Tuesday, February 9, 2016

What's Next? Willpower; Do You Have It?

I left you a few months ago with the question, "what's next?" after the Northwest road trip in September, and  I am here to announce exactly that. Again, I am writing this after the fact (kind of) I am about 6 weeks into my journey and I am excited to share this with you all! In about 15 weeks I will step on stage and compete in my first fitness bikini show, which is both nerve racking and exciting! For any readers that follow me on Instagram (r_elia_ble) or Snapchat (tocute4urpantz) you have known about my new adventure from the start. Honestly, I wasn't going to blog about this and it wasn't because I didn't think of it (a fellow teammate and friend started a blog this year on her experiences as a second year competitor check out her blog here: http://www.seven-lemons.com/fitness-blog.) Nor have I posted much on Facebook about it, and the reason is (for Facebook) I don't see the need for people who are not really involved in my personal life to judge me on my journey. Now you may ask, "You don't want your friends to judge and follow your progress, but you want complete strangers to?" The answer is both yes, and no. Facebook just like every social media tool has it's advantages and purpose; for me, Facebook is used to post important photos such as friends or family, blogpost links, quotes/lyrics, and to check in places to connect with and tag friends. I use Instagram for mainly three things; fitness, Hunter, and funny/sarcastic quotes. It is more of a lifestyle, and less of everything that makes me; me. Which leads me to Snapchat which is exactly who I am visually in the raw no filters (well not always at least.) I post stories of length of me cooking, lip syncing in the car to my favorite songs, working out, going on hikes, Hunter, food, and pretty much exactly what is going on during my day. Lastly is the blog, and well that helps me be creative through text, it really gives me a voice to go along with my photos; and I have grown to love that. Enough about my social media accounts, the reason why I decided to blog this journey is for the people who do not have Snapchat or Instagram and still want to follow my journey. I have been asked by a couple people on Facebook to fill them in, and it's not that I don't want to; I get very excited talking about anything fitness related, but this makes things much easier. It not only shares my story with people who have been following me from the start of my Appalachian Trail thru-hike almost two years ago, but also keeps me writing and exploring my inner thoughts on the process. So what made me want to compete in a fitness competition anyways? After the trail, I worked as a salesperson at LA Fitness for a few months; this connected me with a group of great new friends, provided me with funds for the next adventure which turned out to be my first road trip, and got me back into fitness. I have always been the girl that rather be out doing some extreme sport rather than team sports (though I did my fair share of basketball, soccer, gymnastics, roller hockey, dance, and field hockey.) I have also always been the girl lifting with the guys in the free weight section of the gym instead of running aimlessly in place on the treadmill with all of the ladies. While working at LA Fitness; two individuals influenced my life a lot in different ways, and they both have competed in Men's Physique division. They would take turns sitting at my desk multiple times throughout the day eating their chicken, brown rice, and broccoli, or in Eric's case steak occasionally. I looked at their plates and shed a tear inside for them and their lack of culinary spice. How could someone eat the same thing every day? I did however look forward to their cheat meal days when we would go for pizza, burgers, and homemade chocolate peanut butter cupcakes. I ended up taking promotional fitness photos for both Nick and Eric, and fell in love with the process, thinking maybe one day I would compete. I ended up leaving LA Fitness, going on two road trips which you all know; but I kept the valued friendship of both Eric and Nick. After my last road trip; I really wanted to settle back down in Connecticut for awhile regaining a career, but I didn't know what would make me happy. I debated joining the military reserves; I was really looking for something so communal, rewarding, and to push myself to the limits the way the Appalachian Trail did for me, and I thought that may be the answer. After talking with an Army recruiter, and many, many friends I decided against enlisting; if I were 20 years old in this position and not had my Masters Degree maybe I would pursue it. But I am 26 years old, graduated with my Masters Degree in Graphic Design, and didn't see myself wanting to leave my future children for two weeks for the next six years giving my mother peace of mind at the end of the day. Which lead me to my next big adventure (or so I thought, which would give my mother another series of restless nights.) For about two months; I pursued becoming a police officer, and this is where the start of my fitness journey comes in. I knew the first stage in the process was obtaining your CHIP card (Complete Health & Injury Prevention.) Which meant I had to run 1.5 miles, push-ups, sit-ups, and sit and reach testing. The running would be my weakest point, and I knew I couldn't do it alone. This was when I became more serious with the idea of possibly competing, what better way to get in shape for the police academy than to compete prior. I reached out to my friend (I will call her Seven Lemons to connect her with her blog mentioned above) to get information on her gym, trainer, and the process of competing. Within a couple days I had visited Iron Will Fitness in Manchester, CT, met Carmen a co-owner and trainer, and signed up for two days a week training for the CHIP test up until the date of the physical exam. It involved a lot of push-ups, running, ankle pain, shin pain, toning of body fat, and me being at the men's level of my age group in all categories except the run (but I would still blow away the girls time easily.) I ended up getting my CHIP card on December 19th running the 1.5 miles in 12:48 and passing all categories in the 50% group. This was when I signed my next training advancement with Carmen and the Team at Iron Will Fitness. I am not going to go too much into the police process since that is not what this blogpost is about but I will let you know that after many, many, many ride-alongs, (very fun) two written exams, applying to two departments, and debating back and fourth with myself, friends, and family; I will say that I decided to no longer pursue becoming a cop (rest easy mom, for now.)  It's not that I don't think I could do it, I think I would make a great cop; sure the process is long to even get hired, then 6 months of the academy, to 3 months with FTO (field training officer) before even being alone on the streets and then the experiences that brings, but the real reason is it conflicts with my overall goal of life. I am a very family orientated person; both my immediate family, my extended family, and my future family hold the biggest part of my heart. Sure, I wouldn't be the first female officer to have a husband and children; I know it can be done and has been done. But it's not easy; it's never easy for a father of the family to miss birthdays, school conferences, family events, or holidays; but being a mother and missing those things? Being the mother that I want to be, and missing those things; it would just weigh down on me and make me feel guilty and that is not what I am about. I want to be there for every important moment in my families lives and I wouldn't be able to commit to that. So, again I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life; I panicked, I cried, I talked with friends, and family, and realized my passion is being creative. I love my photography business (Ashlee Elia Photography,) I love writing, and adventuring, and I think finding a career in Graphic Design again at a bigger firm this time will provide me with a balance of everything I love in life. But enough of that, back to training for a fitness competition. I wanted to be a part of a team; a group of individuals all working together and separate for the same goal, I wanted something that would challenge me both mentally and physically, and I wanted something I had never done before that put me out of my comfort zone. This blog chapter will be structured a little different from in the past; I will not post daily which is the main difference from prior posts. I have mapped out around 6 posts (including this one) that are kind of introductory posts about parts of the process. This post introduced what I have been up to in the last few months and what I have coming in my future. The other posts will focus on cooking and food preparation, the team at Iron Will Fitness, my workouts both in training and out of the gym, supplements, and posing. So in the next few days look out for the next generalized post focussing on one of these categories which I have compiled from the last few weeks ago during my experience. After the general posts are up, I will continue weekly posts of all of the categories combined; some weeks may have a ton of team workout photos or videos, others might have more food and cooking, or some may be so perfectly balanced of them all working together of the progress. Instead of being like a daily journal of what I did, it will be more of my overall thoughts and feelings on the whole process. I will also be trying to take more photos with my nice camera than my cell phone (since up until today I have taken them all with my cell phone, and I spent an hour or two today taking nice photos and scattering them throughout the posts to come and they look way nicer than the cellphone ones!) I am overly excited for you all to see what I have been up to these last few weeks, and eager to see the ones coming!

I took this Disclaimer from Seven Lemons since I think it is a great thing to be said: 
"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)."

      First progress photos taken November 19th at the start of CHIP training

Bicycle ride I would go on alternating with running every other day when it was nice outside

My best time running the 1.5 miles; even better than my 12:48 on test day

Flexing being goofy after a workout session with Iron Will Fitness in Manchester, CT

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