It’s date night. Dressed up. High heels. Fancy dinner. Lots of hand-holding and endearing moments. Right?
My husband works his tail off, 7 days a week for 8 months of the year, has a more conventional schedule in the spring, and a summer that is flexible with some much needed downtime. During this time in June and July when we have more time together and as a family, we make sure to spend as much time together to reconnect after a long football season. So of course when he mentioned that he wanted to train with me some evening (I SWEAR this was HIS idea), I jumped on the chance and booked it.
We drove to the Colosseum in Columbia, after stopping at Starbucks for our preworkout coffee orders, and met with Joe for a solid 50-minute couples training session. We picked the muscles groups that we wanted to work (me, glutes and hamstrings, of course and Justin, shoulders and chest), and Joe put us to work.
I was PUMPED to set a personal record for 305 pound glute bridges after getting some assistance on the first rep. I was able to push the weight three times and was hoping the workout was over after that first 5 minutes. In the off season this summer while I’m not dieting, I am putting all the extra food to use in the gym. The goal of a “bulking period” is to grow your muscles so that when you lean out during prep and dieting, you reveal some new larger assets. Bulking comes with some extra body fat, and I am currently about 10 pounds over my stage weight and back up to 135 pounds during this time. My eating is flexible and I am loving all of the extra energy (and amazing sleep that I am getting) from my calorie bump.
Joe did a great job keeping us both engaged and working really hard, even though we were both doing completely different workouts. It was a lot of fun, and by the end we were completely spent! This date night was definitely unconventional, but it was something that we will definitely do again soon before Justin heads back to working long hours in August. We squeezed in a post-workout meal too (to refuel those muscles, of course) and shared some endearing moments over chips and salsa (and an enchilada). It’s fun to step outside of your comfort zone in your workouts AND in your relationship! Try it sometime; you’ll be sure to work up a sweat. 😉
Contact Joe to set up your date night at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step outside of your
I’m sorry I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been embracing the lazy lately. Well, not really. I’m still cranking away in my full-time job, enjoying my fitness passion and raising a toddler while my husband finishes up the busiest part of his football season, but when I’m not doing one of those three things, you’ll find me doing a lot LESS than ever.
I’m currently sitting on the sofa at 7pm on a Saturday night while Justin works late and Gianna is fast asleep. I’m enjoying a portable back massager which is really digging into the nooks and crannies that have been really bothering me lately. I’ve got my favorite flannel pajamas on, and I have no idea what I’m eating for dinner. The highlight of my day was teaching my morning spin class and taking Gianna to the park and on our very own “light tour” in the neighborhood. We walked (I walked, she strolled) around bundled up in our down coats and looked at all of the decorations on our neighbors houses. Lots of “oooohs” coming from the stroller below me. I am sure we could have done something more fun on our mother-daughter afternoon together like going to one of the amazing light festivals or Christmas tree farms today, but that would have involved a lot more planning and a lot more stress (even though sometimes in our minds, we don’t picture that part of the adventure), but today I decided that “less” was on the agenda.
I have one of those week-by-week day planners which I love, and at the end of each week when I turn to the next week and there is nothing scheduled, I just smile. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had some fun this month, but on the weekends I do my best to keep most days wide open with no commitments.
I’ve been doing less during the week as well. Every morning when I used to wake up I would immediately make our bed. I think I went a solid 5 YEARS without leaving the house unless the bed was made. I’d go downstairs and after drinking my morning lemon water, I would start unloading the dishwasher. Bang. Bang. Two chores done every morning, without fail. One day I just thought screw it, I’m not making the bed. And guess what, it was OKAY. The world did not end. Life went on as usual. Lately, I haven’t been emptying the dishwasher until well into the afternoon. I have limited time in the morning with Gianna before I have to take her to her babysitter’s house. Did I really want to spend 5 or 10 minutes doing a chore, when I could do it later in the day when she wasn’t home? No. I didn’t.
I’ve been seriously slacking in the kitchen too. I remember when I first started dating my husband, and I would cook these awesome meals every weeknight for him. I remember one night, I made this new Italian Quinoa casserole recipe. It seriously took like an hour of just prep work. He came home from work. We sat down to dinner, and before he even took a bite, I said to him, “Before you comment on this dish, I want you to know it took me AN HOUR to make.” Time is SO VALUABLE to me, so an hour in my world is like $100, easy. Justin, God love him, let me down gently that while it was a great dish, he preferred the 5-minute meatloaf. This month has been a lot more 5-minute meatloaves, taco night(s), and sausages in the slow cooker with a jar of store-bought sauce. It’s been a lot more of, “I’m not cooking. Pick something up for us.” And guess what, that’s OKAY. No one expects gourmet dinners each night, and I am using the time I have on other things, like reading Gianna Elmo books and giving her extra snuggles.
I’ve been saying no to events or commitments that take time away from our family unit. The football season is a stressful and demanding time for our family, so every second that we have together counts. I am very comfortable saying “no,” but I know not everyone is as used to practicing that word. If you’re a people-pleaser or a chronic yes-er, and you need to ease your way into this new way responding, try using a different phrase that gets the same point across.
“That doesn’t work for me.”
“I am fully committed that day.”
“Sorry, I am booked.”
You don’t need to elaborate or explain. “No” is a complete sentence, and so are these phrases. With every no I give, I know that I am saying yes to something that is more important to my core commitments: my family and my mental and physical health.
As a result of doing less, I feel MORE satisfied than ever. I am relaxed on the weekends. I can really recharge my batteries to get prepared for a busy week. I am sleeping better than ever. Many nights I sleep all of the way through the night without waking once, enjoying 8 or 9 hours of sleep each night. This uninterrupted sleep hasn’t happened for me in years. My mind is very clear. I am not always thinking of the next thing I have to do, because I have plenty of time now to do everything. I am at peace. This rest is just what I needed after a busy fall of training and commitments.
When January comes. I’ll be ready to hit it hard again. My next macro group begins on January 9th, the same day that my 12-week prep starts for my next bikini competition which is on April 1st. I know I’ll be better prepared to handle MORE because of this break of doing less. I will still say “no” a fair amount, and I certainly won’t be making anymore quinoa casseroles, but I’m excited to charge forward with exciting new goals and challenges. I hope you’ll join me and put your feet up more this holiday season. Less is the new more.
How many calories do you need to eat each day for your body to work the way it’s supposed to?
1200? 2000? 4000?
The answer is simple. It’s DIFFERENT for everyone. This is the #1 topic that I educate my clients on when I coach them in my macro groups. Proper nutrition. nutrient timing, and EATING for your activity level.
If you’ve ever looked at my social media, you’ve probably thought, “That girl eats a lot!” YES! I love to eat. I know a general range of how many macros (proteins, carbs and fats) I need each day to feel full, satisfied and to maintain my weight.
Let me teach you how to figure out how many calories you should be eating each day. Get out your notepad and pen. Go on. I will wait.
First let’s calculate your BMR. BMR stands for Basal Metabolic Rate, and it’s the amount of energy expended while at rest in a neutrally temperate environment, in the post-absorptive state (meaning that the digestive system is inactive, which requires about twelve hours of fasting). This is important to note because even digesting your food takes energy. Protein specifically takes more effort for your body to digest than carbs, so your body works hard even to do something as simple as digestion. Essentially your BMR is the amount of calories your body NEEDS even if you just laid in bed all day.
BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
Let use an example of Sally who is a 175-pound woman, 5 foot 4 inches tall and is 43 years old. Sally is deemed “obese” based on her height and weight, but we will come back to this later.
Sally’s Example: 655 + (4.35 x 175) + (4.7 x 64) – (4.7 x 43) = a BMR of 1515
Like you, Sally does not lay in bed all day. She is a working mom of two kids. She works all day, runs errands, cleans, feeds her family dinner, bathes her kids and puts them to bed each night. Even at her desk job, she is always on the go, in and out of client meetings. Sally also exercises 4 times a week, taking 2 spin classes and 2 group weight lifting classes.
Sally is following a new diet, where she is eating 1200 calories a day. She’s been following it for a few months now. She is hungry a lot. She started to see results in the first week or so, but now she has plateaued. She is feeling weak, more irritable and tired, and she is craving salty and fatty foods. She is having a very hard time getting through her workouts. This is a sign of metabolic damage.
Sally has a BMR of 1515 if she laid in bed all day, but Sally’s life is very full AND she is an avid exerciser. In reality, Sally should be eating about 1700 calories each day to LOSE weight. Remember that Sally falls into the “obese” category. Many of you may think that she should eat LESS to lose weight, but since Sally is heavy, her body works even harder to perform the simple daily tasks that we all take for granted: walking up the stairs, shopping, cleaning, etc.
It is NOT SALLY’S FAULT that her metabolism is damaged. Perhaps like you, Sally thought that 1200 calories was what she was supposed to be eating. My Fitness Pal, and the article she read in last month’s fashion magazine and her friend’s diet all TOLD HER that 1200 calories was right for her. As a result, Sally has damaged her metabolism because her body THINKS that it is starving. Her body is holding on to all of the food that she is eating, because it thinks that she won’t be eating much anymore.
Does this sound familiar?
Next week, I will address Reverse Dieting and how to restore Sally’s metabolism (and yours) back to health. Please feel free to contact me for any one-on-one help, and I will tell you more about the online support group that will start in January that will help us all get focused for 2017.
It’s kind of like Christmas morning, except you can’t eat those soft, warm pecan rolls straight from the oven. My mouth was literally watering as I wrote that sentence. I guess the second plate of white fish, spinach and asparagus I just had for dinner (repeating the same dish I had for lunch) isn’t satisfying my appetite just right. You wait for Christmas morning all year. You plan and prepare, and IT’S HERE, and it’s so exciting. That’s how peak week feels for me.
133 days of training, with a total of 17 rest days since I began this journey in June. Over 100 hours of weight training. Over 80 hours of cardio. Easily 50 hours of meal prep, planning, logging, weighing, chopping, measuring. Countless declined dinner invitations with the reason, “Sorry, I can only have 1 cheat meal this week.” Several mistakes and falling off track with just as many “You can do this” pep talks that I’ve had to give myself. Self doubt turned to self confidence. “WHY AM I DOING THIS?” turned to “I CAN DO THIS!” I haven’t even tallied the cost, but if you’re thinking of training for a show, set aside a few thousand dollars easy. I’m glad that fitness is my only hobby, because competitive bodybuilding is quite an expensive sport.
All of the hours and the emotions and the money and the excitement, and it’s finally peak week.
When my coach told me today, during our last one-on-one training session at the Colosseum in Columbia, that Tuesday would be my last day of weight training, I was shocked. Mixed emotions. Relief and sadness. The weight training is my favorite part of the journey. I think it is so challenging and rewarding. My last day of cardio will be Wednesday, and Thursday is only for posing. I have built the foundation, and now it was time to show off my hard work. Friday would be devoted to REST, to allow my body flush itself of any remaining built up water. Friday is also when I take my polygraph test. Since I am competing in a “natural” bodybuilding organization, I have to prove that I did not use any growth hormones during my training period. Polygraph tests are actually much cheaper than a urine analysis, which is why all athletes test that way initially. If you end up taking home first place, then they spring for the urine test just to be sure.
On Friday, I will get the infamous spray tan which will make me look like I am a cross between someone who feel asleep on the beach for 3 days too long and an Oompa Loompa. Yes, you HAVE to get the spray tan, and everyone knows it’s not supposed to look natural. It’s supposed to make those hard earned muscles look the best on stage. The spray tan takes about 90 minutes from start to finish and includes 3-5 layers of tan. I will just hold my breath and pretend it’s organic.
I’ve been doing a lot of complaining on social media about my diet over the past two weeks. It has been a struggle to go from my flexible dieting lifestyle of building in a lot of the foods I love to being strictly limited to less than 10 foods over the past two weeks. The purpose of this paired-down diet is to limit myself to foods that my body can easily digest: rice, potatoes, oatmeal, spinach, asparagus, white fish, almonds, avocados and eggs. Yes, that’s it. Oh and the first three are like the smallest servings of carbs you’ve ever seen in your life – about 1/3 a cup of oatmeal and a 1/2 of a sweet potato. That’s not much when you’re still training for at least 90 minutes a day. It has been a struggle going from 2200 calories in June to 1900 calories during most of prep to now less than 1600 calories. Damn, I’m hungry. Thanks for accepting my grumpiness. My husband has taking most of the beating, especially at night when he is “loudly enjoying” his sugary cereal for dessert.
It’s all good today. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. What am I going to do on Sunday when all of this is over? I’m going to spend the whole day with my family. I’m going to put my phone in my room and leave it there all day. I won’t need the My Fitness Pal app to track my food. I won’t need to fill out my weight training log to send it to my coach on Monday. I’m going to a Halloween party at our golf club, and I’ll eat whatever I damn well please. I will cook my favorite foods like pizza (with our homemade dough that had been rising since Saturday afternoon), homemade pop tarts and cookies brought down from Levain Bakery in New York City. I will put my feet up and give my daughter lots of extra kisses.
On Monday, I will be back to the gym, but I’ll train like a “normal person,” not a person who has to get in every single exercise on my training plan. I will still eat healthy 90% of the time but I won’t weigh or track anything for a while. I will just BE. Regardless of how Saturday turns out, I am proud of my accomplishments thus far. This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The balancing act between wife, mom, full-time employee, and bikini competitor has been one that I am not sure I will ever do again.
For now, It’s time to refocus on the present. 6 days out. Time to keep going strong and full speed ahead. Thank you again for your support and kind words. They mean so much to me. I hope you have been inspired to start goal crushing in your life. That is why I document this journey. The good and the bad. The REAL and the always honest. Tomorrow is Monday. What is your goal this week?
It’s no secret that I love treats. I’ve already planned my post-competition, food-fest party which will include everything from Stoney River’s Carrot Cake to Levain Bakery’s double chocolate peanut butter chip cookies, shipped from New York City. I am a self-proclaimed foodie, and even during prep, I try to trick my taste buds into thinking I am having the real deal.
Here are some of the recipes and products that I’ve grown to love and rely on during my 15 weeks of training so far.
1.) Nuts N More Toffee Crunch peanut butter. Not your average nut butter. Nuts ‘N More’s toffee flavor has been a staple in my pantry for many years since I first saw it on Shark Tank. I have tried all of the other flavors, and toffee is still my favorite. It boasts 12g of protein in 1 serving, while regular nut butter has 8g. It also has only 1g of sugar.
2.) SO Delicious CocoWhip! Like cool-whip without the dairy, fake ingredients and GMO’s, the SO Delicious is the perfect topping to just about anything from protein bread to waffles. I store it in the freezer, and scoop just a little out when I need it. Throw a few Guittard chocolate chips on top, and my sweet tooth is satisfied.
3.) I’ve recently gotten completely hooked on MuscleEgg protein egg whites. I have a freezer full of chocolate, pumpkin spice and cake batter flavors. They have a blog full of incredible recipes, including the protein crepes which I made last month which are super low carb and amazing. I was hesitant at first because the shipping is pricey, but now I am a MuscleEgg for life fan. They can also be purchased at some local gyms, so check their website for locations.
4.) FlavorGod seasonings are my go-to spices because they are low sodium and non-GMO. They also come in unique flavors like Taco Tuesday, Spicy Everything, and PIZZA. My favorite sweet seasonings are gingerbread cookie and chocolate donut. I sprinkle them on my protein bread before I bake it or add it to anything that needs a little extra flavor. They are awesome!
5.) I am a big fan of the flapjacked muffins and pancake mixes. I buy them on Amazon for the best price, but they are also sold at Vitamin Shoppe. The Chocolate Peanut Butter muffin tastes like a molten lava cake, and the carrot spice pancake mix is so flavorful. You can also use the pancake mixes to make breads and muffins, so they do double duty.
Speaking of pancakes, I top mine with organic powdered peanut butter (which you add water to and make low fat peanut butter) and Mancakes Syrup, which has less sugar and carbs than real syrup. The ingredients are a little fake, but they are non-GMO, and I use just a tablespoon per serving.
6.) When I need a little something sweet between meals, I use SLAP Nutrition BCAA’s as my drink of choice. I just tried their new “Slappy Hour” Strawberry Mojito which is great if you like a minty flavor. This one also has electrolytes added, so they help to replenish those key components that are lost during my sweaty workouts. Use code MARY for 10% on their website.
Feel free to message me @marydavisfitness on IG for any questions that you may have on these products.
At 9 weeks out, all of the puzzle pieces are starting to come together for my fitness competition on November 19th.
I’ve made all of the muscle gains possible in the 12 weeks of training so far. I have about 2 weeks left of solid training in the gym to make any additional improvements possible in my legs, glutes and shoulders. That’s 14 weeks total of lifting for 6-7 hours a week (close to 100 hours of JUST lifting), 14 weeks of fueling my body in the best possible way with proper nutrient timing (making sure my body gets the correct ratio of carbs and proteins pre and post workout for maximum muscle growth) and 14 weeks of recording every lift, every weight, on an Excel spreadsheet for my coach. 14 weeks of true dedication to training. Check, check, check.
Now that the muscle growing phase is almost over and the bikini is ordered, it’s time to focus on a very important part of my show: posing. You can’t just get up on stage and hope for the best. You have to learn to walk and pose to make sure that you are showing off all of your assets in the best possible way. If you’ve ever seen photos of girls posing on social media, you might be thinking something like, “that doesn’t even look comfortable,” and you’re right. The more uncomfortable and the more twisting, the smaller your waist looks to the judges. In the bikini division, judges look for strong wide shoulders (check), a small waist (working on it) and large, round glutes (better today than 12 weeks ago).
Just how I hired a professional coach to train me for this show, I also hired a professional in Tina Peratino from to teach me to pose. Tina, a.k.a. “Mama T,” is the owner of Center Stage Figures and Physiques. She began competing at the age of 33, after her son was born, and continued to compete for seven years. During that time, she earned pro status in Figure, Bodybuilding and Fitbody (a version of Women’s Physique wearing heels). Shortly after winning her first pro title, Tina decided to retire from competing to pursue her passion for coaching and to focus more attention on her clients.
Tina has a very important role in the coaching world of fitness competitions: she helps women feel confident about themselves on stage. Many women put in so much hard work during their prep on diet and exercise, and they fall short on stage because of their inability to pose and show off all of those training hours.
I was immediately impressed when I first met Tina a few months ago because she, herself, was confident in her teaching ability. She knows what judges are looking for on stage. She knows all of the rules that each bodybuilding association has about everything from posing techniques to bathing suit styles. She knows the “look” that they want to see, and she does her best to teach her clients how to achieve that look. In a way, she is an image consultant.
I met with Tina this week to make sure that I understood the front and back poses that I would need to perfect over the next 9 weeks. I’ll be meeting with her regularly to make sure that every angle looks like I haven’t had any cheat meals over the past 22 weeks. Wink. Wink.
Just like everything that we do that is new, this posing will require a lot of practice. I have my own little theme song picked out when I pose at home: “This is What You Came For” by Calvin Harris and Rihanna. It always makes me smile. Gianna likes it too. She always dances when I play it. She doesn’t care if she looks funny. She doesn’t overthink it. She just moves. Now that I think about it, that little person just taught me another life lesson. Don’t overthink this whole goal. It’s supposed to be a “fun challenge.” At 9 weeks out, I still forget that sometimes when I am measuring out my 150g of white rice for my post workout taco bowl. Things just get more real each week, and I need to stop and remember that it’s okay to not take it so seriously sometimes. So this week, I’m going to continue to strike a pose and have fun while doing it.
I knew exactly what I wanted my wedding dress to look like. Lace, form-fitting, open-back, fancy belt. Tried on 2. 1 was $8000, 1 was $1200. Sold at $1200. Done and done.
I wasn’t one of those girls who had visions of how I wanted my wedding to be before I met my husband. I operated in a very real-time mindset when I was in my 30s. Maybe one day I would meet the love of my life and have a family, or maybe I wouldn’t. I learned early in life that nothing is guaranteed. That’s why I still talk in my spin classes about how we only have the PRESENT. One of my tag lines reminds my class that, “It’s 9:35am on Wednesday. This is ALL we have.” I try to remind them (and myself) to focus on the here and now and not on the grocery list or the after-class to-dos.
So when Justin proposed on a fall evening in October in 2011 in the rented-out second floor of Maria’s Restaurant in Annapolis (now the Iron Rooster, speaking of, I would love a pop tart right now), I was thrilled that I got to spend the rest of my life with my dream guy and plan a wedding.
I’m usually a very decisive person. I rarely ask opinions of people on anything because I am pretty confident in my ability to make good choices. At least I thought. Fast-forward to today, 12 weeks into training for my competition, and picking this bikini has been a true test of my decision making abilities. Even though I have tried to correct my friend Lindsey when she refers to my show as a “pageant,” what I wear when I step on stage in November, is judged just like my physical appearance and stage presence. In many ways, this is much MORE stressful than ever shopping for a wedding dress because my husband would have married me even if I were wearing a potato sack. YES the bikini MATTERS. I cannot even imagine how frustrated and disappointed I would be if my on-stage critique in November was “wrong suit choice.”
There are many factors that I’ve had to consider when narrowing down my suit choice:
- Where to purchase it from? Competition suits START at around $350 for a good quality suit. Like a wedding dress, I’m only wearing this once. Even if I do another show in the future, my reward for another long, grueling prep is a new fancy bikini. I researched a few vendors, but a referral and the power of a strong social media presence led me to Angel Competition Bikinis . They have a ton of options, a decent turnaround time (4 weeks), and my friend had a good experience with them. Sold.
- How exposed should I be? I like big butts and I cannot lie, but how much of my growing glutes should be showcased? The answer really came down to the organization that I would be competing in. I had to choose a show based on my husband’s work schedule. I was NOT going to train for 22 weeks and have him miss my show for work. There is no “calling in sick” in his profession, so I had to find a show on one of his two weekends off this fall. That show falls on November 19th run by the NGA (National Gym Association). The NGA is a bit more conservative than the NPC (National Physique Committee), so while you’ll still be seeing plenty of my glutes in the Brazilian cut, I’ll save that Pro bottom for when I’m not such a newbie
- What color? Probably the most difficult decision of all for me as been suit color. Red, pink, blue, green? I really had no idea. I don’t really WEAR any of those colors on a regular basis, and even when I am wearing them, I’m not wondering how they are looking against my hair or skin tone. I’ve asked a lot of opinions on this one. From friends, family, people I don’t even know that well. It is critically important that I pick a color that goes well with my hair, skin tone and tan (yes, we all know about the tan). This is a BIG decision. I finally settled on a color, but like the wedding dress, you’ll have to wait to see.
Finally, the details. Rhinestone crystals of every color of the rainbow. Top, middle and bottom connectors that are one strong, two strand, square shaped, rounded. Fancy embellished bottoms. The list goes on and on.
It was time to make a decision. Sitting here on Sunday night at less than 10 weeks out, I’ve made it. I picked a suit that I would feel sexy, comfortable and confident in. I picked a suit that would be worth all the skipped dinners out and passing on dessert and would set me back a few spin classes to pay for, but it’s okay. I want to wear this suit once and make myself and my husband proud. This competition is starting to get very real and very close, and I can’t wait to show it off in just a couple of months. Until then, it’s time for meal 6 (and I NEVER skip meal 6).
I thought of a product that I can take to Shark Tank next season that will surely get me a deal from the sharks: a gym bag fanny pack. Once I get to the gym, it takes me a solid 5 minutes after I put my bag down at the lockers to “get ready” to workout.
First I have to take my pre-workout supplements, then I have to wet my heart rate monitor strap at the water fountain before putting it on so my heart rate reads, then I have to put on my watch. Then I have to put on my wireless headphones and make sure they connect to my ipod, turn on my ipod and clip it to my pants somewhere and make sure a good song is playing. Then I need to review my weight training program for the day and make sure I have all of the “tools” I need for those exercises. Then I need to get my shaker bottle, a small towel, my weight book, my “tools,” my phone and actually start my grueling 60-90 minute workout. The fanny pack would seriously help, because I literally need an extra hand to help me get all of my items from one training station to another. Look for me on season 8. I’m hoping to work with Mark Cuban.
This week, I will share with you all of my gym bag essentials with links to everything, so you can order anything that you think might take your workout up a notch. Let me know if you have questions!
1.) luluemon gym bag. This link is not the exact bag that I have, but you cannot go wrong with any of lulu’s bags. There are so many little pockets for all of your essentials. I especially love that they come with an inner bag that is perfect for anything from sweaty post-workout clothes to spin shoes.
2.) An extra pair of crops because sometimes I am just too sweaty for post-workout errands. Right now, the beat the heat crops are my absolute favorites. I have both colors.
4.) my supplements. I take 2 pre-workout supplements: CON-CRET creatine HCL in pineapple flavor and Shred Her by NLA for Her. Creatine has been associated with increased muscle strength and size, enhanced recovery, and improved performance, and those are the reasons that I use it. Shred Her is a natural fat burner and gives me a little burst of energy. While I am working out, and post weights during my cardio sessions, I drink BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) which prevent my body from using my muscle for energy. I have two favorite flavors: Slap Nutrition Salted Caramel (sweetened with Stevia, use code MARY for 10% off) and Her Aminos by NLA for Her for in Pink Lemonade.
5.) Wireless Jaybird X2 headphones and a backup set of headphones because being without music is just terrible. I got my Jaybirds about 6 months ago, and honestly I don’t know how I worked out with regular headphones before. They are so easy to use. My only complaint is that I have to charge them every two days (after about 3 hours of use). I have forgotten many times which is why I always have a backup set with me.
6.) ipod. duh. I always make sure to download a few new songs each week to keep things fresh. There’s nothing worse than a stale playlist. Checkout Soundcloud and Spotify New Music Friday for weekly inspiration.
7.) Chanel lip gloss. No, I’m not kidding. Who says you can’t look cute when you deadlift?
8.) Ankle straps for my one-legged cable kickbacks. My friend Jess thought I was bringing back the 80s one morning when I was rocking my ankle straps, but I informed her that I was just trying to build the booty. My gym doesn’t carry these, and since this is such a great exercise for the glutes, I invested in my own.
9.) My Haulin Hooks for when I’m doing deadlifts or rows. They allow me to lift more weight without worrying about dropping the weight and injuring myself. I love these, and they are essential for my workouts these days.
10.) PhantomFit bands. I use the black x-heavy one which I use to warm up my legs and glutes each day. It is so important to get those glutes warmed up before you start working them. Focus on the mind-muscle connection. Don’t focus on the grocery list.
11.) Possibly the most important thing that I have in my bag is my notebook of weights. I always advise my clients to carry a notebook with them to keep track of what exercises they performed and at what weight. I like a physical book, so that I can disconnect from my phone for an hour and focus on me. This page shows an old booty day that I did a few months ago. I noted my weight and my rest time, and at the bottom of the page, I repeated the same workout and tried to improve. I also like to write little notes to myself. A little pep talk from me to me, because it’s always ME vs. ME in the gym. I am my only competition.
Fitness is my hobby. I like high-quality items that perform well. I don’t want to mess with chords or uncomfortable pants, or anything that gets in the way of me performing at my best. Start to see yourself as an athlete in the gym, not a girl just doing some bicep curls. You are TRAINING. You may not be training for a fitness competition, but you are training to get stronger, to carry 40-pound bags of groceries up your stairs while carrying your toddler. You’re training to carry a tent, a beach chair, and a cooler on the beach without resting. You’re training to make your life easier on a daily basis because you are stronger and healthier. You deserve it. Your health is your greatest essential.
I feel like a broken record at times when I talk about macro counting, because someone asked me just this weekend “if I eat ________.” The answer: YES. Even in prep, NO FOODS ARE OFF LIMITS…yet.
Despite the fact that I CAN eat ANYTHING I want as long as it fits my macros, when I start to explain it to some people and they hear the words “weigh my food,” their eyes start to glaze over. “Suit yourself” I think, as I dip into my nightly dessert.
Let’s review a scenario. You wake up one morning and you go downstairs for breakfast. Today you are having oatmeal. How do you measure your oatmeal? Do you just pour it straight from the bag into the bowl, add water, and heat? If you do, then more power to you. I am sure that is some delicious oatmeal especially if you are winging the water part as well. Can you sense my sarcasm? Maybe you take out a ½ cup measuring cup like most mortals who are not as skilled at eyeballing said oats. You measure ½ a cup, add water, heat and enjoy. Well counting macros is actually easier than that. Put your bowl on a scale. Turn the scale on. It will say 0g. Pour in the oatmeal (no measuring cup needed) until the grams on your scale matches the grams on the serving side of the bag – usually 40-48g. Add water, heat and enjoy.
We are all having the same oatmeal for breakfast.
But instead, people make judgements about macro counting in the same way that I make judgements about people that “eat clean” all the time or who do 7-day juice cleanses.
Let’s review another scenario. Say you REALLY want a burger for dinner. And I’m not talking about that 93% lean crap that I have been eating lately. You want an 80/20 badly. Think 5 Guys. Well maybe not 5 Guys, but close. I think 5 Guys is more like 60/40, and maybe that’s why it’s so damn delicious. Great. As a macro counter you can have it, and it’s not even a cheat meal. It’s not a “BAD FOOD” in our world. It’s just protein and fat. That 6 ounce, 80/20 burger has about 34g of fat. For me, I can’t have that burger because I am only eating 33g of fat each day, but if your “fat macro” is higher than 34g a day (mine was 61g before prep), then you sure can have that burger as long as you make lower fat choices for breakfast and lunch.
Let me repeat. As long as you stay within your macros, no foods are off limits.
I used to see foods as “good” and “bad,” but now I just see foods as the macros that they are made up of:
Pizza: lots of carbs and fat and a little protein
Chocolate Chip Cookies: lots of carbs, fat and sugar
French fries: carbs and fat
Delicious Ruth’s Chris filet: protein and fat
Apple: carbs, fiber and sugar
Popcorn: carbs and fat
Broccoli: carbs and fiber
Now, am I going to crush some chocolate chip cookies everyday? No. Just because they aren’t “bad” doesn’t mean that they make me FEEL good. Before I really started learning more about nutrition, I ate whatever. I did not realize that there is a REASON that a sugary treat gives me a severe sugar hangover after I eat it. I didn’t realize that I was sluggish after a breakfast of pancakes and bacon because when the white flour and sugar is not paired with fiber, your body sets off a series of events that make you feel like you got run over by a train by the drive home from brunch.
Now that I understand that my body feels like crap after a lot of white flour, white sugar and a heaping bowl of dairy, I choose them a lot less. Yes you will still find me at the Iron Rooster eating a pop tart on occasion, but I usually eat a few bites for breakfast after my egg white omelette (protein) and fibrous carbs (oatmeal).
So what do I eat? Well, 90% of my diet is “clean” because when I eat clean I feel better. Lots of lean meats, veggies and minimal fruit. You can refer to my old post about my phase one prep diet here. I LIKE good for you food. I crave salads. I love treating my body well, because it takes such good care of me each day. I put it through grueling workouts 6 days a week, so I HAVE to use food as fuel or I won’t be able to perform.
Macro counting takes practices. Luckily technology is very sophisticated these days, and there are several tracking apps that make it very easy to record our food. My Fitness Pal has a bar code scanner feature that allows you to easily scan anything you eat that comes in a package. For things that don’t come in a package, like fruit, vegetables and meats, those foods are already populated, and all you have to do is search for them in a large directory. You can even import recipes from your favorite food blogger and search your favorite restaurants for their nutritional information.
The biggest learning curve for most people is the education around what macros make up certain foods. Many people think they are eating a lot of protein when they are eating cheese and nuts, when really they are eating a lot of fat and a little protein.
Macro counting is a high protein way of life. During prep, I am eating close to 200g of protein each day. My diet is made up of egg whites, chicken, ground turkey burgers, protein bread and protein powder. I also get to eat a LOT of carbs, close to 230g to be exact. That’s the equivalent of 20 slices of BREAD. Yes, BREAD! No grain-free lifestyle going on here. Pass the toast and jelly please. My fats are a bit lower than I’m used to, but I can still have 4 tablespoons of peanut butter a day if I really wanted. Peanut butter is my love language. Well, that and pizza.
Does everyday of my life fit my macros? In my normal life, no. I usually take a break from counting from time to time. During prep, I am on point, with usually one treat meal per week that doesn’t fit.
So before you go rolling your eyes about my gram scale, think about how you can eat whatever you want as long as it fits. I literally wake up every morning and plug in my dessert before I get out of bed. I am a night eater, and I cannot go to bed HANGRY. Think about how you can enjoy a slice of pizza and some cake WITHOUT the guilt. That is the biggest selling point of IIFYM and why the women I coach in this lifestyle have so much success on the program. NO GUILT. We are so hard on ourselves in so many areas of our life, that it’s nice to be more relaxed about food. My next macro coaching group starts in a few weeks if you’re interested in learning more about this lifestyle. I hope you’ll open your mind up to the idea of abs and pizza together in a beautiful harmony. I promise you that once you get a taste of the flexible dieting life, you’ll get hooked. Pass the bread basket.
I feel like I have so much to write about this week. Some weeks I struggle for the perfect topic for this post, and some weeks they come right to me. This week, so much happened that I feel like I have to narrow down the events. Instead, I will just tell you about it all, and you can just skim over the boring parts.
1.) I was hangry, a lot.
2.) I trained with Joe and he kicked my ass.
3.) A lady asked me to take my shirt off in the middle of the gym. She was serious. I obeyed.
4.) I had to do some soul searching and choose between two paths.
5.) Sunday morning, I drove to Columbia, for my very first posing practice. Check out my IG page @marydavisfitness for a video.
What would you like to hear most about?
You probably don’t care that I was hangry (hungry + angry). Deal with it, right Mary? In the past few weeks when I have been hungry and haven’t had any food left that I was “allowed to eat” for the day, I still ate anyways. Some days I was over my allotted calories by 200. Those days, I taught spin usually, and my metabolism was just ripping through my food so quickly. This week a light switch flipped in my head when a trainer at my gym, Kelly, said, “You can’t do that during prep.” She probably has no idea that it was because of her comment that the switch flipped. Kelly happens to be the girlfriend of my coach Joe. She has competed in the past and, like Joe, she is super dedicated. The words just stuck in my brain. “YOU CAN’T DO THAT DURING PREP.” She was right. I am training for a COMPETITION. We are now into 15 weeks. Shy of 4 months. It may seem like a long way away still, but it’s really not. 15 weeks will be here in the blink of an eye.
So when I was hungry on Monday and Tuesday nights, I just dealt with it. It was hard and uncomfortable, and I always tried to remember that I could eat more food tomorrow. I had another 1900+ calories waiting for me. I gave this feedback to Joe, and we are trying something this week to see if my hunger subsides a bit during my spin/lift days. We will see. I have to remember that if it were easy, everyone would do it. I posted the picture on the left on my Snapchat (MaryGoNavy) one morning this week after a very hangry night. If you are not following me on Snapchat, please do. I post a ton of content there.
I went back to the Colosseum on Thursday afternoon, and my coach had me try some new lifts that completely crushed me. I did front squats for the first time. We used the Smith Machine for them to ensure proper form, and I did two warm up sets of 15 reps and 2 working sets. Joe had me lift the heaviest weight that I could (95#) for 4 reps, rest for 10 seconds, repeat for a total of 6 times. 24 reps at 95#, and at the end a lot of struggling and breathlessness. My heart rate got higher than I’ve ever seen it during a weight lifting session: 165. I repeated that 4×6 an additional time, and I knew I would be feeling it the next day, and the day after. I also did Sissy Squats for the first time and a new shoulder exercise which left me sore driving home from the session. I cannot wait to incorporate these into my routine this week.
The feedback that I am getting from Joe and others is that the muscle gains over my six weeks of training are very visible. My shoulders are larger and rounder, my arms are tighter. My legs and glutes have more shape, and my waist is smaller. I have lost almost an inch there. That is all great news, however in the bikini division that I plan to compete in, that might NOT be what the judges want to see. In the bikini division, they look for big shoulders, big glutes but a soft and sexy everything else. In the figure division, the judges look for a more muscular and athletic appearance.
At the end of my training session, Nikki, a well-known trainer at the Colosseum asked me to take my shirt off so she could see my upper body and back. The feedback: uncertainty…which leads to the title of this post. Am I trying to be something that I’m not?
Am I trying to be strong and sexy when I’m really just strong and athletic? Am I trying to fit into a division that I really DON’T fit into? Am I really a figure girl?
So for the rest of the week, this is what consumed my mind. I want to WIN a trophy. I want to place. I don’t want to train for 22 weeks, and walk off stage with nothing. My coach wants to coach someone who leaves with a trophy. We have the SAME goals.
On Saturday, I went with my family to Fan Fest at Navy Stadium. My husband is a football coach, and he has been working very long hours lately. This was a great way to spend some time with him and support Navy Football. A women approached me and asked me if I competed and to list the supplements I take. I was taken aback by her comment, and I started to feel self conscious for the rest of the day. I looked at photos of myself from that day, and I noticed my larger shoulders, my bicep vein and the muscles in my chest. I am not sure that I want my shoulders any larger or my veins any more prominent. I don’t want to cross the line of femininity. When is big enough, big enough?
I went to posing practice on Sunday for the first time. I needed to see with my own eyes other figure girls and other bikini girls. I sat there and watched these tall, strong women of all races and ages strut there stuff in the middle of a gym. I look at the demeanor and the poses of each division. I took in the personalities of each division. I sat there watching. I was thinking that my body fit in better in figure. I looked more like the figure girls. They were more athletic. They looked like me, well except for the tattoos everywhere. I was sad. I didn’t know where I really belonged. Finally, I walked up to the clinic coach, and I told her that I wasn’t sure where I fit in.
She asked me a simple question, “What do you LIKE better?” She told me that this was about HAVING FUN and that I had to choose the division that would allow me to have the most fun. The division that excited me the most. Fun. I forgot about fun. For the past 6 weeks, I have been very serious. I take my training very seriously. I enjoy my rest days, but when I am training it is tunnel vision at times.
So I strutted my stuff over to the bikini girls. I put a little swagger in my step, practiced my walk and my quarter turn and smiled a lot. Bikini is where I fit in even if my body doesn’t fit in. Maybe the judges will say that I am too shredded for their soft look. Maybe I won’t place because my biceps are too big, but damn it, I’m working way too hard not to follow my heart and have some FUN while doing it.
So it’s time to be more of a bikini girl. More dresses. More high heels. More date nights. Speaking of, my husband is home from his 14 hour work day, so it’s time to go. Don’t think for a second that just because I’m having fun now doesn’t mean I’m not a competitor. The switch is flipped. Watch out ladies, on November 19th, I’m coming for that trophy.
Have a great week, and don’t forget to have some FUN too.