Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Don't Let the Cookie Win!

I’m back! It’s been three weeks since competition, but it feels like forever. And it feels that long since I’ve been in the gym (oops!)

I gave myself the first post-competition week off from the gym. I had hurt my hip and shoulder pretty bad the week before comp, so I figured I’d give my body some rest. I also began a really hard class, and I wanted to get focused while not feeling guilty for missing the gym.

But my brother-in-law is in town for a month, and last week his fiancĂ© was in town for the week. It was nice to finally have family around and people to socialize with, but between that and school, it left no gym time (I did hit up my Jillian Michaels’ videos, so I could at least get some activity).

I have decided to compete in March back in my hometown. I joined a training program down here in Florida. The program is similar, where as my trainer is long-distance, except this time the program is based out of Daytona, and I will go to one of their weekend training camps in December (they have them every month, so if I need a little boost I could go to another one pretty easily).

I thought about waiting until then to begin the program, but I am thinking November is better. I WANT TO PLACE in my hometown! So the paperwork will go in this week.

Plus I don’t want to revert back to this:

Yes, that was me at the beginning of June.

Believe it or not, I worked out almost everyday for at least an hour to an hour and a half. So, why do I look soft and pudgy?

My diet! Only a small few of people can actually eat whatever they want and stay skinny … and that doesn’t mean they are healthy. Eating crappy food wrecks havoc on your insides (including your brain functioning).

I love this:

It’s so true. And really, going to the gym isn’t always that fun. Some days there are a million other things I rather be doing. Sometimes my gym time is a real sacrifice; I’m taking time away from my husband, my friends and family, my dog, my school work, other activities I really enjoy.

So why would I want to make that sacrifice in vain? For what? A cookie?

Sometimes the cookie does win, but overtime the cookie will lose and I won’t feel deprived by not having one.

Moral of the story, don’t let the cookie win!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Show Time!

The competition was this weekend! I cannot believe it’s over!

It started on Friday. After (hopefully) not failing my exam, my parents arrived. We caught up a bit, before I had to leave for check-in and a posing class by Jaime Baird. She is such a sweet (and beautiful) woman.

Mrs. Baird

She's so sweet

Nicole Nagrani was there too, which was a special treat.

Homegirl is 19! She's is pocket-sized too!

It was really great to get a detailed perspective on posing, the dos and don’ts and other tips. They talked a lot about how important personality is during posing, and can give a competitor an edge. They also stressed how important it is to have fun. Flatter abs isn’t going to fulfill you, and if it does, you won’t have a long, happy career in competition.

Jaime had us to do our walk and front pose for her. It cleared some nerves, and she also she gave us a little critique. Being in front of an audience isn’t too new for me, but I am use to making eye contact with the audience or, for a play, looking up, over the audience. In this competition, you look down, and only down, at the judges. So that was new. And she said that I reminded her of Ali Rosen:

I take that as a compliment.

Friday night ended with three Jan Tana-tanning sessions by my wonderful husband. (I think for next time, I will be making an appointment with the show tanners.)

I woke up at 5am for another tanning session and to get ready. There was a competitor meeting at 8am, and I wanted to make sure I was at the venue in plenty of time.

One prep secret: I wore a wig! I had bought the wig for my wedding, but I opted for another hairstyle (also with faux-hair though … it’s genius.), so the wig had been sitting in my closet for a year. After going through competitor photos, I realized everyone has long hair. I was just about to purchase clip-in extensions, when I remembered the rug. I know I would fuss about my hair all day, and with pre-judging and the night show, I knew my fine hair would not hold up. The wig work perfectly and literally saved hours off prep and worry!

My coach told me to go to the venue hair and make up ready, but when I got to the venue, there was a room full of tables and mirrors. I felt a little awkward just sitting there while everyone else was getting ready. Two women, who happened to be figure competitors, noticed my awkwardness (and shyness) and be-friended me, looking after me the whole day.

I was granted number 93, and after a morning of practicing posing, it was finally time for me to get judged. I was trying to remember what Jaime had said the night before, and what my coach had told me, but when it came time to step on stage I blanked on everything. The next thing I knew I was walking off stage.

While my family wanted to go to out to eat, I opted for going home to rest. I was exhausted and food and water deprived. I barely made it home before passing out for an hour and a half.

The afternoon brought one more tan touch-up and back to the venue. The hubs, my brother, my pops and a good friend, John, joined my mom for the night show. I was a lot more relaxed, and even joined my family to watch the fitness girls perform (those girls are crazy amazing!). I was supposed to go on after intermission, but the show was running so quickly that they skipped it, and it was my turn to go up again.

Sadly, I did not place. I was not first call-out during pre-judging (the judges usually call out who they think the top five are in a class, and therefore compare them even more side-by-side to determine top order), so it was no surprise I didn’t win.

There were a lot of novice competitors. My height class alone had 10 girls, and the other class had atleast 15. In fact, the woman who won the overall novice bikini class was from my class, so it was very competitive.

But it was such a great experience. I am looking forward to my next show, which I think I will be in March (and in my hometown back up north). Even though it’s five months away, I can’t relax too much. I will probably hit the gym hardcore by the weekend. I asked for a judges' crit to be sent to me, but I already know I have to tighten up ... a lot!

I want to write a blog about the days after and eating. So that will probably come in a few days, but for now I will leave you with a photo and my presentation video from the night show (I stumbled a bit on the turn, but practice makes perfect and I know I will get better and more comfortable the more I practice and perform).

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Posin' and Strutin'

Happy Hump Day! I CANNOT believe that around about 72 hours I will be in some form participating in my first NPC bikini competition.

I want to throw up. I am as excited as I would be on my birthday. I am so scared because prancing around in a teeny-weeny ‘kini is NOT ME.

I am really digging this last week workout. Sunday was my last legs day. Then Monday through today I had AM cardio sessions and afternoon lifting, but lighter than usual. However, Tuesday I was gone from 7:45a until 9p, so I woke up for my morning cardio, but I didn’t have energy to lift at 9:30-10p, so I am doing one last lifting session on Thursday morning. Then I am done!

Some of my “homework” is practicing my posing. (My dogs think I am crazy, they usually sit on the couch watching me walk back and forth between the wall and the table to set and re-set my camera timer every 10 seconds.)

Ma, you iz crazy!

Usually there is a front pose and a back pose. But I’ve been watching YouTube videos of NPC bikini competitions, and it occurred to me that most of these women walk out, one-by-one, pose, both front and back with a sassy little turn. I don’t why I didn’t realize it until yesterday but I might possibly have to do this, especially when the competition Web site says that since this is a woman’s only show, each women gets to “feel like a princess” and will have plenty of time on stage.

I have been on stage before: dance recitals, speaking, auditions, performing in plays and even a few professional productions. But there is something about trying to strut your stuff in a piece of Spandex that waivers any sense of confidence. So I will be practicing this for the next day or so.

Watching the girls, trying to learn

I have been trying to cut sodium from my diet too. I have to take potassium pills, and after tomorrow, there is no sodium extra allowed. But seriously, if I eat another piece of fish, I might throw up. So I am trying to find an alternative for Thursday and Friday. I might just have to stick with a protein shakes and peanut butter. I'll have to get a bit creative ... I'll let you know how that goes.

I'd rather be fishing ... not eat it

In the meantime I will be finishing my last workout, practicing my posing, prepping my day-of bag, cleaning for my parents’ arrival and studying for my final on Friday morning.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pain and Pancake Love

Holy hell, I’ve been trying to get this post posted for two days now, but things keep interrupting it. Which is exactly how I feel about the competition.

I am nine days out. I can count it on my hands. And I am so not mentally present as I have a lot on my mind before Oct. 8 … including an exam next Friday.

I haven’t been as focused as I should be when I am working out. My diet is a fading bit as things are taking the place of regular eating times. I’ve also had a few things to be stressed about and sometimes when that happens I tend not to be hungry and therefore tend not to eat or I tend to crave.

I also am just plain tired. Last week I hurt my left shoulder. And yesterday midway through my workout, I got up from my first rep of laying triceps extensions and I felt a pull in my upper back. I figured I’d just stretch really well after the work out, but when I finished the pulling was constant and so painful I could barely move my upper body. When the hubs got home I made asked him to massage it and perform cupping on it. It was THE most painful thing I have felt in a long time.

In the past, I couldn’t understand why athletes couldn’t play a game or compete due to a pulled muscle. They get paid enough, stop whining and get out there. But as of last night, I totally get it. Until my morning dose of Aleve, I couldn’t turn my head to the right with out excruciating pain.

I just got my last week prep from my trainer. Lots involved. I’ll have to write a new post about that in a few days. For now I will leave you with my pups.

Morgan and Martini

Every morning I share some of my pancake with my pups. They both sit patiently watching me eat, Morgan usually drooling. I don’t know why, but the pancake is up there with sausage in the pup-pup eyes/tummy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

No pain, no gain

I posted about my last week. What I didn’t post was how much I did not want to be in the gym, nor be on a diet.

I was exhausted, always one step behind and had so much school to focus on there was nothing left for the gym. I knew I needed to go, but mentally I was not present.

So much so, I actually ended up hurting my shoulder last week. I picked up ten pound dumbbells for rear delt raises, being lazy as I really didn’t want to be there, and ZAP! a shock of electricity-like pain engulfed my left shoulder.

I stopped, reset and tried again. Same pain. I dropped weight, to seven pounds. Same pain. Again to five pounds, but the pain was there. Stupidly, I struggled through it, stopping every few reps to stretch it, hoping it was just a pinch and the pain would stop.

Luckily that was my last exercise for the day, and after cardio I hit the shower and relaxed the rest of the night. Since there was no pain when I wasn’t exercising, I forgot about it, until I pulled up the sheets on my bed. And the pain struck again on Friday’s workout, attempting preacher curls.

Luckily, being an acupuncture student, I get free treatments. I have been getting treatments to help my digestive issues. So yesterday during clinic, I begged for a treatment, figuring I’d lie face down and get a few needles inserted into my upper back and maybe a massage.

A supervising doctor came in as my colleagues were going through their assesment, and the doc deduced that the pain I had followed the large intestine channel and it was actually my digestive issues that caused the pain in my shoulder (Yes, it was the movement with resistance that caused it, but the weakness that allowed it to happen was in part due to my digestive issues.). I did get a little massage too, but it felt like a knife stabbing me in the scapula.

Anyway, on to better news. This came this weekend:

The swimsuit! And it came in this:

Yes, a flat rate envelope … that’s how tiny this thing is.

Of course I immediately put it on, with the stripper heels … and realized my tan lines are terrible (yes that’s how small this suit it). But I have been practicing almost everyday (well, since Sunday), posing and taking photos. Putting on the suit and the heels still makes me want to throw up, as I am super nervous. Luckily I feel a bit more confident after looking at the photos. I've come a long way (final photos will be posted after the competition ... maybe. I might have to have a few Bellinis before I am able to click "publish post.")

Surprisingly, what I am most nervous about is the tanning. As former tan-orexia and tanning salon employee, I should be confident. But I haven’t tanned since September of last year (not including poolside, since I do wear sunscreen). And most competitors may get a slight base tan, but self-tanner is the usual. So, my test run with Jan Tana will come tonight night since I don’t have class on Thursday, and I won’t mind looking like Bob Barker:

I forgot to order glaze to put over it, so I will have to improvise until the glaze comes in.

And my NPC card came in the mail yesterday as well. I’m “legal” to participate. Just a few more weeks! (Literally, just days!)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Your Workout is Worth Squat

Last Thursday, after I sent my latest set of progress photos to my coach, I received an email in reply stating, “I am absolutely dumbfounded at the progress you have made.” I was felt I was allowed to be proud of myself (especially after comparing Day One photos to now … a later post to come).

This weekend I headed home for one of my closest friend’s baby shower (and if the baby is on time I might get to meet her in a few weeks!!!!). It was so great seeing my friends, as I miss them dearly.

But traveling literally wreaks havoc on a strict diet and exercise program. Especially short weekend jaunts (so much to do, so little time and no routine).

Not only did all my good feelings shoot out the window this weekend, my flight back to FLL was a complete disaster. We landed two hours after the time we were supposed too, meaning my second and third meals were missed, and with a Monday night class, there was no time for my workout. All of which makes for one VERY unhappy bikini competitor.

To add to my negativity, my first wedding anniversary is this weekend, and I can’t even celebrate the way I would like too (top layer of our cake or a piece of the fresh cake our bakery made us, and a glass of champagne). I feel like a big bummer.

So I am going to take this blog post to continue to rant about a gym pet peeve.

There is this girl that I share MY morning gym time with. She looks like she’s in good shape, though she has a bit of a pooch (I know how that feels!) and she’s always buzzing around the gym doing combinations and circuits.

Here’s the thing. She’s bicep curling with 5 lbs. dumbbells. And then she had the audacity to place two 5 lb. weights on the barbell of the Smith machine and promptly do three sets of squats. She’s squatting as much as she’s lifting! Oh lord.

I know she is trying to lose weight because I see her doing major cardio intervals with Burpees and pushups in between (and one day she had a torn-out workout routine from a fitness magazine with the title “Drop the last 5 pounds!”)

And while a big portion of weight loss takes place in the kitchen, BUILDING muscle is essential to maintaining a hard working metabolism.

I want to shake her. She’s in my way and wasting her time.

Think about how many times a day you use your own body weight as resistance. Dropping down to find that black heel under your bed? Oh, you found it. Pushing yourself up again. Squatting down to pick up that folder you dropped at work? Standing up from a sitting down. Um, walking?

And let’s not forget everyday objects we pick up that are relatively heavy: grocery bags, your purse, your dog, your kids!

We are stronger than we think.

If you are lifting the small VW Bug that you call a purse with one hand, you need to put down the 5 pound dumbbell, step away from your pre-conceived notions of lifting heavier will bulk you up, and start kicking your own ass (or arms). Just try the 10 pound dumbbell … Get a little crazy and see what you might be able to do with the 12 pound.

And while your biceps are tiny muscles, think of your biggest muscle groups: the quads and glutes. Your legs take you everywhere. They hold you up all day, and sometimes all night, for hours … in 5 inch heels. They are strong. Show them some respect. DO NOT shame them by giving them the same weight you are giving your arms.

Don’t be afraid to start at a higher weight, realize you safely can’t lift it and start backing down until you can. Can you only do eight of the 12 reps in a set with the heavier-than-usual-weight? Go down a dumbbell size (or five pounds on a barbell), and finish the set. Next week, try again. I promise you will eventually be able to master that heavier weight. And your arms and legs will look kick-ass. (… And once your arms and legs start to lean out, the belly will usually follow.)

How will you know how strong you are if you don’t push yourself?

Friday, September 2, 2011

A little nutty

This week has been rather uneventful. It was actually plain rotten. Even the hubs coming home for a few days couldn’t get me out of my physical funk.

I have been grouchy and whiney about my meals (which I need to stop, because no body is making me do this). After I read that blood type Os should avoid eggs, and knowing eggs do make me a bit bloated, I decided to give up on the egg whites for a bit and focus on fish and veggies.

And fish is just plain boring. And I was feeling really bloated and distended, egg whites or no eggs whites (and this was just a few days after I took photos of my finally-visible abs ::sigh::).

Eating out is a big part of my relationship with my husband. Some people play golf or go running. We like to eat. We had (… still have) a long-distance relationship, so every other weekend we’d be in a different town, having a mini-getaway, complete with meals out. Since Mark still flies in and out, and I often don’t have his food (i.e., meat) at the house we often eat out one or twice while he’s in town. It’s our time to sit, talk, enjoy and experience.

Being so close to the competition, I told him no eating out this trip back. Luckily my husband is very INCREDIBLY understanding and proactive. He took my whiney-butt to the grocery store, and came up with new veggies to add to my list.

Spaghetti Squash ... oh, you and Acorn are good with butter and salt and butter and brown sugar too?!
Nom Nom Nom!

Since we were at Publix, I like to peruse the healthier food aisle, praying that there is some dessert thing I can eat (there never is).

But I did find almond meal. It’s like $12 for a bag, so before buying it, I thought I should research some recipes first … like a pizza recipe.

Which is exactly what my hubs did, and made me the following day. It was exactly what I needed.

I’m not supposed to have carbs, but the almond meal is low-carb substitute to regular dough. And I think I was in a place were I needed a “cheat” meal without making it a full-out cheat meal (my morale was hitting rock bottom). Some low-carb pizza sauce, veggies and some low-fat cheese (I don’t really like cheese, so I didn’t put that much on), and I was in heaven! I should have taken a photo, but inhaled it, and it was so good! Almond meal is actually a bit sweet (like almonds), so next time I want to bake I’m definitely using almond meal rather than flour (a great gluten-free substitute too).

Benefits of almonds:

1. High in monounsaturated fats – the good kind that have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease

2. Rich source of Vitamin E (for your complexion and skin!) and dietary fiber

3. They appear to decrease after-meal rises in blood sugar, and provide antioxidants to take care of any free radicals that can result (free radicals damage cells)

I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking at a healthier pizza option. Another great substitute: use a homemade pesto or hummus as a base rather than tomato sauce. It can add higher protein value. And make sure there are lots and lots of veggies!

Also, I was feeling totally bloated. After a little bit of acupuncture (yes, it can help relieve bloat, distension, digestive issues … as well as just about anything. Go see an acupuncturist!) I felt better within a few hours. But I also like to drink this little concoction:

~ One pitcher of water

~ One lemon (sliced as rounds)

~ A few spearmint leaves

~ Half a cucumber (sliced as rounds)

~ 1 tsp. of grated fresh ginger (I like to put a few tsp. in, but I like ginger)

It lasts two days, then I would replace the items with new ones.


The Flat Belly Diet uses this drink in their detox phase. It tastes delicious and is good boost to just plain water (minus any aspartame that is in some drink enhancers). Plus ginger not only aids in digestion, it has thermogenic properties, so it can help with weight loss.

Let me know if you try any of these recipes! Happy healthy eating!