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’t 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

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.

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.

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. 🙂

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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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” 🙂

My FAMILY – I 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 🙂

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. 🙂

“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!!! )


14 responses to “Hard Work and The Arnold Classic

  1. i saw you there and you looked amazing! keep up the great work ;o)

  2. Keep up the great work Alli! You have an amazing attitude, and are well on your way to crushing your goals. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. congrats Alli!!
    You look amazing, keep up the great work. You keep getting better, a true champ!

    • Mark!
      Always a pleasure to hear from you! I hope you are well!! Thanks for the support.. you bet I plan to continue with bigger challenges, consistent principles, methods tested, lessons learned and hope to get better each time! Drop me an email some time and fill me in 🙂


  4. Anne Marie Blecha

    I just wanted to congratulate you on your accomplishment! I’ve read your blog for awhile, and I really want to thank you for your inspiration and motivation. Although I’m not a figure competitor, I strive to look like I could be one. I often feel like such a loner because most people around me just don’t “get” me – they don’t understand why I eat the way I do, why I work the way I do in the gym. When I read your blog it just clicks with me & provides me with so much inspiration to continue to work my hardest. I also want to thank you for sharing the youtube videos of your different workouts – I’ve used a lot of them, I especially love the dumbbell complexes. You may not know me, but you’ve taught me a lot and helped me to reach my goals. Congratulations on reaching one of yours!

    • Good morning Anne Marie!

      Thank you for this note. It is because of PEOPLE LIKE YOU and messages like this, that I do what I do. I LOVE to know that someone has been able to relate and or gain some information – whether it be motivation or education. I am also so pleased to hear you are continuing to do what makes YOU feel good in your heart, mind and skin despite the challenges demanded or others not “understanding”. Yes, it takes a lot of committment, time and energy to take care of our physiques and health – and it’s true – you get out of it, what you put into it. There are no long lasting results from short cuts. It’s consistency 🙂 Thank you again for sharing your thoughts, you made my day!!!!

      Alli McKee

  5. Anne Marie Blecha

    One of my favorites was when you wrote “I am Fitness” – I printed that out & keep it in my workout binder.

  6. Hi Alli, I too read your blogs and really enjoy your workout clips! I wish you would put all of your info in a book! I would buy it! You are totally inspirational. I do similar workouts that you do at the local YMCA and get a kick out of people staring at me like Im a crazy person. Great job at the Arnold. Keep posting great new workouts. Heres a quote that made me laugh…The difference between try and triumph is just a little “umph”. 🙂

    • Hi Jennifer!!

      You know, a book is within my five year plan.. It’s just a decision of subject matter, organization and implementation! Hang tight girl!! Thanks for reading my blog and I’m so glad you are turning heads at the YMCA!! hahaha. I will do my best to keep posting videos too!

      Love the quote too!! In addition to the word “try” I like Martin Rooney’s note: “Replace the word “TRY” with “WILL” and hold yourself to that promise.” – Train to Win, page 23. 🙂

  7. Just discovered your blog and I too love your “I am Fitness” post!! Great motivator. On a side note, do you know where I can get one of the “Strong is the new skinny” tanks shown in one of your photos?

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