Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jumping on the Bandwagon

I like to think of myself as an individual; I don't fit into any "categories" or "boxes" that stereotype people. I have my own fashion sense (or lack thereof, according to some people), I like to try new things, and I have friends from all facets of life. I follow trends because the study of social anthropology fascinates me, but I don't like to buy in to trends just for the sake of the trend itself.

  • I held out on reading the Harry Potter books until my mom suggested I'd like them (and I did).
  • I held out on the Twilight books until I realized I had no reading material for a plane ride one evening and curiosity about all the hype won me over. Turns out I loved the books immediately.
  • I didn't succumb to the allure of expensive workout clothes until Jerry strongly recommended I try them. I then realized how much better they fit and how much more flattering they are to my physique.
  • I didn't read the Shades of Grey books until I decided to see why they were at the top of the best seller list. (Trust me - they don't deserve to be there. AWFUL writing.)
  • I tried Crossfit one time and wanted to poke the "instructors'" eyes out with a pencil, so I'm NOT on board with that fitness trend.
  • I stuck to using my trusty bobby pins to keep my hair back while training, even though most of the other ladies at the gym were wearing them. But then I got curious and wondered if I'd actually like them.
Jumped on the headband bandwagon
Turns out I do like them!

I bought a package of Under Armour narrow headbands this weekend and tried one for the first time yesterday. It worked great! No more re-pinning my hair mid-workout!

I guess you could say I'm a reluctant bandwagoner for most things. I'm still holding off on the knee high workout socks, though. My legs are already short enough; I don't need to wear something that will make them look even more stumpy!

Do you use headbands when you train? Do you follow trends?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Being Sick Sucks!

I'm gonna attempt to be positive about this, but I don't think there's any way around it: being sick while in prep royally sucks! I woke up on Friday morning with a sore throat, which is always my first indication that I'm about to get sick. As the day went on, the sore throat went away and my nose got stuffy.

On Saturday, I felt even worse. While it was just a head cold, the general ickiness combined with being deep in the throes of prep really dragged me down. J was wiped out too, so we did nothing ALL DAY. I'm usually active and like to get out and do and see things, so it was really out of character for me to stay in the house all day. I started to get bored after awhile, but had no energy to actually do anything about it.

The rest helped, because I felt a lot better yesterday, albeit not quite 100% yet.

I've never been sick during prep; this is a new experience. And quite frankly, it's no fun! Prep can be difficult enough, so a basic cold really kicked me in the butt. I kinda feel like a whiny baby, but hey, it happens. I've really focused on resting and getting enough sleep, which is really important for my body to heal. I know I'll feel even better tomorrow!

For those of you who compete, have you ever gotten sick during prep? How did you handle it? How did your body react?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May: The Best Month of the Year

May is my favorite month of the year. Not only does May mean the coming of nicer (read: warmer) weather, it's also the best part of Spring! Trees and plants are green and lush, birds are singing, flowers are blooming; the world seems to come alive! (I'm suddenly feeling the need to break into a Snow White song and dance with birds fluttering around and baby bunnies following me as I flit through the forest.)

Besides the fact that my birthday is in May (this coming Saturday, the 19th!!) and both my nephews' birthdays are within days of mine (talk about a great time to have a huge party!), it's also the month in which I've done the best in shows.

May 2, 2009: Pittsburgh Championship
Although I didn't place well at this show, I did meet the love of my life! I consider that a victory. :)

The first time Jerry and I met!
May 10, 2008: Contra Costa Championship
My friend, Melanie, met me in California and was my cheering section at this show. I won my height class AND won the Overall! I won the coolest trophy I've ever received: a genuine Excalibur sword!

2008 Conta Costa: 1st Place Class A, OVERALL WINNER!!
Mel and I had an interesting experience trying to get the sword on the plane early the next morning.

4:00 am
Me: Hi! (in a bright, cheery voice) Can you please help me get this sword (placed sword on counter) on the plane? I won it a few hours ago!
Airline Counter Attendant: It's too early for this.

We ended up cutting apart a cardboard box and wrapping it around the sword, securing it thoroughly with duct tape. I checked it as a piece of "luggage." Violá!

May 15, 2010: Lehigh Valley Championship
This was the first (and only thus far) show in which Jerry and I competed together. Prep was ... interesting for both of us. But we're happy to say we made it through and actually had a great time at the show. It was really cool to be backstage together! I won my height class!

2010 Lehigh Valley: 1st Place Class A
May 24, 2008: California State Championship
Three weeks after winning the Overall, I flew back to California from Montana to compete in the Cal State show. I won my height class and took 2nd Overall!

2008 California State: 1st Place Class B, 2nd Overall
I always smile when I see these dates in my calendar and think about the shows. They were all unique experiences and I treasure the memories.

The Maryland show is only 6 weeks away, so I won't be having any birthday cake this weekend. But I do get the best present of all: I get to hang out with Jerry and my parents (who are visiting this week!)!! May is indeed a beautiful month!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Anniversary Weekend

I met J in 2009 at the Pittsburgh Championships, so every year, we go back to the show for our "anniversary" weekend. This past weekend, I got up at 3:15 am on Saturday and hopped on the treadmill to get my cardio in before we hit the road at 5 am. Since we share the dreadmill at home, I needed to make sure I got up early enough so both J and I could do our cardio. We got to Pittsburgh close to the beginning of pre-judging and watched both shows.

Our 3-Year Anniversary!
Our good friend, Melanie, came to watch the evening show too. One of the best parts about going to Pittsburgh every year is getting to meet up with Melanie and her husband, Damon!

Melanie, Me, Jerry
The show was excellent! Competition was fierce, and I enjoyed studying the Pros and taking mental notes while they were on stage. I also got to meet some online friends in person! Both Laura and Genie are very sweet, and I'm glad that I finally got to meet them in person after knowing them online for a few years.

Me with Laura and Genie
I saw Jay Cutler for the first time since he had his bicep surgery. I think he looks great! He said he "downsized" to about 260 lbs!

"Downsized" Jay - I think he looks great!
Jerry and I stayed in the same hotel as last year. We got a room with a refrigerator and microwave, and packed 24 meals between the 2 of us! We had more coolers than suitcases! The hotel also has one of the best fitness centers I've ever seen at a hotel. J and I got to do our cardio together on Sunday morning, which was a nice change from taking turns with our ratty dreadmill at home.

J doing cardio. This is only half of the Fitness Center - it's huge!
On Sunday, we hung out with Melanie and Damon; it's always so nice to visit with them!

Damon and Jerry
We had a fun anniversary weekend and I'm glad we got to meet up with some great friends!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Never Give Up!

We can all come up with excuses as to why we can't work out or eat right. But when it comes right down to it, not one of those excuses are valid. Quite frankly, we do ourselves and our bodies a disservice when we don't take care of them. The only thing standing in your way is YOU. NOTHING is impossible. Just ask Arthur Boorman.

Arthur Boorman was a disabled veteran of the Gulf War for 15 years, and was told by his doctors that he would never be able to walk on his own, ever again.

He stumbled upon an article about Diamond Dallas Page doing Yoga and decided to give it a try -- he couldn't do traditional, higher impact exercise, so he tried DDP YOGA and sent an email to Dallas telling him his story.

Dallas was so moved by his story, he began emailing and speaking on the phone with Arthur throughout his journey - he encouraged Arthur to keep going and to believe that anything was possible. Even though doctors told him walking would never happen, Arthur was persistent. He fell many times, but kept going.

Arthur was getting stronger rapidly, and he was losing weight at an incredible rate! Because of DDP's specialized workout, he gained tremendous balance and flexibility -- which gave him hope that maybe someday, he'd be able to walk again.

His story is proof, that we cannot place limits on what we are capable of doing, because we often do not know our own potential. Niether Arthur, nor Dallas knew what he would go on to accomplish, but this video speaks for itself. In less than a year, Arthur completely transformed his life. If only he had known what he was capable of, 15 years earlier.

Do not waste any time thinking you are stuck - you can take control over your life, and change it faster than you might think. Hopefully this story can inspire you to follow your dreams - whatever they may be.
Anything is Possible!

When you find yourself feeling frustrated or saying, "I can't," stop and think about these two things that Arthur said:
Never underestimate what you can accomplish.
Just cuz I can't do it today doesn't mean I'm not gonna be able to do it someday.
When you believe in yourself and don't give up, anything is possible!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Rise & Shine! It's Cardio Time!

I'll be the first to admit that I'm NOT a morning person. Oh, I try to be! Believe me, I try. Morning is my favorite time of day, and if I sleep in late, I feel unproductive, like I've wasted the whole day. But getting out of bed is a challenge for me.

I have three alarms set every day. THREE. And every day, I turn each of them off, roll over, and go back to sleep. Then, 20-60 minutes later, I'm woken up either by the dog whining or by J telling me how late it is. I then do the morning scramble/rush to do cardio, get ready, and get to work somewhat on time.

Speaking of morning cardio ... I do it. Every. Single. Day.

Yes, I do morning cardio. NO, I'm never that cheerful in the morning!
There are debates about the merits of fasted vs. non-fasted cardio, the optimal time of day to do cardio, and how much is too much. There are supporting studies for all options. But I'm going out on a limb and saying that fasted morning cardio works for me (in a Hooked on Phonics ad voice).

Every morning (after a few sips of Endorush), I stumble and hang onto the treadmill for the first minute until I get my bearings. Then I increase the intensity and commence the morning cardio ritual. I even have "helpers" in the room with me!

Ginger and Ed "hunting" while I do cardio
How Nikko and Bruno do cardio with me
I get quite a few questions about why I do morning cardio - like I said, there are proponents for both fasted and non-fasted cardio. My reasons are as follows:

  • Because J tells me to. And he's the boss for my training/nutrition (I'm the boss in all other aspects of our relationship. JUST KIDDING, JERRY!)
  • Fasted morning cardio helps me get lean. The reason J tells me to do morning cardio is that my body responds to it. I noticed that in the past when I didn't do morning cardio year-round, my body responded much slower to prep and the weight just didn't want to come off as easily.
  • Two sessions of shorter cardio is easier for me than one long session. I'd MUCH rather do two 30 min sessions than one 60 min session.
  • I feel more awake when I start my day off with cardio. Even during the off-season, I do cardio most mornings, whether I walk on the treadmill or outside around the neighborhood. On the days I skip cardio (this only happens off-season), I feel groggy, cloudy, and tired. Cardio actually helps me feel alert and ready to meet the day.
  • Morning cardio is my "Kari Time" where I check my email, Twitter, Facebook, and catch up on text messages. I also get the opportunity to read, and since I'm a bookworm, it's nice to have built-in time during the day where I get to indulge in a good book.
I know there are quite a few people who proudly claim they don't do ANY cardio. Ever. And honestly? I feel bad for them. Our bodies are made to MOVE, not to sit like slugs at a desk for 8 hours a day. Even people who have active jobs should be doing some other type of cardio. Just being on your feet all day isn't the same as jogging, walking on an incline, or doing plyos.

Plus? It's my belief that those people who claim they don't do any cardio are a bit misguided. Just because you're not on the treadmill doesn't mean you're not doing cardio. Those plyos in your workout? That's cardio. Your metabolic/high intensity workout? That's cardio. So yes, you ARE doing cardio; it's just integrated into your workout.

As far as WHEN is the best time to do cardio? For me, it's morning and immediately after my workout. For others, it may be different. Bottom line: SOME cardio at any point during the day is better than NO cardio at all. I appreciate my relationship with Mr. Treadmill, and know he'll help me achieve my goals.

Do you do fasted morning cardio? What are your reasons for doing or not doing cardio?