Thursday, July 29, 2010

Arrogance or Ignorance?

How many times have you heard people ask for help or an answer to a question, receive an answer or advice, and then proceed to completely disregard the information and do the opposite of what was advised?

I see this again and again online and in person.

Mr. Wanna-Be-Huge: Yo bros! I wanna get huge! What's the best way to do that?
Pro Bodybuilder: Hard work - train hard and eat a lot of clean foods.
Mr. Wanna-Be-Huge: Whatever, bro. You're lying to me cuz you don't want me to be better than you. You're not telling me about the magic, secret pill all you pros take to get huge. *proceeds to train like a pansy, eat McDonalds every day, and load up on every supplement imaginable ... and then wonders why he can't make any progress.

Miss Wanna-Get-Lean: Hey girl! How do I drop some of this weight to get ready for summer?
Trainer: Get off the cardio deck, hit the weights hard, and follow a nutrition program.
Miss Wanna-Get-Lean: Weights?! Only guys do that! I don't wanna look like a guy! *proceeds to hop back on the treadmill for another 2 hours and eat only salads ... and then wonders why she still has cellulite on her butt.

Do either of these conversations sound familiar? Why do we ask for help or guidance, only to disregard it and continue doing what hasn't been working?

If your nutritionist gives you a diet plan, do you follow it precisely? Or do you substitute foods, lick the spoon when you bake cookies for your kids, and skip meals?

When your trainer tells you to do 45 min of fasted cardio every morning, do you do those 45 min every day? Or do you do 30 min in the morning cuz you're running late and either skip the last 15 or do it at the end of the day? Or do you meander into the gym in the afternoon because you didn't feel like getting up early today?

When your coach tells you to eat only ONE treat meal a week, do you limit yourself to that one meal? Or do you snack the whole day and stretch the "meal" out for hours?

Why do we hire people to help us out and then disrespect them by not following their plans for us? There's no secret to changing your body. It's simple: consistency. I've written about this before here and here. If your body isn't making the changes you want to see, examine your habits and your mindset. Are you doing everything your trainer or coach is suggesting? Are you following the protocol exactly?

We are the only ones responsible for how our bodies look and feel. So take charge, take responsibility, and if you hire someone to help you achieve your goals, listen to them!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Acceptance

Today is Day 3 of my new Bikini Body plan, and it's going well! I feel better already.

Yesterday after my workout, I weighed myself to see if my hunch that I'd dropped some water weight was actually true. I figured I'd dropped about a pound or two, so I was surprised when I saw I'd dropped 4 lbs! So it wasn't my imagination that I tightened up a bit. My belly didn't jiggle nearly as much during my walk this morning, which is a sure sign of losing water weight. I can't believe how much water my body hangs onto when I eat carbs!

The only drawback of yesterday and today is the agonizing shift into ketosis. I had no energy and just felt generally icky yesterday. I feel slightly better today, as my body is re-learning how to burn fats instead of carbs for energy. Amazing what a huge difference it makes going from low carb to zero carb. Compared to most people, I wasn't even eating that many carbs - it was under 100 grams/day. Just goes to show that everyone's body is different.


CSI Photography at the 2010 Jr. Nationals - My goal for an off-season look

One of the main motivating factors of this Bikini Body plan was a statement one of my friends made a couple weeks ago. In her training journal, Staci pointed out that "when you're short and prone to being super curvy, you learn early on in life that you just can't eat like an American." For some reason, even though Jerry has been telling me this for the past few months, reading these words really knocked some sense into me. Since I had such a fast metabolism when I was younger, and was a skinny kid who could eat whatever she wanted without gaining any weight, I hadn't accepted that my body has changed in the past few years. I was in denial that I couldn't eat like a Normal person and still remain lean.

Once I finally accepted and came to terms with the fact that I'll always have to watch what I eat if I want to feel good about my body, deciding to start my Bikini Body plan wasn't such a big deal. I'm still not thrilled that I have to limit carbs, and avoid dairy in order to stay at my goal weight, but I'd rather be happy with how I look and fit into ALL the clothes in my closet than eat carbs I don't need.

I know I'm on the right track to feeling and looking better!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Power to Change

Remember when I kept saying that I wasn't going to gain a bunch of weight after my last show? How I was going to stick to a plan and remain within 5-7 lbs of my contest weight?

I failed.

I'm about 18 lbs over my contest weight. I finally stepped on the scale last week to see what the damage was. When the number came up, I just sighed, because my suspicions were confirmed. How could I not know I'd gained that much weight? Because some of my smaller clothes still fit (albeit a lot tighter), and I can still see some lines in my arms and legs. I haven't turned into the giant puffball I was last summer, even though the scale says I'm back up to that weight.

Did I completely fall off the wagon? Nope. Was I pigging out every day? Nope. Did I have at least one treat every day? Nope.

So what happened?

I believe it's a combination of things: maintenance diet, post-contest rebound, and reduced energy expenditure.

When I break it down, I realize that I've only gained 7 lbs since I stopped dieting the week of Jr Nats (June 18). I didn't suddenly gain 7 lbs of fat, so some of it's water. I've been eating a clean diet during the week, and then having some treats on the weekend. Not gorging myself on the weekends; just going out to eat and having some treats. Basically, eating like a Normal person. My diet during the week was low carb, high protein, moderate fats, 5-6 meals a day. So while my diet was great by most standards, it wasn't a fat loss diet by any means. I didn't gain weight on it, but I didn't lose weight either. Since I'm a petite person, every little bit of food counts and makes a difference in my body. I really need to adhere to a stricter diet than most people do in order to stay at my target weight.

How does post-contest rebound factor in if I stopped dieting midway through contest prep? Well, after the Lehigh show in May, we changed my training and I started lifting heavier with fewer reps. We were trying to put on some muscle so I'd come into Team U looking fuller. It seems we were successful - I did put on some muscle (and thus, my weight increased). However, we quickly discovered that with more muscle, I look like a brick.

Although I'm still working my butt off in the gym every day, naturally, I'm not doing as much cardio as I did during prep. With a reduced energy expenditure, my calories were lower too, but clearly not low enough to compensate for the decreased activity.



I'm not completely depressed about my weight gain. I still look fit compared to most people, and many of my clothes still fit. But I'm not comfortable at this size. I want the rest of my wardrobe to fit. I don't want to feel the water/fat jiggling around my waist when I walk. I want at least an outline of my abs to show when I wear my bikini. And I don't want my thighs to rub together when I walk (talk about uncomfortable!).

So what's the plan?

I'm not a victim of myself. I'm not a slave to the limitations of my mind. I have the power, the ability, the willpower, the determination, and the strength to change my body whenever and however I want.

So I started morning cardio and tightened up my diet. Two small changes that will make a big difference in how I look and in how I feel. I'm following my own advice: if you don't like something, change it! Do something about it!

The goal is to lose 10 lbs and maintain that weight. I don't know how long it'll take to get to that weight; we figure maybe 5-6 weeks. I'm taking charge of my body and my mind.

In the words of Linguini (from the movie Ratatouille): "Let's do this thing!"

Friday, July 23, 2010

Random Thoughts on a Friday Afternoon

A list of random thoughts I had this afternoon ...
  • I just spent the past few hours trying to format a multi-level bullet list ... in html. I don't understand why a bunch of extra paragraph markings suddenly appeared. I didn't create any new paragraphs ... hmmm ...
  • My throat hurts.
  • What do you mean that video file is 700 MB and takes a half a gig to load on a website?? Fine, I'll re-render it to a 70 MB file.
  • I think I'm the only one in the office today. Nope, guess not. I just heard the receptionist's voice.
  • Health insurance is a crock.
  • Ooh! I like this new Selena Gomez song. No, I'm not 12.
  • Crap! I just ate that whole bag of dried fruit. I'm still hungry.
  • I totally don't feel like training today. Pretty sure I'm deathly ill. Sigh.
  • Is it naptime yet? How come we don't have siestas in the U.S.? They seem like such a great idea.
  • Two firetrucks just drove by my window. Second sirens I've heard this afternoon.
  • That bullet list still doesn't look like it formatted correctly. Do I really want to mess with it? Maybe no one will notice ...
  • Even Twitter isn't very interesting today. #bored
  • I'm so excited for my friend, Dani, who just got engaged this week! Ooooh ... pretty ring!
  • It'd be fun to go to another Nationals game. *looking at game schedule taped to my computer
  • Wish I could've worked from home all day. I need to do laundry.
  • Really hope I feel better by tomorrow. I don't wanna be the lame sick girl at the pool.
  • Huh. I didn't know Christina Applegate and Alyssa Milano are friends. Loves me some Twitter.
  • It'd be fun to be at the Europa in CT this weekend. Maybe next year.
Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

True Friends

For some reason, lately I've been thinking a lot about my high school days. Maybe these memories started when I came across a photo of my best friend and me at our Senior Prom. Or maybe it's because I've been listening to a lot of songs by the latest batch of Disney teen stars. (Stop laughing. I srsly like bubblegum pop music.)

When I think about high school, I seem to remember the most about my senior year. My best friend, Krissy, and I were inseparable and felt like we had the world at the tips of our fingertips. We were invincible, unstoppable, and unconcerned with anything that didn't concern us in that self-absorbed way of teenagers. We rocked great tans, had killer bodies, and knew we'd be friends forever. So maybe we were a bit delusional and optimistic, but we sure had a fun time!

Kris and I are still great friends, even though we're separated by over 1,000 miles. So much has changed in the past years ... we ended up taking vastly different paths in life. She lives in our hometown and has 3 beautiful children, while I'm 1,000 miles away and focusing on my career and competing. Our lives couldn't be any more different, yet we still have that strong bond of friendship and respect.

So many people come into our lives at different times, changing us, helping us grow, allowing us to learn and have new experiences. As I've become more involved in the fitness industry, I've met so many people who lead lives similar to mine. I've grown apart from people who don't support my choices and path. And I've also maintained strong friendships with people who lead lives completely different than mine.

I've heard so many stories of women who are torn between old friends who aren't supportive of their lifestyle, and new friends who understand the struggles and victories of competing. It can be sad when friendships end. But I believe if someone is a true friend, and respects you as a person, they will always be happy for you and support you in whatever you do, regardless of how different your paths in life may be.

Think about the people in your life now. Do they support you and believe in you? Do you respect them for who they are? I encourage you to reach out and let those people know how important they are in your life.

“A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.”

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nothin' but a Number

We seem to live our lives by numbers: time, date, weight, clothing size. Why do we put so much emphasis on some of these numbers, especially weight and clothing size? How did those two things gain so much importance that they define our mood, and ultimately, ourselves and our self-esteem?

The simple act of stepping on the scale can dictate whether it's going to be a good day or a bad day. Whether we can eat that cookie or have to forgo the slice of cheese today. Whether we add in an extra 15 minutes of cardio or switch from intervals to steady state. That one number has so much power over us - our thoughts, emotions, and actions.

Not only does the scale hold power, so do clothing sizes. Regardless of the fact that each brand has different sizing standards, we still place so much emphasis on what size clothes we wear. We moan and cry when a pair of pants is too small, even if we fit into the same size of a different brand. Why do we care so much about what size we wear? No one else cares! People don't go around asking what size clothing you wear - they're admiring how flattering the cut is or how much they like the embellishments. Yet, going up or down in clothing sizes is often a cause for either celebration or tears.

We need to focus more on our inner beauty and the things we like and love about ourselves ... and forget what numbers the scale or clothes display. What matters most is how we treat others, how we conduct ourselves in both private and public settings, and how we treat ourselves. We're all valuable. We're all unique. Not one of us is definable.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Chicken legs? A belly roll? 135 lbs? Thunder thighs? Jiggly arms? A size 10?

Instead of focusing on your body and your perceived imperfections, try focusing on WHO you really are. A wonderful mother. A caring father. Intelligent. A great friend. Creative. Interesting.

You're not just a number. Not just a size. Not just a weight.

You're YOU. And that's far more powerful and important than any number.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Upper Body vs Lower Body

I've been doing athletic-type, plyo workouts for about 2-3 weeks now, along with cardio 5 days a week, and feel nearly content with how my body's responding. My diet is clean all week, with some weekend treats to keep life interesting and fun. Basically, I feel good about what I'm doing and eating.

And then, yesterday in the gym, Jerry commented that I'm losing size in my shoulders. That comment SHOULD have made me feel happy, since my whole goal lately has been to trim down a bit. But as proof that my mind is still all messed up, I kind of freaked out.

Me: What do you mean ... losing size?! *immediately hit a front pose in the middle of the gym
Jerry: Isn't that what you wanted?
Me: Well, yeah ... I guess. Do my legs look smaller?
Jerry: Um. (smart man)
Me: I'd really like to keep my shoulder size, but get my legs smaller. Is that possible?
Jerry: It'd be tough to do ...

So therein lies the conundrum. How do I keep the size in my delts, while at the same time, reduce the size of my quads? I'm resigned to losing some muscle all over for awhile before building up certain areas again. I need to stop focusing on the swirling thoughts in my head and just stick to my plan. Note to self: patience is a virtue.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Zoo Animals

This weekend, I was again reminded that my chosen lifestyle is so very different than most other people's lifestyles.

I went with Jerry to his first commercial shoot (yes, he's now officially an "actor"!) on Saturday. The whole thing was incredibly exciting to me, as it was the first time I've been on an actual set. Pretty sure I was sporting the whole wide-eyed, in-awe look the entire time (except for when I fell asleep sometime late afternoon - hey, it got kinda boring, and I was tired). The commercial spot called for four bodybuilder-type guys, and it turned out that all guys who were cast were actual competitors. And not only competitors, but three of the four (including Jerry) were National-level competitors! One guy is 7 weeks out from the North Americans.

Apparently, most of the crew had never seen real, live bodybuilders in person before, because when the guys walked on set, there were a lot of comments and double-takes. I heard everything from "Oh myyyy ...." to "Do you guys eat, like, all day?" and "Wonder how much time they spend in the gym?" Since I apparently don't look like I work out *hanging head in shame*, these comments were made right in front of me.

At first, the comments caught me off-guard. To me, these guys looked normal. Like guys I see at shows all the time, nothing out of the ordinary. But to most people, the guys were a novelty, something they don't see every day, if ever. I compare the comments to things people might say while visiting a zoo. I want to point out that the comments were mean-spirited; they were said in response to something novel or new to people.


Bodybuilder or zoo animal?

"Oh my! Those guys are big!"

"Look what they're eating!"

"Bet they can pick up a car with one hand!"

The production crew ordered special lunches for the guys - chicken and a salad. It was really thoughtful ... however, the chicken was glazed in some sort of BBQ sauce. The special lunch earned more than a few glances and even more comments. People were very interested in what they were eating and why they were eating different food ("What's wrong with lentils? They're healthy!"). The crew also bought "energy bars" for the guys. The bars turned out to be Zone and Clif bars ... which taste really good, but they're loaded with sugar. Little details like that are something I don't even think about anymore; I just know which things to avoid and why. But to the general public, if a bar says "energy" or "protein" on it, they figure it's perfect for a bodybuilder. Go marketing campaigns!

Not-so-nutritious Clif Bar


Ever-so-tasty-yet-full-of-sugar Zone bars

Later in the afternoon (after my nap), the ice cream truck stopped by, and production actually stopped for 15 minutes while everyone flocked to the truck. Sure, ice cream on a hot, summer day sounds fabulous! But it's loaded with sugar and dairy, which causes bloating and water retention. People noticed the guys weren't eating the ice cream, but were instead munching on almonds.

"I suppose you guys don't eat this stuff, huh?" was followed by a guilty smile. It's interesting to note how people start to judge themselves and find themselves coming up short when faced with people who actually follow strict diets.

Saturday was an experience in several different ways. I watched my first commercial shoot, and was strongly reminded of the fact that we live a different lifestyle than most people. What we consider Normal is by no means Mainstream Normal. And I'm ok with that.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Good Enough?

Do we ever really feel like we're "good enough"? Are we ever really satisfied with our accomplishments, our jobs, our lives? Are we ever really truly content?

Some say in order to achieve all your goals and dreams, you should never be content; you should always be striving for more - to be better, stronger - always reaching. But is it this exact thought process that also leads us to feel inadequate?

Consider the successes and victories in your life. After you achieved them, did you find that you wanted more? By wanting more, is the first victory then cheapened and of lesser importance? Or is that one victory enough? Did that taste of victory just whet your appetite for more? What if you never achieve the next goal, despite all your efforts? Will you feel like you failed? Or will you still feel like a winner for even getting to the point where you COULD go after more?

When is "good enough" truly enough?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Head Games

Talk about messing with my head ...

On Sunday night, I was picking out work clothes for Monday. I've been wearing skirts and dresses since I decided to quit prep, because I don't want to get depressed about the potential that my pants don't fit. I know my shirts are all a lil tighter, so I'm assuming my pants are prolly not gonna fit.

Instead of attempting to squeeze into a smaller size only to discover they don't fit and then be depressed for the rest of the night, I picked out a larger pair of capris. Last month, these pants literally hung off my butt. On Sunday evening, they were almost too tight.

I cried. A lot.

Completely depressed, I wore them yesterday anyway, feeling like Mariah Carey stuffed into 3-sizes-too-small clothing. But here's the weird thing ... by the end of the day, they were hanging off my butt again. What the heck?!


Super cute,but I'd rather they didn't fit

Apparently, I dropped a bunch of water weight yesterday and prolly stretched the fabric out a bit over the course of the day too.

So what's going on with my body? My best guess is that I was still retaining a lot of water from extra food and carbs I ate on Saturday and Sunday. By no means did I overindulge, but I definitely had some pizza and fried foods (fried sushi & jalepeƱo poppers - YUM!). I may have had a bowl of ice cream topped with Reese's Pieces too.


When I went back to eating clean with smaller serving sizes yesterday, plus having a kick ass workout, some of the water weight came off. It's amazing what a big difference certain foods can have on my body. And since I'm just a lil thing, a pound or two really is noticeable.


For the most part, I'm happy with how my body looks right now. I'd be thrilled if I were 5 lbs tighter, but I'll get there. I can still see my abs, and my arms and legs still have some definition. I'd say my off-season is going quite well so far!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Debate Continues

I'm still sitting on the fence about the direction I want to take regarding competing. This weekend, I followed Team U through online reports, and the more I looked at the photos of the new pros, the more discouraged I felt.

I compared the differences between Bikini and Figure, and really considered which direction I want to take ... and I still haven't reached a decision. Here's a list of random thoughts, in no particular order:
  • I like the physiques and posing of the Figure girls.
  • I want to have a Bikini look in the off-season.
  • In order to have said Bikini look in the off-season, I need to lose a bunch of muscle.
  • I want smaller legs. More specifically, I want smaller thighs. My shorts don't fit around my thighs anymore, thus making me feel  like a complete fat ass. Note to self: Shorts were purchased when I was, like, 20. Stupid comparison. Be more realistic, Kari.
  • I really don't think I could take myself seriously if I attempted to pose Bikini-style on stage. I'd be up on stage giggling to myself, cuz every time I even attempt to look sexy, I just look goofy. (Maybe that would be appealing to the judges, though??)
  • I feel like all my hard work trying to put on muscle over the past 12 years would go down the drain if I try to lose muscle.
  • Just because I wanted to do Figure for 6 years doesn't mean I always have to do it. I'd need to diet and train for Bikini too.
  • I don't think I could turn pro Figure without resorting to the Dark Side. And that's not a place I want to go. I just don't think I can get hard enough by staying Natural. So I'm resigned to always being slightly softer than many of the other girls.
  • I want smaller thighs. I noticed that all the Figure girls' thighs touch. I hate it when my thighs rub together when I walk or stand. *shuddering just thinking about it.
  • I'd really have to starve to lose some muscle. I hate starving.
  • The new Figure pros are very well-balanced, with just the right amount of muscle and leanness. I want to look like that. All the time. Note to self: Again, be realistic.
  • I hate my off-season Figure look. I look like a puffball sometimes.
  • My abs looked good yesterday. Maybe being this size isn't so bad.
  • My new shirt is really tight. I hate being this size.
  • Several Figure pros are switching to Bikini. Maybe it's possible for me too??
  • I'm jealous of all the girls who turned Pro at Team U. They totally deserved it, though; they looked awesome!
  • I'm 100% positive I wouldn't have placed well at Team U. Not this year, especially cuz my body wasn't responding like we thought it should.
So what's a girl to do?? I feel so wishy-washy; I despise being in limbo. I want to just make a decision and go with it. But I'm still asking myself two very important questions about each path ... "Will I regret following this path?" and "Will I regret NOT following this path?"


Jackie Hoppe - Figure Overall Winner at Team U


Nicole Nagrani - Bikini Overall Winner at Team U

I know this debate is really getting old ... and I appreciate all the feedback and comments I've received. Thanks so much for sticking with me as I waver back and forth and all over the board. For now, I'm just gonna keep doing my athletic, functional trainings and continue debating which direction I want to take.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Finding the Fun Again

Have you ever lost the joy in doing something you usually or used to enjoy doing? We all go through phases where our interests change, but some things stick with us for years and even a lifetime. Working out is something I really enjoy! I love being active, feeling athletic, fit, and strong. In fact, my introduction to weight training came from male cheerleaders in college. Everyone on the squad was required to lift weights outside of practice times, and during practice, we'd not only work on stunts, we'd do conditioning drills. (Yes, cheerleaders actually DO work out hard!) Although the drills were tough, I also felt great after practice.

I haven't changed my training style in awhile, and lately, I've been itching to try something a little different. I don't want to spend hours on the treadmill, yet at the same time, I don't want to restrict my diet into a contest prep-type diet either. So I came up with a slightly different training style that will hopefully promote more calorie burning - it's more athletic-plyo-type training. I just started it this week, and I'm really enjoying it so far! I'm a sweaty disaster after each workout, but I feel great!

I'm still sticking with split muscle groups, ie legs on Monday, chest on Tuesday, etc., but I've added plyometrics in between each set to keep my heart rate up. I realize this isn't a revolutionary technique, and many of you have prolly been doing something similar to this already, but it's a drastic change for me. And it's making training fun again! I was getting bored doing the same thing, and didn't want to lose my enthusiasm for going to the gym, so now I've got something new and exciting (at least for awhile!) to look forward to. Box jumps have become my new best friend!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Independence Day Weekend Highlights

Since I figure everyone could use a few good laughs on a Thursday afternoon, I'd like to share some highlights of last weekend with you. Although I may appear to be graceful on stage, the second I step off-stage, I'm a complete klutz. I'm still trying to figure out how I haven't slipped, wiped out, or knocked other girls on their butts on stage ... but there's always next year, right? :)

Friday evening
Jerry and I went to a birthday party (first bday party I've been to in years. Didn't realize how much I've missed them!) for a friend of ours. It was outside, and since it was dark, there were tiki torches set up all over the yard.

Jerry: Honey, please try really hard not to knock any of those torches over. We don't want to burn down their house.
Me: I don't know why you're so concerned.
Jerry: Yesterday you walked into the weight bench at the gym. There's cause for concern.
Me: Good point. *Stays away from tiki torches. Potential crisis averted.*

Saturday
We went to the pool with one of our good friends. (Temp was 95 deg - awesome day to be at the pool, btw!) I very rarely go underwater when I go swimming because of a history of sinus infections, (Plus, water & humidity destroy my cute hairstyles. Vain? Yes, sometimes.) but since it was so hot, I decided to throw caution to the wind and dunk my head.

Me: Honey! I can do a handstand on the bottom of the pool!
Jerry: What are you, 12?
Me: Watch! *Proceeds to do an amazing handstand on the bottom of the pool, toes pointed a la Shawn Johnson.* OMG! I got water in my ear!

Update: there's STILL water in my ear ... 5 days later. I've tried every kind of method (except going to the dr) to get it out. I'm mostly deaf in my right ear at this point. #frustrating

Later that day ...
Me: Honey, I'm gonna jump into the pool!
Jerry: Be careful!
Me: *Walks casually toward the pool, with the intention of strolling into the water. Stubs toe in the process before crashing into the water.* OW!!!
Jerry: What'd you do now?
Me: I stubbed my toe! *Holds toe out of water, only to discover there's blood gushing from it. Swims to side of pool and limps to chair, leaving behind a trail of blood.*
Jerry: I'll get you some band-aids.

Update: My toe is healing nicely. I had to modify some exercises to work around it, and I still haven't attempted the treadmill, but at least it's not bleeding anymore. Yesterday was challenging, as I had a tough time keeping my super cute shoes on since I couldn't curl my toes.

Sunday
We headed toward our favorite beach, but just before we got there, we discovered they closed it cuz it was full. (What?!) We found another beach, dragged all our stuff from the car, and settled in for the day. It was another beautifully hot day, so I inflated my floatie and was enjoying the water, sun, and waves until ...

Park Ranger: Everyone out of the water!!
Jerry and Me: What?? Why?
Park Ranger: There are "No Swimming" signs all over. *Points to the "No Swimming" sign 2 feet in front of us.* Everyone out! You can only put your feet in the water.
Jerry and Me: Srsly?! Why?
Park Ranger: There's a strong undertow, and lots of fish hooks in this area. *Points down the beach at 15 people holding fishing poles.*
Jerry and Me: This sucks. *Standing in water up to our ankles, throwing water at each other from a protein shaker cup.*
Guy fishing: I caught something! *Struggles with fishing pole for 10 minutes.*

Everyone on the beach gathers around him. We see a fin splash up. Yes, a FIN. OMG he caught JAWS' brother! I grab my camera. Turns out, he caught a stingray. Yes, a STINGRAY!


The stingray being reeled in by the fisherman



The fisherman cut his line and the Park Ranger used a piece of driftwood to help the ray back into the water

Me: Jerry, you still upset we can't go swimming here?
Jerry: No! I don't want to swim with sea monsters!

Sunday evening
We went into Annapolis to have dinner and to watch their Independence Day parade. After 10 minutes of waving at the lineup of politicians (srsly, there were only like 3 floats that WEREN'T politicians!), we thought the parade was over. Imagine our surprise when, after a 10-minute intermission (are parades even supposed to have intermissions?!), a marching band came down the street! Followed by more politicians. Pretty much the lamest parade I've ever seen. Plus, we only collected 1 piece of candy. #lame


The parade started off great! Just went downhill after that.

Despite the lame parade, we still had a fun time. The fireworks were cool, although nowhere near as spectacular as the ones at the Mall in DC.


View of the Annapolis harbor from our table at Buddy's Crabs & Ribs

It was quite a weekend! Had a great time, but I'm still recovering from it!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Challenge to be Balanced

A life outside of the gym? Is it possible? Is it healthy?

YES!

Sometimes we get so caught up in competing or dieting or our body image that we forget there are other, more important, things in life too that provide a balance. Think about things you like to do.

Do you read? Knit? Ride a motorcycle? Dance? Write computer code? Draw? Collect figurines? Play softball? Play the trumpet? Travel?

There are so many hobbies and activities that contribute to our lives, making us well-rounded individuals. What do you do when you're not at the gym?

Work? Watch TV? Go shopping? Watch movies? Meet up with friends? Take the kids to the park?

Let's face it - we're only at the gym for a couple hours a day. There are still so many more hours in the day!

Do you make the most of your free time? Do you do things you enjoy? It can be so easy to get caught up in losing weight or competing, and to forget that there's so much more to life!

Yes, being fit and active IS a lifestyle ... but it doesn't have to be your WHOLE life, consuming every waking thought.

Here's a challenge for you: This week, try something different. Try something new. Go somewhere new. Eat a new food. Take your family somewhere you've never been before.

Live life to the fullest, enjoy the beautiful summer, and remember that each day is a gift.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Crossroads

I'm at a crossroads regarding my Figure career. I need to make a decision and pick a direction ... but I'm really struggling with the decision.

As I've pointed out before, in order to be a true contender for a Pro Figure card, I need to gain more size. The original plan after pulling out of Team U was to take this off-season to build up my back, delts, and legs. However, I'm now re-thinking that plan. It's been 2 weeks since I decided not to compete, and in those 2 weeks, I've slowly gained some weight. I have no idea what I weigh, but my clothes aren't fitting the same way they did a couple weeks ago. That's normal and expected, since I'm not sticking to completely structured diet plan. (Yes, I'm still eating clean, but I'm not weighing everything I eat, and I added some carbs back in.)

The issue is not the fact that I gained weight, but more about how I look with the increased weight. When I add size, I lose some of my shape and become more stocky-looking and brick-like (easy to do since I'm only 5'1"). When I'm on stage, I have a great v-taper with a small waist. Right now, I have no discernable taper. I know that if I continue with my original plan of adding size, I'll look like a brick for at least 8-9 more months ... and I'm just not sure I want to look so stocky. I understand that the off-season is typically a time to grow and to work on weaker areas in order to be more competitive the next year, but do I really want to deal with my own negative feelings about my body for most of the year just to hopefully improve a placing next year?

With the addition of Bikini, I now have the option of potentially switching divisions and competing in Bikini. I could have a smaller frame - less bulk - but still be competitive. The issue with this is that I'd more than likely need to lose a lot of my hard-earned muscle. Plus, I actually enjoy lifting heavy and feeling myself get stronger.

A third option is to remain relatively lean in the off-season, and continue to compete at the local and regional level. Will I be satisfied remaining at the same level? Most likely not ...

So therein lies the conundrum. Which direction do I take?
I'm curious to hear your thoughts and opinions. Have any of you faced this decision? What did you decide was right for you? I'm listening ...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Twilight and Running Shoes

Twilight ... the time of day when the world is winding down.
The sun sinks low in the sky
casting a soft, orange light
lengthening shadows and setting the trees aglow.

Lightening bugs flicker in the grass
while crickets sing their evening lullaby.
Birds (and bats?) flutter overhead
and a bunny freezes in place
as I jog by.

My running shoes beat a quiet, steady pace
that keeps rhythm with my breathing.
A soft breeze winds itself around me.

I smile and nod at couples out
strolling with their dogs.
I lose track of time
alone with my thoughts.

Nothing hurts. Nothing jiggles.
I feel young again. Rejuvenated. Refreshed.

It seems that I have, perhaps, recaptured
a moment in time
when my body felt tight, strong, and healthy.

Why did I begin jogging again?
Am I trying to once again feel like an athlete
instead of a bodybuilder?
Can I be both?