I intended to write a post yesterday, but I was so busy enjoying yesterday that I just didn’t get around to it!
This past week was a little more challenging than most from a compliance standpoint. I had to go to Atlanta for two days for work. Although I’ve pretty much nailed my plan for dealing with travel and competition prep, I got a little bit lazy and didn’t prep as much food as I should have. I also forgot to freeze it until the morning, so when I left that afternoon, it wasn’t completely frozen yet. My hotel didn’t have a refrigerator or microwave in the hotel room, so although I tried to use to ice bucket to keep my food cold, it didn’t work. The place we ate for lunch had limited menu choices, so I went with steak (which I’m allowed to have 3 times per week), but it came with a side of fingerling potatoes (which I figured were approximately equal to the cup of rice I would typically have with that meal) and asparagus, but the asparagus was definitely buttered. On top of that, I got to a slow start on cardio this week – did one steady state session on Sunday, none on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday! So that meant squeezing in four sessions over a 3 day period, including two sessions of track sprints. The weather has been rainy and snowy in Charlotte for the past week and a half, so running outdoors has been pretty much impossible.
All of that being said, I wasn’t feeling terribly confident when I woke up Saturday morning and took my progress pictures. But I was totally stunned when I uploaded them to my computer and looked at them:
My first reaction was, “Wow! Do I really look like that?!” For the first time in 13 weeks, I was totally happy with my progress pictures. I couldn’t wait to send them to my coach and my trainer. It felt even better to know that despite a not completely compliant week, I still was able to make progress.
To top that off, I set a couple of new PR’s during my workout on Saturday afternoon. It took me a month or two of training before I could successfully do unassisted dips with just my bodyweight. My trainer has slowly been adding weight to my dips as I have gotten stronger, usually just a 5 lb or 10 lb dumbbell. After setting a new max on close grip bench press (I did 125 lbs X 5 – Figure Olympia Champion Erin Stern’s max is 135 lbs X 4!), we headed over to the dip machine. I strapped on a weight belt and did one set with a 25 lb plate and 2 sets with a 35 lb plate! You can see the video here. I felt so strong!
The past couple of weeks have been awesome in terms of support. I can’t even count how many people have come up to me at the gym to tell me that they have noticed my progress and to compliment me on how I look now. My trainer said that many people have been telling him the same thing. I feel like I can’t finish a single workout with my trainer at this point without at least one random person commenting on how strong I am or how fit I look. My favorite comment from this week – She already looks trained!
Random strangers aside, I know my coach and my trainer are really proud of me, and at some points yesterday, I literally was so happy it brought tears to my eyes. Prepping for this competition has been such a positive experience. I even re-read all of the blogs I posted from the inception of this blog through my first competition and through all of the false starts and tribulations that came post-show up until the point I moved to Charlotte. Revisiting those posts just further illustrated how much more enjoyable and effective this prep has been.
I chalk this up to several things. First, my coach, Joe Valdez, who has always been nothing but positive and encouraging, who is flexible and open to my feedback, and who created a plan with balance and still living life in mind. It honestly blows my mind that I have gotten to where I am without seriously cutting calories or doing hours and hours of cardio each week, and even getting a few cheat meals along the way! The program I’m on right now is something I could easily continue doing indefinitely – no extremes. Balance has always been a struggle for me, and I never thought it would be possible to be in competition prep AND have balance, but with Joe’s guidance, I have figured it out!
Second, my trainer, Russ Marino at Sport & Fitness Ballantyne. When I first started training with him in August, I hadn’t been to the gym in almost 2 months and had been eating crap and drinking frequently. My inner athlete was definitely in hiding at that point, but he helped me find myself again. I’m stronger than I have ever been and have come to love Olympic lifts and training heavy again thanks to his program design, encouragement, and pushing me outside of my comfort zone. While sometimes I may doubt myself, he always has complete confidence in me, which means a lot. With his help, I lost body fat, built muscle, and improved my conditioning, all of which made starting competition prep significantly easier!
Experiencing competition prep with two different coaches has led me to realize the critical importance of choosing your trainer/coach. There are a million choices out there, so finding someone who is a good fit for you personally can be a challenge. However, finding the right person can make a world of difference!
I also have a great support system – in Charlotte, in Phoenix, and online. I’m tremendously grateful to be surrounded by so many amazing people and just want to extend a huge thank you to everyone that has been supporting me throughout this process. You guys rock!
I may have some exciting news soon…but will wait to post anything until it’s official. I’ll keep you in suspense until then! 🙂