Sunday, July 31, 2011

I'm Proud!

My friends, Lisa and Tenecia, put up posts the other day about things they're proud of. I love this topic, since all too often, we're hard on ourselves or don't find ourselves appreciating everything we have. So here are some things I'm proud of!

I'm proud of my strong relationship with J. And our ability to diet for shows at the same time without killing each other!
Enjoying the NYC Skyline
I'm proud to belong to such a wonderful, caring family. I wish we could see each other more often.
My favorite people in the entire universe!
I'm proud of my sword!
2008 Contra Costa Overall. My dad made the sword holder!
I'm proud to be the auntie of two sweet little boys!
Me with Baby James and Jeffrey Jr.
I'm proud to write for FitnessRx online.
Article for FitnessRx
I'm proud of the decision I made two years ago to move from Montana to Maryland to be with J.
Roadtrippin with J & my 2 kitties
I'm proud to know that if I work hard enough, I can look like this.
Marc Thyssen Photography 2011
I'm proud to know that by sharing some of my stories and experiences, I can be a positive source of motivation for others to reach for and achieve their dreams.

What are you proud of? I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Feeling Strong Again

During the last few weeks of prep, it's inevitable that I lose a bit of strength. My body is depleted, tired, and slightly overtrained. The goal changes from building muscle to just trying to maintain it until the show.

Now that the show is over, I get to go back to training heavy again, which is exciting for me! I get bored with high reps and prefer training with heavier weights and lower reps.

Last week, I discovered a new machine in the gym! I'd never noticed it before, tucked between scary Mr. Leg Press and the Dip cage.

The horizontal leg press!
Horizontal Leg Press
I tested it out with no weight, then loaded it up for some sets of 10.
270 lbs!
Unlike regular Mr. Leg Press, this guy doesn't scare me at all! I don't feel like the whole platform is going to come crashing down on me any second, and if my knee gives out, I'm not worried about being crushed by hundreds of pounds. This machine may be my new best friend!

Do you have a machine like this at your gym? What do you think of it?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Treat Time!

Contest prep is inherently strict: food, supplements, workouts, and cardio are all scheduled and timed. There's very little leeway or room for deviation, and while on the one hand it's nice to follow a schedule, on the other hand, it can feel restricting at times. That's why it's so much fun to look forward to treats and fun activities after the show!

Because I had a photoshoot the day after Team Universe, I didn't want to eat too many sweets or goodies after the show. That didn't stop me from collecting them to eat later, though!

My parents and I went to the famous Carlo's Bakery on Sunday morning. I was there last Fall, but this was the first visit for my parents.

Cake Boss!
Dad & Mom Keenan
We waited in line for an hour and a half, but it was worth it!

This is my Happy Face

All the treats we bought!
Can you believe I waited until after the photoshoot to eat this stuff?
After my photoshoot, we headed into NYC to see Times Square. It was so overwhelming and fabulous!

Being a typical tourist in NYC
J and me in Times Square
After I finished my Carlo's treats on Monday, I kept my diet mostly clean the rest of the week, as I've splurged in the past and it resulted in horrible misery for me.

On Saturday, my friend Debi and I took a trip to Georgetown Cupcake. We'd been planning it for awhile, so we were both really excited about it.

Georgetown Cupcake

I didn't eat all of these; I shared a couple
It's been fun to enjoy some treats and to have a bit more energy again. It feels so freeing to be able to put spices and seasoning back on my food again, and to train heavy without fatiguing quickly. But oddly enough, even though I can have gum and Crystal Light again, I've found myself not really craving either of them. Plus, I feel totally ok going back to eating clean again. I feel better when I eat clean and I actually still enjoy my diet foods (I'm STILL not sick of turkey!).

I'm about 5 lbs over my contest weight, and I feel good. I feel healthy and happy. I'm looking forward to a productive off-season!

Friday, July 15, 2011

So Now What?

It's been a week since Team Universe ... I've had a lot of thoughts swirling through my head the past few days, so instead of writing them all out, I decided to make another video.

I had J join me to discuss our approach to the show - conditioning and presentation. I read a couple comments people made about my conditioning, presentation, and suit, so I wanted to address the reasoning behind the decisions we made, and our thoughts about how the show went.

I have to admit, I'm completely overwhelmed, flattered, and touched by all of the thoughtful, supportive comments I've received last week and this week. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your support and belief in me. I was so worried I let you all down when I didn't do well at the show, but you've stood by me and reminded me that just because I didn't win a trophy doesn't mean I didn't win the journey.

I've made a lot of progress in the past few years. Here are the comparisons J and I talked about in the video: Jr Nationals 2009 and Team Universe 2011.

It's time for another productive off-season, or should I saw Operation Grow?!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Winning is great, sure, but if you are really going to do something in life, the secret is learning how to lose. Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.
~ Wilma Rudolph
As I've said before, I like to win. But sometimes, winning just isn't in the cards. That happened to me this past weekend at Team Universe.

A Year in the Making

I trained for this show for an entire YEAR. In early August of last year, I made the decision to stick with Figure and to compete at Team Universe. After that decision was made, my training style changed and I began to focus intensely on building up some lagging muscle groups. That was the start of Operation Pro!

Twenty weeks ago, I began Phase II of Operation Pro, and this weekend, we roadtripped up to New Jersey for Team Universe.

Last Callout

Although I felt comfortable and confident with how I looked, I wasn't what the judges were looking for. We filmed a short video after pre-judging, and I shared my thoughts about the show up to that point.

Champion Mindset

To be a champion you must act like one, act like a champion.
Lou Ferrigno
I've talked about choosing to be a champion during my workouts, but this weekend, I needed to apply it to a different situation. After getting last callout for the first time in my competition career, I was really disappointed. I have to admit, it was difficult keeping the smile on my face while all the other girls in my class were called out before me. I barely made it off-stage before the tears started to fall.

I know that disappointment can come quickly in such a subjective sport, but knowing that doesn't lessen the pain any. I'm still disappointed and just plain sad about the outcome of the show. I'm not upset or angry with anyone, and there's nothing I can do to change anything. I need to focus on my accomplishments and remember all that I've achieved.

Flex Wheeler, one of the most inspirational bodybuilders, talked about when he got second place to Ronnie Coleman at the 1999 Olympia. In this video at 6:26, he explained why he took the medals off his neck and held them up. He was saying to the crowd and to himself: "I feel like I look great. I feel like I won ... these [medals] are second, but I'm number one. Just because you put these around my neck doesn't make me second place. Just because they placed me in second don't make me a failure."

Flex also said, "What place [I get] doesn't signify me as a champion."

Just last year, Flex gave some priceless advice to Kevin Levrone's nephew when he didn't place as well as he'd hoped in a show.

It's a bit difficult to hear, but Flex told Antwaun, "You can't do nothing. You've got a lot of kids looking up to you; walk off like a champion."

Kevin Levrone then added, "A champion doesn't always end up in first place." He emphasized, "Never quit. Never give up. Never lose, no matter how long it takes. Stay strong and stay proud."

Taking the Advice of the Champions

I'm taking the advice of the champions, and I'm holding my head high. I'm proud of all that I accomplished this past year. I built some quality muscle, I stayed focused, and I stuck to my diet. I couldn't have done anything different, and J assured me that I did everything I possibly could do to bring my very best to the stage.

2011 Team Universe
This weekend was not filled with just disappointment; it was filled with pride and confidence as well. I'm picking myself back up and heading back into the gym to continue my journey.
Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.
~ Babe Ruth
Thank you SO very much for all your support, encouragement, and belief in me. I appreciate all you more than you know, and am blessed to have you all in my life.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Road Trip to Team Universe!

We hit the road for New Jersey this morning ... heading to the much-anticipated Team Universe show!

I just relaxed this afternoon, and visited with my parents. Tomorrow I'll relax too, and then I get tanned tomorrow evening. I'm all officially checked in to the show, and it was fun to get to see other competitors and meet up with friends!

Stay tuned for more updates!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mountains Out of Mole Hills

One of my mom's favorite sayings is "Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill." Meaning don't make little issues into huge problems! But I did exactly that this morning.

No More Caterpillar Brows!

Despite feeling prepared and confident last night, my mood shifted this morning at 8 am when I received a call from the salon. My beloved aesthetician is out sick today ... which means I need to see another aesthetician to fix up my unruly caterpillar brows and form them into works of art. This normally wouldn't be a big issue, as I'd just reschedule with her at a later date. But this time I can't. We're leaving for New Jersey tomorrow morning, so I need to see someone TODAY.

*Deep breath*

I don't give my trust easily when it comes to my brows, so I'm nervous about my appointment with someone else this afternoon. I plan to be very specific about my instructions. I may unintentionally scare the poor lady.

Getting Dark Enough

Then I got an email with my tanning appointment time on Friday. I was expecting two sessions, as that was the protocol in 2009, when I last worked with this company. I frantically read and re-read the email, hoping I somehow skipped over another appointment time. Nope. There it was: just one time. How is just one spray session going to get me dark enough??

*Deep breath*

I called the tanning company this afternoon, and the nice man reassured me that 2009 was "practically prehistoric" and their "precision and methods have greatly improved since then"! He also assured me that the team spraying at Team U is the same team that sprays at the Olympia, so I'm in good hands and I need to "just focus on your Figure body and let us handle the tan!"


I recorded a video this morning, but was just able to post it now. Can you all SEE the stress written all over my face?! EEK!

Just Little Mole Hills

Would these things stress out any of you? Didn't think so. But since I'm only 3 days out from the biggest show I've ever done, it seems like mole hills rapidly turn into mountains.

The other night I broke down when I couldn't remember whether or not to put seasoning on a batch of turkey I was making. Luckily, J completely understood and took charge of the situation while I helplessly stood in front of the stove with tears streaming down my face.

Thank goodness for my strong support system! I appreciate every word of encouragement and support I receive. Just a few simple words can have such a positive impact, and can really help me re-focus and re-prioritize everything swirling around in my mind. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Only three more days! Stay tuned for some videos and updates this weekend!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Quarter Turn to the Right

One of the unique things about living with your coach is having impromptu posing sessions at midnight.

The other night, while I was practicing my quarter turns before I went to bed, when J walked into the room. Usually when I'm practicing my posing, he gives me a cursory glance and goes about his business. But this time, he asked me to hit all my quarter and model turns, and adjusted a few things on some of the poses.

A half hour later, we'd made several changes to some poses, and I had some new things to practice.

Blinged out new shoes
I've gotten asked a few times how often I practice posing. The answer is ... it varies. In the weeks leading up to a show, I practice a couple times a week. The last few weeks prior to the show, I practice nearly every day. I practice the pose itself: arm and leg placement, and once I have the feel of it, I practice holding each one for a period of time. You never know how long you're going to be on stage, so it's beneficial to be comfortable holding the poses for several minutes.

This past week, I've been practicing a couple times a day ... or more accurately, pretty much every time I walk by a mirror. Hey, you can never have too much practice, right??

I know that all the time I spent practicing is going to pay off next Saturday when I'm on stage hitting every pose without even thinking about it!