Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Body Fat, Back Progression, and EOW

Sometime in the next month when I am a little less poor I am going to spend the 50 bucks and get my body fat tested in the dunk tank. If you haven't heard of it submersion, or hydrostatic, testing is supposed to be the most accurate way to test body fat, more so than calipers or the scale. Here is a little link on the different ways to measure body fat if you are interested in more details... There is a mobile unit that goes around the seattle area that you can get tested by... I will definitely do a write up about my experience if I do it.
Anyway, the whole point of that paragraph was to say that although I have no definitive accurate measurement of my body fat percentage at this time I can for certain say that it has gone down over the last three or four months. I want to have an accurate assessment before I begin cutting, but for now my progress photos are telling me I am on track.
I am seeing great progress in my back so I am posting this progression photo over a three month period of my back in about the same pose and about the same lighting. It isn't perfect but it is super motivating for me to see and I am really happy with the gains and losses I have made.
You can click on the picture to see full size I think... Clearly I am increasing muscle mass and definition. To me that really is the most rewarding part of losing body fat... I can see my muscles underneath better! I really can't wait until I start losing enough in my legs (where all my fat lives) so I can see leg muscle definition... That will be awesome!!!
This week the EOW is Deadlifts
Not because I am like so great at them or anything, but because this week they kicked my ass, or lower back- whatever, and I am STILL sore 3 days later. Being noticeably sore 3 days after a workout is uncommon for me. My workouts just changed and I am now doing MANY sets of one compound movement per workout, followed by some complementary isolation exercises.  I did 10 sets of 6 deadlifts this sunday and it wrecked me. In an awesome way. My progression was a really light warm up with no weight, then just the bar, followed by this weight per set 135lb 135lb 155lb 155lb 175lb 175lb 175lb 175lb 155lb 155lb. I did use straps for the second half of the workout, but my grip strength has improved tremendously from the days I was deadlifting 115 max. So yay for deadlifts... here is a great article that was shared on FB by someone (I can't remember who but thanks!) that breaks down the mechanics of a perfect deadlift if you want a refresher or are new to the lift.
Lastly, thanks to this blog update over at Vegan Muscle and Fitness the Naturally fit Super Show took notice of our vegan takeover and sent us a nice little welcome message and our groups co-ordinator contacted them and now we have a booth space to promote our message and spend some time educating the public on a vegan lifestyle! Radical!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

photo update, snacks, EOW, and still time to win!

There is still one more day to enter to win this beauty from my favorite vegan supplement shop! A 1lb tub of the brand new flavor Cookies N' Creme sold only by! Click here to get to the entry form!
Well I have almost exactly 5 weeks left until I start cutting fat. I have been getting tested with calipers once a month the past few months and have been showing a decrease in body fat but the number I have been given doesn't seem very accurate. We have just been testing my upper body and that isn't where my fat lives so I am going to say it is about 2% higher that I have been testing at. My guess is that I am right around 20-21%. So I have another month to loose at least 1%... I think I am right on track to be lined up with my goal percentage leading into the cutting phase. Here are some current upper body photos of me in my messy house...

So obviously some progress... More definition... My left arm is still lacking the quality of muscle my right has but it's a bit less apparent. I am extra happy with the improvement in my back. Things are happening :)
I am about to move into my last building phase of my workouts before I go to a conditioning period. I am really excited to see what kind of weight I can move in my compound lifts doing only 6 reps.
This week the Exercise of the Week is: Bent One Arm Dumbbell Rows on a bench aka Lawn Mowers aka Chainsaws. I know I sometimes don't hit this lift perfectly... I have to try really hard to focus on making my lats do the work instead of my arms, but when it all comes together it feels so good. Plus I hit a new personal best this week upping my weight to 60lbs for one of my sets of 8 and impressed my coach!
One last thing... On my current diet I have to make sure I eat every 2-3 hours... and I really try to do everything I can to make sure I eat the right meal at the time I am supposed to. Sometimes something comes up or I get stuck running errands longer than planned or I just get supper hungry all of a sudden so I try to keep some emergency food with me at all times. In the center console of the car, in my wallet, in my bag, in my gym bag... you get the idea. It is nice if these things are safe foods that fit into my diet and keep well for weeks at a time (in case I don't have an emergency for a while) and don't take up much space. My new favorite is this small pouch of cashew butter from artisana. This is really a tiny amount of cashew butter... only around 70 calories, but it also has blue algae added so there is a little extra protein, plus lemon oil and almond oil so it tastes great. It's just enough calories, fat, and protein to tide me over until I can get real food and at less than 100 calories I can easily omit some fat from later in my day to make up for this snack. I recommend it if you need something small you can just stick in your bag for a just in case situation.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Product Review: Plant Fusion Cookies N' Creme Protein

As you all know I am training for a body building competition in July. I drink at least 3 protein shakes a day. Chocolate and Vanilla are my staples. I don't mess with berry flavors because they usually end up tasting like crushed up Flintstones vitamins. Sometimes I drink the Vega One Chai flavor, if I am feeling wild... and when I am really good with managing my diet I sometimes have a half cup of berries left at the end of the day and I blend that into some vanilla with ice and pretend I am having a strawberry milkshake.
Anyway, back to the product I am supposed to be reviewing... I heard Vegan Proteins was going to be exclusively carrying a new flavor of Plant Fusion protein: Cookies N' Creme. I was very interested in trying it, I mean all I want in my life most days is a cookie. I have a pretty good back stock of protein at the house though and I couldn't really justify buying something else until I ran down some of the other stock. Then, LIKE MAGIC, I got a message from Giacomo (co-owner of Vegan Proteins and chief organizer of our bb group) that our group was being offered a sponsorship from plant fusion for the July competition... and what flavor would I like to try?? Duh, COOKIES!
Yesterday I got a box in the mail with several tubs of this new special flavor. Here are my thoughts:
1) How awesome is Plant Fusion for offering to sponsor a small group of vegan athletes so that we can make a large statement and hopefully huge impact on the body building world? Super super awesome. As far as I know they aren't a huge company and giving away that much product probably wasn't cheap for them so it is really cool that they would help us out.
2) It tastes great! But not like cookies... Well actually Trevor thinks it tastes kinda like cookies. When I asked him what type of cookies he said "I don't know, like sugar cookies or something"... Kinda vague baby... I don't think it really tastes like cookies, but I do like the flavor. I had it three times in the last 24 hours just to try to figure out what I DO think it tastes like but I couldn't pin point it.
3) Super good texture, that was the very first think I noticed when I opened the container. Very fine powder and silky mouthfeel. A nice change if you are used to hemp protein at all, or even rice. It mixed in to my shake in a shaker bottle very easily and stayed suspended well.
4) Already has lots of BCAA's and L-Glutamine, so you don't have to worry about additional supplementation.
5) This product has a very unique blend of 4 sources of protein: Pea, Artichoke, Amaranth, and Quinoa. I am pretty sure I have never seen any other products that contain artichoke, amaranth, or quinoa. This is awesome because I feel like I may be getting a unique spectrum of amino acids which I don't currently get from my other proteins which are mostly just different ratios of the same ingredients.
6) Contains digestive enzymes to help with absorption

Those are all the awesome things... the things I am not quite as hyped on are that it uses pea protein which is great for some reasons (fast digesting protein and inexpensive) but some people have a hard time digesting it. It will be interesting to see if the people I know who can't usually do pea protein without stomach issues can handle this because it is in a blend and has enzymes added. Also it's pea protein isolate... I don't know what current dogma I should actually listen to, and what is said to sell products but I sometimes hear isolates are hard on the body... Any thoughts?
Also my one other issue is that it has fructose added. Not a ton but honestly this stuff is pretty sweet. I drank it with unsweetened almond milk and it STILL seemed pretty sweet. I wouldn't drink it with sweetened milk unless you really like sweet stuff. I could do without the fructose.

All in all I am pretty excited about this product, would definitely recommend it and would encourage you to support the company because they support the community.
And because I think this stuff is so awesome and because VEGANPROTEINS.COM is SO COOL they are offering one lucky winner a FREE 1lb tub of the new flavor to try for themselves! If you want to be one of the first to try Plant Fusion Cookies N' Creme there are two ways you can enter.  Go like Vegan Proteins on Facebook and/or comment on this blog post with your favorite exercise. A winner will be chosen at random a week from today! But make sure you register with rafflecopter for your entries in this box below, I am using an app to randomly select the winner so they have to know you entered!

Win a free tub of Plant Fusion's new Cookies n' Creme Protein

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

new protein, exercises of the week, dips, and dips

So, first thing... I walked in to the house today to find a giant box of the new flavor of Plant Fusion Protein, Cookies n' Creme, sitting in my kitchen. Very exciting. I drink so many protein shakes that it becomes ridiculous how excited I get when I have a new flavor option. I tried it today, and I don't want to give away any thoughts just yet. I want to see how my tummy likes it and all that, then give a full review tomorrow... So watch for that. Plant Fusion is sponsoring the Vegan Bodybuilding group I am competing with so we all got some product to try out and review and use to get huge for our july competition. Don't worry I will still give it a fair review!

Exercise of the week:
This week's eotw is WIDE GRIP PULL-UPS! I have been doing pull ups for years... Last night for the first time I did 8 unassisted pull-ups! On my third set even. I am super stoked because before this the most I had done was 5 underhand, which are easier for me. These were regular grip and wide... I have been doing them with 6-12lbs of assistance for a few weeks now and a few weeks ago started doing the sets using no assistance til failure, then adding assistance to finish my set. Can't wait til I am adding weight to this exercise!

This week I have an easy snack recipe for you to try. Low fat and high protein... I am adapting it from a 3x larger batch so taste as you go on the spices. I made it for a game night this weekend and it was requested that I share the recipe. Which of course I didn't write down...
Sundried Tomato and Basil Dip
1 package mori nu silken tofu
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried onion powder
a couple pinches salt
1/3 cup packed sundried tomatoes in oil, with the oil well drained off
1 cup basil leaves (I know this amount is super open to interpretation but just use a decent amount)

In your blender combine tofu, lemon juice, garlic, acv, olive oil, onion powder, and salt. Taste at this point for spice balance... you should be able to tell if you need more sour or not. In a food processor chop the sundried tomatoes and basil until they are in small pieces, add tofu mixture in a pulse a few times to thoroughly combine. Serve with veggies, or any kind of cracker/bread.

I am also including a video of last weeks exercise of the week cause I didn't have it to post then. Here I am impressing my boyfriend by doing 8 dips with a 20lb weight and then 4 more with no weight til exhaustion. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

massage and other stuff

I want to introduce you all to someone who helps my body stay healthy and happy during my 10+ hour a week workout routine. Meet Alex Payan!

Alex is a Licensed Massage Therapist here in Seattle. I get to visit him about once every two to three weeks for a sports/treatment massage at his apartment downtown. He works on a few body builders and is very good at finding the source of aches and pains and where the problem spot ACTUALLY is instead of just where you feel it. His routine care of my muscles helps me to manage injury and pain from overuse and regular muscle fatigue. Alex is also vegan and all the products he uses for massage are vegan so you don't have to worry or question him mid massage like "What did you just put on me? It doesn't have any lanolin in it? Beeswax?"
I think Alex gives great sports massage and stretch outs but he also does hot stone and relaxation massages for those of you who just want to treat yourselves. If you want to contact him and check out his rates you can find more here!
So anyway, I get massaged every few weeks then promptly go to the gym and undo all the hard work alex did fixing my body. I find it really helps, if nothing else, to make me aware of exactly where my problem spots are and then I can be more mindful of the way I am lifting and make sure I am being careful with my body. It also helps with mobility and circulation!
This week I decided to start a new thing. Every week I am going to pick an exercise I did during the week and call it the "exercise of the week" (yeah real creative, I know) and talk about it here. I will pick it based on how awesome I was at it that week... so if I just lifted really heavy, made big improvements, used to suck at it but finally got better, or just really enjoyed it, I may pick it.
This week the exercise of the week is DIPS!
I am choosing it because I have been doing dips since I first started training in november, initially doing them on a chair with my legs up on the couch and a weight in my lap. When I joined the big kid gym I started doing them assisted on the regular bars until I was gradually doing my body weight. Last week I did dips with a 10lb weight between my legs and put in 2 extra reps- and could have gone for more weight. I feel really proud of the progress I have made in this exercise and can't wait for dips again on tuesday so I can go BIGGER!

This wednesday is a measurement day for me. I try to take my measurements every two weeks to keep tabs on where I am. I have no idea how it will go. I don't feel like I have made much change in mass or body fat in the last few weeks, plus I am coming up on the crimson tide so I will probably be a little bloated and that may affect some of my numbers. I feel like I have gotten quite a few comments this last week that my arms and shoulders are looking bigger so I think that is awesome. I am getting a bit nervous that I am not going to have enough mass to really look exceptional for July. Just gotta keep going and try my best to put in hard workouts and stay on my diet. Also I got some good motivation this week from Trevor (aka boyfriend, aka disney prince arms)... Each day that I stick to my meal plan 100% I get a 30 minutes back rub/massage with lotion before bed. Super good reward.