Tag Archives: competing

2017 Prep Update: Day 260 out of 275 – Two weeks left?!?! OMG. OMG. OMG.

TWO WEEKS!?

If you think you know why I’m freaking out, you might be wrong.

I’m an introvert.  I can honestly say that getting on stage in a posing suit smaller than my underwear doesn’t bother me as much as you might assume.  I go out there, they call the poses and I do the poses.  I’m don’t wear my glasses, the stage lights are bright, so even though I can hear people, I can’t see many – just the judges and the front row.  And honestly, I’m so used to tuning out “teenager noise”, I really don’t hear anything except what I’m paying attention to – which will be the head judge’s instructions.  It’s just me and a few other nice women doing this thing.  No big deal.  This will be my 4th time, so I can visualize it.   I can prepare.  I practice every day.  I know what to expect.

Sure, I’ll have some nerves about it this time as it gets closer because of what happened before, but I think I can be ready for that.  Today, that’s not what makes me nuts thinking about competing.  It’s my introversion.  Everything about competing, except the stage, are things I actively avoid in life because they make me really uncomfortable, jumpy, and drain me.

If any of these things resonate with you, please leave a comment!  I could sure use a reminder that even though it is unlikely that we introverts will ever be in a room together, you understand my struggle.

REASONS WHY I CAN PANIC ABOUT COMPETING:

  1. Driving to a big city that has big city traffic.
  2. Organizing everything so I won’t forget anything. (The “to do” lists need to start being written down now.  I can’t keep it in my head without going crazy.)
  3. People.  Nothing I do is more “peopley” than a show.  People everywhere.  People I don’t know. Bored people waiting for their turn who just want to visit because they aren’t introverts.
  4. The competition spray tan.  It’s gross.  It’s uncomfortable. It stinks.  It’s inconvenient. The first layer goes on Friday night, so you have live in it,  sleep in it, which means you need special clothes to wear that you can wreck but won’t wreck the tan, a set of sheets dedicated to sleep in for a couple nights.  And I can’t find my sheets.  I need to head to the thrift store.  I would also like to look for another crappy tanning track suit.
  5. The backstage scheduling is never set.  Need to pay attention to when you are called to pump up to go out.  Before that, eat what you’re supposed to eat at a given time based on that time you don’t know – make sure your tan and glaze are touched up before that…I’m a teacher.  I’m a professional PLANNER.  Not knowing these things makes me nuts.
  6. Hurry up and wait backstage = people.  Talking and stuff.  Socializing, small talk.  NIGHTMARE!
  7. Did I burn the CD with my routine music?  Nope.  Add that to the list.  Oh, and make a few CDs and put them in different places so that when I lose one, which I will, I’ll have backups.  Ugh.
  8. DON’T FORGET YOUR POSING SUIT.  DON’T FORGET YOUR POSING SUIT. DON’T. FORGET.  POSING.  SUIT.
  9. Make up and hair??  Ugh.  I think I’ll have them just spray my face again like last time.  Throw on some mascara and lipstick and that’ll be it.  Hair?  Well, that’s kind of already taken care of with the half-shaved head, right?  Can’t go wrong there.  Back comb and hairspray is all that I’ll need to do.

I do have a few people coming who I’m looking forward to seeing.  My plan is to honor my introversion this time around.  If I’m not with the one or two people who I’m comfortable with, I’ll find a quiet corner, listen to music or an audio book,  and try to keep my internal batteries charged.  Hell, I’d bring my crochet bag except that the stupid tan would get all over the yarn!

CRAP!  Batteries?  Cell phone battery!   I’m going to have to add “bring remote charger” to my list of things not to forget.  Every available outlet in the backstage area will be jammed up.

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PREP NUT & BOLTS…

This last week was a deload week at the gym.  Nothing too exciting.  I spent more time practicing posing and doing cardio than lifting.  Got the plan from coach for the last two weeks and everything starts to wind down now.  I forgot – peaking with my coach is like a vacation compared to how I like to do life normally.  No one peaks an athlete better than Alberto Nunez in my opinion.  It’s all about reducing stress while using science with macros to bring his athlete up from looking like a flat tire to looking like a bodybuilder.  The guy is a “macro-whisperer” when it comes to peak week.  And we don’t cut water.  Should mention that because many competitors do.

Scale continues to drop.  We expect that to continue based on what happened the last time we peaked for a show.  This morning, I hit Alberto’s stage weight goal, so I think he needs to revise that.  I’m one pound away from my personal “aggressive” goal – so we’re probably coming in leaner than either one of us expected.

So other than the stress of having to “people” and “drive” and do other things that stress introverts, my goal is to reduce physical stress as much as possible.  The last week of summer school is next week.  All the work for that is done – kids are just finishing it up.  The final exam has been submitted for copying.  Next Friday at noon, I’ll grade the exam, issue grades for the semester, log-off, lock the door, and walk away until the end of the month.

And I’m about 90% sure I’ll do a second show in October.  At least we can plan for it.  These things are a little expensive, so if something comes up and I can’t swing it, that’ll be ok.  I’ll have photographer hubby do a photoshoot instead.  We should do that anyway.  He has some cool costumes around here.

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Filed under My Lifting Log

Transforming Into an Athlete in the Second Part of Life

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The first time I touched a barbell, I was 48 years old.  I’m now 54.

Some people say my age is an irrelevant point about me as an athlete, but they are wrong.  It’s extremely relevant.   I was a fully formed adult with scars and strengths from living life before I decided to live a completely different way.  And my decision impacted a lot of people who thought they knew who I was before I decided to be someone else.  I’m still working on making sense of all this.  Something yanked my chain this last week and I need to write to figure out what I think about things.  Sorry – I need to be a bit cryptic about it because it’s private.  But I believe humans have similar responses to things, even if details are different.

Please forgive me for veering into the past for a moment.   If what I’m going to say later is going to make any sense, I need share parts of my personal history.  I don’t feel comfortable doing that, because I don’t want to give the impression that I think my life has been difficult.  It’s just been a “life”.  But these things are a bit relevant to why I think what I think as I keep transforming into an athlete in the second half of my life…

  • My scoliosis was diagnosed early in high school and I was pulled from all sports. I was told to be “careful” for the rest of my life.  Between the ages of 17 and 24, I had at least two episodes when my back would freeze up and I could not move for about a week.  I remember my mother pushing me around in a wheel-chair at the hospital to get x-rays.   I believed all the adults who told me I was fragile.
  • In my 20’s, I got a job at a gym as a receptionist. That’s when I first saw female bodybuilders in magazines.  They were about my age, but they looked so strong – not fragile.  I wanted that, but I was intimidated by it for a couple of really good reasons.  1) I have scoliosis and shouldn’t lift, and 2) women aren’t supposed to look like that – guys didn’t like it.  I didn’t question those beliefs at the time.  I accepted them and set other goals for my life.
  • My mother died from a brain aneurysm when she was 56 and I was 28.  I was the family member who was tasked with the decision to remove her from life support.  I watched her die.  I know some of you have had to do that, too.  It’s not exactly like how they show it in movies or on Grey’s Anatomy.
  • I decided to get a degree in mathematics and teach math because I was intimidated by it. That was when I began to do battle with my fears.  The time span from my first day of college to my graduation with a degree in mathematics was 16 years.  Mom died during this time and I lost my job because I needed to take a leave of absence to handle my mother’s affairs out of town.  Once I could get back to work, I had as many as three part-time jobs to support myself and still have a schedule flexible enough to attend school during the day when the classes I needed were offered.  This was the first time I set a scary goal and achieved it.
  • For the last 20 years, I’ve taught math to teenagers, ages 15-18. Takes a little courage to show up and do that every day.   Not many adults would want to attempt to manage a room of 30+ teenagers.  Fewer can handle it when a whole bunch of them are anxious about what you are asking them to do.  Math teachers are in short-supply these days.  Burn out is high.  Many students believe they will fail before they try, so they won’t try.  They will do a lot of other things to avoid trying.  While teaching geometry, I teach a lot of other things, too.

And that brings me back to my first point – the first time I touched a barbell, I was 48 years old.  All of these other things happened years prior to that.

To decide to become a female bodybuilder at that point in my life, I had to challenge and beat down a lot of my own thoughts about what women can do, what a person with scoliosis can do, what a busy teacher can find time to do, and what a post-menopausal woman can accomplish in bodybuilding.  I’m not saying my journey has been harder than someone else’s, because I know it hasn’t been.  There is no comparison to what others have had to deal with to just get through another day.  I have not had to survive trauma.

That said, I’ve still accomplished enough hard stuff to feel like I can do more.  It’s my journey.   I’ve already lived a life and I’m still in the mix.  My ego tells me that I should be respected for that, but I can’t control what others say or think.  (Yeah, something happened a couple days ago. I was hurt by it, but I learned something useful.)  I remind myself what I’ve done to get here.  My ego wants to puff up – that’s what others do, right?  But that’s not going to help me do anything except become an asshole.  I don’t need to defend my thoughts.

I am sensitive.  I am scared.  I am brave.  I reflect.  I learn. I overthink.  I lose my focus sometimes, but I get it back.  I tell my ego to shut the hell up.  She just wants to generate negative thoughts that feed uncertainty about whether I will ever have tangible success as an athlete.  I may always be a novelty act in public, she tells me.  Ageism is alive and well, we all know that.  Is that my only obstacle?  Of course not.  But it’s there.  I can’t get younger, but I can improve.  I may always be switched to the outside of the youngest, most novice bodybuilder in the line.  If I’m a better bodybuilder than I was the last time I showed up, I guess that’s going to be enough.  My voice may shake when I say “my journey on my terms“, but I’m still saying it.  I’m still insisting on it.

“Why bother?”  I ask myself almost every day.  Almost every day, I quit.  And then I recommit to what I’m doing as an athlete.  The last year has been difficult.  I may not be able to break this cycle until after I compete again.  That last competition experience needs to be replaced by a new one before I’m going to get closure on what happened that day.  Simply getting on stage again will be a win because I will be able to put away two years of trying to make sense of what will now be called the “2015 WTF Happened? Blesson”.

And then I touch a barbell and I happily battle gravity.  I get a little bit of clarity when I’m at the gym.  Lifting still fixes me.  I love to train.  That’s why I bother.   Everything else is just distracting noise, whether it’s external or internal.

 

 

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Filed under Competing, Life, Opinions, Venting, Ranting

Bodybuilding Trolls

This sport is weird – it’s competitive, but you aren’t really competing against anyone.  You compete with yourself.  I’ve only been lifting for four years now, but only two years when I first stepped on stage.  I had hopes, but as soon as I was backstage and saw the other competitors, I knew I should not place well.   In the two shows I’ve done, my class was small, so no matter what, I was guaranteed a top three finish and a trophy.  The reality is that I didn’t have to work at all to get one of those trophies.  “Old” me could have paid to play and brought one home.

I’m proud of my girls, though.  I may not have been competitive, but I wasn’t out of shape.  I worked very hard, was disciplined, and spent a lot of $$$ on training/coaching to get ready.  I took it seriously and I followed through.  I just hadn’t done it long enough.

But despite my small size, when the picture went viral, there were nasty things said.  I thought they were funny, actually, but I paid attention to which page administrators where monitoring and which weren’t.  I don’t self-promote outside of my own corner of the Internet.  That just invites trolls and their drama.

Had a quick conversation with a male pro I respect today at the gym.   Great guy – very smart and generous.  And like many who have a large presence in social media, he’s been getting hit a lot by trolls.

Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtrl//ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

I read negative, critical comments made about a competitor’s progress, methodology, whatever.  These people take cheap shots when they really have no intellectual ammunition to spare.  I want to tell these trolls to “put your butt in posing suit and get up on stage, have your physique judged, and THEN let’s discuss your lame point”.

If you train to compete, your ego takes a beating regularly.  If I’m going to be honest, that’s one of the reasons I love this sport.  It forces me to do things I’m afraid to do.  After I lost the first 40 pounds badly (diet and cardio only) because I was too afraid to do anything else, I found my courage, declared the intention to compete, and hired a trainer.  When I told him I wanted to compete in two years, he replied “Two years? Yes.  Not in one.”  Honesty is what I needed and respected.   From that point on, I’ve done everything I’ve been told to do to the best of my ability.  I’ve screwed up.  I’ve been tired.  I’ve been sore.  I’ve gotten hurt.  But I never quit.  I won’t quit.

And that is the attitude of every competitor I know.

I’m going to assume the trolls are taking shots because their egos are just too fragile.

 

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Filed under Competing, Opinions, Venting, Ranting

68 Weeks Out

WORKOUTS

This is a deload week for me.  I do a deload every 4th week.  For each exercise, the sets are reduced by one and I either keep the weight the same as it was the week before or I drop it a little.  Deload weeks help me recover while still lifting.  But they make for uninteresting status reports.

I won’t deload the two leg exercises I use for blood flow restriction work.  It’s already light.  I feel like I finally figured out how to do it.  I’ve learned how tight the straps need to be.  Read some more about it and started making the first set a very high rep set – 30 reps.  Felt that.  Legs stay a little big for a day afterwards, too.  I like that.

Today’s workout was upper body hypertrophy.  Chest, back, shoulders, and arms – all in the 8 to 12 reps range.  Even with the deload, I was so pumped after two sets of bench press and two sets of hammer smith incline press that my bra and shirt were too tight.  Hahahaha!  Love it!

FOOD

I am logging food and counting macros, but each day varies.  I am using the Bodybugg to track calorie burn as the day progresses.  I am not too concerned with meal timing – my day is pretty regimented since I’m a teacher.  I eat when I have time to eat and it happens at the same time every day.  But when I get home, I synch the Bugg to check the burn and then I eat enough in the evening to stay just under maintenance.  The Bugg resets at midnight and when I wake up in the morning, I’ve got a deficit around 200 calories.  I’m trying to maintain my weight eating as much as I can.  I keep the protein and fat grams basically the same, and I have a minimum amount of carb grams I will eat every day, but if I need more calories, I eat more carbs.

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This video is a great resource for info about calorie deficits and surpluses and how to use timing to optimize body composition.

OTHER STUFF

My “get more sleep” goal was given up when my husband had his car accident, but I’m still trying.  Didn’t have a good week with that this week.  Slept only about 5 hours every night.  Even on a night when I’ve got more time, my body just didn’t want more than 5.  Or my mind.  Doesn’t matter – it’s not enough.  My husband is a great sleeper.  The dogs are great sleepers.  I suck at sleeping.

Emotionally, I’ve struggled a little bit this week.  I’ve been edgy and easily annoyed.  I suppose that’s to be expected with only 5 hours of sleep a night.  There is also a lot of extra stuff to do dealing with the aftermath of the accident while trying to lesson plan for three very rigorous math classes.  Oh, and grades were due this week so I had piles of grading to catch up.  Luckily, we have one more week before spring break – two weeks off this year!  That’s two weeks without an alarm clock.  I will be able to catch up on sleep.  Yay!!!

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Reflecting on the June Show – What Happened to my Butt???

Please know that I haven’t developed an unhealthy body-image issue.  It’s been almost 6 months and today I was looking for a video, came across a a clip I recorded of myself practicing my routine two days before the competition and watched it.  And that’s when I figured out why I hate my show pictures so much.  I thought I looked different.  I knew what I looked like two days before and my physique looked different on stage.

I worked soooooo hard in the off season to bring up my glutes.  I have so many things to work on, I know, but I really targeted that one spot.  So when I saw pics from the show, I was really surprised to see… cellulite?  Maybe it’s just a posing issue, but two days prior to the show, I looked better.  Without a tan, standing in sunlight washed out – I see glutes.  On stage – nada.  Looks like I lost a nice cut in my left hamstring, too.  I am NOT a happy camper.  >:-/

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Both pics were from the same spot in my routine.  Leg pose was set, but the arm pose changed a second later.

But the glutes were so disappointing.

My lats were what I expected.  The mid back wasn’t there and I knew that.

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The mid back has been coming in more since the strongman competition.  (Sorry, I don’t have a current picture that does it justice.)

I’m not exactly sure what will be different for the next show, but I KNOW things will be different.  A different off-season, definitely a different prep, and I’ll start talking to different people.  New ideas are good.  Summer 2015 –  I’m not in a hurry.  Just keep making improvements for a solid year before I have to think about putting it through the stress of a prep again.  I’ve done two shows, enjoyed it, I know I’ll compete again, but I won’t ever have the physique I see in my mind unless I do this patiently and methodically.

I also had an idea about taking a dance class.  I need to learn how to move so I can have a cooler routine.

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Am I a Strong Woman?

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I’ve decided to start my off season by training for a strong woman competition. For my 50th birthday last year, I pulled my husband’s 4-Runner. It was really fun. That’s when I first started thinking about strong woman competitions. Since I’m not going to compete in a bodybuilding show again until next summer at the earliest (considering a two year break to put some energy into neglected aspects of life and to try and catch my competition in size), I thought it might be fun to change the training up a little bit just to see what I can do.  I’m a little concerned that I have not done enough to improve my functional strength – just in case there is a zombie apocalypse, I can’t pose them to death.

Yesterday, Coach gave me a new training program using the events I’d most likely be doing if I do the competition I’m considering at the end of September. I’m not gonna lie. I’m intimidated. There are some things that don’t concern me too much, but there’s a couple that scare the crap out of me. Reflecting on it, in order to do this I’m going to have to deal with the mental barriers I have about lifting heavy stuff over my head. My right shoulder has never been strong. I have been rehabbing it for my entire lifting experience. It’s stronger now than it’s ever been, but I have learned to protect it this whole time. My legs have always been strong, so when I pulled my hip flexor last November, I lost strength, but I didn’t develop the same mental barrier about pushing it because I knew I had strength in my in my legs from before.  It just hurts when I push it.  I’m not as afraid to try.  But while I’m probably strong enough to handle heavier weight for chest or shoulder work, I don’t when I’m alone.  I always opt for more reps or more sets instead.  When Coach hands me heavier weight than I think I can handle, I put up a fight.  No confidence.

And starting a new training program, with brand new activities, taps into my insecurities about looking stupid and silly.  Especially at my gym where every third person is a badass lifter.

So the proper way to approach this would be to grow a pair (figuratively). My focus and mental attitude will need to be stronger. I will not get hurt. I will probably look stupid, but I don’t care. The more time I spend lifting “logs”and kegs, the better.

Coach is not sure I can be ready to compete in 10 weeks. We decided I would do this training for four weeks, then decide what to do. Bodybuilding is still my passion, but I am excited to see what happens to my physique as I push it in a different way.

My workouts on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays will be these exercises…

  • Log press
  • One arm press
  • Farmers carry
  • Tire flips
  • Sled pulls

This video shows a woman doing most of these, plus some others.

On three of the other days, I’ll do my bodybuilding, assistance exercises and cardio, but with less intensity.  Recovery is a priority.

The competition I’m considering has two weight classes for women – below 145 lbs and above 145 lbs. My weight seems to have stabilized at 140, and I have to eat to keep it from dropping. (Yeah, that’s a new development since the show). If I make it a goal to get stronger while staying in the smaller weight class, that seems like an interesting way to start my off season.  I won’t let myself overeat just because I’m doing “strong woman” stuff.  It’s not necessary for me to gain too much.  If I gain muscle, it will only be about 0.25 to 0.5 pounds a month at most.  No reason to do what some other people do and bulk.  My body does what it does.

Uh huh, I know what you might be thinking – muscle needs calorie surplus. But I’m not tracking calories or macros right now, so I have no idea if I’m in surplus or deficit.  I’m eating what I feel I need when I need it. Pretty much following the same pattern I’ve been on for a long time.  I have good energy and weight is stable.  I eat more when my brain knows I need it – like after 5 sets of dead lifts.  🙂

I will keep you posted – either here or on the Facebook page.   Any prayers for bravery you’d be willing to send would be much appreciated.

(Please excuse typos.  I’m tried to catch them all.  The “L” key on my laptop is being difficult, the show nails are still on my fingers and I kind of hate them now, and I think I need new glasses.  I have walked into our hanging birdcage at least once a day for the last week.)

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Stupid Numbers = Decisions (or Why Ignorance Would Have Been Bliss)

I posted before about how I wanted to go into this show without checking body fat – just go by mirror. Seems like most competitors in my gym wouldn’t do that. But I know myself – my former “fat chick” brain is not dead. If she gets something to obsess on, she will go there in a hurry. I was comfortable and confident with that decision.

And then Coach wanted to check body fat with calipers.

So he did pinches and calculated it much, much higher than the mirror appears. And then he had to go out of town for a week. So there I was – the negative mental game in FULL SWING and no coach to help me process it. I didn’t believe the number at all, but it just hung in my head like a neon sign. So Fat Chick Brain took over. I continued to train and eat according to plan, but it felt pointless. I’ve been cutting for months, I’m about a month out from a show that I wasn’t sure I wanted to do anymore because I couldn’t fathom a way to be ready in the amount of time I had left. I tried for several days to get back to my “no numbers” perspective, but I couldn’t. So I took $75 out of my show savings and got another body fat scan. I’ve done six of these since 2011, so I knew if I had this test done, I’d have good numbers for comparison.

As I suspected, the number wasn’t as bad as the number calculated with pinches, but it’s not as good as it was 6 weeks out of my show last summer. But there are MORE numbers to chew on. This scan also breaks down the amount of lean mass tissue in different areas of the body. The last time I did it was at the beginning of last October. That was about a month after my show. Coincidentally, my weight for the October scan was exactly the same as for the scan I did this week, so the comparison is easy. I looked at the numbers a little closer. I lost lean tissue in my legs – that’s not a surprise considering the injuries. I’ve gained more in upper body. Overall, I’ve only had a net gain of about one pound (WTH?!?) of lean tissue since October. No idea how water effects that number. Bone mass is not included – it’s calculated separately.

To compare numbers from one month after my first show to one month before my second show…

  • body fat is the same
  • lean mass tissue is up one pound

So this morning I’m wondering if I should do a show this summer. It’s not about competing with anyone except me, and right now, I feel like I’ve made very little change. My division is Women’s Physique. That’s natural muscle. I was really hoping to present a physique with noticeable improvements. On paper, there are very small gains after a nine months of training. It’s possible that what I’m seeing is actually a good outcome for someone working around an injury. I just don’t know what to think about it. But I’m not a quitter and I do believe that finishing a thing is important, no matter the outcome. (I hope to get some new progress pictures this weekend. Maybe that will help me decide.) It’s expensive to do a show, too. It’s local, so that helps, but the rough estimate to do this show is over $600. If I decided to pick a different show a few weeks later, it really wouldn’t make a lot of difference in the amount of muscle I’d have, but it would add a bunch of travel expenses. If it weren’t for the expense, I’d tell myself to relax, go for it, and have fun. But money is an issue right now. Do I continue or do I wait another year?

The only decisions I have made for sure are that there won’t be two shows this year and changes will be made in this next off season.

I need to make this decision fairly quickly because I need to order the new posing suit soon.

AND…in the over scheme of things, this is trivial. Nothing life and death here.

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UPDATE – In the hours that have passed since I posted this, I’ve realized that I can’t change my mind. It just runs counter to everything I believe and preach about setting goals and accomplishing them. I wrote about my thoughts and feelings because this blog is my documentation of my journey. I’m not an “informational” blogger or a “entertaining” blogger. This is my journal. I want to record some of the mental gymnastics that I go through. I really admire the competitors that never seem to have doubts. Maybe I’ll get there someday. Or not. I might just be a whiny princess. 😉

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Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Life, My Lifting Log