Finding balance: Where I am at

Balance

After competing in two bodybuilding shows last year I set a goal for myself to hang up the heels for a while (most likely indefinitely) and focus on finding a healthy balance in my life.  For those who aren’t a regular follower, I have been a bit more active with blog posting and Instagram lately, particularly with the “fitstagram” posts.  I have been a bit more active for two reasons. The first reason is to motivate.  More people have been asking me for workout advice or healthy meal ideas and while I am no PT I love to share whatever I can!  The gram or my blog are both great ways for me to keep track of my recipes and have reference points to share with others or to even revisit myself!  The second reason is to hold myself accountable.  If I have a certain “fitness” goal in mind it is often helpful for me to share my journey with the public (aka like my mom and 3 friends).  So aside from this larger goal of *balance*, I recently set a mini goal for myself to cut down for an upcoming fitness workshop and photo-shoot + my trip to Vegas where Mr. Olympia is hosted, but I have found myself slowly losing motivation.

I want to look dope AF at this workshop and in Vegas where I will be surrounded by some of the most well known athletes in the industry, but at what point will I just be happy with where my body is at?  I have come a very long way this year when it comes to self image/ self love/ balance/ whatever people want to call it these days but it’s weeks like these that I realize I am not quite there yet and that this isn’t just a situation where I am going to wake up one day and be like “Fuck yes I will never have a negative thought about my body ever again”.  Lately I’ve just felt tired.  Tired physically.  Tired mentally.  My 5am lifts have turned into 9am lifts, or no lifts.  My daily cardio has significantly dropped (side note I don’t need to be doing a ton of cardio I just used to really enjoy doing it).  And my “diet” is starting to feel like a diet and well, I am just tired of feeling like I am always on a diet.  For anyone who has ever tracked macros before, aka “flexible dieting”, you’ll realize that once you know the science it is always ingrained in your head even when you try not to track.  Can’t a girl just get a healthy acai bowl for breakfast which is filled with superfoods and micronutrients and not worry about the fact that half of her suggested carb intake for the day will be used up?  Maybe it is the heat, or maybe it is the fact that I haven’t started my new job yet and my usual routine is off, but right now my motivation is in hideout.  I know if I were to just throw in the towel, stop working out, and eat like shit I would feel 100x worse after about two days so that is not going to happen.  However, this lifestyle is tricky and the motivation isn’t always there for me.  Hoping once I get back to my regular routine this week I will feel refreshed but in the meantime I would love to hear if other people trying to live the healthy grind have went through this same type of funk, and how they decided to handle it 🙂

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The Burger Diet

Okay so it’s not exactly a diet but just a little experiment that I decided to do last week.  Hopefully that title grabbed some attention though 🙂  I recently shared on Instagram that I was starting to get sick of my diet and that goes against everything that I preach so I decided to switch it up a bit, particularly adding lean beef and turkey as protein.  I incorporated 1-2 healthy burger creations into my meals every day last week.  The results? Very satisfied.  My current fitness goal is to slowly lean out and I really didn’t change up my current calorie intake or macro split.  If anything I added a bit more carbs this week.  I was easily able to incorporate a lot of delicious burger-based meals into my diet without steering off plan.  If anything I actually felt leaner by the end of the week.  I didn’t weigh myself before and after because I like to focus more on how I look and feel to determine progress and the goal here wasn’t to show a decrease on the scale.  The goal was to show that your diet does not have to be boring to be healthy.  It’s sometimes hard to distinguish between being hungry v.s. not satisfied which is why I needed to mix things up a bit.  This was a fun way to mix up my diet and satisfy my burger cravings!  Below is a recap of my favorite creations from the week:

 

The Good Morning Burger

GoodMorningBurger

13F/30C/38P

Lean beef patty (4oz)

Ezekiel sesame bread

1 egg over easy

1 slice turkey bacon

1/2 light creamy swiss Laughing Cow cheese wedge

 

Burger Caesar Salad

BurgerCaeser

9F/20C/31P

1/2 cup kale

1/2 cup romaine lettuce

Lean beef patty (4oz)

1 medium tomato

Bolthouse Caesar Parmigiano dressing

Joseph’s flax whole wheat pita

 

Turkey Tacos

TurkeyTacos

9F/38C/38P

Lean ground turkey (4oz)

2 lettuce wedges

1/4 avocado

~15g fat free mozzarella

1/2 cup rice

1/4 cup black beans

1 tablespoon salsa

 

Portabella Mushroom Burger

PortabellaMushroom Burger

1F/42C/44P

2 Portabella Mushroom caps

Lean turkey patty (4oz)

1/4 cup zesty diced tomatoes

~28g fat free mozzarella

4oz sweet potato “fries” (baked)

1 tbsp Xyla chipotle bbq sauce

 

Cheeseburger Flatbread Pizza

Cheeseburger Flatbread

13F/37C/27P

Flatout spicy italian flatbread

62g no salt added tomato sauce

2oz lean beef

~28g reduced fat cheddar cheese

1/2 cup romaine lettuce

1/2 medium diced tomato

Bolthouse Classic Ranch dressing (2 tbsp)

*this might have taken the gold for the week

 

Let me know your favorite comfort foods; I’d love to share more healthy alternatives!  I am thinking pizza creations for my next experiment….

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.

Welcome

Amanda Summer 2013

Welcome to my blog!  My intentions for this blog are to share ideas and inspire others to become the healthiest version of themselves.  I am still educating myself every day on how to live a healthy lifestyle and want to share my journey with others.  I will not only be sharing my favorite “healthified” recipes, but also my day to day experiences as they relate to nutrition, fitness, and general life adventures.  As a full time analyst juggling the cube life, multiple fitness and nutritional courses, and bikini competition preps, I have a lot on my plate and I cannot wait for you to see what’s on the menu!