Prep has been progressing, as coach says, “like clockwork”. So much so, that I started to wonder this week if my posing suit will still fit in a couple months. Has to. Can’t afford a new one. Better get a couple cans of Bikini Bite! Hahaha!
Up until about a week ago, my food intake goals were to hit my protein macros (1 gram per lb of body weight) and use the bodybugg to keep a caloric deficit of 500 to 600 calories each day. Carbs and fat grams have not been specifically set for me. Calorie burn each day dictates how much food I will get to eat. That naturally cycles carbs and fats up or down depending on my activity. I was also given a weekly limit of 800 calories burned for cardio. The bugg can track that for me, too. That limit has been easy to reach with just walking. A nice little dog walk after work. Nothing crazy hard. That was the protocol for a few weeks. I’m probably due for a small diet break this next week.
I added a page to the blog for current progress pictures. Check out the menu bar above. This visual record will be useful for future contest preps.
Last week, Coach asked me to make a slight change. Keep fat grams under 30% of total calories and increase cardio burn to 1200 calories a week. I was happy to the get the extra movement. More calories burned = more calories to eat. My burn has been adapting downward a tiny bit for a couple of reasons – a) I’m smaller and b) I’ve been in a calorie deficit for a while, so energy is low so I’m not moving as much during the day. Not worried about any of this – it is all expected because this is how the body works. So the extra little bit of cardio has been good. I have to admit that I’ve really enjoyed my cardio time because I’m doing as much of it outside as possible. Walks and bike rides. If I have to do it at the gym, I’ve been using high-incline treadmill mostly, because it makes my legs feel pumped, but started with the rower last week. I’m using cardio to relax and reflect – I’ve needed to do both of those things a lot lately.
Bad News – REALLY, really bad news
About 3 weeks ago, one of my 8th grade students from last semester committed suicide.
I haven’t been able to write about it. And I couldn’t write about anything else because nothing else felt important.
I loved that kid. She was a tough little thing. Made me laugh every day. Foul-mouthed, funny, impulsive, and she wiggled into my heart and set up shop. When I was given the opportunity to transfer, there was a very short list of reasons why I didn’t want to do it – and every one of those reasons was a kid. She was at the top of that list. I decided that transferring to the high school she and her classmates would attend would end up working out well because I’d be able to mentor them for four years instead of just one. And those high school years are filled with so many more opportunities for a kid to get in trouble. Even if I knew for sure why she did it, which I don’t, I wouldn’t discuss it here. The news reported that there were three suicides at that school in the last couple months, but the third child did not die. My kid was the second one. That is all I know.
I’ve been teaching for 19 years, have chosen to work at three of our district’s “tougher” schools for the past decade, and there have been plenty of tragedies. We tend to steel ourselves to be able to help kids deal with things. But this was the first time a suicide was one of ‘my kids’. It has hit me hard. I found out because one of my other students emailed me during school the next day. I could not teach. The Vice Principal got my last covered so I could go over to the middle school to check on my other kids. I was able to talk to several. Grateful for that opportunity. Extremely grateful to see one who was in a bad accident last winter and has made a good recovery.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I will miss this kid for a long time. I missed her and my other 8th graders since I left that school. My current high school students knew about the situation because that middle school is our feeder school. One baked me brownies over that weekend and brought them in on the next Monday morning. How sweet is that? Yes, I ate them. Share a few, but they became part of my post-workout meal for a few days. Prep or no prep – when a kid bakes you love, you eat it.
It’s bittersweet right now because many of my older kids are graduating from college this spring. If you aren’t sure why that’s a major accomplishment, remember – I’ve been working at “tough” schools. Many of my kids were the first in their families to graduate from high school, let alone college. They beat the odds. Nothing was easy for them. They worked harder than their peers at other schools. When I started my transformation journey, I looked at my kids and borrowed courage from them. Each of us has our Mt Everest to climb if we choose to do it. I asked them to try and not give up. I told them that hard work, even on the ‘little stuff’, pays off eventually, but doing nothing gets you nowhere. And then they left high school and did it! I wasn’t their only teacher, so I can’t take credit for all of it, but I will take credit for being smart enough to use them as my inspiration. They are underdogs – I’m an underdog in my sport. They are out there kicking ass and taking names – some have earned big, fat prestigious scholarships (ie I’ve had three Gates Scholars) just because they knew that’s what they would have to do if they wanted to go to college. Some grew up homeless and now are doing well. Single parent households to apartments in Manhattan. Oh yeah – they are doing it. It’s really not a big deal for me to get up earlier to go to the gym because they got up early to do calculus homework. I CHOOSE to be a little uncomfortable because I’m hungry when they didn’t always have a choice about being hungry.
I’ve been listening to this almost every day for the last three weeks. It reminds me that there is always someone with a bigger obstacle who finds a way around it to reach their goal. It reminds me of all the kids I’ve met during the last 19 years who overcame their childhoods to create the lives they wanted. And so it will always remind me of the one who could not.
While all this real life stuff has been happening, I haven’t felt like writing. Social media – it’s overwhelming sometimes. Lately, I’ve felt like digging in and doing my thing semi-privately to keep life simple. Short posts are easy, but writing this blog, sharing what’s been going on – well, that’s been something I couldn’t handle. My ability to handle stress has been a little compromised by the prep, but I’m also grieving. (That’s why the walks have been therapeutic.) My coach has helped me tremendously as I processed all of this pain, joy, and frustration. His online presence is much larger, so he knows what it’s like to have to deal with ___ (I’ll let you fill in that blank because I have nothing good to say right there). It’s a little weird to have a mentor who is 20 years younger than I am, but that’s exactly what Berto has become to me. Much more than a prep coach. I am grateful.
OK. So I’m 8 weeks out from the competition I think I will do. Nothing is set in stone yet. Life this last year has been a long roller-coaster ride, so I’m not willing to fully commit to a date just yet.