In New York State, we have been “sheltered-in” for over a month. Today is day 34 to be exact. Some of us have been staying home longer than that. In a town less than a 10 minute drive from where I live, there is an area labelled as a HOT ZONE, and those folks have been in lock-down for 2 weeks longer than the rest of us. Who would have ever imagined this state of affairs? Not me! Well, we are in it. Like it or not. It is temporary, but it is unsettling and has thrown us off.
I’m certainly no expert on politics, infectious diseases, or homeschooling… all things that seem to be regular topics of discussion among your social network “experts”… (I bet you don’t have to scroll down far to see this in your news feed). But, I do know a thing or two about overcoming adversity. It’s 3 simple words:
Control the controllable
What does this mean? First, I will say there is a blurred line between logic and emotion. This line is not in the same place for any two people. Nor is it always in the same place for the same person. There are several variables that come into play. What appears to be a black or white question for me, may require quite a bit of soul searching for another… so remove judgement, particularly harsh self-judgement you may have placed on yourself.
Maybe today you need to cry in the shower while your kid is banging on the locked bathroom door. Maybe you didn’t get outside for some fresh air last night, something you declared you were going to do every day until this shelter-in is over. Let it go.
Think about the things in your life that are important. One thing I know every human has to think about is food. So let’s start with that and break it down. Controlling the controllable requires you to ask yourself a series of questions to come to a conclusion. Once you reach this conclusion, you can create an action plan and then execute.
Do you need to eat every single day? Yes. Do you have food at home? If yes, do you have an idea of what you are going to eat today or are you going to wing it? Is your food already prepared or do you need to freshly prepare each meal? If the answer is “No, I do not have food at home”… are you going to the store today? Have you allocated time to do grocery shopping? Do you have face protection to wear inside the store? Do you have a list so that you stay on budget? And how about your reusable bags, do you have them? If you’re planning on ordering food, do you know where you want to order from? Do you know if the establishment is open for business? Do you know if they deliver or if you have to step out to pick up your order? You get the drift.
Am I oversimplifying this process? Sure! But I feel it’s incredibly important to simplify things. We have so many complex situations in our lives. What is within your control and what is important to you?
I’m happy to continue this conversation with you if you need help. You can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your time!
One of the recurring undertones in my profession, both with my in-person clients at the gym as well as my contest prep clients, is the desire to see results faster. People… please! If there is anyone that understands this, it is me. A woman that has been on top of the mountain and had her dream physique, only to lose it in what seemed like an unfair pull of the rug from underneath her feet. What feels like a never ending battle to find perfection can be so frustrating.
I say these things daily… “It takes time”, “Be patient”, “The things you want to get rid of didn’t get there overnight”, “Be realistic with yourself”, “Enjoy the process!”
What I will also tell you is this: There are things you can control and things you will have to learn to deal with.
What can you control?
- How you exercise – intensity, frequency, duration
- What you consume – quantity, frequency
- How you cope with life stress – we all have stress and we all must cope
- Prioritizing yourself – your workouts should be a priority, if they are just something you do when you “get a chance” you will struggle finding results.
What will you have to learn to deal with?
- Managing your time
- Juggling your priorities such as work and family responsibilities
- Sleep – or lack thereof and how to improve sleeping habits
- The process of reaching your goals
Although it can be frustrating, patience is something we all need in the pursuit of our goals. Find comfort in things such as a better athletic performance, like lifting heavier weight, running faster, being able to climb a flight of stairs without losing your breathe… etc. The final outcome is a culmination of many small, mundane and sometimes boring habits repeated over and over for an extended amount of time, perhaps much longer than you care to recognize. The time will pass regardless, so why not stick with the plan and charge forward?
Bodybuilding doesn’t define me, but it most certainly is a very big part of who I am as a woman, an athlete, an entrepreneur, a fighter, a hustler, a survivor. The path I have walked my entire life is one that is paved with very difficult challenges which I had to work hard to conquer… From Karate to Ballet to a Mechanical Engineering degree to Bodybuilding to taking up CrossFit… each of these things involve putting in a lot of work… countless hours upon hours of focused, detail oriented work.
My first karate class, I learned how to do a front kick… just a front kick which in Japanese is mae geri keage (snapping front kick). For one hour, I practiced that kick. I was 7 years old and that was my first real taste of life. What an experience. Sometimes in life we have to do one single thing over and over and over until it is perfect and then what happens next? Well, do it on the other leg of course! and after that? do it faster, do it while transitioning from another stance, do it while hitting a still target, do it while hitting a moving target… So, you get my point right? and this is how my life has unfolded before me.
Bodybuilding was very similar for me. I started lifting 20 years ago. I studied magazine articles and stared in awe at the fit women I would see in the gym. I had a long way to go, but I knew it would take a dedicated effort and I couldn’t miss scheduled gym sessions. One summer that I was home from college, I used to walk a few miles to the gym if I missed the bus or couldn’t get a ride. I would be totally drenched in sweat and exhausted by the time I got to the gym, but that didn’t matter to me. I wanted to look like Monica Brant and would stop at nothing to get there. For those of you who may not know who Monica Brant is, she is the most photographed woman in fitness. She has been featured on more magazine covers and in more advertisements than any other woman in the world of bodybuilding and fitness. Please, allow me to share THE PHOTO that kicked my butt into high gear…
So, I ripped this photo out of a magazine and taped it onto my wall. This was my motivation then and I still absolutely adore her physique to this day.
I will never forget my boyfriend at the time saying to me, “You know, you have a really good shot at looking like Monica some day. Your body types are similar. Even though she is taller than you, your structure is almost the same.”…. Are you kidding me? That was all I needed to hear. The bodybuilding addict was born!
For years, I would lift weights 5-6 days per week… I did a little cardio, but not much and if I only had time for weights or cardio, but not both… I always chose the weights. It was a love affair between me and the weights, especially once I started to see results.
Now, I still love my weights, but a few years back I did start to notice that I wasn’t as enthusiastic about my training. I was bored working out alone and I was not enjoying staring at myself in the mirror every which way I looked in the gym. At this time, I started dabbling in other types of training such as Boxing, Powerlifting, Yoga and CrossFit. The latter of this list has really captured my heart recently. I love the constant new challenges and I love working out with a supportive group… but don’t get me wrong, I will always be a bodybuilder at heart. So, while I may not train like the bodybuilder I once was, it is a very big part of who I am. Right now, my fitness goals are different… and that’s ok.
This is a common question for many people who are interested in competing in a Bodybuilding show, but perhaps do not know what category to enter. The more people you ask, the more confusing it can become. The wave of Social Media “celebrities” combined with the generation of required instant gratification, has really made competing even more convoluted than before. Here’s my suggestion… After watching a few shows, decide which category you think would be most enjoyable for you to compete in… now I use the word enjoyable cautiously here. Let’s be straight, competing is NOT all enjoyable, fun, rainbows and gold coins. It is a lot of hard work. We know this. But the only way a person will get any valuable feedback is by going through the preparation process, getting on stage, having some photos taken and getting a critique from the head judge of the show (This is something you would do post show by sending a polite email introducing yourself along with a stage photo showing your number).
Now, if you have your heart set on a specific division, but perhaps you just need more time to develop a certain body part, than humble yourself, put in the work (which may take years) and focus on that end goal of getting on stage in the division of your choosing. If you decide to keep competing without giving your body ample time to recuperate and develop, you will not evolve and your chances of success may dwindle. Bodybuilding (and all of the other divisions included) is one of those beautiful hobbies that will afford you the opportunity to improve over time. The body cannot develop while under a caloric restriction. So the idea of dieting for a show and trying to “build up” a certain body part at the same time is illogical and foolish. Hypertrophy (GROWTH) requires proper amounts of fuel and a specific method of training.
If your heart’s desire is to get on stage and you are willing to do a little trial and error until you find the right division for yourself, you might have a little easier time… doesn’t mean you won’t diet as much as the next person, or be able to skip training certain body parts… But you may wind up placing or having a good competition experience because you chose a division that may be the right fit for your body type/structure/build.
Again, it’s about having clear goals and utilizing resources to achieve the best outcome possible… and that term “best outcome possible” I leave to interpretation. One person’s best might be a Top 10 placing. Another might want to win an Overall title… and another person might want to just be onstage and bask in that glory. There is no right or wrong, it’s about personal goals.
Find someone experienced and honest to consult with, if you feel unsure. I am willing to give my input.
Email me: email@example.com
Remember… Everyone starts somewhere. Never give up on your health and fitness goals!
One of my former bosses used to always say to people he had not seen in a while, “you are conspicuous by your absence”
And, no… I have not published a blog entry in a few months… partly because I am working on restructuring the format, reworking the content I present, and also I’ve been doing a lot of writing/saving entries… just have not felt the push to post anything.
I also have been thinking about my own image/portrayal… How do I want to be received? How do I want to be remembered? I have a lot of experiences to share, views on things related to life and fitness more specifically… yet, I do not feel this drive to shove my views down the throats of my social media followers and blog subscribers.
I have been posting less, sharing less, taking less photos, talking less… spending more time reading, reflecting, learning, and of course, exercising. You see, while I know I am completely transparent, honest, and express myself freely… I also realize that not every thought needs to be expressed exactly at the moment in which I think it. Maybe I’m analyzing too much… but the more nonsense I see being put out into the world, particularly on social media… the more inclined I am to remain quiet and focused on the things that truly bring me joy, happiness, a sense of fulfillment.
So have no fear… I have not disappeared… I have not gone anywhere, except the Jersey Shore for 2 days at the very end of the summer (that was the first and only time I felt sand in between my toes in 2015)… Just rethinking EVERYTHING!
Everybody thinks they “Eat Clean” and some that “eat clean” feel it’s pointless because they do not see results. That term is used too often and means something different to every person you ask. For some people, not drinking alcohol on weekdays or not having any dessert after dinner is what they consider eating clean. For others, they might follow a plan that is gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb, paleo, or some other type of dietary lifestyle and that is what those people view as eating clean. Again, too vague of a term to define.
If you want results, you need to be accountable. First, establish your goal(s). Are you looking to lose some body fat? Do you want to perform better when you go to your Crossfit box? Would you like to add some muscle to your body?
After you determine your goals and determine which type of nutrition plan you want to follow (if you are not hiring a Nutritionist or Coach) you should examine your current intake so you can make adjustments where necessary. Keep some type of log… use a journal or one of the many free smart phone apps that will not only keep a log of your food intake, but also break down all of the macronutrients and micronutrients. I tend to go for the latter of the two.
Few more simple tips that will help you dial in on your nutrition…
Make a list prior to going grocery shopping – this will help you stick to the new plan and not buy snacks/foods that you should avoid.
Prep food in advance – I’m not big on making an entire week’s worth of food, but I do like to have enough prepared food in my refrigerator to last 2 or 3 days.
Pack and bring your food with you in a cooler if you’re away from the house for several hours – Some people might view this as extreme, but if you want to be sure to eat on time and avoid impulsive eating, having your own food is the best option.
One more thing… When you do embark on a new Nutrition plan… I strongly suggest sticking to the plan 100% for 2 weeks before determining that something isn’t working and making any changes. COMPLIANCE is usually the biggest issue for people… and it doesn’t matter how flawless a plan is, if the individual is not following said plan.
It is so disturbing as a veteran in the Bodybuilding world, to see so many people searching for instant gratification and shortcuts to success in competing. I hate to tell you, but if your body lacks muscle maturity, density, or size, there is no shortcut to develop that. Of course there are things people turn to in an effort to speed up the process, such as anabolic steroids, but… if used improperly, disastrous and sometimes irreversible, effects will show up… and nothing can be done to go back. I see it often with women who have trained for a short period of time but want to put on muscle. Instead of training heavy, eating more food and giving the body time to grow… they take something recommended to them and a few weeks/months later, freak out when their voice gets deeper, the jawline changes, certain parts of the genitalia become deformed, bald spots form on the head, and then unwanted body hair in other places develops… and this is just to name a few of the visible side effects.
Why do this to yourself?
Oh, that’s right… Some guy from your gym told you if you did “just a little” you would be fine. I’m sure all of his experience with the female body and hormonal system have made him an expert. (insert sarcasm)
It’s tough for me to watch this go on, but I learned many years ago that I cannot get involved, because most of the time the party I’m concerned for will tell me to mind my own business.
Sad… But hey, a plastic trophy and maybe a Pro Card are certainly worth enlarged female genitalia and a beard, right? I know… Horrible… and yes, very true.
Be patient, put in the work and allow your body to develop naturally… You don’t get any bonus points for being a freak of nature or for getting to wear some t-shirt representing a company that will never be in the Forbes 500.
That is my personality… it is my way. I loathe mediocrity and laziness. That doesn’t mean I demand 100% uptime all day and night. Everyone needs down time, of course. But when I venture into something new, I dive right in and do a lot of homework. Yoga is my latest addition, and I must admit, this is one that is staying long-term. It is one month into my practice and I am in love with my journey thus far. Of course, there is so much I don’t know… like the names of poses… but I follow along in class very well and having a good sense of body alignment/positioning, we call it proprioception in Personal Training, has truly helped me cruise along.
I am still lifting weights and doing HIIT cardio 3-4 times per week, but the Yoga is really my priority at this time. Some days, I do both types of exercise, and it has been really interesting.
I implore you to try something out of your comfort zone, even if only temporarily… You just never know, there could be something you wind up truly enjoying… Go for it.
2015 started out with some interesting twists and turns pertaining to my health. I managed to keep things under wraps for the most part and only shared what I was going through with a handful of friends, clients and family. Rather than get into all of the details, I will just say that the worst is behind me now and I am on the road to recovery, Thank Goodness! During the days that I was home resting, I realized that it was time for me to take action with one of the goals I set for myself for the Year 2015…. Start practicing YOGA. Over all the years that I have studied Dance, Karate, Bodybuilding, Strength Training and Powerlifting, I have not spent much time taking care of my Mind/Body and stretching out all of the tightness I created.
I have taken a handful of Bikram Yoga classes, which are the classes conducted in the heated studios, as well as some Hatha Yoga at the gym where I work. So far, I am loving the way I feel. It is rejuvenating to say the least. I am more clear, more at peace and more complete. I will continue to share my experiences, observations, and anecdotes as I see fit. Thank you for being a part of my journey.