Best way to harass your dog while he’s trying to nap: use him to practice your deadlifts! When he started scratching at me I had to put him down. I couldn’t keep my back flat while he was squirming around, anyway.
Today, I’m nerding out on all things bodybuilding! I found this awesome podcast called Pro Body Talk Radio, hosted by Jen Thompson, Whitney Jones and Shannon Dey. I started listening to it primarily because I saw they had an interview with my all-time fave Amanda Latona. I listened to a few other episodes, and her interview stands out as the most honest and helpful. The interview starts at the 30:30 mark:
I loved what she had to say about taking your ego out of your training and adjusting your body to the changing industry. Even though she wants to go and throw heavy weights around, she watches the industry and her competition and changes her training according to what the judges want. After winning 10 pro shows, she still stays teachable and asks herself: “How can I improve?”
I also liked what she said about “not looking at the back of the book”. Don’t be focused on the end, or what you’ll look like in 7, 5, 2 weeks from now. If you trust in the process and do what you have to do just for today, then you can stay out of the results and enjoy the journey.
So, a couple things. First off, I cannot control myself at a Mexican restaurant. It’s just not possible. I eat the basket of chips in front of me, and then I move on to everyone else’s basket. I shovel guac into my mouth at lightning fast speed & drink the salsa. I always order carnitas – the fattier the better. So – lesson learned! This was my 2nd cheat meal of the week. It was planned. But it’s good to file this info for future reference.
Second, I’ve decided to push back my competition date! Hence, the new “Day” count in my blog titles. I’m going to start titling each post counting down to the day of the competition. Makes more sense that way. Builds suspense!
This was a tough decision to make, but after analyzing the timeline and the 12 weeks of hard prep I will need – this is the best way to go. Originally I was going to compete on February 14th. That would have forced me to start my official ‘prep’ on November 22nd….5 days before Thanksgiving. I would have had to plan my annual holiday trip to Texas with my boo’s family around early morning training & cardio sessions at the gym and a strict diet. Now, I don’t mind making the sacrifices, but I really didn’t want to inconvenience his poor family. How would you feel gorging yourself at Christmas dinner with some skinny chick on a diet eating a plate of veggies next to you? Also, this year we’re driving to Texas. That will be two consecutive days of driving there and then another 2 days of driving back. That’s 4 days total with no gym access. And I can’t just hop outta the car and go for a run while my boo waits. That’s ridiculous.
Ultimately, if I had to, I could do it. I could do some HIIT cardio while Allen’s sleeping. Pack a cooler of clean food. Grocery shop in Texas and prep my own meals. Wake up at 4 am to drive to the gym before everyone wakes up. But why? Why add that stress to the middle of my very first prep? No thanks. I want to enter this thing feeling strong & with a commitment to stay consistent. My eating habits (uhhh…as evidenced at the Mexican place tonight) are not consistent enough to be considered a mindless habit. To interrupt my routine only 7 weeks before my show just isn’t worth it to me.
Now, I’m not going to go crazy at Christmas. I will reign myself in. No endless cookie-eating contests and I will do regular cardio. I will pack healthy snacks for the road trip. And I will start my super strict clean eating the first week of December to lean out prior to my trip.
My new official date is March 14, 2015. As of today, that is exactly 4 months away. I will be competing at the Muscle Contest Championships, a show that is also an IFBB Pro Bikini Olympia qualifier. That means I’ll get to see some super inspiring kick-ass bikini chicks who have been at this thing a lot longer than I have up close in person! No more anonymous Insta-lurking!
I feel good about this decision and I’m excited. I mean, not really physically excited at this very moment because I’m weighed down by a Mexican food baby in my tummy and I’m about to pass out. But I know this is all about diligently planning ahead and I’d rather make this decision at this stage of the game instead of waiting and adding all that crazy stress to my holiday schedule.
Last Friday evening I attended the NPC Bikini Workshop hosted by Tamer El Guindy (a two time Mr. USA and IFBB bodybuilding pro), along with a panel of trainers and experts like Kim Oddo and Ingrid Romero. It was at the Sheraton Gateway hotel next to LAX, right before the athlete check-in’s for the Iron Games competition.
As I arrived, the energy in the air was electric! Tons of athletes streaming in, having just arrived in LA, flying in from all over the country. Bodybuilders hoping to place well at this competition to get a shot at the Nationals. I could smell their adrenaline and oompa-loompa tans. Some of them hid out under baggy sweat pants, some of them wore barely anything at all, showing off the goods early. They were all in the zone. Sussing out one another, greeting friends, tugging along their suitcases and food coolers. For a brief moment, I was able to envision myself here in 3 months, in the same zone, sprayed orange, mind focused and nerves on fire. It was fun. I almost forgot I was there to attend this damn seminar.
I walked in and pulled out pen and paper. I’ve been trained well. People call me a dork – but I like to be prepared and I learn best when I take hand-written notes. And I was there to learn.
Tamer has a great personality – super fun to listen to. Very knowledgeable and intelligent. He is not only a bodybuilder – he has two MBA’s and is a successful businessman. He impressed upon us how important one’s stage presence is. You can train for months, or years, but the judges can only assess what you put forward on stage. He emphasized that each competitor must master the art non-verbal communication on stage to win over each judge on the panel. He showed us some pictures from 2 separate years he competed at the NPC USA Championships. He shared about how he always tried to have a “hard” look on his face when competing – and how he was so disappointed and baffled when he lost to another athlete whose body was technically not as good as his own. He realized that the look on his face as he was flexing was turning off the judges. So Tamer changed and started smiling, and was able to portray a much more confident version of himself at the next USA Championships. That year he took 1st place. See for yourself:
I’ve been thinking about this whole concept of projecting ‘stage confidence’ a lot since last Friday. As I was scrolling through Instagram, I saw this picture (below) from a bikini competitor who recently won 1st place at a National level show. I was amazed at her posture and body language. You can clearly tell that the chick in the middle was ON. She knew she had that 1st place spot. Compare her to the other 2 girls on the right and left hand side.
Now, this is going to sound absolutely ridiculous – but I think I’m just now (as in, this moment) realizing that I’m going to have to walk on stage in a tiny bikini and pose in front of a panel of professional bodybuilders-turned-judges and an audience. This will mean hot (and blinding) stage lights, the sounds and echoes of a large auditorium with audience members hiding in the shadows, strutting my stuff in front of a million other hot athletes. This means not picking a wedgie on stage, or sneezing, or tripping – but walking gracefully and with purpose and telling the judges that I am #1.
Let’s back up. I started this journey because I love lifting weights and I loved the idea of competing and having a huge goal to work towards. I really was not thinking about what achieving the goal itself was going to look like at the very end. I thought the hardest part would be the training: lifting heavy ass weights, being sore all the time, doing cardio and eating super clean food.
Now I have this whole other thing to obsess over: learning how to pose, buying the right heels and walking like a pro in them, exuding confidence in front of a huge audience of complete strangers. While in a tiny bikini. Did I mention I’ll be wearing a tiny bikini? Ok, right, I did.
I’m starting to get this nagging awesome/scary feeling that this competition is going to be pretty transformative. I’ve found that challenges get placed in my life when I need to overcome or change some old type of thinking or old behaviors. And who knows? Maybe after all this training and prep, they won’t be able to drag me OFF the stage! We’ll just have to wait and see…
Aggghh! I’m walking funny and can’t sit down from yesterday’s glute workout. Just as I recover, it’s leg day again.
1) One Leg Squat on Smith Machine – 4 sets of 15 reps each. I started at 50 lbs and my last set was at 65 lbs. Here’s a good clip for demonstration (despite this woman’s voice being so terribly grating): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlTojfaAXBo
1) Leg Press: 3 sets of 30 reps. I take a mini-break in between each set on the 15th rep and change my stance on the platform. I start with a wide stance, then on the last 15 reps I move my feet close together. Always placing my feet high on the platform so my knees don’t bend over my toes. Here’s my idol Amanda Latona demonstrating: http://youtu.be/-F_jpkj4tOA?t=2m30s
2) Bosu Ball Squat (holding 25 lb plate): 3 sets of 15 reps each. Don’t hold a weight if you’re just beginning. Use this exercise for core & stability with no weight at all! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tpdgI1RZig
Straight up – cardio is my enemy. I really strongly dislike it. Kinda the same way I strongly dislike paying taxes, or the way guys strongly dislike getting kicked in the balls. I prefer knocking out my cardio by doing a strenuous hike or running the Santa Monica stairs off of San Vicente. If I’m on a tight schedule, I’ll suck it up and do about 25-30 minutes of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) on the treadmill. And for that, I need my crack juice.
Look – my goal with this blog is to share with you what I’m doing to get and stay fit and become an athlete. I’m not a doctor, or a nutritionist or a personal trainer. And I’m SURE there are better ways to grind out a gnarly cardio sesh without the use of a supplement I lovingly refer to as “crack juice”. But sometimes I just need to get through it, and I need a little jolt of caffeine to keep me going.
And by a little jolt, I mean 200 mg of pure unadulterated caffeine, with a side of Beta-alanine and L-Citrulline. I mix one half to one full scoop of this bad boy with water and gulp it down about 10-15 minutes before I hit the gym.
Now, before you get all crazy, a standard cup of coffee has about 80 mg – 100 mg of caffeine and most of the people I know drink at least 2-3 cups a day – not to mention the fact that they prepare it with nasty CoffeeMate creamer and cancer-causing Splenda. Also, I DON’T use this more than 3 times a week. And on the days I do use it, I don’t drink coffee. This does not give you a ‘head rush’ or anything, it really just gives you the fuel and energy for an intense sustained workout.
Every morning when I wake up at 4:45 am my first thought is: “I cannot go to the gym today. I have to come home and take a nap.”
Every morning. I’m able to recognize it and start laughing when these thoughts pop up – even as I go take a shower, then eat breakfast, then put on my makeup – the dialogue continues: “I just can’t do it today. I’m too tired. I’m too busy. I’ve got too much going on. I really need to come home and nap.”
It doesn’t matter how early I go to bed – even when I’m sleeping 7 hours a night – I don’t think I’ll ever wake up at 4:45 am with a big smile on my face ready to embrace the day. After I fully wake up and drive to work and get my day started, those thoughts totally disappear. Usually by the time I get to the gym, my mind is in a totally different space. But sometimes it’s not. Sometimes I just don’t wanna do anything all day long but come home and hibernate. And watch Law & Order re-runs on Netflix.
That’s why when I saw this posted on Pauline Nordin’s Facebook page, I liked the hell out of it:
“Scenario: you feel your body isn’t cooperating and it zaps all your energy. Last thing you want is to go work out.
Solution: here is when you practice dedication. Take down the ambitions of a super workout. Instead, just get to the gym. Do a really crappy workout, don’t try to outperform yourself just for today. For once, do your gym time. The importance is to keep the habit up, the rhythm of just going even when you’re not 100% on. This is what people miss. It’s not about burning calories, it’s about building psychological momentum.”
Hell. yes. This makes so much sense, and in hindsight, I’ve totally done this before. I mean, this wouldn’t work out well if I lowered my standards all the time -and if I were constantly ‘fighting’ my body each time it was time to hit the gym, I’d take a look at a few other things in my life (my Hashimoto’s, how much sleep I’m getting, my food intake, etc.). But this is such spot on advice.
See, motivation is such a tricky thing. It fluctuates and changes, and if I rely on the motivation I had last week, it’s not guaranteed to carry me through this week. In fact, I just read this awesome article by James Clear that pretty much echoes what I’ve been realizing lately. It’s as much about the process of achieving your goal, as it is about the goal itself. Sure, it’s inspiring and motivating to look at pictures of bikini pros like Amanda Latona; it helps me visualize what the sum of all my little efforts will (hopefully) look like. But after a while of admiring pictures of the pro’s on Instagram my mind will start to wander, and it’s hard not to compare myself to their progress. My goal of competing in February starts to seem impossible, implausible, unrealistic. I start losing the vision. To come back to center, I have to just focus on my system and the tiny steps that it’s going to take to ultimately reach that goal. For today, I am going to the gym at 4 pm to work shoulders (because it’s what I committed to when I laid out my gym schedule on Sunday). For today, I’m going to have faith in the process and believe that if I stay consistent, I will succeed in the long run. For today, even if I do a shitty job at the gym, I’ve stayed true to my schedule and this process and I at least succeeded at building that “psychological momentum”.
If you have a second, check out Pauline Nordin at her website. She’s a total badass. She’s not your standard likable fitness guru. She knows she’s hardcore and has a giant ego and doesn’t hide it. Maybe that’s another reason I like this quote from her so much. It comforts me to know that she has to cope with also being a fallible human with “off days”.