Friday, September 1, 2017

Summer After the Stage

It's been 4 months since my first bikini competition and just as long since I've been trying to work my way back into "normalcy"... whatever that means. Non competition brain? See, this is the part that you don't hear a lot about. Everyone talks about the prep and show day. At least I never heard much about what happens after. 

Don't get me wrong, I LOVED everything about prep. It suited my personality. The food, workouts, accountability, structure. I didn't even really miss booze. I traveled and hung out with friends. I kept as much of my regular life as I could while still giving competition prep 110%. It consumed me and my life, but I was okay with that. I was surrounded by people who supported me even when they thought it was crazy. 

Show day... I always say expectations are the root of disappointment. And I, too, fell victim of this. I worked SO damn hard and felt confident and amazing, but placing wasn't in the cards for me that day. Sure, I was devastated the day of, but I picked myself up and realized that wasn't what competition was about. In hindsight I know what I could have done differently as my "stage body" did not quite match my pre stage body. 

Throughout the process I made friends, gained confidence, and learned so much about the sport, nutrition/exercise science, my body, and most of all myself. This is what bodybuilding is about. And even though it may have taken me almost a week to get over myself so to say, I realized it.

After competition I gave myself a week to eat and workout how my body wanted... even if that meant deadlifts for 30 minutes on my lunch break. Actually, let's back up... I had a photoshoot scheduled for the Monday after the show, but since I decided to eat foods I hadn't in months all day Sunday, I felt terrible physically and mentally, so that got cancelled. I then decided I didn't need to be as strict, but was trying to reverse diet off of carb cycling. My hormones were a MESS. My body reacted negatively to foods I used to enjoy. And couldn't for the life of me figure out how to go back to "pre-prep life". It's hard when you go from 9-10 HOURS of working out a week to not having to workout at all if you don't want to. It's hard going from ALL THE PROTEIN to normal amounts for lifting. My head was confused and it stressed me out.

I finally scheduled a photoshoot for the end of May. Success! I thought, now I have a reason to keep this up and not be a weirdo. Unfortunately, it had to be rescheduled for the end of July due to a family emergency and I continued with my pseudo strict dieting for another 6-8 weeks. 

Let me tell you... the body is It will rebel. It will demand. It will get what it wants regardless of what control you think you have. There were days I would give in and eat the damn cookie or have the giant sweet potato when I wasn't having carbs. It wants what it wants. I know I need to take care of my body if I want to sustain my life as an athlete. And it was a photoshoot I was prepping for not a tiny bikini on a stage. That being said, it still messed me up mentally after I'd give in. Oh the glories of my sick brain.

I held onto until the photoshoot and did a peak week before. For those who don't know, peak week is when you really change your body for competition - the final push if you will and usually involves some form of carb cycling or loading and water manipulation of some sort. I made it through and the morning of my photoshoot looked in the mirror...

"I don't look like I was stage ready!? How isthis possible?! I did all the right things!!" I didn't look stage ready because I wasn't getting on stage. I took a step back and said to myself "You look great! You've been working hard and you're going to rock it today!" I stopped focusing on the "softness" in places I was self conscious about and moved on. I'm glad because the images that Russ and I captured were nothing short of wonderful. I honestly love them more than my stage photos.

After reviewing them, it hit me. You don't need to be ripped and shredded to feel confident and strong. I eased back into non competition eating and continued my workouts. I tried to embrace the fluffiness that would happen from eating carbohydrates telling myself they'll help me recover and "give me gainz".

So, I'm now a little over a month out from that. I said to my friend, Karyn, yesterday that I think I'm finally okay mentally about my body, eating, and lifting. My hormones have finally calmed down. I'm enjoying my workouts and food again. Eating to fuel my workouts and my goals instead of solely to manipulate what my body looks like. I can skip a workout and feel okay about it or I can have a drink if I want. I can deviate from my workouts and do something else that seems fun or join others in their workouts.

It's been a difficult decision, but I've also decided I won't be competing in November. I'm finally in a headspace that can rationalize that I was doing it for redemption and not the right reasons. That's okay! I don't know for sure when the next one will be, but I'm hitting that stage with the BEST me I can build.

I've been enjoying life a little more and not feeling guilty. And best of all, I get to go on vacation with 2 people who mean a lot to me and not have food/workouts consume my life. I get to be active, but not deliberate.

Whatever you do, do it with passion and purpose. Make sure you feel good.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I Gotta Be Honest With You For a Minute...

A year ago, on the plane to my honeymoon, I wrote a little snippet.  I put what had been in my head into actual words.  I never had the courage to share them, however, for some reason over the past few weeks I’ve been gaining more courage.  I don’t know if it’s bikini prep or what, but I know that I want my story to help someone else who might be struggling.  I know how hard it can be to deal with these thoughts and feelings and think that you are alone.

A year after writing this post, I am in the midst of preparing for a bikini competition; something I never imagined I would EVER be doing.  During my Dare to Eat program, I was inspired and empowered by my coach, Garrett Wood.  I feel stronger and more confident than I ever have in my entire life!  I have definition and leanness that I always aspired to have. And the crazy thing is… I still have the thoughts outlined below.  I still nitpick and “wish it were better”.  I still have anxiety about what I’m putting into my body.  I freaked out in the beginning of prep because I thought I was eating too much.  Really, it was the anxiety of letting someone else control what I was eating.  I tried to take it back and coach wouldn’t let me; I had to trust the process.  9 weeks into prep, I realized this was a blessing in disguise. I’ve learned to nourish my body with what it needs for what I’m asking it to do.  I have to or else it won’t function properly.  I’ve learned progress, not perfection (at least not yet).  And I’ve learned that it’s okay to let someone else control something in your life.

Who would have thought that bikini prep would help my recovery??

So in honor of International Women’s Day (or at least that’s the excuse I’m using because I feel empowered today!), here’s my ramblings from last year.  Enjoy!

February 2016

Eating disorders are a mean thing.  They infiltrate your mind and never fully let go.  Even in recovery there is always a nagging voice that says mean things.  They never go away.  The thing about recover though is that you can either ignore these voices or tell them to shut the hell up.  You have learned ways to cope with triggers or distract yourself long enough for the behaviors to pass.  The hardest part for me has been telling these voices they are wrong.

I’ve been on my Dare to Eat program for almost 11 weeks now.  I’ve lost 10 pounds and many inches.  I’ve leaned out and gotten stronger.  I have definition in my shoulders and can almost see my abs.  I’ve been diligent and dedicated while still enjoying foods I love, drinking beer, and traveling.  This program has given me the confidence to march into Victoria’s Secret and buy a “sexy” bikini without hesitation!

But, as soon as I look in a mirror wearing a pair of yoga pants I can only focus on my hips and thighs.  Enter the mean voices.  “They’re too big” “You could stand to lose a few more inches” “Why did you wear those?” … You get the point.  You’re probably thinking “But, she just said all those great things!”  That’s the funny thing, I am too.  But, I’ve reached a point in my recovery that I don’t let the negative self talk ruin my day.  I acknowledge it without validation, remind myself that those “big thighs and butt” are strong and don’t look in the mirror again until the thoughts pass.

I’m by no means perfect and still have a lot to do mentally and physically.  It’s not about perfection though, it’s about acceptance.  Accepting who you are what your strengths are.  Saying it’s okay to be flawed, it’s okay to mess up.  Everyone is and everyone does.  It’s about gaining the confidence to say these things and believe them.

I’ve been in recovery for 3-5 years.  I honestly couldn’t tell you though because that’s how I manage to stay here.  I don’t focus on the last negative emotion related to my illness.  I focus on the fact that I can’t remember when it was.

As I mentioned, EDs are mean and make you crazy.  I do remember one painful incident in particular that made me realize I had to do something.  I also know that wasn’t the last incident, simply the one that made me say enough is enough!

But, even after all of my hard work and all of my self care, I still have this voice that says “You’re fat” or “You’re not good enough” and picks me apart because it’s my biggest critic…

Only now I know how to say “Go home, crazy.  You’re drunk”

I challenge you to do the same.