T Nation

20 Y/O Female, 5'0'', 53kg


#1


Hi everyone,

Before I start with my somewhat lengthy post, I want to say that I am really determined, at peace with myself and ready to begin a transformation. My main goals are BF loss, muscle gain AND developing strength, POWER, and endurance - I've been always really clumsy and "weak", and I want to change that and take control of my body.

I've been active for about 6 years now. I had scoliosis and back pain since I was a kid, and started doing bodyweight training and authentic Pilates with a personal trainer when I turned 14. I developed a lot of core strength and I really enjoy core work and challenging core exercises, and as a result, I don't have back pain anymore.

However, I also have a number of serious neurological problems, including epilepsy, for which I am medicated and it has affected my training a lot. I've also been in the hospital for months at a time sometimes or spent some weeks in a wheelchair, missing school, training, and well, basically most of my life in general. The state of my health and well-being caused me to be depressed, because I couldn't pursue what I wanted in life.

I've had a number of depressive episodes throughout my teenage years which were related to my poor health, and since I'm also a huge perfectionist, I developed anorexia at the age of 13, and I became completely obsessive with cardio and starving myself when I was 18.

Sometimes I still look at myself and know that I want to be different, but I don't let myself dwell on it. After all, I train for health and strength, and the aesthetic side is not the most important of my priorities.

But for a few weeks now I've been feeling much better, mainly due to my epilepsy meds, and I can train every day now. Sometimes if I have a lot to study or concentrate on, I'll train early in the morning, but I try not to skip any days, and have 1-2 active rest days per week.

My nutrition has also been really healthy for years; I eat plenty of clean protein, "good fats" and carbs in moderation. I try to stay active all the time - I walk plenty, I ride my bike, and I lift daily. And here's the thing: my strength has grown immensely, but I'm struggling with growing muscle and losing fat, unlike when I was a cardio nut two years ago.

I started with serious lifting about 2 months ago and would squat with 10 kg at 50 kg and it'd be really difficult/heavy for me. Now I squat 2 sets of 15-18 reps at 95% of my bodyweight with the proper form, and deadlift at 90%-95% bodyweight for two weeks as of now.

I had my BF measured at 27% in July, where I was rarely active, because I stayed in the hospital for a while again, but I can't see any difference in relation to my BF as of yet. I apologize if I sound really impatient in a way. But I want to know if there's anything I should start with to completely transform my body in at least 6 months or maybe a year.

I don't count calories, but my daily menu may look like this:
Breakfast: Whole yoghurt with whole oatmeal, a tsp of sugar-free strawberry jam or fresh strawberries, other berries, and sometimes coconut. OR two eggs with avocado on a sugar-free oatmeal toast

Snacks after training/cardio or before/after weights and other training sessions OR other kind of physical activity during the day OR if I am really hungry and can't eat full lunch/dinner yet: sugar-free wild beef jerky, almonds, maybe rarely a banana, sugar & additive-free peanut butter

After training: protein (chicken breast, beef twice per month, tuna or salmon, chickpeas), maybe a homemade curry thing (or a homemade sauce without sugar with fresh spices), fat (such as an avocado, cream cheese or sth like that) and a controlled amount of carbs (grains about twice or three times per week, but not all the time- wholewheat pasta, quinoa, brown rice, sometimes wholewheat couscous once per month, or lentils, peas, fresh veggies).

Drinks: tea, water with fresh lemon or peppermint, homemade aloe vera juice drink without sugar, but mostly water. I don't drink alcohol or sugary drinks at all (actually can't tolerate alcohol and can't drink it because of my meds, and I dislike really sweet stuff).

Dinner: salad from lots of greens, sprouts, homemade pesto, chickpeas, tuna, eggs etc. a light dinner usually.

Cheat meals occur very rarely in the form of one pizza slice or smth like that once in a few months, or a homemade cottage cheese cake with palm sugar from my SO's mother once per month. That's all the cheat meals I have, because I am really/honestly not fond of sugary things or fast-food, not even used to that, so it's not difficult for me to maintain these eating habits. However, if you have anything to recommend, let me know.

Supplements: vit D, fish oil, CLA, probiotics, small amount of zinc (for my skin), magnesium oil when necessary. BCAAs after training. Sometimes whey protein before sleep (I'm still not sure on these things).

My concerns: can't lose fat, gaining weight rapidly but can't see any muscle growth (I weighted 50 kg when I had lots of belly fat a few months ago and now I weight 53 kg, however there's much less belly fat but no muscle definition).

My hormones are great (had my thyroid checked just a few months ago due to neurological issues, I have regular menses etc and no PCOS). I am gaining strength but can't seem to perceive any physical changes. HOWEVER, 2 years ago, when I was a cardio nut, my BF was really low and I had muscle definition although I was just sprinting every day (HIIT) and doing bodyweight exercises.

Current training schedule:
Trying to do cardio, 450 kcal (90 min on a bike, 20 km) every day, but if I am too tired, I'll settle with 30-40 min. Before or after lifting.

Monday - Workout 1
Tuesday - Workout 2
Wednesday - Workout 1
Thursday - Workout 1
Friday - Workout 2
Saturday, Sunday - active rest days with bodyweight exercises and maybe HIIT or more cardio.

Workout 1
Barbell squats
Jump squats
Good morning
Back series
Ab circuit
Bench press
Barbell triceps on a bench with a narrow grip
Skullcrushers

Workout 2
Weighted lunges
Overhead squats (bodyweight or 10 kg at the moment)
Deadlifts
TRX HIIT, abs
Leg lifts
Tricep dips
Push-ups
Chin-ups (can do only 1 fully at the moment)

Saturday, Sunday
Core work, bodyweight exercises, box jumps.

I am a bit socially anxious to try other exercises, however I'm willing. As you can see, I haven't been doing much for my arms, becuase they're really wide right now and I want to lose more fat before defining them (although now that I've said it, it seems kind-of ridiculous to think this way).

I also attached a picture of myself in a relaxed everyday state in July, then three pictures of my body taken today, and the last picture is of me 2 years ago when I was just a HIIT nut but achieved a much lower BF percentage without lifting... However I don't want to go back to that, since I was lethargic, obsessive and unhealthy. I am looking for something different.

I am really sorry if this post turned out to be way too long. I'm really looking for help regarding my situation, as I'm trying and I want some guidance and advice on how to change my situation for the better and become more efficient.

I'd like to be at a much, much lower BF percentage, have a lot of muscle definition and continue gaining strength. AND I am not sure if my diet is completely right.

Thank you.


#2

Giving it hell! Great job sofar. Being able to fight through those circumstances is something that says alot about your persona.

You’re doing great work sofar, seems like your diet is tidy. As far as I can see, there is nothing but minutae to change. If you wish you can do this eating challenge. It’s really alike what you are doing at the moment. I believe a challenge can turn on some button most people need to get switched. Intentions matter.

This program seems about right for your goals https://www.T-Nation.com/workouts/hard-body-training-for-women . (I believe Christian Thibaudeau has anwserd alot of questions about the conditioning on his forums.)

You could be making your body numb against excercise because you work out so often. Maybe try a 10 day complete rest before starting the program. Make sure you know your Rm’s on before hand tho.

Hope you get more input. You’ll do great!


#3

[quote]Panopticum wrote:
Giving it hell! Great job sofar. Being able to fight through those circumstances is something that says alot about your persona.

You’re doing great work sofar, seems like your diet is tidy. As far as I can see, there is nothing but minutae to change. If you wish you can do this eating challenge. It’s really alike what you are doing at the moment. I believe a challenge can turn on some button most people need to get switched. Intentions matter.

This program seems about right for your goals https://www.T-Nation.com/workouts/hard-body-training-for-women . (I believe Christian Thibaudeau has anwserd alot of questions about the conditioning on his forums.)

You could be making your body numb against excercise because you work out so often. Maybe try a 10 day complete rest before starting the program. Make sure you know your Rm’s on before hand tho.

Hope you get more input. You’ll do great!

[/quote]

Thank you for this reply. It’s really great to hear encouraging words. My SO has encouraged me through the hardest times, especially when I couldn’t move at all and thought that I’d lost everything. But there’s such a huge amount of information out there that I really didn’t know where to start when it comes to lifting. Theoretically I am not that fond of isolation exercises on different machines though, I am more interested in leaning out in general and becoming functionally strong, I like the idea of “strongman” type of workouts. I’d really love to do competitive lifting/powerlifting in the future as well, because I enjoy lifting a lot (it’s such an amazing feeling when you’re gaining strength :slight_smile: ). I’m also hoping to get into martial arts sometime next year, because then I’d be able to afford martial arts classes hopefully and I’ve been always interested in that since I’ve been a kid. I also didn’t post this on bodybuilding.com because I think it’s slightly different from this website. I’m new to this site, but I’ve read some nutrition articles so far and I really like the stuff here.

Thanks for the link as well, I didn’t see that program before and it looks really good, something I could actually agree with completely and stick to in-between studies. This is really, really exciting, haha. I hope I don’t come across as too weird with my excitement. I’ll start with that program next week, I’m having two active rest days anyway now. :slight_smile: It’s just that I’ve been really impatient about my BF percentage: I really want it to come off, considering that I think I’m putting enough of work into it so far. But I guess I have to wait and just enjoy the training. I am aware that I am not exactly overweight, but I know I am out of shape, and it’s just frustrating sometimes. I’m also a bit concerned that the meds might hinder the fat loss, but I’d have to live with that in a way. Just a bit of a rant I guess. If everything seems fine with my nutrition (around 1800 kcal in total on training days) then I should just wait.

Have a great day/evening, thanks for replying.


#4

I’m so impressed that you’ve kept going despite the health setbacks. You already have a really darling figure. You mentioned you’d gained some scale weight but have lost belly fat. That’s great! I’d focus on dialing in nutrition a bit more. You’re already really active and lifting. The little bit of fat loss will come from diet.

If you have approximately 1800 Cals on training days, make sure you are down a bit on rest days, maybe closer to 1300. Honestly, just cutting a little bit with serving sizes might get you over the hump. It looks like your food sources are good. So, I’d guess eating half a banana instead of a whole, or eating 1 T PB instead of two might do it.

Just examples there since I don’t know your exact portions. Keep protein up, but cut a little bit from your fat or carb sources or both.

BTW, I completely relate with being a petite chick. Every 5 pounds shows. You have great proportions when you compare your shoulders to hips, and a little waist.

Best!
Puff

edited


#5

Just one more thing. Two months of lifting, especially in a female just isn’t much time. Keep going and trust that a year from now you’ll have some serious progress. Don’t worry about bulking your arms too much. At this point just get strong and build a foundation.


#6

Your waist has gone down and your weight has gone up: that means you have both lost fat and replaced it with an equal amount or more
of lean mass, oh and strength is up also- this is the holy grail for most guys. You are on the right track.

Especially with your history use the tape measure or calipers even as your main way of tracking progress.

Full body training 5-7 days a week AND 90 mins cardio every day is waaay too much. Like more than most pro bikini or physique athletes perform for 90% of the year.
I strongly advise you take one day a week off all excercise, whatever program you’re on.

For training try this…


Dont worry if cant do chins the main thing is its 4 compound moves back to back
(this is a tough program so keep your calories up so you can really bring it)

if you really must get your cardio fix do this…

Indigo 3g supplement also something to consider


#7

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
Your waist has gone down and your weight has gone up: that means you have both lost fat and replaced it with an equal amount or more
of lean mass, oh and strength is up also- this is the holy grail for most guys. You are on the right track.

Especially with your history use the tape measure or calipers even as your main way of tracking progress.

Full body training 5-7 days a week AND 90 mins cardio every day is waaay too much. Like more than most pro bikini or physique athletes perform for 90% of the year.
I strongly advise you take one day a week off all excercise, whatever program you’re on.

[/quote]

This is good advice. You’re already about 117 pounds and 5’0". You may see changes in the way your skinny jeans or pencil skirts fit, but not see the scale move at all. Be ok with that. The scale is really not a great tool for someone who’s already within their ideal weight range. Looking at your pictures, you don’t have much to loose, IMO.

Also, what Badger said about too much cardio. If you’re just tooling around riding a bike to school, that’s very different from going all Lance Armstrong on it. Walking to class or walking your dog - you can do that all day and so I don’t really call that kind of thing “cardio”, it’s just being active and it’s good. The article on walking is really true, IMO. I’m not sure how intense you are being with your cardio, but you don’t need to do too much burning up the cardio machines, because it will likely just make you really hungry. You really don’t want to get in the trap of adding MORE cardio, and crazy long training sessions. Come at it by downsizing your carbs and/or fats very gradually, especially on days you aren’t lifting. That’s it.

You often see college female athletes who are carrying quite a bit of both fat and muscle. They are training like crazy which keeps makes them need to EAT to keep up their performance. It’s usually not the road to looking figure/bikini lean, unless you have a great metabolism to start with.


#8

[quote]RampantBadger wrote:
Your waist has gone down and your weight has gone up: that means you have both lost fat and replaced it with an equal amount or more
of lean mass, oh and strength is up also- this is the holy grail for most guys. You are on the right track.

[/quote]

This.

It’s only been 2 months according to you. Any and all serious lifters who have attained impressive physiques/strength measure their training journey in years. Patience is essential. You are clearly already making quite good progress and I think you know that already. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re not progressing fast enough because that mindset will actually hinder your gains.

Unless you are trying to shoot for a weight class in a sport, scale weight is not that important. Never use scale weight as the sole (or even main) metric of progress.

Everything else Badger said was on point too.


#9

[quote]PhysicsLifter wrote:
Hi everyone,

I’ve been active for about 6 years now. I had scoliosis and back pain since I was a kid, and started doing bodyweight training and authentic Pilates with a personal trainer when I turned 14. I developed a lot of core strength and I really enjoy core work and challenging core exercises, and as a result, I don’t have back pain anymore.

However, I also have a number of serious neurological problems, including epilepsy, for which I am medicated and it has affected my training a lot. I’ve also been in the hospital for months at a time sometimes or spent some weeks in a wheelchair, missing school, training, and well, basically most of my life in general. The state of my health and well-being caused me to be depressed, because I couldn’t pursue what I wanted in life.

[/quote]

About the scoliosis. You don’t have any fused vertebrae, never had back surgery? It looks like one shoulder is much higher than the other in that pic of your back. Is that accurate of how you look when standing straight, or is that just something strange about the camera angle? Is your pelvis level?