Friday, December 19, 2014

Gratitude

I am a very fortunate person. I have so much to be grateful for in life, and sometimes it is overwhelming how good life is. However since this is a fitness blog, and that is why most of you either follow me and/or read what I post I will try to keep my gratitude relevant. 
Today during my workout I was filled with this intense joy and wonder I sometimes get when I think about what the sport and activity of bodybuilding gives to me. It makes me almost giddy (could be the endorphins) and I will laugh out loud during my workout listening to something that probably isn’t even that entertaining on my headphones- and people will look at me like I am crazy… But I just feel buoyant. 
The number one thing that I lack that bodybuilding provides me with is balance. Those of you who know me in real life will probably agree that I am a kind of extreme person at times. I have an obsessive/addictive nature. I don’t just do anything a little. I have been that way as long as I can remember. I have always been competitive, driven to be the best, or the most. I am stubborn and persistent. These are good qualities to have as a bodybuilder, especially a vegan bodybuilder… but there is another side to the coin. 
In bodybuilding you learn that you can’t be THE best, you can only be YOUR best. You can train everyday, with maximum intensity, and make it your main focus in life, and you will only see small returns. You have to accept that there is no instant success (beyond your newbie gains). You have to accept that it WILL take years, sometimes decades to reach your physique goals. This sport will destroy you, will crush you, will make you feel insignificant, weak, and fragile. It will also make you feel like a god, it will feed you, it will grow you, it will drive you. It will push you when you want to quit, and be there when no one and nothing else is. You will have injuries, and you will work through them. You will plateau and learn to overcome, and you will see weight or movements that you never thought to attempt, conquered. 
It gives you community, but teaches you that you can be ok alone- just you and the iron day after day, good or bad. A constant in a sea of turbulence. It surely makes you stronger, but we all know how weak you can feel after a good leg day. As a trainer I have the joy of getting to see the change in a person (more often women) as they become more confident in the weight room and it translates into other areas of their life.
Bodybuilding teaches you the necessity of consistency for success in life, and the dedication needed if you want to exceed mediocrity. You learn about pride and humility, success and defeat. You learn that you will never be GOOD ENOUGH, but that YOU ARE GOOD and that is ENOUGH. There will always be more, and bigger, and better… but you will keep working, and growing, and that journey- the improvement, is really the purpose. 
I want to be unreal, I want to be beyond human, and I get closer every time I dig in and do my workouts… every time I make the choice to stay on track with my food. There are no short cuts as a natural bodybuilder, it is going to take a long time and dedication, but every millimeter of growth and pound I add to the bar is my constant reward. My workout is time I give to myself, a gift; meditation, reflection, and antidepressant all rolled into one. 
I have goals, dreams, faith, and a stronger character as a result of my time bodybuilding. I am so grateful. Thank you to my coaches, mentors, inspirations, and the gym. Ugh I love the pump.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fat?

ok, so this is a blog post I have been meaning to write for a long time. I am sure I have about 30 things on my to do list today that take precedence over writing a blog but here it is...
I started taking some crossfit workouts in addition to my regular lifting I do as my bodybuilding training. I want to be able to get away with eating more sooner, so I need to burn more calories. More importantly I have a major goal this year to improve my flexibility and increase my mobility hopefully undoing some of the damage I have done to my body over the last 31 years and make it better able to preform. I also have poor cardiovascular endurance and really even muscular endurance. I would like to be faster and learn to be more explosive in my movements when it would be beneficial.
I flippantly made a comment on my facebook about being slow and fat, not really thinking about the various ways people would interpret this.
I have to say I am sorry if that was offensive to anyone. Please understand it wasn't intended to be a put down to myself or anyone else.
photo from july 2013
"needs to be leaner"
I am involved in a sport, bodybuilding, where an unnaturally low level of body fat is required. Lower than the doctor recommended levels required to support organ function. You only need to be at this level for a short period of time, but that's the way it is. Last month I was as lean as I have ever been in my life, at around 9.5% bodyfat, based on my hydrostatic weighings... you know what my #1 critique was? "Needs to be leaner"
Due to my involvement in bodybuilding I have developed a really unemotional relationship with the word "fat" and the idea of having fat on your body. I don't look at it as part of who I am, more like a state of my present physical condition. Something I could adjust with some effort based on my personal goals or preference. Anyone who does not have a metabolic disorder or a physical disability has this ability, and even those that do have shown that with the right determination they can as well. I have had to make this mental transition because I cannot base my perception of myself on the percentage of body fat to lean body mass I have. It is a mutable thing completely under my control.
I am not a fat shamer. I do not think that people with higher levels of body fat look unattractive or "gross" or whatever we are supposed to think. If someone has an extremely high fat level I may feel concerned for their health or sympathize with the amount of joint pain they have or how daily activities are probably more challenging for them. I may feel bad that they can't do physical activity that I take joy in, like hiking, or empathize with the feelings they most likely have of being out of control of the situation. I don't judge them, because even though I was never at the point where my health was at risk, I have been out of shape and overweight, and I have felt like there was nothing I could do to change it. What's more, they may truly not care... maybe they really like reading and don't care for nature at all. They might be perfectly happy with their physical abilities, and that is none of my business.
photo from 2010
I have always wanted to be lean and shape so that I could be more physically able to do whatever I want in life without my body holding me back. EVERY SINGLE DAY when I wake up I think about how grateful I am that I can step out of bed and walk to the bathroom. I might not always take it further than that but I usually come back to it at some point in the day when I am active- I think about how lucky I am to have my health, how grateful I am to be able to run through the woods or have the strength to pick up a heavy weight.
At some point in my life I might not have that. I could lose my mobility or my strong immune system, or in some other way become unable to live like I currently do so I don't for one moment want to take my able body for granted.
The other thing I want to add is that everything is relative to the place you are personally at. Pretty much every human being is going to have a moment in their life where they feel out of shape. Or feel fat. Those are valid whether you are below or above some national average for fitness.
I am excited to have gotten an opportunity to feel that way. Feeling out of shape motivates me to do something about it. Having to drag a heavy body around motivates me to lose the parts of my physique that are not doing work. I want to be more strong and efficient.
Of course I have some pride in looking fit, and looking lean. I feel more attractive, but mostly because looking lean and muscular is MY PERSONAL idea of what a sexy woman looks like. Lot's of people might look at me and think "that's too much muscle for a girl" or "gross, too manly". I could care less. I have worked very hard to get my body closer to MY idea of the best it can be. That is an evolving concept. Now the best it can be also involves being able to be strong, AND fast, AND agile.
I love my muscles
I am not a natural athlete. I am not a person who has always been super active, or done sports my whole life. I am a bookworm who grew up camping and maybe riding my bike around the neighborhood a few hours a day. The only physical activity I was every really involved in was lifting weights and I did that casually. There is nothing special about me that makes me able to achieve a level of fitness that the average person out there could not. It just takes the right motivation, which to me is the desire to use athleticism to promote a vegan diet. Without that motivation I would still look like the person from 2010... I actually don't even view myself as being particularly lean or in shape. Just better off than I was a few years ago. There was nothing wrong with that, I was just a lot less physically able to preform the tasks that I can today and a lot less empowered and confident to try.
Dani's Champions!
I want everyone to know that they can have what they want in life if they really try. I also want people to know that this photo on the right -> is not what we look like everyday. None of us feel bad about our bodies when we are not at our peak form. Of course it's fun to look in the mirror and think "I look like a magazine!" but that is a temporary state. It is however very normal to hear us call ourselves "fat" or "slow" or "out of shape" because we know that even at the best we've ever been, we can always be better. We also know that fat is not who you are, your current level of endurance is not who you are, it is a place you are at. A place you can leave if you want, or stay if you are comfortable. I am not comfortable. I want to be better able to do more.
I respect everyone for where they are personally at and just want to see them reach a level of health they are satisfied with.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Naturally Fit Super Show Recap!

I had a rough beginning of this week with some turmoil on the home-front but luckily the universe seemed to sense I needed a little extra love and I had a lot of amazing and heartwarming things come my way as well.
First thing to note is that I am so overwhelmed and inspired by all the kind comments and notes I have been receiving from friends and supporters letting me know that I am inspiring THEM and motivating them to lift heavier, or do better with their diets, or BECOME VEGAN! Wow, WOW! How awesome and rewarding it is to hear these things. It motivates me to work harder and do better over the next year so I can hope to really make a big impact in the fitness industry as an example of a vegan athlete in top condition.
Secondly I have been given a promotion by Veganproteins.com from friend and customer to family and employee! What an honor! I can't think of a small business I would rather get to work with and help to grow more than Vegan Proteins. So due to this you may see more frequent short posts on my personal blog directing you to posts on the Vegan Proteins blog that I wrote. I am hoping we will do some cooking demos as well!
You can read my full recap of the Austin Takeover Weekend here:
Blog Post
But I also wanted to add some things as a personal note on my own blog.
This year has been really life changing for me. I feel like I have discovered a passion in an area that has always been a hobby for me but that I never felt capable of making a career or lifestyle out of. Now I feel like it is a part of who I am and that I will be living the lifestyle of a competing natural bodybuilder for the next several years and that natural fitness and a more health focused diet will be in my future career for a long time to come.
Many of you know I teach cooking classes. I hope to integrate more performance based meals into my cooking classes in the future and maybe get my personal training certification over this next year as well so that I can start working with local plant based athletes (especially women!) who want to build mass and lift heavy!
I am working with Dani Taylor, my coach and Vegan Proteins Co-Owner to write a cookbook this year that is designed to work with the meal plans and diet programs she writes for her clients. I am ecstatic to apply my culinary creativity to this project and come up with lots of super healthy vegan meals.
I had a nice little binge for a few days but am back on a meal plan designed to increase my metabolism gradually over the next few months. By december I want it to be cranking so I can eat and eat and fuel some big muscles. The biggest challenge right now is not eating all of the chocolate that has somehow appeared in my life over the last several days. My building goals over the next year are to increase mass in my shoulders and abs, and work on changing the shape of my quads and hamstrings so that even though that area of my body holds the majority of my fat, they will still be a strong point for me next year when I compete again. I want to keep my body fat percentage under 15% over the winter while I build so that I won't have as far to drop when cutting season starts and I will be able to get leaner than I was this year.
I made some awesome trophy gains this year but the biggest win I have experienced is in all of the new friendships I have made and family I have gained in the process. I have a home at TPS alongside some super strong women (and men!) under the mentorship of the gracefully fierce Katy Wayman-White who has been competing in Natural Women's Bodybuilding for over 30 years and genuinely loves and promotes the sport. I am excited to learn so much from her and the other people I attend posing class with so that I can become a skilled and strong performer and showcase my body to the best of it's potential. I have a true family united by our passion to speak for the innocents in team Plant Built. I feel so bonded to this group and proud of what we have accomplished in just one season. I can't wait to be proud and inspired by what all of these amazing athletes achieve over the next year. I am especially hoping that I can get some more of the women to cross over into body building this year!
I have also made some really cool friends from the online community and some of them even live in my area so I am really hoping to be able to train a little with them this year and help those that are just coming into the world of physique competition to settle in and find their place.
I cannot say enough how grateful I am for the support both financially and emotionally I have been given this year from all of you and I hope I made you proud. I will continue to share photos and videos from the competition as I come across them so that you can get a look into the experience you helped to create.
I just want to give a quick mention of some of the companies that helped support the team and me personally this year, so that you know who to check out for businesses that give back to the community...
Vegan Proteins - Online Vegan Supplement Retailer
Vegan Bodybuilding and Fitness - Online bb and fitness community and info hub
Plant Fusion - Premium Vegan Protein
Badass Power Cookie - Delicious baddass cookie
Engine 2 Diet - Plant based educational support community
Justin's Nut Butter - Mmmm nut butter
Brad's Raw Leafy Kale - Kale chip delight
Rhythm Superfoods - More delicious Kale
Just Pure Foods - Plant-Based snack foods
Eda-Zen - Edamame snacks
Beyond Fit Austin - Austin plant based gym
Bonebreaker Barbell - Plant powered hardcore gym in Kyle, Texas


I wanted to mention that also received a personal sponsorship from:
Mackay Manufacturing

Thank you so much to these businesses for supporting us!






Friday, July 12, 2013

video update

Sorry it has been forever since I updated. Here is a little video update and I will do more soon! http://youtu.be/7OGLSaGXgog

Friday, May 31, 2013

8 weeks out, gofundme, and body fat test...

I am officially at my 8 week mark. Wow. It is pretty intense to think I only have 8 weeks left to achieve my physical and mental goals for this comp.
This last week I have been working on adjusting my mindset a little- the key focus being "letting go". As I get closer to competing I feel an increased urgency to lose fat and keep muscle, and get my posing perfect, and make the money I need to compete, and promote what I am doing to help animals... all of that and constantly stopping myself from reaching for my food and trying to ensure I get enough sleep. For the first week or so of cutting I wasn't seeing any difference in my body. I was having some digestive issues and was really bloated and that week led straight into my pms week so again I was bloated and basically giving up on ever having abs at that point. It's hard to not get panicky when you aren't seeing results for a period of time this close to the deadline. I was really starting to stress it- which doesn't help to lose fat. I had to take a step back and say "It isn't my job to worry about this. It is my job to do what my coach tells me and report my results accurately. It is her job to worry about my body composition. That is why I have her, to stay sane." I am making a major effort to genuinely commit to that mindset. Then today I was talking to my dad on the phone and he asked how my workouts were going. I told him I kinda had a bad week for workouts this last week. I have added more cardio, I am on a caloric deficit, and I always feel hungry and tired. He said "yeah, from this point on it is going to be like this. You just need to accept that the workouts aren't about the number on the weight right now, or having one of those big gain days. You are there to work your body, and as long as you are struggling to get the weight up you are having a good workout. You are going to feel weak and you may not make any increase in weight from here on out but as long as you are working you had a good workout."
So letting go and acceptance are my lessons this week. I just need to focus on each day as it comes. Do my best to stick to my meal plan, get my cardio, posing practice, and weight lifting in, and get good sleep at night. The chips will fall as they may but as long as I can say I did my best I need to be happy with that and just use my experience to learn for next time.
I did get a body fat test today since I am 8 weeks out- and that seemed like a good time. I have not lost as much fat as I had hoped to in the last few weeks but I blame that on the first two rough weeks of cutting I had. I feel like the last week and a half I have seen visible results every few days including a few new visible veins and more abs. The one good thing about my body composition results was that I seem to have gained a half pound of muscle... which apparently makes me a genetic freak. Everyone seems a little confused about how I can have decreased my caloric intake, added cardio, and still gained muscle. Fuck if I know... I just do what I am told.
The last thing of note is that I put up a GO FUND ME to help me raise some funds for myself, and Plant Built as a whole to get to Austin. If you enjoy my blog, and have a few dollars kicking around please toss me a few bucks. Even $5 is rad. I put up some incentives, like cookies, and dinner catering... so check it out!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Why YOU need a coach!

ok, so this post is directed to YOU! You know who you are... you've been working for months to lose/gain fat/muscle and it's just not happening... or not happening as fast as you think it should. You tried this one plan your friend told you about and after a few weeks you lost faith in it and moved on to another one. You missed a few weeks of workouts cause you hurt yourself, or got sick, or lost motivation, but you're gonna start up again next week and hopefully do a better job sticking with it this time.
You think you are eating ok... I mean if you want to lose fat you need to reduce calories, right? So you've been eating before work and before bed, and trying to stick with veggies and rice cakes. It's hard, but it will pay off! Conversely, you're trying to get huge- all the big guys in the gym say they eat like 5000 calories a day. It seems like a lot, but your are eating a cup of peanut butter and as many french fries as possible to hit that number every day!
OR
You just have no clue what you are doing. You know that you need to do something, and you know you aren't happy, but you just feel lost and powerless to change anything. You would get a trainer at the gym but they probably wouldn't understand your dietary needs... plus aren't trainers expensive??

YOU need help.
YOU need a coach! Here's why:

- Having an expert to help you make a plan that specifically meets your personal needs and goals is invaluable! Stop wasting your time with plans that don't quite work for your needs.

- A diet coach can help you to figure out exactly what your nutritional requirements are and how you can meet them. Abs are made in the kitchen right? Or at least our ability to see them under the layer of fat on our tummies is... Eating is over half the battle in reaching your goals.

- Most importantly a coach can offer you motivation, accountability, and confidence in your plan. No matter what your goals, you will see faster and better results when you have the help of an expert and you have someone to report to.

Here's what you CAN'T expect from a coach:

- Someone to erase the bad eating choices you made over the weekend.

- A physical transformation if you don't follow the plan.

- Free services or advice- after all this is how they make their living.


I know I would not have been able to reach my goals without the help of my diet and training coach- who I highly recommend. Now that I am preparing for competition I am going to a posing coach as well. Look around and find the right person for YOU. Someone you can relate to, who will understand your goals and support you but also push you when you need it. Someone you feel you can trust with your personal health- because that is really what your diet and fitness equate to!