Trying to find balance after competing takes time, and at times it feels like I will never feel like a normal person when it comes to exercising, eating, and how I think I look. At the end of the last competition prep I did I was doing six hours of cardio a week, five weight training sessions, and my carb intake consisted of 1/4 cup of oatmeal day. Sure following this got me lean, but it also had long-term ramifications. For example in the back of the my mind I think that in order to ever get any leaner than I am right now I would have to be super strict with my diet and follow that type of diet protocol while doing an hour of cardio a day six days a week.
I’m currently going through a phase where I feel like I’m huge, even though all my clothes still fit and this makes me at times feel like I eat too much, but when I track my food, I’m not eating nearly as much as I should be for doing the amount of activity of I do. If I’m running four days a week (30-40 km) and doing four to five Crossfit classes I need to eat, healthy nutritious foods in adequate amounts to fuel for those activities and keep my body healthy.
The thing I dislike most is how I worked with a trainer who promotes their team as all healthy, natural and doesn’t do excessive cardio, or cut carbs too much, but what do you call what I did? I think 1/4 cup of oatmeal and six hours of cardio is a little on the extreme side.
Now I’m focusing on loving my body the way it is. Because truthfully I’m lucky to have the body I do. It’s strong and healthy and allows me to do so many things that I should be grateful for and second of all there’s way more to me than the size of clothes I wear.
It’s just about been two years since I have stepped on stage and to be honest I don’t miss competing or contest prep. Yes, I liked how lean I got and how I looked when I was getting close to a show, but there’s so much I don’t miss. I don’t miss weighing and measuring all my food, I don’t miss the six hours of cardio I was doing a week, and I don’t miss feeling like the gym was a job and if I missed a single workout it would be the end of the world.
In the past couple of years I’ve gotten myself back to the point where working out is fun and I enjoy going to the gym. For about six to nine months after my last show the drive just wasn’t there. I would go, but I didn’t push as hard and it felt like I had to be there because it was good for me and would keep me from getting fat after competing.
Now I’m at a point where I no longer weigh or measure my food and I no longer weigh myself on a daily basis. I threw out my bathroom scale and kitchen scale and now focus on making healthy choices when I eat and eating foods that fuel my body for the workouts I’m doing now. And you know what, I look fine, I feel much better about myself, and I’m living life.
Right now my workouts consist of running four days a week and doing Crossfit four to five days a week and I love it. Crossfit appeals to the competitive side of me and I’m always pushing when I go to classes and striving to get better. I’ve also gotten a lot stronger since I’ve started doing Crosfit. I can now do four unassisted dead hang pull ups in a row and when I started my deadlift one rep max was 205 and now my 3 rep max is 230. That’s a big increase in five months. Doing Crossfit has also made me a better runner.
For the rest of this year my goals are to achieve a new 5km personal best, my previous is 21:49, I would also like to achieve a new 10km personal best, my previous is around 48 mins. I will also run two to three half marathons. As for Crossfit goals I want to be able to do 10 unbroken kipping pull-ups, learn chest to bar pull ups, do 50 unbroken double unders, and improve on all my skills. My plan for next year is to do the Crossfit open. This year I didn’t feel like I was ready to, so I’ll spend the next year preparing so I do it in 2014.
I was going to end this blog and only write over at my new blog www.runcarmenrun.com, but after a great deal of thought I changed my mind. I changed my mind because I think lots of women who decide to compete in figure or bikini don’t do it for the right reasons, or don’t realize the long-term possible implications of competing. It has been 15 months since I have stepped on stage and I have come a long way since then and want to keep writing here to share some of the mind games I went through after competing and what I’m doing now and how I went back to a so-called normal life and eating like a normal person and not struggling with food or body image issues.
After I finished my shows last year I really wanted to stay smaller afterwards and not go back up to sitting at 160-165 pounds which tended to be my off-season weight (or now that I was no longer competing the size I would be the rest of my life). As anyone who competes knows, preparing for a show involves weighing and measuring every single thing you eat and not missing a single one of your weekly workouts (I was doing 6 days of cardio and 5 days of weight training a week). After my last show last year I took a week off dieting and training, after the week was over I went back to following a training and nutrition plan. I managed to stay at about 155 (I competed at 142) until mid-September and then I slowly made my way back up to 159. At that point in time I thought the only way I could control how I looked off-season was to continue to work with a trainer and follow a training and nutrition program perfectly. So I contacted a trainer, got on his waiting list and was set to start with my new program at the beginning of January.
January came around, I got my new program and was ready to follow it. I followed it perfectly for four weeks and dropped weight and inches. At six weeks into it I went on a vacation and didn’t follow the diet for that week. My thinking was I was going to enjoy the week and eat whatever (and since I had been following a plan prior I went overboard with me eating because my mindset was this is my only chance to eat the junk food so I should get in as much as I can because once I’m back home I’ll follow my plan perfectly once again). This is where the problem is for me with following a strict plan. I can do it for a while and do it well, but during that time I think too much about the foods I can’t have and when I would finally break down and have them I would over do it. This led me into a cycle of dieting, then overeating for a time period, gaining the weight back and then doing it all over again. I continued to follow the program until the end of March, but wasn’t doing as well as I could have. I was turning cheat meals into cheat days and completely overeating one day of the week, so therefore I was working hard, but not seeing results.
At the beginning of April I quit working with the trainer and decided I needed a break. For the month of April I did 4-5 yoga classes a week and maybe 1-2 spin classes a week and quit weighing my food. At the end of the month I felt much better about myself and was really happy I gave my mind and body a break. In May I started running again (see my running history) and in June I finally said goodbye to the food scale and quit weighing and measuring my food.
Over the summer I made my own weight training workouts that were focused on making me stronger for waterskiing and running, and I ran a fair amount because I was training for a half-marathon. Food wise I focused on eating the healthy, nutritious foods I needed to fuel my body (I’ll talk more about this in another post). Low and behold for the first time in year my weight magically dropped and I kept getting smaller without trying and everyone kept telling me this is the best I’ve looked in a long time. Now I’m sitting at 155 and that’s where my weight is staying (it’s been the same since August) and I’m happy with how I look. For the first time in years I’m going shopping and buying clothes, without thinking that I should wait until I dropped 5 pounds to buy something because it would look better if I was smaller.
Over the past few months I’ve also had little things that happened that were a big deal to me because of how I dealt with things in the past. For example I went out with friends on a Wednesday to a restaurant. I ate my meal, had a glass of sangria and that was it. I went home afterwards and didn’t over think it. In the past when I had the dieting mentality my thought process around the night out would have been – I didn’t eat perfect today, so now I might as well and go and eat some other junk food because I’ll follow my diet perfectly starting tomorrow. I’m so happy I’m finally over that mindset. Now I eat healthy 90% of the time and if I really want to eat a meal out or enjoy a treat now and then, I do it with out over thinking it, or feeling guilty for not following my diet perfectly.
Well, that’s it. I’m no longer figure competitor Carmen. Looking back on competing I’m glad I did it, I met some great people through it, it taught me a lot about myself and really showed me I can accomplish any goal I put my mind to.
So, you may be wondering what’s in store for me next. For the past two months I’ve gotten back into running and I’m really enjoying it. I don’t feel like I’m doing cardio like I did when I was dieting down. I’m back to the place where going for a run is my me time if I’m running alone, or chat time if I’m running with a partner.
What got me back into it was so simple. It started with a Facebook post by a friend. She had just run a set of stairs in the city where we live. I used to run those once a week when I was training for races in the past. They are killer, but effective. I commented on her status telling her to let me know the next time she was going so I could tag along. And that was it. I went and was reminded of how much I liked it, and missed it.
But, I won’t lie, getting started again and rebuilding my base sucked and was disheartening at times. From August 2011 to the end of April 2012 I did maybe 60 minutes of cardio a week and some weeks I did none. Taking that break was the best thing I could have done for my body, considering how beat down it was from competing, but it was hard going from incredible conditioning back to nothing. I found this picture in my phone from when I was dieting last year. I decided to do running intervals on the treadmill one day after getting sick of the elliptical and look at what I pulled off.
Fast forward to April 2012, it took me 60 minutes to run my first 10km run of the season, which isn’t bad, but is 10 minutes slower than that previous time. I ran my second in 55 minutes and it was HARD. I had to keep reminding myself it would come, I would get my base back and be back to running fast. Well finally in the past couple of weeks my base has come back and I’m feeling awesome on long runs and shorter tempo runs.
Since I’m very goal-orientated, shortly after going to back running I set a goal for myself, which I’ll elaborate on next post J
Since, I’m no longer figure competitor Carmen I’ve created a new blog to share my upcoming journey.
So much has changed since my last update. I quit working with the trainer I had hired, took a month off weight training and cut down my meals from six a day to three larger ones.
In the first week of April I decided what I was doing wasn’t working for me. I wasn’t dieting for a show, so why was I being so strict about measuring/weighing every single piece of food I was eating. It was driving me crazy. From my perspective I think I should be able to eat all the vegetables I want in a day without measuring them. Like come on. I doubt I’ll gain weight if I eat unlimited lettuce, spinach, green beans, cucumbers, peppers and sugar snap peas. And second there are only so many vegetables I can eat in a day without feeling gross.
Same thing with fruit. If I’m out at an event and eat a couple of pieces of fruit and some veggies I shouldn’t feel like oh I messed up my diet, so now I better eat a whole bunch of junk because I messed it up anyways so I might as well eat some of the other foods I’m not allowed to have and then overeat and tell myself as of tomorrow I’ll be back to following my diet perfectly and getting in all my workouts. That’s no way to live.
After doing a lot of soul searching, I decided that was it. No more stressing out about food. As long as I eat the healthy nutritious foods my body needs, I’ll be fine. I know enough about nutrition and how my body reacts to things that I’m fully of capable of doing my own thing. I don’t need someone else to tell me what to eat.
As part of my process I wanted to get over wanting the “forbidden” foods that had seemed so tempting while strictly following a plan. So for the first week of April I decided I would have a treat every single day that week. These included frozen yogurt, cupcakes, cosmic cookies from Planet Organic and Booster Juice smoothies. With having a treat every day I didn’t feel the need to overdo it. I had my treat and that was it. By the end of the week I was over it. Sugary foods aren’t that amazing and I truly do feel better when I eat healthy.
After my week of treats the next phase was to eliminate weight training for a month and do three to four yoga classes a week. I went to a local yoga studio and bought a month unlimited pass so I was obligated to go. For the rest of the month I did my yoga classes and two spin classes a week. Spin is an hour long, but I only wanted to do 30 minutes so I would leave each class halfway through. I kind of felt like a jerk, but I just didn’t want to do that much cardio. For the month of April I also didn’t weigh/measure my food for the most part. The only thing I measured was oats and peanut butter because those are easy to overdo.
Low and behold at the end of the month I hadn’t gained any weight and was at the same place body wise I was at the start. Go figure. And my body felt the best it has in a couple years from all the yoga classes. And the biggest thing of all was I was way happier. By having three bigger meals I actually felt satisfied after eating. That was the biggest problem for me with six, I always felt kind of hungry and never satisfied, which would lead to me pigging out on junk. By changing things up I no longer felt like this.
I’m back and it’s time for me to start blogging on a regular basis once again. This year will be a little different then the past two since I’m not dieting down for any shows this year because I really want to focus on some other areas in my life. Even though I’m not dieting for a show, I’m still following a nutrition and workout plan. I started following my new plan on January 3 and have been really happy with how well my body has been responding so far, which has been really exciting because the plan is really different than any of the others I followed in the past. The biggest change with this plan is I’m eating a lot more carbs, and I’m doing a lot less cardio.
It is a little different being really strict about following a plan when I’m not dieting for a show. When I’m getting ready for a show the end goal is always top of mind, but now I don’t have that, which makes it a little easier to play the mind games with myself, where some days I question why I’m so strict, and rigid with my eating and training. The bottom line is I feel better when I eat clean and train hard. The hardest part for me are the days where I feel hungry all day long and just want to eat enough to feel full, but feeling hungry sometimes is something that comes along with getting leaner. My body is in a deficit and doesn’t like being there, so it wants me to eat more. Simple as that. But if I want to reach the leaness I want, I need to find a way to deal with that in a positive manner.
I chose to pursue a goal that is a little harder to achieve and to reach, which means I have to make some sacrifices along the way and work a little harder.
Wow, it’s been way too long since I’ve posted in here. I was
really busy over the past couple months and put writing to the side, but now
that everything has been getting back under control it’s time to start writing
I was doing great with training until September, then I hit
a rut where I didn’t feel like going to the gym (strange, I know) so I spent a
month slacking off and going maybe two to three times a week. I think that rut
was due to some stuff I had going on in my life that completely drained me
emotionally and mentally and that led to me slacking off. Thankfully that’s all dealt with now and is a
thing of the past. I finally started
getting back into the groove a couple weeks ago and I feel 100 times better.
I’m also hiring a new trainer to do my diet and workout
program and can’t wait to get started. I thought I was going to have to wait
until mid-January, but I completely lucked out and get to start this month and
I can’t wait. I’ll have a good five to
six weeks before Christmas to bust my butt and I can’t wait to see how my body
changes with my new program. It will be different then the programs I have
followed before. I was looking for something more sustainable than what I was
doing in the past and that’s why I chose the trainer I did. The previous
trainer had me eating a total of a ¼ cup of starchy carbs a day for at least
four weeks while doing six hours of cardio a week, in addition to five weight
training sessions a week. Now that I’ve taken a step back I realize that’s just
stupidity. Yes, I have to eat clean to lose weight, and yes, I have to be
consistent and disciplined with my training to get ready for a show, but I
think there’s a point where going to that extreme is going to hurt my body in the
end. Don’t get me wrong, I know dieting down for a competition is “extreme”,
but I want to do it in the healthiest way possible.
I also want to work with a trainer who is going to be
straight up with me. I did everything my last trainer said to do as I was
dieting down and I wasn’t nearly lean enough. I would rather have a trainer who
says you’re not ready vs. one who says I look great the whole time, when in
reality I’m not at the point I should be. I can’t wait to start this new journey. My
game plan is to spend the next six to 12 months in off-season mode and once I
hit that point in time I may (will most likely) consider