Power of Contest Prep

 

To my anxiety-ridden mind:

I know that if I set up something far in advance, I become overwhelmed with you and just unwillingly, sabotage myself ahead of time…

I was doing fine, I set my own diet and followed it, didn’t have cravings, didn’t have the need to constantly go out to eat for greasy food or sugary treats. I was cutting my own weight and doing fine. Once a week, on the weekend, I’d go out to dinner with my husband and that was the extent of it. I felt better, I didn’t have the feeling of being hungry, I was committed and I felt strong. Everyday I woke up with determination and set out to become even better and stronger than the day before; to get that much closer to my goals. Whatever that was. No. I mean it. I didn’t have a goal to drive towards. I was just kind of idling day by day, conflicted and tortured by my own anxiety. I wanted to compete in a figure competition again, but I didn’t want to say “Ok I’m doing it”. Just like that. No, that made me feel too much. Besides, I felt like I was just setting myself up for failure once I spoke about it out loud. If I just kept it quiet and shifted it back into my own head, no one would know, and I wouldn’t feel pressured or anxious. It was my way of maintaining control; or at least I like to think so.

Once I made a commitment, I felt like I lost control and relinquished to some unknown bleak hole that would rupture my very existence; my little bubble that I often contained myself in for fear of treading on anything that might make my mind explode and reel with anxiety; send me into a panic attack because of the secrets I would have to keep so no one would or could judge me or criticize me, or even just sabotage my goal because they didn’t want to see me succeed. Oh but that was me. Right now. All the time. That’s me. So I guess in a way if I don’t speak about my goals, then it’s not really there. But if I take it day by day, than I can better control it all.

The other day, I relinquished control to an online coach for contest prep. Twelve weeks in advance of a figure competition. It started out with a simple email and erupted into a full blown commitment. Right away, I went into panic mode, trying to find a way to make adjustments already; adjustments so that I could maintain some kind of control. But since Saturday, when I submitted the final information and payment, I cannot stop eating. It takes him a couple days to get my custom plan together, so until then I have been thinking of ways to sabotage myself. Apprarently.

I’ve been on a non-stop binge fest. I’m having cravings and urges to go out to eat all the time now. For every meal.

I look in the refrigerator and see food and just want to devour it. I rationalize my behavior; try to soothe my mind. I’ve literally been fighting the urge to just keep bingeing. Part of me says it doesn’t matter, it’s just food, and it’s not going to hinder my goals. But the other part of me reminds me that success doesn’t come from excuses or rationalizations. But, I just want to have control.

Not only that, but I automatically have become consumed with so many antagonizing thoughts and worries that it literally feels like they are taking the very breath from deep within my heart and the lack of oxygen is so undeniably debilitating. I freeze at the thought of being asked to go to lunch with a friend or to go anywhere. And subconsciously, I isolate myself and place limitations in front of me that might otherwise be a challenge or a test of true worth or true strength. Maybe I’m afraid of the answer… I’m almost afraid to question it or to go up against it. It’s fear. I know that. It’s a lack of control. I know that there are options but it doesn’t matter in those moments when I set out to achieve something. It’s like getting in the car and purposely taking the wrong turns or inadvertently making sure that you just keep going in one big circle as long as you know you’ll end up where you started. But I want so much more. I feel it. I mean I can really feel it. It’s like a bleeding wound that burns with even the slightest amount of pressure. It feels like an attack. If you try to cover it up or dress it in bandages, it’ll just seep through or either that it’ll just dissolve the bandage making it as nonexistent as my confidence or self worth. That’s the problem I have very little self worth. I think everyone else deserves much, much more than me, and if I could I’d  be willing to give it all to them. Whether I knew them or not. And then I see these people who didn’t really notice me before or probably more likely I didn’t notice, asking me to do things, go to lunch and I look at them as challenges and obstacles that are trying to block me in my attempt from going any further when even I know deep down inside that’s the biggest lie; the biggest flaw of them all.

When I feel a loss of control; I freeze up. My body won’t move. There’s an external force that cannot be reckoned with. Over and over my mind tries to bludgeon the anxiety from my mind, and to tell you the truth, it works for a little while. Just a little while. And if you understand, then you know that you just have to keep fighting; have to keep yourself guarded, not against the world, but from your own mind. You’d understand that you cannot just walk out on your own skin; your own mind. Your body will scream like it’s beckoning anxiety and pain, but we have to remember that we’re so much larger than that. Than any of it.

We are strong enough to rise and succeed. We’ll always find a way to reach another step; another goal. And I know. I know because I did it. I seem to always find my way to the center of my goal; the center of my fear that is engulfed with the belief that I can overcome anything. And so can you. Because if u don’t do it, someone else is going to. Someone else is going to be living your dream; your life. And that control that we may so desperately cling to and think we have is going to turn into feeling of hopelessness, regret, and instead of living you’re just going to be dying. Your just going to fall into darkness and that will transfer into anger. So don’t let fear stop you; the unknown prevent you from living. And not because we have to; not because you think you don’t need to or that you have to give up control. And not because you don’t consider yourself as worthy or deserving.
Besides, I guess we’re not really controlling much when we are losing and surrendering to our anxieties; our fears and doubts. No, I guess we don’t have control if were being suffocated by fear. Fear controls us. And we need to stop it.

So here I go again. Round three to the stage.

Let’s Get Off Our Ass and Let’s Be Honest With Ourselves.

 

I resist change. I can’t help it. I’m pretty sure that you’re all aware that I’m human by now. I swear the older that I get, the more structure I need. I guess now I understand why my grandmother started eating dinner at 2 in the afternoon and staying in the kitchen with her cup of tea before retreating to the living room to watch tv until it was time for bed. Yep. Like clockwork. Every single day.

I’ve realized that I spend too much time or a lack thereof, thinking about how I can make things that seem challenging much more simple. I think about how I can take the fear away and just overcome the challenge…and then once I find the way, I keep doing it over and over again, but unfortunately, since the challenge is no longer in the way and fear no longer exists, anything new that comes along to change what I now have deemed comfortable, causes me anxiety and irrational behavior. But I went into this with determination and the will to want a stronger body and stronger mind, and I know that in order to continue to change this body that I’ve been given; to change this mind that I’ve been given, I need to erase the fear and see any challenge as an opportunity to grow and to allow myself to exceed my original belief of what I considered was my potential. To continue to ignore the fact that in order to grow; in order to make progress, I need to seek change rather than to sit and wait for someone or something to change me is only to continue to be dishonest with myself and to live in fear and a state of unhappiness. I need to be honest with myself and figure out what I could do to become better than I was yesterday. Better than I was a year ago; in body and in mind. And no one is going to do it for me.

So this week, I promised myself to approach my workouts at the gym differently. You see, the fear I have is that if I make a change in my diet or workout plan, even if it’s not drastic, I am going to lose what I have spent time building since the beginning. And even though I have the knowledge, it’s often hard to be objective with myself. It just is. And hey, if you have that power or ability, kudos to you, but I fear that I will end up looking like that skinny girl who people came up to and asked, “Are you okay, you’re so skinny…” I get upset if I wake up in the morning and don’t look as full as I did the day before. I think “shit, my muscles are smaller” when I know the truth from competing in fitness competitions; from experience, mine and others. I knew the why; I just didn’t want to give it any merit or attention. We are, after all talking about my own reflection; what it is that I see in the mirror. I’ve been on a “bulk” for ages now. Every time I would look in the mirror, I didn’t like what I saw, I would pull back from my diet and binge just so I could maintain the fullness in the muscle. I knew that I couldn’t lose muscle that quickly, but for some reason, I couldn’t convince my own mind.

I was obviously still living in my early thirties, where my metabolism was a lot faster than it is at the ripe age of 36! Haha. So I was training and eating like I was when I first started, ignoring the fact that I didn’t even have the body that I did when I first started training. So, I took Sunday off and thought about how I can get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself further; step out of my box and face some more fears. (even though changing things up was challenge enough); I promised myself that I was going to let go of any fears and anxiety that I may have and just do it. Change something. My workout. It’ll just be for the week, I reminded myself, just for one week. I’m used to doing legs, shoulders, etc, a 6 day split with a little bit of cardio mixed in. This week, however, I wanted to focus on strength and the workouts this week have been focusing on NOT overloading the same muscle group all in one day. Well, it’s killing me. I mean, killlllinnnggg me. Like I said, it’s like a whole separate battle to fight. But, I know I need a change if I want to get stronger and better; to see the results I want; to progress further. It’s hard work, mentally and physically, and requires a lot of patience and faith, but I know that with challenge comes change.

I guess we all get in a routine because we all become too afraid to deviate from a program that we have become comfortable with, and any workout is better than none at all, right? I guess we all need someone to walk around to slap us to remind us that we need to change what we’re doing in order to progress and continue to make changes. But we’re creatures of habit; we crave direction and a routine, and yes, oddly enough, even if that means staying in one place.

We have to remind ourselves that we went into this seeking a change with sheer determination and a fight that existed in us so deep that we were willing to do what it took to make our fitness goals happen? Remember how it felt when you saw that first small change? Remember how great you felt, how alive you felt and how you craved more? Well, when did we just stop craving more? What happened? What the hell happened? I mean, why should we just come to a complete stop when everyone and everything else is still moving along? Come on, we’re more than that, we deserve more, much more than just a ticket on a one stop train. I know we just can’t help ourselves; once we’re in it, it’s hard to see what we might be neglecting or in need of because we think we have it all, and as long as we’re happy with our current state, that’s all that matters. I know because I live it. We always find a way to compare ourselves to others and we ask the same questions over and over again, expecting the answer to be, “keep doing whatever it is that you’re doing.” But that’s not the truth and deep down we know that, but are afraid to leap and take a chance.

For the week coming up, I ask you to reflect on what you’ve been doing and really ask yourself what you could work on and make that your goal. I promise that you can go back to what you were doing before, but you probably won’t want to. I’d like to hear what you’re going to do to challenge yourself this week. Let me know in the comments section!

Post from my Instagram account @meglifts

Post from my Instagram account @meglifts

 

 

 

 

 

One Rep At a Time

 

Everyone has pain.

You just have to choose which pain you want to feel.

I don’t think I’ll ever win this fight.

But I don’t think I’ll lose either.

Instead, I’m going to live each day remembering I have choices;

I can go to the gym, or I can surrender to this mental bullshit labeled as anxiety and panic disorder that’s trying to attack my mind; my spirit.

I might not ever win this fight, but I’ll stay focused;

I will strive to overcome each moment; each day;

One rep at a time.

That’s my choice.

That’s my pain.

 

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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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.

 

 

Think Outside the Mirror

I have to be honest here. I have to look back and tell you all the truth. I haven’t been feeling like fitness anything lately. I’ve been feeling depressed, sad, and discouraged. The main reason is because I struggle to become independent and free from anxiety medication and I feel like the glimpse of hope I’ve had left me floundering. You see, I thought I had it all figured out, I was going to try to get into a program designed to help me deal with the number one fear that has taken over my life little by little. I was so excited to think that I could be free from taking Xanax. Free from the withdrawals, free from the struggle of having to fight every night against taking them. Unfortunately though, the program wasn’t accepting anyone else. It was at that moment I felt hopeless; a flood of fear and helplessness flooded over me…

Was I going to be on this medication forever? Was I really trying to be free from it completely? Yes and No. I want to regain control. I  don’t want to feel like I  have to rely on it.

Yes, since I got into exercise and nutrition, I have found an outlet; a way to cope with it, a passion; if you will, to help me heal; help me feel better. Physically and emotionally. However, I still have panic attacks. Why? Because I’m not perfect. There are some days I don’t want to eat healthy; days where I want to live in the moment with the rest of the population, days where I want to give in to the loud obnoxious flashbacks that I have of me when I was still in my twenties having fun, living life carelessly and without all this dedication and medication.  In lieu of that, I find myself pushing the limits to see how far all of that hard work at the gym as well as  the time that I take to focus on nutrition could resist the copious amounts of not so healthy food.

Some days I don’t want to work out either. I want to curl into a ball and cry my heart and soul out until I become numb.  I am mad.  I am mad because my doctor wrote me a prescription two years ago and assured me that it would be temporary. I am mad because I feel like I gave in too quickly. And now? Now I’m still taking it and I can’t seem to find a way to escape it without withdrawals. And I worry, I worry that I’m going to be lying awake one night and I’m going to need more that just the normal maximum dosage because after awhile your brain gets lazy.  Over time, the Xanax is doing all the work and soon you need more to get that relaxed feeling or to suppress what I will refer to as withdrawals. 

I love fitness. I love nutrition. But I don’t love Xanax. I don’t love medication. I want to be free. I want to live without pain and tension and stress. The truth is, the reason I’ve been away for so long, is because I was beginning to doubt the power of nutrition and exercise. I mean, here I am eating all of the right things, exercising, but when that’s all over, I still feel afraid. I still feel dependent. I feel like I’m being stifled from living my life and sharing my passion due to the medication that I feel has imprisoned me in my own mind; my own skin.

Exercise and diet is only a counterpart towards healing any ailment or disease; once you give into medicine, you have to learn to deal with the side effects. You have to learn to cope with them and they can make you more miserable, depressed and bring a sense of helplessness.

Sitting across from a doctor who is providing  you with a checklist over and over again of things that you could do to manage anxiety or any other ailment you may suffer from, makes you want to yell at the doctor and tell them that they have no idea what they are talking about. You doubt them because you have tried all of those things, and nothing seems to work. But then they’ll probably just write you another prescription….

You find yourself hovering over the computer all hours of the day; all hours of the night. Why? Because you have a huge vacancy; a huge question mark.

problems

 Like I said, I even started to question nutrition and exercise.  I asked myself if it was really all just a bunch of bullshit? But sitting here, with time to think, fully carb loaded, muscles still sore from my daily workouts and the tension that inflames my body,  I was given a brief moment to open my eyes and reveal a little bit of clarity. Even I still felt a tad shaken. But I could truly understand that yes, yes, diet and exercise are beneficial.  It is just the side effects of the medication that I am at war with. I am at war with medicine and doctors who don’t believe in anything but treating you with medicine.

I recently discovered the oath a doctor has to swear to, and it is to do everything you can to help the person without putting them at further risk for disease….I suffer from panic attacks, I had my first one in 2009 and didn’t get into fitness and nutrition until I was well under way to being treated with Xanax. Sure, no one put a gun to my head, and I did seek out additional services to learn how to cope,  but Xanax is a powerful drug.  I’d have a panic attack and I would try to do all the breathing techniques, the relaxation techniques,  but it wasn’t that I wasn’t doing it right; I just couldn’t find a way to relax completely.  

I was once told that I need to think of it as taking medication for diabetes. Without it, I’d be “unhealthy.” But all I heard was the doctor telling me that I needed to succumb to this mental war that was going on inside my head and shut it up with medication.  

Eventually, I told my doctor that  I didn’t want to take it anymore, so she had me wean off of it as slowly as possible. However, regardless of the fact that  I was on such a small dosage to begin with (1.5 mg max per day), the withdrawals were still way too intense, and by the end of the night, I felt like I could have unzipped my own skin and took off.  I seriously felt like a real life character in a movie who was a heroin addict. More defeat. More hope was lost. I started to think what was the point of me being so hardcore into fitness and nutrition, if I am a prisoner in my own mind and body?  

So that’s the truth, now here’s reality:  

Balance isn’t just about how to find a way to make fitness and nutrition fit into your life, it’s about finding inner peace within yourself; psychologically you can’t be at odds with yourself or your physical self will still suffer. I’ve had to take a step back, just a small step, and realize that I need to get right with my psychological self so that I can be continue to reach for the unknown.  

I’ve had to realize that regardless of how much you sweat physically, or how many healthy choices you make, you cant disregard the inner self. You can be physically fit, but if you’re not mentally/psychologically fit, then you haven’t become any closer to the happiness that you deserve.  And that’s just it. I feel like I allowed myself to surrender to medical science and let it slowly stifle my inner self; my soul, my mind. I was only focused on the outside; thinking that’s what made me strong and in control, but I  continued to ignore the other counterpart that was a crucial element to this process of healing. I ignored the pain in my eyes because I only felt the ache in my heart, the ache in my lungs, and the soreness of a worked muscle.  I forgot that your outside appearance doesn’t always reveal the true self; your authentic self. And the night I wrote this, and the tear scratched out the ink on the paper that I had originally wrote this on, I sensed a glimpse of clarity.

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I believed that I had to become more aware and respect that my mind needs to be trained just like I trained my body. They were one unit, working as a whole, and  I had to learn to sweat emotionally not just physically.  After all, I know that I can’t beat myself up for giving into medicine, I was in a desperate moment and thought that medication was the best, but for now, I have been doing a lot of research about the correlation between anxiety/moods/energy levels and nutrition. As a result, I have been focusing on eliminating grains from my diet (which I will discuss in a later blog post).  

And just in case you’re wondering…

I am trying really, really hard to stave off the withdrawals from the xanax, and I look forward to one day being able to say that I am free from the side effects, free to really just reap the benefits of what I have come to believe in over the past few years; and that of course are my two sidekicks, nutrition and exercise. And I also vow to never, ever doubt the power of nutrition and exercise. Ever again.

And I will continue to look for ways to achieve balance within myself. Mind, body, and soul. 

I will always remember that there is always room for change; if you think you’re doing everything you can to fight, you’re not. Change something. 

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Goodnight xoxo

  

Make Goals; Not Excuses

Dedicated to my father, who passed away eight years ago (8-14-2005) as of today…

Lately, I often hear the question, “So when’s your next show” and then I have to go into a long story as to whether or not I am, and if so, when, and if not, the reasons and so on. Small talk? Maybe. But, I can’t help but feel like every time I get asked that question, a piece of me gets shaved off; a piece that gets thicker and thicker each time threatening to unveil the most vulnerable part of me; my core.

 You see, I am not defined by one thing. There are many components of me. I am complex, neurotic, and definitely a nonconformist; I don’t choose to be this way, it’s just who I am. When someone asks that question, to some it may seem like they are expressing interest, but to me, I feel like they are shoving me in a box and stifling my potential for growth. I am not done growing. I don’t have everything all figured out. My entire life, I have tried to run the other direction from being defined as any one particular thing. I believe a lot of the anxiety I feel stems from the fear that I have to be “something” in order to well, just BE.

I strive to be healthy, fit, and perhaps, compete in a show when the time is right—for me. Not just because I need to be defined. Living healthy doesn’t mean, you have to focus on doing a fitness competition; it doesn’t mean that you’re weak if you don’t choose that path. The important thing is to know and remember that you just have to find the purpose in what you’re doing if you want to be successful at it. And if you don’t have a goal, then the outcome will be far more difficult to reach. Not impossible, just more difficult.

When you set a goal, you have to break it down into smaller components. You may have an idea in your mind as to how you’re going to reach that goal, and you may even envision in your mind the sweet reward at the end. Unfortunately, if you don’t break it down into smaller feats and follow the steps that are aligned with your goal, the sweet reward can quickly become sour, or just simply farther to reach.

 How many of you just want to be healthy, active individuals, capable of living a fulfilling life without a lot of limitations? What you don’t realize is the limitations that you place on yourself by not taking the action necessary to complete the goals that can open up new doors. You know, those limitations that are disguised as little excuses that manage to catch you every time you fall???

Excuses tend to keep you right in your comfort zone.

You see, a goal doesn’t have to be as dramatic as a fitness competition; maybe you just want to be able to walk more than a few feet or jog; or maybe you just want to run around and play with your kids a little bit more…

 I get mad at myself when I stray from my usual ‘healthy way of living’.  For example, if I take a break from exercise or the lifestyle/diet, I worry and allow the anxiety to creep in to pollute my mind with the idea that if I take time off from exercise or my ‘diet’, I have somehow lost my passion. Crazy. I know. But sometimes, something that you can be so passionate about can also consume you.

That’s when it’s time for a rest; mentally, physically and emotionally.

There have been times where I have felt like even rest is a sign of weakness, but then, I get upset for being so hard on myself. Sooner or later though, I realize that what’s most important is that you always get back up. After all,  weakness is lying down for good and never reaching for the courage to get back up.

 My father’s health issues gave him a reason to just sit and do nothing. His health issues were a great excuse to let go, but he never did. Never. And he never allowed them to slow him down. When my father was holed up in a hospital room or even a hospital bed in our living room, as soon as he would get better, rather than let it deter him from living his life, he just kept going; just kept living.

 And each time he had a set back, he’d recover and go back at it more determined, powerful, and stronger.

My dad never made me think that a setback means that you’ve surrendered; he never made me feel that it was okay to whip out the party hats and toot the horns once you are able to find a ‘valid’ excuse to throw in the towel. No. He made me realize that each day is a day to propel towards your goal;  that you shouldn’t waste time trying to seek out reasons to justify why you should just give up. It’s important that you always get back up; and if you’re still breathing, then there are no valid excuses.  

He made me realize that no one should have to take their last breath, until they have realized the value of all of their breaths that came before.

His goal was to take each day, treasure it, live it, and love the best to his ability, and he did just that. With every health issue that had arisen, it became a tool rather than a crutch; a tool in his quest to live an extremely fulfilling life. To move forward and yell, well, “Check Mate”

 Decide on a goal. Remember, if you fall during the journey, get up, and plow through, stronger than before. Plow through and yell, “Check Mate” each and every single time.

Anything is possible. Anything.

And to answer the question: I do not know when my next show is, but I do plan on competing in the near future, I just haven’t decided on a show yet.

“A setback is a setup for a comeback” -T.D. Jakes

Don’t let a setback become an excuse, and don’t let an excuse become a setback.

 

Twenty-one. Been There, Done That.

I’ve been struggling with being 35. I’ve been reflecting a lot, and comparing my life experiences now to when I was 21. I can’t help it. Last weekend I slipped on my 6 inch heels, a short skirt and a fitted black top, makeup applied, a touch of bronzer, and I was ready for the night.

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It has been awhile that I have actually got dressed up and gone out with some girl friends, let alone without my husband. However, a couple new spots were opening up and they seemed like there was a perfect opportunity to get dressed up and have some laughs with my sister and another girl; a younger girl. Unfortunately, the girl was 21 and I mean, I don’t blame her for her behavior because I remember at the age, I was pretty similar and had an, “I-don’t-give-a-shit-attitude”, but I was sober.

I don’t drink; by choice, of course. I was just going to go as the designated driver. So yeah, I felt like a mother hen.  I know sounds like so much fun, right? Well, I actually did enjoy myself, but I couldn’t shake the blatant fact that I was older than this carefree girl who was now stumbling and couldn’t hold her liquor.

I found myself taking on the role of a mother. She kept wandering off, and while I wanted to keep her safe and not get taken advantage of, I wondered where I was supposed to draw the line. I mean, was it when I kept catching her kissing random guys, and then security kept having me chase her down to bait and hook her so that I could reel her back in to have a seat, drink some water and just mellow out. Perhaps if I would’ve drank, maybe I’d be falling all over myself.  I mean I certainly had my fair share of those moments, yea, back in the day. But it’s not exactly a sign of fun times when you have to pry someone else away from another guy’s lips.

To make things clear, it was my older sister’s friend/coworker, and I just couldn’t bring myself to abandon this fragile girl who an hour or two before showed her vulnerable side to me as she discussed all of her “issues”. She suffers from an eating disorder, she is bipolar, oh the list goes on. Overall, she was a nice, sweet girl, but she definitely made me feel my age. I didn’t feel like I was dressed up in my 6 inch heels, mini skirt and a fitted shirt, anymore. Instead, I felt like I was responsible for taking care of this girl; I felt like I was in my pajamas, pacing and waiting for my little girl to come home.  At one point she took my hand, and she felt so frail and tiny. Almost breakable. My sister, on the other hand, was sharing drinks with some new friends that she had met at one of the new bars that opened up the night before and therefore was completely oblivious to what was unfolding.

Still, it remained that I was the designated driver and I was ready to haul ass out of there. Fortunately, they followed me. Sort of. The one girl informed me that she was getting picked up by a friend, showed me the text, and assured me she was fine. So it was just my sister, who passed out in the passenger seat of my car, and me driving home in silence. I didn’t feel the need to turn on the radio because I couldn’t shake the feeling that I felt so different; grown up, matured. I mean, I was no longer a 21 year old. 

Hanging out as a designated driver, surrounding myself around drunken men and women in their early twenties, really opened up my eyes to what’s important to me. I love the gym, lifting weights, and building a physique; that’s my challenge. At 21? My challenge was exactly what the girl I kept a watchful eye on all night long was doing. Nothing. Getting drunk and kissing random guys. Waking up the next morning, feeling remorse, regret, and loneliness. Going to the gym may not be glamorous and may not require 6 inch heels with a short mini skirt, but it’s a new phase in my life. Not to mention, it doesn’t make me have regret, or flood that powerless feeling throughout my veins.

I only wish that all of the things I know now, I knew when I was 21. And I only wish that the girl who drank so much that she could barely walk; the girl with the fragile hands; the girl who seemed so breakable in that particular moment; the girl who went looking for any kind of attention, approval, or validation, could know what I know now at 35. 

Oh by the way, I would never, ever, trade in my six inch heels permanently. They stay right next to my training shoes. I don’t give a shit how old I am. I’ll always be old (or young) enough to wear them. Ha.

 

Sweaty Problems

You know when you cry so much, your face turns beet red? Well, over the past few days, my body has been crying so much (with sweat of course) that it’s turning red. Rash red.

And itchy.

Like claw-my-skin-layer-by-layer-itchy.

WTF…so I use free and clear for my hair because a while back, I developed an allergy to certain dyes/scents; I use All’s “Free and Clear”, laundry soap for same reason, I use differin gel and benzaclin for the treatment of acne that I’ve had to control since I was 16, and I’ve had to change my contact lens brand multiple times (basically went from year-round lenses to monthly to the daily wear because my eyes were suddenly, “not okay” with the contact lenses I’ve always worn…

And today? Well today, I found out that I’m allergic to excessive sweating. Go figure. So now I have this horrific heat rash all over my arms, neck and armpits…

TMI? Sorry but…

Yes, I take a shower IMMEDIATELY after my cardio workout,

Yes, I change my clothes right after…and it still just worsens faster than the day goes by.  Sucks. I guess I’ll have to move to Antartica…I exaggerate. I know this already. 

  So…I remember, last year; last show, the same thing happened, I sweated profusely for that last show and got a rash. I’m allergic to heat. Seriously? How can this be? I know that there are worse things in the world, but really? An allergy to heat? Excessive sweating? The older I get the more allergies develop….

And I don’t get it. I’m frustrated. Why?! Because I eat healthy, exercise, love the entire aspect of living a “fitness lifestyle”, I mean, I’m so passionate about it, it gives me a (insert expletive here) rash. My body temperature rises, therefore, a rash ensues. Really?!

What sucks?! Well, I’ve worked my ass of literally for the past 8 months, focusing on building more muscle, started figure competition prep earlier, felt more dedicated and committed to this upcoming figure competition, (don’t get me wrong, it didn’t go without the usual hemming and hawing), posed harder, dieted harder, trainer harder, and now it’s Tuesday.

It’s Tuesday and I’m sitting here, freezing from the air conditioner (you know my body fat is a tad low and therefore, I’m not so impressed with the box in the wall that blows out huge gusts of wind. And I’m doing it all well, how do I say this? well, to put it “mildly”, naked. 

Yup, I am freezing and I have a rash. And right now, I want to wrap myself in a cocoon made up of a blanket paradise, close my eyes and fall asleep. But I’m itchy. And cranky. And #Hungrysickofeatingvegetablesalldaylong…

Hmm. Hashtags are useful when you feel so frustrated….it’s conducive with saying as many swear words in one thought as fast as possible. Random thought. Sorry.

Meanwhile, tonight, I will hopefully fall asleep amidst the cold-air-conditioned darkness and maybe catch a couple hours of sleep, and in the morning, this rash will have disappeared. If not, well then, well…do I just proceed with the figure competition, all the cardio-infused sweat sessions, add chemicals from the spray tan that is mandatory to get to achieve desired “stage appearance” for better muscle presentation, or do I back off, let this rash heal, and pick a different show so that I can approach the prep differently?

Gotta admit. The latter option leaves me shaken.

Beast Mode. Power:On

My last couple workouts have been officially labeled as “panic attack” workouts. They go a little something like this:

 I workout, moving from exercise to exercise with very little rest in between, my heart starts to pound, and I feel as though I’m about to throw up. I’m working hard, and I’m not going to back off. I continue. My muscles are being trained to failure, I say to myself,

“one more rep” fighting with the bully inside of me trying to get me to back down. My blood is pumping, I feel it through my veins, I’m sucking in oxygen, maximizing all of my energy into pushing out one last rep. I keep pushing, waiting for the climax; the rush of simple euphoria. I feel every bit of oxygen crash and erupt with every rep; my body pushes harder and harder. I let go. I am finished. Sweat thickens and beads; it starts to brush past my eyebrows, misses my eye and continues on down my cheek and rolls off my chin. I continue. Next set. I don’t stop. Heat emerges within my muscles, fire erupts, my body pushes; my mind pushes back. It tells me to stop; it wants me to stop. But I can’t. I have to get to the point where my mind lets go; I have to keep pushing. I have to let my mind know my body can do all the work; I have to let my body take over. With every rep, I feel the muscle contract. It feels good. It feels powerful and controlled. Yet, somehow I begin to panic.

 My heart beat has become louder;  like it’s going to burst. “I’m fine.” I try to reassure myself, but I can’t take my mind off of the cold, clammy feeling that has suddenly numbed my skin.  Again.  “I’m fine,”  I pick up the weight and lift. My mind shifts as I start to turn my focus on the lift of the exercise.  I complete the set and put the weight down. I look at the clock and wait for the next set to begin. Again. It happens. The blood in my veins start to feel like slivers of ice; frozen.

 “Oh my God, Oh my God, something is wrong with me” I dread what comes next.

“Everything is blurry. Why is everything blurry. Is it my contacts? Would if it’s that medication. I remember reading the side effects. Shit. My head hurts, I feel dizzy, my throat feels like it’s locked …I can’t swallow…I can’t breathe…Shit. Would if something is seriously wrong with me?!!

  Panic mode.

 I pull back. No. Beast mode.

 I have one last set to do. One more set. I can handle it. Focus. Breathe. I can do this, I’m not losing it. Not this time.

 I wrap my hands around the cold iron dumbbell and I feel a sudden surge; like an electric shock. Confident; fearless; I let the weight dig into my muscles and just like that. I am standing there, weight in my hands; barely over my head; controlled, calculated. I am ready. I see a person that resembles me in the mirror. I look away. That can’t be me, quickly, my mind relapses. I power the weight above my head. Damn it. That is me.

That is me.