Thursday, February 23, 2012

Adelfo Cerame - Road to Wheelchair Nationals '12: Don't Simply Ignore the Signals of Your Body! Starving Yourself is not a Sign of Mental Toughness, but Plain Stupidity

Image 1: Huge sleeping, huge eating, huge training, huge progress and a HUGE back ;-)
I know this is not really the place to discuss recent studies, but in this case a study I read about three days ago fits in way too nicely into what Adelfo is going to tell you in about 30 seconds (or how long it may take you to read the next few lines) not to briefly mention it... in the latest issue of PLoS ONE a group of researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School report the results of a few rodent experiments they did (Su. 2012), results, which clearly show that the over-expression of AMPK in response to acute glucose expression directly inhibits leptin signalling - or put simply, if you don't fuel your workouts appropriately / refuel afterwards, you can carry as much body fat as you want, your body will ignore its existence and thusly refuse to burn it... but enough of that for today, let's get to the more practical side of things - Adelfo, take it away!

Four weeks out and time to eat some more!

I guess, one could say, broke down... I just could not resist the urge to tweak my caloric intake and macros  again ;-) I know I said that I would just leave it alone until the last week and a half, but that was to stop me from dropping the calories even further and in this respect I did not go back on what I said last week, because I increased - not decreased - my caloric intake by roughly 300kcal. This got me back up to ~1,700kcal from the 1,400kcal I had originally planned for.

The majority of those calories come from the carbohydrate content of my post workout shake and meal. I am currently at ~140g of carbs total, of which I have ~65-70g with a shake immediately post workout. Food-wise those additional carbs from a 5oz. potato I added to the ripe banana and the honey to get a more balanced ratio of fast to slow acting carbs and a more even influx of glucose into my system in the time it takes me to get home and prepare my whole-foods post workout meal, with which I ingest the remainder of the carbs (50g) in the form of fruits like pineapples and papayas.

Long live the zigzagging... well, as long as it matches your training schedule

You could use some advice on your  training, diet and supplementation regimen? Reach out to Adelfo via Facebook.
With the increasing number of workout (I currently train 5x/week) and the additional cardio training, I have given up on "zigzagging" my calories. It does not really make sense to reduce your caloric intake on days where you "just" do cardio. After all, you want to avoid mebabolic shutdown and with a highly glycolytic HIIT regimen, you better make sure you get at least some glycogen back into the muscles to avoid hypoglycemic episodes, which will bring down your resting energy expenditure, as well as your thyroid, testosterone and DHEA levels and flood your body with epinephrine and cortisol. On, Wednesday, which aside from Sunday (my re-feed day) is currently my only rest day, I do still cut back on calories a little (to 1,300-1,400kcal) - this happens almost automatically, since without working out, there is no post-workout shake and thusly a staple of my daily energy intake is missing, anyways.

Although your may safely assume that the decision to increase my caloric intake was not exactly easy for me (see last episode), it did pay off immediately. My energy and the intensity of my workouts is up and I feel stronger than ever. I see no signs of irritability or sleepiness, ain't lazy during the day, which is something I have been noticing over the last week or so... most importantly, though, I am not thinking about food anymore - let me tell you that: When all of a sudden your loved ones starts to look like a bunch of juicy steaks, you know that you are dieting to hard ;-) Yet even if it's just that you are looking forward to your re-feeds all week. Thinking about nothing else than the sweet treats you will be giving you and how great those pancakes will taste and start watching "Best Food Ever", a show hosted by John Goodman about the best eateries in the country on NetFlix, ... I mean if you are at this point, it is either a few days before the contest or high time to ramp your calories back up!

Making the right decisions is tough, but it is going to be rewarded - sooner and later!

If you are like me, that is going to be a tough decision - a battle against remorses and... yes, fears! But trust me, you will be glad once you made the necessary adjustments. Being four weeks out is one thing, being insane another one and four weeks of insanity are not getting you any closer to winning the competition than four weeks in which you still have the physical and psychological stamina to improve your physique... I have been there before and let me tell you, even if you look spot on on contest day, the aftermath is horrible - trust me!
Recipe of the week:  
Banana Coconut Cream Pie

  • 2 bananas dipped in lemon juice
    (slice in circles to top over the filling)
  • organic vanilla pudding mix
  • ½ cup of organic condensed milk
  • ¼ cup of coconut milk
  • egg whites and dried coconut flakes

How to prepare it:
Mix and blend everything (minus the sliced bananas) in a food processor, or do it manually with a whisker if you want the filling with more thickness and chunk. This is a crust less pie, so just pour the filling in an empty pie tray. Put and fill the sliced bananas on the top surface of the filling, then, once the filling is covered completely, sprinkle the fresh coconut flakes on top. Put in the freezer for about 30-45 minutes or until the pie has the desired thickness. Then eat!
There was one year, where I went on a one-week straight binge, and it started right after my show on Saturday night, from when I touched down in Cali from the airport on Sunday afternoon:.. I ate, ate and when I stopped do wash everything down with some soda, I started all over again until next Sunday. Imagine bar hopping for 7 days straight? Well that’s what I did, but with restaurants. I ate myself ridiculously silly for 7 days straight! And when I mean ridiculously silly, I mean going to bed in fetal position every night, because my stomach hurt so bad that I couldn’t sleep straight, because I was so full! And I guess, I do not have to mention that this one week cost me three months worth of hard work. Not just the striations on my muscle, everything, my whole definition was gone and I basically looked like I did in the first week of the preceding prep.

You don't need to learn from your mistakes, if you learn from mine ;-)

It seems as if I have finally learned from my mistakes and it would be great if this blog would help some of you who read this avoid being similarly stubborn, when your body is telling you that he is shutting down. This feeling of ravenousness, it is more than just "hunger", it is the result of a complex interplay of hormonal signals within you, signals you may be able ignore, yet at what costs? Moreover, while your mind may be strong and does not give in, your body does - without you even noticing it will shut down its caloric expenditure to zero and start burning energetically costly lean, instead of fat tissue.

So, if your body start rebelling, you better take it serious. It is a sign that it needs something so urgently that it feels that your life literally depends on it. In my case, this was probably a mixture of an overall too low caloric intake and the latest drop in carbohydrates, which combined with the long haul of my prep gave my body the impression that a famine broke lose and I better make sure that I get some of the little food that may still be around here... and in fact obeyed, but in a controlled fashion being well aware that this also leaves me with more leeway to cut the calories back down slowly to peak just right before the show. If I had hovered along this way, in four weeks time, even cutting back to zero calories would probably not have made a difference anymore.

Ravenousness is a poor adviser - even on a re-feed day

Here are some pictures I took during my re-feed this past Sunday. Getting rid of the permanent thoughts of "all things junk food" really helped cleaning the mess of the past weeks up a bit. I returned to whole foods, like fruits and potatoes, and ate my gluten-free chips and bread more consciously - hey, I mean, it is a re-feed and without at least some junk, it would be beside the point ;-) 

    < Meal 1 >

  • Homemade Philly steak sandwich - grass-fed beef, grilled onions, bell peppers & cilantro on a gluten/wheat free bun
  • A bowl of fresh fruit - bananas, kiwis, strawberries & pineapples
  • A handful of cassava root chips
  • 6 honey dates & 2 dried fruit papayas
    < Meal 2 >

  • 2 homemade burgers - grass-fed ground beef 94%, grilled onions & mushrooms, low-fat havarti cheese on a gluten/wheat free ciabatta bread
  • Baked steak cut potato fries - used 2 organic russet potatoes
  • A handful of cassava root chips & organic ketchup
    < Meal 3 >

  • 1 fried egg & 4 egg whites on top of an Ezekiel bread
  • 2 slices of homemade banana coconut cream pie

In case you are now worried about what happens, when you let yourself go "like that" (let me tell you: this is nothing ;-) - no reason to worry, my dear readers! All that bloat and water weight subsided by Tuesday, and on Wednesday, I already looked better than ever before. Sounds, awkward but is in fact pretty logical from a physiological stand point: Suck up the water, jack back up the energy expenditure and wash out and burn more than the little (watery) damage you did on the re.feed day itself - you don't believe me? Well, I got evidence photos ;-)
Image 3: Bloated, full & happy (left) and back to normal, with a noticeable increase in my physique  just a few days later (right) - that is what "re-feeding" is all about, folks!
From the images above you can see that my strengths, which, as I said on Super Human Radio three weeks ago, are my abs are already shining in almost full glory, my back, on the other hand, has alway been a problem area of mine, but I have been working hard to bring it up and finally see some improvements, I want to share with you before I call it quits for today:
Image 4: My back has always been my weakest body part and before I shot these photos and put them together in a small collage, I felt that I did not improve on it in the past 10 months... now looking at these images, I am honestly stunned - I must have done something right, I think ;-)
If you are judging your own physique on a weekly, let alone daily base, you often do not notice your own progress... after putting together the mini-collage in image 4, I realized that even though I am telling this my clients time and again, I often don't think of it, myself. I mean, in all modesty, the difference between the way ma back looked in April last year, when I did my last show and the way it looks now is... I guess, HUGE! is the right word ;-) I have definitely made big improvements within the past 10 months. But, to be honest, I don’t know who to give credit to for this!? I guess I would have to thank Dr. Andro & Rob Regish, for really pouring into me their knowledge, and giving me awesome advice on how to train smarter, and improve my training. So to those two gentlemen… Thank you!