Category Archives: Motivation

My Runs Are Powerful Beyond Measure

I will be the first to admit, I have struggles in my mental fortitude and discipline from time to time. This week was a prime example of that. I am about due for my cycle, yes – maybe too much information – but there, I said it! And, boy can our cycle be a powerful wind of resistance and often times, hijack our physical stamina, emotions and discipline. 

This past week, I was unusually tired, I was craving non-compliant foods and I wasn’t the most pleased with my physique for the week. That all said, I did not waiver. I coached myself through with positive affirmations and fighter talk daily. I spoke to myself as I would a friend or client, after all, isn’t that what we should do? Sadly, more often than not, we aren’t as kind and forgiving to ourselves as we are others. That has been one of my own efforts of personal growth over the past eight months and it’s working brilliantly.

This morning I went out for my routine five mile run (and when I say routine, I mean since I was 12 years old!)  My run was SO powerful both literally and figuratively. My stride was strong and graceful and my mind was going wild! I starting thinking about the following few things and came up with this:

“Talent gives me goosebumps, but witnessing passion and hard work strikes the bull’s eye of my heart.” – Alli McKee

“Though they are directly correlated, I train to be strong and to perform optimally, but I eat to be lean. Both of these however work to challenge my mental fortitude.” – Alli McKee

More signs and positive affirmations from the universe 🙂 :

When I woke up this morning, I took a closer look at my calendar and the quote for the  month of June said: “You must feed your mind even as you feed your body, and to make your mind healthy you must feed it nourishing, wholesome thoughts.”

Then, as I was running, I saw a few butterflies along my path – something that may mean nothing to most of you, but when I was 16 years old, I got a tattoo of a butterfly because of the quote that states, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was coming to an end, it became a butterfly” – I smiled and took that as a “keep your chin up” sign.

Last, but not least! I had my ipod on shuffle and on came a song from Kings of Leon – Immortals. I have had this cd since the day it was released and I have NEVER tuned into the lyrics of this song until today..

They said:

The open road, the path of greatness, it’s at your fingers
Go be the one, that keeps on fighting, go be the stranger
Just put your foot, in front’ the other, crow like the rooster
We are allowed to get us something, fear is a danger
I say

(Chorus)
Spill out on the streets and start, right away
Find out what you are, face to face

The windows are, the perfect picture, they’re always changing
Go on get lost, jump in the waters, when they are raging
I say

(Chorus)
Spill out on the streets and start, right away
Find out what you are, face to face
Once you’ve had enough, carry on
Don’t forget to love, before you’re gone

So I picked up the pace in my run just to get home and put these thoughts down. No, not everything is easy for me and yes, I do falter, but I am learning to coach myself first and that helps me coach others. I have no doubt in my mind I am in the field I was born for.

Xo!

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Strength In Numbers

This past week has been a really exciting week for networking! It all started when Bret Contreras wrote a blog post titled “Where My Ladies At.” Be sure to check it out for yourself because it’s a very inspiring compilation of 13 strong women training hard in the gym!

Bret’s post was a take off of Nia Shanks Beautiful Badass movement. Nia is one STRONG female!! She can deadlift 300lbs and ladies, one look at Nia and you will see she is FAR from “bulky” – so get that silly myth out of your head right now if it’s your reason for not training heavy! I suggest you witness this for yourself, check Nia out here.

Monday after Bret’s post ran, Molly Galbraith and I were tweeting back and forth about lifting. That quickly turned into an idea of training together. She mentioned that she and Jen Comas Keck  were getting together to support Julia Kaufman Ladewski in a meet in August. I thought, let’s get some more ladies involved and one thing lead to another – now the weekend of August 20th evolved into a gathering of some serious brains, beauty and brawns! We will all be joining for one hell of a girls weekend to support Julia, train together and have a girls night out…including but not limited to Molly Galbraith, Cassandra Forsythe-Pribanic, Jen Comas Keck, Mandy Stafford, Nia Shanks, Jen Grasso, Julia Kaufman Ladewski and possibly Neghar Fonooni. I am SO stoked to meet these amazing women, train, talk shop and hang!

Bret also connected a handful of us from his post (Thank you Bret). I can tell you readers this, great things are ahead. We are all going to put our strength, passion and brains together as we join forces to create a bigger movement for females and strength training.. REAL STRENGTH TRAINING.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these Beautiful Badasses yourself. I have previously mentioned Jen Grasso, but make sure you bookmark the rest of them as they all have great knowledge, passion and hard work ethic!

Your valuable list of strong female resources:

Elsbeth Vaino – Her Blog and Female Fitness Forum
Molly Galbraith – On Elite FTS
Marianne Kane – Free Fitness Workouts
Rachel Guy – Rachel’s Website
Nia Shanks – Nia’s Website
Jen Grasso – Renegade Fitness, Jen’s Blog
Neghar Fonooni – Neghar’s Blog
Jen Comas Keck – Jen’s Blog and Interview on Robertson Training Systems
Cassandra Forsythe-Pribanic – Website (and link to her blog)
Julia Kaufman Ladewski – Blog
K
ellie Davis – Mother Fitness and Get Glutes

If I have missed anyone or another valuable website, please feel free to add them in the comments section!!

Again, I am so STOKED to begin networking with these incredible women of strength! Together we are going to bring new meaning to STRENGTH IN NUMBERS – we are joining forces to bring you all the best in the female side of the strength and conditioning industry.

In the words of Bret Contreras “It’s about time you gals made some shit happen” — AMEN!

More exciting news to come!

p.s. For those of you who want to check out the original Beautiful Badass post – you can check them out on Nia’s site. She is also in the works for creating great T Shirts. Join the movement!!

Fall in Love, Stay in Love.

I love a good quote / message – I think most of you readers know this by now 🙂 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 🙂

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

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. 🙂

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” 🙂

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. 🙂

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!!! )

Alli’s Road to Dallas and Columbus!

This past Monday, I returned home from Dallas, TX where I was working the NFL Experience with Under Armour. Needless to say, it was an incredible time. The environment and activities were so much fun to be a part of, but above all, it was the team I was with that made the trip! Thank you so much to Jamie, Chris W, J. Parker, Big E, Dash, Coach Cox, DJ, George, Chris H, Jordan, Ryan, Shana, Patty and Xan for making the trip so fun and memorable! It was a pleasure to work with you all and I really look forward to crossing paths again and working together in the future. 

A few photos to recap the event:

 
When I returned home, the final phase of my training and nutrition / supplementation for the Arnold Classic was waiting in my inbox. Within my program was the following commentary from my Coach, Carter Schoffer
 
“You, miss, have done a phenomenal job in and out of the gym & kitchen these last few weeks. You’re in stunning shape and your physique is dialling in very nicely.
  
Having said that, no rest for the wicked or for those in wicked shape. It’s 4th quarter, time to the win the game mode from now to the stage. You’re a machine from here on in. Eat, sleep, dream, think, talk, act, BE figure.”
 
Carter always has the appropriate things to say and a great way of communicating them. This time was no exception. We are officially in the final weeks counting down to the stage. This is a phase that not only dials in the nutrition, but also a time to ramp up the activity (just when I thought we were close to the max!). I must say, for the first time during this prep – it’s tough!!! I can feel it in my energy levels but my heart and committment to excellence are combating the fatigue. At times the final phase seems daunting, so I follow through one day at a time and it’s certainly manageable.
 
Since returning from the NFL experience and with the Super Bowl tomorrow, I relate my seasons challenges in the Arnold prep to football. I have certainly taken a few hits this show season (as we all do) and although it’s been challenging in some respects, it’s been an extremely rewarding process at the same time. Every hit that comes my way, as I make my run to the end zone, seems less and less problematic.
 
Each time I got tackled, I got up faster (I am more resilient).
 
Then, the hits that came my way, may have hit hard but I no longer fell down. In fact, I stiff armed a few and kept charging forward (I am stronger).
 
Until finally, I dodge the tackles all together and have a clear line to the end zone. (I am smarter).
 
So despite a few challenges and heavy hits, I have become a stronger and more resilient player in the game. Also smarter for future plays.
 

We are three and a half weeks out.. with a lot of diet and training between now and the stage 🙂 Next week I hope to post a few videos of some of my new favorite training combinations. You can also find my day-to-day progress on twitter @AlliMcKeeFit. Stay tuned and always look for the blessing in the challenge…You may not get what you “want” but you’ll receive everything you “need” …an opportunity to become more resilient, resourceful, stronger and smarter!

Hello 2011!

It’s incredible how quickly 2010 came and went. For me, it was a tremendous year of growth. In recounting the blessings of 2010 – the opportunities I was a part of, the relationships I developed and the further understanding of myself – I am left very excited for the anticipation of 2011!! Including but not limited to, more travel, exciting job opportunities, stronger relationships and the continued journey inward to further understand myself. I am excited to continue creating the life I imagine!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

H appiness depends upon your outlook on life.
A ttitude is just as important as ability.
P assion, find yours this year!
P ositive thoughts make everything easier.
Y ou are unique, with special gifts, use them.

N ew beginnings with a new year.
E nthusiasm a true secret of success.
W ishes may they turn into goals.

Y ears go by to quickly, enjoy them.
E nergy may you have lots of it.
A ppreciation of life, don’t take it for granted.
R elax, take the time to relax in this coming year.

The above acronym was passed along by an amazing woman, Erica Porter, who I had the pleasure of meeting during the holidays last year. Erica has a remarkable outlook on life and wonderful presence in person. I’m so grateful to share conversations with her! She has also written a life changing book called Eat That Monkey. You can check out Erica’s book as well as her other work here.
 

A Quick Arnold Update:

All things are calm, steady and progressive. 🙂  The holidays this year were absolutely wonderful, although, I am happy to have crossed the finish line of avoiding additional holiday temptation! About two weeks ago, I was measured at 11.5 percent body fat and showing an increase of one pound of lean mass every two weeks. I am now at the mid way point – nine weeks in and nine weeks to go. January 2nd begins Carter’s next “block” of training and focus. Again, I’m very excited for what he has in store for my training, nutrition and supplementation. The Arnold Classic is getting wildly close!! I will be tag teaming the event with my dearest corner woman, Eryn Strickland. Our hotel room is booked, flights are booked and my suit, by Sylvia Tremblay, is in the process of creation!

Motivational Thought

I love quotes and philosophical thought. Although too many great ones to list, I will leave you with a few I have thoroughly appreciated over the last month.

Pushing it to the limit: “On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think, ‘Okay, this is the limit’. And so you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high.” -Ayrton Senna

Excellence Excellence is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, skillful execution and the vision to see obstacles as opportunities.

PassionThere are many things in life that will capture your eye, but very few will capture your heart. These are the ones to pursue. These are the ones worth keeping.

“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.” –Earl Nightingale

Remember this: In both life and training, you get out of it, what you put into it. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and I look forward to sharing 2011 with everyone!! Cheers to creating the job opportunities, your training potential and your personal relationships in 2011 that YOU desire!!

Xo,
Alli

p.s. As I mentioned, I love a great thought, phrase and or quote.. please feel free to share with me some of your favorites. I’ll add them to my bank of motivation!

A Figure Athlete’s Warrior Spirit

“Risin’ up, back on the street, Did my time, took my chances. Went the distance, now I’m back on my feet, Just a woman and her will to survive.

Face to face, out in the heat, Hangin’ tough, stayin’ hungry. They stack the odds ’til we take to the street, For we kill with the skill to survive.

Risin’ up, straight to the top, Have the guts, got the glory. Went the distance, now I’m not gonna stop, Just a woman and her will to survive”

– Eye of the Tiger, Survivor

Good news! On Friday night, November 19th, I received my official acceptance letter to the Arnold Amateur IFBB Figure Championships at the Arnold Classic for 2011. This is incredible!

I began the Arnold journey on November 1st. In reality however, I began back in October 2009 when I was training with my posing coach for the OCB Yorton Cup. I said to him, “I’m going to go to the Arnold in 2011” – and my goodness, here I am 🙂

I have come to conclude that facing challenge and adversity is an absolute part of the formula when in competition, goal setting and personal growth. It may not come in the same shape, size or form for everyone – but it’s there and you can count on it. How you deal with it, is another component – and that comes from YOU.

To me the formula looks something like this:

GOAL + HARD WORK + PASSION + HONESTY + SUPPORT SYSTEMS + ADVERSITY / CHALLENGE + FOCUS + POSITIVE  ATTITUDE + COMMITTMENT TO ONESELF = SUCCESS.

In the recent weeks, I have faced challenge yet again, but what better time to find strength in yourself and from those around you to keep moving forward on your goals.

Take for example, the Olympic skater from Canada, Joannie Rochette. Just days before her time to compete, her mom passed away.

“Though she was blinking hard her first few laps around the ice, Rochette quickly settled into her practice routine. She showed no lapses in concentration, jumped well and did a light run-through of her tango short program, even flashing a saucy smile at one point. In the stands, her father repeatedly rubbed his eyes.”

Joannie claimed an Olympic medal. To me, that is the pinnacle of amazing strength, heart and staying true to yourself and your goals.

In talking with my father, he said “if you can channel the energies from the challenging experience in a positive way, it can serve as a motivational springboard for recovery and personal growth.” (thanks dad) 🙂

My mom recited a quote to me last night (bless that wonderful woman too) from an episode of parenthood: “Life will knock you down more times than you can possibly imagine. Don’t knock yourself down!

I have a wonderful group of teammates from my family, friends, co-workers, clients, advisors, (you readers) and the spiritual protection from my Strength and Conditioning Guardian Angel, Jason Hadeed.

In this upcoming season, I plan to develop three things: my personal self, my professional self and of course, my physical self.

This is going to be an incredible journey as I am going to see my strength rise both in the gym and in my heart and spirit. It is empowering. I can’t wait to get to the stage in March – it’s going to be the most rewarding performance yet. My client said to me last week, “often times, the hardest things are the most rewarding” – Mr. Cleary, you are right.

If you enjoy following this blog, you can also find me on Twitter for 140 characters of quotes, training and positive progress. 🙂 My account is @AlliMcKeeFit

Thank you friends for your time. Cheers to the Warrior Spirit in us all!