So where do I start? How did I come to even set about trying to change my physique?
I’ll give you a little background…I was training 7 days a week, eating (what I thought) was a very healthy diet. I never drank alcohol, I never indulged in sweets, chocolate, chips or anything I deemed unhealthy, yet my body seemed to be staying the same. In fact if anything I was getting thinner but losing my shape. I know my stuff when it comes to nutrition (or so I thought) and I’ve been into weight lifting for a good few years since I was introduced to it by my partner. I learnt the many benefits of the weight room from my time working at (formerly known as) Maximuscle and I wasn’t shy of lifting heavy. I always made sure I ate enough protein – this is what builds the muscle and shape I longed for – but I enjoyed being small and slim so I began to cut back on carbs. I still had them, but a small bowl of porridge with protein powder and a few rye crackers was about as far as it went. My attitude was, “I don’t need carbs, they won’t get me the abs I dreamed of…”
This went on for at least a year or so until I thought, “Ok, something isn’t working!”. I introduced more cardio (around 30 minutes a day as well as weights) and upped my protein and lowered my carbs little by little (note that fat didn’t come into the equation – lean meats and some peanut butter was as far as it went) and nothing was happening. What was I doing wrong? In January 2015 I thought I would track my intake on MyFitnessPal to see where I was going wrong. Plenty of protein, not too many carbs and a smidge of fat – looks alright to me! I ran it by my fitness family (The Chimps!) and it came to light that I was barely eating any fat and my carbs were extremely low – news to me! This is when Dan Francis (fellow Skinny Chimp ambassador) offered to help me. He asked me what my goal was: I wanted to be small, but I wanted muscle development and shape. The idea of improving my health and tackling some deep rooted eating issues hadn’t even crossed my mind. This was until the moment I came to think about how I felt. Dan asked me about my skin (very dry!) my hair (dry!) how I slept (sleep? What’s that?) and my mood – this is the one that got to me the most. When I thought about how different I had become, how obsessive I had become about cooking my own food, not knowing what was in food and never enjoying a meal for what it was and worrying about when I could hit the gym to work it off, it began to dawn on me I was a different person. I had also become very snappy and short tempered, mostly with my partner. I was no longer the happy-go-lucky person he met that drank gin & tonics on a school night, or shared a packet of sweets whilst watching X Factor. Why? Because alcohol stops fat burning and don’t even TALK to me about the GI of sweets. I decided this needed to change, all of it. I wanted to get my health back, my selflessness back and to gain some muscle in the process.
So I set a 6 month goal and we (myself and Dan) decided that a carb cycling approach would work best. It would allow me to gain muscle without too much fat, and it would also allow me to focus on one day at a time as each would be different. So Dan sent over my macros and I was good to go! Now I won’t lie to you, when Dan said the words “bulking”, I wanted to cry. I was terrified. I had visions of gaining vast amounts of weight, losing my small frame and being that chubby little school kid again. But with his reassurance and the support of my partner and friend Liza (I’ll come onto these fabulous people) I was ready to go.
You might be wondering about training? As I’ve mentioned I have been training for some time so I knew what I needed to do when it came to lifting. Dan just insisted on no cardio and heavy lifting, so that meant low reps and lots of rest periods.
Stay tuned for part 2 where I share what happened during my first few scary weeks, if I managed to not cry into my bowl of oats and if carbs really do turn you into a whale…