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It begins…

…or rather, it began on Sunday, when we kicked off The Regimen. Hopefully this is the last time I have to come up with a name for something like this, because seriously, I don’t want to go through this again. I’ve designated three phase types:

  • Losing
  • Toning
  • Gaining

The carb cycles differ depending on which phase we’re in. Each cycle consists of 3 weeks in a phase, with the 4th week being Maintenance to avoid plateauing. This time around we’ve got money, so I won’t be overdosing on soy protein again. We’re also reducing the dependency on red meat (I’m all for it, my husband acquiesced), so the majority of the protein will now come from fish, chicken and venison.

My exercise routine is pretty much the same as last time, although I’ve replaced Shaun T with The Fitness Marshall. I’ve also allocated the pure cardio session only once per week now, as the other LCD sessions will be strength-cardio instead. The boxing sessions remain unchanged on HCD days. Since we’re starting in a Losing phase, I’ve put a toning/flex session once a week as well. There’s no point now in trying to tone fat. Once we head into the Gaining and Toning phases I’ll replace the pure cardio session with an additional toning session.

I haven’t ironed out all the kinks yet, but it’s been 3 days and we’re on track. It’s fitting to me that we’ve finally gotten started in October, which I view as a month of rebirth and transformation.

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Adding some lightness to my life

On Saturday I took the plunge and went for a full head of medium blonde highlights, as an intermediate step to going full blonde. The hairdresser convinced me to do a combo of medium blonde and light brown highlights instead, to make the transition seem more gradual, and I must say that I agree.

Having the lighter colour on my head makes me feel lighter already – now just gotta keep on going down the path of righteousness…and I know, I know, pics or it didn’t happen, but I haven’t taken a photo yet. Maybe later.

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The only workout programme that works is one that you can stick to

While I spent the first two weeks of our workout programme sticking to the preset food and working out 6 days a week, my husband struggled to adapt. I thought it was similar to what I went through when I first embarked on my epic revamp last year, and reckoned that he just needed a while to adjust because it was more of a drastic change for him.

It turns out that I couldn’t just double the food I was eating, give it to him and expect a similar result. I made this mistake despite all the research I’ve put into this area over the last 18 months. He told me last night that he was so tired from the reduced food that he didn’t have the energy to exercise when we get home in the afternoons (he exercised 2 out of the 12 sessions that I did).

His metabolism has always been super fast, and I regularly got irritated by the fact that he would lift weights for an hour at the gym, and results would be noticeable the next day. Muscles would sprout from nowhere, while I would wait weeks to see small results from my consistent exercise and food control.

Nevertheless, we have reached a suitable agreement. From Monday (this week is maintenance week), I will remain on my high protein/carb cycling/cardio-strength training regime. He will have his own breakfast, lunch and training regimen, while we will share suppers and weekend food. Example:

Breakfast:

  • Protein muffin (egg, cottage cheese, ostrich mince, mixed veg)
  • High protein sandwich (Seed loaf, egg, cottage cheese, beef/chicken)

Morning snack:

  • Homemade protein bar with Greek yoghurt and mixed seeds

Lunch:

  • Protein with veg (and sweet potato & butternut mash if it’s high carb day)
  • Slowcooked protein & veg with small portion carb (rice/noodles)

Pre-workout snack:

  • Booster muffin (oats, bran, bananas, cinnamon, reduced sugar)

Supper:

  • Recovery smoothie (banana, protein powder, cup of berries, tbsp mixed nuts and seeds, green tea, cinnamon, kale, Greek yoghurt

Evening snack (if required):

  • Provita / cottage cheese / 20g biltong
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Maximising the protein to carb ratio

I have done extensive research – theoretical and practical – to determine the most bang-for-your-buck sources of protein.

  • Canned tuna in water
  • Canned pilchards
  • Ostrich
  • Venison
  • Chicken breast
  • Soybeans Chickpeas
  • Eggs
  • Cottage cheese
  • What the SO and I do every two weeks or so is prepare a batch of these protein sources and freeze it in portions for easy extraction during the week. Examples include

    • Tuna fish cakes with pilchards
    • Ostrich mince
    • Meatballs (ostrich/venison/beef/pork mince)
    • Homemade chicken bites

    All of the above are combined with ground chickpeas (to make it go further and to add some carbs), ground biltong powder and various spices/chillies/fresh herbs so we don’t feel like running to Mcds for a disgusting, filthy, addictive cheeseburger.

    I still have to order some bulk whey protein isolate, which will be added to the afternoon smoothie. Currently we are finishing up some flavoured protein we bought on daily deal.

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Changing one’s mindset about weight loss

During my epic revamp last year, I changed my mindset about a couple of things to really bring about the change:

  • Carbs are not the enemy: Although in my case they kind of were, but I made the switch to low-GI, clean carbs such as oats and sweet potatoes, instead of cutting out carbs completely.
  • Protein is good: I spent a long time not really eating much protein, because I didn’t really care for meat and other protein sources were not readily available. I added protein powder to everything I could, in addition to eating lots of cottage cheese and chicken breasts.
  • Low-fat is wack: My whole life, I believed that low-fat was the way to go. This fallacy was taught to me at a young age, so for years I only drank fat-free or low-fat milk (even as a kid), and refused to add extra sugar or salt to anything. This while having unlimited pasta and potatoes. Point is, once I switched to full-fat milk and leaving the skin on the chicken once in a while, I found myself eating less and enjoying the little that I ate (relative to before).
  • Fat loss is not the same as weight loss: I managed to lose 25kg of body weight, but only lost 6% of my body fat. This is because losing fat is very hard, and that’s the loss that counts. What’s the point of losing a bunch of weight if it was all muscle and water? That’s what mostly happens when you follow a low-carb, high cardio diet.
  • Strength training is definitely for ladies as well: I can view the “only” 6% fat loss in another way – I gained 6% in muscle. Incorporating dumbbells and boxing into my workout was the best thing I could have done. You burn more calories at rest if you have more muscle, so what’s there to lose (besides fat)?
  • Cardio is fine – in small doses: For fat loss, you want to do strength cardio i.e. training which involves some weights which make you “work” that much harder, while incorporating lunges, flies etc at a faster pace so that your heart rate remains at levels you would normally only reach during cardio. Win-win!
  • Lose weight in the kitchen, get healthy in the gym: A lot of people try to make up for a poor diet with lots of gym time. The truth is, the amount of calories you burn in a tough gym session can easily be gained back by having that “healthy” Kauai smoothie and wrap afterwards. You need to eat filling, protein rich meals that are below your calorie allocation for the day, and combine it with exercise.
  • Eat less, move more is a lie: If you hold onto this catchy phrase, you will relapse into old habits as soon as you plateau. You will plateau. Accept it, and adjust your food and exercise schedule accordingly.
  • Cheat days are not a thing: Why do you want to hold onto the past? That’s what chips, sweets and processed foods are: a thing of the past.

I could probably go on a bit more, but I’ve run out of time.

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Our epic revamp starts…today

Despite me trying to get this off the ground several times, I finally realised that the only way to do this properly is to return to the way I did it last year.

That is why today is the start of Our Epic Revamp. Similar to mine, this one will involve carb cycling and six days of exercise per week (different combos of cardio and strength for me and the SO), in a monthly cycle of 3 weeks Training, 1 week maintenance for 3 months. After each quarter the exercise and food pattern will be adjusted to account for gains.

As an example, today is LC.

  • Breakfast: Two high protein egg muffins containing ostrich mince, cottage cheese and mixed veg
  • Lunch: Two high protein fish cakes with stirfry veg and chunky cottage cheese
  • Supper: Protein smoothie
  • Snack: 2 tbsp double cream yoghurt with mixed nuts and seeds
  • Exercise: The Fitness Marshall for 40 minutes of hip hop cardio

I would add one of my homemade protein bars as a morning snack but I forgot to take them out the freezer :-/

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Our epic revamp – an update

It’s going terribly. I honestly believe that’s because I am no longer tracking obsessively. That’s got a lot to do with all the changes I went through this year, but I cannot use that excuse anymore.

I’ve decided to return to the strict tracking I did last year which enabled me to lose 25kg. Now that I’ve put 9kg back on (sigh…), I have to get serious about things again. MFP’s site looks a bit better now as well.

I am concerned about finding a replacement for all the soy protein I was consuming last year, as that was a quick and easy way to boost the protein content of all savoury/sweet meals. I suppose that now my husband is joining me on the quest, buying whey protein in bulk won’t be so irritating now.

Also there is an excellent python library to scrape MFP data, which I am itching to get my hands into.