Thursday, June 30, 2011

Active Recovery Video on FitnessRX for Women!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, J & I went up to Bev Francis' Powerhouse Gym in New York, where I filmed a workout video for FitnessRx. I'm excited to announce that the video is now posted on the FitnessRx website!

Not only am I on the rotating slideshow, my other guest blogs are listed on the right-hand column too!
I'm thrilled that I had the opportunity to work with FitnessRx! I had a blast shooting the video, and feel fortunate to be associated with a great womens' fitness site!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Accidentally Poisoned Myself Again

Oops ... I did it again.

I accidentally poisoned myself again.

Not on purpose, mind you! But rather, accidentally ... with aspartame.

The first time we realized I was accidentally poisoning myself was last year, about two weeks before the Arnold. I began developing some stomach issues, and we narrowed the cause down to the artificial sweetener aspartame. When we pulled all the Crystal Lite and Diet Coke out of my diet, the issues ceased and my body tightened up.

After the show, I added the Crystal Lite back into my water bottle, cuz really, who wants plain water when it can taste like cherry limeade?! Not this girl!

Up until three weeks ago, I hadn't had any issues. And then suddenly, I did. We couldn't figure out why my body was depleted.

Then we realized I was poisoning myself again.

Crystal Lite in my desk drawer. EVIL yet so tasty!

It's been five days since I replaced Crystal Lite with flavored liquid Stevia in my water bottle, and surprise surprise! My body filled out and tightened up at the same time. *facepalm

All natural, liquid Stevia - the replacement for evil Crystal Lite
I'm back to feeling confident about prep, and on track to bringing my best to the stage in a week and a half!

Monday, June 27, 2011


This past week has been a whirlwind of emotions. I've been up, down, and sideways. My emotions were swinging all over the board, mostly toward the negative end. While I recognized the negative attitude, I didn't know how to change it.

The Secret

During the past several weeks, J has been talking with me about a positive mindset, and the tremendous impact that positive thoughts can have on our lives. By thinking positive thoughts, we receive positive rewards. I compare it a bit to The Secret, which essentially asserts that you reap what you sow.

Positive thoughts = positive experiences, and conversely, negative thoughts = negative experiences.

So why, being only 3 weeks out from the most important show of my career, was I thinking negative thoughts and potentially jeopardizing my chances at achieving my dream?

This morning when I woke up, I looked outside at a rainy, dreary day. I didn't sleep well last night, and wasn't in the world's best mood when I stumbled out of bed. Since I'm not a morning person by nature, I decided to choose my attitude for the day.

Choosing My Attitude

Today I chose to be positive.

To be positive regardless of the weather, regardless of anything that happened at work, regardless of other people's moods. I was going to find the silver lining in every situation.

And it actually worked!

I ended up having a good day, despite some issues that may have previously caused my mood to slide into the negative zone.

I realized that last week's mood was a combination of factors that combined to form the perfect storm at a time during prep when emotions generally run high.

I've also chosen to face these next two weeks with a positive, confident attitude. Not to be confused with cocky and arrogant; simply confident. I know that I'm in extremely capable hands with J as my coach. I know that I'm bringing my best physique ever to the stage! I know that I've put in the hard training and diet and am proud of my accomplishments. I know that I have a strong support system both in person and online.

The next two weeks are going to be filled with only positive thoughts and a Champion Mindset. I can't wait to step on stage and shine!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


If you ask any competitor what their typical day is like, chances are they'll tell you the exact times they eat and hit the gym. Routine and consistency are key to the success of competitors. While some people may consider our lifestyle boring (doing the same thing day after day after day), I consider it a necessary element to achieving my goals and making my dreams come true.

My typical day looks very similar to every other day of the week.

Morning Cardio

I'm notorious at turning my alarm(s) off and falling back to sleep several times a week. Thankfully (?), our animals have loud morning routines of howling, scratching, and licking themselves, all of which prompt me to crawl out of bed and sleepily swat at them.

I stumble to the dreadmill while clutching a new bottle of Endorush, and catch up on Twitter or read my book. I used to complain about cardio a lot, but honestly, I really don't mind it. I use this time to wake up, to get my body warmed up and moving, and to talk myself into a positive mood.

Although morning is my favorite time of day, I'm not a morning person by nature. I usually don't wake up in a chipper mood; I have to consciously channel my thoughts in a positive direction every morning. I take time to notice and appreciate little things like birds singing, sunshine streaming through the trees, my kitties giving themselves baths in front of the treadmill, and the puppies sleeping with their tongues out. I firmly believe we are each in control of our thoughts, and we all have the power to choose how we want to approach each day. Every day, I choose to start the day on a positive note.

How Bruno does morning cardio

I'm an eLearning Specialist, so I spend the majority of my day designing online training courses. I love the work I do. I'm always working on new projects, and I'm challenged often enough to avoid being bored. I have the luxury of being able to eat at my desk, so at various points during the day, co-workers find me hungrily digging into my Tupperware filled with turkey or brown rice.

Training and More Cardio

After work, J picks me up and we hit the gym. While I'm training, he's usually training clients. On the days he doesn't have clients, he trains me.

Relax and Get Ready for Tomorrow

When we get home from the gym, I eat and then get my meals and gym clothes ready for the next day. Since I'm usually running late in the mornings, having everything ready the night before eliminates a lot of additional stress.

I spend my evenings with J - talking, watching TV, or catching up online. We really appreciate the time we have together and just enjoy relaxing. Especially during prep, it's important to take some time to unwind and de-stress. Once prep is over and I have more energy, I'll be more active in the evenings, but for now, quiet evenings at home make me happy.

The beauty of my day is in the routine I follow. I know that the things I do day in and day out are setting me up for long-term success. And that's more exciting to me than anything else!

This blog entry is part of Fitness Blog World.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Operation Pro Week 17 Check-In

As of yesterday, I'm exactly 3 weeks out from Team Universe! Where has the time gone?!

I filmed an update video and talked a bit about what happened as a result of last week's long road trip up to Bev Francis' Powerhouse Gym to shoot a workout video with FitnessRx magazine. We're trying to keep my weight within a couple pounds, and are making adjustments as needed.

Thanks for all your support so far ... only 3 weeks left!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Action Creates Opportunities

Recently, I've come to accept that in order for things to happen, I need to get out and MAKE them happen. I can't sit around waiting for a sponsorship or an opportunity; I need to actively seek and take advantage of opportunities.

So I'm very excited to share that this new approach has led to some very exciting things for me!

This past Sunday, J and I drove up to Syosset, NY to Bev Francis' Powerhouse Gym - aka the East Coast Mecca of bodybuilding - so I could film a workout video for Fitness Rx Magazine online.

My GPS prefers to provide the scenic route, so we ended up driving directly through downtown NYC on the way to the gym!
It was such a fun experience! I'm so thankful that recording my video blogs helped me feel more comfortable on camera.

Inside Powerhouse Gym - Just one of the walls of autographed photos
The video shoot led to another opportunity: submitting guest blogs on the website! I can't think of a better fit for me: it combines my love of writing with my love of fitness. How perfect!

Outside the East Coast Mecca
My first guest blog was posted yesterday! The workout video should be posted soon, and of course I'll post the link to it on here!

I'm so proud of myself for finally taking the initiative and following through with opportunities. In the past, I've been guilty of letting things slide and saying things like, "Yeah, I prolly SHOULD go after that opportunity," or "Well, I STARTED filling out the form ..."

No more of that! I'm going to take action, follow through, and finish things! Thank you to FitnessRx for offering these opportunities to me. I feel empowered and motivated, and am looking forward to even more exciting things to come!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Scary Mr. Leg Press

There's a machine in the gym that scares me. He sits in the corner, lurking, sneering at me whenever I dare walk by. He taunts me and dares me to use him. We used to friends several years ago, but we've since grown apart, and now the distance between us is so great, I'm not sure we'll ever be as close. Because, quite frankly, I'm pretty sure he wants to hurt me. And not in an emotional way.

Meet Mr. Leg Press!

Scary, right?!
Why am I scared of the leg press?

I've got tendonitis in both of my knees from cheerleading in high school (yes, cheerleading IS a sport!), and my knees occasionally give out on me. I'm utterly terrified that my one of my knees is just going to randomly give out in the middle of a press, and the whole machine will come crashing down on me.

Is this fear reasonable or rational?

Meh, not really. There are safety catches that would stop it from crushing me. But the fear remains.

Despite all of the uncomfortable exercises I've had to do this year, I've been able to avoid the leg press for the most part. Until this past Monday.

Facing my fears

I approached the Mr. Leg Press with dread. He looked scarier than usual, so I gave myself the "I am a Champion" pep talk and started with a really light weight.

To my surprise, my knees didn't hurt at all, and I felt comfortable doubling the weight! By the time I was finished with all my sets, I wasn't so scared anymore. I'd made it through with no knee pain, and know that I can use even heavier weight next time. There's something to be said about that champion mindset.

While I still don't consider Mr. Leg Press my friend, at least I'm not as terrified of him anymore. And that's a start to rebuilding a friendship, right?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Boring? Or A Key to Success?

Through the past few years, I've gotten quite a few questions and comments about my diet. I've gotten adept at answering the questions politely and briefly, because really, most people don't really want to know the intricacies of my diet; they're just wondering why I won't join them for Happy Hour.

The most recent question I got was, "Same food for lunch today? Doesn't that seem boring to you?"

My reply was, "No, not really. It's just my lifestyle now; I don't really know any other way."

For the most part, that's true. NOT bringing my food to work would feel very strange to me. Going out to eat with co-workers every day would feel odd. Travelling without my cooler feels abnormal.

I love the lifestyle I chose, even though it's not always easy, and it's not always fun. Sure, I'd love to go out for pizza every day ... but then my tummy would be all upset and I'd have to buy a whole new (larger sized) wardrobe. So I choose to eat healthier foods and to look and feel better.

Like I've said before, I'm actually quite lazy and would rather eat the same foods every day than waste time making different kinds of food. But every once in awhile, it's nice to have something different.

Fresh shrimp, crab meat, and vegetables. YUM!
I guess most people would call my diet boring. But I just look at it as something that will bring me one step closer to achieving my goal.

Do you like some variety in your diet, or is it "boring" like mine?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Uncharted Territory

“The only thing constant in life is change.”
~ Fran├žois de la Rochefoucauld

I debated writing this blog, but then decided that since I am a writer at heart, I need to express my feelings in writing sometimes in order to see things clearly.

I've been wrestling with some thoughts the past few days ... and some odd feelings I have about those thoughts.

Feeling good is bad?!

In my last update, I briefly mentioned some changes to my diet and training program. In essence, those changes have actually made my prep easier instead of harder. And that scares me! I've never had an "easy" prep before; I've always scrambled at the last minute to get lean enough or tight enough to look halfway decent on stage. Some years I've pulled it off, some years I haven't.

I'm used to feeling tired, drained, exhausted, crabby, hungry, and utterly depleted during prep. I'm used to doing up to 2 hours of cardio a day on a reduced calorie diet. I'm used to taking copious amounts of caffeine just to get through the day. I'm used to sitting in my car outside the gym, crying while trying to muster up the energy to just step through the gym doors.

This year, I'm experiencing NONE of those things! Granted, my energy levels are reduced compared to off-season, but they're nowhere near as low as they've been in the past.

To sum up ... I feel good most of the time, I'm not doing a ton of cardio, I'm not taking a ton of caffeine, and I have energy during my workouts.

So what in the world is the problem?!

The problem is, prep seems TOO good this year. And thanks to my ever-present Catholic guilt ...
  • I feel guilty for not feeling like crap. (I know - it doesn't make any sense.)
  • I feel guilty that other competitors are feeling like crap right now and I'm not.
  • I'm worried that I'll become complacent with my training and diet and somehow go backward instead of forward.
  • I'm freaked out because this prep is completely uncharted territory for me.

Let me be the first in line to slap me upside the head and shout, "Suck it up, Princess!"

I feel silly and stupid for even having these thoughts. And I feel even stupider for actually publicly admitting them and writing about them. But like I said, I'm a writer, and this is what I do.

I need to remember something that I've told a lot of people: every prep is different. This prep is so completely different than any of my other preps in the past six years! I need to relax and just enjoy the experience.

J's reminder to me last night was the most helpful: I've been prepping for Team Universe for a year. A WHOLE YEAR.

My diet and training have all been geared toward shaping my body and muscles into a Pro card-worthy physique. I've eaten ground turkey every. single. day since last February. I've changed my whole training program to focus solely on areas that needed the most improvement. I'm doing exercises I despise. I'm doing rep schemes that leave me wheezing and gasping for breath after each set. I did cardio every. single. day in my off-season.

My whole life this past year has been focused on this one show.

So just because I don't feel like complete crap, I'm not starving all the time, and I'm not living at the gym doesn't mean that I haven't worked hard to get to this point. I need to appreciate all that I've accomplished this past year and focus on just doing what I need to do. I have complete confidence in J and know that he'll bring me in to the show in my best shape yet!