It’s Time To Start Firming Up | Week 3, Days 1-5

I know, I know..

I’m a little behind with my blog updates. But I have a good reason for it. See, I changed a lot of things around this week and I wanted to be able to really commit and write about the changes in as much detail as possible. I don’t want to be explaining things in a rush or in parts and I don’t want to be confusing either. So I waited until now to write because hey, I was swamped the other days and it’s Friday night. I got all the time in the world right now to talk.

So digging into the meat and potatoes… But first, check out my latest progress picture!!

2 Weeks In Progress Picture

Getting there, aren’t I? 😀 😀 😀

And this week, I started weight training. It’s the same program I started briefly some months back but I never saw it through. I know for a fact though that I started getting results last time so there is no reason for me to consider something different. The goal: To drop a size or two while firming up my entire body.

Now women are often told not to worry about adding too much muscle, because they don’t have the hormones necessary to make that happen.

Not true!

The truth is, most women would much rather have a physique similar to a “Bond Girl” than the typical fitness model. Which is fair. It’s a matter of choice. But I’m aiming for something else…something more along the lines of Jillian Michaels: A fit and feminine physique with the right amount of definition.

My weight-training blueprint

Day 1: Back, Chest and Abs (+ Cardio)

The exercises:

1. Lat Pulldowns: 4-5 sets of 5 reps

Ideally the basic pulldown machine with a cable and weight stack works best. Pick a weight you can easily use for 5 reps and stick with it.

2. One-arm Dumbbell Rows: 4-5 sets of 5 reps

Alternate Exercises: In place of pulldowns you can substitute assisted pull ups, or any variation of a pulldown-type of movement. In place of cable rows you can substitute with any rowing movement…. Seated cable rows, hammer strength rows, etc.

3. Barbell Bench Press: 4-5 sets of 5 reps

Just a basic Olympic Bar bench press…but the bar weighs 45 pounds, so you have to be able to lift that much.

4. Incline Press: 4-5 sets of 5 reps

5. Lying Leg Raises: 5 sets of 10 reps

6. Planks: Hold for 2-3 minutes several times per week

You can do planks anywhere. Since they are a static hold, they are unlikely to damage the muscle. Because of this, you can do these whenever you feel the urge.


High Intensity Interval Training: 10-15 minutes + Steady rate cardio: 15-20 minutes

Day 2: Shoulders, Biceps, and Triceps (+ Cardio)

The exercises:

1. Arnold Press: 4-5 sets of 5 reps

2. Dumbbell Side Laterals: 4-5 sets of 5 reps

3. Dumbbell Curls: 4-5 sets of 5 reps

4. Seated Dumbbell Curls or Hammer Curls: 4-5 sets of 5 reps

5. Dumbbell Tricep Extension: 4-5 sets of 5 reps

6. Tricep Kickbacks: 4-5 sets of 5 reps


High Intensity Interval Training: 10-15 minutes + 10-15 minutes of “steady state” cardio.

Legs and Butt (optional) One Day a Week

The exercises:

1. Squats or Deadlifts: 4-5 sets of 5 reps

You won’t need to do much more than squats or deadlifts to work your lower body. Cardio will work your lower body hard enough.

2. Lunges: 4-5 sets of 5 reps

You probably won’t need to do these after squats or deadlifts unless you really want to blitz the lower body.

So that’s weight training covered. If you want to download my exercise demonstrations, I’m linking to the post that has them.

Day 1 exercises
Day 2 exercises

Moving on…

I’m pretty sure I talked about this before but I get asked the same question over and over again so I’m thinking, I must have been confusing or somehow unclear the previous times. So I’m going to try this one more time.

Is the way I’m losing weight healthy? Because I only have two meals and a snack everyday and sometimes I skip Meal 1 or my snack or both.


The biggest challenge when losing weight

Here is the thing: Women have it a little tougher than guys when it comes to diet. The problem? It’s simply too easy to eat more calories than you burn each day. As a woman, you don’t have as much “wiggle room” as guys do.

Let’s do some math.

So as you know (and in case you don’t, I’m now telling you so you’re covered either way), there is no magical number as to the ideal amount of calories to eat to maintain or lose weight. But there is an equation you can use to get a number you can then use as a good starting point.

Goal Weight in Pounds x (hours working out per week + 9.5) = Calories

Lets assume you’re a 140 pound woman and you only wish to maintain your weight. Let’s say you work out 4 hours per week. That’s 35 minute cardio, 7 days a week.


140 (pounds) x 13.5 (hours you train plus 9.5) = 1890 Calories per day.

Translation: You’ll need to eat roughly 1,890 calories per day to maintain your weight. But note that this is just a reference point, because much of this depends upon height, age, etc.

So with 1,800 calories per day, you would be able to maintain your weight. Let’s also assume you follow the advice of eating 6 meals per day, to “keep your metabolism high”.

1,800 divided by 6 meals = 300 calories per meal

Just to give you a rough idea: 1 medium apple has 95 calories. 1 medium banana has 102 calories. You can just about imagine the calories in your typical chicken sandwich or even chicken salad for that matter.

300 calories per meal is BRUTAL!

So the “eating every few hours” approach to dieting really only works out for massive 250+ pound bodybuilders. As a woman, it will quickly put you into weight gain mode (unless you never want to eat anything good again).

So what are our options?

1. Eat in excess every day and slowly gain 2-3 pounds of fat each year.
2. Eat in excess and burn off that excess with exercise.
3. Eat fewer meals to allow for higher calorie foods.
4. Have extra low calorie days to offset higher calorie days.

Option 1, slow weight gain, is unfortunately the route that most women take. It is pretty easy to do, because just a bit of excess calories can add up to 2-3 pounds of weight gain each year.

Option 2 is the most common route both men and women take who train on a regular basis. What this leads to is being stuck at a certain weight or body fat percentage. This is obviously better than gaining weight…but if you want to lose weight, this isn’t the best way to go.

So that’s why I do fewer meals per day. I mean, it is logical…right? With 3 meals per day, I can actually eat normal sized meals.

As for the myths that plague us…

1. The myth that skipping meals will slow the metabolism

– This was debunked years ago in a study by the British Journal of Nutrition, called Meal Frequency and Energy Balance

2. The myth that you will lose muscle if you only eat 1 time per day

– The findings of another study show this is false. This study was from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, called A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal- weight, middle-aged adults.

3. The myth that you will quickly lose muscle on a low calorie diet

– This is a big one. A few years ago, a study proved this false. The study was published in The American College of Nutrition, and is named Effects of Resistance vs. Aerobic Training Combined With an 800 Calorie Liquid Diet on Lean Body Mass and Resting Metabolic Rate.

So to answer your questions… YES, what I’m doing is healthy and every now and then, I do have cheat meals/normal meals to restore my testosterone levels. Again, I covered this topic (concerning testosterone levels) previously and I’m just linking to it now.

God, this is a lot of talking, isn’t it? See why I didn’t want to rush through all of this the other days…

Next up, my meals this week and gym sessions.

Monday 22nd September | Week 3, Day 1

Meals of the day

Meal 1: Chicken and vegetable soup (at 16 00)

Snack: 1 apple, 1 banana (at 19 00)

Meal 2: Farfalle with tuna (at 22 00)

day 1


Day 1: Back, chest, abs

Cardio: 10 minutes steady rate cardio at speed 8.5 followed by 25 minutes HIIT at speeds 5.7 and 10.5-11.5.

Tuesday 23rd September | Week 3, Day 2

Meals of the day

Meal 1: Chicken and vegetable soup (at 16 00)

Snack: 2 Danone Actimel (at 18 00)

Meal 2: Bread biscotti with tuna paste (at 22 30)



Day 2: Shoulders, biceps, triceps

Cardio: 10 minutes steady rate cardio at speed 8.5 followed by HIIT for 25 minutes at speeds 5.7 and 11.0-11.5.

Wednesday 24th September | Week 3, Day 3

Meals of the day

Meal 1: Chicken fried rice (at 17 00)

Snack: 1 mango, 10 grapes (at 20 00)

Meal 2: 1 scoop of whey protein, 1 apple (at 23 00)

fried rice


30 minutes steady rate cardio at speeds 8.5, 8.8 and 9.1 (3x 10 minutes).

Thursday 25th September | Week 3, Day 4

Meals of the day

Meal 1: Chicken fried rice (at 16 00)

Snack: 2 mangoes (at 18 00)

Meal 2: Tuna paste and bread biscotti (at 20 00)



Day 1: Back, chest, abs

Cardio: 10 minutes steady rate cardio at speed 8.5 followed by HIIT for 20 minutes at speeds 5.7 (walking speed) and 11.5 (sprinting speed).


Friday 26th September | Week 3, Day 5

Meals of the day

Meal 1: Skipped it

Snack: 1 apple, 2 Danone Actimel (at 17 00)

Meal 2: Peppered fillet of beef and potato wedges (at 21 00)

steak and wedges


Day 2: Shoulders, biceps, triceps

Cardio: 10 minutes steady rate cardio at speed 8.5 followed by HIIT for 25 minutes at speeds 5.7 (walking speed) and 11.0-11.8 (sprinting speed).

About High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT, as I do it, is typically done on cardio equipment in a gym setting. Why not outside you may ask? Sure you can go outside and run real stairs or around a track, but it is undeniable that it is hard to fine tune intensity levels when you are not using equipment that tracks speed. Not to mention that cardio machines are easier on the joints long-term.

So first thing first, how to perform 15 minutes of HIIT

1. Hop on a treadmill (or any cardio machine of your choice)
2. Walk for 60 seconds. Speed 5.7 on a treadmill is an example.
3. Sprint for 60 seconds. Speed 11.0 on a treadmill is an example.
4. Walk for 60 seconds. Again speed 5.7 is an example.
5. Sprint for 60 seconds. At speed 11.0 or above.
6. Keep alternating like described above for 15 minutes.

When you do this, what happens to your body is intense intervals are effective at releasing fat from your fat cells. The high intensity intervals also burn calories directly, adding to your daily calorie deficit. Creating a calorie deficit is, as you know, key to weight loss.

Assuming your diet is dialed in, HIIT alone can help you get lean quickly. It contributes to a calorie deficit, it boosts HGH levels (especially if it is done in a fasted state) and it creates Oxygen Debt, which means it will boost your metabolism for many hours after the workout has been completed.

But when your 15-20 minute session is completed, there is a special “window of opportunity”. After intervals, there will still be a large amount of free fatty acids floating around in your bloodstream. Eventually they will get re-deposited back into the fat cells…unless you burn them up with low intensity cardio!

Which brings us to another consideration: The significance of only doing low intensity cardio.

The problem with low intensity cardio done in isolation is that it isn’t very time efficient. It will burn a lot less calories than HIIT…but done after intense intervals it can work magic. I don’t currently do low intensity cardio after HIIT but I’m going to get to it soon enough.

So here you go! Lots of information today, huh.. Well, you got the weekend to read it, understand it, bookmark it, sleep on it or you know, ignore all of it. Your call  😉 😉 If you have any questions though, about anything I just talked about, hit me up via the contact form or by commenting below.

Week 2, Day 7

Yay, the end of Week 2!

This is going pretty well, isn’t it? I guess I was right about the temptation thing after all. I am so tired of being big (at least bigger than I should be) that I don’t even feel like cheating or skipping gym or whatever else that might hinder my progress. And I’m also highly motivated to look the best I can in 2 weeks for my upcoming trip to Rome and Venice. Can’t be going on holiday looking like a bag of potatoes. I’ve done it enough times and it’s not very pleasant.

I have to admit though. I’m a little worried about my weight scale reading tomorrow. See I don’t think it will be bad but I did have Subway quite a few times this week. I had a reason for it and fair enough I also fasted and whenever I had Subway, I was smart enough to keep things reasonable. But I didn’t exactly have salads all week. Then I’d be worry-free. Anyway, we’ll have to see tomorrow, won’t we?

Meals of the day

Meal 1: 1 scoop of whey protein, 1 multivitamin (at 15 00)

Snack: 2 plain yoghurts, 1 apple, 1 banana (at 17 30)

Meal 2: Fajita-spiced grilled chicken and roasted vegetables (at 20 30)

The vegetables in the making

1. Dice equal amounts of zucchini, bell pepper and red onion. Grab some corn, frozen or otherwise.


2. Add minced garlic and season with salt and pepper.

3. Add a little olive oil to coat.

Throw everything in a baking dish. Roast the vegetables. I guess gas mark 6 for 15 minutes should be just fine. Gas mark 6 translates to 400 degrees F or 200°C.


As you can tell, some days I wake up with the inspiration to cook and be creative in the kitchen. Some days, well, you won’t be able to get me to even make coffee. I would just go buy some. This partially explains why sometimes you’ll see me having Subway for days on. That’s when you know I can’t be bothered to cook. Which I have to admit, happens a lot more often than me being struck by a flash of inspiration to cook something nice.


Rest day.

Week 2, Day 6

So it’s the year of the rear, huh.. After Miley Cyrus’s twerk-filled performance at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards, I guess the booty-shaking bar was set. Accordingly, 2014 is seeing rump-filled videos and performances from everyone, from Lily Allen to Taylor Swift to Nicki Minaj.

And now Jennifer Lopez has entered the ring. With a vengeance!

Crappy song
Crappy music
Great bodies
11 million views in 24 hours!!

Sounds like good math  😉 😉

There is no such thing as too much ass is there?? I should remember that! In the optimization phase of my transformation…

Anyway, for now, let’s stay focused.

Meals of the day

Meal 1: Sardines with 2 bread rolls (at 16 00)

Snack: 1 mango, 1 low-fat, low-calorie yoghurt (at 18 00)

Meal 2: Chicken and crispy sage (at 21 00)

The chicken in the making


1. Cut your chicken breast into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.


2. Grab a handful of fresh sage.


3. Melt some butter.

4. Add the chicken and arrange the sage over the chicken.

5. Cook the chicken, uniformly.

The end result:



30 minutes steady rate cardio at speed 8.9.

Week 2, Day 5

I’m a little blue today so allow for the short post. We’ll talk loads tomorrow if I feel better, I promise.

Meals of the day

Meal 1: Rio Mare’s tuna and beans salad (at 15 00)

Snack: 1 mango, 1 apple (at 17 00)

Meal 2: 2 chicken ham sandwiches (at 20 00)

week 2, day 5


30 minutes steady rate cardio at speed 8.9.

Week 2, Day 4

Is it just me or this week is going by super fast? I mean, it’s Day 4 already… And here I thought when you’re dieting, the days drag by.

Meals of the day

Meal 1: 2 chicken ham sandwiches (at 15 00)

Snack: 1 mango, 1 apple, 1 low-fat, low-calorie yoghurt (at 17 00)

Meal 2: A 6-inch chicken teriyaki sub (at 20 00)

week 2, day 4


30 minutes steady rate cardio at speed 8.9