I see the light!

Finally, I feel like I’ve begun to find a place of peace and happiness again in my fitness journey. Hell, even my life! I reached out to someone in the fitness Industry who is quite well known. I told them about my current struggles and just how unmotivated and stuck I was. Where was it you ask? Well, to say that I’ve totally quit competing all together, would be jumping the gun. The more that I try to convince myself that I never want to compete again or that I don’t miss it, the more I hear a voice in the back of my head whisper “Liar”. The truth is, I do miss it. I dream about it at least once a week and in my dreams, I’m happy on stage and filled with joy. Crazy, I know. I watch videos of bikini preps and show days and I get butterflies and instantly motivated. So, if I miss it so much, why not do it again?

Competing is a lot more dedication than some may think. It takes constant, overwhelming focus. Your life revolves around what you do and honestly? I love it. Some people find prep to be difficult because they’re often hungry, tired and sleep deprived. They feel like they’re missing out on life events and wish they could drink wine and eat cake and just relax. I personally suffer from more of a guilty feeling because I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I more so feel like others think I’ve missed out on certain things due to my past lifestyle and that I should feel like I’ve missed out. I feel like I should want to spend my time as most others do, surrounded by food and drink and staying up late.  I feel guilty for not feeling guilty if that makes any sense at all. Would you believe me when I say that even when I’m not in prep, I still don’t really drink alcohol often (maybe once a month) and I rarely stay up past 9:30pm. I’m always up before 6:00am even on the weekends and I am anxious and excited to get to the gym 6 days a week to get this energy and passion that lives inside of me out! To give it shape and give it sound. To give it purpose and watch it take form through movement and through sound.

I’ve had 4 consecutive years of competing with 2 shows per year. During those times, I’ve lost a lot of friendships and I’ve also created new ones. I’ve had people say things to me when they greet me like “I hope you’re not competing so we can have fun!” Or comment about how skinny I was for competition and how they prefer me at another weight. Where is old Linds and when is she coming back? After years of these comments, you learn to shrug it off because at the end of the day not everyone will understand what the hell you’re doing and why. But it does hinder me from wanting to compete again. Maybe these same issues will happen again and I will lose people, friendships and become isolated and alone. Maybe I will place terribly and it will all be for nothing. There are so many variables, but the main reason I’m holding back is. am I mentally ready again? Am I ready for the drastic change, the grind, the pressure that it puts on all aspects of my life. Also, is my metabolism ready? This would be the longest time that I’ve taken off between preps, but is it long enough? The thing about your metabolism is, you never know where it is until you try to cut again. Sometimes you’ve made zero progress and you’re right back to where you were last prep. crushing hours of cardio and tapping out on your calories. It’s a very mixed bag.

To begin to figure out some direction and get some goals in place, I’ve hired some help. I wanted to start fresh so I’ve started working with someone I’ve never worked with before who came highly recommended. We’ve decided at this current time to just get some consistency going. Get back to a structured training schedule and to hit macros on a regular basis. To see where my metabolism sits and honestly, to feel better about fitness all around. My goal right now is to just FEEL better right now and stop worrying so much about the future. I’m always worrying about possibly getting in the way of a cut in the future, but that’s getting in the way of being comfortable right now. After reaching out to someone and getting some accountability, feedback and direction I feel 100% better. Not everyone needs a coach, and I used to feel bad for needing that direction. I am a coach and a trainer, but I am not God and I love direction and accountability too. I’m anxious to see what’s to come for me and to share it all with you guys. Motivation is back! and it’s looking for a specific goal again. Thanks so much for reading these little memoirs! They are truly my ❤ and Soul.

Current Struggles…

Current Struggles

These past few weeks I’ve really been struggling to find a balance with fitness and my diet. It’s very difficult as an athlete to have this grey area where there is no set goal. It’s interesting when people remind you to enjoy this time of “freedom” and to just have fun with it. The thing is, for some of us…having a goal in the gym IS fun. We love to push ourselves and watch ourselves grow in the mean time.

I’ve been in my off season for 9 month now and I’m beginning to feel that need for some direction. Not necessarily to compete, but to have someone teach me and direct me. I’ve always enjoyed structure, rules and being disciplined physically. I love having accountability and being able to ask questions or voice concerns. Growing up, I always enjoyed organized sports and being challenged. Lately, I don’t feel challenged at all. I feel lost and confused. Normally when I feel this way, I try and find the source. This time, its my own fitness journey. I don’t feel like I’m growing, learning, changing or being challenged.

I always preach about having direction in the gym or the kitchen if you’re feeling lost and confused. Well, this is where I currently am. I’ve tried making programs for myself, changing up my routine, counting macros and taking progress pics. But then I just stop because I promised myself I would take this time to chill. What if I don’t want to chill? What if I’m meant to be this person who loves the challenge and the accountability.

That’s the struggle I often deal with. If I set a goal for myself, I will not stop until I reach it. My goal was to take a break from extreme fitness and to catch up on life. Well after 9 months, I’m ready for a personal challenge. I’m always afraid to change my mind or make a mistake. But if you know you miss something and you’re not happy. Why continue with the goal? Why not follow your heart and do what you know will make you happy in the end?

Talking to a friend the other day, they totally called me out on my shit. They asked me what would be so wrong if I started getting some help again (fitness coach). I said because I told myself I would take 12 months off. Their reply was “Because that would mean you changed your mind and you failed your goal. You wanted to be able to reach 12 and you only reached 9.” Which is so true. I wanted to be “cool” and relax and be one of those girls who goes for drinks and appies and is like “One more margarita please!” or not go to the gym for a week and be ok with it. But the harder I try to be this person, the more I miss structure and discipline. Also, knowing one more margarita would mean 40 grams of sugar! Ignorance is sometimes bliss 😉

In the past 9 months, have I mindlessly indulged in the food department as much as I’ve wanted to? Absolutely. I’ve had days where I’ve just sat around eating chocolates and feeling sick (Christmas). I’ve also had days where I’ve drank too much wine and was sick the next day (don’t ask). I’ve also had weeks where I haven’t wanted to hit the gym at all when I’m used to loving the gym 5-6 times a week. Balance can mean so many different things. It can mean not tracking at all and eating intuitively, hitting the gym or being active a few times a week and spending time with friends. But it can also mean all of these things and having someone guide you along the way to remind you of what your goals are and to push you when you don’t feel like pushing yourself.

Once I decide who I will be training with, I will be posting a little more on my goals. Right now, goals in general need to be set. I’m excited to get some things in order again and have been feeling guilty about feeling this way. But why feel guilty over something you know in your heart will make you happy? My decision on a coach will be carefully made and I want to train with someone who has a wide variety of knowledge and can teach me things that I can take with me to help others. The search is on! If you have recommendations, please don’t hesitate to comment or shoot them my way.

 

When you’re feeling low and down in the dumps, ask yourself what really is that root cause and how can it be fixed. What will make you happy in the end.

Is there a show in my near future?

Do I miss competing? Some days I can say “You bet your ass I do.” I miss waking up and crushing cardio with authority while thinking about my goals. I miss going to bed thinking of my goals and then dreaming about them while I sleep. I miss picturing myself winning that Pro Card. I miss having a very specific goal and having a coach, someone to give me direction. For me, competing is much more than just getting lean and wearing a bikini in front of a crowd of people. It’s pushing myself, and challenging myself to work as hard as possible and give myself zero excuses to not reach those goals. I’m a very dedicated and hard working person when my goal is clear cut. Especially if the goal requires physical work. Lift this, run here, eat this and not that… it gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.  Having “X” number of weeks to hit a goal spikes my adrenaline and fires me up! Some people get anxiety over having that pressure, but it just further motivates me to dig deeper and push harder.

Some would wonder, if that’s what made you happy then why would you stop? I go back and forth with my love for competing. Is it competing that I miss? or just having a specific goal, direction and a black and white path to my goal. No one likes the grey areas, we all want the black and white because there’s less room for error or thinking that we’re lost. Competing again at this point in my life would be the seemingly easy way out. I would be able to put my issues with food aside, my body image issues aside and furthermore, to blame the demands of prep for many other issues in my life.

Where I’m at right now is somewhat balanced. I work out when I want to and perform cardio for a maximum of 18 mins (HIIT Intervals) 4x a week. My diet is not consistent. I wish I could say its’ an 80-20 split (80% whole foods and 20% processed) but it’s not. Some days I want iced cream instead of chicken and other days I’m craving a hearty salad. While in prep, these natural cravings enter my brain and I don’t give them a second thought, because I can’t. Over eating isn’t an option because I’m under a time crunch. My clothes are bigger and loose fitting because I myself am shrinking. It’s almost a badge of honor to realize none of your clothes fit because you are tiny! Now, I have days where I feel like I can’t find anything in my closet that fits or looks right. Things are tight and I feel my clothes getting smaller and myself getting bigger! What a frickin swap. Other days, I feel fabulous! This may happen on my off season for a couple of months, but the thought that a cut will soon be coming is what keeps you calm and satisfied. Now, I have no plans to cut and must remind myself that this! Is me, working on me. I always try to remind myself that constantly looking to be lean isn’t the answer to anyone’s happiness. If your happiness depends directly on your looks and how shredded you are, you will eventually realize that those things fade and you will be left with nothing. Sure, maybe you won some shows and did some photo shoots, but who’s lives did you change by looking good if you didn’t have a message to go along with it? You are more than what size your pants are and how much cellulite you have on your body.

Taking this time off has forced me to track, keep active and be personally responsible for the shape that I’m in. To allow myself to have boundaries but push them when I want to, within reason. I’ve always been a boundary pusher. If someone says I can have something, it’s always “Well, how much?” I’m all about volume and having the most of everything. It’s easier for me to put my control issues aside and place it in someone else’s hands as if to say “Here, you deal with it!” My issue is when I coach myself, my mentality is all or nothing. People ask me why I myself (a coach), need a coach. When you coach other people, you’re going to implement rules for them to keep them safe and balanced. But when you coach yourself, you will always be tempted to break the rules for yourself. You’re going to break the rules that you’ve implemented for others because you can. But I’m forcing myself to not break the rules and just be. To make a conscious effort of enjoying life and all that it has to offer. I compare not being in prep like not being school. When you aren’t in school, you wish you were and vice versa. You miss the direction, the structure and learning. You study hard, take the test and are marked on your performance. When you go back to school, you miss making your own schedule and spending your time how you want to. Well I spent 4 years in Prep School 😉 and taking this year off as has made me miss what comes along with Prep School. I’m often asked if I will ever compete again and the answer is that I just don’t know. A lot of things need to be in line and I would be very careful about who I chose as a coach. My mentality would have to be in the right place and I would want to document my prep for myself and for others to realize the emotional highs and lows of competing and the extremes that your body is sometimes put under to reach the stage.

So, do I miss competing? Sometimes yes. But not enough to compete again anytime soon as I know the work that I need to put into myself mentally before I work on myself physically to that degree again.   

ABS! what they aren’t telling you

The ab battle. Isn’t it common? Everyone wants a 6 pack and they want it now!

I’ve always been fortunate enough to have somewhat of a flat stomach. When I gain weight (fat), it goes to my love handles, my arms, my butt and my thighs. It’s not that I am special, or gifted for not getting a prominent belly. That’s just genetically where my fat is mostly stored on my body. A flat stomach isn’t always  necessarily a defined stomach. Only when I began bodybuilding, (lowering specific macronutrients and increasing my activity) did I see some definition in my core. I still however, did not have those rock hard abs that you see in magazines and on social media. What people fail to realize is that the reason why some can see their abs on a regular basis, is partially due to their genetics. I know, it sucks but it’s the truth!

Now of course there are other things that come into play, your diet being one of them. I wanted abs, but I also didn’t want to be strict with my diet. At the same time I wanted to be lean, I wanted a large curvy rump. While these are common goals, they don’t all necessarily coincide with each other. Unfortunately, you won’t get those hard-defined abs to show through if you’re not eating a proper diet. If you aren’t being consistent, you won’t drop enough fat to allow the abs to pop through. You also won’t get that rump if you’re not fueling your body properly to build your glute muscles. Specific towards the ab goal (Although I’m’ sure Gar wouldn’t mind a booty too) I will use my dad as an example 😉 He is always telling me how many crunches he does a day, but he’s not watching his diet. Will his abs make an appearance if he doesn’t start paying closer attention to his diet? Unfortunately, not. Sorry Dad!  It is also possible to not be eating enough and have a flat, lifeless tummy. When you think of super models, their goal is to be small, not necessarily lean. I can’t remember the last time I saw a model (Other than a fitness model) with a shredded 6 pack and killer oblique’s. That’s because rarely are they watching their macronutrients. They are more focused on body weight and frame to fit into certain sized clothes.  Rather than focusing on macros (protein, fats, carbs) they are focusing on total calories consumed. This is a random comparison, but it’s what comes to mind when I think of a SMALL frame compared to a LEAN frame. Even when I am at my leanest, I still don’t have the coveted and elusive 6 pack, because that’s not how my body is naturally built. Does this in anyway mean you don’t have to train your abs? Of course, not! Diet is key with the visibility of abs yes, but they’re also strengthened in the gym. You should train your entire body to become stronger and in better overall shape.

We all want to spot treat and have the best of both world’s when unfortunately, that’s not how our bodies work. I’m always asked why people don’t have abs yet, or even why I don’t have abs. After all,  aren’t I a bodybuilder? (Thanks tips). They want abs but they also want to grow their glutes and gain muscle! They want to work on their metabolism and their relationship with food, but they also want to compete and lean out. When it comes to such specific goals, you need to understand that each goal is going to take different diet and training approaches. When my goal is to lean out, and I am close to show with my core as defined as it’s ever been, my butt is a lot smaller. Because my glutes hold a lot of body fat and with the loss of fat, comes the loss of booty size. Now, when I regain the weight lost after a show, my core isn’t as defined, but my butt gets bigger. This may all seem like common sense to some people, but to others it’s not. Too often, we compare ourselves to someone else who is genetically built differently than we are and wanting their body. Yes, they may have well defined abs, but you are not them. If you really want a more defined stomach, you’re going to have to accept the sacrifices that come along with it. Sacrifice’s like reducing specific macronutrients, and possibly upping your activity. Even then, the genetics to have those crazy abs may not be there. But instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have!

For example, even though my abs aren’t really something that stand out as part of my physique, I have accepted and celebrated the fact that I have bigger and more muscular legs than other bikini competitors. It doesn’t take much for me genetically to put on muscle and to maintain it. But it takes me a great deal of hard work to drop fat. I’ve worked hard on my legs and I’m proud of them. Some Bikini Competitors may be blessed with abs, but must work hard to build muscle and continue to work hard to maintain it. Work with what you do have and make a conscious effort to improve and accentuate it, rather than obsess over what someone else has been blessed with. You’ve been blessed too! Take time to realize what you’ve been blessed with ❤
The featured photo is from my most recent contest CBBF Nationals 2016, where I reached my leanest physique to date. Here my body fat percentage is very low, and I still don’t have those crazy abs. Does that mean I am out of shape? Absolutely not. Your physique is only one aspect of being physically in shape.

I Binged!

From what I know, binge eating is a lot more common than people realize. The fact that I see “Icon’s” or Fitness Idols discussing certain topics and how clean they always eat, sets the public up for failure. When you look up to someone and they always seem so perfect, it forces you to feel more imperfect. You feel like you’ll never live up to their standards and their way of life. They sell you these lies telling you that “If you want to look like me, you have to do this and do that”. When they don’t do 80% of the things they show you. I would rather be inspired by someone knowing full well what they’ve attempted and that they eat as healthy as possible while still leaving room for their guilty pleasure indulgences. Being aware that they devote most of their time and energy into leading a healthy lifestyle but are also honest about the dessert they have each night. They face the realities that opening up about the time they too have gone overboard on a box of cookies, isn’t seen as so “Fit’.  Or that sharing the fact they went for pizza on date night while they were attempting to drop fat, sets a bad example. Each of us are inspired by something different and specific. Something that speaks to us on a personal level and too me, that’s transparency and what I would deem as relatable.

I’ve posted before about my binging tendencies, and I don’t mind opening about them. After all, I am a bikini competitor as well as a fitness professional, But I am far from perfect when it comes to my relationship with food. I believe there are many contributing factors that stack up to cause a binge. I’m not a therapist or a psychiatrist, But I am getting better at acknowledging my own personal triggers. I’m making more of an effort to address when I feel a binge coming on, and how I feel after it’s happened. Binging for me is more of an escape. I tend to over eat or compulsively eat when I’m trying to escape a feeling that’s uncomfortable to me. It most commonly occurs when I’m alone and am feeling consumed with my own thoughts. It can happen If I sit for too long and dwell on an occurrence that’s either happened, or may never happen. I will feel anxious and need to gravitate towards something for comfort. For some that’s drugs, others it’s alcohol and for me it’s food. I don’t want to FEEL lost, alone, stressed, anxious or confused. So, I distract myself with food and from the emotions that I’m trying to avoid feeling.  I’m going to take you step by step through a binge in my mind.

Step 1. I’m alone so now I’ll think about all the things I should be doing, but I’m not. The thought of it all overwhelms me because I don’t know where to start.

Step2. I haven’t eaten anything fun today, we have iced cream so I’m going to have one bite and put it back. (When I say fun, I usually mean high in sugar or fats)

Step3. I’m spooning the iced cream and thinking at the same time about how much change I’ve been through and all the change yet to come. Business, bills, not competing, relationships, family, things that have happened in my past and how I should have dealt with them. People in my life that I feel that have betrayed me and how I never took the opportunity to confront them. The list goes on.

Step4. I realize that half the pint is gone…

Step5. The guilt of losing control and losing yourself sets in.

. “Binge eating is done rapidly and a person will feel emotionally numb and unable to stop eating. Most people who have eating binges try to hide the behaviour from others and often feel ashamed or depressed about their over eating”

The important factors behind our relationships with food is to remember why we eat which foods. We eat them because we love the smell, the look and of course the taste. When you’re binging, are you really noticing any of these things? I’m personally trying to get as much down the hatch before I realize how much I’ve eaten and feel bad about it. I used to take my time with my meals and strategically enjoy each bite. Being more aware of how much I liked, or disliked it.  People often feel ashamed to admit that they love pizza and cake. They feel as if they’re a failure because they refuse to give up their dessert that they have every night and that is the reason why they will never lose weight. It’s not so much what you’re eating in this case, it’s what’s eating you!

There are two underlying reasons that I’ve experienced in which cause a binge. 1. A lack of macronutrient (usually carbs or fats). 2. Emotional avoidance. You don’t want to feel, so you eat. If you feel like these are issues that you struggle with, try and take your time choosing your meals and realizing why you’re choosing them.  Are you eating it because you’re hungry and because you need to satisfy your stomach? Are you enjoying the textures and the flavours along with the smells? Or are you simply eating to satisfy another kind of hunger from somewhere else in your mind. To fill a void and numb yourself towards feeling certain emotions.

I am not expert in this field at all and I only speak from my experiences and what has helped me. If you are struggling with emotional eating, don’t be afraid to contact someone about it and talk it out. Someone is always willing to listen and lend a helping hand. Be Strong and open for yourself! ❤

The featured image is from my trip to Bali where I indulged in something sweet everyday because my goal was to enjoy myself and my surroundings.  This included experiencing the culture and of course, the treats! I ended up dropping weight on this trip because of the lack of protein and overall calories I was consuming. FOOD for thought!

You can’t “Out Train” a bad diet-Is BOOZE getting in the way?

The hard truth about meeting your fitness/weight loss goals, is that you can’t out train a bad diet. When I say a “bad” diet, I mean you are making little to no effort to meeting the macronutrient requirements for achieving your goals.

It’s very common for us to reward ourselves with food/drink when we’ve been “good” during the day or the week. We ate good all day and so we deserve to binge on sweets when we get home after a hard day at the office. We got all our work outs in and so that means two glasses of wine tonight instead of one. My favorite? I worked out today so I can eat whatever I want. These are excuses to fall off your commitment. Reasons that you’ve made up for yourself to have whatever it is you want and to justify it to yourself for having it. You want to lose weight? Reach out for some help and when that help is offered to you, take it. Make an effort everyday to follow the suggestions that have been set out for you. Too often do I see people justifying their work to their reason for food choices. You can work in the gym all you want, but if you’re not working in the kitchen too, you will see less desirable results or possibly none. I know better than most that even when I’m killing myself in the gym twice a day, and my meals are on point there are still going to be outside factors that will play into my results. Only then can I say I’m truly doing everything in my power to see the results that I want.

We all want results but who of us are willing to put in the work required to getting it? There’s always a reason or an excuse behind it and rarely are we willing to admit it. People spend hundreds or thousands on easy and quick fixes only to be disappointed at the end because they didn’t learn anything and are now back at square 1. Your love for results and success must be greater than your love for whatever it is that’s keeping you from getting there (Too much wine or high calorie foods).

Which brings me to my next point, Alcohol. We all want to drink and be social but we also want to have a 6 pack and be toned. I’m going to try and break it down to you in the simplest form that I can come up with. Each time that I have decided to take my fitness or fat loss goals seriously, I’ve cut alcohol out of my life. Is this the necessary or the right answer? No. To cut anything out completely, isn’t’ always the answer. Especially if it’s something you enjoy in moderation and have never had an issue with. In saying that, many don’t’ realize that alcohol contains calories. Sorry to burst your bubble guys, but it does. If I decide to have a glass of wine or a crown royal (my personal faves) I count them in my macro’s as either carbs or fats. I choose to count 4oz of wine as 25 grams of carbs or else 9 grams of fat. After I discuss wine, people are quick to jump in and say they only drink hard alcohol and water. The alcohol that you choose to drink isn’t a matter, it still contains calories. Each shot of alcohol contains roughly 15 grams of carbs. So, when you were good with your diet all day or all week, and decide to treat yourself with a drink. Be mindful! Track what you’re having and maybe think about the potential reasons that you’re not seeing the results you want.

 

It’s common to hear people say they want to lose weight or see a change, but they aren’t giving this or that up. They want to gain muscle but they don’t want to eat protein. They want to lose weight but they aren’t cutting back on sweets or their daily double doubles. Then I ask you to have a look at what you REALLY want and decide what’s more important to you. Can you have both? of course. But sooner or later you will realize that one passion needs to over take the other to find what you’re looking for. Stop making excuses for the results you aren’t seeing and start making the changes necessary. If you’re unsure where to start, start tracking your macros including your glass of wine and the double-double from Tim’s.  I’m sure you’ll be surprised at the amount of fats and carbs you’re consuming and the lack of protein in your diet. You must start somewhere and you aren’t always going to like the answer given to you. There are many approaches to weight loss or body transformations, but most of them come down to hard work and discipline. The key is to start somewhere! Start small and slowly build up your knowledge along with your approaches.

P.S. This picture was from one of my best friends stagettes! ‘WINO’ Because I love wine just as much as the next person.

 

Why do I cry on my Birthday? It’s not why you may think

You’re another year older and it’s time to celebrate! Or so everyone thinks.

People usually celebrate their birthdays by laughing, smiling, opening amazing gifts and reminiscing on old times. The key word being “celebrate.” So, why for the past few years have I spent mine crying? It may seem odd, but it’s more common than you think. The most common reason is because people often feel old. They feel as though time is running out to accomplish all the things they set out to accomplish. They are another year older and it just seems to remind them that they may never get married, get that promotion, or have it all together like they had planned.

For me, this isn’t the case. I get the ‘Birthday Blues’ for a few different reasons. This year I’ve turned 29, which to some may seem old and that I must feel old. I feel the opposite of old. I feel very young at heart and as though I have a lot of life left to live. I feel like a 19-year-old who is trapped inside a 29-year old’s life! (Not body 😉 ) I’ve always felt that I was going to live a life that was full of experiences, and so far I have. In my 29 years, I’ve graduated high school, college, lived a short career as a conservation Officer, moved over 10 times, competed in 8 bodybuilding shows, became a personal trainer, bought a house, sold a house, got married, divorced, uprooted my entire life and started a business, and more.

Each year, the older I got and the more experiences that I had, the more I cried. It was very odd. I would wake up and each time someone would wish me Happy Birthday I would start to tear up. My Grandma would call and sing me Happy Birthday and I would sob uncontrollably. I would end the day and think “Wow, let’s not do that again”. But the next year would be the same and usually I would cry even harder. If I think back hard enough and try to pin point when it became more evident, it would be my 23rd or 24th Birthday. These were the years where I realized I had found my passion in the fitness and bodybuilding Industry. Like many women, when something exciting happens for us in our lives, the first person we want to share it with, is our mom. I unfortunately lost my mom when I was 12 to breast cancer. She passed away one month before my 13th birthday and I will never forget selfishly wishing she could have held on one more month to celebrate my first teenage birthday. I remember placing in my first show the year that I turned 24, and feeling so damn happy. But directly after feeling happy, I felt sadness. I knew she would be proud that I even tried, but the fact remained that I was unable to tell her in person.

When I turned 26, I was getting married that following fall and the main person that I wanted to share my wedding plans with wasn’t physically there. I ended up spending most of my time planning my wedding crying because I really did feel like I had no idea what I was doing. You see brides arguing with their mothers over wedding details and I was jealous. If only my mom could be here and tell me I was doing it all wrong (jokes). On the day of my birthday, I was reminded of the engagement that had just passed and the wedding plans to come. Which were mostly done alone out of feelings of being lost and that no one else could take her place.  The year I turned 27 felt the same. I recalled my wedding just a few months earlier and all the life events that just took place (Getting married and winning first in a bodybuilding show) and again how I couldn’t share any of it with her. Then came 28…

28 was the year that my marital separation would be final. Talk about hard truths and your whole life flashing before your eyes. This time it was the same feeling but so much worse. I woke up and just thought in anger “Here I am again. Another Birthday and you’re not here to hand me my cake and sing me happy birthday.  To tell me how proud of me that you are even though my marriage has failed along with everything else!” It may sound dark, but it was the truth. No matter how old you are, you will always be looking for mother’s approval. I went to work and every client that wished me Happy Birthday would receive tears in return. I felt so bad because each person couldn’t understand what was going on and they automatically assumed I just felt old and was one of those people who hates getting older. The only way that I can describe it, is to imagine each birthday up until you’re 12 with everyone you love, especially your mom. She bakes you a cake and watches you blow out the candles. She buys you the Spice Girl’s C.D. you asked for and says that in return you should dance to “Stop Right Now” and show everyone the dance moves. And she tells you that she loves you and wishes you a Happy Birthday. Each Birthday after that, is always going to feel like it’s missing something. Because it is. You can constantly try to distract yourself from what’s missing, but it’s always there. With each Birthday Wish you receive, you are reminded of the one that you won’t be receiving. Hers.

29 I can tell you has started out the same way, tears after tears. Birthday Cake for breakfast because I’m an adult and can do whatever I want 😉 and of course wishing she were here. This last year has kicked my ass in more ways than I can count. Instead of thinking that I wish she were here to witness my triumphs, I’m wishing she were here to help me pick up the pieces and start all over again. The fact is, I know she’s here. If she weren’t, I wouldn’t be writing this on my Birthday instead of continuing to silently miss her and wish she were here. I’m strong and I am proud of my strength, so when I have days like this its hard to accept them and allow them to be. Even though I am a 29-year-old woman, inside I’m still a 12-year-old girl who misses her mom.

The featured image is from a night in 2015 when I went to the theatre with a friend and spent the entire movie thinking about my current situation and what to do about it. I came home to this picture of her and I that hung on my wall, smashed face up on the floor. She sends me signs every now and then to remind me that even though I can’t see her, she IS here.

 Thanks so much for reading this blog and I appreciate all the Birthday wishes. NOW GET YOUR ASS IN THE GYM!

P.S. As I was proof reading this blog, the power went out and it almost didn’t save! Maybe she is here to help me blow out my candles, or the power.

 

What are you willing to sacrifice in order to reach your goals?

Are you being too hard on yourself or not hard enough?

It can sometimes be difficult to see when we are cutting ourselves a break, or punishing ourselves for not working hard enough. As someone who has struggled, and still struggles with being a perfectionist, I can totally relate to this common dilemma.

Now that my goals are not as clear cut and strict with diet and exercise as they once were, it’s hard to determine whether I’m pushing myself hard enough. When you’re so used to your meals being measured and weighed out, anything else can seem as if it lacks detail and hard work. Because if you’re not tracking or knowing the exact number of macronutrients going into your body, you must be failing. I’m learning that this isn’t the case.

On the other side of this, is when I’m being too lenient with my goals. The purpose and the reason for me to set macro numbers for myself, is to have something to aim for. Something to keep me on task when I’m feeling like I have no goal. It’s easy when you’re not stepping on stage in 6-8weeks to allow yourself more treats than you should. You don’t have that timeline in the back of your head reminding you that time is running out and that it’s now or never. So, you snack over your numbers because why not? I deserve this. You start to cut your work outs short or not go at all, because I worked so hard yesterday.  You justify it to yourself in anyway that you possibly can because it’s so much easier to make excuses for yourself, than it is to remember why you shouldn’t over indulge or give your goals a rest.

The answer to this is do you feel like you’re doing enough? When you skip the gym, say no to another fitness program, and decide against your long-term goals. Does that make you happy? My guess is probably not. Now on the other hand, are you doing everything you possibly can and using the tools that are being offered to you to reach your goals? Are you using that gym membership, taking that free advice from a fitness professional and making the most of what is currently available to you? We can always do better for ourselves and we can always be doing much worse. It’s your job to determine what it is you want and what steps you are willing to take to get it.

When my goal was to lean out for CBBF Nationals in 2016, I would be up at 3:30am to commit to fasted cardio so that I could be at the gym by 5:00am to train my clients. I would then train them back to back for 6-8 hours, head home for a quick meal and back to the gym again to train myself. By 8:30pm I would be struggling to stay awake but I would be satisfied with myself. Because I knew that I did everything that I could to meet my goals during that day. When someone told me that I was working too hard and that I needed a break, I would take that as a compliment. Because working hard on your goals, sometimes means sacrificing evenings and weekends to catch up on sleep or get your work outs in. It can also mean having one glass of wine instead of two or ordering a steak and salad instead of a burger and fries. It’s waking up before your husband and the baby so that you can take care of yourself and work toward your own goals and ambitions. Don’t forget that with all the demands that come with your day, you can always find time to dedicate to yourself. It may be a less than desirable time of day, but you have it and its yours if you want it.  You just have to look hard enough and maybe sometimes ask for help or direction.  

My goals now are a lot different but it still means sacrificing in other areas of my life to achieve what I want. I’ve recently sacrificed a familiar home, friends, family, a past and a full-time job where I loved the clients that I had. When I moved, I decided that anything that fit into my jeep was all that would make the trip. Out of the materialistic things that were in my home, all that came with me was my bed and memorabilia. The things that I made room for, were the things that were important to take with me on the route to my new goals and the next chapter in my life. Anything else, I can make due with out for a while. I even cleared my entire closet of 90% of the clothes that I owned because 1. There just wasn’t room and 2. They reminded me of my old life. If I have anywhere to go that requires dressing half decent, I  struggle to find anything to wear but at least I have SOMETHING to wear.

Now I’m slowly working towards building a new home and taking the steps necessary to achieve my current goals. All while being as easy on myself as possible, while keeping myself on task and reminding myself that nothing good comes easy. Especially success.

 

 

Why “Diet’s” work-Choosing the right diet for you.

Finding balance is never an easy task. Especially when it comes to reaching your fitness/health goals. If you look on the internet for the “Quickest” way to drop fat, you will find plenty of weight loss solutions. Weight Watchers, Keto, Atkins, Paleo, Ideal Protein. Do any of these sound familiar? I’m sure if you’re reading this, you’ve tried one or two of the following diets. My question is, did they work? and if not, do you know why? If it didn’t work for you, the reason may be simple. It’s not because it’s wrong, or that it doesn’t work. It may not be right for you! I myself have tried so many different approaches. Each time leaving me with more fat than when I started (rebound).

 

Before I left for Bali (November 2016), I had been on a reverse diet from CBBF Nationals 2016. I was slowly upping my calories, while decreasing my cardio routine to get back to a healthy and balanced lifestyle. My daily carb intake was still quite low while my protein was high and my fats were moderate. I was on a slow reverse, but it wasn’t so slow that I was losing patience and hungry all the time. I was however avoiding certain food items out of old habits. No sugar, and no dairy. I’m sure you can guess the rest. I would stick to my staple foods during the week and then of course, the weekend was a “Cheat Meal”. I considered my cheats somewhat ‘Clean’ because I was making a concious effort of incorporating whole foods. I would have Steak and Potatoes and usually Caesar Salad (my absolute favorite meal). For dessert, I would either make Protein Cookie Dough (protein powder, oats, cocoa powder, peanut butter, and chocolate chips melted in the microwave), or go for FROYO. The problem for me with this approach is that I’m still labeling certain foods as bad foods. I’m waiting for the weekned to treat myself and go hard! Is chocolate bad? When you eat an entire bag of mini eggs in one sitting, it’s probably not the best. But is it bad in moderation? No. Is protein powder bad? No. But when i combine it with loads of peanut butter, oats and chocolate chips, the overall calories are higher than if I would have just measured out a serving of iced cream. MODERATION!

When I went to Bali, I ate out for every meal during the day. My goal was to try a Keto type approach, or something similar to it (high fats, moderate protein, low carb).  I was trying to stick to salads in hopes that I could at least get a good-sized amount of protein with each meal along with some healthy fats. Unfortunately, that was never the case. I would receive a large amount of fats, and hardly any protein (2 ounces tops). Essentially for a month straight I was consuming mainly just fats. The lack of macronutrients, mixed with the heavy amount of daily activity and the heat resulted in a change in my body shape. I was smaller, but I also lost muscle. PLUS! I really missed carbs. So, what does one do? Binge of course! Iced cream, chocolate, and bread. All the good stuff that I was trying to avoid. When we came back for Christmas, I instantly increased my protein and kept my fats the same (increase in overall calories). Mix that with some holiday goodies, less daily activity and you have yourself a rebound.

Certain Diet’s don’t work for certain people, because they aren’t sustainable or maintainable. If you can picture yourself following a diet approach for over a year, I would say that is the diet that’s suitable for you. I personally love all foods too much (sugar included) to totally cut anything out. The higher fat approach didn’t work for me, because as soon as I’m on holidays or at an event, it’s not realistic for me to follow. My current goal, is to gain muscle and not avoid foods that I love while doing so. To focus on portion control, rather than cutting certain foods out of my life because I allow it to have control over me. I’m looking to feel healthier and happier. To me, that doesn’t equate to obsessing over things that I can’t have. Sugar (carbs), and Peanut Butter (fats) are not BAD for you. They can hinder your progress, if you don’t monitor the amount in which you consume them. One serving (125ml) of iced cream is roughly 25 grams of carbs and 5-7 grams of fat. I’ve LOST fat while consuming this daily, on a prep for nationals. Because I monitored the rest of my food sources and made sure that all my other macronutrients were in check. If you’re consuming whole foods for 80% of your diet, and hitting your fiber goals, why can’t you save room for something sweet to stop a possible future binge? When women tell me that they’ve been so great with their diet and they haven’t had sugar in “X” number of months, I worry. Because I wonder if that is truly a long-term possibility for them. I wonder when they will binge, gain all the weight back and end up depressed. Before you chose a diet to follow, establish your goals:

1.  Do you need to lose weight, or gain muscle? This I feel is the most common mistake that women make. They want to look different, so they assume they need to lose weight. When most of the time, they need to gain muscle to fill out and get some tone in their shape.

2. Before you determine either, establish where your current daily caloric intake is. Is it high enough to withstand a cut if fat loss is your goal?

3. Can you see yourself sticking to this dieting approach for longer than a few months?

4. Do the potential benefits outweigh the potential rebound?

5. Will you constantly feel as if you’re missing out and that you may binge in the future?

 

To simplify a little, most diets involve a restriction of a certain macronutrient (fats or carbs). If you cut sugar, you’re cutting carbs (4 calories per gram) and overall calories. If you cut fats (9 calories per gram) you’re cutting calories at a faster rate. Why not find an in between? Can you honestly say you will never eat fat or carbs again? Be mindful and just like anything else, do your research and seek help from professionals in the industry before making any drastic changes to your diet and lifestyle approaches in fitness and in health.

 

The photot on the left is restrciting certain foods from my diet, while photo on the right is focusing more on moderration. My goal between photos was to build muscle and get a bigger behind! While finding a balance and a healthy relationship with the foods I love.

How to lose fat the right way!

I’m dropping fat, but not as quickly as I want to.

 

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times. “I want to lose weight!” Which generally means “I want to look better/slimmer”.  I know when I first started seriously with fitness, that was my goal. To lose weight and get in better shape. Like so many others, that’s the end goal. To weigh less than we previously did because that’s been the answer to looking better for as far back as we can remember. We also get it in our heads that if we aren’t seeing a steady drop of 1-2 lbs or more per week that it just isn’t quick enough. WHY? Because we saw somewhere that this person lost 30 lbs in 30 days. While that’s great for them, we never consider HOW it was done. What were they eating? how often were they training? How much did they previously weigh before they dropped so much weight? What supplements were they taking, if any? It’s easy to see someone else’s success and instantly compare it to our own and thus, feel like we’re not doing enough. When you see photos, or adds such as these, read between the lines. Does it say anything about how many calories they’re consuming in a day? 9/10 it doesn’t, because it’s an extreme diet (usually less than 1200 calories to start, with a cookie cutter diet and a cookie cutter training program). Rarely is it built for your lifestyle, your health needs and your food item preferences. We need to remember that it takes a lot longer to drop the fat that you’ve put on, then it did to put it on.

It’s easy to get caught up in numbers instead of paying attention to how we feel. Fat loss takes time and shouldn’t be an over night success if your goal is to maintain it. There are so many “quick fixes” and easy solutions available to us that we forget why we are making these changes for ourselves. Do you want to starve yourself for a few weeks only to re gain it all (and more) when the process is over? I’ve worked with many women who have tried all the quick fix fat loss solutions, only to binge when it’s over and put all the weight back on and then some. our goal then, is to find a point where we are maintaining our weight and reverse diet from there (slowly add calories). Your body is not something to treat with such disregard and expect it to respond with positivity? If you starve it, it will be hungry. If you over feed it, it will be full. If you starve it, following by overfeeding it, you will gain more weight than you had previously lost because usually, you can’t just stop at one binge.

For women who have dieted strictly, and rebounded. You are not alone! I am constantly battling with restricting again because it’s not easy to see ourselves bigger than we once were. Each day I fight with wanting to “give up”. But for me giving up would be restricting and competing again. I know that my goal needs to be to slowly up my calories to repair my metabolism and get some balance back. It’s hard when the long-term goal is to eventually tighten up again and see some definition. But when you are working with lower calories and daily cardio, there is no where else to go but up. I need to remember that a maintainable, and balanced lifestyle are what I want to achieve in the long run. I want to feel better about myself in all my clothes, or have a piece of cake and not feel bad about it because it’s not in my meal plan. I want to go out to social events with friends, pick something off the menu that fits my macros and feel accomplished. Only when I find myself able to accomplish these, will I ever consider competing again or restricting myself as I had before. I’m often asked how I do it? how do I go to the gym, eat moderately healthy and still have time for friends and family. Because I CHOOSE to, and because it’s my lifestyle and not a diet.

The next time you’re feeling the need to rush your weight loss/fitness goals ask yourself a few questions:

1. Am I seeing results?

2. Do I feel restricted or deprived?

3. Have I been consistent with my program?

4.Have I been attempting this program for an acceptable amount of time? (2-4 weeks minimum)

5. Have I been open and honest with my coach/trainer about my efforts?

6. Could I be doing more to see the results that I want? (meal prepping, planning, completing your work outs, asking questions)

7. Am I being patient with myself, with the results and the process?

8. Am I communicating with my coach about how I’m feeling instead of expecting them to read my mind (I can do a lot, but reading minds isn’t included :))

9. DO I FEEL BETTER NOW, THAN WHEN I STARTED?!

10. Am I rushing something that doesn’t need to be rushed?

We should all be striving for progress and not perfection. Each program you chose, should teach you something about yourself and your body. I often have people tell me they tried this and it didn’t work so it was a waste. Instead, try to see it as you attempted something and you LEARNED that it wasn’t right for you, or that the approach may not be best suited for your goals. Try and realize why the results weren’t what you expected and how that can be corrected in choosing your next program. Rarely is a program a waste. Take your time to do your research before deciding if a program or coach is right for you, and if the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term. What will you learn/gain? (maybe how to count macros or how to do squats). Is it going to last? or is it a quick fix that will only last a few weeks.

This photo is from a shoot I took part in during a reverse diet from a competition. My calories were going up, as my cardio was coming down. This is one of the most confident shoots I’ve ever taken part in. Because I was happy, healthy, balanced, and learning what my body was capable of. Which is where we should all strive to be.