Sunday, October 12, 2014

Never Let Them Dull Your Sparkle

   I was reading a thread on Facebook about a bunch of females talking about how unsupportive their significant others were being of their weightloss/fitness journeys. Wait, what?! Would these men rather them feel insecure, unhealthy, or whatever it is they're feeling about themselves instead of doing something that makes them feel better? It was completely mind blowing and definitely heart breaking to read through the comments and see things like, "He thinks I will get too bulky." "It will take away from time together." "He won't allow me to lift." No, no, and 100% NO!

   Even more interesting to me is that some of these women felt they should respect that decision. Hold it right there missy! You didn't ask to go out and buy a new car, a new home, or take out a $100,000 loan. You decided you wanted to change the way you look and feel about YOURself! No one has ownership over you and your body. You have the decision making power over that. If someone is going to tell you that they don't like that then tell them to kick rocks!

   You will not, I repeat you WILL NOT get bulky from lifting weights! Cupcakes can make you bulky(not really....unless you eat the whole batch at once) and steroids can make you bulky. Females do not produce enough testosterone to get the "bodybuilder" look. I have been lifting as heavy as I can for the better half of two years and am far from ever looking like that. I also refuse to put steroids into my body so that look will never happen for me nor is that the look I'm going for.
   It won't take away time from each other unless you let it. You learn to prioritize and reorganize your life better. If anything it has helped me be on a schedule better. I have friends who work full time jobs, balance school and a job, full time moms, moms who hold down a job and home life, and the list goes on. When they decided they wanted to change their life they reorganized their schedule to fit things in like time with their significant other, kids, friends, etc. Some of them get up at the crack of dawn for 4 a.m. gym sessions to be able to have family time or run their kids to practice, help with homework, and have dinner on the table in the evening. Others go at 10 p.m after their day is done and everyone else is in bed for the night. It's all about managing your time wisely, and if you're serious about it then it becomes second nature.
   For those who have been told they're "not allowed" wow is all I can say to that. For me personally, anyone who tells me that about anything really doesn't have a place in my life. I am blessed with someone who is supportive of me no matter what. My happy moments, sad moments, crazy busy life moments, and everything in between. I support him right back with any decisions he makes. That's what you have each other for! If you don't have someone like that then I think it's time to reevaluate your relationship. You should  NEVER, ever, ever not do something that you truly desire because someone else doesn't like it. End of story.

   You want to lose weight? That's a great goal! You want to build some lean muscle mass? You do it! You want to step on stage? You've got this! Heck, you want to climb Mount Everest? Reach for the sky!!! Last but certainly not least, never let them dull your sparkle! You are capable of so much. Show the world what you're made of!
YOU matter most,

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Kick Those Nasty Thoughts!

   Ever had "one of those days" where you have to force yourself to get up, get dressed, and get your butt in the gym? I'll be honest. Even I have those days every now and then. Today happened to be one of them. For about two hours this morning I kicked around the thoughts, "Maybe I won't go today. I'll work extra hard tomorrow. One day isn't the end of the world. Come on Heather, get up and go. Ok, fine!" I knew that had I decided not to go, I would regret it later. So I got myself in gear and finally made it to the gym.

   As I'm going through the motions trying to find my happy place I catch myself looking in the mirror picking myself apart between every set. Why can't my progress come quicker? Why aren't my shoulders rounder yet? Why are my calves so stubborn? Why can't next year be here so I can be a lean machine again? But do you want to know what bothered me more than any of these things? I'm wishing time away. As if it doesn't already go by fast enough. I have caught myself doing so on more than one occasion. Wishing to see what the results will look like in 6 months. In one year. In 5 years. I know they say times flies when you're having fun, but I can't believe how quick this last year and a half or so went! Did it go by so fast because it really DID just fly by or because I'm wishing for this or wishing for that to come sooner and letting time pass me by?

   I need to learn to SLOW DOWN which is hard to do when the word slow is not in my vocabulary. I have enjoyed the journey every step of the way. The good, the bad, and everything in between. But I need to always remember that as long as I am giving 110%, the results WILL come just as they have all along. Sometimes I get caught up in where everyone else is not thinking that I too will be just where I'm supposed to when the time comes. I have friends who are already looking lean and mean for the upcoming fall shows and watched Olympia competitors completely shredded making history that make me second guess myself. Hello Heather! Half the fun of getting back up there is what it takes to get there!

   So maybe my shoulders aren't as round as I'd like yet. They sure are a heck of a lot bigger than they were since I competed in June. Sure, my calves are pretty stubborn. You better believe this next year they'll take a beating. There are quite a few changes I have noticed in the last few months that keeps me hungry for more and always working hard. My quads are mini monsters, my back is getting wider, my shoulder caps are taller, and my glutes are getting rounder. Yes, I'm more than anxious to see what my body can do before I step on stage next, but I enjoy the work that it takes to get there. Time to slow my roll, and keep working my heart out!

                      Slow and Steady Wins the Race!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

This Crazy Shake Thing

   A couple of days ago I got a message on Twitter from someone who seemed fairly interested in my lifestyle. After a few various questions that I answered for them they then asked, "Out of interest, do you know the business opportunity behind Herbalife?" Truthfully, I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs considering I get this from some sort of "meal replacement" distributor every other week. Instead, I respectfully said, "I do. Please don't take offense to this, but I am an advocate for eating whole foods for meals." It continued on into a much longer drawn out explanation, but this sums up my point. At the end of our conversation they shared a video to further explain and asked if I'd watch it. Finally today I thought, what the heck? Maybe I'll learn something useful from it.

   So I pull up this video. One of the first points it brings up is that as a nation we are less active. This is why we have so many people that are overweight and/or unhealthy. Why do you think this is? Probably because there is a McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell or any other fast food place you can think of on every corner. People have become lazy and in too much of a hurry and now rely on convenience. Wouldn't you rather be able to still have that meal, but know what is in it by making it yourself? This point coincides with the next. The next point was we have less time to prepare healthy meals. How much time do you spend in front of the tv a day? How many times do you hit the snooze button? How important is sleeping in on the weekend or your day off to you? It is not so much that we have less time it's that we don't MAKE time. Isn't your health important to you? We do only have one body to live in. Unless you're a cat you don't get many chances in it.

   Companies such as Herbalife, Shakeology, Visalus, Isagenix, Advocare, etc. give promise of weight loss and convenience. Sounds great, right? So what happens when you've reached your goal? Do you continue to drink shakes rather than meals the rest of your life? Do you slowly creep back to where you started because you have no education on how to maintain your body with proper nutrition once you've met your ideal goal? The problem is that most of these companies don't show you how to maintain and live a healthy balanced lifestyle AFTER the fact which truely is the most important part!

   If you are just starting your weightloss journey or whatever journey you are embarking on there are other ways to go about it while still eating REAL nutritional food. For starters you could hire a nutrition or lifestyle coach. They will help you figure out your body type and devise a meal and/or fitness plan structured specifically for your goals. As they see changes in your body they can change your plan when needed. Once you have reached your desired goal they will also revise your plan to help you maintain that as well. If you prefer not to make the time to plan a week's worth or even a few day's worth of meals there are companies that can do that for you(no, not things like Jenny Craig!) I'm talking real unprocessed food, and they can even deliver it. MAW Nutrition is a great example of this. For around $126.62 or about $3.62 per meal (give or take some depending on your food choices) you can have a week's worth of meals cooked and delivered right to your door via FedEx! Talk about convenience! If that sounds expensive sit down and add up how much you spend on groceries, how much of that ends up going to waste, and how much you spend eating out in one single week. Also remember you are paying for convenience as someone else is preparing this for you. Now $126.62 doesn't sound so bad, does it?

  Bottom line I eat food to lose weight, I eat food to maintain weight, and I eat food to gain weight. No matter my goal at the moment, I use food to fuel my body and guide me to my goal. I am not a prisoner to a "meal replacement" that I must consume to get my dream body or lose some weight. I live my life and still manage to reach my goals.

Peace, love, and a full belly,

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Consistency is Key

   How many times have you set a goal and not achieved it, or got there then ended up falling off the wagon? Do you then stop and ask yourself why? Were you being consistent in taking the steps to get there and also after you made it there? I'm going to bet the answer is no.

   What keeps you from reaching or maintaining your goal? Is it because it's too hard? Of course it's going to be hard! That's the fun in getting there. If it's something that is truely unattainable then start with a smaller goal and create a new one each time you reach it. Your journey should be a marathon not a sprint. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Maybe you reached your goal and no longer think you need to work at it. Wrong! Once you get there the very last thing you want to do is go back to your old lifestyle. Just as before,  that will set you up for failure. This is a big downfall for people who follow fad diets(which I'm sure I'll be writing about either here or my personal blog.) Yes, you can eat a bit more, but you need to stick with your maintenance calories otherwise all your hard work will quickly fade away.

   A great tool to use to help you stay true to yourself and your goals is to use a calorie counter app on your phone. When I first started getting serious about my lifestyle change I used the My Fitness Pal app. I always go in and set the numbers myself to my personal goals. With this app, you log EVERYTHING you eat so it really makes you think twice about eating that piece of candy or second helping at dinner. There are quite a few other apps you can use so I highly suggest to give them a try!

  My personal goal at the moment? Trying to put on some more muscle for the competition season next year. I'm currently eating in a caloric surplus and lifting heavier than I ever have. If I eat too little, I won't put on a little extra "fluff" to work with, and may not be able to lift quite as heavy. If I eat too much, I'll end up looking like a blimp and have to work that much harder when it comes time to get the excess weight off. So I've startegically set up my plan to slowly increase my weight while switching up my workouts from week to week to keep continuous muscle confusion. When it's time to lean out, I'll slowly start to decrease my caloric intake to a healthy amount and add some cardio back in rather than cutting everything back all at once. It blows my mind to see people eating 800-1000 calories a day. Doing that will only lead to a major rebound.

   Work hard, be patient, and most importantly be CONSISTENT. Whether you are bulking up,  or leaning out it all takes time and consistency to see results.  If you can be honest with yourself the results will come. No one can do it but you!

                                                                   Stay consistent, 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

   So I am just about 4 weeks post show and finally feeling good! I'm up about 6-8 pounds on any given day from my stage weight and feeling a lot stronger, happier, and healthier most importantly. I ended up taking 13th in my class of 38 girls so for my first national show that's not too bad. Lots of new friendships and bonds were made, and although my experience getting to the stage this time was anything but good, there were a lot of great things that came out of it. I want to share a bit of what competition life can be like and should not be like so bear with me, it's going to be bit lengthy!

  Competing is HARD. I'm not even going to sugar coat it. It is very physically demanding, but that's the easy part. The hardest part is the mental and emotional toll it can take on you. It is not something for the weak. Having a coach, team mates, friends and family backing you is definitely helpful, but in the end it is you against you. You have to be the strong one and take control of your mind and body. Noone can do that part for you. As I stated in my last post I went through a rollercoaster of emotions preparing for Junior Nationals. More specifically the last 6 weeks while I was under the guidance of someone new. I have been through 3 preps for 3 shows in the last year. My first prep being 20 weeks long and the last two being 12 weeks. The first two with my original coach were a breeze! Eating plenty of food, never completely cutting carbs, doing no more than 30 mins of cardio and no more than 5 days a week at that, plenty of energy to get me through my workouts and keep me functional the rest of the day, the list goes on. Sure, the last couple of weeks got hard as we fine tuned things to really dial me in, but that's a given. The last 6 weeks of my last prep(as I said with someone new) I had started doing an hour of cardio 6 days a week and 30 minutes on the seventh day. By the end I was at upwards of nine hours a week! That's insane! Not to mention I had zero carbs the last two weeks until peak week. These are the things I meant in my last post about being disappointed in myself and not following my heart. I KNEW doing these things were not right. I was tired ALL the time, I had TERRIBLE mood swings that I never had experienced before, my performance at the gym was hindered, but these weren't even the worst things. I started to get shaky all the time, was dead tired no matter how much sleep I got, I would constantly loose my balance just standing still, my metabolism was at risk, and my cortisol levels were probably through the roof with how stressed I managed to get, which caused my body to hold onto more fat. My body was not healthy and I knew it. I can't necessarily say I regret my experience because it taught me a very valuable and important lesson, and I hope that it helps others. If I could explain in one word how I feel now it would be Free!

   I read this article today and related to just about every single point it made. If you have competed a million times, or never competed a day in your life and are considering it, I highly suggest checking it out!
  Next let's talk about how bikini seems to be becoming a "fad." It seems that alot of girls want to be bikini competitors because it seems sexy and glamourous. Let me tell you, it is anything but. Sure, when you sit in the crowd and see the girls on stage they look beautiful. Gorgeous hair and makeup, super tan, sparkly blinged out bikinis, high heels, the whole nine yards. Picture take your last real shower two days before the show. Shave your entire body(or wax), but don't put on any deoderant or perfume afterwards because you don't want your first coat of tan to go on funny! You get your first coat of tan butt naked  and it's cold. Then you stand there, still naked, until you're dry(thank goodness my coach sprays us and we've gotten very comfortable lol)! Make sure to be careful and don't get wet!! Put some dark sheets on your bed so you don't ruin them either. The next morning you can finally rinse, yes rinse, no soap or shampoo, and still no deoderant!  That day you get sprayed again and follow all of the same steps until your final spray the morning of your show. Now you're feeling really great. You're standing around naked and smelly with a bunch of other girls blow drying yourself and/or waiting for hair and makeup. Don't forget that you're water depleted so all of your meals are chased down with whatever saliva is left in your mouth if any at this point. Then you proceed to spend the rest of the day with people just like you....smelling of spray tan and body odor. 

  Ok, ok, so I hope I haven't scared you away yet! Yes, it can be difficult, but there is a really great side to this too! Competing has shown me a side of myself that I never knew existed. I have far more confidence and love for myself and my body than I ever thought possible. Now I look at my body as a piece of art. I build it up, then chisel at it until I reach my desired physique. I am stronger not only physically but mentally as well. I have met so many like minded people and have created great friendships. The craziest thing is that even though we may end up on stage competing against each other or on different teams we're all working together to get there. Sharing tips, tricks, recipes, knowledge, motivating and inspiring one another, and pushing each other to our limits to make each other better. Of course there are some people who only care about themselves, but you'll find those everywhere. More often than not you will see how uplifting and positive this sport can be if you keep the right company. 

  What's next for me? Well to be quite honest I purposely haven't made any plans for a future show yet. I am thinking spring time, but nothing set in stone. For now I'm going to enjoy my time off, be a little more relaxed, and make some gains of course! I'm glad my team is back to its happy place, and to be with my original coach. As we continue to grow, I'm glad to have made the choice to continue this journey with them! Stay true to yourself and follow your heart. That right there already sets you up for success!

                                                   Stay happy & healthy,

Friday, June 13, 2014

Day 1 of Jr. Nationals in the Books

   Prejudging has come and and gone, and it was such a whirlwind! It felt like we were on stage for a whole 10 seconds before it was over. I ended up getting 3rd call outs which probably puts me somewhere between 11th-15th out of 38 in my class. I knew going into this show I wasn't going home with a pro card and I was completely ok with that, but was really hoping for a top ten finish. I would be lying if I told you I wasn't a bit disappointed. I'm more disappointed in myself than anything else for not following what my heart, mind, & body were telling me. The last few weeks I went into a huge depression mode and was absolutely miserable.  I was angry, sad, resentful, lost, and so much more. I knew this just did not feel right from my psyche to my health and everything in between. I guess you live and you learn! Changes will definitely be made moving forward.
   Now I sit here looking at my bag of cookies and poptarts thinking, "Well it doesn't matter now. Just eat them!" But I'm going to hold it together and finish it out tomorrow. THEN I will be slamming some cookies and all sorts of other good stuff! Less than 24 hours! Time for some sleep....tomorrow is going to be a loooooooong day!


Thursday, May 29, 2014


   Two weeks(and one day) until I hit the national stage for the first time. This prep for me has been the absolute hardest. I thought over time they would get easier, but it has proven to be the opposite. Maybe it's because we've taken a different approach? Maybe it's because we've made so many changes? Maybe it's because my mind and body needed a break?  Maybe it's because I'm afraid my body isn't in the right place? Whatever it is, I know I need to keep pushing. I've worked far too hard for far too long to give in now, and I can only continue to progress from here. Sometimes I feel, I'm sure many of us feel, we need to be perfect. I agree we should always strive for perfection, but no one is PERFECT and never will be. What happens when you reach your ultimate goal? You want more, right? It's a continuous cycle of trying to be better than you once were before.
   Yesterday a teammate of mine told me rather than trying to live up to "being perfect" they live life by "inches." Every inch gets you closer to your goal. Every rep, every meal, every last detail is what brings it all together. So I'm going to try to think about every inch it takes to get there rather than trying to "be perfect" in everything I do. Be YOU, strive for YOUR best. There will be trial and error, failure and success, but THAT is what will make you the best you that you can be.
   When I was little my dad would tell me Thomas the Tank Engine stories(he was an engineer so it was fitting.) Of course, at the end Thomas always thought he wouldn't make it up the hill. Then he'd start saying, "I think I can! I think I can!" And wouldn't you know it, everytime he made it! As crazy as it seems, sometimes I have to chant this to myself in my head but it works! When you're giving it your all and you're on the brink of giving up stop and look at how far you've come. Don't worry about how much farther you have to go. The journey is half the fun! Now if you'll excuse me, I have a few inches to inhale ;-)