Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Countdown to the Arnold!

It's time once again for one of bodybuilding's biggest events of the year: The Arnold!

Arnold Sports Festival!
Two years ago, I competed in the Arnold Amateur and placed 4th in my height class - which was such a thrill! The only downside to our weekend was some friendship drama.

Last year, J and I went just to go to the Expo; we didn't buy tickets to any of the shows. We had a blast walking around meeting our fav fitness celebs and grabbing free samples (I came home with a bag full of protein bar samples!). Again, the only downside to our weekend was some friendship drama. Again.

This year, J and I are going by ourselves. There will be NO DRAMA!!

We're heading out very early Friday morning and will hit up the Expo on Friday afternoon. We don't have tickets to any of the bodybuilding events; we just plan on milling around the Expo all weekend. Several of the shows have pre-judging and finals events on the Expo stage, so we'll catch a few of those.

My predictions for the women divisions of the Arnold:

Figure: 1) Nicole Wilkins; 2) Erin Stern; 3) Ava Cowen
Fitness: 1) Adela Garcia; 2) Tanji Johnson (Although I really hope I'm proven wrong and Tanji wins!!); 3) Myriam Capes
Bikini: 1) Nicole Nagrani; 2) Nathalia Melo; 3) Jaime Baird
Bodybuilding: 1)Yaxeni Oriquen; 2) Brigita Brezovac; 3) Cathy LeFrancois

I bought a couple new (very cute!) shirts last night to wear this weekend. Since I'm gonna be snapping a bunch of photos with my fav fitness celebs, I can't look like a scrub! I'm kind of glad I started my prep early and am a bit leaner than I was a few weeks ago. Everyone knows ya gotta diet for the Arnold! J and I will be bringing all our food along and toting coolers the whole weekend. It's worth it, though!

I'll post an update this weekend with a few photos. If you're going to be there, please let me know in the comments. It'd be wonderful to meet you in person!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Shopping for Suits

It's no secret that the expenses of competing can really add up. I've managed to cut some corners and learned how to do some things on my own (hair and makeup). In other areas, I will gladly pony up the dough to make sure things are perfect (tan, shoes, training). One of the most expensive purchases for women is our competition suit. In this regard, I envy J, because bodybuilder trunks are like $25, while top-notch Figure suits can be higher than $1,500. Yes, $1,500.

Beautiful suit, huh? It's $1,500.
In order to save money, I wear my suits for about two years before buying a new one. And by new, I mean "new to me." The last two suits I've worn have been previously owned. It's very common for competitors to buy used suits or to rent a suit for a show. Used or rented suits usually run about half the price of new suits, so for half the price of a Pro suit, I can still look like a Pro! The only downside of this, is the potential for the suit to not fit as perfectly as a new, custom suit would fit.

Last year after Team Universe, I received some criticism regarding the cut of my suit not being as flattering on me as it could've been. I agree; it's time for me to buy a new suit. And by new, this time, I mean NEW.

I've been looking at a few sites and have narrowed down some choices. The only problem is (and I have this in all areas of my life), I have champagne taste on a beer budget. I love shiny, sparkly suits that glitter. The more blingy a suit is, the more expensive it is.

I need to get my suit order placed soon, because I've heard that some designers I'm looking at have some long backup times. I'm excited to go to the Arnold this week and actually see the fabrics in person and talk to the designers!

For those of you who compete, do you order new suits for every show? Who are your favorite suit designers? Have you ever purchased a used suit?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Starting to Unwrap the Present

Remember a few weeks ago when I shared a discussion I had with J about when I should start prep? At that time, he said I'd need about 14 weeks to prep. Then, about six days later, I made the mistake of bringing up the subject of prep while in the grocery store with him. Bad idea. I told him my current weight, and he said I needed to start prep IMMEDIATELY. Twenty weeks out. WTF?!

In my head, I heard, "You're fatter than I thought you were!" What he actually said was, "We want to make sure we bring you in tighter this year than we did last year."

And so prep began the next day.

It was easier than I thought it'd be to get back into the swing of things. It's the second week now, and my diet, training, and cardio have been spot on. I dropped 6 lbs of water weight in the last week (apparently I retain water like a camel!), so hopefully any pounds lost now will be mostly fat. I'm less than 10 lbs from what we anticipate my stage weight to be, so I've got plenty of time to shed the weight slowly.

After a week of zero carbs to kick start my metabolism, I'm on a moderate carb diet right now (yay carbs!). J's approach to prep is to find which foods, combinations, and approaches work for each individual body, so he'll be doing weekly assessments to make sure my body is always responding to the diet and training plans. If we discover I'm plateauing, he'll make changes accordingly. I love this approach because it's so individualized! I know that my diet isn't just a cookie cutter format like so many other trainers/coaches use; it's designed just for me - for MY body.

Prep is like slowly unwrapping a beautiful present. I'm excited to see what my present looks like this year!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love Thyself

Happy Valentine's Day!

More than anything, this day is about love. There are all kinds of love: romantic, friendship, ex-relationships, pets, family, friends, kids, and most importantly, self love. On this day, the focus is so often about romantic love - and that's great! But it's only one kind of love.

What about love for yourself?

I love me!
Too many of us talk so horribly to ourselves. I saw a sign the other day that said something along the lines of, "If you talked to others like you talk to yourself, you'd get punched in the face."

Think about how you talk to yourself. Are you nice, respectful, and positive? Or are you rude, demeaning, and negative?

When I think of negative self-talk, I think of one of my favorite songs: "F*ckin' Perfect" by P!nk:
You're so mean when you talk
About yourself. You were wrong.
Change the voices in your head
Make them like you instead. 
Pretty, pretty please, don't you ever, ever feel
Like you're less than f*cking perfect
Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel
Like you're nothing, you're f*cking perfect to me.
Whenever you find yourself saying negative things to yourself, stop for a second and rephrase your comment. Be gentle with yourself.

Make a promise to yourself.
Since today is all about love, I challenge you to think of five things you love about yourself. Here are the things I love about myself:

  1. I love that I like to be challenged.
  2. I love that I go out of my way to make others feel special.
  3. I love that I'm "Minnesota nice" no matter where I live.
  4. I love that I have a good work ethic and am a perfectionist.
  5. I love that I'm athletic.
This is kind of a difficult exercise, but I think it's well worth your time. So on this day of love, spend some time making yourself feel special (Get your mind out of the gutter! I'm not talking about THAT!).

Tell me what you love about yourself in the comments!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

No More Afternoon Snickers Snacks

One of the benefits of having your boyfriend as your trainer is the easy accessibility to his knowledge and fast responses to my zillions of questions. One of the downsides is random, unexpected suggestions and prep check-ins. I worked with an online trainer a few years ago, and it was relatively easy to omit information like unscheduled cheat meals, etc. Working with J keeps me honest and on my toes.

We were chilling at the gym the other night when suddenly he asked me how many carbs I'm consuming per day. Caught off-guard, I stuttered, "Um, a lot? I guess?" I didn't mention the fun size Snickers or Milky Way I'd eaten that afternoon at work. With a thoughtful look on his face, he said, "I think we should start cleaning up your diet now."
No more afternoon Snickers snacks?!
WHAT?? *Gulp. Oh boy. I thought I had until March before we started prep.

"Ok, sure. You want me to start tomorrow? Any reason we're starting earlier than planned?" In my head, I was hearing, "You're fat and you need more than 15 weeks to get into shape." What he really said was, "I just want you to be in your best shape ever this year." He then continued with, "Since you're leaner than you've ever been off-season, we may start with some carbs in your diet."

Um, excuse me. Did I hear the word "CARBS"?! Woohoo!!

The past few years, my diet started with a keto-type plan (zero carbs), so I was expecting to start that way again. Looks like this year will be different, though. Prep is always a learning experiment!

I'm happy with how my off-season went, and I'm excited to get started with prep again!

For those of you who compete, what's your prep diet like?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What Motivates You?

Last January, I posted The Frog Story about a frog who beat out all the other frogs and climbed a very high tower. The reason why he was able to do it is because he was deaf and therefore didn't hear any of the negative comments from the crowd.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about positive vs negative motivation. I recently joined Pinterest (and you should too!), and although I haven't "pinned" many things yet, I've stalked boards of quite a few other people. And I've noticed a trend among fitness enthusiasts: there are a lot of photos with motivational sayings.

Latest trend in fitness motivation
Once I started looking for inspirational/motivational photos and sayings, I discovered I couldn't stop! I'd look at the clock and realize 15 minutes had gone by in the blink of an eye.

My favorite sayings are the positive ones. I discovered that I'm motivated by positive reinforcement, not negative reinforcement. I've just recently realized that I'm like the deaf frog in that I've very rarely heard negativity about my goals and decisions. I come from a very close family who supports everything I do, regardless of whether or not they agree with it. I've always been told that I can do whatever I set my mind to do. And I've taken that mantra and run with it. When someone says they can't do something, I ask, "Why not?" Apparently, this isn't normal for many people, but it works for me.

There are different ways to motivate people. Some people respond best to "Go for it! I know you can do it!" while others respond best to "You'll never be able to do that!"

What works best for you? Do you respond best to someone telling you that you CAN do it or that you CAN'T do it?