Thursday, September 30, 2010

An Ode to Endorush

Dear BSN Endorush,

Oh, Endorush. You know I love you. You know how much I adore you and appreciate the time we spend together. So why, oh why do you have to go and get reformulated? I thought you were perfect just the way you were!


I'm now at a loss for a comparable substitute until you're available again. And believe me when I say this ... nothing, and I mean nothing compares to you.

Honest, I wasn't cheating on you when I had Monster No-Carb. It had been sitting in the fridge for a couple weeks ... and trust me, it totally didn't compare to you.

Yesterday I tried VPX Redline Princess. While it sort of kept me awake in the afternoon, it by no means packed the energy punch you pack in just one sip. And I drank the whole bottle in just one day, whereas you last for at least two days.


Today I'm going to try ABB Speed Stack. I've already prepared myself to be disappointed, but I'm going to try it nonetheless.


 Please remember I'm not trying to be unfaithful. I feel lost without you, and am completely aware that these other drinks in no way compare to you. I promise we'll spend lots of quality time together once you're reformulated and available on bodybuilding.com.

Love,
Me

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Making It Count

When you go to the gym, do you give 100% every time? If your workout wasn't as productive as you wanted it to be, do you get upset? When your body is tired, do you push through the workout/cardio or do you scale it back and take it easy?

Up until a couple months ago, I didn't mind if I didn't have a completely productive workout. If my body was tired, I decreased my cardio intensity. I didn't slack in the gym, but I definitely didn't worry about giving 100% to every workout. If I missed a workout, I didn't feel guilty (except during prep, when I NEVER missed a workout).

Lately, though, I feel like I've got a fire lit under me ...

I give 100% every time I'm in the gym. Even if my body doesn't feel like moving very quickly during morning cardio, I crank up the intensity and push myself (yesterday I almost flew off the back of the treadmill cuz my legs didn't want to move that quickly). If I don't have a productive workout, I feel like I'm behind in my training.


Where did this intensity and focus come from?

I used to divide my year into "Contest Prep" and "Off-Season." During prep, I pushed myself hard all. the. time. I didn't miss a workout. I didn't miss a meal. I was ON 100% of the time. After my competitions, I wanted to go back to leading a "normal" life. I skipped some workouts, ate whatever I wanted to eat, and didn't worry about my next show.

As I work toward earning my Pro card, I've come to realize that there really is no "off-season." Time in between preps is time to build, grow, and improve for the next competition. It's not a time to slack or to take it easy on my diet or training. If anything, it should be a time to push even harder, especially in the gym.

I try to make every training session and every cardio session count.

To keep motivated, I picture other competitors busting their butts in the gym and on the treadmill. If I feel like turning down the speed on the treadmill, I ask myself, "Would [insert name] do that?" When I'm tired of doing lunges and my legs feel like they're about to give out, I picture faceless females doing lunges a step in front of me, and I push through the rest of the set. In a sense, all of my other competition are with me in the gym. They're always one step, one rep, one set ahead of me, pushing me to make every step, every rep, every set count.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

2010 Olympia Recap

The 2010 Olympia has come and gone ... and Jay Cutler is still Mr. Olympia!

Jerry and I discussed the show and results last night. I added a bit more commentary below the video.



Mr. Olympia

Crowd favorite, and Vegas hometown hero, Jay Cutler is once again Mr. Olympia. This is the 4th time he's held the title, and it was, in my opinion, his closest competition yet. Phil Heath gave Jay a run for his money this year, bringing in a much larger (by 15 lbs) and conditioned package than last year. It's very apparent he made some gains this year to fill out his frame. Phil has such a beautiful, flowing frame that holds muscle very well; unlike some of the other competitors, he doesn't look blocky when he adds muscle. Branch Warren slipped to third this year, but nonetheless looked even better than last year. He filled out his upper body to bring it more in line with his legs, making his physique flow better.

Mr. Olympia: Jay Cuter

Mr. Olympia Top 5:
  1. Jay Cutler
  2. Phil Heath
  3. Branch Warren
  4. Dexter Jackson
  5. Dennis Wolf
Men's 202 Showdown

This is the second year of the Men's 202 Showdown, and Kevin English hung onto his title this year. David Henry followed him to nab second place. Personally, I really like David Henry's frame better, but he just can't stand next to English without getting out-muscled by the 280 lb off-season English.

Men's 202 Showdown winner: Kevin English

202 Top 5:
  1. Kevin English
  2. David Henry
  3. Eduardo Correa
  4. Jose Raymond
  5. Jason Arntz

Bikini

Sonia Gonzalez is the first ever Ms. Bikini Olympia! She brought a slightly more toned and muscular shape than she presented earlier this year, and was able to nab the number one spot. She beat out Nathalia Melo, who was widely favored for the win. Nicole Nagrani, 18, took home third, bringing her usual tight package to the stage. I had picked Amanda Latona to win, since she did so well at the Europa a couple weeks ago. While Amanda did well, she got edged out by the three mentioned above, along with crowd favorite and perennial bridesmaid, Jaime Baird. I would've liked to have seen Jess Paxson-Putnam place higher than 12th, but it was a stacked lineup, no doubt. Dina Al-Sabah (my #5 pick) placed a very respectable 10th.

Ms. Olympia Bikini: Sonia Gonzalez

Bikini Top 5:
  1. Sonia Gonzalez
  2. Nathalia Melo
  3. Nicole Nagrani
  4. Jaime Baird
  5. Amanda Latona
Figure

This was the only division where the current title holder didn't retain her title. Nicole Wilkins-Lee was edged out by the very hard and streamlined Erin Stern. Both ladies made some improvements this year: Erin streamlined her physique even more and looked very comfortable on stage, and Nicole added some major size to her shoulders, back, and legs, bringing a noticeably larger physique to the stage this year. She also appeared much harder than in previous contests. She looked good, of course, but Erin's package was enough to oust her from the top spot. As I predicted, Heather Mae French nabbed third. Kristal Richardson and Felicia Romero surprised me by placing 4th and 5th, respectively. They both brought in very conditioned and streamlined physiques as well.

Ms. Figure Olympia: Erin Stern
 Figure Top 5:
  1. Erin Stern
  2. Nicole Wilkins-Lee
  3. Heather Mae French
  4. Kristal Richardson
  5. Felicia Romero
Fitness

Adela Garcia once again proved she's the top dog in Fitness. She brought a very hard, very conditioned package and a high energy routine to the stage. Tanji Johnson unanimously nabbed 2nd with a new, unique routine based on Stomp!. I love her routines; they're always very creative, very energetic, and include strength, flexibility, and tumbling. I was cheering for her to take top honors, but Adela never brings less than her best. As I predicted, Trish Warren took third. I loved 4th place winner, Myriam Capes' routine. She performed to the "Roxie" song from the musical "Chicago." She used a folding chair for a prop and did some very unique strength moves and holds on it. My favorite routine was by Oksana Grishina. She performed to Evanescence, and perform indeed! Her routine flowed and looked more like a dance instead of pieced-together segueways between strength or required moves. It was powerful and moving.

Ms. Fitness Olympia: Adela Garcia

Fitness Top 5:
  1. Adela Garcia
  2. Tanji Johnson
  3. Trish Warren
  4. Myriam Capes
  5. Oksana Grishina
Female Bodybuilding

Unsurprisingly, top honors went again to Iris Kyle, the reigning Ms. Olympia. She faced tough competition from Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia, though, and some may argue that Yaxeni beat her from the front and the side. When Iris turned around, though, there was no question she was the clear winner.

Ms. Olympia: Iris Kyle

FBB Top 5:
  1. Iris Kyle
  2. Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia
  3. Debi Laszewski
  4. Sheila Bleck
  5. Dayana Cadeau
Thanks to bodybuilding.com for live contest coverage and the webcast (although we couldn't get it to work on Sat. night. VERY frustrating!). Next year, I hope to be in the audience to see the action in person!
    To see the actual scorecards, visit M3World.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    I Heart Protein Bars

    Since every body is different, everyone responds to foods differently. Some people need carbs in their diet, while others (ME!) retain water and feel (and look) bloated from carbs. Some people eat fruit, some eat protein bars, others eat whole eggs while others only eat egg whites. Different foods work for different people.

    One of my greatest dieting sorrows is that protein bars are not included in my diet.


    A "healthy" brownie?

    I heart protein bars. I really do. They're like candy bars ... except they're supposedly "healthier" ... which, in my mind, makes them ok to eat. (I'm really not gonna get into a discussion about their supposed nutritional "value" ... or lack thereof.)

    A few of my favorite things ...

    But my body hates them. I don't digest them well, and they make me retain water like a blimp. So the only times I eat them are on Treat Days or when I'm not following a strict diet.

    Not eating protein bars wouldn't be an issue ... except I keep trying to justify eating them:
    • I should be able to eat them because they have protein in them.
    • Really, they're not true candy bars. (They just taste like it!)
    • They're healthier than the Twix I gravitate toward every week. (Mmmm ... Twix ...)
    • J can eat them and he doesn't suffer any ill effects. (SO not fair.)

    Those excuses aren't gonna fly.

    In order for me to reach my goals of getting leaner, I need to avoid my oh-so-tasty protein bars. Just gimme a minute to mourn.

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    2010 Olympia Predictions

    The 2010 Olympia is going on in Las Vegas this weekend. For those of you who need a bit of background information, the Olympia is like the World Series of bodybuilding. The elite of the elite earn the right to stand on the Olympia stage by placing in the top 1-3 at pro shows throughout the year.

    J and I, along with our friend, Osheen, discussed our Olympia predictions last night. I added a bit more commentary below the video.



    Bikini

    This year is the inaugural Bikini Olympia. The IFBB Bikini division was created last year, and this year, it's being brought to the Olympia stage. Several former Figure competitors have switched to Bikini this year, with stellar results. Look for former Figure ladies Sonia Gonzalez, Sherlyn Roy, and Jessica Paxon-Putnam to rock the Bikini stage. Also look for the return of Dina Al-Sabah. She's done very well in her last two shows, and will be a major contender this weekend.

    My top 5 picks:
    1. Amanda Latona
    2. Nathalia Melo
    3. Sonia Gonzalez
    4. Jessica Paxson-Putnam
    5. Dina  Al-Sabah

    Figure

    With Gina Aliotti out of the competition circle this year, I'm betting on an Arnold repeat showdown between Nicole Wilkins-Lee and Erin Stern. Both ladies present beautiful, stream-lined physiques in different ways. Erin usually brings a much harder package than Nicole, but the judges continually place Nicole in the front spot. Heather Mae French has won several shows this year, but I don't see her taking the #1 spot away from Nicole. One of my favorite ladies is Kristi Tauti. She continually brings a well-balanced physique to every show. I competed with her at the 2006 Emerald Cup (the year she turned pro), and can say first-hand that she's an absolute sweetheart.

    My top 5 picks:
    1. Nicole Wilkins-Lee
    2. Erin Stern
    3. Heather Mae French
    4. Monica Escalante
    5. Cheryl Brown
    Fitness

    This is usually the most entertaining division because of the fitness routines. I see another Arnold repeat showdown between the incumbent, Adela Garcia, and the front-runner, Tanji Johnson. Tanji has done very well this year, and I hear she's bringing a completely new and different routine to the Olympia. Back in 2006, she taught me how to pose, and I credit her with helping me present a graceful and comfortable presence on stage.

    My top 5 picks:
    1. Adela Garcia
    2. Tanji Johnson
    3. Trish Warren
    4. Camala Rodriquez
    5. Myriam Capes or Bethany Wagner
    Female Bodybuilding

    I think we're going to see the best FBB division thus far. These ladies are continually improving from year to year. Iris Kyle is the current Ms. Olympia, and I don't see her giving up her place this year. A couple of the other ladies will be vying for top placings.

    My top 5 picks:
    1. Iris Kyle
    2. Yaxeni Oriquen-Garcia
    3. Dayana Cadeau
    4. Cathy LeFrancois
    5. Helen Bouchard
    Best of luck to everyone competing!! You've all worked hard and deserve to be standing on the Olympia stage.

    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Stepping Outside of the Box

    I've never really considered myself much of a "trendy" person. I'm most comfortable in jeans, a t-shirt, and my Docs. I follow trends, but rarely purchase trendy clothes, mostly because I don't want to spend my money on something that's going to be completely out of style in six months. Also because I think most of the trends are nasty and wouldn't look flattering on me anyway.

    This lack of "trendiness" extends to my workout attire. As I've stated before, I'm known as "the girl in the wife-beaters and cheerleading shorts that may or may not match" at the gym. I've only recently started buying some trendier (and more expensive) workout clothes. So now that my clothing matches, I've discovered a disturbing observation that my shoes don't match.

    Before we go any further, a bit of background information ...

    I'm pretty sure I have the world's narrowest heel. Only two brands of running shoes (or "sneakers" as J calls them) fit my feet without slipping off my heel: Saucony and Brooks. Neither of those companies are known for making trendy or even very stylish shoes (nothing against those companies, but really ... you can't argue that there's just no comparison between them and say, Nike), but I've come to accept the limitations in my footwear options. Most of my shoes look eerily similar, with just some variations in color.

    Do you sense a trend? ...

    Diversifying can be scary ...

    Last weekend, J and I happened upon a shoe sale, and I figured it'd be a good time to stock up on running shoes. As I tried on different colors of Sauconys, J kept suggesting other brands.

    "What about Under Armour?" Love them, but my heel slipped right out.

    Super cute, right? Unfortunately, not made for my foot.

    "What about these cute Pumas?" Kind of cute, but totally couldn't do cardio in them. Plus, my heel slipped out.
    Not bad for everyday wear, but would have to change shoes in the middle of my workouts.


    "What about those black Sauconys?" Hmmm ... black workout shoes? I have a pair of black Jordans, but they're definitely only for purposes of looking cute (NOT for any type of cardio).

    Cute, but definitely NOT suited for the treadmill

    So I hemmed and hawed over the black Sauconys ... could I rock black shoes in the gym? They were definitely cute!

    Being trendy ...

    After a long internal debate, I decided to step outside of my self-imposed workout attire box, and buy the black shoes. I tried them out on Tuesday for my leg workout, and loved them! For once, my entire workout outfit matched!

    Rockin' my new kicks!

    Maybe being "trendy" isn't such a bad thing!

    Wednesday, September 22, 2010

    Who Wants to be "Normal"?

    I know I've said this before, but I'm going to say it again: I want to look like a Figure competitor all year round, not just one day a year when I'm standing on stage. The past few months have been a learning experience for me as I tried different training and diet techniques.

    I tried plyometrics for awhile, and they seemed to be working at first ... but then, I plateaued and fluctuated between 3-5 lbs. So it was time to change things again.

    This past weekend's road trip provided a splendid opportunity to chat with Jerry about my current training and diet program, along with goals for next year (turn PRO). Since my metabolism got a bit screwed up when I was doing all the (fun!) plyos, we're trying to reset it again.

    And since my immediate goal is to get to a certain weight, I need to tighten up my weekend treat extravaganzas. i.e. No more treats for two days straight ... just a couple of treat meals. We also agreed on the definition of a meal: Food consumed at ONE sitting. Not stretched for several hours. (Yes, I'm known for stretching a "meal" to several hours.)

    When I looked through pictures taken this weekend, I can see a definite difference between Friday and Saturday evening, after I'd eaten carbs and "normal" food. And I really don't like the difference. My body seems to just soak up the carbs, which causes all my lines and definition to disappear, making me look like I don't even go to the gym.

    Our bodies are always changing, and everyone is different. What works for one person may not work at all for another person (which is why I despise all the internet know-it-alls who proclaim their program is the "only one that works" or is "the best"). We've discovered that for me, carbs DON'T work, fats DO work, plyos DON'T work, and the treadmill DOES work (much to my dismay).

    Since I want to look like a competitor and don't want to look like a "normal" person, I need to follow a competitor lifestyle, which is a lot stricter and more disciplined than a "normal" lifestyle. I don't mind this, because I know that the reward is greater than the sacrifice. I'm excited to see some results!

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    Wedding Cake Deliciousness

    I'd like to begin with an apology for not posting more often the past two weeks. I have the usual excuse of "work has been busy," but it's a bit more than that. I want to write about interesting, relevant issues and topics, but I've been battling some writer's block and laziness, as most of the topics require a bit more research time than I've got lately. Anywho, I've got a list of topics, so I'll be back to posting a couple times a week. Thanks for the kick in the butt, Dani! :)

    This past weekend, J and I went to the wedding of one of his best friends. We loaded the dogs into the car and hit the road for Rhode Island on Thursday evening.


    Bruno enjoying the road trip

    I'd packed all my food for Friday and Monday, planning to eat whatever I wanted to eat on Saturday and Sunday ... except that to me, Road Trip = McDonald's.


    So tasty ... I only had one. Honest!

    I managed to eat clean foods until we were getting ready for the rehearsal dinner on Friday evening. I munched on some Cheetos while doing my makeup. Since I'd just been on 5 days of zero carb, I knew that I could get away with having a small amount of carbs without looking like a giant puffball.

    While on the dinner cruise (cool idea for a rehearsal dinner, huh?!), we visited with the wedding party and made some new friends. I was enjoying a slice of some extremely tasty cheesecake, when one of the girls came up to me and exclaimed in my ear,

    "OMG! How can you look like THAT and still eat THAT?!"

    I got the same question the next evening at the wedding when I was enthusiastically digging into my second slice of delicious wedding cake.


    Layers of frosting and strawberries in each slice. Deliciousness!

    It's simple, really. I don't eat THAT every day! I eat it maybe once a week, and the rest of the week, I'm very strict with my food, calories, and portion sizes.

    A couple months ago, I was chatting with a girl at the gym, and she mentioned starting a diet. On the first day, she ate food off-plan! Her rationale was, "Well, sticking to it halfass is better than nothing, right?" My response: "Sure, if you want half-ass results!"

    The whole secret of being lean is eating clean 99% of the time. The other 1% is a scheduled Treat Meal or Day. My diet requires occasional carb-up meals in order for it to be most effective, so that slice of wedding cake wasn't off-plan for me. I didn't feel the least bit guilty about eating it because I knew I'd be back to my keto diet on Monday (which I was - no McDonald's on the trip home).

    This weekend was really fun! We visited with J's family and had a great time at the wedding. Here are a couple more pics from the weekend.

    Jerry and me on the dinner cruise boat


    Jerry and his friend, Cristina


    My new favorite store in Newport, RI. Srsly, this store was MADE for me!


    Sunset over the Newport Bridge

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Stop. Reset.

    For the past several weeks, I had been doing athletic-style, plyometric-type training. I incorporated plyos into every workout, was doing higher rep, lower weight exercises, and did interval cardio on the treadmill 5 days a week. This may sound like a lot to most people, but it was fun for me ... something different than what I had been doing for so many months. I was also following a mostly strict diet, and including some sugar-free products as well.
    O.M.G. Yumminess! And only 60 cal!

    I felt good, and initially, I dropped about 4 lbs. But that was it. I fluctuated within 4 lbs, but couldn't get below that. My goal is to maintain a leaner, lighter weight because I feel happiest and most confident when I'm leaner. (Not contest lean by any means ... just one size smaller.) I couldn't figure out what was going on. After all, I wasn't eating cookies or sweets, I was doing cardio and training hard. Why wouldn't my body drop fat?

    After a long (read: humbling) discussion with Jerry, we determined that by including all the plyos in my workouts, I'd actually reset my cardiovascular conditioning at a higher level. Which means that in order for the plyos to continue to be effective, I needed to step up the intensity even more, and do them for longer intervals. WHAT?! Srsly, not fun. We also discovered that although my dear, sweet, yummy pudding snacks were sugar-free, they still contained 13 g of carbs: sugar alcohols. Not real sugar, but apparently, my body was using it like real sugar and retaining water. My sugar-free syrup and jam were also culprits.

    So it all had to go. Time to stop what wasn't working and reset my body once again.

    We decided to stop doing the plyos, because although they may work fabulously for some ladies, they definitely do not work for me. And we removed all of the fun, yummilicious "sugar-free" items from my diet. (I had to take a moment to mourn.)

    So now we're back to basics. My training is slightly heavier, and definitely more intense! Instead of plyos, I'm doing more supersets. And since I strained both tendons in my lower calves, I've decreased the incline on my treadmill intervals. At first I felt like I was slacking on the cardio, but I realize that it's necessary when I look at the big picture. If I train so intensely in the off-season, I have to train even more intensely during prep ... and that's really not a good way to approach prep. The best way is to do as little as possible to maintain conditioning in the off-season so when I start prep, I'm not already over-trained.

    I've already seen some positive changes, and I'm enjoying another new style of training. Since I get bored so quickly and easily (undiagnosed ADD perhaps?), changing my training keeps me interested and motivated (I sound like a kindergartner, don't I? :P). I'm also not stressing if I accidentally turn off both alarms and get up too late to squeeze in morning cardio. But you can bet when I start prep that I'll be setting 4 alarms to make sure I get that cardio in!

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Things I Learned This Weekend

    Labor Day weekend ... the unofficial end of summer ... a weekend typically filled with one last time at the beach, the last summer BBQ, and some last minute back to school shopping.

    My Labor Day weekend consisted of none of those things! My weekend consisted of yummy food, a visit with my Grandpa, housecleaning, and WWE RAW live. Here are some of the things I learned this weekend.

    Breakfast with Friends is Fun
    On Saturday morning, Jerry and I decided to treat ourselves to The Original Pancake House (not to be confused with the International House of Pancakes, i.e. IHOP). While there, we ran into our good friends, Brooks and Katie. Good food, good company.
    • I learned that omelets at The Original Pancake House (TOPH) do not come with cheese ... it must be requested.
    • I learned that going out for a treat meal breakfast is even more fun with friends!
    • I learned that the tables at TOPH are not meant to hold the 3 breakfast entrees that Jerry ordered.

    I Really Miss My Grandpa
    On Saturday afternoon, Jerry and I met my Grandpa downtown DC at the World War II monument. Grandpa had flown into DC with a group of other WWII veterans from MN to tour the monuments and Arlington Cemetery.

      Jerry and me with Grandpa at the MN marker on the WWII memorial
    • I learned that no matter how old I get, I'll always feel like a little girl with pigtails (or "handle bars" to steer my head, as he called them) when I'm with Grandpa.
    • I learned how thankful I am that my Grandpa is still in good health and good spirits.
    • I learned that I'm moved to tears when a group of WWII vets lines up to salute the Iwo Jima monument.
     World War II veterans saluting at the Iwo Jima memorial
    • I learned that the group of WWII vets are still moved to tears when they watch the Changing of the Guard at Arlington Cemetery.
    • I learned how valuable spending time with my Grandpa is.
    • I learned that no matter how old I get, I still cry when I have to say good-bye to anyone in my family.
    Dinner with Friends is Fun! And Sushi is Expensive.
    On Saturday evening, Jerry and I went out to dinner with our friend, Annie.

     Annie and me dining at Raku in Bethesda
    • I learned that downtown Bethesda, MD reminds me of quaint towns in Europe.
    • I learned that a treat meal dinner is even more fun with friends! (see also: Breakfast with Friends is Fun)
    • I learned that sushi is expensive when it's not an all-you-can-eat buffet!
    Food is Not Meant to be Kept for 3 Years
    On Sunday, Jerry and I cleaned the house in preparation for my brother and his family's visit this coming weekend. Having two dogs, two cats, and two humans in the house makes for a not-so-suitable environment for a 16-month baby.
    • I learned that grains (bulgar, wheat, quinoa, sesame seeds, rye) aren't supposed to be kept for three years, trucked across the country, then stored in a shed for a year. Apparently they go bad??
    • I learned that I keep things I don't need.
    • I learned that Jerry doesn't keep things he doesn't need.
    • I learned that once the boxes blocking the storage closet in the kitchen were removed, the closet really comes in handy!
     Look! No boxes! And access to the closet!
    • I learned that eating 3-year old Gobstoppers can give me instant hives and a swollen lip.
    • I learned that Benadryl makes me loopy.
    • I learned that Vanilla Milkshake Pop Tarts aren't all they're cracked up to be.
    They look better than they taste.

    WWE RAW is Actually Fun!
    On Monday evening, Jerry and I went to the live performance of WWE RAW at the Verizon Center. It was my first time at a WWE event, and I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew there'd be noise, excitement, a zillion people, and John Cena (drool). Brooks and Katie (see also: breakfast) were also there, so we met up with them before the show.

    Before the show. Note my Championship belt.
    • I learned that there is not one stereotypical wrestling fan. We saw all ages, all races, both male and female, all cheering, booing, clapping, and holding up homemade signs.
    • I learned that fireworks in an indoor arena are LOUD.
    • I learned that I get ridiculously happy when Jerry is happy and having a fun time.
    Sporting our Cenation sweatbands.
    • I learned that I'm a huge fan of John Cena (as evidenced by the Cena swag we purchased, even going so far as to make the nice sales lady pull the display shirt off the wall for me so I could purchase the last orange Cena shirt).
    Sportin' our Cena swag.
    • I learned that watching wrestling is WAY more fun in person than it is on TV.
    • I learned that I wouldn't mind going to another WWE show in the future (this was a definite surprise).
    All in all, it was a fabulous weekend, filled with wonderful experiences!

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    The Sleep Conundrum

    What's one thing we always want more of and can never seem to get enough of?

    No - it's not THAT. Get your mind out of the gutter! I'm talking about SLEEP, of course!

    Quality sleep is not only important year-round, it's especially important during contest prep. Yet, getting enough sleep, or even being able to fall sleep, is a major issue for many competitors.

    During contest prep, I find that I need more sleep in order to function during the day. Off-season, I need about 7-8 hours a night, but during prep, I need at least 8. Why? My activity level is increased, my metabolism is screamin', and my body is depleted. Without getting too scientific, sleep gives my body time to repair, heal, and recover from the daily trauma I induce through training and diet. It's no wonder I'm short-tempered when I don't get enough sleep! (poor Jerry)

    I very rarely have a difficult time falling asleep, and once asleep, it's quite difficult to wake me up. Apparently, my cat walks all over me at night, paws at my face, meows in my ear, chews on my hair, and lays on my head. I'm completely oblivious to it all. It's only when I'm a couple days out from a show that I sometimes have difficulty sleeping. I chalk it up to nerves.

    On the other hand, there are many competitors who have a very difficult time sleeping during prep. I've heard so many stories of competitors who are extremely tired during the day, and can barely make it through the day without at least one nap. But when bedtime rolls around, they're wide awake. Or they fall asleep quickly, but then wake up an hour later and can't fall back to sleep for three hours. Or they fall asleep, but wake up every two hours to pee, and then have trouble falling back to sleep.

    Jerry & Ed are napping buddies. Ed's always up for a nap.

    It all boils down to not enough hours or quality of sleep. I wish I knew the science behind this, but I don't. And I haven't taken a science class since, um ... I think 10th grade?? (Hooray for being an English major in college!)

    It's very common for competitors to take multiple naps throughout the day, grabbing sleep whenever they can. Jerry has told me stories about how he's fallen asleep while training clients, at stoplights (dangerous! A big reason I don't let him drive when he's prepping), and watching TV. One time, he was sitting on an exercise ball in the gym, fell asleep, and ended up sprawled on the floor (I'm trying to picture my 230 lb boyfriend falling off an exercise ball. Tee hee.)

    Why does this happen? It's not narcolepsy. My very unscientific explanation is that we starve and deplete our bodies to the point where the body just wants to shut down in order to survive. Since sleep helps repair the body, when it thinks it's dying, the body tries to shut down and go to sleep.

    Healthy? Uh, not at all. Do we still continue to compete? Yep! It's all part of the game.

    It's no surprise that you'll find a various assortment of sleep aids on bodybuilding supplement sites. Every body is different, and everyone needs a different amount of sleep for optimal body function. Make sure you get enough sleep, especially during prep, so your body can recover from the stress of training and diet.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Expensive Workout Clothes are Worth It!

    I'm a well-known cheapskate when it comes to, well, most everything. I'm all about bargains, discounts, sales, and my favorite retail word: Clearance. If it's not on sale, I won't look at it. When I enter a store, I immediately head to the back, where the Sale and Clearance racks normally are. Some of my favorite stores are Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Nordstrom Rack, Filene's Basement, and Ross. Yep, I'm not too proud to admit that I shop for designer clothes at discount stores!

    Over the years, I've built up quite an extensive collection of cheap tank tops and workout shorts. Since "wife beater" style tanks are so cheap, I've accumulated quite a few of them, and they're my main staple of workout attire. Those and cheerleading shorts, of course. It's a good day at the gym if my shorts and tank don't completely clash.


    Cheap, comfy, and left over from my days of being a Cheerleading Instructor

    Don't get me wrong - I love quality clothing ... I just can't afford it. And the non-matching thing? Well, that's just sheer laziness. It's not that I've never tried to find cute workout clothes, cuz I have! I just can't justify spending $40 on one tank top.


    Just can't justify spending $40 on a tank top that's cute, but not designed for figure girls

    Thus far, I've had very few complaints about my workout attire (that's not to say I haven't received some odd looks, but that's another story). However, lately Jerry has been gently suggesting that I might like to get some new workout clothes. Oh ok, I'll get another $3 wife beater. This time in lime green! (maybe that's why it's $3)

    "No," he clarified, "That's not what I meant ..." and then added that some of the ladies at the gym are sporting some very cute (very flattering) tank tops and capri pants. "Maybe you could ask them where they bought them."

    Point taken. So I talked to the ladies at the gym. Their clothes are from Lululemon. Upon further research, I discovered that most of the women in the magazines wear Lululemon or Better Bodies for the photo shoots. Upon even further research, I discovered that both those brands are VERY expensive!


    Cute, right? But are they $98 cute??

    Since I have better things to spend my $98 on (e.g. electric bill), I resigned myself to being THAT girl in the gym. Yeah, the one who wears $7 shorts and $3 tanks that completely clash.

    Until ...

    I went to the Maryland Bodybuilding show a couple weeks ago, and saw the GASP/Better Bodies sale rack ... And decided to just bite the bullet and buy some of those cute (albeit slightly cheaper cuz they were on sale) clothes.

    Luckily, the nice sales man accepted credit cards, and I walked away with a couple tank tops and the world's cutest pair of hot pants (which I swear I'll fit into in a couple weeks!).

    I'm gonna go ahead and say that these clothes are the most comfortable, well-fitting, flattering clothes I own. They show off my physique and make me look all streamlined instead of boxy. And the best part? The tanks don't pinch or dig into my lats! I'm hooked! So last weekend when we went the Delaware show, I couldn't resist buying a couple more tank tops.
     How cute is this?! And oh so comfy!

    So yeah ... more expensive workout clothes are totally worth it! I've seen the light, and will be keeping my eye on the Better Bodies sale items online, cuz I want more tank tops!