Planning to compete in physique – at age 52? I must be crazy!!

I think I’ve gone crazy. I’ve decided to compete.

The class?: Women’s physique.

The competition?: Women who are all likely 20 years younger than me.

The reason?: Probable insanity.

I’ve a lot of work ahead of me. From this point on, now I’ve made my decision, I’ll be aiming to shed 1% of my body weight until I’m down closer to competition weight, which for me is probably around 70 kgs. I’m nowhere near that at present.

I’ve also got to put a lot of muscle on, particularly on my legs. Luckily I’m someone who grows muscle easily, but there’s still a lot of work in my future.

Then, because this is women’s bodybuilding, there will be things like hairstyles, manicures, pedicures, hair removal, makeup, tanning and sparkly bikinis to think about (men have it much easier – they just have to prance about in a very small Speedo). Thankfully there are no stripper heels in the physique class, or I’d be sure to trip and break my neck. Thankfully!

I haven’t mentioned this to my OA sponsor yet, but I think she’ll be supportive. She’s a marathon runner, so she understands what goals are – even impossible ones. I think she – and the rest of the OA gang – will absolutely cheer me on and be supportive of me doing this. They’ve seen the changes in me since I started at OA. They know how transformed I am, both inside and out.

My husband and family will support me too. I know they will. My husband was a bodybuilder for a long time – we met through the gym – so he understands the process. He’s thinking of going on stage too, so it’s possible we may even do this together.

Part of me is very scared now I’ve decided to take this leap. Mainly I’m scared I’m simply too old. I’m scared of injury, and of hurting myself.

But I won’t know if I never try. There are older women than me who have done this and succeeded. And I can’t make myself younger, no matter how much I might want to, to make things easier.

It’s not going to be easy. But it will make me a better person. Which is what I want to be.

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What’s my goal? Physique bodybuilding? Maybe?

As time is going on, I’m starting to question what my goal is.

When I started this journey, I just wanted to become more healthy and lose weight. I’m doing that, and I’m feeling so much better and healthier than I did.

Then I started gymming, and that has made me happier still. I love spending time at the gym, and now my husband and stepdaughter have joined me with memberships of their own. It’s becoming a family thing.

I’ve been back at the gym since the start of October, and it feels wrong when I miss a day with no good reason.

People are beginning to notice me too. I put on muscle crazy easily, and already I’m starting to look like “someone who works out” rather than “someone who eats out”!

But with all of this, I feel like I want a more solid goal to aim for. I don’t want to do competitive lifting, as I have an old back injury that makes me wary of squats in particular. But competitive bodybuilding… maybe…?

I thought about going on stage a few years ago. I didn’t, because of my stomach. I felt like no matter what I did, I couldn’t get around the loose skin issue from having had kids.

But now I think I’m ready to push past that and go screw it! I’m a mum, I had kids, this is my body and I think it’s okay.

I’m not at that point – yet – but I think I might be able to get there.

So I’m starting to think I’m going to do it. Aim for stage. An old woman, 50+, throwing caution to the wind and giving life a go.

Because why not?

If I do make that decision – and I’m pretty sure I will – I’ll blog it here.

Because I think more old women should challenge ourselves and face our fears instead of sitting at home crocheting booties. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just not me.

I’m scared that I really think I’m going to do this. Excited and scared. In a good way πŸ™‚

The thing I’m happiest about, oddly enough, is that at least I know I’d be in Physique class, so I wouldn’t have to wear stripper heels!

Welcome to 2023

Happy New Year and all that. Currently I’m enjoying “me time” with all my kids away on holiday, and the house empty with just my husband and me at home alone. The peace is deafening!

I’ve been going for lots of walks around Dunedin harbour, as the weather has been spectacular, in-between spending lots of time at the gym.

The weather has been perfect, so I’ve been enjoying walks around Dunedin harbour (New Zealand).

I was quite pleased with my improvement on bench press at the gym today – I managed 65 kgs, although my form wasn’t wonderful so I’m not going to count it until I get perfect form as I like doing things properly. Altogether I’m doing a lot of bench. Here’s today’s overview for that exercise:

No wonder I’m getting stronger. When you do a lot of something, you get better at it!

I’m feeling pretty tired now. I was going to go for a walk, but have decided against it, and am going to take it easy for the rest of the day. I’ll go for a good walk tomorrow.

Leg Day in the gym

Today in the gym was leg day.

Legs are really tough for me. I’m really tall and long-legged, and my legs are hard to grow. So I do legs 3x a week. They’re improving, but it’s a slow process.

I started with 5×5 leg press and calf raises in the leg press machine.

I started with the leg press machine

I’m currently doing 160 kgs (352 pounds), and increasing by 2.5 kgs every session, according to the StrongLifts program, which I’ve been following for the last couple of months.

Next was seated calf raises. I do these in sets of 10, and I do them s l o w l y, so they really burn. I don’t do them on a particularly high weight, but instead focus on getting that burn.

Seated calf raises, done slowly for the burn. Then leg extensions, which I’m actually *good* at.

Next are leg extensions. I’m quite strong at these, a leftover from my days as a rower. I also like them.

I finished up with lying leg curls, which are my suckiest leg exercise. I’m really weak at them, and I struggle to get any weight happening there at all. I don’t know if that’s typical, but it’s typical for me.

I managed to get lying leg curls up to 35 kgs (77 pounds), but only with sets of 6 repetitions, which is kind of sad and pathetic.

I absolutely hate lying leg curls, but I know I need to do them, so I do, despite the hate and patheticness.

Why no squats? I don’t do squats, as my lower back is very dodgy, and I don’t want to injure myself. Like I said above, I’m an ex-rower and, like a lot of ex-rowers I have lower back problems. Squats may feature in my future, but for now I’m avoiding them.

So that was Leg Day. My weights are all coming up nicely, and I’m starting to see the difference in my body. I’m definitely feeling the difference! I’m just over two months back in the gym, and I’m very glad I made the decision to return to it. It was the right choice πŸ™‚

Christmas is OVER…so bring on 2023!

Christmas is over, and I’m on holiday for a few days yet.

I’m thoroughly enjoying myself, doing lots of walking and lots of gym, mixed in with fairly normal eating that is back on plan again already after a blowout on Christmas Day.

Today I went for a three hour walk along Dunedin harbour, and followed that up with a trip into town to buy a Fitbit, then I went to the gym for a little over an hour with my stepdaughter.

Walking along the harbour was refreshing and relaxing πŸ™‚

My eating has very much settled into routine.

Typical breakfast is a blueberry smoothie (made with a scoop of protein powder, a scoop of collagen powder, a cup of frozen blueberries and a cup of water).

Typical lunch is a salad made with a couple of cups of slaw, a dozen raw almonds and a tablespoon of sesame dressing.

Typical dinner is meat of some sort (often a steak), together with mixed veggies or salad. If I have dressing or sauces of any type, I measure them, and I portion-control my meat carefully.

I don’t snack.

The weight is coming off nicely, and I can see and feel the difference in my own body.

I’m happy with my progress 😊

Christmas Day

For our family, Christmas Day is always a day of excess.

I can’t see that changing any time soon.

So, instead of trying to eat sensibly and avoid everything that, well, makes Christmas Christmas, I decided I’m going to eat whatever I want today.

Then the excess stops Monday night, and I’ll get back to eating sensibly again.

So today was croissants for breakfast, then a few fruit mince pies, then lunch (which was ham, salad and roast potatoes), then dessert (pavlova), followed by more mince pies.

I feel like I’ve eaten enough for a week. I probably have. But I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed Christmas.

Monday night it’s all back to normal, and back to plan.

In the meantime, I hope everyone reading this has had a wonderful Christmas.

Best wishes from Dunedin, New Zealand πŸ™‚πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„

Strength is coming back…

I achieved 60 kg (132 lb) on bench today.

I’m really pleased about that. I’ve been a couple of months at the gym now, so it hasn’t really taken too long to start getting my muscles back.

Everything is still shooting up weights-wise. I’m up to 40 kgs on overhead press, and deadlifts are slowly coming back with repetitions on 80 kgs. Decline bench is sitting on 80 kgs, but I’ve always been strong on the decline, for a woman.

I’m being very careful with anything involving my lower back, particularly squats. I’ve had lower back problems in the past, and I don’t want problems again.

Apart from anything though, I want to shed fat. It’s coming off, but to see my muscles properly I need to lose quite a bit more – probably about 20 kgs of flab to go.

So that’s where I’m sitting. My clothes are definitely looser, and I’ve dropped a couple of dress sizes, so I’ll need some new gym clothes soon.

Have a great Christmas everyone!

Christmas is the season of eating

It’s getting tough. At work I’m surrounded by cookies, scones and chocolates. At home the dairy is right around the corner, and can supply shakes, ice cream and slices on a moment’s whim.

I’m still shedding weight and building muscle overall, but the weight loss will definitely stall this week.

So I’ve decided to “ring fence” Christmas.

Christmas is Sunday, and we’ve agreed at home I can eat whatever I want on Friday through Monday, but then it’s back on the wagon on Tuesday 27th.

And throughout the whole Christmas season I’ll be going to the gym 6+ times a week.

I’ve accepted that Christmas is the season of eating, and made peace with it. It just needs borders. Christmas can’t run into January and become a summer of eating.

Four days. That’s what I’m giving myself.

Then it’s back to being fit, fed and fasted again 😁

The two simple keys to weight loss

Portion sizes and snacking. Weight loss is not difficult, once you figure out these keys to weight loss.

Without them, weight loss can be impossible.

Since the eighties (mainly), portion sizes have expanded like crazy, in step with women joining the workforce in millions and consequently eating out more often and not having time to cook properly.

Restaurants and eateries wanted to be seen providing “good value”, so they increased sizes more and more, and people were happy, getting more food for their dollars.

We mirrored the burgeoning portion sizes at home with bigger home-cooked portions, and the result was a massive increase in obesity.

Along with bigger portions came the snacking. Junk foods, sweets, cakes, biscuits – all grew more common due to more discretionary cash available to families, and after-school snacking became common for kids, because mum didn’t get home to make dinner until later. Convenience foods added to the mix.

There were other contributors – food being more processed, eating out becoming more affordable, the increase in screen time (and the junk food that went with it). But overall, the big culprits were portion sizes, and snacking.

I’d got to the point a year or so ago where I didn’t even know what a healthy portion looks like. I’d lost touch with my hunger signals, and I’d stuff myself daily to feel “full” instead of “comfortable”.

When I finally started tracking my food intake properly (thanks to MyFitnessPal), I was horrified to learn many days I was topping out over 2500 calories, sometimes as many as 3500 a day! It was a real wake up call.

Truth is, most of us don’t know what healthy portions looks like. For example, I bought a bag of potato chips the other day (yes, it was a mistake). Then when I checked the nutrition panel on the bag, I saw that a serve is 15 chips. Nobody eats just 15 chips!

Check out the nutrition panel on my stepdaughter’s Doritos:

A serve is 11 chips and 580 kj (139 calories). Nobody eats 11 chips. If you eat the whole bag, like most people do, its 3654 kj (873 calories). Which is half a day’s energy needs in a snack we don’t even notice.

Portions matter. Prior to wiseing up, I’d have eaten the entire bag. These days I try not to eat chips, but when I do I remind myself I’m eating half a day’s energy needs in just a “snack”!

This is how we’re all getting fat. Obesity is now more common in the world than starvation. Even previously third world countries such as India are grappling with an obesity epidemic. It’s everywhere, and it’s getting worse.

I grew up right at the height of the bad advice. I remember my mother banning butter and eggs from the house, and switching to “healthier” margarine. I remember learning in school that it was ideal to eat between 6-11 (!!!) serves of carbohydrates daily, and 6 “mini meals” was the ideal eating pattern.

Remember the old food pyramid? I do. Looking at all that bread, cereal, rice and pasta, there’s no surprise we all got fat.

Portions matter. We all ate to excess because none of us were taught how big a “serve” actually was. Was a serve of bread a thin slice of white bread, or a piece of stuffed crust pizza? Nobody knew. I sure didn’t.

So here’s how I’m easily losing weight: I’m practicing portion control and I’m eliminating snacks. My meals have got a bit bigger, but I’m not eating all the junk in between. Plus, what I’m eating at my meals is wholesome, real food.

Sounds simple and old-fashioned, but it works.

Breakfast of champions

It’s Saturday. So I decided to make myself the Breakfast Of Champions.

In other words, an omelette.

My 3 egg omelette, cooked in a teaspoon of butter, with tomato ketchup, because that’s essential for me! Yum.

Eggs are a great start to the day, as they’re so high in protein.

The butter makes my omelette super delicious.

However, these days I don’t “eyeball” my food and guess at the measurements. Instead, I weigh and measure everything except my green veggies.

It’s really easy to think you’re cooking in a teaspoon of butter (32 calories), only to measure and find out it’s a tablespoon (102 calories). Portions can be misleading.

I’m getting used to eating well, and have figured out where I went wrong all these years – it was portion sizes and snacking.

I’ll talk more about these in my next post, but it seems like I was just confused by years of experts giving bad advice. I believed snacking was healthy, variety in my diet was a Good Thing (it’s not), and portions didn’t make a difference as long as what I ate was healthy (portions do matter).

I was wrong about pretty much everything, and couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t lose weight.

Now I’m figuring it out πŸ™‚

Better meal prep

Prepped food can get nasty. When I first started meal prepping, most of my meals were not-so-fresh by the time I got around to eating them. Let’s face it – three day old dried up chicken and broccoli isn’t appealing…to anyone.

Now I do meal prepping differently.

Step 1: Pre-bag the meat. When my meat comes home in trays (I buy bulk), I separate it out into double portions. So two chicken thighs per bag, two steaks per bag, and so on. Then I freeze everything.

Step 2: Thaw and cook meat as required. Every night I take the meat were going to eat from the freezer, so it thaws overnight. If my husband isn’t going to have the same thing, that just means I’m going to eat the same type of meat two days running. No biggie. Then I cook it. I avoid sauces and instead focus on herbs, spices and seasonings.

Step 3: Prepare two days worth of carbs. So I cook a few serves of rice, couscous or whatever. Two days old still feels fresh, and it’s a small enough amount that I know it’ll get eaten and nothing will be wasted.

Step 4: Prepare 1-2 days worth of veggies or salad, but no more than that. Once again, this is about freshness. Prepping can include washing and chopping vegetables, building a salad, or just making some cucumber sticks for a snack.

Step 5: Assemble! Now all I have to do for each meal is put a serve of meat, veggies and carbs on my plate, and heat. Everything is fresh, tastes better than if it’s been sitting in the fridge for days, and there’s minimal waste.

Prepped meal: buffalo chicken with asparagus. This took me 3 minutes in the microwave for the asparagus, and a couple of minutes to heat up the chicken. Quick and easy.

You could argue that what I’m doing isn’t “real” food prep. But meal prep doesn’t have to mean a week at a time’s worth of meals.

My version of meal prep is precisely what it sounds like: prepping my meals to make them faster, healthier and easy to portion-control.

Another prepped meal: steak, rice and broccoli. I cooked the steak (200g sirloin) while the pre-chopped broccoli was cooking in the microwave. Then I just heated a cup of pre-cooked rice. My correctly portioned dinner was ready in five minutes flat.

Cooking this way makes it easier to keep track of my portions, it’s faster and I’m eating healthier as a result. With little to no waste, as I’m only prepping a couple of days at a time.