Monday, August 24, 2015

The Beauty of New Beginnings

If we take pause from our busy lives, it's apparent that new beginnings are everywhere. Each morning when we rise - the beginning of a new day. Each time we strike up a conversation with someone new - the beginning of a budding friendship. We embark upon a new exercise program - the beginning of a new routine. 

Sometimes new beginnings are painful and unwanted. A treasured relationship ends, a loved one passes, a job is lost. Other times, new beginnings are welcomed with open arms. And the beauty of new beginnings is what brings me here today.

As some of you already know, I recently purchased a new home for Lucy and I. And this past weekend, I sold my condo. The first home I bought for myself nearly 4 years ago. It was a dark time - on the heels of a divorce, selling my marital home at a financial loss, working for a company I despised, with virtually no money in the bank and a compass on life that seemed to have failed me in an epic way. 

The lost and confused 27 year old girl that moved into this condo is such a far departure from the 31 year old woman who has just begun packing her belongings, ready to move on to not just a new chapter, but a new book entirely in this journey of life. 

Emotion overpowers me as I look around the walls of this condo - remembering the nights I bawled in the days after sending Tiffany (my first fur baby) to heaven, messy mornings experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, and plenty of evenings reading by candlelight in my bathtub. I've had fun putting my stamp on making this 1,005 sq ft space my home while finding my inner style. I'm sure there will be tears shed when I leave this place for the last time - but the new road that lies ahead is full of possibilities. And that exhilarates me. 

It has been said that the trick to making life truly amazing is to have more beginnings than endings, and this is the very approach I now wish to live my life by.  

It is with faith and hope that I embark upon the next book of life. The days of punctuating the sentence, ending the paragraph, closing a chapter - they're all things of the past. Now, I am starting a fresh book. This is page one. And I am bursting at the seams with excitement to see what beauty and possibility lie in front of me. 


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

NPC Bikini Prep 10ish Weeks Out... I'm Sick!

This will be short and sweet, folks.

The past week has rocked my socks, and not in the positive way you might imagine. Traveling during this last phase of prep has proven to be quite challenging. Managing my workload, two hour insanely intense workouts, my kicked up diet plan, buying and renovating my first single family home, selling my condo and an adequate sleep schedule have proved to be nearly impossible and I've come down with a stupid painful sinus infection.

In an effort to not be a total Debbie Downer, the good news is the scale is crazy low, and despite my Coach's unhappiness around me being sick (we're too close to be missing workouts!), perhaps this break will do my body good. I've been "on prep" since the beginning of June - so maybe, just maybe, this break will allow my body to heal and come back with Herculean strength. I haven't worked out in four days and am hoping tomorrow I'll be back at it, at least at half speed. 

Humor this sick girl and cut me a little slack - check out a workout I did last week, on the road, before a 12 hour work day.

Glutes & Hamstrings  - 5 rounds of everything
hip lifts - smith machine, weighted, 25 reps 
butt blaster - machine, 20 reps                             
high knees - 30 seconds   
walking lunges - body weight, 5 rounds each leg                         
inner/outer thigh machine, 25 reps each
sumo stomps, 20 reps
reverse hyperextensions - incline bench, feet like a frog, 30 reps
squat/deadlift - bar, 15 reps
split squats, 20 reps
treadmill push or car push, 5 sets with 30 sec recovery between sets
Stairmill - ladders - 30 min           

As you might imagine, I was EXHAUSTED after my workouts. The idea of nonstop work is downright exhausting. I'm used to taking a bit of time between sets, and only doing 15 minutes of cardio at a time. Instead of finishing up and going to lay in bed, naked, slowly letting my heart rate come down and perhaps partaking in a little nap - I'd run back to the hotel, shower, change, and head to the office for a quick 12 hour day. We had team dinners and team building activities afterwards, including dinner at a Mexican restaurant and go-karting. I had Fuel Up deliver all my meals so cheating wasn't an option. By the time Friday rolled around, it was all I could do to keep my eyes open. I slept all weekend, flew home from Florida Sunday night and proceeded to take myself directly to the Dr Monday morning. Yay sinus infection! Praying my antibiotics kick in ASAP as I've been planning to do an NPC show in Atlanta on 10/31... We shall see!

Being sick the first time since I've begun contest prep has been eye opening. I've realized when I'm sick, I crave carbs. A bowl of cereal, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Quite possibly the last thing I want is baked, plain chicken and 3/4 cup veggies... BUT, I've come this far, can't stop now.             

I'm keeping this post short - mainly because I'm exhausted and want to go lay back down. Hoping next week's post will have news that I'm all better and have hit the gym with a fury post-sickness. 

And what will I do until then? Continue wasting hours pinning home decor ideas, and post-show treats I plan to enjoy in moderation. Anyone else drooling over Slutty Brownies?!? Anyone who knows me AT ALL knows chocolate chip cookies, brownies and Oreos are my three favorite food groups OF ALL TIME.

If you aren't on prep and allow yourself to indulge every now and again, please make these. And then tell me how amazing they were. Let me live vicariously through you :) 


Thursday, August 13, 2015

5 Ways to Stay Motivated When All You Want To Do Is Nap

Don’t lose sight of how far you’ve come. I love progress pictures for this very reason. It’s easy to only pay attention to how far you have to go, rather than how far you’ve come. For example, last night while my coworkers ate dinner and had drinks on the water in south Florida, I was eating microwaved cod and asparagus in my hotel room. I had a brief moment of “Sweet baby Jesus, I can’t do this for another 11 weeks!” – and then I thought about where I was four months ago. I was torturing myself with a three day juice cleanse, hoping it would magically de-bloat my belly and make me bikini-ready for an upcoming girls trip to the Dominican Republic. I was more than 10% higher in body fat, and avoided my naked reflection in the mirror. Sure, I’m still 11 weeks out from my first show, and there is lots to do, but I’d be reticent not to acknowledge how far I’ve come. Take pictures of yourself – it’s hard to see changes when you’re looking at yourself every day. Pay attention to how your clothes feel. Notice how much stronger you are during lifting sessions. Changes are happening – stay patient and never forget just how far you’ve come!

Remember why you started. Maybe it’s an annual physical that uncovered you’re pre-diabetic. Maybe it was a pair of jeans that wouldn’t zip. Whatever the catalyst was that motivated you to start, don’t forget it. Don’t forget that scary moment when your physician told you if you didn’t lose weight, you’d be on an insulin pump for the rest of your life. Maybe it was some asshole that told you you’re not his type because he prefers to date thin girls. Whatever started the fire in your belly, carry it with you. For me personally, I embarked on a healthy and fit lifestyle after spending years remembering the lost, insecure 12 year old girl who, rather than telling someone how she was feeling, took matters into her own hands and decided to alternate between starving herself, binging, and purging in order to be skinny. All I wanted was to prevent my hourglass figure from taking shape. I recount the 10 years I spent torturing myself emotionally, destroying my gastrointestinal system and royally fucking up my self-esteem. I never want to feel that way again, and even further than that, want to do anything I can to prevent anyone from feeling that way. We can be fit rather than skinny, and it can be done the healthy way. Our bodies are temples and should be treated as such. That’s my story, but whatever yours is, ingrain it to memory and carry it with you. Let your reasons for starting be the driving force that keeps you motivated to never give up on yourself.

Shut down negativity. You’re getting too thin. Your legs are getting so muscular. Your ribs stick out too much. You were fine before. I’ve heard those all, time and time again, over the past three months. While I appreciate the compliment that I was just fine before I started this prep, it doesn’t help me as I still have 11 weeks left on Operation Get Lean. It’s also quite annoying to hear what other people think of my body – you sure don’t see or hear me walking around to folks at the grocery store or airport saying “Hey, put that bagel down, you’re too fat” or “Do you realize you have not one single fruit or vegetable in your shopping cart? Has it not occurred to you to buy any produce at all?” No! Because it’s simply none of my business. My favorite example of shutting down negativity was a lunch date I went on awhile back.

“Well, this is different” said my date.
“What? A first date over lunch?” I asked.
“No, a sober first date. I guess this is the first time I’ve ever been on a first date where we weren’t drinking. It’s awkward.”

Maybe I’m a judgmental ahole, but I can’t help but think if you reach the ripe old age of 40 and realize you’ve NEVER been on a date sober, that speaks more about you than me. But according to this gem, I was the weird one for not drinking over lunch on a Tuesday.

Bottom line, shut it down. Anyone who doesn’t lift you up, inspire you to be better and work harder – throw deuces their way and keep on keeping on. Ain’t no one got time for negativity.

Go easy on yourself. How many times have you stood in front of your bathroom mirror, overanalyzing your reflection. Your hair isn’t long enough, your waist isn’t thin enough, or your thighs are too thick. How many times have you compared yourself to someone you saw at the gym, or your exes new partner, or pictures of yourself from “back in the day” when you wore jeans a few sizes smaller. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Sometimes, despite our best intentions, we are our own harshest critics. And it needs to stop. Be kind to yourself. Love the reflection staring back at you. We’re given one body, one life. Appreciate what it is capable of. Any time I catch myself beating up the woman in the mirror, I imagine my 15 year old niece standing in front of me. If she told me she didn’t feel lean enough, what would I tell her? Chances are I wouldn’t call her fat and tell her to hit the gym. I’d give her a hug, tell her she is gorgeous inside and out, and if she didn’t like something about herself, she has the ability to change.  Why not speak to ourselves the way we would speak to a loved one?

Remember: You are Limitless! Outside of a major physical injury, you are capable of anything you set your mind to. I mean this from the bottom of my heart. Did I ever think I could sit at a table with friends, watching them eat all my favorite foods and drink delicious wine? I certainly never thought I’d be leg pressing north of 300lbs, doing one handed pushups, and squatting well more than my bodyweight. I was the girl who curled 5lb dumbbells and spent 20 minutes on the elliptical reading Shape Magazine trying to figure out how to “drop those stubborn last 5 pounds!” I am no one outstanding. I’m just a 31 year old woman, balancing a full-time job, hobbies, friends & family. If I can change my body, make time to spend hours in the gym, anyone can. Start with eliminating “I can’t” from your vocabulary. You can. And you will – if you stay determined, motivated and focused.  Pay attention to that little voice in your head – the one that says it’d be neat to do a triathlon, or sign up for your first 5k. Maybe you’ve also always wanted to do a fitness competition or take up weight lifting. Listen to THAT voice. Dispel the other voice – the devil on your shoulder – telling you it’ll take too much time or require too much dedication. If you want something – go get it. We have one life, few chances, and endless possibilities. Be strong, have faith and shoot for the moon.



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

NPC Bikini 12 Weeks Out - Lots of Changes Happening!

For those of you who have been following me on this journey for the past three months, thank you. From the bottom of my heart - thanks for reading and listening as I complained about PMS, FOMO (fear of missing out), what it's been like giving up alcohol, what it's been like dating when you can't eat out, and more. I can't believe how fast time has flown on by. It's now time to transition from my lean bulk to cutting - and after receiving my new diet and workout plan from my coaches last night, I'm excited and terrified all at once. 

If you've been following since the beginning, you know there hasn't been much change to my diet/workout plan over the past few months. We've taken the slow and steady approach to take me from skinny fat to toned and fit - and so far the results have been fantastic. While I've only lost 10 pounds, my composition is so different. I have muscles in places I never imagined, and I'm stronger than I've ever been.

Now comes the fun {said with a slight hint of sarcasm}.

Growing that boot-ay!
I actually called my coach last night at 11pm because I didn't believe what I saw. Does my workout plan seriously call for me to PUSH A CAR twice a week?! Yup, it does.

It also calls for 50 pull-ups A DAY in addition to my hour of lifting (super set with plyo - buh by are the days of resting between sets, checking out cute dudes/instagram/facebook/work emails) and an hour of cardio (from 15 minutes 4 times a week to an hour SIX days a week). 

I was tired just reading the new plan. But, I knew it was coming. 

I spy some abs! FINALLY!

We are officially 12 weeks out from two shows I'm planning to compete in. I'm not going to stress myself out and say I HAVE to do them - this is my first experience with contest prep and looking at all the girls who have been doing this for years can get slightly discouraging. So I'm going to continue on MY journey and see what my body is capable of. If I lean out and feel confident, I'll do it. If not, I'll still be proud of where I've come. It's me vs me. 
I will say, it is starting to feel real. I'm looking online at suit colors, practicing my posing, and bid farewell to cheat meals. This is a goal I've been wanting to accomplish for years. It's time to DO what I've always said I was going to. I got this!

There are plenty of other changes happening in life that are causing a bit of stress, including a few back to back work trips (thank g-d for Fuel Up, as I'm having them deliver my meals to my hotels!) and buying a new home. It all happened so fast, but I'm currently in the due diligence period for a home that happens to be down the street from my current condo. I love the house and am excited about making it my own through some remodeling, but still stressed at the thoughts of coming to agreement with the seller on some items resulting from the inspection, finding a competent and talented contractor to do renos, AND selling my condo. AH! To keep me sane and my head level, I'm continuing to practice gratitude every single night and leaning on close friends and family to keep me grounded. Considering only 5 years ago I was going through a divorce, with nowhere to live and a career I was miserable in, I feel so incredibly blessed to be in this place - and I have faith g-d is guiding me every step of the way. 

So rather than go into more detail about workouts or food or any of that - I want to just say thank you. Thank you for reading and thank you for your support. Keep it coming :)


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

NPC Contest Prep Week 12 - And How to Get Your Happy

Hi there, Week 12 :)

It's hard to believe just three months ago I was running and spinning my little heart out, weighing in nearly 10 lbs and 10% more body fat. I was a skinny fat, cardio bunny thinking I had fitness by the balls. 

Pardon the terrible picture quality (and that is a door knob, not my chest in the far right photo!), but here is a bit of rear progress. Far left is at week 4, middle shot is week 8 and far right is today - at week 12. I guess I do need to do a better job of taking clearer photos. Mental note for next week :)

I've done quite a bit of reflecting over the past 3 months - and it's pretty amazing what this transformation has taught me. In the spirit of Month 3, here are 3 lessons I've learned thus far:

  1. Eliminate the word "diet" from your vocabulary. Being fit and healthy is a lifestyle. I'm not aiming to be skinny, nor do I aim to stick to a "diet." I'm simply eating clean and busting my butt to be strong. These habits will far outlive any competition.
  2. Patience is a virtue. And I don't have it. G-d bless my coaches. When I send them my progress pictures every Tuesday, I always follow the pictures up with "I'm not leaning out! What's happening?! It's not working." And they just reassure me - patience. Stay dedicated, keep lifting heavy and eating clean and it WILL come together. They haven't been wrong yet.
  3. I am strong as f*ck. Mentally and physically. Friday night I went out with friends and cheered them on as they did tequila shots, ate Mexican food and sipped cocktails. I snacked on my plain chicken, brown rice and veggies in my Tupperware container. No shame in my game. I got water wasted - and actually never felt sad for myself or the desire to cheat. My willpower is ON POINT - and this prep is teaching me I am a tough cookie (WTF. clearly this girl has cookies on the brain!) and I can handle whatever life throws my way. So often, people ask about prep and how hard are my workouts. I literally always respond that the workouts are the enjoyable part. I love spending hours in the gym - it's the best stress reliever. 
And while we're talking about lessons learned... I've spent a good amount of time in the past few weeks really listening to my inner voice. Not necessarily thinking about what should make me happy - but what actually does. We're all different. I get that. What blows my hair back might not for the next girl, and that's okay. Our uniqueness's are what makes the world go round. So here's what I've been doing as of late, to ensure I keep a tight grasp on my own happiness:
  • Eliminate negativity. I made the tough choice to leave my barre studio position due to compounding negativity I was experiencing. I will greatly miss my wonderful clients and empowering folks to get moving and set goals while removing any limitations they've set on themselves, and feel confident this will not be the end of my pursuit of physical fitness (outside of my own training) but for now, I am quite happy I chose to distance myself from a negative, unnecessarily dramatic situation.
  • Find a career where I love my boss and daily responsibilities. I can't believe I'm coming up on three years with my company - it's been quite a ride. Two acquisitions in two years has had me stressed beyond words at times - which is probably why I haven't blogged much about my professional life, but I must say I am so grateful for my career and where it has led me. My boss is amazing - and it's the first time I can safely say I respect my boss - personally AND professionally. While I thank g-d every day, I'd be reticent not to recognize the hard work and dedication it has taken for me to get to this place. I've had the terrible bosses (a previous employer in NYC once said in a boardroom full of clients - "Don't worry, this c*nt will get the coffee." I literally looked around trying to figure out WHO she was talking about. Once I realized it was me, I walked straight into my office, cleared out my desk and walked out). I've had the jobs I loved where the pay made it nearly impossible to cover my monthly expenses. For those experiences and more, I am so grateful for the place I am in today.
  • Keep my social circle small. I've found quality over quantity is the approach to relationships that works best for me. If that means staying home on a Saturday night because most of my friends are married and off with their husbands/boyfriends/fiances, so be it. My day will come :)
  • Cultivate healthy habits. I've talked about my new gratitude habit - and boy has it changed my perspective. Each night before bed, I look forward to grabbing my journal and jotting down my thoughts. So much of what we believe is HOW we perceive. If you don't practice gratitude daily, try it. You'll see how quickly your positive thoughts transform you.
  • Do something for others. Lately I've been talking with a few girlfriends about their current nutrition and workout regimes. It brings me SUCH joy to help them however I can - everything from explaining proper plank form (sink those tushies!!) to looking at what they're eating vs what they should be eating to shed unwanted body fat and regain self-confidence. Helping others makes my heart shine. Next time you're needing a boost of happy, reach out to someone you love and see what you can do for them. 
And in the spirit of happiness, a few images that cracked me up this morning:
"You're going to fucking jail Greg" HA!

I could just see this happening with my girlfriends. I'd be terrified!


Monday, August 3, 2015

The Time I Tried... Giving Up On the Notion of Fairytales

I did something new last week. I listened to a sermon entitled: The New Rules for Love, Sex & Dating - led by Andy Stanley. 

Andy Stanley is the Senior Pastor of a few well known churches here in Atlanta, including Buckhead Church. I've heard my friends discuss the Sundays they've spent listening to meaningful sermons delivered by Andy, but for me... there's always been a wrinkle preventing me from attending. 

I'm Jewish. 

It was to my surprise, during a conversation last week, that I was told Andy's dating and relationship series is moreso about g-d and living a full life in general. I was ensured it wouldn't be all Jesus, all the time. I figured why not? I'm a woman of faith - I could listen to the sermon online and determine if I was comfortable with the message or not. And to my pleasant surprise, the words delivered by Stanley nearly moved me to tears. 

The overall resounding theme was: Be the person the person you're looking for is looking for.

Let's say that again. Single folks - ask yourself this. Are YOU the person that the person you are looking for, is looking for?

Stanley's message resonated as he kept stating that in order to find the right person, we must BE the right person. He challenges us not to play the game - continuing to live in our bubbles, going out, having fun, and living under the assumption that one day the "right person" will just fall into our lives. 

Beyond that, Stanley said something that truly hit home with me. He validated the feelings I experience sometimes - the fire in my belly, the physical yearning for a partner. He states, "G-d created us for relationships. It is simply natural that we crave someone telling us you are the most important person in my life, I would follow you anywhere, When you walk in the room, I light up inside, When I hear the garage door opening, I'm excited you're home. 

My fellow singletons - do you ever struggle with the above? You find yourself physically aching for a counterpart - a best friend/partner in crime to experience life with. And then you begin to feel guilty for it! Wondering why you can't simply live a content life being single. Who needs someone else?! 

Well, according to Stanley, this physical aching is actually the thumbprint of G-d on our souls. We were created by Him to hear someone say "I am forever yours faithfully."

He continues on to say it is possible. Don't give up. BUT - know it does not happen accidentally. We should be always working to further ourselves. 

We should remember:

Love is patient. But do we really understand what patience means? Love never pressures. Love creates and gives as much space and time as the other person requires. 

Love is considerate. Are you truly taking into consideration how the other person feels ALL the time? Regarding of how stressed you are, or how bad of a Monday morning you're having. Are you really considering your partner's feelings and needs despite your own? 

Love is kind. Stanley encourages us all to constantly be working on our kindness - in every single relationship we enter, so by the time we meet THE person, we will be the most kind and considerate version of ourselves for our lifetime partner. He urges us to note: What serves us well now, while we're out "living the life", can destroy us later. Meaning, start living with honor now. 

So am I really giving up on the notion of fairytales? Sort of.

During his sermon, Stanley encouraged us to stop approaching relationships like children. He challenged us to decide life isn't about magically finding the right person. Fairytales and make good movies, compelling television shows and enthralling novels. Our best chance for finding love is to simply become the person you're looking for is looking for.  

Think about it. It's no surprise great marriages receive no press. After all, how entertaining is it to watch a happily married couple cook dinner, discuss their day and relax on the couch? Just because media chooses to shove broken homes and dramatic relationships down our throat for the sake of ratings, doesn't mean happy and healthy relationships don't exist. 

The sermon ended and I felt refreshed and renewed. Of course I want to be a woman worth catching, worth pursuing. I do believe I embody quite a few of the characteristics of the man I'm seeking. I'm honest, loyal, dependable, giving, kind and nurturing. Am I all of these things 100% of the time? Probably not. But I'm working on it. There were so many nuggets of wisdom to take from The New Rules for Love, Sex & Dating - I encourage you to listen! I know I'll be playing it back every now and then to keep myself on track! And while I'm working on me, maybe - just maybe - the person I'm looking for is working on themselves too :)