Why I Had A Medichecks Blood Test (And What I Discovered)

July 6, 2018

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I’ve done a few years competitive bodybuilding. In fact, I “prepped” (trained and dieted for) competitive bodybuilding shows in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016, doing several shows a year.

That’s a lot for the human body to take.

Two years on from my last comp, and I still sometimes feel a bit tired. I have no idea if all the dieting has left me with any wonkiness as regards hormones, digestion, or nutrient levels.

I haven’t dieted for ages, but I know it can take a long time for things to return to normal. Especially when you’re a 40+ drug-free female. If I tell you that I used to have just one period a year (in my competing years), you’ll get an idea of what the body goes through.

All this is to say that I’ve been idly curious about how my body is doing, now I’m settling into a post-competitive-bodybuilding phase of life. Not curious enough to go to the GP or anything. But when my friends at Medichecks had an offer on their Well Woman Ultravit test, I decided to go for it.

The Medichecks Well Woman Ultravit test looks at health markers for red and white blood cells, liver health, kidney function, bone health, gout, iron status, and diabetes, measures of iron storage, thyroid function and key vitamins and hormones. Also ferritin, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin D, thyroid function and magnesium, female hormones FSH, LH and oestradiol, menopause and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Things I Was Worried/Curious/Catastrophising About

  • tiredness. I’m sometimes so tired, and there doesn’t seem to be a pattern to it. But then again, I stay up far too late watching Netflix, I scroll Facebook on my phone in bed, and generally do all those things I tell other people not to do when I write content for clients.
  • gout (bloody gout!) I’ve had a painful big toe for about 2 years. I just can’t work out what’s wrong with it. I went to the GP when it was really bad, and he told me it was “probably gout” – which made me feel like Henry VIII or something. I don’t think it’s gout, but the GP said it “probably” was so… y’know.
  • menopause. For a few months, I convinced myself I was in the early stages of menopause. This was based on the sum total of zero. But I’m 40, and I know the pre-menopause “things starting to wind down” phase can start up to 10 years before menopause. So, anyway, I was curious about that.
  • general hormone levels. I’ve always assumed my hormone levels are bomb-diggity, because I seem to be able to put on muscle easily, and my hair grows fast, stuff like that. But it would be interesting to know for sure.
  • nutrient deficiencies. I haven’t dieted in any way since I last prepped for a show, and I eat a pretty varied diet. But there’s always a chance I’m missing something, or that my years of harsh bodybuilding dieting is still affecting me.
  • I am a generally nosy/curious person.

How It Works

The test I had needed a venous blood sample (blood drawn by a medical professional). Some you can do yourself with a fingertip pinprick test at home. All I had to do was go along to one of the partner clinics (a local hospital in my case), wait for a bit, get the nurse to take my blood, and pop the test in the post. The actual blood part took about 2 minutes. It didn’t hurt. I felt absolutely fine after.

The Results

Medichecks get your results to you very quickly – I think it was 24 or 48 hours after I posted the test. It’s all confidential and done online so you can log in and view all the results. They give recommendations and explain all the results clearly.

You get a comprehensive PDF, but there’s no point me putting screenshots here as it’s all very detailed and medical!

Fortunately, there’s nothing wrong with me at all. No gout. No menopause. No wonky hormones or gaping holes in my nutrition. Just low iron (as explained below).

Unfortunately, this means I have no excuse for my “tiredness” other than watching Netflix too late into the night. (But the new season of GLOW has just started!)

Expert Comment

My friend and yours, all-round legend Dr Emil “Goliath” Hodzovic actually works for Medichecks. Emil is a medical Doctor (BSc Sports & Exercise Science, MBBCh Medicine & ISSN Applied Nutrition Student if you please) and a coach. He didn’t do my test, but I asked him to comment on the results from the point of view of someone who trains, has competed, and also knows the medical side of things.

Over to Emil:

Your creatinine is raised and actually a little high. This could easily be through muscle mass, having done a big workout, or dehydration (or use of creatine). But it is probably worth confirming that is usually normal for you. (FYI – eGFR above 60 is acceptable).

eGFR looks at the rate of filtration in the kidneys and uses creatinine as a marker. The factors above cause increased production rather than decreased kidney function but below a certain level, it’s worth making sure there is nothing else going on.

Your aspartate transferase is up a bit. This is entirely unsurprising in someone who exercises. Likewise with CK – creatine kinase.

Your transferrin is low and, actually, your ferritin is at the lower end of normal. This is definitely worth addressing via dietary changes and/or iron supplements. You are not anaemic yet (your Hb is normal) but I imagine if you continued it would likely go that way.

Your HDL and cholesterol ratio (Total Chol to HDL) are both great, reflecting both good genetics, exercise, and likely a good lifestyle.

Your magnesium levels are great, which suggests you are getting some from your diet as people who train hard can be deficient

Your thyroid hormones, thyroid stimulating hormone, and sex hormones are great.

Your Vit b12 is a bit raised. But this isn’t surprising as many supplements and energy drinks contain it, plus you are not vegan any more (!) so you’re getting plenty from diet too

And your Vitamin D is also great. This is another area where people can easily be deficient.

Your levels suggest possible supplementation (or just a lot of sunshine and being outdoors with all your dog walking!)

Thanks Emil. Not much for me to do really – except pay attention to my iron levels. I am terrible with supplements, by which I mean I just don’t remember to take them. I go in fits and starts with creatine, and I remember to take a multivit maybe 4 days out of the month. So I’ll take my multivit (which has iron in) every day. I know iron deficiency can make you feel tired, so perhaps this will address that issue. Or maybe I need to go to bed earlier and not take my phone into the bedroom… !

Everyday Health Is More Important Than #Beastmode

It’s good to know that simple everyday habits (like spending time outside every day, walking a lot, low stress levels, having a healthy and varied diet, and training) do pay off.

It’s worth noting I am definitely not a “fitspo” type person these days! I tran in the gym 2-3 times per week. I do yoga. I walk a lot. I don’t count macros or calories. I drink a lot of water. My point here is that I don’t think you have to be an uber hardcore fitness junkie to be healthy. Simple daily habits, done consistently, as part of a happy lifestyle, are the important thing.

Have you had a Medichecks test? Thinking about it? Feel free to comment – if I can’t answer your question, I’m sure Emil would pop back on with his expert hat on.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 14 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.

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My Vegan Month: 1 Week In

November 5, 2017

It’s not quite one week in to “World Vegan Month”, but Sunday seems a good day for a round up.

In case you missed it, I’m “going vegan” for the month. I’ve gone into this with no preconceptions, no expectations, and no particular concerns. So these round up blog posts will simply be what’s on my mind, and what (if anything) has surprised me about being vegan so far.

How have I felt?

Surprisingly, no different to usual. Hunger and appetite are about the same. If anything, I feel less hungry – more balanced – than eating my usual foods. I don’t know if this is an increase in fibre, or food volume? I should point out that I haven’t done a complete 180* in my food choices here. I was already eating a “good diet”, of “mostly whole foods”, with almost everything prepped from scratch by my own hands. I already ate a lot of veg, quite a lot of pulses/lentils.

So what’s changed?

Well, obviously no meat, fish, or eggs. I didn’t eat much dairy anyway (for some reason it makes me a bit queasy these days). But of course there is a bit of dairy in things like sauces, chocolate, dressings etc.

Snacks and “quick grab” foods are more difficult

The few times I have felt hungry have been the times I’d typically grab a quick “something”. Doing that is much more difficult as a vegan, it turns out. Maybe not once you’ve got used to it, I suppose. But where I might make myself a quick protein mugcake (EGGS!), or some scrambled eggs (EGGS!), I’m now left opening and shutting the fridge door thinking: “hmmm”.  There are plenty of things I can snack on, of course. But at this stage in my vegan adventure, I can only think in meals. (Thank you to Bulk Powders who gifted me a box of their Chocolate Coconut vegan protein bars which have been my sweet treats!)

Protein is a little harder to hit

It’s not difficult to eat protein as a vegan – plenty of plant sources have decent protein (tofu, pulses, lentils) and of course there is trace protein in pretty much everything. But it’s more difficult to – say – bump up a meal by 20g protein. Because vegan protein is tied in to other macros. So I have been having more servings of protein powder than usual (thanks again to Bulk Powders for this vegan protein powder!)

You have to rethink “meal construction”

As an omnivore, you tend to think of your macros separately. “OK, for my carbs I’ll do potatoes…. I’ll have chicken with that for my protein, and if I need any fats in there I’ll put some butter on top.” Or whatever. A bit more creative than that, but you get the idea. You can’t do that with vegan foods, because (as mentioned), the macros are all attached. So I’ve been trying to find higher protein versions of “carb” foods – like these pasta shapes (made from lentil flour and green pea flour), so then I can just have a veggie sauce on top and the macros are pretty decent.

Food shopping is eye-opening

I did a late night dash to the supermarket on the 1st, because I realised I didn’t really have enough food in the house to create a vegan meal. It was eye-opening. I realised how people must feel when they first embark on a “healthy eating plan” for the first time. All of a sudden, entire sections of the shop are off limits or completely redundant. You have to scrutinise labels (who knew that not all Quorn products are in fact vegan? Not me!) The shop took ages (see “scrutinising food labels”) but by the end of it my trolley was pretty sparse.

Question of the week

What is creatine? I mean, what is it actually made from? Is it… vegan? (I hope so! If it isn’t, please let me down gently!)

Um… what else?

  • Gym performance is absolutely fine. I’ve had a wicked week’s training actually.
  • My guts are fine, thank you 😉
  • Sleep is fine/no different.
  • I haven’t craved/been hungry for/missed anything in particular.

Recipe

I will be using Fitproclientrecipes during the month, to try a whole load of new meals and snacks. I’ll report back.

For now, I will leave you with a recipe I’ve just made up on a whim. I call it Curried Cauliflower & Tofu, because that is what it is.

Ingredients:

  • 20ml oil
  • 400g raw cauliflower, chopped
  • 400g firm tofu, water pressed out
  • 200g tomatoes, chopped
  • Spinach (as much as you want, it will wilt away to nothing anyway)
  • 1 lemon (grate a bit of the rind, and squeeze all of the juice)
  • Garlic paste or fresh garlic
  • Fresh coriander
  • Cumin seeds
  • Turmeric powder
  • Red chili flakes or fresh chili
  • Ground black pepper
  • You could put more herbs/spices in if you have them – I don’t)

Instructions:

  • Heat the oil in a heavy pan (lidded one)
  • Put in the cubed tofu and all the herbs/spices apart from the fresh coriander
  • Let the tofu brown a bit (you won’t be able to tell, because turmeric makes everything yellow, including my fingers, my kitchen surfaces, and my utensils)
  • Add the lemon rind, tomatoes and cauliflower
  • Put the lid on the pan and let it cook away
  • Add the lemon juice & spinach, turn the heat down, and leave it.
  • Put the fresh coriander on top when it’s done

Macros per 1/4 of this recipe:

  • Cals 193
  • P 15
  • C 8
  • F 12

So. There’s my rather underwhelming update after 5 days as a vegan! Let me know if you have any questions (or suggestions).

I’ve got some interviews with real actual (as in permanent!) vegan athletes lined up, as well as more recipes, review of vegan protein products, and anything else that comes to mind! Requests are welcomed.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist with 13 years experience in writing content and direct response copy for the fitness industry. Get in touch via Facebook, by sending a message here.


My UK Health Radio Interview: Bodybuilding and Channel Swimming

July 3, 2016

nicola joyce interview uk health radio bodybuilding

Does ANYBODY like the sound of their own voice? I don’t. It won’t surprise you that I’m far more comfortable being interviewed in print

…but UK Health Radio managed to persuade me to go on their Fitness Hour Show to big up the sport of drug-free bodybuilding. I’ll take any opportunity to talk about it people who might not know about the sport. So… here I am! In all my “I sound like a 5-year-old” glory.

You can listen again to it via this link >> Nicola Joyce bodybuilder interview on UK Health Radio

(I’m the opening interview on the show – it’s just after the first song – at around 5 minutes in)

As predicted, I went off-piste… here are a few of the topics the interview covers:

– My background in Channel swimming
– What goes through your brain when you’re swimming the Channel?
– What are the skills you need to be a Channel swimmer?
– Is swimming the Channel scary?
– How and why did I make the transition from swimming to bodybuilding?
– Can anyone get involved in bodybuilding?
– Is age a barrier in physique and strength sports… or a bonus?
– What are the different categories and types of bodybuilding?
– Is bodybuilding healthy or not?
– How can a bodybuilding lifestyle benefit our health?
– Why is lifting weights and eating like a bodybuilder healthy (even if you don’t compete)?
– What does “clean eating” really mean? Is it always a good thing?
– Healthy lifestyle improvements vs extremes of diet and exercise
– Advice for anyone wanting to get into bodybuilding

Hope you enjoy the interview. If you think it would be interesting or useful to anyone you know, please do share.

Nicola Joyce UK Health Radio Interview: Bodybuilding and Channel Swimming is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Tips From The Bodybuilding Judging Table

June 14, 2016

Are you stepping on a bodybuilding stage this year? This might be worth a read – especially if you’re a first timer or novice.

I’ve judged at a few UKDFBA bodybuilding shows (and am doing so this year). Let me tell you, judging is a huge eye-opener. Even if you’re a competitor! (Perhaps especially if you’re a competitor?)
ukdfba bodybuilding judging
(Image by AllSports Photography at the UKDFBA USN Classic 2016)

Judging really helps me see what a difference the small details can make. Some are things I know (but can forget). Others are things I would never have thought about…

Here are some “tips” from behind the judges’ table.
(By the way, if you want more like this, I recommend two articles on Jon Harris’s natural muscle.co.uk website – this one written by Jon and this one written by Karen Mason).

TAN
Every competitor knows tan is important. But first-timers might not realise just HOW important it is to get your tan right. Your tan (colour, coverage, evenness) does make a difference to how well the judges can actually assess your size, shape, condition. A poor tan can make it really difficult for judges to judge you properly.

Advice: if you’re doing your own tan, practice it a couple of weeks beforehand. If the show organiser has a professional tanner at the venue, consider using her. But book your appointment in good time!

YOUR NUMBER
You’ll get two numbers (same number twice – you know what I mean!) Pin one to the back of your suit, the other on the front. Make sure it isn’t upside down (particularly if your number contains a 6 or a 9!) Do a round of posing in the waiting area with your number on, so you can see whether or not your hands are going to knock/brush the number as you pose. Look in a full length mirror to check that your hands don’t obscure the number during any poses. If it falls off on stage (which it might), don’t panic. Wait until the Head Judge tells you to “relax” (i.e. after that round of posing is over), and pick it. Worst case scenario, leave it there. And remember your number! The Head Judge might call it out (to move competitors around in the line up). Don’t be the one who’s standing there looking blank whilst the Head Judge says “number 3. Number 3! Yes, that’s you… number 3…. please swap with number 5. No, number 3. Yes, that’s you. Number 3….”

Advice: judges need to see your number (front and back) and you need to know what it is.

POSING
Please spend time learning and practicing your poses. Good, confident posing is a joy to watch and can encourage the judges to keep their eyes on you. In fact, good posing can mean it’s difficult to take your judging-eyes OFF you! Poor posing, on the other hand, just does you no favours. Judges can’t judge what they can’t see. So if you’re not showing off a body part, or not posing something properly, it’s incredibly difficult for the judges to assess you in that area.

Advice: get someone experienced to teach you how to pose. Then practice – LOTS. Get someone to check your progress (ideally the person who taught you). Attend posing clubs/workshops if you can get to one.

HIT YOUR POSES QUICKLY AND CLEANLY
There’s a difference between posing with style, and posing with necessary faff. When the pose is called, just move into it. By all means transition into it slightly differently (everyone has their style) but don’t mess about trying to draw attention to yourself (or a body part), and don’t try to be the last person hitting the pose. Two things are possible: the judges won’t notice any of it anyway (so conserve your energy), or they will notice, but for the wrong reasons (being frustrated and wishing you’d just pose properly).

Advice: be confident enough in your posing that you don’t need to add flourishes and embellishments. Move into poses in a timely manner, and then hold them.

FREE POSING
I know you might be nervous, but try to relax and give a confident free posing routine. This is your chance to have the stage to yourself! It’s finally time to show us your routine and to pose to that music you chose so long ago. Enjoy it! I can’t speak for all judges, but personally I absolutely love watching people’s free posing routines. So bear that in mind: the judges are looking forward to seeing this, they want to see you enjoying yourself. Walk on confidently, and walk off confidently too!

Advice: be confident in your routine, choose music which makes you feel good and positive, then go out there and enjoy it!

BLING
Figure and Bikini competitors will often choose to spray glittery stuff on after their tan. And many will wear blingy jewellery. That’s all fine, but please don’t go overboard. Make sure it accentuates your physique. Don’t create a distraction for judges. Less is often more, even if you are Figure or Bikini. Let your stage presentation, posing, and your own stage presence shine instead!

Advice: choose enough bling to accentuate your stage presentation, but don’t go overboard.

“FLAPPY” HANDS & FLIPPY HAIR
Pay attention to your hands, both in poses and whilst moving between poses. Minimise flappy hands or overly-artistic finger pointing. Chances are you either think it looks better than it does, or you don’t realise you’re doing it at all. And if you’re wearing long hair down, don’t make a big deal about moving it to one side to show your back. Hair-swishing can be part of Figure and Bikini stage presentation, but don’t overdo it. Think classy and understated, not OTT. Let your physique do the work, not your hair. Another reason to practice posing (and get people’s feedback). Video your own posing practice so you can see if you have any random hand/finger stuff going on!

Advice: flappy hands are just distracting.

REMEMBER: SOMEONE WILL BE LOOKING AT YOU
Go on stage thinking that at least one judge will be looking at you every single moment you’re up there. This includes walking on, walking off, when you’re being moved about in the line up, when you’re standing at the back of the stage, waiting for presentations, and as presentations are called. Obviously only some of these are being judged. But you might be in photos at any moment. So hold your pose, try to look relaxed, and try to smile (or least not look like you’re about to kill somebody). I know it’s a lot to think about. But it is worth bearing in mind.

Advice: just remember that at least one pair of eyes is on you at all times. Plus the camera, potentially.

WE CAN SEE YOU, I PROMISE
Even if you’re out at the end of a long line of competitors, off to one side of the stage, the judges can see you. I promise. And if you’ve been out to one side, you will be moved to the other side (so the judges at that end of the table can see you more closely). The judges have the best seats in the house. And the Head Judge will move everyone around so each competitor can be seen by each judge. In fact, judges can actually request to “see” certain competitors again (or in a different order) if they feel they haven’t had an adequate opportunity to look at them properly.

Advice: don’t panic, we can see you – and we are looking!

LEGS!!!
I can’t end without mentioning legs. Seriously, pose your legs! All the time! You might hear coaches in the audience shouting out “stay on your legs”. This means pose them, flex them, then hold that – even when it starts to hurt. As a competitor, I always knew this. And I always tried to do it. But I didn’t really think it made all that much difference. I mean, of course I’m posing my legs, it’s fine. Then I sat at that judging table. And I saw with my own eyes just how massive the difference is between the person “kind of” posing his legs “most of the time”, and the person really, really thinking about it and posing the legs hard. It’s night and day. And not doing it could cost you a place – or more. Remember, judges can only judge what they can see. So all your amazing striations, feathering, shape, condition… they can only be judged if you pose your legs hard enough for them to come out. “Legs!!!!” 😉

Advice: pose from the bottom up – set your legs in every pose before you hit the rest of the pose. Practice this, so you get used to how it feels without a mirror.

Tips From The Bodybuilding Judging Table is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Basic Information About Competing In UK Drug-Tested Bodybuilding Comps

May 15, 2016

Almost every week, I get asked about how to go about competing in drug-tested/natural bodybuilding competitions. Tis the season, I guess!

Having just Facebook messaged someone the same information (for the third time this week), I thought it might be useful to actually pop it all in a blog post.

If I stuff this first section full of enough SEO phrases it might even get picked up on Google 😉 “Natural bodybuilding comps in the UK”, “How do I start natural bodybuilding in the UK?”, “I want to do a natural bodybuilding show but I’ve no idea who the organisations are or when the competitions are, help, where do I look for information?”

That should do it 😉
ukdfba bodybuilding uk 2016
So, here’s what I send people when they ask me about competing in drug-free BB comps…

There are three drug-tested/ drug-free/ natural bodybuilding organisations in the UK at the time of writing.

Who, What, Where?

UKDFBA – United Kingdom Drug Free Bodybuilding Association (website is in the link, and they have a FB page). They are the UK affiliate of the WNBF. The UKDFBA run a series of UK qualifiers, then a UK final. There is also a Pro Show and an International Show alongside the UK Final. They award WNBF Pro Cards at the Final. They then take a Pro and Amateur team out to WNBF Worlds.

BNBF – British Natural Bodybuilding Federation (website is in the link, and they have a FB page). They are the UK affiliate of the DFAC. They run a series of UK qualifers, a UK final, then they take a Pro and Amateur team out to DFAC Worlds. They award DFAC Pro cards at their UK Final.

NPA – Natural Physique Association (website is in the link, and they have a FB group). The NPA isn’t affiliated to an international federation. They have UK qualifers and a UK final, and sometimes then take a team out to the UIBBN competition.

Drug Free & Banned Lists

UKDFBA and BNBF are both 7 years drug free.
NPA is lifetime drug free.

They all use urine testing and polygraph testing. Although most of the “things you can’t take” are obvious (or ought to be!), some people are completely unaware of just how strict “drug free” is. So, if you choose to do all or any of the drug-tested bodybuilding organisations’ comps, it is 100% your responsibility to check the banned list OF THAT ORGANISATION and be certain you are in the clear. The information for each organisation’s rules and banned lists are on their website. If you can’t find it, contact the organisation representative.

Categories

All 3 associations have classes for men, women, teens, juniors, and older competitors (Masters). They all have Novice classes and weight classes. Some have Bikini and Men’s Physique. Some have Masters Figure as well as open Figure. Some of their women’s classes will be split by weight. Some have beginners’ shows and first-timers categories. The women’s categories tend to differ between organisations.

My (quick) advice would be:

– Choose the category your body is best suited to (or that you think your body will be best suited to, if you haven’t competed previously)
– Download the judging criteria, and/or contact the Head of the organisation to ask for the guidelines. Be sure you are clear about posing, footwear, whether there’s a posing routine or a T-walk (etc).
– If in doubt, ask advice. The organisation will be friendly and approachable and happy to help (if they’re not, find one that is!)

I’m very happy to chat more about any of this over message or email. I appreciate that it can seem overwhelming and confusing – like any new sport at first!

What To Do Next

Look at the Federations listed above, and their shows/calendars. Choose either by show dates and location, convenient to you (and your prep).

Mark your calendar. Train and diet. Keep in mind the judging criteria of your category. Put together a posing routine or T-walk to music.

Learn the poses you’ll need to do, and practice!

But more than that… do your research:
– make friends on Facebook with people who have done your category in your chosen organisation. Take a look at their competition pics and videos.
– look on YouTube for competition footage and competitors’ individual posing routines (or T-walks).
– see if you can get along to a show (ideally run by your chosen organisation, but anything will help!) Seeing a bodybuilding show before you compete is invaluable experience.

Then there’s stuff like posing suits/bikinis, tan… but that’s all for further down the line.

That was a whistlestop tour through the drug-free bodybuilding competition scene in the UK. I’m sure there are things I’ve forgotten. Official folk: if I’ve got any of the facts and information wrong, please comment/messsage me and I will correct it.

And if anyone reading this ever wants any advice, tips, or “where to go next”, please get in touch. I love the sport and love to help. If I’m not the right person to ask, I’ll try to find out who is!

Basic Information About Competing In UK Drug-Tested Bodybuilding Comps is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


I’m 6 Years Old (So I Guess I Should Actually Blog…)

April 26, 2016

WordPress informed me today that this blog is six years old. In blog terms, that’s positively elderly. But a blog isn’t a blog if it’s not actually updated… so here goes!
the fit writer blog nicola joyce 6 years birthday

I’m not sure I’ve got a lot to say…

…so – for anyone still out there and interested – here’s a stream of disconnected ramblings about training, food, and my newest bits of home fitness kit.

My most recent blog posts were about powerlifting. Specifically the BDFPA full power Nationals in February (so long ago already?) where I squatted 105, benched 60, deadlifted 150 (but I’d like it to be known that I got 160 to my knees!) You can read about that comp by clicking the clicky <<< .

Directly after that meet, I really wanted to do more powerlifting. I had grand plans:

1) the BDFPA single lifts nationals (initially just deadlift, but then I fell in love with squatting and decided to both deadlift and squat)
2) a BDFPA qualifier, ideally with my girlbro Charlie, to qualify early for 2017 nationals
3) nationals in 2017

But then various annoying logistical issues got in the way – travel, dog sitters, accommodation – and I had to make an executive decision.

I decided to shelve my powerlifting for the year (I’m happy enough with the progress I made between my qualifier and Nationals), and to revert to plan B: get back to training, do a late qualifier (Jan/Feb 2017) and see how I get on.

What am I up to now, then?

TRAINING

I’ve brought more bodybuilding aspects of training back into my life (although my training has definitely altered since my time focusing on powerlifting). I’m enjoying doing a wider variety of exercises, and paying attention to body parts I didn’t have the time (or the need) to train as a powerlifter.

Remember “notch watch” from way back when? (No, nor do I really and I wrote it.) Well, that belt has long since been thrown in the bin (it perished – literally – after languishing in the boot of my leaky car). But I still wear my Inzer belt for heavy squats, and I’m down 3 “notches” on it since the start of the year.

EATING

Things got a little wild there out in the hinterland of powerlifting, so yes I am dieting, but very slowly and extremely “flexibly”. No meal plan, no eating out of tupperware, and no cutting carbs (indeed no cutting anything). I’m just paying attention to what I’m eating, tracking it, and working to macros. Carbs are lovely and high, and I’m loving life! I’m dieting to macros, rather than to a meal plan, but it’s a very “flexible dieting” type approach. Carbs are no lower than 180, and I got above 200 twice a week. I think I might turn into a rice cake soon!
rice cakes bodybuilder
MOVING

Cardio has made a re-appearance, partly to support the slow diet and partly cos it’s Summer and it’s a lot nicer to ride my bike and pull my sled around the field in this kind of weather.

(Sled from Celtic Strength)

Bit of sled work out on the field tonight with my push/pull sled, handmade and custom painted by @simoncelticstrength 👌🏼

A video posted by Nicola Joyce ✒️💪🐶✌️ (@thefitwriter) on Apr 13, 2016 at 2:45pm PDT

No plans for events/comps/meets just yet. I’m really enjoying getting some structure back into my nutrition and training, and seeing where it leads me over the next few months. If I end up in shape, I have the option of UKDFBA (bodybuilding) later in the year. To all UKDFBA competitors and the general UKDFBA “fam” – I will be at as many qualifiers as possible this year, and I can’t wait to see you!

I’m better at updating my social media…

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I’m 6 Years Old (So I Guess I Should Actually Blog…) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Ever Seen A Snowman Sissy Squat?

December 12, 2015

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I have! Today I squatted with Buddy the Elf and Frosty the Snowman aka my friends Miky and Jamie. A load of us went over to the fantastic Ripped Gym in Harlow – home to one of our own (WNBF Pro Mark Oakes) for the annual Christmas “natty meet”.

Our community of natural bodybuilders have various gym-meets throughout the year, sometimes organised by the gym owner, sometimes by the bodybuilder who trains at the gym.

Date and venue are set, word is sent out, and whoever can be there turns up to train, chat and have something to eat afterwards. It doesn’t matter if you’re experienced or new, competing or off-season, retired or yet to compete. You just have to want to train and have a bit of a giggle with the good folk of natural BB.

Training partners/trios are usually arranged beforehand via Facebook. And so it was that I ended up arranging to train legs with Buddy Miky and Frosty Jamie.

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Miky and I have never trained before. Jamie and I have, although not in the gym. We did a 60 mile sportive in the Summer. It was pretty hot, very hilly, and a big ask! Jamie had to get off his bike and have a little sit-down outside somewhere rather prophetically named “Hellfire Caves”.

Today was slightly less punishing on the quads…. but only just 😉

Ripped Gym in Harlow is an amazing gym, huge and packed full of equipment. I swear you could be there for 6 hours and still not have time to do a set on every different bit of kit. I trained there back in February but there was still lots I wanted to try out today!

Here’s what we did

(I’m sure you can spot the bit where the guys said “are we done now?” and I said “yes, oh no, ooh, can we just do a few sets on […]?”)

Back squats 4 sets (I worked up to 70kgs) then 1 set paused squats (lower weight)
Plate loaded hack squats 3 sets 10-12
Barbell SLDL 4 sets 10-12 ish
Superset: lying hamstring curl (both legs), standing hamstring curl (single legs) <<< I love this bit of kit!
Sissy squats
Barbell hacks (only 1 set – I was taught how to do them properly – all I can say is ouch!)
1 x triple dropset on the leg press (cheered on by Jamie telling me “You’re a reindeer! You’re STRONG! ;D) )
Seal rows 4 sets

My legs are officially ruined!

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(Just in case you think I’ve had a particularly transformative off-season, I should point out this isn’t me on the seal row. It’s multi-titled Champ Robert Rodney).
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Then upstairs for a bit of posing (had forgotten how tiring it is and how much it makes my legs and back ache!)
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Then to Five Guys for a PWO meal. Sorry, Five Guys fans, but I was underwhelmed. It was OK but just OK. The company was great though 😀
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Thanks to Mark Oakes for organising today’s meet (herding cats?) and to Michelle at Ripped Gym for the warm welcome.

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Ever Seen A Snowman Sissy Squat? is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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