9 Weeks Out

As promised, here’s my weekly progress picture for 9 WEEKS OUT!

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Impressive, right?! So, I was totally grounded this week with the stomach flu. I got super sick on Monday and couldn’t move and haven’t been able to eat more than 1 can of soup per day for the past 5 days. Needless to say, no gym. I know there are some badass mofo’s who like to show up the gym sick and puke in the bathroom and spread their dirty germs all over the shared equipment, but that’s not my jam.

I did pretty well on keeping focused on my intentions I set last week. As I stated in my last post, my intentions for this prep are to keep my life as simple and streamlined as possible and not take on any new commitments. Which I thought would be easy. But I’m constantly coming up with ideas. This week I heard a good friend of mine speak on his spiritual practices and I was like, “I know! I’m going to set up a workshop and have him speak! I’ll organize and host the entire event!” I stopped myself, thankfully, and stored the idea safely on this awesome To-Do List/Project Organizing app I use (ToDoist) and set a reminder to follow up on that idea in 2 months.

As for my meditation, I’m going to count the hours I spent sick, rolling back and forth in bed, moaning and wailing, as my practice for this week (that’s what I do when I’m sick- I roll around and moan and cry, as if I were slowly dying — even if I just have a cold). That was the best I could do. However, now that I’m amongst the living, I’m going to focus on using this new app a friend recommended called Insight Timer. It’s free and has thousands of guided meditations from all sorts of gurus and teachers. You just tap to play and listen.

I’ve also decided to stop listening to the news! Which, if you know me, is a pretty big deal. I listen to NPR or KFI or KPOC in my car on my way to work, coming home from work, running errands, at my desk.  I’ve realized it only contributes to my becoming sour and cynical and frustrated. A bleeding deacon, if you will. Even worse, I love political documentaries and I follow a bunch of conspiracy-theory doomsday-type blogs – which, let me tell you, takes you down a dark rabbit hole real fast.  I read this excerpt from Walden by Henry David Thoreau that helped me make this decision:

“I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter — we never need read another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications? To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip.”

I think all of this unnecessary negativity is a real drain on my inner resources, and for the next 8 weeks, I need to tap into whatever I can that motivates, empowers, uplifts, and supports me. I’m going to listen to either music or this new audiobook I downloaded called “The Rise: Creativity, The Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery” by Sarah Lewis. I found this book by listening to the author on NPR’s Ted Talk podcast. Here’s a little gem from the podcast titled “Champions”:

“Masters are not experts because they take a subject to it’s conceptual end, they’re masters because they realize that there isn’t one. We build out of the unfinished idea, even if that idea is our former self. This is the dynamic of mastery: coming close to what you thought you wanted can help you attain even more than you dreamed you could. Even if we created utopias, I still believe we would have the incomplete. Completion is a goal but, we hope, it is never the end.”

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a new recipe I’m going to try out tomorrow morning for breakfast:

summeroatmeal

Ingredients: Rolled oats, chia seeds, fresh fruit, almond/coconut milk, greek yogurt, some fresh berries, protein powder (optional).

Here’s a link to the original blog post:  http://www.theyummylife.com/Refrigerator_Oatmeal

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10 Weeks Out

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Left: 10 weeks out from 1st competition (147 lbs); Right: Yesterday, 10 weeks out from 2nd competition (140 lbs)

OK, so we’re gonna just totally ignore the retarded sleepy face present in both pictures, mmmkay? Thanks. These are two progress pictures taken exactly 10 weeks out. The one on the left is from my 1st competition a few months ago; the one on the right was taken yesterday. I’m starting about 7 lbs lighter than I did last time. Which is awesome – cuz I’m hoping that will somehow translate into me not doing as much cardio this time around. Here’s the feedback I got via email from the judges on my first competition:

“Congrats on a job well done at the Cal. You have a very nice physique for the bikini division. You have nice balance and your posing was good. My suggestion to you is to improve your overall conditioning. Bump up the cardio and be very strict with your diet. I would add a lite more muscle to your upper body and add depth and roundness to your glutes. Keep up the good work and I hope to see you onstage again very soon!”

In case you’re not following me and didn’t witness my ridiculous day-of-competition Facebook photobomb extravaganza, here’s a few shots:

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I placed 4th in Novice for my class and 5th Overall for my class! I got first call outs, and that was my goal. Here are my fave candid shots (for good measure, right?):

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One week after my show I did get my body fat tested to see how I came in. I was at 8.5% body fat and had managed to maintain all of my lean muscle mass during my prep period. I was super stoked about that. As I got smaller I was so concerned about withering away all that hard earned muscle.

I had such high hopes and lofty goals, post-comp! I swear, I swear I did! I was going to carefully reverse diet, do a little mini-bulk and add back in more carbs, and maintain my 6-days a week gym regimen and lift like a badass 100% of the time. After all, to come in leaner, or look “more conditioned”, per the judges suggestion, I really have to add on lean muscle. I cannot (and do not) want to lose too much more body fat.

Here’s the reality of the situation though: I love food. I love lifting super heavy and spending 2 hours in the gym and then going to the Stand and eating a giant double cheeseburger (and fries). Also, I could feel that my body wanted to rest. And I started a Statistics class in school and I had to bust my ass to keep up for Finals. I was feelin’ pretty hot and said “fuck it” and kinda coasted for 3 weeks.

I’m not regretting it. I’m going to be gentle with myself.  I’m only up 5 lbs from stage weight, I’ve cleaned up my diet this past week and back on track with Sunday Meal Prep. I’ve been having fun lifting as heavy as I possibly can. I’ve been playing around with doing way more ‘big lifts’ each week than ever before–squatting and doing deadlifts maybe 3 times per week. I’d probably do more if I wasn’t so damn sore. I’ve kept up with my 1 gallon of water per day (for the most part) and my daily vitamins and supplements (my thyroid meds, spirulina, omega’s, vitamin D and B-complex, and a probiotic).

So, here we go. I’ve got 10 weeks. I’m currently taking another gnarly Stats class, and I’m also doing an accelerated 9-week NASM certification course. And I just got a new puppy. I know the next two months are going to be a challenge – but I’m up for it. I am coming up on the big 3-0 in January and I feel like it’s NOW or never. Ok – so that may be a little melodramatic, and nothing need be that black or white. But there will be plenty of time to ‘rest’ and take it easy later on down the line. Right now, I’m motivated and young(ish) and I’m going all out while I can. I have big plans and I just am not patient enough to sit and wait and do things linearly, one after another.

I remember in yoga, some teachers I had would have everyone in class set an ‘intention’ for that hour. I really loved that practice of setting an intention for what you hope to focus on during a set period of time. My intention for the next 10 weeks will be “Balance”. Here are my goals:

1) Sleep more. Be diligent with getting 7+ hours.

2) Don’t take on any more commitments. Don’t overextend myself (more than I already am). When I start trying to calculate the drive time in between appointments & only apply makeup in traffic – that’s a sign I need to slow the F down, and simplify.

3) Meditate regularly in the morning and the evening.

That’s all 🙂

14 Weeks Out from Show #2

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Agggghh! Ok, so it’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Here’s what happened: I got really hung up last time about posting blogs throughout my prep that I forgot to actually…you know…prep. When I got serious and found a coach in late March, and started a real 10 week prep, there was absolutely NO TIME for this bullshit blogging nonsense. It literally took every ounce of energy, blood, sweat, and tears I had in me to get through the 10 weeks and stay on track. I was spending 1.5- 2 hours in the gym, about 5-6 times per week. Going to school at night. Working a full time job. Taking care of my moochie (my fur baby) and my boo. It was a blur of cooking and prepping meals, eating meals, going to the gym, and passing out at night. Deep african sleep alllllll the way (for you Louis CK fans, you got me). I competed about a week ago on May 23rd at the Cal State Championships in Culver City. I got first call outs in both Novice & Open for my height class. I placed 4th in Novice and 5th in my open class. I’m extremely pleased. I went into it just praying for first call outs– that’s all I really wanted. Which was a big goal – no doubt. But to walk away that evening with the trophies was a really incredible feeling. Most of things I do in my life (school, work, mentoring, etc.) are ongoing – they have no definite “completion” date. I mean, school will eventually end – but it’s so far away I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel yet. So having set a goal, working toward that goal, and achieving it and walking off that stage felt really triumphant and rewarding.

But it ain’t over yet! I’ve set a new date for my 2nd competition…. September 5th! This time I’m going to do my best to post throughout my prep…

Hangin’ tough

Today’s workout got me like this lil baby. Should I eat, sleep, or just cry?

This is what happened:

5 exercises x 15 reps each x 5 sets – 90 second rest in between sets

  • Assisted Pull Ups (I like using MummyStrength bands over the assisted machine)
  • Box Jumps
  • Barbell Chest Press
  • Floor leg raises
  • Sumo squat (w/ dumbbell)

I did a little lighter weight than I’m used to, with higher reps, and used this circuit workout to squeeze in some cardio (cuz #ruckfunning). You do each exercise back to back without any rest in between (literally jog from one exercise to the next). Don’t stop till you’ve done 15 reps of each. I took a 90 second rest in between each set.

How you know when things are getting serious….

1.       There are tons of Quest protein bar wrappers littered about your car.

2.       You rate peanut butter up there with bacon.

3.       You do Leg Day two or three times a week.

4.      You get more excited over a pair of new workout leggings than a pair of 7 jeans.

5.       Everyday a new muscle is sore. The soreness never ends, it just rotates around to different parts of your body.

6.       You’ve got your fave protein powder on auto-ship.

7.       You eat more than your boyfriend.

8.       You spend more time flexing in the mirror than applying makeup.

9.      You feel fancy in jeans and heels – since you’re usually wearing sweaty gym gear.

10.     You love lifting on Friday nights ‘cuz the gym is totally empty.

Bodybuilder Blues

So, I’ve hit a little snag. A little set back. Outta nowhere, I lost my gym momentum. I’ve been training 5-6 days consistently each week and I lost my mojo! Something came up and I couldn’t go last Friday. I was on set for a national commercial for my company this past weekend, from 7 am to 9:30 pm and I absolutely couldn’t squeeze anything in. And today? Well… I was wiped out and exhausted and had to grocery shop & food prep and all the stuff I normally do over the weekend. So that’s 4 days outta the gym. I subsequently ate crap ALL weekend long, of course. I feel bloaty and gross and defeated. To make matters worse, money is slow. Super slow. I’m rethinking my plans to hire a trainer for my first show. Which is very disappointing and scary for me. I really felt like I needed guidance on this first time around.

Just in time, I listened to an episode of Pro Body Talk podcast during which they interviewed IFBB Pro Rodney Razor. He’s my fucking hero right now. He said everything I really needed to hear. He shared about how he just stumbled into this sport, not really knowing much. People had told him that he had a great physique and he wanted to take it to the next level. He never had a coach! He never hired a trainer or anyone to take him through competition prep. He talked about how he would Google terms like “peak week” and he taught himself everything he needed to know by doing his own research and working hard.

It was so motivational. Sure, I would prefer to do this with a trainer, but if I can’t – then I’m not going to let that stand in my way or use it as an excuse to back out. I got the reinforcement I needed to know that I can do this – trainer, no trainer, doesn’t matter.

And on that note… I gotta get to bed. Back to the gym tomorrow. Back to my prepped foods. Time to shake off my blues and move forward.

Day 119: “I wanna lift trucks with chains”

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.

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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.

Day 120: It’s confusing, I know.

Phallic dessert @ La Ventura Mexican restaurant
Phallic dessert @ La Ventura Mexican restaurant

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.

Day 50: NPC workshop

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:

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Tamer’s “mean” “hard” look
guindy good
Tamer radiating confidence, taking 1st place!

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.

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Random chick, kicking ass.

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…

 

Day 52: Booty workout

Aggghh! I’m walking funny and can’t sit down from yesterday’s glute workout. Just as I recover, it’s leg day again.

SUPERSET:

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

2) Box Jump (using a TALL box) – 3 sets of 10 reps each. Here’s a good clip for demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxldG9FX4j4

SUPERSET:

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

SUPERSET:

1) Hip Abductor: 3 sets of 20 reps each. Heavy weight, lifting tush 2″ off of the seat and leaning forward and I push out with my hips.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b97cvyH9sE

2) Walking Lunges (with 50 lb barbell): 3 sets of 24 steps. I step really wide and lift through my heel, squeezing my booty as I stand upright. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNV-kzCDWfg

FINISHER:

1) Back Hyperextensions: 3 sets of 20 reps holding 20 lb plate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtjJUWCnDyE