I have a little pet peeve, and it’s called pretenders. You know those people, when you ask how their day is going, and they say “great!!!” and they are crying inside. Kind of like, when you ask, “How was Disney?” for 7 nights in July, and they say “Sooooo fun!” and you know they are straight lying.
So throughout this bikini prep process, I vowed to myself and to my coach that I would not be a pretender.
The hard part about not being a pretender is that you actually have to tell the truth and to feel uncomfortable feelings, and to say things to yourself and out loud to your husband on the couch during the Next Food Network Star like, “I feel like a failure.” And that is how week 1 felt for me.
So instead of pretending that I absolutely killed it this week, I will just be honest and tell you that it was really, really, really hard. And last night I was questioning everything.
Now the photo you see below is actually me not pretending, because I will tell you that I did absolutely crush it in the gym. I am following a program that my coach created for me called FORTITUDE. It’s no coincidence that the word fortitude means: courage in pain or adversity. The basis of the program is that you lift the same muscle groups each day for 5-6 days in different ways, so that at the end of the week all of the muscle groups are crying.
For instance, maybe on day 1, you do 5 sets of leg extensions – 3 warm up sets and 2 working sets with much heavier weight. One day 3, you do leg extensions again, but this time just one pump set of 30. You are hitting your legs and glutes each day, just at a different intensity. Let’s just say that the end of the week called for a full body massage and some help down the stairs. I loved it. LOVED it. But I am weird like that.
As you know, training your body is only part of this process to get to the stage. You have to train your mind, and you have to eat to perform. Before I started training, I was maintaining my weight at around 2000 calories per day, sometimes closer to 2100 depending on my exercise level that day. So when I got my macros for week 1, I was more than slightly concerned at the 1715 that I was tasked with. I could crush that by meal 4 easy. It was also an adjustment to go from eating 60g of fat per day to around 30g. Much less of all of my favorite fats: avocados, nut butters and red meat. I was determined to give it my best shot. I could NOT fail in week 1, right?! So off I went into the week, burning close to 14,000 just by living and exercising in my normal routine. Not counting things like the afterburn post workout (about 100 calories per day) and my normal life living and chores around the house, carrying Gianna, grocery shopping, etc. So I was burning a total of 16,000 and eating a total of 12,000. It was really hard. I was hungry. I was cranky. I failed. I overate some days. I beat myself up. I didn’t think about quitting, but I really was not sure if I had it in me to keep going.
But I vowed NOT TO PRETEND.
So this morning, I gave it straight to my coach. I didn’t tell him my week was “great!!!!!” because it was anything but great. I was honest. I was open. I was vulnerable. And he told me that the point of week 1 was to see what my body would do – how it would react, and we would all learn from week 1.
The result: MORE FOOD. More carbs. More protein, More fats. Praise the Lord.
I am ready for week 2. More ready than ever.
So when someone asks you how you’re doing today, think of this post. Take off the mask and just be real.
I’m off to crush it.
I’m not one who makes quick decisions.
Wait, let me go back.
I’m not one who makes quick decisions ANYMORE. Rewind to my twenties, and you would have met a Mary who often made quick, sometimes rash, decisions. I’m very grateful to be older and wiser now.
So when it came to thinking about, possibly considering, maybe-one-day, competing in a bikini competition, let me tell you this was one of those decisions that I did not make quickly. The Mary that I am today, in my rational, mature, well-thought-out, decision-making brain, researched the hell out of this idea for months before I made this decision. I stalked strangers on Instagram, asked everyone I knew who has ever competed in a bikini competition about their experience, read countless articles about why competing is the best and worst thing you can ever do, and interviewed several coaches. And at the end of the day, I have decided that I am going to compete.
And I am going to compete for one reason only: because it scares the sh*t out of me.
I am the type of person who likes a challenge. Who needs a challenge. Who likes to have a goal. I function best this way. And when I commit to a goal, I try REALLY really hard to hit it. So not only does making the decision to compete scare me because I have to get on a stage in a terribly dark spray tan, with a very small bikini on and walk in really high heels without falling, it scares me because it’s my new goal. And I really, really want to hit the goal, and the challenge to get to that stage and not totally embarrass myself is a long road that will take extreme discipline and commitment. And all of that wrapped up together (especially the walking on stage in heels), is very scary to me.
Sure you can roll on stage and not have abs and not eat clean 95% of the time and not track your food 98% of the time and not train for months, but the Mary that is going out on that stage is doing all of the above. There will be less dinners out and less chocolate chip cookies and more “sorry I can’t eat that.” And I hate the “sorry I can’t eat that” part because my whole life and diet is based upon the flexible eating program where I CAN eat whatever I want If It Fits MY Macros. But now, I’m going to be “that girl” who can’t eat anything and can’t build in treats all the time, and for me that is uncomfortable. They say, if you want something you’ve never had, then you have to do something you’ve never done. Well, I’m about to do it.
For those of you who do not know much about these types of events, here is an overview.
Below you will see an example of the 4 main divisions featuring the elite of the sport. These women have all won numerous titles and are at the top of their game. From left to right: Bikini division: Ashley Kaltwasser, Figure division: Nicole Wilkins, Fitness division: Adela Garcia, Physique division: Dana Linn Bailey.
1.) Bikini. In this category women are very lean. The judges are looking for a more softer look than that of the other categories (they are not looking for the same muscle mass or definition as that of the fitness, figure or physique competitors). Competitors are judged based on balance, poise and physical appearance, from front and back angles. Think tight and toned.
2.) Figure. Judges are looking for the same type of physique as fitness competitors however there isn’t a fitness routine, only posing. Competitors are judged from all angles and the goal is to have an athletic appearance – wide shoulders with slim hips and thighs. Think conditioned and more a defined physique than that of the bikini class.
3.) Fitness. The goal is to be athletic in appearance and the judges are looking at your shape from different angles. One thing that sets this division aside from the others is that there is a fitness routine set to music where competitors show off their flexibility, gymnastic training, strength and physical fitness.
4.) Physique. In this division competitors are looking at lean muscle mass with very little body fat. Comparisons are made of the athletes (in groups) when they perform poses that show off their muscle definition.
I have decided to focus my training to enter in the bikini division. There are several sub categories within bikini that you can elect to compete in like debut (never competed before), novice (never won 1st place before) and masters (over 35) and you better believe I’m entering all of those sub categories after 22 weeks of “no I can’t eat that.”
I researched coaches. I am not a professional in this area. Frankly, I have no idea what I am doing, so instead of trying to half ass my training, I decided that hiring a coach was the best way to get prepared for this type of competition.
This is my coach. His name is Joe Bender. I think he knows a thing or two about muscles.
I picked Joe to be my coach because he has made it his profession to train men and women to compete in these types of events. He has been training clients for over 12 years, holds three personal training certifications and has been competing himself for 10 years. I also picked Joe because he is going to help me to protect something that is VERY important to me: my metabolism. Joe isn’t going to put me on some 1200 calorie diet for the next 22 weeks (yes training is 22 weeks!). He is going to slowly modify my macros the RIGHT way and after I leave the stage, he is going to slowly help me to reverse diet back to my fighting weight of 132 pounds and 2000 calories per day.
He is going to help me to get lean and super shredded, and I will probably be cursing his name several times a week because my weight training program is fierce and the groupings of exercises, reps and sets are very different that I am used to. More outside of my comfort zone. More fear. More let’s do this!
If you follow me on social media or have taken one of my spin classes at 24 Hour Fitness, you know this about me: I LOVE FOOD. In fact, my motto is: EAT ALL THE FOOD. I educate women on the importance of properly FUELING your body. I debunk the 1200 calorie myth daily. I love pizza and ice cream and I eat everything in moderation. That is why I follow the flexible dieting program called If It Fits Your Macros.
So part of the research that I did during my months of stalking was around the nutrition plan to prepare for the show, how flexible I could be, and how long I would have to train. The physical aspect of this competition will not be as mentally challenging for me as the nutritional aspect. I run to the gym most days, and the idea of a new, crushingly hard, weight training program is so damn exciting to me. However, the idea of a new, less flexible, but still somewhat flexible nutrition plan and new macros (including less fat macros, and I love fat!) was not as exciting. Wait, are you telling me I can’t have THE dessert I want to have every night after dinner?! But I really WANT to eat WHATEVER I want to eat whenever I want it. More uncomfortable feelings.
So after careful thought and lots of research, and then more research, I’ve decided that I want this goal more than I want ice cream every night.
So I’m off to the races. Training starts today. It ends at the end of November. Thanksgiving will be the best meal of my life. Unless I crush this goal. Then I have all of the chicken and brown rice and protein shakes and rice cakes to thank. The taste of satisfaction is pretty sweet too.
Wish me luck.