Thursday, September 30, 2010
I frequently have people asking me when I will do my first show, or as someone at the gym asked today my "next show" (like there ever was a first!). I had every intention of competing just a few months ago, but my mind has changed on this. Instead of typing out the reasons over and over again, I thought I would blog about it and have a place to send people to read my reasons. I know this doesn't really go along with the general direction of my blog, so please forgive the diversion.
In posting this blog I want to make it very clear that I don't want to discourage anyone else from competing. It's a marvelous venture for so many and if you want to do it, I say go for it! My reasons are simply that: MY reasons. We all have to do what is right for us individually.
When I did my 12-week cutting diet last spring, life became very much about me. I called it the Nancy Show. It had to be: I've never been one who can partly immerse myself in something and still get full benefit. I knew if I was going to be successful I would have to eat, breathe, and live training and eating plan. So I did. And I was successful. But in being very honest with myself I had to admit being that self-focused felt extremely phony for me. You see, I had come to realize before I made the decision to undertake the cutting diet that one of the big purposes my Creator put me here on this earth for is to help others. I had a very hard time being empathetic and giving practical advice when my own life was being lived at such an extreme. (It's hard not to think EVERYONE should abandon carbs after noon if I am doing so.) It felt like I had lost my balance, to a large degree. It really bothered me that my focus was on myself and not others.
Secondly, my main reason for losing all that weight in the first place was to get healthier. While most of the cutting diet was perfectly healthy, there at the end the diet was extremely limited. My coach had me supplementing well, but there wasn't a very wide variety of food, which I think is important for the best nutrient balance. Additionally, in an effort to show as much muscle as possible, I was pretty danged dehydrated by the time the final photos were taken. Quite frankly, I felt weak and like I was about to collapse. This didn't seem to me to be in line with my main directive to be as healthy as possible.
Now, don't get me wrong: This is the very nature of cutting diets (or "leaning in", as most figure competitors call it), and pretty much what people in the industry accept across the board as necessary to look stage-ready. My cutting diet was the most generous and varied of any I have heard of.
The other big reason I decided not to compete is one that I almost hesitate to mention because it's a very hush-hush subject in the figure world, but one that I found out through some research is extremely common: Steroid use among figure competitors. It's present at all levels, but it's downright common and accepted among the figure pros. As a matter of fact, I've read from more than one source that virtually all of the pro figure competitors are using steroids. And one gal in my own gym who competes pretty much copped to the fact that she used them, and seemed to have the attitude that if I wanted to seriously compete I would, too. Another gal at our gym didn't have to admit she did them: We could all tell just by looking at her that she used them before her last show. And this time she finally placed. Go figure. (No pun intended!)
Quick FYI: The figure competitors who use steroids (it's generally very low doses)don't use them for the purpose of muscle gain so much as for the purpose of fat loss quickly before a show.
At any rate, I don't see any point in dropping a lot of money (the least amount I've heard of anyone I know spending for all of the stuff needed to compete in a show was almost $900), to participate in something I simply can't win. I may look good for 43, but I know darned well that with my body type (all my fat on the bottom) the likelihood of me placing without steroid use is slim.
I've never done an illegal drug in my life, and I don't want to be borrow trouble by intentionally exposing myself to others who use steroids.
Lastly, there is the financial aspect. This is a very distant reason for not competing, but it does factor in. At this stage of the game our family needs to be concentrating our finances elsewhere.
I had first considered competing so I could have a goal looming out in front of me to help keep me from gaining weight back. Now I don't know what I will do for a goal, but please don't think I have quit! I'll think about it and find something.
Even though I don't plan to be a figure competitor, I sure as heck want to continue to be mistaken for one!
I know this blog will stir up a lot of controversy, angering some people and making others look at figure competitors in a new light. Please believe me: There are plenty of amateur and near-pro competitors, as well as a few pros, who are not doing steroids, and the figure industry is a marvelous thing that allows women to celebrate and show off their hard work. But for this woman, it's not the right choice. I am going to return to my purpose: Setting an example for and helping others.
Let me know what you think! I always appreciate your comments!
Saturday, September 18, 2010
The title of this blog was posted as a comment by a gal named Christy on one of my earlier blogs on blogger.com. It struck a cord with me and has been rambling around in my head ever since.
I think too many of us have decided that we've failed in the health game. I know I had! I looked at the fact that I was fat and didn't look the way I wanted as failure. But the fact is that I'd never really given up on myself enough to stop trying to be fit and a healthy weight, so I was never officially at "failure" status. And unless you've thrown up your hands and said "I'm never trying to get healthy again.... Please pass the cupcakes!", YOU aren't a failure, either.
I've said before and I will say again that unless a doctor has said to you "It is unwise for you to eat healthy foods at a calorie level that will enable you to lose weight, and you should not do any physical activity of any kind", any reason you have for not taking care of yourself isn't a reason: It's an excuse.
When I tore my rotator cuff I was informed that lifting weights and any jarring motions would be bad for me. The only exercise I was cleared to do was walking.
So I walked.
When I was recovering from surgery, 3 of them in the past 3 1/2 years, I was only approved by my surgeons to walk for exercise.
So I walked.
Did I like walking? No. Did I feel like it was really exercise, after being accustomed to hitting the weights and doing the elliptical at a vigorous pace? No. But did I understand that not following my doctors' orders and doing any more physical activity besides walking could result in big problems for my body? Yes. Did I want to give my body the benefits that would come from something even as simple as walking? Yes.
So I walked.
And I'd like to point out that none of my doctors gave me a free pass to eat crap. I probably don't need to list reasons why feeding your body garbage while it's trying to repair itself is not a good idea. So I tried to keep my diet high in nutrient-rich foods.
My point is that I did what I could. And I wasn't failing, even though I was fat for two of the three surgeries, because I had not stopped trying.
As long as you are still trying, there is still hope for you. And there is ALWAYS hope for you.
Youu ARE worth the effort: This is something you have to tell yourself if you are to make positive changes. But whatever you want to achieve CAN be done, one way or the other.
It's never to late!
One foot in front of the other. That's trying..... And that's success!
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
I am a huge proponent of weight lifting heavy weights for women, but one point I have not focused on at all is that if you are just starting with lifting (or any kind of exercise for that matter), or it has been a while since you've lifted, it's really important that you start slow.
Muscles need time to adapt, and lifting too heavy too soon will fail to give the muscles the time they need to adjust and grow to the load and could very possibly lead to injury.
Also, if you are very heavy, you are already weight lifting on a daily basis- Just your body weight alone is a lot for your skeleton to bear. You REALLY need to be cautious about how much weight you start lifting when your body fat is very high.
A few times in my life I got away from weight lifting for an extended period of time, and each time I came back to lifting gradually, starting with very small weights (10 pounds and below) and building up as my muscles strengthened. For many exercises I started off with no weights at all. For instance, for squats and lunges I just used my own body weight.
I am not meaning that you shouldn't progress, or that some muscle soreness after you've worked out is not a good thing: It is! This usually means that your muscles are repairing stronger, which is a marvelous thing. I'm saying that when you first start out, you really need to ease into it.
I said before and will say again that muscles adapt very quickly. When a weight no longer feels challenging, it's time to up the ante. Challenge yourself! But when you first start, even if it feels too easy, start with low weights. There is no shame in this and you might be surprised how sore you are the next day. And this will give your nervous system time to adapt, as well.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
I don't mean to be a big downer with this blog, but I want to point something out to help keep people from slipping into the "When I lose this weight I can eat whatever I want" mode: It just ain't true!
The honest truth is that, while I am enjoying being (pretty much) at my goal weight, staying here is a LOT harder than getting here was. I liken it to a balancing beam: It's easier to keep walking than it is to stay in one spot.
The fact is that while I can eat a bit more than I did while losing, I still have to log my food or else I see a rise in the scale pretty quickly. I know this because I've done it in the past. (I'd lost a substantial amount of weight, then gained it all back, plus about 20 pounds. Took me years to be ready to lose it again.) So I know I'll always have to be accountable for what I put in my mouth. And I'll always have to be careful that what I am putting in my mouth is almost all clean foods with plenty of protein. I just feel better and gain muscle better when I eat this way.
Even with these precautions I still find myself creeping up the scale a bit, then having to reign it in and bring it back down again. I've finally come to understand and accept that I will probably be losing and gaining the same five pounds for the rest of my life.
And exercise? THAT will never end! Of course, if you know me at all, that statement didn't surprise you. I plan to be the grandma with muscles who can do pull-ups and strait-leg push-ups. No kidding! Watch me.
So here I am, in maintenance, still doing all of the same things I did while losing. And to stay slim I know I will have to keep it up forever.
But you want to know the truth? It's worth it. Every minute of it- Not only to look in the mirror and like what I see, but also to know that I am doing everything I can to keep diabetes and heart disease, both of which run heavily in my family, at bay.
I'd rather be where I am doing what I am doing than heavy and doing not doing it. It's more work being fit, but it's so very worthwhile.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
This is a diverse recipe I came up with that even my kids like. Everyone I've made it for asks me for it.
If you leave out the olive oil, this is an excellent post-workout shake. Fats slow digestion, so leaving it out lets the carbs and protein get to my muscles faster. Usually at this time I'll throw half a teaspoon of L-glutamine powder into it, to expedite muscle repair. I can't taste the glutamine.
The secret to making it a milkshake consistency is using frozen fruit. Any kind will work, but my favorite is the berries.
Into a blender put:
1/2 C plain non-fat yogurt
1/2 C skim milk or cold water
1 C frozen mixed berries
1 scoop protein powder, flavor of choice (I like chocolate the best)
1 tsp. olive oil
Sweetener to taste (I use Splenda)
If I'm post workout I'll toss my powdered L-glutamine in, too.
Blend on high. If it won't move through the blender easily enough, add some cold water until it blends.
This is approximately 345 calories when made with the milk and equal amount of carbs and protein with about 7g of healthy fat. If you are on Weight Watchers it is a serving of dairy, 2 fruit/veggie servings, a lean protein, and a serving of healthy fat.
Let me know what you think!
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