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  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.