Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fueling the body

For the first time in months, I can finally say that I am leaning again. There were days that I sincerely believed I would never get there, but I made it! It is a very humble victory, but most important, it is a definitive step back on track.

One of the things I have been investing special attention these days is my intake. I am not a big eater. In fact, I spent most of my life as skinny fat. Getting to "know" what kinds of food suit better and how to combine them to get the best results has been a challenging task, but I am loving it. Some weeks ago, I was home for a couple of days and I took advantage of it to work on my skills.

It is not like I have been cooking amazing stuff, it is just that I am truly putting effort in varying my diet to get all my macros, vitamins and minerals and also keeping it balanced. I might me going through a long off-season period, but it does not mean that I am planning on going over the board just-because.

Having protein in all my meals is very important at this point. Due to the months of limited or no activity, I lost muscle mass. Besides getting smaller, it is much harder to burn fat when one has no muscles (you know what I mean by "no muscles", don't you?). Most of my protein comes from hormone free meat and poultry, but I also add superfoods and shakes to my diet.

Hormone free chicken and rice with organic carrots and leek

Another must-have are carbohydrates. My goal is keep on working out 5-6 days a week. My training mostly takes place in the evenings after a whole day at the office (except for Sundays when I go to the gym in the morning and Thursdays when I do Power Yoga during lunch break), which means that I am already tired before I even started. To make sure I have enough energy to kick ass with the weights, I need to carb myself up. Caffeine is not a option since I have been sparing my adrenals the extra stress. My carbs come mainly from vegetables, lots of them; and I cannot miss oats in the morning either. At this point, I also have a fruit a day, but then again, I am not in contest prep.

Balance is the key for getting in shape and staying healthy. One must also include fats, minerals and vitamins to provide enough fuel for the body to perform all tasks properly. We all have a life beyond the gym that demands a huge amount of our energy as well.

Not choosing my vegetables is quite fun. I enrolled for a weekly subscription from the local organic farm and I only know what I am getting one day in advance. It is so challenging, but I am discovering a lot of veggies that we do not have in Brazil or that I simply had never had the chance to try.

Asperges, hormone free pork, organic celeriac oven chips and corn salad

Even though cooked greens lose part of their vitamins, they fit me better than raw. I am still working on detoxing my gut and I do not want to overload my digestive system (a portion of fruit a day is already more than enough). The easiest solution in this case is steaming.

There are a lot of interesting and informative articles on the internet. Be careful on not just looking for "diet" and "weight loss" tips. Learn about metabolism, allergies and food in general. I am not going to play specialist here because I still have a hard time myself putting the right combinations together in optimized portions avoiding as repeating the same ingredients over and over again (the latter being my major weakness). Do not rush. It is your body we are talking about and you must know it better than anyone else (including your MD).

Salmon with organic beta and corn salad

Modern life brought us a lot of facilities, but also an enormous amount of challenges and demands. Our body has the incredible capacity to adapt itself to the obstacles of society, but we cannot neglect feeding it properly. To keep any machine running smooth, we put oil and do regular checks, why not applying the same principle to ourselves.

Healthy days everyone!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Looking back - 2013 edition

It is again that time of the year when I like to sit down and reflect on the past 12 months.

As I wrote on my blog My 2013 Commitments, I do not feel comfortable with the word resolutions. On that entry, I shared the list of things I wanted to achieve throughout the year. And here it is how it went...

Open Limburg, April 2013, in the Netherlands
  • Get competition ready by the beginning of April
    • I made it! Yes!! My performance during the Open of Limburg was my best so far and I'm incredibly happy of what I accomplished then despite all the odds.
  • Keep on improving as an athlete
    • The road was bumpy in 2013 and I did have some unexpected set backs who forced me out of driver's seat of my training. However, during my hiatus, I took time to learn, improve and become a more conscious player of the game. Mission accomplished!
  • Give the first steps towards a pro-card
    • This is a tricky one. Acquiring a pro-card in my age sounds almost like a mission impossible in Europe. It is not like I have given up, but it is not in the spotlight for me at the moment. First, I want to improve my physique, then compete and who knows, achieve the pro-card once experience meets the 'perfect' shape.
  • Finish the Personal Trainer course
    • This was the only total no-show of the year... I did not make it to finish the course within the expected timeframe, and as I noticed that the near future was not looking any better, I did not even requested an extension. It is something I still would like to finalize, but I will only jump in a training again when I feel I will be able to conclude it.
  • Progress professionally
    • I consider myself a lucky person for working on something I really like. I found 'home' in IT and I am looking forward improving every day.

Hormone free liver and organic broccoli and beta
  • Become a more patient, organized and relaxed person (=zen)
    • I would love to say that I got it 100%, but it would not be the truth. I am a little more organized and I am moving forward. Maybe not as fast as I wanted to, however, I am not putting pressure on myself. After all, being patient and relaxed are also part of the plan.
  • Sleep more
    • Sleeping enough still means a battle to me. I come from periods of total rest, to various sleepless nights (like in the past 3 weeks, for instance). I have not been able to figure out what works better for me and what not. Since I stopped doing cardio in the morning though, I gained an extra hour per day which is being quite helpful.
  • Embrace a natural life style
    • It is fun to see that my last topic was exactly the one in which I booked the most improvement. I changed my sources of protein to hormone free meat and poultry; went organic when it comes to fruit and vegetables; and cut gluten from my diet. The results were immediate and I still cannot believe it myself. I simply don't want to go back!

2013 was the year when I had the chance to attend the Arnold Classic Brazil as well as BodyPower in UK. Thanks to these events, I had the chance to meet some of my idols in person which is an experience I will never forget!

Nathalia Melo and me at BodyPower 2013
Around June, I made the decision to switch from Bikini to Figure, and more recently, to take a break from competitions so that I first build the body of my dreams without jeopardizing my health or my other responsibilities.

I am not waiting for 2014 to arrive to put my following commitments into practice. However, I will not write about them today.

And you? How did it go with your New Year's resolutions/commitments for 2013? Have you taken time to review and evaluate them? It can be a more rewarding experience that you can imagine. And even if you think that things could have gone better, this exercise will help you assess your goals for the year to come. Remember to make them SMART : Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Let's do it!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Guess what? I have been cooking!

At home, there was always delicious food on table. My grandma and my mom made delicious recipes out of nothing. I have never been much of an "eater", but cooking has always been a no-no. Believe me when I say that I tried to live out of shakes for sometime. I wanted the protein, but spending time in the kitchen was not in my plans.

With contest preparation getting more serious, I simply had to. I always tried to find a way to cook as much raw food as possible and I was really glad that sauces and all tasty stuff was out of my menu.

No-cook recipe: tuna salad with chia seeds
Lazy me was happy, but my body not so much. It needed variation and I could not escape taking my relationship with pot and pans to the next level.

I am in no way a chef, but I finally started daring searching on the internet and mixing up things just because.

Subscribing to receive vegetables and fruit on a weekly basis forces me to do something with them. And because I cannot choose what I am getting, I have to leave my comfort zone and get creative.

Rice with leek: organic and gluten free
And like a miracle, I find myself getting exciting about the results of my experiments. I am still a Can't-Cook, but for the first time in my life, I feel as there is hope for me.

This week was a very productive one with me staying home for a couple of days. I did some green shopping and brought home some new toys to play with. Since my purpose is not only eating healthy, but achieving a specific physique, I cannot lose sight of combinations and balance in all my meals. This includes smoothies too since fruit juices are a healthy choice full of sugars and that can cause unnecessary fermentation in the gut.

Smoothie Lunch
To make sure I am doing it 'right', I use Calorie Count to login all my recipes. This way I am learning how to make use of the food that is good for me to reach the result I am looking for.

The best part of is seeing my body reacting positively to all changes. I am not going to lie, but there were days when I truly doubted I was ever going to be able to workout as I used to. I had lost hope after going through medical exams with perfect results while my body was crashing.
Left: November 20th, 2013. Right: November 29, 2013.
Even though we do not celebrate Thanksgiving in Belgium, neither in my home country Brazil, I would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has helped in my fitness path so far. Each single person taught me something which guided me to this continuous better version of me. This is just the beginning, but I am confident that I will get there. Thank you!