Friday, December 11, 2009

Progress

I'm two weeks into prep for the Arnold Amateur ... two weeks of zero carbs for every meal except one. Tomorrow I get a carb meal, and I'm so excited to eat sushi! It's been two weeks since Jerry and I have had our all-you-can-eat Asahi sushi, and we're both really looking forward to it. Me especially, since I haven't had any carbs for a week.

We took progress pictures this morning, and there are some noticeable differences in my physique already. I'm excited to weigh myself tonight at the gym. I weighed myself on Wednesday evening, and was down 5 lbs since I started prep. Hopefully I'll be down another pound. My clothes are already starting to fit differently, which is exciting! I love the feeling of being lean!

Here are the pics we took this morning. I'm too embarrassed to post the back picture, so here are the front and model poses.




It's exciting to see progress, and to know that my hard work is starting to pay off!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Contest Time!


It's that time again ... time to diet, time to train even harder, time to get lean, time to COMPETE!

I started prep today for the Arnold Amateur. I'm taking a huge leap and am prepping for another big show. This one gets more publicity than any other show I've done, and to be honest, I'm scared! I'm scared I'm going to fail. That I'll have told everyone I know, have gotten them all excited, and then I won't do well, and I'll fail.

What is failing? Is it being off on my condition? Is it not placing well, or not placing at all? Is it not doing everything I possibly can to prepare? It's perhaps all of those things. I have control over how well I prep and how well I'm conditioned. I don't have control over the placings, so I need to let that one go. To hope that the judges will like my physique enough to award me a high placing.

I'm excited to be in contest prep again. Even though it's the most stressful thing I can do to myself and to those close to me, it's like a drug to me. For the next 14 weeks, every time I close my eyes, I'll see myself standing on stage, going through my quarter turns, doing my model poses, dancing around trying to get my tan to dry. I'll picture every part of prep, from the hours of cardio and training to eating cold food because I couldn't find a microwave. I'll be eating during meetings at work, carrying my food with me at all times in a cooler, reading numerous books while doing hours of cardio, searching for a new flashy suit that won't break my bank account, crying during squats (yes, it's ok to cry in the gym), and arguing with my boyfriend about my diet (I'm realistic - I'll whine and argue, and then end up doing exactly what he tells me to do).

I'm looking forward to this prep more than any I've done. Why? Because I'll have my trainer with me the whole way ... training with me, eating with me, talking with me, and letting me cry on his shoulder (I'm pretty sure my boy has no idea what he's in for!). Day 1 of prep is nearly over ... only 92 more days to go!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Pink Cooler

Recently, I've been doing a fair amount of traveling, and every time I go through security with my pink cooler, I get questions from the TSA workers, and am often told they need to do a search of the cooler. I don't mind, because I've learned how to pack my food according to FAA regulations.

FAA regulations around bringing food on airplanes? Well, not quite. What I'm referring to are the carry-on regulations for liquids and gels. Bottles of 2 oz or smaller of liquids or gels are allowed; however, anything larger than that instantly becomes the property of TSA. Which means if, for some reason, you forgot to move your can of Spike energy drink from your cooler into your suitcase, the TSA will become the proud owner of said can of Spike (I hope the Miami TSA workers enjoyed it!).

Did you know that peanut butter is considered a liquid? Yep. Found that one out first-hand at the Bozeman, MT airport on my way to the NPC California State show. Two weeks earlier, I had flown to San Francisco to compete at the Contra Costa show (where I subsequently won the overall and took home a full-size sword. Getting that home is another story for another day), and didn't have any problems with the small Tupperwares of peanut butter in my cooler. The TSA worker I ran into on my way to LA was not about to let me transport the very dangerous, very liquidy peanut butter to California, though. She informed me that since it was a liquid, I needed to either go check it or throw it away. The offending peanut butter was an $8 jar of salt-free natural Maranatha peanut butter. It was neither cheap nor easy to find. I knew I wouldn't have a car in LA, so I was concerned about trying to find my way to a store that actually carried natural, salt-free peanut butter. As I scraped the Tupperwares clean and handed the jar over to the TSA worker, I nastily informed her (through the tears streaming down my face) that she better enjoy that jar of PB, since it's difficult to find and very expensive. She pretended like she actually cared (didn't do a very good job, though), and then asked to see the plastic silverware set I had in the top of the cooler. She very nearly took my plastic knife away, despite more tear-filled pleas. She finally relented and let me through security.

Lessons learned:
  1. Check PB in suitcase, or prepare to find a store at your destination.
  2. Always smile and be polite to TSA workers.
  3. TSA workers are oblivious to tears and hysterics.
 I now travel sans PB, and every time that TSA worker sees me, she smiles and asks if I have any PB. Apparently she either remembers me as The Girl with the Pink Cooler or The Girl who Freaked Out and Cried over Peanut Butter. Regardless, I'm now memorable to the Bozeman TSA workers.

So if my pink cooler doesn't contain PB, what does it contain? Simply put, all the foods I need for the entire trip, including travel back home. I cook all my food in advance of my travel, weigh everything, and package it for each day. Ziploc baggies are easier to pack than bulky Tupperware, so I put everything in either tin foil or baggies, and then put each day's food in one gallon-size baggie. I write the day on each bag, and the time on some of the smaller items so I eat them at the correct time (ie I may have different amounts of oatmeal, so I write AM and PM on the different baggies).

My cooler always contains one plastic spoon, knife, and fork, 2 plastic plates, a plastic cup (for protein shakes), a handful of napkins, and extra baggies in all sizes. I always make sure I have at least 2 gallon-size baggies for ice, because water from the ice melting will leak out of the bag and get everything in the cooler wet if I don't put the first baggie in another baggie.

But wait ... if TSA security doesn't allow liquids or gels, how do I keep my food cold? Since TSA took possession of my (really nice!) gel ice packs several years ago, I learned some airport secrets.
  1. Pack food as the last thing before leaving the house. This doesn't mean I don't have it ready (it's all prepared the night before travel); it means I pack it in my cooler the minute before I walk out the door.
  2. Always smile and be polite to TSA workers (see #2 Lessons Learned).
  3. Buy bottles of cold water after going through security to keep food cool on a short flight.
  4. Get ice at bars. Bartenders are most agreeable and don't give me the odd looks the McDonald's workers give me when I ask for ice.
Once I get to my hotel, the first thing I do is put the food in the mini-fridge. If there isn't a mini-fridge available (I always ask for one when I book the room), I change the ice in the cooler. Yes, it IS possible to keep food cold in a cooler for up to 4 days. Just change the ice twice a day and the food stays cold. I also locate a microwave (again, I request one when I book the room). ALL hotels have microwaves. I've actually walked into a hotel kitchen and asked a worker to please heat up my hamburger at 5 am. (He gave me a funny look, but I smiled and thanked him a lot). I've also heated up my food in the employee lounge at one hotel because that was the only microwave in the building.

So as I'm getting ready to travel in a couple days, I need to make sure I get to the grocery store and get everything I need. I can also pick up a couple things when I get there. Hope these tips help!

Happy Travels! :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Brush with Fame

I woke up this morning feeling like I got hit by 10 trucks. One at a time. My back was sore, my chest was sore, my tri's were sore, and my legs and calves were sore. I had absolutely NO desire to get up and do cardio ... yet there I was at 7:30 am walking incline intervals on the treadmill. I guess that's a demonstration of dedication (or stupidity, as I'm sure some would agree). I'm glad I went to the gym this morning because I proved to myself that I'm serious about this whole training program I'm doing.

I'm on Week 7 of the keto diet and feel like I may be getting a bit leaner. I did morning cardio on Monday and today. I'm going to head back to the gym in a little while to do another session of cardio.

I picked up a Tuesday evening shift at the gym, and last night was my first Tuesday night (I usually only work Friday evenings). Kevin Levrone (winningest bodybuilder in history) came in to train, and actually remembered meeting me a couple months ago when I came out to visit Jerry. While he was training, Branden Ray stopped by to train for the last time before his big move out to California (his girlfriend lives out there). Branden is the favorite to win the Nationals coming up in a couple weeks, and he's looking GOOD!! He's about 220 lbs and only 5'5" tall with a 27" waist. Smaller than mine right now! Yikes!

Jerry met Branden this summer and got to know him a bit. And he apparently couldn't stop talking about me, so Branden was anxious to meet me (prolly so Jerry would shut up about me!). ;) I watched him train, and wow - he's intense!

There were a couple other big guys in the gym at that time too, and I was reminded again of the other reason I moved out here: the bodybuilding community is alive and growing! I had a smile on my face almost the entire evening, and even got a couple pictures of the guys while they trained. I can't wait to meet more people in the fitness industry!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stress!

How to deal with training and diet during a particularly stressful week ...

This past week I was in Montana leading a training class for work. I've been here for 5 days ... which means I traveled 7 hours, stayed in a hotel, and was on my feet for 9 hours every day. Being on my feet for 9 hours a day is exhausting, not to mention the other factors of travel and hotel. So how did I manage my diet and training?

I stuck to my diet all week with a couple M&M's mixed in with my trail mix. Gotta live a little. :) Each day, lunch was catered in, so I just found items that had meat and veggies in them, along with some cheese for fats. I supplemented with trail mix and some low carb protein bars (Power Crunch - yum!). My last meal of the day, I ordered something from room service - a burger or chicken. I realized that the burger seemed to take too long to digest, so I switched to chicken the last few days and woke up hungry (which is the goal - means my metabolism is kicking in). I'm looking forward to my carb meal of sushi tomorrow morning!

My training schedule wasn't quite so easy to stick to. I did 30 min of cardio every morning at 6 am. Most of the days I did incline treadmill intervals at 3.1 mph. Doesn't sound like much, but it definitely gets my heart rate up! I trained on Monday and Tuesday, with evening cardio on Monday. I was supposed to do cardio on Tuesday evening, but by the time I finished my training, I was completely exhausted. I called my boyfriend, sobbing because I didn't have the energy to do cardio and felt like I was letting him and myself down. He assured me that it'd be better for me to rest than to try to push through a cardio session.

Wednesday was morning and evening cardio, and Thursday was morning cardio with a light Active-Recovery training session. We decided that AR would be a better option for me instead of trying to push through an intense workout. By this time in the week, I was fried, mentally and physically. I knew if I tried to push through a tough training session, I'd break down in tears and would get frustrated. This morning I did 20 min of cardio on the recumbent bike.

So while I wasn't able to maintain my intense training schedule the whole week, I was able to keep active and at least do something in the gym. It's all about modifying as you go along, and making adjustments to fit circumstances.

I can tell I'm dropping a bit of weight too (hooray!), because the pants that fit really tight when I packed them last Saturday were hanging off my hips yesterday. I don't think I've ever been so excited to not have clothes fit!

I'm glad to have this week finally over! Each day was long, stressful, and busy. I'm proud of myself for staying on track, even if I did have to modify training a bit. I'm motivated for some intense training coming up, and am looking forward to seeing some changes next week!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Impatience and a New Plan

I had a meltdown last night.

I just completed 5 weeks of the keto diet, 2 weeks of training, and 1 week of cardio. I was starting to feel ok about myself and thought I was seeing some progress. And then I tried to find outfits to wear to work this week ... and discovered that I haven't made any progress at all.

Since I now work from home, I've been living in sweats and workout clothes. I find jeans and a comfortable t-shirt to wear on the weekends, but I haven't had to dress up for work. So when I was going through my wardrobe (read: boxes and bags of clothes yet to be unpacked), I had to try on dress pants to find some that fit. I realized I'm in my largest size pants again. Sigh. I don't know how this happened, as I've been strict on my diet and my workouts are more intense than ever.

I hate feeling so unhappy with myself. And I really don't like my physique right now. So I made the executive decision to start contest prep early. Since I'm traveling this week, I don't have my food completely prepared, so I'll begin prep next Monday. What's the difference between what I've been doing and contest prep? Well, there are several differences.

Food ...Right now, I don't weigh my food; in prep, everything gets weighed, counted, or measured. I'll also go back to writing down everything I eat, and having set meal times - every 3 hours. All my meals will be whole foods; no bars or protein drinks.

Cardio ... I'll increase my morning cardio to an hour before work on an empty stomach. Currently, my cardio is a half hour in the morning, and another half hour several days a week. It's also not completely consistent.

Training ... My training will remain the same; it's already intense and consistent

Supplements ... Vitamins will remain the same (Multi, C, Calcium). I've been trying the new fat burner, Top Secret, by Bodywell Nutrition. I haven't yet decided if I'm going to continue with that, or switch to Hot Rox Extreme by Biotest, or maybe even Hydroxycut Hardcore by MuscleTech.

In a nutshell, contest prep is more intense, time-consuming, and consistent. Everything is planned, prepared, and measured. Training and diet are always in the back of my mind, and I'm very aware how I look and feel day to day. I'll start taking progress pictures once a week (same time, same location, same lighting), and tracking my weight.

I know I talked about a Transformation in my last post, but I've decided that I'm not patient enough go about it the way I'd planned. I want to see results sooner, and therefore, I'm increasing the intensity of the plan and transitioning into contest prep mode. Once I drop some weight and body fat, I'll re-assess and come up with another plan.

It's time to get serious!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Transforming

Unbeknownst to me, my boyfriend posted a thread about an 8-week transformation that he and I are doing. I had no idea I was in the middle of a "transformation"! These past 5 weeks that I've been on my keto diet was just a way for me to lose some water weight and get to a leaner starting point for contest prep, not a "transformation."

Transformation implies that I have things I need to transform. It was a bit of a rude awakening to realize and finally recognize that I DO need to transform. I haven't been happy with my physique these past 4 months, and after some serious struggles, I've finally buckled down and screwed my head on straight. During this process, it never once occurred to me that I was "transforming," but I guess I was. A Transformation is merely putting a name to the process I'm following. Now that it's been defined, I guess I should put a bit more structure in place.

I'll be posting some training and diet highlights, along with progress pictures. Yes - Before, During, and After pictures, which is really scary! I've always taken progress pics during contest prep, but the early pics are never shown to anyone but my trainer. I can't believe I'm posting my Before pictures here! However scary this is for me, I feel it's not only necessary, but will be helpful for others.

A transformation is a very real process done by real people, not just celebrities or pro athletes. It can be done while holding a full-time job and balancing a family and other responsibilities. It's challenging - absolutely! It requires a complete lifestyle change for some ... a lifestyle that sometimes goes against the norm. It requires intense discipline and focus, and it's difficult!

I don't drink and I don't eat carbs. I get up early to do cardio before work, I'm at the gym up to 3 times a day, and I'm in bed before the evening news is on. And I love my life! The rewards more than make up for the sacrifices. When I'm standing on stage being judged, I know I did everything I could to transform my physique into the muscular, lean sculpture I'm presenting. I know that every sacrifice, every cardio session, every meal, every training session, every rejected M&M was worth it.

So today is the middle of Week 5 of my keto diet. I'm not struggling with carb cravings this week; instead, I'm just very hungry. We added cardio this week, so I'm expending even more calories than last week.

Here is this week's schedule:

Mon - 30 min AM Cardio, Train Back/Bi's, 20 min PM Cardio
Tues - Train Chest
Wed - 30 min AM Cardio, Train Shoulders/Calves, 30 min PM Cardio
Thurs - 30 min AM Cardio, Train Tri's?
Fri - 30 min AM Cardio, Train Legs?, 30 min PM Cardio (if I can move after training legs!)

These pictures were taken Monday, Oct 5 after AM cardio (when I look my leanest, of course!).









 As a comparison, here are some pictures that were taken the day of Jr Nationals on June 19, 2009.





While I don't expect to maintain this conditioning year-round, it's a goal to look even better than this in 2010. These pictures represent my best conditioning ever, and they're the standard I'm using as I prepare for competition next year.

It's clear I have quite the transformation ahead of me. I'm excited about it, and looking forward to measuring my progress. Here's to transforming!


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cravings and Results

I'm finally starting to feel a little better! My cough is getting better, and I had more energy today than I've had in awhile. A couple more days of prednisone and some sleep, and I should have this pesky bronchitis kicked!

I trained delts today, and wow! What a workout! I had phone calls during the time Jerry and I usually train together, so I had to train by myself, which was somewhat disappointing. He designed a training program for us to follow, with some exercises different, depending on what we each need to work on. Since we both need to bring up our delts, we did the same exercises today. And honestly, I don't think I've ever exhausted my delts this much in my 11 years of training! By the time I was finished with the workout, I could barely lift my arm to fix my ponytail! I'm curious to see how I'll feel tomorrow.

I was very hungry after the workout, and then got sleepy a couple hours later. I know the intense hunger means I'm getting healthier, which is good. Feeling sleepy means I'm still fighting something, though. And the workout took a lot out of me.

As far as my diet goes, I'm still on track! This has been a difficult week for me, as I've really been craving carbs and sugar (especially donuts!). The previous 3 weeks really weren't too difficult mentally, but I've really struggled this week. I think it's a combination of things: week 4 of the diet, 2 carb-up days in a row (Sat & Sun), female issues, and my body getting healthier (which increases my appetite). While I haven't actually picked up anything I'm not supposed to eat, I don't immediately walk by "forbidden" foods either. I linger and imagine how they'd taste. I'm hoping next week will get easier.

Today I noticed that I seem to be getting a little leaner too! I could actually see some ab lines and some of my serratus too. I didn't feel any leaner, but seemed to look it just a bit. Just enough to keep me motivated and on track! I can't wait to see the results I'll be getting soon. Cardio starts next week!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Settling in with bronchitis

I'm finally starting to get settled in Maryland. After an arduous trip out here and an intense week back in Montana, I'm finally able to relax a bit and spend some time establishing a new routine. I didn't realize what a creature of habit I am until I got out here and discovered that I feel completely out of sorts without a set routine. I don't have my normal food cooked or packed, no training routine, and none of my usual cooking dishes. All of which frustrate me. In a way, I feel lost and wandering.

This weekend Jerry and I ran some errands and tried to establish some weekend rituals such as going to Costco and the grocery store, cooking food for the week, and doing laundry. While I still feel a bit out of sorts, I do feel a little better. Tomorrow I start a new work week, working remotely for the first time in years. It'll be a different experience not having to pack my food every night for the next day, since I'll be at home with easy access to it. I do need to be careful not to have non-diet food in the house, though, since it'll be more of a temptation to have it around. I've been really consistent with my diet the last 3 weeks, and I'm proud of myself. I'm looking forward to continuing to make progress.

Speaking of progress, my inability to train consistently the last few weeks has been really frustrating! Being on the road constantly and then fighting a bad case of bronchitis has really set me back in the gym. I've only trained about 5 times in the last 3 weeks. I'm going to head back into the gym tomorrow to do a light workout and see how my lungs hold up. It's frustrating to actually feel ok while still knowing that my lungs are very sick and weak.

Hopefully the carbs I ate yesterday and today will help fuel me this coming week. I also hope the extra dose of medication helps out and I can stop coughing soon!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Keto and Road Trips

Whew! It's been a wild couple weeks! I made the long trip cross-country from Montana to Maryland in a 17' U-Haul with my car on a trailer, my two kitties, and my boyfriend. We took a couple days to drive to Minnesota, then spent the weekend there with my family. I was in a wedding on Saturday - maid of honor for one of my good friends. We hit the road again on Monday morning and got into town mid-day on Wednesday.

Everyone keeps asking me if I'm all settled in now. I have to smile because the truth is, most of my belongings are in a storage shed. I need to dig through plastic bags and bins just to find a pair of socks, and even my toothpaste is in a box somewhere. In the midst of all this moving chaos, I decided to go back on the Keto diet.

Yep, I've been Keto for the past 2 weeks. I started Monday, Sept 7, and have stuck to it even while packing, driving, unpacking, working, and getting hit with a bad cold/sinus infection. I have to say, I'm proud of myself!

Keto is surprisingly easy to stick to while on the road! I brought a bunch of turkey, pecans, and walnuts (my favorite) in the truck with me, and stocked up on Power Crunch bars by BNRG (low carb and taste GREAT!!!). We also picked up some jerky, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds at gas stations along the way. When we stopped at restaurants to eat, I ordered burgers without the bun or fries, salads with chicken, omelets, and chicken with veggies. I didn't worry about butter, bacon, oil, or other fats, as the whole point of Keto is high fat, high protein.

I took two days off the diet and ate some carbs. I didn't go overboard, though, and the majority of my meals those two days were still keto. I had some wedding cake and mashed potatoes on Saturday, and pizza on Sunday (YUM!!). I was back on Keto on Monday, and have been strict all week. I craved carbs earlier this week, and am proud of myself for not giving in.

It's really a rush to think about how focused and dedicated I've been these past two weeks! When I'm dieting for a show, it's really no big deal to stick to the diet; all other foods aren't even an option. But I really struggle in the off-season, and have a hard time staying strict with a diet.

Although I fully understand that competing is an individual decision and commitment, I'm realizing just how helpful a support system is! I was under the impression that I shouldn't need anyone else's support or help to stay focused and committed, since it was my decision to live that lifestyle. I disagree with that philosophy now. Having others encourage and support me has been so beneficial to me! I have to keep telling myself that I'm not weak for wanting and needing that support to stay strong. It's a mental battle I fight with myself, since I was so conditioned to believe that I shouldn't need anyone else. Spending so much time with my boyfriend has been very helpful too, as he's also dieting. We remind each other to stay on our diets, and discourage giving in to any cravings. What a change for me! I was used to people cheering when I ate a cookie or slipped up on my diet, which is really sad. I know they cheered because it helped them feel better about themselves when they realized I'm not perfect, but it certainly didn't help me work toward my goal!

While on the road trip, we had planned to stop at a couple gyms along the way; however, we didn't anticipate on a U-Haul that struggled with hills and slowed to 40 mph. We also didn't plan on both of us getting sick either. Sometimes it's a good idea to train when you're not feeling 100%, but it's a fine line. Sometimes it's better to take days off and rest. If I don't feel the workout would be tough enough to be worth it, I take the day off and rest, then hit it hard the next day.

We trained at Gold's a couple times while in Minnesota, and had some good workouts! Now that we're finally in Maryland, we trained today, and will train again tomorrow. It feels good to be back in the gym again!

While I'm frustrated that I didn't lose any weight while being keto the past two weeks, I also realize that my body is so used to intensive training, that when I remove that from the equation, it doesn't respond as quickly. So by staying on my diet, I maintained my weight without gaining any pounds or retaining much water.

Moral of the story ... the Keto diet CAN work during road trips! I'm looking forward to seeing some results now that I'm back in the gym and strictly Keto!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Next Size Up

I had a rude awakening yesterday morning.Not in the sense of waking up, but moreso in the realization of how much weight I've gained. I hadn't picked my clothes out the night before, like I usually do, so I was standing in my closet trying to put together an outfit. I found the pants I wanted to wear, which turned out to be my largest pair of capris. Which means I now officially fit into my larger-size clothes perfectly ... warning #1.

I tried on 4 shirts before I found one that fit ... warning #2. I've now officially outgrown all my smaller t-shirts. This is a depressing realization, not only because I don't have many larger-size clothes, but because it means I've let go of my self-control so much that I'm now wearing clothes two sizes bigger than I was only 2 months ago. Sigh.

I'm not back on a strict diet at this point; I'm just going to be more careful about what I eat. I had some M&M's this morning, but I won't be over-indulging anymore.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Friend, Mr. Caffeine

Anyone who's talked to me about supplements, fat loss, and training knows that I'm a huge fan of fat burners and stimulants. Not necessarily that they're good for me or that I recommend them to others. In fact, let me put in this disclaimer right away: I do not recommend that anyone take fat burners or stimulants without first understanding what the ingredients are and how they act. Always do your due diligence in researching each ingredient, and test them out in small quantities if you decide to try them.


Ok, now that that's out of the way. I loves me some stimulants! :) I regularly have energy drinks, fat burners and green tea. Is all this healthy for me? Probably not so much. But for me, they're an absolute necessity when I'm dieting for a show. Without them, I'd have no energy and wouldn't be able to concentrate. The problem with using them so much before the show, is that after the show, I'm hooked on a significant amount of caffeine.

The first time I tried to wean myself off caffeine was earlier this year, right after the Jr Nationals show. I quit cold turkey, and promptly discovered that my body would spontaneously shut down and go to sleep. I'd be sitting at a restaurant with my boyfriend, having a nice conversation, and then next minute, I'd desperately be fighting sleep. We took a road trip up the New England coast that weekend, and I tried so hard to stay away, but ended up sleeping for at least half the trip. We ended up having to buy Monster energy drinks just to keep me functional throughout the weekend. So that ended the no-caffeine attempt.

Since then, I've cut back significantly; however, I still consume a fair amount of caffeine. Yesterday, I decided to quit taking the fat burner I'd been taking for the past month (Note to self: Fat burners are not effective if you don't have a clean diet), because I felt it was contributing to my feelings of anxiousness. I'm already nervous, anxious, and excited about my upcoming move, and don't feel the need to heighten those feelings at all.

So when I got to work this morning, I was really dragging. I was sleepy, unfocused, unmotivated, and anxious. I tried to function for the first hour, but quickly realized I needed to do something in order to be productive today. Luckily, I keep an energy drink in the office refrigerator for just these situations.

With a little help from my friend, Mr. Caffeine, I had a productive, focused day. I wish I didn't need it to function, but at this point, I have so many things I need to accomplish, I realized I'm going to have to continue to rely on it just for a little while longer.

To my friend, Mr. Caffeine ... thank you for helping me be productive today. And although you may not want to hear this, I'm going to try to put some distance in our friendship over the next few weeks. Just wanted you to be prepared. :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Life & Being Healthy

The last couple days have been a real struggle with my diet. I've finally decided to stop stressing over it and just accept that I'm not going to diet very strictly the next few weeks. I have too many other important things going on in my life at this point to get stressed out about not seeing my abs (I can't see them, by the way, which is quite depressing). I'm going to add some carbs back into my diet intentionally. I'm prepared to feel watery and a little bloated, but at least I won't be so hard on myself.

I'm part of a several bodybuilding and figure forums, and am always keeping my ears open on events in the competitive physique world. Yesterday I came across this photo and it really struck a chord with me. There's definitely a dark side to the world of competing, and this photo illustrates part of that in a very graphic way. Competitors are constantly judging ourselves and comparing ourselves to others, sometimes to the detriment of our physical and mental health.

When I'm in contest prep, my diet and training are always in the back of my mind. I always know exactly when my next meal will be and what I will eat. I know when my next workout will be and what I'll train. I know my weight down to a 1/4 lb, and how many litres of water I drank that day. Now that I'm not prepping for a show, though, I feel "off." My diet isn't consistent, I don't eat at the same times, I eat different food, and my training schedule is different. All of those factors contribute to a change in my body. So I'm always struggling to be in contest shape all the while not maintaining the contest prep schedule and routine. Doesn't make sense, does it!

So when I say I'm going to be more relaxing in my mindset about my diet, it's a big mental shift for me. And I can totally identify with that picture of Tracey Greenwood. While I love competing with my whole being, I also need to remind myself to stop once in awhile and not let it consume my life.

The next couple weeks, I'm going to focus on being healthy - physically and mentally - and not stress over whether or not I can see my abs. And I'm going to enjoy those carbs while I can! :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cookies

When I started this blog, it was with the intention of being real and open. So in that spirit ... I have a confession to make. Yesterday I ate some Girl Scout cookies.

So why is that a big deal? Well, normally, it wouldn't be an issue. But I'm trying to do a keto diet (high protein, high fat, zero carb) to drop some water weight, and cookies are most definitely NOT on the diet! I told myself I wouldn't be eating carbs or sugar. I have a diet planned out, and I stick to it ... for the most part. But not sticking to it completely is not the way to do the diet. It won't work if I don't stick to it 100%. So by eating the cookies, I not only disappointed myself, I messed up the diet and set myself back a couple days.

It may sound like I'm being unnecessarily hard on myself, considering I'm not in contest prep. During contest prep, there's no way I would've touched those cookies. I would've looked at them, imagined how they tasted, and then walked away because eating them just isn't an option. But now that I'm not in contest prep, they ARE an option. And even though I have a goal of shedding a couple pounds by next Saturday, the cookies were still an option in my mind. I feel weak, like I let myself down. Because I know I can resist them ... I just decided not to.

Eating a clean diet off-season is a daily struggle. Putting my body into ketosis isn't fun, and it isn't easy. Honestly, it's miserable. I get hungry, I get cravings, I lose energy, I get crabby. And then after 3 days, I feel great. So why are those 3 days so difficult? After all, it's only 3 days out of a lifetime of days. But during those 3 days, I'm hating life and struggling with my thoughts and cravings.

The next few weeks are going to be difficult as I have a couple going-away lunches and then I'll be on the road. I'll keep to a clean diet for the most part, but won't be doing the keto diet. I'll just have to train extra hard, be patient with myself, and remember that I know how to drop the weight when I'm ready to get serious about my diet.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Gimp Girl

I'm so sore today! It's the day after my workout with Kim Lyons, and I'm walking like an 87-year-old woman with arthritis. My glutes protest every step, my chest feels like it's being pulled apart with every deep breath, my abs scream when I stand up, and my back disagrees with any movement in my arms.

And I love it! I love every second of the pain! Every second of the muscle soreness and tension. Why? It sounds crazy, I know. But to me, it means I pushed my body past its natural limits and worked hard. I don't believe that every workout should be that intense, as I'd get injured somehow. I do believe, however, that an intense workout several times a week is better than traditional lifting and cardio all the time. The workout wasn't even that long - under an hour. But in that timeframe, I worked harder than I've worked in weeks. Not only did I have Kim pushing me, I was doing different exercises than I normally do.

I'm definitely feeling the effects of the hard work today! Every time I get out of my chair and limp out of my office, I'm reminded of the workout and the areas I need to focus on this season. I'm so excited to start trying some different workouts soon! When I get out to Maryland, I'll be training with my boyfriend, Jerry, and he's all excited about some new exercises for me to try. I'm ready to bring my best conditioning to the stage next year! But first I need to stop limping around!

Working Out with Kim

Last night I got a phone call from the famous Kim Lyons! Yes - the trainer from The Biggest Loser. I had won a free workout with her! Yesterday I met Kim and Gunter at the grand opening of the Max Muscle store in town, and got a chance to take a picture with them and chat with them. I was thrilled just to get the chance to meet them and get a picture! But then I got the phone call ...

I was so excited about the workout that I picked out my cutest workout clothes and actually wore makeup to the gym on a weekend. LOL I got to the gym a half hour early and brought my camera along for my roommate to take pictures of me working out with Kim.

When Kim and Gunter got to the gym, the fun began! Kim put me through the most intense workout I've ever done. I thought I worked out hard, but my workouts were NOTHING compared to this one! My heart rate was high throughout the whole workout, and I seriously thought I was going to throw up at least twice, which has never happened to me. By the end of the workout, I felt like I'd gotten hit by a truck. What a great feeling!

I went out to lunch with Kim, Gunter, and the Max Muscle owners, Clint and Whitney. I have to laugh because we ate at Subway and because none of us eat out very often, none of us knew how to read the menu. Ha

I'm so thankful for the opportunity to spend time talking with Kim and Gunter. They both have so much knowledge about training and the fitness lifestyle; I had a blast talking with them. They're such normal, down-to-earth people who are easy to talk to. I hope I get the chance to hang out with them again at some point!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Do you work out?

I get asked this question a lot, especially when I'm in line at Target (which is my favorite store). Most of the time I smile and nod politely. But just once, I'd like to give someone a blank look and respond with, "no ... why?"

I only get asked the question when I wear a t-shirt or tank top and my arms are bare. I think my arms look small most of the time, but apparently the angle of my view is different than the angle of other people's views. Because I get comments all the time that my arms are big. Why is it that competitors have such a distorted view of ourselves?

I usually feel like my arms are too small. And then when I'm dieting down for a show, I feel like they're too big - not lean enough. Do I ever think they look ok? Sure ... but only during the 2 weeks prior to and 2 weeks after a show. The rest of the time I feel they could use some improvement.

Every competitor I've talked to seems to have the same distorted view of themselves. They're either too big, too small, too skinny, not lean enough, not strong enough ... the list goes on.

That dissatisfaction isn't necessarily a negative thing, though. It keeps us focused and working hard, constantly striving to improve, constantly pushing ourselves beyond our boundaries. And that's what separates a "competitor" from someone who "works out."