Uphill Journey to Competition: Episode 2

Slight delay, but here is the next installment of my video series!  Below the video link, I’ve also shared my “before” pictures.  These images were taken at the start of my contest prep.  I’ve also included my stats.  We’ll see how these values change as we progress through prep!

Beginning Stats (as of January 8, 2018)

The below images show the four main poses for figure competing.  I still have a lot of practice to do on posing, but I’ll get there!  Anyway, you can see the extra fluff I’ve accumulated in my mid-section and face.  I’ve seen the greatest amount of muscle growth in my quads, so I’m hoping I can narrow out my waist to make my shoulders look a bit broader.  We still have 4+ months to go, so that’s plenty of time….I hope!
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Weight: 126.8
Body Fat: 18.3%
Chest: 32.25″
Waist (around belly button): 29″
Hips: 33″
Right bicep: 11″
Left bicep: 11.25″
Right thigh: 20.5″
Left thigh: 20.25″

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Uphill Journey to Competition: A New Video Series!

A few weeks ago, I posted a video to my Facebook page talking about a new video series I was thinking about doing.  This wouldn’t be anything fancy, but just some simple videos of me talking about my challenging journey as a physique competitor.

I received some feedback that people were interested, so I’m going to do my best to record some short update videos as I progress through my contest prep over the next several months.

I’ll post a link to the first video I recorded below.  Please drop a comment in the video’s comments box, or give it a thumbs up if you like the idea and want to see more!

Thank you!

-Karla

The Cookbooks are IN!!!

I’m so excited to announce the cookbooks have arrived and they are GORGEOUS!  They came out better than I expected, and I’m so happy to be able to share them with you!

If you placed a pre-order, you’ll be hearing from me about how to get the books in your hands!  Otherwise to order your copy, please use the link below!

> OATMEAL COOKIES FIT MY MACRO – $30.00

I’d love to hear your feedback on the recipes and book overall, so grab a copy and get cooking!  🙂

Coach, Training, & Cookbook Updates

Coach Update

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It’s hard to believe it’s been almost three months since I started with my new coach.  I signed up with Logan Sheehan of FitOverFat, and working with him has been great so far!  We recently completed my first training block and have increased my calories by more than 300 per day.  As expected, my weight has increased a bit, but I’m only up an average of about 3 pounds.  Not too bad!

When I first started with Logan, we drastically changed up my nutrition, specifically around my workout timing.  I work out very early in the morning (around 4:30 AM) and would do so in a fasted state.  I’d then have Shakeology post-workout and would later eat breakfast at work.  Following my initial consultation with Logan, he drastically changed my routine; I now consume roughly 30 grams of protein pre-workout, 15-20 grams of simple carbs (dextrose) intra-workout, with another 30-40 grams of simple carbs and 30 grams of protein post-workout.  Initially, this was extremely difficult since my calories were so low.  It meant I was consuming almost half of my daily allowance of food before 6:30 AM.  However, as my calories have increased, it’s gotten easier.

Training Update

My training also changed quite a bit where I have two “Push” days, two “Pull” days, one Glute day, and one Leg day.  The workouts rotate between volume (high reps at a lower weight), hypertrophy (moderate reps and weight), and power (low reps at a high rate).  I’m currently not doing any cardio, and my workouts consist of a mix of compound and accessory lifts.  I’m loving it so far!

Logan has noted some growth in my delts as we’ve been focusing a lot on my shoulders.  This is great as it’s also helping my injured shoulder heal!  I have lost a bit of my leanness (specifically in my mid-section), but I’m excited to see what kind of muscle I’ll be growing in the process.  Ideally, I’ll be able to continue with a lean bulk for the rest of this year and into the early spring.  Then, I’ll switch to contest preparation.  I’m hoping to compete in a NANBF show in the late summer in the figure class.  Logan is confident I can meet that timeline, so I’m looking forward to see where he can help with my physique!

Cookbook – Oatmeal Cookies Fit My Macros
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My cookbook is complete!  I can’t believe I finally finished all of the recipes, photos, layouts, etc.  It was a lot of work, but so worth it in the end!  If anything, it’ll make it easier to reference the recipes I make often.  LOL….using written notes and MyFitnessPal can get obnoxious after a while.  🙂  Anyway, I’m hoping for no major issues at the printers so I can get the books printed and delivered by early to mid-November!
The cookbook will retail for $30.00.

That’s all the updates for now!  I’ll try to post a physique update as we get closer to the holidays.  Heaven knows after them I’ll be doing a mini cut to work off some of the girth I’ll get from cookies and pie!

Coach Review, Beachbody Summit & New Program – OH MY!

Aaaaannnnnddddd….again it’s been a small lifetime since I last posted!

I just can’t keep up with how fast time is moving!  I have so much I can share since my last update in March, so I’ll do my best to highlight the past 4 months without writing a novel.  🙂

Coach Review

In March, I reached out to a successful online coach, who’s competed in several physique competitions and has recently entered the world of powerlifting and making huge gains.  I was ecstatic when they decided to take me on as a client and was looking forward to having someone else help me think through macros, training, etc., as I prepped for my first show.  Unfortunately, this person ended up being a HUGE waste of money.  They were extremely unprofessional, lacked basic communication skills, cut corners with all of their clients (by doing mass messages), and it was apparent I knew as much (if not more) about fitness nutrition.  To make matters worse, I had to pre-pay for the entire 16 weeks with no refund options.

Despite filling out a detailed questionnaire, this person knew nothing about me.  Our relationship didn’t grow, and I still felt like they were a stranger by the end of our 16 weeks.  I do appreciate them for taking the time to build a training plan around my home gym and equipment, but most of the training plans were full of errors or instructions that didn’t make any sense.  I wanted to ask questions, but knew it would be 3-4 days to hear back, if I even got a response at all.  Even on my competition day, I didn’t get a single timely response to my texts, which had questions about meals and timing around my judging times.  It was utterly ridiculous.

Anyway, I could write pages about this horrible experience, but I’ll refrain.  🙂  I will end with this:  DO YOUR RESEARCH.  If you’re looking for an online coach, and they don’t have a list of their current clients for you to contact, a details of what you get with their packages, reviews, or they spend crazy amounts of time on social media……be cautious.  The best coaches not only have clients, but friends.  They excel at communication and are passionate about getting to know their clients and their goals.  They don’t just take your money, but want to be held accountable for their success with you.  Looking back, there were red flags all over the place, but being naïve, I signed up a bit too quickly.

If you’re curious who I’m talking about, just check my prior posts.  I still admire this person for what they’ve done with their own physique, but I have lost a lot of respect for them as a coach.

Beachbody Summit

Okay….enough about that junk!  So, last month I had the opportunity to go to New Orleans with my mom and friend for Beachbody’s Coach Summit!  It was my first time visiting New Orleans as a tourist, and my first time competing in a physique competition: the Beachbody Classic!  I was technically in “peak week” ahead of the competition, so I knew dining out at all of the great restaurants would be tough, but I made it work!

Below is a collection of images to highlight the trip and some of the food I enjoyed!

As for the Coach Summit, I didn’t do too much with the Beachbody sessions, because I’m not a salesperson.  I don’t believe in pushing products to people who may not need them.  Instead, I used the time to network, shop for Beachbody gear, workout with the super trainers, and just enjoy the overall experience.  Don’t get me wrong….I love Beachbody products and speak highly of them!  They have great workout programs, Shakeology, and core values.  While I know some individuals could use “coaching” towards a more active lifestyle and/or making healthier food choices, I understand that a lot of (financial) variables could prevent them from doing so…even if they wanted to.

Beachbody Classic

In summary, this experience was AWESOME!  Everyone was so supportive, and I made some new friends.  I learned a ton about competition prep, and can’t wait to take a stab at it again next year.  I’ve decided I definitely want to compete again, but am aiming for the Figure class, which means more muscle, more size.  The Beachbody Classic was a great first step into that arena, and solidified my goals for what’s next!

Here are some images from the Classic!

New Coach – New Program!

I’m so excited to have found a new coach; one who is the polar opposite of what I had before!  Even before paying a dime, he called me to talk for an hour to just get to know me, to understand my past, my goals, etc.  He’s been responsive to emails, texts, and has demonstrated total professionalism during the process.  Last night, I received my training and nutrition plans, and I can’t wait to get started!  He’s also very detailed and explains his decisions/plans with the goal of teaching.  I love it!

Overall, we’ll be reverse dieting to get my calories back up.  We also implemented immediate changes to get me consuming protein prior to training, carbs during training, and ensuring I get enough protein and carbs post-workout to maximize muscle protein synthesis.  There are a lot of opinions around nutrient timing and if it works, so I guess we’ll see how my body responds!

Truth be told, I’m a bit nervous to gain weight again, as I’m just starting to appreciate where I’m at.  However, I know it’s not sustainable, so I’m going to do my best to “grow” with dignity!  I plan to document the entire process and keep you all posted with my results.  I’m aiming for one moth updates for you all, so stay tuned!

New Recipe! Oatmeal Raisin Protein Bars

If you know me, you know I LOVE OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES!  I was going to make my typical breakfast cookies, but decided to switch up the ingredients and make a more cake-like bar cookie with fewer carbs, since I’m currently very low carb at the moment.  This recipe is simple, so I thought I’d share it with you all to enjoy!

If you make it, please share your photos and feedback by using #solanafit or #oatmealcookiesfitmymacros on social media!

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Oatmeal Raisin Protein Bars
(makes 9 large bars)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup light butter (I use Land o’ Lakes Light Butter)
  • 5 tbsp Truvia brown sugar blend
  • 1/4 cup Splenda for baking
  • 1 egg white (46g liquid egg whites)
  • 50g fat-free greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 scoops (80g) vanilla protein powder (I used 1st Phorm Vanilla Ice Cream)
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 28g coconut flour
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 80g raisins

Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×9″ baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter with Truvia and Splenda.
  3. Add egg whites, yogurt and vanilla.
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together the protein powder, coconut flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  5. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients and combine.  Be sure not to over-mix.  Note: The dough will be thick.
  6. Add raisins and stir to evenly distribute throughout the dough.
  7. Pour into the prepared baking dish and press to fill the edges.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  If you want a more cookie-like bar, bake for 12-15 minutes.
  9. Cool, slice, and enjoy!

Macros per bar:
Calories – 194, Protein: 9g, Carbs: 26g, Fat: 6g (sat – 3g), Fiber: 3g, Sugar, 11g, Sodium: 330mg

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Program Update

Hello everyone! In my last post, I shared I would be working with the lovely Katie Corio on my next fitness phase! I’ve been steadily using Beachbody products, which have gotten me quite far, and plan to continue doing so (especially with my favorites: Hammer & Chisel and Body Beast)! However, I wanted to seek the expertise from a successful coach to help me tailor my results while ensuring I stay healthy.

In the interest of being totally transparent, I wanted to share how my training program with Katie is going along with some struggles I’ve had up to this point.

Since I started using Beachbody products, I’ve been able to reach many milestones along my fitness journey. The 21 Day Fix/Extreme helped me shed close to 20 pounds in seven months by incorporating daily workouts and getting my eating in check. I then fell in love with strength training using Hammer & Chisel and Body Beast, which is also when I discovered macros and how to track food using them. The Beachbody container system was key in helping me lose weight by understanding portion sizes, but I love the idea of flexible dieting and doing away with “clean” and “dirty” foods.

At the time I started tracking my macros, I had already been dieting for close to a year. In other words, I was eating at a caloric deficit for about 10 months. While the diet allowed me to lose around 30 pounds at that point, it also began to seriously affect my hormone levels. In short (men….you may want to avert your eyes….), my periods had already been becoming a bit irregular, and in March 2016, had totally stopped. I wasn’t too concerned at first, but fast forward to the end of 2016, and I began to get a bit worried. I checked with a few doctors, who all said I was the picture of health, but I knew it wasn’t normal to simply not have periods for 10 months. My biggest worries were around my bone health, which is why I was so happy when the DEXA scan I recently underwent showed my bones to be very strong.

Anyway, the lack of periods was also one of the reasons I began reverse dieting in May 2016. I knew I needed to get my calories up so my hormones levels would normalize. In December, things looked to be going in a positive direction as I did have a short period. My calories at this point were around 2,200, but I had also started putting on quite a bit of fat. As such, I dropped my calories again following the holidays, which (unfortunately) prevented my periods….again. This is when I decided to work with Katie. Since I’m already pretty lean, I need to really focus on the science around macros and hormone levels to reach my goals in a healthy manner. I am not experienced enough in this area, so I was ecstatic when Katie began accepting clients.

While I’ve lost 30 pounds, I still carry quite a bit of fat in certain areas. I don’t like how it looks and would love to tone those areas by building up the muscle underneath while slowly burning the subcutaneous fat. I’ve been toying with a few macro settings since January, and have seen some positive results, but since I’m still eating at a caloric deficit, I know I’m preventing my hormone levels from improving. I’ve mentioned this all to Katie, who also admitted my situation challenges her. This is why I haven’t been able to post details about my training and nutrition plans….they keep changing as Katie learns more about me.

At this time we’re changing up my macros to have a focus on carbs. When I had my short period in December, my carbs were at 260. However, I dropped them back to the low 100s at the start of the year. Since I need to remain lean for July, we’re increasing my carbs….but only to 195 on my high days and 175 on my low days. Fat will remain consistent at 51, and we’re dropping my protein down to 125. The reason for this: carbs are also used in muscle building. While protein is the main start in building muscle tissue, carbs provide the body with energy. If the available carbs are too low, the body doesn’t have enough energy to function at 100%. We think this is what could be the cause of my issue. I’d been eating high protein/low carb for close to a year, and when combined with my 6-day training programs, limited the amount of energy my body could use to perform other functions. This meant I wasn’t building muscle like I had hoped, and it also caused my reproductive system to begin shutting down.

I’ll still be eating slightly under my maintenance calories to remain lean through July, so it’ll be interesting to see how my body responds to the extra carbs. I’m expecting a few pound weight gain during this week as my muscles begin storing the carbs as glycogen and water, but hopefully those carbs will eventually go towards muscle building due to my training program.

It’s all about science at this point, so I’m curious to see what the next few weeks will bring!

As for my training program, Katie sent me one, but forgot I was working out of a home gym. 🙂 As such, some of the exercises need to be modified as I don’t possess the equipment needed. In the meantime, I’m still doing what she sent me, which includes 5 days of training and 2 off days. There are optional cardio and ab circuits, but I’m mainly been focusing on the ab-work. However, since I’m gearing up for the Beachbody Classic, I intend to begin doing some cardio using a combination of Hammer & Chisel and Body Beast cardio workouts.

Okay….so sorry for the long post, but like I said, I want to be totally open with y’all! I’m loving the learning process of how the body uses energy, so I hope you’re finding it at least somewhat fascinating as well!

Recipe & Update!

Fierce 5 & Carb Cycling

So sorry for the silence!  The holiday season is always a crazy time, and then the new year just slams you right out of the gate!  It’s hard to believe we’re already in the middle of March, so I’ll share what I’ve been up to along with a sneak peek recipe from my up and coming cookbook!

As mentioned in my previous post, I did begin Fierce 5 on January 2nd.  I’m still going strong, and I must say, I’m really loving the program!  I also reached out to a mutual friend, who’s a trainer at Gold’s Gym to get his thoughts on my macros and optimizing them in preparation for the Beachbody Classic in July.  He thought I should try my hand at carb-cycling and set my macros accordingly.  As such, I have high, med, and low carb days were my fats and protein stay static.  I also consume 30% of my carbs post-workout.  Originally, I had three high carb days, but dropped one of them to a medium day since I felt it wasn’t enough time for me to deplete glycogen, thus my weight has been holding the same for the past month and half.  I do think I’ve entered into a sort of body recomp, which is good….albeit slow.  The main goal with carb cycling is to prime the metabolism ahead of a cut, so I don’t have to diet down so much to burn fat.

Okay, so more on my current program!  Fierce 5 is a relatively simplistic program that focuses on compound moves and heavy lifting to build strength and mass.  It consists of two workouts (A and B), which you alternate and do three times a week.  The goal is to increase the weight each week until you hit failure.  Then, reset the weights by 15% and continue on.  Workout A is comprised of squats, bench press, pendlay rows, and a superset of calves and triceps.  Workout B has front squats, overhead press, Romanian deadlifts, and a superset of lats and biceps.

I started my weights pretty light and have steadily increased each week.  Thus far, I’ve only failed on biceps and just reset this week.  They’re still quite tough, so I’m sticking with the same weight, but adding reps….for now.  Ideally, I can bump up the weight again in another week or so.  Front squats have also gotten tough, so there’s a good chance I’ll have to reset, or at least move to paused back squats for now.

Either way, the timing works out perfectly as I just signed up to work with one of my favorite athletes, Katie Corio!  She’ll be coaching me throughout the next 16-weeks as I prep for the Beachbody Classic!  I can’t wait to see what kinds of workouts she has in store for me.  We’re scheduled to begin on March 20th!  I’ll keep y’all posted with details as I get them!

Recipe Sneak Peek: Chocolate Protein Donuts

I’ve been wanting to share a recipe for some time, so here you go!  I been bitten by the baked donuts bug, and found that protein donuts make GREAT snacks that are low carb, high protein and delicious!  They’re fun to decorate and the flavor options are endless!  Below is the latest recipe I threw together, so I hope you enjoy it!  If so, let me know how they come out and share pictures!

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Correction: The serving for the above recipe is for one donut….NOT two.  You can make 8 smaller donuts by filling the donut cavities 1/2 full.

Body Beast Results & Next Steps

Body Beast Results
I began a full 90-day round of Body Beast on 9/24/16 and decided to follow the Huge Beast schedule, since I planned to do a lean bulk.  I increased my calories/macros each week, and while I expected to gain weight and lose some definition, I was also hoping to gain strength.

Overall, I did gain weight, but my measurements stayed almost the same. In the picture, you can see my muscle definition has decreased slightly (left is from 9/24, right is from 12/18), but I also took the picture after my rest day. I was up 4 pounds, which is typical following a rest day…since I eat a bit more loosely.  I gained an additional 7-8 pounds during the holidays and weighed just over 130 as of this weekend!

Start / End
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Date: 9-24-16 / 12-18-16
Calories: 1,904 / 2,180
Weight: 119.6 / 123.2
Body fat: 16.5% / 17.5%
Chest: 32″ / 32″
Natural Waist: 25.5″ / 26″
Around Belly Button: 27″ / 28″
Hips: 32″ / 32″
Thighs: 19″ / 19″
Calves: 13″ / 13″
Arms” 9.5″ / 10″

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The first place I gain weight is in my mid-section, which has always been my problem area. You can see during that’s where I’ve increased in inches. While I still wear the same clothing size, I did increase around the waist, which is most likely a combination of fat and muscle. While my other measurements did remain about the same, I did gain a slight bit of muscle in my arms, which is consistent with the increases I made in weights.

I’m most surprised that I didn’t increase in the chest/back. I made the most strength gains there (presses, pull-ups, deadlifts, etc.), but saw virtually no change in size.

I did one more week of the “extra” Body Beast workouts, and began another training break this week.  I also decreased my calories by 15% (since I’m not lifting) and am hoping my weight will normalize again.  

Next Steps
Starting Monday, January 1st, I’ll start a new program I’m looking forward to.  I’m going to start with a program called Fierce 5 that I found on BodyBuilding.com.  It has you lifting three days a week, and I plan to supplement it with Core de Force as cardio on the “off days”.  I will stick with the lower macros for another week or two as I need a mini-cut to get rid of some of the “cookie fat” I’ve put on.  Ideally, I’ll go back to increasing my calories with a goal of reaching 2,500-3,000 by the end of March.  At that time, I’ll switch to a “major-cut” ahead of Beachbody’s SUMMIT in July!

Reverse Dieting Update

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, so I thought it was time to share how the reverse diet was going along with other thoughts and updates.

Reverse Diet  
I started my conservative reverse diet back in May, and in that time I’ve been able to hit some small milestones regarding weight loss and caloric increases.  Right now I’m at 1,904 calories per day and am so close to hitting my next milestone of 2,000 calories!

The human body is an amazing work of art, and I love learning how it reacts to changes in nutrition and energy expenditure.  A few weeks back, I increased my calories and saw weight gain during the week.  I remained at the same calorie level for an additional week and saw the weight start to decrease again.  This meant my body established a new “homeostasis” or maintenance level as my metabolism increased. More food was required to maintain my weight, which gave me the opportunity to increase my calories again the following week!

The same thing occurred last week, so I’ve remained at my current caloric level for two weeks to see if my body hits homeostasis again.  Until that happens, I’m actually doing a very lean bulk as I’m eating at a very slight surplus.  I have noticed a slight decrease in muscle definition as I believe my body is gaining small amounts of fat, but hopefully I can keep that to a minimum as I continue with the reverse diet.

When looking at a chart, it’s easy to see how my weight is starting to level off, meaning I’ll more frequently be hitting maintenance calories and entering a slow bulk.  Below is a chart of my tracked weight since the start of the reverse.screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-8-30-08-amIt’s interesting to note the spikes in weight, as those are typically Mondays.  🙂  I use Sunday as my “refeed/free” days, where I’m much looser with my tracking and indulge in a few extra treats.  The following day, the scale is representative of the extra glycogen my muscles have accumulated from the refeed.

I believe the scale will begin trend upward more frequently from here on out.  I figured I would continue pushing my calories for a few more weeks until I hit 2,000 and then do a mini-cut to strip off some fat.  However, I’m now contemplating having fun with a slow bulk and continuing to push my calories as much as I can until I gain a certain amount of weight.  Perhaps I should set my next goal to do a mini-cut whenever my average weight for the reverse hits 125 lbs.  My current average is 119.6, so I’m not too far off.

I’d also like to move away from the scale as I’ve been tethered to tracking my weight daily for months.  Weighing yourself every day can be taxing on the emotions, so I have to constantly remind myself that the scale isn’t an indicator of my body composition.  Instead, I need to rely on how my clothes fit and how I look in pictures.

Speaking of non-scale tracking methods, I have been keeping loose track of my measurements as well, and have seen a slight uptick in my numbers.  While my arms, chest and legs remain about the same, my natural waist and mid-section have increased a bit.  I’ve been struggling with that fact as my belly has always been my problem area.  I’m not 100% sure if it’s muscle growth or fat gained, since I never actually hit my goal of a completely toned mid-section.  I still have a few pockets of stubborn fat, which makes gauging slight changes difficult.

General Updates
Lately, I’ve also been focused on a large, personal project (it’s nothing bad, I promise!), but am waiting for things to be final before I post anything about it.  I can say this project has been very time consuming and has caused me to put my certifications on hold for the time being.  I’m still working with a few people who reached out for coaching services, and am hoping to continue growing my client base over time.

I’m also making progress on the cook book, but it’s slow-going.  Writing up the recipes is easy enough, but I struggle with getting the images as it requires me to actually make each of the recipes in order to do so.  LOL….  It was also requested that I include a few other recipes I’ve talked about in the past, so a bit more experimenting and documenting needs to occur before they’re “recipe ready”.

Wow…..sorry for the long post! I didn’t think I had this much to say!  Have a day and enjoy your weekend!