Friday, June 7, 2013

I won! Now what?

It has been a while since my last post. Even though I took a leave from work, I found myself very busy and took more time to rest, which was a good thing. 
I won third place in my category at the Western Canadian Bodybuilding Competition in Kelowna BC on May 18 2013. My category was Master Figure Class B. 
The day was surreal! I was so excited that I didn't sleep well the night before. I was envisioning the next day and accepting my trophy. 
The day started early, 6 am, as the hairstylist would be there at 6:45. Once my hair was done had to take pictures for my nutrition coach so she could tell me what to eat. Lucky me, 4 ounces of chicken and only small sips of water. Next was makeup and then dawning my competition suit. 
Once everything was done and I looked in the mirror I was amazed what I saw, eight months of hard work and dedication had all come together. My roommate and fellow competitor in another Figure category, Valerie Proust, stated it best, she said she was emotionless. Yes, that's exactly how I felt! We giggled at our dramatic makeup, looked at each other and said alright let's get over to the theater, it was show time!
Once we arrived at the venue there were the last minute checks on our tans, then the glazing so our bodies would shine under the lights and gluing our suits into place, talk about up close and personal with strangers. 
Then you wait. It was an hour and a half before my category was called to check in and line up. Next is the pump up room. My nutrition coach Nicki Pimm told me to have an once of red wine right before the pump up, it gets your blood moving which makes your muscles bigger. 
I wasn't sure how I would feel while pumping up, would I be comparing myself to others?
Not at all, I was in a zone. I didn't care what anyone else looked like or what their suit was like, I was there to present "me" and my hard work. 
While waiting behind the curtain to go on stage I was calm, focused and asked the universe to channel my posing coach Steely Springham
The moment came! I stepped out and it seemed as if I was on auto pilot. I presented everything I had practiced for months, it was like a virtual check list was in front of me. 
We first present ourselves, then we are brought out in groups and then we are called out once more so the judges can do their final comparison. I knew that if I was in the first call out it would be a very good sign. 
I was called first! When I heard my number, inside I was jumping up and down and saying "f#%k yeah!" On the outside I was confident and continued to hold my composure. 
Once the judges were happy, that was it, we were done for the pre-judging and could go for lunch and have some water, yay!
We had about five hours to relax, snooze and then freshen ourselves up for the trophy presentation. 
My trainer/coach Nico De Feo was confident I had made the top three. 
The atmosphere was far more relaxed for the evening show. The nervous butterflies had calmed down and everybody feels better once they have had a bit of food and water.
It was time for my category to go out on stage again. We presented our hard work one last time, now they will call out the top five competitors. Yes, I am in the top five! Finally my number is called for the third place trophy. I can't stop smiling, oh wait I haven't stopped smiling since I first stepped on stage that morning.
Someone asked me if I cried or had tears when I was given the trophy? I said no way, I worked hard for that recognition, tears weren't necessary.
The one thing I was so glad about was that my mom was there to see me receive my trophy, she said she was so proud of me! 
We all went out for a celebratory meal which included dessert. We were all tired, it had been a long day.
Sunday morning came and now life is different. No menu provided by our nutrition coach for the day. No need to take pictures to send to her. No scheduling of workouts for the week. No scheduling of posing practice. 
I could now eat what I wanted and felt lost, what should I eat? How do I eat clean again, I had been told for 6 months what to eat everyday.
There is also the urge to get back in the gym, but the last few weeks are hard on the body and it needs a break.
Every morning after that I woke up and the first thing I did was look in the mirror to make sure my muscles were still there. I was still eating the same way but slowly incorporating some new foods.
I had a week to relax and then get ready to go back to work. I found myself craving chocolate and sweets. Chocolate I can't resist. But I was feeling guilty for my indulgence. I could feel there was something on my mind troubling me but couldn't put my finger on it.
Finally it came to me yesterday morning! I was putting pressure on myself to maintain as close to my competition body as I could. After all many people told me I was an inspiration to them, how could I now suddenly start to put on weight. Also I would be visiting my old home town in a few weeks and all my friends want to see me and I felt they wanted to see my amazing toned body. I talked to a friend of mine and told her what was troubling me and she quickly set me straight. She said it was not the fact I had this amazing body that inspired people it was the fact that I set my goal and did not let anything stop me. With all the challenges I had faced, I kept going and in the end won! She said that is what inspired everyone. She said you are human and you are allowed to satisfy your cravings, no one will fault you for that.
I think one of the most amazing things on this journey is all of the people that have been there for me when I needed to talk through emotional hurdles. I am truly blessed.

Me and my beautiful mom who at 82 years of age still goes to the gym 3 days a week.
My final moment on stage. Thank you David Aboody for the photo.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pushing through limitations

My trainer Nico De Feo is awesome! I truly would not be in the shape I am today and 31 days to the competition with out his guidance and his belief in me.
My workout with him today was interesting. I was tired and decided to take a nap before the workout. When I woke up I needed to eat, change and get going. There wasn't enough time to eat my whole meal so I had part of it to give me some energy.
I am now at the point of carb cycling which means I can have certain carbs every other day, for example my sweet potato, therefore my energy levels and memory can be challenged at times.
The workout started with a warm up using the TRX straps. I was doing a combination of moves and was having a hard time with the sequence partially due to less carbs. The low fat diet also effects the brain, some days it is pretty funny.
Once I mastered the sequence and was warmed up we moved on to doing some plyometric moves.
I need to build my endurance as well as burn fat. These moves also make the muscles work differently from weight lifting.
Nico wanted me to jump and at the same time bring my knees in as close to my chest as possible.
I was having a hard time doing it but he won't let me give up. I actually started to cry because I wasn't sure I had the energy. He told me to work through it, don't let this stop you.
I stood there in front of the mirror for a few minutes, tears streaming down my face, trying to refocus on why I was there and what needed to be done.
I did it, partially out of anger and partially because I'm not a quitter. I was mad at him for pushing me and mad at myself that I was letting this get to me. I told him that I can love him and hate him at the same time, he smiled and said "thank you, it is my pleasure".
Looking back at the workout now I'm glad he did push me and didn't mollycoddle me.
Almost all of the exercises we did today were all new to me so you feel awkward. Try kneeling with your back against the wall and shoulder pressing an empty beer keg above your head, I conquered that b#%h. I conquered all of the exercises and I'm proud of myself for not quitting.
If he had let me quit I would have been very disappointed in myself.
There have been many times during my journey I have faced pain, illness, slight depression and postural issues.I look back at those issues now and I realize how strong physically and emotionally I have become.
The next 31 days will be the most exciting and at times will be the most challenging.But I will stand on that stage and know no matter what, the moment I step from behind the curtain I have won.
"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal." ~Henry Ford

Monday, April 15, 2013

Why, it is just a number?

In my first post I provided a bit of a background on myself and my goal. 
Now I would like to share with you why I picked the name of the blog. 
There is a good reason for the name. I didn't come up with the name on my own, I have to give credit to a very good friend who is a marketing diva.
Many people ask me why am I competing and my reply is why not! My age came into my head for a brief moment when I made the decision to compete. 
As my description says I'm 51. I don't think I look 51 and most people are surprised when I tell them my age. In my heart I feel like I stopped aging at 30 and there are times that I still act 18.
To me my age is just a number because I believe it is what is in your heart and your attitude that keeps you young. I do remind myself more often these days that I am 51 and taking on the challenge of a figure competition for the first time is pretty amazing. I'm proud of myself for all of the hard work I have done to this point. 
But there are also other numbers that are "just" numbers. The number on the scale is a big one. We become a slave to it. Some days it makes us feel great and others it makes us feel pretty bad about ourselves. 
Another number that we should not focus on is dress or clothing size. What does that prove?
If you feel great in what you are wearing that is what is important. Not the size or the number on the scale.
While I was in my bulking stage or off season diet, I never once stepped on the scale. I knew I needed to follow a certain process to put on weight which was a combination of muscle and let's call it insulation. When I started my on season diet which for me was 12 weeks to the competition date, I stepped on the scale to see how much I had gained, I was curious. My total gain was 16 pounds from Dec 3 2012 to Feb 23 2012. I was now 134 pounds but what I realized was how different I looked at 134 pounds working out regularly compared to what I looked like years previous and not working out.
Someone I worked with commented one day that they wanted to lose more weight but they were so excited they could fit into a jacket that they hadn't worn in years. In their mind the last time they wore the jacket they were 30 pounds lighter how could it fit now when they hadn't reached their goal weight. Simple answer, they were now working out regularly and their body had toned up. 
I was laughing with one of my fellow competitors today how my jeans that I wore before putting on my off season bulk were now too big and didn't fit the same as they did before. I am still heavier, according to the scale, prior to starting this journey. My jeans are too big in the waist, small in the hips and thighs. Solution, new jeans to fit my new body.
I am sharing the pictures below to show the first and last are the same weight but my body shape has changed dramatically. The one in the middle is 13 lbs off of my all time high that I shared in my first post. If you are wondering why I'm standing like that, I'm practicing my posing.
I'm the worst at noticing if someone has lost weight or gained for that matter, what I care about is who they are inside and really that is all that matters.
If you can look in the mirror and say to yourself from your heart "I love you exactly the way you are" the numbers don't matter.
Dec 2 2012 125 lbs, start of off season diet

Feb 23 2013 134 lbs, last day of off season diet

Apr 13 2013 125 lbs, 5 weeks to stage

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What is this all about?

I decided in June 2012 to compete in a figure competition. I wasn't sure it was feasible given my age but I felt healthy, I had just run two 10k marathons and wanted a new challenge.
I never thought of myself as athletic. As a kid I was small in size and was referred to as skinny, I now hate that word. I was the last one picked for any team sports in school. I was teased constantly about my body and that continued until I graduated.
I was naturally slim, I could eat what I wanted and never gain weight. I was always active but stayed away from competitive sports because of my school years experience. I liked to bike or walk and the only thing I was brave enough to do at a gym was aerobics. I lacked confidence in my abilities, I let all of the teasing become my reality.
My weight would go up and down by about 5 pounds, I was lucky. People would say "wait, wait until you're in your late 30's or early 40's, then it will catch up with you!" I realize now that even these comments affected myself esteem.
Guess what, I did happen one day. I had been putting on weight but very gradual. I was in a fast paced job and traveling for work attending conferences, lots of food, just not the right kind.
I started to become unhappy with what I saw in the mirror. I didn't care what I looked like, I was unhappy in my relationship, it was a downhill slope.
One day I stepped on the scale and when I saw the number I said "no way, this has to stop and stop now, I'm getting the old me back!" 
The number on the scale was 147 pounds! I had always been around 115 pounds.
I started a new life on my own, changed my diet and lost a whole 10 pounds over about 6 months. I didn't get discouraged but I knew I needed to do more.
I started with simple core exercises I could do at home in the morning before work. Then a few months later I started working with weights and a stability ball and doing Pilates. Again all of these are from home, remember I'm too scared to go into and gym and use the machines, I could embarrass myself! 
But I could tell I was moving in the right direction, I was slimming down slowly. My clothes were getting loose and I had to take them in to be altered.
A friend of mine offered to take me to the gym to show me how to use the machines and suggested some exercises. He also suggested I work with a trainer for a bit to learn proper technique.
I was intimidated by all of the beautiful people. Muscular, looking great in their nice gym clothes, I didn't feel I fit in but my goal to get back in shape was more important than what I was wearing in the gym.
I started to really enjoy the weight lifting and working with a trainer a few times really helped.
I started to see results and changes in my body that I liked. I felt more confident and still had old demons haunting me but I decided that I wanted to start living life better and happier than I had in the past.
I started running, I never thought of myself as a runner because in school I sucked at the 100 yard dash. What I didn't realize is I was better at long distance, it wasn't long before I was running 4 miles.
The friend that took me to the gym commented one day as we were running, he said I was a natural athlete. I had him repeat the words because I had never heard that from anyone in my life. Me the skinny kid that was never picked for teams! Now I hear I'm a natural athlete!
That comment really helped to build my confidence.
The gym now became a place to unwind from a crazy day at work. It was my saviour when I was out of work for 7 months. I faithfully subscribe to Oxygen Magazine for meal plans, exercises and inspiration.
I will be sharing my journey to the stage as a figure athlete which is 45 days away. Even though I am just starting my blog now I plan on revisiting some of my experiences since making my decision last June. I hope you enjoy the journey with me.

July 2006 at 147 lbs

August 2012 118 lbs

Squatting 165 lbs Nov 2012