Thursday, February 11, 2016

Fall In Love With The Process

Before you compete in a fitness competition, you have to be inspired to do so, and that inspiration can come from anywhere; doesn't even have to be fitness related per say. But what is more important is the reason you are choosing to devote such a huge part of your life to being a competitor. If you're the type of person that is always acting on impulse, your willpower may suffer drastically. The mantra I have to keep telling myself daily is, "Fall in love with the process, and the results will come." My inspiration for deciding to compete this year came in many forms; as you know the seed was planted last year when I was surrounded with a couple friends who were on the same journey I am now embarking on. This opened my eyes to the possibility of one day competing, but I had no interest at that time to pursue it further. Subliminally, I also remember Seven Lemon's posts on my Facebook newsfeed of the day she stepped on stage, and that visually put it into perspective for me. It was time to make a change; both physically and mentally. I have a unique personality that puts on a facade of confidence, but in fact I am rather insecure. High school was probably the last time I was happy with my body, and the main contributing factor to that is the flat stomach I had. By no means do I think I am fat; so let me just get that out of the way before I have enraged readers viewing my images and thinking, "This is what she looks like, and she's not happy about it!?" I don't hate my body, I've never tried any of the "fad diets," I've never had an eating disorder, and for the most part I see myself with an average healthy body; but this doesn't diminish the desire to improve it. As the saying goes, "When you look good, you feel good" but it is more than just physical appearance, it's the hard work that went in to get there. The blood sweat and tears that no one truly understands and appreciates other than yourself. The moment when you physically believe you can't do another rep, and mentally you say; "Yes I can." I have learned to embrace "the suck" and now thrive on that feeling of gratification it gives when overcoming such a drastic feat. Earlier I mentioned that acting on impulse sometimes isn't the best way to go about things; but just like everything, it is all about balance. In a way; my decision to compete this year was based on an impulse decision, it's not like I have been researching competing this past year to finally step on stage this year with all of my knowledge. I decided in early November to reach out to Seven Lemons to get my feet wet with any information she could provide me with; and let's just say it is an understatement stating how helpful and encouraging she is, which I am more than thankful for (and try to tell her often.) The main difference in being impulsive in general, and my experience would be that when I decide I want to do something; I throw myself into it and almost obsess over it. So enough abstract writing about my thoughts, and lets get right into what falling in love with the process means for me. For the past five years I have been at a steady weight of 115 pounds, and like I said; been comfortable with that fact. For me it is not as much about the number, but the appearance; though the media drills into even my mind to get on the scale just to see what it says. I finished the Appalachian Trail at 115 pounds, but could tell it was lean muscle by the way my pants would fall off my hips (the same pants that at the start of the trail were tight around my thighs, and comfortable around the waist.) When I came to Carmen in early November; she weighed me in at about 118 pounds. I trained for weeks for the CHIP test, and it was visibly noticeable I was starting to lean out without even focussing on it or being on a meal plan. As I started to implement diet into my daily routine, my weight fluctuates anywhere from 113-116 pounds on average (taking into consideration the time of day I am weighed, how much water I have consumed, how many meals, if I did cardio, or weight training, there are many factors.) Another known fact is other people perceive me differently than what I see when I look in the mirror. I first realized this when I heard myself on voice recordings like voicemail, or videos taken on my phone; is that what I really sound like!? Because that is not how I sound in my head, or even out loud when I hear myself talk. This is true for your body image as well, and you and I are not the only ones; no one is ever truly happy with themselves, we will always want to change something. So you have to have the willpower to commit to those changes, and don't be fooled; I don't have the willpower daily. There are days when I say it is going to be a cardio day, and then I get wrapped up in something else and it slips me by. My second greatest struggle is finding motivation for cardio, I just don't enjoy it the way I enjoy grunting and struggling to lift weights. I own a treadmill right in my home; it is not in a dungeon of a basement, or crowded in an attic, but rather very accessible and even with a big TV right in front of it. But do I frequently use it? The answer is no. The best ways I have found around my dread of stationary cardio is getting out and doing something exerting. I go on a hike, ice skating, bicycle rides when it is nice out, indoor trampoline park, or anything else to get my heart rate up and mind off the forbidden treadmill (I've even run up and down the stairs in my house for a half hour as convenience.) When I do find myself in the gym for cardio, my go to would be the Stairmaster or rowing since both are not only cardio activities but also strength training. In an ideal world, I would get up every morning at 6:30-7:00am to preform low-intensity fasted cardio; fasted cardio is exactly what it sounds like and low-intensity means you could hold a conversation. The reasoning behind it is some studies have shown you burn 20 percent more fat before the first meal of the day. My personal plan has me preforming cardio five times a week for 30 minutes, some of it is fasted, other times it is high-intensity and post workout which is the other preferred time for cardio. So what does working out look like for me; the simple answer is, many forms. I started out training one on one with Carmen for 30 minute sessions, from there I joined the Iron Will Fitness Competitor Team (which will have it's own blogpost as well,) I also would do body weight workouts at home, and simple weighted ones that I remembered from doing in the gym. The last place I added to my repertoire was the newly opened Edge Fitness in Manchester, CT. I visited for a two hour workout with Eric, thought about the place the whole following week, heard fellow teammates talk about how they joined, before I bit the bullet and joined as well. So why so many places; Iron Will Fitness is where I get the primary training for my competition with my trainers Darian and Carmen, The Edge Fitness is where I go on off days for a little extra weight training or cardio, it is also where Eric and I occasionally meet up to workout. My home workouts are for when I am feeling lazy and don't feel like going to The Edge Fitness, or when I am feeling overly eager and want to push myself for results. Personally I love the team or one on one training rather than working out by myself; I cannot push myself to my limits when I am alone, nor do I have the knowledge of an array of workouts I could be doing or routines to stimulate the muscle to it's greatest potential. But when I do find myself in the gym alone, headphones are my best friend; and you can typically expect me to be listening to American Alternative Rock such as Breaking Benjamin, Trapt, or Linkin Park, or on the total opposite side of the spectrum Rap and Hip Hop such as Eminem, Justin Bieber, Drake, or Rihanna. I just want something that excites me, pumps me up, and really helps me push out those extra reps. Some other gym essentials for me is lifting gloves, wrist wraps, and a lifting belt; I haven't found the need to purchase a lifting belt as of yet since the small is always available at my gym when I've needed it. When the day comes when I reach for it before squatting and find it is not there, I will be taking a virtual trip to Amazon and ordering one right away. One thing that is sincerely so easy to get caught up in, and sometimes I wish I wasn't; is gym fashion. I have a deep love for racerback tanks with witty sayings, or Nintendo characters (one blogpost I will include a photo of all of my gym tanks laid out, there are many.) Another trap I get sucked into is sneakers; I love sneakers. If I could have Nikes in every color, and Converse in every color my gym style would be complete. For now I stick between the rotation of four pairs; the Merrell sneakers I hiked the majority of the trail in (just new), two Nike Free 5.0 and a pair of Chuck low tops. I will confess right now; that in the midst of writing this, I am viewing a pair of Wonder Woman high tops online and arguing with myself that I don't need them, but I do! As I look through my progression in even this post alone, there is significant change and that makes me happy. Many weeks I fall into the rut of not seeing daily changes and this frustrates me. It makes me wonder if I need to push harder, or workout more; but I have to instill faith that if I am giving it my all, the result will shine. After all, "Success is something earned, something worthwhile; it comes to those that are dedicated and committed to their goals." I really appreciate working out, I enjoy going to the gym, I love cooking and eating healthy, I kinda sorta sometimes enjoy posing (I will get more into this in a blogpost to come.) The month of May seems so far away, and yet so close; I know before I know it, I will be standing backstage! Do something today; that your future self will thank you for.

Again I want to place this disclaimer for anyone that didn't read it on the first post:
"If you are reading this chapter in my blog, please don't take offense to me posting my weight, pounds to lose, body fat %, and body image progress photos. This is what competition is all about, and by no means do I mean to present image issues (of weight) to others, or change anyone's idea of what an "ideal" person looks like. It's a competition, I will be on stage, in less than 8 inches of material, it's not my everyday look. (And trust me I probably eat more food than many, just the right food)."

Sneaker love, missing the Merrells but they are pictured below
Tricep pushups at Iron Will Fitness's old location 
Still during CHIP training at the old location gym
Aren't they beautiful?

The other side doesn't look like that

These are the types of things I post on Snapchat...January 4th

Quick flex after working out at Iron Will Fitness in Manchester

Here you can start to see my arms filling out and becoming more defined than the one above February 2nd

Stairmaster at The Edge Fitness in Manchester

Gym essentials; huge martian headphones, lifting gloves, and wraps
The night I went ice skating for cardio
January 19th
January 24th
January 28th
At home gym session
Basement workouts with Boss

Deeper induced push-ups
My wraps and gloves
February 8th, was so excited to see the bicep peak
February 8th
The vein sticking out of my leg though...

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