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Vintage

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Everything posted by Vintage

  1. bigM (and others) are right - most of your progress is from learning to use your muscles, improving technique and just getting mentally tougher. But that's awesome and that's all stuff that will carry over once you're done focusing on weight loss. Think of this as a time to build a really strong foundation. You're almost certainly losing SOME muscle. It's pretty impossible not to. But a combination of good protein intake (I aim for about my bodyweight in grams/day, which means I usually end up around .7- .8g/lb of bodyweight) and consistent strength training will minimize it. If you notice you're struggling through workouts or seem to be losing strength then you might take a look at your diet - it could be a sign that you're at too much of a deficit and/or not getting enough protein.
  2. I'd agree that this sounds like a diet issue. In all likelihood, you're going to have to decrease calories consumed. There are different ways to do this, but a good place to start would be to simply track everything you eat/drink for about a week and see what's really going on. Be brutally honest - weigh and measure things, ask waiters what's in stuff, etc. Myfitnesspal is my tracking app/website of choice, but there are others. It's possible that after doing that you'll be able to see one or two specific changes that would make a difference (you're looking to cut out around 500 calories/day from your maintenance level). But you also might decide it's necessary to track calories for the time being. Combining a moderate caloric deficit, good protein intake and consistent strength training is going to help get excess fat off and retain muscle so you look leaner and feel better. Oh, and definitely take measurements and photos regularly. This will give you a more complete picture of your progress than the scale will. Awesome job in making some good changes and creating better habits. Sounds like you've got a good thing going in the gym. Keep it up and start tweaking diet.
  3. Did you get a powerlifting-style resistance band (they look like giant rubber bands) or one of the tube-style ones with handles (they're made out of a length of rubber tubing like surgical tubing with a handle at each end)? I've always used the giant rubber band type by tossing one half of the band over the bar and looping it through the rest, then pulling tight... Then I'd put a box under the bar to one side of where I'd be hanging, lift one foot (the one closer to the band, which should be to one side of the box), and shift my weight onto it while straightening out the leg. Then I'd rest the free foot on top of/in front of the band. I DID NOT put both feet in the band -having one foot (the one closer to my box) free gave me a way to quickly exit the band if my hands got slippery or my grip gave out. Your legs should stay straight and your body tight the whole time. I found banded pull ups helpful to an extent. The band seemed to push me in a weird direction that made it harder to really use my lats, and it provides a lot of help at the bottom but not much at the top where I struggled. I'd say go ahead and do banded pull ups, but mix it up with lots of single reps, negatives, partial pulls, rows (inverted, bent over with a barbell, with a dumbbell, etc.), and whenever you can get someone to provide human assistance by holding your feet/ankles and providing a bit of stability to push against (they shouldn't be lifting you up) when you get to the top of your pull.
  4. Definitely add me to the "maybe" list, BigM. It's only a 3ish hour drive from Austin and I so very badly want to meet some nerds.
  5. I think it looks good if it's something that you find sustainable. It sounds like you do have a strong grasp of what to eat, so now you just need to experiment to figure out what will help you fit that into your life. For the dinner thing... consider arranging things so that you don't need to buy veggies every night or even cook every night. If you plan out meals at the beginning of the week, you can probably cut down shopping to once or twice/week and minimize cooking time. For instance, for meat you can cook a double portion one night and use the second half the next night (or in your salad for lunch the next day). I'll do this with steak by grilling 2-3x what I need and then pulling some of it off the grill early. Then I'll take those slightly-underdone leftovers and reheat them in a skillet with some veggies for quick stirfry or add them to eggs for steak and eggs or whatever. I do this with chicken too (obviously I don't undercook the chicken) and pork. Does everything taste best when cooked night of? Yes. Am I more likely to give in to my exhaustion at 8PM after a 14 hour day if I have an extra 20 minutes of prep and cooking to do and just eat takeout instead? Yep. With buying veggies, I always make sure to think about what I'm buying and what order I'll cook it in. Some veggies spoil immediately. Some will last a lot longer. Some I don't mind reheated (like carrots, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes and broccoli, for instance), and some I want cooked right before I eat them. Some things can be partially cooked the night before in a big batch and finished off in less than 5 minutes right before I eat them. I do my best to plan this out and cook accordingly. But I also use the existence of food in my fridge that needs to be cooked and/or eaten before it spoils to encourage myself to go home and eat homecooked food rather than stopping for takeout. I've already purchased that food and might have already put in the effort to cook it, so I damn well better go home and eat it instead of throwing out my money. Of course, you may find that buying veggies nightly and cooking every night fit well into your life, that you'd rather take the time and have everything super fresh, and that you take more pride and self-responsibility for your diet that way. Go you! if that's the case.
  6. I think it might be time to take a break from focusing on weight loss for a little bit. Not only to give your body a chance to recoup a bit (let loose skin shrink a bit, let your metabolism restore itself, give your system a break from the stress of a constant caloric deficit, restore muscle that you've lost through dieting, etc.) but also to get yourself together mentally. It sounds like you've had a lot of your mental energy focused on getting rid of excess fat for a long time. It's easy to get to a point where that's all you can see when you look in the mirror or look down or put your hands on your body. You're so focused on it that it's overwhelming everything else. So I'd highly recommend taking some time to re-expand your view of your body. Spend some time eating to fuel workouts, working to gain strength, set and reach some goals that are about making your body better and stronger, not just smaller. and appreciate all of the awesome things you've accomplished over the last year and a half. Breath. Be in your new body and get to know it a bit. Set a time period to do this - say 2 months. Give yourself some guidelines (gaining 15 lbs in sheer ice cream weight is not what I'm advising, but raising calories to maintenance or 100-200 above and really going after your strength training. Come up with a new skill to learn. You may find that after taking your laser-focus off of the skin/fat left, you don't notice it as much. You may decide that you still want to work on losing it, but you've got more patience with it and that your body is willing to cooperate a bit.
  7. My immediate thought was just the word "flapping."
  8. Oh and... I agree 100% when it comes to high-rep, controlled and powerful kips. But I'd say there are two different types of kips, there's the strict, controlled gymnastics kip that's powered by the strong opening and closing of the shoulders below the bar and then there's the sort of uncoordinated, kind of unintentional half-kip that people do when they don't quite have the strength to hang perfectly still and keep their lower body steady. The first requires more shoulder stability than many people realize to be done even semi-safely. The latter tends to take the form of a dolphin kick or jerky worm motion right at the top of the rep to just provide that tiny bit of momentum. It technically disqualifies the movement as "strict" but I don't consider it much of a threat. I say if a person can get up to the bar unassisted with that sort of movement that's mostly in the legs then go for it - and over time work on decreasing it bit by bit.
  9. Waldo's point about needing to learn to use the muscles you have is a huge one. Women in particular seem to have a problem using their lats efficiently for whatever reason. I really like bodytribe's article on pull ups here. It discusses everything from the actual mechanics of a pull up (what it should actually feel like), to how to correctly incorporate a lat pulldown machine if you want to, to progressions and a scheme for working on it. One thing she mentions is that you don't need to pick one scale for a pull up - you can do dumbbell rows one day, inverted rows another, negatives on a third, partial pulls on a fourth, and so on. For me, lots of lots of rows (inverted rows on rings because that's what I have available, bent over barbell rows, dumbbell rows, etc) were a huge help. Really focus on using your lats. In the very beginning, I actually sometimes needed someone to place a finger between my shoulder blades because it somehow helped me direct my effort there. I also did (and still sometimes do) a lot of negatives. At first I needed to jump from a tall box and just tried to slow down my descent. Eventually I got to where I lowered the box and barely used my legs for the jump, then did long, controlled descents. I've also found that having a human assist once you're very close to unassisted pull ups can be more helpful than a band, machine or chair because they can actively adjust the assistance when I'm struggling. When I got close to a pull up I really only needed help at the very top - but this is where bands and chairs are least helpful. Basically, you bend your knees a bit and cross your ankles, then have someone hold your ankles/feet and provide a bit of support for you to push off of. Generally they don't do much active pushing, just provide something to push off of and a little extra help at the top. Because of the position of my legs when I do this (the support is under the tops of my ankles, not firmly planted under my feet and my knees are bent), it doesn't provide as much help as a chair or band. Plus, I'm always trying to put as little force as possible on their hands (because they can feel it and know how exactly how much help I'm getting, I'm heavy, and my feet are generally jammed in their chest so I need to be careful), which gives some extra encouragement to pull a bit harder. I actually did these today working on increasing my range of motion (getting closer to chest to bar than just chin over the bar). Oh, one thing that people haven't mentioned is other hanging-from-a-bar exercises. Kipping knees-to-elbows and toes-to-bar, strict knee raises, beat swings, monkey-bars - just spend some time hanging from a bar and manipulating your body weight in different ways while strengthening your core and your grip.
  10. I think you're getting good advice. Your gains will probably be slower in absolute numbers (how many pounds per month) compared to other people, but percentage-wise I'm guessing you're moving along well. For bench in particular, remember that 1) gains are slower than in the lifts that utilize bigger muscle groups like the legs 2) the number of pounds is going to be so much smaller overall compared to squats and deadlifts that progressing 5 lbs at a time would be a HUGE jump percentage-wise and 3) People frequently underestimate the level of technique and full-body involvement needed for a bench press, particularly for small women who really need to learn to take advantage of every bit of power they have.So if you can, spend some time researching technique and making sure you have it nailed down. For example, make sure you're able to really drive your feet into the floor to help you use your legs and tighten your entire core. From one short-person to another, this may involve stacking plates or small boxes under your feet. For cardio and diet, I'd say you're safe eating 2000 calories/day. If your intervals are fairly intense and you're lifting consistently, that's probably enough for moderate gains. The advice to drop the cardio is probably right if you want to just prioritize putting on muscle mass and gaining strength. But interval training has other real benefits, so I get wanting to keep it. Try out upping to 2000 cal/day and track how everything's progressing. Take measurements, pictures and track all of your workouts. I would also make notes about energy levels and other signs that your body is happy/unhappy. Keep in mind that weight won't go on over night (for good or for bad), so it's going to take time and monitoring to know if something's working and if it's too much/too little you'll be able to readjust without it being a disaster. Last thing... I'm hoping you've worked with a dietitian and/or doctor regarding eating disorders and understand the complexities of gaining weight after being extremely underweight for a good period of time. This is one of those cases where the calories in/calories out equation just doesn't seem to be so simple or easy to manipulate. Weight gain can take a long time to start and can jump around wildly, some girls have more trouble putting on muscle mass, etc.
  11. If you're completing the full workout, I'd up the weight. Heavy weight and low reps.
  12. Overhead holds would be hugely helpful for this. The beauty of these is your can do them with almost anything. Press something overhead (you can do this with some dip and drive to use momentum to get it up there), lock out your arms completely and focus on keeping your shoulders active. Don't let your core sag or arch. The cue we give kids is "press up the sky". It should be a very active position. Work on holding for a minute at a time. Repeat with heavier things. Practice doing this while walking across a room.. Remember, in a handstand you don't ever want to have to your arms bent or your shoulders loose. The other thing you can do is practice kick-ups on a box/coffee table//stair/bench. Start standing, facing the box, with your arms up straight and shoulders active. Place one foot in front of the other, transfer your weight to the front foot and kick the back leg up while placing your hands on the box. Let your front//bottom foot leave the ground a tiny bit, but keep it down low. There's no chance you'll flip all the way over. Just as with the overhead holds, keep your shoulders tight and actively pushing the whole time and don't let your arms bend. As you get better, kick with more force to bring your top leg higher and your torso closer to vertical (your bottom leg will leave the ground more and spend more time in the air, but let it still hang down to provide counter balance). Then lower the box/bench/stair. Remember, your shoulders should be actively pushing against the surface and your core should stay tight. Try to keep your head neutral (don't crane your neck up). Don't bend your legs. General tip from a former gymnast: I see people (especially men) try to ease themselves into the handstand by placing their hands on the floor first (creating a V position with their body) and then gently kicking up. It rarely works. Keep your body straight and tight from fingers to toes. At some point in the kick up, you should pass a point where you make a T if viewed from the side with your base leg as the vertical post and your leg and torso as the top line. It'll help you use momentum to get up there and be tight (and thus stable and well supported) the moment your hands touch the ground. More importantly for some, this keeps your from chickening out once you're trying to kick all the way up for the first few times. It also looks better.
  13. I think for most people it comes down to what's going to make them sick + what will help them perform better. If I eat something that makes me feel sluggish and sleepy, obviously my workout will suffer and I won't get as much out of it. But that seems to already have been addressed. You don't seem to be asking if it's ok to eat before a workout when that's the option you have, you seem to be thinking that it will help you lose more weight. I've never seen any reliable source say that eating before a workout will "reduce the fat acquisition" from a meal. I'm actually not sure what you're meaning exactly. If you eat immediately before a workout (and don't give your body enough time to break down and absorb that food), it's just going to sit in your stomach while your exercise. Your body isn't going to be able to use it yet. Some nutrients are used faster than others (sugars get absorbed and used quickly, for instance).
  14. Dumbbell bench presses in general work some different muscles than either barbell bench presses or push ups. The stabilization required is far greater (the dumbbells want to move in every damn direction, and you have to work to stop them). You can also keep your hands in a neutral position (palms facing each other, the dumbbells run parallel) which has some advantages for joint health for some people and some people argue that it helps beginners learn not to flare their elbows out hugely on a bench press (which will make the transition to barbell easier because the person already understands proper elbow path). Most gyms have dumbbells and benches in large quantities. You don't need a spotter with dumbbells and they're less intimidating than barbells. And you can start at very light weights with dumbbells. The incline bench thing is a whole different monster. A lot of people feel like incline bench is a more functional movement for sports and for shoulder health, for one. But do what works. If you want to do bodyweight work, you can do amazing things with that (Waldo is testament to that). If you want to use a barbell, you can do that. Steve's point in that article I think is not to overcomplicate things. Pick a compound exercise from each of the movement groupings and get to work.
  15. I agree with the suggestions about water, dark chocolate (dark choc covered almonds are my favorite), and giving your body time to adjust to new eating habits. I think snacking's ok if you fit it in with everything else in a balanced way. The problem people run into with snacks is that they either tend to be a)in addition to a complete diet (thus additional calories) poor food selections or c) driven more by boredom, emotion and habit than hunger. But snacking in itself is ok if you plan it out and adjust in other places. For example. I'm a student with a full time job, and I tend to not be hungry early in the day, so my calorie and food distribution through a weekday looks something like this: 9:00 - coffee and maybe a piece of fruit and some nuts or a small piece of cheese. Sometimes I'll have eggs, meat and veggies - Around 300 calories 12:00 - small packed "lunch" - chicken or meat with veggies - about 300 calories 3:00 - after school snack with the kids I nanny for - a lettuce wrap sandwich, some meat or chicken, nuts - about 300 calories 6:30 workout 8:00 - dinner. Protein,fat and veggies. If I eat carbs or treats it's now - 600 calories If I'm hungry and stay up late I'll occasionally have another snack between dinner and bed In other words, I eat two lunches essentially. But I know ahead of time that I'm going to do that, so I don't try to eat enough at noon to make it until dinner. I just split that meal into two. So I would suggest planning it out and playing with it a bit. Try the previous suggestions for avoiding snacking our of habit/emotion/boredom. But it's ok to have a decent sized snack if that's what works for you. ETA: my diet is by no means perfect. Ideally I would like to get to a place where I shifted some of the dinner calories to earlier in the day. But it's working for me pretty well.
  16. Vintage

    Avocados!

    I think the big factor here is what the rest of your diet looks like. Yes, avocados are calorically dense. But calories themselves are neutral. They're not a bad thing. We just need the right amount for our expenditure level and for our goals. But if it fits in with your overall diet, then go for it. So, are you having a hard time keeping total calorie levels where they need to be right now? Are you eating an extra avocado and sacrificing other things you need (like protein) to keep calorie levels down? Does this keep you from getting a good variety of foods in your diet? Avocados also have a lot of fat in them (which can be awesome because that fat keep you full longer). But this may be too much if your diet is full of other sources of fats as well.
  17. Oh! No, I was referring to the discomfort OP referred to in the original post following the round of squats in question. The pain one can inflict on oneself with a well positioned lacrosse ball is a totally different thing
  18. As far as everyone staring at you... most of them are jealous and admiring your nerve to get in there and do it. Go you! For #1, you're forgetting c) it was a different day. There are days when I go in and everything feels heavy and I have to grind through it, and there are days that I feel like I could bend the barbell in half with my bare hands if I tried. Maybe it's about what I've been eating or how much sleep I got or the weather or simply because I felt like I could do it so I had the right mindset. But a) sounds pretty good, too. Little tweaks can make big differences sometimes. Unless you weren't hitting depth, there aren't many things you could do wrong that would make things easier. As far as your "discomfort",,, what do you mean exactly? Was it fatiguing on the muscles? Did it just feel like your muscles weren't accustomed to it? How long did it take for the discomfort to go away? There are few parts of lifting I find comfortable while doing it. That's to be expected - very little will improve without some discomfort. There's a point where you learn to spot the "bad hurt" and push through the rest.
  19. I reread your question and my answer and wanted to add... When I first started experimenting with high-bar back squats in the interest of improving my oly-lifts, I experienced some pain in my lower back (even at medium weights) that I'd never had with heavy low-bar squats. After asking for input here and having my coaches observe and video me, I realized that while I was shifting my shoulders up higher (making me feel more vertical), I was arching my lower back a bit more than I should. I was trying to raise up my upper back to accommodate the higher bar placement while keeping my hips/pelvis/legs in the same arrangement as in my more accustomed low-bar squat, and the result was a lot of arch in my lumbar spine. Since then I focused on treating my high bar and front squats differently than my low-bar ones. Instead of pushing my hips way back, I actually think of sinking down between my legs (I think one description I read of this was something like picturing your legs as trees and your pelvis as a hammock hanging between it or something weird like that). Eventually I found something that worked. I had to decrease weights and really work on it a while to find a solid movement pattern, make some adjustments in my mobility and get used to the slightly different muscle emphasis. But the moral of the story is that (at least for me) a high bar squat isn't the same as a low-bar but with my chest and shoulders up. The whole squat is one movement - I couldn't just adjust one piece of it and keep the rest the same.
  20. Everyone has slightly different body mechanics, so I'd agree with wildross and somethingsup - the angle isn't as important as if your core is tight, stable and not rounding, your knees are out and the bar path is vertical and staying centered over your feet (or over your heels). My torso goes farther forward in a low-bar squat than in a highbar/unweighted/front/overhead squat, and my stance is a little wider to adjust for that. But a video for form check would probably help here.
  21. One sweet thing that I do tend to be able to control is frozen grapes. I'll buy a bunch of grapes, pull them off the stems and wash them, and put them in a ziploc and freeze them. When I want something sweet, I'll get about 1/2 a cup out of the freezer, put them in a bowl and GO SOMEWHERE ELSE to eat them. I finish the portion and give myself a chance to get absorbed in another activity. If I eat next to the fridge it's too easy for me to refill my bowl when in reality I'm satisfied. Similarly, I freeze most chocolates and things. It's tough to eat them quickly because you kind of have to gnaw at them. It gets me into the habit of eating sweets slowly, so when I am out I can eat a small piece of chocolate slowly and be ok. I also save certain treats for things that I only get when I'm with friends so I can share them. Or I do this with the kids I nanny - Wednesday is our day to get a treat after school, so I can keep in my head the rest of the week "nope, you don't need a milkshake today - but if you still want one by Wednesday you can go with the kids and get one to split three ways." It's kind of a combination of making myself wait a while to see if I really want it/to give the craving a chance to subside and finding a way to help me eat only part of what I would on my own. ETA: Disclaimer - fruit is still sugar. I don't give myself a pass to eat as much as I want. But it doesn't seem to hit the same "more More MORE" trigger that candy does sometimes for me.
  22. I have zero real advice (other than that you might be able to find some products online), but I do want to say go you! for giving it a try. I have RA and logically I know that I should give it a try, but emotionally I just haven't been able to summon the will-power and motivation. So good for you for prioritizing your health.
  23. Just guessing in the dark here... a lot of women get anemic during their period. Blood loss, you know. When you're anemic, your blood isn't going to be able to deliver enough oxygen to your body. You'll get fatigued faster. You've noticed this with martial arts and having less energy. Now you might be noticing it with muscular endurance. Other possibilities: -Is your diet the same during your period as it was before? Are you eating junk? Not eating enough of something? -Is your head in the game? I have occasional days (not just on my period, but they're more common around then) when I just don't have any fight in me. Being in the right mental state to power through sets when they start to feel heavy is a huge deal. As you get more experience, you'll get better at tapping into this mindset and at recognizing when your body can keep pushing or not. -This could be totally unrelated to your period. I've had those days and so has every other lifter I know. Sometimes something just doesn't feel right. The weights feel heavier than usual, the sets feel longer, etc. Maybe it's the weather, how well you slept the night before, a cheat meal the day before, stress over some deadline... whatever. It does happen. The good news is that there are days that are the opposite. You walk up to that bar, you feel like a bad-ass, like you could lift 400 lbs, and your old PRs feel easy peasy.
  24. I've never actually used an assisted pull up machine... But when doing pull ups on a bar (with human assistance, bands, negatives, or now on my own), my hands are outside my shoulders. It felt awkwardly wide at first. But as I got used to it and learned to recruit my lats better, it started feeling much more natural and stronger. Now, if I tried to do a a pull up with a narrow grip I'm pretty sure I'd feel like a T-rex trying to do a pull up. And it would be about as effective.When I do chin-ups (palms facing towards me), then I bring my hands in to that narrow grip.
  25. I'm pretty ready to call bs on the "fat burning zone" thing. When I lift heavy or do intense interval work, my heart rate spikes way above where any fancy-pants treadmill will tell me to keep it for "optimal fat burning." I've still lost 25% of my bodyweight in the past year and look much much leaner. Here's one link to explain where it came from and why it might not actually make a whole lot of sense. The one case in which it seems to make sense to try to maintain a certain range is when you're doing certain types of endurance training. I have trouble pacing myself on runs longer than an all out sprint, so when I work on improving my distance running I focus on keeping my pace at a pace that I can still speak while running. But that has nothing to do with fat-loss.
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