Time is going so quickly! I can’t believe I have already completed the first 15 days of Cycle 2! It has been a huge change I am not going to lie and there have been some absolute ups and some absolute downs. Now let me explains how cycle 2 works in case you don’t already know. Cycle 2 is all about building muscle – it is essentially the ‘bulking’ phase. Weight lifting is introduced into the workout regime and carb refuel meals are eaten for every meal on workout days. On rest days you eat three low carb meals like cycle 1. The principle of ‘Pick and Mix’ is introduced into the food so there’s a lot more freedom with the food.
With the Pick and Mix principle, you don’t follow set recipes like in cycle 1. Instead there is a list of different food types that need to be included in each meal. The quantity is also specified for each ingredient and these amounts are calculated towards your own personal needs. So for a workout day, I would need to include a protein source, a carb source, 2 veggie sources, a greens source, seasoning and a side sauce. This means you can put together a whole range of different meals, the possibilities really are endless.
This though is where I struggled to begin with. With such a range of foods to mix and match together my head got in a complete tangle. I couldn’t decide where to begin! Thankfully after about 4 days I got a bit more used to it and found ways to create meals easily and quickly. A staple for me on workout days has been making cajun chicken with onion and pepper. I then combine this with either rice, a tortilla, a pitta bread along with my greens and natural yoghurt as a side sauce. I also figured that I could use some of the recipes from cycle 1 and adjust the quantities as necessary. The spicy turkey mince from cycle 1 has been on the menu quite a bit! There are also a few breakfast set recipes for each day so that you don’t have to have a full on meal to start the day.
My new found love is chicken sausages!! How have I never eaten these before? They taste amazing and are super healthy – definitely try them if you haven’t already.
The introduction of lots of carbs has been interesting. It was a little daunting after not eating them much during cycle 1. I was also worried about bloating and getting tummy ache. I have basically tried to eat a range of different types of carbs to test out which work well with my body and which don’t. Pitta bread and brown rice are both great for my stomach. I have experienced a bit of bloating though which is annoying. This also makes you feel as though you are putting on weight.
Another problem with eating so many carbs is that it makes me crave sugary foods a lot lot more. Whilst I found myself not too fussed by them for the second half of cycle 1, I have craved sugar so so much more these past two weeks. Also, because I feel a little bit chubby with all the food I am eating it makes me feel more inclined to have the odd treat, especially on hangover days. I have had 2 big events this month where I have drank alcohol and then felt horrendous the next day and eaten off plan. I definitely prefer the principles of cycle 1 just because it makes me feel determined and motivated to stay on track in a way that cycle 2 doesn’t quite so much.
On the plus side though, I definitely think I am getting stronger and do like to think I am starting shape some muscles. The workout regime for cycle 2 involves 4 workout days a week. These incorporate both hiit and weight training. There is leg day, arm day, shoulders day and check & back day and you complete one of each per week. You are given set exercises to follow and it takes around an hour in the gym. I have seen quite a few people complain about this but I really don’t mind the longer gym sessions. I had also read horror stories about having to do 100 squats and 200 lunges on leg day so was a bit apprehensive about it. In reality though because it is broken up into 10 sets of 10 (on both legs for the lunges) it feels a lot more manageable. I have even quite enjoy being able to get back in the gym for longer!
What I love the most is the feeling of purpose I have for each session in the gym. Before I started the plan, I used to just go along for a class then do a few random things such as hill runs on the treadmill then some abs exercises. Now though, I go in there knowing what it is I have to do and I just get on with it.
So how do I feel half way through this cycle? I don’t feel anywhere near as lean as I felt as the end of cycle 1. Whilst I have definitely gained a bit of fat I do think though I might also be building a bit of muscle so I am not too worried. Cycle 3 should be good though where I can lean down again! I am still feeling very motivated and inspired. I just really love the learning process that I am going through. It is great learning how food and exercise and their combination affect my body and I have picked up new, healthy habits.
Find out how I got on with cycle 1 here.