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!)

Image

 

Image

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.  

Image                

 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:

Image

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

39f53fa1bdf3c55a46bae1103b6774e5_928

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. 

no-perfect-people-allowed

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.

Image

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.

 

Are you Struggling to Eat Healthy?

Sticking to a healthy diet doesn’t mean that you have to skip social hours.  It doesn’t mean lock your goodies up, lock yourself into solitary confinement and throw away the key. You don’t always have to have maximum security guarding you from the daily temptations that you may encounter.  Admittedly, it will take some time to adjust and adapt, but once you start eliminating processed foods, and incorporating more healthy, clean food into your meals, it will be like jumping out of an airplane. You’re afraid at first, but your parachute will open; it always opens.

Okay, so I’ve never actually jumped out of an airplane before, but making the leap to eat healthy, can feel like you’re taking a huge gamble with your life in general. What if I fail? What if I can’t do it? What if I don’t lose any weight? I’ve already tried everything…”  Well, you’ve never tried to just,

Have faith. Even if you give it one solid day, you did it. You took the risk.  

Now imagine if you could give it one more day…

Image 

 Maybe it sounds silly to compare it to jumping out of an airplane; having faith that the parachute on your back will open up, spreading its wings for you to soar through the air, breathing the fresh air into your lungs, getting the adrenaline pumping…  

Don’t you want to just feel that freedom?

 Seriously though, you don’t have to give up your entire life to achieve and maintain your fitness goals. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, it will take time to figure out a balance; strength isn’t build overnight. If you keep going; never forgetting the reason why you started in the first place, you will find a way for it to fit into your lifestyle, and it will eventually come to you very naturally.

 I’ll be honest; I love food. Love. Food. Sometimes, I grow tired of thinking about food. Sometimes, I wonder why in the hell I am living this way.  Eating this way. This way. This way. Like it’s a cult. Then I look at photos from the old me, the one who drank every night, ate whatever I wanted to, whenever I wanted to, and was never once bothered by the size of my jeans; I mean,  I was never “obese” what did it matter? But then I look at pictures now. I look at my arms and compare them to my soft, shapeless arms from years ago.  I do. I look at the cellulite on the back of my legs, and I am reminded of the work I didn’t do to get the back of my legs to become something that I would NOT hesitate to cover up.  Then.  

I still have cellulite on the back of my legs. I do. And stretch marks too. But you know what? I don’t care. I have muscle. My legs are tight and hard.  And that makes me not care. That makes me feel happy. That makes me never want to stop. I feel strong. 

 Even things like going out to eat on ‘date night’ (or with your friends) doesn’t have to end in giving into more tempting treats like fried foods, tasty desserts etc.

Let me share with you:  

Tonight was declared, ‘date night’; it was long overdue. I had already scanned the menu online for a restaurant that we could eat at without having the highpoint of our evening be one of us hovering over a public toilet, our stomach in dire straits.

 Well, no really, I knew that whatever I ate, it was going to involve a high sodium meal, but I really was just looking forward to just relaxing and not having to think too much about what I was going to eat once I got to the restaurant.  

 As far as any other choices for ‘date night’, it’s been extremely rainy weather here, so there’s not a heck of a lot of choices to do. I am so not a fan of the movie theater fan and neither is my husband. Besides, I have been busting my ass at the gym; I wanted to go out to eat. Without the kids.  But let’s not forget that what kind of food that you put in your mouth has a tremendous impact on what your body is going to look like.  So dinner was still going to be within reason. I wasn’t going out to splurge. Plain and simple, if you’re going to bust your ass in the gym or you have the desire to be fit, don’t think that you are now entitled to copious amounts of food; you want to be fit and sport a set of sexy abs; your going to have to watch what you eat. End of story.  Enjoy your food, but just don’t be that person who complains that they don’t have time to go to exercise, but when they do finally find the time to go, they do so without the intent to ever change what’s on the daily menu. You work hard all week, if you find even 15 minutes to workout, don’t “waste” it by cramming processed food and “junk” into your mouth. No. Just. No.

 I guess I have date night regularly. I mean, if you include quality gym time. And by quality time, I mean, Me. Him. Two opposite sides of the gym. Lifting weights. Not speaking to each other. Yea, so it’s extremely rare that I walk out of the house with something on other than gym attire, yoga pants, tank top, or a sweatshirt.  So, I was actually looking forward to getting dressed up to enjoy a nice hour or two alone with my husband.

 Wow. Just wow. I still came out wearing a semblance of gym/yoga pants, except the material of these pants were much more stretchy and had a much different feel.  Standing there in my heels, I just felt incredibly uncomfortable; awkward like I just put on a magician’s hat and was carrying a wand. Weird.  I own all of these 5-6 inch heels, yet I’m standing there, feeling completely out of place.  And I hadn’t even left the house yet.

Image

 I was dressed, makeup applied, hair was dry.  I was getting extremely hungry, and since no one really likes me when that happens, I only had enough time to blow-dry my hair.  Not to mention, I was also amped up on medium sized black coffee from Dunkin Donuts that I had an hour and a half earlier.  It was time to go. 

Image

We decided on Outback Steakhouse; or more like, I decided on Outback.  We haven’t been there in 4 years, so I was kind of excited about it. I had a delicious 6 oz Victoria Cut Filet, sweet potato with honey butter and brown sugar, (I was living a little), sauteed’ mushrooms, and asparagus.  The service was a bit slow so I didn’t get a refill on my water, which I greatly needed because those damn mushrooms were SALTY. Image

 ***I can never stress enough how important it is to drink a lot of WATER throughout the day!!! Especially if you throw a high sodium meal in the mix, drinking water will actually help prevent you from retaining that extra sodium***

 While sitting at the table, I took my shoes off and sat cross-legged (I swear, I got this from my father because he used to always sit like this at the table), and when the food came, the bracelets were just in my way, so I removed them and put them in my purse.  By now, you’re probably thinking that I should have just worn my workout clothes.  I know I was; I may have even mentioned it to my husband a few times.

I just couldn’t wait to get back into my workout clothes. Full belly and all. 

Remember, if go out to eat, you can always look over the menu online before you go.

Drink a glass of water before your meal so you aren’t tempted to eat every single thing in sight. (Especially if your friends are ordering the bulk of the fried, greasy foods.)

If you happen to guilt yourself into having “just one” treat, don’t try to rationalize by allowing yourself to just give up altogether. One small bite of a hot fudge brownie sundae is NOT the same as eating the whole entire thing. 

Do allow yourself a “treat meal” every once in awhile. Hey, I said, “Every Once in Awhile”. 

If you veer off your plan, and are heading towards the exit sign away from your goal; don’t get discouraged. Always remember that there are just as many enter signs as there are exits. 

 

It’s Not a Diet; It’s a Lifestyle.

Don’t expect approval. Shit, if you’re going to change your body, you better learn to dig deep down inside and find the shovel with the longest handle to dig all of the strength and courage that you have. And believe me. We all are capable.

Winter is long gone, and Summer is here.

Still. I don’t pay attention to “seasons”.

I’m either training to build muscle, lose fat, or manipulating my way to build muscle while minimizing fat gains, and the list goes on…Anyway, the point is that it can leave you feeling pretty isolated from the rest of the world. It’s no doubt one of the hardest transitions to make. At first, some people will either distance themselves from you or gravitate towards you;  it’s a toss up; heads or tails. There will be times where you may find that you are excusing yourself from, say, a party to, “use the bathroom”. Translation: you’re about to shove food into your mouth nearby, out of sight, just so you can get in Meal whatever number you’re on as fast as you can.

If you don’t excuse yourself, prepare yourself for questions, silent judgments, potential concerns that are expressed about your health, or maybe even an awkward moment or two when other people think that you are judging them on their eating habits. Trust me, I’m not. I just want to eat my food in my little Tupperware container please.

 So yea, I’ve been there. Some people ask a question about what you’re eating and why, then move on. Then there are others will ask many more questions, and end up with a look of confusion; like they don’t know what to make of it. Eh. I don’t care now,  I used to feel awkward. I mean, it’s not a secret, I’m not doing anything wrong, and I’m definitely not starving myself. At first, I used to obsess over it, I would get anxiety from it, I mean, I had to eat!!! 2 hours would go by, and I’d watch the clock, 3 hours, I had to eat! 4 hours…OMG I didn’t care what I was doing; who I was with, I HAD TO EAT!!

Now, I can’t say that I don’t obsess over it, but I can also say that I don’t obsess over it. I guess because I’ve made it who I am….

 Until today…

 Plain and simple, the people who know me; are accustomed to me and my endless Tupperware containers filled with food, and know that they can expect that I can take  them out at any given moment. When it’s time to eat, I’m gonna eat.  I have muscle to grow, fat to burn. Plain. And. Simple. It’s a lot of work, time and effort. I love it, and as I mentioned, it’s become my life; who I am.

However, enter new challenge: Introduced to new people, and it still doesn’t get any easier to explain how I eat…or why.  Plus, today would be the second time I was caught “off guard”.  That rarely ever happened. I usually have something to eat in my car, purse, somewhere. But not last week. Or today.

 Last week was the first time I was “unprepared”, “caught off guard”.  My son was asked to go over to his friend’s house, and while hey asked if I wanted them to pick him up, I figured since I was just doing laundry that I could just as easily bring him over to their house and drop him off. Yes. Drop him off.  I didn’t pack any food because I figured, “I was just going to run out and come right back” (It’s important to note that I ate over 2 hours ago at that point.), so I really didn’t see the point in bringing anything to eat. I ran out of protein bars, didn’t have anything cooked or ready to go at that moment, but like I said, I didn’t think any of that was necessary.

 And then I went to drop him off…

 Like any good host, they asked me to come in. Ummm…A few minutes turned into a couple hours. Admittedly, I started to think about  how I was “missing a meal” and in my mind, flashes of my muscles crying out, “Feed us! Feed us!” kept playing over and over.

 Like, seriously.  

 I did enjoy myself, however. It felt good meeting and talking to new people; people who seemed pretty upbeat and positive; were super nice and easy to talk to. But still. I couldn’t stop thinking about eating.  

 Now fast forward to today….

 My son’s friend came over with his dad to swim. I met them down at the pool (I live in an apartment complex). Again, I just ate, so I thought, “how long could I be down at the pool for ?” Well, soon 3 hours came and went like nothing. Time was flying right by, and we just sat there talking about anything ranging from politics to what our kid’s eating habits were.  And suddenly, that got me to think about food. My food.

 Side note: When you start a fitness journey, it’s very likely that you will start to refer to your meals as, “my food” or “Meal #”; you no longer think of it in terms of yummy, delicious, tasty, “food” but in terms of, “what will this do for my body”.  You also begin to pair foods that you never would have thought to pair together before.  Like. Ever. You begin to have a love affair with nut butters. That’s just the beginning…but that’s for another time.

 Back to the pool situation. So, there I was, wondering if it would be rude to excuse myself so that I could run up to my apartment to grab “my food”. Yea. Why didn’t I bring it with me? I know. After 3 years, you’d think I had this all figured out by now.

And look, I know that my muscles aren’t really going to eat themselves, I’m not going to “gain fat” if I don’t cram something into my mouth at exactly 3 hours from the last time I ate. But know this, if you’re training for something specific, it’s crucial to space your meals out. Why? Without getting too deep into it, the simplest reason is that it’s a lot easier to eat a large amount of calories in several meals over the course of a day rather than to cram large amounts of food to meet my caloric needs in 2 or 3 meals.

 Now that you have figured out that I am neurotic and suffer a love affair with “my food” and building muscle, and all things revolving around body transformation, don’t judge me. I have a fricken goal people.  And that’s to be in the best damn shape of my life. When I’m old, I envision myself with semi-saggy skin, yet glowing, taking selfies of myself in the mirror of my super ripped abs.Okay, so I do really just want to stay healthy, shape my body into nothing but lean, pure, muscle. It’s my daily challenge. To myself.

Meanwhile…back to the pool….what did I do? Well…my sister, who lives in the same apartment complex, came down to sit with her kids, and she played host for 10 minutes while I excused myself to go eat. And the best part of the day? When the boys wanted to continue hanging out, we moved the conversation down to their house, and I found out that my son’s, friend’s, mother and I have a lot in common. There, on the table, she had made her own, “dip” using nonfat greek yogurt with something else (that unfortunately I cannot remember), for the carrots and celery sticks that had put out as part of their dinner.  Plus,  I also found out that she suffers from a lot of the allergies that I do and makes her own natural laundry soap, shampoo and conditioner! Her husband (aka, referred to, by me earlier as my son’s dad) even offered me nonfat greek yogurt with raspberries! Oh the things that make me happy!

 Also, we might even meet them up for camping next weekend. How exciting!

 I am so glad that I did take the time to get to know them better. It’s good to invite positive people in your life. Duh. 

Remember, when you make the decision to transform your body, it’ll be difficult at first, and will affect you not just mentally, physically, emotionally; but also socially. It’s important to have a strong support system in place, and if you don’t remain strong; you’re worth it. If you stick with it, you’ll eventually meet new people, appreciate new experiences, and really discover how strong you are. As my mother always says to me, “Megan, it’ll all work out.”

Strength by the Moments

Having had defeat trying to knock down my door, I now know strength. 

 Q. Am I weak?

A: Absolutely not.

Q. Am I strong?

A. I have my weaknesses.

Only in our most vulnerable moments do we look for those who passed on.

(I found the following while looking through my files on the computer. I wrote it when I experienced the deepest sadness I have EVER felt; the death of my father.)

I went and looked for you today but to my despair you couldn’t be found anywhere…

only among the morning mildew did I feel you take your last breath, only in the afternoon sun did I see your shadow walking away from me. Only when the sky spread open its wings and let the last of the rain fall, did I feel your heart beating

and only when the snow covered the ground did I feel your fingers let go. And then I cried. 

 

Strength comes from having lost a loved one; having to experience pain and sadness of any kind; in any form.

It is then that we can truly appreciate and recognize that we are capable of moving on, pushing past defeat, and remaining strong despite any major obstacles or diversions that may come our way. We strive to do our best in moments, not in life; For the pressure is far too demanding…

Agree?

 

 

 

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.