My competition season this year is best summed up by the phrase: 2nd Place. Regardless of my two 2nd Place rankings this year, the first one in my height class of 12 women at the Yorton Cup and the second from this past weekend in the Masters Over 35 division, I feel like I won as I enter the off season this time.
See the difference is that this year I cheated. I’ve been waiting to tell you this so that you didn’t judge me down when I got on stage, but it’s finally time I spilled the beans. I cheated, and I don’t regret it, AT ALL. I know that there would be some consequences to cheating and that my physique might not look as good this time, but to me, it was worth it. No I didn’t take HGH hormone or a performance enhancing drug. I didn’t befriend a judge on the panel. I ate some of my daughter’s peanut butter and jelly at times when she was done with it and it was about to hit the trash can. I had a cookie once a week or so when I really wanted it. I made my husband a new recipe for dinner and I had a couple of bites, even the lasagna (and damn that was good). I cheated on my diet. I made an intentional decision this year to cheat to protect my mental state and to attempt to achieve balance in a sport that demands extremes. There’s a quote that I read this year that stated, “You can’t be both elite and balanced.” We’ll this season, I wasn’t elite, but balance was of paramount importance to me.
See here’s what you don’t see when my competition season ends. The reverse dieting battle that I face post show is about a thousand times more difficult than prep. When you diet for 3-4 months and couple that with additional cardio sessions, your body gets stressed. I am not sure what my body fat is today, but my guess is around 14%, having started this season at 21%. When the show ends and I am “out of food prison” as I typically call it, I struggle with eating clean versus eating all the foods I’ve missed during my training season. Simple things like BREAD are a no-go when you’re trying to drop 20+ pounds in 12 weeks. I have failed at reverse dieting twice. As a former anorexic and bulimic in high school and a few years in college, sometimes my desire to control my food leaves me out of control. When I stepped off stage in May of 2017, I weighed 124 pounds. Two months later on my 5 year wedding anniversary trip to Vegas, I was up to 142 pounds. IN TWO MONTHS. I thought I learned my lesson. Went back into prep that August, won my pro card at 121 pounds, stepped off stage and was back up to 141 pounds by January, AGAIN. Another 20. I am not shaming myself or my body at that weight. Quite frankly, it didn’t bother me this off season at all. I was able to lift a lot and my energy was fantastic, but getting up to my top weight of 146 this year, I made a mental promise to myself not to let it happen again.
I’ve got very good at embracing the grey this past off season. It a phrase that I teach to the women I coach in my private groups. It’s about being okay with not being perfect, and that attempting perfectionism only backfires on us into a pattern of unhealthy eating and endless vows to “get back on track” by Monday. It took a lot of practice, but I now embrace this mentality. I can eat 1 cookie, even a half a cookie and get right back on track that same day without seeing that detour as that I “cheated” on my diet. It’s why I have been a macro counter for years. It works for me. My husband’s birthday cake, a week out from my last show? Yep, I ate some on Sunday and on Tuesday last week. Did it affect my physique? Not sure. Maybe I would have gotten first if I hadn’t but at the end of my show this past weekend, I wasn’t shoving donuts, candy and cake in my mouth like some of the other girls backstage. I drove to Cava in Alexandria for a big salad with lamb meatballs, and of course had some corn bread.
I started my reverse diet yesterday with a whole new outlook. I don’t have urges for any forbidden foods. I’ve already had them all this time around. It’s still going to be hard as hell as I slowly introduce calories and my metabolism revs up telling me to eat more. I have to slowly eat more and I cannot revert to my normal 2000+ calories a day right away. But I have set myself up for success with a new reverse dieting coach and a completely different mindset this time. Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to “embrace the grey” too. Practice moderation not perfection. Perfection is a defect, not an asset and life is too short to live without chocolate chip cookies once in a while. I cheated this competition season, and I don’t regret it one bit. Maybe you’ll allow yourself some cheats to as you heads forward into your goals. They may set you back a little, but life isn’t a race to the finish line of fitness, it’s enjoying the journey along the way.
My husband forgot I was competing this month. He turned to me in the car yesterday and said, “You’ve been completely different this time around.” In my brain, I jumped for joy. I think I did a little car dance as well. My goal in each of my preps is to always be sure that my sport does not affect my family. Bodybuilders are typically the extreme type, maybe that’s why I was drawn to this sport in the first place. As a former control freak and perfectionist, I used to like the idea of measuring food in grams and ounces and controlling everything I ate, but as I evolve in the sport I have become more flexible and less of a neurotic mess. I’ve also realized that while my husband supports me he really doesn’t give a crap all at the same time. Except on show day, when he’s all in. Then he’s my biggest fan, even if it is on FaceTime when he’s in another city for his own competition. So while I have a calendar taped on the fridge which counts down to the big day, I’m otherwise pretty quiet on the subject in our home.
My brain hasn’t forgotten that I’m 11 days out though. I write this post at 3:42am from my kitchen table. Last night was one of those nights where I couldn’t sleep, so I might as well get my cardio in and head to the gym soon. The Yorton Cup is only 10 workouts away. This year there will be more girls, perhaps three classes of pro bikini girls this time; there were only two classes last year. Up to 30 women, shredded hard-working 20 somethings and even better looking 30 and 40 somethings with many years under their belt building muscle. Some of the competitors I know from social media, some are sleepers and will just show up on show day and rock the stage. You never know who your competition will be until the official roster is released on Wednesday of next week. Regardless, I have already won. I met with my coach yesterday and he saw me in my itty bitty sparkly bikini for the first time in person (I usually send him photos or videos), and he said “damn girl, either your waist has gotten smaller or your booty is that much bigger.” Boom. Stamp of approval. 9 months. 144 days of lower body lifts went into building that booty. 11 weeks of dieting so far went into shedding the fat so you can see the roundness of the muscle and the hip indent. Hard ass work. I am one proud woman.
I’ll step on stage in October 27th and enter the subjective competition of bodybuilding. The winner determined by the thoughts and opinions of 8-10 impartial judges and who they think looks best. I have one job that day, be my best self. As always, thanks for your support and words of encouragement. Head down and go till the big day.
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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.
It’s 4am. Why the hell am I awake?
I thought the same thing at 3:24am when my eyes opened up and my daughter was in bed beside me. I faintly remember her crying earlier in the evening, but my husband took over because he knew I’d had enough. Sitting on the couch before bed, nearly in tears with the frustrations of a toddler that just won’t go to sleep, he handled bedtime for the second night in a row. My newly three year old is adjusting to a life without her pacifier, and she’s struggling hard. So we’re struggling hard. My friend recently asked me if it “gets easier” when she told me about her challenges with her one and a half year old, and I said, no. It just gets different, hard. One minute a random “I love you Mommy” with a big bear hug and the next the sound of whining that makes the hair on your neck stand up. That’s life with a toddler.
I hesitate writing down any of this because you may be reading this right now, desperately wishing you were pregnant. Trying everything you can in order to have a baby of your own and this jackass (me) is complaining. You may have lost a child or have one that is sick and you’re rolling your eyes wishing that your child was as healthy as mine. I get that. It’s why I usually never negatively post or comment about my own. Because I feel for you, and I know that I’m Blessed. Beyond words.
But if I pretended that it was always easy with my photos of her dancing on the beach with huge grins on her face each day, I would always be showing you my highlight reel not my 100% true life. My husband returns to late nights and long hours later this week, and I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel when this happens, because when it does, she is exponentially easier to put to bed. I think she knows she’s going to see him less so she’s milking every last second of Daddy time that she can get. I cannot blame her there. She and Daddy are bff.
So it’s 4am. Why the hell am I awake? It’s because prep is here, and my empty stomach woke me up today. At less than 11 weeks out from my first show this fall, I am still eating a decent amount of food, but yesterday was a particularly tough workout day, and my body reminded me of that this morning. It’s worth it though. Anything worth having won’t come easy, and this season I have big goals. With two shows scheduled for October and high hopes of a top 5 placement in my first (last time I competed in the NPC I got 6th place in open and 2nd place in Masters over 35), there will be many more early mornings and empty stomachs. So I’ll look on the bright side of today; I got a few extra hours to myself. Many women can relate that these are cherished hours of solitude. I’m off to an early morning spin class. Because no matter how challenging it can be with a toddler, I am better equipped to care for her, if I first care for myself. If you are a struggling Mom, know that I am here with you. Some days are hard. Hopefully there are more bear hugs in store for us today.
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything, not because I don’t have anything to say but because I have so much to say that it’s hard to narrow it all down. I’ve learned so much this year, about health and wellness and about myself about how life can be so simple if we allow it to be.
I am writing this post from the kitchen table of my 600 square foot beach condo. It’s 6:21am and my family is asleep in our little 200 square foot bedroom, my daughter’s cot snug right against our king sized bed. At first I wasn’t sure how we would all adjust to the close quarters of our new surroundings. In the beginning, there were a lot of family naps and early bedtimes as our daughter became acclimated in her new home. In 600 square feet, there’s not much to clean. It’s one of the reasons that I have zero desire to “upgrade” our home near Annapolis. I clean and do enough laundry as it is, I don’t want room for more. Some people think more is better. I believe the opposite. I like less. Less isn’t as messy. Less is less responsibility. If one of us lost a job, it’s easier to manage when you own less, have less, want less. I like less. Less is freeing.
At the end we will have spent over 50 days at the beach this summer. Grateful is an understatement. Our life here is very simple. A freezer full of homemade dinners that I prepared before we left, a closet with the bare essentials that we need for a beach life, mostly bathing suits, t-shirts and workout clothes. Gianna has about 3 toys here that she plays with when we are indoors, one of them being a set of poker chips since we had to improvise one day. Our mode of transportation is our bare feet or our bikes which we take to the beach, pools or to the ice cream shop. We go to the ice cream shop a lot.
During my first 20 days here, I limited my cardio to biking and incline walking only. This was the first break I had taken from teaching spin class since Gianna was born, and my body enjoyed the long rest from intense cardio. I learned that there is no better way to unwind and relax than having the sand between my toes and the salty air in my hair (which I had to wash a lot more often than when I was at home). I learned that my daughter really loves the beach. Many times throughout the day she randomly would run up and hug me or my husband and say, “I love you. You’re my best buddy.”
There aren’t a lot of photos of these moments because I spent a lot of time away from my phone this summer. When it wasn’t a work day, I’d leave my phone at the condo for hours at a time, not feeling the need to capture every moment on camera to post on social media to shout, look at my life. There were plenty of meltdowns and whining (mostly by my daughter, sometimes by my husband). Speaking of husband, I was reminded this summer of how wonderful of a guy that I have, being that he was the primary caregiver for our daughter Monday through Friday while I worked in my full-time job (remotely from our deck). Taking her to the beach, the pool, the watersides, the swings while packing her snacks, toys, extra diapers and supplies all while hauling it in the beach cruiser wagon in 90 degrees across to the sand on his own. He was grateful for her daily 2pm naps so he could relax and he got a glimpse into the life of a stay-at-home parent. Hard work.
We have 7 days left before we return home to the “real world,” back to normal life, back to his demanding job (a job which also allows us this stretch of off time in which we are grateful), and back to my structured life as I start dieting for my 2 bikini competitions this fall. Part of me wants to go back, and part of me just wants to buy out the ice cream shop and hole up here forever. However I think my fitness career would be over if I owned a creamery.
One thing is for certain, when I get home, I’ll be cleaning out my closets, donating any extra items to charity and minimizing my lifestyle even more. I’ll think twice and three times before I click “buy now” on Amazon Prime Day. Do I really need this? I’ll remember the salt and the sand and the simple days of this summer when things get hectic this fall. Are the things on my to do list really that important or can they wait so we can have more time to play. Play more. Stress less. My new motto. Happy summer friends.
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.
I am a recovering control freak. I used to like to control everything, so much so, that it made me completely out of control. I have learned that I cannot control three things in life: people, places or things. I can control myself, and my reactions to people, places and things, but that’s about it. At 35 years old, I’m fine with that. I like to use the phrase: “Wear life like a loose garment.” It fits my mindset about life these days.
So when my husband called me this week and told me that his ECU game that was supposed to be played this past Thursday was rescheduled for the date of my competition, I had to use all of the tools in my tool box before I “reacted.” I took some time to process the information. Now 16 weeks into training, the ONLY reason that I chose the show that I was training for was because my husband was off that weekend. The ONLY reason. I wanted HIM there. He was my partner in all of this. He has been by my side through all of my struggles and mini milestones. He was my rock. So when he called to tell me that he probably couldn’t be at that show, my heart dropped. I think his dropped even lower. He was incredibly disappointed.
The old “control freak” me probably would have built up some huge resentment of how my expectations let me down. My other favorite phrase is: “Expectations lead to resentment.” I’m sure you’ve had expectations before in some area of your life. Maybe this past weekend, you pictured the perfect family fall day picking pumpkins with your kids. They are all perfectly behaved. Your spouse is in a good mood. You take the perfect picture for social media. But, nothing goes as you “expected” in your head and you’re miffed. It’s okay. We all get like that. That’s called having an expectation. I operate much better when I have no expectations of anyone or anything. I didn’t picture my show date, with all of my friends in the crowd, me winning 1st place and having the perfect after party with all of my family and friends together. I didn’t picture anything going perfectly at all. I have done that in the past many times, and I was always let down because the way I saw it going in my head was always better than reality. So now, to the best of my ability, I try to just let things unfold naturally. I try not to focus on the future or the past and just enjoy the present. Most of the time I succeed. Sometimes I still get off track. I am not perfect. I digress…
As I processed this news that Justin gave me early last week, I didn’t focus my thoughts on the problem. I focused my thoughts on the solution. I wasn’t mad at Justin. It’s not his fault. I cannot control people, places or things, and neither can he. These were just our circumstances. I started to think of possible solutions. I realized that there was a show on October 29th, less than 3 weeks from the day I found out the news. Could I get ready for a show that was only 3 weeks away? I texted my coach frantically, and his response was that I COULD do it “but I really wouldn’t like the next 2 weeks.” I didn’t care. Hours of exercise, paired with much less food than I was used to, I was ready to go hard into the last 3 weeks and give it my all.
We agreed that I would crush the plan he laid out for me over the week, and Sunday (today) we would make our final decision together. Joe and I have the same goal: HARDWARE. My goal has always been not just to compete in a show, but to place in the top 5. That is Joe’s goal too. He wants every client that HE trains this year to place top 5 as well. So the pressure just got kicked up a notch (or 4 notches, since I was now preparing to compete 4 weeks earlier than my original target).
Here’s how my week went:
MORE training, LESS food. A lot less food. A lot less carbs. A LOT more calories burned during my workouts. Low energy. Grumpy spells. I told my husband that I was going to do my very best not to take out my hunger on him. I succeeded most of the time.
The result: Joe told me today that my hard work paid off, and I should be good to go in 2 weeks. The work isn’t over. I have a lot more posing to do. A LOT. I have a lot more training to do. I have to fight hard to the very end. But first I got a cheat meal to boost my sluggish metabolism from the week. Thank you Stoney River Legendary Steaks. I love you.
The new show that I am doing is specifically for Novice competitors. I have ONE chance to place in the top 5, not an opportunity to compete in three different categories. There is no Masters division, so I will be competing against a lot of twenty-somethings. I cannot control the outcome. I can only control my reaction to it.
So for the next two weeks, I’m going down under into the dark zone of training. If I look tired, I am. If I look hungry, I am. If I look nervous, I am. It’s all come down to this, and I am going to give 100% because when I leave that stage I am leaving with NO REGRETS.
Thank you for your support along this journey. Here is a link to the show I will be competing in if you wish to attend. Don’t worry, I won’t “expect” you to be there. I am always grateful for the kind words, the nods of encouragement and the positive feedback. It helps me keep going when things get tough. And right now they are tough. So thank you.
Wish me luck.