When The Fire Dies Out, Find a New Campsite

So it’s 13 weeks until my next figure competition and I am completely unmotivated to do anything about it.

Workout-wise, I’m doing well. No big problems there.

Diet-wise? That’s another story.

I’m not quite sure where the motivation and energy and fire went, but it is long gone and I can’t seem to get it back. I tried logging my food, thinking the accountability of my clients and random friends on My Fitness Pal checking in might help. It has helped a bit, but I’m still not all in.

I’ve tried going to my favorite fitness competitor’s websites and checking out their progress pics. That sorta worked but it didn’t seem to illicit any feelings of “YEAH!!! LET’S DO THIS!”

I’ve tried reading my old blog posts from when I first trained two years ago. Nostalgia, right? Eh…I just ended up critiquing my writing style in some of them. 😉

I’ve tried to pinpoint exactly why I cannot seem to take this goal seriously like I did the first time.  I came to a few conclusions as to why this time around I am not as enthused about it:

  • This isn’t the first time. Now that I know what to expect, I’m not EXCITED as much as I’m DREADING it because I’m thinking of all the negative aspects of competing instead of the positive ones.
  • I’m.busier than before. I have several social events coming up in the next two months including a wedding across the country, a week long retreat in Pennsylvania, and a class reunion in less than a month.  I want to look forward to attending and instead I’m  sitting here thinking “How can I fit a cooler on to a plane?” and “I wonder if I can fit in a workout before the rehearsal dinner?”
  • I’m distracted. I’ve been reading a lot of books on religion and Catholic doctrine and Christianity and although I’ve ALWAYS known that there is more to life than 6pack abs, I can’t seem to find a balance between living the “fit life” and exercising my mind as well. Granted I’m reading other books too but I also want to travel and hang out with my family and friends and sometimes I think training prevents me from doing this.
  • My family won’t be able to attend the show. I will have a large audience of friends in support of me there at the show but as soon as I found out the majority of my immediate family couldn’t make it, I  felt like maybe this wasn’t meant to be. It’s super important to me that they be there and if they aren’t, I won’t take it as seriously as I should.

I’ve talked to my trainer/friend/co-worker Chris about this the other day and we agreed that if I am not into this, let’s not push it. BUT, this doesn’t get me off the hook. He suggested I find something that DOES spark that fire in me that I could shoot for. In other words, as the title of this post suggests, FIND a NEW goal because this competition just ain’t cutting it.

So, with that said, I discussed the possibility of sticking to the plan of training and attempting to diet and just training to look great for summer! The wedding that I’m in takes place in mid-July. I went to try on the dress and order it today. I tried on a size 6 and although it fit, it was a tad snug. So, there’s my motivation!

I’m not about to SQUEEZE into a dress in the sweltering July heat for my friends wedding and look like I barely fit into this dress. Granted, no one looks at the bridesmaids at weddings, all eyes will be on her. 🙂 But, it’s motivating me to take things more seriously.

And, the best part is, if by some chance I happen to look pretty good and feel pretty good at the wedding, there will still be a month left to prep for the competition, if I choose to do it.

If not, I will take my own advice and book a photo shoot, the one that I wanted to do LAST summer but didn’t because I got lazy and didn’t want to diet. Hmm….I’m sensing a pattern with myself.

Either way, I have found new motivation: July 18th is the wedding for my friend. Progress pics will be taken next week.

Let’s Do This!!

You’re Doing it Wrong: 5 Mistakes You Make in the Gym

gymmistakes

I recently observed a woman about my age at the gym recently who has been doing the same “routine” every time I’ve seen her. She always seems to manage to get the bench next to me in the weight room. And she always seems to be doing similar exercises at the same time I’m doing them. But that’s where the similarities stop.

I would say this woman is probably following a Tracey Anderson-type of workout, perhaps from that blonde idiot (sorry, not sorry) herself or maybe out of a magazine. Who knows, all I know is this woman looks like she needs help. Why? She lifts nothing higher than 10lb dumbbells. When she goes to the machines, she tends to do almost all of them and puts the pin in the top (lightest) weight. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to her routine. The amount of reps is more than 20 because I literally lose count any time I attempt to count how many reps she’s doing.

I vowed to myself that if I see her one more time, which would be the third, I would go over and attempt to help her. Because maybe she just doesn’t know….

Here are 5 things that I think people do wrong at the gym. And if you think you’re doing some of these, maybe this will help you because maybe you just don’t know either!

 

  • You go in without a plan. I’m talking no plan whatsoever – no sheet of paper, no notes on your phone, no workout journal, nothing. WHY?  You travel from machine to machine. Going through the motions, staring off into space, probably making your grocery list in your head because you don’t have a plan when you go there either. You’re here to workout, put some EFFORT into it, will ya? Don’t be Mr. or Miss Random. Get in, do the work, and get out. Get an actual program from someone who knows your goals and is knowledgeable and someone you trust. Preferably a personal trainer. (Want online training? I do that now too and I’ll have videos coming soon. Click here for more information) Magazine workouts are sub par for those on a budget. If you have sworn off hiring a PT, you should invest in one or two really good BOOKS with programs that you can follow. Here are two that I’m reading right now: Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle and Strong Curves: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body. Obviously men wouldn’t purchase the latter recommendation although most ladies like a man with some a strong set of glutes on them. 😉  A couple other authors I really like are Alwyn and Rachel Cosgrove. Rachel put out one of my favorite books: The Female Body Breakthrough and her hubby Alwyn wrote what I consider the bible for women lifters: The New Rules of Lifting for Women.

Not a woman and want some recommendations? Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle mentioned above is appropriate for everyone but another good one –  The New Rules of Lifting: Six Basic Moves for Maximum Muscle is geared towards men.

  • You have a routine…but it’s been the same routine for over a year. While there’s nothing wrong with being consistent, all of us could use a little update to our current programs. It doesn’t even have to be anything drastic with regards to the changes you’re making. But if what you are currently doing isn’t quite getting the job done, it’s time to update your ancient program. At the very least, you should be changing up the amount of reps or at least adding a more challenging weight. Repeat after me – Change is Good! I trained a woman recently who was doing the same program her old personal trainer had her on…3 years prior. She complained that nothing was changing at all and she was bored. No wonder! I’d be bored too if I did the same exercises day in and day out 3 years in a row too! When you can’t remember the last time you changed up the exercises in your current regiment, it’s time for an overhaul.
  • You don’t lift at all. Why are you even reading this blog? 😉  Seriously though, time to stop thinking you don’t need to lift in order to see results because I promise you, you do. Cardio will only get you so far. And no one is saying you have to lift super heavy. The woman at the gym I referenced earlier lifts nothing heavier than 10lbs. Based on appearance alone, I feel like she is MUCH stronger than that! I feel like there’s a little lion in there and it needs to roar, ha! She doesn’t seem like she has an injury that she’s recovering  from, her range of motion was fine. Perhaps she’s worried about getting “bulky.” Perhaps she doesn’t think she is CAPABLE of lifting that heavy. You have to start somewhere! You don’t need to grunt and sound like you are in pain everytime you lift…but you should look like you’re putting forth some effort to get those weights up. This is the only way you will see change. You. Need. To. Lift. Even if it’s your own bodyweight.
  • You have no idea about pre and post workout nutrition. I don’t care if you’re going for fat loss or muscle gain or maintenance – Anyone who works out knows that the best snack is your PWO snack (Post WorkOut). This is the time when you can enjoy the benefits of working up a sweat and repair those muscles. EAT your Carbs! Drink your Protein Shake! This is the BEST time to eat. I make sure I eat within 30 minutes of finishing up my workout. When I was training for my competition it would not be unusual for me to be eating my snack the MOMENT I finished my last rep, walking out the door of the gym, scarfing down that Pop-Tart or fruit snacks like they were my last meal. It was glorious! As for pre-workout, some people can get away without eating anything and still getting a good lift on but at the very least, you need to ingest some BCAA’s so you have some energy.
  • You don’t know what tempo means. I was guilty of this as well. I would get a good pump going on at the gym and go home and it was fine. But once I started getting coaching from Erik at LBC, and he instructed me on tempo when lifting, it was a game changer for me. I finally started seeing significant change in my physique. I finally started feeling a little sore too, which wasn’t a bad thing. Most of all, I FELT the muscles in my body working. You not only have to visualize your muscles working, you have to slow everything down and concentrate on the motion. Only then do you really appreciate what a machine your body is truly capable of being. Stop being in a such a rush when you lift. It just looks plain silly. Like this poor fella.

 

Quick Update

I’m 14…er…13 days…well, actually, make that 12 days out if you don’t count today since it’s almost over…Yikes!!!

Things that are done:

  • Registered for the show
  • Posing seminar/dress rehearsal
  • Suit ordered and fits perfectly
  • Tanning booked
  • Photo shoot booked
  • Make up person booked
  • Tickets for family purchased

Things still to do:

  • Get the hair done/scheduled for the morning of the show
  • Get some cheap bling (I think I see a trip to Claire’s in my future)
  • Schedule mani/pedi

As for the diet, Coach Ben says I’m in the best position possible considering he’s adding food to my plan.  YAY for more carbs!

Here are some pics I took last night; I still have to work on the posing and I’m sure it will not be 100% by the time I hit the stage but I’m okay with that.

14 days out!
14 days out!

Now I must go to bed because I got up way early this morning and if I stay up any longer I will be tempted to raid the cupboards.  And I can only eat so much Jell-O (gelatin) in one sitting…I think my new record is 4 cups in one day.  Yeah I don’t think any human being should eat that much.  It’s just plain wrong. 🙂

Good night!  Next update from me will be just 6 days out.  Unbelievable!

Build-a-Butt

Get it?? Like Build-a-Bear….but it’s Build-a-Butt.

That’s funny isn’t it?!  Or maybe I just find silly titles like that humorous.   Moving along…

I survived my first posing seminar this past weekend!  Woohoo! And by surviving I mean I didn’t fall down in my stripper shoes.  That’s a victory in itself.

If you consider my competition the SHOW, you can consider this the dress rehearsal…kind of.  Only with a lot less people…and no spray tans…and no make up or big hair….and no judges. ..okay so it’s not a dress rehearsal at all.

It’s a scrimmage. Yes, a scrimmage would be a much more appropriate description.

I met some amazing looking women like Beth (@SansPantsGirl) and Callista (@StillaLandShark) with matching amazing personalities.  You couldn’t help but size up the competition but what was great is that we were all in the same boat – feeling like we perhaps didn’t belong.  All of us (as I found out later) are first time competitors.  I was shaking in my stripper shoes from the get go, not quite sure how to maneuver in these ginormous heels.

The seminar itself was great – I learned a lot from Chuck and Melissa who are both trainers and have competed several times.  Just watching them give cues I was in awe.  They are both BIG little people.  Big physiques, shorter in stature.  Like you just wanted one of them to bench press you just because you knew they probably could, ha!  (See picture – I’m sure you can tell who they are just by this description).  1071422_496548897099482_1186154786_o

As for the poses themselves – here are some visuals to help you understand just what I was doing on Saturday afternoon and the advice I was given:

frontpose

FRONT POSE:  I feel like I’m trying to be the Hulk in this pose.  You have to give the impression of size, specifically, that you have some.  And not just with this pose, with all of them.  But this is your first one that the judges see.   I’m still “under construction” so I’m not as large as I would like to be.  But, that doesn’t mean you can’t exaggerate and fake it in the meantime.  You’re not supposed to suck in the gut either – it’s more of an elevation of your ribcage.  You also want the judges to see your lats on this pose.  See how you can see that muscle underneath/behind this woman’s armpits?  Yeah, you want to be able to SEE those.  NOT EASY.

backpose

BACK POSE:  This is the most painful pose, in my opinion.  I had a very hard time with this one.  I kept putting my arms out too far and not flexing my back correctly.  I was told by one competitor a couple weeks ago that when you get it right you have to remember how it FEELS, especially since you can’t see yourself.  So, I’ll be recording this one for sure.

sidepose

SIDE POSE:  I wasn’t too bad with this one although I have to remember to stick the butt out and create a curve with the back/tailbone.  Oh and my hands..hand placement is very important with all of these.  Hands have to be relaxed and again, it’s al ot easier said than done.

relaxedsidepose

SIDE RELAXED POSE:  There is nothing RELAXING about this pose.  Of course I had to post a pic of my girl Nicole Wilkins for this one.   See how the front foot is so close to the other foot and it’s pointed?  You have no idea how much that HURTS when you are not accustomed to wearing heels. I was dying in this pose.  Plus I kept forgetting to twist myself so the judges would be able to see me.  This is also the pose you hold while everyone else is on the stage doing their poses.  So it’s imperative you master it (keep smiling keep smiling keep smiling) so you can stay in it for a long period of time. 

Some other bits of advice given to me throughout the seminar:

“Get your butt up…you have no butt so you have to create the illusion that you have one.”

“Relax your back..don’t let your blades jut out.”

“Point your toes as you walk…don’t let your knees bend so much.”

“Stick that butt out.”

Can you tell I need to work on sticking my butt out? 🙂

All in all it made for one very uncomfortable afternoon – but that was the point.  These poses aren’t necessarily comfortable or relaxed in any way.  You are literally shaking (at least I was) as you stand there trying to recall all the pointers that were given to you.  I can only imagine on Competition day what will be going through my head as I pose in front of the judges…”Make eye contact. …Smile…Relax the shoulders…Keep smiling…Hands in front…Butt out  But out…Butt out!!!”

In the meantime it’s practice practice practice.  I actually wear the heels while I do housework as often as I can.  And since I rarely do housework, this is not a common occurrence.  But hey, if it gets me to load the dishwasher and do laundry more often, it’s a win-win situation right?

In the meantime, we got 10 weeks!  The countdown continues.

-Michelle

Tweet of the Week:  Courtesy of MeNote to Gen Pop: “Glad you’re doing well but you’re wasting away to nothing!” is what is defined as a Backhanded Compliment. #StopIt

Sometimes I can’t believe the nerve people have to tell you to your face what they think you look like.  And even after it’s explained that I’m happy and this is for a purpose (i.e. a show) I was told “That’s great! Good for you!  But you’re still wasting to nothing.”   Hey thanks random person!  You’re just fueling my fire to keep this going!

More than Before

May 26th 2012
May 26th 2012

I’ve posted a “Before”  picture on here previously but this picture above is really one that needs to be discussed.

It’s been a little over a year since this picture was taken.  In case it’s not obvious, I was a bridesmaid in my best friends wedding.  (I cropped her out for her privacy, but trust me when I say she was the most gorgeous bride….like, ever).

It’s so strange to look at this picture, NOW.

I don’t recognize myself.

But I don’t get sad as I look at this picture.  There’s no shame.  There’s no embarrassment.  Life was actually pretty good.

It’s just strange because I don’t want to forget how I felt when this picture was taken.  I want to remember that I did not look BAD.  This might be my BEFORE, but it could easily become my AFTER when this competition is over.

I’ll be honest, I hope it’s not.  I love the way I look now, but I was content looking the way I look in that picture.  I was satisfied.  I ate what I wanted when I wanted.  There was freedom to do that back then.

I celebrated birthdays with cake and ice cream and maybe some drinks.  I ate burgers and fries once in awhile.  I had pizza, I loved string cheese like it was going out of style.

I ate Peanut butter and Jelly for weeks at a time when I was feeling lazy.  I had salads with dressing that wasn’t measured out.  I went to baseball games and had hot dogs.

I went to the movies and had popcorn with butter and Buncha Crunch, my most favorite theater snack.

Yeah, I had veggies but only occasionally.

Yeah, I drank water, but only when I worked out.

Yeah I worked out, but only cardio and just SOME weight training for fear of breaking my foot again.

I was coasting….maintaining….perfectly content to just keep living my life that way.

But there was an obvious downside to this freedom:

I had zero self control.  There was no need to analyze every single piece of food that entered my mouth.  Who was keeping track?  Certainly not I.

I didn’t have the willpower to NOT eat everything that was put in front of me.  Any why shouldn’t I? There were no pics to send to any coach.

I hardly cooked my own food.  There was no reason to fuel myself properly for the workouts I wasn’t doing.

I never got enough sleep.  There were no early morning lifting sessions to be rested for.

I wasn’t doing any heavy weight training.  There was no motivation to get in shape.

Was it damaging me?  Maybe not.  Was it healthy?  Eh, not really.  Am I better off now than I was BEFORE?  Absolutely.

Although this experience is far from over, the physical changes are already obvious and that’s all great.

It’s the mental and behavioral changes that should matter most.

Here’s to 11 and a half weeks until my AFTER.

-Michelle

Stranger in the Mirror

gty_woman_mirror_jt_110916_wg

Such a dramatic title for the blog post today but it’s something I’ve been meaning to write about for awhile.

A quick update before I get into the nitty gritty: I had my photo shoot this past weekend and the photos are here: Photo shoot pics

Just scroll to the bottom.

My photographer was Jason of J.Dell Photography so be sure to show him some love as well.  He was wonderful to work with and seeing as though this was my first time in front of the camera for something like this, I gotta say I felt completely at ease.

I’m also quite surprised by the number of compliments on my page and in person that I’ve been getting from the shoot.  People I don’t even know are giving such great positive feedback and that really does make this all seem worth it!

Which brings me to the subject at hand: Getting used to the new ME.

Let me preface this by saying I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’m like this completely different person when I look in the mirror these days.  And I have 16 more weeks left before the competition so my “transformation” is not complete.

But even still, I’m down to 115lbs from 142lbs just 8 months ago.  That’s quite a bit of weight for someone, especially someone like me that never really worried about my weight too much most of my life.

So now there are some things I need to get used to.

It’s kind of alarming.  It’s almost disturbing in a way, to view your body day in and day out and each time you glance in the mirror you see something new.

The first time I noticed a significant change was back in January.  I was doing abs and  I remember putting my hands on my hips to rest them in between sets and I felt my actual hip bones.

Having never felt these before it was really strange to me.  Almost frightening.  Not “Wow I’m so skinny my bones are protruding” type of frightening, because that wasn’t (and is still NOT) the case.   No, it was just the position I was in and the unexpected feeling of “Wow, I had a layer of fat over that area before, I guess this is working!” type of feeling.

Almost disbelief.  Like I couldn’t believe it was ME.

It happened again as I was just reaching behind my back to scratch an itch and felt muscle where there was no muscle before.

And again when I went to put make-up on and felt my cheekbones.  I kept touching my face and staring in the mirror as if to say “Is this real life?”

It wasn’t always frightening or disturbing.  It was fun one day when I saw ABS.  I literally ran downstairs to show my Mom and my brother, “Look!! It’s an ab!  I have ab muscles!!”  Granted at the time it was just two little muscles popping out, but still.  I had NEVER seen abs before on me in my life.

Yes there are still parts of me that I wish were a little bigger or a little more defined or a little more this or that…But I think that’s why they call this a transformation:  It’s a process that takes time and little by little, it’s great to see the small yet amazing changes your body takes when you lose a large amount of body fat/weight.

And now that I’m putting on some muscle, it’s even better!  Still scary though.

A girl that I post to on a message board for Figure competitors had something interesting to say about one of my posts that I think is appropriate for this topic:

I had said “I just wish my Mom could see me now.  I like to think she’d be proud of me and really happy for me.”

The girl responding also lost her Mom and replied: I’m honestly not sure what my Mom would think of my lifting.  She’d probably be totally weirded out, ha!” 

As simple as that comment was, it made me think:  Are there people “weirded” out by how I look now?  Not that I care of course, but I find it interesting.  I mean, I was weirded out by how I looked.  Legit freaked out.  I’m getting USED to it now, but even looking at those pictures, I can’t believe that’s ME.  

It’s exciting, it’s thrilling, it’s motivating, but it’s still a little scary and alarming.  I’m sure I will get used to it but something to remember if you’re going for a certain look as I am for this competition: 

Be prepared for how your body responds.  Be prepared to ACCEPT your new body when it DOES respond.  And try not to freak out when you see your TRAPS in the mirror.

Yeah that’s right..I have traps now. 🙂

Thanks for reading tonight!  As always, feel free to comment!

Random Tweet of the Week from @MILLERNATION6  in response to one of my Photoshoot pics:I am a born again christian since jan of this yr and those pics show Gods beauty:)”

I don’t even know this person and it MADE MY NIGHT!

Inspiring the Uninspired

It’s been quite the rough road for me this past month.  But with all the stress, sadness, negativity, and de-motivation, came moments of hope, renewal, reflection and restarting

After lamenting and complaining and having a big pity party for myself, I emailed my coach to ask for some advice.  What I needed was a short-term goal to get me through these next 3 months before my prep begins in mid-July.  It’s been suggested to me to maybe do a photo shoot, just for fun.  I have heard many women do that if they don’t want to do a competition.  Unfortunately it’s just as costly to do a photo shoot as it is to do a competition so it’s not exactly a money-saver.  BUT, it follows the same premise as a competition:  Tanning, makeup, hair, prep, purchase of clothes to wear to the shoot and most importantly, the fee for the actual photographer/session.

So since $$$ is a factor and I still would like to do the comp in October, I have just refocused and took some advice from one of my three bosses (yes I have three jobs ha!) and decided each month or every 2 weeks or whatever, I will pick a certain part of my body to actually work on.  I’m still going to focus on all muscle groups for my workouts each week but spending a little more time on the problem area(s) will be the goal. 

Plus I’m going to take progress pics every weeks instead of every 3 weeks.  It’s just another way to stay motivated and accountable. 

I love this plan already (Thanks Mark for the idea!)

If I am focused on one thing, it’s so much easier to accomplish it, right?  The same rule applies to anything in life I suppose.  Multi-tasking is the enemy. 🙂

Short term goals are good, but I was still feeling de-motivated and lazy and even irritated that I decided to train for the show.  I kept using the excuse “It’s not until October, let me just eat this crap right now, who cares!” everytime I thought about cheating.  I was taking all my emotions and putting them towards food.  I found any junk food in the house/cupboards and proceeded to devour them like never before.  Almost as if I would never eat again.  Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your attitude towards carbs) the most unhealthiest food we have in our house is Ritz crackers and Jelly.   

That didn’t stop me from eating an entire SLEEVE of Ritz crackers and an entire JAR (okay it was the small ones but still) of jelly, by the way. Several nights in a row… The guilt was minimal (I had more of an “I could care less” attitude), but the feeling in my stomach afterwards told me that was a BIT too much sugar. 

So I needed some inspiration, some motivation, something a little more tangible than just some words on a Facebook page or a quote from a book.  I really needed to get back into the spirit of things.  

Ironically, the Spring version of the competition took place this past weekend.  And one of my friends’ daughters was competing in the bikini division.  I never met her, didn’t know her at all. But I was SO excited for her!  Here was a small connection that I could latch on to.  Although I really wanted to attend the show itself to cheer on this complete stranger, I couldn’t attend.  But, speaking to my friend afterwards was great because his daughter placed 7th in her first ever competition! Talk about motivating!!!  This chick is a MOTHER and looked amazing on stage.  I gave her dad my email address so I hope to have her discuss her experience on the blog soon.

A few days ago, the pictures from the competition came out online.  Here are the links:

The NPC Natural Ohio

RX Muscle Contest Gallery

Just looking at the pics of the Figure competitors was inspiring to me.   It shows how far I have to go, but it also shows me that it’s attainable.  Kind of like looking into a crystal ball…a picture of what “could be.” 

Lastly, being on Twitter does have it’s perks.  I was able to get in contact with a woman named Callista, who is ALSO training for the same fall competition!  She just started a blog Run Lift Like a LandShark as well as an FB Page.

I couldn’t help but notice our similarities (except for that whole kid/husband/attorney thing) so I’m really excited to follow along in her journey too. 

Just goes to show when you think you’re hitting rock bottom and you’re ready to give up, there are people and things all around you to get you back on track. 

So here’s to a week(end) to getting back to YOUR goals.  Whatever they may be!

-Michelle

Random Tweet of the Day courtesy of myself: “Umm I put make-up on for the @Indians game tonight in the #SocialSuite so it HAS to stop raining. I didn’t clog my pores for nothin!” –

The game got rained out by the way; so yes, I DID clog my pores for nothing but $25 wasted on parking and an hour of sitting in a suite watching the jumbotron air two random MLB games.  Not fun.