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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Still Low-Carbin' it & Lifting Heavy!!!

By: Alex Liska
Hey!! Thanks for stopping by my blog to check my latest progress update!:) 
As mentioned in my previous posts, i have been doing some experimenting with different diet tricks, different macro-nutrient ratios as well as food products... For my body type it's quite clear that low-carb works best. I am very sensitive to grains and can't consume starchy carbs everyday, they are very acidic, cause discomfort, spike my insulin levels (especially when consumed alongside proteins) and lead to weight gain and excessive hunger. Regardless of how "wholesome" or complex these carbs may be, unless i'm having a small serving of fibrous green veggies my body doesn't respond well to grains. However, in order for my hormone levels to adjust and my thyroid to function properly on a very limited carb diet, i have incorporated 1-2 weekly carb re-feeds to jolt my metabolism and keep my glycogen stores full. I got an AWESOME carb-cycling template and diet/training layout from my friend Josh:) it makes complete sense for my body-type and after just a few days on the new diet i have noticed some positive changes; i feel a lot tighter and more energetic! My first official carb re-feed consisted of oats, yams, greens, healthy fats, fruits and took place 2 days ago. The following day i was back to super-low carb dieting and i went and did a HEAVYYYY leg workout!
I have also found that in order to build deep cuts and sculpt nice, full 3D muscles you just have to go heavy. For women especially, considering that we have a quite limited testosterone producing ability we must go super heavy in order to sculpt and build muscle and maintain a muscular physique while dieting. It makes me laugh when people are afraid to lift heavy weights because they are dieting for a figure show, yet so WE ARE CONSUMING LESS CALORIES, in most cases, doing more cardio, weighing every food portion etc... so how on earth would anyone bulk up just by lifting heavy? it's quite absurd if you ask me. However, i can understand if hormone levels are out of whack, ones metabolism is not running up to speed perhaps from TOO MUCH CARDIO, a very acidic gut(usually caused by over-consumption of starchy carbohydrates accompanied by proteins), or if you're following a diet that's not high enough in dietary fats, maybe then...JUST MAYBE then, you may experience water retention and bulk from going heavy, but then there are other factors that need to be assessed and addressed.

Anyhow, i'm lifting heavy, doing pyramid sets anywhere between 5-6 sets of 6-15 reps of every exercise. My main focus is compound moves, and i'm doing whatever i can to keep my workouts under ONE hour (this is to avoid cortisol production or insulin sensitivity caused by over-training). I've been sipping on a protein shake with glutamine in it during my workouts to keep my body in an anabolic state and i refuse to do any more than 20-30min of low intensity cardio following my workouts! So far so good... but at the end of the day, this whole dieting for show thing is quite the mental trip, so it's all about maintaining a positive attitude, clear state of mind and always continuing to move forward. Our bodies are always changing, everyday we wake up a new person! Not to mention there is a LOT of trial and error involved, especially in my case now that i'm training myself.. Self-awareness is key and having the ability to gauge your physique or have someone that you trust provide good feedback is also important! :)
I'm still consuming LOTS of whey protein, mainly for convenience, but also a lot of whole foods. My supplements are still: O3mega Extra Strength capsules, Spirulina, Glutamine, Whey protein, Multivitamin, Greens Plus (This stuff gives me SO much energy, i add it to my pre and post-workout shakes) and either Cod-Liver-Oil or Evening Primrose Oil capsules.... 

Stay tuned for my next update;)

Alex L.:)

Friday, February 18, 2011

My Conclusions RE: Sodium, Fats, Cardio when Dieting PLUS a "DETAILED Shoulders/Biceps Workout"...

By: Alex Liska

Happy Friday!! 
Thanks for stopping by my blog to check my latest training/nutrition update:) 
My diet is still low-carb with an occasional clean-carb re-feed... I have 1-2 zero-carb days a week, where i eat lots of dietary fats, protein, greens and SODIUM... My thyroid is very thankful that i do not follow a low-sodium diet everyday... Unfortunately, after 10 years of trial/error with diets i learned the hard way that too much cardio, not enough sodium and fat, and too many carbs causes METABOLIC DAMAGE, DEPRESSION, and CELLULITE!!!! The key i find is to keep sodium levels under control when you're eating more carbs, but on days where i have ZERO carbs i keep sodium HIGH... I also drink more water on these days to help flush out ketones (by-product of a ketogenic/low carb diet). I know i need to have a zero-carb/high-fat and sodium day when i start craving salt, this is usually my thyroid signalling to me that i need more IODINE!!! Not just that, but did you know that your body cannot absorb POTASSIUM without adequate levels of sodium? Sodium is key in allowing cell walls to be able to take in potassium. So too much potassium and not enough sodium can lead to a very big health disaster!!!
I keep cardio to a minimum on these zero-carb days as well, to give my thyroid a break and time to rest:)
At this stage, with more than 7 weeks left to my next show, it's far too early to start watching my sodium intake, I will do that closer to the show, when i am trying to really tighten up and drop water weight. Another pointer when eating more salt and vegetables(greens) is DO NOT LOOK AT THE SCALE! these numbers are completely useless as long as you are leaning out. Muscle weighs more than fat and greens/sodium will cause your weight to temporarily go up. A better indicator is my bra-size, vascularity, bodyfat etc.... This will let me know if i am losing body fat at the right speed or not. 
Another thing I noticed, is CAFFEINE from coffee can be very beneficial on my zero-carb, high fat/sodium/protein days... It gives me energy and helps break down the food i eat hence facilitating bowel movements :) On days that i eat more carbs I keep caffeine to a minimum because i have found it causes cellulite when i mix caffeine, sodium, carbs and cardio... I hope this is not too confusing, but basically if i need a boost on my carb-consumption days i stick to Green Tea, this also gives my adrenal glands/thyroid a nice break!

Anyhow, I won't bore you anymore with my diet rants! Here is the Shoulders/Biceps workout i did today:
SHOULDERS/BICEPS WORKOUT (Friday, February 19, 2011)
Started w/ 15min brisk walk to the gym as a warm-up.
·         ----Front DB raises w/ palms facing up (slight bend @ the elbows) Superset w/ Single-arm side lat DB raises on a slight angle leaning forward … 4 sets 10-15 reps
·         ----Reverse Flyes (Cable Station) … 3 sets 12-15 reps
·         ----Upright Rows (close grip) on cables using EZ-bar handle … 4 sets 10-12 reps
·         ----Single Arm Reverse Flyes (Cable station)  … 3 sets 8-10 reps
·         ---Seated overhead DB shoulder press (I usually start my workout w/ these but decided to do them last today) … 3-4 sets 8-10 reps (5reps normal grip & 5 reps military style)

·         ----EZ-bar bicep curls… 3 sets 10-15 reps
·         ----Seated alternating DB bicep curls (Drop set – Start w/ med-heavy weight and finish w/  a lighter weight…I actually did my last 5 lighter reps “hammer curl style”) …3 sets 12-15 reps
·         ----Single-arm machine preacher curls … 3 sets 10-12 reps
I    I usually start with overhead barbell presses or Dumbbell presses but i decided to switch it up today... I also finished off w/ 20min of incline treadmill cardio @ 10-15%incline 4.5-4.8mph... I'm still not doing a sh*t-load of cardio because I don't wanna over do it, and i'm leaning out at a good rate now with just 3-4 H.I.I.T/Intense cardio sessions a week. The rest is all diet. 

Thanks for stopping by to checkout my progress update :) Stay tuned for more workout s/video clips and updates!! 
Alex L.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Zero Carb Day and I need to work on my Posing....

By: Alex Liska

Hey guys,
Thanks for stopping by to check my latest update on my journey to my next show.... 
Soooo the last time I checked the Canada Naturals was supposed to be on April 23, 2011. However I checked the OPA website yesterday and it says the next Naturals show is April 30, 2011 in Ottawa, now i'm confused...LOL... either way the journey shall continue!!! :) As you may know, i was training with Team O'Brien (Mindi and Dennis) for my last show (the Ontario Naturals) and they were awesome! The weight training programs were so intense, and i learned so much about nutrition and fitness from them!
Unfortunately this year with dieting costs and so many curve-balls that seemed to come flying at me from every direction I didn't have the funds to continue my training and afford my diet :( so i have been training myself and writing my own diets for the past month. 
Over the years, being in the fitness industry, working in gyms as a personal trainer and nutrition coach I have learned SO much about sports nutrition it is UNBELIEVABLE, so I've taken everything i learned and created my own diets and workout programs... So far everything seems to be going quite smooth...
I'm following a really neat approach when it comes to dieting, my body is responding quite well to it. I eat low-carb (under 50gr. per day) for 4 days, on the 5th day (my off-day from the gym) i have ZERO carbs..then on the 6th day i have complex carbs and some fruit with 3-4 of my meals (a carb re-feed) then i go back to low-carb for the next 4 days and the cycle continues! I've ditched the egg-whites and other stereotypical diet foods that were making me go broke and replaced them with tons of whole foods (eggs/avocados/nuts/fish/flaxseeds/cocoa powder etc...) that are more cost effective and they work well for my body type:)
I am not using much supplements, aside from whey protein (no more than a scoop a day 3-4 times a week) and I am still taking O3mega Extra Strength capsules from 'Genuine Health' these are by far the best fish oil supplement i've tried up to date. All i need is 2-3 capsules daily with my breakfast and i'm set for the day!!! I'm taking a multivitamin and 1 500mg Spirulina capsule. Here is a sample meal plan on one of my low-carb days:
Meal 1:
-Protein Shake (berries, essential fats/flaxseeds/flaxseed oil, Greens+, 1 scoop whey isolate, cocoa powder, ice and water)
-Green tea or blk coffee

-2-3 "O3mega Extra Strength Capsules"
-1 Spirulina (500mg)
-1 Multivitamin

Meal 2:
-blk coffee

Meal 3:
-Tuna and hardboiled eggs
-Broccoli/cabbage or other greens
-flaxseed oil
-grapefruit or berries

Meal 4:
-white fish or chicken
-1 cup mixed green veggies
-walnut oil

Meal 5:
-Extra large green salad
-tomatoes, cucumber, celery, mushrooms
-tuna or chicken with hardboiled eggs
-flaxseed or walnut oil
-grapefruit or berries

Meal 6:
-eggs or more fish
-1/3 cup greens
If i'm still hungry or up late for whatever reason I'll have a Meal 7 which is usually eggs or a handful of mixed nuts or just a tablespoon of peanut butter and then i go to bed :)
Since I'm training on my own now i really have to push myself HARD at the gym, one of the benefits of having a coach was knowing that as long as i followed everything on my programs i was on the right track... Now i never seem to think i trained hard enough... I always do an extra set of each exercise or add in more H.I.I.T. cardio just to be on the safe side. i'm still doing just 20-30min of intense cardio and plyometrics 4-5 days a week. I don't wanna start the slow, steady state fat burn cardio until right before my show, cause i dont want my body to adapt to it. If i do too much cardio now by the last 3 weeks prior to my show i'll have to do like 2-3 hours a day...LOL yuck!! Plus, H.I.I.T cardio works more effectively at elevating your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), your body adjusts too easily to steady state long-duration cardio...
And as you can probably tell by my latest posing video clips, i REALLY need posing practice :( luckily i still have over 2mths to prep for my next show *phew* .... So i will be doing posing practice every day!!!!
Anyhow, I will be keeping you all posted on here, as my transformation journey continues :))
I would also like to thank my friend Fern Assard (Ms. Fit Fern) for providing me with an awesome diet consult via Facebook and giving me some really useful tips when it comes to 'Carb Cycling' :)

Thanks for stopping by my site,

Alex L.:)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Plateau-Breaking “EVERY MINUTE COUNTS” PLYO-Workout

By: Alex Liska

Thanks for stopping by my site to check out my latest workout. The reason I say “EVERY MINUTE COUNTS” is because this workout can be quite challenging at first but even if you stop after 5-10 minutes, it’s enough to provide you with a great caloric burn, increase in energy and speed up your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate).  The complete workout was actually 60min. but I will only be posting the first 20-25 on here as a sample.

Here’s the workout:

·      -Warm up for 5 min. brisk walking (3.8-4.5mph)
·         -Run for 1 min. and sprint as fast as  you can for 2min. (7.5-9.0mph)
·         -Perform 50 Jump squats (stationary)
·         -Skip for 5min. (timed)

·     -2min. on the stepmill (1st minute @Level 10-12, 2nd minute walking backwards holding onto handles @Level 8-10)
·        -3min. on stationary bike (intervals) – Level 10-12
·        -3min. on the stepmill (1st minute @Level 8-10 walking backwards holding onto handles, 2nd minute @Level 10-12 walking forward & 3rd minute walking side-ways (hold onto handles for safety) @Level 8-10.
·         -2 min. on stationary bike (intervals) – Level 10-12
·         -3min. on the stepmill (1st minute @Level 8-10 walking backwards holding onto handles, 2nd minute @Level 10-12 walking forward & 3rd minute walking side-ways (hold onto handles for safety) @Level 8-10.
·         -2min. on stationary bike (intervals) – Level 10-12


So that’s part of the workout, what you can do is break it up into 2 workouts if you’re a beginner, do the Treadmill/Skipping portion on DAY1 and the Stepmill/Bike Portion on DAY 2…


-Alex L.:)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Training and Nutrition Update - Feb 11 - A New Beginning without those EVIL CARBS....

Happy Friday to you all!!! :)

I hope everyone had a great week, and I'm happy that you decided to stop by and checkout my latest post on my journey to my next figure comp. !!!
I have decided to continue using this ultra-low carb diet i recently put together. Last year when i first started prepping for the Ontario Naturals i was already fairly lean so my body was able to handle carbs a bit better than this time. Unfortunately a few weeks ago i did NOT look anything like i should have looked being about 12 weeks out from my next show, I was depressed and lacking motivation. I was doing 2 cardio sessions a day, the first one was 45 minutes steady-state on the stepmill and second one was 30-min intervals, I was eating a fair bit of carbs mainly from fruit and grains. What a distaster!!!!! i will NEVER do that again... i ballooned to 155lbs! i don't care what anyone has to say, that is NOT healthy. Last season when prepping for Ont.Naturals my weight did not exceed 135lbs. off-season or on-season i never wanna be that big again, none of my clothes fit, i was eating way more than i am now (mainly carbs) and i was STILL hungry and cranky all the time, not to mention slaving away on the cardio equipment day and night!!! 
I was too ashamed to take pics of myself, however i did snap a few so i could do a before and after... I will be posting these pics from January 11th soon... 

The good news is that I have tweaked my diet, i got rid of those useless filler carbs, and i REFUSE to follow a LOW FAT approach... I added in a fair amount of dietary fats, mainly from sources such as:
-Primrose oil capsules
-O3mega Extra Strength Capsules from Genuine Health (these are working wonders for me!)
-Cod Liver Oil  (Liquid extract)
-Whole Eggs
-Other nut oils
-Skinless dark poultry meat
-Salmon and other fatty fish (herring/sardines etc....)
-Extra virgin olive oil

Those are just a few of the fats i have added in, that have helped heal my metabolic damage caused by that high carb diet i followed in the off-season. 

I cannot stress just HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!!!!! I have cut cardio out completely, I'm eating tons of protein from a variety of different sources, and eating tons of good healthy fats along with greens (mainly cruciferous veggies and romaine lettuce) and im doing almost NO CARDIO. The most cardio i will do is 3-4weekly 15-20minutes of high intensity intervals.
I have shed 15 lbs since i started this about 2 weeks ago. My clothes finally fit and my moods are way better now that i'm not starving on a low-fat diet! 
I still have a long way to go till i am super-lean and ready to hit the stage, but i'm so happy that the results are taking less time now and i'm way more pumped and motivated! :D

I plan on following this diet that i wrote for myself, which is basically 4 days of 50grams or less of carbs/day coming from berries and trace-carbs from green veggies/fiber...then on 3 consecutive days i cut my carbs out completely with the exception of some greens (again.. trace carbs), flaxseeds, cocoa powder and i increase my fats on these days and continue until I am fully depleted. I then begin slowly cycling back in some carbs for the next 4 days. This will surely change as time goes by and my transformation continues but for the meantime it's whats working best!

In terms of supplements I am really seeing an increase in energy and an uplift in my moods since i've been taking "O3mega Extra Strength" Capsules by the same company that makes Greens Plus, "Genuine Health." I highly recommend this Fish-oils supplement to anyone that's looking to accelerate fat-loss and increase their energy levels!

I took some progress pics, again this is nothing compared to what i hope to look like by next month, but i've come along way since last month where i was suffering from the high-carb-blues and energy crashes and nearly destroyed my thyroid doing too much cardio... *PHEW* thank God that's over... :)
Look out for my next Update!!! :)


-Alex L. :)


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Progress Update for February :)

Hello Everyone,

Thanks for stopping by my blog to checkout my latest update on my journey to the Canada Naturals April 23/2011 !! 
So I've been doing some experimenting with my diet this past while and I found that i was not seeing any results with grains still being part of my meal-plan so I've substituted the majority of my carbs with the exception of berries here and there with more healthy fats. I have also changed some of the supplements I was taking and replaced them with different ones. Since the minor adjustments to my diet I am seeing very promising results :) I'm so excited to see how this transformation continues to unfold... I worked really hard on building muscles this past off-season and as i slowly burn off layers of fat I'm beginning to uncover new lean muscle mass.. YAY! :D
These are some progress pics that i just took, mind you I'm holding a ton of water still due to the massive amount of veggies in my diet as well as other factors (time of the month etc..)
At the moment  my diet consists of 6-7 meals, all containing protein and dietary fats. I'm focusing on consuming whole foods only and I'm also taking fish oils, whey protein and Greens Plus as my main supplements. I just started taking "Om3ga Extra Strength" fish-oil capsules by Genuine Health (the same company that manufactures Greens Plus), and I will continue to use these as my fish-oil supplement through out my entire show prep. I've noticed an increase in energy as well as better ability to focus. 
I will be gauging my body throughout the next couple of weeks and perhaps adding in a carb-up day if necessary! :) 

I look forward to posting more pics and updates, stay tuned for more videos and journal entries on here...


Alex L. :)