other. Now I decided minimal fuss with no progress pictures or measurements, and only twice-weekly weigh-ins. The diet plan is the same I used last summer, provided by Renaissance PeriodizationSo far in 3 weeks I’ve lost 2,9 kilos weighing now 65,1 kg. Perfectly on track! – thanks to RP! 🙂 I plan to diet another 4-5 weeks only, maybe cutting the diet even shorter if necessary health-wise. Now I had to increase my daily dose of cortisone by up to 33% going from 30 mg hydrocortisone equivalent amount of prednisolone to 40 mg. It’s still within limits of what can be expected as I just got back to working again so it’s a “new” stressor, and it’s perfectly normal that when dieting, cortisol values will rise in normal, healthy people, even up to double amounts.
I also started a new hypertrophy program for powerlifters, again courtesy of Renaissance Periodization. I can’t wait for my next mass season and the huge muscle gains with this! So far I’ve done 2 of the 4 workouts, all full-body sessions. Love the volume and the pump! Still leaving the sets 3 reps short of failure, with intensity increasing every week until deload by increasing weight used and leaving less reps in the tank.
Workout 1:
Stiff legged deadlift from deficit 3 x 60 kg 6, 7, 7
Belt squat 5 x 15 kg added weight 11, 11, 10, 11, 9
This is a new favorite of mine! Check down below for video of the movement 🙂
Wide grip bench press 3 x 42.5 kg 8, 10, 10
High bar good morning 3 x 40 kg 8, 8, 8
Ab wheel standing (assisted, with rubber band) 3 x 6, 6, 6
Workout 2:
Hack squat 7 x 30 (added weight) kg 6, 7, 8, 8, 7, 7, 6
Incline DB press 6 x 15 kg 7, 7, 6, 4, 5, 7
Parallel pullups machine assisted 4  x -20 kg 6, 6, 6, 5
Cable upright row 3 x 45 kg 7, 6, 6
Sit ups w/twist 5 kg plate 3 x 12, 10, 8
Here’s a great video of Marisa Inda, one of my favorite female powerlifters, training squat and also my new favorite movement, the belt squat. I have a relatively strong back compared to my quads so it’s an absolute must to start doing. I love the burn I get doing this ❤ !
Wishing all a great next week,
xoxo,
Veera

A Little Celebration Is Quite In Order

Finally, here are the results from my diet. I couldn’t be happier 🙂 – fat loss 8.2% in ten weeks !! My fat percent 7.7 is misleading as only skinfold measurements are taken, the actual fat % is quite higher, but most important for me is that the measures are comparable. It’s cool how much better all my clothes seem to fit ❤

I used Renaissance Periodization’s Diet Auto Templates and I followed my plan 98% at least. No cheats or even cravings. My strength stayed about the same until week 8 of the diet. The last 3 weeks of my 10 week diet were pretty tough with extreme tiredness and brain fog. I had to updose my hydrocortisone as I otherwise would never have made it through my workouts, let alone been able to work at all. But in the end it was all worth it!

I think I’ve proven without reasonable doubt that even with adrenal insufficiency and difficult hypothyroidism you can absolutely lose weight and get into great shape!

Here are my BioSignature results:

biosigdieetti

Now I’ve transitioned into mass gaining phase :). Damn, it’s good to EAT lots and lots of food for a change! I’d like to gain 3-5 kilos in the next 2-3 months. I follow RP’s mass gaining template, but in addition it’s ok to eat some extra treats like ice-cream etc. to get more calories in and indulge a bit from time to time.

 I’m currently training 5 times per week, 4 days are both weightlifting and powerlifting practice and one pure hypertrophy workout mostly for upper body. On Wednesday and Friday I have weightlifting school at Crossfit 8000 box. I has been so much fun to do weightlifting regularly again after the summer break! ❤ I think I also see some progress already with my technique as my weightlifting session volume has quadrupled from spring :).

I’ve still been somewhat tired – okay, that’s an understatement in a way that without stress dosing I wouldn’t be able to work even part time at the moment. I’ve filed for full disability for a year’s period from work insurance. We’ll see what the verdict is. My endo, professor Välimäki also thinks I need to lower my cortisone dose but if I try to work even 20 hours per week I’m not able to at the moment.

So far I’ve managed to do my work. Franz has been keeping me company <3. I need all the cheering I can get. Otherwise I love autumn, but the early morning wakings into cold and dark aren’t my favorite at all…

20160908_102245.jpg
Franz was really perky and “helped” me at work for a while…
20160823_081629.jpg
…until he got a little sleepy 😀

Besides my diet success, my boyfriend got as good results from his fat loss diet and is now in maintanance phase. This was a great reason to gather some friends over, eat tasty food (at last!), clink glasses and of course play Eldrich Horror! 🙂

20160917_165252.jpg
It was fantastic to get to eat this stuff again 🙂
20160917_180443.jpg
Playing Eldrich Horror is SOOO fun ❤
20160917_182326.jpg
My unfortunate character (K.I.A.)

Right now I’m trying very hard not to get sick. I feel a cold coming and my asthma is acting up a bit. Hopefully with some rest / light workouts and lots of vitamin C and zinc I can banish this nuisance soon.

xoxo,

Veera

heart

Dieting Tradeoffs

A couple of weeks ago I re-listened to an older episode of Sigma Nutrition Radio podcast where Danny Lennon interviewed John Berardi, founder and CEO of Precision Nutrition. If you haven’t heard of them, DO check them out at www.precisionnutrition.com :).

You can listen the episode here: SNR #93: John Berardi, PhD – Dieting Trade-offs, Applying Science to Practice & the Future of Nutrition

I’ve been a big fan of Precision Nutrition since about 2008 when I first learned about them. I admire the scientific, but personalized approach they have about nutrition, and that general wellbeing and psychology are taken into account regarding nutrition and diet. I’ve previously participated in PN’s Lean Eating Coaching Program and am actually in the midst of doing their Nutrition Coaching Level 1 Certification. Though I’ve really been short of time in advancing with it as I’ve had so much work and other commitments to do – but I’ll get back to it one day :).

What I wanted to write about was the idea of trade-offs. Nothing in life worth pursuing comes without a price tag. Want to be a doctor? You have to be willing to skip parties and other fun events in order to study for hours almost every day during prep and in med school. And – surprise – even after graduating you have to give up some of your free time to keep up to date on latest science and treatment advancements. If you’re more interested in making easy money and having lots of time for hobbies and family, you probably won’t become a professor of neurosurgery.

Want to learn a new skill? Even though the 10,000 hour rule has at least partly been debunked, truly mastering something will take years and thousands of hours of commitment. It’s time away from something else. I know I’ll never be a great, or even good, krav maga practitioner, as I so rarely have time to train it anymore, but I’ll settle for mediocre (at best). Powerlifting and weightlifting are more important to me right now. Though I still wouldn’t miss the annual Utti summer camp for any price :).

What’s important to me might not mean so much to you. This is just the same with nutrition. We all don’t need to eat like a bodybuilding pro or a figure competitor during his/her last weeks of contest prep. My Renaissance Periodization’s diet plan has proved it.

Most people can achieve a toned “beach body” look without eating only tuna, rice and broccoli, weighing every morsel of food and losing their sanity. But don’t think you can look great – or be healthy – if your diet resembles a heart attack on plate…

Image source (and recipe for anyone interested in obtaining coronary heart disease)

But, if you’re fantasizing about totally ripped muscles with bulging veins, washboard abs, absolute quad definition or maybe even striated glutes, you’re gonna have suffer for it. It usually means dealing with hunger, abstaining from party food and eating out – even following IIFYM. You have to be ready to trade feeling good to looking good. In order to make informed decisions you have to be able to jot down the positives and negatives that follow that decision. Precision Nutrition has made a clear infographic to detail some of the things that are needed to achieve a certain level of “leanness”. Of course there are always some outliers, but for the majority of people out there I think this is a very good example :).

Here’s the infographic from PN’s article “The Cost Of Getting Lean”:

You can read the full article here.

I started my cutting diet partly because my boyfriend decided he should go on a diet and I wanted to support him. I also felt I was finally ready to do it. This spring was extremely fatiguing both mentally and physically. Before summer I wasn’t in a place to give attention and energy to a follow a strict nutrition plan. I feel I did exactly the right thing when I concentrated only on two nutrition goals: eating enough veggies and fruit and getting enough quality protein to prevent my health and muscles from deteriorating when my illnesses flared up and I couldn’t work out regularly. But now I am ready, and have been following my diet program 100%, and with great results to share soon :). 

I don’t – yet – have definition in my abs, but my clothes fit better day by day and I feel more comfortable in my body – more like an athlete. My performance is constantly improving. Right now I’m more than willing to trade eating ice cream and not having to count my macros to that great feeling and improved esthetics.

What are your goals, and what are you willing to trade to reach them?

xoxo,

Veera

Bench Presses And Benchmarks

Wow, I’ve now written this blog for a whole year! Thanks everyone for following my journey – I hope to continue writing about my life, training and of course adrenal insufficiency for a long time… 🙂

First off, I have some amazing news: my coach Anni Vuohijoki will be lifting in the Rio Olympic Games!! I’m so happy for her, she really has deserved her spot among Finland’s Olympic Team :). She’s such a great athlete whose dedication to weightlifting and overall attitude I admire and look up to. ❤ So follow women’s 63 kilos class in Rio! 🙂

Follow Anni here:

https://www.facebook.com/annivuohijokiweightlifting/

http://anni.vuohijoki.com/

My training during the past month has gone really smoothly and I’m extremely satisfied with my consistency there. I haven’t really missed any workouts and have mostly hit the designated numbers in all my lifts. Only in the last week before my deload I missed my bench press 5 x 10 with 45 kilos and back squats 5 x 10 with 60 kilos. Partly that may have been due to the fact that I’ve now been dieting for the last 4 weeks, with good results overall. My deadlift hasn’t suffered at all, my mood has been good and I haven’t had any hunger pangs or cravings. What I’m especially happy about is that my boyfriend has been dieting with me and that has made the whole process so much easier as we’ve prepped meals together and have been able to support each other ❤ .

We’re both following Renaissance Periodization‘s Auto Diet Templates. I’ve written about RP before, lastly about my trip to London to the Training & Recovery Seminar. I can wholeheartedly recommend RP’s diet templates – both for massing and cutting – for any serious athlete out there. As their motto says, “Science Is Stronger” :). I’ve never felt better dieting down and the auto templates are so easy to use – my boyfriend who has never (truly!) followed any diet program got the gist of it really quickly and has progressed from total newbie to walking automatic macro calculator… 🙂

I will tell more about my cutting progress after I get some caliper measurements done next week. I’m excited to see how my skinfold measurements have progressed besides my weight.

I recently read a great article at Strengtheory.com about a bench press technique tweak that really “clicked” when I tried it at my last benching session. The bar really seemed to move so much more effortlessly. I usually lift alone and at the commercial gym where I train there aren’t any people well versed in powerlifting who could look and comment on my technique. I try to read articles about lifting technique and watch Youtube videos of good lifters and pick up clues how to better my lifts. This is one of the best enlightened moments since learning how to arch my back and pull my lats back – I was a flat bencher just two years ago…

So what’s the ado all about? Bar movement pattern. I’ve always been pressing the bar straight up. But I now learned that the most efficient bar path – and one all advanced level lifters seem to use – is back (toward your face) and up. Here’s the whole article: Fix Your Bar Path For A Bigger Bench.

I also suggest you read How To Bench – The Definitive Guide – it’s pure diamond and completely free! Greg Nuckols is a genious – a great writer and even greater powerlifter 🙂 I love his stuff and try to learn as much as I can from his articles and watch his lifts.

Now we’re spending my rest day chilling out with Franz at my mom’s backyard :). He’s now fully recovered from his wrist surgery and we’ve been enjoying longer walks in the beautiful Finnish nature again ❤ .

20160724_172157.jpg

After I’ve gotten some much needed R&R, in the beginning of next week I’ll hitting the gym and next weekend hitting other people as it’s yet again time for the annual Krav Maga Summer Camp at Utti…!!

Take care,

xoxo,

Veera 

“Nutrition, Training & Recovery” -seminar in London

Last weekend I attended “Nutrition, Training & Recovery” seminar by Renaissance Periodization’s ultratalented team of Dr’s James Hoffman and Mike Israetel in London.

And – WOW. This broscience attack squad completely overloaded my neurons with knowledge so that I may have to deload a full month before I recover from the information assault… I can’t truly express the extent of my happiness and gratitude for this experience. Actually, I’m almost speechless with awe, and that doesn’t happen very often to me :).

I was so deeply enthralled by the presentations I seem to have only hazy memories of the two seminar days. Without my notes and the picture below to prove it I probably could’ve wondered whether this was all a dream… I’m extremely thankful for our wonderful hosts Steve Hall and Mike Samuels for arranging the seminar!

Me with RP’s Melissa Davis, James Hoffman and Mike Israetel ❤

Dr. Mike Israetel is an Assistant Professor of Exercise Science in Temple University, a bodybuilder, powerlifter AND a Brasilian Jiu-Jitsu grappler 🙂 – I’d really hate to wrestle this guy… Though I wouldn’t dare challenge him intellectually, either – his formidable wit combined with clear and precise presentation skills and great humor simply makes this girl all humble and week on the knees… 😉

I also enjoyed immensely from Dr. James Hoffman‘s presentations, especially regarding recovery. With adrenal insufficiency my recovery resources are seriously limited, and while taking good care of nutrition and seeing to that I train smart but hard, it’s extremely important for me to know how I can enhance recovery. He was very kind to talk with me in more detail about cortisol and it’s role in recovery processes, as well.

It was great that James had brought his girlfriend, Melissa Davis with him as she was such a sweet and smart person, I was so happy to get to meet her :). She’s also part of team Renaissance Periodization, a PhD of Neurobiology and Behavior and a Jiu-Jitsu grappler as well – amazing! She also co-authored RP’s great nutrition and diet book for women, more on that below :).

Men and horses, prick up your ears as Dr. Hoffman cracks the science behind recovery!

As a whole, we attendees were a very strength training -oriented and enthusiastic group and were treated royally with absolutely fantastic lectures, for example about proper nutrition, workout principles for muscle hypertrophy and planning a proper strength training program and yearly planning for athletes.

Muscle hypertrophy – it’s magic ( if you’re not Gandalf or Brad Schoenfeld 😉 )

If you want to learn more about how to perform better, I can’t recommend highly enough that you go and buy the RP’s Scientific Principles Of Strength Training and Renaissance Diet ebooks. Also, a must have for us ladies, and for anyone who coaches women, is their Renaissance Woman nutrition ebook. I’m already anxiously waiting for the Recovery book Mike and James are currently writing…

The event was also videoed – thanks again to Steve Hall! Here’s a small taste of the wisdom we were treated with shared by Steve in his facebook page:

 

If you already don’t, immediately begin follow these extraordinary gentlemen as they share absolutely great info to fuel your fitness ambitions:

Steve Hall – Facebook – Macros, Bodybuilding & Powerlifting with Revive Stronger  /  http://revivestronger.com/ 

Mike Samuels – Facebook – Healthy Living, Heavy Lifting  /  http://www.healthylivingheavylifting.com/ 

Mike Israetel – Facebook

Renaissance Periodization – http://renaissanceperiodization.com/

What else did I do in London? Ummm… I slept :). Traveling with AI has previously lead to some near catastrophes even with someone accompanying me. Now I was abroad alone for the first time after my diagnosis so I had to consider my health and make sure I recovered well enough. I didn’t want to experience another near-crisis incident as last year in Copenhagen. (See Copenhagen Mania Part 1 and Part 2 and Pre-Crisis Symptoms And Adrenaline Rushes Part 1 and Part 2)

Well, this time overstressing myself was really not an issue. I was so worn out after both days I simply dragged my weary body to the hotel on autopilot as my neurons were crazily firing all over the place, and crashed on the bed. No wild partying as I fell asleep at 10 PM 😂😂. I have to admit I felt jealous and a bit depressed as I thought about other people – healthy and normal people – and what they would have done, or what would my old self have done when spending a weekend in such a fantastic city as London. But my life is what it is and having a poor-little-girl pity party wouldn’t have changed my circumstances one bit. We all have to make trade-offs of some kind in our lives. I needed to take good care of my wellbeing by sleeping enough so I was able to follow the great lectures we had and learn in order to become a better and wiser athlete.

At least I got to treat myself to a small but effective shopping spree as the seminar was held on Saturday and Sunday, but due to health reasons to get enough rest I had booked my return flight for Monday. I can just say I went totally wild in London’s premium sci-fi and fantasy bookstore Forbidden Planet <3. Later I completed maxing out my Visa and Master Card in Foyles’ flagship bookstore to get some new medicine and exercise science additions for my home library. My strength workout for the day was to carry all the books to the hotel :D. And as it was my last day in UK, and I had been a very good and clever girl with my macros, my diet was flexible enough to fit some Chinese delicacies as well as a “small” dessert ;)…

Lunch in Chinatown 🙂
The SMALL dessert
@Piccadilly in great weather
Leicester Square
Bought just a couple of books…

Overall, last weekend’s seminar was one of the the best I’ve ever attended. Period. And I proved to myself I can travel with AI – alone – and handle it. Though I missed my boyfriend on several occasions as we had so much fun the last time we were in London together and it would’ve been nice to share all my excitement and joy of new knowledge and all my new experiences with someone.

After getting back home I was crushed, though. It took me this whole week to get back to my feet. Literally. During the trip I had doubled my hydrocortisone, but after coming home when I tried to lower the dose I was wiped out. I could only sleep and lie on the sofa. Standing up I was dizzy, mildly nauseous and weak. My muscles cramped. I’m still taking 1.5x my normal HC dose but I hope I can soon go lower. So, traveling was nice for spirit, not so nice for body. I rest my AI case – pun intended.

But yesterday I finally got to the gym after a whole week’s break. And with luck this evening will be dedicated to deadlifting <3. I’m also soon meeting with my coach Anni to discuss our battle plan regarding rest of year 2016 – stay tuned! 🙂

xoxo,

Veera

A Quick Update And Lyle McDonald Interview

Hiya! Again I’m posting irregularly, thanks to lots and lots of work… Sorry about that! First, I want to tell some good news – I’m feeling a whole lotta better now after the fixes in my thyroid meds and starting the iron supplementation. I’ve gotten almost two weeks – wow! – worth of good training done and am if not hundred, then at least 80 percent more energetic :). And, no fever, no flu, no asthma whatsoever. Yippee! ❤

I’ve been absent from the weightlifting school from different reasons such as car breaking down, extreme tiredness before and work duties but will now try to make up for my absences during the last one and half months. I’ve attended also powerlifting school for in Helsingin Atleettiklubi (HAK), which is my new lifting club. I’ve gotten good feedback on my form, which has made me a very happy girl :). Now just need to add more weight to the bar and sky’s the limit… Next Wednesday will be the last part of the powerlifting school and I’m gonna try and get more pointers for my squat which is currently my obvious weakest link.

Now I’ve been at Lahti at my mom’s home and working from there through the whole Easter Holidays. Franz has kept me company. ❤ ❤

20160326_211106.jpg

20160326_211011.jpgLast night I had a good squat workout at Fressi Lahti. Did front squats 5 x 5 with 45 kilos, which is a good weight for me :). The gym was almost completely empty – oh, the peace! Then I chilled out with a good book and my own Easter treats – no chocolate for me, as I’m trying really hard to clean my diet to lose the extra weight I’ve gained in the last couple of months due taking massive amounts of cortisone and being hypothyroid.

20160327_193822.png

But now I want to share this great interview of Lyle McDonald by IceCream4PRs’ Jeff Nippard where they talk about Nutrition and Training for Women – Part 1. Enjoy! 🙂

Happy Easter from me and Franz!

xoxo,

Veera