If you saw my social media last night, you know that I made a big decision (in my little world) to cancel my first show this fall. This was a tough decision for me for many reasons. First off, I am a stickler about commitment. You said you were going to do something, then do it. I am hardest on myself when it comes to this, which is why I think carefully about commitments before I make them. I also planned a nice trip out to Cleveland to visit my best friend (whom I may still go see that weekend if I am progressing accordingly), and I really wanted to spend time with her. Not to mention the hundreds of dollars that I said goodbye to after a “no refund” policy. Competing is EXPENSIVE, and this show, with registration, hair and makeup, tanning and hotel, would have cost me over a thousand dollars. Luckily my makeup artists were kind enough to refund me the $250 for hair and makeup since they know they’ll fill my spot.
I sent a check-in video to my coach yesterday and we both agreed that stress was STILL holding me back from progressing. My lower body was tightening up faster than my upper body which never happens. Stress is held in the mid-section usually. Cortisol signals the body to store fat around the organs where it thinks it needs it. We knew something was still off. It was just yesterday morning that I talked with my husband in the kitchen at 6am before he left for work and told him I’m not going to be ready for October 13th. He gave me a hug and texted me a motivational video and told me to chill out. He reminded me that this was a hobby and it should not be negatively affecting my mental state the way it has recently. Sometimes my brain makes this hobby much more important than it actually is and I lose sight of the fun that it should be. Try competing, and you might find the same.
I knew I made the right decision when I finally listened to my gut and cancelled my first show. The end goal is to win the Yorton Cup. Last year I placed 2nd. If I competed two weeks earlier in a stressed state feeling not ready, I would surely not win on October 27th. The Yorton Cup is my Superbowl, and I’m coming for the number one spot. If you’d like to join me, here is a link to the event details.
It’s 6am and I’m eating my preworkout meal (1 egg, 3 ounces egg whites). It’s time to get dressed and hit the gym. Trust your gut. It’s usually right.
“Mom can you hold these. Daddy will eat them.” My daughter said to me as she handed me her bucket of fries at the County fair this afternoon. Even she knows that fries aren’t part of my plan at the moment.
Lately, I feel like a walking advertisement for what NOT to do in order to live a healthy lifestyle. Restrict your diet and limit yourself to only certain foods. Do excessive cardio each day. Eat much less than your body needs in order to perform efficiently. I hung my head when I entered the gym before 6am this week. Some people are proud that they hit the stair stepper before another cardio session, I tried to get there and get out and hoped that no one saw that I did close to 90 minutes of cardio most mornings. At 4 weeks out, we go from throttle to full throttle, so prep gets very intense. Do as I say NOT as I do.
It’s why I have struggled with this sport this season. What I am doing is not sustainable, recommended, normal or healthy. I was thinking about that as I wrapped up my 60 minutes on the stepper today before heading to the treadmill for 30 minutes of incline walking. It takes a certain kind of crazy person to put themselves through this type of a training to prepare for their sport. I’ve always known I wasn’t totally normal, but this is a little much.
I tell my clients all of the time that the goal when it comes to their fitness is to eat as much as possible while doing as little cardio as possible (even though many of my clients enjoy their weekly spin classes, as do I). If you can find that balance of food and training and still maintain a healthy physique, then you’ve won the jackpot. That’s always my goal in the off season (especially with the food). I’ve already Pinned a number of recipes that I’ll be diving into one prep is over this fall. Sheet pan chicken with figs and bread salad, 4-ingredient apple turnovers with an all-cheddar crust, a butternut squash and pecorino tart with crispy shallots. Can you tell I miss bread? Do as I say not as I do.
27 days out from show 1. I’ll head to Cleveland, Ohio on October 11th to see my best friend and college roommate and compete at the NPC Natural Northern on the 13th. Last year over 75 girls competed in this show (divided into different height classes comprised of 10-15 girls each). This is my warm up show to get the kinks out and to see an old friend. I’d love to get top 5 in my class. Last time I competed in the NPC (National Physique Committee) I got 6th in my class, and 2nd in Masters. I’d love to beat some more 20-year olds this time around.
14 days from that show, I’ll compete in the prestigious OCB Yorton Cup where I placed 2nd last year only two weeks after turning pro in the OCB. I am a pro in that league and an amateur in the NPC. The Yorton Cup is the big show, the one I care most about, and the competition is going to be killer. Many of the women to beat are also mothers in their late thirties, and one looks more amazing than the next. I have become friendly with these women over the past year, and I can’t wait to celebrate with them (and a cupcake) after the show. Amanda, pictured, is not competing this year. She owns an amazing dance studio in Monroe, NC with her husband and they are focused on other goals in 2018.
I do still meal prep like a beast and am extremely efficient with my time, balancing this prep with so many other responsibilities. I guess those are qualities still worthy of emulation. I ate cold shrimp in my car during halftime of the Navy game this weekend and last as I watched the other fans enjoy burgers and chips with a game of corn hole. I cannot remember the last time I attended a normal tailgate, as this is my 3rd fall competing.
I just finished my dinner, a dry green salad with some chicken. Fats and carbs are scarce at this stage of the game. Off to take a bath to distract me from my half empty stomach. Do as I say and not as I do for the next 6 weeks. I don’t want you to emulate my eating or cardio schedule right now. You should not be doing this much cardio. To get stage lean you have to do what I’m doing now, which is why it lasts for a short time. Then bring on the bread.
It’s “Monday Motivation,” a catchy hashtag that social media came up with to get people to post pictures of what motivates them. Right now there are close to 12 million photos on Instagram with the hashtag #mondaymotivation. These photos range from quotes to posed selfies with people making duck faces, meal prep pictures with containers lined up full of food for days, then a random picture of someone’s dog just for kicks.
People tell me that I motivate them. I’ve had random people approach me in public over the past few weeks tell me that they follow me and that I am inspiring to them. I often get emails and texts relaying the same message. They’ve told me I inspire them to get up at 5am to do fasted cardio, to meal prep on a busy weekend, to pack your food when you head out to a social event, and eat it cold in the car. I ate shrimp and cold vegetables in the car this weekend during halftime of the Navy game, when my daughter and I sought out a brief reprieve from the rain. Plan. Prepare. Succeed. To those people I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to send me a message or a note of encouragement. I know I wrote a blog last week about how I almost quit, well let me tell you I have almost quit this prep about a thousand times this summer, and when I was about to give up (due to perceived lack of progress), I thought of these people, some clients, some random followers on my Facebook or Instagram accounts, and I remember that while it is not my job to motivate others all of the time, I do motivate people. And that is a privilege.
I always keep in mind, however, that at the end of the day, no one else wakes up and thinks about MY GOAL each morning but me. My 3-year old wants to know what’s for breakfast, and my husband has already been at work for at least an hour preparing for his next opponent. I am the one who gets on the scale every few days and analyzes the lines in my delts to make sure they are more pronounced than the day before. I am the one who thinks about my shows constantly and “will I be ready” crosses my mind at least a hundred times a day. It’s why I have a constant reminder to myself on the home screen of my iphone, staring at me all day, “Don’t let her down.” I do this for me, but I am glad that as a byproduct it helps you.
Be your own motivation. Don’t do it for your kids. Don’t do it for your spouse. They care but they don’t. You are the person staring at yourself in the mirror each day. Work hard and make you proud. People won’t understand and it’s not your job to make them. Protect your goals because no one’s going to do that for you.
A few spots remain for my Advanced Programming & Nutrition Group which begins next Monday. If you’re looking for a sign, this is it. Take that next step towards a stronger you now. My health is my wealth and today I’m a millionaire. For that I am grateful.
If you had asked me a week ago what the title of this blog would be, it would have read something like, “Why I quit my daydream. My decision to stop competing.”
My daughter and I hit a rough patch in August. We returned from the beach where we spent a lot of time this summer, transitioned her away from her pacifier and my husband went back to work full-time, working from 7am-9:30pm for the first three weeks of August. We were used to this camp schedule which takes place at the beginning of every football season, so we anticipated the change…I thought. My daughter took it hard. “Where’s Daddy?” all day everyday. I took her to his office during this transition, so they could spend 45 minutes together some days when he had a break, but of course that was not enough time with her best buddy. Her behavior became almost unbearable at times, and there were many days I spent crying on the sofa after she had yet another tantrum. I did not know who my child had become. I had never seen her act out like this before. Was my newly 3-year old really a threenager? After many of her episodes, doing my best to hold it together with calm responses but failing often, I would ask her, “Gianna what is WRONG?” Her answer was always the same, “I MISS DADDY.” Finally camp ended, Justin was around a bit more, and her outbursts slowly dissipated. I made a very conscious effort to spend more time playing when I was not working instead of doing mundane tasks like emptying the dishwasher and doing laundry. I also read the book, “The Whole Brain Child” by Dr. Dan Siegel which helped me to understand how her brain was working at this stage of her life. It gave me some strategies to help me respond better during conflict.
During this time, my progress for my shows this fall had stalled. My body was physically changing as I made changes to my diet and training, but my weight would not budge. Some days I would burn over 2500 calories in normal living and exercise (according to my Polar A370 activity tracker), eat only 1400 calories and wake up the next day the same weight or more. This went on for weeks and for the entire month of August my weight fluctuated between 142-144 pounds, never getting lower.
I reached a low point where I laid on the sofa one day with no motivation to do anything. Things I loved to do like training and teaching my spin classes no longer excited me. I knew something was really wrong, and I was pretty sure that cortisol was to blame. “Think of cortisol as nature’s built-in alarm system. It’s your body’s main stress hormone. It works with certain parts of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear.” I knew that stress was preventing me from making progress. I am a big believer in following good orderly direction (no coincidence that the acronym is G.O.D.) in times like these when I’m at a crossroad. Part of me believed that maybe it was time to stop competing. I had already made some significant changes to my body, and I was happy with how I looked, having no desire to lose more weight. I had found a great balance with food after a nice off season, enjoying small treats but rarely going overboard. I felt great. Why did I need to keep going, keep losing, for the stage? But then the other competitive side of me knew I still had unfinished business to attend to before I gave up the sport. I decided to gave it one more week. I hit my favorite yoga class, got a massage, TALKED about my stress instead of bottling it up inside per my usual m.o., and during that same time my daughter’s behavior started to return to normal. I also added an adrenal support supplement to my arsenal of vitamins and got a big boost of food in my diet on Tuesday last week (a refeed day where I got to eat 250g of carbs after a heavy leg day). This past weekend, I woke up at my lowest weight this prep 139 pounds. I had broken through the wall, and more importantly, I felt different inside. I’ve finally found my stride, and I’m ready to move forward over the next 6 weeks to hit my goal weight for my first show.
If you are struggling with your fitness goals, I suggest that you check your stress levels like I did. “It can derail your body’s most important functions. It can also lead to a number of health problems, including: anxiety and depression, headaches, heart disease, memory and concentration problems, problems with digestion, trouble sleeping and weight gain.” (according to WebMD).
Take a moment to laugh, take a walk, talk about what’s going on inside. Let stress go so you can move forward into your goals. That’s what I did, and onward we go.