Tag Archives: fitness over 50

Protein: How Much and Why?

fish-meat-dairy-nuts-etc-350

Protein.

You need it.  And maybe more than you’re eating now.

If you’re having a strong reaction to reading that, I get it.  But this is an important thing to get right nutritionally.

Food is made up of 3 macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

All foods have some combination of the big 3.  If we purposely avoid one of the macronutrients, and it turns out that your body needs more of that particular macronutrient than you think, there will be problems.

Arguing with that is like saying gravity is a theory and you’re not convinced. 

And there you sit.  Not floating.  (Ok, I’m assuming you’re not floating.  You could be in a hot-air balloon. Gravity is still working, though.)

That said, there seems to be a fear of protein out there lately. Or at least some misconceptions.

I think that’s a backlash to the high protein diets that were popular a few years ago.

The medical profession started throwing up red flags – rightfully so.  I hope they would do that anytime a popular “named” diet is unbalanced.

I’m not getting into food preferences because I strongly believe food preferences need to be personal.  Sustainability is about flexibility.  What I am saying – what I’m not flexible about – is that the human body needs protein.  I’ll explain why.

Humans run on calories.  And we need them from proteins, carbs, and fats in some combination for optimal recovery, energy, hormone health, and mood regulation.

People need micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, etc.) from those foods for optimal functioning of – well – everything inside our bodies that has a function.

Protein and the Immune System

Speaking from experience, teachers are on the front lines of the cold and flu season every year.

sick teacher

After I started lifting, I noticed that I didn’t get sick as often as I used to.

Asked around at the gym and the guys said they didn’t catch many colds.

Why?

One reason may be dietary.  Lifters usually make sure they are getting enough protein.

Dietary protein bolsters the immune system.

Did a little research to find out why.

Can’t lie – I’m not a biochemistry major so most of what I found was written in academic language that was a little dense.

I did find several studies that started with a sentence that said something like…

 “We’ve known for a long time that protein malnutrition increases the likelihood of infectious diseases”.

 ~ Dietary protein intake and human health

But why??

Pulled out a nutrition textbook and the explanation there was about the immune response.  Antibodies are blood proteins.  They specifically described how antibodies attack a cold virus.

Protein malnutrition compromises the immune system.  Lifters tend to consume a lot of protein to help us recover from our lifts.  (There are lifters who live full-time in a caloric deficit and they tend to catch colds more often.  That just makes sense.  Fat-loss phases are meant to be temporary because they are hard on the body and the immune system cannot keep up.)

How Much Protein Do You Need?

If you are completely sedentary, the recommendation is 0.8 g per kg of body weight.  That’s about 0.4 g of protein per pound.   So, a 150-pound person who is completely sedentary will need about 60 grams of protein.  If that 150-pound person was maintaining their weight consuming 1800 calories a day, those 60 grams of protein would only be 13% of their total calories!

 

Most people who don’t try to eliminate protein sources from their food choices probably eat enough without trying. 

  • 2 large eggs = 12 grams of protein
  • The peanut butter on two slices of toast = 7 grams of protein
  • Fast food chicken sandwich = 36 grams of protein
  • One slice of pepperoni pizza = 16 grams of protein
  • Added up = 71 grams of protein.  And carbs and fats.  Most foods have all three.

(This isn’t a suggested food list, but just examples for a frame of reference.  These are estimates. The typical American diet, even in a high school cafeteria, probably has enough protein for the completely sedentary human.)

However, if you get up and go to work or school,  walk a bit, do chores around the house, go to the gym a couple times a week – you need more.

 

If you’re not exercising, but aren’t completely sedentary, I’d suggest 0.6 grams times your body weight. 

That same 150-pound person would want 90 grams, or only 20% of intake from protein. 

Some will argue, cite sources, get all upset with me – which is fine.  Really, it’s OK.  What you eat is your choice.  If I’m not your coach, your personal protein philosophy is none of my business. 

But…

  • if your appetite is out-of-control
  • if you get hurt frequently
  • have issues with recovery from your workouts
  • catch every bug that comes floating by

…I’d encourage you to reflect on whether your body-chemistry is actually on the same page as your opinions about how much protein you need.  Just sayin’.

 dumbells

If you lift or exercise regularly with a favorite activity, go for something in the range of 0.8 g to 1.2 g per pound of body weight.

If you’re an overweight lifter, that might be a lot.  In that case, estimate your lean body mass and then multiply that by 0.8 to 1.2 per pound of lean body mass.

For example, when my body fat was estimated to be 40%,  that meant my lean mass was 60%.  I would take my scale weight times 0.6 to estimate my lean body mass in pounds,  then take that number times 0.8 for a minimum protein intake.  Use 1.2 for a maximum protein intake.

Personally, I like 1 gram of protein per 1 pound of actual body weight because it’s easy.  I train hard, so I don’t feel it’s necessary to worry about whether I’m getting a little too much protein by not calculating my lean mass weight.

Regardless of math and philosophy, if you’re not giving your body the amount of protein it needs, the reality of that will present itself if you start to feel beat up by your workouts. 

If you’re not recovering, look at that protein intake.  That might not be the reason, but it’s a variable that needs to be considered.

A Tiny Bit on Protein and Fat-Loss

If you are in a fat-loss phase, those calories from protein are helpful. 

Protein helps regulate hunger.  After eating protein, you may feel fuller longer, which is nice when you’re living in a caloric deficit.

When you exercise, you want to burn fat, right?  

If there is sufficient protein in your diet, the body is more likely to use stored fat as an energy source. 

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “muscle-sparing”, that’s what they mean.  When protein intake is high, the body won’t metabolize muscle for energy instead of fat.

Balance First

I know there are different opinions on the issue of protein intake.  However, the majority of adults are busy, don’t have time to research it, and rely on trusted resources.  I hope I’m a trusted resource, and I take that responsibility seriously.

I’m all about balance and am prone to be suspicious of any source telling me to eliminate a macronutrient for an otherwise healthy human’s nutrition.

Coming soon!  

I’ll put together a post about alternative protein sources for people who do not want to eat meat.  There are a lot more options out there than there were just a few years ago. 

I need a little time to research because I’m mostly plant-based eater who gets most of my protein from poultry and animals with hooves.  The animals ate plants – but I’m pretty sure that’s not what you meant, right?  😉 

 

Need more?  You don’t have to figure it out on your own.
For more information…

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2017 Prep Update: “How Did You Do?”

It has been three weeks since the last show of this competition season.  The last show was on Saturday, October 15th, and I was back into teacher mode on Monday morning.

Another HUGE life change is in the works, so I’ve taken time to reflect before I wrote this post.  I also wanted to wait until I got the “official” show photographer’s pictures so I could do comparisons from stage to stage.

First…

THANK YOU Colin DeWaay Training !!!

Your sponsorship for this last show made it possible!!   As you read through this, you’ve got to know it was the most amazing experience I’ve had in bodybuilding to date.  I believe that it was blessed from the start because of your generosity.

THANK YOU!! Alberto Nunez, The Patient

You are a Scary-Smart Program Writer and Peak-Week-Whisperer.  We did good.  I’m excited for 2019.

 

“So how did you do?” is the logical question, right?  And then I see the look of disappointment in their eyes when I tell them my placing -third out of 3 in Class B, my string of last place finishes in my class continues, but this was my best presentation to date and it is ok because that’s a fair placing. And then a look of dubious agreement as I explained that this sport is about personal progression, yada, yada, yada…

Honestly, it’s better than OK.  Something finally clicked after the July show when I got last place for bodybuilding in a line created by the promoter with me and three figure pros.

I spent two years mustering the courage to get back on that stage to be judged even after I was told I would never be competitive.  2017 was all about proving to myself that I’m capable of standing back up and taking hits.  Period.  It’s not about bodybuilding or how I look – it’s bigger than that.

Hindsight is 20/20, right?  My physical transformation was a side effect of the real work I’ve been doing.  I’ve used bodybuilding – the training, the disciplined nutrition, the stage experiences – to slowly learn to face fears that crippled me before.

The mental game I needed to change myself physically has built a growth mindset about everything else, too.  2015 knocked me on my ass and gave my inner self-doubt plenty of material to use against me.

But now I know 2015 wasn’t supposed to be a disappointment – it was the next lesson.  Had that not happened, I would not have done the research, the crying, the soul-searching I needed to break through some old-thinking to become a better teacher, to be a more supportive and encouraging wife, and do to get ready for the next big, scary life change I’ll tell you about at the end of this post.

Every time we face a fear and act anyway, we get stronger.

What you see here is only the physical transformation.  Too many people get too hung-up on this part.  What  you can’t see is the most important part.  It’s the grit.  I thought I had grit before – I had no idea.  No.  Idea.

Every obstacle gets steeper.  Every obstacle navigated makes us stronger.

As I write this, I’m thinking about a young woman walking into the gym, knowing she has to loose hundreds of pounds, feeling that people are going to judge her, but she shows up anyway.  Or the grit it takes to finish those damn burpees!

I’m telling you that it isn’t our obstacles that stop us – it’s what we think about our obstacles that stops us.

So I’ve learned that if there is something that needs to be done, something inspired, something big and scary, don’t think.  Just act. Now I have the confidence to know that I can figure out the details as I go.  I CAN make it work.

I went into the July 2017 show in my best physical condition to date, was the only “bodybuilder” who registered for that show with the intention of competing as a bodybuilder, and I still came away with a last place finish.   But that’s just their record keeping.

My personal victory was getting back up there and putting the ribbon and bow on the big “Not-One-Fuck-Is-Given-Present” I needed to deliver to the nay-sayers.  This.  Is.  My.  Sport.  I will continue to get up, dust off, suit-up and show-up.

Anyone who feels compelled to clue me in on why I’ll never be competitive as a bodybuilder, needs to (appropriately) direct those comments to a mirror.  I’d rather keep placing last than quit. 

(If it’s negative me talking to real-life me – well, shut up and get in the back seat.  You’re not driving.)

“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.” ~ Winston Churchill

I went into the October 2017 expecting to not place well because I knew I’d be in a line with athletes with more muscle, so the plan was to have as much fun as possible.  That show turned out to be the most enjoyable one to date!  It was an amazing experience!

 

My friend and teammate, Denise, did this show together, which was a first for me and made it memorable.  Her daughter did my makeup and that made it special, too.

Denise was in Class A and I was in Class B, but when they lined us up, we were next to each other.  We weren’t competing directly, so we just got to go out and have fun!  So awesome!!

I’ve been told by other competitors that it’s the camaraderie that hooks them and what they enjoy most about competing, but it wasn’t until this 5th show when I got to experience that first hand.

I was so tired after this show, I asked Hubby if we could just go home.  I showered off the top layer of tan, made myself a lovely grilled cheese sammich, had an adult-beverage, and hit the hay.  The next morning – our first visit ever to the Cheesecake Factory!!  Oh yeah.  That was pretty damn special.

It’s been a blessed competition season!  My friend Michelle flew out to support me in July and  Denise was next to me on stage in this last show.  And then a fabulous meal with my guy!!  It was a perfect way to end my two-year intense self-reflective period – a total celebration!!

I made a point to meet and get to know the other two women in our division before pre-judging.  We were all friends on Facebook by the time the night show rolled around.  We cheered for each other off stage during our individual routines.  We celebrated back stage afterwards by sharing a bag of caramel M & Ms (Thanks Michelle for introducing THAT awesomeness into my life!  Paying it foward…)

The three women  to my right have inspiring stories about how they got to this place and it was humbling to hear them talk about their challenges and blessings.  So yeah, I had fun, met some amazing women, and I think we will be friends for a long time.  And I placed last.  But this medal was not a generic, plastic trophy.  This one is special.  This is now my favorite last place ever!!!

So How DID I Do?  Really?

Ok – now the nitty gritty.  I was a couple pounds heavier in the October show than in the July show.  My peak week was different this time, too.  My coach, Alberto Nunez (3DMuscleJourney) doesn’t change things up, but for the October peak, my body wasn’t filling out.  I’d send video each morning and then he would increase my carbs each day – by a lot.  Doubled, usually.  Highest day approached 300 grams.

As a result, we both think I looked sharper in October over July in the videos, but I don’t think I see that in the photos.  The extra scale weight could be accounted for by muscle fullness, which would make the definition appear sharper.

Once I got the pictures, I think the lower body in the back was the only part that truly improved.  Or it could be the difference in the poses between bodybuilding and physique.  I’m going to just drop a bunch of pictures in here and let them speak for themselves.

Pre-Judging Pictures: Women’s Physique, Class B

 

 

Shots From Routine at Night Show

 

July 2017 Stage vs. October 2017 Stage

Another Big, Scary Adventure

This is me after I dropped off the paperwork requesting an early retirement from teaching.  It included a letter of resignation effective at the end of this school year.

Not retiring from working – quite the opposite.  Because of bodybuilding, because of the 2015-2017 lesson, I’m brave enough now to believe I can teach on my own terms.  I want to teach math in a way I know is effective and helps kids.

When I’ve told a few people I’m ‘retiring’, they say “Congratulations“, which I know is the appropriate response, but honestly, I feel like I’m losing something.   I love teaching math and I’m good at it.  It’s been my calling more so than my job.

I feel like I’m doing my best work now and I honestly thought I had a few more years left in my tank.  But lately, it’s been obvious that changes made in education have hurt kids.  It’s been bothering me too much that I’m part of it.

I stayed because I also know teachers can stave off some of that damage.

But something happened that crossed a line for me, personally.  It’s not necessary to get into it.  It’s sufficient to say that it was the “push” I needed to at least research my options.

If  stepping into a gym to ask for help was scary, stepping onto a stage was scary – this tops everything!  After 22 years as a government employee, I’m leaving early, so the retirement benefit will only half of my monthly income now.  Health insurance isn’t paid for retirees in my state anymore, either. I’ve analyzed and over-thunk the crap out of this since last spring when the last straw fell onto my back.

And then the 2017 competition season happened.   

I didn’t die. 

So I stopped thinking and acted.  I will make this work.  When I get worried, I flip my script and stay focused on the  exciting opportunity ahead that is pulling me out.

I’m going to be an entrepreneur!!! $$$$

I’ve been working with a business mentor to start my own business as an online math coach/tutor specializing in closing learning gaps in that keep kids from being successful in geometry.

If the negative stuff was the “push”, this is the “pull”  I’m excited!

There will also be something similar happening with fitness online, but I’m still working out exactly what my niche will be in that world.

If you’re reading this now, you will be one of the first to know about that when I’m ready.  My LMS peeps have been with me for years, so it’s important to me to tell you about it first, and if turns out to be something helpful, you will get first dibs.

The plan is to have both sides of this online business ready for a “soft-opening” in January 2018.  Assuming the school board approves my request to leave, and assuming nothing else happens to change my plans, my last day as a public school teacher will be July 31, 2018.  Whatever the next thing is going to be, it needs to be fully functional by August.

Wish me luck!!  And as always – thank you for your encouragement and support!

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Contest Prep, Teaching

26 Weeks Out: Monsters in My Head

The mental game is the hardest part of bodybuilding for me.  Probably for most competitors.  I haven’t wanted to write because I didn’t want to give the “monsters in my head”, as my coach called them, attention.  I would also prefer to write about successes instead of struggles.  But they aren’t going away, so I better address them.  But first…

Food Update

For about a month now, I’ve been cutting calories.  My daily deficit has been between 400 and 500 calories a day.  During most of that time, I’ve been packing, moving, and setting up a new classroom so the calorie burns have been high enough that I could still eat a decent amount of food and have that deficit.  Once the room was set up and I needed to spend a little time writing lessons plans, the calorie burn dropped off by about 600 calories – felt that.  I go back to work tomorrow and I expect the daily activity level to jump back up to normal, but to get through these last few days of vacation, I have split my workouts into 2-a-days.  That bought me an extra couple hundred calories to eat.

I have been on some kind of calorie cut since September.  Started pretty slow – 100 to 200 calories a day at first and a little more aggressive lately.  I just looked back on my logs and I have lost around 8 pounds since summer just from a little calorie restriction.  Slow and steady.

Lifting Update

Since last summer, all my training blocks have been based on Daily Undulating Periodization protocol with alternating hypertrophy days and strength days.  (If you want to know more about it, here is a nice place to to start.  There are a lot of resources that come up with a search on “What is DUP training?”  I did not design my own program, so I’m not a good resource.)

There are three main lifts and three secondary lifts.  This isn’t a ‘body part’ split.  Exercises change, but I’m usually working chest, legs, back, and shoulders every  other day.  Rep ranges and weights vary.  I like it.  It’s fascinating to me that my body has adapted to handle the frequency.  My capacity for work has increased.  When I can get sleep, I recover well.  So when I wasn’t sleeping – job stress – I wasn’t recovering and I started feeling it in my knees.  And then there was that quad pull.

For the last four weeks, coach had me working a program he named “Tammy’s Healing Block”.  I had a quad pull that needed time to heal.  My knees needed a break from squats, but I believe it was standing all day at work that was killing them.  I’m done with the healing block and I’m happy about that.  I’m bored with it.  It was nice to have a little back-off time to work on my Sumo dead lift technique.  After a couple weeks of form check videos and coaching, I think I’m on the right track.

Monsters in My Head

Before I wrote about these things, I waited to see if I would work through some of it so I could write about how I got around it.  Or just wait to see if it passed as I rested and healed up.  The negative thoughts do get worse when I’m tired, but they haven’t been going away, either.  It’s worse now than it’s been in a long time.

I can’t dismiss the possibility that I might be working through a mild depression because of some circumstances.  2014 was an incredibly difficult year.  I can’t write about everything because some things are private, but I have shared a couple things…

  • husband’s car accident (He’s OK, but we had to change our daily routines quite a bit.)
  • not one, but two, job changes (Moving a classroom is very much like moving an apartment.) If you haven’t seen it, here is my new room’s transformation.

The stress of these things have taken a toll.  I’m probably feeling it.   The structure of my training and having a goal for next summer help me quite a bit.  (Fingers crossed that this new teaching position is going to be a smooth transition and a nice place for me to be.)

The thing that is really hard for me lately is that I feel like a misfit.  I don’t really belong anywhere.  Most women I know don’t train or have different goals for their training.   Most people I know my age are busy being parents and grandparents.  Most bodybuilders I know are male, younger, and are in a different life stage.  People in general just look at me funny when they find out I’m a bodybuilder.  (One kid even said “You don’t look like a bodybuilder.”  Ouch. But that is what I tell myself almost every morning, too.)

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I don’t toot my horn that much, but  I am an award-winning, accomplished, educator with a degree in mathematics, 19 years in the classroom – I’ve got some skills and damn near killed myself to get them.    I am just a few years away from retirement.  I’m at a certain point in my life that is different than many people I interact with in bodybuilding.  I say this because when I look at what is posted on social media by fitness people, I cringe.  There are very few things out there worth following.  Too many egos, too much soft porn, too much fat-phobia… not much intellect, grace, poise, or reflective thought.  A few exist, but not many.  But more often than not, they are social idiots.  Smart, but their arrogance or  makes them boring.  (There was one guy, highly respected and referenced, who I followed for a few days.  Didn’t take long for an argument to break out in the feed and his comments quickly deteriorated to using female genitalia in a derogatory way.  Boys posturing in the gym.  Not much different than what I deal with in the classroom, so in my mind, I see kids, not grown-ups.)

I haven’t written much about this feeling of isolation, but I think I should.   It’s hard to set goals and go after them because that separates you from the crowd.  There is a psychological need to “belong”, so pushing yourself out of the pack can be hard.  This year, I’ve had a couple of split-second moments where I thought about setting competing aside.  Pretty sure I’d get a lot of support for that decision, too.  It would make some people more comfortable.  But I can’t do that.  This is important to me. So I rely on my coach to keep things on track.  If I had to do the thinking and planning on my own, I would fall away.  Whatever is working is working because I’m just following directions.  There are weeks when that is a struggle, too.  (Like this week.  I felt like a slacker all week.)

The “You’re-Too-Old-What-Are-You-Thinking Monster” never goes away.  If I were 20 years younger, my story wouldn’t be the novelty in social media that it is now.  You probably wouldn’t be reading this blog if I were 35.   In a month, I will be 53 years old.     I struggle hard for every ounce of muscle now because I’m an intermediate lifter and have moved past the phase of “newbie gains”, but in my mind, I wonder if I’m struggling because of my age.   I have a meno-pot that is slowing converting to loose skin as I lose weight.  It will show up on stage in certain poses and I wonder about how that is going to hurt me in judging.

I feel a sense of urgency about chasing this bodybuilding dream because I don’t know how long my 53-year-old body will allow me to train this way.  The younger ones I follow online talk about how they can be patient because they will be able to compete into their 50’s.  (Yeah.  Until they are that old.  Wow.)  When I read comments like that, the more I feel like I’m working against the clock as someone who is just getting started in her 50’s.

Will I have time to build the physique I see in my mind?

Will I ever be competitive or will I always be the “Good-For-Her-Getting-Up-There” last place competitor?

And that’s the biggest monster in my mind – the one that comes out and tells me repeatedly that this is folly.  This is some kind of mid-life crisis.  It is a mid-life transformation, that’s for sure.  A course-correction.  But am I too late?  Am I a silly, female version of Don Quixote?  Having the phrase “World’s Oldest Bodybuilder” after my name is NOT the goal.

So that’s where my head is at.  Fighting it does no good.  Denying it doesn’t help.  I will find a way to snuggle up with the monsters in my head to quiet them down, I guess.  I’m going to keep my focus on the goal and train.  Lifting helps everything.

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Filed under Competing, Life, Motivation, My Lifting Log, Teaching, Videos