Monday, November 21, 2011

Surviving the Holidaze

Well, it's that time of year again: the weather is getting colder, the leaves are almost completely gone from the trees, and my jeans are getting tighter.........wait.......no.  If you're in the latter category, you better check yourself before you wreck yourself.  The holidays are not a time to be a douche with food.  Sure, holiday gatherings are entirely centered around food, but that doesn't mean you have to go up a size in all of your pants before New Years.

Part of being "normal" as a competitor is indulging a bit during the holidays.  I love food - I'm a foodie.  I enjoy eating, and I definitely live to eat.  So enjoying DELICIOUS food during the holidays is something I will ALWAYS do, and I factor it into my plan so that I don't gain weight.  And when I go home, the LAST thing I want to deal with is my parents saying, "Why can't you eat that?  Lighten up, it's Christmas!!"  It's amazing to me how people equate the holidays with a free pass to eat whatever the heck they want.  Like the calories don't count, or something.  So I usually have a plan over the holidays that allows me to stay trim while still partaking in good eats with mi familia.  I haven't gained a single pound during the Thanksgiving/Christmas season in over 3 years.  Before I started competing, I'd easily gain 5lbs in a 1 month period.  No es bueno, especially when trying to fit into a hot cocktail dress for NYE. 

My parents usually fly in the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and they stay with me.  This immediately means a wine bottle will be opened.  Now, I enjoy the occasional glass, but I have wine maaaaaaybe once every 4 months.  It just doesn't appeal to me anymore, and that's ok.  Whether we're cooking here or are out to dinner, I stick to 1 glass, and 1 glass only.  I sip it with my food, and I don't drink any of it until the main course is served.  Half the time, I don't even finish the full glass.  But, to my parents, I've acted "normally," which is all I care about.  So, whether you enjoy wine or hard liquor, keep it to 1 glass/drink.  You're still drinking and being "social" (although, this is ridiculous - you don't need to drink to be social), so who cares how much you drink?  If someone is counting your drinks, they have issues. 

Now onto the food.  I ALWAYS load my plate with protein and veggies during all holiday meals and parties.  Turkey, chicken, pork, lamb - whatever is being served, I get more than a generous portion of meat.  Why?  Protein is filling, and the body burns more calories when metabolizing/digesting protein than carbs/fats.  So I win twice!  Veggies can be a trap, though - green bean casserole, y'all, is not healthy.  I stick to roasted or grilled veggies - anything that looks cheesy or creamy is a death trap, and I steer clear.  I will usually get a small carb portion of something (especially my mom's stuffing - holy amazeballs), but I keep it to a few tablespoons and eat them SLOWLY.  On Thanksgiving and Christmas, my plate is usually filled with about 40% protein, 50% veggies, and 10% carbs.  But guess what?  I'm still eating Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner with my family.  For dessert, I share stuff with my mom or I get a very small serving (think a small sliver of pie).  To me, all I need is a bite or 2 to satisfy that craving.  After a few bites, I move onto coffee to keep my mouth busy while I'm at the table.   <insert joke here>

During the day, when I'm not eating meals with my family, I eat clean, and I am STRICT.  I stick to my off-season plan religiously.  I'd rather save my calories for dinners.  Now, if your family is big on unhealthy breakfasts, you need to pick your battles.  My mom makes homemade apple sauce muffins (again, amazeballs), and some sort of ridiculous egg casserole for breakfast on Christmas morning, so you best believe I eat all of that.  But then the rest of the day, I eat tons of protein and veggies and keep it clean until dinner.  It's all a balancing act, but it can be done.  Pace yourself, choose your cheats wisely, and pick foods that are as healthy and as lean as possible. 

The gym is your time to sweat it out.  I pick up the intensity of my workouts during the holidays.  I rarely add cardio (compensatory cardio is a big no-no, and you CANNOT counteract a binge with either calorie restriction OR increased cardio - it doesn't work like that, sorry!!).  I usually pick up the pace, increase my weight, or add in some leg plyo to my workouts during the holidays.  This increases the metablic effect of my workouts, which will serve me well while I'm in a caloric surplus.  This will ensure that I don't gain ass mass. 

Remember, your physique goals are in YOUR hands.  My biggest pet peeve is people saying they can't control themselves around particular foods.  Really?  You ALWAYS have a choice.  That pumpkin pie doesn't magically jump into your mouth: you bring it to your mouth with your fork.  You make the conscious decision to eat it.  So you can make the conscious decision to NOT eat it.  You have to decide whether or not your physique goals outweigh your desire to eat those peppermint brownies.  If you do nothing but cheat, cheat, cheat over the holidays, you WILL gain weight.  If you strategically plan your deviations, you won't.  Remember, eating clean and staying lean requires a lifestyle change - not a temporary crash diet to fit into your bikini.  Suck it up. 

The holidays don't need to be about deprivation, and you don't need to be a social outcast.  You can enjoy bites of your favorite holiday treats without compromising your waistline.  It's all about discipline.  So, enjoy the holidays with your friends and family, have some sips of egg nog, sit by the fire, and relax. 

Happy Holidays!!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Love Affair With Pumpkin

It is no secret: I'm obsessed with pumpkin.  I love the color, the smell, the rich flavor, how it adds moist fluffiness to any dish............and I love it in all types of foods, from coffee to chili.  During my last contest prep, I was inundated with pumpkin.  Everywhere I looked, I saw pumpkin, and it drove me MAD!  So, the first meal I ate after my show obviously involved pumpkin, and I've been on a pumpkin kick ever since.  Here are some of my favorite BP original pumpkin recipes, as well as recipes from some others.  Enjoy!!

BP's Pumpkin Protein Pancakes
1/2 c oats
4 egg whites (about 168g if you're measuring your food)
1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein (14-16g if you're measuring)
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1/2 t baking powder
2-4g (about a tsp) jello sugar free/fat free vanilla or cheesecake pudding mix
pinch salt
cinnamon, nutmeg - I don't measure
1 packet of splenda
optional: capella pumpkin pie spice flavor drops or 1 t Torani sugar free pumpkin pie syrup

Combine all ingredients except the pumpkin and blend them for a few minutes in a blender or magic bullet.  Turning the oats into oat flour will make the batter more pancake-like.  After you've made your batter, fold in your pumpkin puree.  I usually put my batter in the fridge overnight to let it thicken.  In the morning, I add a splash of Hood Calorie Countdown milk if it's too thick.  If at any time the batter seems too thick, thin it out a bit with some skim milk or almond milk.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and pour your batter onto the skillet like you would regular pancakes.  When they start to bubble, it's time to flip!  This batter usually makes about 6-7 pancakes, depending on how much batter I pour onto the skillet.  Serve with sugar free maple syrup and enjoy!

You can add other things to this base - sometimes I use chocolate protein powder and chocolate pudding mix and add 1 t of cocoa powder to make chocolate pumpkin protein pancakes.  Or you could add craisins to this mix to make pumpkin-cranberry pancakes - the possibilities are endless!  :)




BP's Pumpkin-Stuffed French Toast
2 slices Ezekiel Bread or whole wheat bread
2 egg whites
1 T skim milk
1/2 oz Torani sugar free vanilla syrup (1T) OR 1 t vanilla extract
cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
1 splenda packet
20g 0% Fage Greek Yogurt (about a tablespoon)
20g pumpkin puree (about 1 tablespoon)
2g (1t) sugar free/fat free jello cheesecake pudding mix

Combine egg whites, milk, vanilla syrup/extract, spices, and splenda in a pyrex dish.  Add your bread and soak up the batter with the bread until it's fully-incorporated.  Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and start to fry your bread on both sides.  In the meantime, combine the greek yogurt, pumpkin puree, and pudding mix in a small bowl.  Once your toast is browned on both sides, spread the greek yogurt mixture on 1 of the slices of french toast.  Place the other piece of toast on top, and brown both sides for about 1 more minute until the stuffing is heated through.  Top with sugar free maple syrup and try not to die! 


BP's Pumpkin Spice Latte knock-off
1 c coffee of choice
2 oz skim milk
1 oz Torani sugar free pumpkin pie syrup
pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon

Brew your coffee and pour yourself a normal serving.  Pour your milk in a tall glass and use a milk frother to create some foam to put on top of your latte.  Once the milk is frothed, pop it in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds.  In the meantime, add the Torani syrup to your coffee and splenda, if you want it.  Sometimes I'll even add a splash of cream if I'm feeling naughty ;)  Once the foam is heated, use a spoon to top your latte with your foamed milk.  Sprinkle pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon over the top and enjoy!


BP's Pumpkin Cheesecake Protein Shake:
8oz unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
1/2c 0% Greek Yogurt
60g pumpkin (1/2 - 1/3c)
5-6g (1T) Jello sugar free/fat free cheesecake pudding mix
Cinnamon and nutmeg OR pumpkin pie spice
1 oz Torani sugar free pumpkin pie syrup
3-4 ice cubes
1-2 packets of splenda (optional)

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and well-combined.   This one runs you about 250 cals, so it's a meal replacement. 


Nicole Mason's Pumpkin Oatmeal:
1/2 cup steel cut oats
2 cups water
1/3 cup canned pureed pumpkin
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cook oats as directed, , but add pumpkin to pot.  Steel cut will take about 20 min, .  Add  spices and stir over low heat until well blended (about 5 min). You get 1 monster serving or 2-3 normal servings.  Top with a tablespoon of golden raisins , 1/3 cup chopped sweet red apple (Gala, Pink Lady, etc) and a tablespoon of chopped walnuts and add a drizzle of real maple syrup.

You can also use regular rolled oats.  Just follow the instructions on the package for the amount of water and oats and cooking time.

If you're watching your calories, you can use brown sugar Splenda, cut the raisins and walnuts, and use sugar-free maple syrup as a garnish.  Sliced almonds can also be a really yummy topping instead of walnuts.
Here are my favorites from other bloggeristas who keep it clean - hope you enjoy!!

The Bikini Baker: Pumpkin Pie Granola

The Bikini Baker: Pump It Up Pumpkin Cake

Stephanie Fitness: Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake

SkinnyTaste: Pumpkin Turkey Chili

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dealing With Disappointment

I competed last weekend at the Yorton Cup up in Baltimore, MD.  This was my first show in a new federation, the OCB.  I moved to the OCB to escape the rampant drug use, sex exploitation, rigged judging, and general bullshit of the NPC/IFBB.  I enjoyed my first experience with the OCB for the most part.  Here's a recap of my weekend:

The Yeager Bombs traveled up on Thursday, and we settled into the host hotel.  Holy ghetto, batman.  I've stayed in some piece of shit hotels in my day, but this one was definitely top 5 in terms of the worst places I've ever stayed.  Jim and I were originally assigned a room that smelled so strongly of weed, you'd swear Cheech and Chong were the previous occupants.  We moved rooms, and our new room was skunk-free, thankfully.  There was only 1 working elevator, which caused major headaches for everyone trying to go from their rooms to their cars.  I ended up using the stairs for the majority of the weekend.  Not easy to do when you're carb-depleted and covered in tanner.  And not wearing any panties underneath your long t-shirt.

Aside from the ghetto fabulousness of the Laurel, MD Quality Inn, the OCB was damn organized.  We had rolling check in times that ran smoothly and efficiently, and we were in and out faster than Kim Kardashian's marriage.  We also had to take a polygraph test to rule out drug use.  This was my first time being hooked up to a polygraph, and it was a bit unnerving.  I have absolutely nothing to hide, as the only supplement I've ever taken is creatine.  But being hooked up to blood pressure cuffs, finger cuffs, and some weird band around your rib cage makes you a bit nervous.  Some of the questions were hilarious: "Have you ever stolen a large sum of money?"  As opposed to a small sum?  WTF???  But.....I like the polygraph.  Even though I'm sure you can fool that thing, it does make me feel like there's an added layer of protection against competing with girls who are sticking needles in their asses and shaving their facial hair.  I'm sorry, but if you win a show after you've cheated, you don't deserve it.  Plain and simple.  I don't play that shit.  Play fair.  Play right.  Earn your win.  I busted my ASS in the gym for over 2 years in order to gain a mere 8lbs of muscle.  I ain't trying to get bested by someone who hasn't worked as hard.

My spray tan, done by the lovely Heidi with LSR, went flawlessly, as usual.  I was a new race on stage, which is just the way I like it.  I j'adore LSR - 2 coats, max, no smudges, no streaks, dries fast, and you can sleep with clothes on and roll around like a lunatic and you won't have any weird marks in the morning.  And the best part?  The shower to shower fresh that they dust all over you when you're done.  The whole no deodorant thing is a pain in my ass, and the powder is such a nice touch that goes a long, long way with me (and with Jim, too!!!  No one likes a stinky girlfriend!).

Show day arrived, and I was nervous.  I'm always nervous.  I have horrific stage fright, and shows always give me anxiety.  I woke up feeling and looking good, minus the nerves.  I put on my suit, did my hair, got my makeup done by my girl, Katy, and headed to the venue.  The venue was pretty nice - much nicer than I expected considering it was at a local high school.  But I tell you what - I've NEVER seen an auditorium like that at any high school.  It was nicer and bigger than some auditoriums I've been in at state level NPC shows.  Well done, Lauren High School, well done.  Pre-judging for our show didn't start until 2:30 pm, which was a NICE change from the 10am NPC stuff.  I didn't have to get up at the ass crack of dawn, I could take my time getting ready, and I was well-rested.  My girls were backstage with me, and we got busy waiting for our turn to go on stage.  Little did we know that our turn wouldn't be until 3 hours later, and that we'd have no time between pre-judging and the night show.  It made for a VERY long day, and it was so, so uncomfortable.  We didn't go on until about 530, and the night show started at 6.  So we had no time to rest, no time to go back to the hotel and put our feet up, no nothing.  It made for one of the longest days of my LIFE.

Me before my spray tan.  Right.  On.  Point.

From the back.  High, round glutes!

During pre-judging, we were all brought out on stage as an entire class.  So all 7 hussies in my class filed out on stage together and got into our first pose.  They quarter turned us to the right through 1 full rotation and then moved us.  More specifically, they moved me to the center spot.  For those of you who don't know much about competing, you ALWAYS want to be in the center.  When I got moved, my girl Ryan screamed, "DAMN RIGHT," which made me laugh.  It echoed across the entire auditorium, in true Ryan fashion.  My love for that ho knows no bounds!  They turned us again, moved us around again, turned us some more, then I got moved again to the left of center, then we were turned AGAIN.  Now, this is what I like about the OCB - they move you alllllllllll around.  You truly feel like you're being judged fairly, and like you're really being compared to the other girls.  I saw the judges looking at me, pointing at me, whispering, gesturing, writing, etc.  Sometimes, in the NPC, judges TEXT on their damn phones while you're posing.  True story.  I've seen it with my own 2 eyes.  After pre-judging was over, I looked at pics on LA's camera.  I immediately liked what I saw: I was, hands down, BY FAR, the most symmetrical girl on stage.  I also had the best ass and the most muscular legs.  1 of the other girls had a great lat spread, but her posing sucked, and anyone can have a wide-looking back when they hold their arms out 20 feet from their body.  Truth be told, I thought I had it.  I thought I had it in the bag.  It honestly didn't even seem like a contest.  And I'm not saying that because I think I'm all that and a bag of chips.  I'm saying that because I brought my best physique to the stage EVER and I looked better than the girls in my class. 

I am 3rd from the right.  Look at that ass. 
My ass is the one on the right.

Imagine my surprise when, at the night show, I hear my name called for 3rd place.  Please don't misinterpret this as me being ungrateful - my goal was top 3 in my class, so I accomplished my goal.  And 3rd place is great!  But, when you know that your physique should have CLEANED UP, it's hard to settle for less than 1st.  I did my best not to let my disappointment show on my face.  I congratulated the 1st place finisher, as she truly was a nice girl, but I was on the verge of tears a couple of times up on that stage.  The 1 really really bad thing about competing is that 8-10 weeks worth of ball-busting work are culminated on 1 day, within a matter of minutes.  It can be very anti-climactic if you don't do as well as you wanted.  To me, I felt like my entire contest prep was a waste.  I wanted to throw my trophy and stomp off and throw a tantrum like a little girl; I'm not a little girl, and I faced it like a woman.  I put a smile on my face, smiled at the judges, congratulated the winner, and went on with my life.  I don't even think my friends, the YBs, or even Jim truly knew how upset I was. 
Accepting my trophy

2nd place is on the left, 1st place is in white

This prep was not easy for me.  I started my prep at 152 and got down to 132.  I think I probably hit the stage in the high 120s.  That's 20 effing pounds in 10 weeks.  Do you understand those numbers?  Do you know what is required to lose that much weight in such a short period of time?  I'll tell you what: grueling MET work, interval sprints that make you want your mommy, and 100% dietary compliance.  So that combined with the fact that my physique was on point nearly put me over the edge.  I didn't let my emotions surface until I got into the shower.  Once the water hit me and splattered LSR all over the walls, I let it go.  I cried.  I shook my head and said, "How???"  More importantly, I asked, "Why?"  Why did I put myself through prep, only to finish 2nd runner up?  I put my head and my hands and I cried.  It felt good to release those tears.  Sometimes I'm too stoic, and I knew that this was not one of those things that I should keep inside. 

After a few minutes, I started feeling a little less sorry for myself, and I thought of my girls: Lauren, Nicole, and Ashley.  Lauren competed at an NPC show last year and got robbed.  Her physique was bangin' and she didn't even PLACE.  I thought about her, and her struggle after that show.  I thought about her journey and what this show meant to her.  Lauren placed 4th in her class at this show and finally got the hardware that she deserved, and I was so happy for her.  Then I thought about Nicole and Ashley, who were both first-time competitors. Both girls had a tough prep, and getting up on stage was such a great accomplishment for them.  I think, although difficult, they enjoyed the process, and they enjoyed themselves on stage.  I was proud of them for having the balls to get up there and actually compete.  They worked their asses off, and I am happy to be a part of the Yeager Bombs with them.  Then I thought of Leigh Ann.  LA's pregnant ass got on a plane and flew up to Baltimore to be with us.  She handled a minor Jan Tana crisis for the other girls, brought extra clothes and food, looked us over in the morning to make sure we looked ready, tweaked our posing, calmed us down, glazed us, sprayed our suits into place, yelled for us in the audience, took pics, took video..........there's nothing LA DIDN'T do last weekend.

Me and L-dogg with our hardware

YBs backstage!!


YBs with LA


Being an ass

In thinking about all of this, I realized that the Yeager Bombs were successful.  We had an amazeballs coach, we were all healthy, happy girls, and we all accomplished our goals.  Sure, I didn't win my pro card, but there were so many other things for which I should be thankful.  I am still upset about not finishing higher, but I'm getting over it.  I'm using it to help me "play pissed," as my dad calls it.  Historically, when I'd get pissed off during a soccer game, I'd turn into a goddamn banshee and just destroy people.  I'd sprint faster than anyone on the field, move people off of the ball effortlessly, and kick harder than Mia Hamm.  I'd usually get pissed after a girl would do something unfair to me, like pull my shirt to keep me from making a play, or elbow me in the ribs when the ref wasn't looking.  My dad always used to see these things, and he would always yell, "PLAY PISSED, BETH!!  PLAY PISSED!!!"  With those words, a fire was ignited, a rage took over me, and I became unstoppable.  So now, I will play pissed.  I will push, I will fight, I will out lift, out sprint, and out shine everyone else.  I will come in harder, leaner, better.  And I will win.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

One Week Out

It's that time - GO TIME.  I got my hair did, my nails did, and my game face ON.

This week was oddly easy.  I breezed through my MET lifts and my cardio like they were nothing.  I made leg day my bitch with Lauren, zipped through my 400 HIIT sprints in 45 minutes (6 miles in 45 mins, y'all - that's insane for the tail end of contest prep), and I turned down pizza and cupcakes like they were dog shit.  I'm settling in for peak week, although my trainer doesn't really take any drastic measures during the dry out week.  Some carb, water, and salt manipulation and BAM - insta-sexy.  No drugs, no diuretics, no bullshit voodoo magic that most other trainers employ.  Yet another reason that I heart LA.

Mentally, I feel like I should be freaking out more.  I'm at complete peace: I've put in all the hard work, I've done all that I can, and I've been 100% compliant on my diet for 10 straight weeks.  I can only control the effort, not the outcome.  What happens next Saturday is out of my hands at this point.  I have no clue what the other girls will look like, I have no clue whether or not the judges will like my physique, and I have no idea how many girls will be in my height class.  I think after going through this process 3 times now I am far more accepting of the unknown.  It is what it is.  Give 100% all the time, every time, and let the chips fall where they may.  That's all you can do.

A lot of people ask, "Doesn't that bother you?  Knowing that you work so hard for over 2 months, to potentially not place?"  Sure, it's a risk every competitor must take.  But I'm not in this for the trophy.  I'd love one, don't get me wrong, but I compete to prove to myself that I have the ability to do something that 99% of America does not.  My willpower is unmatched.  My determination cannot be beat.  My work ethic cannot be outdone.  It's a lot of work for 1 very short day, but the PROCESS is what this is all about for me.  Competitors who place so much emphasis on placements are in for a big let down.  BIG.  And I feel sorry for them, really - to place so much of their self-worth on a $40 trophy just seems sad and pathetic to me.  I am not Beth Polisson: figure competitor.  I am Beth Polisson: daughter, sister, girlfriend, mother to Trotter, friend, spin instructor, white-girl dancer, foodie, chef, project manager......I define myself by more than just competing.  This is a HOBBY.  For those who base their lives on this, what happens when the heels come off?  What happens when the suits are sold and the stage is no longer your home?  Then what?????  IT makes me depressed for those people just thinking about it.

So, win or lose, trophy or no trophy, I am victorious.  And, win or lose, I still get to EAT PANCAKES, BITCHES!!!  The next time I post here, I hope to have a trophy and an IFPA pro card in my hands - until then someone please, for the love of God, go have a pumpkin spice latte for me. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Teamwork and French Fries

3 weeks out: I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...............I repeat this mantra every day.  I am nearing the end of "hell weeks," and I'm feeling pretty good.  I still have not really suffered any strength decreases, but my energy has diminished pretty significantly.  I take more frequent breaks during my MET workouts,  and my sweat levels aren't as high as they used to be, but I'm ok with that - I have been expecting it.  My hunger is absolutely out of control, so I've added in a 7th meal of 1c of egg whites when I feel like I need it.  Egg whites!  So exciting!  Pfffffft.  I despise egg whites.  Have you ever SMELLED them?  I made the mistake of holding them up to my nose yesterday, and I damn near soiled myself. 

One thing that I have been acutely aware of recently is the importance of the girls in Yeager Bombs.  I knew this would happen, which is why I wanted to start the group in the first place.  Yes, figure competitions are entirely individual - you are on stage by yourself, your placings are based on YOUR physique, and you are accountable for yourself during prep.  Every Sunday, the Yeager Bombs get our sweat on together, and it's so, so helpful.  To have Ashley, Lauren, Katy, Nicole, and Amy in there with me pushes me in ways that I cannot really express.  They feel what I feel, they think what I think, they push how I push.  It's incredibly motivating.  Additionally, during the week, I coerce Lauren or Nicole to lift with me, or Ashley to run sprints with me.  They fall for it every time!  Heehee!  Our workouts are so tough, that just having someone there with me, experiencing the same pain, is a bit of a comfort.  I know I can look over at Lauren grinding out another torturous set of step-up crossovers and I'll immediately feel better about the pain in my legs and my own shortness of breath.  When the road gets this tough, having a good buddy along the way does wonders for the psyche.  I feed sorry for people who don't train with groups during contest prep.  I went down this road alone once, and it sucked BIG TIME.  3 of the girls I train with will be in my class, and sure, it'll suck to be up against them, but I honestly don't care who wins.  Do I want it to be me?  Obviously.  Will I be upset if it's Lauren or Nic?  Nope!  My triumphs are their triumphs and vice versa.  This is the way it should be.  I have always been a very team-oriented gal: it's just the way my brain is wired.  At the end of the day, if Lauren or Nicole wins my class, I'll be backstage, jumping up and down in my heels, squealing like a little girl when they're on stage for the overall title.  I will take pride in their victory.  Because at the end of the day, this isn't Beth vs Lauren vs Nicole: this is the Yeager Bombs vs the other bitches on stage.  I want a victory for my TEAM.  Last year, when Melanie won the overall fitness title, I CRIED - I was literally so happy for her that I cried.  That's what it's all about, my friends.

Now onto the fries.  My hunger is absolutely out of control these days.  White potatoes are on my meal plan, and I so look forward to chowing down on my delicious spuds every night.  I often vary the way in which I prepare my 'taters, and this week, I made them into french fries.  Now, before you get TOO excited, understand that I am at a point in prep where I can't really put anything fancy on my food.  So if you think these are going to taste like the shit you get at McD's, think again.  But they get the job done.  And for those of you who want to talk about Glycemic Index, save your breath - I have no time for the GI, and I think it's a bunch of buuuuuuuuuulshit.  I don't really care that white potatoes are higher on the GI than sweet potatoes.  Why?  Because I workout, that's why.  And because they're higher on the satiety index than sweet potatoes.  And right now, I care way more about how full I feel.  Enough of the broscience, here's my fry recipe:

5 white potatoes, cut into thin fries
sea salt/pepper
oregano
garlic salt
PAM evoo

Preheat oven to 425 and spray cookie sheet with PAM.  Place your fries on the cookie sheet and spray them with PAM, as well.  Sprinkle on all of your spices and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Check them to make sure they don't burn.  When done, take them out and stir them around a bit.  Move the rack to the very top of your oven and turn on the broiler to high.  Broil for about 5 minutes to finish them off and to make them crispy.  You have to watch them like a damn hawk to make sure they don't burn. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

5 Weeks Out

And so it begins: the 2-3 hardest, most ridiculous weeks of contest prep.  I am ravenous, I am a little tired, and I want some goddamn Sweet 16s in my face NOW.  And peanut butter.  So what keeps me going?  What prevents me from giving up?  Why do I do this??

This is the period where most people throw in the towel.  They say it's too hard, they say they miss food and they want to eat a cheeseburger, and they throw away all of their hard work for what?  For food that will always be there?  For drinks with friends?  Because they don't have the willpower to continue?  I don't give up because I actually enjoy this.  Am I hungry?  You bet your sweet ass I'm hungry.  But I'm also focused on my goal: I want to win my class, I want to perhaps try to earn my IFPA pro card.  Most importantly, I want to return to the stage and see how much my hard work over these last 12 months has paid off.  This is very personal for me this year.  I haven't been on stage since August 2010, and I spent the last 10-12 months in a caloric surplus, trying to build myself a true figure frame: strong shoulders and back, tiny waist, athletic legs, tight glutes.  I'd be lying if I said this year was easy, mentally.  I gained weight, I had to buy new pants, and I felt very self-conscious at times.  There were days that I really struggled when I looked in the mirror.  It was a necessary evil, though, and it taught me a lot about patience and perseverance.   Now when I look in the mirror, I feel like I belong on stage with some of the women I idolize.

Now I am very lucky in the sense that I'm not doing too much cardio right now.  I'm doing 2 days a week of HIIT.  One of those days typically takes me about 28 minutes, the other about 45.  Other than that, I'm lifting 4 times a week.  I still have 1 entire off day, and I am not that tired.  I'm not dizzy or lightheaded, I have plenty of energy during my workouts, and I have not decreased weight on any of my exercises.  My strength has not been compromised at all, which is very important.  I have retained a good amount of mass - my weight isn't really going down that much (started at 152, am down to 146ish), yet I continue to make progress every week.  I'm losing fat but not muscle - WINNING!!

Weeks 5-3 are always the hardest for me.  It's far enough out that there is still enough time to make changes,  but it's close enough that you can almost smell the Jan Tana (warm summer breeze, my ass).  I will continue to push, I will continue to make progress, and 10/29 will be here before I know it.  And then..........it's Sweet 16 time, bitches!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Coasting

I'm at that magical point in contest prep where I feel like a pimp.  My strength hasn't been affected by slightly (and I do mean only slightly) decreased calories, my output in the gym and on the track, energy-wise, is still fantastic, and I'm not crawling up the walls (yet) with hunger........I'm coasting.  My calories dropped a teeny bit last week to save myself from adding a 3rd day of interval sprints.  This is where a bomb trainer comes in handy, y'all.  As opposed to adding in cardio, which would thus not allow me to have an off day because of my shitty schedule, LA manipulated my calories.  At this point in the game, dietary modification makes more sense, metabolically-speaking, than adding cardio.  This will keep my metabolism from taking a dump, and it will also allow me to have a full rest day, which is essential in contest prep.  It will also ensure that if, in the future, we need to add in another day of HIIT, my body will respond without difficulty.  More is not better - smarter is better.  Coax, don't force.  This is why I love LA.  She'll make tiny tweaks that don't seem like they'll make a huge difference, then she'll let your body do the work for a bit, and POOF!  Sexy time!

I saw pretty bangin' progress this week, too.  My waist looks teeeeeny in my progress pics, especially from the back - the ones I took 2 weeks ago I was still looking like a pretty thick sack of potatoes.  These slight physique changes help to keep me motivated, and they let me know my hard work is finally manifesting itself in physical changes.  BP likey. 

I think this coasting period is where a lot of competitors freak out and think they're not doing enough.  They may not see HUGE changes on the scale, which causes them to question the process.  The knee-jerk reaction is to either add in more stimulus (ie, cardio), or decrease caloric intake in order to create a greater deficit.  Afterall, calories in < calories out = fat loss, right?.  But any idiot can starve the fat off of someone.  Having a competitor eat 800 cals a day isn't brilliant, by any means; in fact, it's reckless.  Playing with metabolism like that is a slippery slope.  And I should know - this time last year I was prepping for Jr. USAs.  I was eating 800-900 cals/day, doing 2hrs of daily cardio 6x/wk.  I could barely lift a 10lb DB.  Now?  I'm still rocking heavy weights, I can sprint like Flo Jo, and I feel like I did at 18 weeks out.  Major, major difference.

Coasting.........it's the shit; I highly recommend it.  Call me in 3 weeks when I'm STARVING and I'm sure I'll be singing a different tune.  :)  Until then, train hard, y'all!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hunger

I'm 7.5 weeks out, and I'm pretty damn hungry ALL THE TIME.  I'm also starting to feel the effects of slightly lower cals on my workouts and on my strength.  But this is contest prep; it is what it is.  If this process was easy, everyone and their mother would be a figure competitor and would have a rockin' body 24/7.  There's a reason that America is tubby: we cannot stand to be hungry, especially when food is so abundant. 

Hunger plays weird tricks on the mind.  Food starts to invade everyday thoughts, you start to count down the minutes until your next meal, and you can get a little crazy if you obsess over it too much.  Some competitors go WAY off the deep end - they watch Food Network constantly (now, I do this, but I do this year-round since I'm, well, a foodie!), they start to hoard food (I'm guilty of this, as I hoarded massive amounts of sugary foods before my 1st show), and meal time can even become ritualistic.  Their moods and personalities can change - they get bitchy, irritable, and obnoxious.  Eventually, they go crazy - literally.  Most competitors I've met need to be locked the eff up before they compete.  Strait-jacket city.  One thing I have learned over the past couple of years is that hunger is part of the game.  And this goes beyond contest prep: this pertains to dieting, in general. 

When the body is used to being fed a certain amount of calories every day, say 1700, it will react when you start to feed it less, even by only a few hundred calories.  Every body has a set point - a weight at which the body feels it needs to stay in order to sustain your life.  So when weight starts to dip below the set point, the body responds with hunger cues that tell you to eat.  "FEED ME!!!" it says, in hopes of maintaining its "optimal" weight.  If you're trying to lose weight, people, this is what you must understand: you're going to be hungry.  Period.  Stop bitching, stop whining and moaning and complaining.  Do you want the dimples to disappear from your ass so that you don't look like a giant potato in your bikini?  Do you want your arm fat to stop jiggling when you wave goodbye to your grandma?  You do?  Then suck it up, buttercup.  I am really tired of the "woe is me" attitude that most dieters have.  EXPECT to be hungry if you're trying to lose weight.  Remember, in order to lose weight and fat, the body must be in a caloric deficit.  Ergo, you will be hungry.

There are no tricks - water doesn't really help (trust me, I drink 5 liters a day and I could still eat the ass end out of a rhino at all times).  Appetite suppressants are dumb: you can become dependent upon them AND you can end up rebounding/binging once you go off them (and that's cheating - I despise cheating).  Remember my post about "if it's too good to be true, it probably is?"  That's what I'm talking about here.  Stop looking for shortcuts.  Stop expecting to lose weight while still eating brownies.  Stop thinking that your body is telling you that it wants a cupcake (it's not).  And stop complaining.  No one is holding a gun to your head making you lose weight.  This is something you want, right?  If you'd rather eat garbage than fit into your skinny jeans, then it's pretty clear that you're not ready to take your life into your own hands.

Dieting is about mindset.  You have to flip your thinking to empowerment as opposed to deprivation.  If you feel deprived, you're going to cheat and then you're going to tell me that you've "tried so many diets, but nothing works."  Whenever I hear that, I immediately call bullshit.  It means you didn't stick with it long enough, and it means you weren't 100% compliant.  If you feel empowered, you're going to stick to your diet.  And, really, I hate the word "diet."  Diet is actually how you eat.  It is not something restrictive.  It is healthy, balanced, and should be a permanent lifestyle change.  Instead of saying, "I can't have that because it's not on my diet," say "I choose not to eat that today, because it's not healthy."  Sure, it's a matter of semantics, but the phrasing will make a HUGE impact on how you view your new healthy lifestyle. 

So, turn that frown upside down, and realize that hunger is a sign that your body is eating your own ass.  Now THAT'S something to celebrate, my friends, because my ass has to fit into 3 inches of material in 7.5 weeks.  No one wants to see that shit if it ain't tight.  Trust me.  So, for now, I am hungry - starving, in fact.  But I embrace it, I cherish it, I understand that it is part of the process, and I understand that I am mentally one of the toughest bitches you will ever meet.  That's all the empowerment I need to get through the next 7-8 weeks.  Booya!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Guest Blogger Recipe: Lauren Parker!

My friend, Lauren, is a fabulous cook, and she loves great-tasting, HEALTHY food as much as I do.  Lauren posted a really delicious-looking recipe on her Facebook page last week, and I just HAD to have her guest blog for me. 

I met Lauren last year at SyncStudio in Durham, NC.  As a fitness instructor, I live for people like Lauren: she busts her ass, she sweats, she pushes, she fights, and she succeeds.  Watching her transform her body this year has been a really rewarding experience, and I love having her in classes.  I'd rather have 1 Lauren Parker than 20 non-Lauren Parkers in my class ANY day. 

I hope you enjoy Lauren's deliciously healthy meal - I know I'm for SURE going to try it once my show is over in October!

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If you haven't noticed, Beth's in full on prep mode and feels badly that she can't post her normal clean-eating culinary delights. So she's letting me share some of my goodies with you! First things first, my name is Lauren and I love food.  **Hi Lauren** I'm a marketing and communications professional by day and a foodie by night.  You can find me at food truck rodeos, reading food blogs, or watching Ludo Bites America on the Sundance Channel (if you haven't seen this show, it's worth watching.)

I found my way to clean cooking and fitness about 4 years ago when my sister and I started the Best Life diet. I worked out on a regular basis, cooking at home and looking at what I was eating as yummy fuel. Sadly, I fell off that wagon due to life changes and have since jumped back on over the past year when I met Beth and the awesome Sync Studio community. Over the past year, I have picked up weights and found my way to cycling and yoga, and loved every moment of it (well not every moment, but I definitely feel better when I workout vs. when I don't.) I've refocused my energy and my relationship with food, not as a diet but as a way to try out recipes, enjoy my kitchen and make yummy dishes so that I know what I'm putting in my body.
Enough about me though, let's get to the good stuff - the food! I'm currently rehearsing for a play and found that I was getting home late, so I started planning my meals.  I had to do this or I would end up eating random meals. Not wanting to go to the grocery store (Sunday before the first week of school + new college students getting their lives together = Teeter mad house! No thank you!), I found a recipe for a chicken casserole using things I already had in the freezer. This is normally a Paula Dean dish, so some substitutes to make it a cleaner dish were necessary. 

Here's my version of the reverse chicken potpie: 

Ingredients:
1/2 cup Smart Balance (butter) softened
1 cup fat-free plain greek yogurt (sour cream)
1 egg whites (egg)
1 cup organic whole wheat flour (all-purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 package (16 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1 can tomato basil paste (10-3/4 ounces condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted)
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup shredded fat free cheddar cheese (regular cheddar cheese)

I tossed the chicken in an EEVO/ pepper/ rosemary mix and let it sit while I mixed the other ingredients.  
In a small bowl, cream butter and greek yogurt until smooth. Beat in egg white. Combine the flour, baking powder, corn starch, salt and rosemary; add to creamed mixture. Spread into a greased (with PAM olive oil) 3-qt. baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine the vegetables, chicken, soup and shallots. Pour over crust; sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 50 minutes or until heated through. Yield: 6 servings.

When you throw chicken, veggies and soup over a crust with some cheese, you really can't go wrong.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Contest Prep Veggies that Won't Make You Gag

Veggies: a contest prep staple, whether you like it or not.  If you're like me, you tolerate veggies.  You may like a few, and eat them willingly during the off season, but the rest of the green stuff???????  ICK!  My mother raised me eating copious amounts of greens - I just don't care for them.  I do like asparagus and fresh spinach (the frozen stringy stuff makes me want to vomit, though), and broccolini (not broccoli, but broccolini).  And I now have developed a taste for okra.  But the rest of it - I'm not a fan.

As I get deeper and deeper into prep, veggies can actually become a source of carbs.  My last meal, for example, is 120g ground turkey with 300g green veggies.  300g..........that's way more than a plateful of veggies, folks - it's like a plate and a half, sometimes more, depending on the veggie you choose.  And for a non-veggie-lover, that's a lot of the green stuff.  I tried playing around for MANY weeks, and continued to struggle.  At first I was being lazy and was just steaming stuff with salt and pepper.  I soon realized that I was going to have to suck it up and whip out the culinary skills in order to survive.  Here are 2 dishes I've made lately that I LOVE.  300g of either of these is CAKE...........mmmmmmmmmm, cake.


Steamed Broccolini with an Asian Reduction
3 bunches of broccolini, washed with the stems trimmed (this recipe works with broccoli, too, obviously)
PAM olive oil spray
3 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
1/4 c soy sauce
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t honey (optional)
2 T rice vinegar
1T fresh ginger paste (or 1 T chopped fresh ginger)

Steam broccolini and then blanch them while you create the reduction.

Spray the bottom of a large skillet liberally with PAM (should be a decent amount - enough to saute garlic/ginger without burning).  Heat oil spray over medium-high heat and add chopped garlic and fresh ginger paste.  Saute for about a minute, and be careful not to let it burn.  PAM doesn't last as well as EVOO, so you really have to watch it.  Add in the red pepper flakes and saute them for a few seconds (adding red pepper flakes to oil ALWAYS increases the heat factor more than adding them at the end of a dish).  Add your blanched broccolini to the pan and rotate them several times to coat them in the ginger/garlic/red pepper sauce.  Once coated, add your rice vinegar and soy to the pan and toss to coat.  Remove the broccolini after about a minute and then turn up the heat to high.  Add honey (optional - for those prepping, you can skip it, but it truly only adds trace cals/carbs) and reduce by about 1/3.  Drizzle sauce over top and serve.  Deeeeeeeeelish!

Sauteed Okra (recipe compliments of IFBB Pro, Kayde Puckett!)
3 cups okra, chopped into small slices (about 1/2 an inch)
PAM olive oil spray
cajun seasoning of choice
fresh garlic or garlic powder
salt/pepper

Spray bottom of skillet liberally with PAM (again, enough so the garlic doesn't burn).  Saute chopped garlic for about 1 minute, then add your okra (if using garlic powder, skip this step).  Saute okra for a few minutes and then add in the cajun seasoning.  If you're using garlic powder, this is when you'd add it.  Season okra with salt and pepper and continue to saute. 

The seeds release a slimy liquid as they cook.  This bothers some people, but I don't really mind it.  I saute everything for about 5 minutes or more - they should be soft to the touch.  Sometimes I cook them longer if I have more than 3 cups - it just depends on feel!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

If It Seems Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is

You've heard the saying before - and it's 100% accurate.  Whether it be Obama's "Change" and "Hope" or the next diet fad, Americans seem to be turning to the quick, easy fix for all of their problems.  Perhaps it's a generational thing, perhaps it's a changing American attitude - I'm not quite sure what it is, but it drives me insane, especially when it comes to health and wellness.

It seems that every time I turn on the TV, I see ads for the "Hollywood Cookie Diet (Snooki from Jersey Shore was on this - how did that turn out for her?  Still fat?  Yeah, I thought so)," or "Xenadrine," or "Hip Hop Abs."  All of them promise the same thing: do as little work as possible, but achieve great results - guaranteed!!!  Are we really that lazy?  It takes people who are overweight and unhealthy YEARS to get that way - you don't wake up and suddenly weigh 150 lbs more than you did the previous day.  Weight gain is caused by a caloric surplus.  Every day, in order to gain weight, you have to consume more calories than you burn.  You'd actually be surprised at what the human body burns during the day, just by doing nothing.  So, let's say we have a 150lb male, age 25, 6'0''.  This individual burns about 1745 cals a day AT REST(Basal Metabolic Rate, or, BMR).  Now, if he never went to the gym and didn't exercise, his daily caloric need would be approximately 2100 cals a day (this is how many cals a day he could eat and maintain his weight).  2100 cals a day is quite a lot (although, not so much if you're eating junk food).  So, everyday, this man would need to eat well over 2100 cals in order to start packing on fat.  Overeating makes you fat, pure and simple.  Depending on how many cals a day he eats, he'd have to eat in a caloric surplus for YEARS to gain 100 additional pounds.

My point?  It takes you YEARS to get fat, it's going to take you YEARS to get thin. Any product, aerobic craze workout (ahem, Shake Weight), or colon cleanse (probably #1 on my shit list - no pun intended) that promises results in a matter of weeks or months is a complete SHAM.  Sure, if you eat the Atkins Diet for 3 months, or do the HCG diet and eat 500 cals a day for 6 months, or do a colon cleanse where you're on a liquid diet and eating well below maintenance calories, you will lose weight.  The math is simple: calories in will be < calories out, even by not going to the gym.  And that's the selling point: these companies prey on people who have no interest in working hard.  The result?  3 months of basically being anorexic will enable anyone to lose weight; that weight loss, pure and simple, is not sustainable.  As SOON as you stop eating on the weird diet, or drinking your calories, what's going to happen?  Shocker!  You're going to gain weight.  Then you're going to be disappointed and say that nothing works to help you lose weight.  Sigh. 

I recently saw an infomercial for Sensa, a product that promises rapid and dramatic weight loss results by merely sprinkling some bullshit fairy dust on top of your food.  You can go out and have pizza and ice cream - as long as you sprinkle the Sensa crap on top of your crap food, you'll lose weight.  Really?  So you're going to sprinkle Sensa on everything for the rest of your life?  C'mon, America, I'm going to beat you senseless.

I also see commercials for Hip Hop Abs all the time.  I feel kinda the same way about the Zumba craze.  Hip Hop Abs and Zumba burn calories, so, again, if you burn more than you eat, you're going to lose weight.  And for the average fat American, an hour of Zumba is more than anything they've ever done.  Just getting them off of the couch and doing jumping jacks for 20 minutes would make them lose weight.  Now, what I like about HHA and Zumba are that they're fun, and that's going to make people stick to a program.  But I think it should be part of a whole package of eating healthy, working out, and lifting weights.  It should not be the only thing that people do to lose weight.  What happens when you get bored with Zumba and stop going to classes?  Oh, yep - you'll gain all your weight back.

The biggest problem area for Americans is, and always will be, diet.  In my opinion, diet is 80% or MORE of the weight loss/physique game.  This is why products like Sensa or Xenadrine are so successful.  They relay the message that it's ok to eat shit - their products will work despite a doo doo diet.  Again, unsustainable.  I hate to break it to you, America, but if you want to fit into your skinny jeans, you gotta eat skinny food.  This means skipping the grande caramel macchiato with whipped cream in the morning (330 calories, btw) and subbing it for plain coffee with sugar free caramel syrup.  It means skipping the Big Mac and fries for a 93% lean ground turkey burger and a plain baked potato.  And it means ditching the full fat ice cream for a serving of Greek Yogurt.  Is that as fun?  Not really.  Is it worth it?  Is it sustainable?  Yes.  And, the healthy options taste good, too. 

This problem will not go away anytime soon, I realize this.  But that's because we're some of the laziest freakin' people I've ever seen.  America is going to continue to get fatter and fatter, and bullshit companies are going to continue to profit off of them.  The moral of this story:  eat right, workout like an ATHLETE, and you'll have the body you want.   No BS, no fairy dust, no magic shoes.  Just sweat and grit. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Contest Prep: The Highs and Lows

I'm roughly 2-3 weeks into prep, and things have been relatively smooth-sailing.  I'm a little under 14 weeks out, have 2 cheat meals a week, and am not doing even an hour of cardio.  Life is good!  And, this is the way prep SHOULD look at this stage in the game. 

I've been down this road before, so I know what's ahead, and I know how to handle it.  But for new competitors, or for people who have no clue about the competitive physique industry, you may find this post to be pretty revealing.

First let me start off by saying that no prep is ever the same.  Ever.  The body changes, especially for new competitors who are trying to add mass to their frames.  Take it from me - slow and steady wins the race when it comes to building good, quality, LEAN mass.  You simply cannot add 10lbs of mass in 3 months, and anyone that tells you this is a possibility is either a liar or a steroid user.  If you're like me and want to maintain your beardless face, you'll take the drug-free route, which is the longer route.  I have been lifting heavy as all hell since June of 2009, and 2 years later I am finally at a point where I feel I can be competitive.  My body has changed drastically in those 2 years: I have shoulders, a much wider back, and thicker quads/glutes.  I've had to buy a size larger in shirts/tops/jackets in order to fit my ever-expanding bat wings, but it's all good in the hood.  Due to my weight and size increase, my diet and workouts have also changed over time.  As I get ready to buckle down on my October 29th show prep, I am WELL aware of the fact that my prep for this show will look nothing like my prep for my very first show.  I'm also acutely aware that I will not compete at the same weight as I did a couple years ago.  There's no way that I will weigh 125 on stage ever again, unless I lose mass.  This is why I always say, "Train for a look, not a number."  If I fixated myself on 125, I'd end up disappointed. For newbies, heed this advice - figure competitors don't have to make a weight class like bodybuilders do.  No one cares what your bodyfat percentage is, how much you weigh, or how much you can bench.  They care about your symmetry, your poise, and your teeny tiny waist.  Always keep that in the back of your minds. Weight should be used as a measure of progress, but it is not the be all, end all of your success.  In fact, my body usually stays around the same weight until about 6 weeks out.  That does not mean I'm not making progress.  Actually, it means I'm keeping mass while losing fat, which is fine by me.  But most industry "gurus" will drop cals/carbs and add cardio if the scale stays the same each week.  Lame asses.  Way to think outside the box, guys.

As the weeks progress and the calories SLOWLY drop (I do mean slowly), I will get hungrier and hungrier, and thus crazier and crazier!  All jokes aside, you'd be amazed at what happens to the human psyche as the body becomes deprived of food.  (For the best contest prep article ever written, please read this long, but amazing, amazing article that should be a must-read for all competitors  http://www.scottabel.com/publications/Sometimes%20Falling%20Feels%20like%20Flying%20For%20a%20Little%20While.pdf).  I usually stay strong until about week 5.  5 to 3 weeks out is tough for me. You've made it through over half your prep without cheating, but you still have 5 weeks to go.  The end is near, but not near enough.  This is also the time that your mind starts to play tricks on you.  You send progress pics to your coach and think you look like a snowman, you think you'll NEVER lose enough fat off of your ass to actually hit the stage on your show day without embarrassing yourself, and you start to watch Food Network like it's porn.  Trust me.  Been there, done that, and will likely do it again.  In my defense, I'm a foodie (hence the blog, duh), so I watch Food Network pretty much around the clock.  But it takes a on  sick sort of NEED during contest prep, especially towards the end.  If I can at least SEE amazing food, I almost don't feel as deprived.  Almost.  You'd think it would have the opposite effect, but it doesn't (at least not for me). 

This is the time that separates the women from the girls.  So many of my friends ask me how I deal with my hunger.  "What are your tricks?" they always ask.  There are no tricks, folks.  I hate to disappoint you.  ANYONE who is dieting, listen up: to lose fat you HAVE to be in a caloric deficit.  Period.  End of discussion.  This means you will be hungry.  Expect it, accept it, and get over it.  Turning hunger into a positive thing is where a lot of people fall short.  I take it as a sign that my body is eating my ass, which is always, always a good thing when you have to wear a sparkly thong that covers roughly 1 inch of skin on either side of your crack.  Instead of saying "I can't have that on my diet," say "I choose not to eat that so I can be successful."  That teeny tiny change in wording completely makes the difference in how you will think about dieting and hunger.  You will never succeed at losing weight/fat if you don't accept hunger.  For my 8 weeks of caloric deficit, I just go to another place, mentally.  LA calls this "food maturity," and I suppose it is. 

That brings me to cheating - taking little nibbles of things here and there that you know won't really affect your physique.  Here's the thing: a little + a little + a little = a lot.  For me, I crave entire pizzas and bags of doughnuts during prep.  Obviously I can't have that.  So what good will 1 little bite actually do?  None!  It certainly isn't going to satisfy any craving that I may have, and it may actually just make my cravings WORSE.  That's not to say that I haven't ever slipped up close to a show and had a bite of something that I shouldn't have.  I dare any competitor to tell me that they haven't.  I'm not perfect, and I never claim to be.  But I try to be pretty effing close during contest prep.  For newbie competitors, this is where you will struggle the most, for sure.  It will drive you crazy, and you'll get to a point where you don't want to be around people and their food.  Even normal food starts to look tempting in those last few weeks.  I typically decline social invitations in the last 2 weeks before a show, just because I don't want to deal with the questions, the weird looks as I pull tilapia out of my purse, and I certainly don't want to be around delicious, tempting food.  My recommendation for newbies is this: get all the shit food out of your house.  Throw it away, donate it, whatever you need to do - just get it out.  I don't keep peanut butter, chocolate, or even extra nuts/oats in my house, because I'll want them.  And when those cravings hit, pull out your posing suit and put it on.  I cannot tell you how many times I walked around my house in my suit at 11pm, reminding myself of my goal.  It helped. 

Now for the good news!

I love contest prep.  Truly.  It is the most challenging thing I have EVER done, both physically and mentally.  My workouts are intense, metabolic, and athletic.  I feel like I'm back in my old soccer glory days.  Sprints, agility, plyos....I feel like a straight pimp during prep.  Certainly much better than those whose trainers plop them on a treadmill for 2hrs a day.  I love pushing myself, especially towards the end when my energy is doo doo.  Picking yourself up and pushing on is what makes a winner.  I never give up.  I always imagine the girl next to me on stage, and I sure as hell ain't gonna be beat by someone else.  So I push, I sweat, I grunt, I cry, I bleed, and I may throw up.  Mentally, there are very few people who have the discipline to compete.  I am aware of this.  There's something in my brain that allows me to ignore hunger, to deal with it, and to keep cheat-free.  I'm not sure what it is, and I have trouble identifying with people who can't control themselves.  To me, it's a matter of choice - you either choose to cheat or you choose to stay on plan.  Your success is ENTIRELY in your own hands.  I love the mental side of competing - I am very aware of how strong I am as I approach a show. 

The other plus?  The obvious: the most insanely hot body you can imagine.  Perhaps this is why this industry is full of narcissists.  It's fascinating to me what happens to the body within the last few weeks, and especially the last few days of prep.  Literally, daily changes occur.  This also may be what helps me stay compliant: I can SEE my dedication and self-control paying off in my physique.  I am way more interested in the SCIENCE of what is happening to the body as a show approaches than I am in having a 6-pack.  Sure, it's cool, don't get me wrong, but trying to figure out how water, sodium, and carbs all interact to change the way the body looks is so freaking cool to me.  Many competitors do photoshoots in the days leading to their shows.  I've done many.  To me, the pictures don't serve as a reminder of my hotness, but rather as a reminder of all of my hard work.  I want to capture that moment in time, because I know I won't do this forever.  Additionally, I am so tired of people saying that muscular, athletic women are not attractive.  I know people differ in what they find aesthetically pleasing, but I've always found athletic-looking girls to be hotter than SFGs.  I like a girl with shape, I like a girl who looks like she can kick some ass.  I do not like a girl who looks like a boy, who has no shape, and who looks like she'd fall over with the slightest breeze.  That shit ain't sexy.  My photoshoots are typically done in an effort to show how gorgeous female muscle is.  Be proud of it, ladies.  You've worked your ass off for it...........literally.  If I can change just 1 person's mind via my photos, I'd be happy. 

So for those of who who are embarking upon your first figure competition, remember this: you are a winner as soon as you hit the stage.  Don't worry about how you place, don't worry about your weight, don't worry about anything.  Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.  Trust your trainer, let them do the hard work, be honest with them at all times (biofeedback is CRUCIAL), and really tune into your own body.  It's a truly fascinating time, both mentally and physically, and I love every minute of it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Prep Favorites

I'm within the 1st 2 weeks of prep and all is smooth-sailing for now.  My food is GREAT - lots of good choices for me, especially at breakfast, and all food choices throughout the day are foods that I like.  That's the bonus of working with a trainer who doesn't give you a cookie-cutter diet of nothing but oats, egg whites, chicken, tilapia, and asparagus.  I get stuff like cream of wheat, oat bran, ground turkey, lean red meat, shrimp, scallops, rice cakes, white potatoes..........I like the variety, as my dietary autonomy is still very important as I make the transition over into contest prep mode.  About a week before LA gave me my diet, I sent her an email with all of my faves.  Sure, I can't eat Greek Yogurt and fruit for bfast, lunch, and dinner like I have been for a while, but my taste buds are equally as happy with my current selection.

I spent 3 hrs in the kitchen last Thursday night prepping all of my food, and I resurrected some of my old school recipes.  3hrs in 1 night is a lot for me - once I get into a good rotation/schedule, I'll do 2 nights of about 30-45 minutes each.  I try to keep 1 night to meats and 1 night to starches/veggies.  That way I'm not doing everything at once and it's not as cumbersome of a task.  I firmly believe that dietary success is rooted in preparation/planning, and if you make it overwhelming, you'll be less likely to succeed.  PLAN, people!

Here are some of my faves: they're EASY, fast, and pretty damn good.


BP's simple turkey burgers (idea originally given to me by LA!!)

1 packet of french onion soup
1 package of 93/7% lean ground turkey
green onions, sliced (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix it together with your hands until well-combined.  Form into patties (however big or small you want) OR into meatballs.  Heat a grill pan or grill over medium high heat and spray with PAM.  Grill or pan sear for about 6 mins a side or until done (I under cook mine a bit so that when I re-heat them, they're not too done and dry).  Top with yellow mustard and low sugar ketchup (optional).  I sometimes top mine with pickle slices, too :)

Ultimately the onion soup mix will have to come out, at which time I'll switch over to things like onion/garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, oregano, etc.


BP's Fiesta Chicken
I get crazy for Mexican food during prep, and this tends to satisfy my cheesy needs!  1 of my meals right now is 140g chicken + 100g brown rice, so I grill my chicken breasts for the week plain - just salt and pepper. 

Chicken breast
Brown rice
2-3 T fresh salsa or pico (I think the cilantro adds a lot to the flavor of this dish - don't skip it!)
1 t guacamole seasoning
1 T fat free cheddar cheese

Combine chicken and brown rice in a bowl and top with salsa, guac seasoning, and fat free cheese.  Zap in the microwave for about 1minute 20 seconds until the cheese has melted.  Scrumtrulescent!!


BP's BBQ pulled chicken or pork
Definitely an all-time fave, and I even make this in the off season.  I put this in the crock pot at night before I go to bed; when I wake up in the morning, my chicken/pork are done!  I find using frozen chicken/pork keep it much more moist than using thawed out meat.  That's what she said. 

4-6 FROZEN chicken breasts
vinegar-based BBQ sauce (should have 0 cals)
BBQ seasoning

Pour enough BBQ sauce in the bottom of a crock pot to cover it.  Lay the frozen chicken breasts on top of the BBQ sauce.  Pour a little more sauce on top and sprinkle on the BBQ seasoning.  Roast for 6hrs on low in the crock pot.


BP's basil mint shrimp or scallops
My meal plan usually always calls for "white fish," which includes shrimp and scallops.  I love them both and this recipe is really versatile.

1lb scrimp or large sea scallops
PAM cooking spray
1 T basil
1 T mint
1/2 - 1 T crushed red pepper flakes

Place washed scallops/shrimp in a bowl and spray liberally with PAM.  Sprinkle on basil, mint, and red pepper and toss to coat.  Heat grill pan or regular pan over medium high heat and sear on each side for 2-3 mins.  Yum!

Char-grilled asparagus
2-3 bunches of asparagus, ends trimmed
EVOO or, in my case, PAM olive oil spray
salt/pepper

Arrange asparagus spears in a small pyrex dish and spray with the PAM olive oil spray or with regular olive oil.  Sprinkle salt/pepper on top and toss to coat.  Heat a grill skillet over high heat and char-grill until you see grill marks.  So simple, but really yummy. 

Sweet Potato Fries
I've posted this recipe MANY times, but it's a goodie, so here it is again:

5-6 sweet potatoes, washed and cut into beefsteak fries
onion powder
parsley
salt/pepper
cajun seasoning

Arrange fries on a cookie sheet sprayed with PAM.  Spray the fries lightly with PAM and sprinkle on all the herbs.  Heat your oven to 400 and bake for 40-50 mins.  They won't really be crispy like fries, so don't expect that.  Frying is really what gives them a crispy texture.  These are BAKED and thus healthier. 

Protein Pancakes
168g egg whites (about 3)
7g vanilla protein powder
1/2 t baking powder
2 g sf/ff cheesecake jello pudding mix
45g oats or cream of wheat
cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, splenda

Friday, June 24, 2011

Contest Prep.........And Heeeeeeeere We Go!!

Well, it's about that time.  Time for me to put on my stripper heels and don my custom-fitted glorified sparkly thong.  My next show will be the OCB Yorton Cup on 10/29/11 in Washington DC.  I'm very excited about getting back up on stage for a few reasons.  First, even though I placed 5th in my class at Jr. USAs, I felt I got lucky, especially considering my physique wasn't as bangin' as I wanted it to be or as I knew it could be.  I was personally disappointed in my own performance (although, I do blame my prep), and I feel the need to better myself.  Second, I have worked my ASS off to put on good, lean, quality muscle over the last 10 months.  I've hit the weights HARD, eaten lots of good, clean food, and have put on about 12-15lbs since last year.  My physique is going to look so different from what I brought to the stage last year, and I'm excited to see what is underneath.  Third, putting on that much muscle/weight has affected me a little bit, mentally, since it required that I get a bit bigger.  I look good, don't get me wrong.  I'm not fat, but I did have to buy some bigger clothes, which, as any woman will tell you, can be difficult.  My legs grew a bit, and so have my lats and shoulders, which has increased my overall size.  I've had days where this really affects me, and then other days I'm fine.  I know I can be overly critical of myself, and I am aware of this.  I am also aware that you cannot gain muscle without gaining some fat.  It is what it is. 

I start a new diet July 1 - I will still be off-season, calorie-wise, but I will be changing back to higher protein, moderate carb, lower fat.  My body usually responds very quickly, so we'll see how the first few weeks go.  I'll stick to that for 2 months or so before I start a true contest prep diet.  I'm lucky in that I need only about 8 weeks of more strict dieting to get ready for the stage.  People that prep for 20+ weeks  - you're in the wrong sport.  It should never be that hard or take that long; if it does, see my previous statement. 

Some people have asked me, "Why the switch from the NPC to the OCB?"  I have many, many reasons - probably too many to list; I won't bore you with all of them.  I've competed in the NPC for over a year, and I've seen and heard some things that simply to not appeal to me, do not sit well with me, and that I do not want to be a part of any longer.  That's not to say that I won't do an NPC local show in the future for shits and giggles, but I likely will never compete in the NPC at the national level again.  I'll leave it at that.  Additionally, the drug use really gets to me.  I had a long discussion with a good friend about this last week when I was up in Chicago for Jr. Nats.  I am an athlete and have been since I came out of the womb.  I play fair.  I believe that the person who is the best that day should always win.  And that person should be the best because they've played fair.  The drug use is just too much for me, and I just don't think it's fair for a natural girl like me to stand next to an amazon woman who has been using steroids for 3 years.  We prep for months for these shows and to be screwed on show day is a slap in the damn face.  If you cheat to get on stage, whether that be by taking drugs or doing something weird with a judge, YOU DON'T DESERVE TO WIN.  At the end of the day, you have to look at yourself in the mirror, and you know what you've done.  I am in no way willing to compromise my morals/standards/values or my body for this sport.  This is a hobby for me - something fun to do, a personal challenge to overcome.  I've seen way too many deserving girls get screwed and I'm really tired of it.  I could say a lot more, but I won't.  I will continue to support my friends who compete in the NPC, but I'm moving to a federation that I feel is more fair, and where the cheating is less.  I may piss a few people off with these statements, and that's fine.  These are my opinions, and I've had over a year of going to these shows and hearing weird stories and SEEING things backstage, and this is the conclusion to which I have come. 

So, gang, my recipes will move towards more prep-friendly food.  For those of you who don't compete, I still think you'll find some of the recipes good alternatives (ie protein pancakes - truly delicious).  And for my competitor friends, you'll get to see just how creative I can get when I start to get lean and mean :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gym Etiquette

This blog post is more for comedic entertainment than anything.  Small apologies if this offends you (yes, only small).  These are in no particular order, and I'm sure I'm leaving some out - these are just the ones that piss me off the most.  Feel free to add YOUR favorites in the comments section :)

1) Don't talk on your cell phone
I really hate to break it to you, but no one gives a shit about your conversation.  It's not important, and neither are you.  And you get double turd points if you talk on the cell phone while doing cardio (ahem, SFGs), OR while resting on a bench in between sets.  If you can carry on a conversation while doing cardio, guess what?  You're doing it wrong. 

2) Take a shower
I really don't care about your religion and whether or not it allows you to use deodorant.  I care about my nose and its happiness.  And if I'm trying to crunch out a set of heavy deadlifts, the LAST thing I want to smell is your unwashed undercarriage or your smelly, onion-y pits.  And certainly not a combination of both.  Have some decency.  Bring soap and a washcloth to the gym and scrub that shit before you hit the floor.  Scrub in between sets.  Just BE A DECENT HUMAN BEING!  I cannot stand people who have no regard for others.

3)  Save your boobie shirts for the club
Ladies, you know who you are.  And I'm not hatin'.  You look good with your boobs floppin' all around, and they're nice, but seriously??????  If you need THAT much attention, your problem is in your head and it can't be solved in the gym.  Go see a therapist and get your mind right.  I'm there to do work, not to pick up dudes. 

4)  You don't own the gym
If weights/machines are free, I'm going to take them.  If I don't see you on them, I'm taking them.  Don't come back over to me 10 minutes after I start my circuit and say, "I was using that."  I really, really don't care.  You can work in with me, but you're not taking things away from me while I'm using them.  That's like coming into the bathroom while I'm on the toilet and telling me you have to dookskie.  Go in the sink. 

5) It's called "working in"
If you're sitting on a weight bench, talking on your cell phone (please see Rule #1), talking to your friends, cleaning your nails, twirling your hair, adjusting your boobs (see Rule #3), or anything that is NOT considered working out, I'm likely going to ask you if I can work in with you.  Do not tell me, "No, I'm using this."  Because you're not - you're taking a break, completely NOT using the equipment.  It's one of the biggest rules of gym etiquette to let others work in with you.  I always allow others to work in with me - I play in the sandbox with others.  People who blow off this request think they're God's gift to meatheads, and I dislike them.  And, I usually tell them this and remind them of the rules. 

6) Please, meatheads, lift appropriately
Biggest offenders: lat pulldown machine and leg press.  If your body comes off the seat at the upper part of the movement on lat pulldowns, guess what?  You're using too much weight.  If you can only do partial reps of leg press with 8 plates on each side, guess what?  You're using too much weight.  Oh, and if you DO obnoxiously heavy stuff, re-rack your damn weights.  I see this ALL the time, and only with men.  Is it the extra testosterone?  Is is the machismo?  What is it?  Do you know how ridiculous you look?  And what makes it worse is when you slam the machines/weights down at the end of your 2 pathetic reps and grunt or yell really loudly, like you're a badass or something.  And then you look at all the hot chicks in the room and nod your head.  Really?  I bet you have a really tiny ding dong.

7) You have mirrors at home. 
Please don't strut, kiss your muscles, check out your ass/boobs, or flex in the mirrors at the gym.  No one cares and you look silly.

8) Please learn to count
Maybe this is just an issue at my gym, but I'm very Type A, and when I see the 50s where the 15s should be, I get upset.  What upsets me more is when I see someone pick up the 50s, do a few sets, and then come back to the rack, not even CLOSE to where they got their weights, and put them in the 15 spot.  I mean, do you not pay attention to ANY of your surroundings?  Do you not look at the 12s and 20s on either side of the now misplaced 50s and say, "Hmm, this doesn't look right"??????????  What's the deal, y'all??  Numbers are sequential, always.  So, Fitness World folks, it goes 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, etc.  Please go back to kindergarten. 


9) Don't stand in front of me in the mirror
If I'm doing an exercise that requires me to be VERY precise with my form, I stand in front of a mirror to make sure I'm doing it right (this is what the mirrors are REALLY for - please see Rule #7).  I cannot tell you how many times someone has stepped directly in front of me to do a set of their own.  This again goes back to being aware of yourself in space and in relation to others.  I have a hard time deciding whether people are just THAT oblivious/dumb, or if they're just really hateful people.

10)  Don't do a set DIRECTLY in front of the weight rack
How many times do you go up to the weight rack to pick up your weights, only to have someone standing a pubic-hair away from the rack, in the middle of a set.  If you're an offender in this area, why do you do this?  Are you the protector of the weights?  Do you get a special helmet and cape for such a title?  If not, I can make you one, but it will certainly have some sort of pejorative on it.  People can't get to the weights, moron.  I don't wait for you - I will move you aside gently and take my weights.  Or, if you don't move, I will stand right next to you, as close as you are to the rack, and make it OBVIOUS that you're in the way until you do move. 

End of list

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Papa Spuds Rocks My Socks

About a month ago I was eating dinner with my girlfriends, when one of them said, "I would not be able to LIVE without Papa Spuds!"  She then went on to describe this wonderful world where garden-fresh fruits, veggies, meats, and dairy products are delivered right to her door.  This piqued my interest, so I asked, "What's Papa Spuds?"  My girlfriends looked at me like I had not been LIVING for the last 28 years, so I knew it was something good.  Turns out, they were right! 

Papa Spuds is a local produce delivery system.  You go online (http://www.papaspuds.com/), sign up in 3 easy minutes, and then select your preferences for veggies, fruits, and a myriad of other food items.  You pay weekly, per delivery, and each delivery is $23 for a party of 2, or $40 for a party of 4.  Each different-sized box comes with a pre-selected number of credits (the small boxes come with 20 credits), and you pick exactly what you want until you've reached all of your credits.  Then, every Tuesday, I come home to a box of delightful freshness on my doorstep!!  Oh, and did I mention that if you're going on vacation, you can put and order on hold and not get charged for the week?  It's really quite marvelous, and I'm more than mildly obsessed.  PS also sends recipes with each delivery, so you can order things that you've NEVER eaten before, and know what to do with it.  I ordered quail eggs my first time, and I made a quail egg quiche; it was da bomb!!  I am such a snob about the freshness of my fruits and veggies, and I hate how quickly grocery produce spoils.  It's wonderful to have fresh produce in my house now.  Tomatoes for my salads, bok choy, raspberries for my cereal or greek yogurt, squash, lettuce, mushrooms..........PS even has pork chops. 

One of my deliveries!

Here are some of my favorite creations with my recent PS loot.  As I draw closer and closer to contest prep, I might have to start getting the $40 box so I can stock up on sweet potatoes and asparagus.  And I think contest prep (ie more veggies for me) will be MUCH better with fresh stuff to eat.  Until then, I shall enjoy all the jams, breads, fruits, and cheese to my heart's content!!

And for those of you in the Triangle, if you sign up for Papa Spuds, put me down as your referral and I'll get extra credits on my next order. Thanks in advance for keeping me fat and happy.

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli (cut out the cheese and nuts and sub PAM for oil during prep)

4 cups broccoli florets
3 T olive oil
3 garlic cloves, sliced
salt/pepper
1/2 lemon, zested
1/2 lemon, juiced
3 T toasted pine nuts or sunflower seeds
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1 T fresh basil leaves, chopped

Toss broccoli pieces on a large sheet pan with the sliced garlic and drizzle with 2 T evoo.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from oven and toss with 1 T evoo, lemon zest and juice, pine nuts, cheese, and basil.  Serve immediately.


Honey Ginger Green Beans (make without the honey during prep, and skip the pecans; sub PAM for evoo)

4 T olive oil
1 lb fresh green beans
6 oz mushrooms (I used portobellas since that's what I got from PS)
1/4 c soy sauce
1 T minced garlic
1 shallot, chopped
1 T honey
2 t minced fresh ginger (I used powdered, tastes the same)
3 T chopped pecans (optional)

Heat oil in a skillet until hot.  Reduce to medium and add green beans and mushrooms.  Saute until crisp and tender, about 5 minutes.  Add soy sauce, garlic, honey, ginger, and shallot.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until sauce thickens slightly and coats the beans.  Sprinkly with chopped nuts and serve.


Oven Roasted Potatoes (I make these all during prep by subbing PAM for evoo)

6-8 red potatoes, cut into quarters
2-3 T olive oil
parsley
onion powder

Heat oven to 350.  Mix all ingredients in an oven-safe pyrex dish and bake for 50-55 minutes.