The First Step to Building Your Body

I just got a training program from a bodybuilder whose approach I like, and one of her most recent posts in the private Facebook group was simply:

“#TRACKYOURSHIT”

(Not meaning track your bowel movements, that can be important but not for the purposes discussed here!))

I believe the first step in any body betterment program, whether it be for weight loss or to prepare for bodybuilding or athletic competition, is to track your nutrition.

Does that mean that I think nutrition trumps training? Not at all. I think they work synergistically, the best improvement is made when both are carefully considered and then adhered to. A marathoner with an excellent training program will not run his or her best if nutrition is subpar, just as a cyclist will not perform well if nutrition is on point but training is lacking. However, for those who just need to take that first step (which is AWESOME!), perhaps for either weight loss or improved body competition, I think tracking food intake and habits is the key to getting started and sticking with it.

If it’s so easy, why don’t people just do it? People have shared the following with me: “I stare at screens all day, the last thing I want to do in my free time is do more WORK.” “Tracking is complicated, and just figuring out calories is hard enough, but macros too? Gaaaaaaah!”

Enter: My Fitness Pal. No, the app makers aren’t paying me to advertise or anything (PS it’s a FREE APP and there is a website too). I use it myself, and it is great ESPECIALLY when I am in contest prep mode and I need very specific macros.

Why it’s awesome:

1- You just start typing the name of the food, and it pulls options from a vast database, with calories AND macros. Love.

2- You can customize it to your own calorie needs and macro percentages. Love.

3- YOU CAN SCAN A BARCODE. Obviously this is a favorite feature of mine! Love.

4- It remembers popular food choices for you. I am known to eat like a little kid. i.e. the same thing for a few weeks (I still include variety, but I may go on an avocado toast kick for a while. A long while πŸ˜‰ ). Those are remembered too, so you start typing it in and it pulls those up first. Love.

5- You don’t have to calculate totals or overall macronutrient percentages. It does that for you. Love.

So what’s the benefit of tracking anyway?

First, you see where your numbers really are. Are you eating too many calories, or too few? For many women, the real issue is too few calories (all those “1200 calorie a day” diets? Not if you’re over 5’5 and you move during the day!). Are you eating too many carbohydrates and not enough protein? Are you eating too many fats and not enough carbohydrates?

Second, it makes you more aware of what you’re eating. Donuts are not evil, but it’s not ideal to eat one or two every day for breakfast. Every once in a while? As long as it’s delicious! It also helps you figure out what your body might be sensitive to. I figured out that my body does not do well with corn or beans. They’re great foods and have many benefits, my body simply does better if I only have them every once in a while. You will find what you thrive on and what may be better to limit (or you may be one of the lucky ones who has no issues with anything)! The key is getting to know and listen to your own body, not some “miracle diet” or other ideology. Our bodies are smarter than they are often given credit for.

Third, and this is one of the more nuanced but perhaps most important thing, at least in my opinion. The act of tracking can reveal your relationship to food. Do you fixate on the numbers or get stressed if you have 1801 kCal instead of 1800? Do you get frustrated if your macros at the end of the day aren’t just right, or do you see it as “Sweet, I got within a couple percentage points for each one!”? Do you feel ashamed to enter in a particular food choice, or do you feel forgiving and accepting about it? It’s important to be aware not just what you’re taking in, but your attitude about it. Yes, food is fuel, but it’s fun too! THERE IS A REASON DELICIOUS THINGS ARE DELICIOUS! Food both serves a purpose and is meant to be enjoyed at the same time.

Finally, once you get started, it gets easy. It becomes habit. And you will find that those little adjustments, over time, have led to a major adjustment accompanied by improvement!

#TRACKYOURSHIT πŸ˜‰

Boobs: Already Epic. When Will My Hair Get Glorious?

At 14 weeks, I am officially in the second trimester no matter who you ask!*

*Some say first tri is until week 12, that’s when the first developmental period moves on to the next. Others divide the 40 weeks into thirds, considering 13 1/3 weeks the first tri.

Here is my recap: what/how I felt (including the symptoms before seeing that second pink line (twice at home, once at the doc!), cravings and aversions, and other miraculous feats of growing my mini human!

Let’s start at the very beginning. (A very good place to start? πŸ˜‰ ) I know precisely when baby was made (and that is a personal story between two people!), a week before my first bikini bodybuilding competition. The day before the NPC Colorado Northern, I woke up with a bloated belly and sluggish digestion. My diet had been on point, as had my peak week prep, so I had no idea what was going on, so I got some magnesium to help “move things along”. Didn’t quite help for show day!

11014211101410

Two other things that I noticed immediately that were out of the norm were my extreme thirst (I drank my entire Nalgene at night and still felt parched) and my suddenly racing heart rate.

My birthday was the week after the comp, and I have a tradition of running my age in miles to celebrate. I woke up to 37 degrees and sleet. Too warm to be snow, but cold enough to be miserable. I figured as long as I dressed appropriately I’d be fine. I set out, but as I ran the roads around the Boulder Reservoir, cars and trucks would drive by, pelting me with icy cold water, and I began sobbing as I ran (highlight: screaming, not shouting, butΒ screaming “F*CK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” to the worst offender). In my head, I knew my emotional reaction was extreme, but I could not control it!

The following week, I received confirmation via pee stick (the glories of pregnancy start early!)

The first trimester is notorious not so much for cravings (though there are some of those, one of which will be featured on a Knocked Up Fit Chick video soon!) but for aversions. Initially, all I wanted to eat was all protein all the time: buffalo, turkey, and milk. Before this pregnancy, I cannot remember the last time I drank straight up milk, much lessΒ have to have it.

Then came the aversions. My aversions weren’t so much being grossed out by particular things (it was more of a generalized “food ughhhhhhh” kind of feeling), but this particular manifestation was more that I would not know what I wanted to eat until an hour beforehand. And then I had to have it. The old wives tales say that taste for food depends on baby’s gender, girls make mommy crave sweets, boys make mommy want salt. If that were the case, that would mean I’m having one of each! (There is just one in there!) Sometimes I wanted gluten free baked treats and froyo, other times I wanted potato chips. It depends on the hour.

The other major factor in my first trimester diet was that I was coming out of a competition, meaning I was still reverse dieting (calories are cutΒ intelligently in the month or two leading up to a show; the best way to get back to normal and keep metabolism humming along happily is increasing calories to appropriate training levels at a similar rate). I had to increase my calories not just to pre-prep levels, but add about 100 calories for baby (pregnancy really only requires about 300 extra calories per day, and baby is so tiny during the first trimester that 100 calories will suffice, but even a deficit is fine because morning sickness happens. More on that in a moment!) With the aversions and the grand entrance of morning (aka all day and all night) sickness at about 6 weeks, that was (and still is!) difficult some days! As someone who follows a macro-based healthful diet (idea for an upcoming non-pregnancy post!), it felt strange to sometimes add additional carbs because they were the only calories I could eat.

The delight of (inaccurately named) morning sickness. I woke up one day with the queasies, and they continued to escalate all day, leading to me squirming miserably in bed at night until I got some Sea-Bands (HALLELUJAH!) They did not vanquish the nausea, but it was significantly reduced to the point at which I could function (which is key when you work and have not told anyone there about the architecture project going on inside you). For those of you unfamiliar with Sea Bands, they are stretchy bands (like thin 1980’s style wrist sweatbands) that have a plastic piece that presses on an acupressure point on the underside of the wrist. I wore them around the clock for an entire month!

Now let’s explore the body changes (that is, the changes appropriate for public discussion!) Boobs: yup, increased about a cup overnight at 10 weeks. I have this vision of them requiring their own room once my milk comes in after little one is born. Makes housing in Boulder even more expensive! Belly: I’m at the very end of the “Food baby or human baby?” stage. I wore baggy shirts to the gym not just because I was self conscious, but I didn’t want people to think I did the typical post show “I’ma eat ALL THE THINGS!” because I did not! My skin reacts to hormones, so I feel like a teenager again with the breakouts.

And now, a word on LIGHTNING CROTCH. It is a thing. It is a thing I would not wish on my worst enemy. I felt this at 10 weeks, and I would describe it as the feeling of little tiny needles trying to fight there way out near the base of the *ahem* lady opening. The equivalent for men would be those needles trying to force their way out of their sperm holsters. NO FUN FOR ANYONE. I think it happens as the pelvis stretches to prepare for birth. Relaxin, you are a blessing and a curse. I get what you need to do, but I’m already feeling you in my hips as I run and work/play at the squat rack!

Yes, my running and lifting has definitely been affected by growing a human! I am still running (and am very very very grateful and glad for that), it’s simply 1- Slower 2-Shorter and 3-Requires walk breaks sometimes. Which is fine because: Priorities. As for lifting, it reflects something that I realize is a theme for pregnancy: One Day at a Time. There was a week or two that I could not do bent leg deadlifts at all. Then there were days that I set new bent leg deadlift PRs. Same with squats. And with all of my exercises, I take much longer rest breaks between sets so I can catch my breath because baby needs oxygen! Would it be awesome to make some human growth hormone induced muscle gains during this pregnancy (aka legal doping)? Uhhhhhh yes! But even if I don’t, I just want to maintain physical condition as well as reap the emotional and mental benefits. There will be continue to be adjustments to my exercises, I will be sure to include them (with special guests!) on Knocked Up Fit Chick.

I’m still waiting for my hair to get gloriously thick and luscious!

Memorable Preggo Moments:

When the water went from cold to lukewarm at the water fountain in the weight room. Almost cried.

When the Table Mesa King Soopers didn’t have the Minute Maid frozen lemonades that the 30th street location did. Almost cried.

I’m not even going to start on my internal monologue. I’ll just say: Pregnancy and sass levels have a direct correlation. And it is DELIGHTFUL!

Preggo Foods (the unique, and what I could manage):

Multiseed Crackers with ground turkey/onion and peach pepper jelly. I don’t like cream cheese or goat cheese so I did turkey instead. ALL THE PROTEIN!

New Beat Food crackers. I wanted salt, but not the oil and salt overkill of chips. Enter: Boulder-made gluten free crackers. Favorites!

Barefoot Baker ANYTHING, but especially ginger scones and sweet potato muffins. Gluten free baked DELICIOUSNESS, and Natasha is a wonderful, joyful, and hilarious human being! Also a Boulder local.

Many of my cravings have been for things I ate as a kid: Spaghettios (Why can’t they make gluten free ones? #firstworldproblems), Cheerios/cereal in general, crackers with ketchup, orange sherbet (hard to find any without corn syrup/dyes/other unfavorite ingredients, IMPOSSIBLE to find with chocolate chips in it!), and avocado toast. I want avocado toast right now…………

The two things I miss the most:

Track workouts and sushi. I won’t be racing quite as much, so I will take this opportunity to focus more on volunteering at races so I can still have fun in the running community here!

Stay tuned! There will be more blogging AND videos: workouts, ACTIVITIES (who doesn’t love activities?), kundalini yoga, nutrition and science, and silliness.

What would you like to hear about? Tell me with a comment!