Thursday, January 19, 2012

Adelfo Cerame - Road to The Wheelchair Nationals '12: Bring Your Cucumbers to Vegas! Or, How Intermittent Fasting Can Make a Road-Trip Bodybuilding Compatible

Image 1: When a bodybuilder heads to Vegas, its either for the Arnold or because he knows the difference between passion and obsession.
I don't know what to say, but somehow I think I am kind of jealous. My friend Adelfo is heading to Vegas and I am sitting here in the rainy cold, reading about how he is preparing not for the contest, but for three wild days in Las Vegas! I mean if it were for the Arnold's... but no, it is just for fun! And you know what? That is exactly what it takes to be successful - making bodybuilding your passion, not your obsession. How that works? Well, I guess I will hand over to Adelfo give you his rundown of the fundamentals, like choosing hard liquor over beer and making sure to be in a drunken stupor not before the bar, but before your feeding window closes ;-)

Viva Las Vegas! There is no life beyond, but a life with bodybuilding!

Las Vegas! That's the place to be... well, it will be for me over the next three days - belated birthday celebrations ;-) And yes, I remember that I have a show coming up in just a few weeks. Do you, by the way remember, that I told you these days were coming right at the beginning of my prep? You know that I am pretty meticulous, when it comes to planning things ahead and this belated birthday present is part of the plan, so to say. So, yes: I am nine weeks out, and going to be out f@cking around in Las Vegas for 3 days. Why? Simply because I can get away with it. Remember what the rapper Suga Free once said? "If you stay ready, then you ain't gotta get ready!"... exactly that, "staying ready", is what I have been doing since October 1st and this is why I am now able to enjoy life without the slightest touch of OCD.
Recipe of the week: My Leafless Crunchy Salad

I don’t know about you all, but I hate lettuce! It’s not filling at all! And it takes a whole bag just to fill you up! I prefer crunchy cucumbers, squash, zucchinis and fruit in my salad!
Ingredients:
  • sliced cucumbers, zucchinis and squash
  • a couple sticks of sliced celery
    (slice into small pieces)
  • 2 cups of sliced strawberries
  • 1-2 sliced kiwis
  • ½ cup of blueberries
  • ½ cup of cherry tomatoes
  • 2-3 tbs. of sliced almonds
  • 1 packet of truvia (stevia)
  • red wine vinegar
  • sea salt & pepper 
Macros: 30-40g of carbs (all from the fruits)/ 5g fat

Tip: Sprinkle sea salt, pepper, truvia, and red wine vinegar to liking. I don’t count macros in veggies, so load up on as much cucumbers, zucchini and celery as you want.
I am - and I hope this does not sound too narcissistic - at a point where I am really confident with my work ethic and the current level of my physique. So confident, in fact, that I can actually enjoy the upcoming days in Vegas without feeling guilty. And let's be honest, even if I made an effort to really f*** things up - how much permanent damage can you possibly do within 3 days?

A modified routine can keep you on track even when you are "behind the enemy lines"

Image 2: A recipe from Martin Berkhan’s LeanGains website - Vanilla Vodka, lime or lemon wedges, cinnamon & brown sugar… light in calories & carbs, and straight to the point after a couple shots!
Will I try to mess things up? I guess, you should know me too well by now to buy that off me, aren't you? Obviously I will still be sticking to my routine: My fast and feeding protocols, my commitment to eat whole nutrient dense foods, and I will still train. To make that work, I will have to apply a few tweaks to my usual routine. First and foremost, I will have to reschedule the feeding and fasting windows, so that they allow me to stay up late and consume the one or other alcoholic beverage... and yes, practically, this means that I will be drinking alcohol only during my feeding hour. With regard to the type of beverages I will be selecting, it should be obvious that beer, with its tons of carbs and useless calories is a complete no-go.

I'll stick to the real man's choice: hard liquor ;-) 

 For a lightweight like me this has another advantage. My tolerance for alcohol is so low nowadays that all I would need is 5-6 shots… maybe 10, and I’m feeling a good mellow buzz for the night.

Traveling is no excuse to let yourself go!

Bodybuilder or traveling salesman, being on the road is not excuse to let yourself go. It may take a little planning and probably ain't as convenient as going to McDonald's but even a bodybuilder can maintain his regular nutritional regimen while traveling or being on vacationing. For me this means that
  • Boiled chicken breast
  • Cucumbers
  • Fruits
  • Whey protein
  • Creatine monohydrate
  • Quest bars (I’ll buy some at my gym after I train this Thursday morning before I hit the road)
are part of the luggage I am going to bring with me to Vegas. Five items... plus the simple rule to make sure to order animal meats and veggies, when I go out to dinner - that is all it takes!

Traveling-Tip: Whenever you are out on a short vacation like mine, make sure one of the days is a re-feed day ;-) I, for my part, am already looking forward to the all-you-can-eat buffets I am going to hit on Sunday...

Diet to live, don't live to diet!

I just realized that the thrill of anticipation has carried me away, somewhat, but I guess you got my main message, anyway. Whatever diet you are on, if it is not flexible enough to incorporate a short vacation weeks before you step on stage, it probably ain't worth sticking to, anyway. I mean, if you start living to diet, things begin to get out of hand... it's all about balance and setting the correct priorities at the right times.

Right now I am, by the way, at 1600 kcal per day, I decided not to take it down to 1400 kcal yet. I will re-evaluate this decision on the 1st of February, but as of now I've been enjoying the perks of increasing my calories, adding starchy carbs back into my PWO meals and having re-feed days every Sunday. And though I was initially afraid of water- or even fat gains, up to now it seems as if there have been nothing but benefits from the increase in calories, the re-inclusion of starchy carbs in my post-workout meals and the frequent re-feeds: My muscles feel fuller, my vascularity has improved, and to me it looks as if I was still getting leaner!? What do you think?
Image 3: December 24, 2011, diet was strictly protein + fat @1400kcal for the two weeks prior (left); January 13, 2012 back at 1600kcal and with 100g of carbs added back into my post-workout meals (right).
I’m still kind of baffled how my vascularity has improved. I guess it’s the organic russet potatoes, I’ve been eating after my workouts along with the SlinShot "nutrient repartitioner" by PurusLabs. I guess, you could also argue, though that the fuller muscles just shine a bit more, now that I am at an overall lower body fat level. But with all the nutritional, and training methods that I’ve been playing around with for the past couple of months it is difficult, ... no, it is impossible to pinpoint the one factor that is responsible for the success and that, as surprising as it may seem, actually is "the one" factor that will eventually make you succeed: Finding the right mix of dietary and training techniques that works for you, person A at timepoint T1. For me that was no-to-low carb at T1, but now that I have achieved a body fat level, where it becomes increasingly harder for my body to run on fat for fuel exclusively, an adequate intake of carbohydrates post-workout that will suffice to replenish my glycogen stores appeared to be exactly what was necessary to avoid stagnation or regress.

Three days in Vegas and still 8 weeks to go!

Image 4: The re-addition of starchy carbs into my Slinshot supplemented post-workout meals made a hell of difference in terms of vascularity.
After my Vegas weekend, I will be hitting my 8-week mark. On Monday, to be precise. And from there on, it is no more planned distractions, no more holidays and no more birthdays to celebrate! It’s just going to be eight solid weeks of proper dieting and intense training. More than enough time to make all the necessary adjustments to get ridiculously shredded without burning myself out. For now, however, I am going to enjoy the little mini vacation... my well-deserved break before I will be bound to the gym and the kitchen for eight full weeks, in the course of which I will try really hard to push to my personal limits with both my training and my nutritional regimen... so I guess we will see if, in those weeks to come, I will still be able to say that "this has been one of the easiest preps by far"... but for now, I will pack my clothes and food for the trip and hope that I am going to see you here, next Thursday, eager to hear, or I should say, read how the road-trip effected  my physique :-)