Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Operation Pro: Back Day with Kari

It's no secret that I dread training my back. In fact, 3 of the 5 exercises I love to hate are back-focused exercises. The exercises are uncomfortable, awkward, and difficult for me (which is why I avoided them in the past).

In an attempt to motivate myself to continue training hard even when I don't feel like it, I decided to make a video of my back workout last week. The video follows me through one rotation of my workout; I did 3 total circuit rotations.

I gotta admit, after watching this vid, I'm even more motivated and excited about prep for Team Universe. I can't wait for all my hard work to pay off!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Max Muscle Virginia Show Re-Cap

This past weekend, J and I went to watch the inaugural Max Muscle Virginia show. We were up early, as we both need to get our morning cardio and a meal in before we hit the road. At the show, we saw several of our fitness world friends and chatted with them. I also met a couple of my online buddies in person for the first time!
Online buddies Adriana and Debi
One of my favorite things about going to watch a show is how no one thinks it's weird to bring their cooler and a jug of water into the show, and then proceed to whip out Tupperware filled with cold food, silverware, and Crystal Lite at regular intervals. One of my competitor friends actually asked me if I wanted to smell some cookies her friend had brought for a competitor. Of course I wanted to smell the cookies - and so did she! How cool is that?!

For this being the first year for this show, the quality of competitors was good!

We'd only planned on going to pre-judging, so we headed home after the show. But after a couple more meals and another cardio session for me, we decided to head back to watch the evening show. We'd been looking forward to chatting with Peter and Jess Putnam, who were guest posing at the evening show, but we hadn't seen them at pre-judging. Plus, it's not like we had any other scintillating plans on a Saturday night. Ha!

Despite audio-music issues, the evening show was well-run. We were happy we got to meet up with the Putnams, and I also met another online friend in person!

Me with Jess Paxson-Putnam
Melissa and me - online buddies!
One of my online friends, Shawn Hektor, won her Bikini class, and J's former roommate, Mario Tarquinio, took 2nd in his stacked class. It was exciting watching our friends win medals!

Shawn is 2nd from the left
I feel so fortunate to have such a wide and varied group of in-person and online friends who share my love of competing and the fitness world, and it's always a fun time when we all get to meet up and cheer for our friends on stage.

I'm even more excited and motivated to step on stage in July! There's something about the smell of Jan Tana that gets me psyched to strut my stuff on stage!

Friday, April 22, 2011

I Want to Win

One of my friends asked me the other day how I find the motivation to train hard on the days when I either don't feel well, or just plain old don't feel like training. I told her what motivates me is the desire to WIN.

"Winning" can mean any number of things - it can mean anything from losing a couple pounds to winning a trophy to just having the confidence to stand on stage. Or it could mean feeling good about wearing a swim suit, or eating clean for a week, or running a mile without stopping. "Winning" means something different for everyone.

For me, the need to win is my ultimate motivation. And at this time, winning means doing everything I can in order to look my absolute best on stage.

What motivates you to train hard? Is it running a race you signed up for? Is it fitting into a size smaller clothes? Is it competing in your first competition or your twentieth? What does "winning" mean for you?

Check out what motivates some of the other Fitness Blog World ladies:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Sign on my Forehead

Due to some unplanned and rather expensive purchases as of late, I've come to the realization that I must have a huge sign on my forehead that exclaims to all salespeople: "It doesn't take much to talk me into buying your expensive and completely unnecessary product!"

Last weekend while I was at the mall, I stumbled upon a Style show, which included opportunities to meet with a stylist and get a free makeover. Never one to pass up free stuff, I signed up for both. The stylist thing was fun, but other than "nude shoes make your legs look longer," I didn't get much out of it. The makeover, however, was much more helpful.

In preparation for my show (and because I think I look better with a tan), I've been going tanning. In an attempt to (finally) take care of the skin on my face, I cover my face while tanning. Which has now created a ghost-like effect against the tan of the rest of my body. So I've been looking for a light foundation/powder for my face that will match my tanned skin. The nice man who did my makeover suggested a couple products, and when he was finished giving me a whole new look (note to self: never attempt to wear coral eye color again), my face color matched the rest of me!

This past weekend, I decided to buy a couple of the products he used on my makeover. When I walked into Nordstrom, I was surprised to see a DJ pumping out Britney remixes next to a flurry of activity around the cosmetics area. Nordstrom was putting on their own free makeover extravaganza!

As I searched in vain for the EsteĆ© Lauder counter (which I never managed to locate), I was accosted by a makeup artist at the Dior counter. I let her lecture me on the proper toning and moisturizing practices for my face, and then suffered through her soliloquy about how important it is for me to use eye cream "at my age" in order to "stop the lines from turning into wrinkles." (I do believe she suggested that I'm getting old.)

According to the label, this will make me more "radiant" and diminish my "imperfections."

When she was finished making me beautiful, I looked in the mirror and almost didn't recognize myself! My skin tone was even, the "lines that will turn into wrinkles" were gone, and my eyes looked luminously blue. I had no idea what an impact a good makeup application could have!

I was all set to buy most of the products ... until the nice lady told me the cost of each item. That eye cream that I so desperately "need"? $195. Yeah, srsly. The toner that cleanses and rids my face of all forms of ickiness? $90. I bout fell off my chair!

I did succumb to buying the spray foundation, because clearly, it worked well! I also got a liquid concealer that successfully concealed my laugh lines. I did, however, manage to resist all her pleas that I purchase the eye cream and other facial cleansers. I ended up spending twice what I'd expected to spend that day.

Fancy spray foundation

I had some fun playing with all my new makeup toys yesterday, and actually did a halfway decent job of applying it. I always do my own makeup for stage and photoshoots, and it turns out ok; however, I've never done a very good job of applying makeup for everyday looks. Although I wasn't planning on spending so much money, I'm thrilled with my purchases and am happy my face color finally matches the rest of me!

Am I the only one who's easily talked into buying things I don't need or spending more money than I'd planned to spend? Or have you made some unplanned impulse purchases too?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Little TLC Goes a Long Way

In the past 5 years that I've competed, I can't remember one time when I got sick during prep. It was usually after the show that my body said "enough is enough" and succumbed to germs. This year, however, I somehow managed to get some sort of nasty bug that's had me feeling sick for most of this week. My throat feels like a litter of kittens slid down it with their claws out, I ran a fever of 101.7, I have uncontrollable coughing fits, and my voice sounds like I've been screaming at a 3-day rock concert. So how is this affecting my prep?

Luckily, since I'm ahead of schedule, I've been able to let my body get some of the rest it needs. I took a compete "off day" on Tuesday - no cardio or training - for the first time in a year. I have to admit, it felt really weird NOT to do morning cardio! And it felt really weird to be able to curl up on the couch on Tuesday evening after work and watch Secretariat. I kept thinking I needed to jump on the treadmill and get my evening cardio in!

My body thanked me for the day off, though, because when I woke up on Wednesday morning, the fever was gone and I had a bit of energy. I've been drinking a lot of green tea, sucking on sugar-free cough drops, and going to bed early.

It's always important to take care of your body, but it's even more important to take care of it during prep, when you're putting your body through more stress with intense training and a strict diet. I still don't feel well, and I'm heading back to the doctor's office this afternoon, but I'm hoping that the extra TLC I'm giving my body has made this bug a little less intense than it could've been.

Thanks for all the well-wishes I've gotten this week. Hopefully I'll be back to feeling 100% soon!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Yam and Brown Rice Pancakes!

With the introduction of carbs into my diet last week, I've been able to flex my creative cooking muscles a bit. Compared to several of my friends, I'm a complete amateur in the kitchen, so I need to add the following disclaimer before I publish any recipes:

This recipe is used in a contest prep diet and may not actually taste as good as I think it does. People who try this recipe while not in prep may not be as thrilled with the flavor and results as I am.

Ok, now that we got that out of the way ... I want to tell you about my latest concoction: Yam Pancakes and Brown Rice Pancakes.

For weeks, I've been lusting after J's oatmeal pancakes, even going so far as to stick my nose 1 mm away from the pancake and inhale deeply, as if by smelling the food, I could actually taste it. Now I don't have to live vicariously through my nose anymore! I realized that I could actually make pancakes out of my new carb meals!

Yam Pancakes

  • Yams
  • Egg whites
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of Splenda or other artificial sweetener
  • Pinch of pumpkin spice
  • Splash of vanilla
  • Splash of sugar-free syrup

Bake yams (I bake them in the microwave, then wrap them in tin foil for a half hour before portioning them). Combine yams, egg whites, cinnamon, Splenda, pumpkin spice, vanilla, and syrup in blender (or the Magic Bullet blender, which is fabulous!). Blend and then pour into pre-heated pan on the stove. Flip when one side is cooked. Top with butter flavoring, cinnamon, and sugar-free syrup.

Notes: I didn't put amounts for the yams or egg whites because that depends on your diet. I use 4 oz of yams and 6 egg whites, which combines quite well and makes 2 pancakes. The consistency is not quite as firm as a traditional pancake, but it still tastes great! You could also add in almond milk, greek yogurt, or protein powder, depending on your diet.

Brown Rice Pancakes

  • Brown rice
  • Egg whites
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of Splenda or other artificial sweetener
  • Splash of vanilla
  • Splash of sugar-free syrup

Cook brown rice. Combine rice, egg whites, cinnamon, Splenda, vanilla, and syrup in blender (or the Magic Bullet blender, which is fabulous!). Blend and then pour into pre-heated pan on the stove. Flip when one side is cooked. Top with butter flavoring and sugar-free syrup.

Notes: I didn't put amounts for the rice or egg whites because that depends on your diet. I use 1/2 cup of rice and 6 egg whites, which makes 1 pancake. The rice doesn't blend evenly, so it may come out of the blender in a clump. Just spread it evenly through the mix in the pan. The consistency of this pancake is closer to a traditional pancake or omelet. You could also add in almond milk, greek yogurt, or protein powder, depending on your diet.

Rice Pancake
I'm so excited to have these options in my diet. They taste so good to me that I don't even crave any treat meals! Let me know if you try these and what you think of them. Like I said in the disclaimer, they could totally not taste anywhere near as good as I think they do. But for me, they're heavenly!

Friday, April 8, 2011

5 Exercises I Love to Hate

As I've mentioned before, my training style has changed a lot this past year. I'm now doing different exercises that I'd avoided in the past simply because they were either uncomfortable or there were other exercises I preferred to do instead.

In order to win my Pro card, however, I need to have a balanced, symmetrical physique. And that means I have a love/hate with a couple exercises in particular.

  • Pullups top my list of exercises I love to hate. I genuinely dread doing pullups, but at the same time, I LOVE how they make my back look! For the first time in my life, I actually have wings (lats)!

I finally grew wings!
  • We all whine about lunges, but I can't think of any successful Figure competitor who DOESN'T do them. They're pretty much a necessary evil in order to get a nice glute/hamstring tie-in.
  • I really despise dumbbell rows. I don't really have a good reason for despising them other than the fact that the row is an awkward, uncomfortable movement for me (which is why I avoided them for years). They do wonders in thickening my back, though!
  • I've been doing rear dumbbell or cable flyes quite a bit lately, but no matter how often I do them, the movement is still awkward and uncomfortable. Tell ya what, though. I finally have visible rear delts!
  • I used to hate squats for the simple reason that, if done properly (ass to the grass), squats are hard! But they're also one of the best overall exercises to do. I firmly believe that squats should be included in every serious competitor's training program.
    Squatting plates on Monday
    Well, there ya have it! My list of the top 5 exercises I love to hate. Check out the lists some of my friends compiled too! Donloree, Alli, Ashley, Dawn, Liz, Jen, Colleen, Lisa, Kendra and Tiffany all wrote their own lists, and I bet we have some of the same exercises on our lists!

    What are some exercises YOU love to hate? Do you do them anyway or do you avoid them like I used to?

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Operation Pro Training Approach

    I've gotten a couple questions about my training program, structure, and approach. So I thought, what better way to address this question than to talk with my trainer? J and I sat down yesterday after my workout and chatted about how we approached my off-season and this year's prep for Team Universe, the structure of my training plan, and some lessons I've had to learn this past year. We also chatted a bit about how and why we had to change my diet this past week.

    Like I've said before, every prep is different and has its own unique set of challenges. It's exciting (and a little nerve-wracking for us planner-types), and I can't wait to get on stage again in 13 weeks!

    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    Back to the Drawing Board

    As I mentioned last week, my keto diet has been working a lot faster than we'd anticipated. My weight is now within 5 lbs of my expected stage weight ... and I still have 14 weeks to go! I realize this is a GOOD problem to have. But it's still a problem.

    Like every Saturday morning, we took progress pictures. I wore my suit for the first time, which makes the show somehow seem even more real!

    Front post 4-2-11
    Side Pose 4-2-11
    Back pose 4-2-11
    Model pose 4-2-11
    My upper body is starting to look very flat and almost stringy, which means I'm just starting to lose some muscle. I worked so hard this off-season to build that muscle, there's no way I can afford to burn it off now!

    J & I have had several talks about how to restructure my diet now so that I stay full, yet lean. Yesterday, I had clean carbs with all my meals, and let me tell ya - what a mental switch that was! After so many weeks of no carbs, actually eating brown rice and yams felt so ... weird! It almost felt like I was having treat meals instead of diet food!

    We're still trying some different combinations and foods to figure out the best approach. I'm so thankful that J understands that every body is different, and takes such an individual and different approach for each of his clients instead of using a cookie cutter diet that may work for some but not others. If I had been following a cookie cutter approach, I would've just stuck to the original plan, and continued to get leaner and more stringy looking, burning muscle in the process. That's NOT the goal! The goal is to step on stage looking full and balanced. Figure is no longer a contest of who's the leanest; it's who has the most balanced, overall conditioned, aesthetically pleasing physique.

    I have to admit, that since I'm a planner and like to know what comes next, I feel unsettled right now. But I know I'm in good hands, and that J will figure out what's going to work for me at this point.

    So here's to the next phase of Operation Pro. The journey is starting to get even more interesting, so stay tuned for more updates!