Thursday, August 21, 2014

5 Things I Learned From My First Figure Competition

1. There is always more gas left in the tank.

Competition prep can be a HUGE struggle. Waking up, making sure food is prepped and getting your workouts in while trying to still live your every day life can be exhausting. I found myself (quite a few times) thinking that there was absolutely NO way I would be able to do another round of HIIT or make sure to get that last rep in. At times like this, I would tell myself, "someone out there is working harder than you". Almost instantly, I would push myself that much harder to do what seemed impossible in my mind. Other times, I would shut of mentally - usually when doing my HIIT. I used music as a way to get lost in the 35 second interval that left me breathless and, more often than not, on the verge of tears.

My body would try to tell me no, but my mind always came back with YES. When times get tough and something seems impossible - just remember, you always have more gas in the tank,

2. Sacrifices seem much bigger at the time. 

There were numerous times I wanted to go out with friends and eat & drink to my little hearts content. But, as you could imagine, I was quite limited to what I could ingest. When possible, I brought my own prepared food and gallon jug. I brought food to Dodger games, parties, family events, etc. At first, it was a pretty big deal to me. I did not want to stand out and be different. It got easier to bring my own stuff and people usually understood why I was doing it.

It was extremely difficult at times to go out with friends and watch them eat and drink. Even going on dates with my husband became pretty non existent. We could've gone out, sure - but it was really hard to eat my food and watch him eat a burger and drink beer without me. Sometimes, I would think, "man, it would be really nice to just have a random date and go eat or do something fun." But then, I wouldn't have my prepped food with me. This made things pretty hard to be spontaneous. Sometimes, I really missed just being a normal girl.

Looking back on the sacrifices I had to make - not going out as much, staying sober, eating my own food, staying in so I made sure to get enough sleep, and always making time for my longer workouts - it was all worth it. Sure, you miss out on some things, but most the time, it'll all still be there once your competition is over. The drinking, the food, the parties - they come back around. Standing on stage and feeling like a champion - that is usually once in a lifetime. What feels like a big sacrifice at the time really isn't.

3. Confidence is imperative.

I stress "loving your body" a LOT. Becoming a figure competitor, I had to deal with a ton of new (and SCARY!) situations. I had to rock a micro bikini on stage in front of a ton of people, I had to tan nude with a crowd of other women, I got my first Brazilian, and I had to step up my weight game with all the other guys in the gym - just to name a few scenarios.

I loved my body before my competition, but I still had some hang ups with the stretch marks and loose skin at times. Going through competition prep, I really learned to LOVE my body and feel confident no matter what. I am way more comfortable being in a bikini (or even nude) than I was before. I can honestly say, being naked with a group of women doesn't phase me and I don't have any problems with rocking little to no clothing in public. While I loved my body before, I am on a whole new level now! Pushing myself into uncomfortable situations has really helped to improve my own self image and confidence.

Who couldn't use more confidence? Especially if you have to get up on stage with other beautiful women! =)

4. Family is forever. 

My family is great. They have typically always been supportive of me and all of my endeavors. During competition prep - I truly found out how lucky I am. 

Competing is a VERY selfish sport. You have to eat when its time, you have to devote many hours to the gym, you live your life in an "all about you" sort of way for weeks leading up to your show. It can be emotionally draining and you can tend to take that emotion out on your family members. I know I did. I can't tell you just HOW much support I received from my family. From my sisters getting me stage ready to them making a grocery store run at 9:30pm the night before the show to get me olive oil for the day of. Whatever I needed, they provided - and did it with grace the entire time. When I needed a pick me up chat, my family was there. Through the struggles and times when I felt like I couldn't give any more - they encouraged me and kept me sane. And they did all of this while dealing with my prima donna attitude! =)


The day of my show, everyone was there to cheer me on. It meant the world to me. Even three of my very good friends made the trip to cheer me on. And when I got home, my brother in law had set up a banner and balloons to celebrate. He even went to a fit bakery and purchased healthy desserts to binge on post show! This experience really just reminded me how lucky I am to have my family and good friends' support. Without people to hold you up when all you want to do is sink down low - life would be incomplete. To my family and friends that supported me - I will be forever grateful!!

5. Nothing Is Impossible. 

When you want something bad enough - you will work to SMASH that goal no matter what. It takes hard work - DAY IN & DAY OUT. There are no "rest days". Every day is an opportunity to push forward and be one step closer to achieving whatever it is you want.

When the opportunity comes to slack off or you really just want to go in the opposite direction - you have to decide what it is you really want - and in turn, you have to accept the consequences (good or bad) from that decision.

Plain and simple - YOU CAN ACHIEVE ANYTHING YOU ARE WILLING TO WORK FOR.




Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Detour SMART Bar - Product Review

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Detour Bar. 

I was given the opportunity to try these awesome Detour SMART Bars as part of a FitFluential campaign. 

Detour SMART Bars are certified gluten free and made with organic whole oats. I, typically, am used to eating bars high in whey protein instead of oat based; however, when I received these and opened the first bar, I knew they were going to be good! They are soft, chewy and glazed with a Greek Yogurt drizzle! Just the way I like them LOL. 

The two bars I received for review were the Apple Cinnamon and the Blueberry. I instantly liked the Apple Cinnamon. They have chunks of delicious apple all throughout the bar and the glaze on top was so good! These bars aren't too sweet like most glazed bars can be. I also really liked the texture. I felt like I was eating a dessert!

The Blueberry bars were also good. I am not a huge fan of blueberry flavoring so it was nice that these bars had a subtle hint of the fruit. The texture was the same on this bar and the glaze was good too, although slightly different. I found these bars to be slightly sweeter as well.

Some of the high points of these bars are that they are only 130 calories EACH. So, you get a big bang for your buck if you need a quick snack for on the go. Also, low calorie dieters can utilize this as a pre workout or post workout with a protein shake.

Some of the high points (from www.detourbar.com):

  • Rich in Branch Chain Amino Acids 
  • 10g High Quality Whey Protein
  • 3g of Fiber
  • 4g Sugar
  • Sweetened with Stevia 
What I really like about these bars is that they are really macro friendly. Each bar averages to about 2-2.5g Fat, 18g Carbs and 10g Protein with 3g Fiber. It is easy to fit these into your day without going over your macros. 

For exact nutritional info, please click here


Some awesome foodie ideas popped into my head when I was eating these.... I'll share a few below =)

  1. Ice Cream Sandwiches: two SMART bars sandwiching some proyo (protein ice cream) or sorbet for a quick and calorie friendly dessert.
  2. Chopped up SMART bars added to nuts and dried fruit for granola to take on the go. 
  3. Grilled SMART bars along side grilled fruit like peaches or pears.

Overall, I would say that I am ALMOST 100% satisfied with these bars.... the only thing I would change is to have MORE =) Which isn't a bad thing right?!?

Make sure to check out Detour SMART Bars and try them out for yourself! 













Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Product Review: SquareBar - Cocoa Crunch

SquareBars: in one word - DELICIOUS. 

They have some awesome flavors - Cocoa Crunch , Cocoa Coconut , Cocoa Almond .

The first bar I tried was the one pictured - cocoa crunch. Let me tell you, this bar is decadent and feels like a full on cheat. The whole bar is covered in a chocolate layer that you can actually taste and bite through! The middle tastes like a fudge/nougat consistency and the bit of crunch is awesome. 

I have yet to try the other flavors because I am still in competition prep so my calories (and fat grams) are a lot lower than usual. Once I am off prep, I will try the others!! I seriously canNOT wait. If they are anything like this bar, I am going to be one HAPPY girl!

But really... the things I will do with these bars once my calories are back up... toppings for waffles... casein .... mug cakes... yogurt .... ahhh the possibilities are ENDLESS!!!


 Pros:

  • USDA Organic, Soy & Gluten Free, and Non GMO Verified
  • Vegan (if that's your thing =) )
  • A relatively low cal snack or side to a meal
  • Easily portable as they are pretty small
  • Satisfying & filled me up!
  • A party in your mouth!

Cons:
  • I want to eat them all now, but they are a tad higher in fat
  • Lower in fiber (only 2g with 22g carbs)

Overall, you need these in your life. I will definitely be adding these to my list of go-to protein bars!

Find SquareBar: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter




Thursday, July 17, 2014

Product Review: EvoMuse Eviscerate Smolder

In the last few weeks of competition prep, my coach has recommended that I use a skin tightening lotion called EvoMuse Eviscerate Smolder. I have always been rather hesitant about any "magic" products that tighten skin or speed up results. For me, hard work in the gym and in the kitchen have always been number one. So, when my coach told me to purchase this product, I was skeptical. Basically, what this lotion does is act as a topical fat burner to help with those pesky problem areas.

Here are my results in one week from using the product 1-2 times a day (after my shower always and sometimes again at night if I remembered lol):



PROS:
1. Obviously, it is working to some extent.
2. It is easy to use.
3. It was delivered fast.
4. No weird smells or staining.
5. Works for abs, thighs, arms etc.
6. I am more confident than ever!

CONS:
1. It is a little pricey if you're on a budget.
2. You have to wash your hands immediately after.
3. There is a slight warming sensation right after use, but nothing crazy. When I do cardio the next day or sit in the sauna, it sometimes burns a bit - but not really bad at all.

Overall, I would HIGHLY recommend this product to anyone who is looking for a way to tighten up their skin if they are already exercising and eating healthy. I would definitely not call this a miracle lotion if you are still overweight, but it does help if you want to tighten up soon problem areas.

Check out this product on amazon!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Plateaus & Moving On

Did you ever face a plateau or stall in your weight loss? How long did it last? How did you move past it? These are three questions I get asked NUMEROUS times a day.


I would think that most people start off their journey thinking it is going to be hard. Little do they know (as I found out myself), it is WAY harder than even imagined. 

Body change (be it weight loss or muscle gain) is really a fun and exhilarating journey - when everything is going right. But, as soon as you hit one wrong turn or snag, it becomes a burden which leads to feelings of hopelessness and despair. Many people like to call these snags "plateaus" - or times in their journey where their weight loss stalls and they just can't seem to move past it. While these moments are great for trainers like myself (lol), it is important to remember that these times WILL NOT LAST. Either you will eventually keep losing or, you will return back to gaining. DON'T BE THAT PERSON! 

Did you ever face a plateau or stall in your weight loss? Yes, OF COURSE! It wouldn't be a journey without the twists and turns right?! 



So, in order of plateau I will answer: How long did it last? How did you move past it?

1. I remember when I hit 217 pounds (17 pounds lost at that point). I stalled there for months!! I actually thought that this was the smallest I was going to get. At this point, I hadn't fully committed yet. I bounced back to about 220 or so pounds before I took a good long look at my current lifestyle and decided I really needed to get serious. I cut out alcohol and upped my workouts to 4-5 times a week. I also decided to cut out the healthier foods that I couldn't eat responsibly - like peanut butter and cheese. Main goal: to get the losing part over as soon as possible so I could enjoy maintenance!!

2. At 205 pounds I hit another plateau. I admit, at this time, I was probably not eating enough. I was hitting my 1,200 calories (sometimes less, but never under 1,000) and working out an hour a day 5-6 times a week. Remember, food is fuel to power you through weight loss - it is NOT THE ENEMY! I increased my calories closer towards reaching my first goal (175 pounds) and attribute most of my stalls to not eating enough. 

3. At 175 pounds, I took a break from weight loss. I hit my first goal of 60 pounds and wanted to make sure I really did want to keep losing from there. I think it can become so easy to get obsessed with the emotions of losing weight. The attention you get from people asking if you are losing weight and telling you how great you look can become so addicting. I wanted to make sure I was going to keep losing for the right reasons - to get healthy and fit not to gain more attention. I stalled here on my own accord for about a month and a half before deciding to press on. 

4. 145 pounds was my last baby plateau. My body has this weight as its natural set point where it sits comfortably. I like to be more around 141 for vanity reasons... to lose the last bit of weight, I had to make sure I was eating more so that my body did not think it was anywhere near starvation mode. Switching from mostly cardio with body weight/resistance work to HIIT and heavy weights did wonders for changing my body composition too! I went from a flabbier 145 to a lean 143 with this discipline. 



Overall, there are some basic questions to ask yourself if you are currently stuck in a plateau:

1. Look into your current diet/exercise - are you really taking it seriously and staying committed?
2. Have you tracked your calorie intake? Are you eating enough?
3. Are you burning more calories during the day than taking in?
4. Every bite counts; do you snack on leftovers or graze throughout the day?
5. Can you go harder in the gym or during your home workouts? 
6. Have you been stuck to doing the same workouts lately? 

I think really what matters most is that you keep pushing forward and never give up. Plateaus make it easy for us to forget how far we have come and how much we have already changed. With each step forward (no matter how small the step may seem at the time) the end goal becomes that much closer! So keep pushing and really take a look into your current diet/exercise plan to see where you can adjust accordingly. Switching up you diet and workouts can be a great way to kickstart weight loss back up.

NEVER GIVE UP!










Monday, June 2, 2014

Why Happiness Doesn't Last...

I have a lot of time on my hands during my 30 minute step mill sessions... and I recently decided I would use the time to educate myself instead of just scoping out Instagram or Facebook. So, today I hopped on YouTube to watch one of Layne Norton's videos. I love this guy not only because he speaks what is on his mind even if people don't agree, but because he also uses actual SCIENCE to back up his opinions! (I know, crazy right?!)


Today's video was one that I have seen going around quite a bit recently and just got to watching.... Happiness as a State of Being .

I love this video for a number of reasons... the honesty, the simplicity of the concept, etc. It is true, if you determine your goals to only be superficial or decide that once you achieve something THEN (and only then) will you be content or happy - you are sadly mistaken. I hear way too often: "well, if I only could reach my goal weight or have arms like you - then I would be happy" or "If I could just rock this bikini I would be so much happier". I used to think this too - until I actually hit my goal weight. How long was I extremely happy for? Maybe a week.. maybe not even that. Sure, I am still proud of myself and rejoicing in my decision to change my life, but there is always a want for more. This is why I constantly set goals for myself. Losing weight was just the first step in my journey to keep progressing and smashing goals I never dreamed possible - like completing a half marathon, becoming a personal trainer and soon competing in a figure competition. This way, when the satisfaction and joy has diminished, I still have something new to strive for. This keeps me passionate and active in my future to be better. Past goals are just stepping stones to my future goals.

Another fabulous concept that Layne brought up was the idea of loving the process and GRINDING. I always tell people, you have to take a step back and really enjoy the ride, not just the destination. Sure, it is amazing reaching a goal, but the beauty is in the journey. I don't always love waking up and hitting the gym or pavement - but I will tell you this, I LOVE IT about 99% of the time. I love working out and leaving everything I have out on that floor whether I am lifting or running sprints. My passion for what I do fuels me. It makes me who I am and pushes me now to deliver that same kind of satisfaction to my clients.

The last concept that I will mention in this post is the idea of being able to change where I came from fitness wise. People will ask me "if I could change anything I did during my weight loss or if I would have rather started small and just built muscle from there, would I?" During my weight loss journey, there were definitely times where I wish I had just been skinny to start and then only had to build on that. But now, looking back, I wouldn't change a damn thing. My journey has made me who I am today - it has made me empathetic towards my clients and has shown me that if I want anything bad enough, I can have it with hard work.

I live by the motto that goes something like this - "you can't change your past, but you can learn from it and use it to guide your future". This is exactly what I try to do. I keep grinding and smashing goals while doing what I absolutely love! I don't focus on one thing determining my happiness and I continue to dream big and create new goals for myself. This is what keeps me happy, not a bikini on the beach (although that definitely does make me happy for that period of time lol!) - So keep grinding everyone and set goals based on improvement not perfection!


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why I Will Never Support The Fat Acceptance Movement

It's no secret that I used to be overweight... in fact, let's not sugar coat it - I used to be FAT, OBESE, UNHEALTHY. Some people don't like that I call my past self fat and my present self fab. Those same people probably won't like this post either - and that's ok.


There are parts of this fat acceptance movement that I completely agree with - equal opportunities for everyone no matter what size they are, love at any size, etc. But a HUGE (no pun intended) part of the fat acceptance movement is about accepting that you are fat and promoting beauty in it. While I am a supporter of the idea that you should love yourself at any stage in life (fat, thin, healthy, fit, pregnant, WHATEVER)... I just simply cannot support this movement in so much as the idea of being overweight and unhealthy is acceptable. 

I was never once fat and happy or fat and proud. While I found (and still find) beauty in my appearance at every stage of my own personal journey, I would be lying to you if I said I accepted my overweight self full heartedly. 

One of the major problems I have with the fat acceptance movement is the notion that there is any sort of "health" at every size. This doesn't just go for being overweight, you can't be healthy and underweight either. I could go on and list a ton of articles and research supporting these claims but honestly, we ALL know that being significantly under or over weight is unhealthy. Common sense, right? Having excess fat on your body is NOT healthy and should not be accepted as ok.

Another problem I have with this movement is the way in which it encourages people of any age to stay overweight. Again, I am NOT saying that being overweight makes anyone less beautiful or have less worth - I am simply saying being overweight should not be accepted as healthy. This is particularly concerning in regards to our youth. It seems as if bigger portion sizes and pre packaged foods are the norm. I know they were for me. Allowing our youth to consume adult sized portions (which are bigger than even we should be eating!) is not ok. We should all be more pro-active in regulating what our children are eating when we go out to restaurants or even when we send them to school. 

There are more issues that I have with this movement than this simple blog post allows me to address in order to keep it short and sweet, but I will leave you with my last tidbit... This movement can tend to lead to the idea that fat is more beautiful than thin. I look forward (or maybe more dream of..) the day when everyone is considered beautiful and equal. Because in all reality, over/underweight individuals have the same worth as fit/healthy individuals and visa versa. 

I often wonder why we can't all just love each other instead of saying that one person is more beautiful than the other because of this or that. Instead of having movements that proclaim one person is "more than" another person - let's start with every person is beautiful no matter where they are at on their life journey. And then, let's promote HEALTH. Lets promote correct portion size, getting active, moving more... etc. 

I guess what I am saying here is... Health should be our number one concern. When the world is healthy, everyone is beautiful.