Where it all began

For those of you that have only known me for a few years you may not know this, but I have not always been healthy and fit. I was actually the complete opposite. I ran my first mile (not a typo, my first 1 mile) when I was 30 years old. My weight has always been like a yo yo and I’ve only been thin when I was able to eat less. I never liked my body and had a unhealthy relationship with food.

So how did I change my life around?

Today’s blog is dedicated to my friend and coach Omar Henderson with NuGro Wellness. I met him six years ago when my cousin mentioned she almost puked at a boot camp class the night before but was planning on going back. The trainer was running a 21 day challenge for $50 that include attending unlimited classes and a 21 day meal plan. I dreamed of having a great body and being confident in a swim suit and was sick of being unhappy. I went to class the next night , almost died and signed up for the challenge. I will never forget my hands shaking from the workout while I wrote the check.

I was added to a Facebook team of women on the same journey, assigned a coach, given a 21 day clean eating meal plan and attacked the challenge. Holy shit! In just 1 week I saw changes and by the end of 3 weeks I was a new women. My jeans were large (even after my husband put them in the dryer), I had more energy and I was addicted to the results. 6 years later I am a personal trainer, Beachbody Coach and competitive bodybuilder. I love what I do and sharing my passion with others!

Omar’s gym has changed locations, I moved to the other side of town and I do most of my own training; however I always fall back to him for guidance. He was my coach for my very first competition and took me somewhere I thought only others could go. Three years later he guided me to the stage again and I couldn’t be more grateful. We worked together as a team on this prep and he gave sound recommendations when I was crazy and carb depleted. Although I hid it well on stage, I was scared and insecure. I stood backstage second guessing my physique and posing. He was there to build me up, provide me guidance and make the final tweaks to my posing. I hit the stage with confidence and sass and I crushed it.

Whatever your goal is, don’t go at it alone. Two is much stronger than one. Will I compete again? I’m not sure, but one thing I do know is that it won’t be on my own.

The Final Outcome

Well it’s over, my competition that is. It’s the morning after and I can’t sleep so why not walk on the treadmill and blog about it? (I did eat way to much chocolate yesterday and could use the cardio)

So yesterday I competed in The Michigan State Natural Bodybuilding Championship through the NANBF. My previous 4 competitions were through the NPC (separate organization). Since I’ve competed before and placed first in my division (Masters) I was only allowed to compete in the Open class for the competition and not Novice. 1st place in this class wins a pro-card in the natural league and is kind of a big deal. Honestly, going into the show I wasn’t confident with where my physique was at. I struggled with weight loss through this whole process and could not lose the extra weight around my midsection. When I found out that there were only six other competitors in my division I was a little worried that there would be strong competition but when I saw all the strong and beautiful women backstage I knew it was a great competition. All six of us looked fabulous and fought for that trophy. I ended up taking third overall and then won the best female posing award. I feel very comfortable with my placing based on the package I brought to the stage and know that 1st overall is just within reach. Winning overall poser shows how far I have came with my stage presence and confidence. Although after the show I found myself feeling slightly down and out I woke up with a much better outlook. Going into this show my only goal was to beat the girl I was last year on stage and nobody else. I crushed my goal! I brought a whole new confident woman to that stage and left last year’s Nicole in the dust. Will I compete again? I honestly don’t know. Today the competition is fresh and I’m hungry for the win but in reality, the stress of prep isn’t something my body or family can handle back to back. I was over impressed with this competition and might just plan to come back next year and go for gold. Now it’s time to hit the gym and putting all those calories to building up my glutes!

If you are curious about my coaching I did hire help. I am a personal trainer and confident in coaching others but you are your own worst critic. I’ve always had a coach and will never go at this alone. For this prep my coach was my friend and the man that helped me transform my lifestyle 6 years ago when I attended his boot camp class and almost died. He watched me go from not being able to run 400 yards without puffing on an inhaler to the strong woman I am today. He has his own gym here in the Grand Rapids area and promotes overall health and wellness. You can check him out on Facebook and Instagram@NugroWellness .

Only four weeks to go!

If you would’ve asked me how I felt about my upcoming competition 4 weeks ago I would’ve had a negative response. I was feeling discouraged and I was not happy with my progress. Instead of quitting I decided to change the plan but not the goal. We made some pretty drastic changes to my macro nutrient intake and I brought the focus every day to my strength workouts and cardio. Four weeks later I couldn’t be happier with my progress pics and I am beyond excited to push myself even harder the next four weeks. I have three more full weeks of working out in the gym until peak week. There’s only one month between these photos. I cannot wait to see what one more month will do before I hit the stage. Happy Monday friends! Today I am feeling good and I am working one day at a time toward my goal.

Less than five weeks until show day

All right, I am five weeks out from my competition and the scale finally started moving. Last time I blogged I was frustrated because I just wasn’t seeing results and the fat was not leaving my body. I’m not saying things are going great but I did finally drop some weight and I’m seeing much more definition. The weight I am at now is still much higher than my previous competitions but that could have to do with the change in my body composition and all of the weightlifting I’ve done in the off-season.

The struggles I’ve had the past week have been pretty real. We lowered my complex carbs to only 75 g per day with one refeed and one lower carb day when I rest. I feel great in the morning and have tons of energy and my mood is positive. At about 4 PM I lose my shit. This is no joke, I literally lose it on anyone that walks near me. If you don’t want to bitchy response don’t call or text me after 4 PM. I’ve been rude to my father-in-law, my kids and husband (daily), and even my husband’s friend who was being nice and offering us a treadmill for sale. Hopefully they read my blog because I was too bitchy to even apologize. Carbs are in essential nutrient that provide your body with fuel and affect your brain function. When you deplete them you don’t just have low-energy it affects your mood, your focus and much much more. I do not recommend low-carb diet for any of my clients unless they’re looking to compete in we are in the final stretch and in need to really tap into fat storage. Your body can burn fat while you eat carbs, I’m just in a very tight timeline.

My overall calorie consumption is on average less than 1300 cal a day. I’m lifting daily with weights and then doing about 45 minutes of a steady state cardio. I don’t have much energy to do high-intensity training and I burn out quickly. Some days I have fun at the gym other days it feels like a total chore and I hate every minute. I found that it’s best if I work out before 1 PM otherwise I have zero energy and my mood sucks.

Although my mood isn’t very enjoyable my kids fully support me and watch every damn thing I put my mouth. I took a bite of an apple the other day and Bryson asked “um, are you allowed to eat fruit?” My oldest came home from college and even went to the gym with me to train back. I think he got a little irritated with all of my instructions I was giving on the proper way to lift so I will try to bite my tongue next time. (Heaven forbid his mom who is a personal trainer gives instruction on proper form).

My goal this week is to order my new suit and lose another 1 to 2 pounds. I’ve consistently lost at least a pound over the last three weeks and want to keep that going in the right direction. When you’re trying to maintain muscle while losing fat it’s healthy to lose 1 to 3 pounds a week but nothing more. I’m consistently losing 1 to 1 1/2 pounds a week. For my suit I am switching colors this year and debating between a deep emerald green or a black with colored crystals. It takes about 3 1/2 weeks to get your custom suit so I need to order it this week. I’ve also started tanning so that my butt isn’t super pale. Even with the spray tan if you have white butt cheeks it shows through.

I am not a competitor that stays show lean all year and I still have a lot of work to do over the next 5 weeks.

Bikini competitor chocolate pumpkin breakfast bake

Alright fellow competitors and friends looking for a quick and easy macro friendly breakfast bake, here you go! As my competition approaches my macros decrease and I need to be very strategic with each meal. If I don’t balance my macros between 5 meals I run out at about 2pm and that creates a hangry monster (just ask my kids).

I normally make protein muffins but last night I didn’t feel like creating a recipe in myfitnesspal or cleaning the damn muffin tins so I made a breakfast bake that spits evenly into 4 servings.

Here is what you need:

  • Round baking dish
  • 1 cup muscleegg in Chocolate Carmel (you can use liquid egg whites but I can’t guarantee it will taste as good)
  • 3 scoops GNC Amplified chocolate Whey
  • 1 can pure pumpkin
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp cocoa
  • Stevia to taste
  • 1 tsp backing soda

Macros: I used myfitnesspal to enter the ingredients and put 1/4 as serving. 25g protein, 25g carbs and less than 2 g fat!!

Mix all ingredients together, pour in baking dish coated with non-stick cooking spray, bake at 350 until done in middle. (About 40 min)

https://www.facebook.com/Seemomlift/videos/1249617631815261/

Sometimes things don’t go as planned

So I am less than eight weeks out from my next competition and I am not feeling ready at all. I went into this prep with confidence and excitement and after four weeks of dieting I am not seeing the results I had expected. The scale hasn’t really moved at all and I’ve only lost a few inches. I’ve compared my eight week out photos this year to the ones I took last year and I am noticeably larger. I know that I put on muscle this past 12 months but I’m still not as lean as I feel I need to be eight weeks out from the show. The first time I ever prepped for a physique competition was over two years ago, and to be honest, the weight-loss part seemed almost too easy. I followed the macro plan, executed my workouts and the pounds seemed to shed off. They actually came off so quickly that my trainer had me do a show earlier then we originally planned for. My second show was a 12 week prep, it went smoothly, I took first in my class and felt amazing on stage. For my third and fourth shows I switched to a different trainer to learn another approach and experience a new challenge and came in even leaner yet. We cut my carbs a lot sooner than previous preps and added more cardio, which brought my lower body to the leanest it has ever been and gave me a more balanced look. My plan for this show was to take all that I’ve learned from the last four shows and formulate a perfect plan for me. The problem is, I have grown older, my body has adjusted to this lifestyle and things just simply don’t always go as planned. There was about 24 hours where I contemplated calling it quits. I realized that this was not something I was willing to do because when I set off to accomplish a goal, and go public about that goal, I am the last person to back down. I also want to set an example for my children and show them even when things don’t go as planned you never quit, you adjust the plan, but never the goal. Quitting is not an option.

For those of you interested in what my plan consist of I am lifting weights six days a week, doing 45 minutes of steady state cardio five days per week on either a stairmaster or incline treadmill at 8.0 or higher, eating 120 g of protein, 34 g of fat and now carb cycling between 125g carbs, 100 carbs and 75 carbs on my rest day. My total calories started around 1600 but currently are below 1300. This is my fifth competition prep and all five have been different. Do not read my macros and set yours to be the same. Everyone’s body is different, everyone’s metabolism is different and no two competitors should follow the exact same plan.

Another thing I did this competition prep that is probably made me dislike my progress pics more is that I have put on a competition suit for my progress pics ever since day one. These swimsuits are extremely small and should never be worn in public unless you are doing a bodybuilding show with a crazy orange spray tan and huge spotlight. I normally wear my normal bikini all the way till about four weeks out and then I am brave enough to put on the itsy-bitsy sparkly bikini. To have true progress pics I decided to wear it from day one and obviously I do not look good in it. For modesty’s sake, and the fact that I have three kids, I will only show my front pose and keep the back pose to myself. I do not consider myself overweight at all and I am not posting this so that people can tell me I look good. I am simply sharing my progress pic to be out in the open about competition prep. I hope to be about 10 pounds lighter when I walk on stage and obviously way more defined. I have 7 1/2 weeks to go and there is no holding back.

https://www.facebook.com/Seemomlift/videos/1248359161941108/

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.

2014-arnold-classic-victor-martinez

Men’s Bodybuilding Example

mens-physique-finals-toronto-pro

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.

physique

Women’s Physique Example

bodybuilding

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)

figure

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.

bikini

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.

7j9b0290

2016 Iron Man NPC Competition

7j9b2387

Front Pose

7j9b3964

Front post comparison during pre-judging

7j9b7512

2016 Central States NPC Competition