|Image 1: This guy likes to suffer - no, not |
what you are thinking now ;-)
Goalsetting 101: Short-term goals keep you on track
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I am in week 7 of my contest prep, now. And, psychologically, this has been one of my easiest contest preparations, so far... this does not mean that it could eventually become tough further down the road, but based on my previous experience, I can usually tell if it's going be a rough cut pretty early on in my prep. When the hunger pangs, temptations and cravings are starting early, you know your in for a long cut. But so far nothing! No cravings, no temptations, and rarely any hunger pangs or none at all on most days of the week. I rarely even get excited or anxious on my designated re-feed / cheat days. I don’t feel sleepy, or tired, and my strength and energy is still up at the gym, and I haven’t been using any type of pre-workout, N.O. or creatine supplements, yet.
This is intriguingly easy - too easy!?
Ironically, the ease and smoothness with which things are rolling is what begins to scare me. Being used to the psychological stress, battles and mind games that I use to play with myself during dieting, I am constantly battling the thought that this ease is not what I am supposed to feel when I am dieting or preparing for a bodybuilding show… “If you’re not suffering, then you’re not doing it right!” But I’m not suffering. And yet I seem to be right on track or maybe even ahead of my schedule.
I mean, I do "suffer" the usual pain and fatigue you get while training heavy and intense, but if you remember the statement from Arnold about "da pump", Dr. Andro quoted a few blogposts ago, you will know that this kind of "pain" is what every serious bodybuilder is looking for. What I refer to as "suffering" is what the mental drain the incredible fatigue, the constant huger, the battle against cravings and hunger pangs... the kind of "suffering", when you you are dead tired from dieting so hard that you cannot even perform your daily routines... yet, thinking about it, even calling that "suffering" makes me feel somewhat ashamed. There are millions of people starving - these people have real issues, and people like you and me are complaining about something we are voluntarily doing to ourselves!? But anyway, let's get back to the topic at hand...
|Image 2: Cream of Roast Beef, post-workout meal of the week.|
(Post workout meal)
- 7 oz roast beef (bottom round roast)
- 6 oz yam
- 5 baby carrots
- ½ c cottage cheese, topped w/ ½ c chopped apples, sprinkled w/ground cinnamon
- 2 tbs. low-fat sour cream
- 1 tbs. A1 steak sauce
Quick tip: Personally, I eat more carbs around my workouts, but base all my meals on protein and fat on my off-days. So, if this was a rest day meal, I would take out the yam and replace the apples with a lighter fruit (lower in calories & carbs) like blueberries.
Raising the bar to outdo yourself: "Show ready" by week 12!
Since I’ve been cruising through my prep these past 7 weeks, I’ve decided to give myself a challenge or a short-term goal to prevent me from getting distracted and complacent, but to also keep me motivated (well I never really lost motivation, so I guess it's to add to my motivation) and give more light and focus to the real goal at hand, which is winning an overall title in March. The goal I picked is to be as close to "show ready" as possible by the 12-week mark, which should be Christmas day. Basically I’d like to be in the same type of condition Duong was in when he ended his 12 weeks (if you have not done that already, check out his amazing transformation in the SuppVersity Student Spotlight). Since it’s my first run at IF, I've been really gauging my progress with Duong's - from his macros, the type of foods he ate, to the schedule of his fast & feeding hours. I'm using Duong's progress as a checkpoint or marker, which means that if I am not in the same outstanding (or even better - sorry Duong ;-) physical condition as Duong was, when he hit his 12 weeks, then I need to pick up the pace and make some adjustments.
That being said, Duong gave himself "only" 12 weeks. I, on the other hand, deliberately started early and thusly do not have to cut my calories just as fast as he did ... it is nevertheless imperative that I do not develop the aforementioned complacency and eventually end up even worse than I would have when a relatively drastic, but short cut does not work out.
A log holds you accountable for your progress
My current plan is to maintain a daily caloric intake of 1.800 kcal/day until the end of November. This is in fact -100 kcal lower than the original plan. A plan, my instinct told me would not get me to where I decided I want to be by Christmas. Accordingly, I will drop my daily allowance to 1600 kcal/day in the first week of December '11. I am logging all my food and keeping track of all my calories and macros to a “T”, to be able to analyze which dietary tweaks worked, which didn't an which further alterations to my regimen will be most helpful.
|Figure 1: Here’s an example of a program I made on my Macbook where I log my foods.|
It’s always a good idea to keep logs, especially if you’re just starting to learn about nutrition and dieting. Other than holding you accountable, food-logging helps you with learning about serving sizes, and how to count calories and macronutrients. And let me tell you, only when I began logging what I ate, I realized how little I actually knew about what I ate. Looking back four years, I have to admit that I did not even really know what a "protein" is, back in the days when I started.
Knowing your body and its limits is the key to success
On the non-dietary side of things, I noticed that I was getting a little burned out with the EDT in the course of the last week. My strength did not increase as much as it did the previous weeks, and I really felt fatigued the last training session of the week. So I took a break from EDT training this week and changed my workouts to a 5x5 routine, where I do 5 sets of 5 reps. I still lift heavy though. Depending on what muscles I train, I’ll do 7 exercises, and each exercise is 5x5. So for example on chest days, I’ll do 5 chest exercises and 2 triceps exercises, each exercise is 5x5, heavy. It felt pretty awkward going back to a regular split routine. I have gotten so used to the fast paced high-intensity EDT workouts that I wasn’t as hyped or amped during my workouts this week. Although I lifted heavy and intense (probably about the same if not more weight), I was not as mentally focused as I have been when I did the EDT cycles. I figure the best solution to this problem would be to alternate between a "regular" 5x5 split training and escalating density training regimen on a weekly basis. After all, the one week back on the "old" training split already paid off: my strength increased a lot! I guess after a few weeks without "classic" 5x5 training, my muscles were pretty shocked by what my brain tells me is an old hat ;-)
"In my opinion, classic cardio is way overrated and is for suckers!"
You should never depend on cardio to transform your physique.
So whatever short- and long-term goals you may be setting in the course of the one week you will have to get along without another blogpost of mine, don't forget: "TRAIN SMARTER, NOT HARDER!"