So far this BFL experience is better than the last one! I don’t feel crazy hungry during the day, I’m doing better in my workouts and I have loads of energy.
Yesterday was a cardio day. I decided that I would just walk/jog/run a few laps round the block at my own pace for 20 minutes, and not get too concerned about the whole HIIT thing. I still got my heart rate up, and it felt great to be out in the sunshine! The circuit I took naturally varies in intensity, as it is level, then uphill, then downhill. I just alternated between walking and jogging/running as best I could. At one point my hip started hurting a lot, which I think is due to my fallen arches. Because my feet go flat whenever I put weight on them, it causes my knees to turn inward and thus everything from the hips down is out of alignment! I believe this puts extra strain on my hip joints when walking or running. When this started happening, I slowed the pace a bit, as I didn’t want to cause injury that would prevent me from doing going as heavy as possible in today’s Lower Body Workout. After all, weight training is more important to me than cardio.
I know that some people recommend skipping cardio altogether if you want to build as much muscle as possible, but to be honest I am a much happier and more pleasant person to be around when I’m doing regular 20 minute sessions. That being the case, I’ll take the cardio, if not for my sake then for the sake of those who have to interact with me on a regular basis!
The BFL program recommends doing your cardio first thing, on an empty stomach. This supposedly causes your body to burn fat for fuel rather than the carbs from your last meal, but I have a sneaking suspicion that doing so may inhibit muscle growth. When I wake up, I’ve already been fasting for hours, so I tend to want to eat as soon as possible to start giving my muscles the nutrients they need. Thus, I’d rather air on the side of caution and eat breakfast first, since muscle-building is more of a priority to me than fat-burning.
I am hoping to lose reduce my body fat percentage slightly over the next 12 weeks (I’d like to get down to about 15%), but here’s my logic… I weigh about 125lbs (at 5’6”). Say I pick up 5lbs of muscle, but don’t lose any fat – I then weigh 130lbs, but my body fat mass will make up a smaller percentage of my overall weight. In an ideal world, I’d love to just trade in 10lbs of fat for 10lbs of muscle, but this is hard to do (especially for a girl) and I’d rather just focus on the muscle building first. Some people have had success with simultaneously gaining muscle and losing fat over the 12 weeks of the BFL program, but who knows if they followed the program exactly? It’s possible they did additional research and cycled carbs and calories in order to have certain days where muscle growth was taking place, and others where fat-loss was happening (to simplify).
BFL advises against counting calories. This is hard for me, as I’ve been counting calories since I was about 14 and as such can tell you the caloric value of pretty much any quantity of any food. But for 12 weeks I’m choosing to trust the BFL method and focus more on portion control and making sure I get the right amount of nutrients rather than worry about calories. I have a feeling that my tendency to overcomplicate things can actually be my downfall, so I’m trying my best to forget everything I’ve learned about the calorie! I am however, making sure I eat slightly more (especially carbs) on Lower Body days (like today), as such workouts burn the most calories, and I WANT MUSCULAR LEGS. I’m also not as strict about making sure I eat starchy carbs on cardio days, since there is less physiological requirement for them (and often I really would rather just have a double/triple serving of vegetables than a half cup of plain ol’ brown rice).
This Sunday I am celebrating my 21st Birthday! My party is on the Saturday. This caused a bit of an internal dilemma: which day to take as the “free day”? Well, thankfully we are doing a Mongolian Braai at the party, which basically allows you to choose your own meat and vegetables and then go and stir-fry it over the fire! Perfect, and BFL-friendly. I may, however, allow myself a small slice of my sister-in-law’s cheesecake (which she has said she will bring)! I’m going to make some healthy side dishes, such as salads, brown rice, beans, etc. I will then basically eat whatever I fancy on the Sunday (you only turn 21 once, right?). The good part is, I LOVE healthy food, so I will probably want to eat well for most of my meals anyway (though if a Birthday cake enters my midst, I am DEFINITELY not going to turn down a slice). Although BFL a 12-week program, healthy eating and exercise is a general lifestyle choice for me, so I’m not going to get anxious about how to make one weekend “work”. I plan on eating healthily and exercising regularly for the rest of my life, not just for 12 weeks!
Anyway, enough rambling. Some new recipes:
Pumpkin Spice Pudding:
- 1 scoop vanilla whey powder
- 2-3 tbsp pumpkin
- About 3 tbsp water
- Cinnamon to taste
Mix everything up into a liquid-like mixture in a bowl, then microwave for about 30-60 seconds. It should be pretty moist but thick and creamy. Delicious!
Chocolate Protein Cake (inspired by Chocolate Covered Katie’s “Fudge You” Protein Cake)
- 25g chocolate protein powder
- 1 large tbsp cocoa powder (probably closer to 20ml)
- Tiny pinch of salt
- 45g pumpkin puree
- 1 egg white
- 40ml water
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
Mix everything up in a bowl until smooth, and microwave for 30-60 seconds. If you undercook it slightly, you will have a ready-made chocolate sauce topping!
I’m also really into mixing ½ cup fat-free cottage cheese (smooth or chunky) with ½ cup fat-free yogurt, a bit of sweetener and some flavouring, such as cinnamon and/or wheat germ. The wheat germ gives it a lovely, floury taste, which hints of yummy wheat-based baked goods whilst giving the snack a huge nutritional boost (wheat germ is full of fat-soluble vitamins like B and E). Adding some fruit makes it even more delicious, if you’re into that kinda thing (many prefer to limit fruit intake due to some of the negative effects of fructose – I get the majority of my vitamins from veggies rather than fruit, but I eat about one portion of fruit a day, usually post-workout).
In terms of “proper” meals, my new favourite source of savoury protein is chicken livers! High in iron, they’re a great muscle-building food, and are delicious fried in a splash of olive oil with some onions, garlic, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach. Tastes great made spicy or peri-peri and served with wholemeal pasta. The best part? They’re SUPER cheap – at the moment they’re on special at Pick ‘n’ Pay – R2.99 for 250g! (Divide by 11 for approximate pound equivalent, and 7 for dollar).
Well, that’s all from me tonight – hope you’re all well and happy!