Do what works for you: 12 week review

Over the last 12 weeks or so I’ve taken three approaches to my training and food. I thought I’d share them and review them.

The outcome or learning of the last 12 weeks is something I’ve always known: I should do what I enjoy and what works for me (training and food). 🙂

It’s as simple as that: do what I love. Have a simple and flexible training plan and train and eat well. No fads, no diets, not too much of one thing.

Here’s what I did in the last 12 weeks:

1. Weeks 1-4:
Training: Progressive Strength training with running.
Food: Stuck to a considered food plan: High, Med, Low carb. Didn’t eat sweets / chocolate or crap. Very determined to stick to the plan to see the results.
Initial weight & body fat: 124, 20.5%
After 4 weeks: 124lbs, 20.0%

I got help from a personal trainer, Ross from Kaizen. He gave me a good food plan which supported my goals and provided a good 2 day a week strength training regime I could use alongside my running.

It’s good to learn and I usually learn from books and online, but it’s good to invest in yourself too and learn from others too. 🙂

I progressively lifted heavier than ever before and perfected my form. I felt more toned and there was a slight improvement in body composition (-0.5%) but the way I was feeling was much more than any number on a scale could show. Fit, strong, motivated, happy.

Food was a challenge and it’s the first time I’ve really stuck to a food plan. I found myself saying no to food offers nearly every day. No to chocolate and puddings, and no to foods that weren’t on my food plan. I was determined to make it work and not do anything to sabotage my goal or result.

I ate more carbs on training days to get over any sugar cravings I had and felt great. There was possibly room for more veg in my diet, but overall my choices were good and my intake was very balanced with less sugar and less sugar / mars bar cravings than normal.

Overall the food part was interesting, but it was hard to come away from my runners mentality of: ‘I’ve earned it, I can have what I want.’

Loss: no weight loss but 0.5% body fat reduction (approx 1lb body fat reduction, 1lb lean body mass increase).

So some change, but it does make you wonder of it’s worth the restriction with food and hard work input. 😉 maybe if I had more to lose, didn’t train as much or eat as well as I normally do, I’d have seen greater results.

2. Weeks 5-8:
Training: Progressive Strength Training (without running, or with limited running).
Food: Had a food plan (high and low carb) but didn’t stick to it as work got in the way, still ate better than normal.
Initial weight & body fat: 124, 20.0%
After 4 weeks: 124lbs, 20.5%

This was where I changed up my strength training a bit: less weight lifted, but hard intense strength session. Ross at Kaizen suggested that he would prescribe running to a client with my goals an politely suggested I chose to remove running from my training.

It was a good but challenging question for me. Remove running? ‘Eh? Like, no running? I can’t do that.’ Lol. I chose Instead to limit my running to only coaching sessions with others, and no runs longer than 6 miles. It was odd to restrict running for a reason that wasn’t an injury or overtraining issue.

If I’m honest it left a bit of a gap in my life. The buzz I get from getting up and doing a run in the morning, or with a friend, is much more important to me than some number on the scale.

It sets me up for the day, gives me a buzz that lasts a long time and gives me a goal to focus on. It also allows me time on myself to think and time with others to chat. The benefits I get from running totally over shadow any ‘strength goals’ I might have.

The food was better than before I started my 12 weeks journey, but I found due to being busy at work I couldn’t devote enough time or headspace into planning my food properly. I still kept good habits, and didn’t do anything to sabotage my goals, but the food difference alone perhaps made the difference in the tiny increase in body fat.

Result: weight maintained, body fat up slightly (+0.5%).

3. Weeks 9-12:
Training: Running (marathon training) and swimming. (No strength training).
Food: ‘Eating like a runner’, to fuel my running, and eating what I wanted. Nothing restricted, but never too over indulging.
Initial weight & body fat: 124, 20.5%
After 4 weeks: 125lbs, 20.8%

This is how I usually train and how I e trained since I started this life changing journey to health and fitness. Running, complemented with strength training (or swimming), and healthy nutrition 90% of the time. Only this time I didn’t strength train. It’s good to have a rest from it and this will be 4-5 weeks off it.

I’m burning so many calories with running (4-5000 a week) it’s ok for me to have treats (I think). Especially since I’m at my goal weight. There is the fact that I need to be fuelled to train too. Carbs and protein for energy, repair and recovery, healthy fats too. If I was trying to lose weight I might be more restrictive and cut out most of the crap more.

I can burn between 500-1500 calories on a long run before work, when everyone else is in their bed. 🙂 that doesn’t stop the fact that I should be eating foods which are full if nutrition (and less of the sugary stuff I tend to go for). What I’ve learned is that treats are ok as long as you don’t make them a habitual part of your meals / snacks. Ie a mars bar after every dinner time!! 😉

Plenty of water, plenty of food prep. I exercise so that I don’t need to be restrictive, and I can enjoy what I eat. Diets don’t work and I’ve never been on one.

Plenty of running, up to 16 miles on a long run and up to 35 miles a week. Taking it easy, running to my heart rate. No strength training so a rest from that, and I’ve noticed a difference.

I did aim to swim every week, but I only did it once (!) and got a hellish sore head, so if I want to do that I’ll need to make it work for me (nose clip / sudafed). I could see it as a fail, or I could see it as I do, perhaps swimming isn’t for be anymore. The after effects might not be worth it. (Just like drinking and a hangover!)

The really of running without strength training was: Less toned, slightly higher weight, slightly higher body fat, but I noticed a difference without strength training.

Do I miss the DOMS? I possibly do, although I do have a bit of DOMS fear with the very thought of doing strength training again. 😉 I’m looking forward to getting back to it, the challenge it gives and the different type if training if is to running.

Outcome:

– There wasn’t much difference in weight or body fat, slight reductions when I strength trained, a and I felt the best when I ran and strength trained. (Must be careful to rest too and not overdo it).

– If I focus on eating well and say no to temptations I can get leaner.

– My training also affects how lean I can get: lorn the runner will not be as lean as lorn the strength queen. But strength training can complement my running.

– I am a runner who strength trains and I am the way I am because of what I do (run & weights) and what I eat / drink. I enjoy the exercise I do and the challenge it gives me.

– I’m marathon training so I’ll do 3-4 runs a week, 1-2 strength sessions and I’ll prep my food and consider what I put in my mouth at all times.

– I’m happy, comfortable and enjoying life. I do what works for me. And I love it. 🙂

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