Adventures in Fitness, Fashion and Fabulousness

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In which Laura’s ankle behaves and she goes back to the gym

Looky there!  Two posts in two days!

I feel accomplished.

At any rate, I went to the gym today and my slightly banged up ankle barely gave me any trouble.  It is still sore, all right, but it is getting better. 

It does help that today it was shoulders and biceps day, with some LISS cardio.  Tomorrow is quads, with lots of squatting, lunging, etc.  That should be interesting.

Q. So what is this LISS you speak of?

A.  LISS stands for low impact steady state cardio.  It burns a lot of fat at a steady pace, and you want to do it always after your lifting, not before.  It is more efficient this way.  It is great for fat loss in bodybuilding, combined with clean eating and strength training. 

Q.  Can you give me an example of LISS?

A.  A classic example of LISS is walking on a treadmill, on incline, at a steady pace without holding.  The idea behind this exercise is to walk at the highest incline you can without having to hold on to the treadmill handlebars, while rising your heart rate at a steady pace.

Q. So what incline is the perfect incline in this case? 

A. The one you can sustain without holding.  In my case, I like to kick it at 4.5 during the first minute as a warmup, and increase it within the next 5 minutes to 7.  The idea is to end at 10 or higher. 

NEVERTHELESS, this changes from person to person.  If for now 4.5 is the highest incline you can sustain without holding, keep that.  Try to go 5 next time and so on.  Sooner than you know, you will be sweating like a maniac at 10 without touching those handlebars.  It is a gradual thing.

Q. What is the perfect speed?

A.  Between 3.2 and 3.5.  Height is better than speed, at least in this case.

Q.  I have heard of HIIT (high intensity interval training), as opposed to LISS.  Which one is better?

A.  Both are excellent.  We can touch on HIIT on a different entry.

And that’s it for today.



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Of Safely Regaining Weight, Cycling Adventures and Bike Spills

Last time we saw our heroine, she was still glowing from the aftermath of her figure competition, and had promised to upload pictures.   

So where are the pictures, you ask?  In my”About” page that’s where!  At least my favorite pic of the batch is.  There may be more to come, or I may even do a “before” and “after” thingy.  Stay tuned.

I feel accomplished.

What happens next, then?  For one thing, I need to regain the weight that I shed.  Yes, boys and girls, since I am done for the year, I must put back the 13 lbs that I lost in order to compete so I can rebuild bigger and better muscle for next time.

Because, oh yes, there will be a next time.

So does that mean that I can finally go and stuff myself with Dunkin’ donuts and loads and loads of french fries? 

Not so fast.  The whole point is to regain the weight slowly.  If it took me 12 weeks to shed 13 pounds, it should take me 12 weeks to regain them, basically by eating clean.  The only difference is that now I can get the ocassional cheat meal.  Hooray!

So far, I have kept it up right on schedule.  The plan is to gradually reduce the cardio while keeping the lifting and to gradually increase calories.  As I have found out, it works like a charm.

This is us, right after the ride. At least, what was left of us.

At any rate, this past Sunday I joined my husband and a couple of friends on a biking ride.  (Yay biking!)  The ride was the Backroads Century Ride, a yearly event and one very hilly affair.  (Featuring lots of cows, sheep, llamas and kamikaze squirrels galore!)

I decided to do only 30 miles, since the training for a longer bike ride would have clashed with my figure show prep.  I hadn’t been on the saddle for the 12 weeks of show preparation, and had only done a couple of spinning classes since, so I was a little bit worried about my endurance.

I shouldn’t have worried, I was able to sustain the ride and, other than having to push my bike for a couple of nasty hills, I did reasonably well.

It is also a tradition that at every ride I either: a) take a wrong turn; b) fall off my bike; or c) all of the above.

I was feeling cocky. I didn’t fall off the bike! (Alas, I had spoken too soon…)

This ride was no different.  Almost at the end of our trek, I took a wrong turn and ended up going the wrong way while my husband yelled frantically after me “To the left!  Not that left, the other left!”

Once I got back on track, we were at the finishing line in no time.  And lo and behold!  I didn’t even fall of my bike!  I was so happy that I did a Snoopy dance.

Alas, I spoke too soon.  While riding back to the parking lot, I made a sharp turn and crashed on the gravel path injuring my ankle, hip and elbow.

No fun at all.

Me, with my feet up nursing my ankle. My cat is on my lap.

Luckily, it seems that other than a sore ankle (still stiff today), and a couple of lumps on the aforementioned hip and elbow, nothing is broken or seriously damaged.

I will live.

And after that, I will bike some more.

But in the meantime, I lift.

Or at least I will lift tomorrow, when my ankle feels better.

Oh, yes I will lift…


Figure Show Aftermath: Lessons Learned

So last Saturday I did my first figure competition.  I had a great deal of fun, met a lot of really cool people, and got not one, but two shiny trophies.

Yay me!

Will there be pictures? You ask.

Why yes!  There will be pictures!  There was a professional photographer available and I did purchase the package.  I have not gotten the photos yet, but I did get the notice that the CD is in the mail.  Horay!  So pictures will be up as soon as I receive them.

Which brings me to the section of … *drumroll*


Lesson Learned #1:  If there is a photographer available, purchase the package.  Especially if this is your first competition.  After all, you are probably looking the best you have looked in your life, and you don’t know if you will have the opportunity to compete again.  So yes!  Get the pictures for posterity!  Bonus points if you have children!  Nothing like leaving photos of you in a tiny posing suit for future generations!  (Holy cow! Is that Grandma?)

Lesson Learned #2: If you think that your spray tan is too dark, it probably isn’t.  I got only two coats of that stuff  plus a retouch, and I was one of the palest competitors onstage.  Not that I was terribly pale, mind you, but the darker you are the better you look under those bright lights and the more your muscles can be seen from a distance.  This is important because you want the judges to see those muscles.  It can be all the difference between placing or not.

Lesson Learned #3: Spray tan gets into everything! Once you have been spray tanned, the stuff will take a while to dry.  And even when it does, it will stain everything you touch – from your bedsheets to your toilet seat.  Plan accordingly, and warn your significant other.  You may not want to get hand prints in funky places and then try to explain that that to your spray tanning technician (although I suspect that these folks have seen everything!)

Lesson Learned #4:  Water is not your friend. At least, when it comes to spray tanning. Shower several hours before your session and leave it alone afterwards.  Otherwise, the stuff will come off, look awful, and make a mess in your shower.  Your spray tan will be fixable, but the mess in your shower may not be your idea of fun.

Lesson Learned #5:  Aveeno and Bag Balm(TM) rock.  When it comes to moisturizing prior to your tanning, Aveeno on your body and Bag Balm on your knees and elbows are awesome.  There are many other more expensive products, but Aveeno and Bag Balm trump them all.  CAUTION! Do not moisturize the day of your spray tanning! Any moisturizer will leave a film and mess up your tan.  But moisturizing several days before that is highly recommendable.

Lesson Learned #5: If you think that your makeup is too dark, it probably isn’t.   Purchase a shade that is only one shade lighter than your spray tan, and bronzer that is as dark to provide dimension.  I had purchased makeup that I thought that was dark enough for my purposes until I got out of my tanning session and learned the error of my ways. (My coach had warned me about it, but would I listen? Nooooo.)  In the end, I had to make a run to the MAC store, show them what I had, have them shake their head and agree with me that it would not work.  Luckily, I got a really cool African American makeup artist who hooked me up with the same shade of makeup that she was using.  It worked great.

Lesson Learned #6: Watch your bootie! No, really, watch your bootie.  I was so paranoid making sure that the top of my posing suit was properly aligned that I forgot about my bottom.  I had not realized that it was crooked until I saw the proofs of the pictures.  I am sure that it cost me points.  So from now on, I will be policing my bootie like nobody’s business!

Lesson Learned #7: “S” Hooks are your friends. Unless you are a big fan of ties in your posing suit, go for “S” hook closures instead.  Sooner or later you will have to pay a visit to the ladies room and getting in and out of that thing, and having to re-tie it, is a royal pain.  It may also lead to ending up with a crooked suit when going onstage (see “Watch your bootie!” above).  If your seamstress does not offer the “S” hook closures, have your suit altered as soon as you get it.  It is quick and easy and even your local dry-cleaner can do it.  I wish I had known that.

Lesson Learned #8: Speak softly and carry your own exercise bands.  Before you take the stage, you may want to “pump up.”  This means that you will exercise with rubber bands or dumbells in order for your muscles to “pop” at the very last minute.  Often, the promoters of the show will have equipment available for everyone.  However, it is not guaranteed that they will offer it and, even if they do, there may be too many competitors having to share equipment.  So bring your own.

And I think that’s all for now.  I am sure I will think of something else, and post it later.  But these are the ones that come to mind.

So, would I do this again?  You bet your bootie!  And next time, mine will not be crooked!