Monday 31 May 2010

ABS Basic Crunch -2010

This video was created quite a while ago and I am doing the 'advanced' part of it (from minute 6). This fisishes off the upper abdominals after having done cable crunches and is to put a focus on the lower abdominals as well.

Shoulder Dumbell Press seated - 2010

The 1st of 5 shoulder exercises. This one is targeting the front head of the shoulders. Have fun!

Some more information on shoulder training you can find in the Incredible Ladies Sport section.

Saturday 29 May 2010

Diary 29/05/10 - A Week Out Of Kilter

This was an almost surreal week. Nothing really dramatic or exhausting happened, just that little bit the brings things out of focus. First a young friend was moving house and I helped on Tuesday and at the same time an old friend from Germany came to visit for 3 nights. He did not even stay at our house, but it was nice to sit and chat and of course there was late night food for three days in a row. Although I tried to be as reasonable as possible with my food intake during the day, I guess I over ate by about 300 cal per day.

That basically rendered the efforts of the week before useless... as shown in the measurements

All that is not a problem when one just wants to stay fit and keep the balance, but given that I only have 52 more weeks to my challange, I shouldn't do that too often. People in my close proximity might want to prepare themselves to having an utter killjoy in their midst.

Additionally it didn't do me any good. By Thursday I was so tired that I skipped chest and back training, and throughout the week I didn't row a single time. I feel bloated and drab...


Well, trying to buy jeans yesterday didn't help either. I don't know what Gap&Co mean by 'curvy' but surely not the shape I am featuring.

So on the verge of sliding into depression I decided this morning to not let that happen, went to the gym, was tired like hell, hence didn't take the vido camera to avoid distraction (sorry, will do on Monday) and just pulled through!

Did the full training, didn't particularly like it, did the full reps and weights, still didn't feel great, but DID IT!

That's what I like about weights: I still can do it when I am not at my best. I was so short of breath that I could hardly get through my rowing warmup. No way I could have done endurance stuff. But especialy leg exercises seem to be always possible!

So now I am still tired, hence the not very inspired writing style (again I am sorry), but very proud of myself. Tomorrow is walking if it's not raining, rowing afterwards and Monday back to the gym for shoulders, ABS and arms; and I am hoping to be able to eventually shoot a few videos.

Until then, have a great long weekend!

Saturday 22 May 2010

Diary 22/05/10 - Now I know!

I just filled in the new measurements and only very little has changed there, but boy have things changed!

Firstly, it seems that already a small variation in measurable proportion can change the looks quite a bit, and it surely can change the way one feels. If you see a woman walking the street holding her hands on her rear, it might be me. Since a couple of days it is just very interesting to feel, and if I wouldn't know better, I would confidently say: This is not my bum!

Secondly, I am getting stronger. Today I cranked deadlifts up to 80kg in the second set and still could do 6 reps. I am very pleased with that. Especially since the last time the neck muscles were a bit twitchy. But this time all the smaller muscles held up nicely.

And this time I got my dear friend and Saturday training partner Imola to take some pix with the mobile - so please forgive the poor quality, but I was so proud of my first try with the 80, I just had to get that documented:

Can't wait for the next session on Monday now: Arms, ABS and Shoulders!

So given all that I now know that in a years time I will be 'THERE'.

A couple of weeks ago I was still a bit nervous about how the skin is reacting to weight loss, and how the training might go. I had counted weeks I had left until competition and 54 sounded such a small number. Then the previous week already went really good, and this week the trend continued. I am only 7 weeks in and I would estimate that I could already show myself in another 8 weeks time without being embarrassed if that trend continues. So all of a sudden 54 sounds pretty good to me!


Tuesday 18 May 2010


Yesterday was the dreaded Monday session for which I had to dash into town right after work to train at the 'big boys' gym and then having ballet lessons after.

The training was not too bad, I however did the same training in my usual gym the week before and it was much more efficient. The more I looked around at oaks I have to say that although most of the equipment is very functional, it is outdated as well. They only rarely use cable machines and hence they are the old, not height adjustable ones. Additionally the dumbbells are all on the heavy side, hence I had to adjust some exercises. The weight labels are half scratched off or non existant, so one has to do a good guess what weight one is using.

Given that I have to pay £3 for the training and £4 for the parking, on top of the time I have to invest I decided to not go there regularly.

And! I felt darn confident!

During the first session two weeks ago I felt like having been shifted to the bottom of the class, but yesterday, with a bit of fat lost and muscles gained... yes, I will take photos soon! ... I found myself actually really rather gorgeous looking. I now feel that I can do this without a 'scene' close by. I eventually found a good posing site on the internet and just will take it from there. The guys at Oaks only knew about male posing anyway and I don't think there are more women in Ipswich preparing for competition.

So let's see what an independant gal can do!

Regarding ballet: It always was annoying that admission works on fist come first serve basis. Class is at 6 PM, booking opens at 5 PM and by 5:30 it may already be booked out. There is no point of driving to town and then not getting into the class. So when I went before I made sure to arrive bang 5, book myself in and then read. It's not even close enough to town centre to run some errands. So I am wasting an hour of my time waiting for class to start.

I know that ballet would be beneficial for the ol' bones, but it is a bit like eating seaweed - it's healthy but I hate it, hence I'm not eating it. So I decided to skip ballet for now and do the posing training instead.

That bit out of the way I am now looking forward to the rest of the week!

Saturday 15 May 2010

Diary 14/05/10 - It's kicking in!

Today for the first time I had measurements which showed a trend into the right direction. All still very subtle, but at least something. I did need some reassurance!

I desperately needed some trousers and went shopping yesterday. I was shocked to find that I need size 14 very stretchy ones to fit the legs in. I actually had thought that I had become quite a bit leaner, but thanks to the measures I can tell that I must have grown some muscles.

I am just so amazed. I am only doing this since 6 weeks, I didn't think that it would work so well. I am feeling stronger in most of the exercises, though. Raised the deadlifts to 75kg today and felt really good. That takes away a bit of the anger regarding the pant size, but raises the question where I will find something to wear in the future...

Another thrilling aspect is that I have to start being more careful with my food. Until today I just reduced my normal diet to amounts around 1800 cal per day in order to reduce fat. And usually I don't eat before I go to the morning gym sessions. Today however I was so hungry that I had a cheese bread and a banana and still was hungry throughout the session. Especially with leg exercises that takes a bit of the oomph away.

I will still try to stay on a bit less than 2000 cal per day but only as long as it doesn't affect the training. I am hoping anyway that I will burn off a bit of fat with my rowing sessions. Last week I rowed twice for 5k... that's not massive but it's a start.

Please cross fingers I will make it through a proper training week according to schedule next week. Last Monday a migraine killed my efforts. I am getting almost geeky about eating and drinking enough fluids now and even my sleeping routine is getting adjusted... hence me finishing this now as it is almost 10PM already and tomorrow at 8 AM it's walking and rowing on the agenda.

Sorry for this being a rather dry report. So far there wasn't anything yet to take photos of, and the gym is still too busy to film the exercises. This will have to wait to the summer break.
Night night now. This lady needs her beauty sleep!

Friday 14 May 2010


What the h...,

Is 67.6 my lucky number? That was the weight I had two weeks ago. And yes! I have been training hard. And yes! I had a party inbetween! And yes! I know I am not supposed to believe what scales are telling me, but it would be just so nice to see improvement in measurements.

My shape is clearly showing me that I am getting leaner... But how much leaner? Is it good enough? Could I do more? When will be the moment of truth, telling me that I am running out of time and that I should have done more, earlier?

Ohoh,getting really impatient now, don't I?

Was it me who said that 'patience is key'? Hmmm.
The other thing is that all my clothes are breaking down. I don't have anything to wear. My mix and match wordrobe theory is not working anymore because key items have gone from my wardrobe and I can't buy new ones because I don't know where my shape will be taking me.

I know! Those are lovely problems to have. So I will enjoy them a bit more, and will do a bit of measuring tomorrow when I go to the gym where they have this hand held bodyfat thingy.

Tata for now...

Wednesday 12 May 2010

... and another quickie

Still not entirely on track, but getting there slowly.

After the big dinner party which went well and was great fun, I broke down a bit during the weekend and by Sunday a proper migrane had developed. I nevertheless did the Sunday walking and the rowing (5k), but had to skip the gym and ballet on Monday.

Those were the things I was so keen to do. It's always a bit tricky to get the hang of a new gym and I wanted to get it done and over with, the more that due to the new split I hadn't done arms and shoulders in a while.

So! Me, good girl, at least went to my usual gym yesterday (Tuesday) and caught up on the training. Turns out that the new split is a great idea. I came to re-arrange my training only because I wanted to go to the other gym for one session a week, and now it shows that it is very benefitial for the training as well.

I used to do arm after chest and back and it seems that those exercises tired the arms more than I thought. My arm training yesterday was much better. The same for shoulders. After having done legs I usually was too tired to put real effort into them. Yesterday I did more exercises to catch those little buggers from every angle and it feels really good.

So this is all very promising!

Additionally I keep losing fat. Yesterday hubby said that especially during the past two weeks my shape has shifted quite a bit. I was so concerned because my pants are still too tight, but it seems that the training is kicking in and my approach of 'slow motion training' is much more efficient than I thought.

Hence I am very hopeful for the future and am now starting to prepare for a photoshoot with a friend... hair and make-up need to be tackled!

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Just a quickie!

I am starting to get the hang of my new schedule which includes the day job, the nitty gritty bits, the rowing and the gym work, but still didn't have an single week yet, during which I could stick to it entirely. There is always something else barging in and I am beginning to understand how life is changing if one really goes for for a challenge. Training definitely is kicking in! I am feeling stronger, and one can see little changes already. Apparently things are changing in the head as well: Yesterday night we went out with friends, I had starter and main dish, all reasonable stuff, and then I thought: 'C'mon, it's early days of the project still a lot of time to go, get a desert.'

I have to say: It didn't taste as good as I remembered it! This is confirming my ' sugar experiment' theorie and I will steer clear of sweets in the future. It's just not worth it. Since I have been working on my splits for the muscle groups I found a great website, explaining all the exercises and according muscles with little videos. From that I got a few good hints and I am going to add a few more exercises and might shove a few things around again.

So next week is the first week with no additional appointment, no bank holiday, no nothing - just plain days of the week. Oh please, dear muscle Gods… let it be happening and let me get into rhythm!

Monday 3 May 2010

It’s A Female Thing

At least here in the West we women live in the most emancipated way ever; but there is a drawback: The phrase ‘Women can do the same things as men’ is often misunderstood as ‘Women should do things the same way as men’.

And there are weird contradictions: In the business world we are told that we should wear suits and use male strategies to get to the top - and we are buying into it, and in the gym we are told we should use flimsy weights and do a lot of balancing work, as opposed to men – and we are buying into it, too.

We should develop more self esteem and find our own ways of doing things. We should accept that men and women approach things differently and that this is a good thing, because it adds a different angle to an issue. We only will get the best out of life if girls and guys work together!

I am not a successful business woman, so I can’t speak for those, but I am pretty good in the gym and hence I feel obliged to set a few things straight:
  • For the girls to consider getting the one or the other muscle themselves, and
  • For my dear male readers to understand their female partners a bit better.

Why Muscles for Ladies?

I have been writing a lot already why muscles are a beneficial thing for women and here I only will give you the headlines, you can find the whole article on Incredible Ladies:
  • Body and Mind Benefits
    • Muscles Reduce Aches of All Sorts
    • Muscles Reduce Osteoporosis
    • Strong Muscles – Strong Mind
  • Fashion and Beauty Benefits - Muscles Give Shape
  • Lifestyle Benefits - Muscles Make Strong
  • Nutrition Benefits – Muscles Increase Metabolic Rate

Where we are different

The one thing that governs all our performances in any sport is that we have less Testosterone than men. All of the below are statistical statements, as one always can find individuals where the reality is the other way round. In average however we are not:
  • as intuitively aggressive in game sports as men, but we can beat the guys with determination, which actually is a more controlled way to achieve a goal.
  • we are not as strong, in some sports we are almost able to compete on an endurance level, though.
  • and with the ‘not as strong’ comes ‘our muscles are smaller and they don’t build up as easily’.

In regard to the latter: Can somebody please explain to me why women should train less, or any different from the guys, given the fact that they build muscles less easily? That is like telling an anorexic not to too eat too much in order to not get fat. Trainers in gyms are too keen to try giving women what they want, instead of giving them what they need. We actually have to train much HARDER in order to achieve similar results to men.

Ahhh, see! That is the thing nobody is talking about, really. Oh well, on female beauty and health sites - sometimes - but not in the open and not in an environment where blokes are listening in. I am rather blunt in those things and addressed a few of the more harmless issues with one of the trainers in the gym. Sooo cute! One could tell he was interested, but he fell from one blush into the other, poor thing.

So guys, here is first hand female info for you to read in your den – no need to blush! It might however help you to understand your ladies a bit better.

The cycle
Everybody knows we have them and almost everybody knows that at times we become bitchy, and a lot of people think it’s just made up to get what we want.

Well, that all might be true in some cases... there however are more severe implications. Trouble is that hormone levels are a very individual thing, and hence it is hard to point the finger onto it and find a fix. What doctors are measuring are ranges, indicating normal or not normal. Within the normal range the effect on individual women can be devastatingly different. Same amounts of hormones can leave one completely unaffected while the other one is thrown into depression, which is barging into her life with a whole conglomerate of physical and psychological symptoms month after month. That’s why it is called a syndrome (accumulation of various symptoms):

PMS – Pre Menstrual Syndrome

I had times where I felt like two different people within those 4 weeks. The first two weeks are cheery and fine, during the second half a big cloud is following me wherever I go and even things I love doing are no real fun. And of course this has an impact on the quality of my training.

There is no one remedy, but there are things one can try, hoping that they will work. Here are my tips:
  • Observe yourself! Knowing allows for work-arounds. I got so good in detecting changes in hormone levels that I now can almost put my finger on a certain hour of a day. My brain feels mushy, I am losing focus and the thoughts are floating rather randomly without ever finding a way into real life and effecting my actions, short term memory is non-existent and I am horribly clumsy. The drive for doing things is changing, the feeling for hunger and appetite becomes inseparable and I am getting greedy, and I am feeling physically weaker.
  • Tell you closest people! Once you are starting to figure out what is happening give your closest environment a warning. In the meantime they are used to me lifting two fingers and grinning a ‘grrrrrr grin’. They firstly won’t be hard on you anymore and it is a relief to not be alone. And they can help shelter you against the outside world towards which one wouldn’t like to explain. For me it was just wonderful to have that pressure off my chest.

  • Condition yourself! I so often found myself ranting in the kitchen about why I ALWAYS have to do things myself, NOTHING is done right,... and it was all about things which at other times would not have bothered me at all. The target usually was dear hubby, the person closest and easiest to reach, but the only person who actually could help to find relief. One is very much in danger to get into a vicious cycle. In my early years I actually shouted at him, later I was just ranting to myself, and now that I know, I take it as a signal and my mantra has become: ’Shut up Rika, it’s just the hormones, another X days and it’s over’. And it always is!

  • Find workarounds! I have lists and notes everywhere during phase two. The important thing is to tidy those up during phase one otherwise it’s getting really messy.

  • Don't start something new induring phase two, if you can help it. Especially not losing weight!

  • Try a dairy (calcium) rich diet! The BBC series ‘The Truth about Food’ looked into a connection between Calcium and PMS, and for some of the test group it made significant changes. I am now taking Calcium+VitD supplement pills. Have a look at the video.
In the video they are frequently mentioning oily fish so ...
  • Try Omega 3! During the same series the connection between Omega 3 and stress was investigated. Have a look at the video. And of course I have the pills in my cupboard, now. I never felt that layed back in my life ever before.
There are many more very interesting articles and videos and some of them are real eye-openers.
  • Try Bodybuilding! An article in the German journal GEO (07/09) is depicting a newly discovered feedback mechanism between brain and muscles. So far it was thought that the brain gives a signal to the muscles via chemical transmitters and that then the addressed muscle moves. It now becomes apparent that on moving the muscle, certain chemicals are produced which go back to the brain and cause the initiation of all sorts of processes which influence every organ in the body. Scientists are now hoping that understanding those mechanisms will help to heal or at least stabilise conditions as severe as Alzheimer disease. This is research in very early stages, it however is established:
    • that there is a feedback loop back from the muscles to the rest of the body which has a bigger impact than ever thought, and
    • that endurance training doesn’t do it as much as resistance training

Even if one is not suffering from PMS, the changes in hormone levels are happening and do affect the body in more subtle or not so subtle ways.


Again it is a very individual thing. There is no point of fretting about why one girlfriend is a killjoy while the best mate’s girlfriend is as chirpy as a bird. Some women can hardly stand upright while others don’t have cramps at all and go straight into the good mood phase. And then there is the handling of those few days itself.

The props a women needs: Gym work – and basically every activity - becomes a nuisance whether one has cramps or not. It’s just awful to feel like wearing a nappy while moving about like a toddler. So press on towels are hardly an option. But not everybody is comfortable with using tampons.

I am pretty sure that especially in cultures where virginity is associated with an intact hymen, the use of a tampon is usually not an option. Although the rupture of the hymen can have many causes, and although usually the tampon should not do any harm if the size and technique is right – there nevertheless is a risk.

Women who have a bit of a lubrication problem and are on the dry side anyway will feel that tampons worsen the problem. The remedy there: Don’t remove it too early, and let it soak full. Works wonders!

And as for the guys: Accept the excuses your lady is having during those days and just be a bit patient. She might say that she can’t play tennis due to a twisted ankle and then shows up in heels for dinner. It’s not always easy to explain those things face to face, especially when the relationship is young. So we tend to make up all sorts of stuff that sounds less gooey. If you really like her and want to help, start counting weeks.

Whoops, someone is not watertight
This was such a taboo subject, even women only talk about it only to very good female friends. Only recently it is addressed more in the media, and it seems that only women who have a baby, or are really old are allowed to leak. They have a medical condition to offer (yes, age seems to be a medical condition these days), so they are excused. The rest of us will get told off by the GP for not taking care of our pelvis muscles and are basically accused of being slackers. Well and that is just not true.

I once got an instruction on testing how waterproof a person is: Drink a couple of glasses of water, wait for half and hour, stand in the bathtub with legs spread and cough as hard as you can!

Duh... I would not have stood that test in my early teens and I was very sportive back then, able to master all sorts of skipping games – not anymore.

Ladies: Don’t let anyone blame you. Sh... happens!

Guys and trainers: Be aware of the problem and help your lady/client to work around it. We cannot trampoline, we cannot skip, and lunges or rattle plate machines may pose a threat to our structural stability.

Again: The second half!

There is one thing, though: Remember that I mentioned before that I am feeling weaker during the second half? I found that not just the muscles involved in holding water, but any muscle tone is less intense during that period of time. So this problem DOES have to do with the darn hormone levels.

On the other hand it IS true that training the pelvis muscles can help to a degree. So knowing your cycle opens opportunities to find a remedy. All those core muscle exercises on a swiss balll are well and nice, but the idea I am following up on at the moment is a bit more drastic.

The theory is that the exercise that is likely to cause leakage is likely to be able to train exactly those muscles as apparently it is putting a lot of strain on it. So I am doing the exercise during the first half testing it to the very limits, hoping that after a while the muscles will be so trained enough to be able to do it in the second half as well – at least with less weight – and that should then be good enough for daily life situations.

My target exercise is deadlifts I found out, that I can do them in the first half of the cycle – given that I pay the bathroom a visit before – and now I am hoping that using that slot for rigorous training will strengthen the whole area, resolving the problem. Will keep you posted on that one!

All the above are the things I know about from my own experience, I however am sure that there are many more issues. If you would like me to address those I am very happy to do so. Just write me and email to rika @ incredible-ladies . com
I will keep your details completely confidential and will only write about the problem itself.

Have a great week!
Always yours,