My Experience With Bodybuilding

I mentioned in the spring that I would write about my experience after my first show and then just never got around to it because life happened and then before I knew it I was back on prep.  Two shows later, I am ready to reflect on my overall experience with bodybuilding.  I have a lot to say so bravo to you if you actually read this entire novel.  Before I get into too much detail, I want to reiterate that this is obviously just my PERSONAL opinion (hence the title) and everyone’s experience with competing is unique.  I took a difference approach when prepping for each of my shows.  In fact, I would say they were almost totally opposite approaches.  For my first show I followed IIFYM (if it fits your macros).  My coach provided me with the amount of protein/carbs/fats I should be reaching per day and I filled them as I pleased.  I lifted 5-6 days a week and did minimal cardio.  The most cardio I did was 4, 30 min HIIT sessions per week.  My second show followed a specific meal plan.  My coach told me what to eat each week and adjusted as necessary.  I lifted 7 days a week and reached 2 hours of cardio per day by show time.  I wouldn’t say there is a right or wrong approach as there were pros and cons to each of these approaches.  Now, with that background, I am ready to dive into the good, the bad, and the roller coaster ride that is competing.

PROS:

Show Day

Getting up on stage was one of the most rewarding experiences.  You put blood sweat and tears into transforming your body and get to show off all of your hard work.  I really love setting a goal and actually following through with it so competing was a really satisfying accomplishment for me.  Also, I am typically not a girly girl so it was fun for me to get all dressed up for the day in sparkly shit and have my makeup done beyond a layer of eyeliner.

Meeting New People

Aside from all the glits and glam, I got to meet a lot of really great people with that same passion that I have.  I not only developed new friendships but also have learned a ton about fitness and nutrition from a lot of really smart people.  There will always be a firehouse of information out there related to this industry but I feel that my experiences have taught me a lot about what my body needs to be healthy and I am so grateful for that.

Inspiring Others

The amount of positive feedback I have received is amazing.  Selfishly, I went into bodybuilding to focus on myself, not realizing how much my journey would impact others.  No I am not a sponsored athlete with 50K+ followers on Instagram,  but having just one other person tell me that I inspire them is pretty frigen cool.  I’ve recently been getting asked a lot of questions about my opinion on certain training and/or diet topics and while I am no nutritional coach, I could talk about this stuff for hours and love that I can share my opinions with others in hopes to motivate,inspire, or just provide some sort of direction.

 

CONS:

Show Day Part 2

This is literally the longest effing day of your life.  You put so much time, effort, and money into preparing for the stage.  I am talking food prep, training, posing, money spent on suit, accessories, tanning, hair, makeup, the list goes on. And guess what?  You spend 99% of the show day sitting and waiting.  You get about 30 seconds on stage to convince a panel of judges that all of your hard work and dedication was worth it.  When really at the end of the day the only persons opinion that really matters is yourself.  You could be in the best shape out of everyone in your class but if you don’t present “the look” that the judges are looking for that day then no hardware for you.

Post Competition

Self image is something that I personally struggle with (shocker) and that goes for a lot of other females, and males.  So for me, I am not sure the whole competing process is the best way to heal that.  I am super competitive so when I walked away from my first show with nothing, as much as I like to pretend I wasn’t upset about it, I was pretty bummed.  I walked away from my second show with two trophies including winning my open class and in the moment this was extremely gratifying.  But guess what?  My body isn’t going to stay stage lean forever and now I have to deal with the mental battle of accepting my body at its “normal” state.  And depending on how you plan your post show diet, your metabolism can get super effed up.  My last show ended right before Thanksgiving and I was on a pretty tight meal plan so my body was not happy with me going from 0 to 100.  I did not reverse diet like I did with my first show and it resulted in a pretty quick and heavy weight gain.  Do I regret not reverse dieting?  Sometimes.  However, I told myself after this show that I would give my mind a break from feeling like it was on a diet and that is exactly what I did.  This “lifestyle” can become obsessive and I found myself missing out on a lot because I didn’t want to have a drink or eat food that I didn’t personally cook.  I was constantly feeling the pressure to keep my body in the best shape it can be in because I made the decision to share my journey with friends, family, social media, etc.  There have been times that I feared going out in public because I thought I was going to get judged for my actions or image.  In general, the whole “off season” “on season” bodybuilding cycle really messes with my head so I’ve personally set a goal to break that cycle this year and find a comfortable balance with my body where I am happy and healthy.

 

SO NOW WHAT?

Will I ever compete again?  I currently have no plans to.  At least not in the near future.  Right now I am just focusing on enjoying life in my mid twenties.  Working hard in the gym.  Working hard at my job.  Spending time with the people I care about.  I found that prepping for shows sometimes interfered with my focus at work and my relationships with friends and family.  For me, if I can’t balance my relationships and my job while preparing for a show, it’s simply not worth it.  Competing is something you really have to be all in for.   I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, health and fitness is a huge part of my life, but it’s not my entire life.  There is a reason it is called a “lifestyle”.  For some, competing is a part of their lifestyle and I fully respect that.  For me, I see bodybuilding as a piece of the puzzle, a key milestone, in my journey to being the healthiest version of myself that I can be.

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5 Reasons Why Thanksgiving is the Most Challenging Holiday for People Working Towards Fitness Goals

Okay so as I was brainstorming things to write about that relate to this upcoming holiday I initially thought I would post several healthy appetizer recipes.  I realized quickly that I have never actually contributed to Thanksgiving cooking.  My parents have always hosted and my mom has it covered, and she has it well covered.  There is no reason for me to mess with her system.  Instead I thought I would reflect on why this holiday is so challenging for those trying to live a healthy lifestyle.

 

1. The Obvious

The whole purpose of Thanksgiving is to give thanks and the way we celebrate is by EATING.  Turkey, potatoes, stuffing, casserole, desserts galore.  You are surrounded by delicious food all day.  Some of us are required to partake in multiple Thanksgiving dinners in order to make sure you celebrate with the extension of your family.  If this is the case, well you can’t be rude and not eat at location number two, right?  Now, you can plan ahead here so that you don’t go overboard with the food, however, that rarely seems to work out.

 

2. Booze, Part 1

Like most holidays, Thanksgiving is not only celebrated with food, but also with booze.  Lots of booze.  If you are a young adult, you are most likely getting a head start with the drinking on Thanksgiving eve.  You will get together with your hometown friends, catch up, drink, potentially run into people you have not seen since last Thanksgiving eve, and end up drinking more than you initially planned because you are just too awkward to have a mature conversation with your peers without some liquid confidence.  So those 2-3 beers turned into 7-8 and you are already off track before the holiday begins.

 

 

3. Booze, Part 2

Okay so things got a little out of hand last night, it’s Thanksgiving day and it’s a new day.  No big deal you have a fresh start to the day.  You quickly come to the realization that you are no longer 20 years old and hangovers are no joke.  The only thing that could possibly nurse this hangover is a large plate of food, or more booze.  If you were a responsible adult last night then you still have a chance.  You just need to dodge challenge #1 with some portion control, then you are in good shape!  That is, until you remember “that relative” or “those in-laws” that you have to entertain and if only you had a bottle of wine to get you through.  If you don’t have “that relative” or “those in-laws”, but simply a family that likes to celebrate hard, well, you can’t not live up to the family name right?  Okay so maybe you do stay in on Thanksgiving eve, wake up feeling great and get through Thanksgiving day without eating yourself into a food coma.  You are in the clear.  That is, until you remember that your favorite NFL team is playing a big game tonight and you don’t have work tomorrow.  Sure, you can watch the game cozied up on the couch with your tea (which is totally something I would do), or you can respond to your friends text with a “yes I will come over for the Pats game and help you finish your leftover food and drinks”.  After all, aren’t we all thankful for the existence of football?  So realistically, this challenge could easily be broken out to booze part 3 and 4 to round out my 5 reasons.

 

 

So how does one stay on track through this celebratory holiday full of food and drinks?  That is up to you.  It is definitely possible with a little portion control and taking it easy or avoiding booze all together. Perhaps get a workout in that morning, or later that night depending on your gym’s holiday hours.  For me, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I am choosing to enjoy the festivities and all that it entails without putting myself into a food coma.  I’ll give portion control a shot and not really stress about it.  It is one day out of 365 days in a year and I am sure that those potatoes will be great fuel for my Friday squats.  Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful, so enjoy the things that make you thankful!  However you choose to express thanks, just do simply that, and do it well.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Lava Cake

OatMeal Lava Cake

Sometimes messing up your recipe is for the better!  I was attempting to make a simple mug cake here but I did not cook it for long enough so I ended up with a cake like crust and a warm oatmeal center.  Instead of continuing to cook the mug cake I just ate it as is and it was quite delicious!  Yes I am sometimes that lazy.  I used 2 egg whites, 1/2 cup oats, 3/4 scoop protein powder, 1 packet stevia, a splash of water, pumpkin spice, and cinnamon.  I mixed everything together in a microwave safe mug and placed in the microwave for about 1 minute.  I topped with 1 tbs of Walden Farms syrup before eating! The cake is just under 300 calories 3g Fat/ 29g Carbohydrates/ 34g Protein.  Makes for a great post-workout meal!

Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers

Crockpot Stuffed Peppers

Since the nights are starting to get cooler I decided that it was time to dust off the old Crock pot.  Thanks to my wonderful mother for sharing this recipe!  These are not only extremely tasty and filling but also super easy to make!  Below are the ingredients and recipe:

Ingredients:

5 peppers

1.25 pounds extra lean (99%) ground turkey (allow 1/4lb per pepper)

1 1/2c instant brown rice

Diced quarter of an onion

Dash of Salt, pepper, garlic powder

1 can tomato soup

Couple squirts of ketchup(optional)

Recipe:

Mix ground turkey with diced onion, salt, pepper, garlic powder and one third can of tomato soup.

Cut off tops of peppers and clean out insides.

Stuff each pepper with turkey mixture.

Put another third of the can of soup into the bottom of Crock pot with 1/4 cup water.

Place peppers into Crock pot and add remaining soup on top.  I like to squirt ketchup on top also.

Cover and cook til peppers are soft (on low for 7 hours or on high for 4-5 hours).

You can use same recipe and cook in 350 oven covered for an hour-hour and half.

Another side note, if you own a slow cooker but do not own slow cooker liners(pictured above), go purchase them now!  Makes the clean up 10x faster.

Nutrition per pepper include:

227 Calories, 2.4g Fat, 26g Carbohydrates, 24g Protein

…Did I forget to mention this is super low in fat? 😉

Now go dig out your Crock pot and enjoy yourself these delicious peppers!