As I typed up my workout plan for today, I found myself fighting the usual battle in my head over cardio. Today is supposed to be another chest/back/abs training day according to the schedule I posted earlier this week, but that was before I heard back from Beachbody about the pull-up bar situation. Now that I am actually going to start P90X on Monday, it is tempting to use Saturday and Sunday as extra cardio days to burn up a thousand calories or so for the week.
I’m of two minds about cardio.
One side (we’ll call her “Coddling BFL Purist Maggie”) is telling me that I should alternate lifting and cardio days to prevent burn out and give my body time to recover from the resistance training, that too much cardio is catabolic and not feasible while I have so many work demands and am not planning on becoming a figure competitor or model. 60-90 minutes of cardio a week have worked for so many (to a point…plenty of BFLers look like they could use just a wee bit of extra cardio to knock off the last stubborn pounds), so why go against the book?
The other side (“Hooah Drill Sergeant Maggie”) keeps reminding me that I’m not one of those unlucky gals whose metabolisms freak out and go into survival mode over a bit of extra treadmill time, just 180 extra minutes a week would significantly boost fat loss, and that I’m just letting my hatred of actually performing cardio justify wussing out of a proven method of deflating the post-bulk fat cells on my body. Drill Sergeant Maggie reminds me that I have never physically broken down from any exercise regimen–not in the Army, not on BFL, not on Leanness Lifestyle. It points out that fitness competitors DO take on extra cardio during competition season to get and stay lean, and that I actually thrive on higher activity levels. And it yells at me to stop being such a blork and just get my ass in gear and do what needs to be done.
My experience last fall taught me that more cardio–up to 300 minutes a week total (60 minutes of HIIT and 240 minutes of medium intensity steady-state)–DOES get me leaner much faster than 60 minutes of BFL HIIT alone. I was probably at my leanest around the first or second week of November on 1400-1500 calories a day, 3 resistance training workouts, and 50 minutes of extra cardio daily. It DOES work for me. Don’t let anyone kid you–if your metabolism hasn’t been completely shot to starvation mode hell by a history of eating disorders, overexercising, or health issues, cutting 500 calories a day from your maintenance level diet and putting in 500-800 calories worth of hard exercise a day WILL cause the pounds to fall off of your body, even if you have only 10 lbs or less to lose. I went into BFL with a normal metabolism, no EDs in my past, and good health.
Calories in – calories out = -750 to -1000 calories/day worked like a charm for me to the tune of 1-2 lbs per week when I was in turbo Leanness Lifestyle action mode.
But my upper body got scrawny. I was starting to see ribs under my clavicle, and I could tell that my arms were going to be straight, skinny girl tubes instead of the Angela Bassett guns I’ve always coveted. Looking back, I think I probably cut the calories back too aggressively while simultaneously raising my cardio level too high.
So I’ve been hesitant to go that route again. I’ve kept my calories above 1600 during the past few months when I’ve been on a professed cut, and haven’t succumbed to the lure of double cardio sessions in a long time. With SGX, I even took the leap of faith into daily moderate-steady state cardio without HIIT, the foundation of the Body-for-Life cardio program.
After 7.5 weeks of SGX, I had indeed retained all of my upper body lean mass. In fact, I’m pretty sure I gained more of it judging by photos and measurements.
I just didn’t feel the fat draining from my cells at the same rapid rate that I did on LL, and objectively speaking, I KNOW I have a good 8-12 lbs of fat I need to shed before I am anywhere near ripped based on my frame, measurements, and caliper measurements. 😕
So therein lies the crux of my dilemma: How do I balance out my desire for consistent, reasonable and measurable fat loss at 1 lb per week with my knowledge that the type and quantity of cardio required to achieve that has a high likelihood of withering away a large percentage of the muscle gains I’ve made in the past months?
Deep down inside, I know I can’t repeat last October and November’s level of activity and calorie restriction without sacrificing muscle mass and courting 3-5 lbs of rebound weight gain when I go back to normal intake and activity, but it is still tempting sometimes to do it because it was so addictive to see the scale weight fall almost daily. It was a nice, visible validation of my effort and proof that fat loss really was just a matter of doing the math, doing the diet, and doing the exercise, not some mystical and obscure secret formula.
That’s why I’m going to let everything sort of take care of itself during P90X. I am going to do the workout program as designed while using my own diet plan based on BFFM’s ratios and calorie suggestions. I am starting out at the BFFM regular fat loss target for activity modifier 1.55 of around 1700 calories a day. The P90X literature claims that each daily workout is worth around 600 calories burned, so with a sedentary, no workout maintenance level of 1700 calories, six workouts a week, five low zigzag days, and two maintenance level high zigzag days a week, I will have an estimated deficit of 3245 calories a week.
Weekly Energy Expenditure Without Exercise = 1735 calories x 7 days = 12,145 calories/week
Weekly Calories Burned via P90X = 600 calories x 6 days = 3,600 calories/week
Weekly Calories Eaten = (1700 x 5) + (2000 x 2) = 12,500 calories/week
Weekly Deficit = 12,500 – (12,145 + 3,600) = -3,245 calories/week
If my meals are clean and the calorie burn estimates for P90X are accurate, I will drop around 0.927 pounds every week without additional cardio. The workouts average 60-90 minutes in length and are of the high-intensity calisthenics variety, so it’s possible, even given the “high” cutting calories I’ll be consuming.
Looking at this program, I think I’ve found a way to balance out BFL Maggie and Drill Sergeant Maggie. The BFL side likes the six workouts a week and splitting of cardio and resistance days. The drill sergeant side likes the fact that the workouts are hard, reminiscent of Army PT, and long enough in duration to burn the right number of calories to make the mathematics of fat loss work. And the third part of my brain, “Super Hungry Cereal Wench Maggie”:, is bouncing up and down with glee about the 1700 calories per day.
Oh, and in case you were wondering…I decided to do my chest/back/ab workout after all. I’ve had so many carbs today that I am bursting at the seams to go lift, push, and pull some heavy stuff.
And, quite frankly, I’m so stuffed with high carb baked goodies today that I would probably wind up cleaning up my regurgitated breakfast, lunch and dinner from the treadmill if I attempted to run. :yuck:
Nutrition: 2000 calorie high zig zag free day
1: 3/4 c. FF cottage cheese and large navel orange
2: Navel orange and Einstein Bros. cranberry bagel
3: Oatmeal chocolate chip cookie (4″) and toasted coconut doughnut
4: 3 oz. grilled chicken with broccoli and 4 oz. sweet potato
5: Thai chicken pasta salad
6: 3/4 c. FF cottage cheese and large navel orange
Daily Supplements: multivitamin with iron, calcium 500 + D
Water for yesterday: 20 cups
6:00 PM Chest/Back/Abs
(Optional) 6:45 PM Moderate steady-state cardio – Treadmill (4 mph/ 10% incline / 25 minutes)
The Awful Truth:
1. 12 sour gummi worms, heh
2. 2-3 oz. assorted chips
1. Print out new 50/30/20 recipes.
2. Adjust schedule for P90X series.
3. Work on paper doll project.
4. Do thumbnails for 5-6 new prints.
5. Clean the bathroom and kitchen.
6. Vacuum and tidy living room.