Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Random Thoughts on Being 5.5 Weeks From Show...

If you read my last post, you know that a difficult weekend led to some crucial refining in my thinking. Since that epiphany, lol, things have not gotten better, easier, or smoother. Not gonna lie - prep and real life are just as hard now as they were before I accepted my ownership. My head is in a better place, for sure, but...

I'm so sore.  I want a caramel iced latte with extra-extra-extra caramel (hold the whipped topping - ya know, just hold the latte and hand over the caramel, k?). I want french fries. I want a nap. Did I mention that I'm sore?

Yesterday's workout was tough - and I mean TOUGH. It was leg day, which on its own makes my soul quiver in fear, but the air quality and humidity are so bad here that I was already having breathing issues before I even walked into the gym.   Oh - and before I go further... my car is in the shop because there's a crack in the radiator, the ac is out, and something is wrong with the power steering - or something. So, I was either getting rides from helpful daughters or borrowing their cars. Anyway... we're in our first round of exercises when I realized that I have officially reached that point.

What point? The one where I now cry during workouts. #@Q#$!!!  I hate that!!! Kayla took it well, recognizing and understanding it while not giving in to it. Good coach. So now we're in the second grouping of exercises... deadlifts, then walking wide lunges w/20# bar on my shoulders, then hip thrusts (those are just so awkward, lol). First time through, I hit a full blown asthma attack. ARGH! Out comes the inhaler. Barking seal goes away, HR comes down, and we move on. Second time through - damn barking is back. I focused on the breathing - not easy when my throat was already tight from tears, finally got it under control. Third time through - again!!! Kayla says, "Ok, next round (fyi it's the last one for these), we'll skip the lunges."  F-that.  Inhaler med finally kicked in (what freakin' took so long???) and I told her I could do it. And I did. That's a victory and I'll take it.

We moved on to the rest of the workout. There were a few tears, a few grunts, but I finished. That's what matters. I did it, and I finished. Back home, I made 3 batches of Tilapia burgers, lol. I am stocked! Worked, then back to the gym for cardio. Home again, had dinner, relaxed with the hubby, then protein shake, then bed. This morning when I woke for my fasted cardio I could barely move my legs. Ugh.

Regardless... me and Season 1, Episode 7 of Alias got it done. ;-) Today's gone per plan. Workout with Kayla (back/biceps), work-work-work, errands, blog, then I go back in a bit for cardio and dry sauna. At 9pm I'm working with my posing coaches for an hour. Seriously - these folks are amazing. They're competing Friday night, (they are depleted, mentally and physically) but they're making the time to help me.

Oh, as a follow up to my car situation... the dealer finally gave me a loaner, so at least there's that. I should be able to pick up my car sometime tomorrow. Not holding my breath.

Anyway... all that rigmarole to say that things are what they are. I'm eating, workout out, cardio'ing and generally walking the walk. It takes a lot of daily minutia and repetition to reach big goals... I'd love to have something deep and meaningful to share each day of my journey - but it's just not there. Lol. Or maybe it is, but my carb-deprived brain can't locate the thoughts. Could be.

Hey, I did learn a funny thing today - those horrid dressing room mirrors? I found out what they're good for - spontaneous posing practice. LOL!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Champion Performance Recipe of the Week - Tilapia Burgers!

Let me begin this post by saying that this recipe may have single-handedly saved my sanity. Yep, it's that powerful. It should wear a cape. 6 weeks out from competition and I am eating fish 4-5 times a day. With my food sensitivities, I can't smother it in mustard like I did last time, and there's only so much sriracha an athlete can consume (again 4-5 times a day). So... I sat down and made a list of what I can eat. Then I pretty much threw it all in the food processor and guess what? It worked!!!! These babies are AWESOME!!!! I've even traveled with them - no fishy smell for the poor souls around me! So, I won't delay any longer... here I give you my Tilapia Burgers. Enjoy.

Tilapia Burgers
makes 5
by Chelle Stafford

1.5 lb tilapia (not frozen)
4 egg whites
1 tsp seasoning* (herbs de provence, or other blend, see note below)
1/4 cup cilantro
1 1/2 cup fresh spinach
2 green onions (spring onions), trimmed
1/2 orange pepper (or other color of choice)
2 large celery stalks, trimmed
1/2 zucchini, trimmed
1/2 jalepeno, seeded
1/2 cup Bragg Nutritional Yeast

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add tilapia and cook just until meat turns white (don't overcook, this only takes a couple minutes).
Drain fish well.
In food processor, combine all the veggies, until finely chopped.
In a large bowl, add tilapia, veggies, egg whites, seasoning and nutritional yeast. Mix well.
Form into "burger" patties.
Heat a large skillet on medium high. Spray with cooking oil (I use coconut spray or olive oil spray).
When skillet is hot, add burgers and cook about 5 minutes each side, until golden & crispy on outside. Tip... I use two spatulas to turn these over, one under and one on top then just flip.
Serve with pico de gallo.

per burger: 190 calories, 34g protein, 4g carbs, 2.5g fat, 2g fiber, 140mg sodium.

*Seasoning note... be free-handed with the spices!!! You can change the whole flavor profile as often as you like! Use Herbs de Provence, or Penzey's Mural of Flavor, or Mrs Dash Southwest Chipotle... or whatever you like!

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Monday, July 14, 2014

The Heart of the Matter...

This weekend was full of challenges - from food to workouts to water intake to (ahem) intestinal travel complications. Each challenge was met, some with more grace than others. Most importantly, though, I spent a lot of time thinking about why I'm doing this and wondering if it's really worth it.

Let's begin with the challenges faced... I was 100% compliant. Things got modified but everything was done true to plan. I ate the food, I drank the water, I practiced posing, I did the workouts, I did the cardio. As you can see from the pic (yes, that's 4 coolers), I brought every last bite and sip with me, lol. There was no microwave in the room, so I ate a lot of cold fish & veggies, but I did it. And I am so, so, so very thankful for my tilapia burger recipe! The room and truck didn't even smell fishy while I was eating! YAY! FYI, I'll be sharing that recipe here tomorrow ;-)

The workouts... the first night I did my chest & shoulder workout. The hotel fitness center was perfectly equipped for that (plus had great mirrors for posing practice!). I gave it all I had, then moved on to my cardio. Back in the room, I ate then crashed.

You can't see it, but that's a steep hill, lol! 
Next day, I woke early and headed outside to run hill sprints. O.M.G.  I can't even remember the last time I've run outside (hello, asthma!), but I had a blast! Sprinting up the hill, walking fast back down, sprinting back up. I felt strong and powerful! (Until the next day when I woke with shin splints. Hmmph.) Anyway. I did my fasted cardio, then had breakfast and off we went to view apartments.

It was a long day, and it wasn't until 5:30 pm that I was able to get to my leg-day workout. The fitness center didn't have what I needed, so I'd purchased a day-pass to the 24-Hour fitness there across the street. It was a pit. And I mean a PIT. Half the equipment didn't work, all of the equipment was rusted and nasty looking. The heavy lifting area was a maintenance closet downstairs with so much equipment crammed in there it was a challenge to not bump into anything while doing my squats. Out of 4 stairmasters, 1 worked. Seriously, it was a pit. And it made it hard to get in the mental zone. It finally just became about survival and finishing... I had to just shut it off and do the reps, then the cardio. When I saw Bill's truck arrive (huge windows overlooking parking lot), and my time was up, I almost sprinted (ok, I crawled really fast, lol) to the truck! Get me out of here!!!!

That sucked. But I got it done. That night, Bill and I spent a lot of time talking about what I'm doing, and why. I was really struggling. Again, 100% compliant as I've always been during show prep, but struggling with it. I just felt defeated. I'd lost my drive. We compared my last journey to the stage with this one, what's the same, what's different. We talked about what I gained last time, what I'm looking to gain this time. He listened as I poured out my doubts and fears. And he held my hand as I cried and said, I just want it to be over. Not that I'm quitting, just that I want to skip to the part where it's all done.

And that sucks. That's not ok. That's not what this journey is about. That's not what I'm about.

The journey itself is the most important part! It's the challenges, the victories, the ups and downs, plodding along, sprinting ahead... it's about the experience itself, all of it, every moment. This journey had a beginning - and it has an end. But each step, bite, sip, and rep along the way matter. I needed to be reminded. I also needed to be reminded that I'm not proving anything - to anyone, this time around. I'm not beholden to anyone. The journey is mine, and mine alone.

This trip to the stage I already know I Am A Champion. And this trip to the stage I need to remember that. I will finish - that's a foregone conclusion. And I will finish to the best of my ability. Period. And I will be a better, stronger, more balanced and poised person than I was when I started. This time around, it's more mine... I finally realized... It's all on me. I have an amazing coach, but it's not her job to keep an eye on me... she gives me the plan, I follow it. I do the work. I eat the food. Whether anyone is watching me or not. I own this journey.

There are 168 hours in a week. I see Kayla for 3 of them. If I don't hit showtime ready to go, that's my fault. When I do hit it ready, that's to my credit.

I am the Champion who has to show up - every day, every hour. 

Dialing it all down to that one point wasn't overwhelming - in fact, it was liberating. I don't have to worry about letting anyone down, or failing, or any of the other gazillion things flitting in and out of my head. This is about me. This is about me showing up, every day, every hour. I don't owe anyone anything because I've earned this. And when I step out onto that stage - I'll be there because I earned it.

Throughout so much of my life, I've handed over the "credit" to others. Every accomplishment and victory I've achieved, I demurred and praised someone else for their "part" in it. This time is different. Do not get me wrong - the value of the team beside me is priceless and I am intensely grateful for their support and expertise. That said, what I'm doing every moment of every day, working toward my goal, is my triumph. Saying that, feeling that, isn't selfish - it's honest, and affirming, and freeing. With the weight of my prep fully on my shoulders, I feel unburdened. Because it's mine. The good, the bad, the ugly (because let's be honest, competition prep has got a lot of ugly, lol) - it's all me. I can finally accept that.

Does it make eating fish a hundred times a day easier? Nope. But I'll still eat the fish. And do the work. And finish the journey. Because it's mine.

And that, my friends, is the heart of the matter.