Let’s first be clear. This volume of the Journal is not about recovering from injury. We’re circling up on the subject of recovering from working out.
Recovery has gone mainstream. Just when you thought you had it all figured out, the latest recovery tactics and devices ‘you gotta have’ hit the shelves across the land. Everywhere you look, you see signs of it. All the hype has drawn our attention to the myriad of ways you can recover from… damn near anything.
It’s entirely normal to have ‘feelings’ about recovery. You can forgive yourself. Personally, when I think of recovery, a voice in my head reminds me that I can rest when I’m dead. Today, like a seasoned parent eyeballing a screaming toddler turning circles on the grocery floor, I chuckle at that voice. Chances are you’ve been through the ringer too. How’s that saying go?
“Do what you do until you know better. When you know better, do better.”
Thirsty for knowledge and hungry for action, continuous improvement demanded that I pay closer attention to my recovery tactics, or rather, recovery benchmarks... Am I doing the right things?
In the complex world of exercise science, I think it’s safe to say there’s way too much damn noise out there. A simple Google search: “recovering from working out” returned 590,000,000 SERPs. That’s five-hundred ninety million results… Like I have the time to sit and figure out which is the best article. I personally didn’t even get past the first WHOOP advertisement which further proves my point. And by the way, it’s not called a Recovery Window anymore. It is now a Barn Door. Apparently, timing isn’t everything. Getting it done is what matters and how you get it done depends a whole lot on you, Brotato Chip.
Stats, marketing tactics and innuendos aside — how do you recover? Where do you find sound information that’s specific to you? How do you cut through all the noise?
Flanked by the best competition in the world, waves of accomplishment washed over me. Not a worry in the world crossed my mind. What was dancing in my mind however were cookies.
Your body is starved. You are most likely at the least amount of food intake at that specific moment in time, so anything is possible. For me, Kaylie Klitzing, this is where my relationship with cookies came into play.
The mental and emotional unhealthiness one can attain during achieving something like this, it is real. Think about it. Months upon months of specific dieting where you eat what you’re told. Bodybuilding is a lifestyle, and that requires certain nutritional requirements.
I used to get stoked on the days when I could have a packet of ketchup with my lunch.
It is worth noting that I did all of this preparation and training while working a normal day job as a cashier at a local car dealership. So, for anyone doubting their ability to handle a job — plus training for something big, it all comes down to priorities and what you’re actually willing to do, or not.
Stepping off the stage, I quickly reminded myself that not eating like an asshole directly after competition is critical. Normally right after a show, people want to go crazy with food. Me, what did I do? I might’ve had a mac & cheeseburger, sweet potato fries and a massive shake filled with delightful odds & ends. Following that amazing emotional high, I was right back on the wagon with my eating program.
Avoiding too many carbs helps the body fight off unwanted inflammation. With the increased protein and fats, I felt satiated and was content with how I felt about eating. Also, vitamins are important. More importantly, food is food. Food is fuel.
During recovery, heck, during training and along the path to this show, I had to figure out healthy ways to calm the hanger monster within. Absolutely, it is good for the soul that you seek things that make you happy, but the balance lies in maintaining an overall focus on healthy habits. Adding calories with protein and fat, I maintained a low carb intake to help with inflammation. The mantra goes: “bring calories up and cardio down.” Sounds good, right? When push came to shove, I sought cookies, and ultimately, that changed my life!
Thick Chocolate Chippers
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
- Line your pan with parchment paper
- In a medium bowl, mix and set aside:
- 3 cups of flour (381g)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- In a mixing box combine:
- 3/4 cup room temp butter (169g) *I like to use salted!*
- 225g brown sugar
- 75g granulated sugar
- Then add:
- 1 egg and 1 yolk (room temp)
- 1.5 tbsp vanilla
- Once that is all combined, add in the dry mixture.
- Start mixing slowly to avoid a floury mess.
- With a little bit of flour still visible, add in 1.5 cups of chocolate chips
- Add any mix-ins you desire at this point too
- Mix until incorporated
- Roll cookie dough into 4-ounce or 8-ounce dough balls
- Place dough balls onto the cookie sheet
- Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes
- You really want to let them chill and become firm to the touch.
- This will allow them to stay tall while baking.
- Place chilled cookies into the oven:
- 4oz cookies will bake at 350 for 10-12 mins. I like mine gooey!
- 8oz cookies will bake at 350 for 15 mins
- NOTE - If you want a darker outside, you can bake at 375
So anyway, where were we? Recovery. It doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen after a shake. It sure as shit doesn’t happen on five hours of sleep. The key to unlocking our full potential lies in our ability to recover from our hard efforts.
Think of a hard workout you did recently. How did you feel? Did you feel ready to go, or were you dragging ass? If you were ready to rock, you most likely delivered a strong effort; but if you did it tired, you most likely felt it, at least a little. Now, which version do you think produced a better training effect? Was that version of you properly fueled with the right kind of food?
Recovery, like working out, is a process. The instant I developed a healthy recovery routine, my training took on another life and the results of that combined training and recovery showed their fruits. It’s critical that you develop a healthy recovery routine — one that embraces periodized training, rest, and proper nutrition. Working up for the show was no different. My schedule was dialed, nutrition was on point, and we definitely hit all the wickets.
The goal of recovery is to return to readiness.
Slinging steel every day of the week had me looking Hulk-ish. Those two hours of scheduled cardio were the first to go. I scaled that back to one hour of cardio per day and felt an immediate boost. Giving myself eight weeks to recover from the competition and all the buildup, I didn’t want to remove cardio all together. Mentally and physically, I felt the need for continued cardio, so I kept it going.
For me, managing the change in training volume was easy. I love to go to the gym. Depleted or not, it’s my sanctuary. Again, I cannot overstate this, bodybuilding is a lifestyle. While that is true, recovery is something that applies to all of our physical lives. Where you have growth, there has been recovery. Spin that around and you’ll see that recovery is required for growth, hello.
My face hurt from all the on-stage smiling, and the inner-self talk had already begun. Pro Bodybuilder or not, my real challenge revolved around food and my ensuing mental state. Feeling pulled on all sides, I knew that I had to gain weight in order to be healthy.
After dieting and when increasing calories, I feared gaining weight and was afraid to eat food. I felt like I was not allowed to eat many of the foods I desired. This made me feel sad and ultimately, I felt like I was missing out on experiences. As a result of the bashing and negative self-talk, I’d often find myself escaping and withdrawing from social events headed out the back door or on a long walk. All smiles on the outside, I was I shambles on the inside. I had developed a bad relationship with food which turned into a serious disorder for me. A lot of that had to do with expectations. I wanted to be perfect and lean all the time.
Remember, there’s no bad food.
Having developed a scarcity mindset, it’s easy to go crazy with a cheat meal. I mean come on, who’s going to find out? Then, feeling guilty about all that shit you ate, before it’s even finished, you revert back into dieting mode which often results in another binge session. Am I right, or am I right? Looking back on the food aspect, I was putting too much emphasis on foods due to my disorder. If you actually pay attention to your hunger, and the signals, you’ll be okay.
What’s up y’all! It is okay to eat cookies. And guess what — I’ll have abs tomorrow!
With active recovery, light workout sessions and improving nutrition now in check, I refocus my recovery game toward rest & relaxation. Ask any athlete what the most important aspect of their recovery regimen is. For me, sleep is critical. I actively focus on relaxation and maintaining a solid sleep schedule considering the gains made during rest. If you cannot master sleep, nothing else matters.
I often questioned myself wondering if the rest I was getting was adequate for me considering my work load and physical training schedules I maintained. To gain insight into my very own recovery, I decided to jump on the wearable technology bandwagon with WHOOP. With that, I have gained an increased awareness to my overall sleep & recovery. It allows you to remove the emotions from decision-making revolving around resting versus going hard.
To chill or not to chill.
For some of us, learning how to chill is the biggest obstacle to overcome. Before I knew better, I would just schedule my workouts. Stacks of logbooks later, it became evident that I had to actually schedule my rest and relaxation for me to really put it to work for me.
Sleep. Kicking it. Chill time. Petting the freaking cat! However you slice it, your body requires downtime to heal, and you must be adamant about making it happen.
At the end of the day, a rested body is a recovered body. A recovered body is ready to go. And I am ready to freaking go!!!
For me, it always was, and still is, about food. I’ve learned to listen to my body. Sure, challenges arise, things get difficult, life freaking happens; so what. You know who you are! If you haven’t figured that out, maybe start there. Don’t look to bodybuilding for a reason to support your [poor]nutritional habits; it’ll only highlight your weaknesses. Nutrition comes with the territory and you’d best arrive with yourself in a strong mental state, ready to adapt and overcome to any challenge that comes between you and your mission. Remember, what we do is extreme.