Monday, March 28, 2016

Where Do You Buy Confidence; and How Do I Get More of It? 9 Weeks out, or maybe 4?

     Recently the blog has been more of a nagging chore to be done on Sunday than something I look forward to and accomplish; and that is not a good thing. For those of you who actually read it, you may have noticed it hasn't been updated come Monday; for those of you who don't, well you wouldn't know anyways. Each week I write in my calendar on my phone for Sunday "blog," and each week it gets swept under the rug. This week was probably the worst to date; I felt so guilty that I didn't write anything on Sunday, or even Monday for that matter. Last weeks post ended up going live this past Tuesday, and though Seven Lemons said I am probably the only one that puts that much thought into whether or not it is posted on time, it still bothers me. So what did I do Monday if I didn't have the blog up yet? Well I ignored the fact that it said "blog" in my calendar for 11:00am, and meal/tea prepped instead. Oh, another notable thing about last Monday; it snowed. That made going out of the house a chore; but I still had to get to SAM's Club one way or another. Luckily most of it melted by the time I get around to leaving the house so clearing off my car was the least of my worries. I just needed a few things this week which was nice, and also meant I only needed to go to SAM's Club to get everything I needed. I came home to grill up two huge packages of chicken breasts, and freeze half of it for later in the week; before I knew it the skies turned blue and I took a drive to REI. Two years ago; REI was for me what the food shopping is now, I used to be in that store weekly fine tuning all of my gear and gadgets getting ready to hike the Appalachian Trail. It had been quite some time since I had been in, not two years of course; but I had dividend money to spend so I was going shopping! I got almost $50 worth of products for less than $10, and of course I bought two more Nalgene bottles and splash guards to go with. Another thing I found in my hands at checkout was a Quest protein bar chocolate brownie flavor; at first I didn't know why, would it be eaten now, saved for a victory treat after stepping off stage? In that moment I didn't know my plans for it, I just knew I was buying it.
     I had asked Carmen to meet in person to talk about the logistics of me competing in late April, what that meant for my diet, my training, and of course financially. Part of my added stress and irritability weighed on the fact that I still have not really given much thought to competing a month earlier than scheduled. Sure I thought about it daily, but not in a definitive understanding of what it really meant and if I could successfully pull it off. I figured meeting in person would give me a more concrete physical answer to talk it over. The meeting was kind of brief, and informal and I didn't really get the satisfaction I was looking for coming in as I walked out the door. I still had no idea if I was competing in April. We left it as we will proceed as I am; I have about two weeks to finalize my answer, and in that time if when the two weeks are up I am still not feeling ready, I'll just compete in May as planned. I left feeling frustrated and overwhelmed and this is where my un-official cheat happened, I exchanged my protein shake for the Quest bar I had purchased earlier, and snap chatted the experience. The video clips are below, but let's just say it was a much needed reality check, it was amazing. The texture was not that of a brownie, but the satisfaction and taste was pretty damn close. I realized that I am only human, it was not like I ate a real brownie, and the fact that it took some weight off my shoulders was a breath of fresh air. The reaction in the moment really speaks for itself so skip down to watch the videos now if you would like!

     I came home to find yet another calendar entry labeled "blog" at 3:00pm, but the motivation to sit down and write was not there. Instead I wasted time doing something unproductive I am sure like watching TV or endlessly double tapping photos on Instagram before team training at Iron Will at 6:00. Which leads me to the first time I wasn't pumped to be in the gym. The gym these past few months has been my getaway; my second identity, a place of growth, transformation, friendship, family, and therapy. Today, I almost didn't want to walk through the door; and being inside made it worse. I felt my vibe down, and wasn't feeling anyone else's, certainly not the experience I want to be a part of. I came home to not feel any better or motivated to blog or do anything productive so I went down in the basement and ate 6 gherkin pickles. This may seem more sketchy than it is; let me put it into context. I was not hiding out in my basement binging on pickles; the refrigerator down there stores the majority of my prep and the large jar of pickles for one, for two technically I am allowed to have pickles at this stage since they are calorie free (just high in sodium.) Lastly, I think I just needed the comfort of eating; something crunchy, something salty, just anything at all. At least it wasn't a bag of Doritos! "I still have to write last week's blog, it's quarter to 8:00 and it's still not posted and I have no desire to." A quote I pulled from last week and you know damn well I didn't write then since I told you above it wasn't published until Tuesday! Instead, I decided to photograph my depressing bruises this week, and finish the night off coloring. Here's to tomorrow being better, oh and hopefully having the motivation and mental energy to write!

     I got the confidence boost I needed today after posing my first time at the Edge studio with Carmen. It was a much larger space than our now tiny part storage, part lounge, part weigh in, and part posing room. Plus, she played music and that helped me tremendously. Prior to today, we walked, posed, and practiced in silence; well, more like "lead with the ladies, and other posing comments." The music took the edge off (no pun intended,) when I walked, my hips moved with the beat, my arms swayed more freely, and overall I felt more sassy strutting around listening to the latino beat coming from Carmen's iPhone. I peered at the mirror, through the glass windows behind me to see people looking in. I was now that girl. The girl who openly strutted in a bathing suite and stripper shoes at the gym for all to see, the girl whose confidence and ego must be so high that the fact of the matter of attention didn't even phase her. Wait, are we talking about the same girl? Because that is not me, and yet there I was; so much for stereotypes and judgement. I noticed a middle-aged guy just sitting at one of the back machines outside of the glass doors just being entertained by the show. It was then, I heard a voice say "shirts are required here, you have to put one on" as he exited the studio. I turned to Carmen and said, "shirts are required, but the fact that my ass is hanging out isn't an issue?!" We laughed at what had just happened; I am standing in a bikini top with no boobs, and boy shorts with my cheeks hanging out, and a shirt is what they are concerned about? I grabbed my Iron Will tank and put it on over my suite, but pulled it up like a sports bra. This is another one of those situations where I have a series of short video clips below from my Snapchat experience on the matter, scroll below to be humored (oh and a video of my cheeks, sorry fellas it was after my shirt was put on, like it matters.) After posing, and a nice little confidence boost, I sat and talked with Rob who initially signed me up (and works at Margaritas across from Nolita and came in for a drink with Dominic last week) to tell him what had happened and them him show me how to work the hydromassage. It was the first time I had ever used it, and the duration is 15 minutes; although it was relaxing, and free, I don't think I weighed enough to really benefit from it. Generally I like deep tissue massages and this just didn't work the muscles deep enough.

     I came home to actually blog, and got it done; which like every week in the past was a huge weight off my shoulders. You guys really have no idea how good it feels to press publish, I love to blog, write, share my journey, and everything else that benefits from blogging; but boy has it been a chore for me. Now I didn't feel guilty doing things that may be considered time wasting activities; mainly Instagram of course. I also received a sample of BPI peanut butter candy bar which I tried with my 5th meal and I kid you not; this was the best protein shake I have ever had. ever. It tasted like I was drinking a Reese's peanut butter cup, and we all know how much I love those. I felt like I was indulging on something I shouldn't have and yet it had less calories, carbs, and more protein than my current Inner Armour vanilla protein which still tasted overly artificial sweetened. I immediately texted Carmen about the product and wondered if she had tried the brand, if I could use it, and her overall thoughts. She basically told me yes it tasted amazing, and she didn't have me on a lower calorie shake because of how fast I drop weight; I didn't care, I was ordering some! Padraic talks about how he mixed his own protein shakes all the time, why couldn't I do the same? I'd just do half and half to not lower the calories entirely, but enough to get the flavor. I also saw a book titled "You Are A Badass" on someone's Instagram and immediately became interested. I ordered it on Amazon and would have it in two days; anything that will help myself with my stage confidence is worth the buy. I went into training with renewed old attitude and was happy to be there; my gym swag may have contributed to the boost just a little. When I look good, I feel good; and I was wearing Padraic's blue argyle knee socks with my red converse and feeling like a star.

     Work was a typical Tuesday, a nice introduction to my "work week" nothing crazy to report, was rather slow and I was out on time which is always a plus. The following morning I decided to document my weight throughout the day so everyone can see how much it fluctuates. I weighed myself as soon as I got up, dehydrated and hungry and I clocked in at 106 even. I partook in my morning routine, followed by egg white oatmeal and weighed myself after some hydration and calories; I was now 109.5, 3.5 pounds just from eating and drinking. Wednesday is back day and I picked up Padraic to head to the Edge; we went pretty hard sticking to a routine I've liked and a few things he wanted to add. I even suggested pull-ups at the end of our workout! (Normally he has to pull my leg to get me to warm up with them, he obviously loves them plenty.) We ran into Darian at the end of our workout and you can see Superman all statute watching me in a video below. This was the first day in my fitness journey when Padraic told me my back looked amazing in a video, I took a look and actually said, "damn! You're right!" I was honestly impressed with the muscle definition, I was ripped back there! Not being a body part I see daily, it really was shocking to see in the video, well there was my ego boost for the day and I would be lying if I said it didn't go straight to my head. I ran over to show Darian and Dee, and they said; "yeah now you finally see what we see every day in you!" I was so excited that I asked if Padraic minded taking a few back shots of me in the studio, I got my pump on a little since it had been an impromptu decision and then posed. I had my weekly massage at 5:00; so I dropped Padraic off, showered, and got my post massage meal ready since I would be meeting Jillian right after up at the mall. I also did a mid-day weigh in, and purchased my OCB membership, it's official I am now registered for the year! Also I purchased the Natural New England Championship entry for Bloomfield May 28th! No turning back now!

     My massage was impecable and necessary as always, and so was my time spent with Jillian. We met at Panera and she was finishing up her dinner, I sat and ate my food that I brought, and then we decided to walk around and talk; which naturally lead to me buying stuff. Note to friends; stop bringing me to the mall, stop allowing me to buy things, and if you see me shopping on Snapchat, tell me to stop! Oh look a donut snapback hat, I need it. I think part of my coping mechanism with not being able to indulge in food is the fact that I now buy things. I get enjoyment out of stuff, and I went six months of living in the woods with just the stuff off my back; I can live minimally; but I enjoy indulgence. I had $25 off at Victoria's Secret so naturally I bought another sports bra, I really bought a flat brimmed donut hat which is probably my newest favorite hat, runner up being the Wonder Woman hat I bought (my Papa has called me Wonder Woman ever since the trail, so it's kind of stuck.) We last minute stopped in Teavana which I haven't been in awhile either, and used to visit quite frequently. We had samples of some un-sweetened cinnamon chai tea which was amazing, I would think there was some kind of sweetener in it; but was told there wasn't. We found a bag of caramel chai which was on sale and that peaked my interest after trying the first flavor, I asked if there was a way to try it; but they said at this time they didn't have any brewed. As I walked around with the idea of me purchasing the tea, and another bag of it in Jillian's hand; the employees informed us that they brewed us a sample, how awesome are they! It was super hot, but equally delicious; Jillian and I decided to buy one bag and split it. They gave us the rest of the cinnamon chai they brewed which was about half a to-go cup, and then also the full caramel chai! Jillian didn't want to be awake all night so I got the full one, the caffeine wouldn't effect me with the hours I work as it is. I love this place, they even weighed out our tea to split evenly for us, I've learned it never hurts to ask; the worst they can say is no. I ended my night watching some of Magic Mike since it was on TV and let's be honest, who can pass up that kind of opportunity?

     The next morning I weighed in at 105.5; down half a pound from yesterday morning! My book came in the mail, as well as my box from; they're faster than Amazon Prime! I ordered the protein a day ago, so excited. It was a beautiful day, so I made sure to take advantage of it after another session of posing at the Edge with Carmen. I ran back up to the mall quickly after posing to return some liquid iron supplement I had bought the night before. I thought since I was bruising so much that maybe I had become anemic from the diet and was low in iron causing the bruising (I really need to get my blood work done from December just haven't gotten around to it.) The liquid was not just pure supplement but rather a bunch of superfoods and apple juice, and other organic things which I didn't realize (impulse buys.) I returned it knowing later I would stop in the Manchester Health Shoppe to get pure iron pills. When I got back home, I wanted to spend the day outside, but still relax and do mindless activities; like browsing the free fitness magazine I just received in my newest order outside while squatting and enjoying the warmth of the sun (so that is exactly what I did.) Later at training, Gabby was strutting around in a sports bra and although I have the confidence to do so; I was freezing. After two sets into our intense pressing circuit Carmen told Darian to take his shirt off, myself to take my shirt off, everyone to take their shirts off. Darian and I were the only ones to contribute to Gabby, and I wasn't mad about it. We had a great shoulder workout and I like the sport bra confidence boost while working out. Thursday gives me the "hello Monday" feel and I knew karaoke could go either way; it could be a nice fun night at the bar, or hell. Luckily it was the first; though I didn't know that from the beginning since it was Matt's last night at Nolita and he and X both decided they were going to leave at 8:30. I was annoyed with their decision and prayed all hell didn't break loose later (thankfully it did not.) I even had a guy leave the bar, but then walk back in to say "Ashlee can I ask you a question? Are you single?" Yes. "Good to know, I'll be back!" and walked out. Oh the people that you will meet, a twist on the Dr. Seuss book "Oh, The Places You Will Go." Another reference to my Papa who gave me this book upon graduating, and has been there every step of the way since.

     I made it through Thursday, which means I just have to make it through Friday before I can take a sigh of relief for the week. I planned to get my blood work done first thing in the "morning" so I could check that off my lingering list of things to be done. I got there around 10:00, walked in and was quite surprised by the four people sitting waiting ahead of me; what an odd time for them to be so busy, and then I realized it was Good Friday and everyone was off work. Poor planning on my part, luckily I only had to wait a half hour or so before it was my turn in the chair. The doctor visits make me feel uneasy, and getting blood drawn is like an episode of hyperventilation. The first time I ever got blood even tested I was in my early twenties and nearly passed out from her digging around in my vein, I was not experienced in the giving blood department; and apparently neither was she. Thankfully, I knew the woman at my doctors office was the only one that did it there and I had gotten it done by her a few years ago and it was no trouble at all she was great. The only difference this time was the jitters weren't there, and that was welcoming. We chatted about my fitness journey, and the fact that we are both Aries, and I was even able to look to snap a photo for Snapchat! (I immediately looked the other way after but still.) It was great chatting with her and before I knew it, it was over and I was drinking down my to-go prepared lemon water with supplements, Metamucil to go, and eventually my oatmeal which I was so eagerly looking forward to for my drive home. I baked some sweet potatoes for the up coming days, and headed for my weekly progress photo shoot with Daniel. There were a few girls at the bar chatting with Daniel and the owner over some video ad for bug spray I believe; this didn't stop me from stripping down to my bikini and getting ready right there. The photoshoots barely take 5 minutes, and before I knew it I was in the other room changing out of my suite, and into my sports bra to meet Padraic at the gym. He was there with Mike, and it was good to see him as well since it had been a couple weeks since I had seen or even talked to him. This week we were all on different schedules, I wanted to do some light leg work; they did legs yesterday, they wanted to do shoulders, I did them yesterday. We settled on core/ab work, but I really wasn't feeling it; I decided to go off and do my own thing for a bit and then rejoin them for some ab work finishing of course with some leg machines because I don't feel accomplished unless I pick things up and put them down at the gym. I'm also happy to report that Friday night at work was what a night at Nolita should be; classy, no drama, no drunken pregnant chicks, no fights, just good people and good tips. Is this week real life? I haven't had a good solid week at the bar in a couple weeks now! Well there's still tomorrow; luckily that is my "Friday" where I get to check out early, my shift is only 5-9:30 usually.

     Since I was able to get home at a decent time, I woke up before noontime on Saturday (usually unheard of when I don't get to bed until 4:30 in the morning.) I spent some time working on a flyer for a fellow competitor, she shows her dog and breeds and had asked me about making it for her; after, Hunter, Mom, and I colored Easter eggs before I got ready to head back into work one last time (well for this week at least.) I walked into an empty bar, was it April Fools day already? This was un heard of! Sue the daytime bartender left shortly after, I had two woman come in for maybe 10 minutes to down a round before their driver picked them up to head to the Rihanna concert in Hartford, I had a regular who comes in grab three rounds, eventually two sets of couples came in, another regular, two guys who are regulars, and a group of 5 girls who sat at a table. And that was it, my time was spent making sure the bar was stocked, wiping down bottles, reading over the new menu, and Instagramming of course. It was so weird how slow it was, but everyone must be traveling or home with family for the holiday weekend. I was able to leave around 8:30 and that was kind of nice to be home early to hang out with Hunter.

Happy Easter everyone! I was told brunch was at 10:30am and we would be doing an egg hunt with Hunter prior, I don't even wake up usually for 10:30 who scheduled this! Thankfully the week went well that it wasn't a problem getting up. We did our egg hunt inside and out, I prepped my oatmeal and second meal to bring with me along with two teas. Hunter opened and ate some candy from the eggs she found, and then got cut off since we hadn't eaten brunch yet. She did however get almost as excited as me over her presents from the Easter Bunny! Yes, I've always got presents instead of candy from our Easter Bunny since I was the odd child that didn't care for candy. Mom won't have a problem with this one, she loves it's sugary goodness. I got Wonder Woman converse and a new Tervis bottle for my smoothies, and then we headed to meet the rest of the family at Adams Mill in Manchester. We have been doing brunch here for a few years now since Avon Old Farms stopped doing their Easter Brunch; next year however it will be back to being at my house since we will have four little ones running around (or possibly some still crawling.) The line was out the door, but we already had a reservation, and knew part of the family was already seated inside; we struggled our way in, as one woman stated, "there's a line you know!" No shit Sherlock? We hadn't noticed! But the fact of the matter was, we already knew our party was inside seated; so have fun waiting in line you impatient, probably just came from church, un-happy of a woman on this Easter morning. We joined our family to wait for the rest, and stomach growling I took out my oatmeal and began to eat while greeting and talking with everyone as they flooded in. It wasn't before long that all 18 of us were present and taking continuous trips up to the crowded buffet bar. I had never seen it so busy in here, though we normally come a lot later for Easter (again who scheduled it this early!?) I sat and drank my hot Lipton tea with my 32oz of cold tea next to it while everyone stuff their faces with waffles, omelets, carved meat, potatoes, and eventually cookies, cakes, tarts, and chocolate covered fruit, and I can't forget the Bloody Mary's and Mimosas of course. By the time we were getting ready to leave it was time for my second meal; I started, but figured I would have to finish in the car. It was then when the comments started to flood in, "you're eating again?" You've got to be kidding me right? I just sat and watch you get up several times for countless plates of food and confectionaries and you're going to judge me on eating chicken, green beans, and black beans two hours after I ate my egg white oats? Some things never change I tell you.

     I came home and debated going to the gym, I really wanted to; and figured I should since yesterday was my rest day and I like working out 6 days a week. But the fact of the matter was the motivation wasn't there to go for a half hour since upon calling I learned they closed at 2:00 today. I decided to stay home and do things around the house that needed to always be done. The family got home and decided to go all take a nap so I guess I would be eating my Easter eggs alone, yes you heard correctly; I would be partaking in at least eating some of the eggs we colored (yolks removed of course.) I took enjoyment of photographing my third meal in my Easter basket before enjoying the change in protein. I cracked and de-yolked five hard boiled eggs and enjoyed them with my sweet potato and broccoli outside. My mom got up, and shortly after Hunter; my Nana came over and they ended up having hard boiled eggs, English muffins, and fruit around 6:00pm. I even carried my festiveness over to my next meal replacing chicken and almonds with eggs and almonds and a few dashes of Red Hot, it was really good! I capped the evening off with starting a new coloring spread in my mindless coloring book and am really looking forward to this one, though it will be twice the work being two pages and all, and then I read for over an hour my new book. Which by the way I am in love with, there are a few excerpts below; but basically the way it is written is more relaxed, it's not as ambiguous and dry like other spiritual/help books (Awakening Life's Purpose comes to mind as it sits still unfinished by my bedside.) The author is easily relatable for me, tell stories, the chapters are short, there's quotes, and a lot of the content hits home with what is going on in my life right now. Constantly comparing myself to others in the fitness world, or who train with me, dreading or hating being a bartender at times, listening to others judge me when it is their own insecurities they are masking, and everything is part of a bigger whole. For some inspiration, read the chosen screen shots of the book I was reading last night, below! After reading I even had the slight thought of, "yes I will be competing in April in my head," though it was not said out loud. This week was a good week, and although I haven't 100% committed to competing April 23, my mind has become closer to accepting the fact. Maybe? I've decided I need to do more morning cardio, and by more I mean actually doing it again. I need to tell work I will need that Friday and Saturday off well ahead of time (which is basically now,) I need to hound Carmen to start the process in suite ordering, my diet will have to be tweaked, and posing my 100% focus while having other things nagging at my attention daily. This is why I still haven't decided, if you couldn't tell.

Really? Last week it was almost 80 degrees and now it is snowing
Only needed to go to SAM's Club this week
Day of grilling
Haven't been here in awhile, used to come every week for the trail
Second set to keep in my car for when I forget utensils for my meals
Got all of this for less than $10 I had dividend money to spend (I also have a Nalgene problem)
When I bought this, I didn't know how helpful and needed it would be

Switched out my protein shake for this today
New bruises
Pyramid bruises

Page I colored in the mindless coloring book
Posing at the Edge with Carmen

First time using the hydromassage bed at the Edge

15 minutes for free, won't complain


Free samples, which later I found out was amazing enough to order some!
My life, trying to blog and eat
Amazon is amazing
I have to admit, I love my gym swag

Leg day at Iron Will
Morning weight before breakfast
Weight after breakfast

Posing for photos after back workout
The taper!
My other back pose

Mid-day weight
It's official! Just paid for my OCB Membership good for a year!
It's also official that I will be competing May 28 in Bloomfield, CT!
Weight in the evening after food and a water intake
What turned into a shopping trip at the mall; but who doesn't need a donut hat!? It's not like I can eat the real thing
Used to be another one of my favorite stores, back to visit
Free Caramel Chai after buying a bag
My Papa has called me Wonder Woman ever since the trail, I had to buy this snapback
$25 credit to Victoria's Secret means a new sports bra

The following morning weight
Really excited to start this book is faster than Amazon Prime! Got this a day after ordering
What can this be!?
My new favorite protein powder of course!
What a gorgeous day, so happy to enjoy it
Squatting in the sun, reading a fitness magazine that came free with my protein powder

I was supposed to do this in December, with all the bruising I figured I should get it done
Had to be fasted so I made sure to drink a Mason jar of plain tea no BCAA to keep hydrated beforehand
Normally I freak out to get blood drawn, today the jitters weren't there thankfully
It's still no walk in the park though
I even had to courage to look to get this photo! Looked away right after though
Brought all of my morning routine with me for after, two pills already went down before taking this photo. Lemon water mix
Metamucil with water and cranberry
Truth, I was so hungry
I love forgetting what I ordered in the mail and getting packages needs to get better quality stickers if they want them posted everywhere!

Battle wounds, here's to another bruise!
Wonder Woman made an appearance at the Edge today


Melted crayons on the hardboiled eggs before coloring them
Have you ever colored eggs with an almost 3 year old? 
It get's pretty wild and messy, but she loved it
Not very pastel and "Easter-like" but they're different
Easter Eggs 2016
She liked to stir the eggs...
A few more pastel and basic

It was so slow at work, I sat and read over the new menu

Finding Easter eggs outside
Easter egg hunt at the house before brunch with the family
The Easter bunny must know I can't eat Reese's eggs this year!
Thanks Mom your the best, now start reading the blog
Ordered another pair because one is white and the other is discolored
Awesome skull candy smoothie bottle I got as well
Last year doing brunch at Adams Mill since the kids are getting older
I am on a tea diet only
Just kidding I brought my oatmeal and my second meal with me
Baby Ellone the Easter bunny

"They don't feed me" Just kidding she ate!
Ellone and Hunter being bunnies
When one looks, the other doesn't
Had our private room and all
Homemade cadbury "eggs" that will be put in the freezer until June!
Happy Easter from Hunter and I
Happy Easter from Ellone
Family "dinner" this month is brunch (missing a few (like 9), but still a nice photo)

Third meal, replaced chicken for 5 Easter eggs!
Had to partake in the holiday, I didn't eat the yokes!

It was actually really good, and a nice change
Fourth meal I even had the eggs with hot sauce (this is near the end of course I had 5 egg whites again with more almonds)

Started a new spread in the mindless coloring book, excited for this lion
This hit home; I have had to deal with some people who just don't get it, and that is fine
Not only does this say superhero muscles, but also the fact that you need to surround yourself with supportive people
Sorry for all of the book photos but it was hitting home hardcore while reading the words
One of the biggest things I have to comprehend, what others tell me is different from what I believe/see
Also another tough one in the fitness world; comparison

A great reminder for the bad days or weeks at the bar

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