Some of my favorite videos!

For those of you that follow me on Facebook at See Mom Lift you know that I love to go live and just speak what is on my mind.  Since it is Friday and I like to keep things real, here are some of my favorite videos for you to enjoy or share.  The first is me enjoying my last glass of wine before giving it up this month.  Spring break is just around the corner and I would like to reveal my abs for the beach.  They went into hiding this winter after I indulged in a few too many bottles of wine.

 

My random thoughts of a glass of wine!

 

A few of my favorite things:

 

Some days I have my shit together and some days I just don’t!

 

What I think about people that cut others down for eating healthy!

My “Real” Body Revealed

This is what I really look like. This is me today. This is me after a weekend of enjoying food, family, sun and some wine. This is me after working out a minimum of six days per week. This is me after eating clean 85% of the time. This is me. 
I am not a fitness model. I am a wife, mother and a healthy woman. Today is day one of a three week Beachbody challenge group I am hosting online and this is my before picture. After sharing with my group I thought why not share with everybody. I have nothing to hide. I do not act fake on social media and the person you see is the person that I am. When I am competing I share my pictures so why not share every other day of the year? The Nicole you see in my profile picture is the body that I worked my ass off for 16 weeks straight. I was hangry every day, exhausted, yelled at my kids regularly for no reason, lost my shit at least once a day on the first person that pissed me off and I pushed myself beyond my limits. It took 16 weeks of strict dieting, daily exercise and zero alcohol to achieve that. That body is not something most women can achieve without extreme measures and it is a look that is not maintainable throughout the year.  Do I regret competing, hell no. Will I compete again, maybe. Do I want to lose a few pounds before spring break, yes. Will I lose a few pounds and be more confident on spring break, hell yes!  You are only constrained by the limits you have set for yourself.  Today I vow to love my body, thick or thin and work towards being the best version of me. 

A Breif Overview of Competitive Bodybuilding

There is a very small percentage of crazy fitness enthusiast that understand the world of competitive bodybuilding.  This blog post is dedicated to all of you “normal” people that are slightly curious and intrigued by this sport that is spreading like wildfire amongst gym rats.

The focus and goal of competitive bodybuilding is building a balanced physique and changing your body composition (less fat, more muscle) through strength training and strict nutrition.  (Yes ladies, you will have to lift weights)  How you want your physique to look depends on what category you are going to compete in.

For men, the main categories are Bodybuilding and Physique.

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Men’s Bodybuilding Example

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Men’s Physique Example

I don’t have much experience with men’s bodybuilding so my overview will stop there.  If you are at all interested in competing you should find a reputable coach in your area that and work with them.  Be very careful of online coaches that only post pictures of themselves.  In my experience, having a coach you can see in person and talk with is much, much better.  I would also ask to see or meet some of their past clients.  Has your coach competed themselves?  I am not sure that anyone can truly understand what you are going through unless they have done it themselves.  (Back stage jitters, naked spray tan, dehydration, oily bodies, pumping up, addiction to peanut butter,etc.)

Now on to my favorite topic, women.  For women there are 4 categories; bodybuilding, physique, figure and bikini.  Figure and bikini are by far the most popular categories.  It is very difficult for women to get bulky naturally so I don’t have any experience with the physique and bodybuilding categories.  Those women are beasts and I applause them. However, because I don’t know much about their prep and the kind of supplements they need to take to build that kind of muscle, I will leave it at that.

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Women’s Physique Example

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Women’s Bodybuilding Example

Women’s Figure is a blend of  bodybuilding and fitness.  Women are judged on symmetry, presentation and other aesthetic qualities such as skin tone, suite color, fit, etc.  The “X” factor is the desired physique with well formed shoulders and back, small waist and round and full glutes and quads. Visible muscle separation is desired but visible striations is not, that would bring them into the bodybuilding category. Women in this category typically get into the 8-12% body fat range on competition day.  At this range your hormones are out of whack and you will stop menstruating.  Your family and friends will not enjoy being around you.  (TRUST ME, I KNOW)

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Women’s Figure Example

The final and most popular category is Women’s Bikini.  This is where a lot of amateurs begin and where a lot of us stay.  Women are judged on their lean and firm physiques and scored on proportion, symmetry, balance, shape and skin tone.  Shoulders, abs and glutes are very important muscle groups.  Bikini competitors are fit and lean but not ripped and shredded.  They are typically win the 10-15% body fat range which is still way, way below average.  Bikini competitors do a front and back pose for the judges.

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Women’s Bikini Example

So now that we covered all the different categories lets talk about how someone gets into competing and what types of shows they would do.  First, you kind of have to enjoy weight lifting and eating healthy.  If you hate spending time in the gym and eating meat and vegetables then you should just take this off your list.  Women do not get their shapely and toned physiques from long cardio sessions and low calorie/low protein meals.  We lift weights and we eat a lot of protein.  Protein is the building block for muscle and to have the bodybuilder’s physique, you need muscle.

I first decided to compete becasue the trainer I was working out with for a few years had competed himself and coached a few of my friends for shows.  I watched them transform their body in a few months and was absolutely amazed and inspired.  I thought about it for a couple years but finally committed to a show after watching a close friend of mine prepare for a competition.  I stopped making excuses and signed up.  The first thing I did was meet with a reputable trainer and discuss my goals.  He put me on a 16 week program that included weight training 6 days per week, eating ~1600 calories each day comprised of 40% protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat and weekly check-ins.  Based on my photos and changes in weight, he adjusted my macros (protein, carbs, fat).   My progress photos were submitted weekly to him. Cardio was used sparingly until the very end when I had to shed the final few pounds of fat.  I trained legs twice per week at a minimum, upper body was focused on shoulders and back and my core was hit a few time a week.

My first show was a local amateur show put on by the National Physique Committee (NPC).  Shows are held locally at the state level.  If a show is designated as a “National Qualifier” then you can qualify to compete at a national level if you place in the top 3 of Open division.

Besides the strict diet and workout regimen, I practiced posing regularly with my coach and on my own.  Stage presence and posing are extremely important.  You can have the best body on stage but if you don’t present it well you will not place at all.  Another thing most people don’t know about is the spray tan.  This isn’t optional if you want to place well or even look like you belong.  Think of it as foundation for your skin. It evens out your skin tone, covers up blemishes and stretch marks and helps bring out the definition in you muscles.  Everyone does it and yes, you look ridiculous off of stage; however, if you didn’t get the spray tan you would not show off your shredded body and would look extremely white compared to everyone else.

After your show most competitors take what is called an off-season.  It is recommended that you take at least 6 months between shows to allow your metabolism to re-adapt back to normal food intake levels.  During prep you continually drop your calories to get take your body below a natural level of body fat and if you think you can just jump right back into eating like you did before you will be in for rude awakening.  It is not uncommon for competitors to gain 10-20 lbs of fat in only a couple weeks after the show if they do not reverse diet properly.  During a planned off season competitors focus on slowly increasing their calories, reducing the amount of cardio and building up their strength.  When you are prepping for a show you are in a calorie deficit so you don’t build much muscle.  The focus is on maintaining muscle while losing fat.  The off season is where the gains happen in the gym.  I recently maxed out my squat at 190lbs and my deadlift at 220lbs.  I could not have built up to this during competition prep and owe my success to an increase in carbs and protein along with great training partners at MVP Sportsclubs.  #ilovecarbs

So far I have competed in four shows total, three of which were National Qualifiers.  I placed in the top 5 in Open in all of them and took 1st in the Master’s Division (35 and older) in two of them.  I am a 2X Nationally Qualified Bikini competitor and currently enjoying my off season.  If someone asked me today if I would compete again I honestly don’t know that I could answer that. Competitive bodybuilding is a very selfish sport and your whole focus in on yourself.  My meals were planned out each day, my workouts were written out, my cardio, etc.  I could not go off my plan and that made family life a bit difficult.  I currently have been really enjoying helping my clients with their fitness goals and love having more flexibility with my workouts and nutrition. My goal for this month is a 200 lb back squat and I can’t wait to crush it.

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2016 Iron Man NPC Competition

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Front Pose

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Front post comparison during pre-judging

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2016 Central States NPC Competition

2 Ingredient Protein Pancakes

This morning I wanted something hot and quick for breakfast.  I picked up some Kodiak Power Cake mix from Costco last night and couldn’t wait to use it. I mixed 1 cup of Pumpkin Spice Muscleegg with 1 cup of pancake mix. That’s it! Cook on preheated griddle and enjoy a breakfast filled with whole grains and lean protein. (I fed these to my 13 year old and he didn’t even know they were protein pancakes.  He also doesn’t read my blog so he will never know…..)

 
Makes 2 full servings (the number of pancakes depends on the size):

260 Calories, 31g carbs, 27g protein and 2g fat

Chocolate Pumpkin Protein Muffins

I am leaving for the weekend and needed a quick on the go snack to bring with me.  I decided to clean out my cupboards and create a healthy protein muffin that I can replace any meal with as needed.  It has been awhile since I posted a recipe and if you follow my blog you know protein muffins are one of my favorite things to make.  Today’s creation turned out so good I had to share (chocolate pumpkin heaven good!).  I used the chocolate protein powder I had in my house but you could make these with whatever brand you have or love. It is still officially fall so pumpkin is a staple in all recipes, right?  Who doesn’t love pumpkin!?!? (and chocolate, who doesn’t love pumpkin and chocolate!?!? oh, and protein, who doesn’t love chocolate, pumpkin and protein !?!?)

Here is what you need (I basically pulled a shit ton of ingredients out of my cupboards and mixed them together until I loved the taste and consistency. I manually create a recipe in myfitnesspal and enter them as I go. This gives you the macro breakdown and keeps track of the recipe in case I want to re-create it or post it):

  • 1 1/2 cup all natural canned pumpkin
  • 3 servings of liquid egg whites
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 10 tsp stevia
  • 2 scoops chocolate whey protein
  • 1 scoop chocolate casein protein
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 3 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

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How to make:

  1. Mix all the wet ingredients together in large bowl.
  2. Add in dry ingredients one at a time, mix well.
  3. Scoop into lined muffin cups (I use parchment paper liners, the rest stick).
  4. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until done in center (be careful not to over cook, they will be dry).

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Today I am 36

So at what age do birthdays no longer really matter?  Was it 31?  Yeah, 31 was the age when we stopped celebrating and started wishing we could turn back the clock.  We will celebrate again at 40 and 50, but really you just have a huge party to dull the pain of getting old.  #truth

To be honest, I kind of feel like I have always been in my 30s and never really lived out my younger years.  I don’t mind saying I am 36 but I would like my skin and metabolism to start acting like it was 26 again.  I leaped from teenager to adult my senior year in high school when I gave birth to my first son.  Now at 36 I am a mother of an 18 year old, 12 year old and 10 year old.  I am searching for colleges and planning a high school graduation while the rest of my friends are still changing diapers and stepping on Legos.

Overall I am pretty satisfied with where I am at in my life right now.  As I look back I guess I kind of took the express path to adulthood: At 17 I became a mother, at 21 I bought my first house, at 22 I met my husband, at 23 I had my second son, at 24 I was married and at age 25 I graduated from college and gave birth to my 3rd son.   The past 10 years have been a struggle with balancing career and family.  I worked full time in the pharmaceutical field in Quality Control, Quality Assurance and Technical Operations.  A year ago I started to feel hopeless and unsatisfied with my career and yearned to be home more with my family.  I followed my passion and became a personal trainer and Beachbody health coach.  I now work part time doing what I love and have much more time to get involved with my kids day to day activities.

So what is this birthday girl going to do today to celebrate?  Well, the usual.  Cook my boys breakfast, workout, work and then end the night with a steak dinner at our favorite local restaurant called The Chophouse.  I hope to get the new fitbit blaze for my birthday but that is just a wish.  My husband isn’t the best with following instructions, lol.

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Off Season Struggles

Well, it is official, I am in the off season and it has been over a month since my last competition.  My abs disappeared, cellulite is creeping back on my ass and I have a love/hate relationship with my body.  On a positive note, I am not “hangry” all the time and I have been able kill my workouts because I am not in a calorie deficit.  For those of you that don’t compete or are not familiar with the world of competitive body building this may all sound crazy to you.  For my fellow competitors, I am probably speaking your language.  My plan for the off season is to focus on building muscle, specifically in my back and legs, while maintaining my weight at about 10 lbs over stage weight.  I would like to come in even leaner next year so I do not want to put on more than 10 lbs.  I have a difficult time dropping 1-2 lbs per week during prep and hate, hate, hate cardio.

This off season is different than my other ones.  Before I didn’t really know what I wanted and I chose to compete again because I started to put on too much weight and missed the structure and control that I felt during prep.  This year I have goals, big goals.  I want to win a first overall and not just first in Master’s Division (35 and over).  I also really would like to compete in a larger show and in my home town of Grand Rapids.  Memorial Day weekend of 2017 is my plan.  That is the Grand Rapids show and it is big.  That gives me 6 months to start building and shaping my body to bring my best package to the stage.

Anyone want to join me?

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This is my front pose at the 2016 Great Lakes Iron Man.  I took 1st in Master’s Division and 3rd in Open at this show.