Archive for October 2017

Why Eating Like a Bikini Competitor isn't (all) that Bad

19 pounds. That is how much weight I have lost since I started this prep in July. It sounds like a LOT, and frankly it is a lot. In all honestly, I am not comfortable being this lean. I went to my husband’s Navy Football game yesterday and wore a 3/4 sleeved shirt because I’m a little embarrassed at how vascular I have become. Borderline freak show. My body does not want to be 123 pounds and neither does my mind. I prefer a much more flexible lifestyle, more curves, and for goodness sake, I miss BREAD like you have no idea.

But for the purposes of going pro and bringing an even more competitive package to the stage in 6 days, I’ll stay the course for a bit longer. Beginning on the Monday after this show on the 28th, I will begin a very slow reverse diet in order to bring my weight back up to a more comfortable place at around 132 pounds. Stage weight isn’t maintainable (nor do I find it very attractive on me for everyday life), and if I want to keep improving my physique and growing my muscles, I need to eat more to fuel that performance. Bring on the carbs!

While my diet has shrunken down to about 1200-1400 calories a day, as opposed to my usual 2200 calories, I do admit that while there are afternoon bouts of low energy, I feel great overall when I eat a diet of 100% clean foods. On the menu most days are egg whites, oatmeal, almonds, a wide array of lean meats, and a lot of green vegetables. I get a little wild some days with hot peppers and flavored mustard. Boring, but it gets the job done.

Here are my best cooking tips for making the most out of a diet that may seem bland but PROVES to work!

Vegetables:

I buy most of my vegetables frozen. My favorites are broccoli, green beans, and edamame. Frozen produce is picked at the peak of freshness and flash frozen to retain all the fiber and antioxidants that support a bodybuilders muscle-development needs. For fresh veggies, I choose spinach, arugula, kale and asparagus. I like to roast my asparagus on a large baking sheet lined with organic canola oil spray. Then I spray the tops of the asparagus lightly, and sprinkle on plenty of salt and pepper. I roast them at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Be careful not to overcook asparagus. You want them to be slightly soft with a little crunch.

Proteins:

Egg whites from a carton are always on hand in my fridge. Organic liquid egg whites are not cheap, at $5 a pint from Whole Foods, but in the end, I prefer to eat the best quality food possible and save money else ware. Make sure that you purchase egg whites and NOT egg beaters or egg substitute. There should just be one ingredient on the label: egg whites. I love to add salt and cinnamon to egg whites, and when I am allowed oatmeal, I mix it all together (after cooking both separately) for a hearty, sweet bowl of goodness.

I buy organic chicken breasts as my main source of white meat and cook them in the oven covered with plenty of Flavor God seasoning. My favorite flavors are Pizza, Taco Tuesday, Spicy Everything and Buffalo. Then I pour a small amount of chicken broth at the bottom and cover the dish with aluminium foil. I bake the chicken at 400 degree for about 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees. After it cools slightly, I cut it into slices and store it in the fridge for easy access. I do not reheat the chicken when I eat it after it is cooled because it can get very rubbery. I prefer cold chicken which retains a moist consistency.

When it comes to fish, my two favorites are cod and shrimp. I love salmon as well, but the last few weeks my fats have been coming from only almonds, and salmon can pack a whopping 14g of fat for a 4 ounce filet. I buy the cod and the shrimp frozen for ease of storage and cost-savings. For the cod, I spray a casserole dish and lay 6 filets (yes, 6, which I will eat over 2 days) inside, once again covered with Flavor God seasonings and some added lemon juice. I cook cod at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the center is flaky. Do not overcook. You can reheat the fish the next day (or later that day) but I would suggest 30 seconds max in the microwave as to not overcook it.

I cook shrimp on the stove top in a frying pan. Spray oil, Flavor God seasonings, some crushed red pepper – whatever you enjoy! Cook the shrimp on medium heat for about 3 minutes, then flip each piece and cook for about 2-3 minutes more. The key with cooking any meat is NOT to overcook it. Reheat or enjoy cold.

Steak is a rare treat for a bodybuilder at the end of prep, so I typically buy the finest filet I can find from Whole Foods and prepare it in a cast iron skillet with butter and plenty of salt and pepper. I typically eat steak the night before a show, and it’s such a special treat. It’s also always my post show celebratory meal, alongside a crab cake and plenty of bread and butter.

Carbs:

I can’t even remember what a carb tastes like. Just kidding. But besides oatmeal, I haven’t had a potato in about a month, and the only other carbs come from green vegetables and the (very) occasional rice cake. When I am eating potatoes, I slice them into quarters, lay them on a baking sheet, spray with oil and top with plenty of salt and cinnamon (for sweet potatoes). Chili powder and a little cayenne pepper are great too. It’s all about flavor preference, so get creative!

If you’re not much of a cook, then I hope that these simple tips have helped you to see that cooking really isn’t that complicated or time consuming. Simple foods (with spice) are the best way to achieve a lean physique. Have a great week, and take some time to meal prep so you’re always prepared when hunger strikes.

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The Day I Won My Pro Card

I cried on the way home from my show this weekend. In the passenger seat next to me was a takeout bag from Stoney River filled with a bread basket, 10 ounce steak, crabcake, and the most enormous piece of carrot cake known to man. I was driving over the South River bridge when it all hit me. All of the work, all of the sacrifice, all of the restriction, and today I had won, beating 8 other competitors to achieve a professional status. I thought of my Dad and how proud he probably was as I looked over the water at the late afternoon sky. I thought of the discipline that it took to achieve this status when I stepped on stage earlier that day with complete confidence that I looked the best I ever have – as a 36-year old mom. I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude, and I thank God everyday that I am healthy enough to set out and achieve these big goals.

What does a Pro Card mean? Many people asked me at 24 Hour Fitness when they stopped to congratulate me yesterday at the gym before my spin class. A pro card means that from now on, I will compete against other pros, and if I place top 3 overall, I can win some prize money. It does not mean that I am quitting my job to train full-time or that I will compete more frequently than I already do. Two shows in the fall and two shows in the spring is the perfect schedule for me and my family. It leaves me “off” over the holidays and the summer when we enjoy some downtime and some good food. And Lord knows I love good food.

Show day started off with a breakfast of shrimp and a rice cake. At the end of the week leading up to a show, you slowly start to add carbs back into the body, after depleating it of carbs over the past several weeks to achieve the lean look, when you add them back (along with salt) you pump up the muscles and fill them out. This is a slow and delicate process because if you add too many, then the water from them may spill out from the muscles and make you look watery and bloated on stage. My coach is an expert at this, which is why I hired him over 14 months ago when I started this journey. I got to the venue around 8:45am and the primping began, Hair, nails, and another coat of that infamously dark spray tan. Everything came together beautifully. Reena Willis-Davis did my makeup for this show, and she knocked it out of the park. I wanted browns and pinks, my signature makeup palate. She crushed it, and I loved my look.

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My coach was backstage with me for this show to give me some extra pointers and advice and to see first-hand how the carbs and salt were affecting my physique. Hour by hour my body started to change based on how much salt I added to my shrimp and how much honey was on my rice cake. We were both very pleased with the changes. It was time to hit the stage, and after a little shoulder, glute and hamstring pump up with some bands, I was ready. I walked on stage against 8 other women, and I felt amazing. The judges moved me to the #1 marker in the middle where I stayed for all of judging. That did not guarantee that I was first. You don’t find out for sure until finals, but I was confident that I placed well. I saw my friends and family in the audience, hooting and hollering! I was so grateful that they were there: my mom, sisters, and several friends from the gym. The only missing guests were Justin and Gianna. Justin was trying to win his own competition that day against Memphis in his Navy Football away game, but he was able to FaceTime during the judging to see me on stage.

After judging, I relaxed in the audience to spend time with my family. There was a 45-minute break before the 1-minute stage presentations began. After the break, I went back on stage to pose during my chosen song “Millionaire” by Cash Cash, a song that I picked because my personal motto is that I feel like a millionaire each day because I am healthy. It was the least rehearsed t-walk that I had performed out of my 4 career shows. I focused on having fun and being less technical. I think it showed.

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When I was backstage for finals, I started to think about my journey over the past 12-weeks. I love this part of my story because the journey was filled with struggle. As I’ve written about before, my off-season weight got to an all-time high for me, and I was very uncomfortable in my skin during the start of prep. Weighing in at 142 pounds, I shed 18 pounds (a lot in water weight) in order to prepare for this show. It would have been much easier to prepare for the day if I had less weight to lose, but that in fact is what made winning even more sweet, the struggle. When my name was called as “the 1st place winner and newest OCB bikini pro,” I was elated. Every 5am wake up call, hour in the gym, hour in the kitchen meal prepping, and ounce of white fish eaten was worth it. All for the accomplishment of this goal, only 1 year into beginning the sport.

But the celebrating is over. As my husband stated in his morning love note to me yesterday, “Amateurs continue to celebrate. Professionals get back to work.” On October 28th, I will be making my pro debut at the largest pro show in the country in Upper Marlboro at the Yorton Cup. The competition will be fierce. So here in my kitchen at 6am today, it’s time to close my computer and get my gym clothes on, because fasted cardio awaits. There’s more white fish to eat and no more bread for 2 more weeks. I’ll train harder this week and next than ever for a chance to place well in this prestigious show. Have a great day, and thanks for your continued support.

Bikini Prep – Peak Week – Progress and Change

I don’t have much to say this week other than I feel amazing.

I had my last training session this week with my coach, Joe, at the Colosseum in Columbia. A light upper body day with some posing. We talked about our game plan for this week’s diet (when to drop sodium and carb load). Peak week is very scientific, so everything from the amount of salt on my fish to the ounces of water I drink on Friday and Saturday is specific and calculated to produce a certain result, a super tight stage physique on show day. I got the stamp of approval from him and left feeling more ready than ever for Saturday. I also got to see my spring competition photos which are now on the walls of this famous local powerhouse gym.

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This morning I was reviewing my blog post from my peak week this past spring, which was titled “A Rollercoaster of Emotions,” and I smiled because there in the title showed my progress from last show to this one. I feel like I am on the opposite of a rollercoaster today, more like a steady slow train, on a track that is not veering off to anywhere but its final stop: show day. In these past 4 weeks, my energy level has been extremely high and my mood very stable. This is surprising to me considering that my daily diet consists of mostly protein, green vegetables, almonds, and the smallest bowl of oatmeal that you’ve ever seen. Running on 1200 calories a day and burning between 2000-2500, I should be feeling much worse. But I’m not. I’ve actually never felt better. Despite my toddler interrupting my sleep earlier this week, I’ve been sleeping better as well which is paramount to this stage in the game. Reduce stress, rest, recharge.

Besides my physical progress, my mental progress is even more noteworthy. I had one weak moment this past weekend where I really wanted a bite of my husband’s Mission BBQ pulled pork. I miss meat, having lived on fish alone for the past 2 weeks as my primary source of protein right now. Until that moment, I had not even the desire for food outside of my strict diet. I don’t even have a big indulgence planned for Saturday night after the event. Carrot cake is usually my go-to from Stoney River, but I’ve gone without sugar for so long, that I know a few bites will make me feel awful, and I like feeling good.

The point in sharing all of this you is to remind you to look back at your progress from time to time. Mine is documented in pictures and blogs to remind me, so it is very easy to see. There are many ways to measure progress: numbers, pictures, feelings. Progress can be found in many things in many ways.

Progress is much more than a number on a scale.

Progress is much more than a number on a scale.

Progress is much more than a number on a scale.

Thank you for following my journey this fall. I am incredibly grateful for your support. If you would like to attend on Saturday, you can find the details for my show here on the Official OCB page. Off to rest and relax. The heavy lifting is done, and now it’s time to enjoy the moment.

Bikini Prep – 2 Weeks Out – On the Right Path

Do you ever get that feeling that you’re on the right path? It hit me this morning when I was at the gym at 6am, getting in my workout before my family woke up. I checked my phone between sets of shoulder exercises and I got a message from a client who had recently hit a weight loss milestone. Then I thought back to all of the other messages I had received over the past several weeks from clients that were now “fitting into clothes that were too tight this summer,” “wearing two of their pre-pregnancy tops” and “losing weight while eating more food than ever before.”

I actually starting to tear up right there. I became overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude. I don’t speak of God too much in these posts, but I felt that he was right there with me saying, this is your path. I felt His warmth and guidance and presence. Whenever I get these messages of gratitude from these women, they usually end with a phrase thanking me for their success. I am always the first to respond to my clients that I did nothing. I am teaching them something that was taught to me, and THEY are doing all of the heavy lifting (so to speak). While many of my programs do offer a weight lifting plan, the bulk of my coaching is helping women to develop a better relationship with food, and that is where my gift truly lies. I have been putting one foot in front of the other for many years on this path, and it has led me to where I am today, with a gift for helping and motivating others. It gives me so much joy. I believe we all have these gifts and paths that we are destined to follow.

My sister, for example, is in the home healthcare field. She works with elderly patients who need special care and attention. She has so much patience and is so kind, and she is constantly praised for her work. She is on her path. My friend Amanda has a knack for event planning, specifically tailgates and special events (see photo below and on Instagram). She spends almost an entire year brainstorming for her kids’ birthday parties, and when their day finally arrives, you better believe that all of the invited guests RSVP yes. She is on her path.

FullSizeRender (9)Just as the right path is clear today, the wrong paths in life are also clear. Sometimes we just refuse to acknowledge or accept them. We deny them. We cope with them by being overly busy, or eating too much, or shopping online. If we only listened to the voice that guided us a bit more often, we might relieve ourselves of some pain and suffering.

With 13 days left until my first bikini competition this fall, the path down the bodybuilding road also feels like the right path for now. People always ask me what the end goal is, and I don’t really have one. Let’s be serious, I am 36-years old. Many women start this journey in their early twenties. Right now the end goal is to win my competition in 2 weeks, and earn my pro card. That’s as far as I look ahead. To what’s next. Not what’s next, then next, then next. Right now, this is my path.

Bodybuilding has taught me so many lessons. Trust the process. Be patient. Be patient. Be PATIENT. Winning takes sacrifice. Remember what’s most important in life. And it’s not bodybuilding. With each show, I choose to suffer more, because I want to obtain more. My last 2 preps, for instance, I chose a once a week “cheat meal” or refeed meal (calorie surplus meal) as a night out to my favorite steakhouse. I also would have occasional dark chocolate in the weeks leading up to the shows. That was all I was willing to suffer at that time, 6 days a week. This prep, my refeed meals have been 6-8 extra rice cakes a day. And there’s been no chocolate in this house for weeks. Fun, right? But this show I want more. So I choose to suffer more. As a result, my physique is better and I have experienced tremendous mental growth from this process. I know that no matter what happens in 13 days, I gave it my all.

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Each show, I have to perform a 1-minute stage presentation where I choose a song and show off my hard work with a serious of choreographed poses on stage. This year’s song was a no-brainer, “Millionaire” by Cash Cash ft. Nelly. Certainly not for the context of the provocative words, but for the beat and to represent my personal motto: “My health is my wealth.” Everyday I wake up feeling like a millionaire because I am healthy. It is one of the blessings that I am most grateful for in life.

This prep, I have spent less time away from my family at the gym and at the grocery store, and more time getting up really, really early to achieve my goals. My little girl is growing up way too fast, and she couldn’t care less if Mommy had a 6-pack. She does, however, like to practice posing and show off her muscles. She doesn’t understand why I reluctantly give her a bite of my egg whites when she has a plate of something I’d much rather be eating. Maybe if I’m still doing this when she’s old enough to remember one my competitions, she’ll understand a little more.

I will continue to listen to the little voice that guides me down my path, and I will veer off and take a new direction when I am guided. We all have unique and special gifts, and I feel that we honor our lives by using them for good and to help others. Cheers to everyone today on the right path, and for those of you who are struggling, may you find the courage to listen to that voice and make a change.