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Intense Focus

A week ago I realized there were only 20 weeks left until competition, and I really started in earnest – no room for error, no room for excuses.  But that means I can’t miss a workout and I CAN’T cheat on any meals.  I knew it would be hard, and while it isn’t impossible, it is definitely a challenge. I’ve completed one week of this new routine, and oh my goodness, I have never felt more of a tug on my time.  I’m not kidding when I feel like every single hour is scheduled to within an inch of its life.  I don’t even feel like I have time to write this blog post, but I want to document this journey, so I’m going to prioritize this entry.

I started the week on Sunday, scheduling out when I would do each workout, taking into account the workouts my husband would and would not do with me, and when he’d be available.  Also taking into consideration any other social aspects of my life (which are quickly dwindling – there are only so many hours in a day).  In my intensity, I’ve committed to waking up 30 min early on weekdays to do “fasted cardio” five times a week.  Right now, that means 30 minutes of walking on a very inclined treadmill.  I almost didn’t do this, until I was reminded of our neighborhood gym.  So I can very easily drive 3 min, do the treadmill and get back home, shower and go through my usual morning routine.  I’ve also committed to two “boot camps” every week, which are mainly HIIT training, on top of my 80 Day Obsession workouts, 6 times a week.  So yes, it’s a lot of workouts, but if you don’t count the extra hours waking up early, it’s only two more, and they’re my kind of workouts.  I think I’ll end up actually looking forward to the fasted cardio, too, because I’ve been listening to podcasts or audiobooks on my phone while I knock it out!  And as for the extra HIIT workouts, a week ago, I was doing long runs for half marathons, too, so I’ve just traded 2 hours of one type of workout for another.

I will say it helps to have a plan, and to write it down and discuss it with my husband every Sunday, so I know when I’m fitting in all these hours of workouts, but even following a well thought-out plan, after going through the first week of this plan, I am truly exhausted.  Again, this is doable, but it’s going to require intense focus.

Now, for the nutrition.  I thought it would be difficult to really ramp up my nutrition, and commit to basically eating ONLY chicken, oatmeal, and green veggies.  Basically, just eating from the top of the 80 Day Obsession food list. And being very strict about it. And really, this first week was hard.  I’m pretty tired of chicken – even though my husband can contrive of pretty delicious ways to prepare them.  Mid-way through the week, though, when I saw the pile of chicken dwindling, and I mentally thought that meant I was done, my heart broke a little bit, when he replenished the stash with more, freshly cooked chicken.  The things I look forward to most every day are: 1) my shake in the morning on the way to work, 2) my oatmeal with 1 cup of fruit (it’s the new dessert!) and 3) my spoonful of peanut butter. And after a week of it, I think it’ll be okay.  It’s oddly liberating knowing that no matter where you go – grocery store, restaurant, Walmart – there’s almost nothing you’ll be able to eat.  Even this weekend, with all the candy hearts and chocolate gearing up for Valentine’s Day, I wasn’t even tempted, really.  Because all of these things are so far out of the realm of things I can consume, they don’t even register.

I say that, and yet, once a day, I’ve found myself being weak, and eating something that is NOT on the plan.  Maybe something I don’t even want that much, but whether it’s a hershey’s kiss, hot chocolate, or just a packet of fruit snacks, I can’t say I have had one perfect day this week.  But I would also say I’ve consistently been at 95%.  Which is pretty darn good.  And I’ve been 100% for getting my workouts in.  Even when bootcamp was cancelled on Saturday due to weather, I still did an Insanity workout in my living room!

Starting a new routine is challenging enough, but compound that with insanely busy (abnormally busy) workdays (remember, I work full-time, too), where I didn’t get home until much later than I usually do, and this week felt even more rushed and busy and just all around crazy.  Hopefully, on the work front, it’ll be better this next week, but there are no guarantees.

In summary, week one of 20 is complete, and overall, it went pretty well.  I started a more intense regime, I finished phase 1 of 80 Day Obsession, I stuck to this new nutrition 95%, I did ALL of the workouts I set out to do. But I know even more focus will be required for the next 19.  This next week in particular comes with a few more challenges, with Valentine’s Day on Wednesday, as well as Ash Wednesday kicking off Lent, and trying to fit in a few more social things during the week, as well as my parents coming to visit, and trying to survive a meal at date night this coming Friday.  But I’ve put it all in the calendar, and tried to mentally prepare for all of it.  So wish me luck!

What Am I Doing?!

day33It’s February 2nd, and almost 5 weeks into 2018!  5 weeks since I’ve truly committed to this journey to a physique competition.  While I’ve made some progress toward my goal, and I’ll proudly share my 5 week transformation in a couple days, I’m not sure it’s the kind of progress I NEED to make, and I’m arguably still 100% ignorant about what I need to do to get ready in the next 20 weeks.

So what have I been DOING for the last 5 weeks?  And why am I no closer to being informed about my goal?  And what am I going to do about it?

Well, I started out the year KNOWING that I would compete in this specific physique competition sometime on June 22-24 in Indianapolis. It’s called the Beachbody Classic, and one of the requirements to compete is to follow a Beachbody workout program.  So, even months ago, when I decided to do this, I had at least a jumping off point: pick a Beachbody program and work it!  I even knew which one I’d choose – Body Beast, because that is the weight-lifting, strength-training go-to program.  I’d never done it before, but I knew I’d incorporate this into my training.  It’s a 3 month program, and I knew I had 6 months of the year to train for this competition, so I knew I needed a game plan for the first 3 months.  That’s when I chose 80 Day Obsession.

This particular program lasts 13 weeks, and launched January 15th.  It’s an intense program that has you working out six times a week, and also includes a structured eating plan, that tells you not only what to eat, but when to eat!  All I knew before I started was that it would focus on your abs, arms and ass, which I knew were the three places I needed to tone for this physique competition, so it seemed like the right choice.

However, I also knew I had two more half marathons to get through – one on January 16th and one on February 3rd (tomorrow!).  So I knew I needed to incorporate running into the program, at least for the first 3 weeks.  So. My initial game plan was:

The first two weeks of January, before 80 Day Obsession launched, focus on healthy eating, and getting into the routine of working out again, after the holidays (relatively low-key for me).  Then, on the launch of 80 Day Obsession, jump into that program, sticking to the nutrition plan and workouts, modifying slightly (and sometimes not so slightly) around my running schedule, which basically consisted of one long run (8-10 miles) a week.  I had my first half marathon on the first Sunday of 80 Day Obsession, so I worked out seven times that week.  Now, three weeks into the program, my last half marathon is tomorrow, and I’ll have worked out seven times this week as well!

But now, it’s five weeks into the year, and after this half marathon I’ve realized two things: 1) I’m really going to have to get more focused and more intentional towards this competition, no more excuses.  Because, at least for the first 5 weeks, I can say, well, I was training for the half marathons, and that is completely different than training for a physique competition. Which is true, but that brings me to thing 2) I don’t actually KNOW how to train for a physique competition.  After three weeks with 80 Day Obsession, I can definitely see results, but I can also see how this isn’t going to get me where I want to be.  I’m going to have to supplement with…um, SOMETHING.  Again, not sure what.  I know a big thing about physique competitions is the nutrition.  Like anything, the nutrition is 80% of it.  And while I know how to eat healthy and clean, I also know that nutrition for this very specific goal is very specific. I just don’t know HOW.  Same thing for the workouts.  I know there are things I need to focus on, I’m just not sure what.

So this past week, I’ve been feeling a bit unmoored.  The half marathon deadline, and my last anchor for an excuse was looming, and I still didn’t really have a PLAN.  So, I finally bit the bullet, reached out, and decided to hire a professional.  I found a woman who is local who SPECIALIZES in preparing people for these types of competitions.  I told her my requirements (the Beachbody programs), and asked her to work around these, and she’s willing to do that.  I’m feeling so much better now, because I have a professional, who knows what she’s doing, and she’s going to tell me exactly what to do, and all I’ll have to do is follow the plan.  I’m very good at following a plan and trusting the process.  I just needed to have a process in place.

So to recap: My plan as I know it right now is and was: 2 weeks of gearing up with mostly healthy nutrition, getting back to a workout regimen, 3 weeks of 80 Day Obsession + running and half marathons, 10 more weeks of 80 Day Obsession + additional workouts and nutrition provided by a professional, and finally 10 weeks of Body Beast + professional input.  I think I’ve now set myself up to win and I have 20 more weeks to make it happen (which, according to this person I’ve hired, is just the right amount of time).  Now that I have a plan in place, I can kick back, relax, and…work my tail off.

Looking forward to it!

Oops

day28It’s been over a week since I updated my progress, so even though I’m really tired and want to go to bed, I figured I’d go ahead and document this past week before I forget all about it (it was a busy one).

Yesterday was officially 4 weeks into the year and 2 weeks into the intense workout and nutrition program I’m following, and I really hoped to show an AMAZING transformation from both the start of the year as well as from even two weeks ago.  But that didn’t happen.  Because, oops.

Let’s back up and say that I KNEW this past week was going to be challenging, because I was planning to travel for work, which I did.  Two nights and three days away from home and in a hotel.  Not as much in control of my nutrition or timing or anything, really.  But I had planned ahead, and decided to make the best of it.  So for workouts, I’d planned to at least have my rest day on one of my travel days.  I’d also planned to get up super early the day I left and get my workout in before I left for the airport.  Well…that would’ve meant getting up at 3 am, so…that didn’t happen (oops -1, Jenny).  The second oops happened on the airplane.  If you fly united in the morning, they have these amazing waffle cookie things that they give you as an in-flight snack, and I’m not gonna lie, I was CRAVING it – pretty sure I’m addicted to the things (good thing they only give you one), but yes, I did end up eating mine (oops -1, Jenny).

When I arrived to my travel destination, I made plans to go to lunch with friends, and they knew about my rigorous nutrition regime, so we went somewhere with a GREAT salad.  It was perfect, and after having them remove some of the ingredients, and dressing on the side (of course), the salad was right on plan (+1, Jenny).  I was able to stave off eating any snacks in the office the rest of the day, and even dinner that night, although dining alone wasn’t as much fun, I stayed on my plan, ordering another salad (this time with a croissant, because I was short on carbs) (+1, Jenny).  I also stopped by the grocery downtown to get bananas and peanut butter to put in my shake, and some kale chips for a snack at the office (+1, Jenny).

The second day of travel started with my shake in the hotel room (+1, Jenny), and then at lunch, I stayed on plan again, with another friend who kept me honest, with salmon and brown rice (+1, Jenny).  I had to skip the salad, because I was getting hungry, since they don’t put enough protein in those things!  A big slab of salmon protein was just what I needed!  That evening, I think I deserve a GOLD STAR for going out for drinks, when I only ordered club sodas and lime (+1, Jenny), a salad and only ate smoke salmon off some appetizers (+1, Jenny).  Even stopping off at a steakhouse, afterward, I really only ate another salad (even though I wish I’d eaten more of the steak – had I known we’d end up there, I would’ve skipped the appetizers and just eaten that)!  And a shout out to my friend, who after dinner texted me, “Come over, we have La Croix!” So, I managed to have a pretty social evening and still stick the plan pretty amazingly.  Shout out, really, to ALL my friends over those few days who really made it easy, and still fun, to follow my plan!

When I got home the next day, I was very tired from traveling, but my husband (as planned) was waiting to workout with me, so even though my eyes were so tired, they kept wanting to just close, I managed to finish the hour-long workout (thanks, Babe) (+1, Jenny). I managed to catch up on the workout I missed that Saturday, and still run 8 miles on Sunday (+1, Jenny).  I was down 2 lbs from the week before!  Then…my big OOPS happened Sunday morning, when I skipped breakfast, took the boys to church, promised them donuts, and once I got home, was so hungry, I ended up eat FOUR of those things.  Goodness. I don’t even LIKE donuts that much. Ugh.  I felt awful, even AFTER I tried to run it off with those 8 miles.  (-4, Jenny).

So all in all, if you were keeping score, I’d give myself a +3 for the week, and came out ahead.  BUT, I realize I could have done so much better.  And after all of that, I think I just maintained my weight, lost maybe a couple of inches.  Not bad for a travel week, really.  Can’t afford too many of those massive catastrophes though, so here’s to another week, and hopefully a progress photo next week!

A New Resolve

After giving myself two weeks of grace in the new year, this past week, I really dialed in my nutrition, my exercise, and I am so proud of myself!

I’d give myself a 90% on nutrition and a 100% on exercise.  The exercises I’m doing now have increased from 30 min per day to 1 hour per day.  I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make the time commitment for this, but I never missed a workout all week!  Enlisting my husband on two of those days definitely helped (I may have chosen my longer workouts to do with him, so that I knew I’d get it in).  Accountability, y’all.  And even on rest day, I ran 8 miles, because I still have one more half marathon to run this year.  I am very sore.  My legs, especially my hamstrings, feel like they’re going to fall off, but I know this soreness is a sign of future strength, so I’m digging it.

I say 90% on nutrition, and again, very proud of that, because usually when I start a program, by day 3, I’ve started down a slippery slope of cheating on small things, which turns into cheating on big things.  But this week, I hardly slipped up at all.  Which is impressive, because it wasn’t like my week was temptation-free.  I turned down a FREE lunch at work, so I wouldn’t go off my plan.  I avoided home-made chocolate chip cookies that my husband baked (except one, warm out of the oven, that he hand-delivered to me – I just couldn’t say no – hence the 90%).  But those darn cookies were around ALL week, and I didn’t touch any more.  I avoided cookies and dessert at a volunteer event, and I avoided cake and pizza at a children’s birthday party I went to on Saturday.  It was a good week!

And I’d love to say that because of all my awesomeness, I saw tremendous results, but the truth is, I haven’t, yet.  I’m only down 2 lbs, and I have a lot more progress to make, so I thought I’d see more weightloss (and to be fair, this week, I didn’t take measurements).  I know this is going to be a process, so I’m trying to just take it one day at a time, and do what I know will work, and just trust the process.  It’s only week one, and I have so many more weeks to go!

For now, for tonight, I’m going to celebrate my big wins – and the nutrition is a big piece of that!

2 weeks of progress

day13

I started this journey officially on January 2nd, but I haven’t been completely hardcore about it, at all.  I wanted the first two weeks of the year to just be about getting rid of the holiday fluff.  But I’ve taken a lot of shortcuts and haven’t been completely ruthless in the nutrition department.  So my progress hasn’t been what I wanted, but progress has been made!  After two weeks, I’m down 5 lbs and 2 inches.  Not a lot, not enough, but I’ll get there.

transformationIn the non-measurement space, I’ve made some SERIOUS progress.  We’re talking big wins, HUGE!

1) I haven’t had a drop of alcohol yet, in 2018!  I was getting to the point, especially during the holidays, where 1 beer a day and maybe 2 glasses of at a party was the norm.  And I had convinced myself that I LOVED beer, and I wanted one every day.  I was in no way even bordering on alcoholism, but one beverage a day was my new normal.  So I put a stop to that Jan 1, even when I went to a musical, and had a FREE DRINK TICKET to use, I abstained!  And you know what?  It hasn’t been hard.  Not nearly as hard as I thought it’d be.  I mean, I’ve gone without alcohol before, for 3 nine month periods during my pregnancies, but this time around, I don’t have another life that is dependent on me.  You know what else? I don’t miss it.   So cheers to giving up alcohol for the next 158 days!  For me, this one is easy.

2) I have (almost) not had any ice cream in 2018!  This one is slightly harder, and maybe even more impressive.  For those of you who know me, ice cream is and forever will be my greatest vice.  If it is in the house, I will eat it.  I think it stems from growing up with my mom, who restricted ice cream to one day a week, “Ice Cream Fridays” and we’d each get 2 scoops.  It was the best day of the week.  This miserly approach to ice cream has had serious and long-lasting consequences for me, ever since I went off to college and realized that other people ate ice cream on other days of the week, and maybe even sometimes more than one day a week! And I realized I could be one of those people! Fast forward 10 years, and it’s practically an addiction.  But these past two weeks, I’ve had NONE!  I got really close last night – my husband went to the store and asked if I wanted him to pick some up, and I came sooo close to saying yes.  But I stuck to my guns and didn’t have any.

3) My husband has committed to working out with me 2 times a week, and this past week, that’s exactly what he did!  This is a huge win for our family.  My boys will join me frequently when I do a workout in the house, but I can count on one hand the number of times my husband has. I’m so excited that my journey has inspired him to get fit!

4) I ran a half marathon today – with NO training!  I hadn’t really run except for a few 3-5 mile runs 1x/week since November, and two months later, I pounded out 13.1 miles in 2:03:11!  Which is a big deal for me, because I never thought I would be one of those people who could go just casually run a half marathon.  Today I proved I now AM one of those people!

So that’s all, folks.  Tomorrow begins a more serious regimen for my physique competition training.  Here’s to another week of progress!

Accountability

day7They say you are 35% more likely to achieve a goal if you tell someone.  So they can hold you accountable, even if they never do a gosh darn thing.  It’s the fact that you know that THEY know.  So I’ve told at least a few people every single goal I’ve ever had.  And with this physique competition, I told a few people too, at first.  I’d say about 10 people knew, by Jan 1, 2018.  And I thought that would be good enough to keep me on track.  So I started the first week of the year thinking I’d go cold turkey and eat very healthy and workout very hard, because I knew others knew what I was doing.  But obviously, that didn’t quite work (see day 2-5)

So last night, I went live on Facebook and told almost 2,000 people! And y’all. I was scared out of my mind!  I’ve long since mastered my fear of going live on Facebook.  THAT, at least, doesn’t scare me anymore.  But I was scared because if I told LITERALLY EVERYONE I KNEW that I was doing this, then there was no turning back.  I couldn’t NOT do this.  And while I was talking, I had a lot of negative thoughts, about how I might fail (there are a LOT of ways I can fail), and how hard it’s going to be to share both the successes and the failures…

For instance, last night, I was gearing up to share my “transformation” from the first week of dedicated “training” I had done this year.  But despite my best efforts, my stumbles had basically negated any forward progress I’d made.  So there was NO real transformation, so there was nothing to share! Haha, that’s how ineffective last week was!

Again, I’m giving myself some grace, but y’all, having told ALL of you, there’s no way I’m turning back now.  And as afraid as I was on that live video (I watched myself later, fiddling with my necklace, nervously laughing – guys, I was SCARED), I have received nothing but kind comments and motivating encouragement!  So as scared as I was, I’m glad I put it out there, heck, put this BLOG out there, to share with you, because not only have I told everyone I know, now, but it seems like I’ve got everyone I know rooting for me!

And because of that, there will. be. no. nighttime. snacks. TONIGHT!

Advice

day5I have read a lot of self-improvement and growth books over the past year, that have helped me while I thought about whether I wanted to do this competition, and why I wanted to do this, and did I want to do this for the right reasons, and what was the time, money, effort required, and did I have enough of all of those to get it done.  In fact, I spent months thinking about it.

And I’ve listened to a lot of motivational podcasts and follow a lot of inspirational people, so I have all the lingo down to motivate myself and even inspire others.  I’ve gotten a lot of advice and encouragement from family members, and coworkers, and other women who have done these competitions or have known someone who have done these competitions.  So I have a support network to draw on.  But the best advice I have been given is 1) take it one day at a time and 2) do not compare yourself to anyone else.

This spoke the most strongly to me, because I have 169 days left in this journey, and this first week has already proven tough, and I have already realized I’m not perfect, despite being perfectly capable and what I thought was legitimately motivated.  But one day at a time, even sometimes if it’s one HOUR at a time…I can do that.  This person obviously knew what they were talking about, because habits will not be broken overnight.  Transformations won’t be seen in one day, or even one week.  Success won’t be achieved until the journey is far enough along.  But if I plod along, one day at a time, the transformation will come. I know what to do, and if I just keep doing it, day after day, I can’t help but see a difference.  Eventually.  And I’m going to enjoy every step and stumble along the way.

The second part of the advice: do not compare yourself to other people, spoke maybe the MOST strongly to me.  I went into this knowing that I would have to overcome some serious drawbacks, and maybe I won’t overcome all of them.  Because some of these things are things I was born with, things that I can’t control, and I’m ok with that.  I’m a runner, and I have always run my own race.  This is just another marathon, where I may not be starting at the front, and while I know I may not finish first, I also know I’m going to do everything I can to do the best I can.  This is my mountain and I’m going to climb it.  This is my journey and no one else’s.

This first week has not been as wildly successful as I wanted it to be, but I’m going to keep going, one day at a time, and not get distracted by anyone else!