Saturday, January 30, 2010

Days 20-25: Trust the Process

Sorry for slacking on the posts recently...this week was really busy and exhausting and I had to choose sleep over blogging.  Are you guys still out there?  Anyone still reading this?

So, Thursday marked 3 weeks COMPLETE!  I was not able to post pics because I ran out of time but I promise I will post them next week.  This week has been: tiring, exhausting, draining, sometimes frustrating and sometimes really encouraging.  I was in the gym 8 separate times this week.  On Tuesday and Thursday I lifted in the mornings and came back and did cardio in the evenings hence why I am so utterly exhausted right now.  The frustrating part of this week was two-fold.  First, I just feel like I never have enough time to get everything done that I need to while also getting adequate sleep.  In order to make it through a long day of working out, work, and tutoring, I HAVE to be in bed between 8:30 and 9:00 each  night.  That doesn't leave a lot of time in the evenings to just relax, catch up on trashy TV, or blog!  It leaves me just enough time to make dinner, make food for the next day, and take a deep breath.

The other frustrating part of this week was weight loss...or lack thereof.  Overall I have lost 4.5 pounds in just over 3 weeks.  Now, don't get  your panties/briefs in a bunch, I know that's still a good weight loss and I know that I am definitely gaining muscle.  But it is still frustrating to work so hard in the gym, twice a day, eat perfectly, and weigh the exact same weight I weighed the day before.  Tuesday morning I was fed up with the lack of weight loss and I went to the gym as a Negative Nancy.  I was so distracted by my lack of weight loss and by my minor major complaints about the matter that I almost ruined my whole workout.  Greg, while not...loving the complaints, looked at me in the gym and told me that I was ruining my workout and that I "needed to trust the process."  For some reason that made me snap out of my Debbie Downerism funk because it kind of made sense.  I mean, obviously I am not going to see tons of results on the scale within a mere 3 weeks.  What I need to focus on is the fact that I have 11 weeks to go which gives me plenty of time to get to where I need to be. 

Trust is something I need to have more of with this whole process.  More trust that Greg will push me to work hard but not so hard that I will quit.  More trust in my own abilities in the gym.  And more trust that my eating well and diligently working out will pay off in 11 weeks.  I tend to become fearful instead of trustful in certain situations and this week that is how I felt.  I was scared every time I stepped on the scale.  I was scared when Greg increased my squat weight.  I was scared that I wasn't pushing myself enough during cardio.

I'm over being scared.

I'm ready to trust this process and see what happens in the end.  Whatever that may be.  I need to trust this process just the way that I would anything else...a job, a marriage, a major change in life.  Sometimes I just need to trust in myself that I am doing everything in my power to reach my goal instead of being fearful that I won't reach my goal. 

I'm also ready to look more at the positives of this process than the negatives.  Yes, I have only lost 4.5 pounds.  BUT I also fit into size 2 jeans this week, which I have not done in quite a while.  My clothes fit better than before.  I feel strong and healthy when I'm in the gym.  I can tell that my muscles are becoming more defined.  I am actually enjoying going to the gym and feeling the healthiest I have in a long time.  I am starting to trust in this process, finally, and am realizing that there is a lot more to all of this than the number on the goes way deeper than that.  Maybe this whole competition will teach me more about myself than I thought.

I am also PMSing which, like all of you ladies out there know, makes me feel like an out of body-bitchy-devilish-emotional-cranky shell of myself for like 3 or 4 days.  So let's hope this is day 4 :)  I think that this lovely "time of the month" is also contributing to the fact that I want to eat EVERYTHING IN SIGHT.  Really, I don't discriminate.  I will eat anything.  Even if it is on your plate.  I will still eat it.  Hell, at this point you could chew some M&Ms and spit them back out and I'd probably still eat them.

One last funny story from this week before I take my third nap of the day...On Tuesday (this was not my best day in case you couldn't tell), I was in a big rush in the morning.  I made my eggs and oatmeal and I had them sitting on the counter.  I quickly grabbed my multi-vitamin and my fish oil vitamin and I tossed them in my bowl to save time.  I gathered all my stuff for the day and carried everything out to my car.  I started driving and was about to eat my breakfast (don't worry, mom, I'm being careful while driving and eating).  I went to take my multi-vitamin.  No problem.  I went to take my fish oil and quickly realized that putting a fish oil GEL capsule on top of hot eggs was not my smartest move...I picked it up and liquid fish oozed onto my fingers.  I quickly put it in my mouth and drank lots of water.  Note to everyone: WATER DOES NOT GET RID OF A WARM, FISHY TASTE!  I held down a vomit burp and continued driving.  Once I regained control of my gag reflex I started to eat my breakfast.  Little did I realize (because apparently this whole exercise thing is shrinking my brain while expanding my muscles) Mr. fish oil capsule had leaked onto my eggs.  There, on top of my eggs, sat a nice, little puddle of LIQUID 7:30 in the morning!  For some unknown reason (again, brain not working), I went ahead and ate it any way...I was hungry!  As soon as I put that bite of fishy eggs in my mouth and swallowed, I honestly thought I was going to throw up all over my car while driving.  I started semi-dry heaving, drank lots of water and tried to focus on the road.  After some fish burps throughout the morning, I felt a little better...and let's just say all of that fishy crap is right where crap needs to be...down the toilet and out of my system!  Each morning I look at the bottle of fish oil vitamins and shutter.  Maybe one day I'll try again, but for now, I'll skip the Omega-3.

Until next time...I will write more often, promise!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 19: To be: Healthy? Skinny? Both?

So yesterday, in my post about Greg, I talked/ranted about how great it is to eat well, detox, and have fitness goals so that I can make being healthy a lifestyle.  But then I started thinking a little more about food and weight and bodies.  A pretty huge part of me started questioning one thing: if I could eat whatever I wanted and still keep a decent body, would I still go the gym?  Eat spinach like it's my j-o-b?  Measure out protein, crabs, and fruit?  If I say no does that make me a bad fitness competitor?  I mean, aren't I supposed to love eating clean, exercising, and detoxing my body from all processed foods?  Because a pretty huge part of me doesn't.  While I love the results from doing all of this, and while all of this is becoming more normal to me, it is all still a chore.  It's a chore to get up at 4:45am and haul my (hopefully thinning) butt to the gym.  It's a chore to spend a decent portion of my night preparing my food for the next day.  It's all just a...chore.  Would I do it all if I knew I wouldn't gain weight?...... I'm not sure.  I know I wouldn't do it (eating healthy, exercising, etc.) to this extreme.

But another part of me feels so proud and so accomplished after finishing each of my workouts that I'm not sure I could (now) ever give this up.  Of course I'm already planning out my first few gluttonous meals post-competition, but this whole exercising thing is becoming kind of addictive.  When I don't exercise I honestly don't feel as well, overall, as I do when I exercise.  Just tonight I went to the gym and did abs and about 45 minutes of cardio and I felt great.  It was the perfect end to a hectic day.  Then I came home and ate a big spinach salad and I just feel great.  Part of me does think that even if I had a bangin' body and didn't have to count calories, protein, carbs, fat etc., I would still want to keep my body healthy by exercising and eating well.  Growing up an athlete, loving sports, and eating healthy meals made by Mama McDonald has given me the healthy bug.  I couldn't go too long without some kind of exercise and some kind of healthy meal to cleanse my insides.

So,  I guess the bottom line is...if I could eat what I wanted without gaining much weight, I would exercise and eat healthy but not to this extreme.  I probably wouldn't measure as many things.  I probably wouldn't resist as many delicious sweet treats (you know, like ice cream, cheesecake, fudge, anything with peanut butter).  I probably wouldn't workout a total of 6 or 8 times (some double days) a week.  But I probably would balance out my treats with some salads and exercise...I think Trainer Greg would make sure of this.  He is a huge spinach fan (it helps prevent breast cancer)!

While this training program doesn't allow for treats (not even baked Lays om nom nom) I think that after this competition I'm going to try and balance my newly found healthy lifestyle with some sweet treats to keep me going :)  I couldn't live more than these 14 weeks without my mint chocolate chip ice cream.  For now, I'll keep focusing on the healthy benefits of all of this and dream of my chicken enchiladas that I will eat (in moderation) when the competition is over.

Until next time!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Days 16, 17, 18: Shout out to Trainer Greg

I am lucky enough to not only have a personal trainer and a nutrionist (not officially a nutritionist, but very knowledgable about food!), but to also live with and date one.  I can confidently say that if I did not have Greg in my life I would not be competing in this competition.  (For those of you who don't know, I met Greg in April of 2007, he became my trainer in May, and we started dating that summer...the rest is history).

 He is there to push me when I can no longer push myself.  He is there to answer the many, many food questions I have for him (sometimes often the same questions over and over again :) ).  He is there to make sure I take my vitamins.  He is there to tell me to stop complaining when I'm more whiny than a 13-year old on her period.  He is there to force spinach down my throat (I better look like freakin' Popeye!)  He is there to roll me out of bed when 5:00am has come waaaay too early.  He is there to cook lots and lots of chicken.  He is there to make sure I drink all of my water at every meal.  He is there to tell me to drink more water when I say I'm hungry and want ice cream (so I roll my eyes and...drink more water).  He is there to help me with the mental/emotional portion of all of this, in addition to the huge physical portion.  He is there to support me enough that I know he's there but not so much that I become frustrated and do this competition for the wrong reasons.  Greg has done a great job of teaching me that to be successful in my fitness goals, at whatever point in life, I have to want to achieve them for myself and my health.

Now, of course every trip to the gym and every conversation we have about fitness and food is not peaches and cream (no food pun intended).  I tend to complain about things more than Greg and I also tend to need more positive reinforcement (think the opposite of Trainer Jillian on The Biggest Loser) than Greg.  Greg gets up every day, creates his own diet, researches various workout programs, learns about his supplements, and does what he needs to do at the gym each day without as much as a peep.  This MAJOR personality difference can cause some issues in the gym, especially when I'm PMSing and almost (literally) cry when Greg pushes me a little past my comfort zone.  I'm working on complaining less because I am learning to be healthy and go to the gym because it's the right/healthy thing to do-- not because I date a trainer and want to be thin.  Also, let's be honest, complaining is not really fun for anyone involved.  It brings me down because I'm doubting myself and it brings Greg down because...well, he just really hates it when I complain.  Greg is working on encouraging me more during the workouts.  He doesn't need as much vocal encouragement as I do.  Side note:  I had to laugh the other day...I was doing chest and I was using 20 or 25 lb dumbbells.  It was hard!  Yesterday, I was watching Greg do chest and he was using 120 lb dumbbells IN EACH HAND!!  How dare I complain......

I would say that getting a trainer is one of the most clutch, awesome things I have ever done.  Not only because I ended up dating my trainer :) but also because they just get you on track and get you motivated to reach your fitness goals.  Two years ago, I never, in a million years, thought I would be training for a competition like this.  But once I had Greg as a trainer I realized that my body could do more than I ever thought.  At first, he was my motivation to get to the gym.  Not just because I thought he was cute but because he made me accountable in the gym.  He gave me the confidence to realize that I could compete in a competition like this.  He taught me about diet, weight training, supplements, discipline, cardio, and competition preparation.  Obviously this didn't all happen over a few has literally been years.  But I would highly encourage anyone to hire a trainer (you don't have to date them just to get diet info :) ).  I know they are expensive...but my first year here I was able to do it living in a high-rise apartment in Ballston, with a new car payment, and a large bar tab, all on a teacher's salary.  It's doable and it is worth it!

Yes, sometimes I get very sick of talking about, let alone, thinking about weight lifting, cardio, protein, carbs, glutamine, creatine, being hungry, etc.  That's when I take a deep breath, get a word of encouragement from Greg, and go to bed.  Greg has taught me more about diet, exercise, and health than I ever thought I would learn and for that I am eternally grateful.  Go get a trainer!  Hurry!  I know this great trainer named Greg Smith :)

I love you Trainer Greg!  xoxo

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 15: Week 2 COMPLETE!

Wow, 2 weeks down and 12 to go (this program is actually 14 weeks, I miscounted...doh!).  This past week has been challenging, frustrating, and encouraging.  I feel like I'm in a good rhythm with my diet and exercise and it all seems more normal, not as much of a burden.  I haven't had many food cravings except when I was in the grocery store.  I only go to the store for produce, oatmeal, eggs, or meat but, damn, when you can't eat junk food it seems like it is ALL over the grocery store!  I thought I was a little bit of a picky eater but I am quickly learning that, when hungry and tired, I will take out small children with my shopping cart to get to a bag of M&Ms.  I've always hated going to the grocery store but now I hate it even more.  I mean, c'mon, it's like asking an alcoholic to go to a liquor store and buy a case of tonic water. 

My chest cold/infection put a little damper on the first part of this week but seems to be getting better quickly.  I can breathe much better today and am hoping it will all pass within the next day or so.  I still have no voice, so teaching tomorrow should be interesting.

My lifts and my cardio were fine this week.  Everything just seemed more routine this week.  Last week everything was so new and exciting...this week it seems like just another week, which is good I think.  This whole program is slowly becoming my "normal" life which keeps me motivated.  I just know that everday I will be in the gym at some point, at least once, and I will be eating some combination of about 15 foods.  The normalcy of all of it is also nice because it gives me something to think about.  I like having a goal with a deadline because I have something to focus on.

I have lost 3.5 pounds in 2 weeks.  I thought I would have lost a little more but I'm not stressing about it yet.  I can tell that my body is toning up a little.  My jeans were a little looser this week and I noticed in the pictures that my love handle region seems to have gone down a little.  So I'm trying not to over think the weight part of it.  I know it's a crucial aspect of all of this but I know that I'm doing everything that I can and Greg is helping me manipulate certain aspects of my diet and cardio as needed.  I think right now I am the most concerned about the back of my thighs (not ready to share those pics :)) and my arms.

Here is a comparison chart from the end of week 1 to the end of week 2:

Thanks again for everyone's encouragement.  I'm still trying to keep up a social life while also getting to bed around 8:30 or 9:00 :)  Luckily I have good friends who understand my goals and help me through :)

Abs and cardio in the morning, hopefully going to tackle the dreaded treadmill.
Until next time!

Pounds lost: 3.5

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 14: First semi-major hurdle

I don't have any grand topics to talk about tonight other than the fact that I woke up with a croup/whooping-type cough at midnight last night.  My chest had been feeling tight lately and I had felt more winded during my past few workouts but I hadn't thought much of it.  But when midnight rolled around and I felt as though I was having a heart attack/some kind of allergic reaction that was making it extremely difficult to breathe, I knew something was not right.  I tried to get back to sleep a few times but was interrupted with numerous whooping coughs that made my throat feel like it was en fuego.  Trainer Greg told me not to do cardio early in the morning (which, if I had tried, I'm preeettty sure would've resulting in me collapsing on the gym floor.  That would have been embarassing) and passed me the bottle of nyquil.  I was able to prop myself up and fall back to sleep for a while and then dragged myself to work.

I went to the doc after school and they didn't have any profound reasons for the chest tightness or coughing, but they did give me a Z-Pack and medicated cough medicine...GIGGITY!  I wasn't able to do my cardio today partly because I was late getting home and eating my 4th meal after picking up my meds, and partly because I'm exhausted and don't feel good.  So instead I'm going to sit around in my elastic pants, my sweatshirt, and my moccasin slippers and rest up.  My voice is about 40% gone right now, which is not too awesome but I think will come back with some rest and tea. 

Enough bitching.  Going to try and get back to the gym tomorrow if my chest doesn't collapse in the meantime.

Until next time!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 13: Temptation

There have been times during this week and a half where I have felt no food temptations and no temptations to skip my gym workout...There have also been times when I almost dove, face first, into a plate of fries or tried to actually swim in a bowl of warm, cheese dip (in my mind of course).  What I am starting to realize while preparing for this competition is that everyone has temptation at some point in their life and it's how you deal with it or resist it that is important.  What I am also realizing is that I kind of love forcing myself to resist something.  I know that sounds kind of silly, but it's empowering to have that much control over your body.  I know that we all, obviously, have control over what we eat and how we work out, but when I know that I can only eat certain amounts of certain things at certain times, it makes me more aware of the utter control and power I have over my body.  I am starting to kind of love having that inner conversation with myself that goes something this:
Inner self 1: "Just eat 1 fry, I mean how many carbs can that be anyway?"
Innter self 2: "Get a grip and have some control over yourself."
Inner self 1: "I'm going to the gym in the morning, I'd work off 1 small bowl of creamy, mint chocolate chip ice cream (preferably from Baskin Robbins)."
Inner self 2: "Rachel, you are going to be on stage, in an awkward excuse for a bikini, with clear high heels and a freakish tan in front of many people in 12 short weeks.  GET can do this!"

You get the point....But what I am noticing is that I like making it through a day knowing that I worked out the hardest I could and ate exactly what I was supposed to and am, therefore, doing the best that I can to prepare for this competition.  I like that I'm not giving into my temptations (...yet) and I like the new, found control I have over my body.  I mean, I swear just a few weeks ago it was like someone would literally pull me out of my reclining chair, drag me to the fridge, and shove a heaping bowl of gluten-free pasta down my throat followed closely by some sweet treat from the does that happen?  It must be the same people who steal 1 of my socks every time I do laundry...

I have also noticed that I've, at least this week, been feeling more tempted to not work as hard at the gym than I am to eat poorly (and by poorly I mean an extra scoop of brown rice, God forbid...).  I feel this way at the gym especially when I'm doing cardio and Greg is not there to push me.  I have to, honestly, have another inner dialogue with myself to push myself harder and tell myself to quit bitchin' and get on with it.  When Greg is with me there is little room to bitch or complain.  I present you with an actual dialogue that occurred this morning.  And I quote (or paraphrase because it was 13 hours ago that we had this convo):
Me: "Groan" (while doing triceps)
Greg:  "Come on, 4 more!"
Me: Evil death glare at the fact that I have to do 4 more.
Greg:  "Come on, 3..."
Me:  "OW!  It hurts, I can't do it" (but he was standing directly above me so there wasn't much room to drop the weights and run)
Me:  Internal cry out in pain and a slight eye roll.
Greg: "Good job pushing yourself"
Me: Slight, heavy eye roll, sigh, moved on to next exercise.

I was tempted to quit, to give up...but thankfully Nazi Trainer Greg was there to help me push through my tempation.  And it felt so good when I was done (although I kept burping up my banana and almost vommed on the elliptical, but that's not important...).  Honestly, I truly felt like I had worked my hardest and I had not given into my temtpation.

Of course it's only been a week and a half and of course I will have many, many more dozens of temptations whether food or workout related.  But as of right now, resisting these temptations is what is driving me and pushing me.  To sit at lunch with my friends and watch them eat amazing food, or to play drinking games on a Saturday sipping on water while everyone is having delicious mixed drinks is definitely challenging and makes me reconsider my decision to do this whole thing.  But on the other hand it makes me feel strong that I can do this and resist normal life temptations.  We'll see how that continues to go :)

Gotta get up at 5 for abs and cardio so it's time for a salad, packing food for tomorrow, and BED (my new Heaven)!

Until next time!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Days 9, 10, 11, and 12: Relative Fitness Goals

Thank you all so much for your nice comments, messages, emails, etc. about my pics from my last post.  Your encouragement means more than you know.  A lot of people said that I didn't have a muffin top (which is true until I put on my skinny jeans (40 bucks at Old Navy...whoop!), which are a liiiitle snug, and then the muffin top comes out a bit).  I never meant to make myself sound like one of those 900-pound women who has to be removed from her house with a crane.  Everyone's comments etc. got me thinking about fitness goals and how they are all relative to where you start and where you are trying to go, fitness-wise.

I would say that my body was/is in pretty good shape.  My diet was healthy I would say 80% of the time (it's hard for me to resist fries, ice cream, and Tostito scoop chips with warm, thick, creamy queso dip...*drool*).  Overall, I thought I was healthy and looked pretty good...if I wasn't preparing for a competition.  See, when I looked at myself in the mirror a few weeks ago I thought, "Eh, I look alright.  Could tighten things up, but I look fine."  Then...I caught a glimpse of what I would need to look like in 12 (now 11...eek!) weeks and realized I needed to get a freakin' move on it if I wanted to compete.  I started realizing that how I viewed my body and my diet was dependent on the fitness goals that lie ahead.  Because of those intense goals and the final results that need to happen, I didn't think of my body as "pretty good" or "alright."  I started thinking, "OH CRAP!  I have a long way to go!"  It's interesting how my perspective changed when I saw where I needed to be in a mere 3 months.  Let's use some visuals to show what I'm talking about.

Now, I know the fake tan is easily doable in just a few short days (I'm more worried/freaked out about this whole tanning thing than most people know, but I'll post on that another day).  But, look at her freakin' body!!  If that is where I'm trying to get to, I have a long way to go.  I'm not saying that everyone should have the same fitness goals as me (hell, a few months ago I thought these competitions were ridiculous!) but what's important is to remember: a) where you started and b) where you are going.  For me, the remembering where I started wasn't too much of an issue-- I knew I was pretty fit and had always been athletic so I expected myself to be able to compete.  But where I am going is another story.  These women are friggin' animals!  They live, breathe, and eat (well, not so much eat) exercise and diet (and lots of tanning).  I personally like this fitness goal for myself because I like to work towards things that seems almost unattainable.  I like that challenge.

I am so inspired by the people on the Biggest Loser because of exactly that.  They are taking on a huge fitness challenge that, at the beginning, seems almost unrealistic and daunting.  But as they start to see results, they remember where they came from and where they are trying to get to starts to become more reasonable.  I also pride these competitors on BL because they have made the goal to get healthy--that is where they are get healthy.  Some of them start over 300 or 400 pounds and lose massive amounts of weight.  These people have to stop and look at where they started and realize that, no, they may never be the skinniest person around but they have achieved their goal.  So my point is we are all working towards something different and how we judge ourselves and our bodies is dependent on where we started and where we are trying to get to with our fitness goals.  I know that I don't have a bulging muffin top (I just LOVE that phrase though) but I do have a long way to go to reach my fitness goals.

Thanks again for all of the wonderful support all of you have given me.  Having people behind me is making this experience better than I could have imagined.  I will start posting daily again, sorry for the days off :)

Until next time!

Pounds lost: 3.5
Food cravings of the moment: sweet potato french fries, chips and dip, Mike and Ike candy, peanut butter M&Ms, chili, and any Mexican food.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 8: Week one COMPLETE!

Well, week one is officially OVER...hallelujah!  I have so many thoughts about this week and the next 12 weeks to come.  I blogged about my love-hate relationship with cardio and now I'm starting to feel like I have a love-hate relationship with this whole training program/diet/torture/competition.

I love to have something to works towards and I love the feeling when I'm finished with a good workout.  I love that I am in control of making my body what I want it to be...kind of.  I love that I'm learning to suck it up and push myself through things that I never thought I could, whether it's in the gym, dealing with food, or mental exhaustion.

I hate that this competition and whole workout/diet program doesn't lend itself to quick results.  I'm the type of person that needs to see some little glimmer of improvement, some little sign that the effort I'm putting in is worth it.  I hate that, as hard as I may try, this whole program is taking over a pretty major portion of my life...a big portion.  Let me put it into food terms (I'm hungry, I can't help it).  OK...envision a plate.  The plate is my life (work, family, friends, workout program).  Now picture a nice, juicy cheeseburger.  The cheeseburger is work; it takes over about half of my overall life...a significant portion.  Now think of those french fries that you get that spill over the edge of your plate.  Those fries are this competition.  Between the mental, physical, and dietary aspects of this competition I could easily say that this is all taking over more than half of my life and spilling into other my milkshake.  You know how you always get a thick, creamy milkshake (mint chocolate chip) with high hopes of drinking it all?!  Somehow it never seems to get finished or get the attention it needs.  This milkshake is my social life--family and friends.  I want to go out to dinner and restaurants.  I want to stay up and hang out with my roommates.  I want to plan all kinds of evenings out with friends...but it just never seems to get done because my plate is overflowing and I'm full (the irony of this story is that right now I'm straight starvin' like Marvin, girrrrl...but you get the picture, right?).

All in all, the first week was...something :)  I know I'm not going to give up, but I also know that I have to somehow learn to control my frustration and doubts that I have about the next 12 weeks.  Those doubts hit me hard this morning when I gained another half a pound leaving me losing 1 lousy pound this week.  I know, I know I'm gaining muscle, I've heard it all before.  Between the lack of weight loss and the pictures I took this morning (GOO!) I'm not gonna lie, when I got to the gym this morning I was having some serious doubts about whether or not I was going to make it to the place (figure-wise) where I need to be in 12 weeks.  I had doubts about whether the foods I was eating were right/enough/too much.  I just realized that I was in way over my head and I better start treading water...FAST before my ass is at the bottom of the pool with a big ass dumbbell holding me down.

I know this post is kind of all over the place but the bottom line is that I'm glad I'm doing this but I'm also scared and wish I could fast forward just so I can make sure that progress will be made and the results I need will happen.  One of my dear friends did help me put it all into perspective today by reminding me that this is my first ever competition and I may not get to the level that some of the other competitors are least not for this competition.  I will persevere.  I will finish what I started.  I will, hopefully, lose my remaining muffin top.

Without further adieu, here are my week 1 pictures.  REMINDER:  these were taken at 5:30am...I was VERY tired.  My hair was not brushed.  I am pale and ashy.  Let's be real, I look straight busted.  Ignore the face, focus on the muffin top and the blubber that won't be there for long.  But for you, dear followers, I will show you anyways...don't judge too much :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 7: Love-Hate Workout Relationships

I gave you some of my preliminary thoughts on cardio a few days ago, but this morning, as I was doing my cardio workout, I had a few more thoughts.  I realized that I have a complete love-hate relationship with cardio and all that it entails.  Right now (you know, today...we'll discuss again soon), I am in complete L-O-V-E with cardio.  I have gotten better at grabbing my water bottle without a tragic wrist accident.  I've come to grips with the fact that my feet will inevitably fall asleep and I will feel as though I'm running on stumps of legs.  I have even...wait for it...started enjoying watching my ponytail swish from side to side.  It has become kind of like a metronome of sorts.

What I love about cardio, at the moment, is that it is my time.  My time to zone out.  My chance to listen to the music that I want.  My chance to get lost in my stream of consciousness thoughts.  Working with 2nd graders all day doesn't provide a lot of quliaty "me" time, so I have begun to cherish this quiet time to myself.  You know, sometimes I think about my day ahead and the snot, tears, whining, hugging, shhhing, fighting, nose-picking (and eating it) and realize that, at times, I would rather stay glued to my cardio machine and never leave.  I digress...the point is, there are few times in the day when I get any peace of mind.  I love that recently, while on the treadmill or elliptical, I totally zone out and just...think.  I can take time to think about this competition, which makes me push myself harder.  I can take time to think about my relationships with people, which I'm hoping will make them better.  I can take time to think about work, which makes me want to hop off the cardio machine and hide more prepared for the day.  I especially like that my quiet cardio is in the morning.  While it royally sucks to get up at 5:00am every day, it really is such a peaceful way to start the day.

Now, this is not to say that I would rather be doing 1, 343, 845 other things instead of cardio.  In fact I think I just thought of 15 things in the past 10 seconds.  This is also not to say that the cardio I do is incredibly hard and tiring (and verrry sweaty).  But if I am going to be in the gym, attempting to rid myself of the rest of my muffin top, zoning out on a cardio machine is currently at the top of my "what I love about the gym" list.  Since I have been loving cardio a little more than usual, I think I've been able to push myself a little harder while there.

I have been wanting to hop on a treadmill (which will have its own post one day soon) and run as my cardio but I have extreme fear of the treadmill (again, details to come later).  Well, today some bitches and a dude were on all the ellipticals (OK, they only took up 4 but there are only 4 of the kind of ellipticals I like...Hi, my name is Rachel and I'm an elliptical snob).  I decided today would be the day that I would try the treadmill and that's exactly what I did.  I, surprisingly, found my rhythm running pretty easily.  While I was gasping for air (air which was filled with the nasty, sweaty, moldy smell coming from the guy to my right), I zoned in on my swishing ponytail in the mirror that was 25 inches from my face and zoned out in my brain.  I was able to run intervals for about 20 minutes and quickly hop off and jump on the elliptical for another 20 minutes.  I found my rhythm on the elliptical pretty easy too, although I realized it's easier to run after doing the treadmill as opposed to before.  By the end, my pony tail was swishing a little less because of all the sweat on the back of my neck and I felt like I was leaving the gym with a quiet, calm mind, ready to call out sick from work take on the day.

I'm not sure if I will forever love cardio...heck, I may hate it my Friday.  I'll keep you posted!  I'm not even sure if, in a way, I'm convincing myself that I love cardio because I know that I have to do SO much of it in the next 12 weeks.  Right now I'm doing cardio 4 times a week (3 times just abs and cardio, 1 time I do cardio after lifting).  Soon I will have to do even more cardio.  So I'm trying to see the positives in cardio and how it is helping me mentally prepare for both this competition and just life in general.  On Friday, I plan to turn up my Lady Gaga (is she a man?!) and zone out again so I can start my day off on the right foot (no pun intended...roll eyes).

Well, tomorrow officially marks 1 week completed and with that will come a picture...dun dun dun.  I figured out how to upload a picture so I will leave you with a picture of me and Randy Couture.  Maybe I'll just peruse his website while I eat my salad with veggies and chicken :)

Pounds lost: 1.5 (ruh on weight loss coming, too)
Food cravings of the moment: peanut butter, any dinner out with my friends where I can actually eat a meal.

Until next time!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 6: Perseverance

As many of you know, my favorite sport for the past 3-4 years has been UFC (ultimate fighting).  I know, I know...don't judge.  I just absolutely LOVE it.  I can often be found watching old fights on Spike after work.  I would choose UFC over Oprah any day!  Today I came home from work (and a horrendous appointment with my ENT doc to check up post-op), immediately got into my elastic pants, and plopped down in my recliner to watch some UFC on my DVR (I'm watching it as I type this = happiness).  Everybody always asks me why in the world I enjoy, let alone, watch big, sweaty, monkey-looking dudes beat the crap out of each other.  My answer is always that I just can't believe that these guys are masters at boxing, wrestling, and a form of martial arts; that they dedicate every day to training just so they can go beat the crap out of someone; and that they absolutely love what they do-- there seems to be nothing that these fighters want to do other than fight.  Now, it could be that they have all missed a step in evolution (they sure look like it) and are just idiots for putting themselves through this punishment.  But I don't think so.  I think that these fighters have more perseverance than many other athletes around.  To go between 3 and 5 rounds with someone circling around an actual cage (in the shape of an octogan which I think is very creative), hunting you down, beating you up, choking you...and not give up for any me that is the definition of perseverance. 

Now, don't be alarmed, I'm not becoming a cage fighter.  Oh man, that would be cool though...maybe that should be my next goal!  Anyways, thinking about the perseverance of these fighters made me think about myself training for this competition.  No, I don't need vaseline on my face to prevent my skin from splitting open, but just like these fighters, I have to have the passion and desire to do whatever is necessary to be successful in this competition.  I have to love what I am doing (even on the days when I want to bathe in a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream instead of eating chicken and oatmeal).  I have to have a true passion for what I'm working for.  I have to make this my priority day in and day out.  I cannot give up while I'm training for any reason (unless I vom, then I'm going home). 

I know this all sounds kinda deep and I have not even been training for a week (holy hell, has it not even been a WEEK?!) but I realized today that I know that I have the perseverance to get through these 12/13 weeks.  I know, that like these fighters I adore, I will have to push myself to all kinds of limits no matter how much pain I'm in, no matter how hungry I get, no matter how sick of working out I get.  I will have to persevere to reach my goals.  As cheesy as that sounds, it really is true.  This workout program, diet, and competition are on my mind all of the time. 

I often wonder if I need more mental perseverance than physical.  I can push myself pretty hard in the gym (most of the time) and I can be disciplined with my food intake.  But sometimes the mental part of all of it is the hardest part of it all.  Just like these UFC fighters (arrrrrr, that's me rolling my tongue and loving them), I am training every single day, physically and mentally, just so I can "perform" for probably about 10 minutes total.  But it's the love of what I'm doing, the love of the results, the love of having something to work towards, and the perseverance to push through when the love temporarily disappears. 

I think I'm talking about perseverance tonight because I need to recharge myself and realize that I'm in this for 12 more long, tiring, exhausting, love-filled weeks and I have to persevere when I feel like I have lost the love because I know that I will love the end-results and the feelings that come with that.  I love, almost as much as I love everything UFC, working towards a goal and reaching it.  There is no better feeling.  So, my faithful blog followers :), I will persevere if for no other reason than to keep you all entertained with my daily thoughts and stories.

It's 7:15pm, you remember what that means?  Dinner, making food for tomorrow, and going to bed early!  Thanks again for checking in!  The support is amazing and will help me persevere!  I have added a SUBSCRIBE button at the top, right corner of my blog.  You can put your email in this box and then you will receive an email almost immediately.  You will then have to verify your email and then you will start getting an email when I make a post.  It seems as though there is a little bit of a delay from when I post to when people get the email saying that I've posted, but maybe it will get quicker?  Just an option :)

Until next time!
PS-- On Sunday, I met one of my crushes, UFC legend Randy Couture.  Once I figure out how to post pictures I will post that one too :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 5: Sleeping/Exhaustion

This morning was an abs and cardio day.  I got to the gym around 5:25/5:30, did abs until 5:45 and then did 40 minutes of cardio on the elliptical.  I had less trouble breathing and getting to my water bottle without my arm being chopped off by the swinging elliptical arm.  My feet did start to go numb around 30 or 35 minutes but it was OK because I was almost done.  As I was on the elliptical, I tried to go to my happy place and think about being anywhere but on the elliptical staring at my swinging ponytail in the mirror (then a large man got on a machine in front of me so there went the swinging ponytail...).  I couldn't get to my happy place (except when Michael Jackson came on my ipod...RIP) because all I could think about was how freakin' exhausted I was.  When I woke up this morning to get ready for the gym I was so tired I almost fell back to sleep on the toilet (you know, after I squatted with major pain in my quads and hamstrings and plopped down).  I digress...I just felt like I could NOT wake up.  I had gone to bed at 9:00pm and got up at 5:10.  I thought that would be plenty of sleep, but apparently I need more...of something.

This weekend, I took a nap on Saturday and a nap on Sunday.  Greg had to wake me up both days so that I could go eat.  On the elliptical today I started thinking about why I felt so tired, and a little nauseous.  NO, I'm not pregnant (don't worry, Greg!) I'm just plain exhausted.  I think the problem is triple-fold:

1.  I have had my lovely, monthly, girly friend for the past week (see, there's no way I can be pregnant!)
2.  I have been putting out way more energy than I am used to and burning a bunch of calories before the day really even starts.  Once I refill with a protein shake and breakfast, I'm usually fine but I have been feeling like a 6pm bedtime doesn't sound too bad!
3.  Lastly, I'm starting to wonder if either I'm not getting enough of some kind of nutrient or if my body is just getting used to this new regimen.  This morning, I started thinking I was nauseous because I didn't have enough food in my system (I don't eat anything before I do cardio; I have a protein shake and part of a banana before I lift weights).  I don't know if I'm not eating enough dinner or if I'm not eating enough of something during the day that I should be.  All I know is that I need to figure out something better than what is happening now because I am extremely tired and feeling like I am going to VOM all over the elliptical in the first 15 minutes is not a pleasant feeling...although if I do vom at least I could leave the gym early...good excuse to come home early and call out sick from work, right? ;)

So my sleep/exhaustion plan right now is to sleep AMAP (as much as possible).  Tonight I'm going to get in bed by 8:00pm and see if I can get a little bit more sleep tonight than usual.  I'm also going to talk to Greg (you know, my live-in trainer and nutrionist) and see what he thinks about my current diet and see if there is anything I'm missing.  Lastly, I'm just going to SUCK IT UP!  This program and competition is not for wusses (like the Dallas Cowboys QB, wittle baby Womo who hurt his wittle pinky finger)...and if being tired is part of the deal, well, then I'll just have to deal with it.  I'm not sure that there's a way to do this program, diet, work a full-time job, tutor, and not be tired...

Wow, I just used a LOT of parentheses (sorry, my bad).  Alright, I gotta get my food ready for tomorrow so I can be in bed in 45 minutes.  Lifting arms with Greg bright and early tomorrow morning!  Just a few more days until pictures (I'm having anxiety about this)!

Pounds lost: 2 (gained 1 back, I think from not working out yesterday and from eating salmon for din)
Current food cravings: peanut butter and jelly, Melting Pot fondue, and gluten-free snacks

Until next time!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 3 and 4: Soreness and food (or lack thereof)

First, thanks to everyone who has read this and sent me a message or note encouraging me!  It's so nice to have a support system during all of this. 

Today was my first complete rest day that I've had since I started.  Can I get a, "THANK GOODNESS?!"  My body needed this rest like Tiger Woods' wife needs an STD test (too soon?).  I woke up at 8:30am so I could get my first meal in and get the day started.  My body was so sore that sitting down on the toilet was a major challenge, which I will add, I have to do VERY often because I have been consuming about a gallon of water a day.  The soreness is always worse after I've been sitting for a while.  At one point today, I had been sitting down for about 20 minutes and attempted to get up and "walk" and felt as though I was a man who has just gotten hit in a very sensitive spot.  Waddling is probably a better definition of what I've been doing today, not walking.  The only part I haven't lifted yet is my arms (biceps and triceps) and that is, literally, the only part of my body that is not sore.  I know it will get better as I lift more and, honestly, I kind of like the soreness...not the pain part of it, but the fact that I know I got a good workout and that my muscles are being built up.  Hopefully the soreness will die down in the next few weeks.

Food has been on my mind, almost as much as my soreness.  The diet portion of all of this hasn't been as bad as I had expected.  Don't get me's not what I  However, there are some good choices that I can make that make all of this more bearable.  The carbs that I can eat are brown rice (1/4 cup per serving), oatmeal (1/2 cup per serving), and gluten free bread/roll from Trader Joe's (1/2 a roll at a time).  The lean proteins I eat are chicken (only spiced), salmon (infrequently), and lean, ground turkey.  I have about 3 ounces of each.  I also have 3 servings of fruit a day (1 ounce of blueberries, 1 ounce of strawberries, 1/4 of an orange, and 1/4 of an apple) and a few salads.  Since I'm eating every 3 hours, there isn't too much time to get hungry.  It's a decent amount of food, it just gets a little monotonous.  What I've realized doing this diet is that I think we often eat way more than we actually need to and I think restaurants are guilty of serving us way more food than we actually need.  I've found that portioning everything out on a food scale, while annoying and time consuming, I get the amount of food I need and nothing more.  It's so much easier to just grab a bag of chips or pour some pasta in a pot (gluten free of course!), but when you start looking at the serving sizes and portioning out what you really need for that meal, you realize that you don't need nearly as much food as you think you do...especially if you are eating every 3 hours like all fitness gurus recommend.

Over the weekend I went out to brunches/lunches where I sat and sipped water with lemon while my friends ate delicious meals.  But I'm trying to keep my goal of still going out and being social even though I'm attempting this competition.  It was definitely a challenge but thankfully I have very supportive friends who understand and help me get through :)  I've gotten much quicker at making my meals both at home and for work, so that's a plus.  The only food complaint I have (other than the fact that I can't eat french fries, mint chocolate chip ice cream, and milk shakes) is that this diet is high fiber with many, many vegetables involved.  Let's just say that this results (insert embarassed face).  Hey, I blame it on the diet.  Just be warned if you're around me...I'm letting you know up front :)  Safety!  I think my digestive system is still trying to figure out why it's seeing so much lettuce and healthy food instead of pizza, baked lays, and ice cream.

Anyways, time for me to go to bed.  I have to do abs and cardio at 5:15am.  Hopefully the elliptical will go a little better this time and my arm won't be chopped off by the swinging arm as I try to get water!  I'll keep you posted on that one.  Oh, I got a new camera!  So I'm planning on posting pics starting Thursday (that will be 1 week completed) and then I'll post a pic each Thursday so we can all compare.  I'll also post some pics of what fitness figure competitors looks'll see why I'm scared that I won't reach my goal.

Pounds lost:  3
Food cravings of the moment:  milkshake, ice cream, french fries, and mexican food

Until next time!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 2: Thoughts on Cardio

I've done my fair share of cardio over the years.  What is always the most difficult thing for me is getting back on a cardio machine after taking a break from the gym for awhile.  I hadn't been on a cardio machine in about 3 weeks (because of snow and my sinus surgery).  I hadn't lifted weights during that time either, but for some reason it's always easier for me to get back to lifting than it is to get on a cardio machine.

Greg told me to get on the elliptical, instead of the treadmill, because I lifted calves yesterday.  Because he is my trainer, and in incredible shape, I listened.  I had wanted to run on the treadmill since I think that is the most effective form of cardio-- more calories burned and better results in less time.  But...I figured for once in my life I would listen and get on the elliptical.  I started out feeling OK but after minutes I felt like I was having a heart attack.  OK...I exaggerated again...but I did get that feeling in my chest that you get when you run outside in the cold.  I couldn't believe it!  Three weeks I'm out of the gym and I feel like a 90-year old emphysema patient.  I took my resistance down a level and forced myself to continue.  I was supposed to do 45 minutes of cardio so I figured if I was having trouble after 3 minutes, I was gonna have a few issues.

There was a TV in front of my elliptical so I got sucked into some news program about some chick who had sulfuric acid thrown in her face by a hired hitman...hired by her boyfriend.  Yikes, I hope he wasn't her trainer too...Anyhoo, that program distracted me for a good 4 minutes, so that helped me forget about my burning chest.  As I continued I started thinking about the elliptical a little are my issues with the elliptical, although I love it more than any other piece of cardio equipment:
 1) the TVs are so high that you either have to look up the entire time OR stare at your sweaty, nasty face in the mirror straight ahead as your pony tail swishes back and forth...haven't figured out which is better.
2) I don't know if it's the way I move my legs on the elliptical but my feet ALWAYS go numb...anyone?  Bueller?  Without fail, every time I get on there, at some point my freakin' feet go numb.  I feel like my feet have literally turned into nubs.
3)  I don't hold on to the arm handles on the elliptical, I just move my arms myself (same motion as when I run).  This is usually not a problem EXCEPT when I need to get a swig of water.  It's like playing f'ing Frogger so my hand doesn't get chopped off by the wild, swinging arm handle.  I have to time it just right to grab my bottle and get it out of harm's way...then I have to attempt drinking it while not holding on (while the wild arm is still swinging away)...then I have to play Frogger one more time in order to get it back in the cup holder...sheesh!

I made it for 40 minutes today on the elliptical and ended up: extremely sweaty, had watched my reflection and pony tail swish for way too long, had two numb feet, and no more water.  But...I felt a great sense of accomplishment.  I stumbled out of the gym and home to shower for work (thankfully we had a 2-hour delay which was awesome).  Greg told me to stretch in the shower but I was a) in too much of a rush and b) felt as though I was in a prison shower when I held onto my ankles to stretch my hamstrings (you get the picture).

Tomorrow is another lifting day, bright and early on a Saturday!  Going to hang out with some friends tonight but not go out to a bar (trying to balance, trying to balance...).  Guess I should go stretch since the whole shower stretch didn't work out so well :)

Thanks for all the nice notes and messages about my blog; hopefully you all will continue to stop by :)
Pounds lost: 1
Foods I'm already craving: Snack Pack Pudding, peanut butter, and gluten free pizza.

Until next time!  xoxo

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 1: What did I get myself into?

In theory, training and completing my first ever figure fitness competition sounded reaaaal awesome.  When the alarm went off this morning at 5:20am for my first training session of my 12 week program, all I could think was: "what the *bleep* did I get myself into?"  But...I had told many people, including my ever-growing muffin top, that I was starting this journey on Thursday morning so I had to back up all of my talking, tuck my muffin top into my workout pants, and actually get started. 

I'm not really sure why I chose to do this competition, other than the fact that Greg (my bf) just completed his first bodybuilding competition in November.  When I was watching his competition and saw some of the scary characters/competitors (men and women included), I wanted to run away and burn those freaky, overly-tanned, 5% body fat "people" from my brain.  OK, I guess that's a little judgmental but it was kind of like stepping into a new underground world of overly muscular and waaaaay overly tanned people.  As I watched these people strut around in their posing suits, wondering what nationality they all were because their skin was so damn tanned, I began a love-hate relationship with this "sport."  On the one hand, I thought these people were absolutely NUTS.  They had dedicated every hour of every day for the past 12+ weeks to working out, eating perfectly, taking supplements, not drinking alcohol, drinking more water than a camel, and sacrificing day-to-day things for this competition.  I thought to myself, while eating a pack of peanut M&Ms, "why would anyone do this?"  Another part of me looked at these people, specifically the women, and thought, "Damn!  Get it girl!"  I mean they looked phenomenal (minus the freakish tan)!  You could tell that these women were healthy, strong women who had worked their butts off (literally), and in a weird way I was jealous that I didn't have that body.  Well, the holidays hit and muscles, dieting, and working out were quickly replaced by homemade, delicious, gluten-free treats and waaaaay too much alcohol. 

After eating 4 pieces of gluten-free pizza while one hand rested on my muffin top hanging over my elastic workout pants (which were not being worked out in at all), I decided I needed a change...I needed something to work towards that was going to get me motivated to get to the gym, eat right, and be proud of my body.  I always do better when I have some kind of goal to work towards and since this was fresh on my mind from Greg's competition, I decided to give it a whirl...and here I am at the end of Day numbero uno.
The gym wasn't too bad this morning.  It actually felt really good to be back in the gym and in my routine.  I've always worked out, just not consistently and often with some prodding from said bodybuilding competitor.  I think today, overall, went pretty well.  It consisted of protein shakes, a lot of oatmeal, and a lot of lean protein (chicken and lean turkey burger). 

My 2 biggest issues right now with all of this are:  1) preparing food for the next day takes forrrreeeevvver!  Last night it took me almost 1 full hour to get all the meals portioned out and packed up for the next day.  Greg says it will get faster.  I told him he should just do it for me.  2) it is no secret I like to go out with my friends and throw back a few bunch of drinks.  I love to socialize, dance, hang out, just be out with fun people.  So the no alcohol thing was a real dagger.  I think the detox period will be good for everyone ;) but one goal I have made for this journey is that I refuse to give up my social life.  I will still go out...maybe not as late and definitely as the Designated Driver....but I WILL NOT let this competition over take my life.  There has to be a balance that can be made.

All in all, what I got myself into was one of the biggest challenges I've undertaken since...potty training?  Learning to ride a 2-wheeler?  Passing AP exams?  It will be a tough 12 weeks, but I'm glad I started on this journey because, hopefully, the results will be sweet!  I've gotten myself in pretty deep but I've gotten myself into something that will change my life for the better.

OK...I think that's enough about Day 1 and what led me to here.  I'm still working on the blog layout so bear with me.  I wanted to post a Day 1 pic but I dropped and broke my camera New Year's Eve (pre-festivities) so pics will be coming soon (don't judge).
It's now 7:00pm, which means if I start now maaaaybe my food will be portioned and packed away by midnight......OK I exaggerate...but it is almost time for dinner and bed...early abs and cardio workout tomorrow!

More tomorrow!  xoxo