Down down down

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2 weeks left until show day.   What this means to me

– I start imagining what life is going to be like the week after the show.  Basically imagining life without meal prepping and having to eat every couple hours.
– Because I’m already imagining life after the contest I’m getting myself depressed because 14 days of 16 hour days seem like a really really long time.

I’m pretty sure competition life is not meant for me.  The above bullet points should be enough of a reason why.  I did my first show last November to see if I could do it and to see what my husband went through for his show.   And I’m doing this second show to see if my husband and I can really do this together (so far we haven’t killed each other or gotten divorced, so that’s good).   But overall, I didn’t care for the spotlight of the stage.   I grew up playing clarinet.  So I’ve pretty much been on some kind of stage since I was 10, not always by myself but I’ve done it. So the stage isn’t for me and I miss being social.  I miss not having to worry about when I’m eating.  I thought really long and hard about doing this show and I came to the conclusion to do it for the reason mentioned above.  Today has been mentally rough.  I’m tired of looking at myself and critiquing me.  I see myself everyday so of course I don’t see any changes.  I just see all my flaws that I want erased overnight.  It’s hard to know you’re working so hard and still see those flaws.   But that’s what this sport is.  It’s extreme.  Very extreme.  You’re pushing yourself both physically and mentally to an almost breaking point.  Only the strong can continue.  I will continue but it won’t be easy.    

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Competition Prep Challenges

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What I have learned during my 2nd contest prep within one year, is that anyone with the passion, drive and mental capacity can do this.  Some of the hardest things I have gone through and how I overcame them

·         Being around food you love and not being able to eat it

o   This was by far the hardest for me initially (and still is at the beginning of the cutting phase).  To our bodies, sugar is a chemical, an addictive chemical that messes with our heads.  When you give up that chemical, your brain responds negatively because it wants to feel that energy rush that sugar gives us.  As the prep goes on though and sugar consumption is decreased, those craving go away.  My husband and I will sit around on the weekends and at night just looking at food porn.  Yes, we want to eat the cake and cookies and pancakes, but it’s not as extreme to the point where we’re going to go out of our way to make those items or buy them.  It’s just fun to look at and the pictures are enough for us.  During this stage, I believe the goal that we have in our heads for what we are achieving to look like for these competitions have taken over where the sugar craving would normally be.

·         Having to carry food with you wherever you go, if you’re going to be away from it for longer than 2 hours

o   This is a pain.  Pretty much is a pain throughout the whole process, though you get used to it.  I try to find food that can be eaten at room temp or cold or I will work around my eating schedule to find the food that I can eat at room temp or cold.  Lately I have been doing salad with chicken, and that is good cold.  So if I’m traveling, I will most likely have that with me.  It gets really stressful when you have to go a whole day away from a microwave and on an odd schedule.  I learned that while traveling for work.  I had a 2 hour car trip, customer visits, and then a 2 hour car trip home for 2 days during the week.  That was a very stressful week, but as long as you plan ahead- write out your food schedule- you can make it work.

·         Eating the same foods over and over again

o   I know some people who compete come up with a whole menu of recipes for their contest prep.  I have been learning to do this more during this 2nd prep, but it has not been easy.  Since food needs to be weighed out separately, a lot of recipes that involve mixing veggies/protein/fats are hard because most items need to be weighed out after cooking.  I just made a ground turkey stir fry which was ground turkey, onion and zucchini.  In order to weigh out the right portion of turkey vs veggies, I had to pick around the veggies to get the turkey weighed, after being cooked together, in the Tupperware and then throw the veggies in (veggies are a free for all for the most part, I need a min. of 3 oz).   So most of the time I would just eat the same food every day because it’s easier to measure out.  Last prep consisted of a ton of canned green beans.  This prep is a ton of romaine lettuce, green peppers and red onions, the only difference is I enjoy those veggies and look forward to them.  The salad has definitely helped me overcome the repetitive food thing.

·         Having people not understand that “one bite” is a big deal

o   I have heard this from numerous people, who are competing or have competed, including my coach.  Non-competitors don’t understand that having just that one bite of cake/cookie/pancake (can you tell what I’m craving lol) will make a difference.  1) it’s hard enough that we’re attempting to fight off any sugar craving we get on our own, but having someone push them on us and telling us one bite won’t hurt makes it harder; 2) having one bite will change things, maybe not physically right away but mentally and then it will physically when you get closer to the show date and your body fat is low (every piece of food you eat is crucial at this point).

·         Not seeing results right away

o   I have seen this numerous times on the internet and I totally agree with it:

§  It takes 4 weeks for YOU to see your body change; It takes 8 weeks for your FRIENDS AND FAMILY; It takes 12 weeks for THE REST OF THE WORLD; KEEP GOING!   

o   This is so true!  My initial weight loss wasn’t noticeable until I hit the 10 lbs down mark and had been working at it for about a month or so.  Within the first 2 months, my pants were changing sizes and then my co-workers were noticing the change.  It’s such an incredible feeling once you start seeing the changes and then when other people notice, but you have to keep pushing and not assume there will be results right away.  If you want this to stick, it takes time, your body needs to change and become accustom to something new.

·         Skipping social outings because you need to get enough sleep to keep your training regime on par

o   Keeping in mind that you are only going to be missing out on events for a short amount of time is key.  It’s 3 months.  Yes, a lot can happen in 3 months, if you are currently an active socialite, this would be difficult, but for the average person who goes “out on the town” maybe once or twice a month, this shouldn’t hinder too much.  I still see my friends and will still do dinners with them occasionally during my prep, but I’ll either not order food (and eat in the car..) or I’ll order something I can eat.  This can easily be worked around if you’re determined and dedicated enough.

·         Being in the gym for long hours and possibly multiple times a day

o   The reason I decided to compete was because I loved being at the gym and lifting heavy weights.  It is a hobby that I enjoy, but like anything that is done too much, it can get exhausting.  If I decide to not compete again (which is a possibility), the amount of time I spend in the gym during contest prep is one of the top reasons.  I love being able to lift heavy and during contest prep you’re not lifting to build muscle and strength; you’re lifting to maintain what you’ve put on during off season.  Due to the amount of cardio that needs to be done to get down to the body fat necessary, you will burn muscle as well in that process so lifting heavy is still crucial, but you will not get stronger.  This makes me soooo frustrated because I track every single workout and I hate seeing the weight go down.  But I know it’s going to happen and I know that it’s supposed to happen, so I just have to get over it.

·         Being critiqued every week

o   During prep, I’m sending pictures of my progress to my coach to critique me and determine if my diet and/or cardio needs to be changed.  This is great because he can see things that I can’t and know when to make those changes.  What I don’t like about them is that if I feel like I worked my ass off that day and feel awesome about the week and that I deserve a “refeed” or cheat meal and he tells me he doesn’t see enough progress.. well that’s a blow to your brain.  It sucks, you feel like you did nothing that week and now it’s a new week and have to do it all over again to potentially be told the same thing again next week.  During this prep, I did not get as many “refeeds” as last time, but I also had a lot of horrible mental weeks that prevented me from gaining the progress I needed.  I have overcome this obstacle by telling myself every week that I will not get a “refeed”.  I don’t tell myself I did horrible and I didn’t progress because that would be downright wrong, but I tell myself that the “refeeds” are there to improve my appearance and if I need one, he will give it to me, if not, it’s not because I didn’t work hard.

·         Hormones out of whack

o   This is the worst.  This is seriously something that sometimes cannot be controlled.  I have been learning though that there’s a difference between hormones being out of whack and just feeling down.  Hormones out of whack means no matter what I do I cannot get out of the funk (except maybe sleep; that usually helps a bit).  Feeling down is something that is easier to get out of, you just have to be forward with yourself and admit that you’re feeling down and that you need to get over it, easier said than done sometimes.  This prep I went through the worst down of all when I found out my dog died.   After that, I felt down, I tell myself that it can’t be worse than that weekend, I put an upbeat/happy song on my phone, and force a smile.  Forcing a smile helps because it tells my brain that I’m happy and then the music helps send the happy message to my brain as well.

I hope this has helped anyone who is competing or thinking about competing.  You can do it!  You just have to utilize both your physical strength and mental strength to endure it!

Keto/Carb Cycling Diet

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So the new diet for the last few weeks follows the principles of a keto diet/carb cycling.  I’m on about 70 g of carbs a  day for 4 days in a row.  Then it gets bumped up to about 170 g.  
I’ve made it through the first 2 days not feeling super hungry in between meals. This is probably because I’ve added spinach to my Romaine lettuce, I’m chugging water like it’s my job (got through 2 gallons at work alone), and chewing sugar free gum.  I have 2 more days of this and then I get more carbs and then go back to the 4 days of keto.  I am also doing an hour and a half of fasted cardio and lifting after work. Phew I’m exhausted just reading that, but I have 2 1/2 weeks and then I get to start carbing up again (and forever).  That’s only 16 days until the carbs grow more and more each day.  I want to look and bring my best to the stage.  I can do this.  Less than 2 sets of 10 days 🙂 I can do anything for 10 days, 10 hours, 10 minutes, 10 seconds.  I CAN DO IT!

Ground Turkey Stir Fry-ish

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So this recipe for ground turkey and veggies is spun off of this recipe: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/turkey-vegetable-skillet

I made some of my own tweaks because I don’t care for tomatoes and I didnt use dill.  Other than that, it’s all the same (used Pam as the canola oil).

I also included a taco seasoning blend that I found by Googling taco season blends (there are a ton of sites out there). 

It’s was delicious. I only made enough for 3 times this week, but this weekend I’ll buy 2 lbs of ground turkey and then I’ll be good for the whole week. Hardest part about this recipe (and any multi food recipe) is I need to measure the meat out separate from the veggies. It took some extra time to pluck the turkey into tupperware and then load the veggies on but it was worth it. The taco season tastes store bought too which was a great surprise. Excited to have this again on Wednesday!

New Diet Update- HERE WE GO!

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So coach wants me to push push push.  I can’t believe how mentally happy I am.  Yesterday was a higher calorie day, but all week it’s been this way.  Couple weeks ago my family dog passed away.  It was the lowest I have felt in a long time.  To top that off, I had been traveling the week prior for work, and then Saturday found out the cheat meal I thought I was going to get didn’t happen.  That weekend blew!  But!  I took away so much from that weekend for this prep.  I learned that if I can make it through that during prep, I can make it through anything.  So since then, I have been telling myself that.  YOU CAN DO IT. 
Now I will be doing 5 lower calorie days in a row, then a higher day, then 5 lower again.  Lower doesn’t mean nothing, lower is about 1600 calories.  That combined with an hour and a half of cardio 7 days a week and lifting 6 days a week. 
I have a motto I stole from the Netflix original TV show “Kimmy Schmidt” and it has stuck with me since then.  “You can do anything for 10 seconds.”  If you haven’t seen it, the star of the show, Kimmy, is in an underground bunker and I think she has to churn butter or something for hours.  So she told herself that little statement.  Now I look at my prep as 2 sets of 10 days and I look at cardio as 9 sets of 10 minutes.  It’s not 10 seconds, but the premise is still there.  It helps keeps me mentally sane.  Kind of goes back to the micro managing thing in another blog post. 
I will continue to update on my mood at any new food.  I’m going to have a new item soon!

Sweet Potato Fries- Pam and Seasonsing Only

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So i was out to find a new way to make my sweet potatoes and I love sweet potato fries.  So I Googled “Recipes for Sweet Potato Fries with no oil”.  I know Pam is oil, but during this prep it’s all I can use.  I knew that I could spray the potatoes and then put seasoning on, that’t not what I was looking for in the recipe.  What i wanted to find was times to make the best sweet potato fries.  What I found to work best from the recipes I looked at was to put them in the oven for 15 minutes at 420 F, then turn the broiler on for 5 minutes.  Wow, they came out perfect!  Only downside is when reheated, like all fries, they go a bit soggy, but since they’re sweet potatoes, they still taste awesome! 
Here are some pictures of my sweet potato cutting  process, baking and bagging.  Enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Fries- Pam and Seasonsing Only

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So i was out to find a new way to make my sweet potatoes and I love sweet potato fries.  So I Googled “Recipes for Sweet Potato Fries with no oil”.  I know Pam is oil, but during this prep it’s all I can use.  I knew that I could spray the potatoes and then put seasoning on, that’t not what I was looking for in the recipe.  What i wanted to find was times to make the best sweet potato fries.  What I found to work best from the recipes I looked at was to put them in the oven for 15 minutes at 420 F, then turn the broiler on for 5 minutes.  Wow, they came out perfect!  Only downside is when reheated, like all fries, they go a bit soggy, but since they’re sweet potatoes, they still taste awesome! 
Here are some pictures of my sweet potato cutting  process, baking and bagging.  Enjoy!

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