Thursday, July 31, 2014

BoomDiggity!!!! 3 Weeks From Show!

My world has gone CRAZY!!! In a GREAT way!!! My very first news is that we did it!!!! I had my weigh in this morning - the very last day in the month - and I am BELOW 17% body fat!!!! 16.6% to be exact... and my weight is the same!!!! I am sitting 3 weeks before show, at 5'2", and 129 lbs. YES! Since we began (April), we have added 10 lbs of MUSCLE to my body!! And dropped 12.2% body fat. HOLY FREAKIN' MOLEY!!!! BOOMDIGGITY!!! (yes, husband-mine, it IS a word, it is now MY word and I will use it as often as I like). Boom. Diggity. Whooooohooo!!!! :-)

This is my abs two days ago.
They're even more pronounced today. Wooot!! 
What this means is... nothing changes. We keep doing what's working. At this point, the plan is to continue exactly as we are now, then my last workout (omg!) will be August 19th, with the 20th and 21st being cardio only, then the 22nd being my normal rest and reload day, and the 23rd is show. Almost there!!!!   :-)

OMG, I am so incredibly stoked! Which is good, because it's day 6 of zero carbs and I'm whooped, lol.
Happy, Happy, HAPPY!!!

Ok... next news... Let me begin by sharing that I love my Santa Fe. It's my 3rd Hyundai, and my 2nd Santa Fe. But it's a 2010 and we'll just be polite and say it's been well loved. ;-) High mileage, some body damage (thank you, Bethany), and just all-around broken in ;-)   Anyway. When I purchased said car, we got screwed. Big time. The dealership was super shady, we felt trapped, and after many, many hours, confused and upset enough that I made the awesomely wise (yes, sarcasm) decision to just freakin' sign so we could get the heck outta there! 25% interest rate, for a gazillion years. And that was the least of it. I won't even address the many, many lies we were told that didn't pertain to financing.

Fast forward. We've talked off and on for about a year, about trading in, but we're upside down. We had the most recent discussion 2 days ago. Then yesterday... I got a phone call from the dealership. Yes, that dealership. It seems they're under new management, blah blah blah, and would really like to buy my car and upgrade me. Sure. I bet you would. Since I'm honest - I'll be clear. I was a bitch. I am carb deprived, the sales guy brought up angry unhappy memories, and I let him know in no uncertain terms that I would NEVER do business with them again.

Kudos to the kid. He took it. Apologized (of course), and promised me he'd run some numbers and if he could get me in a better place, he'd call back. Sayonara, buddy. But he called back. Made some promises. I said I'd think about it. I called Bill. We agreed to check it out but only gave it a short, short window then we're out of there. Before I could call this guy back, his sales manager called me. More promises ensued (uhuh, right), but he said he'd fill up my gas tank just for coming in. Fine. Gas is expensive. Lol. So we went.

Long story short...
This is now in my driveway. BOOMDIGGITY!! We ended up, after much back and forth, getting the luxury edition for the (below) base price! They gave me more than fair value on my 2010. And my interest rate? Let's just say it's in the single digits now! WOOOOHOOO! Everywhere I went today, I took the long way! Hahaha! I love, love, LOVE my car!!! AND... Chapman Hyundai Scottsdale went above and beyond to make it happen for me. They redeemed my previous experience and gave me a great one this time! I'm still trying to figure out all the programming, but I LOVE my car!! It even sent me an email this morning! Ha!

This car is one of those things I never imagined for myself. All those bells and whistles, the "luxury" upgrades... I am so incredibly grateful and blessed!!

So... back to prep world, lol... we didn't get home last night until 11pm... I crashed hard. Because of that, I did 60 instead of 30 minutes fasted cardio this morning. This was my pre (and during) workout drink... cuz' that's how I roll ;-)
Yep, iced black coffee. Ahhhh!!!

So, after my workout with Kayla this afternoon, I hit the store (how many times can I go to the grocery store in a week???? so far it's been 5!), finally got home, and realized I haven't sent my show registration yet!!!! I am back out the door to hit the post office (why do we have no stamps?), then back to the grocery store to get two things I forgot (geeze, make it 6 times!), back home for food prep for tomorrow - CARB DAY!!!!!!! Then after that is evening cardio, dry sauna, and an hour of posing. I'm not gonna lie... I'm pooped now. But... there's just 3 weeks left. Every moment counts. And between my two major excitables, I've got the mental energy to face it.

Ok... here we go!
Boomdiggity!!!! Sorry, had to say it one last time. ;-)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

3 and a half weeks to go...

Can you believe how quickly it's going by??? Today I'm mailing in my show registration for the ANBC show on the 23rd of August. I've booked our hotel room for the night before (with 3 dogs in the house, Bill said "do it". Lol). I've booked my tan, nail appt, hair, figured out the makeup... so many little details involved! I need to gather a few other things (ratty sheets for the hotel, towel for car seat, baggy shirt for tan day and sleeping, etc). I have a very organized stack going in the closet, haha. I'll begin packing the suitcase for show-day this week. Yeah, I'm ridiculous. I'm ok with that.

Posing is going well. My posing coach is thrilled with my physique - now it's up to me to nail the posing to show it off. We'll begin working on my 60 second routine tonight (eek!). Choreography is NOT my thing, so I'm a little nervous but overall, I'm excited. I'm excited about making those 60 seconds shine, for me, to own it completely - nothing I ever thought I could do, for myself. Those 60 seconds are mine! ;-) Remember my epiphany? Still holding onto that!

Training is going great. I am consistently feeling weaker, lol, but the workouts are fun and Kayla keeps me mentally pumped up. I did something wonky to my back Sunday, so we're working around that. I have to say it's really weird to reach to rub my low back and feel bone & sinew - no cushion, lol.

Food is the same. Lots and lots of Tilapia Burgers ;-) Looking forward, very much, to carb day on Friday, haha. But seriously. Yeah.

Ok... I'm off to see Coach! Happy Hump Day!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Progress - 4 Weeks Out

The time is flying! I can't believe there's less than 4 weeks to the first show. {insert panic attack HERE}  We're working on nailing down that posing song (think we've got it, but I have to "walk" it today to be sure), and my stage makeup... I've spent a little too much time on Pinterest lately, lol. Yesterday we took progress pics. I will warn you now... I was not feeling well and my posing is OFF. Like, bad-off. However, the good, the bad, the ugly - I promised to share it all, so here it is. Side by side comparisons...

My obliques and legs really do have definition, I just wasn't flexing hard enough. Boo.

Mentally, I had a rough weekend - hence the couldn't flex to save my life problem, but I'm moving past it. The food is just mechanical at this point... not a lot of variation. Though we did add in sunflower seeds - for the salt & potassium. Water is at a gallon and a half. Glug! My favorite part of the day is sipping my iced black coffee :-) I'm doing 30 minutes fasted cardio in the morning, my workout during the day, then 45 minutes cardio in the evening (usually a mix of HIIT and steady). 4x/week I do 20 minutes in the dry sauna, and twice a week I meet with my posing coaches (though I practice daily).

Pretty much my whole world revolves around prep. I'm either exercising, eating, food-prepping, doing laundry, or sleeping. Lol. Friday's are still my carb and rest day - full rest day, which means that I typically find myself going a little crazy. ;-) But - well, I guess crazy is normal for me, eh? ;-)

Ok... I have to go switch laundry, then I'm going to enjoy the last of my iced coffee. Happy Monday!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Facing Criticism...

There you see my iced coffee, tilapia burger with
pico, avocado, black grapes and white peaches. YUM!
So... Where to begin? Last weekend was great. Super busy, but a lot of fun. Friday was my rest and carb day. I enjoyed each and every gram, lol. Friday night, I packed up my cooler with snacks, then Bill, Shiloh and I had dinner out, then hit the NPC show. I was very excited to discover that Longhorn Steak House has an allergen menu! Woot! It made ordering so easy!!!

The show was fabulous. Friday night was all the prejudging, and a couple of the great folks who've been helping me with posing were competing. We watched the show, took notes, and just generally had fun. Saturday I did all my workouts and cardio, then we went back to Mesa to watch the finals of the NPC. It really helped me to understand how the two-day shows work, since my 2nd show planned is a 2-day NPC. It was a fun night, and I'm glad we went.

Then came Sunday. First let me explain that Sunday was leg day. Leg day is my nemesis. As you can see in my latest video post, I'm really, really good at stalling on leg day. Ha! Anyway. By this point in the day, I'd done my fasted cardio, eaten a couple times, done a boat-load of work, I'm tired, I hate leg day, I'm tired, I'm back at the gym instead of spending precious time with my family... you get the idea. So... I go inside, scope out an available squat rack, and happen to run into someone who's opinion I respect. A lot. We chatted about his competition experience and future goals, then he asked about where I was at. I gave him the stats and that's when it happened. The pin hit my balloon. The nail punctured my tire. The cloud settled over my head.

He said... "You've got to GET ON IT. You have GOT to do the HIIT. You HAVE to do the diet. You have GOT to hit this hard or you're not going to make it."

What??? Are you serious?? Now... I know that I'm responsible for my own emotional state - and the way I take things isn't necessarily how they were meant. But. And let's just say... BIG but, wow that came out of left field! I felt like he was questioning my work ethic, my dedication and commitment to the diet, the cardio, the work. I felt like he was questioning my ability to complete the journey. I felt like he was saying I was half-assing it. And I was crushed. I wanted to scream, "what more do you want??? what more can I possibly do???" I didn't. Of course. I smiled, nodded, thanked him and headed to the squat rack.

And... I killed leg day. There's just nothing like churning emotions to bring out the "I'll show you!" attitude. Unfortunately, that wore off and by the time I got home I was a wreck. Booooo. And my poor hubby had to listen to my rant and whine. :-(

The comments, though well meaning, left me feeling that I wasn't doing enough, wasn't good enough. Ugh. Thankfully, my patient and loving husband was there for me, then Monday I had a long talk with Kayla about it. She pointed out the flaws in what he said, and where he was saying it from. Not the least of which is that I am right where I'm supposed to be. I am cutting exactly as she anticipated (because hello... age IS a factor here - I'm not 20 years old and won't cut like a 20 year old). She has every confidence that I'll get where we're going. She also let me know that she knows I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be doing. I am 100% compliant, in all areas. Period.

It was a relief to hear all that, and a soothing balm to know that she believes in me - sees how hard I'm working. I struggle every single day with thoughts of giving up. This is hard, folks. I'm almost 44 years old and I have the joints of a 70 year old. Physically, this is taking everything I have. Then you add in the cost personally... I'm missing out on family time. Shi will be moving back to San Diego at the end of September and through her whole time here I've been in competition mode. Bethy is about to start up college again... and through her whole summer I've been in competition mode. Bill gets limited time away from work (he's on the phone sometimes as late as 9 or 10 pm) - his time is precious, and mine is committed to this journey. Competing isn't all sparkles and muscle. It's hard. In every way.

I'm not giving up. I won't give up. That doesn't mean I don't struggle with it. Especially when hit with criticism. This is the real world. And, haha, as my kids say... the struggle is real. Fo' sho'.  ;-)

Once Kayla got me talked off the ledge, lol, I was able to (mostly) set it aside. Later that day was my appointment to pick up my suit. Want a sneak peek? :-)

We've also narrowed down my stage "look". Friday I'll be heading to the mall to play with makeup and consult with my hair-genius, lol. I'm really looking forward to that. I need some girly fun :-)

Today was once again, Leg Day. They're feeling pretty toasted. I'm soon to head back for a quick hamstring session followed by cardio and dry sauna, then my hour of posing practice. Going to be another long night. I'm hoping to be home tonight before 10pm. My abs are playing hide and go seek... some days they pop (like today), other days they're MIA. We'll be experimenting with my carbs this friday to see what we can do to capture those buggers.

Anyway... the drama/crisis is past, and I'm back to the day to day grind. Lots and lots of fish. A gallon and a half of water. Sweat, sweat and more sweat. And a ticking clock. This is life five weeks from show, lol.

Speaking of fish... have I mentioned what a wonderful husband I have? Poor guy had to field my, "OMG, I'm a pound and a half short of Tilapia!!!" moment while I was doing prep last night. What's he do? Heads right out to the store to go buy me some. Then calls me... they're out of Tilapia. He volunteers to go to another store. They were out, too. How crazy is that? True love was me telling him to just come home, lol, and not to try another store - which he offered to do (also true love). Hahahaha! Today I managed to find more Tilapia, so all is well in the world. Little trivia... I go through a pound and a half of Tilapia each day. Yep. EACH DAY. And I prep 3 days at a time.

Just keep swimmin', swimmin', swimmin'...  ;-)

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.

Friday, July 11, 2014

6 Weeks Out From Show... and a challenge for the weekend

Ok, let me first say that starting Carb Day with fasted cardio is simply cruel and unusual punishment.  Let me say next, that starting said Carb Day with fasted cardio after accidentally sleeping in... harsh. Drat!

How I feel doing fasted cardio. Lol. 
My carefully planned schedule for today is a bust. Kapooey. Swirling on its way down the drain. Hmmph. Yep, the alarm went off, hubby went to work, and I kept snoozing. An hour and a half later, I woke in a panic. Time to rework the plan. I did my cardio, ate my breakfast (so very thankful for my new Tilapia Burger recipe!!!), and showered. The original goal was to let breakfast settle, then hit the gym for Chest/Shoulders, then shower, massage at 11 (oh thank the baby Jesus!), come back home and prep food for the weekend, then leave at 2. Well... no time now. Booo! So... new plan... I'll just have to do the workout before my evening cardio. In another state. Total unknown. Crap.

We're heading to California today, Shiloh has a few apartments to view and potentially put down a deposit on one in prep for her deployed hubby's return. Our hotel has a fitness center but I have no idea how well equipped it will be, so I've scouted the area - there's a 24 Hour Fitness across the freeway from us, and I'll have to get a weekend pass. I'm taking all my food with us - for the whole weekend.  Once we check in tonight, I'll look over the fitness center and go from there. Tonight, like I said, I'll have the workout plus 45 minutes HIIT and Steady State cardio. Then back to the hotel for dinner a'la cooler, relax, then final meal and snooze.

Tomorrow morning, I'll have my fasted cardio, fuel up, then we're off to view apartments. That evening I'll be doing my back workout plus 45 minutes cardio. Sunday morning is fasted cardio again, then eat, appointment, then trip home. Once back home I'll be right back at the gym for workout & cardio. Seeing a trend? ;-)

To say it will be a challenge to stay on track throughout this weekend is an understatement. But it will get done. It has to. This is part of the process. I am committed to hitting the stage READY, and it's not easy, not smooth, and certainly not for the faint of heart. But this is what it takes. So I'm doing it. When I feel good, when I feel lousy, I'm doing it. What are you doing this weekend to reach your goals??? How committed are you???

Last night I had the great opportunity to work with Alex, another coach & friend of the amazing Kayla, on my posing. He had terrific tips and was super helpful, especially considering he's a week out from his own show and depleted physically, yet still gave freely of his time and expertise. I'm so thankful! He's put me in touch with some other key people, so I'll be working on those connections next week. One of them, is a National level posing coach and I have an appointment with him Monday night. Woot!

My progress is humming along. I'm starting to see changes daily, small ones, here and there. The most amazing change, to me, is actually seeing abs. Even as lean as I got for my last show, abs weren't really part of  my physique. When I had my (mommy makeover) surgery, my doctor told me afterwards that my abs looked fantastic "in there". Hahaha, well, I want to see them "out here". And... I finally am!! Abs are notoriously persnickity... they show up if they want to, and I'm hoping they'll take mercy on me for the stage because what I'm seeing now has me very, very, VERY excited! If I lean slightly forward, blow out the air in my lungs and give just a little twist to the waist - there's a 6-pack!!!! OMG!!!! Bill and Alex both saw it so I know it's not wishful thinking, lol!

That moment alone was a primo motivation burst. I can do this - I can keep eating fish, doing cardio while totally depleted, lifting weights that feel like they're going to crush me (keep in mind, we've cut the weight in half, lol)... because I have abs! And I'm determined to fully unveil them! Wooohooo!!! Why is this so important to me? This is why...

That was me in 2007. And I'm never, ever going back. I remember that belly that rested on my thighs when I sat, spilled over my waistbands. I remember the thighs that jiggled and rubbed with every step, the gasping lungs from nothing more than walking on that beach. I remember hiding my arms, my body, myself.

And I won't hide anymore.

Changing my life, transforming myself, was worth every painful step. And this journey to the stage is, too.

So... the weekend's challenge? It may feel like I can't do it, like I'm beaten before I start - I'm tired, craving "regular" food, mentally exhausted (and all I want is a damn glass of wine), but I have everything I need to meet the challenge. I have the tools, the passion, the commitment. I'm going to beat it. How about you?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Weekend Recap, 7 Weeks From Show...

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! Around here it was pretty darn chill :-)  Friday was my rest and carb day... I might have overdone it on the fruit, lol. The family had bbq'd hot dogs & sausages, I had my usual turkey breast and steamed veggies, plus my carbs (I enjoyed black beans, strawberry, kiwi, banana, melon, sweet potato and lentils - not altogether, haha). It was a nice and relaxing day and we ended it watching a movie in the pool :-)

Saturday was the dreaded leg day. I don't know why exactly, but leg day is for sure my nemesis. I always have this unreasonable fear of it - maybe it's because of my knees, I don't know. Whatever it is, this one sucked. Even with my carb-up the day before, I just struggled with the weights... and they were wussy weights! Not really, but they're half what I've been doing prior to this cut phase. Then it started messing with my head... I'm in the squat rack, between two big guys who are lifting some serious iron and there I am, with my itty bitty weights on the bar - struggling. Boooo. I felt so judged, and it was probably all in my head, but, well, it sucked.

Regardless... I finished. Back home I got some work done and when evening rolled around it was time for UFC 175 ;-) I did my cardio on the bike while Bill, Joey and I cheered on our favored fighters. It was a lot of fun!

Plus, I was wearing my favorite cardio t-shirt.
Can you read it?

Hahahahaha! Yep, that's how cardio feels to me these days.
And... that shirt was pretty apt once Rousey took the cage... were you watching? Hope you didn't blink! 16 seconds. That's just crazy. And kind of a bum rap for Davis. It is what it is, but still.

Sunday we took a drive out to Canyon Lake - GORGEOUS!!! What a beautiful place!!! I'm excited to spend more time there! We got the family boat all tucked away in her slip and now there's no more messing with towing (or curvy roads while towing, lol)... and then Joey took a spin while we headed home. We'll (me and Bill) probably spend some time on the lake in a few weekends. My competition-prep-nerves can't handle the speed that the kids all enjoy, so Bill and I will just tool around. Ahhhh! Can't wait!!!


And... here's my prep update. Kayla is back from Vacation!!!!! Yay!!!!!!! She kicked my butt (well, chest and shoulders) today and laid out the plan for the rest of the week. Lots of changes, but I was expecting that. Full transition to low weight, high reps, and we're adding in fasted cardio in the mornings. Ha, knew that was coming! LOL!

We did a weigh in and.... I'm up almost 2 lbs. But my body fat is the exact same. So... we're doing a hard & fast cut over the next two weeks. We want to cut 6% body fat by the end of the month. Hence the double cardio. Dry Sauna is still 3x/week. Food... there's the biggest change. Fish. Lots and lots and lots of fish. Lol. I'll be eating (roughly) fish 3x/day, turkey once, plus two protein shakes (oh thank goodness! those I like!). Lots of green veggies, 1/2 avocado and 1/2 green apple each day. I also get 1 scoop of the UCAN pre-workout. Plus my usual supplements (multi, fish oil, probiotics, glutamine, BCAA's, greens powder, and Champion ThermoGold). And water. Much water. I've hit that point with the water intake where if I only have to get up two times a night to pee I'm doing good. Lol.

And there you have it... we are dialing it in, tightening it down, and amping it up. Oh my. Do me a favor, ya'll... swamp me with workout funnies! The laughter helps ;-)  Pin them and send to me, FB them and tag me, email them... whatever works, just send your funnies my way!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Thar' be Dragons... Thoughts on Counting the Cost and Making the Cost Count.

Prepping for a special event is unique. And unique to each type of special event. There are joys and trials, mental battles, and costs to consider. Over the last 6 years, I've done a lot of prepping... from simple things like a particular Halloween costume, to events like The Arnold Sports Festival, to weddings, even a Burlesque show, and on up to Figure Competitions. As you might expect, figure competing is the most expensive... though traveling to Ohio for the Arnold isn't cheap, lol.

I just ran the numbers for the two shows I'm doing... from federation membership fees, to entry fees, additional division fees, drug testing and polygraph fees, trainer pass fees... oh, then there's the tan, the suit, the shoes, the nails, the day of show needs (it's a whole suitcase of stuff!)... OH, and lest I forget, there's the professional photos and videos to be purchased, too. Also... this doesn't begin to include my coaching, supplements, and other sundries.

As I stared at the calculator's summary, I looked over at Bill, looked back at the screen and thought, <gulp!>  "Hmmm. Thar' be dragons."

Big, scaly, fire-breathing, sharp-toothed, bank-account-emptying dragons. Lol.  I'm very grateful to be in a position where these expenses don't make my sport prohibitive to me, and I'm blessed to have a husband who so completely supports my endeavors. Even when napalm-breathing dragons come for their treasure.

Needless to say, viewing the numbers causes me to minutely inspect every aspect of the expenses... what can I do without, what is imperative? Reality requires responsibility. And... respect.  It raises a few questions... Am I doing everything within my power to make the absolute most of this opportunity? Am I respecting my husband's investment? Mine? My coach's? Am I respecting my family's sacrifices? Am I doing everything I can to earn this?

My answers? Yes.

I may lose sight sometimes of things like expenses (ummm, my bad, but it's so shiny!), or how much everyone around me is invested in and affected by my journey... I may momentarily misplace my appreciation, but not for long. In truth, I'm humbled. And to be totally honest... it makes me feel a bit guilty. But in this case, guilt can be a positive thing... it keeps me on track, keeps me accountable.

Every moment of this journey costs... I'm going to make sure it counts.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

New Pinterest Boards and Prep Updates...  and
It's Wednesday... Hump Day, but I've got a bit of a ways to go yet before I'm over the hump... I have to go back to the gym and do cardio and dry sauna tonight. ;-)  I'm feeling really good today... enough energy, positive, and excited about my journey and progress.

A fun thing I did today was build boards on Pinterest about my journey(s) to the stage. In all my searching, one thing I couldn't find on Pinterest (and it seems you can find nearly every darn thing there) was some kind of path, or map someone, anyone, has followed as they prep for competition.

So, since I couldn't find it, I made it. Lol. There's now a board with highlights from my journey in 2011, and another board I'm currently pinning to for this prep.

I'm sure ya'll know I've got a whole bunch of boards on Pinterest (don't we all, haha), and it's so fun to add to them, but like most social media, boy is it a time-suck! Lol! I login and next thing I know it's 3 hours later! Yeesh! Is it just me or does that happen to you, too?

It was really fascinating to me to see the contrasts between this prep and my last one... not just in style, workouts and diet, but in my own headspace. I've learned so much, and have so much to learn, that they're just so completely different! I'm a different person, and I think that's key. I am just as dedicated, just as determined, just as prone to injury (haha) as I was before, but I'm not all tangled up in it every moment of every day. I'm more secure, have less to prove, and - it cannot be overstated - less body dysmorphia. I'm enjoying my journey to the stage a bit more, though I do still get lost in moments. Just part of being human. I know my family will tell you that I'm moody (and need more carbs), but they'll also admit that this is night and day from my last prep.

Examples? Well, while I don't cook every meal for them, I do make a few a week - Shiloh mostly does the cooking, which was her choice (she has an unnatural affinity for lasagna and spaghetti, lol). I typically cook the meals we can all eat together... like when we have grilled steak or steamed crab, or I'll do a big batch of veggies for everyone while we each handle our own main course. It's not a big stressor for me, or them. I don't have a problem if they order pizza & wings, or bring home Chipotle or whatnot. They're not on competition diet, I am. They can eat what they want.

I also don't obsess about every gram or calorie. I have my plan, I stick to it, I modify as needed. I do the work, do the cardio, ice the joints, and carry on. I'm not as fearful of each ache and pain as I was last time. Through my last journey and the years since, I've learned that every athlete gets injured. Every athlete hurts, gets tired, gets hungry, and moves on. It's part of the process, and I'm ok with it. I do feel healthier this time around - less inflamed in general, and my diet and workouts are key to that. Starting my journey this time with Pilates I believe really gave me a big leg up. Add in muscle memory, solid nutrition and supplementation, and that's a good foundation, period. Further, doing the food sensitivity test, and cortisol testing really helped to narrow things down and create a workable plan.

Oh, and I haven't had to do cardio inside a car dealership. Knock on wood. No, seriously, everybody knock on wood... I still have 7.5 weeks left! ;-)

So, all in all... parts are smoother this time around. That is NOT to say easier. Um, no. And this is NOT to say that I don't still spend time in the dark tunnel, because I do. I hurt, I cry, I whimper through sets (lol).  By smoother, I simply mean that my family isn't suffering as much as last time. ;-) They're still sacrificing a lot... still missing a lot. Little things like pool time - frankly there are days I'm too damn tired to put on my suit and join them in the water. Yeah, prep can make you that tired. Big things like not being able to go on vacation as a family because of my competition prep & show schedule. But... they're right here beside me, cheering me on, loving me in spite of my many moods ;-) I gotta say... They're pretty darn awesome.

And... now that I'm into longer cardio sessions, I have an excuse to watch all my "disney" movies and no one at home can make fun of me! :-)  Always a silver lining.

Tonight I'll head back to the gym, get 'er done, then come home and eat dinner, spend some time with the family, have my shake then crash. Tomorrow I'll do it all over again. :-)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Champion Performance Recipe of the Week - Zucchini Noodles

Competition diet is too often bland and boring. While I do eat a lot of the same foods, I also try hard to mix it up and keep things interesting. One of the best things (and most fun) is using my Spiral Vegetable Slicer . I LOVE this thing! From sweet potato curly fries on carb day to cucumber and zucchini noodles, this terrific accessory is 2nd only to my Ninja in sheer use! If you don't already have one, consider adding this to your kitchen! It really does make competition diet more fun ;-)

Zucchini Lemon Noodles
serves 1

1 zucchini, with skin
1/2 fresh lemon
Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb
Protein of choice (I used 5 oz diced roasted turkey breast)
1 Ziploc Zip'N Steam Cooking Bag

Chop off ends of zucchini and place in Spiral Vegetable Slicer to create noodles.
Place noodles in steamer bag and add a sprinkle of Mrs Dash.
Microwave on high 1 minute, 30 seconds.
Allow to rest in bag 1 minute.
Place "noodles" in bowl and squeeze lemon over them.
Add protein.

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