Tuesday, July 28, 2015

NPC Contest Prep - 11 Week Recap, 15 to Go!

Well hello there! Let's go ahead and start things off with some stats:

Current body fat:15.5% (I was nearly 26% this time last year!!)

Goal body fat (by 11/7/15): Somewhere around 12-13%

Bust: 32 inches (down from 33)

Waist: 25 inches (down from 27.5)

Hips: 33 inches (down from 36.5)

Some recent PRs worth noting: 115lb back squat/320 leg press/65lb preacher curls

Yay to getting stronger and leaner!!

My leg workout today:
4x12, no supersets:

  • squats - bar, medium stance
  • inverted leg presses - wide stance
  • squats - bar, close stance
  • hamstring curls - seated, two legs
  • squats - bar, wide stance
  • straight leg deadlits - dumb bell, single leg
  • 15 minutes stairmill. Don't hold on!!

In an effort to shake things up, let's try a different format. Here are some highs and lows of my training last week:


  • Training with Coach Steve on Tuesday. He pushed me harder than I would have ever pushed myself on bis and shoulders. When I started curling the 55lb bar for 12 reps, I literally caught myself mustering "I can't..." and stopped myself. He retorted "Yes you can" - and guess what?! He was right. I could. And I did. If there is one piece of advice I can give ANYONE - regardless of where you are on your fitness journey it is: ELIMINATE SELF DOUBT. Don't you dare say "I can't" - because chances are, you can. Our bodies are so strong. We are so capable. Push yourself. Challenge yourself. You'll be amazed. I promise.
  • Putting on a suit and getting on stage. The same day Steve and I worked out, I put on a suit that I haven't had the courage to wear in years (literally). And guess what?! It was too big! More than that, standing on stage under those spotlights, I finally felt fairly confident. I definitely have work to do, as you'll see from this shot. Where is my neck?! Posing needs to be refined and of course I will need to lean out before the show (no makeup, filters or photoshop in the photo below so don't judge!) - but all in all, I feel great. He even mentioned signing me up for another show earlier than Music City Muscle, depending on my progress over the next few weeks. 
  • Finding out I may be featured on Bodybuilding.com under their female transformation stories. Y'all wouldn't believe my "before" bikini pictures. Holy skinny fat. More to come on this in the next few weeks...
  • Discovering FuelUp. This is so clutch, especially considering I have a work trip coming up in two weeks. Meals custom made based on your macros and dietary restrictions. Love!
  • Planning my December vacation! I'm getting SO excited to get away. 
  • Getting back into hot yoga. I took a 90 minute class on Sunday and it felt UH-MAZING to stretch out my chronically sore muscles. 


  • My cheat meal from hell. I used to love Antico - the best pizza in Atlanta, in my opinion. Well, Saturday I took advantage of a cheat meal and ate a few slices of their veggie pizza followed by a super small cup of coffee gelato. It all tasted SO good going down. In fact, I'm pretty sure I moaned my way through most of it. HOWEVER - I was literally up all night, staring back at my dinner in the toilet (sorry if that was TMI). I couldn't believe I was up hurling so violently. Sunday morning I woke up and text my coaches asking what I could do to ease my poor tummy. And just like that, they took my cheats away. I think my body is so used to clean eats now that grease and dairy just aren't digesting well. It's amazing what 11 weeks of clean eating can do to our digestive systems. Anytime I crave pizza or ice cream, I'll reply Saturday evening and reach for the chicken and veggies, thank you very much.
  • My progress pictures today. I sent them in to Steve this morning and felt a bit down after looking at them. I'm definitely retaining water (yay PMS!) - and I just still struggle with seeing progress in my lower abs and hips, although my measurements above don't lie. What gets me through difficult moments is hearing him tell me "slow and steady wins the race here." And he's right. People don't fall out of shape in a day, nor do we get in shape in a day. It's an evolution and a process of being consistent and determined. Chin up buttercup :)

Something fun to try: I've started a new nightly routine of practicing gratitude! Life can get hectic and we can easily lose sight of the positive things that transpire throughout the day. Each night before bed, I now write down 3 things I'm grateful for and 3 good things that happened that day. It sort of helps keep me in a positive place - and ensures I close my eyes at the end of each day with a smile on my face. Try it!


Monday, July 20, 2015

Week 10 Recap... and the Gift Fitness Has Given Me

I've been asked countless times why I entered a fitness competition and what prompted me to take a plunge into the fitness world. The answer is a long one, so let's get to my week 10 recap first!

I'm still lifting heavy and pushing for PRs each and every workout. It's fun seeing my delts really take shape - probably because I've been grunting and groaning my way through shoulder day (no secret I'm not the biggest fan of training upper body). But, I can't complain because I'm seeing changes take shape and it's pretty damn amazing. Excited and terrified to hit tris/back/abs/calves with Coach Steve this week!

Thankfully there were no sneaky Twizzler cravings this past week! I've had a great handle on my cravings and I think it's due in part to Muscle Egg. That stuff is the BOMB. If you're looking for a super tasty way to get in extra protein and squash your sweet tooth, buy it!! The smallest order you can place is two gallon jugs, but they arrive par-frozen and you can keep one in the freezer while you refrigerate (and drink) the other. Chocolate caramel is so damn tasty and has allowed me to cut protein powder pretty much completely out. Probably why I'm seeing more ab definition this week over last. Amazing what the tiny tweaks in our diets will do!

Mental State
Aside from a fun trip to the farmer's market trolling for some new veggies to cook with, I stayed happy (and busy!) this weekend seeing girlfriends, checking out that new movie Train Wreck, hang with my Team House of Payne for posing, practiced my golf swing (which needs some MAJOR help, FYI) and hanging by the pool. It was a great weekend that went by way too fast. Next Saturday is a cheat - and my tummy is ready for pizza and a cookie :) Ah, the little things in life! 

On to My Fitness Journey
This journey has been about so much more than the size of my jeans or the dimensions of my waist. I've never been a skinny girl. I was never the tall girl with awkwardly thin legs that went on for days. I didn't excel at track and I struggled with body image from the ripe ol age of 10. As I transitioned into my teenage years, as some girls do, I began developing feelings of hatred towards my body. Why aren't I skinny enough? Why won't my boobs grow like my friends? My hips are too big. My pants aren't small enough. It was around the age of 12 that I embarked on a decade-long battle with a dangerous eating disorder that had a vice-like hold on me until I finally sought help in my early 20s. If I began to tell that story, this post would go on for days - so I'll fast forward to my 27th year of life, when I finally overcame my eating disorder and faced life as a newly-single woman. 

The very day my ex-husband moved out of home, I laced up an old, dusty pair of running shoes that took up residence in the back of my closet and "headed out for for a run." Honestly, I didn't even know what that meant. You always hear people say "I'm so stressed, I'm going for a run!" I didn't even make it 1/4 mile before I had to stop and turn around. But I didn't let it discourage me. Every single day that week, I laced up my sneakers and walked out the door. I mixed walking with jogging until I finally made it 1 whole mile without stopping. And so my fitness journey began.

It's been nearly 5 years since that hot, sunny day when I set out on my first run and since I have completed countless road races of varying distances from 5-15k, endless trail runs with variously intense elevations, 18 months of CrossFit including a few competitions, one triathlon, and a barre/Pilates certification. 

I'd say the greatest gift fitness has afforded me is the ability to wake up feeling proud of the skin I'm in. I strive to be a great woman all around (after all, my jean size does NOT equate to the size of my heart) - but fitness has granted me the ability to step into my closet everyday and put on any article of clothing I want, and feel proud. It hasn't given me my life "back," mainly because I don't think I really knew who I was before it. My early 20s were spent fighting so hard to stay in a marriage with someone who was never happy with himself, let alone being married to me. Our daily battles shaped me to be a woman who acquiesced on everything, putting my goals and desires on a shelf simply to please someone else. And now, fitness has afforded me the opportunity to be selfish (in a positive way) and focus on myself. I no longer feel guilty about spending 2 hours in the gym, 4 hours hiking outside on the weekends, or spending my hard earned money on gym clothes/a coach/gym membership. I can finally make investments in myself, free of guilt! 

It is my genuine hope that all my readers - men and women alike - read my story and see themselves in it. Whether you're married and feeling guilty for taking time away from your family to work out, newly divorced and scared to start over, or single and just looking to get in better shape... just know that you're not alone. I cannot sugar coat it and say it'll be easy. It won't. But the great (and terrible) news is, your mind will quit 1,000,000 times before your body ever will. We are resilient and strong creatures. Set your mind to a goal - however big or small - and stay determined. Remain squarely focused on the fire residing within you and don't stop until you're proud.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

NPC Prep - 9 Weeks Down, 16 to Go!

HOW exciting! 

I think the moral of the story here is, lifting heavy weights will NOT make you bulky, ladies. Eating cookies and doughnuts and drinking a crap ton of wine will. I'm lifting heavier than I ever have, yet I'm the smallest I've ever been. Now that's science I can get behind. Speaking of behinds... despite all the booty gainz (thank you squats and stiff-legged deadlifts), I'm happy to say I went shopping this past weekend and fit my sculpted rear end into some super adorable shorts from the kids department. SO - lesson learned here: don't be scurred to lift heavy! In fact, my body is sooo much leaner than it ever was when I ran 5 days a week. I'll take it!

I've officially started calling my meals "feeding time." While I have not yet had the privilege of raising a small person yet, I imagine my attitude is akin to a hungry child. Every 2 1/2 - 3 hours, without ever needing to look at a clock, I am hangry. In fact, I've often told Coach Steve to please give me more cardio, or add time to my lifting, but under no circumstance can he take away my food!! Part of my current meal plan is consuming 3oz protein 7 times a day. 

My list of "approved" protein sources include:

  • Ground turkey
  • Salmon
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Cottage cheese
  • Non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • Protein powder (1 scoop max per day)
  • 1 whole egg with 3 egg whites
  • I think I also get tilapia, but I cannot stand that fish... so I don't even pay attention to that

So, you'll see I'm somewhat limited here - especially considering the fact that I'm throwing back protein 7 times a day, it can get slightly monotonous. SO - I've done some research and stumbled upon Muscle Egg - flavored, pasteurized egg whites. Sounds funky, but hear me out. They come in gallon jugs and are drinkable! I just placed an order for 1 gallon of cake batter (their most popular flavor) and 1 gallon of chocolate caramel. I'm hoping they'll help me quell my sweet tooth while helping me lay off the protein powder (I may be consuming more than a scoop a day - and since whey protein is known for its bloating properties, I think I'll need to start laying off the stuff!) The nutritional info posted on Muscle Egg's website is impressive - relatively low in sugar, carbs and no fat or cholesterol! 

Nutritional Facts for Chocolate Caramel:

Serving Size: 1 cup (237mL)

Calories: 140
Total Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0g
Sodium: 390mg
Total Carbohydrates: 3g
Sugars: 1g
Protein: 26g

While I cannot believe I just dropped $75 on two lowly gallons of egg whites, I sort of justify it by saying that's two bottles of wine I'm not buying/drinking... so really, I deserve it :) Treat yo self!

Mental State
I think I've quite possibly hit my "runners high"... or whatever the equivalent is for competitors. 

Once I cut myself some slack and changed my thoughts from:
"OMG will I ever be lean enough to compete?!" and "My abs do NOT look like hers" to:
"Wow, check out the progress I've made in just short 9 weeks" and "Her abs may be tighter, but she's 3 weeks out AND has been at this for years"... I've began enjoying this journey much more. 

Additionally, I'm not battling insane cravings or feeling as though I'm missing out on social gatherings or being held back from dating, etc. I have a new way of life - that is empowering me to make better choices and feel the best I have ever felt in my entire life. The scale is the lowest it has ever been, none of my belts come close to fitting, and I'm buying shorts in the kids department. But beyond the physical changes, I am uncovering this awesome self-respect I'm not sure I've ever had before. I don't mean to toot my own horn here, but competition prep is no joke. The sacrifices are REAL. I'm pretty damn impressed with the level of discipline and dedication I'm putting into this. And I'm realizing it doesn't matter if I'm the fittest girl on the stage - I'm not doing this for a trophy. I'm doing it for me :)

And, just for funsies... and since I like to go somewhere far away at least once a year.. I began researching all sorts of fun, post-comp vacation ideas. And after much consideration of what I want out of a trip, I've decided to cash in some Sky Miles and hit the beaches of Hawaii to enjoy some much needed R&R (okay, and to enjoy this bikini body!). Life is short and the world is wide - go somewhere you've never been. In the end, you'll only regret the choices you didn't make!


Friday, July 10, 2015

The Time I Tried...Loving the SH*T Out of Being Single

Sooooo.... I've just gone on 14 dates in the past 14 days.

I'm not even quite sure how I survived this little experiment, but I did. I'm sure your first question is, where did these potential suitors come from? Men don't grow on trees! Well, considering my past experience with Tinder, I figured give it a shot. After a few days of "Hey there" and "You're pretty" I decided Tinder and I needed to break-up. Like, officially breakup. #icanteven 

Oddly enough, when it rains, it pours. After deleting that app for good, suddenly I had friends setting me up left and right, and met quite a few guys just out and about. I promised myself I'd be open to the possibilities, so I said yes. 14 times.

After dog park dates, coffee dates, cheat meal dinner dates, gym dates, "happy hour dates" (I use quotes as it was more of a "get water wasted" date for me), there was even a date I met while traveling who flew to Atlanta to take me to dinner. After my two week "say yes" experiment, I must say. I'm exhausted. 

And not just tired - but wondering WHY I'm acting like a dang Salmon and swimming upstream. I'm single. And what? Be single!

So in the spirit of me embracing every ounce of my singleness, here are a few simple ways all my fellow singletons can try (Hey - some of this even applies to my happily-married/dating friends. Self-love never hurt!)

1. Choose You: Even if it means saying no, cancelling plans (although don't cancel last minute - that's just rude!), or staying in on a Saturday night. Don't feel guilty. If it feeds your soul, do it. If it doesn't bring you happiness, abstain. One particular day last week, I rocked the crap out of a 5am workout, worked all day, taught a double header at barre and headed straight out for a date. Did I feel guilty for sipping my tea and calling it a night early? Not a bit. Oddly enough, we're going on a second date next week. I guess my sober grandma status is appealing to some! 
2. Stay True to You: We've all done it. Said what we thought someone wanted to hear. Held back on what we really wanted to tell someone. I no longer swallow words. I speak my truth - whether it's pretty, whether my voice shakes. And if it's not my truth, I don't speak it.
3. Dress for You: This is almost embarrassing to admit, but I remember when I was married my appearance was a direct reflection of my husband's taste. I always wanted him to find me attractive, so I would wear the clothes I knew he liked (skirts and dresses) and style my hair the way he wanted (blonde, long and slicked back). I think the first thing I did after the ink dried on our papers was dye my hair back to brown. I know everyone has done something of the sort. Worn something or done something to appeal to our partner. Embracing our singleness means we get to dress for us! Working from home and practically living in the gym leaves little time for non-Lulu inspired outfits. On the rare occasion I am dressed in "normal" clothes, I want to feel beautiful. I've begun purchasing fun, summer outfits like crop tops, new bikinis, and short shorts that make me feel sexy and pretty at the same time.
4. Toss the Rear-View Mirror: It's always painful when we realize we spent far too long romanticizing a relationship that wasn't what we thought it was. After tons of self-reflection, I had to realize that my relationship last year came to an end for a very similar reason my marriage did. Simply put, the relationship wasn't strong enough. If we were to poll friends and family who have been married for any long period of time, will they tell us it has always been perfect every moment of every day? Hell no. There are storms. There are times when you stare, dumbfounded, wondering how on earth you love this person yet want to strangle them all at the same time. Great relationships aren't great because they're perfect. They're great because they're comprised of two people who love each other enough to always work it out. Coming to peace with the end of the relationship I thought would be my last has made me realize that sometimes new beginnings are disguised as painful endings. Letting go was difficult, but it was necessary. I started getting so frustrated with myself for holding on to something I knew was over. Now, I take it as such a positive - I am poised to become a stronger partner for the man who will put in the work with me.
5. Enjoy Your Company: Friday night protein shakes and netflix in my underwear dates (with myself) are my new fave. Manis/pedis and afternoon shopping. Workouts and posing practice on Saturday afternoons. I'm spending more time than every before alone with myself. And pleasantly figuring out... I'm a pretty cool ass chick! Find those things you love to do alone - without outside company, without your phone glued to your hand. Get out in the fresh air, play with your pup, read a book. Discover all the reasons you're so bad ass. 
6. Understand Where Your Energy Goes. For example, clearly we know where my energy was the past two weeks. And you know what? It was too much. Not enough time spent nurturing friendships and keeping up with family. Not enough time sleeping. Not enough time with Lucy. I spread myself too thin and neglecting the things in my life that truly bring me happiness. Identify some energy sucking activities/people/hobbies that simply are not worth your energy. And remove them from your life. Or, at the least, recognize that something needs to change - and work towards rectifying it. There are only 24 hours in a day. Choose wisely. 
7. Love Yourself Even When You Fail: Because it's not a question of if you'll fail. You will. We all do. However small or large the failure is, continue loving yourself. And whatever you do, never ever put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket. 


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Month #2 Done! The Road to NPC Continues!

Wow. Two whole months of competition prep are now behind me. My show is 18 weeks away this coming Saturday. Time sure is flying. Let's get right to it:


All sweaty after my last workout of month #2!
Let's hear it for getting stronger!! I'm continuing to push myself on heavy lifting - and actually falling slightly in love with my weekly plyo workout! Endurance has been quite a challenge for me since starting this journey - I traded in my long trail runs for heavy weights - and ever since, I feel like my cardio endurance has dwindled. The main goal over the past two months has been "lean bulking" - and since cardio traditionally eats away at our muscle, my cardio is limited to the stairmill 4 times a week, 15 minutes at a time. I love when my coaches incorporate new moves into my programming (Drag Curls have become hands down my favorite upper body movement!) as they help detract from those I can't stand (I feel like an idiot doing these in a crowded gym). Today I traveled to Tampa for work and started Month #3 - Leg Day after a long day of traveling and meetings wasn't ideal, but there are no excuses. The highlight of my day was checking in at the front desk, and the kind front desk attendant told me the ellipticals were upstairs. My response? "That's cool, but where is the squat rack?" #winning


I've cheated. There. I said it. But you know what? Sorry not sorry. It's funny that writing this blog has made me realize just how bad my PMS symptoms hit me. For an entire week, I crave sweets and battle feeling a hodgepodge of being cranky/emotional/sensitive. I was a hot mess! The physical symptoms of cramps/backaches/headaches don't make matters any better, but I digress. 

Back to my diet infidelity. I left the gym last Wednesday feeling soooo irritable. I was driving home and said f it, life is too damn short. So I drove my ass over to the grocery store and picked up a pack of Twizzlers (I've ben craving them since day 1!) and allowed myself to get back in the car, turn the radio off - and savor each and every bite of two whole pieces. They were delicious. And when the two pieces were done, I wrapped the rest up and threw them away. If this had been three months ago, I would've probably eaten the entire package before getting home. I am not excusing myself saying cheating on my meal plan is acceptable, but I am extremely impressed with not just the self control, but the healthy attitude I'm taking with food. I hope my days of deprivation and gorging are loooong behind me. I am trying to take a much healthier approach to allowing myself am indulgence when I absolutely want it. I didn't beat myself up the rest of the day, nor did I fall down some slippery slope and continue to indulge. I set a finite amount I'd allow myself - and that was that.

Speaking of indulging... I had another "cheat meal" last Saturday and completely wasted the calories on the shittiest company. Cest la vie. I'm looking forward to this coming Saturday when I'll enjoy a well deserved cheat meal with girlfriends. Those are calories always well spent :) 

TSA got a good laugh today when they made me open my suitcase - packed bags of tuna, my beloved food scale, BCAAs, bell peppers, you name it... I find if I always have my healthy eats on me, my success for sticking to the plan is 100%. I'll be honest though - seeing ALL the terribly unhealthy yet super yummy looking food at the airport (cookies, twizzlers, fro yo, you name it...) totally tempt me. Part of me misses the days when I could just walk in to a restaurant and order whatever I wanted, without calculating the macros in my head. But, I will say that feeling this strong and healthy beats the taste of anything. Twizzlers included. 

Mental State
There is no sugar coating that the past week has been a bit emotional. PMS exacerbated some stressful situations, including: my company being acquired and all of the uncertainty that comes with it, an insane feeling of bloat I couldn't shake, pretty serious exhaustion that set in just before the 4th, and a long string of shitty dates. I think I've learned a few lessons over the past few weeks. 1) "Will this matter in 5, 10 or 15 years?" If the answer is no - just let that shit go. 2) With prep, I am so busy - work, teaching, working out, posing on the weekends, seeing friends, spending time with Lucy, resting this sore little body, catching up with family. The are only so many hours in a day, people! Throw dating/getting to know someone into the mix and I feel really stretched thin. Apologies in advance for the rant - but if I hear someone tell me "Let me know when you get another cheat meal" I think I may become unglued. Did I just not get the memo that life is all about food and booze?! Ironically, I just wrote a post on all the different first-date ideas... and here I am.
Ideally I'd love to just find someone that knows me, I know them... and it just "works." Clearly it's not that easy - and I've been struggling with trying to explain my lifestyle, my goals, and my ambitions. It has become quite frustrating feeling like I need to "justify" my choices - and I still have 18 weeks before my show. I'm not sure why it's so hard for some to fathom. Here I am, doing something positive - and if I do choose to let someone into my world, I'd like to think they'd be supportive, kind and understanding. 

Okay - rant over :) On to positive things, I went out for a fun girl's night this past Saturday. It felt so nice dressing in something other than gym clothes! Sporting a crop top is something I never thought I would be able to do, so it was nice slipping on some fancy clothes and a smile!

OH! Hi abs!!

Lucy hit July 4th - HARD!!
Sharing is caring
I spent a majority of the long holiday weekend relaxing at home - and boy did I need it. Waking up, making coffee and lounging with Lucy is such a luxury these days. I was actually relieved when the forecast called for rain! The queen of over-committing, I deliberately made very few plans - and not having to be anywhere felt fan-freakin-tastic. I watched The Imitation Game - a movie about the mathematician who created the first computer in order to intercept encrypted Nazi radio frequency messages during WWII. It was a great watch - check it out! 

And there we have it! I can't believe we have made it 8 weeks - only 18 more to go :) I hope it goes without saying for you all - but THANK YOU. For following my journey and supporting me!!


Monday, July 6, 2015

First-date Hot Spots that Aren't So HOT

When it comes to being single, I am so relieved to be a woman. 

Don't get me wrong, dating as a female has its own set of challenges. So many questions constantly swirling, the pressure of balancing your standards and not setting any expectations, and now not being able to go for drinks or eat on said dates throws yet another wrench in the mix. HOWEVER, I wouldn't trade it all to be the man - as it's usually the guy who is responsible for coming up with the first date activity. 

And according to a recent infographic published by mobile dating app Clover, top first-date hot spots in the US are a bit embarrassing. As a girl who has gone on her fair share of Starbucks first-dates (who wants to commit to dinner if we can't stand each other after the first 5 minutes?!), but correct me if I'm wrong - love at first 2 for $20 at Applebees doesn't spell romance to this girl. 

Here is the complete list as published by Clover:

The above list got me thinking... there must be handfuls of date ideas that are tons of fun and don't require going elbow deep on burrito bowls, baskets of wings and buckets of beer. 

I personally love the idea of being active on a date. It gets the blood flowing, let's you invade each others personal space (if sparks are flying) and let's you see the other person in action. Romantic dinners and endless lunches at Chiptole are definitely great once you're dating/in a relationship, but why not bring some level of creativity to the sacred first date?

This whole idea sparked my curiosity and I've put pen to paper: If I were a man, which types of dates would I plan?! (Disclaimer: some might work well for a first date, others might be date numero dos or tres)

What about.... 
Pack a picnic and hit a local park - how fun to kick off your shoes and share a blanket on a sunny day!
Ride a ferris wheel (if sparks are flying, I wouldn't hate a kiss at the top!)
Check out a music festival
Take a hike - get those endorphins pumping!
Drive-in movie
Catch a sunset after work 
Go for a bike ride
Play bocce ball
Mini golfing- why not break out your inner-childish self
Tubing - you get to see each other in a swimsuit! 
Rock climb - you get a view of my butt! #winning
See a baseball game 
Try archery - queue the cheesy "you hit the bulls eye" jokes
Go to the zoo 
Watch a sunrise - make to-go cups of coffee and head out somewhere peaceful and quiet

What about you? Any creative first date ideas that have burned a hole (good or bad!) in your memory?