Journey to First Powerlifting Meet!

Hello!

If this is your first visit, welcome to my blog! I have been writing it since 2011, which is crazy!  A lot has changed since my first post. Although the blog has been called “Legally Fit Girl” since day 1, I am definitely not a lawyer (law school was fun though!).  I am a nutrition coach for the most amazing company ever, Working Against Gravity (WAG) and I love it!

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My training and nutrition have changed so much since 2011.  Originally my goal was to compete in bikini & figure competitions, and I achieved that. I reached nationally-qualified status.  Then, when it started to feel repetitive and my body wasn’t responding very well, I decided it was time to find the “fun” in fitness again.  With my husband’s help, I discovered CrossFit and learned a million new things – Olympic lifting, gymnastics, powerlifting, aerobic capacity, and more!

Then, a few months ago, upon noticing that the only things I wanted to do in CrossFit involved lifting heavy things (and knowing that my strength numbers need to go up, to be competitive in CrossFit), I am now specialized in powerlifting.  For my friends who aren’t familiar with powerlifting, it composes three lifts: bench press, deadlift, and squat.  So I need to get super-strong with these lifts! 🙂

I just hired my first powerlifting coach, named Ben Pollack. He was recommended to me by a fellow WAG coach Kate Hart (who is like Wonder Woman and you must follow her on Instagram!).  Ben has given me a very structured strength program with the aim of competing in my first powerlifting meet in February 2018. I am so excited!  For the last decade I have been obsessed with being strong and looking strong, but I don’t feel that my training or nutrition have permitted me to expand to my full potential until now!

Speaking of nutrition, that has changed a lot for me too in the last few years. When I began training for bodybuilding competitions, I followed strict, structured meal plans. I learned how to weigh and measure my food with a food scale, but I had no knowledge of how many calories or macronutrients I was consuming. Now, I subscribe to a flexible dieting philosophy (which is how we coach at WAG). This has been life changing for me, and I still check in every week with my own coach at WAG. Coaches need coaches too! You can read more about flexible dieting and counting macros at this blog from WAG.

So currently, I am consuming around 130 grams protein / 240 grams carbs / 56 grams fat (plus fiber of course) and working very, very hard on gaining strength and muscle size.  Eating this amount of food is

a huge accomplishment for me because, less than two years ago when preparing for a figure competition, I was consuming about half that amount!  I had horribly low energy, did excessive cardio, and was obsessed with the scale.  Now I comfortably maintain a body weight of around 145-148 lbs and I feel awesome, with plenty of energy to lift heavy and enjoy life!

So follow along with my journey to my first powerlifting meet in a few months!  Thanks for reading! I post often on Instagram so follow me if want to see my day-to-day stuff!   #SkinnyToStrong 

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Here is me now…
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Here is where I need to be. Lol 🙂
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Sticking To Your Nutrition Plan While Traveling: Chicago Version!

Hello everybody!

IMG_0728I have returned from a short weekend getaway to Chicago (a few hours’ drive from our home in Michigan).  We were celebrating my fiancé Rocko’s birthday! Each year he and I take a short trip together someplace we’ve never explored, and this year turned out great.  Part of the fun was, of course, the food!  I am going to share with you how I stay on track with my nutrition plan and training while on the road.

The first step is, of course, preparation.  We picked our AirBnB in downtown Chicago (which I prefer over a hotel because there’s a full kitchen) and immediately started looking at what was nearby.  We found a couple of gyms within walking distance, as well as a Whole Foods. We planned to lift weights each morning we were there.

IMG_0706One of the most critical things to do before you leave for your trip: pack travel-friendly food!  We brought a Six Pack cooler bag with us stocked with:

  • protein powder packets
  • cut-up veggies (I eat tons of cucumber and bell peppers)
  • already-cooked chicken
  • hard-boiled eggs
  • Kodiak Cakes protein pancake mix
  • condiments like hot sauce and stevia

We knew we would eat out for 1-2 meals per day.  When you go out to eat, you run the highest risk of going over your allotted fat or carbs macros, so I place the biggest focus on bringing protein sources with me.  I always recommend clients pack protein bars with them for trips (some brands I like include Quest Bars, Rx Bars, and B-Up Bars) and/or packets of protein powder (can be found at LifeTime, Whole Foods, or most health food stores).   It’s not fun to come back from a vacation, step on the bathroom scale and see a huge jump – so plan in advance and do yourself a favor 🙂
IMG_0735On our first day in Chicago, we focused on the most important objective: find the BEST Chicago pizza!  Because I knew we would eat pizza, I planned my day of eating in advance:  I kept the carbs and fat low in my breakfast with higher protein (example: egg white omelet with veggies).

We were not disappointed in Lou Malnati’s Pizza, which was in walking distance of our AirBnB (notice the “walking” theme throughout this entire blog – Rocko and I walked a LOT!).  The pizza was amazing. So the question is: how do you track this pizza in MyFitnessPal (MFP)?

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Fortunately, Lou Malnati’s has several of its items in the MFP database!  We ordered a pizza called “The Lou” and I sliced off 1/4 of it.  That serving had 40 g carbs / 28 g fat– and I wanted to save macros for dessert!  So, I chose not have any of the cheesy bread appetizer we ordered.  Later in the afternoon, we stopped by Sprinkles Cupcakes where I had half of a cupcake (and, of course, logged that into MFP too – 31 g carbs / 13.4 g fat).

The next day, we woke up, put on our workout gear and headed to a local LA Fitness for strength training.  (Again, I kept breakfast low-carb and low-fat to save macros!)  I love to strength train on vacation because it makes me feel like I’m putting the food to use!

IMG_0709Next, we explored the city, including a big breakfast at a great place called WildBerry (right next to Millenium Park).  It was delicious and extravagant – S’Mores pancakes, hash browns with gravy, etc.  This was difficult to track because WildBerry was not in the MyFitnessPal database.  So, instead, I found similar entries in MFP from IHop!  IHop and Denny’s are two places which are quite useful for tracking food because their items are relatively simple and the entries are pretty accurate.  I shared all breakfast items with Rocko, cutting off smaller portions for myself and enjoying every bite.

My main point in describing this day of eating & training:  you CAN still hit your macro goals while on vacation IF you plan in advance and watch your portion sizes.  I returned from vacation weighing exactly the same, if not a little less (which is about 141-142 lbs, for those who are wondering – I am 5’7” with lots of muscle!).   If your goals are important to you, it’s worth the planning and preparation I described above 🙂

IMG_0695Hope you enjoyed this blog!  Thanks for reading!

26 Days Out: Forcing Things to Happen vs. Letting Them Happen

Today is Sunday, my rest day.  26 days until the NPC Natural Western USA Figure competition.  My body—my nervous system—is very tired.  I am spending the day studying for school …. in bed. Ha. I am so sore, and my bed is the most comfortable place.  But I am also at peace.  Admittedly, I woke up this morning in a state of anxiety (like I do pretty much every morning) thinking, “Maybe I should go do extra cardio?!”  But then I stopped and recognized that the idea of doing extra cardio did not feel good in my body.  In the past, I might have forced myself to go do it anyway. And then it would have been a pathetic cardio session with me feeling frustrated the whole time.  But I told myself at the beginning of this competition prep that I would not force things to happen—I would let them happen.  Let me explain using an analogy:

One of my life role models is named Martha Beck (she’s a Harvard-educated sociologist, life coach and best-selling author).  One of her methods of teaching people to be happier and calmer is to have them work with horses: usually when a horse is behaving badly and violently, humans will attempt to “break” them using physical means—ropes, whips, etc… basically forms of torture.  Sometimes that will work. But in her seminars, Martha teaches people that if you stand in a pen with the horse—just stand there—and offer the horse kindness and compassion, and show it that you’re not going to hurt it, it will eventually calm down and “join up” with you.  (Here’s a video of Martha Beck’s friend, Koelle Simpson, explaining this in more detail in a TED Talk).

So here’s where the analogy comes in: the horse is like your own human body.  You can certainly torture it via starvation diets and excessive exercise, and you can get some results.  This is what I had done for a long time, and it sort of worked—and I also suffered miserably internally (one time in high school I actually ended up in the hospital with severe dehydration because I kept exercising when I was sick with the flu… brilliant, huh?).

There is, I believe, a better way.  I have adopted the approach of being kind and compassionate to my body, and recognizing its limits.  At my gym, the people who work there are so sweet—they call me “The Machine”… but in reality our human bodies are not machines.  They are animals that require sufficient food and physical movement and rest.  All of my ideas in this blog may sound a little strange to many Figure & Bikini competitors who enjoy the (so-called) inspirational/motivational “Fitspo” posts on Facebook and Instagram  (e.g. “push yourself to the limit!” and my least favorite of all time: “do it for the thigh gap!” etc.)  Those concepts no longer resonate with me.  I started training to become a Figure competitor because I love it, and it’s that love that will carry me through these next 26 days until showtime.  Let’s see how it goes … 🙂

Thank you for reading!

A Long (Sometimes Boring, Sometimes Painful) Journey–But It’s Worth It!

Hello!

It has been awhile since I posted.  Truthfully it’s because I didn’t think anybody noticed and/or cared.  But lately people have been looking at me quizzically, asking “Why haven’t you posted on your blog ?” I stare blankly back, surprised that anyone other than my mom reads this thing (and let’s face it, I MAKE her read it. Love you mom!).

Here’s what’s been going on fitness-wise: I no longer train with Team Bombshell. I have a different coach. I did not make this decision because I have any negative feelings toward Team Bombshell.  They are a wonderful team, and they have changed my life for the better by showing me what I was capable of accomplishing.  But sometimes you have to listen to your heart and make the decision that feels right in your gut (actually I think that’s how ALL decisions should be made—has anyone else read Malcolm Gladwell’s book called “Blink”? It is fantastic and the message is: your body knows the right decision long before your conscious mind figures it out). 

Here’s what has NOT changed: I train hard every single day with the goal of becoming an IFBB professional athlete. I will not compete again in 2013 (the season has pretty much wrapped up anyway—most fitness athletes are in their “offseason” at this point). I am not sure what my first competition will be in 2014, but it will be in the Bikini division (although I don’t have a suit… I sold my previous blue one. Any color recommendations?).  I have accepted the fact that I’m better suited for Bikini than Figure right now (*see my previous blog posts if you are thinking “WTF is she talking about?”)  The reason my focus is not 100 percent on competing is that I have this other thing I’m working on…. Hmm, what was it again?—oh right, I’m GRADUATING LAW SCHOOL in May. And, even scarier, taking the bar exam! Exciting and terrifying.

This is all okay. I have developed have a long-term perspective with fitness and competing. It is a marathon, not a sprint. I don’t need a competition four weeks away to keep me motivated—I want to be within 5-7 pounds of my competition weight year-round.  I would like to pursue commercial fitness modeling in the future as well, and you never know when modeling opportunities will arise—I’d better be in shape!

Here is my biggest “aha moment” over the last year or so: the most important thing in this fitness journey is that I help other people believe that THEY can achieve their fitness goals.  

Time to get sappy and emotional! 🙂 To be really frank, the trophies I have from competing are now under my bed in a cardboard box collecting dust.  They are just objects.  Here is what’s REAL: when someone says that I inspired them to go to the gym after six months of avoiding it. Or when they start doing HIIT on their elliptical (Julia P!) Or when they hold up their lunch Tupperware to proudly display the salad inside. Or when they vow to give up soda forever (Eddie W… maybe? :-). Those moments are real and important and they could be the beginning of a huge change in that person’s life.

If you want to experience change in YOUR life… like, if you sink into depression when you look in the 3-way mirror in the department store dressing room (was that just me?) but don’t know what to do, let me show you with my own pictures below—you can changeBUT the disclaimer is: it’s not all rah-rah-lose-10-pounds-in-5-minutes like the Facebook ad tells you.  …It will take awhile. Probably longer than you think.  For example, the picture on the left is me almost exactly three years ago (November 2010).  I was doing what the mainstream fitness magazines told me to do.  I did a zillion hours of steady-state cardio on the elliptical and ate the minimal number of calories to survive (mostly composed of sugar).  I hated my body.  See how I’m wearing that stupid hat? I was literally trying to hide. I felt ashamed.

Now, picture on the right is from last week (November 2013. Sorry for the dusty mirror).  I have a SHAPE! I am not skinny fat—I have muscular but still feminine curves. I am strong physically and emotionally. I don’t do steady-state cardio—I do high-intensity intervals. I lift heavy weights. I eat to fuel my performance in the gym and aid muscle growth. Maybe the difference doesn’t look huge to you, but it has changed my life significantly.  

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It took three years to make this change. Here is my nerdy equation for what it required:

(Many small, seemingly insignificant decisions made repeatedly) + (Patience) + (Believing the end result would be worth it) + (Believing that I could do it, i.e. efficacy) – (Fear) = Success.

Write to me and tell me how your own fitness plan is going (or if it’s nonexistent, how are you going to change that?). Thank you for reading!

Progress from December 2010-September 2012

Sometimes when I’m frustrated with the pace of progress in my physique, I have to step back and look at old photos to see how far I’ve come.

Don’t give up! Every little effort you make DOES make a difference. When you add them all up, major changes happen.

3 weeks out from my next show–the Ft. Lauderdale Cup!  Time to tighten up and lean out a bit & I’ll be ready 🙂