The following is an excerpt from Chapter 6 of the X-treme Lean e-book.
The old saying is, "A picture is worth a thousand words." In my case my before picture evoked a thousand emotions—primarily disgust. I didn't realize I looked like that (photo on far right) till I saw those awful photos. It's amazing how your mind can play tricks on you when you look in a mirror.
On top of that, clothes can help reinforce the denial. Throw on a baggy shirt and some jeans, and, see, you don't look fat at all. Amazing. It's so easy to hide it—even from yourself. And men do it too. It's hard to deny it, however, when you see a photograph of yourself in a bathing suit head-on. Now, that's a slap of reality.
I felt so terrible after I saw my before photos that the idea of changing my appearance seemed almost hopeless. And to make me feel even worse, my preteen daughters, Chelsea and Lindsey, kept saying, "Mom, you're fat; go on a diet," but my husband, Steve Holman, IRON MAN magazine's editor-in-chief, co-author of this e-book and over-40 bodybuilder, did his best to put a positive spin on things.
He encouraged me and told me that changes would start to happen fast if I buckled down. I knew he was right, but I just couldn't find the motivation to be persistent. I knew I could do it because I'd get a spark, but then it would quickly be extinguished by thoughts of how far I had to go. I felt overwhelmed!
Those false starts were disheartening, and I had a number of them. My before pictures were taken in September, and that's when I decided to begin a transformation program. The problem was I couldn't commit completely. I went to the gym a few times in September, but I didn't stick with it.
I decided that Thanksgiving would be my starter pistol, and right after the holiday I'd go full force. Nope, it didn't happen. I put it off 'till Christmas, New Year's and, finally, my birthday, which was my 41st, at the end of February.
Birthdays are milestones, and turning 41 finally ignited my enthusiasm to more than a flicker. I'd gone through my first year in my 40s in perhaps my worst shape ever—not a good way to enter the prime of life. It was time to change that and prove to myself that I could achieve my best shape ever and be a happier, healthier person.
Steve was beginning his annual cutting phase, so that helped my mind-set. (I strongly recommend having a partner or friend go through the process with you. Steve and I ran and walked together a lot—and ate a lot of the same things.)
How I Trained
I started with some easy full-body sessions for a few weeks, training two days a week, and then Steve created a split routine for me, using his Positions-of-Flexion training method (more on POF in Chapter 8). I started going to the gym three days a week and training more intensely. The first two days I did a split routine, and then on Friday I did a full-body workout with slightly higher reps on each exercise.
Steve designed the program so there was direct and indirect work for every body part on Monday and Wednesday. In other words, I really trained every body part on both of those days. For example, I did chest on Monday and triceps on Wednesday—pressing for chest also trained my triceps and flat-bench dumbbell presses with my arms angled into my torso for triceps also trained my chest.
Then on Friday I did one or two sets of higher reps, around 12, for key exercises, and I did only one exercise per body part—although there was direct and indirect work for almost every body part within that day's routine. For example, I did feet-forward Smith-machine squats for my hamstrings, but they also work quads, which I trained directly with the next exercise, leg presses, which also hit hamstrings.
With direct and indirect work on Monday and Wednesday and a full-body workout on Friday, I was essentially training every body part three days a week.
Steve went with me to the gym a couple of times to answer questions I had, and I also read through the exercise section, which appears in this e-book, to make sure I was doing all the movements correctly.
How I Ate
As for eating, the first thing I did was stop having anything after 8:00 p.m. That took some weight off me immediately, as I often had ice cream or other goodies late—which is how I got in that horrible before shape in the first place.
I think most people's metabolisms slow down in the evening, and they tend to sit around anyway, so adding extra calories during that time does nothing but feed fat cells. If I got a craving, I'd have a big glass of water with lemon squeezed in. That was refreshing and usually killed the urge to splurge.
My next step was to add protein to every meal. In the beginning I was having one or two Muscle Meals meal replacements during the day to supplement my regular food intake, but as I progressed into month two, I replaced each MRP with one or two scoops of Pro-Fusion protein powder to reduce my calories.
One Muscle Meal has about 340 calories, while two scoops of Pro-Fusion has 220. That's Steve's favorite way to make gradual calorie reductions, as you saw in Chapter 3. Chocolate Pro-Fusion is my favorite, and sometimes I'd put a tablespoon of peanut butter in the drink to give it that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup flavor (that's when I'd only use one scoop of protein—I was good about keeping my calories in check). It was delicious and satisfied my sweet tooth.
Becky Holman's X-treme Lean Diet:
- High-fiber cereal or two scrambled eggs
- One piece fruit
- 1 cup coffee
- Vitamin-and-mineral capsule
- Desiccated fruit capsules, 2
- SAN's T3 metabolic stimulator
- Antioxidant capsule
- Muscle-Link's Muscle Meals meal replacement, 1 packet, or Pro-Fusion protein powder
- 2 scoops in water
- SAN's Tight, 1 cap
- Chicken with green veggies (usually broccoli)
- Dessicated vegetable capsules, 2
- SAN's T3 metabolic stimulator
- GH Stak growth hormone booster supplement
Meal 3 (post-workout):
Another strategy I used was what Steve and Jonathan call carb stacking. I tried to get most of my carbohydrates before noon, with the remainder of my meals being mostly protein and cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and asparagus.
I trained in the morning, so my last higher-carb meal was around 11:30am, which was my post-workout RecoverX shake. That supplement has fast whey protein and fast high-glycemic carbs, just what you want after an intense workout to replenish and build muscle.
Related Glycemic Index Articles:
Yes, I was trying to build muscle because I've learned that the more muscle I add to my frame, the more calories I burn. Was I afraid of getting too big? Of course not. As a woman I know my hormones won't allow it, so I trained as hard as I could—and it worked!
I did my after photos in mid-July—about four months after I got serious—and even I was impressed. Getting there wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, and I kicked myself for all those false starts caused by my feelings of being overwhelmed.
The "thousand words" my after photos are worth include pride, accomplishment and satisfaction. I've taped my before and after pictures together side by side and placed them in my closet so I can see them every morning as I get dressed. That before shot is a constant reminder to stay the course.
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Note: For Becky's complete printable training program, as well as fat-burning info and Steve and Jonathan's ripping strategies and diets, see the X-treme Lean e-book, available at X-tremeLean.com.