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YellowJacket: Long Term Planning.


Yellowjacket

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Um ok. I'm intrigued please explain.

The short answer:  Your muscles don't know how heavy the weight you are lifting is, they just know if they encounter resistance or not.  Strength training is mostly about neuromuscular efficiency, not about maximum hypertrophy, although both are definitely related and opposite sides of the same coin.  I am of the opinion that strength athletes can benefit from bodybuilding style training and vice versa.

Long answer:

Now I realize that this is a guild devoted purely to the pursuit of strength which means maximum neuromuscular efficiency and dense compact muscle structure so let me preface my discussion with two points.   First of all, I fully  acknowledge that someone can build a plenty big, thick, and impressive back by doing heavy rows, deadlifts, snatches, and weighted pullups.  

Secondly, if you want a back that looks like a mountain range, you need to diet down.  You have to be lean to have muscle definition, but we knew that already.

 

Ok, so what's this about feeling vs moving big weights?  I've said this before, but back is a game of angles.  It is a complex muscle group that is designed to provide a full range of motion for the arms in conjunction with the delts, pecs, rotator cuffs, etc. 

When one is training for strength the idea is to move big weight from point A to point B and whatever muscles get in the way get loaded in the process.  

When bodybuilding, the goal is to build a back that 'pops' and looks impressive from all angles.  Let's discuss the basics of training a big back.  As everyone here knows --and is implicit to being a warrior-- you have to move big weight on functional multi-joint lifts.  You can't get away from that.  

BUT, here is where the angles come in.  IN ADDITION to strength training, if you want to fully develop the back, you need to provide the muscles with a novel stimulus at each training session.  So, lets look at the basic areas of the back and the basic movements that target them:

 

Upper Traps:  basically, any kind of shrug, snatch, or deadlift.

Midback:  Rows.  Barbell rows, dumbbell rows, cable rows, etc.  

Lats: Any sort of pulldown, pull up, straight arm pull down, dumbbell pullover.  (less so bench press which is a weird thing and unimportant trivia)

Lower back:  Deadlifts, romanian deadlifts, good mornings, hyper extensions.  

So, what does this have to do with feeling the movement?  Any advanced and knowledgeable bodybuilder knows how to 'squeeze' the muscle and 'feel the muscle working'.

Midback:  When doing a standard parallel grip cable row, you can simply pull the weight as hard as you can and stress the biceps as well as the prime movers.  OR, you can drop the weight a bit (Or a lot) and really concentrate on squeezing the shoulder blades together.  To really target the muscle, squeezing the shoulder blades down and together and mashing the shoulder blades together just a little more right at the top of the movement really just fatigues the midback in a way 230lb 5 x 5 barbell rows can't.  (Consider you're contracting the traps as hard as you can each rep) The thing with the lighter weight is that since you are not focused on moving the weight, but on the feel, you can target and develop specific muscle groups which may not be activated by traditional strength training, ESPECIALLY if you had a weakness there or you have a problem with your form that you don't know about.  Try it sometime.  

Now we have a problem.  Parallel grip cable rows are only one possible angle for the midback and they're targeting a specific part of the traps in particular.  Now, what about using a long 'lat' bar and doing wide grip cable rows.  Where do you feel it now?  It depends on where you pull the bar.  If you do high pulls and squeeze the tops of the shoulder blades together, you hit a different part of the traps.  If you pull low, you hit more or less the same part of the traps but from a different angle.  In both cases, the wider grip emphasizes the rear delts much more than the traps.  

In a back workout you can focus on one grip for the movement or you can use multiple grips to hit the muscle from multiple angles and stimulate the maximum number of muscle fibres.  Also, a rep range of 8 - 12 reps (or higher) can stimulate muscle growth because it is a novel stimulus.  

Lats:  Ron Harris has gone on record saying that most trainees can't properly squeeze the lats.  If you are interested in doing pullups, you are interested in getting off of the ground, not squeezing the lats.  This is something I have been working on but it is hard.  When doing lighter weight pulldowns, I definitely contract the lats as hard as I can and I try and really feel the scapulae (shoulder blades) rotate as I perform the movement.  At the bottom, when the bar touches near the clavicles, I try to squeeze the lats as best I can.  Simply getting the bar down can encourage sloppy form and can really turn the movement into a bicep exercise.  It's fine, but it doesn't necessarily yield the desired result.  I personally get the best lat contraction from using a shoulder width underhand grip while executing pulldowns.

Lighter weights and higher reps also produce more hypertrophy compared to strength training so this alone can help develop back size. 

So what does this mean for people who aren't bodybuilding?  Identifying and targeting weak smaller muscles can increase your lifting potential in the long term and allow you to move bigger weights.  It can also give your joints and tendons much needed time off from the constant strain of moving heavy poundages.  Your support structure can recover as your muscles are continuing to be stimulated and grow.  

There is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat so just be willing to entertain other possibilities than the most obvious one.  

 

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I am really curious about the Rack Pulls. I am still not sure my deadliest form is right and the weight that I'm moving on them is still really light. Seems like there is more going on with the dead lift movement so I am wondering if the Rack Pulls would be informative.

 

Thanks for the food ideas too! 

 

Here's my new thread: physically-mentally-and-digitally-present

Not sure how to answer this.  OK, don't expect to deadlift 300lbs in 4 months of training.  Does that make sense?  

I am specifically using rack pulls to develop a weakness in my physique that will help me deadlift more weight in the long run.  I feel that my lower back in general is a weak point and I'm trying to target it specifically so that when I go to deadlift, I'll be able to move even bigger weight safely!  I'm also trying to sort out flexibility issues that hamper my hip mobility and interfere with my squats and deadlifts.

I think you need to learn the motion.  I suggest watching Elliot Hulse videos and building the deadlifts the way he suggests.  He says to rebuild form by starting at the top.  Bend the knees 20 degrees and pivot at the hips until the weight clears the knees, then drop the hips straight down.  Like the whole body just goes down to the starting position.  Use light - ish weight and work on this.  You'll begin to see in time what you have to work on.  

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Wanna smoke your p'chain?

Try doing deficit deads....or do deads using 25 pound plates in place of the 45's....takes more plates...but the ROM is increased.

Naturally, this is the exact opposite of rack pulls....but it will make you stronger off the floor.

 

Notes:

- really squeeze your glutes at lockout

- lighten the weight so that you maintain good form throughout

- ...and work toward *full* range of motion....where you keep a neutral spine and can "tap" the floor with the weight on every rep

- those extra few inches make a world of difference and result in a more difficult exercise.

 

These will crush your hams, glutes and spinal erectors.....and this all translates into a bulletproof lower back and monster conventional deadlifts. :)

Sculptor - Warrior


LVL 4 | STR 10 | DEX 8 | WIS 12 | CHA 8 | STA 1 | CON 6


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Oh, a neat life hack I saw on Elliot Hulse's channel.  To eat a can of straight tuna, just add balsamic vinegar.  Get a good quality one and it will make the tuna taste MUCH better!!!  

nice! i recently discovered adding salsa to tuna but you know whats more flavorful? balsamic vinegar! and you know what's also great? balsamic salsa! 

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Maybe this will be the next phase in back strengthening / deadlift practice?  Looks like fun!

 

Arm Day.  Meh meh meh meh meh.  I hate conventional lifting for arms, it feels like it's doing nothing.  There is something that is just so fantastic and productive about pushing into the burn with arms that simply heaving weights feels like going through the motions while not actually targeting the muscles.  

 

Barbell Curls

70 x 12

90 x 10

110 x 6

 

pushdowns.

 

30 x 12

40 x 15

50 x 15

60 x 8

 

reverse grip one arm pushdowns

20 x 8

20 x 8

15 x 9

 

concentration curls

 

30lbs x 8, 8

40lbs x 9, 9

 

hammer curls

35lbs x 8

 

French Press

65 x 12, 10, 8.

 

fin. 

Oats & Eggs breakfast.  Grapefruit

Banana

 

Post workout recovery shake.

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nice! i recently discovered adding salsa to tuna but you know whats more flavorful? balsamic vinegar! and you know what's also great? balsamic salsa! 

What's a 'balsamic salsa'?  Sounds interesting.

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Its just a fresh salsa with balsamic vinegar in it! you could do apple cider too. I had bought some at the grocery store awhile back (it was in one of those little plastic see-through tubs you can find in the produce section). I think it's kind of like bruschetta. but your idea about balsamic vinegar with tuna combined with my recent adventures with tuna & salsa made me think all three would be delicious together.

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I always appreciate the Elliot Hulse recommends. I have not checked in with him recently, but it's always informative and entertaining! I don't expect to move 300 lbs. but I don't know what to expect. Still developing that and I'm okay with it. Another reason this is a great community- there are people ahead of me that are interested in sharing their methods and experience.

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Salsa with Balsamic vinegar sounds interesting.  I know a lot of mexican food I've made -specifically marinades- use lemon and or vinegar as one of the ingredients.

 

 

I always appreciate the Elliot Hulse recommends. I have not checked in with him recently, but it's always informative and entertaining! I don't expect to move 300 lbs. but I don't know what to expect. Still developing that and I'm okay with it. Another reason this is a great community- there are people ahead of me that are interested in sharing their methods and experience.

No kidding.  The only way to keep progressing is to keep learning.

Crappy leg Workout:

Ok, so I am officially starting to get bummed / frustrated with leg training.

I'm noticing a somewhat perpetual ache in the tendon right below the knee cap.  It will go away if I take two weeks rest between each leg workout and the thing is that I'm not really training the lower body hard right now.  

I did a light 5 x 5 for squats today.

 

70 x 5

120 x 5

140 x 5

160 x 5

180 x 5

200 x 5.

 

The good news is that my chest is staying out and my back is flat.  I felt powerful and the weight felt light, even at the end.  

I did leg extensions  (no pain)   I don't load weight on this movement.  It's more fun to get a crazy contraction at the top.

40lbs x 10, 50 x 10, 10.

Leg curls.

50 x 10, 8, 8.

random assortment of calf raises.

 

Since I didn't do lower body TORQ I'm seriously considering it at some point.  With regular meeting with my academic advisor, it is difficult to schedule leg workouts outside of the home gym but once they're done, I'm tempted to take my legs to the gym for some time so I can pile on some size.

I did stretch.

I was noticing that since I was working on my form, my knees were traveling forward somewhat while I would usually sit quite far back.  But the aching knees started when I started going high rep squats so I'm not quite sure how to approach this.  I've never had any sort of knee trouble so this is a bit bizarre to me.  Of course, we're not talking about shooting pain or anything.  It's just a dull ache.  

Food so far has been

 

oats & eggs breakfast + grapefruit

 

Post workout shake

 

1/2 lb ground beef with carrots + broccoli and some lettuce.

 

A serving of pistachios.  I'm going to grab a tuna shortly!   

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Sorry to hear about the knee trouble YJ. Hope you get it figured out and your leg workouts get better!

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I did stretch.

I was noticing that since I was working on my form, my knees were traveling forward somewhat while I would usually sit quite far back.  But the aching knees started when I started going high rep squats so I'm not quite sure how to approach this.  I've never had any sort of knee trouble so this is a bit bizarre to me.  Of course, we're not talking about shooting pain or anything.  It's just a dull ache.  

 

 

Do you know how your IT bands are doing? Tight IT bands wreak havoc on my knees.....

You can't really "stretch" them in a traditional sense.....they need to be worked/massaged directly in order to keep them from being "glued" to the underlying muscle tissue....

Foam roll the hell out of them and see if that starts mitigating the knee pain. (It can take a couple weeks)

 

Not saying that it is the issue....just throwing out a personal experience.

Sculptor - Warrior


LVL 4 | STR 10 | DEX 8 | WIS 12 | CHA 8 | STA 1 | CON 6


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Interesting.  I'm going to have to see if that works.  They are achy today, the tendon right below the knee cap.  boooo!

 

Shoulder Workout.  Good news.

 

one arm dumbbell press.

 

30 x 12

35 x 10

40 x 8

 

Easy, and no pain.

 

laterals.  (I like to pause for a second and really feel the muscle work)

 

15 x 10, 10.

 

Bentover laterals

 

15 x 10, 10

Standing L Flyes  (rotator cuffs)

 

5lbs x 20

 

I'm going to look up IT bands and see about this.  At any rate, I think taking a break on the legs  *gasp* and then working in some different exercises might have the desired effect.  Have to check out other options too, of course.  

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They are achy today, the tendon right below the knee cap.  boooo!

 

 

Ew....that sounds like a patellar tendon....

Sculptor - Warrior


LVL 4 | STR 10 | DEX 8 | WIS 12 | CHA 8 | STA 1 | CON 6


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Indeed, it wreaks of patellar tendonitis.  Doing on reading on it and I wonder about lower cross syndrome since I spend most of the day sitting.  Not sure what to do from here.

It started to become aggravated when I was working on my squat form and was going down below parallel, something that I never did before.  Not really sure what to do at this point but time off is probably a good starting point.

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This is part of the learning process for me too. Sorry to hear you are dealing with some pains and having to explore ways to heal it instead of doing the usual. I guess we have to always stay flexible, even in the discipline. I'm interested to see what you find.

 

I'm watching more Elliot. He has A LOT of videos on dead lifts! Your summary helped me a lot- starting at the top. 

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Yay for the power of self diagnosis!!!

If the Patellar Tendon is sore / aching, it must be tendonitis or micro-tears.  Most likely true!

Probable causes:

 

1) Overuse.  I've been squatting for almost a year straight now and since then I have upped the stress on the knee with an increased ROM.  Also adjusting my form may have put more pressure on the knee. 

(This is likely)

2) Lower Cross Syndrome.  I sit most of the day while writing music and practicing so the chances of me having tight hip flexors is very high.  This can put stress on the knee.

 

(this is also likely)

 

So, plan of attack.

 

1)  Take a break.  A week off leg workouts will cause my quads to shrink less than six months off after a major surgery. 

2) Strengthen surrounding muscles to prevent further injury / reinjury.  They're quite big already although I do want to get back to training...

 

3) Avoid performing the motion that caused the injury in the first place.  Fine, I have been squatting for too long without a break.  So, I'll probably work with leg press and some isolation movements for high rep, low rest time training. 

4) Stretch the hips.  Definitely going to have to do this too!  I was working on my hams and groin but apparently the anterior hip flexors need to be addressed as well.

Since I hit my life quest weight on squats, getting huge weight up on that exercise is not an urgent priority.  Time to let the body recover. 

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Pec day!

 

Incline BP

 

125lbs x 12

145lbs x 10

165lbs x 8

Still feeling light but that's ok.

 

DB press

60 x 9, 9, 9

 

Flyes

35lbs x 8, 8, 8 

Light overall but it's not aggravating my shoulder.

That's all, I'm lazy, and that's ok.


So, recall how I was bemoaning all my rest time I was taking between sets now I'm moved from TORQ to a more conventional styl of training?  Well, I have found a very good use for it.

Stretching.

So, my advice to all of you who read this thread and everybody else here, STRETCH!  STRETCH!  STRETCH!  etc.  I cannot emphasize this enough.

I want to be clear that I am not a doctor, nor a strength coach, nor a physiotherapist, and I have not had a professional diagnosis on my sore knees.  The only thing that stops me from seeking professional intervention is that for a student with a young family, the cost is prohibitive.  That being said, I did some reading and with some basic information I was able to come up with a plan of action that I think makes sense.

Some history on me.  I have never been particularly flexible ever in my life and I was not going out of my way to find a reason to stretch.  When I started reading muscle mags they were saying that stretching was a strength derailer (what they meant was that one should stretch post workout for cooling down) so I took that to mean that stretching was bad for people who lift weights.  So yes, I did not stretch.  Ever.  At least not beyond a hamster stretch haha.

 

Oh, and my 'job' involves sitting in front of a computer or a cello or a guitar or a bass guitar (Etc) for hours and hours, and my posture sucks.  REALLY sucks.

Sooo, it is kind of ironic that when I started to incorporate stretching into my weight training, I began to notice physical problems cropping up that were not really apparent to me before.  Notice how I'm complaining about sore knees approx 8 weeks after I began working to rebuild my squat by improving the form.   Again, I am not a doctor but the problem is so painfully obvious.

Ok, so approx 8 - 10 weeks ago I started working on hip flexibility and squat form, so what gives?  

1) Overhead Squats.  I cannot do these properly, I am not flexible enough.  My shoulder joint will not allow my arms to bend far enough back behind my head.  Period.  This basically puts the whole rest of the body out of alignment.    Bad.  (They did help my squat form though)  The weight was sitting too much over the knees and not back enough which meant I wasn't sitting back deep enough in my squats either.  

2) I started strengthening my abs along with my TVA.  By extension, this strengthens the hip flexors.  More on this shortly.

 

3) I started stretching my shoulders and hips (not a bad thing, right?) but I forgot about one muscle group, the hip flexors.  I got so focused on how inflexible my hams were that I totally forgot about the other side.  So I'm lengthening the groin and hams while simultaneously tightening the hip flexors.  Oops.

4) Adjusting my squat form meant that I was getting my knees out more.  My lack of flexibility was putting stress on the knees as well.  Oops.  

So, loosening everything else and then strengthening the hip flexors was serving to aggravate a pre-existing problem.  Beforehand, everything was at a somewhat equal level of crappiness but then improving everything but the hip flexors caused them to all of the sudden become much more crappy than everything else.

 

So, now I get to stretch in between all my sets.  This should be ok.  I may be a bit weaker short term but I think I'll end up much stronger over the long haul and at least I won't feel like I'm waiiiiiiiting for my next set all the time!!!  

As we all know, the best way to test a theory is to do an experiment.  I'll spend a bit of time stretching here for a couple of weeks and see if the symptoms start to go away.  If there is improvement, then we can at least deduce that I am doing something right.  I will have to take a layoff from weights for legs this week and then a subsequent layoff from squats.  I'll maintain and then build my lower body through other exercises in the meantime and with some work, I should notice some dramatic improvement.  



 

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Stretching. I have no scientific study or anything to support this.....but my coach (a veteran of nearly 100 natural BB shows) literally just sent me this tidbit this weekend:

 "It also increases capillary intrusion and fascia release which equates into more muscle. ;)"

 

The context of this statement was me discussing how my last massage was an hour of agony due to my sore glutes and hams and he was reminding me to do some mild stretching and foam rolling before and after exercise...

 

Wild coincedence.

Sculptor - Warrior


LVL 4 | STR 10 | DEX 8 | WIS 12 | CHA 8 | STA 1 | CON 6


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When I was doing full training stretching was how I filled rest time. (nodding) It really helps with my quirky right calf muscle to keep it from tensing up and it also helped tremendously if I slept wrong on something or had a kink. Helped relax the muscle so  it didn't tense up on me so much. Good Advice! :encouragement:

 

Awesome on the workout YJ!

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Current Challenge: Guess What??
Previous Challenges:

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1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 12th 13th 14th  Battle Log
-We can't always change the things we've done, but we can change what we do next.

-I don't have a choice. I deserve a better life and this is what I have to do to get there.
-Whatever doesn't kill me....Had better start running.

 

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So, recall how I was bemoaning all my rest time I was taking between sets now I'm moved from TORQ to a more conventional styl of training?  Well, I have found a very good use for it.

Stretching.

So, now I get to stretch in between all my sets.  This should be ok.  I may be a bit weaker short term but I think I'll end up much stronger over the long haul and at least I won't feel like I'm waiiiiiiiting for my next set all the time!!!  

As we all know, the best way to test a theory is to do an experiment.  I'll spend a bit of time stretching here for a couple of weeks and see if the symptoms start to go away.  If there is improvement, then we can at least deduce that I am doing something right.  I will have to take a layoff from weights for legs this week and then a subsequent layoff from squats.  I'll maintain and then build my lower body through other exercises in the meantime and with some work, I should notice some dramatic improvement.  

 

 

 

When I was doing full training stretching was how I filled rest time. 

 

me too! i hated waiting around...

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Stretching. I have no scientific study or anything to support this.....but my coach (a veteran of nearly 100 natural BB shows) literally just sent me this tidbit this weekend:

 "It also increases capillary intrusion and fascia release which equates into more muscle. ;)"

 

The context of this statement was me discussing how my last massage was an hour of agony due to my sore glutes and hams and he was reminding me to do some mild stretching and foam rolling before and after exercise...

 

Wild coincedence.

Ya, speaking of coincidences, the guitar salesman who sold me my lester like a decade ago was just relating to me how he was having knee troubles because his hips were tight.  I think this was a week or two ago.  We all gotta stretch now, huh?

Before I forget, I should mention that the nagging ache / discomfort in my patellar tendon has subsided somewhat since I started stretching my hips flexors.  This stretching thing is going to need to become more of a priority, I think!

 

 

When I was doing full training stretching was how I filled rest time. (nodding) It really helps with my quirky right calf muscle to keep it from tensing up and it also helped tremendously if I slept wrong on something or had a kink. Helped relax the muscle so  it didn't tense up on me so much. Good Advice! :encouragement:

 

Awesome on the workout YJ!

No joke.  Idle time is always frustrating, especially during a workout when it feels like it should keep moving.  TORQ was A LOT of fun and the workouts were fast, intense, and controlled.  The trouble is that the body can only take that sort of training for so long so you build what size you can and move on before the body falls apart.  Periodizing training and cycling between higher and lower intensity training should keep the gains happening better overall because there is more scheduled breaks and downtime.

The workout felt really easy, like I was slacking, but I did feel it in the target muscle nonetheless.  The weight is not super heavy but after TORQ it FEELS heavy so it is stimulating the muscles in a good way.  I'm happy to raise the poundage slowly to build up connective tissue strength slowly.  Next time I try for PRs, I'll be sure to spend some time training specifically to become more efficient at the target lifts.  

 

me too! i hated waiting around...

No joke.  It's much easier to relish the rest time when you're pushing your body to the limit.  When the training hurts  (Muscle burn and cardiovascular exertion) the downtimes taste like chocolate milk.  On a normal weight training program, they taste like dry supermarket chicken breasts.  

Speaking of food, I LOVE PIZZA and my wife made pizza for dinner =-(  I ate two chicken breasts, a grapefruit, and a huge romaine lettuce and spinach salad, and I cried the entire time.  It was soo sad!   I think next refeed day will have to have pizza in there somewhere!  

Nutrition so far today:

Oats and Eggs breakfast

Post workout shake  (with a little more cocoa and peanut butter than usual)

2 chicken breasts cooked in olive oil and onions

1 grapefruit

spinach and romaine lettuce salad.

 

Almonds and pistachios.

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 I'm happy to raise the poundage slowly to build up connective tissue strength slowly. 

Speaking of food, I LOVE PIZZA and my wife made pizza for dinner =-(  I ate two chicken breasts, a grapefruit, and a huge romaine lettuce and spinach salad, and I cried the entire time.  It was soo sad!   I think next refeed day will have to have pizza in there somewhere!  

 

That first part sounds like what I will have to do once I am released to go back to my recomp. Raising the poundage slowly.

 

Ahhhh YJ, I can so relate. I LOVE pizza and my group had a pizza feast yesterday with chocolate silk pie for dessert!

 

I had eggs and carrots. It WAS sad so I feel your pain.  :playful:

 

And I have no refeed days right now. :hopelessness:  lol

Level 6 Pixie Assassin Rangerish Adventurer
Current Challenge: Guess What??
Previous Challenges:

Spoiler

 

1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 12th 13th 14th  Battle Log
-We can't always change the things we've done, but we can change what we do next.

-I don't have a choice. I deserve a better life and this is what I have to do to get there.
-Whatever doesn't kill me....Had better start running.

 

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Nice job holding out for the right food at the right time! Sorry you had to miss the pizza, but it will probably taste even better later. I get to start my first Thanksgiving Day feasts at work on Thursday. I don't know how much of it I will be able to eat. I am going to think of your discipline- maybe the food won't be that tempting :peaceful:

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