Monday, March 26, 2012

The Gym Creeper

You've seen him. That one guy who blatantly stares at you while you're busting your butt (literally) in the squat rack. Then he either offers to help you rack the weights, or he compliments you on how perfect your form is. When you move onto leg extensions, he's conveniently "training" calves nearby. He's a textbook Gym Creeper.

Right now, you're most likely nodding your head as you read this and picturing the Creeper at your gym. I'm willing to bet every gym has at least one. He could be any age - the creepers at my gym range from mid-40's to early-60's. In any other social situation, he could be perfectly normal. But for some reason, at the gym, he turns into a Creeper.

The other day, as I was struggling with my iPod arm band (the bane of my gym existence), one of the creepers called out, "Need help with that?" louder and louder until I couldn't ignore him anymore. I then feigned surprise that he was addressing me - cuz really, why would I want ANYONE to help me string a headphone cord through my sports bra and down my back?! *shudder*

While I realize that Gym Creepers are mostly harmless, I still feel uncomfortable around them. I understand that they appreciate my hard work, but do they really have to watch me do EVERY exercise in my workout? Talk about awkward!

Even after training in gyms for 14 years, I'm still unsure of how to handle the creepers. I usually just avoid all eye contact or pretend I don't see them. Sometimes I'll even do an exercise in a different area of the gym, if possible. If they do talk to me, I tend to mutter single word responses and then rush onto my next exercise. Not only am I uncomfortable around the creepers, I hate being interrupted during my workout. I have a sword to win in June, people! My training is serious business to me!

Does your gym have a Gym Creeper? Does he ever talk to you or does he just silently stare at you in the mirror while you're training? How do you handle the attention?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Motivation vs. Inspiration

One of the things I've been seeing a lot lately are posts by ladies who are struggling with motivation to stay on their meal plan and hit the gym consistently. It's a very common issue, one I've struggled with periodically as well. When I talked with J about, he had an interesting point of view: he differentiates between motivation and inspiration. I want to share the article I wrote for FitnessRx for Women about that difference.


I have a board on Pinterest entitled Motivation. After a conversation with my trainer, Jerry Ward, I think I need to change the title of that board to Inspiration. Jerry explained that inspiration can come from external sources, but motivation can only come from the inside ourselves.

Think about these questions:
  • Why do you do morning cardio every day?
  • Why do you bring your food with you to the movie theatre instead of indulging in popcorn?
  • Why do you give 100% in the gym when you train?
  • Why do you add one more rep to your sets?
You don’t do these things for someone else; you do them for yourself. No one else is motivating you to do work hard and live a fit lifestyle. You’re motivating yourself into action!

Other people can inspire you. For example, looking at a picture of a fit woman can inspire you to motivate yourself to get on the treadmill every day. Reading a quote like, “If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done,” can provide the inspiration you need to motivate yourself to get out of bed at 6 am and hit the gym.

When we rely on others to motivate our behavior, we fail. External sources can only provide a limited amount of assistance or support - the rest is up to YOU! You are the only one responsible for bringing your cooler of prepared food with you to work. You are the only one responsible for pushing through a difficult workout. A trainer, coach, friend, or parent can only do so much. Allow yourself to be inspired, and then use that inspiration to motivate your own actions.

What are some ways you can be inspired?

Think of some things that inspire you. Perhaps looking at images of your favorite fitness celebrity inspires you. Or maybe reading quotes about internal strength and determination, and overcoming obstacles inspires you. Maybe watching someone train hard in the gym, or watching a friend pack her food every day inspires you.

Take that inspiration and use it to create self-motivation to achieve your goals.

What are some ways you can motivate yourself?

In order to motivate yourself, you need to keep your goals in the forefront of your mind. Think about these questions, write down your answers, and look at them every day:

  • What am I trying to achieve?
  • What is my timeframe?
  • What actions do I need to take to reach my goal?
When you’re faced with a decision, think of your goal, think of the things that inspire you, reach deep inside yourself, and take action. Get inspired, find your inner motivation, and you can achieve great things!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Lost Art

At one time or another, all competitors have struck a pose and flexed in front of a public mirror. Whether it was in a fitting room, a public restroom, the mirror and picture frame aisle at Target, or the windows of a storefront when the sun hit it just right, we all have a slightly neurotic tendency to check out our progress whenever possible. Luckily, I've never been caught doing an ab check in the bathroom at work, but just last week, my brother asked if I pose in everything single picture taken of me. The answer is yes. I can't NOT pose whenever a camera lens points my way!

Posing isn't a vain or arrogant thing to do. On the contrary, it's not on a good indicator of progress, it's a lost art. If we are sculptors, our bodies are our canvas, and posing is how we display our work of art.

One of the main scoring rounds for bodybuilding is the posing routine. Judging is determined by a series of 6-8 mandatory poses that emphasis different areas of the body. Bodybuilders generally have 60-90 seconds to pose and show off their physiques in their most flattering poses. This is where those who can pose well have an advantage.

I learned how to pose from Tanji Johnson, IFBB Fitness Pro, back in early 2006 - before I competed in my first show. She flew into the small town in Montana where I lived and held a full day posing and competition workshop for 5-6 of us would-be competitors. It was one of the best investments I've made. Not only did she provide information about competitions, Tanji also talked about hair, makeup, nails, suits, and judging criteria. The most important part of the day, though, was posing.

Tanji is known for her ability to look natural and comfortable on stage, while showing her body off in the most flattering poses. Despite my lack of lats, she taught me how to do a lat flare (or front relaxed pose). She walked us through quarter turn transitions and gave feedback on how we should each angle our bodies to highlight strengths or hide weaknesses.

In the weeks following the workshop leading up to my first show, I practiced, practiced, practiced. When I walked on stage that sunny Spring day in Washington, my body knew just what to do.

Emerald Cup 2006: My first show
Over the years, I've tweaked a few poses, angled my body differently as I've changed and added muscle. I still practice posing a lot, especially in the weeks leading up to a show. When I'm on stage, I want to feel comfortable, relaxed, and confident. I don't want to have to worry about my posing; it should feel natural at that point.

2010 Arnold Amateur
In the next 15 weeks leading up to my show, you can bet I'll be hitting some poses every single day. Hopefully no one catches me hitting a model pose in the restroom mirror at work!

For all you competitors, how often do you practice posing? Have you taken any posing workshops?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Who Am I?

All athletes know that the physical part of their chosen sport is not the toughest; the mental aspect is what makes a champion.

When it comes down to the question of, "Who am I?" what will you say?

Through struggles, adversity, injury, obstacles, loss, and defeat ... keep pushing, keep training, keep believing, and never give up.

You are a champion!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Energy + Gum = RockStar!

Remember when I raved about how much I love Extra Dessert gum? Well, it's still my favorite gum. But being a gum aficionado, I like to try new flavors and brands. The latest gum I've been test driving is Rock Star Energy Gum. Yes, the energy drink company, Rock Star, now has an energy gum available.

Caffeine + gum = Happy Kari
Containing caffeine, B-vitamins, and Taurine, this gum is supposed to give you an energy boost equivalent to a half cup of coffee (80 mg of caffeine per serving, which is 2 pieces of gum).

I was skeptical, but thought I'd give it the ol' sporting try.

It actually works!

Although it tastes completely nasty (I swear I can taste the caffeine in it), it does provide a bit of a kick for my mid-afternoon slump. I combine one piece with a piece of Extra Mint Chocolate Chip Dessert gum, and it's bearable (mostly because the Dessert gum is amazingly awesome). The best part is that it's sugar-free!

Just the small 40 mg of caffeine does the trick and helps me keep my eyes open while I'm staring at web analytics reports at work. It may also be a good option for pre-workout. Pop in a piece of gum after you drink your pre-workout supplement, and then hit the weights.

While I'm not crazy about the taste of it, I do like the fact that it actually works. Apparently, there's an orange flavor available too; however, I have a full box of the mint flavor, so it'll be awhile before I need to buy more. I'm glad I tried this gum; it's a nice addition to my gum collection.

Have you tried Rock Star gum or any other kind of energy gum? What did you think?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

2012 Arnold Expo, Part 2

As promised, here are more pictures and experiences from the Arnold!

The Expo
The Expo hall was ca-ray-zay! On Friday, it wasn't too crowded, but by Saturday afternoon, we couldn't even move! It took us 10 minutes to move down one aisle - and that was without even stopping at any of the booths!

At this point, we could actually get to the booths.
At this point, it was wall-to-wall people.
We had to duck out of the Expo hall for awhile because we were getting so frustrated with how crowded it was. We went down to the Food Court, where we found the restaurant Electra had told me about: Chicken and Eggs. They actually had boiled chicken and egg whites! No seasonings, no oil, no butter. I was so excited to see the line for that place was longer than the line for pizza! Finally - an event where eating healthy food is more acceptable than eating junk food! I was in heaven!

Unfortunately for my celebrity-obsession, the time we picked to leave the expo was when Mario Lopez was there! Argh! I've had a crush on AC Slater since I was like, 10! I'm bummed I missed the opportunity to see him. Sigh.

Expo Booths
Some of the booths at the expo were elaborate. Here are a few of my favorites.

The ever popular Animal Cage
These people are standing on a genuine TANK. So cool.
Oh hello, Endorush, my love!
In the MMA area, there were a bunch of equipment for the strong man competition. It just looked like medieval torture devices to me!

Strong man equipment
We ran into my soul mate, who was wandering around the expo!

Soul mates: we both LOVE cookies!
Fitness Industry Celebrities
I was excited to meet a few more fitness celebrities.

Miss Fitness Olympia & Miss Fitness International: Adela Garcia!
8x Miss Olympia: Lenda Murray
2nd Place Bikini International: India Paulino
One of my favorite Fitness pros: Oksana Grishina
Remember back in 2009 when I won a workout with Kim Lyons? I hadn't seen her since then, so imagine my surprise when I saw her working the GNC booth at the expo! She was there with her hubby, Gunter Schlierkamp (ooh la la!). I said hi to them, and she actually remembered me! It was nice to catch up with both of them again. They're such nice, genuine people. Truly wonderful!

Kim Lyons & Gunter Schlierkamp. His arm is bigger than both Kim and me combined!
Feeding Time
We stopped a few times to sit down, rest our feet, and eat. Poor J had to carry the cooler the entire time we were there.

Feeding Time!
Since I started prep earlier than anticipated, I packed all my food and brought it along. Our hotel had a fridge in the room, so I just took what I needed for the hours we were gone each day.

What NOT to Wear
I knew we were going to be taking a bunch of pictures, so I wanted to look cute the whole weekend. I bought a few new shirts before we left and stressed over the accompanying shoe options. I decided on a low heel shoe and my new Kenneth Cole boots. Both very poor decisions on my part.

Cute right? Those boots were death traps!
I knew my feet were going to be sore, but I didn't realize they'd be so sore that I'd want to curl up into a ball and whimper on the Expo floor most of the day. Sure, I looked cute and Kim Lyons said she liked my shirt (SO cool!), but my feet were killing me almost the whole time. The third day, I broke down and wore my new Beast shirt with my running shoes. Amazing how much more fun I had when my feet weren't screaming at me!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

2012 Arnold Expo, Part 1

We're back from the Arnold! What a weekend! I wish I had a day just to recover from the weekend. We had a wonderful time, met some amazing people, collected some free swag, and had a blast soaking in the health and fitness-focused atmosphere.

As always, I took a bunch of pictures. Here are a few of the highlights.

On Friday, we managed to catch Pro Fitness and Figure pre-judging. It was a thrill to watch the Pros do their thing on stage. I took some notes on presentation, suits, and hairstyles.

Fitness! Go Tanji!
Figure Top 4: Nicole Wilkins, Erin Stern, Candice Keene, Ava Cowen
As we walked around the Expo, we had the opportunity to meet many of our favorite fitness industry celebrities.

The legendary Monica Brant!
After Monica posted for a picture with me, she asked if anyone had taken a picture of J and me. We said no, so she told us to stand in front of her sign so she could be in it too. She was so funny!

Me and J: the picture that Monica took!
There was some controversy about the judging outcomes of Figure and Bikini this year. Some people thought Erin Stern should've won over Nicole Wilkins. I had the opportunity to meet Nicole on Saturday between her shows; she's always so classy.

Miss Olympia and Miss International: Nicole Wilkins
Bikini is the most subject category, and this year was no exception. The reigning champ, Nicole Nagrani was awarded 3rd this year, and Sonia Gonzalez captured the title. We had a funny encounter with Nicole, where J didn't realize who she was and then had to find her and apologize for being a "knucklehead." She was very sweet about the whole thing.

Miss Olympia Bikini: Nicole Nagrani
I also had the opportunity to meet some online friends in person for the first time. It's always so much fun finally meeting someone I've been talking with online for awhile!

I got to meet fellow BoBetter, Lisa Withrow! I was really looking forward to meeting her. We had a fun time chatting and catching up - she's fabulous!

Fellow BoBette: Lisa
I also got to meet Electra Liontis. We've been in touch online for almost two years now, so it was wonderful to finally meet her in person!

This year, I got to see the Governator himself all three days! Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger! While I was very close to where he walked through every time, unfortunately, my camera skillz are sorely lacking. These are the best shots I managed to get.

Someone always managed to get their head in the way right as I was  taking a picture of  Arnold!
I have more pictures and experiences to share with you. Stay tuned for Part 2!

Have you ever been to the Arnold? What was your experience like?