Monday, December 31, 2012

Highlights of 2012

Happy New Year, friends! It seems like 2012 just flew by!

At the end of each year, it's always fun to look back at all the fun times and then to look ahead to a new and exciting future. 2012 was a good year in my world!

Some Highlights of 2012

The entire Keenan family went to Cozumel, Mexico in January. It was so much fun to spend time with J, my parents, and my brother and his family. I love quality nephew time, especially when it includes sand, sun, and the ocean!

Keenan Family in Mexico
J and I took our yearly pilgrimage to the Arnold in March. I finally got to see the Figure International pre-judging on stage! It was the first time I'd seen Nicole Wilkins and Erin Stern compete. It was a thrill to see them in top shape!

Figure International
I decided it was high time for a change in hair color, so in April, I dyed my hair jet black. Turns out I LOVE the color and have gotten a ton of compliments on it. The bonus is that the dark color keeps my hair healthier and not dried out, like when I was highlighting it all the time. I had a photoshoot with an old friend, Dan Norman, while I was in Minnesota in April.
Dan Norman Photography
After prepping for 20 (miserable) weeks, I competed on June 30th at the Maryland State/East Coast Classic Championships. And I WON!! I won the Overall for the Maryland State AND the Overall for the East Coast Classic!

Hardware!
A few weeks after the Maryland show, Big Bitch Formula invited J and me to join their team. We're thrilled and honored to be a part of such a wonderful and welcoming company. Shameless plug: If you're looking for a high quality, great tasting protein, order a jug of BBF TODAY!!

BBF Crew with Jay Cutler
In August, J and I were asked to pick up Jay Cutler from the airport when he flew in for his Jay Cutler Classic show. We were both so excited! It was really nice to be able to chat with him as a person, not as a celebrity. He's very down to earth and friendly.

This Fall, I started doing Bikram yoga and Krav Maga. It was fun to branch out to some other fitness areas and learn new things, although I ended up spraining my ankle in Krav. It still hurts. :(

Ed helped
A few weeks ago, J and I went to Minnesota to visit my family, and the following week, went to Rhode Island to visit his family. As always, it was wonderful to visit and spend quality time with our loved ones.

Keenan Family Kristmas
Looking Ahead to 2013

I've already begun prep for 2013 shows in May. Prior to that, we're taking our annual trip to the Arnold. I'm looking forward to seeing what 2013 brings!

What were some highlights of your 2012? What are you looking forward to in 2013?

Friday, December 28, 2012

It Begins

And so it begins ... prep is now in full swing! After a few weekends of enjoying lots of Christmas meals and goodies, it's time to buckle down and make some progress!

On Saturday, I will be 18 weeks out from the Pittsburgh show. I'm starting with a week and a half less time than I did last year, and will have a week-long interruption in January, so my diet will be very tight, and training will be intense. Not that my diet and training aren't usually intense; it's just that we had some wiggle room before if something didn't work that we don't have now.

We took progress pictures yesterday morning and we definitely have some work to do! Instead of crying or getting upset about the pictures, I'm actually kind of motivated by them. They're going to be a great contrast to my "after" pictures in May! I'm excited to shed the layers of water and fat and see what's underneath. I think that's the most rewarding part of prep for me: seeing physical results of my hard work in the off-season. One of my friends compared prep to unwrapping a present to discover the beauty underneath. I love that description!

We're starting with a keto diet again. My body responds very well to a high fat/zero carb diet, so that will kick start my metabolism. I'm eating five meals a day; eat meal contains protein and fats. Most of the meals also contain green veggies. I won't feel very good for a few days until my body adjusts to the diet and re-learns how to burn fats instead of carbs for energy. After a few days, I should be feeling just fine again.

As I mentioned before, my workouts are plyo-based and high intensity. I just started having regular training sessions with J so he can push me a little harder than I usually push myself. Last year, I didn't train with him very often because I felt I could focus better when training on my own. Because my workouts are so different now, it really helps to have him there to keep the intensity high.

I'm excited to start this prep journey! Each year is a little different and I learn new things about myself. I wonder what this year will bring?

What's your favorite part of prep? For how many weeks do you typically prep?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Plan for 2013

Hi friends! I bet you all thought I fell off the face of the earth! I'm still alive; I've just been swamped with work and the holiday season.

A few weeks ago, I did an informal poll and asked people if they'd be interested in following my prep journey for 2013. I got an enthusiastic and overwhelming response of "Yes! We want to know what you do!"

I have to admit that this baffles me. While I have a positive self esteem, I don't think that the things I do are particularly interesting. I mean, c'mon. I sit at a desk all day, eat 4-5 times a day, go to the gym, and then go home to my fur babies. That's about it! I fail to see how that routine can be exciting and interesting to someone, but who am I to judge? I'm more than happy to share and overshare with you if enjoy reading about it.

2013 Plan

The plan for 2013 is to make May a memorable month. It's already my favorite month because I'm a May baby. But I have some big competition plans for May 2013. My first show will be the Pittsburgh at the beginning of the month, and then a couple weeks later, I'll head down to Charleston, SC to do the Jr. USA's. Two very competitive shows.

I've been sort of dieting since November, but have allowed for some off-plan indulgences. I'll turn on the heat and kick the prep-mobile into gear after the holidays. Last year I did a 20-week prep, and it was extremely effective (see also: I Won Some Swords and Miss Maryland Figure 2012). This year, prep will be a few weeks shorter, so my diet may have to be a bit stricter. By "stricter," I mean zero carb for a longer period of time. Last year, I had carbs in my diet for quite a few weeks.

2012 Maryland State & East Coast Classic
Training

My workouts the past few months have been very different than what I've done in the past. For the first time in 15 years, I'm not trying to build more muscle. I really like the size I am, and we discovered that when I add more size, I lose my shape and begin to resemble a brick. NOT a good look for me. My workouts are a combination of plyos and weights. I like the variation because I feel like an athlete again. I've always been athletic, and sometimes I'd get frustrated because weight training for shows didn't allow me to do other athletic things that I also enjoy. The gym isn't my only passion in life; I simply love to be active.

My training schedule has remained the same for quite awhile: I train Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Fri. Wed, Sat, and Sun are cardio-only days. I do cardio twice a day: in the morning before work and immediately following my workout in the evening. I've gotten some grief about the fact that I do cardio twice a day. But think about it this way: I sit at a desk for 8-9 hours a day. Walking on the treadmill for a total of an hour a day is barely a sufficient level of activity. I do what works best for my body to get the results I want.

What Else?

What else would you like to know about my prep? I'm more than happy to answer questions or dedicate blogs to a specific topic of your choice.

Do you enjoy following other people's preps? What aspects interest you the most?

Monday, December 3, 2012

BBF Flavored Pancakes

Compared to most people I know, I eat a very boring diet. Not just in terms of food choice, but also in variety. I see so many recipes with ingredients I wouldn't even dream of combining, cooked and baked in ways I'd never imagine. It would never occur to me to microwave protein powder. Or to combine it with a few different things and then put it in the freezer. Who thinks of things like that?! I'm in awe.

The one cooking thing I AM good at is making pancakes. I love egg whites and protein powder, so I'm always looking at ways to combine them into different pancake varieties. My latest concoction involves Big Bitch Formula and some frosting flavoring. Check it out!

BBF Flavored Pancakes

Flavored Pancake Ingredients
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 scoop Big Bitch Formula - Cake Batter flavor
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 drops vanilla liquid stevia (or powder stevia or Truvia to taste)
  • 1/8 tsp frosting flavor (Duncan Hines) - pick your flavor

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients into blender or Magic Bullet and blend.
  2. Blend and then pour into pan on the stove.
  3. Flip when one side is cooked.
Notes:
You can top with sugar-free syrup or Cool Whip, although these are so good, they don't need a topping. Makes one pancake. You could also include xanthan gum, almond milk, Green yogurt, or cottage cheese, depending on your diet requirements.

The coolest thing is that the pancake is pink, although it's tough to tell in this photo!
I have no doubt that you all are much more creative than I am, so if you have any (carb-free) suggestions of other ingredients that might make a tasty pancake, please share in the comments! Also, if you give these a try, please let me know what you think!

Friday, November 30, 2012

No Muss No Fuss Thanksgiving

It's officially the Holiday season! One of my most favoritest times of the year (besides summer and my birthday, which should be a National Holiday, in my opinion).

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving. For the past few years, J and I have been going to a Thanksgiving buffet at a cute bar and grill in downtown DC. We don't travel to see our families because we'll be seeing them in a few weeks for Christmas. Also, have you SEEN holiday traffic in DC? Ridic.

Because we both live the fitness lifestyle and are always following relatively structured meal plans, it makes more sense for us to go out to eat for ONE meal and not have to deal with extra food and leftovers that we won't eat after that meal anyway. Also, have you ever seen a bodybuilder eat? It's more like a constant shoveling process from food to plate. I'd be crushed to see hours and hours of labor in the kitchen vanish into J's mouth in a mere 10 minutes.

Everything in DC is expensive. Except for the Thanksgiving buffet. It's $30 per person, which averages out to be cheaper than buying all the fixings separately only to have a zillion leftovers we couldn't eat.

We got dressed up and headed down to Dupont Circle. The buffet didn't disappoint. After 3 weeks of following a zero carb diet, I thoroughly enjoyed everything the buffet had to offer! I had two helpings of sweet potato pie (my favorite!) and several desserts, including pumpkin pie and pecan pie. We had a wonderful time! Later in the afternoon, we went to see Red Dawn at the movie theatre. Action for J, eye candy for me. Win-win!

J and me after a delicious Thanksgiving meal
Neither J nor I felt any guilt about our Thanksgiving meal. Why would or should we?! We didn't do anything wrong! We didn't associate any emotions with the food; it was quite simply a tasty meal with good company. We both had protein shakes for our meals later in the evening, and continued following our meal plans the next day.

I've seen so many posts online lately about "how to eat for the holidays" and why you should or should not feel guilty for eating a meal. Quite frankly, I'm so over it! It's JUST food! I understand that there are emotions attached to it and one meal can quickly spiral into an out of control binge for some people. But I firmly believe if you have a plan and goals, your ONE meal won't be a big deal. I knew my sugar cravings would kick in after the meal, so I had prepared myself to deal with them. Because I was prepared, I didn't feel lost and out of control when the cravings began. I just popped in a piece of gum, drank some water, or ate my next clean meal.

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving as well! I'm already looking forward to Christmas!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Krav Mag-OW!

Ever since I was young, I've loved doing anything athletic. I've played tennis and softball, participated in cheerleading, danceline, and ballet, and was an avid in-line skater for many years. I've been weight training for 15 years and just recently began practicing yoga. The one thing I've always wanted to do but have never done is to take martial arts classes.

Groupon (oh I love thee so!) offered me that opportunity a few months ago. I purchased a pass that allowed me to take up to 30 classes at various gyms in the DC area. The classes include a variety of martial arts, some fitness classes, and yoga. This was the chance I'd be waiting for! I could finally take some martial arts classes at a decent price without a long-term commitment! Win-win!

Because I need to take the classes around my usual training time, Wednesday evenings or weekend are my only options. I've taken three classes of Krav Maga and love it! I think it's very important for everyone, especially women, to learn some self-defense moves. Thus far, I've learned several punches and kicks, and how to break free and gain the upper hand from choke holds and headlocks. Poor J is always nervous when I come home from class, because I immediately want to practice the moves on him.

The downside to taking this class is that out of the three classes, I've gotten injured in two of them. Not a good track record so far!

The day after my first class, my left wrist swelled up and really hurt to move. I ended up buying a wrist brace and wearing it for a few days until the swelling and pain went away. Apparently, my wrist wasn't used to a bunch of "hammer fist" punches.

I bought the black brace.
Last Wednesday, during warm ups in class, I was leap frogging over my partner and landed with my right ankle rolled inward. It immediately hurt, but I rolled it around and kept going with the class. We did a lot of kicking exercises and it didn't bother me much. Until I woke up the next morning. It was stiff and very sore in the exact same place where I'd broken it in college cheerleading.

I dug out an old ankle brace (yes, I have random braces lying around the house), laced it up, and wore my Docs to work. One of the physical therapists at the gym looked at it on Friday and informed me that it's a slight sprain. Sigh.

I've been wearing the brace every day, taking ibuprofin periodically to help with the swelling, and icing it every night.

For some reason, Ed likes to lick the ice pack. He does the cutest things!
We've had to modify my training routine because most of my workouts include jumping and plyo exercises. I haven't missed any workouts, and I'm so thankful that J has such a wide range of knowledge. He's been able to find exercises that don't irritate my ankle, yet are effective for my goals.

I'm frustrated that I'm injured and am hoping the sprain heals quickly. I want to continue taking Krav classes and to get back into my regular workout routine at the gym. I'm being cautious, though, because I don't want to rush back into things and then injure myself even worse.

Have you gotten injured while training or taking a class? How did you deal with it? Have you ever taken any martial arts classes? Which ones and did you enjoy them?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Abs for Fitmas!

Last week, my workout schedule allowed me to able to participate in my friend Donloree's Fitmas Challenge again. The challenge was a core workout. Since I'm all about abs (who doesn't want a 6-pack?!), I was excited to give it a try!

The workout looks like this:

  • 50 crunches
  • 15 push ups
  • 1 min plank
  • 30 secs side plank each side
  • 1 min bridge
  • 15 push ups
  • 1 min plank
  • 30 secs side plank each side
  • 50 crunches
  • 1 min raised plank
  • 2 mins bridge
  • 50 crunches
As always, I modified it to suit my needs and removed the push ups from the plan.

The first time I did the workout, I realized it required some pre-homework, as I didn't know what a bridge or a raised plank was. I did some quick googling and made some educated guesses. I was fairly accurate in my guesses when I double checked the exercises on youtube the following day.

I really enjoyed the workout! My abs were burning - love that feeling! My glutes and hammies fell asleep during the two-minute bridge, but that may have been due to the 45 minutes plyo workout I'd just completed before doing the Fitmas routine.

I did the routine twice last week and once so far this week. The coolest thing is that J incorporated it into my workout plan so now it's a part of my formal training plan!

Do you like training abs? What are some of your favorite ab exercises? Did you try this routine? If so, I'd love to hear from you in the Comments section!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Perfectly Unique

To all my ladies ...

What's your favorite thing about yourself? What's your least favorite thing about yourself? Did you find it easier to come up with something negative rather than positive? Why is that? Why is the negative always so much easier to find, to think about, to believe?

It's time to stop the negativity.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, what goes through your head? Are your thoughts positive or negative? Next time you look in the mirror, take a second to reflect on your thoughts and what those thoughts mean.

I'm online quite often, and I see SO many negative posts - all from women, none from men. It makes me so sad that as women, we feel the need to constantly pick ourselves apart, expect ourselves to be perfect, compare ourselves to others, to do more, BE more. And then when we can't be Superwoman, we feel like we disappointed ourselves and everyone and are complete failures.

This needs to stop.

As a perfectionist myself, I too often fall into this trap as well. Lately, I've been really thinking about these questions: why do I want to be perfect? What will I achieve when I'm "perfect"? Does it make me a better person? Does it make others like me more? Does it make ME like me more?

I haven't come up with any solid answers yet, but they're good questions to ponder as I'm learning how to meditate.

Everyone is beautiful in their own unique way, and my wish is that everyone would celebrate their own beauty. No one is perfect, but everyone is perfectly unique.

I challenge you to stop yourself when you find your thoughts drifting toward the negative. When you look in the mirror, say something positive about yourself - and really mean it. Set realistic expectations for yourself, and most of all, be kind to yourself. Life is a journey with so many opportunities to learn and grow. Embrace the journey and always remember that YOU are beautiful.
"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it."
~ Confucius

Monday, November 5, 2012

What's Wrong With You?!

A few weeks ago, I competed in a Toastmasters speech contest. I won the Area contest and advanced to compete in the Division contest on October 20th. The category was Humorous Speech, which I found challenging. I don't consider myself a very funny person. Quirky - yes. Funny - no. But I gave it a shot and ended up doing quite well! I placed 2nd at the Division contest and am the runner-up for the District contest on November 10th.

Quite a few people asked me what my speech was about, and when I told them the topic was "bodybuilding," they all responded, "But I thought it was supposed to be funny?!"

For those of you who've competed, you may think the things we do to get ready for a show are perfectly normal. But to the general population, contest prep is just plain weird.

**************************************

What's Wrong with You?!

I've been weight training for 15 years. I started because it was required for college cheerleading, of all things! But from the moment I first realized I had a tiny bicep, I was hooked!

About seven years ago, people in the gym started asking me if I competed.

"Sure, I compete!" I said. "I compete in tennis, in softball, in dance ..."

"No, no no," they said. "Compete in bodybuilding!"

Bodybuilding?!

[In fake Ah-nold voice] "Yes, I am a body-builda."

"No, of course not! What's wrong with you?!

Someone once told me that in order to compete in bodybuilding, I'd need to eat the same thing at the same time every day. No cookies.

No cookies?! That sounds awful! What's wrong with you?!"

Then they showed me a magazine that had a smiling, athletic woman on the cover [Nicole Wilkins]. She looked nothing like the screaming mass monsters in the men's magazines. And I thought, "Hmmm ... I wonder if I could look like that."

I had no idea how to begin preparing for a bodybuilding competition. I couldn't afford to hire a trainer or a coach, so I spent hours and hours of quality time with my friend ... GOOGLE. I read everything I could find on how to prepare for a bodybuilding show.

I learned that the most important thing is diet. Bodybuilders turn their bodies into lean, mean, fat burning machines. I needed to find a diet that would strip the fat off my body and leave the muscle. The diet I created consisted of only four food items: chicken, tuna, oatmeal, and sweet potatoes.

I ate the same thing at the same time every day. No cookies.

It was awful! I had no energy! Even getting up to use the restroom was a chore. And to top it off, I was forcing myself to drink a gallon of water a day. That's four Nalgene bottles and a LOT of trips to the restroom!

I kept asking myself, "Are you crazy? What's wrong with you?!"

I followed this diet for four LONG months.

In addition to the diet, there are a few other things required for bodybuilding competitions.

I'm sure you've all seen pictures of oiled up, muscular men standing on stage, wearing tiny scraps of material. Well, for Figure, which was the division I was going to compete in, a suit was required as well. It looks similar to a bikini.

I researched suits and found some I thought were pretty. I was shocked to discover that the cheapest ones were $200! And that was for the plain jane suits! The sparkly, bedazzled, blingy suits that I really liked were upward of $700! Outrageous! Who in their right mind would spend that kind of money on two tiny scraps of material that barely even cover the essentials?! What's wrong with you?!

I finally found a suit that I liked - and could afford. When it came in the mail 2 months later, I was so excited to try it on! But when I looked at it, I wondered where the rest of it was. Even Baywatch had more material than that! As my Grandpa would say, "It looks like they ran out of goods!"

I learned that in order to get the tiny scrap of material to stay in place, I actually had to GLUE it to my body! I bought a special kind of glue, fittingly called, "Bikini Bite." But there wasn't much bikini to be bitten!

In addition to the bedazzled suit, Figure competitors wear high heels on stage. I'm not talking about just any high heels. I'm talking about clear, 5", Lucite high heels! No, these aren't for the latest pole dancing craze, although they probably could be!

When my shoes arrived in the mail, I tried them on and immediately fell over. I was an athlete and needed some practice walking in heels. So what better place to practice than at work?

I put on my long dress pants with the heels and tottered around the office hallways for a few weeks until I felt more comfortable walking in heels. The best part is that none of my co-workers even had a clue! Although I did get some questions about why I was so much taller than usual some days.

Finally after four months, it was finally almost time for the show. I learned that I needed to get painted an orangey-brown tan color a day or two before the show. The tan shows off musculature better than a natural skin color.

Two days before the show, I got painted. Yes, painted. With a foam brush. I'm sure you've seen them and used them to stain your deck. Ninety-nine cents at Home Depot! When I was finished getting painted, I resembled the color of an Oompa Loompa. I looked in the mirror and said, "What's WRONG with you?!"

In order for the tan to dry, it needs to freeze on the body. That meant that I had to freeze. I stood in front of an air conditioning unit for FOUR hours, shivering, waiting for the tan to properly adhere to my skin. That's the not the worst part, though. The worst part is that once you have the tan on, you can't get near any water because it takes the tan right off. This makes for some interesting and challenging situations in the bathroom, let me tell ya! Hey - you try brushing your teeth without splashing any water anywhere!

Finally is was the day of the show. When I arrived backstage, I was so excited to see that everyone looked just like me! There were a bunch of lean, Oompa Loompas with tiny scraps of material glued to their bodies, tottering around in high heels. I fit right in!

There was NOTHING wrong with me.

And from the moment I stepped on stage and the judge called out, "Quarter turn to the right!", I was officially [in Ah-nold voice] a body-buildah.

On stage at my first show.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fitmas Failure

Last year, I participated in Donloree's Fitmas challenge. It's basically 12 weeks of different challenging workouts. We all know I love challenges, so I signed up again this year. The only issue I have with participating is trying to fit the Fitmas workouts into my normal workout routine, so this week was the first time I've been able to try a challenge.

I failed the challenge. Epically failed.

This week's challenge was all about pushing exercises. This was the challenge:


Since I don't train chest much, I opted to skip the first two sets of supersets and went right to the plyos section. I haven't done burpees in a long time, but I've been doing a lot of squat jumps lately, so I was ready to tackle the challenge. I did my usual workout and then go ready for Fitmas Superset #3.

And then I saw the rep count and nearly passed out. FORTY reps?! I only do 15 at a time! I decided to be brave and do half the reps. I could barely breathe after doing the first superset. I rested awhile, and then did the second superset. After that, I struggled to fight off an asthma attack and realized that my lungs just can't handle that many reps.

Fitmas had beaten me.

Here's what I actually ended up doing before nearly hyperventilating:

Squat Jumps: 20
Burpees: 10

Squat Jumps: 15
Burpees: 8

This challenge was a harsh reminder that my workouts are very modified to what my lungs can handle. A few years ago, I didn't consider my asthma a disability. But this workout reminded me again that I train very differently than most people. It's also a good reminder for others to see that there's not one "right" or "wrong" way to train; there are infinite approaches to getting the same end results. It's important to train for YOUR body and to discover your limitations and capabilities. It's always a learning process.

I'm glad I gave Fitmas a try; I'm looking forward to seeing what next week's challenge is!

Do you have any physical disabilities? Do you modify your workouts to your body capabilities? Are you participating in Fitmas this year?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Meditation Epic Fail

In my current journey of self-exploration, I decided to be open about trying a few new things that I'd formally been reluctant to try. Yoga was the first activity, and it turns out, I really like it! It was time to try another new thing.

I'm reading The Hunger Fix by Pam Peake, which talks about how the body chemistry can actually change as a result of diet. This can result in actual food addictions, with symptoms and actions similar to substance addictions. (I have a very strong suspicion that my body is addicted to sugar. But that's another topic for another day.) Pam recommends several actions for getting past "False Fixes" and consistently making healthy food choices. One of the things she recommends is meditation.

Those of you who know me in person know that I can be a bundle of energy. I like to be moving constantly, and am skilled at the art of multi-tasking. I've never considered attempting meditation for the sole reason that I believe I have a slight case of undiagnosed ADD and would have a tough time focusing on "nothing" for more than 5 seconds. Quite frankly, it sounded awful; not a challenge I wanted to attempt.

After reading Pam's take on the benefits of meditation, and then thinking about how happy people who meditate seem to be, I thought I'd give it a whirl. I knew it'd be difficult, but was ready to at least give it a fair shot.

One of the benefits of meditation is a reduced level of anxiety. I had a Toastmasters speech contest on Saturday, but decided that trying to meditate would raise my already high anxiety levels; therefore, I decided to begin on Sunday. (Sounds counter-productive, I know.)

On Sunday morning, I knelt on the floor and petted Ed for about 5 minutes and thought about how lucky I am to have him in my life and how much joy he brings me. Then I raced off to Bikram yoga. I tried to convince myself that petting Ed was a form of meditation, but decided that was kind of like cheating; my goal was to be more formal about the practice, not just to enjoy petting the Cutest Cat in the World.

Cutest. Cat. EVER.
On Monday, I thought about meditating, but then realized I didn't even know how to do it. What IS meditation anyway? What's the REAL definition? I spent some time researching and found some techniques on how to begin. I also discovered a few free podcasts, intended to walk people through a meditative state. I downloaded some to my phone last night in anticipation of really attempting to meditate today.

On Tuesday morning (today), I got up when my alarmS went off (which is an accomplishment in and of itself), took the dog out, gulped some Endorush, and snuggled into bed with Ed, ready to begin one of my new meditation podcasts. I picked the one titled, "Morning Energy," excited to be filled with energy for the day ahead.

An hour later, I woke up.

D'oh! I'd slept through the entire podcast and then some! Not only that, I didn't have time to do morning cardio, and I was going to be late for work.Talk about high stress levels!

Meditation Attempt #1 = Epic Fail

I like the idea of meditation and have high hopes of it bringing some calmness to my Type A personality and more awareness of why I made certain choices. Tomorrow I'm going to sit on the floor and try it again. No comfy bed, no warm, cuddly kitty to lull me back to sleep. I'll let you know how it goes!

Do you meditate? Do you have any tips for NOT falling asleep while attempting to meditate? Have you experienced any benefits from meditation?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Spaghetti and Meatballs

If you've ever dieted for an extended period of time, you know how boring your food can become. Eating a rotation of just a few food items gets really old, really fast. One of the things I miss most is pasta. Loves me some Italian food!

Recently, we discovered an item that allows me to feel like I'm eating pasta, while in actuality, I'm not adding any additional calories or carbs to my diet! Victory!

What is this miraculous zero calorie food, you ask?

Miracle Noodles!!

Pauline Nordin of Fighter Diet has been promoting these noodles for awhile, so we were intrigued and ordered a bunch to try. We got a variety of them: fettuccine, angel hair, rice, and garlic & herb.

Different varieties of noodles
They're simple to make: simply rinse, boil for 2 minutes, rinse, then dry. Viola!

One thing to note: they're stored in a liquid that smells like fish. I breathe through my nose when I first rinse them. Once you boil and rinse them again, the fishy smell mostly goes away.

The most unusual thing about preparing the noodles is that you need to dry them after boiling and rinsing them. They hold a lot of water, so drying them gets the water out and makes them more similar to the consistency of regular pasta noodles.

Upon some exploration of a few grocery stores, we discovered a few different brands of these noodles. They're made from shirataki, which is a fibrous material. Some of the brands have minimal calories, like the Pasta Zero in the picture above. The noodles are refrigerated, and are usually located near the tofu section in the grocery store. We discovered this after wandering around Whole Foods for 20 minutes, trying to find them.

My favorite way to eat these noodles is with turkey meatballs, marinara sauce, and Romano cheese. I swear, it tastes just like spaghetti and meatballs! Yum!

"Spaghetti" and meatballs!
Have you tried Miracle Noodles or any other shirataki noodles? What did you think?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Stop Apologizing

Have you ever heard a friend express her opinions, frustrations, or thoughts, and then finish with "sorry" or "just my two cents"? Have you seen posts online that begin with "//rant//" and end with "//end rant// sorry"? I've noticed this trend a lot lately, and it's upsetting, frustrating, and baffling to me.

Why do people feel the need to apologize or to warn people that they're going to express their opinion? It's mostly women who do this - for some reason, men seem to have no problem speaking their mind, and don't seem to care if others agree with them or not.

What are we apologizing for? For exercising our rights of free speech? For having an opinion? For not agreeing with everyone?

News flash: At no one point does everyone always agree!

Someone is always going to have a different opinion, and that's totally ok! Life would be so boring if we all agreed all the time! Plus, different opinions lead to a more open-minded approach and more understanding. Knowledge is power. Without sharing knowledge and dissenting opinions, we become a stagnant society.

I just finished listening to an audio book this week: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. It's a sarcastic satire on the world of pageantry, and how society is forced to live up to ridiculous beauty standards and personal beliefs. At one point in the book, the beauty queens discuss why they always apologize for expressing their opinions. When I read that, I exclaimed in my head, "YES!!!! FINALLY someone else notices this too and thinks it's ridiculous!"

We seem to feel guilty for saying or doing things that others may not agree with. One of my favorite bloggers, Rachel Wilkerson, talks about this in her "Thou Shalt Own It" post. She uses the phrase, "Sorry I'm not sorry" as a response or as a preemptive response. I love this phrase because it shows confidence in your decision to do or share something. Rachel hits the nail on the head:

Many times, people think when you’re telling them something, you’re telling them because you’re seeking approval and advice. They start telling you everything that’s wrong with your decision or listing all the ways you could handle the matter. And then you’re crushed because you’re being told that something you felt super confident about isn’t OK with them.

I challenge you to NOT apologize for having or sharing your feelings (as long as you're not making a mean-spirited personal attack on someone). Feel free to announce a rant, but then do NOT apologize for it. And do not add, "but that's just how I feel." It's redundant and unnecessary (get the pun?) to add that phrase, because you clearly just stated how you feel. And it's totally valid to have those feelings and to not apologize for them.

Give it a try this week and eliminate the apologies. You may be surprised at how often you say "sorry" for something you're either not sorry about or have no need to feel sorry about. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!
//end rant// (Ha ha!)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Passion

What does it take to be the best in the world at something? To be at the pinnacle of a career, a sport?

Lately, I've been thinking about what it means to be "extraordinary." Something more than "ordinary." People who make the biggest impact on history all have one thing in common: they weren't ordinary. They had something inside themselves that allowed them to see past "ordinary" and "normal" and to be "extraordinary" and "great."

The Olympia was two weeks ago, and during that weekend, the best in the world were crowned - or in some cases, re-crowned. Phil Heath, Iris Kyle, Flex Lewis, Erin Stern, Adela Garcia, and Nathalia Melo are all the #1 athletes in their respective divisions.

Erin Stern, Phil Heath, Adela Garcia, Flex Lewis, Nathalia Melo
Instead of being happy and showing admiration and respect for these athletes, some people have chosen to disagree with the judges' decisions, to criticize the methods used to prepare for the show, and to write negative comments about the athletes. I don't understand this mentality. These athletes have just proven that whatever they did to earn their placing was effective. These athletes did things other people won't or can't do.

Passion will cause you to do things average people won't do.

These athletes are far from average. They're extraordinary.

In the electronic age, with the opportunity to criticize and insult people with just a few simple keystrokes, some people feel justified in posting negative comments and contrasting opinions. While I fully support freedom of speech, I don't support rudeness, ignorance, or just plain stupidity.

Instead of questioning an athlete's methods of prep, why not simply congratulate him or her on a job well done? Why not admire them for doing something that others won't do because it's too difficult or too time consuming? Why not congratulate them on achieving the highest honor in the bodybuilding industry?

Every body is different, so obviously one person's approach to prep is going to be vastly different than someone else's method. No need to compare or to judge. No need to cloud the victory with undercurrents of negativity or skepticism.

I admire everyone who does something extraordinary, who makes the decision to step out of their comfort zone. It not only takes a deep passion inside, it takes the ability to focus on the goal, on the end result, and to ignore any and all negativity from others - from people who are simply ordinary.

What are you passionate about? What extraordinary things are you doing? Do you encounter any negativity from others?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Free Time

My week off from the gym is over. It went by a lot faster than I thought it would!

For the first two days, I felt really lost. Not that I missed the gym - because I actually didn't! But because my normal routine was all thrown off. After work, instead of heading straight to the gym, I headed home and then wandered aimlessly around the house. I wondered what people who don't go to the gym after work do in the evenings. Do they clean? Do they plop on the couch and stare at the TV? Do they go shopping? Do they do laundry? They have SO much free time! And for the record, anyone who doesn't go to the gym in the evening has NO reason to complain about never having enough time to do things. There are hours and HOURS of free time after work! I discovered them last week!

Monday
On Monday, I had no evening plan. When I got home after work, I petted the animals and then stood in the middle of the living room, feeling completely lost. I had no idea what to do! I felt like I should do cardio or go for a run, but those activities were prohibited for the week. I ended up planning out an approach for a new phase of healthy eating. It was actually kinda fun!

Tuesday
On Tuesday, I stopped by the grocery store and came home armed with some new recipes to try. I spent all evening putzing around in the kitchen, making odd creations and concoctions that I later discovered went directly against the meal plan I'd created the night before. Fail.

Wednesday
I decided that since I had free time, I may as well pamper myself. So I got a pedi and then went tanning on Wednesday evening.

Neon Pink. I'm all about Klass!
I also wanted to do something nice for J, so I made him dinner for the first time in our history of dating (I'm not the most domestic of women). When he walked into the house after work, he heard our song playing and saw a candlelit dinner on the table. He was floored! It felt so wonderful to see how happy and surprised he was.

Thursday
A couple weeks ago, I won my Toastmasters Club's Speech Contest in the Table Topics category, so I was qualified to compete at the next level contest - the Area contest. The contest was on Thursday evening in Virginia. On Wednesday morning, I learned that I had an opportunity to take the place of a fellow club member and compete in the Humorous Speech category as well. I wrote a new speech on Wednesday, practiced it for J on Wednesday evening, and gave the speech at the contest.

Oddly enough, I didn't place well in the Table Topics category, but I DID win the Humorous Speech! I was shocked! I even got a trophy!

Hooray for a trophy!
Friday
On Friday evening, instead of training before my front desk shift at the gym, I ran a few errands. Then I just chilled at the front desk, as usual.

Saturday
I didn't go to Bikram Yoga, as I've been doing for the past few weeks. I went for a walk around our neighborhood, then relaxed with a book.

All in all, it was a great week! It felt great to rest and relax. And also to do something nice for J! I didn't miss the gym; I knew I wouldn't. I honestly don't understand people who MISS going to the gym. For me, more often than not, it feels like when I'm there, I have a JOB to do. I'm working hard to continually shape my physique, so sometimes, the things I do in the gym aren't enjoyable to me. They are, however, effective. And I continue to do them because the end result is worth it to me. But I do loves me some time off!

Yesterday was my first day back in the gym, and I had a great workout! I'm re-energized and re-motivated to get my beastmode on again!

Do you take time off from the gym? Do you miss it? What do you do with all your free time?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Time for a Change

I feel a little apprehensive and more than a little lost. This week, I'm doing something I haven't done for a long time - too long, in fact!

I'm going to take the week off.

Not from work, but from the gym. From the treadmill. From classes, including my latest love affair: yoga.

Taking some time to rest and let your muscles and central nervous system (CNS) recover is very important for good health and muscle growth. However, all too often, we get caught up in the "do more, be intense, train hard!" mentality that we forget that rest and recovery time out of the gym is just as important as training time in the gym.

I can't remember the last time I took a week off from the gym. It certainly hasn't been in the past three years that I've been living in Maryland. I took a day or two off after my show earlier this summer, but other than that, I've been very consistent with my gym time and cardio.

But lately, I'm not so excited about going to the gym. I'm not actively trying to build any more muscle (which feels so weird), so my workouts are more plyo-based, less weights-based. I don't mind the training - I'm always up for something new and different - but I'm just not excited to go to the gym lately.

It's time for a change.

This week, I'm not going to the gym. At all. Not even to visit with my friends (sorry, Jenny; I'll miss you!).

I'm not sure what to do with all my spare time. Every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday (and sometimes Wednesday), I head straight to the gym after work. I usually get home anywhere from 8-9 pm. Now it feels like I have hours and hours of open time to do anything I want. I'm overwhelmed.

J suggested that I do zero cardio, but quite frankly, my morning cardio wakes me up. I feel more energized when I get to work and am more productive, so I decided to just cut way back on the intensity. This morning's cardio felt like a leisurely stroll through the park. Except by park, I mean treadmill in the guest room while Ed napped in the dog bed.

Cutest. Cat. Ever. He totally supports morning cardio.
Of course, with the decreased activity this week, I'm decreasing my calories a bit too. I don't need to eat quite as much to sustain my energy since my energy expenditure will be drastically less.

I'm going to try to save my money and not go shopping every night. I'll probably end up cleaning the house or organizing J's closet or something just as titillating.

Do you have any suggestions of activities for my (overwhelming amount of) spare time? Do you take time off from the gym? How many days/weeks do you take off?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Running Without Being Chased

Something really strange happened to me a few weeks ago. During a morning cardio walk, I began running. Yes, RUNNING. And no one was chasing me. It was so. weird.

When people ask me what kind of cardio I do, they usually assume, "oh, you just run on the treadmill?" Uh no. I WALK on the treadmill. My standard response is usually, "I don't run unless someone is chasing me. I'm NOT a runner."

And then oddly enough, one day I began running.

Actually, let me correct that; I began s-l-o-w-l-y jogging. It was more of a stop-and-start endeavor until I settled into a rhythm.

I was at a retreat center in the middle of the woods along the Chesapeake Bay, and instead of fighting with the ancient cardio machines they had in their "fitness center," I decided to go for a walk around the property. But this scene urged me to run.

Stillness and solitude
I felt like walking would take me too long to reach the next beautiful scene, so my feet began a jogging cadence. My knees protested loudly, but I ignored them and kept going. I slowed to a walk a few times, then slipped back into a jog.

I was baffled! The entire time, I was in a state of wonder at what my body was doing. I couldn't remember the last time I'd jogged; it had to have been at least a year ago! Yet there I was, completely enjoying myself while jogging.

I felt refreshed and exuberant when I got back to my room. I felt reconnected to my younger days when I ran every day. I felt like an athlete again.

Two hours later, I was bored and decided to go for ANOTHER run. What in the world?! It felt like an alternate universe, yet oddly exactly right.

The next day I could barely walk and I had horrible shin splints. (Is there punishment for every enjoyable thing in life?!)

Two days later, back at home, I went for a run in our neighborhood. We live in the world's cutest little town, so I love walking or running around the narrow side streets and admiring all the old, stately homes.

Since the beginning of September, I've run a handful of times, getting faster each time. I now have a goal of increasing my speed back to where it used to be several years ago. It's not fast by any comparison, but it's appropriate for me. I love feeling like an athlete again. I compare the feeling to that of the tin soldier after he gets all oiled and shined up again.

I doubt I'll ever be a true runner (and quite frankly, I don't actually WANT to be), but for now, I'm enjoying my periodic half hour runs and the opportunities to feel like the athlete I am at my core.

Are you a runner? How do you feel during and after a run?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Love Affair

This past weekend, I attended both yoga classes I was planning to take: Bikram on Saturday and community beginner yoga on Sunday. I was excited to use my new mat and for my friend to experience Bikram for the first time.

Bikram went great! I realized that if I really focused, the breathing exercises weren't that bad. Also, my friend really liked it, which was a relief to me. I didn't want to be responsible for her being trapped in a hot room for an hour and a half!

I was really sore again the next day, so I did some light cardio on the treadmill before heading to community yoga at Lululemon. I was kind of nervous about the class mostly because I didn't really know what to expect. I shouldn't have been nervous, because compared to Bikram, it was a walk in the park! I didn't feel any stronger or very challenged, but it was a good stretching session. So I guess in that way, it wasn't a complete waste of time. Also, I picked up a cute new tank top while I was there too.

Friends, I have to share this: I think I've discovered a new love affair with Bikram yoga.

I feel challenged throughout the entire class (and we all know I love to take on a challenge), and it seems to be very good for my tight muscles. I'm very flexible in some areas, but my muscles are really tight in other areas. The combination of the hot room and the challenging poses really help stretch my entire body. And I feel like it also challenges me mentally.

I may have to purchase a package deal for classes if I'm going to continue to take them. It's not a cheap activity, but may be well worth it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Namaste

Last weekend, I took my 2nd ever Bikram (hot) yoga class. The first time I went was exactly a year ago (how funny is that?!), and it was an Intro class. This time it was the real deal. I was nervous!

I sort of knew what to expect and came prepared to rent both a towel and a mat (at least this time I knew that I needed a full size towel instead of a hand towel) and that the towel goes on TOP of the mat. What I didn't expect, however, was for the instructor to walk around class the whole time instead of actually doing the poses at the front of the room. I was thankful there were seasoned yoga veterans in the room who knew how to do the poses.

Mental Strength
I discovered that I wanted to leave about halfway through class because I was getting a bit light-headed. But I'd seen someone else attempt to leave and then be shamed into staying in the room, so I reminded myself to take deep breaths and to move slowly. When I moved at my own pace, I felt better.

I didn't realize that part of the challenge of Bikram yoga is mentally dealing with the hot temperature in the room. It takes mental strength and focus to overcome the body's natural instincts of escaping from uncomfortable situations. I knew my body could handle it as long as I stayed focused on relaxing instead of on panicking.

I felt completely wiped out after class, and proud of myself for not only surviving the class, but for actually being able to do nearly all of the poses (my quads and hamstrings get in the way of a cross-leg squatting-type pose).

Eagle Pose (Garurasana) - Pretty much impossible to do with big quads and hamstrings!
New Experiences
I'm still intrigued by Bikram yoga, and am going again with a friend on Saturday morning.

I'm also going to go to a free traditional yoga class at a Lululemon store on Sunday morning! I wanted to go last weekend, but the instructions said to "be sure to bring your own mat!" That presented a problem, since I didn't own a yoga mat until yesterday.

Yep! I bought a yoga mat! I have no idea what the differences are between the cheap and expensive mats; they all look and feel the same to me. I decided to start out with the cheap one and see if I actually even like yoga and plan to take more classes.

My new yoga mat! Target special!
I love all kinds of fitness activities, and I'm looking forward to my next yoga classes!

Do you do yoga? Which method do you prefer? Do you have your own mat? What's the difference between the cheap and expensive ones?

Monday, September 10, 2012

More Authenticity

The response and feedback from my last blog was so overwhelming! Thank you so much for all your kind words and support! I have to admit that as soon as I clicked the Publish button, I wanted to go hide under a rock. Facing fears can be so scary!

I want to clarify a few things and give you an update on how things are going since last week.

Goals
I received some questions about my goals concerning leanness and weight. There was some confusion about the pictures I posted, as some people thought I wanted to maintain the "before" look. Not at all! I posted the pictures merely to show that you can't out-train a bad diet. The "before" look was about 1-2 weeks before my show. I was very, very lean, and quite frankly, I felt like crap! My goal is to maintain somewhere in the middle of the "before" and "after." I feel that would be a healthy, maintainable weight. My clothes would fit, and I'd feel good about how I looked. I hope this clears up some confusion and concern about my weight objective.

Progress
In order to get to my goal weight/look, I'm following a contest-like diet for a few weeks. I realize that "moderation" doesn't work for my weight-loss goals at all, so I need to take an all-or-nothing approach. J wrote up a short-term plan for me to follow until I hit my goal weight. The plan is going very well so far; I'm 100% on track. Then again, there was never any question about whether or not I could diet. Obviously, I'm very good at following a plan (see I Won Some Swords!); it's when I don't follow a plan that I have issues.

A few weeks ago, I decided to say good-bye to the scale because I felt like it was ruling my mood. I could be having a wonderful day until I stepped on the scale. And then my entire day would feel ruined.

I decided that wasn't a healthy way to live.

The Day Wrecker
I needed a way to track my progress (besides just how my clothes fit), though, so I unpacked our brand new scale (first time in my life I've ever owned one because I knew I'd obsess if I had one) and stepped on it. I wasn't surprised by the number that appeared; it was about what I'd figured. It didn't ruin my day, but it did give me motivation to stick to my plan.

What Next?
So what next? After I reach my goal weight, then what? I still haven't solved the original problems of making healthy food choices and not continuing to eat even after I'm full. I've been doing some research about food addictions and the body's response to certain foods. It's fascinating information - and all very recent! I've discovered that some foods can trigger reactions similar to an addict's response to substances. For example, eating sugar can cause the release of dopamine - that "feel good" chemical that makes us want to continue experiencing that great feeling - similar to how an addict feels when they ingest their drug of choice.

I've also resumed reading The End of Overeating by David Kessler. Basically, the book explains why it's exceptionally difficult to resist certain foods and why it's so easy to overindulge. Great information!!

I love learning new information, and am looking forward to learning how to apply it to my situation. I realize there may be some setbacks, but I'm determined to give my best!

Do you know of any other resources that may be helpful to me? For those of you experiencing a similar situation, how are you handling it? 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Being Authentic

Last week, my blogger friend, Dani, wrote a post about authentic blogging. Basically, it means being real on your blog. This is a topic I've been thinking about for the past year or so. I'm a perfectionist, so when I have issues or struggles with things, I intrinsically don't want to share them for fear of appearing flawed (even though we are all flawed in different ways). I dislike feeling vulnerable, and don't like to admit when I need help or am having difficulty handling something.

But really, life isn't perfect. We are all flawed, vulnerable, and struggling with different things. So why not share those struggles, those less than perfect thoughts? Why not be more authentic?

I've discovered over the course of this blog that the most difficult posts to write are the ones that people seem to like the most. I get feedback that people identify with the same issues I have, that it's nice to know they're not alone in their feelings and thoughts. I think this is an important issue, and therefore, I'm going to make more of an effort to be authentic and open.

The Mental Battle
One of the things I've been struggling with for the past six years is maintaining a leaner weight off-season. Competitors joke all the time about "on-season" and "off-season" wardrobes: clothes in a range of sizes. Ever since my first competition, I've had two separate wardrobes. As I get leaner during prep, I start wearing my smaller clothes, and as I gain weight after a show, I start wearing my larger clothes (while holding back tears in the process). But you know what? I truly HATE the fact that I need to have larger clothes! Why? Because it means I didn't show enough discipline in my diet after the show. It means I shoveled food into my face with no regard for the consequences. It means I disappointed myself because my actions weren't congruent with my goals.

Proof that you can't out-train a bad diet. June 16 and Aug 27.
More proof that diet is the key - not time in the gym. June 16 and Aug 27.
After each show, I tell myself that I'm going to make healthy choices after the show, that I'm going to maintain a leaner weight all year and be happy with my body the other 364 days of the year. And then several weeks later, I find myself crying while trying to squeeze my thighs into pants that have gradually become too small. I increase cardio in an attempt to "burn off" some of the copious amounts of calories I've eaten. I begin wearing loose t-shirts to the gym instead of my cute little tank tops because I'm embarrassed about how I look - so vastly different than how I looked on stage. I worry about what people are saying/thinking: "THAT'S the girl who won the Maryland?! She doesn't even look like she competes!" The negative thoughts and feelings begin to affect my relationship. It's difficult to act happy and loving when you're miserable and disappointed in yourself.

This has to stop.

I don't yet know the reasons behind my actions. It's obvious that I'm fully capable of following a diet. But after the show, I don't want to "diet" anymore. I don't want to have to follow a "plan" anymore. While I don't strive to be "normal" by any means, I need a break from the structure and regiment of prep. But instead of taking baby steps, I swing in the complete opposite direction and find myself choosing M&M's over almonds and digging into the stash of Girl Scout cookies when I get home from the gym. My meals could be completely healthy all day ... until I get home and then dig to find non-healthy foods. Clearly, there's an issue or two here.

I don't yet have a solution, but I do have some steps I'm going to follow and some research I need to do. Even though this post has been very difficult to write (and even more difficult to publish), I feel it's an important topic to share. I'll keep you updated on my progress and journey of discovery.

Do you have two wardrobes in different sizes? Do you struggle with food choices off-season too? What methods have you found for coping with or combating the mental struggle with actions vs. goals?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Meeting Jay Cutler

This past weekend was so. much. FUN!!! It was the weekend of the Jay Cutler Baltimore Classic show in Maryland, and even though J and I weren't competing, we were still looking forward to this show for two big reasons:

  1. Rich Siegelman, the Maryland NPC Chairman and promoter of the show, asked J and me if we could pick up Jay Cutler from the airport on Friday night and bring him to the host hotel. Um YES!!
  2. We would be working with our sponsor, Big Big Formula, at the show expo. FUN!!
The weekend was shaping up to be an awesome experience!

Star Struck
As J and I sat listening to the live band at the Baltimore airport (weird, right?!), we both admitted that we were really nervous to spend some quality one-on-one time with Jay.

"Cruise" band playing at BWI
We both agreed not to ask a million questions so as not to come across as annoying fans (which we totally are!). While J worried about what to talk about, I worried about all the dog hair and glitter on the seat in my car. I hoped Jay wouldn't mind a little dog hair and glitter on his butt. I decided that since he has dogs, he'd prolly be ok with it.

When we saw him enter the baggage claim area, we both pretended to be really cool and calm (I think we hid the spastic-ness fairly well). Jerry wanted a pic of them together to post on the show event page on Facebook, so I snapped their picture as we headed to the car.

Jerry and his Idol, Jay Cutler
I discovered that Jay Cutler takes up 1.5 seats in my little Jetta. He and J kept bumping elbows over the center console because apparently Jettas aren't designed for 225+lb bodybuilders. It turns out that since Jay is also from New England, he and Jerry had a lot of acquaintances in common. They talked non-stop about people they knew from "back home" all the way to the hotel. I thought it was so cool that the top bodybuilder in the world was chatting with my boyfriend like he was just another guy from home. My already high opinion of Jay increased exponentially.

Big boyz!
When we got to the hotel, we got Jay checked in, then went out to eat with Rich and a few other people who were also working at the show.

Big Bitches
On Saturday, we arrived at the venue early and hung out at the Big Bitch Formula (BBF) table all day. We got to know the rest of the BBF crew and had a blast together! Everyone is so nice! Jerry and I feel so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful group of people and to support a product we genuinely believe in.

BBF Table
BBF Girlz
Jerry and me
Our table just happened to be RIGHT NEXT to Jay Cutler's table! What are the odds?! So we basically got to hang out next to him all day. So. Cool.

Me and Jay
Shawn Ray and Jay
BBF Crew and Jay
It was a long, hot (AC was broken at the venue) day, but so much fun! When we headed out, we said goodbye to Jay and he kissed me on the cheek!! ZOMG!!! Best. Day. EVAR.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Obnoxious Neon

I've written several times about my tendency to resist trends until I absolutely can't resist them or my curiosity gets the best of me. Just recently, I jumped on the headband bandwagon and discovered an easy (yet cute) way of keeping the fly-aways off my face when I train. Back in 2010, I finally jumped off the all-white running shoe bandwagon and expanded into the black running shoe. And now, with the trendy colors of summer harkening back to 1992, I decided I needed to jump on the bright colored shoe bandwagon.

Hence, I purchased the brightest possible shoe I could find!

I really really really wanted the Tiffany blue color, but couldn't find them and didn't want to spend a gazillion dollars special ordering them online from Nike.

Obsession with Tiffany Blue
So I settled for Obnoxious Pink.

Obnoxious but oh so cute!
I get lots of comments at the gym about them.

"There's the bright shoe girl!"

"You can really see ya coming from a mile away!"

"Cool shoes!"

My official response?

"Thanks! I'm trying to be trendy!" Which I realize makes me completely NON-trendy. It's like if you have to tell someone that you're cool or a badass, you really aren't; you're just a poser.

As I've mentioned before, I have a difficult time finding shoes that actually fit my feet correctly. I even went to the running store to get properly fitted. And guess what fit me best? The ugliest shoes in the store. The sales guy didn't understand why I kept asking him if they had any "cute" shoes in the store. I decided to save my money and instead buy some "cute" shoes that aren't appropriate for cardio. Yeah, smart, I know.

So I wear my trendy shoes when I train, and then switch to my practical shoes for cardio. Totally inefficient and ridiculous - I agree. But that's the price I'm willing to pay in order to join the neon colored shoe trend.

Do you have shoes in any of the latest, trendy colors? Do they actually fit your feet?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Peek Into the Day in the Life of a Bodybuilder

When you watch a movie, a tv show, or a bodybuilding show, do you ever wonder about the personal lives of the people on screen or on stage? Do you ever wonder what their day looks like? People are nosy and curious by nature, which is why gossip magazines rake in so much money every year. I want to know what Jennifer Aniston's kitchen looks like. I want to know which fitness classes Jessica Biel takes. I want to know what Nicole Wilkins' diet looks like.

There's a new video out by the talented videographer, Mike Pulcinella. He's the force behind the famous Raising the Bar series, which featured his brother, Dave Pulcinella. (If you haven't seen these videos, I suggest you do so immediately!) This new video focuses on the day in the life of IFBB Pro Kai Greene.

Personally, I'm not a fan of Kai's physique. But there's no denying his work ethic, his intelligence, and his drive. Here's Part 1 of the video. I posted some of my favorite quotes from the video below.

 

This is the work, though, that will produce the desired end result. It's being able to climb into the trenches now when it's not convenient. When it's not comfortable. 
It's very, very important to get these meals and have them with you. Once you cook these meals and pack them up, now when you leave the house, you have now eliminated the possibility of being stuck without your meal and having to go 2, 3, 4, 6 hours before eating again. 
There's a certain amount of work that we really do have to take on ourselves and not expect for someone to do for you. 

The best coaches, the best supplement company, the best product you can ever have available to you will be of little resource to you if you're not able to do what work is required of you when it's time to do it
You have to be inventive. You have to be a problem-solver. You have to be able to troubleshoot because at the end of the day, it's your responsibility to stay on target with your goal. Your goals, your dreams are important to you. Your dream is YOUR dream, so it's up to you to cultivate that, to protect it, to nurture it. So it's your responsibility to come up with ways, to find out how you can eat every 2.5-3 hours without incident. You gotta develop your tools.
Development of character, which speaks to your ability to follow through and start streaming together days of efficient action at the most basic level. If you are still working without the strength of character, without the ability to follow through, then all the complex conversation about the sciences will mean very little, will mean nothing to you if you're still not able to get up, cook your meals, pack them, and follow through with eating them every 2.5-3 hours. 
You gotta be willing to bust your ass and get it done. You do the things that you can do to the best of your ability. 

The idea of developing yourself in gaining mastery of these skills, your discipline, time management, those things are critical. without those in place, even the great supplement companies with the great powerful supplements will be of little support to you without some basic fundamentals that are required of you to already have possession of. 
No one should have to stand over you all day every day. 'Did you eat? What time's your next meal? Hey man, are you on top of your schedule? Are you staying true to your path?' Cuz at the end of the day, it's just not that important to everybody else. And if it's more important to other people than it is you, then there's a large part of your better potential that will not be tapped.

Basically, what Kai is saying is that there are NO excuses. Do the work, even when it's not convenient, even when no one is looking. When you're prepared, you've prepared yourself to succeed. No one else cares as much about your goal as you do; it's YOUR responsibility to do the things necessary to achieve your goal.

What do you think of this video? Do you agree or disagree with what Kai says?