Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Freedom from the scales

You’ve heard it a million times before- its not the number on the scale that counts, muscle weighs more than fat, it fluctuates day to day, fluids etc etc!!?

And we all nod our heads and agree, yes its just one tool to assist measure progress in addition to how we look in the mirror, clothes fitting, tape measurements and skinfolds. But when your aim is to lean down, after a week or so of busting your ass, just quietly- what woman doesn’t get some pleasure from seeing the scale weight decrease?

That’s why comp prep is a unique and valuable experience for me. For years, I’ve judged my progress, success and to sound drastic, value/happiness on my weight which fluctuated to its highest point at about March 2008 (68kg). I remember how I felt when I would look in my wardrobe and just know most of my clothes would be too tight. I was miserable and felt powerless to change. Sure, I knew that if I cut calories and did several aerobics classes per week I would lose weight but experience told me I could never keep it up and keep the weight off -so what was the point?

When deciding to compete; I had been weight training for a couple of years and knew I had a nice shape hidden under a few layers. But I also knew that I had many demons to slay in terms of my relationship with food before I could commit to the rigours of a comp prep diet. I didn’t doubt my ability to stick to the plan so much as I feared the onset of an eating disorder, having flirted dangerously with binge eating disorder for the past few years. So we engaged our coach about 15 months out from our intended comp (June 2008 – September 2009). He measured our progress by skinfolds and I learnt that while I would obviously lose weight on the scales as I lost fat, it was actually preferable to hold as much scale weight (MUSCLE) as possible while dropping the fat by dieting slowly and correctly. So I began to weigh myself only to record against skinfold measurements when tracking my progress.

When I first heard the weight at which I would compete I immediately thought it was impossible. But I put this thought aside and trusted my coach that if I did as I was told, things would all eventually fall into place. It was extremely exciting to see the numbers drop, especially when I broke through some barriers, eg 63kg which had previously been my ‘comfortable’ maintenance point, getting under 60kg of course and now sub 55kg. The lowest I had been previously as an adult was about 57kg- at the time I was eating 800-1000 calories a day, doing at least an hour of high intensity aerobics a day (Body Attack etc)…. and still had a pot belly!

Its only last week that I’ve truly realised how irrelevant the scale is… the batteries died on Friday and I realised I didn’t care! Its a startling relevation actually, why leave your sense of achievement on a (sometimes random) number... wouldn't you be better off making sure you eat right and exercise consistently? If so, the number will take care of itself! Meanwhile, the batteries in our food scale carked it last night and I totally flipped! (on a comp prep you weigh EVERYTHING) LOL!

In summary, It takes time to undo years of self doubt brainwashing. Be kind and patient with yourself. My maintenance goals for the offseason will definitely be on skinfolds and continuing to use the scale as a rough guide with an aim to increasing lean mass (no, don't throw them out the window just yet). I bought new jeans a little while ago when I reached the size I hope to maintain, so as long as they fit, I’m happy!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

9 weeks oooh single digits!

Well this is going to be a bit of a random brain dump/update because I don't have anything really new or exciting to post! Saw our coach yesterday and had a good drop with the skinfolds after starting on some fat burners. So my meal plan hasn't changed again which is GREAT because I'm still comfortable with what I'm eating at the moment, but I am getting to the point where I don't want to give anything else up- variety is good as long as you can get away with it!

Strength at the gym is not bad either but energy otherwise has been a little flat and I'm pretty much sore all the time. If we weren't training for comp I would tell myself I'm overtraining and take a break, but this is all normal and part of it I guess. When at the gym I try to psyche myself up and make the most of the session because while I don't think I can put on muscle while dieting, I sure can't afford to lose any!

So how am I going with the death of the cheat meal? Fine mostly, as my day to day diet does not feel too restrictive at this stage... although that is probably because I have been on a meal plan so long that all the changes have been very slow and gradual- recommend this because there's no bad shocks! ask me twelve months ago if I could live without tomato sauce? LOL! I did struggle mentally a little at first as so far the longest I have been without a cheat meal is 16 days BUT gosh, time is flying! 

People have started asking me when am I going to start eating 'normally' again? Its too difficult to explain to them all about how I don't even really view this as a diet, I'm just eating a certain way to achieve a goal (ie skinfolds low enough to compete) and that post comp I'll simply be changing the meal plan accordingly.. So no, sorry I don't intend to EVER go back to saying yes every time someone offers me food, getting excited over catering 'leftovers', eating vegetables every other day and firing up the sandwich maker for lunch. It really is sad when eating a huge salad every day is unusual behaviour which people can't help commenting on! So yeah, who wants to be normal anyway? lol. 

Monday, July 20, 2009

*LAST cheat meal*

...was devoured and enjoyed yesterday! I had already planned it so I'm very glad Jon gave me permission to eat it at our last appointment lol. 'Last one!' he says!

It was pretty good timing though, its my birthday this Wednesday and before we started out 20 week out comp diet countdown, I never dreamed I'd still be allowed an all out cheat meal at this stage in the game! So I was able to go to one of my favourite restaurants, Sizzler :) with my family. The inner fat girl in me used to love Sizzler simply because it was, all you can eat. However, over the last twelve months, I've gotten more and more used to the idea of having one cheat meal every so often (eg once per week) without this meaning that I have to absolutely guts it! At first I was just binging, ie eating past the point of pleasure and feeling a loss of control. But with practice, the last few months especially I have really noticed the difference in how, when I eat slowly and mindfully (actually enjoying the food) I need less of it to feel satisfied. I'm also not really craving any junky foods during a period of just a week, which helps. I can still put away a bloody lot of food for my size though (haha!) but now I can honestly say that I enjoyed every bite :) Now, I like Sizzler for the variety- you can have a little taste of so many things without ordering everything and then wasting it!

At first I was quite disappointed when I couldn't get the meal I had planned to.. the mega bacon cheeseburger deluxe (with grilled chicken instead of beef patty- Definately NOT anything like the one pictured above!!!)- I tried to hide my disappointment to the poor cashier but I felt like saying to her- this is kind of a big deal, you don't understand!!!! My substitite, grilled chicken with bacon and melted cheese served with chips (and of course, tomato sauce) more than compensated though cos I just had a couple of those yummo dinner rolls on the side ;) Good karma also rewarded my effort to be polite when they happened to have my TWO favourite desserts, dessert being an essential element of any good cheat meal. Sticky date pudding and apple crumble, both pretty good with custard and vanilla icecream!

I love that this post is just all about that meal, I really do love food, healthy and otherwise! AS you may know, I struggled with the concept of the cheat meal for a long time, wondering why I could not have smaller portioned treats more frequently. I am now completely satisfied with my approach which works for me, being 98% clean (1 cheat meal as much as I like, out of 42 meals per week)... I will post again with other details of birthday fun :)

Well and truly got my game face on now and ready for fat to fly!
ps. if you love being grossed out by OTT food pics like above, its from here

Saturday, July 18, 2009

10 weeks out with my other half

We were a little worried at first that we might hurt eachother but really, I can't imagine this journey without my partner Ali. Not only do we totally support eachother, we just... understand and right now its pretty much our whole lives! We're both really committed to give this comp the best possible shot.

Ali is the one who inspired me to put down my Les Mills timetable and try lifting, starting with a modest two-three day split about three years ago now. We trained together a little at first and he showed me not to be afraid of heavy weights. I had been doing bodypump fairly consistently for a couple of years and was really used to the burn of high reps. At first it felt really strange training with such low volume, I felt a bit lazy just because I was resting between sets instead of continually moving. These days I use a variety of training styles to keep up intensity and prevent boredom.

As for competing, it was natural progression for Ali who has been training for a number of years now. The lure for me was the ultimate challenge of it and of course the amazing physiques of the figure girls I saw when I went to watch my first show. I didn't have much self belief to start with but now fully trust our coach to get me in the best possible shape I can for my first comp. I feel very lucky and grateful to have been in such great hands from the beginning and I cannot quench the thirst to keep learning and improving! 

Friday, July 17, 2009

Strange food combos?

If i really like certain foods then sometimes I get the crazy idea that I might like them even better chopped up really small and mashed together... hehe.

Check out today's pre-training meal!
I boiled some sweet potato, covered it in my not so secret ingredient CINNAMON (yum!!) mashed banana with it and put my kanga bangas on top (cooked these with zucchini, cherry tomatoes and onion).

Then, rather than eat them on their own I dumped all my green vegies on top too. why not? :)

Another good recent experiment was chicken, fresh pineapple chunks, red capsicum and cauliflower stirfried together topped with some natural yoghurt... (yum!)

I know the real art of cooking is to keep it simple and make the most of balancing flavours using high quality ingredients.. but sometimes this is more fun! 

Off to burn these carbos!! 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I can't wait....

I am REALLY looking forward to our photoshoot with Dallas Olsen at the end of next month (4 weeks out from our comp).

I'm not a very 'high maintenance' kind of girl, tending to dress down, flat shoes, limited makeup day to day etc but am really looking forward to the transformation I would undertake with a dark spray tan (never had one before) fake nails (once before, didn't last long!) professional hair and makeup for the shoot. I'm going all out as a trial for the comp itself AND because I want the best photos possible! :) I put a stupidly expensive bikini on layby too, hehe! its fun to be a girl sometimes.

I've kept this to myself up until now but I'm also looking forward to having these photos because I have a goal to try some fitness modelling... I said this with some hesitation and embarassment to Lindy last month, ie 'do you think I could do it?' lol. I need a confidence injection! so what if I get rejected nine out of ten times? Too often, we let a fear of failure or rejection get in our way of doing things we'd really like to. I think, like ANY goal- if I am persistent I will succeed... in which case I'd better up my maintenance slightly :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

11 weeks out and Moving on!

I was going to post in detail about part 2 of my dramas but will summarise instead-  To cut a long story short, my mum left my Dad, sister and I when I was 14 because by then I was 'old enough' to look after myself; she lives in Melbourne. She sends me text messages but I haven't seen her face in about three years. As a teenager I didn't think I needed her, of course! But the last few years I've been struggling with the impact that this has really had and that you don't stop needing a mum once you turn a certain age. As an adult, I've sought a relationship with her but unfortunately she has too many issues of her own to be a mother.

So now I'm moving on! 

For those of you who haven't competed before (like me) and are thinking about it, let me tell you that you are in for one emotional ride! All of us are 'emotional eaters' to some degree and dieting for an extended period means that you simply cannot turn to your usual comfort foods when stressed, bored, happy, angry, anything! It doesn't sound difficult (just saying no to foods) and most of the time it isn't- I'm lucky in a sense that I'm not really getting cravings nor envious of what other people around me are eating.  Its only those moments when something pushes your buttons and you get upset or any emotion arises- you realise that it has been your habit your whole life to reach for something to eat.

So the solution is that you must be proactive in managing stress and other emotions, there's no way around it! I love Churchill's quote- "when you're going through hell, keep going". 

Great news is I'm 11 weeks out today, on track and the posing is slowly improving, although I must constantly be reminded to suck in my tummy! (see pic! lol). We saw Jo again last Sunday and I got fitted for my suit which I'm so excited about! Ali took a couple of photos of me in the standard black suit with Jo making her adjustments which are hilarious but I'd better not post those! :) I got to see JUST HOW SMALL those procut pants are hehehehe. I also chose a couple of pieces of jewellery, these are on my nightstand for motivation.

Enough about me, the girls will be all made up already for the All Female Classic today, I soo wish I was there to cheer them on :) Best of luck to all of you- Jeh, Rae, Jadey, Casey- sorry that's all I can remember right now! All of us will be eagerly awaiting pics


Monday, July 6, 2009

I LOVE IT, but is that all that matters?

Thanks to the lovely Stef Williams who took the time to comment on my last post (on my other blog @ lindyolsen.com) and gave me and anyone else reading some great advice about positive self talk, getting the job done and enjoying the journey that is prep.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about what the real issue is, what is it that is stressing me out etc and I’ve come to the conclusion that I love what I’m doing! I have successfully ‘trained the mind’ to the point where I associate pain with missing meals, training etc things that are damaging to the overall goal of competing rather than see myself as deprived in anyway. At 12 weeks out, I’m not getting overly tired, my meal plan is still great and I’m counting my blessings! J

The stress is more the…. ‘internal conflict’ I’m feeling because to be honest, I have never really been passionate about a goal before and so I guess, being so focussed and ‘stubborn’ to see it through is new to people! Its definitely my nature to worry too much about what others think, to avoid conflict like the plague and to be all around very agreeable. But I’ve found that you can’t please everyone else at the best of times let alone during prep.

The last twelve months, I have lost a lot of weight, finally doing it the right way and conquered a lot of ‘food issues’ and ….. the experience has changed me! I’m working very hard at something that most people don’t really .. understand and even though I’m not placing any demands whatsoever on anyone else, whether I like it or not it does seem to affect the people around me. Family is a bit of a sensitive subject for me (see part two) and I’ve realised that I’m really struggling with not having the support network of a family that some other competitors seem to have, especially as a young novice.

I know that everyone has their own thing going on, but without feeling supported so far I just feel guilty about everything! Guilty about not seeing my friends and family as much and about seemingly putting this goal of mine before the needs or feelings of anyone else. I understand how it all can seem selfish and obsessive to an outsider.. but the truth is it has to be! HOW do you turn it around and convince others that even though its so hard, its so rewarding at the same time and so worthwhile? In my case, I don’t think it will sink in until I make it there.

Next post, part two of the story… (duh! Hahaha) Issues always run much deeper than they appear to!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

ANB QLD State titles 12 weeks out TODAY

so who else is on the countdown with me to this comp? I need some friends backstage to be very nervous with! 

this may be the only comp I enter, so the next 12 weeks I'm going to continue giving it EVERYTHING!

I was extremely upset the last couple of days this week, have had some.. family drama that coincides with my dedication to competing. As anyone prepping knows, time is a limited commodity fitting all the food prep, eating, training, cardio, posing practice, appts etc in around a full time job. This may come across as being well, selfish to people who don't really understand the commitments prep demands. 

Its been causing me a lot of stress. Family is really important to me and I'm worried that if I don't somehow fix this now, as prep gets more difficult (esp from 6 weeks out) I will be tempted at times to throw in the towel. I mean, when it gets tough, really tough and you're tired, drained and emotional- would it take much for you to say to yourself- why I am doing this? and question it all?

I have worked too hard for the last 12 months to let that happen so Im hoping that at some point I will get a little more support. I guess the first time is particularly difficult. I would really appreciate learning from the experiences of others on this one.

For incredible info, advice and support- get involved!