Figure Prepping

January 28, 2014

Hey MFs!

Long overdue update on figure prepping.  A lot of exciting stuff has been going on! I hit a new back squat PR (205lbs x4), hit a new long distance PR (13+ miles) and I’ve made good progress in my prep.  The bad news is that I have to stop prepping. Yes, again. This wasn’t an easy decision to come to AT ALL. Part of me thinks it’s the Universe telling me to slow down. I’ve been really overwhelmed and crazy lately (in a good way) and for anyone that’s prepped before, the routine and schedule is comforting but demanding. Another part of me feels like I’m forcing it, like the first figure prep was a great motivator and got me to a good place but, ultimately, I’m not sure it’s what I should be doing. I’ve found this love of fitness and meal prepping, the whole experience has completely altered my outlook on life and my future career goals. So it hasn’t been for nothing, that’s for sure. I feel a little bit like a failure and like I’m letting people down (the irrational me) but I also know that my family and friends are very proud of me (rational me). Why am I stopped? Due to a series of unfortunate events, I’m struggling a bit financially.  Some things happened in Nov/Dec and I thought I could recover this month but then a series of astronomical bills came in at once and it was too much. Specifically, my cat (Lucy), got very sick and this is an ongoing expense, one that I need to make a priority. The follow up doctor visits and treatments are costing me quite a bit and when you have $0 in credit card debit and a mortgage, I want to be able to keep both that way (sugardaddy.com anyone?). The world of bodybuilding is NOT a cheap one.  I knew this and thought I had been preparing well to cover the costs but, like I said, it was one thing after another and it just wasn’t enough. To be perfectly honest, it’s been a rough month. Not that things aren’t going well, it’s just so much of everything. My therapist says I need to open up. Ha! I guess I’m just afraid to be vulnerable and show weakness because I feel like that will open the floodgates, you know? So I practice staying strong instead. Elizabeth Gilbert said, “…that you should never give yourself a chance to fall apart because, when you do, it becomes a tendency and it happens over and over again.” Because I am crazy, I have scheduled some times to allow myself to fall apart. They generally happen during meditation in the sauna or on long runs or when journaling. Then I swiftly pull myself together and go right back out there. This isn’t something most people know about me, in fact, hardly anyone does. Don’t be fooled by what I put out on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram – that’s only a version, an extension of me. It’s kind of the best version of  myself, but not necessarily the most honest because not everyone can handle that.

Anyway!  As you can see, with the help of my awesome coach (contact me for her info), I’ve made fantastic progress:

 

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I am my own worst critic and I can be really, really mean to myself but I am loving this body I am creating. I absolutely have not always felt this way, but since I’ve started on this journey, my confidence is through the roof!

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One of the most important things I’ve learned is that FOOD will get you the results you want – NOT starving yourself. Food is fuel and consistency is so important to hit those goals. Unlike the last time I prepped, I’m not going nuts with cheat meals or starving myself and obsessing about food all the time. I have a much healthier relationship with food. I still vouch for the fact that prepping and planning is the single most important thing you can do to be successful. (You can read more about meal prep here.)

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As always, if you have any questions or comments, concerns, anything – you are welcome to kik me(inesisabel) or email me (inesl@me.com). Comments are also welcome. In the meantime, keep eating right and lifting heavy.

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December 17, 2013

Ah, another update! One that’s a little off topic but still related.

I was able to donate blood last night!!! Let me tell you why this is so exciting! I’ve been anemic since I was about 12 years old. I try to donate as often as possible but it’s about 50/50 as to whether or not I’ll pass the little prick test. BUT since I stopped eating meat almost three years ago and went vegan a year ago, I’ve been able to donate more than ever! In fact, the nurse said my iron count was “really good, very good” and when I told her why I was so excited, she told me to keep doing what I was doing. And I said, “I went vegan!” Yay :))))))

It was the highest number I’ve EVER seen on the little machine thingie! I’m so, so excited and happy. Changes, progress and health are measured in SO many ways and this is just one way my new lifestyle has been reinforced!

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Anyway, coach sent me an updated plan which I’m excited about because she’s allowing me a couple of treats. Up until now, I haven’t had any cheat meals but with the impending holidays, I asked that maybe we could work something in? And she did! She changed some foods, dropped some cals but I’m still nowhere near that 1,000cal plan I was on before. Thanks goodness!

Feel good, feel strong. More dedicated and motivated than ever 🙂

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December 13, 2013

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It’s been about a month since I started with my new coach and things are progressing. Slowly but progressing. I knew things would be different this time around since I’m not going to such extremes. It’s been challenging with the holiday season, a sickness, some dating troubles – but I’ve managed to (mostly) stay on track. I absolutely ate my feelings after a bit of a breakup one night with cookies. Lots of cookies… And I missed a couple of workouts because of a bad cold but I’ve been great otherwise! I’ve learned that one moment of weakness won’t sabotage everything but if I succumb to falling apart regularly, well, then we have a problem.  I know that patience and consistency are key and seeing check in pictures remind me that I am moving in the right direction.

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Even though I started at 21 weeks out from the show I plan to do, which is the SAME amount of time as my last prep, my start point is much, much different. My muscle mass is there and I am about 40lbs lighter.  I want to see immediate results but I know that’s not how it works and I know that’s not healthy, either. I’ve done that before and it was dangerous and that’s why I’m doing it differently this time. I’ve also been enjoying my long run and even signed up to qualify for the 2014 NYC Marathon! Since it’s in November, that will give me plenty of time after the show to train for that. I’ve also been using KT tape recently. Tried it? I have no idea how this thing works. It’s like a unicorn – magical and beautiful and amazing, but it WORKS. It really helps my knees during a long run. I’m in love with it!

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I don’t have cheat meals right now, which is a little sad, but I understand why. I’m actually eating so much that I don’t need them. On my previous prep, I was so deficient in everything and working out so much that my weekly cheat meal did absolutely nothing. Now, because I’m actually eating quite a bit, it would be detrimental to indulge. I made it through Thanksgiving and I’ve had to cancel on several social functions but that’s what I’m giving up for the ultimate goal. Many people are more understanding this time around and while they commend me for my self-control, I don’t think they understand that if you put me in a room with cookies or cake, I will likely not make it out without devouring at least a dozen. Sweets are (still) my weakness. I’m 118 days out and getting excited 🙂  Time goes SO fast when you’re doing this so I’m just enjoying the ride this time around!

In a sort of serendipitous turn of events, my former posing coach was hosting a workshop and plans to create a team to compete this spring. I reached out to her to tell her I still want to compete and THAT same weekend she was hosting a workshop. It was SO good to see her. I felt that rush and excitement all over again. I’ve been practicing in my heels at the gym consistently now and it’s exhilarating. Every time I step into those heels, it reminds me why I’m doing this!

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I’ve been doing my fasted morning cardio, despite freezing temps! I’m ready to DO THIS. For now, happy Flex Friday! 🙂 Stay tuned for updates and feel free to ask questions!

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November 14, 2013

Where have I been? I’ve been planning my next move, that’s what! (And doing some flexing 😉

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Since I started working out when I was 19, I haven’t really stopped. Some periods have been more consistent and better than others but, for the most part, I’ve remained fairly active. This time, since fall 2012, is the first time that I’ve ever been so committed by setting goals, being consistent and really make some serious physical changes. I start my weight loss journey in April of 2013 and, as you know, was figure prepping for several months. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up competing and made that decision about 5 weeks out from the show. It wasn’t an easy one, but it was definitely the right one. I’m glad I stopped but I’m also a little disappointed with myself for not seeing that goal through. As a way to make myself feel better – I signed up for a 10k and RAN IT!!! I can’t believe ME, the  (formerly) overweight, unathletic fat dorky girl just ran a take 10k. And, you know what? I loved it! I loved it so much I signed up for a 15k and soon it’ll be a half marathon! These little victories make me so ecstatic and really give me something to look forward to. It made me feel better to set this goal and see it through.

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But what else? So for the past two months I’ve been maintaining my weight and debating on what I want to do next. I knew that I wanted to be stronger, faster, better and that I wanted to still slim down. I’ve put on about 10lbs and that was to be expected because I went from near starvation to actually eating. I’m still working out and tracking my foods but I’ve been very, VERY lenient with how I’m eating.  I did hire Dani to write me a meal plan and I’ve been following that and seeing some progress: lost a few lbs and several inches all over!

I haven’t lost that itch to compete though… I just can’t get it out of my head. Sure, I felt a little bit like a failure and before anyone says, “No, no, no, look at what you’ve done!” I know. I know what I’ve done and am doing is so AWESOME and I’m really proud of myself and it’s freaking incredible to inspire others but I’m just not totally satisfied. I need closure.

I said I would compete and that’s what I want to do. I still don’t believe it’s some lifelong calling or what I’m destined to do forever (like I won’t be a SHREDZ sponsored athlete or anything – but that’s also because I don’t believe in supplements, I have other career goals though) but for the brief moments when I wasn’t about to pass out or crying, I really did enjoy prepping. The exhilaration of waking up early and doing those HIIT even though I HATE cardio and am not a morning person but knowing that I was doing things I’d never done before. Pushing my body to its limits and going PAST them.  Posing practice was exciting, being part of this new community, putting on those heels and seeing the change in my shoulders and my calves and all that hard work pay off week to week: I want that again. And I know I need a mentor or coach to do it. I cannot do it alone. I asked for help.

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I want to capture those moments when I felt really happy, really proud and confident and translate them in to the next few months. I know that if I start now, I can do this. The last time I spent about 5 months prepping, I cut significant amount of weight and fat but I wasn’t nearly cut enough to get on stage and wouldn’t be ready in time. I just had too much fat to lose. Now, with a lot of that fat gone, I’m in a great position to really start shredding. That’s what Lori is going to help me do and start next week. We’ll begin a 145 day journey to the stage 🙂

This also gives me plenty of time to save money. I didn’t realize the first time how expensive competing can be but it’s a LOT of money. If I start now, I can get on stage without going into debt.

I’m tentatively picking an April date because it’s not only the first of the spring shows but I thought it’d be fun to do a sort of “1 Year Transformation.”  The biggest challenge through all of this will be my head. If you’ve done this before, you know it’s all mental. Our body can do anything we ask it to do but we need to believe in ourselves and stay consistency and confident. No easy task, for sure, but  I feel good, I feel strong and I’m READY. So, for those who have been following and/or curious, I’m starting on Monday, November 18th and this time, I’m not stopping until April 12th 🙂

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Wish me luck!

(And if anyone has any idea how to fundraise for this, please let me know lol)

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October 11, 2013

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What am I doing updating my figure prep section of my blog if I’m no longer competing?  Well, as it turns out, seems like some have been following my progress and keep track of what I’m doing so I thought I’d share and keep you posted as to where I am in the diet/fitness world.

Coming off prep (and I didn’t even finish!) was a lot harder than I thought. Not because I eat everything in sight or just stopped working out – not at all. I’m still working out 5-6 days a week and track my foods, meal prep, etc. I’ve been able to mostly maintain at about 170-175ish for the past 5 weeks which is more than I want but I knew that going from eating 1,100cals plus working out twice a day plus supps and then jumping to 1,800cals, no fasted HIIT so I knew things would change. I finally got my period, though, and had real feelings the other day so that’s a plus! Anyway, coming off prep has been really difficult because I never knew how much I needed a mentor or coach to help me. I feel weak and silly and a bit of a nuisance asking for help because I think I can do it all by myself and the truth is, I know pretty much everything I need to do for ME to reach the goals I want. So, why can’t I just do them? Why can’t I just say that in 14 weeks I want to XYZ? I don’t know. I’m not good at being accountable to myself and without a deadline or hard date, I flake. I oversleep and don’t do morning cardio, I’ll have a muffin or beer. And, listen, it balances out but I’m just not as motivated. Even though reaching the stage wasn’t what I initially wanted to do, I know the importance of having that goal and date to count down to. Sometimes I feel terrible about just stopping but I’m mostly still glad that I did. I’d much rather ease my way into such a low body fat percentage and maybe save enough money to do it next year.

Regardless, someone pointed out that even the most talented Olympic athletes have coaches. They need someone to plan their meals and workouts and train them, too! Which seems so obvious and DUH but it didn’t click until someone put it that way. Just because they’re the best doesn’t mean that they don’t need guidance and support.  I knew that if I was going to keep making progress, I needed to suck it up, put my pride aside and ask for help. I reached out to a new vegan personal trainer for a meal plan, Dani of Vegan Proteins. The only reason I didn’t go back to my old coach or use an old plan was because if this entire journey has taught me anything it’s that I really love this diet, fitness, holistic health coach world. It’s something I’m considering pursuing via Main Street Vegan Academy or T. Colin Campbell Institute. If that’s the case, I want to learn about and know other peoples’ methods, you know? So I hired Dani to write up a meal plan for me. I wanted to see how she’d feed me and how it’d be different from Claudia’s plans. I’d heard fantastic things, so it was more curiosity than anything but I’m very interested and maybe even skeptical to see how this is going to play out! I received my plan yesterday and plan to start tomorrow. I won’t be checking in with her weekly but she does follow me on Instagram and I’m sure we’ll communicate at some point. Also, the fact that I had to pay for it is another incentive for me to actually stay on track and not F around.  With that, I’ve also set some new goals, which I hope this meal plan will help me achieve.

I finally took my body fat percentage the other day and it was at 27.6% (pic on the right) which isn’t too bad but I really want to get down to 20-22%. At one point, my heaviest, I was at about 38% (the pic on the left)!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s just insane! With the meal plan (and only meal plan because I have really good, solid workouts that I love so the work outs are fine), I hope to drop 5-7% body fat within ten weeks. Also! I signed up for a 10k! Isn’t that crazy? I can’t believe I’ll be running that much but another reason I did this is because I registered with my best friend and there’s a set date/time. This will keep me motivated and have a tangible, fixed end rather than just some made up date I’ve marked on my calendar. Does that make sense?  Having goals and deadlines is important to me, as well as having people I need to be accountable to – that’s what keeps me motivated.

The competition I was supposed to compete in was this past weekend and I know some people who went. It was kind of bittersweet but, really, I had probably one of the best birthday weekends of my life and I know that wouldn’t have been possible had I been competing.  Anyway, Go Giants!

Just kidding….

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September 20, 2013

It’s been almost three weeks since I’ve stopped figure prepping. The first week I ate a lot. The second week I failed at macros and was (unbeknownst to me) taking in an inordinate amount of sodium and slightly PMSing though I still haven’t gotten my period in months This week I’m doing much better with my macros. According to the scale, I gained 13lbs that first week (lol) but am back into the 160s. Clothes are fine, I feel less bloated and I’m still working out hard.  I eat when I’m hungry. No more HIIT and I’ll occasionally grab a piece of fruit if I want one so my goals are being realized. I’m going over my macros, though, because it’s tricky to figure out what keeps me the full longest (especially on school days when I’m out of the house for 14hours) and what gets me the most bang for my buck. I’m currently high fat/protein but low carb. Each day is a little foodie adventure but I’m not feeling too guilty about anything, so that’s good. I stay on track the best that I can but don’t punish myself.

On a positive note: I ran a mile under 10mins for the first time ever. I could have probably even sped it up a little bit! Maybe not a big deal to most but it’s a first for me; I hate running so much. I started meditating again and as soon as I can find a yoga studio I can afford, I’ll stop doing backbends in my house.

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I’m focusing on what my body can do and not what it isn’t. My body is STRONG. I’m excited to see how my yoga practice has changed since I’ve lost so much weight.

So my little belly is back and eventually I want it to go away but, for now, I’m much happier living.

Thanks for reading!

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September 7, 2013

It’s been about a week since I decided not to compete. I’ve only told some people, no big announcement. It’s been one heck of a week, let me tell you. I’ve gained a few pounds, which is to be expected, and I’m a little upset but I know it’s nothing a few days of stick-to-my-macros eating and some HIIT sessions can’t fix. Just a little fluffy is all but since I JUST ordered new jeans, I have to stop indulging. For the most part, I’ve been oooookay with sticking to my macros. They’re tricky though – figuring out what gives me a lot of protein but is low in carbs and fat and keeps me full, etc. So many factors! (I do better with Ezekiel bread, potatoes than rice or quinoa, for example.) I’m shocked at just how many carbs EVERYthing has! It adds up really quickly. Classes started, too, making when I eat a tricky because it’s a very long day and if I work out after my class, then my preworkout meal needs to be eaten during class – and that’s usually my biggest meal, so I have to figure out meals that are smaller but will still keep me satisifed throughout the day. I’d like to no work out after class since that’ll bring home aroudn 10pm but I’m not sure I can avoid it.

So, I’ve been spending a ridiculous amount of time on MyFitnessPal tracking my foods and finding the best protein sources and logging almost everything. I’ve been VERY lax though, so it was a pleasant surprise when I tried on a pair of size 8 jeans and they fit comfortably today! I’d been wearing 14s in the same jeans 🙂 I did get in two good workouts and tried two new CrossFit gyms. I really like CrossFit, I think, but the cost is astronomical and with the tight schedule they keep, I’m not sure it’s worth it since I can’t go three nights out of the week because of school. I have a solid workout plan that I can follow for the next four weeks, though, so I think I will stick with my gym and do that. In terms of diet, it’s time to get back on track and stop fooling around. I spent most of the week baking, eating, baking and though I didn’t get super crazy, I really enjoyed things I haven’t in MONTHS. I had corn. I had an apple. I had muffins and scones. Soft serve. So. Much. Soft Serve. Haha. But I can’t do that forever and I don’t want to. I think I’ll use my coach’s original “Get Lean” plan she made for me, or something similar, and build around that. I’m still not going to count fruits and vegetables because I just think that’s nuts. Look, I know vegetables can have carbs and protein and fat and fruit has a lot of carbs and sugars but those are the things that got me fat. I’m not going to log 1/2 cup of fresh, organic, local Jersey blueberries in my breakfast. Sorry, I’m just not. After prep, I wanted to flexibility of not logging food but seeing as how that’s not really possible because of the glutton in me, I’ll track MOST things, for sure, but I’m not weighing my kale or putting that small apple in MyFitnessPal. I have no intention of eating 16 bananas a day or 3 bags of carrots and 8 bunches of broccoli but, again, those are hardly the reasons I ended up weighing 212lbs at one point. I’ll try to limit fruit intake to 2-3 servings a day and veggies will always be unlimited to me. I’m smart though and realize that things like corn, peas, etc are a bit too starchy and I shouldn’t rely only on those as my main vegetable sources. But if I go over on carbs because I ate too many tomatoes then, oh well. (I say this now, but we’ll see how it works out lol.)

There are a lot of factors and things to consider when planning my meals and fitting these all into my macros. I have so much freedom, it’s overwhelming! I don’t even know what to cook anymore. Which sounds silly but I really have SO many options that my brain is just on overload because I’ve been so limited the past four months. I’m still really happy with my decision and my best friend says I’ve seemed happier because I am. I’ve been going to sleep later, loving baking and cooking, shopping is so much fun again (yes, I love the supermarket), and I feel good. I know a lot of people were worried, don’t be 🙂

Anyway, it’s just been a bit of a crazy week. I have a working kitchen, my body has been reintroduced to sugar and carbs lol, school started, tried two CrossFit classes. Lots of crazy, new, weird things so I’m anxious and looking forward to a regiment next week. I love schedule and routine, it’s been a fun week off, but back to work. So I plan to work out 5 days a week and I’ll continue to track on MFP (inesl if anyone wants to follow me). This is a bit of a spazzy post but I understand that some of you do read it so I wanted to keep you updated. Thanks so much for all the continued support!!

September 3, 2013

As of Sunday, I’ve decided to bow out of figure prepping.
What the hell happened?
“Really? After all your hard work?”
I mean, it’s no secret that I’ve had a really hard week but I was determined to get on stage October 5th and then a couple of things happened that made me change my mind.

1.) I took progress shots for check in this morning and, listen, they were GREAT! I look amazing! The progress I’ve made is beautiful. I see changes in my body that I’ve never seen before and I love the way I look. So why was this a problem? As amazing as the progress I’ve made over the past five months has been, my body has undergone a humongous transformation and looking at it, I just didn’t believe it’d be ready for me to get on stage in five weeks. That’s not to say I will never have abs or that I won’t get on stage ever but, realistically speaking, would it have been possible to lose all of that belly far and firm up those thighs, arms, butt in 35 days without starving myself? While working full time? Redoing a kitchen? And going to school full time? And keep my sanity? Probably not. I know a lot of people say big changes happen in the last few weeks but you still have to have a good base. Originally, my coach’s plan was 16 weeks which would have put me competing THIS weekend. From other people I see competing for the first time, it seems like they didn’t have as much to lean out. I’ve been working on losing fat. (Down 50lbs and 8inches in the waist, plus double digits in inches everywhere else! My boobs are so small now

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2.) My kitchen is finally underway! That’s really exciting but as I swiped cards, handed out cash and ordered things online, my wallet suffered. This has been an issue I’ve been thinking about for awhile and part of the reason I’ve been holding off on ordering my suit. The suits cost at least $200, if not more, and it’s usually not returnable. I made a list of all of the things I would need between now and the competition and, at the very least, it would cost me $1,200 – though, likely more. I work hard to maintain a zero balance on my CC. How awful to go in debt for something that I didn’t enjoy the last five weeks and went in to knowing I couldn’t win! I don’t want this to turn into some “you can do it! Be the best you can be up there” at the risk of costing me over a thousand dollars. I know I can do it. I get that. If I’ve learned anything over these past few months is that I can do anything I want! It’s about the best ME. And that’s fine but the best me doesn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a suit, entry fee, hair makeup tan nails, posing coach, travel, if I’m going to get up there and look out of place and not ready. With grad school, kitchen reno and a mortgage, I just can’t afford that.

With all of that said: it’s really easy for me to feel like a failure or to feel guilty or like I’m letting my coach down, or my followers, or whatever. My coach is supportive and she’s taught me so much. Unfortunately, I’m not able to get on stage right now. Maybe one day, maybe now that I know what to expect and save money but it won’t be next month. I never wanted to compete when this started, but I needed to set that date as a goal and motivation to get through the prep. As I got more into my prep, I definitely got more and more excited. I’m a little upset about not getting on stage next month but I won’t regret it. Besides, I’m hardly giving up or failing. I’ve lost 50lbs, 9ins from my waist, can run longer and faster, lift heavier and made some new friends. So I win 🙂 I’m not just “stopping”. That’s not how this works. I ate like crap yesterday – nothing insane, but I definitely ate lots of things I haven’t been able to eat in a very long time. Today, I’m bloated, as I expected but I measured out my 1/3 cup of oats with soy milk, half a scoop of protein powder, cinnamon and some blueberries. Later, I’ll go to the gym (JUST ONCE) and lift VERY heavy things and put them down and then I’ll do some cardio, too. I have two visits planned to two cross fit gyms because it’s something I’ve been wanting to try out.
I hope to continue sharing Transformation Tuesday pictures and learn more about diet, nutrition, fitness and help people towards a healthier, plant based, active lifestyle.

I’m really excited to get my period again. And eat so much fruit. And to go to sleep at 11pm because I stayed up late writing and it’s okay because I don’t have to be up at 5am to do my FIRST cardio ofthe day! I’m excited to run again and practice yoga (!!!!!!!!!!). And only shower once a day and eat so much fruit! Haha. I want a beer on football Sunday. I’m excited to make food for my classmates and share it with them. I’m excited to use sriracha on every single thing again. I know what some of my problems were that caused me to get so heavy and I’m actively going to work to avoid them. So it’s not like giving up, or stopping, because this is constant, it’s just a way of being.

This isn’t my calling. It’s been an insane past 16 weeks but this isn’t for me so I can’t continue to invest in something that isn’t right. For the cost I’d spend on competing I could go to the Main Street Vegan Academy or T. Colins Campbell Institute, both which I am sooooooo dying to attend AND I do feel are integral parts of what I’m meant to do, my calling. I can say that I tried it, I really tried hard but it was maybe too much, too fast and then life happened – bills and $ coupled with the insanity, it’s too much, right now. Maybe one day, who knows!

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So what’s next? I had two days off from the gym, diet, life. I didn’t go out of my way to eat everything but I did eat quite a bit. Sunday I really ate. Monday I tried to stay within my new macros plan but upon realize how tricky it would be to not go over on carbs (forever my enemy), I just outright gave up and ate everything lol. So I went to the bookstore, planned some meals and snacks according to my macros, reviewed new workout plans Tracy gave me, and I’m all set!  I’m already a little fluffier and put on a couple of pounds but I know that bloat will come right off no problem.
I’m going to work hard to continue losing fat and building muscle, or at the very least, maintain. You’re all welcome to follow me on MyFitnessPal: inesl. August 29th is what a typical day in my prep looked like. And you’ll have to ignore September 2nd because I went way over on everything. So far so good today, though. I know I don’t want to count forever. I don’t. But remember the last time I stopped tracking? Remember what happened? (Scroll down in case you forgot and go to about 2011…)

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I calculated my macros and put them in MFP. It’s been a tricky day and I think I have tomorrow figured out. I’m probably just a few off but, realistically, if I go over on carbs because I had cantaloupe, I’m not going to freak out. So, I’m going to count and I’m going to do the best that I can without getting to hard on myself if I decide I want that Mean Green Juice or if I have a muffin because I made a batch to bring to school. I’ll adjust my macros to accommodate that muffin, best I can, because the idea behind them is that you can eat whatever you want but hit certain numbers in terms of protein, carbs, fat and fiber. And if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit. I’ll eat when I’m hungry instead of every two hours, without the alarm going off as a reminder. My biggest problem? Carbs. I eat way too many of them. I figure if I can limit that, I’ll be alright. Don’t get me wrong, though, Sundays are still for pancakes. That will never, ever change. So I’ll just eat a little less carbs on Sunday, that’s all, see what I’m saying? If my blog is about “choosing to be happy” then I choose happy. I’ll be fine and I’m okay with this. I’ll keep you all posted.

A fellow figure girl told me, “While competing is an incredible experience, you don’t HAVE to do a comp to validate your success in health and fitness. You’ve already accomplished so much and EVERYONE can see that, and are so proud and inspired by you because of it.”  And I thought that was perfect. I’ll leave you with that. Goodnight!

P.S. I tried CrossFit tonight and kind of fell in love with it. I’m curious to see what happens from there…

August 30, 2013

I am a bleeder.

My friend Michelle once called me that, referring to how I am in relationships, but it applies to everything in my life. What’s a bleeder?  I hurt myself, but rather than immediately trying to mend the injury, I like to watch it bleed and even go so far as to make it bleed more. As if, I find some kind of joy sitting there watching and enjoying the hurt; I will then do things to make the cut even worse. I’m a bleeder.

You know how we’re all crazy? (What, you don’t? Yes, we are ALL a little bit crazy!) We spend the longest time thinking we’re alone in this crazy cave and we’re the craziest and no one else is as crazy as we are and we have to hide it. Then, as we get older we begin to realize that we’re all actually a little bit crazy and we find other crazies, become friends and learn how to harness the crazy to do fantastic things. Here’s something I’ve learned about that crazy: it comes rearing it’s ugly head in the worst way during figure prep. The exhaustion, carb deprivation, being depleted, hungry, sore, tired, supplements, etc – it’s crazy like I’ve never known before!

Yesterday was the worst day I’ve had on prep since I’ve started. I had a little minibreakdown. I only say mini because I know it could have been worse but it was still pretty bad. What was so bad about it? It was the first time since May 11 that I’ve actually considered quitting. I legitimately thought about the repercussions if I dropped out and just stopped: what would happen? who would I hurt? who would I disappoint? why can’t I do this? can I really not do this?

Total panic attack which resulted in eating bread and a cookie, texts to Tracy and an email to Claudia. And this happened:

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A lot of reassuring words later, I’d been pull off the ledge. What also helped was that after I stopped freaking out, I found this amazing blog:  10 Lessons Learned From Being A Figure/Bikini Competitor. In particular, #4 through #7 I just thought, “Holy shit, she is speaking to me TODAY.”  I’ll address all of her points over time but right now, I want to focus on those four.

#4 – No one has a perfect prep.   Granted, I have no missed a single workout and the worst damage I’ve done in terms of food was once I had a scone and another time I half a jar of peanut butter after I locked myself out of my car. Occasionally, I’ve had cheat nights instead of cheat meals and sometimes I don’t level my scoop of protein and my 1TBS of peanut butter is like… 1 1/2 but, really, I’ve been very good in terms of food. With the exception of yesterday, I have just outright thrown my hands up and been like, fuck this. But here’s why what she says is important: forgive yourself. Figure prepping will only work if you’re nice to yourself. You know that old adage, “Catch more flies with honey than vinegar”? Same goes true for how you treat yourself. You’ll always get more done with kindness.  I’m doing the best I can and putting in a lot of hard work and giving it my all but I am not perfect. Unfortunately, forgiveness is something we are not very good at but I am learning (more on this later…).

#5 – Everyone has food issues.  Remember how I said we’re all crazy? It’s highlighted by food. More on this in a future blog entry.

#6 – You will feel like giving up. Yes, yes, yes, yes! Every. Single. Thing. Especially yesterday. All those doubts just came to the forefront.

#7 -You will worry about being ready. MSOT DEF. Even my awesome posing coach, Sonia Ryan, shared some of her fears with me last night. I look at her  (she’s competing later in October) and I think she could get on stage today and rock it out and place but even an experienced competitor like hers doesn’t feel ready. We’re all nervous; this is a huge undertaking. Maybe because I’ve never gone through this before, it’s hard for me to understand all of these changes EVERYone speaks of that happens the last few weeks (especially Peak week). And for someone who plans every single minute of every single day, this not is bananas. (Mmmm bananas) I literally just have to trust the process, have faith in my coach and affirm that I will do this. I laughed as a I typed that because that is CRAZY PERSON TALK. Haha. But I have to! If I want to do this right I need to let go!

Why else do I need to let go? Stress. There are three major stress hormones (adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine) but one in particular, cortisol, can have detrimental effects on the body:

“In survival mode, the optimal amounts of cortisol can be life saving. But when you stew on a problem, the body continuously releases cortisol, and chronic elevated levels can lead to serious issues. Too much cortisol can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure and sugar, decrease libido, produce acne, contribute to obesity and more.”

Ack! I can absolutely already see the negative  effects it’s having on me.  So, I read all of that and made this picture my new wallpaper on my phone and thought I was good to go.

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Buuuuuuuuuuut, because I’m a) crazy b) a bleeder, when I got home, I ate peanut butter and chocolate. Oh and ice cream. And macaroons. Just stab that knife a little deep, squeeeeeeze the cut and watch all that blood flow out. AND I had posing practice last night. What a shmuck, I am! Despite all of that,  posing went great. My coach was encouraging, supportive, helpful and uplifting! Here are some shots from last night:

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I was sooooo bloated but WHOA, look at my back! Where did those muscles come from? I was pretty happy when I left her and knew that I was having a bad day and it was almost over. Sure enough, I woke up and saw a text from last night AND then she texted me this:

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I mean, could ya just? Got me all teary eyed and excited bright and early! I’m feeling much better today, much stronger and hopeful. Now, I’m not always sure how to feel about horoscopes. They’re vague enough so it can apply to anyone but specific enough that you can also relate it to yourself. Lately, though, it seems like these horoscopes are more affirmations than predictions and today’s was spot on.

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I mean, SHIT, right?! WHO TOLD THE MAKERS OF THIS APP TO SAY THAT TO ME? Lol. Seriously, isn’t that out of this world?

Now, will my self-imposed cheat meal yesterday ruin my prep? No. Will it negate the months of hard work I put in? Nope. Will it prevent me from stepping on stage and being awesome? Not at all. But, constantly doing things like that definitely will and, more than that, harping on it will absolutely hurt me in the long run.  I did a little more cardio than necessary this morning, I’ll drink lots and lots of water like usual and maybe instead of having six meals today, I’ll have five, and that’s it. That’s really it. I’m not going to keep cutting myself and pour salt on the wound. Not going to keep looking back at yesterday and making myself feel worse. Remember my last entry: happiness is a choice, a constant decision I make about how I feel. I am putting in the effort and choosing to be happy. With that, have a great weekend 🙂

August 27, 2013

It’s been about a week since I wrote my last entry. I’m really overwhelmed by the response: flattered, humbled, loved, encouraged. I figured I’d keep writing, without schedule, as a way to let you all know what’s going on. Last week, I met with my posing coach for the first time and this was how I felt:

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That was on a Wednesday night. Someone commented on my status and it brought up a really good point. She said, ” i think performance of any kind is a total rush. we don’t get enough of that as adults! so psyched for you that you enjoyed.”
I lingered on this for some time because I realized that that “rush” I got was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. I didn’t compete as an athlete when I was younger or, really, at any point in my life and for the most part, my hobbies and interests are solo, noncompetitive ones. Still, I can see that we don’t get that adrenalin from competition as adults. As adults, we engage in far fewer fun low stakes competitive sports. Anything that we are competing for is usually high stakes (promotions, degrees, awards, etc) and generally not fun or thrilling but more stressful and panicky. There’s nothing at stake here. I mean, yes, there’s money involved and I miss my friends and being able to bake on a whim and going to the shelter and doing yoga but that’s temporary. I won’t lose my job or go bankrupt, I’m not hurting anyone or myself. It only validated (again) why I’m doing this competition.
So, moving along, as you can see, I was on confidence Cloud 1,000,000 following the posing session! Friday, I felt good in the morning and practiced a little posing (kitty photobomb):
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It was my refeed day, too, and I might have eaten a little too much so when I went to send my coach pictures Sunday morning, I wasn’t feeling great again.
See here:
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She replied, encouragingly and enthusiastically with “time to make some changes!” And that’s it. I mean, the worry and stress and anxiety is lost on her (in a good way); she just evaluates and adjusts. Dwelling on those extra 10g of carbs I had two days prior will do absolutely nothing for me. She also said something else really meaningful:
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That’s really been sinking in. Why? Because after going to the show last week, I realized that even though you’ll be on stage competing WITH other people – there’s no way of knowing what they’ll bring or who they’ll be. In fact, some groups only had ONE contestant. Can you imagine busting your ass and getting on stage to see that no one else entered that group/division and you, by default, win? It doesn’t matter what they do, is my point and I think I understand more what she means when she says “bring the best you” and not worry about comparing yourself to others. I can confidently say I am, physically, at the best I’ve ever been in my life and it’s only going to get better from here.
Here’s the other thing this rollercoaster of a week has taught me:
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I remember reading something similar in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love but I guess I never truly understood it:
“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
Happiness is something you are constantly working for and towards; kind of like being fit. A lot of people think that once they get skinny or look a certain way – that’s it, they’re done! I learned that many years ago (the hard way) – after my first major weight loss, I thought that I was “cured” that now I would be skinny and I’d done everything to achieve that. All set. Now I can eat whatever I want. What people may not mention or stress is that maintenance is just as hard, if not more difficult, then the journey it took to get to that point. I wasn’t suddenly skinny and all my weight (plus some) came back because I didn’t understand that this is a daily struggle. And I hesitate to use that word because it has a negative connotation but it is laborious and exhausting. Just like a relationship with a husband, partner, brother or friend; the relationship with yourself requires constant maintenance, participation and lots and lots of swimming. Sustained happiness is work. But see, happiness is a choice, too, just like our weight or how we feel about ourselves. It’s not an easy one, but it’s always something we can change. So as I struggle through the bad days, I know that what I do, say and think are only reinforcing or hurting my happiness and progress.
The exhaustion, carb deprivation, stress from the kitchen and a million other things aren’t helping my fight for sustained happiness but it makes the highs even higher; it also makes the lows, lower. The good thing is I know that every minute is another chance to turn it all around. My coach sent me a revised plan and it’s tough, like, really tough. It’s only going to get harder from here on out with just 38 days left but I’m starting to see the finish line. All the pieces are beginning to come together and I’m getting really excited 🙂  Officially down 50lbs this morning and less than six weeks until stage time!  And because it’s Transformation Tuesday, here I am on the right getting in some posing practice before hitting the weights, left was two summer ago.
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August 17, 2013

I don’t want to be someone who loses a bunch of weight and makes this big transformation and turns all preachy and “fitspirational.” I’m not a role model, I’m not going to tell you, “If I can do it, so can you!” because we all have things going on in our lives that might not fit this lifestyle or maybe we’re not ready yet. I’m just someone who wanted to change how I ate, my body, what I put into my body, the environment, etc and I used social media to document my changes. Because my journey has been public, perhaps I’ve inspired some people and I think that’s fantastic. If you work out a little harder or eat one more plant based meal a week because of me, great!

So I didn’t intend to share my “story” but people keep asking me why I decided to do a figure competition, what I’ve been doing to lose the weight, why the hell I’m even doing it. I figured I’d just put it all in one piece and format it kind of like a timeline so you can skip ahead if you’d like, but my journey with food and fitness has been a lifetime one.

I’ll preface this by saying that I’m 28yrs old now. I obtained a Masters of Arts in Teaching when I was 23 and taught for a few years but, eventually resigned (this will be important later) and currently have a full time job at a University and am pursuing a Masters in Fine Arts in Poetry. I also volunteer at an animal shelter and run their social media and am the social media director for a new vegan publishing company. Oh and I have a dog sitting business and have signed on to be social coordinator for a dog walking group. So, yes, I’m busy. I stress this because while that may seem like a lot, I’m not sure if I would be able to do this if classes were in session, though they start soon, or if I had a boyfriend/husband or a dog or kids. I’m only responsible for myself, I live alone, only prepare foods for me, and have the time and access to the gym and certain stores to get the things I need.

With that said, I’m going to take you through a little photo timeline of my life and explain where I was at. Maybe you’ve been there, too?

*I cut all my friends out of the pictures because I didn’t want to a) ask permission b) offend.

Chubby baby-20yrs old:

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I was always a heavy child. I distinctly remember weighing in at 112lbs in 3rd grade. I didn’t play sports, I didn’t eat well and I was really unpopular. I also looked like a boy until I was 17.

College

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I saw this picture and realized something needed to change. Commence weight loss #1 and introduction into the world of diet, exercise, fitness, and nutrition!

Spring Break Freshmen Year of College, Spring 2003:

April 2006 1

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20yrs old –22, 2005-2007

I was away at school at Indiana University but came home to a closer school. At some point, I decided I needed to join Weight Watchers. I believe I started at about 188lbs when I joined Weight Watchers. I had great success and eventually worked for them! Unfortunately, this is the period of my life that I refer to as when I was “skinny fat.” Though I was sticking to my points and lost a bunch of weight by reducing my caloric intake and exercising, I was eating things like gummy bears (oh, cool they’re only 1pt?) or working out longer just so I could have that extra candy bar. It wasn’t healthy but it was my first time ever going to a gym and I haven’t really stopped since. I got down to my absolute lowest adult weight ever of 152lbs and really started to get into yoga, spinning and a bunch of other activities. You can see I am thin but have absolutely no definition.

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October 2007

Finished getting my first masters and studied abroad in England but managed to no gain toooo much weight there because I ran a lot. I found that I enjoyed it, actually, and that offset the heavy diet.

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23yrs old – 2007

November 2007 – When I came home shit hit the fan: I was teaching full time and went through a really awful break up. I worked out a little here and there, but found the 152lbs I had gotten down to was REALLY hard to maintain. Eventually, it started creeping back up.

November 2007

Also, this is where I realized I really liked to drink…

January 2008 1

Teaching in an urban city, went through some really, really bad heartbreaks and I bought a condo! So, basically, a lot of LIFE happened here but it really took a toll. The good thing about buying my own place is that I realized I love to cook. Since then, I always prefer to make my own food so I’m fortunate that I enjoy meal prepping and have been doing that since but during 2008, it seemed like the weight just kept growing.

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And I just kept drinking….

April 2009 August 2009 1

By the time I was 25, in 2009, I was very heavy again. I don’t recall my weight now, but you can see from the pictures that I gained quite a bit.

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Winter of 2009, at 25 (insert bad breakup) –

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26yrs old (2010) was a fantastic year in terms of personal growth – I really gained a lot of confidence, overhauled my wardrobe and was just feeling wonderful. I quit my job teaching because it was way too stressful and found the current job I have now. Things were going pretty well! I still continued to exercise but I guess I didn’t have my eating or drinking under control. I was partying a lot, having a BLAST that summer and it shows.

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I celebrated my birthday for what felt like forever – with a party in the city, trips to New Orleans, Montreal and then a dinner party.

November 2010 November 2010 1 October 2010 2october-2010-11October 2010

Winter came and went (insert another bad breakup)–

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Age 26 – March 2011

Went through a rough couple of years and went to the doctor and weighed in at my heaviest of 212lbs at 5’6”. That should have been a wake up call, but it wasn’t. I just wasn’t ready yet. I looked TERRIBLE (looking back now) but at the time, I remember feeling good.

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I started volunteering at a nearby animal shelter in the spring of this year. Eventually, this decision would inspire me to become a vegetarian and a couple of years later, vegan. Incidentally, I was at my heaviest when I stopped eating meat! I also stopped smoking but I did drink a lot.

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August 2011-

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November 2011 –

November 2011

Age 27 – 2012

January – My best friend got married. I thought I looked great and felt pretty good! I was working out regularly at my school gym and eating well (I thought).

January 2012

By this point, I’d pretty much stopped eating most eggs and cheese but still consumed other things that contained animal products. I would do this for most of 2012. For example, I remember the last whole egg I consumed was on my 27th birthday but I’d still occasionally eat the baked goods people brought to work. What I made at home was completely vegan but if someone brought in cake or cookies or we had tacos for a staff lunch, I’d eat those things. I never cheated with meat, but my sweet tooth got the best of me for sure.

March 2012– I began working at a yoga studio and was practicing hot vinyasa regularly, as well as going to my school’s gym several times a week. As I became more interested in veganism, I started to learn about things like chia, flax, hemp, seitan, tempeh, etc; things that I wasn’t previously familiar with or had tried. I didn’t know what sun butter was or what coconut water did for you. I started to incorporate more of these foods into my diet and with the steady exercise, I was able to lose some weight. Thanks to the explosion of instagram, I became a pretty savvy troll and starting following a lot of people who gave great workout ideas, so I used these in my own daily routines. I discovered Trader Joe’s, too, so I was trying to eat more local, organic fruits and veggies and experimenting with their variety of proteins and grains. Oh and the Whole Foods bulk dispenser bins because my candy store! Despite all of this, I seemed to just stay the same weight or even got bigger! I was having an amazing time at life, though (lol), so my weight wasn’t so much an issue.

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Summer 2012 –

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November 2012 – By this time I’d lost about 20lbs through meal planning, yoga and working out at my gym at work. Weighing in at around 190 which is great except that nothing happened for the next four months and that was the tipping point.

So when did things start to change?

Nothing happened, persay. I didn’t look at a bad picture of myself and think I looked gross or try something on and feel awful. In fact, I was the most confident I’d ever been! I was going on lots of dates, had a killer wardrobe, was working out HARD and regularly, practicing hot yoga 4 times a week and lifting weights, meal prepping, etc.

By February, though, I’d had enough of seeing the same number on the scale. I knew that, for my health, I needed to weight less. Did I need to weigh those crazy BMI charts say I should weigh? Not necessarily but I knew I just needed the number on the scale to be less than what it is. I was constantly expressing my frustration to my best friend about how I was working out so much and so hard and eating whole, clean foods and nothing was happening – I wasn’t seeing any muscle tone and the scale wasn’t moving! I desperately wanted to find a nutritionist to help me because I knew whatever I was doing wrong stemmed from food. And, yes, I had my thyroid tested. I was off all medication (I’d previously been on antidepressants/anxiety and birth control – which both made me gain weight), had stopped smoking and wasn’t drinking as much so it was definitely the food. But I was eat really well! I cooked everything myself, lots of local, organic fruits/veg, not so much processed junk or snacks, one cheat meal a week. I was using MyFitnessPal and eating the calories it said I should. I just couldn’t figure it out! The problem was, I couldn’t find anyone who was able to help me because I’m vegan. They literally didn’t know what to feed me! Fortunately, thanks to my besssfreennnn and Google, she was able to come across a vegan figure competitor who wrote meal plans. Cool!

Age 28 – March 2013

These are a couple of the first pictures I sent my coach, Claudia Lailhacar.

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Along with this message, “I’ve been working out a long time now (about 7yrs), but I noticed last year I was a lot heavier than I wanted to be and decided to revamp my fitness and went vegan. This has helped me lose about 20lbs so far but at 5’6” and 190lbs, I really want more. I like to lift heavy and that has helped me with muscle and toning, I’m starting to see it but I can’t seem to get rid of this (Very) thick layer of fat covering them! Lol. Here are what some of my workouts look like (see pics of my food and workouts below. I workout Tues, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun. I love lifting and using crossfit inspired workouts. I keep a heart rate monitor, too. The past week I have added 30-45mins of cardio 4-5 times a week because I wasn’t doing much of it. I have a slight right knee injury, fyi. Though I adore cooking, I really feel like I need to be told what to eat and how much because (obviously) something isn’t working for me. So I’d really prefer if you could just give me the meal options, please. Here are the foods I ate last week:

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So, this is what I sent Claudia, literally. She sent me back a pretty reasonable meal plan and within 6 weeks I lost 12lbs! She wrote a plan to accomodate my schedule and activity level, height, weight and goal of losing weight. Her first “Get Lean” plan for me had me eating about 6 times a day, lifting 5 times a week, with cardio about 3-4 post lifting. Nothing crazy or unreasonable. I measured everything and had a lot of variety. It was sustainable and after the first few days of hunger pains, it was a smooth ride. I realized I was eating too much of the wrong things at the wrong times.

So I lost weight, great, now what? I could have kept on that path of losing weight but I thought, “Well, what’s my goal? To just be skinny?” and remembering what I looked like and how I felt when I was “skinny fat,” I decided that I wanted her to write a figure prep plan for me but I did not want to compete. I wanted muscles. I wanted to flex. I wanted vascularity, I wanted defined shoulders and maybe even abs! Weeeeeeeell, that wasn’t an option (to not compete). She wouldn’t do it unless I competed. Why? Well, I guess if you think about it, the competition is motivation – it’s the finish line.I get why she did that; without a target date and goal, what am I working towards? If I didn’t invest this money and have a timeline, I can guarantee I wouldn’t be as invested. It’s the light at the end of all of this, so to say, but it gives me something to aim towards.

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I’ve been working with her now since late March. I’m 13 weeks into the figure competition and have 7 weeks left. I don’t know how many calories I’m eating. I could easily input them into MFP but it’s just not that important to me right now. I don’t know how much protein I’m getting either but it’s a lot.

I do NOT do two hours of cardio and yes, I do eat carbs and peanut butter and oil. The progress is slow but steady and consistent; I trust her. She’s not sabotaging my metabolism or doing anything crazy to my body. Up until last week, I was still eating one cheat meal a week. My cardio is HIIT, fasted and in the morning, with occasional cardio sessions after lifting. If you’re not training to compete, that much cardio is NOT necessary. I can’t tell you how much cardio to do or when, but I can promise you, that if you’re doing an hour a day trying to lose weight, that you’re probably doing too much. Start lifting and check your diet.

Anyway, why do I actually want to compete? Well, I didn’t. I just figured that I’m single, young and I don’t have summer classes so if I ever want to do something crazy like this, this would be the best time. (I didn’t realize I’d be redoing my kitchen in the meantime and how expensive this would all be! That I’d be dogsitting for about 4 weeks total in 6 different cities AND testing a cookbook. Eep!)

For the most part, this process has been going fine. I’m always a little sore and a little hungry. I am cutting AND shredding at the same time. I hate getting up to do fasted cardio most mornings. Some mornings, my legs don’t want to move. I can’t eat certain vegetables. The past couple of weeks have been really difficult; I cried for the first time. It’s a lot of stress because you’re never off. I have to eat every two hours, have alarms set, am constantly dealing with the bombardment of questions when I do go out like “well what can you eat?” or “why are you doing this?” and I really am happy to answer because people are just curious but sometimes it can feel like constantly defending or explaining myself and it’s exhausting. As a result, I haven’t been going out much for that reason and, in general, I lack energy to entertain. I definitely feel alone a lot of the time. I’m losing touch with some people. It’s hard for me to go out because I’m tired, because sometimes I don’t want to put the temptation in front of me, because I have to be asleep at 9:30 to wake up at 5:30, because I get so freaking tired of explaining why I can’t have a drink over and over and over again. I’ve had to say “no” to a lot of events. Some people will make me feel badly about that, most are supportive and don’t push the issue if I decline a drink or say I’m too tired. I appreciate that more than I think they know or even understand. I miss them. I miss my friends and going out, of course I do. But again, haven’t you sacrificed for something that you’ve wanted? I didn’t do this in high school or college. I never had that “one thing” that consumed all my time. I’ve kind of been all over the place in terms of what I do and where I’m at – always so much on my plate. This has given me a focus. It’s teaching me a lot about myself. I’m stronger and more resilient than I ever knew, that’s for sure.

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Look, it’s hard, and it’s getting harder. As someone who lacked/s confidence and is (in general) extremely self deprecating, I know that it all starts in the head; to achieve it, I must believe it. That’s the one thing I’ve learned about all of this that’s really surprised me: this isn’t about my body. My body will do anything I want it to. It will run, squat, lift, push, pull, press; absolutely anything I tell it to do – it can and WILL do. It’s my head that gets in the way of my body.

It’s a competition about physical appearance but it has NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT. It’s about how strong you are mentally. You must always be on. C-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y. There is no time off when figure prepping. I have an alarm set every two hours to eat. I am constantly saying “no” to temptations. I am constantly explaining why I can’t indulge in some organic, local, amazing Jersey blueberries or tomatoes. I have to explain what HIIT cardio is and why I do it fasted and why I then go back later to the gym for lifting and more cardio. I have people telling me not to lose any more weight, not too get too muscular. People ask me how much more weight I want to lose. People scrutinizing me, thinking I’m crazy and this is stupid and why torture yourself. Even in sleep, there is no break from figure prepping. You must get a certain amount of quality sleep every night. I plan and obsess over my cheat meals. When I actually have them, I’m left full and uncomfortable that I barely even enjoyed what I ate! I’m hungry and sore all the time. My coach told me I’m at a “midrange” level of prepping. It’s difficult, but not the hardest. This is enough to drive a sane person crazy!

Then why am I doing it?

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My body is doing things I never thought it’d do, and I’m seeing muscles I never knew I had! It’s exciting. I want to have abs for once in my life. The other day I ran 6 miles and I didn’t stop once to walk! I‘ve never, ever run six miles before! I didn’t even set out to run that long but I did and what’s even more interesting is that I haven’t been doing that much steady cardio.

I went from an F in bra size to a D (there are several sizes in between those two, fyi) and from an 14 to an 8, so far. Some days I’m ungrateful and get frustrated that I have to get rid of all those clothes and nothing fits, instead of celebrating the enormous accomplishment of what I’m doing.

Haven’t you ever done something crazy? Something you never thought you’d do? Maybe you jumped out of a plane, got married, ran a half marathon. What have you done that you NEVER thought you’d do? This is it, for me. I mean, this and being vegan are two things I could have never, ever predicted. Everything else in my life, I have worked towards and dreamed up and made conscious decisions to be that way but this? No, I never saw this coming. I could have told you that I’d likely be a poet, or a teacher, that I”d own my own condo, and other things but I never envisioned this. This is so out of my realm and comfort zone and something I still can’t even wrap my head around. This is like nothing I’ve ever experienced or imagined myself doing. So why not? I’m not getting any younger, I am fortunate to have the resources, time, energy and health – so what’s stopping me from doing this? The worst that can happen is I spend 20 weeks and don’t place but have an awesome body and show myself how strong I am phsyically but more mentally. The best? I place or win and still show myself how strong I am physically and mentally. See. It’s a win no matter what.

It’s also more than what I look like. I am running faster and steadiest than ever before (and liking it…). I am squatting more than my body weight. I can leg press 490lbs and do 3 pull ups! I am getting creative with my meals and have become an excellent planner in terms of my meal plans and finding the least expensive but healthiest, most organic and nutrient rich foods in any area of northern NJ (lol).

Will I do this again? I don’t know, I’m not done yet!

What am I going to do after the show? I realize I won’t be at competition size and weight but I’d like to maintain a toned figure. I’ve already thought about what’s going to happen after the show. I realize I likely can’t maintain competition size and weight. It’s probably just not going to happen, I don’t want to always count my macros and keep track of what I need to maintain that shape. I keep saying probably and maybe because, truth is, I have no idea what’s going to happen in the future. I can set a goal and have a vision but sometimes that can change. I never thought I’d be vegan. I never thought I’d compete. So who knows? I do know that I want to be able to bust out a fantastic fucking loaf of pumpkin pecan bread and have a slice and not feel bad about it. Or I want to have an entire mango or add 1tbs of So Delicious hazelnut creamer to my coffee and not feel guilty. I want to have pancakes every Sunday during football season and not do extra cardio because of it, ya know? I want to work out just once a day and not be there long but have an efficient work out and still be able to enjoy doing something afterwards. I want to wake up at like…6:30!

I don’t know what’s going to happen on October 5th. I know that I’ve done an amazing job so far and I’m not giving up now. I’m doing everything I can to ensure that I get up there and don’t look like a jackass. I want to get up on that stage and look like I belong, like I worked just as hard as everyone else up there and we all look like we deserve to be on that stage. Of course, I want to stand out a little bit (in a good way) but I want to put on that itty bitty little suit and know that I did it.

Shit, I am doing it. Even as I type this, my quads are on fire and I’m hungry (duh) but I am one day closer than I was yesterday. I haven’t missed a single workout since I’ve started this plan with her and I may have gotten off track once or twice in terms of food (nothing too crazy, like an extra TBS of peanut butter or having a scone NOT as my cheat meal – I never binged whole days or anything) but today, I have done everything I could possibly do to ensure that I will be successful. I’m going to do that again tomorrow and for the next 48 days and see what happens!

Thanks for all the support! It really means a lot. You’re welcome to leave questions or comments here or reach out to me in the “Contact” section of the blog – you’ll see where to reach me!

6 thoughts on “Figure Prepping

  1. Ines, you are so brave to share your journey. That’s what makes you such an inspiration. We’ve never met, but I’m so proud of you. The strength you have gained cannot be measured by how much you can leg press. It is in finding out who you really are.

  2. You are SUCH an inspiration! I want to come cheer for you!
    What a transformation, don’t give up! It takes a lot of courage and determination to do what you’re doing, I am really happy for you! And must I add, you look BANGING!
    oxo,
    Holly

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