Bodybuilding and de-loading

De-loading is a term that I’ve read a lot about in various bodybuilding and fitness magazines. De-loading is a planned reduction in volume or intensity of your workouts, usually for one week. The purpose is to allow the body to dissipate fatigue and allow you to recover. I’ve learned that de-loading is valuable tool to have in my routine because weight training also puts stress on the joints, ligaments, connective tissues, and the central nervous system (aka where my MS lives).

Incorporating this into your schedule can be done in different ways.

  • Continue with your normal routine and normal volume (sets & reps) but reduce the weight you use by about half of what you normally use.
  • Use the same weight as you normally would, but drop your total volume (less sets & reps).
  • Decrease your lifting and increase your cardio
  • Take a week off completely

Normally I just take a week off, usually planned around vacations. This week I am on an unplanned de-load. I had every intention of continuing with my training this week; however, I have a new schedule with my children and I haven’t yet figured out how to incorporate my training days into this schedule. I also haven’t actually taken a week off since maybe Christmas, or it could have been my vacation in September, I don’t remember.

I feel so much guilt for taking the week off. I feel like my muscles are slowly deteriorating, an exaggeration, yes.

I know that I need to take time and listen to my body and enjoy some rest and healing, from the physical stress I put my body through and the emotional and mental stresses of life.


Survey Says

I just read an interesting article  regarding a survey of how MS patients warrior’s perceive diet, exercise and drug treatments. It shows weight training as the least cited exercise routine among MSers.

Exercise routine

At first I was really surprised by this statistic until I got to thinking about it a little more. Everyone’s MS is different and everyone has different abilities, yet I wonder how many think that it is impossible. I just KNOW there is a way to modify and substitute exercises to meet the abilities of each individual.

As the article states there are multiple benefits to weight training. Maintaining muscle tone will help reduce weakness, improve strength, decrease fatigue and depression.

A strong body is a strong mind.

I hope that bottom bar on that graph grows and I look forward to having a part in helping others find their abilities.


Not so Fit Friday

I am not on top of my game this week. I’ve been in transition lately with moving to a new house and other things and my nutrition has suffered greatly. I am actually craving veggies and some normalcy back in my schedule, which is still yet to be fully determined.

I have been eating, what I would consider to be junk food all week, not getting enough protein and carbohydrates at the right times and not getting enough sleep. Let me tell you I noticed in the gym today. Everything felt heavier! I felt weak and tired.

In some ways this is a good lesson. Although the upheaval in my schedule is necessary this week, it reminds me just how important proper nutrition and sleep is for my physical and mental health as well as my level of fitness.

Next week I start fresh.



Checking Your Form

I had a video that I wanted to share of yesterday’s Deadlift session; however, the lighting is really bad and the quality is low and well I’ve determined I need someone to follow me around the gym each day and video my lifts.

All kidding aside though, I don’t just take video because I enjoy watching myself, or because I want to share it on social media, I use it as a tool for checking and analyzing my form.

I’ve studied various bodybuilding and exercise videos over the past year and while I think I perform every exercise correctly, watching the videos is extremely helpful to see where I might need work.

Those who train with a partner have the benefit of getting on the spot critique on what they should be doing (hopefully the partner is aware of the actual mechanics) and they can help them get corrected right away. Proper form is very important when strength training for several reasons, one you reduce the chance for injury and two you want to ensure that you are actually working the desired muscle group.

My favorite website for studying proper form is bodybuilding.com. They have so many videos in their exercise database that are helpful when you are just starting out, or need to revisit when you discover your are not lifting properly.

Get detailed instructions on Barbell Deadlift. Learn correct technique with their Barbell Deadlift video, photos, tips and reviews.: Bodybuilding.com – Barbell Deadlift 



Never Miss a Monday


When I first started my fitness journey, I saw these memes all over the Internet and they made sense to me. I think they are actually really good  rules to live by  and promises I’ve made to myself, I try really hard to keep them. Sometimes, due to certain circumstances, they must be broken.

This morning I really didn’t feel like going to the gym when my alarm went off. That being said; I don’t feel like it, is not a good enough excuse for me.

Somehow, starting off my work week by pushing myself makes for a good day and a good week. This first day of spring is a snowy mess in Maine today, which can be a little de-motivating, but tomorrow will be better!

Get up, go get those endorphins!


Knowledge is power

Last evening I attended my first educational MS event. I keep getting notices from the company that makes the drug that I am on and I’ve always overlooked them, for several reasons.

I wasn’t really interested in learning about the drug that I am already on, I didn’t want to hear the sales pitch. Also I often feel like I don’t fit in with other MSers that I have met. Many of them are older and their disease is more advanced and defined than mine. That leads me to many emotions. I feel guilty because I do not have mobility issues. I wonder if they will take me seriously and I also wonder if that will be me in the future. I know, only time will tell and I am going to continue to do everything in my power to avoid getting to that point. I consider myself lucky that there are many treatment options available to me; whereas, only twenty years ago there were none.

The event itself was good. The Neurologist presented facts about MRI, how it works, why it’s done and what exactly they are looking for. He was able to help me understand the difference between a pseudoexacerbation and a true relapse, which I never fully grasped before. A pseudoexacerbation is when you experience a flare up of symptoms that you’ve had before, often brought on by stress, extreme temperatures or a fever. This type of exacerbation usually resolves after rest or a few hours. A relapse on the other hand is new or worsening symptoms lasting longer than 24 hours. I really do not think that I have had a relapse since my diagnosis two years ago, but plenty of pseudoexacerbations. This makes  me think my medication must be working.

I was able to connect with a few people last night in my local community, which is important to me. I plan to attend more of these functions, meet more people and hopefully recruit people for my functional exercise program that I hope to implement in the near future.


Mix it up

I am a huge fan of variety – usually, I say usually because sometimes I will find something that I like and stick to it for fear of not liking whatever the new items is, or the new item not working as well. Toothpaste; for example, I have been using the same toothpaste forever. It works well and tastes good, why risk changing to something that might taste gross or be too foamy and gritty, I hate gritty toothpaste.

Where am I going with this? It is time to change up my training (and diet) routine. I’m reluctant because I love my routine and it has been working for the goals that I had set for myself, build muscle.

Some people change up their routines to avoid boredom, however, it is necessary to challenge your body. When you do one routine for too long of a period your body adapts to that cycle and no longer needs to work to get better. If you change up your routine every few weeks you are signaling your body that it is time to work again and re-adapt to the new situation.

There are various ways to change up your routine. If you are doing cardio on a stationary bike for 30 minutes you could try increasing the intensity (tension) or increase the amount of time you are doing the exercise.

In weight training you can increase the number of sets (the number of times you perform the exercise) you do and decrease your rest time in between sets. You can increase the number of repetitions you, or you can go heavier on the amount of weight you are lifting. So while I do like routine, what I love about weight training is the variety of different types of exercises you can do and how you can do them.

I’m beginning to work on my summer slim down, which means goodbye to beer and junky foods and increasing the intensity of my work outs. I do this by increasing sets, reps and reducing the amount of rest time in between sets to keep my heart rate pumping. Another thing I’ve begun doing is taking a lap around the track at the gym in between my sets, it keeps my heart rate elevated, in turn keeping me in that fat burning zone.


Fitness Friday

I am in a fantastic mood. The sun is shining here in Maine, it’s going to be a nice weekend and I am looking forward to getting outside, maybe some walking, tennis, not sure, but definitely outside.

I am taking a CPR class on Sunday, which I am excited about. This is a pre-requisite to taking my ACE Personal Trainer certification exam. I don’t have to take my exam until this summer, but I’m antsy and I am trying to absorb as much information as possible, I’m ready to get going!

Today’s training at the gym was a bit compromised by the new tattoo on my hip. Squatting was a tad uncomfortable, but as a gymaholic, I couldn’t not go. Friday has traditionally always been a leg and glute day; however, as I’ve realized my upper body is lacking in strength, I am now trying to include some upper body movements in all of my training days.

My Fitness Friday

Legs & Glutes

  • Barbell Squats –  4 sets of 12 reps
  • Barbell Hip Thrusts – 4 sets of 8 reps
  • Plie Dumbbell Squats (stand on top of two benches for added depth) – 4 sets of 12 reps
  • Calf raises on a smith machine – 4 sets of 12 reps. I stand on a step platform, these babies burn!


  • Smith Machine Military Press  – 3 sets of 6 reps. I use the smith machine because I don’t have a spotter and I don’t want to drop the barbell on my face. (I’m clumsy like that)
  • Upright Barbell Row – 4 sets of 10
  • Arnold Dumbbell Press  – I love to do drop sets with this exercise. I lift until failure and then I drop the weight 5 pounds and immediately lift to failure again. This really sets my shoulders on fire.
  • Finally, I finish with an nice isolation exercise, the Front Plate Raise , 4 sets or 10.

When I’m done, lifting my arms above my head is a chore. I cap off the morning with a 15 minute walk at a fast pace on the treadmill.

Happy Friday everyone, stay on track this weekend with your fitness goals, get out and move!


Healthy Lifestyle Assessment

The company I work for offers a yearly Healthy Lifestyle Assessment for the employees. I wouldn’t normally participate in this sort of activity for a multitude of reasons, but this year I decided to only because there is financial incentive involved. Since the adoption of the Affordable Care Act, there are financial incentives for companies to have wellness programs for their employees which includes some sort of assessment.

The assessment included an analysis of my blood for cholesterol levels, A1C (checking for diabetes), weight and blood pressure. I also filled out a survey of lifestyle habits. All of my bio-metrics were within healthy ranges but the survey indicated some risk. The survey is based on the eating habits from ChooseMyPlate.gov, which gives you recommendations on how much fruit, vegetables, protein, dairy and grains you should eat in a day based on your age, gender, height, weight and physical activity. For example; it has calculated my daily calorie intake as 2400. What!!? It has suggested that the majority of my calories come from grains, no no no!

According to my healthy lifestyle assessment I eat the right amount of vegetables, not enough fruit, dairy or grains and too much protein! Is there such a thing as too much protein when you are bodybuilding?

I am not a nutritional expert, so I’ll throw that disclaimer out there, but I would have a hard time recommending ChooseMyPlate as the source of information on how one should eat for a healthy lifestyle. What if you’re gluten free, what if you are dairy free; like so many of us MSers are?

In my opinion the basics to a healthy diet are eating fresh whole foods and avoiding packaged processed foods as much as possible. I eat a diet of 80/20, meaning 80% of my foods come from whole foods such as vegetables lean proteins (fish, chicken) and 20% from processed sources, such as a bagel here and there. There are so many articles and studies on diet it can be overwhelming, you have to do your own research, experiment and come to your own conclusion on what diet works best for your health and lifestyle.


Bicycle, Bicycle, Bicycle

The weather in Maine is starting to improve, with temperatures reaching the 60’s briefly this week. I cannot wait to get outside and get active again. The winter and the darkness is really hard on me and I am aching for some sunshine.

I have to add in some more cardiovascular exercise to my training, reluctantly, I might add. For the most part I find it boring and I’d rather stick to weight training. Unless you are doing a circuit routine, weight training is anaerobic, meaning it uses a different energy system and does not work to improve the body’s cardiovascular health.

Cardio is necessary and has many benefits. Your heart is a muscle and needs to be worked just like the rest of your muscles in order to improve and maintain it’s capabilities. Getting your heart pumping with cardiovascular exercise also helps increase your lung capacity. Oxygen is the ingredient muscles use to convert carbohydrates and fat into energy, thus burning calories. 

The key is finding an activity that will get your heart pumping that you will actually enjoy. Last year I took up tennis for the first time (I’m terrible at it but it get’s my heart going). This year I am going to start biking a couple of days a week. Who know’s maybe I’ll enjoy it so much I’ll participate in Bike MS this year!