Working out and being disappointed

Ferns Feb bicep bw
Grrrr… smaller than Dec!

I’ve delayed doing an update because I took some progress pictures a couple of weeks ago and I looked *smaller* than I did in December, and I was all despondent about it in an ‘ahh fuck it, what’s the point?!’ kind of way (see my body project to compare the Dec-Feb photos in the sidebar).

I was especially down about it since I had been trying to kick it up: I changed my program from pyramid sets to drop sets, and started being really strict with what I eat after advice from a sports nutritionist. Obviously that approach didn’t work so well, which is frustrating. I might well be leaner, but I am also sacrificing muscle.

My aim is to get to my personal goal by the 12 month mark (fast approaching – end of April). My goal is not really objectively measurable which makes it hard (weight/tape measurements don’t work for what I am trying to do).

My stated goal was a vague ‘look (more) awesome naked!’ The mental ‘got there’ measure was ‘to run on the beach in a bikini and not think a thing of it’ (I want to add ‘in slow motion’ to that, but am resisting!) *laugh*.

I have refined the goal some and now it’s a (still) vague: ‘defined lean muscle, visible when relaxed’. I use my biceps as the measure because it’s relatively easy to see what is going on there.

I think finding the balance between ‘building muscle’ and ‘reducing that little layer of fat that hides the muscle’ is tricky. I think what happened over the last few weeks is one or both of two things:

  • My diet wasn’t supporting muscle building (even though I was hitting my protein targets pretty much every day)
  • Drop sets require a lot of failure points for each muscle group and I am not convinced that I push myself hard enough to truly ‘fail’ because I worry about form and hurting myself

So, what to do?

I had a chat to a personal trainer who brings his clients to my gym. I have seen him there over time. He pushes his clients insanely hard, and one of them is an older woman with the most amazing arms and back. I am transfixed every time I see her. “I want THAT!” I said to him.

He was enthusiastic enough, and glowing about the progress he had seen in me over the last however many months: “You look great!” I’d have dismissed that as empty marketing flattery, but he correctly picked that I had been doing the ‘body for life’ program, so he HAS been watching me enough to gain some credibility.

He also correctly picked up on my fear that change will have me going backwards. I am also terrified of losing motivation (which is always on the cusp…). I don’t skip gym days, but that is dogged stubborn perseverance and not enthusiastic motivation… it won’t take much for me to slip into the mindset that going to the gym a massive, horrible, sinkhole of a chore whereas at the moment, it’s an inevitable chore that *will get done*.

In watching what he has his clients do (OMG, really?!), I am also really concerned about injuries, and while we had a brief chat about that, I get the impression that he will struggle to draw the line between ‘No, that’s hurting me in a bad way’ and ‘No, I don’t want to do that because I don’t want to push myself’.

So, I have some fears, but I really think I have gone as far as I can on my own. I’m hoping I can start with him next week. Scary!

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  1. Good luck with it Ferns. I am at a similar point. I think that I have dropped all the weight I can drop with the running, few exercises before bed, and the change in eating habits.

    So I am faced with starting some type of strength training program. Issue, I have no idea where to start. So I am just kinda treading water. The whole thing is not made any better in that I am terrible at asking for help.

    Things might get better though since where I work, just opened a brand new fitness center in the building that is free to use. So I am probably going to end up doing something there, still not sure what though.

    Thanks though for posting this stuff, it helps to know that other people are experiencing similar things.

    1. Thanks for the support.

      A free gym?! Luxury!!

      I did a bunch of research before I started and took up the ‘Body for Life‘ program. Peroxide started with that also. I found it really good because I wanted something structured and focussed. There is a whole industry/book/products around it, but the information and workout sheets and all of the explanations etc are available for free.

      I read your latest blog post, and you might be interested to know that more is NOT better. Your body needs time to recover and it builds muscle in that down time. Constantly stressing it is no good for that. Efficient work based on how the body responds is better.

      And yes, I think hitting plateaus happens to all of us. Good luck with the next phase!


      1. I am blessed to have a truly great employer. So want to make full advantage of what is offered.

        In that blog post where I said that I think I need to do more, I was not clear. Not necessarily more as in if I am doing 5 now, I am going to try to get 8 done. What I meant was that I need to have more variety.

        Without having done any research, my thought was that instead of running 7 days a week, that I would probably run 4 days a week, and 3 days of strength training.

        Thanks for the link to the Body for Life, will start there later this evening with the research, and go from there. Also, not sure I will actually create an account, but I have downloaded the free version of Jefit to my iPhone, will let you know if I do create an account. It is nice to have others as moral support. Thanks for being part of that.

  2. The Body for Life program worked well for both me and for Mrs Edge. But there are also a lot of other good programs available, too, if you *koff* can define your goals in a more detailed way.

    I thought that you had been working with a trainer already. If not, then now is a good time. You’ve done the ground work, and a good trainer (although I’m not sure how you’d find one) will help to set goals for you. It sounds like the guy above might be better than blindly picking one.

    BTW, I had gotten back into a beginner’s program a few months ago, but I discovered that it was too soon after my surgery; things were hurting, not in a good way. I’ve given it a few more months now, and I’ll be looking to you to keep me motivated to get started again.

    1. “I thought that you had been working with a trainer already.”

      No, I spoke to the PT/owner of the gym and we decided that my diet was going to be much more important than changing up my program, so I looked at that as a priority. And I DID have them run an eye over my (then new) drop set program, and we made a few changes, so I figured both were covered. It wasn’t ‘personal training sessions’.

      “I’ve given it a few more months now, and I’ll be looking to you to keep me motivated to get started again.”

      Ha! Happy to help. Go Tom go!! Also, I am writing a post about my first PT session right NOW.


  3. Congrats on being in better shape and getting one step closer to your ultimate goal. The personal trainer sounds like he might be a bit too much and you shouldn’t push yourself to the point where you will be in pain. Being in shape is a lifestyle change and does take VERY hard work. Diet, exercise and good habits are just the start to reaching your goals. Always remember, everything in moderation. Hope the training session works out and he doesn’t break you! :)

    1. Thanks for the congrats, Sam.

      “Everything in moderation” is for sooky la las. ARE YOU CALLING ME A SOOKY LA LA?!!

      I have no fear of breakage. I am strong. Like ox!


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