Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Armchair Coaches, Trainers, and Judges

The effect technology has had on our lives over the years is astonishing! I was just talking with some co-workers today about how the Internet has revolutionized communication and information in the world. Sometimes I think about how things used to be when my grandparents were young. How did they know how to get places if they didn't have google maps? How did they find information on the latest medical breakthroughs without access to government health sites? How did they entertain themselves when they were bored at work when they didn't have youtube videos to watch? But more importantly how did they get access to their favorite celebrities when they didn't have message forums, Twitter, or Facebook?

There's an article in the latest Muscular Development magazine that talks about how fans used to write letters to their favorite bodybuilders. And if the bodybuilder had the time or the inclination to write back, they're respond. Celebrities were far removed from regular life. But now, with the invention of message boards, we have instant access to all our favorite celebrities! Some even have their own columns where anyone can ask them questions, and they'll respond! How cool is that?!

Now that celebrities are only a few keystrokes away, they seem more like normal people. (Well, they are, aren't they?) And suddenly, we're all experts and trainers who feel we have the right to make "suggestions" and to question these successful athletes. Everyone's an armchair IFBB judge. We can go online and tell bodybuilding greats like Shawn Ray how to train chest. We can question Jay Cutler's diet and caloric intake. We can suggest new training techniques like P90X for Lee Priest.

Sounds ridiculous, right? That's because it IS! Just because we now have access to these athletes doesn't mean we suddenly have more knowledge. These people got to this level through a lot of trial and error, hard work, determination, sacrifice, and dedication. Who do we think we are to tell them how they should or shouldn't be training, eating, and dieting? Who are we to question theirs and their trainers' techniques for contest prep? Because we read something in Men's Health or Shape? C'mon.

Yet I've been seeing it more and more often. People questioning tried and true diet and training techniques because someone came out with something new, great, wonderful ... easier. If competing were easy, everyone would be doing it! Heck, if I could eat cookies every day and still look phenomenal, I'd sign up for that program in a second!

The successful athletes are on these forums (not only for their own entertainment and because they get paid) to educate and help us reach our true potential. They're not there to answer dumb questions or to fend off "helpful" training techniques that we read about in GQ. We can all learn from them if we'd only just listen to them. Give their techniques a try; some may work for you, some may not. But who are we to question what or how they do things? Those athletes are successful for a reason: the training, diet, and cardio techniques they used WORKED. Period.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Workout Videos - Part IV

I recorded another short workout video the other day that I wanted to share. It was Leg Day, and Jerry let his creative side take over with this exercise. We don't have a Butt Blaster machine at our gym, so in order to simulate the exercise, he had me kneel on the floor in front of the leg curl machine and do glute kickbacks on it. It took a bit of adjusting for me, but I found it to be very effective for the glute-hamstring tie-in.

Check it out!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Shoe on the Other Foot

This weekend I came to a startling realization: I'm dating a competitor. You may say, "Um, Kari, how could you not realize that Jerry is a competitive bodybuilder? You two MET at a bodybuilding show where you were both COMPETING." Ok, so I knew he was a competitor ... but this is the first time I've gone through a contest prep with him. He just suffered through my prep with me, and now it's my turn to support him as he gets ready for his shows. And as I watch him prep, I realize just how he must've felt when I was prepping.

When I was prepping, I was tired a lot of the time (except the times when I took caffeine, of course), and every little thing seemed like such a chore. I remember dreading having to bring a laundry basket full of clothes up a flight of stairs - something that most people wouldn't think twice about. But it was a huge deal for me, and I cried about it. Literally cried.

This weekend, Jerry and I attempted to put together a bed frame, and then switch one frame out for another (talk about a 3-ring circus!). Since I wasn't starving, depleted, or tired (normal contest feelings), I had a lot of patience. (Plus, it was my idea, so that may have helped my patience some.) Jerry got frustrated and aggravated really quickly, and at first I didn't understand what the big deal was. Then I thought back to my own prep, and immediately sympathized with him. It wasn't so much the physical motions of moving beds (although that wasn't much fun), it was the fact that not everything was going absolutely smoothly, and his whole body was begging him not to move or expend any extra energy.

It was an eye-opening experience for me, because I've never been on this end of prep before. I've always been the one going though the rollercoaster of emotions, giving myself pep talks just to move out of the chair, feeling frustrated and angry when little things go wrong. Now I understand just how much patience he had with me. At the time, I realized he had patience with me, and was grateful, but I don't think I realized just HOW MUCH patience he had with me.

Every night on the way home from the gym, when I'm driving, he's leaning back in his seat with his eyes closed, exhausted from the day. He's been doing double cardio sessions, and even though his cardio intensity is nowhere near what mine had to be, his body is still burning up calories at a fast rate, making him feel wiped out. When I see him sitting there, very clearly suffering from prep, my heart weeps for him. I don't want to see him in pain; I want to make all his aches and pains go away. I want to reach out and hold him until he feels better.

Now I understand what he meant when he'd tell me that it hurt him to see me cry in the gym. And how difficult it was sometimes to be my trainer and tell me what I needed to do, and then watch my face crumble in pain while struggling with tears. As a trainer, he knew what he needed to tell me. As a boyfriend, it hurt him to see me in pain, to watch me stumble on the treadmill, to see tears run down my face while I gasped for air during lunges. But he had to set those feelings aside and encourage me to put my body in pain, to push past my natural limits, and to continue to stick to the plan of getting me into a winning condition.

I'm not his trainer ... I'm just his girlfriend. And even though I know what he needs to do, and even though I understand better than most because I also compete, sometimes I want to tell him to not push so hard simply because I can't stand to see him in pain. But as a fellow competitor, I know what he needs to do. I know I need to watch him suffer. But boy, does it hurt!

So now the shoe is on the other foot. I'm the one standing on the sidelines watching the most important person in my life struggle and push through aches and pains. I know it's all part of the process, and it's so exciting to watch his body change every day. I can't wait to see him stand on stage, and know that all his hard work was worth it. It'll be weird to be in the audience instead of on stage, but you can bet I'll be cheering louder than anyone else in the room!

Friday, March 26, 2010

M3World

It's almost the weekend again ... this week flew by so quickly! Seems like just yesterday it was Tuesday, and the remainder of the week looked like a distant dream. I think the week has flown by because it's been so exciting.

Jerry and I started a new website! As some of you may know, Jerry was business partners with a couple other guys, including the famous IFBB Pro Bodybuilder, Kevin Levrone. Together, they operated a website that included social networking, a forum, and some basic supplements. This past year had seen a lot of ups and downs, with some drama sprinkled in for some good fun. I'm not going to go into the details, and will just summarize by saying that partnership no longer exists, and the website was in danger of being shut down.

Not wanting to abandon a tight-knit community of good people, Jerry had the idea for another site. He and I discussed it with several others, and finally took the plunge and started something new. M3World is our new site, and it's already growing faster than we'd anticipated (or dared to hope!). It's a social networking site for bodybuilding and fitness-minded people. We're promoting a safe, clean, family-friendly environment where people can feel free to share their stories, photos, videos, contest prep plans, gossip, and knowledge.

For now, Jerry and I are sharing the responsibilities of running the site. I'm doing more of the business/administrator/marketing side of it, and he's doing more of the social networking/content side of it. Whenever I bring up topics like "business plan" or "traffic trends," his eyes glaze over and he just nods at me with a blank look on his face. And when he starts talking about a topic he wrote about how protein synthesizes in the body, my eyes glaze over, and I just nod at him with a blank look on my face. :) So it seems we've each found our niche with our new venture.

I finally feel like I'm part of something big and positive! I so want to encourage, educate, inspire, and motivate others to lead a healthy, fit life! It's my passion, and hopefully this blog and M3World will provide that vehicle for me to reach out to others and share my knowledge and experiences.

If you didn't catch that link before, it's http://m3world.ning.com/. Come check it out! I hope you'll join and find some value in the site. I'm looking forward to meeting more new people!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Happy Hour

Why is that time period between 4 - 7 pm called Happy Hour? Are the people who go to Happy Hour really happy? Or are they trying to escape from life? And does consuming non-quality, empty calories really make someone happy??

These were the questions running through my head the other day when my co-workers started raving about their Wednesday Happy Hour at Timpano's ($3 margaritas, anyone?). They then proceeded to talk about how much they love this office location because of all the great restaurants within walking distance. And it's true - this building IS in a great location! And there ARE great restaurants around. So I agreed with them up to that point. And then someone said, "Yeah, it makes it really hard to stick to a diet with all these great restaurants being so close." And that's when I started to disagree with the conversation. Because it's not the vicinity of the restaurants that's the issue. The issue is the lack of discipline, self-control, and desire for these people to actually make a commitment to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Going out for lunch at a restaurant every day, and having at least two Happy Hours each week is NOT a path to health. Granted, there are definitely healthy options at these restaurants ... but is everyone choosing something healthy each time? Changes are slim.

When an invitation was extended for someone new to join the weekly Happy Hour, she politely declined by saying, "Oh, I wish I could, but I'm back on the wagon." Her response was met with a chorus of, "Oh bummer, that's too bad." What?! It's too bad that she's not drinking alcohol? It's too bad that she's not ruining her liver? It's too bad that she's choosing a healthy alternative? It's too bad that she's not pouring empty calories into her body? What is "too bad" about her not drinking? She very well could've accepted the invitation and then just drank water ... but as a society, we're encouraged to be followers. And not drinking at Happy Hour may appear to be sacrilegious to most. Because really, what's the point of Happy Hour if you're not drinking? Apparently drinking = happiness in American culture. Tragic, really.

Oh, and did I mention that during this conversation, I was eating my Meal 3 of turkey and walnuts? Yep, during a "nature break," I ran downstairs to heat up my turkey and grab my walnuts. So as this conversation was taking place, I was looking at each of my co-workers with a look of wonder on my face. Were they really serious? Is it really so difficult to stay on a diet while working in this office? I must be an anomoly, cuz I not only managed to stick to my diet while working here, I managed to get into my best possible conditioning for the Arnold. With that being said ... where should the blame for the diet failure really lie?? And does Happy Hour really make us happy? I think not.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Food as the Enemy?

I was putzing around on a forum the other day and came across a thread about cheating. No, not relationship cheating - diet cheating. Several of the girls on the thread seemed dare I say it - obsessed with cheating or not cheating on their diets. And on another forum, I found a thread about a guy asking how people handle life after the contest - do they binge for week and skip the gym, or do people go back to their regular pre-contest routine. These threads got me to thinking about how many of us in the fitness industry view food.

Is food evil? Not at all! We NEED food! In fact, food is one of the most powerful drugs bodybuilders have. Food has the power to change our bodies and affect our minds. Have you ever noticed that your mood is different before and after a meal? I'm much more fun to talk to after a meal!

When we're dieting, it seems like the whole world revolved around food and our meal times. I find myself constantly keeping track of time, planning when my next meal will be, and then writing down what time I ate. I've gotten used to this, so I don't even think about it anymore. But to a new competitor, the focus on food can be overwhelming.

I couldn't help but respond to the thread about cheating. I don't usually post on that forum - I'm more of a lurker - but I just couldn't help myself. Here's what I posted:

Why is there such a focus on eating clean 100% of the time? Is that a realistic goal? And if so, why? I've been competing for 5 years, and I've always had a scheduled TREAT meal or day. No, not CHEAT, because that's a negative connotation. And if it's planned in the diet, it's not cheating; it's merely a treat. So instead of looking at food as evil or bad, I look at it as a treat.

One thing that helps too is to be on a meal plan that speeds up your metabolism so your body doesn't constantly feel starved or deprived. Women who do contest diets that starve, deplete, and deprive their bodies have a much more difficult time adjusting after the prep than those who follow a plan that feeds them more food to keep their bodies constantly burning and feeling full.

Unless you're on a contest diet that doesn't have planned Treat meals because you're behind on prep (and that's the only reason why you wouldn't have them), scheduling a treat meal or even a treat day is not a bad thing. It's actually healthy - both mentally and physically. A treat meal or day can kick start a lagging metabolism, and it can satisfy cravings that will help keep you on track the rest of the week.

I see absolutely no need to go 6 or 8 weeks (or even 2 weeks unless it's right before a show!) without a treat meal or day. Seems like a plan that removes all treats is just asking to be broken, creating an unhealthy sense of guilt, disappointment, and discouragement. I had a whole Treat Day all the way up till about 3 weeks out from my show, and I continued to get leaner (another point - forget about the scale!!), and brought my best conditioning to the show.

So many of these women were focused on eating clean 100% of the time. Why put themselves through that if it's not necessary? I've been seeing this trend more lately as I follow the journeys of women getting ready for their first show. I remember I was the same way when I first started competing. I found myself focusing so much on what I couldn't have, that I would feel sorry for myself, and then start to doubt myself. Why was I doing this? Why was I starving myself? And there was the key element - I was starving myself. My actual diet was to blame. Now that I follow a diet that allows me to feel full and fuels my metabolism, I don't get such strong cravings (don't get me wrong - I still have cravings - they're just not as intense). And I don't view food as evil or the enemy. It's fuel for my body, the machine.

The advice I gave the guy who's wondering how to handle eating after a show was to let himself enjoy food for a couple days and then get right back to his routine. Why change everything all at once? He'll blow up like a puffball! It won't be quality weight or muscle; it'll be water, and if he keeps up that routine, it'll be fat. And he won't have made any gains. I don't understand the point of gorging and binging for days and days on end. Sure, a day or two is normal, and even healthy mentally, but not days and weeks of gluttony, as is the case with some competitors.

We need to have a healthy, realistic view of food and what it can do for us. I'm all about taste, so I need to like my food in order to eat it. But I also understand that it's a necessary fuel in order for my body to function like the highly efficient, fat-burning machine that it I've trained it to be. And with that being said, it looks like it's time for my last meal of the day. Yum! :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Normal

I came to a startling realization the other day that I'm not Normal. For those of you who know me personally, I'll give you a moment to stop snorting and laughing because you already figured that out long ago and it took me this long to realize it. Ok, your moment is up. :)

What do I mean by Normal? I mean Normal in a physique/body sense. What does Normal mean and who defines it? Well, when it comes to clothes, the clothing and fashion industry defines what's Normal (although if you ask me, most of the stuff on the runway isn't even remotely close to Normal!). Fifty years ago, the average woman was about a size 10 or 12. That big?? you ask. Sure, considering a size 12 in 1950 was about a size 6 today. It's true - the sizes of clothes have decreased over the years. My personal, very unscientific opinion is that they've decreased in an attempt to make women feel better about themselves. Larger sizes = larger woman, right? Well, not necessarily.

Every clothing line runs differently in size. European-based stores such as Bebe have smaller, more form-fitting clothes, while American-based stores like Old Navy and Wal-Mart usually have larger, less form-fitting clothes. A size Small blouse at Wal-Mart is about the same size as a size Large at Bebe. So it really depends on where people shop as to what size clothes they wear. And even different brands at those stores run differently.

So why was I so surprised that the pair of (super cute!) size Small capri workout pants I bought at Target the other day didn't fit? I'm small, right? How is it that a 5'2" (rounding up, of course), 108 lb, 11% body fat female doesn't fit into a pair of Small workout pants?! I couldn't even get them over my calves! Talk about making a girl feel fat!

I immediately started crying, as I'm rather emotional about my weight and body lately. Jerry looked at me like I was crazy (after hugging me and patting my back), and said, "Honey, you're SO not fat!" Yes, I've trained him well. LOL But in all seriousness, he was telling the truth. I have a small frame, I don't weigh enough to donate blood (minimum weight is 110 lbs), and I'm well below the average body fat percentage for females (even below the Athlete standards). Yet, I don't fit into a pair of Small pants.

I apparently wear Mediums in Champion clothes. I also wear Mediums in Under Armour because the Small shirts, tanks, and sports bras don't fit around my lats (which I proudly grew this year!). And a couple weeks before the Arnold, when I was about this size, I tried on a pair of size 5 jean shorts at Wet Seal. I couldn't get them past my knees. And the skinny jeans I also attempted to try? I can't even talk about that incident yet. I'll just summarize and say that Jerry had to do some quick consoling so there weren't tears in the middle of the store.

So what does all this have to do with be not being Normal? Well, about 6 years ago, I weighed about the same as I do now ... and I could fit into Smalls and size 3's. What's so different about my body now? Apart from the fact that I'm getting older (sigh), I've also changed the shape of my body over the years. I grew lats. I grew calves. I grew quads. I lost my boobs. I expanded my triceps. And I thickened my ab wall. All of those elements changed my body shape enough to change the size clothes I wear.

I can no longer fit into xSmalls right before a show, like I could in 2006. Why? Because I grew lats and abs! Now, my smallest clothes are Small, and they only fit when I'm under 110 lbs (which is my maintenance goal anyway). I wear size 3 - 5 jeans, and 2 - 4 dress pants instead of 0's and 1's.

But I'm ok with this! (For the most part ... I'm still getting used to it in some ways.) I consciously and unconsciously changed my body, and I think my shape is more beautiful and womanly now than it's ever been. I've got curves in all the right places, and I like looking strong and athletic. I like to watch my delts pop out of my t-shirts, and to see the shape of my biceps through my dress shirts. I love that my calves show even when I'm not wearing heels, and how my waist looks small when I wear belts around my dresses.

Can I wear babydoll shirts and dresses? Nope, cuz I look pregnant! They fit around the widest part of my torso (again, back to the lats), and then flow out from there, making the shirt or dress look like a maternity top. But when I wear a fitted dress with a belt at my natural waistline, I look trim and lean. Amazing how the cut of clothes can make such a difference too!

So for those of you lamenting the clothes of your youth, or even those of a couple years ago, try to embrace your body as it is today. And remember that just because the tag in your clothes says a size, that doesn't mean you wear that same size in every article of clothing. And that size does not define who you are inside, or whether you're Normal or not. Don't let the clothing and fashion industry tell you that you're skinny or fat or not Normal. And don't let the scale dictate your self-worth, either. Because it's nothin' but an arbitrary number.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Individual or Team Sport?

Is competing an individual or a team sport?

Interesting question ... one that I've been pondering for the past couple months. The argument can go either way, and the answer is perhaps different for each person.

Let's take a look what goes into a contest prep.

Well, the first obvious thing to point out is that despite anyone's help and support, there's only one person standing on that stage: the competitor.
Score: Individual - 1

Would the competitor be standing on stage if there were no audience or cheering section for them? Would they still have come to the show to compete? Perhaps. I know people who have gone to shows by themselves and competed without knowing any other competitors or having anyone in the audience to cheer for them. Was it easy for those people? Was it as fun as if there had been people there to support them? No, it wasn't easy, and it wasn't as fun. But it's possible.
Score: Individual - 1, Team - 1

The only person dieting is the competitor. The competitor is the only one putting food in her mouth, resisting all the temptations of cookies and donuts, and dealing with the hunger pains and fatigue of a low calorie diet.
Score: Individual -1

Who tells the competitor what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat? Most competitors work with trainers, nutritionists, or coaches, although a small number do their own diet. Looking at the majority of competitors, the coach's knowledge of food, nutrients, diet, and timing are critical factors that play into a successful prep and contest experience.
Score: Team - 1

The only person doing the training and cardio is the competitor. No one else is struggling through early morning cardio, hanging onto the treadmill at a 15% incline, or running stairs at the stadium. No one else is holding that weight above their heads or doing 180 lunge sets all over the gym.
Score: Individual - 1

Are there other people in the gym who see the competitor struggling through training and cardio each day? Of course! More often than not, those people provide positive encouragement and support that help the competitor continue to push hard and train at a high intensity. However, there will always be one or more people who provide negative or unsolicited feedback and discouragement for various reasons. Perhaps they don't see the point of going through the pain and fatigue ... perhaps they're jealous or envious and are too dense to realize it ... perhaps they think they know better than the competitor ... perhaps they feel threatened by the competitor. It could be any number of reasons, and sadly enough, negative feedback is something almost every competitor faces at some point in their career. It's up to the individual to look past the comments and to remember their goal and their reasons for competing.
Score - Individual - 1, Team - 1

I've heard people say that they don't even tell their co-workers, friends, acquaintances, family that they're competing. There are various reasons for this. Some people don't want to answer countless questions about prep, diet, and training. Others don't want to draw attention to themselves. Still others want to surprise people by walking on stage and winning the show.
Score - Individual - 1

I've also heard the statement that it's not possible to be successful in this sport without a strong support system. They argue that we need people to turn to when the prep gets tough, when we're at our breaking point, when just the thought of another cardio session leads to a panic attack. It's at this point, we realize that humans need companionship and comfort from others.
Score - Team - 1

Each division (bodybuilding, fitness, figure, bikini) has its own mandatory (and non-mandatory, but certainly expected) requirements for posing, presentation, routine, music, and attire. Where and how do we learn this requirements so we know what's expected of us when we stand in front of the judges? Have you ever been to a show where there's one person who clearly didn't do their homework? They didn't tan, don't know how to pose, are wearing swim trunks instead of a posing suit, etc. At most local shows, there's usually at least one person who didn't take the time to learn the requirements. There are quite a few ways to learn the requirements: read articles online, look at pictures of competitions, follow forum threads, post questions online, attend posing classes, watch videos of shows, attend camps and competitor meetings, work with coaches and trainers, ask veteran competitors. I recommend all of these suggestions! Doing your own research and then networking and actually talking to others who compete is a winning combination.
Score - Individual - 1, Team - 1

Total score - Individual - 7, Team - 5

Looks like this is just slightly more an individual sport with compelling evidence that a support system and team provides an edge.

I chatted with one of my friends today who told me that she's struggling with her prep. She's in a town that has a very small bodybuilding community (read: 2 other competitors), and with a group of friends whose interests lie outside of the gym. As she's preparing for a show, she's encountering a lot of negative comments and criticism that are causing her to doubt herself. Anyone who competes knows that negative comments can be extremely damaging to a competitor during prep. We're all balancing on the edge of breaking down, and one negative comment could tip the scale toward a failed prep.

What I heard from her is that not only do people not understand what and why she's doing this, they're viewing it as an individual sport that shouldn't affect their lives. When she's upset and crying, she's affecting their lives. But aren't "friends" supposed to support each other, even if they don't understand or agree with the decision? And even though my very crude analysis of prep as an individual vs team effort returned results about it being more of an Individual sport, teamwork is still a very important part of it.

I told my friend to ask her "friends" if they've ever had a dream or a goal? And if so, did they give up just because the journey got difficult? If yes, then the goal clearly wasn't very important, or they were too weak to achieve it. I also told her to ask them why they want her to fail. Perhaps they don't even realize they're encouraging her to fail ... and perhaps they do realize it, but don't understand why they feel that way. I hope that question prompts some self-discovery in those people. And if not, well, at least she tried.

I also suggested she distance herself from those people until after her competition. Perhaps they'll never understand why she competes. Perhaps they'll never be supportive. Then it's her decision as to whether she wants to keep those people in her life.

Some people distance themselves from everyone during prep in order to remain focused. Is this selfish? Some might say yes. Others might say no - because true champions do what it takes to achieve their goal. I do believe, however, that as much as this sport is about the individual, it's the teamwork behind the scenes that helps that individual shine.

So thank you to everyone who supported me during my Arnold prep. Your positive comments, encouragement, hugs, and smiles kept me going. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Embarrassing Admission

I've been dreading writing this entry. I'm embarrassed, disappointed, and upset. And yet, I promised to be honest, to write about the REAL life of a figure competitor. It's not all sunshine and lollipops, which equates to looking and feeling lean in the Figure world. No, it's not all good news, accomplishments, and celebrations. It's also setbacks, disappointments, and slip-ups.

Up until now, I've managed to successfully battle the post-contest blues and subsequent weight gain. I'm not saying it was easy to fight the cravings or to win the mental battle of reaching for foods because they're suddenly "options." I battled with myself nearly every day - obsessively checking to make sure my ab lines were still visible, mentally slapping my hand away from reaching for my favorite low carb protein bars (BNRG - Power Crunch. Buy them today!). But I was winning! I was ahead of the game! I was only 5 lbs up from my contest weight, which is actually much leaner than I've ever been at this point, and I was happy with how I looked and felt!

And then the pounds started to creep up ... slowly at first, just a pound or two at a time. I wrote it off to being a female, and tried not to focus on it or worry about it. And then Saturday arrived ... and with it, a feeding frenzy I'm embarrassed to even talk about. I looked pretty good on Saturday morning, albeit a little flat and watery. My weight was 107.5 lbs, which had been holding relatively steady all week long. I wanted to remain at about 105-106, so I wasn't too far off, and figured the water weight would be gone in a week. After cardio, I tore into the strawberry shortcake cookies Jerry and I had picked up the night before. Two cookies and several Reese's easter egg treats, and a half hour later, we were at Asahi - our favorite sushi place EVER. Up until about 3-4 weeks before the Arnold, Jerry and I would go to Asahi every Saturday around noon for their all-you-can-eat sushi bar. They have THE BEST sushi ever - hands down, no argument. They have all different, gourmet variations, none of which I can name. :) We both at A LOT, and waddled away with chubby tummies and smiles on our faces.

I then proceeded to eat the rest of the day. I had cereal, Girl Scout cookies, protein bars, and more Reese's. I just didn't stop. And in the evening, Jerry and I picked up a pizza and buffalo wings, and I proceeded to eat 2 wings and 3 slices of pizza. Talk about gluttony! That night, neither of us felt good, and we couldn't move.

There's absolutely no good reason or excuse for our behavior. It's not like we were starving on our diets; in fact, most of the time when I was shoveling food into my mouth, I wasn't even hungry! I just felt worse and worse!

And when I got the gym yesterday afternoon and stepped on the scale after training and cardio, the tear started to fall. 112 lbs. 112!! I haven't been that heavy for at least 2 months! :( We stuck to our diet plans yesterday, and started to feel better later in the day. I was so sad when I was trying to pick out work clothes last night. I didn't even want to attempt to try to fit into any of my smaller cute clothes. So I'm wearing a loose dress today and am comfortable.

Jerry and I are both completely back on track, and I've decided to forgo the Treat Meals this coming Saturday. Of course I say that now, but I may be singing a different tune by the end of the week. If I do have some treats, I've sworn to keep it under control. Nothing tastes as good as feeling lean. I think the thing that bothers me most is that my weight represents a lack of self-control. And for someone who prides herself on control and discipline, this is especially disappointing. This is not the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last, I'm sure. So the only thing I can do now is to focus on moving forward, sticking to my diet (which is really easy to do right now! LOL), and training hard. As Jerry pointed out last night, the weight is all water, so at least it'll come off faster than if it were fat. We're guessing most of it will be gone by the end of the week, and I'll be feeling better.

So with this humbling admission, I'm admitting that I'm not perfect, I'm not always in control. But I DO have control over how I react to this setback, and what I do in the future to avoid it. I'm just finishing up my second meal of the day, and will focus on how good these walnuts taste! And I plan on  having a great training and cardio session tonight. Onward and upward!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Grazing

I'm sitting here munching on a white chocolate structure of the White House. Yes, I'm eating chocolate. :) Today is my Treat Day!! Which means this morning I had cookies and some little Reese's chocolate Easter eggs before eating 2 piled high plates of sushi. I've sort of been eating non-stop all day. My body hates me right now, but my tastebuds are happy.

I even told myself that I wasn't going to go overboard today ... and then I proceeded to eat several Girl Scout cookies, more Reese's, and some cereal. Just because I can.

Tomorrow I'm back on my diet. I figure I'll be about 3 lbs heavier and feel kinda crappy. But I'll do morning cardio and feel a little better after that. The weather here is wonderful, so maybe Jerry and I will take a walk around the neighborhood later on. Or maybe take the dogs to the park. I have to train legs tomorrow too, so we'll hit up the gym in the afternoon. The place closes at 4 pm on Sundays, which is highly inconvenient, but we love it there, so we deal with it.

We made a lot of progress in the house today. We've been weaving around boxes and walking through a little pathway this past week, but now it's finally starting to look like a house!

I think we're gonna go out to dinner tonight, maybe enjoy a good meal at a nice restaurant. That means I better stop munching on the White House soon! :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

What's Next?

Lately I've been getting a lot of questions about how my post-Arnold transition is going, if I'm going to do any more shows this year, and if so, which ones. Here are the answers as of today ...

How's my post-Arnold transition going? It's going very well! It's not so much a transition as a return to my contest diet. It's not the exact same diet I was on right before the show; it's closer to the one I was on about 8 weeks out. We increased the food amounts just enough for me to still maintain my leanness, yet still feel good.

We cut my cardio in half, so I'm only doing an evening cardio session after training. I could do the cardio in the morning, but I'm liking the whole sleeping in thing! I haven't been able to sleep in since December, so it's such a treat to wake up at 7:30 am and still be out of work before 5 pm. :)

My training has changed a bit too. I'm no longer doing triatomic training; I've switched back to straight muscle groups on different days, mostly sets of 3, with 10-15 rep ranges. I'm finally lifting a bit heavier again. It took a week for my strength to come back. I was so depleted before I left for the show, the 10 lb dumbbells felt heavy! Jerry and I made a deal that I'm his 5 pm client on the days he doesn't already have clients scheduled. I was frustrated because the times I was able to lift, he already had clients scheduled, so I was ending up trying to work out by myself, which wasn't what I wanted. So we're trying this whole slightly more formal approach to my training.

My smaller clothes still fit!! We just moved into a new place together, so we're both going through our clothes and pulling out things we don't wear or that don't fit anymore. (Well, we're BOTH supposed to be doing this, but I haven't seen much pulled from Jerry's closet yet!) I made up my mind to get rid of things I haven't worn in 2 years, even though I may like them and they're super cute. I figure that by giving them away, I can help someone else have super cute clothes too. :) Plus, I've been slowly getting new super cute clothes, so I'm wearing those instead, and don't feel so bad about getting rid of things that "I might need."

I'm happy being this size at this weight. My weight has been fluctuating a bit between 105-108 lbs, which is a good weight for me, I think. I'm holding a bit of water this week because I'm a girl, so hopefully by next week I'll have dropped a pound or two and be feeling even better.

Am I going to do any more shows this year? YES! This is my year!

Which shows am I planning on doing? Well, that depends on the day. LOL There was a big dispute about whether the Arnold was a National Qualifier or not. One source said yes, one said no, and back and forth. I left voicemails and sent emails to the promoters and judges, trying to find the answer. I finally heard back from Mike Davies the other day that the Arnold is NOT a National Qualifier because it's put on by the IFBB, not by the NPC.

Why did it matter whether it was an NQ or not? Because I need my NQ to compete in National shows this year, and if I already earned the NQ, I could do the Jr Nationals in Chicago in June. If not, I need to select another show, do well enough to earn my NQ, and then select a National show. Jerry and I were trying to get my NQ in time for me to compete at Jr Nats with him, but we don't have a lot of extra money to travel to the shows within the next month. Registration for Jr Nats is due by May 28, and the show I was thinking of doing to earn my NQ is on May 29. D'oh! We went back and forth about different shows, schedules, finances, and family visits ... trying to figure out how we could manage it all before June 18.

And then it came to me last night ... instead of trying to mash everything in for me to Jr Nats, why don't I just focus on a smaller show to earn my NQ (as planned), and then do Team Universe in July. Voilá! Problem solved!

So the plan (as of today) is to do a show at the end of May, do well enough to earn my NQ, and then do Team U at the beginning of July. Since I'm a Natural competitor anyway, Team U is a great show for me to do. It's at a new venue this year, so it'll be new for everyone.

So the original plans of doing the Metropolitan on April 3, the Pittsburgh on May 1, and the Jr Nats on June 18 are now completely revamped. All those shows are out now. And I'm looking forward to spending some time unpacking our new place, visiting with both my parents and Jerry's parents, focusing on Jerry kick ass at the Jr Nats, doing a small show at the end of May, and then hitting the stage at Team U in July. Phew! Glad we got that settled!

On another note, I'm SOOOOO looking forward to resuming our weekly trip to Asahi for all-you-can-eat sushi tomorrow! It's been over a month since we've been there, and we're both so excited, we can't stop talking about it! We'll be hitting up cardio tomorrow morning, taking some progress pics, and then heading to our favorite restaurant. It's gonna be a great weekend!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Loyalty

Do you know who your true friends are?
No, I mean your TRUE friends.

The person who's there for you when you're down.
The person who celebrates life victories with you and isn't jealous of your success.
The person who calls you when they "get a feeling" you needed to talk.
The person who spontaneously gives you a hug without a reason.
The person who sets their priorities aside for yours when you ask ... and even when you don't ask.
The person who says what they mean and means what they say.
The person who lets you talk without judging you.
The person who tells you when those jeans just aren't flattering on you.
The person who lends or gives you something of theirs when you're in need.
The person you can call any time of the day ... or night.
The person who will cheerfully pick you up at the airport at midnight.
The person who brings you Girl Scout cookies after a tough show.
The person who knows when to speak and when to just listen.
The person who supports every decision you make, regardless of whether they agree with you or not.
The person who ignores people who are mean to you.

Is there someone in your life who fits all of these statements?

True friends are incredibly difficult to find. And when we find them, we need to hang onto them.

To let them know how much we value their presence in our lives.
To tell them how thankful and blessed we are to be friends with them.
To return their actions in full by being the friend to them that they are to us.

I received a difficult lesson in friendship and loyalty this week. A rude awakening that resulted in extreme disappointment and a feeling of betrayal. I guess I had a feeling I wasn't that important to this person, but I didn't realize I would be used as a pawn in this person's pursuit of personal gain. And I certainly didn't expect Jerry's generosity and friendship to this person to be completely disregarded as if he meant nothing at all.

So how do we go about dealing with betrayal and a loss of "friendship"? Do we cut ourselves off from everyone because we don't want to get hurt again? Because we don't want to open ourselves up to get hurt? I don't think that's the right answer. I think that life needs to be LIVED. And along with living life, is both happiness and pain. We need both - there's a balance of all things in nature. And difficult situations only make us stronger. We heal. We move on. We use our new knowledge to make different decisions that guide us in the direction we're meant to follow.

So I encourage you all to think about those who are important to you. Those who are your true friends. And to thank those people for being in your life.

It's a small world ... and the bodybuilding community is even smaller. We all need to support each other as best we can, and to remember that what goes around comes around. Karma's a bitch, ain't it!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Prep Approach

Although I now lead a Competitor lifestyle, I didn't always. (To read more about what I mean when I say "Competitor" and "Normal" lifestyles, check out Straddling Two Realities.) In that blog, I talk about the differences in how Competitors and Normal people approach life. As I'm entering a sort of post-contest/pre-contest phase maintenance phase, I started thinking about some comments that have been made to me about how I "change" when I'm in prep.

Based on these comments, I've deduced that people think that I change when I start prepping for a show. What they view as "distant," I view as "focused." What they view as "obsessive," I view as "determined." When I'd meet people in my off-season, they got to know me as happy-go-lucky, smiley, hyper girl. When I'd start prep, they'd suddenly begin to see tired, dragging, "no-fun" girl. It's not that I changed; it's that my focus in life shifted from Normal into Competitor mode. My personality was always the same - optimistic and slightly quirky - but all my attention was suddenly focused on my competition.

Now some may argue that there needs to be a balance. That competing shouldn't be a completely selfish sport. And for those who can truly balance it, I envy, respect, and admire you! My rationale behind my approach is that I not only want to compete, I want to WIN. And I want to know that I gave everything I had to deserve the placing I receive at a show. My goal is to turn Pro, and if I don't try 100%, I'll never truly know if I could've made it.

All of the top pros in any sport dedicate their lives to their goal. Some even sequester themselves and cut themselves off from loved ones during prep for a competition. Are those drastic extremes necessary? Maybe for them, they are. After he won the Olympia in 2009, Jay Cutler talked about how he sequestered himself during his prep for the Olympia, and he believes it was necessary for him to do that in order to accomplish his goal of becoming regaining his Mr. Olympia title (clearly it paid off!).

I don't sequester myself during prep, but I do focus more on myself. I realize some people may feel left out, and I try my hardest to let them know how important they are to me. Someone once told me that if I continue to compete, I'm going to die alone, surrounded by a bunch of worthless trophies (think he was bitter?!). My solution? I met someone who shares my passion and support me at all times - during prep and during off-season.

So my question for you competitors ... how do you approach prep? Do you sequester yourself? What's your balance? Share your thoughts with me!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Life after the Arnold

It's been a week since the Arnold ... hard to believe it's come and gone! Seems like just yesterday the thought to try to compete in it crossed my mind. And here we are 7 months later ...

This past weekend was really hectic! Jerry and I moved in together, so we spent all day Saturday moving boxes and furniture in the rain. Before we did that, though, we hit up the gym for some cardio. We walked in at 9 am, and the owner gave us a look and said, "I thought today was Moving Day." We smiled and said, "Gotta do cardio first, though!" Apparently, moving all day doesn't constitute the "right" kind of cardio for me, according to Jerry. Believe me, I tried to get out of it! LOL

After cardio, we took progress pics. Yes, I said progress pics. Last week, I discovered that the Arnold is a National Qualifier, which means I'm qualified to do the Jr Nationals now! That was my goal again this year, but I didn't know a good placing at the Arnold would give my the NQ. So I'd been planning on doing the Metropolitan up in NYC and the Pittsburgh again (where Jerry and I first met last year!). Now that I have my NQ, I can relax a bit and really focus on the Jr. Nats. I'm 14 weeks out as of last Friday. :)



I didn't have my suit or shoes with me, but wanted to get some pics anyway. I've managed to drop all the water weight from the show, and when these pics were taken, I was 104 lbs ... which is very close to what I weighed the day we left for the Arnold. I'm very pleased with my post-contest shape. I've never looked like this after a show before. Usually I'm about 5-10 lbs heavier at this point. My goal is to maintain my conditioning and not have to work so hard to get into shape for the Jr Nats. I hope to bring my absolute best conditioning to that show.

I had a bunch of Treats on Saturday while we were moving. YUMMY! So I'm holding some water yet today, but I was back on my diet plan yesterday and today, and feeling good. I'm off to the gym for some training and cardio!

Workout Videos - Part III

Here are a couple more workout videos if you need some inspiration to hit up the gym after this weekend. We'll be filming more videos periodically so you can be a part of Team Lutatten (that's Jerry and me!) too. If you've got any videos you'd like me to post, let me know, and I'll post links to them.

Up until now, I wasn't much of a fan of workout videos; however, I'm finding that by watching more, I'm discovering different and new methods to try. It's always a good idea to mix things up and try new exercises and form techniques. Keep your body guessing and make training more exciting!

Cable Preacher Curls

Dumbbell Tricep Extension

Keep training hard and have fun!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Avoiding the Post-Contest Feeding Frenzy

This is the first post-contest I've had that I've been disciplined with my diet after the show. My first year, I ate anything and everything in sight ... gained 20 lbs in 2 weeks (which is a LOT on a small frame!), got depressed, sick, and disgusted with myself.

This year, I ate whatever I wanted on Sat after the show, and all day Sunday. By Sunday night, my cravings were satisfied, I was all bloated, and ready to be back on my diet on Monday. The thing that's kept me on my diet this week has been pep talks to myself, and getting back into the gym.

Everyone has their own techniques for staying on track, so find something that works for you. Some girls do another show in a couple weeks, some repeat to themselves "I don't eat that food," some remind themselves how much better they feel when they eat right. Find the thing that works for you, and keep repeating it to yourself every time you find yourself reaching for bad food. Remember that this is a LIFESTYLE; not just a "diet." Try not to justify it by telling yourself that since you're not "dieting" anymore, you can eat that food. You chose a fit "lifestyle" that doesn't end when the contest is over.

I don't believe the type of diet one uses is to blame for crazy, wild cravings after a show. If you starve yourself, slow your metabolism to a crawl, and completely deprive yourself during prep, the cravings after the show will be worse. If you can speed up your metabolism and keep yourself feeling full DURING prep, the cravings aren't as bad, because you weren't so deprived. I firmly believe that this was a huge key point for me this year. It had nothing to do with the type of diet I followed. I've been back on my keto diet this whole week, with a scheduled Treat Day tomorrow.

So while that's all good information for preventing the post-contest feeding frenzy, how does it help someone who's struggling after a show?

A couple tips:
  • Throw away or remove all junk food from your house. If that's not possible ...
  • Put all junk food in a cabinet or shelf that you can't reach without climbing on the counter or a chair (trying to get to the food may give you some time to talk yourself out of eating it before you even get to it. Sounds goofy, but it works for me LOL ).
  • Put cookies or chocolate in the freezer behind your frozen veggies and chicken. In other words, make your junk food highly inaccessible.
  • Tell yourself "I don't eat that food. I'm CHOOSING not to eat it. I can have it if I want to, but I CHOOSE not to." When you make it a choice, you're giving yourself the power to resist it. No one is telling you that you can't eat it. Remember that this is a Lifestyle, not a Diet.
  • Post pics of yourself a couple weeks prior to the show to use as motivation. Don't use your stage pics, as they don't represent a realistic goal. Contest shape is not maintainable long-term (or if it is, it isn't healthy).
  • Set up a support system with friends. Every time you're tempted to reach for something, call or text someone.
  • Keep sugar-free gum with you at all times.
  • Go back to eating the foods and diet you were following 2 weeks prior to the show. GRADUALLY re-introduce different foods into your diet. Because your body is adapted to keto, be very careful with the types and amounts of carbs you consume. Your body will adapt to other foods, but it takes a bit of time. Right now, it's a machine designed to process only the foods you were eating on your diet. I agree with Erik - when you throw something else into the mix, it confuses your body and it doesn't know how to correctly process and use it. It's a GRADUAL process, but is definitely possible.
  • Go back to the gym. Start training again, but be aware you may need to use lighter weights. You just put your body through trauma by competing, so give it a bit of a break. Do some steady-state cardio just to keep moving; nothing intense yet.
  • Schedule Treat Meals or a Treat Day into your week, and use those to satisfy any cravings.
  • Remind yourself that you're beautiful inside and out. Prepare yourself for looking different than you did on stage. Remember, that's not a maintainable condition. Again, focus on how you looked 2 or 4 weeks out.

Remember, these are all just TIPS and SUGGESTIONS. I'm not telling anyone what to do; each person needs to find what works best for them. And some may argue (or already have!!!) with my point, but this is MY blog with MY thoughts, opinions, and experiences. And I figure if someone can learn from my mistakes, or from some tips that I use, then it's worth my time to post this information.

Workout Videos - Part II

Join me for more workouts! As promised, here are links to more videos of my training exercises. I really enjoyed filming these, and as I watched them, I realized that taping exercises is a great way to critique my own form.

When I watched the pushups video, I realized I could have lowered myself closer to the floor to get more of a stretch through my upper chest. And during seated rows, I could've stretched forward more to get more of a stretch through my upper back. I realized I was keeping my back contracted more than I thought I was.

Think about recording yourself doing exercises, and when you watch the videos, try to do so with objectivity. Pay particular attention to your form and your muscle contractions. Watch the position of your body and how you hold the weights. Videos are great learning tools! Now I see why football teams tape themselves and watch the tapes after practice and before games!

Dumbbell Clean and Press

Lateral Raises

Seated Row

I have a couple more videos left to post, so be watching for Workout Videos - Part III coming soon!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Workout Videos - Part I

I wanted to share some of my workouts and exercises with you, so Jerry and I filmed some short videos before we left for the Arnold. Check them out!

Cable Pushups

Regular Pushups - working around a tendonitis injury

Smith Machine Leg Press

Glute Lunges

There are more videos on my YouTube channel. Just search for "babytatten" to find them. I'll post more links tomorrow.

I discovered I enjoy filming short instructional videos! I tried introducing the exercises and talking about them before demonstrating, but quickly realized I get tongue-tied and don't know what to say. LOL We decided that Jerry would talk about the exercise while I demonstrated it, and that seemed to work well. We'll be filming more videos over the coming months, showing different exercises and training techniques. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's a Lifestyle

I've been back from the Arnold for 3 days, and I feel like I'm still recovering. Every time I log onto Facebook, I see more photos from the show and the expo, and I relive the weekend all over again. I'm still tired and have the "Arnold Hangover," but my daily routine is back to normal.

I'm back to eating my diet foods 5 times a day, training in the gym, and doing cardio. There are some slight differences to my routine, though. The walnuts are firmly back in the diet , training sessions are lighter and shorter (to let my body recover a bit), and cardio is cut in half . Because I don't have to do morning cardio right now, I've been sleeping in this week, which is a luxury I haven't been able to experience for over 3 months! I'm only doing 1 cardio session a day at a steady pace - no intervals right now.

All the small changes make such a huge difference in my stress level, though! I feel more at ease, less tense, less stressed, and most of all - more rested. I feel like I can finally listen to my body now, and let it relax and de-stress.

But what does "Relax" mean now? It still means going to the gym, training, doing cardio, and following a diet. It does NOT mean eating and drinking whatever I want and skipping the gym! Wait a minute ... if I don't have a show in a couple weeks, why would I still do this routine? Because it's not just a "Contest Diet" ... it's a "Lifestyle."

A Lifestyle means I live my life according to this routine; I don't just follow it for x number of weeks and then do something completely different. I've done that before, and it leads to major depression, water retention, and weight gain. NOT something I enjoy! And certainly not how I want to live my life!

I feel healthier, happier, and more energetic when I follow a structured diet and training program. It's not just something I HAVE to do; it's something I WANT to do. And that makes all the difference in the world. I'm CHOOSING to live like this ... to feel like this ... to look like this.

I love knowing I can still fit into my pre-contest clothes! I love that I look lean and fit right now! I love that my delts pop and my abs show a 6-pack. In past years, I'd be way more than just 3 lbs over my contest weight. That's right - I'm only 3 lbs heavier than I was the day we left for Columbus!

For two days after the show, I ate whatever I wanted. I had chicken carbonara, pizza, creme brule, quesadillas, french toast, bacon, biscuits, apple pie fries , protein bars, and Girl Scout cookies. I gained 5 lbs and felt terrible! I completely expected it and was prepared for it, though. Monday I was back on my diet and back in the gym, and already starting to drop some of the water weight. I'm still retaining some water, which is expected, but I noticed I'm retaining less today than I was yesterday. Each day my body will adjust and adapt, and change a bit. I need to keep reminding myself that it's still trying to get regulated.

Luckily, I didn't screw up my metabolism this year. That was the whole plan of how my diet was structured - increase the metabolism so there's no post-contest feeding binge and subsequent weight gain. I ate my food, and now I'm done with that. I'm getting increasingly hungrier each day, which is a good sign that my metabolism is still screamin'.

The other day at work, a co-worker was amazed that I was back on my diet food. I just smiled and said, "It's a lifestyle!"

Monday, March 8, 2010

4th Place at the Arnold!!!

What a trip!!

I'm back from the Arnold, and can't seem to focus on much today. I keep flipping to different websites to read people's experiences from this weekend. The one word that sums it all up is "WOW."

I achieved my goal of placing in the Top 5 in my class ... in fact, I did better than my goal. I placed 4th!! :) Yesterday my good friend Melanie asked me which was better: winning the Overall at the Contra Costa in 2008 or placing 4th at the Arnold. Even though I won a sword and can say that I've actually won an entire show, I think this accomplishment is even bigger. The Arnold is an international show, and I competed against Pros from all over the world. Because they're not considered Pros in America, they can compete in the amateur division here. So that means I beat some of the best in the world!


The entire show was stacked with hard, streamlined physiques. This show was the best of the best amateurs, and I feel privileged to have been able to stand on the Arnold stage.


When we were lined up backstage, just moments before stepping on stage, a couple of the girls started getting really nervous. But for some reason, I wasn't nervous. I was just excited! The thrill of walking across the stage knowing that I brought my best conditioning to the show had my face lit up with a huge smile. I knew my friends were in the audience cheering for me, I could hear the click of cameras, and I knew all focus for that short amount of time was on just me standing there in the middle of the stage. What a rush!


After I did my model turns and took my place along the side of the stage, I searched for Jerry in the crowd, but didn't see him. I did hear his voice call out, "Tatten, twist more!" and I smiled brighter and twisted my body more toward the judges. When all girls completed their model turns, there was a moment of silence as the judges decided which girls to call out first. Each call-out is to compare the girls to determine placings. The sooner you're called out, the better you placed. When I heard my name in the first call-out, I was so relieved! I took my place in the center of the stage, and we went through quarter turns as a group while the judges ranked us in order.


After the quarter turns, we were led off stage to wait for the rest of the call-outs for the remainder of the girls. When the call-outs were completed, they told us which of us had made the Top Ten and would return for Finals on Saturday morning. Again, I was so happy when my number got called! The Top Ten returned to the stage to run through another round of quarter turns, and then we walked off-stage. Judging was completed!


What was interesting was that there were no switching of places for additional comparisons. Apparently, these judges knew what they were looking for, and saw no need to move girls around for further comparison.

After pre-judging, we were told that we would be judged again on Saturday morning, so it was recommended that we stick to our diet or risk placing lower on Saturday. Most shows are only a day. Pre-judging is in the morning, and Finals are in the evening. Some National shows span 2 days, with pre-judging on one day and Finals the following day. This show was unique in that pre-judging was 2 days before Finals. TWO DAYS!! That meant we needed to maintain our conditioning for 36 hours! Eegads!


I did it, though! I came in even tighter conditioning on Saturday morning, and walked away with a 4th place trophy! :)


Over the next couple days, I'll write more about my experience and post some pictures. It truly was a phenomenal weekend all around, and I'm so thankful for all my friends and family who supported, encouraged, and motivated me along the way. A huge thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Arnold Top 10!

It's the day after the Arnold pre-judging ... and I'm all smiles!

Last night was one of the best nights I've had! I got first call-outs and made Top 10 in my class of 13! My goal when I decided to do the show was to win, of course. But realistically, I'd be happy if I placed Top 5. So when I was one of the first 4 called out, I was ecstatic!

My class was tough - all the girls were big, hard, and lean. Backstage, I kept thinking that all the other girls looked better than me; I just don't have the same size on my frame that they do. I told myself to just stick to the plan and go out there and shine. When we were lined up just before walking on stage, my heart rate sped up, and I got excited. Not nervous, just excited. When my number was called, I strutted across the stage and flashed my brightest smile. I took my time during my model turns, and strutted off to the side of the stage to watch the other girls. When they called my number for first call-outs, Jerry said my smile lit up the room. :) We went through quarter turns, then were taken off stage while they did the other call-outs.

After all the call-outs, they called out the top 10 numbers, and we took the stage again. We went through more quarter turns, then were taken off stage again. Done! There was no shuffling in line for comparisons; we were in numerical order.

There will be more judging on Saturday morning at Finals, so I'm maintaining my conditioning today. When we got back to the hotel last night, I had a meal and some water to rehydrate. I showered off all the coats of tan too ... it was nice to look and smell clean again! We'd put on 4 coats of tan during the course of the day, and I hadn't showered or put on deodorant in over 24 hours .

Here's a video of us demonstrating how to apply a first coat of tan. Jerry painted me a total of 5 times between Wed night and Thurs afternoon. My color turned out really well! I don't think I've ever had such good color before!

applying babytatten's tan. - m3muscle Video

Today Jerry and I have a photoshoot and then we're going to hit up the expo for the rest of the day. My meals will stay the same, and I plan on collecting protein bar samples to eat tomorrow. We'll start applying more coats of tan tonight, and then I'll the stage again tomorrow morning for Finals!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Road Trip to Columbus

I'm sitting in the hotel room in Columbus, OH, thinking about standing on stage tomorrow night. We left Maryland early this morning and arrived in Columbus early afternoon. I haven't done any physical activity today, yet I feel really tired and drained. We didn't get much sleep last night, so I'm sure that contributed partly to my exhaustion today. There's more to it, though ... my body is getting ready to peak.

What does it mean when a competitor "peaks"? It's that tight, dry conditioning achieved only for a short amount of time. Muscles push against the skin leaving no indication of fat or water. If you're lucky, you'll peak at exactly the right time on stage. Most competitors never achieve their peak on stage, and even fewer only peak once in their life. For figure competitors, a peak is a bit different than bodybuilders. I don't need to have absolutely dry, tight skin on stage, but my muscles do need to be full and round.

As the day goes on, my skin is tightening up and the water is flushing out of my body. Jerry keeps checking my skin periodically to make sure I'm not retaining water, and we've practiced posing a bit too. We're getting ready to head downtown to check out the venue and the host hotel. It'd be great to get to meet some pros while we're here!

Later tonight, we're going to put a coat of tan on me so it has time to dry over night. Tomorrow morning we'll paint on more coats, and then head to Veteran's Memorial for my Arnold debut!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spit Shined and Polished

It's the last day in Maryland before heading to the Arnold ... things are crazy, busy, stressful ... I find myself crying over the stupidest things (srsly, who cries when the parking attendent tells her she has to let him know when she's gonna leave and come back in order to avoid an additional fee?!) ... I'm depleted, I'm tired, I'm unfocused ... and most of all ... I'm INCREDIBLY EXCITED!! :)

The last few days before a show are always stressful. But at the same time, there are some relaxing moments. Figure competitors have quite a bit of pre-contest prep that male bodybuilders don't have. In the past few days, I've gotten a massage, hair highlights (which I've never had before and I absolutely LOVE!), fake nails, pedicure, and waxing. Last night, I asked Jerry how he likes his "new, more glamorous girlfriend." He just smiled and told me I'm the same person, just more shiny. I had to laugh, because that's about right - I'm all spit shined up and polished. I feel like Kari 2.0 - the New and Improved version.

During all the appointments I've had, I've tried to let my mind wander and to just let myself relax during that time. I almost fell asleep during my massage, pedicure, and brow wax because I was so relaxed. That's a good thing, and very necessary for my mental well-being at this point.

Tonight I'll be packing (haven't gotten to it yet), and then we hit the road bright and early tomorrow morning. Look out, Columbus - I'm comin' to town!

Hair highlights ... first time I've ever had my hair colored!

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Living Dead

As the date for the Arnold creeps closer, a lot of people have been asking me how I feel. Most of time, I just say, "Oh, a little tired, but not bad." I figure they don't want me to go into a long-winded explanation of sleep deprivation, cardio burnout, and caloric depletion. The truth is, I feel a lot better now than I did a couple weeks ago. Why? Because we managed to get my metabolism revved up, so we can add food back into my diet. That's right - I said ADD food back into my diet.

Up until now, this was a completely foreign concept to me. Talk to any competitor, and they'll all tell you that at some point in their career, they've have to remove food from their diet as they got closer to the show. By the time the show rolls around, they're like the living dead - barely functioning. I know this because I've been there. What I've always done in the past was starve and overtrain myself to reach stage conditioning, at the expense of my metabolism. So after the show, when I'd eat more than, say, an ounce of walnuts, my body would hang onto it and I'd steadily gain weight. A contest diet is not maintainable long-term, so I couldn't avoid putting on weight. Talk about frustrating!

This year, the goal was to get into shape a week or two early and to just maintain, and eventually start adding food back in. Which is exactly what we did! So 3 weeks ago was my absolute low point of prep. I felt like Death, whereas now, I merely feel like dog crap. I have more mental focus and slightly more energy (although by normal comparison, it's not much at all). Don't get me wrong - I don't feel fabulous or even great. I'm not able to do my treadmill cardio anymore, as I trip over my feet and have to stop too often because of asthma issues, so I've switched my cardio to the recumbent bike, which still gets my heartrate up, but isn't as dangerous for me. LOL I still want to fall asleep at any opportunity I have to sit down (this makes my job challenging!), and when the stimulants run out, my body pretty much shuts down. All that being said, though ... I still feel better than I did even last week. Apparently Jerry DOES know what he was talking about the whole time! :) I'm glad I completely trusted him with my entire prep. I'm looking forward to being in my best condition on stage in 3 (THREE!!!!) days!

Here are a couple more training videos to finish off the circuit training day.

Part V - V-Ups

Part VI - Posing Practice