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…

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Franz was really perky and “helped” me at work for a while…
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…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! 🙂

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It was fantastic to get to eat this stuff again 🙂
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Playing Eldrich Horror is SOOO fun ❤
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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

“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

My Attitude Towards Nutrition

As a prelude to this post, I will tell you a secret. Last Thursday, I messed up my diet. Oopsie. I was in a geriatric symposium with good company and after the day’s lectures we had a dinner buffet and some wine. Well, at least I had wine! Two large glasses. Enough to cloud my judgement. I was in a great mood but also had been suffering from a lot of stress lately. So I figured what the heck. I let go of thinking about macros, my overall nutrition plan and whether it was a good idea to have any more wine. I went off the rails big time.

Instead of going straight home, I went and bought a bottle of white wine and food, food, food. That night I drank almost the whole bottle (ouch!) and ate a loaf of cashew-cranberry ciabatta bread nearly the size of my dog, a handful of chocolate cookies and half a bowl of ice cream. The next day I had a slight hangover. Luckily, only slight! But unlike previously, I didn’t suffer from the often lot more dangerous and longer-lasting mental hangover.

Why didn’t I fall into self pity, despair and self accusations over my dietary mistake? Or begin a week-long binge as I already blew it for one day? Why was I able to forgive my lapse and move on immediately the next day? There are a couple of reasons:

  • I look at the big picture. One night of over-indulgence won’t wreck my whole year. Maybe it will set me back a few days. If so, what the heck? I’m not going into competition right now. I have room to be more flexible on a day to day basis. Of course I have to be more careful if I’m planning on entering a powerlifting meet where I’ll need to be at a certain weight.
  • I’ve learned to forgive myself and move on. There’s no reason to go over past mistakes. Any self mutilation, mental or physical – for example, restrictive eating after a binge – won’t magically erase the calories consumed. It won’t make me feel better about myself or prevent the same from happening again. Instead, I can learn from my mistakes and try to be more mindful in the future. So – less wine for me in the next congress 😀

Looking back, I haven’t really been eating that well this year. At times, I’ve followed my calories and macros, but for a long period I was simply too tired and exhausted to put in any effort or care. I know it’s not ideal. But my life isn’t ideal, either. I can’t dwell too long on remembering how many cupcakes I ate last week, or how many exercise sessions I missed. I need to focus on recovering my strength both physically and mentally. If I want to eat properly and fuel my body, I need to be able to plan my diet, go to the grocery store, and prepare my meals. I didn’t have the energy to do that. I was that tired. That’s one more reason why I need to do what’s really best for me, not what’s best in someone else’s opinion about my treatment protocols for AI, immunodeficiency, asthma, hypothyroidism, back issues etc. I want and need more than just to be able to barely function on a day to day basis. I want to improve my physique and performance.

Flexible dieting for me means flexibility in both food choices and my mindset about eating. I don’t need to categorize foods into “good” and “bad”. I don’t need to binge eat and restrict. I don’t need to cut calories drastically. If I slip from my diet plans somewhere along the way, I’ll get back into the saddle the next day and continue.

Below I’ve added some of the resources that have affected my way of thinking about nutrition. First, here’s a link to a great audio excerpt from Eric Helms’ Nutrition Pyramid book from Sigma Nutrition Radio podcast by Danny Lennon: Your Mentality Towards Nutrition – I really recommend you listen to this.

The Muscle & Strength Pyramid Books can be bought here: http://muscleandstrengthpyramids.com/

Here’s a playlist going over the whole Nutrition Pyramid. Especially Part 6 – Lifestyle & Behavior is diamond!

Here in this episode of Physique Science Radio, Layne Norton and Sohee Lee talk with Kori Propst about the psychology of dieting, nutrition and fitness and eating disoders. Kori is a figure competitor and a PhD cancidate in Psychology. This is again one of my favorite episodes right now – a real treat! ❤

 

Read more about Kori and her work at: https://www.thedietdoc.com/

I’m learning more about my body, it’s nutritional needs and my diet psyche every day. Some lessons obviously need to be re-learned. Again and again. But such is life sometimes. I’m not perfect. But I can strive to be better and smarter. And enjoy eating :).

Image source

Great, nutritious and delicious week to everyone – and remember to be flexible! ❤ ❤

xoxo,

Veera

The Great Reverse Diet Debate

Oh my..! I’m so excited to share this delicious discussion with you all who may not have stumbled upon it yet. Here’s the Reverse Diet debate introducing all the biggest, strongest and smartest people in the industry going over the science and real life ( bro 🙂 ) experience behind reverse dieting. Menno Henselmans, Eric Helms, Layne Norton and Peter Fitschen, the arena is yours! Check this S**T out guys and gals! ❤ ❤

So what do I think about reverse dieting, the idea of metabolic damage, or the discussion above? Well, I have to conclude that in the end all the guys seemed to reach consensus – over the big lines, at least.

As a scientist I’ve always loved Menno’s calm and practical way of thinking and making his point ( that doesn’t mean he’s not drool- erm, lovable, in other ways as well 😉 ). We have to use the data available and in the correct way. You can’t  just throw around anecdotal evidence from one or two clients not losing weight or blah, blah. It’s true that sometimes you forget to take into consideration the loss of muscle mass and other metabolically active tissue during dieting and that way it appears that your metabolic rate has dropped more than what would seem if you simply account for the weight lost. So some of the “metabolic damage” labels that get thrown around are probably just lowered metabolic rates due to active tissue lost and also hormonal changes due to dieting that aren’t yet adapted to the “new normal”.

Still, there are outliers. I have witnessed patients’ bodies doing most weirdest things not explained (yet, anyway) by science and what we understand from basic endocrinology – my body included. I’ve met people that I really know are accurate about their food logging and are eating 1000 kcals a day, exercising, and still unable to lose weight, or even worse, gaining. Mostly, though, the drop in metabolic efficiency of the body can be explained by science and there is no magical, irreversible “damage” that one can do by dieting.

Here’s a link to a research paper going over Dr. Chris Fahs’, who’s also a natural bodybuilder, competition prep and recovery from competition. For example, his testosterone, thyroid hormone and leptin values decreased dramatically while the diet progressed. They did return to normal after a period of caloric surplus – but the thyroid and leptin values were still lower than before the beginning of contest prep, especially leptin. What do I make of this? It takes a long time for the body’s endocrine system to adapt and return to normal after a period of dieting into low bodyfat and restricting calorie intake. It may be, that some individuals are more sensitive to hormonal state disruptions that way appear as “metabolic damage”.

I have to be honest and say that I’m a little disappointed in Layne’s part in the discussion. When I met him at his seminar in Helsinki last June, especially his “Putting Science Into Prep” presentation was great. He was reasonable and took into consideration both the health and career of a physique athlete. He was adamant that you first need to make sure you are getting enough calories and you’re metabolically healthy before you can continue to diet and compete. Now in the debate he many times talked about the “wishes” of his clients to stay very lean year around. I don’t know if that’s a healthy approach to use. Some (many) people may be suffering from eating disorders – and that’s an issue that Layne and Sohee Lee have themselves brought up many times as well. So, what the heck, Layne?!

I’ve seen Layne as especially the one to have the balls to say out loud when someone is doing more damage than good to themselves. He shouldn’t have any problems to have enough clients. That someone simply “wants” something that’s not good them for isn’t really a reason to give it to them, is it? That could be equated with an example that I would write prescriptions of narcotics to every patient that asks them and justify my actions by saying that they know the risks, it’s not my fault if they decide to abuse drugs, and if I don’t write the prescription, some other “corrupt” colleague will. NO WAY. I have my ethics as a doctor, and I hope trainers and coaches in the fitness industry also have theirs. We all have to do more good than harm – especially in the long run. Even with an athlete, is placing well in their next competition worth ruining their health for the next year or longer, maybe for a lifetime? You have to look at the big picture and long term goals for your patient / client / trainee.

Regarding the debate and practical considerations about reverse dieting, I think I’m leaning to mostly agree with Eric Helms’s point of view. After a long diet, an adequate caloric surplus (to your dieting calories!) is necessary to boost both mental and physical recovery as long as you don’t go completely overboard. Subsisting on low calories that you raise way too slowly after a diet will only lengthen your recovery into another progressive training season. No one is saying that you need to raise your calories immediately into a 1000 kcal surplus in a period where your body is metabolically primed to vacuum every morsel of energy into fat stores – just in case if you decide to abuse it again with a new diet. But you still should raise enough. 100-150 kcals every other week is…torture. But that’s only my opinion.

I guess I could ramble on and on about this :). Watch the video, and make your own conclusions! I’d love to hear what you think! ❤

xoxo,

Veera

Great Powerlifting & Nutrition Resources Vol. 3 – Juggernaut Training

I could be as bold and say that pressed with time, Juggernaut Training is the only site you’ll ever need if you’re passionate about powerlifting and weightlifting. Period. You will find articles, videos, workshops, e-books, training and nutrition templates and lots and lots of more material ready to use whether you are a beginner or an experienced competitive lifter.

Go and see for yourself: http://www.jtsstrength.com/

I’ll share some tidbits of my favorite picks below! There’s simply too much of those to go over all but these are my this week’s and last year’s best finds that are relative to my current situation and need of knowledge :).

First, here is a suberb video by Chad Wesley Smith where he goes over:

  • The definition of Overload
  • The parameters of Overload for Hypertrophy, General Strength and Peaking
  • How Overload relates to Maximum Recoverable Volume
  • What Proper and Improper Application of the Principle of Overload looks like

This is sooo important to me as my recovery abilities are somewhat – heck, depressingly limited. How could I gauge what is the right amount of training for me? How to work out efficiently to get as strong and muscular as possible, but without going over my maximum recoverable volume? When do I need to cut down volume? And do I reduce volume by doing less reps or sets, or lift lighter weights (the last isn’t recommendable as far as I understand)? Or do I cut down training sessions per week? I’ll let you guys know as soon as I figure this out. Somewhere in the 22nd century or so… 😀

Many already know about my love for everything and anything Layne Norton does. Here’s the fantastic article series he wrote for Juggernaut: Fat Loss For Powerlifting. Everything you need to know about optimizing body composition and cutting for meets. Science backed, no-nonsense, while keeping your health and sanity in the process.

http://www.jtsstrength.com/articles/2014/01/30/fat-loss-powerlifting-part-1/

http://www.jtsstrength.com/articles/2014/04/29/fat-loss-powerlifting-part-2-cardio/

http://www.jtsstrength.com/articles/2014/08/13/case-cutting-slow-top-fat-loss-mistakes-powerlifting-part-iii/

Layne Norton ❤ – image source ​

Powerlifting and weightlifting are weightclass sports. Proper nutrition is the most important aspect of exercise performance and recovery, along with getting enough quality sleep. Cutting for a meet with super-low calorie or other fad diets and using unhealthy measures such as playing with your water and sodium intake haphazardly seems to be quite common with some young and inexperienced lifters, or at least according to what I’ve read and heard.

IIFYM works for me, but if you’re more into paleo or whatever and it suits you, go for it :). For us all, I think (and smart people agree 😉 ) that the most important thing to remember is that calories come first, macronutrients come second, other stuff such as meal frequency, timing, supplements etc. third. 

And last, but definitely not least, Dr. Mike Israetel‘s articles about Periodization for Powerlifting:

http://www.jtsstrength.com/articles/2013/12/03/nonsense-periodization-powerlifting/

Dr. Mike Israetel – image from article

Mike Israetel is also an assistant professor of Exercise Science at the Temple University. He’s also very active in social media and has a lot of ummm… opinions about stuff. He’s a really entertaining and informative guy to follow: https://www.facebook.com/michael.israetel?fref=ts

Hope you will find new and useful information for your training!

xoxo, 

Veera

“The Case For Resting Longer And Lifting Heavier” By Sohee Lee

Here’s again a great post by Sohee Lee telling about Brad Schoenfeld’s research article regarding the effects of longer inter-set rest periods in the gym and why resting more could be better for you, as well: The Case for Resting Longer and Lifting Heavier – SoheeFitRead the original article here.

I can fully vouch for longer rest periods as my one-member empirical scientific research has provided similar results ;). Before I started powerlifting, I was pretty bodybuilding and fitness -oriented trainee. I read all bro (and sis) advice about how to train hard, raise testosterone and really tire those muscles so that they’d get bigger. And how to maximize growth hormone to burn that stubborn fat by doing more in less time and with less rest.

“Do all sets to failure.”

“Use rest-pause, partial reps, forced reps. In all sets.”

“Your leg day wasn’t successful if you didn’t throw up at least twice.”

“Only rest 30 seconds between sets.”

“Double and triple sets are the way to go.”

Usually the advisers were expert fitness athletes and bodybuilders with years and years of training (and sometimes using a little more chemical help than simply whey protein and creatine). As a young and enthusiastic trainee, I of course thought training like a Figure Olympia winner would give me similar physique. It really didn’t cross my mind that for example Erin Stern was a track athlete before getting into fitness and has been training hard nearly all her life – you need to have a solid base to build on!

Erin Stern, photo from InsideFitnessMag

I also thought that doing more was always the best solution for faster progress. And of course with a hectic schedule, as I’ve always had the tendency to fill up my calendar to the brim, shorter rest periods also meant shorter time at the gym. Perfect! I also congratulated myself for getting my aerobic fitness taken care of as my heart rate rarely got under 130 BPM at any time as I rushed from exercise 1A to 1B to 1C to 1D across the gym.

Was my approach efficient? Perhaps. At least considering time-efficiency. Was it constructive in the long run, and did it lead me toward my goals – bigger muscles? Maybe not. I was usually so tired that already in the third set I struggled to get 6 reps with weight I’d done 10 reps in set one. I also completed my sets with fervor – lifting as fast as possible, fearing that if I took any pause between reps or lifted slower I’d get even less reps in the consecutive rounds. My cardiorespiratory fitness sure did improve but as a stringy teenager getting some muscle would have been more beneficial.

Now I rarely rest less than 2-3 minutes between sets. And the heavier the load, the longer I rest. With bench, squat and deadlifts I take 4 minutes between sets and can go all out on every set. Between every rep I take a pause, breathe deep, focus on my mental game and concentrate on proper form and core stability. And my strength levels have soared.

You don’t burn fat or increase your VO2max in the weight room. You get stronger and more muscular. The rest is done in the kitchen. Some folk may even like endurance training in their spare time. As I usually don’t have any, nowadays I count over 5 rep sets as aerobic exercise 😀 …

Follow Sohee at SoheeFit.com.

Sohee has also written two excellent flexible dieting ebooks – Beginner’s Guide to Macros and Reverse Dieting. They’re recommended by for example Layne Norton – and by me!

Read more from Brad Schoenfeld at his magnificent site LookGreatNaked.com

Remember to rest, both at the gym and at home,

xoxo,

Veera

Finally, Some Progress

Baby got back to the gym!! ❤

Last week I was at my wit’s end. I was still feeling horrible, dizzy, weak and tired. On Friday I caved in and did what I always delay until the last possible moment – went to see a doctor myself. I was at the same time relieved and puzzled that my lab work was fine, no infections, my electrolytes were within range and lungs were clear etc. I had no idea what was wrong with me. And when I didn’t have a cause, I didn’t know a cure. I was frustrated. I had to relinquish control to my body and just rest.

Somehow, things improved during the weekend. I got more sleep. I cancelled all my plans, although I felt I was a terrible person. And wept. Again. I had been looking forward to a Christmas party with my former med school friends and also had to cancel going to clean my father’s apartment with my sister. But when I got over the anxiety and quilt, I started to get better.

And – drumroll, please – I’ve been to the gym now for two consecutive days! I had to start with baby steps, though, but it doesn’t matter 🙂 I’m back!

Monday:

  • Back squat 2 x 5 35 kilos 
  • Good morning 2 x 8 30 kilos
  • Back extensions 3 x 10
  • Ab wheel 3 x 8

Tuesday:

  • Chin up 3 x 2
  • Bench press 3 x 8 25 kilos
  • Bicep curl with cable 3 x 8 20 kilos supersetted with:
  • Tricep extension with cable 3 x 8 22,5 kilos

After sleeping and suffering from monstrous brain fog and tiredness, things are starting to look better. I even got back to my normal HC dose this week. Maybe there’s some Christmas magic in the air..?

xoxo,

Veera