Peak Week

Well, after 12 weeks of dieting I am beginning peak week.  What’s peak week?  The 7 days before your physique competition or photo shoot where you attempt to dial it in and look your best the day of the show.  I am not a physique competition coach nor is this my area of expertise but it’s also not as complex or extreme as some make it out to be.  A more subtle common sense approach is often best.

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First question to ask yourself is. . .  are you lean enough?  If not at this point nothing is going to transform you in a week; you will not gain any more muscle or lose much more fat.  You’ve either done your work or you haven’t.

I think I am lean enough.  I had to wear a belt with my “skinny” shorts this morning and the scale says 115#, a number I have not seen in years.  There comes a point where if you continue losing body fat you will sacrifice too much muscle.  In my best judgement I am there.  I do not want to end up looking stringy and flat.

With that in mind the next biggest factors to consider will be training, water, sodium and carbohydrates.  Let’s take a look at my tentative game plan and we’ll report after the show. . .

Training: 

Like I said above there is no more muscle to be gained one week before the show.  Time to taper it down.  You don’t want your legs so full of blood and torn down that you have no definition so I will train them with less weight and less volume and last lower body workout will be Monday.  Upper body I will tone down but not as much as the legs.  Cardio?  We’re done here, maybe some light walking 20-30 minutes but no more.  We’re not going to lose much more fat this last week either.  Last training day will be Wednesday.

Water:

Fortunately I learned early enough on what the negative effects of dehydration will do for your physique.  I will continue to drink 1+ gallons per day, muscle is 75% water, you want to be hydrated.  Plus the carbohydrates will need the water to find their way into the muscle cells.  Depending on how I look/feel I may reduce slightly Friday midday.

Sodium: 

No depleting this vital mineral either.  I will continue to add sea salt to my food.  Again depending on how I look/feel on Friday I may reduce slightly a half day prior.

Carbohydrates:

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For me this is the trickiest one of all; it calls for nothing drastic but depending upon the individual amounts will vary greatly.  I am not going to stray far from what I did the last 12 weeks.  It’s working pretty well.  Despite the low carb diets I have tried in the past I find I tolerate them well, perform better and look better with more of them in my diet.  My average consumption throughout has been around 180+ g per day.  If I go too low on a rest day I tank on the next training day and have to incorporate a re feed day.

History has had me looking small and flat day of — usually from too much depletion.  I inadvertently depleted while on vacation and that’s exactly how I looked upon return.  Immediately after upping the carbs I ‘came back’.  So, we’re going to keep them up there on Monday, Tuesday and add some extra on Wednesday after the last day of training.  That gives me 2 days to adjust should I find I consumed too many or too little.  Taken a long damn time of making the same mistakes but I learn eventually and am going with my gut on this one.  No pun intended.

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Am I going to weigh, measure and carry all my own food with me everyone I go.  Damn right I am, I’ve worked too hard these past 12 weeks to blow it the last week.  I’m headed out today to watch our amazing CF Jaguar athletes compete at WodJamz in St Pete beach and I’ve got my cooler ready.  Fail to prepare and prepare to fail — if it means being weird for a week and letting my OCD ness reign supreme so be it.  Competition is not ‘normal’ and neither am I right now. . .

. . .but today it is about our athletes.  They are at their peak and I am so very proud of them GAME DAY is on!

wod jamz

Are You Drinking Enough?

Water, silly. . .

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It’s not always rocket science; I often find myself looking for a more complex solution to a problem when sometimes the ‘answer’ is so simple, so elementary it’s overlooked. That happened at about 9 weeks into my competition prep diet.

I had stalled again. Why? I rack my brain and continue to research, review my food log which is kept with the precision of an engineer and can come to no conclusions. I don’t think lowering the calories is the answer, the macros were where they needed to be, training was going well despite a little fatigue, what could be the answer – fat loss just slowing down? We were getting closer and I was getting nervous. I only had 3 ½ more weeks.

Every coach needs a coach so I sought out the advice of a local expert. I also wanted some advice for ‘peak’ week. We meet and I know I’m going to like the guy when he shows up with a tablet (not the kind you’re thinking of), a nice little spiral one with a pen attached plus he’s just about my age. Good, we can most likely relate.

After an initial conversation and a few questions he begins to review my log. Not the one on myfitnesspal but the handwritten one I have in my little spiral tablet. He looks me up and down, asks more questions, reviews the numbers again, scratches his head and asks one more question – “how much water are you drinking?”

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Well I say thinking it has little relevance but a tinge of guilt, probably not enough, maybe a little under 2 quarts a day. “Not enough” he says, get in a gallon and a half. A gallon and a half ? My eyebrows shoot up, I only weigh 119? “A gallon and a half” he repeats.

It was already mid afternoon so I start off the next day off with a nice cold gallon of Le Vai water and by noon I guesstimate that I was probably not even getting in 2 quarts per day. This is Florida, it’s hot now and I train without AC. Which means a lot of sweat. Hmmm. I manage to get in about ¾ of the gallon that day and wake up the next one pound lighter.

I had been feeling a little tired the last week or so, I also find I have more energy. I wear reading glasses but my vision had been overly blurry lately, that seemed to improve also. Thinking there could be something to this I get in a full gallon the next day and lo and behold I wake up another pound lighter. Holy hell! I also look a little fuller, leaner and harder. What is this guy a miracle worker?

Not really, I was simply dehydrated. Often times it’s the simple things we lose sight of. The answer is not always a complex one. I am working on getting in more than a gallon and continue to notice the effects when I don’t.  Take heed and do not lose sight of the basics — drink up!

Check out these links for the whys and science behind the simple but vital nutrient:

Hydrate for Maximum Gains In and Out of the GymGetting & Staying Lean with Proper Hydration: How does Water help with Weight Loss?
Hydration — Why it’s important for Muscle Growth

The Adventures of Dog Island

While it’s important to face reality on a daily basis the mind needs an escape if only for an hour a day in order to refresh, renew and overcome the challenges and reach our goals. We all escape in different ways. Vacations are an ideal way but not practical for a daily or weekly basis.

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As out of character and corny as it may sound I enjoy reading historical romance books. Generally for fifteen to thirty minutes in the evening will help me unwind from the day and drift blissfully off to sleep. Why historical romance? Well, you know how the story goes. . . girl meets man. Man is handsome, rugged, muscular, usually rich and full of integrity and courage. Girl is young, feisty and independent yet needs rescued from something. They meet, clash wills for most of the book and have wild sex. Man is usually a type of wounded hero from which girl in turn rescues him. He saves her, she saves him and they live happily every after. Perfect. Escape from reality.

My husband, the pragmatic realist typically makes fun of my books. Is he my hero? After 30 years together, many clashes of will and yes, rescues too he is. Just in a much less dramatic fashion than the typical storybook. What’s this got to do with vacations? Well another fantasy of mine has been to go back in time (the historical part). I realize it’s not possible but. . .

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When I discovered Dog Island – the “island that time forgot” a mere 4 1/2 hour drive from Tampa and ‘affordable’ I was determined to go there. Alone on a relatively deserted island for 7 days – my romance novel come to life,” NO” said the Jag. The debate started June of 2013. We were in the process of relocating our business so the trip got cancelled. 2014 came and he adamantly refused. I let it go. 2015, I am determined.

I’m more of a let’s pitch a tent under the stars kind of girl and he’s an AC and colored TV kind of guy. The biggest obstacle I faced with him was the place I chose to stay; an old dilapidated rustic hotel, which simulated indoor camping (8 aging rooms). When I called to inquire availability I found it had been sold and is closed. Hmmm, only other option was to rent a private home. I found a lovely 3 bedroom, 2 bath, AC, colored TV and all the modern appliances he cannot live without for a week. Even a blender for his margaritas. Takes me about a week of fairly civil debating and I won. Book it Dano! And off we went. . .

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Saturday, May 16: Left Tampa at 8:19 am.  Arrived in Carabelle 1:00 pm

First stop was Carabelle, Florida a small nostalgic coastal town; population 2778. We stayed at the Moorings, the ‘bustling’ marina and hub of all action and were treated to down home southern hospitality and much needed peace and quiet.  It was the perfect layover before going to Dog Island the next day. Room rate: $72 a night. A 7# bag of ice was $1 and fresh caught grouper at Millender’s seafood mart was $16.95 a pound. We truly felt like it was 1975 not 2015.

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We began unwinding from the 24/7 pace of life in Tampa; lunch at CJ’s grill was superb with hubby getting his fill of fried shrimp while I had the largest pound of u peels ever for a mere $9.99. We toured the town, did a little shopping and dined at Fathoms, a neat little restaurant and marina with a local band for nightly entertainment. Capped off the evening watching the boats in the marina yard. Blissfully quiet.

Sunday, May 17:

We were up early the next morning with the excitement of finally getting to Dog Island; no roads, no restaurants, no hotels, a few private homes and only 7 year round residents. Much of the island (1100/1800 acres) is protected by the Jeff Lewis Wilderness Preserve against development. We re iced the coolers (for the third time) and reloaded the Jeep.

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We meet Captain Rusty at the marina and load up the boat with out food and supplies; away we go on our six mile trip to Dog Island leaving the world behind. Once docking, we had wheelbarrows to put out stuff in and traverse up the dock to our waiting pick up truck.

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Once again, we reloaded. The Jag remarked “PJ this is as close to camping with me as you will ever get”.

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A short drive to our “home” for the week took us by the local ‘airport’.  “It’s an airstrip PJ, not an airport” hubby ‘corrected’.  I thought it was basic, functional and more than adequate.

Upon arriving it was time to unpack, again. Up the stairs with suitcases, about 17 boxes/coolers and other gear. The Jag had a completely sweat soaked shirt; for some reason I really enjoyed watching him do all that functional work. It reminded me of a CrossFit wod. He saw no humor but was a good sport.

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Upon walking into the house I was immediately taken aback by the panoramic view the layout provided; it was spectacular surrounded by water and nature on all sides. A beautiful three bedroom house with all the comforts of home. We get everything unloaded and I begin to unpack and organize everything.

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The Jag immediately turns on the TV and I hear an “F” bomb. What? I ask. “The satellite dish is on the ground.” Huh? “It’s rusted through, fell on the ground, and snapped the cable right off — no reception.

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He immediately calls the owner who is in Atlanta and promptly returns the call. Not really much he can do at this time. I doubt it very seriously if a Satellite repair man in Carabelle will jump on a boat and haul ass out here to fix it just so he can watch the hockey finals. Everything happens for a reason dear, look at the view. You watch TV all the time, you’ll live. He pouts for about 3 hours. It takes him the rest of the day and half of the next to come to terms with it.

Wifi was very very sketchy and worked only intermittently every few days despite the hot spot I brought. Another blessing from above, we came here to disconnect. The first evening was relaxing and both our minds and bodies began to slow down. Fresh grilled snapper for dinner followed by a calm, peace and serenity not found in hustling Tampa bay. We went to bed around 9:45 in the most pitch black room I have had the pleasure of sleeping in in decades. Not one damned LCD or outside light glaring at me. I awoke at 6:37 to the most splendid sunrise. Life has never looked this good. . .

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Monday, May 18

I enjoyed my coffee while watching the sunrise, then breakfast, workout and cool down to the sound of the sea. Off to explore one direction of the island with hubby for a nice 1 hour 15 minute walk. “I think we need to lock the house” he says before we embark. There’s hardly anyone on the island, I doubt the crime rate is high. “You never know”. Ok, make sure we can get back in. The key we have would only fit the front door, not any of the back doors on the porch. He checked all doors, locked the front and away we went.

Upon returning I am waiting on the porch for him to unlock the front door and let me in. It seems to be taking quite some time so he finally comes back and says “I forgot to unlock the deadbolt on the screen door”. Uh, so that means we can’t get in? “Oh, I’ll get us in”. Don’t break anything we’ll have to pay for it. Fortunately we had left the tool shed open and he gets a screwdriver and within 5 minutes has ‘broken’ into the house. Not literally, he merely managed to open the lock, quite easily I might add. Now I feel like I’m on an episode of survivor or maybe one of my books where the hero gets them out of distress?

Lo and behold Blake (the owner) and excellent host called and walked Rick through how to hook up the super sonic antennae; he now has TV and at least a few channels. He is back into full island mode.

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The rest of the day was spent relaxing, looking at the ocean and just breathing, distressing from our hectic pace of life. Everything tastes better on Dog Island. That night we grilled barbecued chicken, duck fat fries and green beans.

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I love my little (not) island kitchen.

Tuesday – Saturday:

Sundaywhen the TV wouldn’t work it was “PJ this is the last time”, Monday it was “it’s beautiful but this just isn’t my cup of tea”, “we will go to my pick next vacation – it’s about compromise” and by Tuesday morning it’s “you know, the place grows on you”. “Perhaps Capt Rusty needs an assistant. We could live in Carabelle”. Always takes him longer than me to see what is best.

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The beautiful days in paradise continued; beach workouts, sunrises, peaceful evenings, long walks on the beach and trails, fishing from the shore, sunbathing, reading, a few crossword puzzles, lounging in the hammock, zero technology and yes romance. We had thirty minutes of rain one afternoon and sunshine the rest, who could have asked for more.

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Sunday, May 24: time to go:(

Much quicker to pack up since we had ate and drank most of the food and water. Was I bored? Not one second. We both had the best vacation we have ever had in our 30 years together. Not one argument all week. As we packed up the pick up Rick said “I can’t wait to return”.  And neither can I.

The ride back was smooth, the box ran well without me in the capable hands of our staff. I had an extra day (Memorial day) to gradually shift back into reality. Tuesday morning found me back at work with a Zen like state of mind.  And feeling once again like I’m headed towards a happy ever aftering.

Pork n’ Pineapple

After a week on an almost deserted island with the Jag I am back in Chaosville albeit with a totally refreshed state of mind.  The Memorial Day holiday was a nice gradual shift back into reality.  Celebrating with family these grilled chops helped to keep the island spirit alive. . .

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We came home to a completely empty fridge; while I coached the Memorial Day wod (Murph) at the box and then worked out the Jag went to Whole Foods to restock the larder.  A little picked over since no deliveries on a holiday we were still able to find these delicious bone in pork choppers.

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The sides are what you desire.  I went with a crisp, fresh salad.  While on vacation I remembered how to let go and relax which brought forth more creativity especially in the kitchen.  While we had just procured fresh salad ingredients I felt it needed something more.  I asked hubby and he replied “some tangerine slices would be nice”.  Well, we don’t have any, would you like to go back to the store?  Eye roll was the response to my suggestion, which was given jokingly.

Hmm, I thought that would add a pleasant bit of sweetness to the salad, what could I use instead?  The fresh pineapple beckoned to me so I cut that up julienne like — perfect.  And it went very well with the other ingredients including the blue cheese stuffed olives leftover from our trip.

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We also had twice baked potatoes which disappeared before I could snap a picture.

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The Jag has certainly been good about all the grilling he’s been doing.  I am getting quite spoiled with the flavor–everyhing is better on the grill.

Enjoy!

Recipe & Ingredients

4 bone in pastured pork chops
3/4 cup organic pineapple juice (it should be cloudy)
juice of 1 lime
3 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preparation

Mix juices and seasonings together in a bowl, pour into a large Ziploc bag and add the chops.  Marinate for 2-4 hours.  Drain marinade and discard juices.  Place chops on the grill, cook covered on direct heat about 3 minutes per side depending on thickness of chops.

Vacation during a Lean Out?

So, you’ve chosen a physique show or other goal that requires you to lean out and you find that not a one day special event or holiday but a week long vacation falls into the mix.  What to do? Some would call that piss poor planning but nonetheless it happened to me.

I had no plans on the horizon so when the availability of the vacation home we wanted to rent changed from mid June to mid May I thought nothing of it. Alas, girls at my box had other ideas and a physique show commitment was made with the competition a mere 3 weeks from the day I was to leave on vacation. What to do. . .

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Look at the big picture:  what’s more important to you?  The show/event/goal you committed to or some overindulgence on your vacation.  It’s temporary, this sacrifice.  It sucks that your vacation falls during this time but you did sign up for it.  Put on your big girl panties because you can still have fun without gluttony.

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The Food & Drink:  one advantage I have on this trip is that I don’t drink so nothing lost in that respect.  Another advantage I have is we are going to a relatively deserted island and their are no restaurants so we need to bring all our own food and drinking water.  I have complete control over what I eat, how it’s prepared and in what amounts.

I’ve made a list of the staples I need to bring and will head to Whole Foods tonight to load up on the perishables.

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The Training:   a disadvantage I have on this trip is not only are there no restaurants there are also no gyms, boxes or workout facilities.  It is me and the elements.  I am bringing a pair of 20# db’s, a weighted vest, jump rope and 3 different resistance bands.  I will get creative with them, see what else I can round up on the island and hike, swim and work on my posing.

Always look for hidden opportunities to what initially appears a disadvantage.  I hit the weights hard year round rarely missing a workout because I love it so much.  What I haven’t been spending enough time on is the posing portion for the figure competition.  And no matter how lean you are, how much muscle you have and how good you may look you have to be able to present it well on stage like you’ve already won it.

Having Fun:  that is what you make it and granted if I were 25 instead of 55 this might not work so well.  Wild and late nights partying until dawn are somewhat fond but distant memories for me.  I’m looking to recharge my batteries, spend time with my husband, explore the island, bird watch, snorkel and disconnect if only temporarily.

Dog Island
Where am I going: 
to Dog Island — the “island that time forgot”.  Located 3.5 miles off the Florida panhandle, a pristine barrier island 50 miles southwest of Tallahassee.  Most of the 7 mile island (1100 of its 1800 acres) is in the Jeff Lewis Wilderness Preserve.

Stay tuned for my day to day adventures. . .

50 Shades of Chicken

We are on Week 10 of my 13 week spring leaning plan.  While both beef and seafood have played a role in my leaning out nutritional protocol to say I’m a little tired of skinless chicken breasts is putting it mildly.  Anything had almost daily does need to spiced up every now and again to keep the palate pleased.

I had to start getting creative and whipping out my culinary toys, uh I mean spices.  This rest day quick and easy curried chicken almondine did the trick and I was able to hold out another day until I could have my favorite — beef.

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Recipe & Ingredients

For the chicken
2 pounds pastured skinless chicken breasts or thighs
2 teaspoons grass fed butter
1/2 chopped onion
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1/4 cup toasted almonds

Preparation

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and brown the chicken pieces on both sides; remove and set aside on a plate.  Saute the onions until slightly tender, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds longer stirring constantly taking care not to brown the garlic.  Turn the heat down to medium low and add the curry paste, sea salt and black pepper stirring well.

Add in the broth and coconut milk turning the heat up slightly to bring to a low boil.  Add back in the chicken pieces, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking toast the almonds in a separate skillet in the oven at 350 degrees for about 5 to 10 minutes or until slightly golden.

To serve place the chicken on a plate top with sauce and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.

Surprisingly I’ve had no cravings this go round and I do believe it’s because I’ve kept the protein higher than usual.  Although I am starting to have dreams of what my first meal will be after the show. . .

There’s a rack of pastured baby back’s sitting in my freezer.  Yes, I see them on the grill, I smell the pork fat sizzling, the scent of brown sugar seeping from the sauce on the rack, on the grill, soon. . .