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!

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Team Bombshell Bootcamp Recap!

Last weekend I attended Bombshell Weekend Camp in Daytona Beach, Florida.  It was my second time attending.  The first time was one year ago when I was a camp “Newbie”.   This year, as a “Veteran”, I loved camp even more.  It was a relatively small, intimate camp, which I prefer over the bigger ones—I got to spend time with each of my wonderful coaches and catch up with them.

I stayed in a hotel with a wonderful teammate named Susan (find her Facebook page here).  She is a wife, mom of three kids, and she works—she has such a full plate, and still keeps up her amazing physique!

On the first evening at camp, the “Veterans” showed up after the new campers had already left for the day.  We had a great shoulder workout led by my friend IFBB Bikini Pro Lacey DeLuca.  Lacey pushed me to lift heavier than I thought I could, and she taught me to stop using my traps to assist me—big traps don’t look good on female competitors, so I need to prevent mine from growing.  Here’s a pic of Susan and another great bikini competitor, Barbara:

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We worked a lot on posing this weekend, which was invaluable for me because I had no idea how to pose like a Figure competitor.  It’s much different from bikini, and I have grown to LOVE it.  It just feels more like “me”. I’m not a naturally outgoing, sassy girl, so it was a real stretch for me to act out that role onstage—and in the end, if you look uncomfortable onstage, the judges can sense it.  I am certain that as a “Figure girl”, I will be much more confident onstage.

We ran a lot over the weekend—over the infamous bridge (a total of 4 times!), down to the beach to do a killer plyo workout, and all around Daytona Beach.  We lunged, squatted, jumped and worked out every muscle in our bodies—and I loved it!  Here is a silly picture of me after plyos (I am drenched in sweat but SO HAPPY!)

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The best part about camp is the connection between all the women.  Lots of people feel pretty confident in their clothes, but when they’re standing in front of a huge mirror in a tiny bikini and high heels with pale, un-tanned skin, a few extra pounds from the holidays, and the coach sitting on the floor directing poses, it’s not easy to feel confident.  We have to let it all hang out at camp—literally!  This vulnerability creates a bond between all the girls that is really wonderful.  We excitedly discuss each others’ upcoming shows and cheer each other on as sweat pours down our faces.

 Plan for 2013 Season

I sat down with my coaches, Rob & Shannon, to discuss my show schedule for the year.  I originally thought I might be ready for a June show, but since I am switching to Figure, it’s going to take more time for me to be really ready.  They don’t want to “diet me down” too fast—they want to take it slow, which is fine with me.  I’m in this for the long haul.  My big far-off dream is to become an IFBB Pro Figure competitor and be able to compete with the best in this business, which requires a lot of time, hard work, sweat and patience.