I always try to stay positive.

Today, I’m positively frustrated.

My show is 16 weeks from yesterday. I am not satisfied with my progress. I’m trying to lose fat without losing muscle, or better yet – gain some muscle while losing fat. The info out there – books and online articles summarizing current research – says it’s possible with perfect nutrition that is timed appropriately, but the calorie deficits cannot be too large. But here’s the conundrum – I’m supposed to lose 2 pounds of fat a week. To do that, the calorie deficit has to be 1000, and that’s just too few calories for me to be able to lift like I do. I’ve been keeping the deficits around 500 per day since March 17th.

So Week #150: Program Progress Check is a mixed bag of good news, bad news, and “I don’t know what the hell this means” news.

The Good News

Lost a little weight and gained a total of 3 inches in circumference around things that aren’t fat – shoulders, arms, calves. Gained size in thigh and chest circumference, too, but I store fat in those places, so I’m not 100% sure that’s muscle growth. (I blogged on this before. I didn’t gain another 3 inches in two weeks – I wish.)

Lost a small amount of size in waist and neck – Does that imply some fat loss?

For the last two weeks, I’ve cut out all grains. I feel pretty good. Seems like I have more energy. I wasn’t going for a Paleo-style diet, but I may have done that without thinking too much about it. Caveman = bodybuilder…whatever…works for me.

The Bad News

Overall weight loss is off track. I’m about 10 pounds behind the projected goal. That’s 5 weeks if I’m supposed to lose 2 lbs a week. We had a buffer window built in of about 7 weeks between the goal date and the show thinking I’d be fighting to lose the last 5% of body fat during that time. I’m losing that buffer time very quickly.

My lifting has not progressed consistently. Some lifts are getting stronger, while others have plateaued or dropped. My back is not recovering as fast as the other body parts on this 3-day split I’ve been doing since March. Pushing it, I ended up hurt. I can only work back once a week now.

Last week’s workouts were messed up with some business at work and some lack of sleep. That’s probably the main reason I’m frustrated today.

“I don’t know what the hell this means.” News

Arms are growing, shoulders are growing, but back isn’t recovering fast enough on the routine I’ve been doing since March. It’s a 3-day split, done twice a week, six days of lifting in a row.

I don’t think I’ve made any major changes in my metabolism. Based on burn data and weight tracking information, my body is still burning calories and losing weight as if I were eating 2200 calories a day instead of the 1800 I am eating. Now, that could be a good thing – muscle gain could be offsetting fat loss a little bit – but I don’t see much in the mirror.

Progress Pics from March to end of April. (Professional photographer hubby wasn’t home for the first pic). I played with the contrast in the last two pictures to try and see some definition.

Yes, I do see a little progress, but not enough. The major difference between March and April is that I’m learning how to stand up straight. I’m not just being impatient (which I am). If I’m going to be on stage on Aug 25, and I want to do this process in a healthy, natural way, I don’t think progress is happening fast enough. (I’m getting a little preoccupied with the idea of tanning again. Doc doesn’t like it, wallet doesn’t like it, but I like seeing definition. It keeps me motivated.)

I love to lift, but trying to manage this program myself is a chore. I don’t really have a choice, so I need to manage the obstacles alone. I think I prefer it this way. Even if I could afford a coach, I’m not sure I would go that route right now, because it feels like paying someone to make the decisions – and that didn’t work out so well for me after a certain point. Looking at the results I see in their clients and in their own physiques, I trust the free advice I’m getting from the smart people at my gym. And my instincts and my research have usually been good.

There is a lot of info out there. Everyone has advice about what worked for them. Lots of conflicting advice. The one thing everyone agrees on is that it’s an individual process and that I need to figure out how my body responds to the variables. It’s an experiment. It’s data. I can do that. I have a degree in mathematics – I can do data. Numbers make sense to me.

Also, everything should get easier after May 9th. Work is stressful until May 9th. That’s the AP calculus exam and there is a lot of mental pressure as I get my class ready for it. “Getting ready” includes cooking breakfast on Wednesday morning in my classroom for 20 teenagers. And our oven is broken so I have arrange to have someone else cook part of it and bring it in that morning. Honestly, I think that breakfast is the major stressor right now. And I’ve blogged many times about how stress effects my body. (I could probably test out of a class about cortisol facts.) Grrrr…. I’m sure life has more stress lined up for me, but work will settle down after Wednesday and that’s a big deal.

New Week #151

I made an Excel form that will easily track daily weight changes with workout variables, water intake, calorie burn, deficit, and macronutrient intake. (Bodybugg keeps track of most of that for me.) It’s highly possible that the weight fluctuations are water associated with muscle recovery. I’m not going to do this for very long. I just really curious to see what the carbs are doing.

It’s time to drop the carbs again and increase protein and fat. Carbs have been around 140 grams and they will be around 125-130 grams this week. Healthy fats up from 40 grams to 60. Protein was too low last week at 160 g (not sure how that happened). Going to bump that up to 190 g. I did do carb cycling for a couple of weeks, but from what I saw and what I read, my body fat is still too high for that to be effective. I’m gradually bring the carbs down, keeping calories around 1750-1800, and trying to bring the calorie burns up with supersets, circuits, HIIT and LISS cardio. My plan is to carb cycle again in July, or when the carbs get too low for me to lift, or when the body fat is down around 15%.

And I need to lift heavy. HEAVY. I almost don’t care about anything else. I haven’t set any PRs in awhile. If this lifting split needs to get tossed for a week so I can move weight and not worry about anything else – well that’s what I’m going to do. All the other junk sucks the joy out of my life, but lifting fixes me.

No more cheat meals. At 16 weeks out, and with this much body fat still hanging on, it’s time. Grrrrr….

Of course, I may change my mind about everything by tomorrow morning.

Why am I doing this again?? That stage better be worth it.

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