Going through changes

Well, it’s happening again. Quads growing. Arms growing. Both my thighs and my arms are getting itchy. It’s weird, and also pretty exciting, growing my muscles all over again. I’m really hoping I can get fitter than I was before, which probably wasn’t very fit at all. I’m really liking Strong Lifts. I have the app on my phone, and it does all the thinking for me. The only things I have to calculate are the plates I put on the bar… I still get them wrong embarrassingly often.

There are a couple of difficult things though. Getting out of bed early enough to go to the gym, workout, and get to work by 7am is pretty hard. Sometimes getting the motivation to get up, and get my gym buddy up as well, is really hard. The workouts have left me feeling really good though, so it’s mostly a matter of just getting there and doing it.

After going through that terrible time back in Feb/March/April/May/June, I am sure it had a lot to do with me not eating much. I mean, the jobless situation was definitely the main driver. But then not eating much meant that I couldn’t do well at other things either – so my lifting was absolutely shit and it made me feel like shit when I couldn’t lift anything near what I used to.

So. Lifting again. Eating again. Drinking daily protein shakes again. Dis gon be good.


NROL: Supercharged, Basic Training I

I’m mostly through the first stage of Supercharged, Basic Training I. I’m getting a lot of throwbacks to New Rules of Lifting For Women, and that’s because a lot of the exercises are the same, and the structure is very similar.

The unusual thing about it is that core work comes first. It’s followed by either a power much like jump squats, or a combination move like lunge and press. Then comes what I consider the “real work”: the alternating sets. And finally the interval training.

At the moment it is the perfect workout level for me. I am definitely challenged, especially with the interval training at the end. I get pretty sweaty and I push my weights if I feel up to it.

My ankle has been a limiting factor, especially in squatting exercises, so I’ve been giving myself a lot of leniency on those. Squats have always been a problem exercise. My quads still get very tight, even after my 7 min cycle warmup, and I’ve even taken to foam rolling them before the workout as well as after just to try to loosen them up a little.

On the other hand, I’ve really been taken with kettlebell swings. Initially I had them as a power exercise, but now I use them as my interval training. It’s so much more fun than just cycling. I’m hoping to have mighty hams by the end of the programme.

I have about a week left on Basic Training I before I start Basic Training II. Should be good.

Jamie Eason’s LiveFit trainer

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Like diets and university majors, the best way to choose a workout regimen is to choose one you can stick to. I’ve toyed with doing Jamie Eason’s LiveFit trainer since she published it, and I think that now is a great time to do it. I noted in the past that the workouts can take a really long time, but at the moment, I have plenty of time for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately with my ankle still recovering, Supercharged isn’t viable for another few weeks, but the LiveFit split-style workouts mean I don’t have to put too much pressure on my ankle each time I work out.

I started today, at a whim, as you do. I initially intended to just do some HIIT training on the cycle, but, well, one does not simply walk into the gym and not lift anything. Thanks to the excellent Wifi service in the gym, I found the LiveFit trainer and completed Day 1. It was good. It was hard. But it was just what I wanted in a workout today.

The only thing that I will not be following is the diet plan. Too hard. I have a handle on my current plan, and if I need to, I’ll increase the kilojoule limit. Food and cooking is one of my personal interests, and I know I can make my preferences work for my limits. I guess I just don’t want to be told what to eat, especially if it means chicken breast multiple times a day. Srsly. Thigh and wings are where it’s at. I’d much rather enjoy what I eat, even if it’s only a little bit.

So tomorrow, Tony and I have planned to go to the gym, and I’ll do Day 2 of the LiveFit trainer.

I’m already excited.

Deadlift Prep (video)

I started with Starting Strength, so Mark Rippetoe is one coach I quite respect. The SS book goes into a lot of detail into how to properly perform each of the six SS lifts, and fittingly there are many videos of him coaching groups on proper lifting form. This one talks about getting ready to perform the deadlift, one of the three Big Lifts of powerlifting, and an excellent compound lift.

An unexpected setback in my protein adventures

Recently I’ve been getting headaches a lot. They begin in the afternoon, around 14:00, and don’t go away until I’m asleep. They’ve been going on for just over a month (and also the the month or so after my Asia Adventures), on the days that I work out. I assumed it was just more neck issues.

But I realised that on one day that I worked out, I didn’t have a headache. What was different? It turned out that on that day, I had tried the Reactiv protein powder (the natural, NZ-based one). And I had mixed it with water instead of milk.

It’s not a coincidence. I have replaced the milk in my protein shake with rice milk yesterday and soy milk today, and worked out on both days, and I have not yet had a headache. This is after one month of headaches on workout days.

So unfortunately, that may be the end of my protein adventures – for now. I prefer soy milk but it has a strong flavour, making any further protein flavour tests difficult to compare with my previous tests. In future, after I get used to the taste I may start the experiment from scratch.

So with everything I have learned from my protein flavour tests, what have I decided?

  • Optimum Nutrition’s Delicious Strawberry flavour was tied as my favourite, despite it not mixing completely smooth
  • I will try Reactiv’s whey again, with (soy) milk, probably adding cinnamon or cocoa
  • I will definitely try Balance Vanilla again; it was delicious and tied for my favourite flavour, next to ON’s Delicious Strawberry
  • Powders marketed towards women have fewer calories, and also less protein; I probably would not choose female-centric powders because of the lower protein content

Horley’s Sculpt: Vanilla Creme

After the great success with Balance Vanilla, I thought that Horley’s vanilla offering would be very similar.

It’s… okay. Still has that “rubbery” whey flavour, and not as strong-tasting as the Balance Vanilla. It also has a milk powder flavour, like milk biscuits! I like milk biscuits so this is a good thing. It’s not too sweet though, and it froths up quite a lot. The texture is slightly gritty (like tiny particles, rather than sand). 

Like the other Sculpt flavour, it’s lower in calories, and as a result also lower in protein than the other choices. I’ve decided that for women = lower calories = less protein.

I’d try this flavour again if I was in a pinch – I got these sachets from the supermarket for about $2.50 NZD each. The protein powder offerings at the supermarket are limited – and more expensive than buying protein powder online.


Powder Flavour Kilocalories Protein (g) Fat (g) Carbs (g) Sugar (g)
Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Double Rich Chocolate 120 24 1 3 1
Balance Vanilla 111 25 0 2 0
Gaspari Myofusion Chocolate 150 25 3 5 2
Horleys Sculpt Swiss Chocolate 94 18 1 2 1
Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Delicious Strawberry 110 24 1 2 1
Reactiv Supplements Pure NZ Whey Unflavoured 122 23.7 1.7 2.4 2.4
Horleys Sculpt Vanilla Creme 96 18.6 1.3 2.2 0.9