Monday, October 12, 2015

My 3rd Fitness Competition

On Saturday I competed in my 3rd fitness competition, and my second with the NPC, the NPC Colorado Natural! I was so excited this time because I came in with better posing, an amazing new bikini from IFBB Pro Laura Richards (that complements my coloring so much better), professional hair and makeup from IFBB Bikini Pro Crystal Green, and a much better physique!

However, I was disappointed with my placing I must say.  I placed better than I did in April, but not by much, and it was a big let down to feel like I did my best and it wasn't good enough.  Nonetheless, I am as determined as ever to use the off-season to build more muscle and make improvements.  As long as I am improving each time I know that is the most important goal and accomplishment.

Competing isn't easy, and you put in months of hard work for a few precious minutes on stage.  I had a lot of fun on stage, and my brilliant coach and her husband, and my husband of course, were super supportive of me and just as surprised I didn't get first call-outs. I certainly wouldn't suggest to just anyone that they compete, and I can tell you there are people in my life who criticize me for it and do not support it.

For now I am going to focus on a proper reverse diet.  What is a reverse diet?  When you are on a diet to lose weight you are running at a calorie defect so your body will burn fat.  Your body makes adjustments to be able to do this, so if you introduce too much food too fast your body will welcome all of the extra calories to fill up the glycogen in your muscles again and promptly begin storing the excess as fat.  A reverse diet is a way of adding calories back gradually so that you don't gain back too much body fat, particularly if you've been doing a lower carb diet and more cardio that is typical of many fitness competition preps.  So, for a few weeks before I start eating a slight calorie excess each day and lifting heavy like a bad-ass bikini builder I need to stay at a smaller calorie defect and gradually increase carbs and decrease cardio to give my body healthy time to adjust.

This process is harder than competition prep for a lot of people, and I have definitely struggled with it in my previous competitions, but it was easier the second time, so I expect it to be easier now and for me to be better at it! It's hard when a variety of foods you avoided is suddenly available again and when you tell yourself diving into a mound of french fries and multiple pints of beer is off limits, it doesn't come with the knowledge you have to step on stage in a few weeks.  I know that incorporating things I enjoy and can successfully eat in moderation like oatmeal, turkey bacon, and my Saturday morning protein pancakes can help me make that transition through a successful reverse diet.  I'll keep you posted!

Saturday, October 3, 2015


Okay, I want to keep this blog as positive as possible, but I need to take a minute for a little rant.  I've been noticing a popularity of friendly acquaintances lately who are into quick fix shake brands which claim to be loaded with protein and antioxidants and will help you lose weight quickly as a meal replacement.  To be clear, I have no problem with protein shakes and I take them myself after a workout or occasionally as a meal replacement when I'm traveling, but do yourself a favor and don't buy into that "loaded with antioxidant" hype.  It may have antioxidants and vitamins added to it, but then save your money and buy a protein flavor you like from and a regular ol' multivitamin because the antioxidants you get loaded into a powdered shake are not the same as eating a handful of blueberries.  It's just not.  The shake is a processed food.  You're better off eating whole, real foods.

I think what made me particularly upset was the friendly acquaintance who declared she had "tried exercising, tried eating healthy, and even tried Weight Watchers" and nothing had worked until she bought this brand that uses words like "cleanse" and "detox" to describe their products.  WARNING be very, very wary of health products that you take internally that use these words.  I'm sorry, but it doesn't sound like you made a good go at exercising, eating healthy, or Weight Watchers, and to really be successful, most people need to combine healthy eating and exercise.  Maybe not right away, but to continue to see results and to maintain results for the long haul, you need to do both.

Most importantly, taking a shake as a regular meal replacement doesn't teach you anything.  Yeah, you might see some quick weight loss results because you're in a calorie deficit for the day, but let's say you could enjoy shakes as meal replacements all the way to your goal weight.  Then what? Have you learned anything about eating healthy, exercising, or what we also know is key to successfully maintaining weight loss; healthy habits to help you avoid stress eating, get more activity out of your day, or otherwise make the lifestyle change necessary to be healthy and fit? No. A shake does not tell you how to cook a healthy meal for yourself, but a through and practiced period of healthy eating, say, the amount of time it takes you to lose weight by eating healthy, is enough to pick up tips, tricks, healthy recipes, healthier versions of your favorite foods etc... to help make the change last a lifetime.

If you want life long results you need to make a lifestyle change, and that doesn't happen overnight or by "fixing" just one thing in your life.  What you eat is important, but the majority of your food should come from whole fruits and vegetables, meat, beans, some dairy, nuts, and healthy oils, not processed quick fixes.  Make exercise fun and take a class, work with a trainer, and remember that even small things like taking the stairs or getting a standing desk at work add up over time, and most importantly the reflect an attitude change that you are proactive about your health, which you need to be successful for life!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How to Say No

I have been lacking some inspiration to post the past week, but something just occurred to me and I had to share it: how I "say no" to food temptations.  I remember about 6 months ago I was eating a plain Greek yogurt for a snack in the office and a co-worker remarked to another co-worker who I am close friends with about how much she admired my self control.  My friend then told me what she had said, and I was quite shocked to hear that I was someone who outsiders saw as a person that could healthfully control their eating, but I realized that was a healthy habit I had developed over time.  To be clear, it is something I struggled with for a long time and I still struggle with now and then, but since that day I have gained some perspective that I think others could find helpful.

Yes, I am preparing for a competition which means a lot of certain foods are off limits (still not starving myself though!) and I fit in a bit of extra cardio, but it's more than just the threat of stepping on stage in a tiny blinged out bikini in just over three weeks that motivates me at this point, I use a little mantra that has helped me say no to cravings or junk food even when I'm not preparing for a competition.  I tell myself, "it will always be there, it's not like you can never have it again," and it's true.

When we go into periods of dieting to lose weight we may restrict how we eat, and when we get to a point of maintenance we should never truly go back to old habits.  Hopefully, by then you've learned enough and made enough changes in life that your lifestyle is different.  You are fitter, healthier, happier, and find it easier to stay committed to your new lifestyle.  At this point though you may be wanting to incorporate a few more treats or cheats into your eating habits, and that's okay, but how do you do so without going overboard? Or maybe you haven't reached your weight and fitness goals yet and even with planned cheat meals still need help for the in-between?

Remind yourself that delicious food isn't going anywhere.  It's not like you will never be able to have a bacon cheeseburger again, or a scoop of rocky road, or whatever your pleasure may be.  Those foods will always be there, and I find that when you really plan to eat them that you enjoy them more. Make sure when you have them you out of your way to get that bacon cheeseburger at a nice sit down restaurant you like that knows just how you like it, rather than getting a sub-par fast food burger that might nip the craving, but leaves you feeling guilty afterwards when you find it just didn't taste as good as you'd built it up in your head.  Remembering that helps too, food always seems so amazing when you're fantasizing about it in your head, but we really rarely have meals that are literally unforgettable, right?

Gluten free chocolate chip and pumpkin spice waffles caught my eye in the freezer isle last night, and I had images of using those pancakes as buns for an egg and bacon sandwich (insert Homer drool)...but I also know that I could make said waffle sandwich post competition and it's not really going to be that mind blowing.  I bet those waffles are paper thin.  I'd rather just enjoy one nice meal at Snooze next time I'm in Denver, where they really do make unforgettable gluten free pancakes!

So next time you find yourself impulsively wanting to snack on something that isn't inline with your fitness and health goals, remind yourself of those goals, remind yourself it isn't going anywhere, and you are not planning on eating it now. It will always be there.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

We All Make Mistakes

"We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment." Jim Rohn (motivational speaker)
Have you ever let a cheat meal turn into a cheat day? Or maybe you woke up and told yourself you were going to be perfect today and stick to your meal plan, eat only the food you brought and prepared, and then there was a really nice looking fruit & cheese or cookie platter at a meeting, or you got some unexpected good news or bad news and decided to out to eat to celebrate or comfort.  You tell yourself you're going to order a steak and broccoli, but then you see the amazing looking pasta or hamburger and fries.

We've all been there, had a slip up in our diets and it's unexpected toll on our emotions when we polish off our second cheat meal for the day and find ourselves wondering how you lost control so easily.  Especially after a string of being successful with your meal plans and exercise it can be frustrating to be wiping the grease off of your finger tips and wish you could take it back.

Although this behavior isn't very healthy, don't make it even harder by beating yourself up about it.  If you decide to have a cheat meal, eat your cheat meal, enjoy it, and don't feel bad about it.  The emotional beat down is not worth it and not the point of a cheat meal.  If your cheat meal turns into a cheat day, the same rule applies; don't beat yourself up emotionally about it and decide to give up, take the control back.

If you were holding a carton of a dozen eggs and you accidentally dropped one, would you throw the rest of the eggs on the floor in frustration? Would the eleven other eggs be worthless because you were a little careless and broke one? Of course not.  If you slip up on your diet, or miss a day of working out because you just didn't feel up to it, don't throw the other eggs on the floor, get back to what you planed with the very next meal.  In fact, it's this sort of consistency that will help you meet your goals and maintain them.  You made a mistake, but it's not going to make or break your fitness and health goals.  If you're consistent then your results will be consistent and you will get there.

Acknowledge when things didn't go as you'd planned, reflect on what might help the next time something unexpected happens, and what you can do better to be more successful and be better prepared, and then move on.  We all make mistakes even though we don't always like to admit it.  Be consistent, be forgiving, and you will be successful.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Bacon & Eggs "Muffins"

I cannot claim 100% credit for this recipe as it is inspired by the countless egg muffin recipes out there, but this is something I whipped up quickly for breakfast for the week that I thought I would share because they were beyond easy to make and sooooo tasty!  You can really add whatever you want to these; they're a great way to get a ton of veggies in your diet if you want to add them (I added a couple slices of jalapeno from the garden to mine!).

I used whole eggs turkey bacon because even though I'm on a keto diet, with whole eggs there's already enough fat for me, and I also like that turkey bacon is likely to cook a little more uniformly because of it's pre-fab nature.  You can substitute egg whites if you want, and as I said you can add veggies but you'll probably need to reduce the eggs a little to make room for them, and note that they could take a little longer to cook because of the added water content in the vegetables.

a dozen eggs
12 strips of bacon
salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
seriously that's it!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Crack eggs in a bowl and whisk together.  Add seasonings and set aside.  Grease a 12 count muffin tin and cut the bacon strips in half.  Lay two bacon halves in a crisscross pattern across the bottom of the muffin tin and scoop the seasoned egg mixture over the bacon until it is evenly divided.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Let me tell you, these are so good!! The bacon grease cooks into the egg so you get a salty bacon taste with each bite, and they're hand held, easily portable and will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Funday

Happy Sunday Funday! I know Sunday means a lot of things for a lot of people, for me it means meal prep, my one rest day off of weight lifting to give my muscles a chance to repair and build, planning for the week, and also taking care of myself.

Taking care of yourself in the best sense of course doesn't mean sleeping until noon, eating crap food all day, and never really bothering to freshen up or get dressed. Taking care of yourself is making time to address your physical and emotional needs. I do this every day by working out first thing in the morning, taking my full hour lunch break as often as possible, going for walks, and often doing some reading before bed. I also try to use my Sundays to take a little extra time for myself. Watch movies, play video games, read magazines, take epsom salt baths...small things that take more time than I have for during the week, but small things that give me a chance to relax and reconnect a bit with myself.

It's really important to make time for yourself throughout the week to take care of yourself, even if it's just a bubble bath. We get so caught up in being busy and overworking, and we justify living a fast-paced life by saying well, I workout every day and I eat right, and I take a multivitamin and try to drink enough water. Being healthy though isn't just about working out 100% of the time. I roll my eyes at the people that post the "Sunday is not an excuse to not workout today, aren't I amazing for working out?" posts on Facebook. Sure, I do workout on Sundays on occasion, I went for a bike ride this morning, but I do it as part of my prep and it is something I find relaxing. I know that my body isn't going to crap just because I didn't lift today, and the rest may actually be better for it. Being healthy means also putting your emotional well being first.

What really amazes me is just how much my Sundays have changed in the course of a few years. I used to value sleeping very late on Sundays, eating heavy greasy food to fight off the occasional hangover, and otherwise not doing anything. Was it relaxing? Sure, but I find there's so much more value in finding a balance between planning for your week, establishing healthy habits and a healthy routine, and making times for the things you truly enjoy and are worth your valuable time.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Which is Easier?

Someone just posted a picture quote similar to this one on a Facebook group I'm a part of and it got me thinking.  I know it's meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but my initial reaction was that getting fat is not easy at all! I'm not just talking about the people with super high metabolisms that dread being summed up as skinny fat, I'm talking about all of the psychological self-loathing that often accompanies getting fat.

I'm pretty fit right now, I'm fitter than over 90% of American woman according to a article I read the other day about body fat, but I haven't always been this way, and I certainly haven't always been this way and maintained it.

I am happy to say that after I hit a goal weight last summer I have kept the weight off since, and continued to build muscle while losing body fat, but prior to this (and in some ways still now!) I struggled a great deal with my weight.  Ever since I was in 6th grade I had been unhappy with my body and didn't know much how to change it.  When I would successfully lose weight by being more active and watching what I ate the results would often be short lived and I would watch myself get fatter and fatter.  It wasn't easy.  You might know the feeling: you're unhappy with the way you look naked and unhappy with your body, and you may even want to change it and be actively taking steps to change it but then your friends invite you out for burgers and beers and the idea of being social and chowing down on your favorite Bad Daddy's burger (and tots) while enjoying the latest local brew on tap is actually way more fun.  And then you feel bad about yourself, beat yourself up mentally, emotionally, and maybe even physically the next day at the gym.  It's not a good place to be and not how anyone really wants to live.  Not to vilify burgers and beer, but there's a time and place for everything, and they aren't worth it if you're going to be fat and unhappy afterwards.

It is not easy getting or being fat or unhappy with your body.  Nothing in life worth having truly comes easy anyway.  Set realistic, achievable, time measured goals and you'll find that consistently working towards them is actually a lot easier than continuing to be unhappy because you're not doing anything about your unhappiness.

Friday, August 21, 2015


Cardio.  Unless you're one of those crazy distance-loving runners (I don't know how you do it!) we know cardio has a lot of health and fitness benefits but it's just not as much fun as lifting weights, taking a group fitness class, going for a hike, bike ride...basically any other fitness activity!  As I was slugging through a hour long session on the step mill the other morning for my contest prep I had a thought about sharing some of my tips for how to get through a particularly difficult cardio session, or even make it fun!

My first tip is a bit obvious but it is something I find very helpful: stock up on songs, movies, and tv shows you like to listen to while you're on a cardio machine.  I find when I've got a playlist of a few new songs, some uplifting songs, and some upbeat songs, it really keeps me feeling positive and like I can do anything.  It helps that I zone out a little bit sometimes and picture myself being successful on stage.  Movies and tv shows are also something nice to not take your focus entirely off your workout, but shift it enough so you're not stuck there dwelling over how much time you have left.  Spending a little money on some new media goes a long way in flying through your workout.

My second tip is to mix it up! Now, I have been prescribed a lot of steady state cardio for my contest prep and I tend to stick to the step mill because I like it and it's great for my booty.  However, sometimes I go for a hike or run outside, or I set the treadmill on an incline, or occasionally show up for spin class.  Maybe I'm not burning as many calories on an incline treadmill or hitting my glutes as well on a spin bike, but by not doing the same thing 100% of the time I am a little more interested, more focused, and more enthused about a change.

You can also mix it up by doing a HIIT (high intensity interval training) session instead.  HIIT is the big thing in cardio right now so if you haven't heard of it trust me when I say you'll have no problem finding HIIT workout suggestions.  You can do HIIT for either distance or time; I find time is usually easy to measure.  One HIIT workout I like is Tabata where you do 20 seconds of all-out work and then take 10 seconds of rest for a total of 4 minutes.  You can do anything for 4 minutes.  I like to do sprints, jump squats, and step ups on an aerobic step.  Another HIIT favorite of mine is on the step mill.  I'll warm up at a steady state for 2 minutes, and then I will crank up the speed and take the steps 2 at a time for 1 minute, back to steady state for 1 minute, and repeat 1 minute on, 1 minute off for 8-10 rounds.  I'll then take a few minute cool down at the steady state.

A lot of people insist on almost exclusively doing HIIT over steady state cardio, but I find the best solution varies for each person and for me I'm in the middle.  You can't really do HIIT every day if you're truly going all out.  I find it as a nice way to mix it up a couple times a week, but you can burn yourself out or harm your lifting gains if you overdo it.

Finally, have a "10 minute rule." To contradict my second tip a bit, if I'm doing my steady state inside at the gym and not attending a class I tell myself I must start on the step mill and do at least 10 minutes.  If after 10 minutes I'm just not feeling it, I can finish the rest on the incline treadmill which is still work, but much easier.  Usually after 10 minutes I'm not too miserable and tell myself, okay, go for another 10, or even 5.  I find that if I keep reaching for those 5 and 10 minute goals, with a little media stimulation, I can make it through an entire hour workout.  To date the earliest I quit was 45 minutes into a hour workout, and that was because my lower back was a little sore and I decided to finally give it a break and hit the treadmill.  This really has been huge for me in getting through a necessary cardio session to torch major calories, and as a bonus I usually feel accomplished and proud of myself at the end for sticking with it and not quitting, and that puts a pep in my step for getting on with the rest of my day.

So, I know cardio can be a bit of a pain, and a bit controversial, but this is how I do it and it works for me.  I hope my tips can help you find what works for you!