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's Sweet 16 time, bitches!!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


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.'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


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!

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: 

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.