Monthly Archives: March 2011

I Must Eat My Words

I have a confession friends: for the first time in a while, I must eat my words! I am however, very excited to arrive at this current decision and I can’t wait to shout it from the roof tops and start hustling in a semi-new and refreshed direction ūüėČ

Just last week, I gave a long-winded spiel about having goals, training for them, mastering new disciplines or methods, etc. I was forecasting over the next four months, I would live on as a Figure Competitor aiming for Team Universe (figure nationals) in July.

Well, I am a thinker and have continued to spin that wheel of thought in my head. I continued to do some ‚Äúsoul searching‚ÄĚ and took a hard look at what my bigger goals really were. How I wanted to train myself? How I wanted to spend my time and energy? Where I wanted to grow my career? And ultimately – what I saw myself identifying with most?!

As of Monday, I actually arrived at the decision to take a break from competing for an indefinite amount of time (Gasp!) ūüėČ

Over the past two and half years, I have had a really good time entertaining the challenges of the Figure Competitions and gaining a lot of knowledge about myself, nutrition and training. Not to mention, changing my physique and the wonderful people I have met along the way…all great experiences and gifts.

What became more clear in the last few days however, is my love for the strength and conditioning industry. That’s where I feel I belong right now. That’s how I want to spend my time. That’s how I want to train and what I want to study and that’s the direction I want my career to go in.

When I came home from the Arnold, I was in full speed momentum from the show. Naturally, I shifted my sights to the very next challenge and progression. As the dust settled (and just after I wrote last week’s blog post of course) Рa few things became more clear….

1. In order to get an ultra competitive physique for the national level, I was going to have to change the way I was training in order to streamline my physique more – come in tinier. This meant trying a new method of very high reps (20-30) and naturally, less weight. After giving a few weeks to this style, I wasn’t feeling as satisfied with my training sessions and thought to myself- ‚ÄėI started in Figure because I love to train. Now that Figure is dictating how I have to train – do I want to do this right now??‚Äô
 
2. Figure competitions are also a whole-hearted commitment. I was getting mildly concerned I may lose touch with a bit of my involvement in the strength and conditioning industry if I continued this path to the top and I was missing it Рso it became apparent where my heart was and where I need to spend my focus in terms of my career.
 
3. Finally, for the past two plus years, I have given a lot of energy and structure to the sport of competing. Now I’m excited to turn my attention into manifesting my life in other areas, especially my career in hopes to expand myself with the clients I train at FX Studios and bigger opportunities / responsibilities with Under Armour. Not to mention, I think I am going to enjoy taking a little bit of the pressure off and living a 28-year-old social life!
 
I embrace and respect the physique community so much –¬†for their passions, how hard they work and for everything they dedicate to the sport. It has been a tremendous learning experience and has provided me the tools to really change my shape. I would never say I’m retiring, but I‚Äėm excited to see where this new direction takes me.

What can you expect in the future???

Well, for starters, I am on my way to completing my C.S.C.S. I‚Äôll also be working on the return of my athletic training in the gym (which will of course, have a plan!). I don‚Äôt want to stop being one of the stronger girls in the gym! I want to continue to look the part and move the part. Today, someone wrote me a line asking if I ran with the tires‚Ķ he said ‚Äúyou’re such a small bundle to be that powerful‚Äú‚Ķthat made me¬†laugh because that‚Äės exactly how I want to be perceived!

So welcome back deadlifts, back squats, front squats, DB snatches, cleans, pull ups, push press, sled drags, prowler sprints, hill sprints, 300 sprints, etc! In the meantime, I’ll still be working hard on the dietary side to keep myself lean and performing optimally.

You can also expect I‚Äėll be posting more on my own training again, interesting finds on the topics of strength / conditioning and of course, motivational thought. I‚Äėll also be sharing my dietary efforts to stay in ship-shape¬†and what meal plans, recipes and food pairings I come up with after having learned so much from Body Transformation expert, Carter Schoffer.

As with anything in life, things change. ūüôā It‚Äôs been a long time since I‚Äôve broken out of the routine of a Figure Competitor. In fact, over the past year, I have taken only eight weeks off. I am excited to see my dreams more clearly and pursue them freely. My client and I were chatting this morning about how so many adults wish to be a kid again. We were saying how great it is to be an adult and have 100% freedom to make the decisions and changes we desire in order to create the life we want.¬†ūüôā

More strength and conditioning to come!! ūüėÄ

p.s. If you haven’t seen her yet, check out Jen Grasso’s website, Renegade Fitness. She is an extension of Jason Ferruggia’s¬†Renegade Strength and Conditioning. Jen combines ultra femininity with being a badass chic in the gym! Check out her stuff!

Goals, Strategies, Perception and Change.

What are you training for? Do you have a goal? Is it measurable? Does it have a time frame? Do you have a plan?

You know, if you don‚Äėt know where you‚Äėre going, how will you get there??

I debated whether or not to write this post, because it may turn some of you readers off.. Or give you the impression that I’m shying away from my love of pure strength training. What I’m about to write has been a thought process of mine over the last few weeks however and I think it’s worth sharing.

The Arnold wrapped up about three weeks ago. Since then, I took a week off from training and have been back at it for the past two weeks. My current regimen consists of four 30 minute sessions of fasted cardio each week and five afternoon sessions of strength training. My next show on the horizon is tentatively July 9th, Team Universe in NYC. With this upcoming show, my training methods are shifting. For the past 3 years, I would say I have focused on athletic based movements with a strong physique emphasis. Primarily working on strength and power in the gym, followed by physique and function. Conditioning too in the mix consisting of all out short bursts of intensity for 10-60 seconds maybe up to 3 minutes depending on the challenge, but you get the point.

For a while now, I have¬†specifically¬†been trying to¬†hammer home the message to¬†women of the benefits of STRENGTH training and heavy lifting. I am not afraid to lift with every ounce of effort. I have followed and performed all programs ranging from 9 sets of 3 reps, 10 sets of 10 reps, 5 sets of 5 reps, 4 sets of 8 reps, 3 sets of 15 reps and 2 sets of 24-30 reps…and so on…I am not turned off by any lift, set / rep scheme or challenge as long as there is a rhyme & reason. I am not afraid of getting ‚Äúbulky‚ÄĚ because I think I have proven as a figure competitor, you can train like the big boys and still look like a chiseled, petite, feminine woman. Ladies, hear me loud and clear.. genetically and hormonally, we will not beef up! Unless of course we have a poor diet and then we‚Äôll beef up from fat, not muscle!

If you asked me to define an “athlete” in a few words, I would immediately think ‚Äústrong, agile, powerful”…then I thought, what about the triathelete? They are built very different from the average power or field athlete and function quite differently, yet they are an athlete. From there spawned my thoughts: What defines “athlete” and what defines “being fit”?

My brother is a sick athlete, but he’s not a field athlete or a triathlete. In fact, he’s a¬†rock climber and snowboarder. In a recent conversation with my brother Doug, we were talking about training disciplines. We often identify with a specific one and may even limit our attention and appreciation to one. Why not, if it‚Äôs what interests us and pleases us to pursue. We may also however fall into the trap of becoming opinionated and closed-minded towards other disciplines and training methods. Remember, it‚Äės the principles that we adopt that are most important – not necessarily the method(s) we use or the discipline we tackle. Now there may be more favorable methods to utilize when pursuing a particular goal, but there‚Äôs also a lot of ways to skin a cat or there wouldn‚Äôt be so much debate on the internet regarding the good, the bad and the ugly in training exercises and design.

This brings me to another point. What defines ‚Äúbeing fit?‚ÄĚ I think I’m fit…I have gotten my pull¬†ups to 10 body weight reps for four sets, my DB bench to 60 lb Dbs¬†and my legs can outlast most. I like to pull tires, hit the prowler, run sprints, or jog for an hour. Ask me however to swim for an hour and I think I’d sink. Ask me to train only in circuit or high rep ranges, I may vomit. Ask me to go rock climbing with my brother and my forearms would fry. Take me for a 50 mile road bike venture and well, I might gas out at that too ūüôā ‚Ķbut I‚Äôm fit right? And so is the triathelete¬†and or my brother who doesn‚Äôt lift in schemes of 5 sets of 5 reps or push the prowler all day long.

El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

So my brother and I were talking about training disciplines. Once you master one, its good to switch it up, both for the learning experience AND the mental and physical challenge. He referenced his personal experience of rock climbing because that is one of his thriving passions. My brother has been climbing for 14 years – about as long as I’ve been lifting (going on 13 years). When he was younger, he used to spend his time mastering bouldering¬†– a style of rock climbing that is essentially all strength and power. You may get 5-8 moves in a bouldering challenge. At the time, Doug had disgusting relative body strength. Years later, he wanted to challenge himself differently. He decided to pursue the outdoor climbs more and challenge his endurance. Now he scales 3,000 foot walls such as El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. He even sleeps suspended from an edge because the climbs take a few days. Talk about a challenge and change!!! Doug‚Äôs shift in style stayed within his love for climbing but demanding completely different energy systems and tolerance of his body. Not to mention, a new learning curve and stepping outside of his comfort zone both physically and mentally.

I share this conversation with you, because I believe we should pursue what we love but also push ourselves to be open-minded, learn and master new things. Stepping outside of that mental and physical comfort zone. Learning something new and trying to enjoy sucking at it at first only to make new gains over time.

Now, going way back to my first point – training goals. Over the next four months, I am a FIGURE COMPETITOR. My training goal is to step on that Team Universe stage with the best physique I can bring. If I had a sports performance goal in mind, I‚Äôd train for that. If I needed to get stronger, I’d train for strength. If I needed to put on muscle, I’d train to put on muscle. My goals however are to streamline and fine tune the foundation I have built. To come in more petite than previous shows. Although I don‚Äôt want to lose strength or the athletic nature of my movements my training is shifting.

For a while, I have¬†identified with heavy lifting. I am proud of my strength and conditioning abilities. I love feeling like the strongest girl in the gym but I am shifting my training methods because my goal over the next four months is not to be the strongest girl competing, if so, I’d enter a power lifting competition – it is to get on stage with my best physique yet. Please please, don’t get me wrong, I will never turn my back on STRENGTH nor will I stop studying it, appreciating it or prescribing it for most, if not all, of my clients.¬†I however, will be shifting my personal training methods to a new scheme in order to see what response it brings. It took me a few weeks to wrap my mind around the change in training because I like and identify with the strength and conditioning crowd. My goal to compete however dictates my latest training style and I am excited to change things up, suffer at first because my body is not used to this style, learn to be open-minded and use myself as a guinea pig to see what works and how I can transform my lines and physique. Believe me, my principles will remain intact and you better believe I will keep the intensity high in my sessions, but it will be different ūüôā¬†To me, this is a shift much like my brother took on. There will be crossovers in my latest training program, but at the same time a very different approach. (and yes, I will continue to post the new training days)

So I ask you again, do you have a goal? Do you train (and eat) to meet those goals? Are u in a trap of closed-minded training beliefs? To you, what defines an athlete or being fit?

Already, I have had to step outside of my comfort zone both mentally and physically. For now, I will be putting the training I¬†have done for the past three years on hold. I also thought I was going to vomit on one of my recent leg days and I was sweating like it was 110 degrees and humid out. I look forward however to embracing this change, holding on to the things I love about training, learning from the experience and sharing the ride again! After all, if you do what you always did, you’re going to get what you always got. I encourage you to do what you love but don’t get caught up on one style or discipline forever…
 

My brother Doug, "sleeping" on his big wall climb (El Cap)

p.s. Doug plans to climb El Capitan again in late spring / early summer. He is one rad guy and the very best big brother. I love him to pieces and am so proud of his accomplishments and pursuit of his talents and passions!

Your Firm-Up Lean Out Secret!

I don’t¬†like to toot my own horn much, but I do want to share¬†some exciting information with you all. ūüôā¬†In the latest issue of Oxygen Magazine, April 2011, you can find¬†my¬†article, “Your Firm-Up Lean Out Secret” on page 114.

Also, on page 30 is a preview for another article to be released in next months issue and we are all very excited about this one!!

If you haven’t picked up your issue¬†or read the¬†article¬†already, be sure to do so!¬†These are training strategies that I use both on myself and with clients! It’s a great full body blast¬†incorporating¬†multiple muscle groups, elevated heart rates, grip strength and fun! The concept is great because you can get creative¬†with varying the exercises as well as complete it almost anywhere – including outdoors as we get into spring!

Also, in addition to finding Oxygen Magazine on the newsstands, you can find them online here . You can even follow Diane Hart and her behind-the-scenes coverage of various fitness events, working with the models and interactive messaging with the readers in her blog here.  

Check it all out and enjoy!!

DON’T MISS GIRL TALK!!

One of the best things you can introduce me to is new music. I’m always on the hunt for new tunes and¬†enjoy the great finds as much as I do the latest and greatest exercise variations or program design “ah ha” moments.

Just the other day, I was introduced to Girl Talk. When I was handed a cd¬†with¬†“Girl Talk” written on it, I thought, ‘I don’t know if this is my style’ – but because of the WONDERFUL source who provided me with this album ;), I knew it was worth a listening and I would probably love it…and I did!

Gregg Michael Gillis, better known by his stage name Girl Talk, is an American musician specializing in mashups and digital sampling. Gillis has released five LPs on the record label Illegal Art.

I have recently acquired his third, fourth and fifth (most recent) albums and they are fueling my cardio workouts lately.¬†Girl Talk¬†mixes are essentially¬†old school or rock beats that we recognize with current hip hop layered on top. These are seamless albums that blend one song from the next every 20 or 30 seconds. Guys, this is NOT just for the ladies listening¬†pleasure¬†ūüôā – you will dig it too!. Also great mixes for partying / entertaining!

Below are¬†a few¬†tracks from his latest album “All Day” – I couldn’t embed them into this blog post, but the links will take you to YouTube ūüôā

Track 1: Oh No
Track 2: Let it Out
Track 3: That’s Right
Track 4: Jump On Stage

You can find the latest Girl Talk album here. Also, in doing some digging, I looked up the Illegal Art website and it’s a GREAT site where you can download¬†Girl Talk as well as other¬†DJ’s / artists on the label. Girl Talk’s¬†third and fourth albums – Night Ripper and Feed the Animals – can be found on this site.

Illegal Art is a website where you can add the album(s) to your shopping cart and then simply¬†pay a price of¬†your choosing for checkout.. basically it’s a donation. I did this personally and was taken to paypal, made my payment of choice and¬†was then sent a link via email that took me to my downloads. It was simple, trusted and awesome!

Just thought I would share the GOLD I found! I certainly enjoy some harder music from time to time when I lift.. but I LOVE a good beat, remix or mash up when I am doing my cardio and nothing beats new music when I am gearing up for another prep! (Thank you Mr. Sams!!!)

Enjoy!!! ūüėÄ

Fall in Love, Stay in Love.

I love a good quote¬†/ message –¬†I think most of you readers know this by now ūüôā The other day, I was searching for a few cards and some of my favorite are the quotable cards. I picked up this particular card for a few special people and I just wanted to share the message with all of you because it rang so loud to me….

“What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what gets you out of bed in the mornings, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.” – Pedro Arrupe

Now I’m not talking about a person, although I’m sure if you’re in love, that gets you out of bed in the mornings (or keeps you in bed ;)) and determines how you spend your time! I interpret this message however¬†in terms of our passions, our dreams, our hobbies and hopefully, our careers! Mine, like many of you readers, is FITNESS, PERFORMANCE, HEALTH AND PHYSIQUE. These things seize my imagination and what I want to create for my today and my future tomorrows. It certainly plays a role in everything I do and the choices I make, what I read and¬†what amazes me. I feel lucky to have capitalized on this.

I hope you can relate to the quote today as much as I can. I hope there is a “love” in your life and if¬†that¬†love¬†determines a good bit of your¬†mornings, evenings and weekends¬†– embrace it! Don’t let¬†other people, fear, temptation, challenge or self doubt steer you from your love.¬†

Fall in love, stay in love and hold on to your goals and dreams!! Don’t give up on what you want. Happy Friday ūüôā

Hard Work and The Arnold Classic

“Hard work can be defined in many ways. Work can be physically hard or mentally difficult or something so unpleasant that it is hard to make yourself do it. Most people will look for the easiest way out and avoid hard work all together. That is exactly why doing the opposite sets you apart from others.

When you have the discipline to work hard, you gain results that other people aren‚Äôt willing to work for. More results will fall into place if you have a greater capacity for hard work. Hard work does not have to be overly challenging to the point where it is painful or uncomfortable. A major key to success is to learn to enjoy the challenges that come along with work. Instead of running from the challenge, embrace hard work and you will gain the ability to execute your goals no matter what it takes. Tackling daily challenges help build character just as lifting weights builds muscle.”¬†-Jeremy Reynolds

HARD WORK
Whether it’s within our careers, our education, our relationships, our sport or our hobby –¬†to me, hard work¬†is not¬†the specific¬†challenge(s) we face, hard work is¬†the attitude and approach we¬†make towards¬†our challenges. ¬†To work hard¬†is a choice. Some of us have personalities¬†wired to do nothing short of hard work.¬†I also¬†believe it is a mindset, similar to mental toughness,¬†that can be trained through effort just like the body can be trained in the weight room.

When¬†we begin ascending the higher levels in sport and competing, the hard work is relative. Though it’s important to maintain balance in our lives, we¬†better be ready to prioritize, make sacrifices and¬†focus in order to achieve our goals.¬†¬†

At this¬†stage in my life, among other things, figure competitions keep me sharp in practicing HARD WORK. It’s a 24/7 commitment because if it’s not in the gym, it’s in the kitchen or finding recovery in the nooks and crannies of¬†my other daily responsibilities.

THE ARNOLD RECAP
I just wrapped up the Arnold Classic last week. I competed in the Women’s Figure Amateur Division in Figure Class C. I wound up placing 12th out of the 24¬†competitors in my class.¬†In order to move onto the finals, I needed to place among the top ten¬†in my class, but I was certainly pleased to place middle of the pack in my first national effort and¬†considering the caliber of¬†physiques¬†I was among.¬†The competitor in¬†me of course wanted to place further up the ladder, but I was equally happy to cross the finish line and enjoy the infamous EXPO as a patron while rockin’ a tan and lean physique!

I learned SO much about myself through this prep as I always do. Every prep is different. This time, I started with certain people and strategies in place and I finished the prep with different people and strategies than originally planned. I learned it’s about being resilient and resourceful. The main variable that stayed consistent throughout this prep was MY WILL to work hard and finish strong. There are many people who can provide you the tools to help accomplish your goals and support is always a driving force too, but ultimately, it comes down to what’s within YOU. When you find¬†and capitalize your inner strength, that to me is the most¬†VALUABLE¬†lesson and tool.¬†I’m so glad I have that to take into every¬†future challenge and¬†adventure.

COLUMBUS, OH
I had a phenomenal¬†time in Ohio. I arrived on Tuesday, March 1st and relaxed through Thursday morning (competition day). Thursday was a hectic yet fun day full of spray tans (Thanks Jan Tana!!), hair and make up (Thanks Val Nova!),¬†competitor check-in / meeting, backstage¬†moments, taking the stage and finally re-feeding with loads of water and trail mix. ūüôā

On Friday, I went¬†in early to the¬†convention center to cheer on my¬†friend, Andy Deck, at World Amateur Strongman Championships. I love watching that sport and it’s always even more exciting to watch an event when you are cheering for someone¬†personally!¬†Andy did a hell of a job!! He competed in the Yoke Walk, Axle Clean & Press, Frame Carry/Backward Drag Medley and¬†the¬†Car Deadlift! A HUGE CONGRATS TO ANDY! You can see¬†Andy’s article / recap here at ¬†Elitefts.com. ¬†

Last but never least, the EXPO! It was SO fun crusin’ around the expo this year. With over 700 vendors, there was no shortage of supplement companies, fitness gear, clothing companies, Pro appearances, the presence of magazines, fit bodies, fitness enthusiasts and of course, the main stage where a lot of the preliminary events /¬† prejudging¬†took place. I was able to catch the Figure Pro prejudging¬†and the Pro Strongman events and¬†they were awesome!!

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THANK YOU’S

As always after every show, the Thank You’s. Sheesh, this blog post is already running long enough and my list of thank you’s will hardly¬†do justice to¬†all the individual people I’d like to thank and the gratitude I¬†feel.. but here goes:

Carter Schoffer¬†– Carter is a class act coach. He¬†was the¬†man behind my Arnold prep designing my training, nutrition and supplementation programs. Carter and I have worked together for almost a year now and he has proven time and time again to be all around GREAT.¬†In my opinion, Carter is¬†brilliant in his program design – it has an athletic foundation with a strong emphasis in physique. His programs are balanced both in movement and muscle. Not to mention, for the first time in almost three years, I did not have any¬†hiccups from my low back. I was pain-free in this training season! Carter also taught me so much in nutrition.¬†He gave me¬†the tools to¬†both follow and create a¬†sound and balanced nutrition regimen.¬†Carter’s service is also¬†incredibly detailed in delivery and execution. Last and equally important was our rapport. Carter has a way with communication. He always clarified any questions and or concerns in a timely fashion and with messages and support only a great coach can convey.¬†I am thrilled to have him in my network and corner.

Team GST¬†–¬†Thank you Gretchen for taking me under your wing first with posing and¬†then the unconditional support and expertise.¬†As an extension of Gretchen, I slowly became integrated¬†with her team of motivated and supportive athletes. This was a game changing move and really solidified the camaraderie¬†and fun of this prep and at the event itself. Thank you to Rich, Alli, and Katie as well as the rest of Team GST. You all¬†made this prep a fun and memorable journey. I look forward to Team U and what’s to come!

FX Studios / Silo Point / Under Armour – I feel so fortunate to be a¬†part of these companies and facilities. I am so grateful to be among such high-caliber¬†and passionate people. From¬†my bosses, to my colleagues, my clients and surrounding athletes and friends – you all made this the most delightful and heartwarming experience¬†by¬†sharing the day-to-day¬†experiences with me¬†– the training, my orange cooler, the ups &¬†downs, the pride, excitement and support. It is also a blessing to have¬†not one, not two but THREE great facilities¬†/ locations to train out of. It keeps¬†everything so fresh in terms of the environment, equipment and the faces I see when coming and going from the gym. A special thank you especially to my “A-Team” ūüôā

My FAMILY РI won the lottery with my mom, dad and brother. They are always behind me 110% but their support displayed through this prep was unbelievable. 

Internet Friends¬†– You guys and gals who sent emails, blog comments, facebook messages, tweets, you name it… THANK YOU. It’s all the more fun to share these experiences with you and the support from like-minded fitness enthusiasts and or competitors is absolutely uplifting and¬†encouraging throughout a prep¬†ūüôā

I’d like to name every name, but that could just got on and on, so I¬†suppose that about wraps it up! As for what’s next, it’s time to refocus on the growth of my career and as for competing, nothing is in stone, but it’s looking like Team Universe on July 9th. ūüôā

FINAL THOUGHTS
“When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines

instinct with boldness and effort — it is ready to climb.” -Pat Riley
(Thanks Mike, it does take a village)

Technique is just a tool –¬†hard work, belief and courage are what make it powerful.

(The¬†opening message about Hard Work, was sent to me from Maura Norton, a¬†very close¬†friend of mine and¬†colleague. Maura is also the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Women’s Lacrosse Team at Loyola College. The team is undefeated so far against powerhouse teams such as Virginia, Towson, Penn State and¬†Cornell. Next week, they play against my Alma mater, University of Delaware. In this case however, I route for my girl who is contributing to the creation of¬†CHAMPIONS –¬†so GO MAURA¬†and LOYOLA WOMEN’S LACROSSE!!! )