What started as “My 275 Day Project”, ended up becoming a year-long project and is ending with the most difficult phase I’ve ever had as a bodybuilder. However, even though I’m going to describe the obstacles, please keep in mind that I’m working hard to keep it all framed as a big-fat-life-lesson. At some point in the future, the objective of the lesson that I’m learning right now will be clearer in the review-view mirror.
After my July show, even though I was satisfied with my progress, I was just a little shy of the conditioning I had envisioned. If I started my off-season at that point, it would be two years before I could make another run at that goal. Looking ahead, there is a show scheduled for October 7th, which is the Saturday at the end of my school district’s week-long fall break. So I decided to keep going with this prep and see how much I could improve between July and October.
I knew there would be new challenges because it was the first time I started a school year while still prep. And I’ve never competed twice in one season, so I’m pushing my body-fat to a lower point than I’ve ever had. For my July show, I did appear to be at my leanest body-composition to date. Deciding to diet for another two and a half months meant that I would doing something I’ve never attempted in the past. When this is finished, my prep will be 359 days long. This is natural bodybuilding – it’s a marathon.
I have been apprehensive about sharing this part of my prep publicly because, even though I’m doing everything naturally using the same science the general population needs to use to loose fat, I’m pushing it much farther than is advised for the general population. Please note that I have professional supervision and it ONLY for my sport. I do not intend to maintain this level of leanness for very long. I just wanted to see if I could do it. My recovery coming out of this prep will also be supervised.
Add to that a career timing issue – this is my 22nd year of teaching and I’m 55 years old. I have another career goal and not too much time left before I will want to retire, so I need to start working on setting things in motion. When it’s ready, I’ll share more details, but hubby and I decided that I need to start working on setting up a side business that would grow while I was still teaching and be ready to replace my income when I do retire from teaching. I’m really excited about it and made a plan to have someone hold me accountable each week for getting certain tasks done to keep things progressing.
After a couple of weeks into this last leg of the prep, with school starting, the work on the side-business starting, life did what life does. Boulder-sized obstacles started dropping from the sky. Hubby needed to be hospitalized the weekend before school started for a sneaky and severe pneumonia. He remained in the hospital for 6 days and I missed the first two days of school. (He is fine now, even though he is still on the mend.) If you’re a teacher, you know that the start of a school year is bumpy anyway, so pushing myself physically, changing my schedule around to deal with life, and having handle the first week of school took a toll.
The first month, I was just putting out fires and dealing with whatever needed to be handled that day. The whole time, I never missed a lift, never missed a cardio, and followed the diet protocol. But eventually, because of the caloric deficit and lack of sleep, I got run down a little and picked up a “little” bug from the kiddos. Wasn’t really little. Felt like it at first, but after about a week of no change, I started using some sick days and headed to Urgent Care. A gnarly sinus-infection was making itself at home in my head. Took a few days on antibiotics and a lot of rest before I could make it through a whole day at work. Luckily, I had some energy in the mornings and could keep up with my training for all but two days. But I needed a lot of rest and had to bring calories up for a few days.
So now, we are 9 days out from the competition and I’m getting back on track. I’ve decided to finish this thing the best way I can and not be too concerned about hitting the original ‘leanness’ goal I set last July. This week, I’m not trying to do anything epic in the gym. I dropped my loads and increased my reps. Coach sent me my peak week protocol that will start tomorrow. That fall break I mentioned before starts tomorrow and I need it. NEED. IT.
Just when I thought I navigated around the last obstacle, they keep a’coming! My workout logging app was not compatible with the new iPad IOS upgrade, so I’ve just lost 4 years of data. OK, that’s a first-world-problem and not really a catastrophe, but it’s annoying. I might be able to fix it, but I think the better approach is to accept it as a sign that I need a fresh start. I’m going to get a new gym planner today and start tracking with paper/pencil again, with a backup on a spreadsheet. It will be good. Old-school.
Yesterday, Facebook reminded me of a photo I posted with a student from 2011. This Facebook memory was a blessing to me yesterday. (The second picture is a progress picture sent to my coach recently. Sorry, but I don’t do hair and makeup except on show days. Most of the time I look like I just got up or just worked out.) Reminded me of how far I’ve come. I’m also a bit blown away by how human biology responds to simple, positive changes in nutrition and smart, safe lifting programming. I know it’s science, but the results come from consistency. And, for me, the consistency comes from a spiritual place. The mental game is the hardest. I use a lot of prayer and inspirational audio books to keep me going. I. AM. GRATEFUL. Humbled a little, too. It’s hard to look at this and not tear up.
Not sure if I’ll write again before the show on the 7th. When I have pictures, I’ll share those here or on the Facebook page. This time around, there is nothing in my mind about placings – this one is about just getting it done. I suspect the next time I do a year-long prep, it will be easier because I will know what to expect.