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.