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The road to competition.. I need your help!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hey Sparkland! As some of you may already know, I have been training for my first figure competition for some time now. It is now down to the nitty gritty - my contest is in less than 12 weeks, and I need your help.

I have devoted many hours/days/weeks/months of my life towards this goal, as well as every single spare dollar I have found (and some support from really good friends). I am making myself broke in order to realize this dream, and I wouldn't have it any other way. But therein lies my issue. This competition has been far more expensive to prepare for than I originally expected, and with my oven being absolutely horrendous, my secondary line of income via selling my baked goods has been slower than I'd like. I am completely tapped out, so I've come to appeal to anyone here who finds my story, and my goal, worth supporting.

I have created a GoFundMe campaign to help finance the items and services I require leading up to, as well as on the day of, the contest. This includes, but is not limited to, my coach, my posing suit and shoes, hair and makeup services for the show, and building up colour via spray tanning (Since I am very prone to sunstroke, this is my only real option. And, when you are as pale as I am, it takes a few sessions to say the least). Every little bit helps, and takes a bit of stress off my mind so I can focus more on the task of getting myself ready for this.

If you believe I am worth supporting, please visit the following link. And thank you all in advance for any and all donations that will help me on my journey to the stage!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GERIKRAGH 8/19/2014 10:26AM

    Good luck.

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The road to competition.. Life update and body stats

Thursday, June 12, 2014

So seeing as how I have finally decided to start tracking my food again (better late than never, right?), it only seems reasonable that I also utilize the blogs to track progress.

Step one: Create an environment that will breed my success. CHECK! emoticon
June 1st was a big day for me. I moved into my first apartment by myself. I went from living with my dad, then my fiance, to a roommate. I have ALWAYS wanted to live alone, and I'm so excited that I finally do, for more than one reason. The biggest point right now.. Nutrition. My dad was a junk food junkie. Although he did point out many times that I needed to lose weight and get in control of my eating, I did not have the skills or willpower to really do it in his house until I was already at rock bottom (AKA: almost 300lbs as I was starting high school). I did not know how to cook, at all. He, my brother and I were hardly ever home at the same time, so dinner was left up to us individually. Not knowing how to cook always lead me to the same frozen foods and the same crap in the cupboards (there were many a night of brownie/cookie or bread/cheese dinners). More maturity and freedom in high school got me a bit of control, which lead to my 100lb loss over those four years. Then stall and stay there. Next, I move in with my fiance - a textbook ectomorph trying vehemently to gain weight. This was not an easy situation to live in when I was trying to get control over my weight. I managed for a while, even getting down to 168. However, watching him eat everything under the sun while trying desperately to be satisfied with my regular portions took a toll on me. After I lost my dad, my resolve cracked. I gained the weight back and got stuck there. After splitting up last year, this lead me to my last residence. My roommate, who was also a trainer, had a boyfriend that brought out her bad habits when it came to eating. This in turn kind of encouraged my own. Granted, it was not nearly to the extent of her's because I was not the one dating him, but in the last year or so I've gone back up to 200lbs and am none too pleased about the matter. Finally, I am now in my apartment. I have my own space that will never be filled with anything I do not bring in myself, nor have anyone's outside influence, so I have no excuses.

Step two: Obtain the outside assistance I so desperately needed. CHECK! emoticon
Recently, I bit the financial bullet and hired a coach. I know (better than most, considering my career) that I need the help, and I have finally put my money where it needs to be. This mostly comes down to my nutrition, as the working out part I take to with great gusto. I have seen the transformation of another trainer at Derek's gym in less than two months, and it's been mindblowing. Coming from his recommendation, I talked with his coach and decided to hire him myself for the entirety of the time leading up to my competition. It is expensive, it is VERY hard work, but it is completely necessary and worth the cost. He is also the reason I am back to tracking, because it needs to happen. However, I have been following his instructions and workouts for only a week, and I have already gotten comments from coworkers that they can see changes on me.

Step three: Track, track, TRACK. emoticon
My reason for blogging again. I've never been a good blogger. I don't regularly have things I feel the need to share, and feel as though I either write way too much or not enough to make it worth it. But this is something that I have always wanted to do, and if chronicling my journey will help not only me, but my current/future clients, then it is something that I would be a fool not to do.

So, without further ado, stats! As of June 1st (my program with my coach was started on June 4th)
Weight: 204lbs
BF%: 23%
Shoulders: 46"
Chest: 40.5"
Arm: 14"
Natural waist: 34"
Belly: 38.5"
Hips: 44.5"
Thigh: 26"
Calf: 18.5"

When I find my normal measuring tape wherever it may be packed, there may be some discrepancy with these measurements, but they're still a good starting point.

Pictures will be coming, whenever I am at home and have them available.

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BUTEAFULL 6/13/2014 2:24AM


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Today marks the day..

Thursday, January 09, 2014

..that I have decided to go down a path I had only toyed with before. My new Sparkpage design brings in targets, as I have now honed in on exactly what is going to happen.

I've thought about competing before, thinking it'd be fun to do once just to say I did. But to be honest, I never really knew if I was serious. It became more and more of a pipe dream as I continually did the opposite of what I was trying to do and gained a bunch of weight. No more.

Yesterday, I paid my registration fee to become a member of my provincial bodybuilding association so I would be eligible to compete in their shows. I have chosen my competition, which is taking place on October 25th. I will be in the best shape I have ever been in. I will astound everyone, including myself. And I will ROCK IT! After I rock it at provincial level, I'm going national with the aim of eventually qualifying for an IFBB show and gaining my Pro card. It will happen. Oh yes, it will.

I know I have the body to do it, and I know I have the determination. I have now told EVERYONE I know, and a bunch of people I don't, that it's happening this year. Can't back out now.

289 days to make it happen. 289 days that will be begging ME for mercy!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GARDENCHRIS 1/10/2014 7:40AM

    you Go! you CAN do it!

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SPARKLISE 1/9/2014 9:43PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CHAOSTHEORY635 1/9/2014 9:15PM

    congrats on deciding to go through with it! i'm not a bodybuilder, just a lifter, but y'all have crazy intense dedication which is pretty admirable. what are you doing, figure? bikini? good luck!

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Meltdown warning!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

I just can't do it anymore. I can't continue on the way I am, pretending that nothing's wrong. This is not going to be a happy blog. This is not going to be focused on my weight loss. This is literally the culmination of every horrible thought that I have been fighting with for the last couple months that caused me to break down into tears last night.

I have seen some progress. I have seen some regression. I have gained some clients. I have not gained many others. I'm trying very hard to take the good with the bad, but when the bad seems to so far outweigh the good, it's been a very tough battle.

This is also on top of the fact that my fiance and I split up in May, so I also just moved into a new place with a friend of mine on June 1st. This requires some getting used to, as we're still getting used to each other's "quirks" (in other words, we're irritating the piss out of each other with little things that we don't think about. This is more true of me being irritated because I have OCD and cannot stand when things are not exactly the way I organize them. Not her fault, I'm just nuts).

Some of you may have seen my status update not too long ago that I finally got under 20% body fat. This is an amazing accomplishment for me, one that I would really like to celebrate to its full potential. But I can't. I just can't. In spite of this drop under 20%, I cannot ignore the fact that along with it, I am also back to almost 200lbs. I understand it's muscle. I love having the muscle. But you would think that with a drop of 2% body fat, I'd be able to see something. I'd be able to measure something. ANYTHING. No. My measurements are exactly the same, if not even LARGER, than they were months ago. My weight has gone up. With all of this, I'm trying to decide whether I even want to believe that the measurement of 18.4% was accurate at all.
My eating is out of control. All the work I put in to ween myself away from my sugar addiction, out the window. I've been eating chocolate like the cocoa bean is going extinct, and that's being polite.
I am still doing my workouts, though I don't feel like I'm pushing myself as much as I should because I feel like total crap due to the lack of change. I push, and push, and push, and push.. And eventually, I wonder what for? Yes, I love the muscle gains. Yes, I love the strength increases. I see these things. I love that they're happening. But my main reason for working out was to lose the stupid body fat so I could feel confident and happy, and wear whatever slutty clothing I wanted to if I so chose. Am I vain? Damn right I am. But vanity is my driving force, and I have no problem admitting that. You have to be honest with yourself and those around you. That's my honesty. But even with that, even working out like a beast six days a week, even when I was monitoring my food like you wouldn't believe.. it just wasn't happening. I'm disheartened, disappointed, and so far beyond frustrated I don't even have a word for it. I do not like the way I look. I was getting to a point that I was starting to, but that has long since disappeared. I will even go so far as to say that I am getting to the point where if I don't get a handle on it, I will start hating my appearance again. I do not want to let this happen, I have worked too hard for too long to let myself go back to that mental state. But I feel myself slipping away...

Now, while having my mind in that state, my job comes a-knockin' like "Hey, while you're already in such a horrible place, I'm just going to give you more of a reason to hate yourself. KAYBYE!"
I constantly feel as though I got the short end of the stick when it came to locations to be hired at. The gym that I used to work out at (which I will refer to as YEC), is a tiny little thing. But it's on the subway line in a very populated area of the city where people are willing to listen to trainers because they see the value in them, and have the money to be able to invest in one. My gym, PV, is HUGE. YEC's entire gym could fit in PV's cardio area alone. But PV is in the middle of a business park, hidden in a building with no outside signage except right near the entrance (and on the parking structure, which you only see from the highway and not the residential area behind our building). The member density is quite low because of the location and the fact that it's a little difficult to find. And then the members we do get in here.. The majority come from a cultural background that makes them very closed off to me because I am female. I have been met with cold indifference all the way to outright hostility.
This "welcome" that I receive when I try to talk to members only extenuates the fact that I have a VERY hard time approaching people. I have always had a problem trying to strike up conversations with people. It started because I was a shy child, who turned into a very obese and very self conscious teenager. I always feel as if I am being judged, so I do not like going and talking to people. This is a problem, since it is a very large part of my job. I am ragged on for it constantly by my boss, and I am trying very hard to improve, but... the more I try, the more I fail, and the harder it gets each time. As I sit here writing this, it is because it was another failed attempt at being on the floor, so I holed up in the trainer's room like the coward I am and turned to the internet. But I digress.
As I mentioned, members at my gym are not very open to trainers, particularly female ones. On top of being female, I am also very visibly overweight, and young. Three strikes. There are two other female trainers at my gym. One of them has a very extensive sports background and is an older woman so she has the greying hair which visually represents "experience" to most of the population. She does fine for herself. The other is around my age, but has worked as a trainer before being hired here. I can honestly say, without a doubt in my mind, that when it comes down to actual training, I am the better trainer. But she can get past the defenses of the member population here in a way that I cannot, which leads her to get more business. How is that? She's pretty, and she's visibly fit. Old men and young boys alike.. they're willing to pay money to spend time with the pretty girl and have her put her hands on them. And women.. well, from my experience, women will look for a female trainer who has a body something similar to the one they hope to have. Voila, not me. My roommate works at YEC and had a member pay $1500 extra and not be matched with a trainer who knew how to get him to his goals better than the one he ended up with because he wanted to train with the pretty girl. Facts are facts, and humans are visual creatures.

The caboose to this s**t-train is something that I am constantly aware of, but do my best not to think about. I missed my friend's birthday party on Sunday, because she only sent out invitations on Facebook and I never really go on FB. My ex, however, did go and told me yesterday that she sent her love (apparently not enough to text me herself though). I felt awful when he told me and sent her a message right away. He said, probably intending for it to make me not feel as bad, "I'm sure she'll forgive you. She didn't seem upset."
Where did my mind go? "Of course she didn't seem upset. Because she, just like everyone else, is happy enough if I end up in front of them for some reason, but they couldn't really care less about my presence (or lackthereof)." I have long since accepted the fact that.. well, I don't actually have any friends. Two, possibly. As soon as I decided I wanted more from my life than clubs, drugs and alcohol and focused more on getting into a career, no one had anything to do with me. For a lot of them, it was exactly what I expected. But this was not just my club-acquaintances that fell by the wayside, but people I had known for 5 years or more. I don't go clubbing anymore, so I do not exist. No one calls me, texts me, messages me.. nothing. When I try to reach out, arrange a hangout that is outside of a club, no one gives a crap. The person I used to consider my best friend.. haven't seen her in something like nine months, and we haven't even spoken in at least four. Best friend, eh?

All in all, I have not been doing well. I'm depressed, frustrated, angry, and lonely. I would love to be able to talk to someone about this, I have abused the ears of the two people willing to listen to me more than I really think is fair on them. This is my last resort, knowing full well that it will likely not be read with any great enthusiasm, but hoping that at least getting it out there will help.. somehow.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GETTING_FIT44 7/30/2013 4:06PM

    Friends suck. Since I moved here it's been hard. Either party people, or all they want to talk about is them them them. Boys are even harder to find. But do what you gotta do. You left the bakery once you couldn't take it hoping for something better, maybe you should find something better than this.. apply at the other gym, maybe focus on losing the weight, and muscle to feel better about yourself? I know you like muscle, but it seems like you're unhappy though you tell yourself you are. I'm sorry bout your fiance. Take the time you need to be better, hell if that means quitting your job then do it. I almost did and suddenly it got better, and now im going back to college. It's tough, but you can do it.

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BUTEAFULL 7/15/2013 9:50PM


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GARDENCHRIS 7/10/2013 7:31AM

    people need to be able to vent...this is your blog so vent! That's why we are here.

is there someone or place you can go to talk this stuff out with a professional, to help you get a handle on some of this? One day at a time.... hang in there.

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FERRETLOVER1 7/10/2013 6:58AM


I really don't know what to tell you. Hopefully, writing all this down has helped you to clear your mind somewhat.


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JEWELMAKER1 7/9/2013 7:51PM

    Wow, you really laid it all out and you have a right to feel sad, mad and disappointed in your friends, boss and life in general. Know this, you are not alone. I too have issues with my eating, weight, and self esteem. It is hard always reading about other's successes and not having the amount of victories you want. I am there too.

The lessons you learned at work concerning weight, beauty and sales are a fact. You either have to find people that can relate to you, to make sales, or you have to change where you work. Has it occurred to you that you may be a square peg trying to fit into a round hole? There are work out places that advertise themselves not to reach the gym rats but the average everyday person. That person will respect your knowledge, your energy and will see past your imperfections. You are a role model for the normal every day person.

If you want to vent, I am here.


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CHICAGOTOM 7/9/2013 6:41PM

    Hey, you have had a rough go in the last few weeks. It is such a pile! Anyone in your situation would feel the same, so try to keep in perspective that your feelings are normal. I think you know what you have to do to get out of this funk: People (beyond sparkers). Network with many people who want to help and can be supportive. Remember that people can give you safety, comfort, and an avenue. Good luck!!!!

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What an AWESOME weekend

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Holy craaaaap, this weekend was amazing.

I was actually attending a course this weekend. That may not seem like a very interesting thing to be doing to most people, but I liked it for a multitude of reasons. I love to learn things, anything really, just for the sake of having knowledge. Give me a chance at something I'm really passionate about, and I'll be all over it.

The course I took was for the Darby Training System, and covered physical assessment and program design. My class was full of trainers who have been in the industry for a really long time (14 years, 10 years, 9 years, etc.) so when it got to me it was like "Well, I've been in the industry for a whopping two months.." haha. It was cool though, because the guy who won PT of the year in the company I work for was actually in my course. He's interning, essentially, to become an instructor for those courses, but having access to him to ask questions was an amazing opportunity.

I knew some of the issues that were present in myself, but having to go through the assessment process many times and have it done many times gives me a really in depth perspective on what I have to work on to improve my own fitness, as well as what I'm doing pretty well in. Wicked.
With this also came a new way for me to help mobilize my joints, and the ones for ankle and hip mobility were of particular interest to me. I've been trying to improve my squat down to full depth (with load), but have been severely restricted on my movement depth due to my ankles. They're both tight/restricted and unstable, so my squat suffers. Two options for mobility are ones I already do (foam roller, lacrosse ball for trigger points), but I learned some self-traction... holy CRAP is it amazing. Since learning this on Friday, and doing it for about 10 minutes a day since then, my squat depth with proper form has increased to parallel with no elevation under my heels. I was so happy about this, it could have made the course worth it on its own.

The physical assessments done in this course are SO MUCH better than the ones I have to do at work - they tell me more accurately exactly what I should be getting clients to focus on and they take a fraction of the time. I can literally finish one of them in about 15 minutes, and know at least one thing that can immediately help them. Love it!

Program design was definitely something I wanted to learn as much about as I could. I do know how to write programs, or else I'd never have passed a practical exam or my interview, but I knew there was room for improvement. What an improvement. We had a few case studies that we had to write programs for during different phases of training. The entire class went from struggling to write a days workout in 25 minutes (and they turned out lower quality) to being able to write two days in around 15 minutes with higher quality programs being produced. Wicked thing to see, and I feel way more comfortable in my knowledge now.

Today, being the last day, had us doing a full workout so we could physically experience how different ways of programming felt. The first workout in the morning wasn't too bad. The class was divided in two groups, with half doing it on the full gym floor with the one instructor Brian, and the other half staying in the area we were in with Kevin. When we got back downstairs, Kevin was in the middle of a story and stopped to say that Brian's group didn't look like they'd worked as hard as his, said we looked all relaxed and such. He likes to randomly put people on the spot, so in the middle of talking, he went "So, Raven, how was the workout?" The conversation progressed as "Yeah, it was alright - "Just alright?" - "Yeah. Kind of feel like I could have done more.." So he challenged me. Of course I had to take the challenge, he put it right out in front of everyone. "Could have done more? So you're saying you're going to win on the rower this afternoon?" - "Rowing machine? Hmm.. Sure, why not" - "No, are you going to be the women's rowing winner or not?" - "Yes, I am." - "Alright ladies, there you go. Raven's thrown down the challenge."
Silly me. Went and had lunch at the little diner across the street. Way too much food to be exerting that much energy so soon afterwards, but still. We did get to settle for a bit before we actually started working out, and it was a 5 round circuit. One of the stations was the one with the rower. 4 minute round. What had to be done was row as fast as you can to 250m, off the rower and do five full burpees (touching the floor with both chest and thighs at bottom, and both feet required to leave the ground on the jump). As soon as they're done, back on the rower and row as much distance as you can onto that 250 until the round time was up. The winner was whoever rowed the furthest distance. He said before we started that anything over 700m for women or over 1000m for men was great. I obviously started at the rowing station because if I was going to do the challenge I needed to do it before I used up my energy. I'm going to outright say that I felt like I was going to puke when I was done and my head was feeling very light and floaty, but I was bloody determined to win. He even decided that's when we was going to be at the rowing station to try and distract me. I actually found it hilarious, but I refused to let him beat me.
Guess who won the women's rowing. Bam.
My total distance was 993m. I was kind of annoyed that I missed 1km by 7 stinkin' meters, but it didn't matter. I knew I was going to try and likely do pretty well, but I surprised myself with just how far I got, and I'm stupidly proud of myself. I've had a silly grin on my face since it happened.

The silly grin is also due in part to Kevin himself. Now, bear in mind that Kevin is actually the Darby in Darby Training Systems. It's his program, and his course. Super intelligent, been in the industry a long time, and overall really cool guy. When we were doing the introductions at the beginning of the course, I had mentioned that I'm still a fair bit nervous talking to people on the floor and trying to sell myself. He stopped me before we all left today and was like "Ok, I have to ask. Seriously, -you- are nervous talking to people on the floor? Do you see how you walk around? It's like you own the damn place, and with good reason. You're sharp, you have the knowledge, and you train insanely -anywhere- on the floor. You have no reason to be nervous, just go do it. You're going to be incredibly successful."
Not that the testimonals to that effect from everyone else I've heard it from don't mean anything to me. They're all important and I appreciate every single one. But to have just started in this industry and hear something like that from a guy who's essentially a "household name" in fitness.. Awesomeawesomeawesome.
I was talking to my friend afterwards, and mentioned that fact. I was told "You know, you're the type of person that he looks at to teach those courses. So just be aware of that."

I still can't wipe the silly grin off my face. I'm so proud of myself, I've learned a LOT of really useful information that I can start using immediately, and I keep getting outside support telling me that I'm in the right spot. Great feeling.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TQUARRY 5/3/2013 4:01PM

    that's awesome!!!! i would be grinning 2 if that happened to me.

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SINGAWOLFSONG 3/25/2013 8:48PM

    If we lived in the same area, I'd so hire you as my trainer!

Lucky lucky :)

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BUTEAFULL 3/24/2013 10:17PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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PROUD-GRANDMA 3/24/2013 9:31PM

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