Figure It Out. Or Just Pull the Covers Over your Head.

 To some, winning is defined as something that is tangible; placing value or worth in something other than you. And then for some winning is just defined by all of the hard work and effort that is placed into one moment that allows them to grow and learn from…

The hardest part of participating in a fitness competition is trying to be vulnerable; being vulnerable and pretending that you are comfortable the entire day. Yes, even through the fake eyelashes and the fake bronze-orange tan that streaks at the slightest droplet of water, you have to somehow allow yourself to become vulnerable and accept that you are not in control of anything. And I can honestly say that after Saturday, I felt vulnerable, drained, and wrecked. And not because I didn’t “win” or “place” in the top three, I could care less about that, but because it left me feeling about as raw as a freshly scraped wound that was in need of more than just a simple band-aid. Heck, even a white gauzed bandage wrapped around me several times couldn’t stop the vulnerability oozing out of me over the past couple of days.  

 And I really don’t like to be vulnerable. I don’t like to be in a situation where I lack control.

 But that is just what I walked into that cold, windy Saturday morning in Massachusetts…

 For awhile, four days, to be precise, I felt broken. And even when I honestly felt like there was nothing left of me to break, the pieces continued to shatter, day by day, and night by night. Broken and then swept away. Over and over again.

 It kind of just felt like everything I had worked so hard for was showered away with the latest coats of my spray tan. I felt hopeless, lost, and detached from the actual magnitude of the situation. Where I once felt somewhat powerful and in control, I felt was stripped away from me from as early as Saturday morning, the day of the show.  

 Sunday morning, I felt physically sick and I felt the thickness of the stress squeeze my heart until it ached. As the day progressed and everyday thereafter, each time I thought about the show, I would start getting anxious and stressed out all over again. It was a constant state of feeling dizzy, lightheaded, and I literally could start to feel my heart as if it I was holding it right in my hands on my lap. By Sunday night, I threw up a few times, and for the next two days, I stayed in bed and avoided all phone calls and the Internet.

 Maybe it seems silly or petty to some, maybe even insignificant, but part of me realizes that I am cultivating this anxiety until it starts breeding perfectionism.  

 When the show was over, I cried. And it was definitely not because I didn’t win or place, it was simply because of the tension that was between me and my body. It was, “Me versus the entire day.”  It was like a bitter fight to the very end; a show with a stage of its own. It felt as though there was this constant resistance that I had to keep fighting to prevent it from crushing me or knocking me down. And as the day carried on, the resistance kept getting stronger; heavier, and the emotional and mental strain was collapsing well before I could physically. Any tears that tried to break through the surface were met with long thick eyelashes and the fear of not being able to avert another small disaster; smearing my spray tan.

 I seriously felt like I crashed a party, drank too much, and then walked home in the bitter cold as the chill in the air ripped right through me.  

 The bottom line is that when you work hard and put a lot of effort into something you feel passionate about, when the end is near, you tend to breathe a sigh of relief, you’re excited but anxious, happy but nervous. You’re just filled with so many emotions because the day is here. The day that you worked so hard for is finally here. But when the day is met with disorganization and utter chaos, and people who make you feel like they’re doing you a favor regardless if you put in the time, money, sweat, tears, blood etc., emotions that are already high, tend to run rampant. At least they did for me.

 Now of course I didn’t “know” what to expect going into this figure competition, but I had an idea. I mean, I wasn’t completely clueless. I had received all of the information ahead of time, planned it accordingly, arrived at the hotel earlier than expected just to make sure that I didn’t miss anything.  All went smoothly, the check in, the polygraph, and all I had left to do was relax and wait until my night time appointment to get the first few coats of my spray tan. I was hungry and tired, but the only thing that rattled me was solely the anticipation that was leading up to the actual time of the show; the moment I would have to step on stage and desensitize the hell out of those stage lights with my Swarovski crystals. Oh and the sheer hope that I didn’t resemble a total Oompa Loompa; that the spray tan was dark enough to prevent me from looking washed out.

 It was already guaranteed that I was going to look like an over-tanned cast member of the Jersey Shore, but I was at really hopeful that it would cover the stretch marks and cellulite that was going to be on display for the judging panel as well as an entire audience. (Believe me when I say that the lights were definitely brighter than the last show!)

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The last show I did, I didn’t get yelled at, scolded, or rushed. It was much more organized, friendly and exciting. Sure, I had the usual nerves of walking out on stage, but nothing compared to Saturday. They held two shows that day, one for “Pros” and the night show was for “Amateurs”. The amateurs were supposed to start at 2:30 pm. However, sitting in that auditorium and watching the “Pros” compete, I knew that it was going to last much longer than it previously had stated, it was just a matter of when it was going to be over and more importantly when our show was going to start. Well, no one could tell us. So we just sat there growing more and more impatient, irritated, and stressed.  After all, I felt some kind of entitlement to know what was going on; I did PAY to do this show.  Not to mention, I was already agitated from having to stand outside of the building, in the freezing cold, naked in a small tent that not even my being in it could prevent the wind from blowing it around. I was also yelled at and scolded for not “exfoliating properly” while the woman spraying the umpteenth coat of spray tan on me dug harder into my skin with the tanning pad. I had to bite my lip and suck back the tears of frustration and anxiety to resist the urge to snap back at her because I had exfoliated, and I had paid her. Not the other way around.  

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 Oh yea… but nothing makes you feel more vulnerable than standing naked with some woman scrubbing at your chest in between spraying another coat of tanning solution on you while simultaneously telling you how it’s going to show up on stage; it’s going to look horrible, and there’s no way that she can fix it. It was in that moment that my attitude changed; the bitterness started to unravel inside of me and before I knew it I was feeling even more insecure and isolated. Isolated because that’s what I do. I put up a wall and shut everyone out. And in that particular moment, I couldn’t help but look around and feel out of place and I started to question what the hell I was even doing there in the first place.

Feeling uncomfortable and bordering between anger, frustration and the little confidence I had left, I just wanted to just leave. But I looked at the small tiny faces in the audience and decided that I had to stay. Ah! But the day progressed onward in disarray, with the competitors meeting being held somewhere closer to 6:00-6:30 pm rather than 2 pm like it was stated. At the meeting, the order in which the classes were to go out on stage was discussed but quickly changed shortly after the meeting was over and after the competitors had made it back downstairs. In fact, I was just about due to get a touch up on my tan (I had a few streaks) and I was eating when I was informed that the figure competitors were due on stage at that moment. No time for touch ups, no time for anything. I was yelled at and treated like an overly tanned, overly made up hooker. Yeah. Figure that one out.  

And just for shits and giggles:

By early Sunday Morning, back in my hotel room, I was able to wash most of the tan off:

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Why You Shouldn’t Give Up

On my way out the door, this message caught my eye

My son's message to me this morning

My son’s message to me this morning

It was from my ten-year old son. It made me cry a little. I’m often hard on myself for not being the “perfect-cookie-cutter” mom or wife. I don’t even need a mirror to summons the not so wonderful mommy moments I have had. I often feel guilty for not actually doing more for my kids, not giving them everything that they want, and maybe once in awhile skipping a hug every now and then, maybe because I was raised in a family where expressing a lot of heartfelt emotion wasn’t always prevalent. Hugs were sparse and when often uttering the words, “thank you” it was rare to ever tell if the words of gratitude were ever registered or even necessary. Without a doubt, however, I knew I was loved, and I only mention this to give a brief insight into my childhood and realize how I am really not one who practices a great deal of affection. Don’t get me wrong, I tell my kids that I love them; I interact with them, and acknowledge their importance in my life. But I always feel like there’s more that I could do or say. Especially when you have more than one child, it becomes more of a challenge because they all seem to want your undivided attention in equal amounts, at the same exact time! But I know that regardless of the attention they receive, there will always be one of them who is going to feel slighted in some way.

But today was different. It stripped away everything that I thought I was hiding and protecting; it took away everything I thought I knew and understood. Up until this morning…

It didn’t take a long time to read the message of course, but in that very small, brief moment, after reading the words, I paused, allowing them to resonate inside of my very being. The meaning behind those words surged through me granting me the right to forget about everything and just pause. Pause to recognize the time that my son took to write that before he even had a chance to see me this morning; to recognize the impact I have had on him without even truly realizing it. And without ever really wondering if he even understands. And today I was just reminded that he does. He sees beyond the superficial and believes in me…sometimes even more than I do sometimes.

With all the social media that intrudes our daily lives; it can be hard to remember that even though you have an audience connected via the Internet, the most important audience will always be your child/ren. And they are always paying attention, looking up to you, and eventually following your lead. Yes. Someone who is resilient, yet fragile and innocent will always be your largest cheering section; your biggest crowd, and you will always be their first act; an everlasting impression on who they turn out to be.

You are their only spotlight and they learn from you; it’s okay to show them struggles, it’s okay to reveal your weaknesses and show how truly vulnerable you are. The important thing is how you pick yourself up and carry on regardless of how big or small, or how insignificant you may think something is, they are always watching, following, and learning from your mistakes.

Materialistic things such as, toys, video games, and technology, can never truly compare to their little eyes carefully watching you manage decisions, burdens and sometimes, or a lot of times, your own self doubt. They will always look at you, and do so without judgment; only admiration and unconditional love.
So the next time you say that you cannot do something, even if you utter the words to yourself; it doesn’t matter, they sense it. They feel it. And they are always watching you.

I really, truly know and understand that now.

Being the Match That Lights the Fire.

As I sit here, five days away from a figure competition (I have honestly given up at least a thousand times, however, today I’ve only managed to quit two or three times) I feel that the best way to channel the anxiety that I feel is to redirect it to something more relaxing and doesn’t require sweating. A rapid heart beat still? Yes, but no sweating. First, though, let’s get one thing straight, every one of those times, I am not quitting, my mind keeps trying to, but so far I’m winning. So far.

It isn’t me, it’s the anxiety and I recognize that…

 Ever stop and wonder what is the one thing that you avoid to prevent going into panic mode? Oh come on, just about anything that makes you even place a big toe outside of the circle you’ve entrapped yourself with will send you into fight or flight mode. You want to run, but you also want to stay and fight. Survival mode. Fight or flight. Avoidance.

Do you know what that one thing that would make you just go after what you fear instead of always running from it? Think about it. What would be that one thing that would allow you to forget about the circle that you keep making smaller and smaller every single day and move freely? I can’t think of anything, can you?

You see, nothing can make me do it. No one or nothing can make me want to put myself into an uncomfortable situation that would have me screaming and begging for mercy. No one, nothing, but ME.  It’s because I only have myself to look back in the mirror at; to scowl or smirk at, to sense the violation that I’ve done to myself by not letting others in, or by choosing to punish myself; give up on myself.  It is me who has to look in the mirror and choose to see the pain deep within my eyes. It is only me who could choose to take that pain away and force myself to acknowledge that I’m the only one that’s going to make me move. If I don’t do it, who will? Who’s going to care enough to cross that circle to get me to move?  Only you can choose the amount of light that you want to reveal.

Ask yourself, “what makes me happy”? 

Take that answer and never second guess it. Don’t doubt it. Make it part of your day. Every single day because do you ever notice when you neglect a part of you, even if it’s only one small part of you and you continue to ignore it, reject it, hide it, that you find yourself over time not even able to recognize your own shadow even when the smallest flicker of light appears?

Don’t let the flame burn out before you do.

No.

Be the one to light the freaking match.

No. Scratch that.

BE THE MATCH THAT LIGHTS THE FIRE.

 

 

Top Ten Reasons to Stick to your Exercise/Diet Plan

One of the hardest things to do is stick to a healthy diet especially when temptation is literally everywhere!!! But you have to remind yourself of why you’re doing it. You have to have a reason.

When I don’t have a goal (or sometimes even when I do have a goal) I find thoughts creeping into my mind like, “what am I doing this for?” or I’m never going to look like ____”.  Besides, I don’t have anything to prove to anyone; no one really gives a shit if I’m having dinner out of a Tupperware container or at a fast food joint. When I open the refrigerator and see a roll of cookie dough, I want to just say screw it and eat it. When I feel so tired and don’t feel like going to the gym, I truly just want to have the softest worn in part of my couch latch onto me just so I can just watch my favorite show.  

But I put together a list of my “Top Ten Reasons” to help get me off my ass to the gym or choose a better cookie…oh…oops…uh…I mean….

 Look these are just reasons, I slip and fall every now and then regardless…what can I say, I’m only human.

 A human cookie monster at times even…Anyway, here they are:

 Top ten reasons to stick to your Exercise/Diet plan:

 1. You spend all kinds of money on lotions, nails, makeup, hair etc. Why not treat your insides to a makeover as well? Why treat your insides like shit?

 2. Less medical expenses.

 3. Your body is an investment; it is your house. You fix up your house when something is broken, don’t you? You wouldn’t want someone to draw all over your walls, stain your carpet, spray paint your house etc.

 4. Your mind and body need energy to function. You already have too much stress with work, family, and just life.  Eat sensibly to counteract the stress that you feel.  A proper diet full of nutrients as opposed to a diet void of nutrients acts as your very own ammunition rather than a terrorist.

 5. Every bit of exercise makes you stronger, which will lead to a more independent life for a longer period of time.

 6. Who are you fooling? Put the junk down, you won’t be able to eat “good” for the next 3 days to “make up for what you’re about to eat now.” Life happens. Shit happens. And always unexpectedly.

 7. Yes, I know you worked all day and had a hard day. But skipping that workout is only going to make your next day long and hard also. Exercise releases endorphins and you’ll come out of it feeling like a bad ass.

 8. You will look sexy as all hell.

 9. Because you’re tired of avoiding the mirror.

 10. You’re tired of owning a scale

 Oh and just for good measure:

 11. You’re tired of counting calories.

Seriously, do you ever stop to realize how funny it is that we actually take the time to count calories of everything. Some days, for instance, I’ll start off eating really well, but then that little voice of protest in the back of my mind starts churning, and making all kinds of demands, it usually gets so loud that it starts making my body feel like it’s screaming. It’s equivalent to a two-year-old throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of the candy aisle and then peeing in their pants for further protest. So yea,  I usually just stop counting calories and anything else for that matter because when I go in; I might as well go all in.  

 If you can think of anything else to add to this list, add them in the comments section!