Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hanging Up the Heels

I've been thinking long and hard these last few months about whether or not I want to continue to compete.  I was originally planning on competing at the OCB Presidential Cup in DC in August, but I don't really feel like it anymore.  I know that sounds childish, but competing should be 100% personal; the drive should be internal, not external.  Maybe it is all of the major, major life changes that I've experienced since January that have made me re-think things, or maybe it's that I've been doing this for 3 years now and am over it: whatever the case may be, I simply don't feel like dieting, spraying myself with tanner, and donning my stripper heels to walk across a stage for 10 seconds.  Some may call me a quitter, and that's fine; I don't think I'm "quitting" anything.  Let's not forget that this isn't a "real" sport.  That's actually part of why I'm losing interest in competing.  It's not real.  Nothing about this sport is REAL.  The majority of the people I encounter are fake, superficial, and extremely narcissistic, contests seem to be rigged, people shoot drugs into their asses to get an advantage........I simply don't have time for that.  We all work hard and train hard to get to the stage, so why be a fake, cheating bitch?  Last year at the OCB show, some girl made it her mission to look me up and down backstage at least 20 times.  I wanted to ask her what her problem was, but I ultimately decided that she wasn't worth my time.  I just don't like to be surrounded by that kind of negativity.  In REAL sports, people encourage, support, and motivate.  That's not what I see in the physique industry.  There are a few exceptions to the rule, and I've made some excellent girlfriends through competing.  So, don't get me wrong - there are good people in this industry.  But I'm exhausted at seeing Facebook posts about chicken and friggin asparagus, how much cardio people are doing, and how someone is eating chicken out of a bag in the airport.  Live your friggin' lives, people, because I tell you what: competing is NOT real life.  And I'm tired of the same people being rewarded simply because they're managed by a particular group or train with particular people (who promote drug use and sleeping with judges).  It's high school bullshit.

The other reason I've decided to not compete is because I want to live my life.  I haven't celebrated my birthday in 3 years because I've always been dieting for a show.  I want friggin' birthday cake this year.  AND..........this is a milestone birthday for me - the big 3-0; I want some cake, goddamnit!  I'm in a great place with what I'm eating, with what my body looks like (I really don't believe in having an "off season" and an "on season" wardrobe, folks - you shouldn't be gaining that much weight!), and with how I'm training, and I just don't want to mess with that.  My boyfriend is super active and I love working out with him - we have such a good time.  I've been playing around more in the gym, doing more CrossFit style workouts, and not really being strict with my programs.  And I tell you what: I feel SUPER athletic these days.  I feel stronger, more powerful, more agile, and more flexible than I have in years.  I'm so relaxed and so at ease with everything, and the mere thought of hoovering dry chicken and cold sweet potatoes into my pie hole makes me cry inside. I want to be an athlete above all else, and I always have.  I got into competing because I was bored and didn't have an outlet for my competitive energy.  If I get into CrossFit more, and Tough Mudders/Rugged Maniacs (which I plan to), that void will be filled.  I just don't feel the need to compete anymore.

Lastly, this shit takes a toll on your body.  It ages you prematurely and it's exhausting.  Even though I always prep sanely (ie minimal cardio and lots of food), it still wears on me.  I hate feeling exhausted, fatigued, and I despise feeling hungry all the time.  I'm a food-lover (hence the name of the blog), so starving myself and being hungry 24/7 is so counter-intuitive to me.  I want to play in the kitchen, I want to eat at great restaurants, I want to be able to go on vacation and shove my face full of alcoholic beverages and ice cream if I so choose.  I want to be ME and to live my life as a happy, healthy, athletic woman.  I don't want to be some starving, dried up old hag who is desperately trying to hang with the youngins.  No es bueno. 

So, it looks like 2012 will come and go without me competing, and that is juuuuuuuuuuust fine.  In 2013, I will be looking to get my badass on at CrossFit Durham a little more (I like using it as my cardio a couple times a week - that shit is fun), and I'll also be looking into getting my dirty on at some mud runs.  Because, let's be honest: BP + mud + exercising go together like Kim Kardashian and Apple Bottom Jeans.  Goodbye stripper heels, helloooooooooo dirt.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

No Regrets

I wrote a blog post for Beast back in March about some recent life changes of mine.  Not everyone here follows the Beast blog, so I wanted to take a few minutes to update everyone on what I've been up to for the last few months, why I've been on such a writing hiatus, and where I'm headed within the next few months.

In late January, Jim and I broke up.  Yes - after 5 years, we ended our relationship.  An external observer would never have seen this coming.  We never fought, were 100% committed and faithful to one another, laughed constantly, never ran out of things to talk about, and genuinely enjoyed each other's company.  So what went wrong, you ask?  I never got a ring put on my finger.  Looking back, I could maybe have been more vocal.  But my girlfriends will argue that I shouldn't have had to be more vocal: after 5 years, you either know or you don't, right? Shit, after 2 don't you??  Maybe even 1?  Really, 5 years is just too long and we grew too comfortable.  We also had differing views on marriage, which I only discovered AFTER all of this went down.  What disappoints me the most is that, somewhere along the way, Jim's concept of marriage changed.  I'm not sure if it was his sister's or his best friend's divorce that changed how he viewed marriage, but it definitely deviated from what we had once discussed.  To me, marriage is more than an engagement ring and a piece of paper that says we're legally married.  To me, marriage represents a deeper level of commitment.  It's a solemn vow that you make in front of your friends and family - a vow to stay with the other person, through good and bad times.  A vow to not throw the relationship away when times get tough.  A vow to work, every day, at communicating, sharing, loving, respecting, listening to, and worshipping each other.  For me, marriage is forever.  There is no divorce, unless my husband cheats on me, beats me, or verbally/emotionally abuses me.  Otherwise, you work, you fix do whatever needs to be done.  But you don't give up.  When you get married, you become one, and you are a team.  There is no more individuality.  I firmly believe in that.  When we broke up, an engagement ring was referred to as a "trinket," and marriage was referred to as, "some jewelry and a piece of paper."  Ouch. 

I went back and forth with my decision to end things on an almost daily basis within the first week of breaking things off with Jim.  Was breaking up the right thing to do?  Will I look back on this decision in 2 years and realize that it was the biggest mistake of my life?  The answer to both of these questions is, "Who knows?"  Who really knows?  We can only make decisions with the information we're given at the time of the choice.  For me, 5 years and multiple marriage conversations should have been enough for someone to know A) if they want to marry me and B) that I definitely see myself as a bride and a mother.  My ovaries and eggs won't wait around forever, and neither will I.  I've got shit to do. 

The breakup was not easy.  If you've never been in a long-term relationship, you can never understand the loneliness that comes with sitting on your couch by yourself on Friday and Saturday nights.  My weekends were always spent with Jim.  From Friday at 8pm through Monday morning, we were inseparable.  So, to go from constant companionship to none was extremely difficult for me.  The first few weeks, I cried every night.  Not so much because I missed Jim, but because I missed companionship.  This realization is what eventually made me understand that I made the right decision about ending things.  I missed the presence of the person more than the actual person.  But then that made me feel like a Goddamn terrible human being.  How could I so easily dismiss a 5 year relationship?  How could I get over it so quickly and be so ready to move on?  How could I be ok with breaking up with someone who treated me so well for so long?  I think it is partially due to the fact that I knew LONG before I broke up with Jim that I shouldn't be with him.  I knew after 2 years that he had commitment issues.  They had nothing to do with ME, but more to do with his previous relationships.  Regardless, they affected ME, and that, in turn, affected the way I viewed the relationship.  For the majority of the 5 years I was with Jim, I never felt he was as committed to me as I was to him.  I can't tell you how much that hurts.  And that hurt and distrust is ultimately what caused our demise.  And maybe I buried those emotions, or maybe I just wasn't fully aware of them.  Whatever the case may be, they slowly worked their way to the surface, until one day, I simply could take it no more.  Perhaps it was coming back from Las Vegas in December with no ring on my finger, or perhaps it was my parents getting upset that I still didn't come home for Christmas with a fiance.........who knows.  All I know is that I literally woke up one day and decided I was going to breakup with my boyfriend.

Jim is a wonderful person.  This blog post is not, in ANY way shape or form meant to be disrespectful or slandering of him.  We've all got our own shit and emotional baggage to deal with: I am not immune.  I have some trust issues, and it often takes me a while to let people in; I'm working on that.  Some of Jim's friends told him (and eventually me) that I was "disrespectful" for writing my Beast blog about this topic.  Those friends have since been deleted from Facebook, because I really don't need that bullshit in my life.  On the off-chance that this blog makes its way to Jim and his friends, I want them to know that was never my intent.  I want nothing but the best for Jim: I want him to move on, to find a great woman, and to (hopefully??) get married and have a family.  I am sad that he's upset and scared and hurt - I shed many a tear for HIS emotional pain.  But, damnit, I was hurt and scared and lonely, too.  Am I supposed to sit around and not move on?  Am I supposed to do nothing to help myself get over this shit?  Writing has been, and will always be, my I blogged........and I felt better.  So, suck it.  And it's my blog: I'll do what I want.

After a few weeks of hardly eating or sleeping, I started to feel better.  I was starting to get used to being alone, and it no longer bothered me.  I adopted new sleeping habits (going to bed at 2am every night is NOT ok), started hanging out with new friends, was able to get more shit done around the house, and spent more time with Trotter.  I was feeling better by the day.  This was not an overnight change: it took me a while to feel comfortable in my own skin again after this breakup.  But it was the best thing that's ever happened to me.  I'm a COMPLETELY different person, mentally and physically. 

This breakup coincided with a job change, as well.  I started as a Line Manager at Parexel International, and have about 25 people reporting to me.  The new job was/is stressful, and requires a lot of time, attention, and organization/planning.  So, that coupled with the breakup made my March a really interesting month.  I also went to the Arnold in March with Beast, which proved to be a much-needed getaway.  I met some great people, was able to finally connect with the Beast family, and it provided me with an opportunity to get the hell out of North Carolina for a while.  Praise Jesus.

So, where am I today?  I'm great: I quit teaching spin at Sync in order to free up some time for ME, I've been enjoying my extra time with the fluff, and I've obviously been enjoying more time in my kitchen BY MYSELF. 

For my competitions this year, I'm going to start with the OCB Presidential Cup on August 11th up in Washington DC.  After that, I'm going to try to do 2 more, probably each about 2-4 wks apart, and then that'll be it for me and competing.  Sad, but true.  I've had my fun with it, and I'm really enjoying where I am in my life right now without competing.  Everything is perfectly balanced for me, and I don't need to step foot on stage to prove anything to myself or to anyone else.  I'll be updating more frequently as I prep, so stay tuned!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Marry Me, Bobby Flay!

My parents bought me 2 new cookbooks for Christmas: Giada At Home and Bobby Flay's Bold American Food.  I've been playing around a bit and have cleaned up recipes from both cookbooks.  I've really been enjoying my time in the kitchen lately.  I eat something different EVERY day, I'm feeling fantastic. 

All of the salsas and relishes listed below can be paired with anything - fish, pork, chicken, steak.  I like to plain-grill stuff when I'm lazy and then just serve some of the salsas on top.  They're very versatile.

Stuffed Baby Peppers
PAM olive oil cooking spray
2 T evoo
3-5 slices turkey bacon
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
3/4 c reduced fat or fat free ricotta cheese
1/2 c chopped green onion
20 baby peppers, give or take a few

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350.  Spray rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.  Set aside.

Spray a medium non-stick skillet and heat over medium-high heat.  Cook the turkey bacon fully on both sides until crispy.  Remove and chop, and set aside.  Add a little olive oil to the same skillet and cook the onion until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes.  Set aside and cool for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the onion, turkey bacon, ricotta cheese, and green onion.  Season with salt and pepper.

Using a paring knife, cut 1/2 inch from the stem end of each pepper.  Remove the seeds and veins.  Using a small spoon, fill each pepper with the cheese mixture.  Place all filled peppers on the baking sheet and bake 15-18 minutes until the peppers soften and the cheese is warmed through. 

Tomato and Basil Salsa
1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
1 T finely diced red onion
1.5 t minced seeded jalapeno
2 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 c basil chiffonnade (roll up a basil leaf and chop, length-wise only once)
1.5 t evoo

Spicy Mango Salsa
1/2 c coarsely chopped mango
2 T finely diced red onion
1 t finely diced jalapeno
2 T coarsely chopped cilantro
3 T fresh lime juice

Avocado Relish
1 ripe Haas avocado, coarsely chopped
1 T finely diced red onion
1 T minced jalapeno
2 T fresh lime juice
1 T coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Black Bean-Mango Salsa
1 c cooked or canned black beans, drained
1 medium mango, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 c finely chopped red onion
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
1/2 c coarsely chopped cilantro
1/2 c fresh lime juice
2 T evoo

Pineapple-Red Onion Relish
1/2 c medium-diced fresh pineapple
1/4 c thinly sliced red onion
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1.5 t coarsely chopped cilantro
1 T fresh lime juice
1 T rice wine vinegar

Black Bean-Roasted Corn Salsa
1/2 c cooked or canned black beans, drained
1/2 c roasted corn kernels
2 T finely diced red onion
1/2 T finely diced jalapeno
2 T fresh lime juice
2 T basil chiffonnade
2 T evoo

Red Chile-crusted Salmon Steaks
1/4 c ancho chile powder
2 T ground cumin
6 salmon steaks, about 6oz each

Combine chile powder, cumin, and salt/pepper in a small bowl.  Dredge the salmon steaks in the mixture on 1 side only.  In a large saute pan over high heat, heat some evoo until it smokes.  Cook salmon steaks, pepper side down, for 1 minute or until a crust forms.  Lower the heat to medium, turn the steaks, and cook for 5 more minutes.  Fish should be rare to medium at the most.

Corn and Grilled Pepper Relish
1 c roasted corn kernels
1/2 c finely diced red onion
1 T finely diced red onion
1.5 T balsamic vinegar
1.5 T coarsely chopped cilantro
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1.5 T evoo

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Holy Hiatus!!

Last post was November 21 - holy lazy!  I have been gone from my house pretty much since December 8th when I went on a cruise with some super-cool competitor peeps.  We had a blast and it was a much-needed getaway from work.  After the cruise, I went to Vegas with Jim for a week, and then flew up to Boston for Christmas.  After that, I went to the beach with Jim for New Years.  I really have not stayed inside my house for over 24 hours since 12/8.  Needless to say, my home and my life are a friggin' MESS right now!

I got 2 awesome cookbooks for Christmas: 1 by my future husband, Bobby Flay, and 1 by Giada de Laurentis.  I am very excited to clean up some of their recipes and incorporate them into my diet.  I will OBVIOUSLY be sharing those with you once I experiment a bit.  For Bobby's recipes, in particular, the flavors are so bold and outstanding, that I don't want to lose the impact of all of that deliciousness.  These recipes will be my hardest challenge yet, but I'm really looking forward to it.  Anyone that loves Southwestern food, you're in for a treat.

I actually went to Bobby's restaurant, Mesa Grill, while in Vegas, and it was amazeballs.  Jim and I split a breakfast quesadilla, which was orgasmic.  I had some sort of waffle that had something spicy in it, and I licked the plate.  I will propose marriage to any many that can cook like that.  Day-um.

I will be going to the Arnold this March, and am very excited about it.  I've always wanted to go, and now I'm finally getting the chance, thanks to the folks at Beast.  It will be hard work, but I am looking forward to doing a little networking and schmoozing, as well!  That, of course, means that I need to start prepping for the Arnold, so I talked to LA about what that will look like.  LA knows me so well, and because she knows how much I am enjoying my time in the kitchen, we're switching up my workouts to a more metabolic focus so that I don't have to even touch my diet yet.  It's a less extreme version of contest prep, basically.  We'll hit it hard with MET stuff, then take out cheats, if I need it - but my macros will stay the same.  But I'm STILL only 6lbs above dry out, and that's even after eating like a d-bag for the last 15 days.  So I really don't have much work to do.  It will be nice to look sexy at the Arnold while still eating doughnuts and cooking Bobby Flay magic, don't you think??  :)