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Finding the balance of physical and mental health through adventures and fitness

Recipe: Pumpkin and Oat Bites 

What happens when I find things in the pantry I forget I had? I start skimming through Pinterest so I can make it a fun consumable and get it out of the pantry. Today’s adventure was with a can of pumpkin puree. In the fall I always have a can on hand and I won’t lie I was surprised when I found a can today. After going through some pins, I got an idea of the basis for a protein bite or protein ball, let’s be real though, 5g of protein doesn’t make something a protein snack. It does, however, support the well rounded nutrition in a snack, but I just can’t call it a protein ball.

So with a can of pumpkin, some protein and a canister of oats I made some magic in the kitchen.

What You’ll Need

  • 120g or 1.5 cups of oats
  • 264g of canned pumpkin
  • 1 scoop of protein – I used a sample of Sun Warrior vanilla vegan protein
  • 30g of 1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 3T of Splenda
  • 2tsp of vanilla extract
  • a few dashes of cinnamon

Directions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, weigh out your oats.
  2. In the same bowl, weigh out your canned pumpkin. I added pumpkin a little at a time until the oats were sticking together.
  3. Mix in Splenda, cinnamon and vanilla extract. I added cinnamon a little at a time until I got the taste I wanted. At this point it tastes like an unsweetened pumpkin pie mix.
  4. Add in protein powder. As I’m using up the pantry, I used a sample of vegan protein powder. You can use any protein powder. A basic flavor may be best like cinnamon roll, vanilla or snickerdoodle. I don’t think there would be an issue using whey, casein or a blend. *If you find that the casein or blend protein makes the mix hard to combine, add a tablespoon or water or two.
  5. Using your hands, mix in coconut flakes.
  6. When thoroughly combined roll into a ball and divide into your preferred servings. I wanted to keep the macros under 30g of carbohydrates per serving, so I made 5 equal larger portions.
  7. After weighing out the total serving fell free to make into small pieces. Each larger portion made 4 pumpkin and oat bites.
  8. Chill to keep fresh. Because these are a no bake, minimally additive food, please keep in mine that they may mold if kept too long.

Of course before I could chill the container, JP felt the need to take one to try – a row of 4 was a serving. I put pumpkin spice peanut butter on mine, but you could have them plain or with a different nut butter. JP and I agreed they tastes like an unsweetened version of pumpkin pie. Cinnamon and vanilla was subtle, but tasty.

Macros per serving without peanut butter: 5.9F/22.4C/7.6P

I hope you enjoy!

❤ Cristina

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Take That Jump: Let’s Define: Success, Failure and Fear

Let’s define success.

We define our perfect world all the time, but is that what success actually looks like? Is that what success would feel like? Perfection?

For some, success means working out five days a week and eating on track every day. For others, it means being on time or early to everything they have scheduled. For most, it means never allowing or embracing the moments they fall short. Never allowing something to be misplaced. If a mistake is made they consider starting over and over and over until they just don’t start again.

We confuse success with perfection and we have every right to confuse the two. When we think about our goals, we see them in a perfect world scenario and we don’t want to think anything less. Society also tells us to not dream of anything less. When I speak to potential clients about their goals we talk in a perfect world scenario and as they become clients, I dive deeper. We talk about the perfect world, but I ask them what would make this week successful – is it really about checking everything off the list or is it about the attempts made? Is it about just getting out of bed on Tuesday or acknowledging when something isn’t working for them instead of just assuming they’re the failing piece of the puzzle?

I’ve worked really hard to allow myself to fall short or fail when seeking to accomplish my goals because I don’t believe it’s true failure when I can’t reach out further after exhausting myself. Failure is not  when you have to find a new route or seek a secondary solution. Failure is giving up completely. Failure is say I can’t when in reality there’s nothing stopping you, but yourself. I do think everyone has greatness in them, somewhere. I also think everyone’s greatness is different and is defined by some limitations whether physical or mental or pure lack of interest, but there’s something inside brewing. Remember greatness and limitless are two different things.

Most people I’ve talked to don’t talk about failure in this way, just like they don’t redefine success weekly or reevaluate their goals midweek when it seems a wrench has been thrown in. Many I’ve spoken with believe if they can’t accomplish the immediate task before them then they have failed. But the way I see it, they just didn’t find the right solution for them.

I define success by defining failure. I’m starting to define both by defining my fears.

I’ve been listening to a lot of TedTalks and podcasts from leadership to investigative journalism. It really depends on my mood. The TedTalks are more towards leadership and thought process. I want to watch a video and see the person’s body language; how they engage with an audience and the gestures they provide to the language they speak. Podcasts are more for running errands and hanging out around the apartment. Something to listen to casually, but not have to be glued to my television.

A recent TedTalk I watched was from Tim Ferriss called Why you should define your fears instead of your goals. We goal set to develop strategy to work towards growth, but rarely do we talk about our fears and how to overcome them in order to achieve new things, work towards the eventual goals that are being prevented from being a thought to begin with.

Ferriss shows the audience a model to evaluating and understanding your fears. After listening and then rereading the transcript it made sense. You need to start by listing your fears, so here are two of mine that I’ve been working on recently

  1. School – not being smart enough for the sciences in my program
  2. Utilizing medication over holistic approaches – the past few months have left me with chronic stress and hormonal imbalances related to anxiety

After listing them, you need to think about them long and hard, then define them. Ferriss says “you’re writing down all of the worst things you can imagine happening if you take that step”. He suggests that you should have 10 to 20 bullet points.

So let’s look at my first. School.

  1. I could fail a class
  2. If I fail a class, I would have to retake a class
  3. I would have to spend more time study than desired
  4. I’ll waste money if I’m not able to do well
  5. What if it takes longer than I have planned?
  6. What if I don’t fit in with my other classmates because of my background and previous education?
  7. What if an interest isn’t enough?
  8. What if others don’t understand why my degree is important to me?

Ok so, there’s 8, but you start to get the point.

I decided to go back to school because I don’t believe that just a certification gives someone the full understanding to help people with whatever the certification is. I think you need personal experience and a little more textbook knowledge. I have personal experience with my own health and fitness journey. I’ve tried a number of different approaches to nutrition and fitness. In my professional career, I did goal setting, strategy development and implementation in a fundraising setting, but those skills are transferable. The only thing I felt I was lacking was a formal education. I choose public health because it was well rounded from looking at the physical implications of health to psychological and social implications.

Before going back to school I contemplated the list above, but I never wrote it out. I thought about it alone, in my head. I talked it out with friends. JP and I had a number of conversations. I still talk about this list with friends even though I’m going through courses and I’m doing well because part of me is waiting for something to happen. I don’t really know what, but that’s where self doubt comes into play.

The next step is to “prevent”. Ferriss asks the audience to consider what you can do to prevent anything on the list from occurring or if not prevent, what could you do to minimize the probability.

So, school. To prevent failing I can make sure I’m studying and asking questions when I don’t understand the material. To prevent over studying and making myself feel wiped out I can look at my study habits and determine what is the best method to learn the information at hand. Every course may take a different strategy and in some cases, I might not be able to prevent over studying. I can re-evalaute my timeline periodically and check in with the academic support team to make sure that I’m on track for the timeline I have planned. Somethings are just out of my control because I can tell you now that most people ask me why I went back to school and don’t understand why I wouldn’t be satisfied with just the certification to be a personal trainer.

I want to make sure that I have a better understanding than what’s provided through the organizations that offer these certifications. There’s nothing wrong with them, but I also know that I don’t want to just provide someone with a workout plan. I want them to understand why they are executing it and I want to be able to dig a little deeper if we find that some methods don’t work. I want to find a solution for the individual, and I believe that having a more formal education will help give me a baseline to do that.

The fourth step in fear-setting, as Ferriss calls it, is to list out what you can do to “repair” if any of these do come fruition. If school takes a little longer then I just need to redetermine my timeline and understand that another degree is a lot, but worth it anyway. If I fail or do poorly in a class, I can retake it and yes, that would suck spending more money, but my prevention plan should’ve been better and this would be an opportunity to reevaluate…again.

After these steps, he asks the audience to consider the benefits of attempting to act upon these fears. He lists things like confidence, emotional growth, financial growth, etc.

Going back to school pushed me out of my comfort zone. Taking these courses is making me think in a new way and relearning how to learn material and study. The first section of anatomy and physiology started to connect the dots of the interdependence our organ systems have on each other. It reinforced what I knew about mental health and the mind – total body connection. It reinforced what I knew to be true about my own mental health and how hormone function greatly impacts more things than we ever consider. My courses on public health have pushed me to think about all parties involved and how the actions of one person have an immediate impact on their own life and the direct connections they have, but also the indirect connections they have on the world around them and visa versa. So even if I don’t get an A in every class, even though I want to strive for perfection in this case, I know that I’m still learning and challenging myself.  

Next, think about the cost of inaction. If you don’t do anything to chip away at these fears.

Honestly, if I hadn’t planned to go back to school, I wouldn’t be coaching right now. I wouldn’t be considering adding personal training to my resume and I wouldn’t be willing to connect with people in this way to support their journeys – whatever those may be.

I also wouldn’t have ever known if I can learn this way, understand this information and be able to assist people outside of sharing my journey. If I didn’t decide to go back to school and then act on that idea, I wouldn’t have been able to change career paths. Whether I go back to fundraising in a different area of the nonprofit sector or not, I’m no longer stuck on a path that was unfulfilling and causing me stress and anxiety. While there are new challenges, these challenges are less than those before.

So. moving on. Let’s think about our goals. Let’s define success and failure and be realistic with ourselves, but let’s also think about how our fears developed and what we can do to change them. We doubt ourselves a lot and when those around us place doubt on us, we continue to prevent ourselves from seeking our full potential.

Can you imagine what we could accomplish without doubt and fear?

Take That Jump: Maintenance, Routine, Shifting Focus Weekly

When I started my weight loss I never thought there would be an end to it. I thought it would take a life time to lose weight and be healthy. Last year I talked about this before my surgery. Even days after my surgery I still couldn’t believe I had accomplished the weight loss aspect of getting healthy. I couldn’t believe the turns that my journey had taken and where I ended up. There are still days that I wake up and say, “yep, this is my life.”

I’ve battled, sometimes floated, with what life is like maintaining a healthy, normal (relative to me) weight and size. Maintenance is harder than losing. It’s 100% true. I haven’t been losing weight for health since last year and I know that seems confusing for people who have started following me within the past eight months. That’s also the difference between using your body for sport and just living life and focusing on overall health.

In previous posts you can see a shift in my mindset, in my mental health. Just like in the tone of someone’s voice, there are times you can see in my writing that things were bothering me, or just weren’t going in a direction I had been anticipating – which ultimately threw me off. While I’ve been stressed from classes, it’s normal stress, it’s not stress than gave me the urge to write, so I haven’t blogged, but I’ve journaled.

The past five weeks have been tough to say the least. The idea of balance has really taken a new life form. This past week was the first week in a month and a half that I felt I truly had routine with everything and felt some kind of peace with all aspects of my life.

I have four days left of classes, then 13 days off before starting the second summer session. I decided to take anatomy and physiology this summer because they’re foundation classes for my program. I need them to take other courses and by doing them in the summer it allows me to get ahead in my program. I also decided to take nutrition this summer because I have a big interest in it from my own experiences and I felt that it would be a good class to take at the same time as an intense lab course. In the long run taking these three classes actually saves me a year of school because of timing. I have busted my ass to think differently and learn how to study differently, learn how to memorize information. I have pushed myself to the point where I’ve said to JP “I don’t think my brain can hold anymore information.” His response – “Cristina that’s not how the brain works.” Thanks babe.

The past five weeks I have gone to class Monday to Thursday from 8 am to 12 pm. On Monday and Wednesday I go to work right after class and I’m there until about 6 pm. On Fridays I work from 6 am to 1 pm. I’ve been working with nine amazing clients this past month, a few new and a few re-occurring. Professional Cristina has been in full force with appropriate pockets to study. Days are packed! But I also made sure that I had the chance to have breakfast every morning with JP before we went our separate ways and that we had dinner together most nights too. Balancing professional Cristina with my relationship made it hard for me to figure out how to keep fitness Cristina in check so that personal Cristina felt that she had alone time away from professional development and relationships.

This isn’t being selfish, this is being realistic. You can’t give all of yourself to everyone else and then expect that you have energy left to give to yourself. I told JP this.

I told him that I missed my morning workouts. Yes, I was still going on Sunday morning’s while he’s still in bed, but I did miss the work week morning lifts. I like how they started my day. So we picked a day that he could do breakfast on his own and made sense for my class and work schedule – Wednesdays. In a perfect world, I’m working out five days a week because I like how it makes me feel. Monday’s and Saturday’s are rest days because that makes sense with my schedule. I have three back and leg combo days and my friend Alicia created two upper body days for me with the idea that one could be dropped if I getting to the gym wasn’t a priority one day – and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes focusing on my nutrition becomes the focus because doing homework and study is a priority.

I tell my clients on every check in that success looks different every week. I ask them do they believe the previous week was successful when they think about their goals that were initially set and what the outcomes were. I ask them what will make this upcoming week successful. If the goal is to get to the gym five days in the upcoming week, will four days still make them feel accomplished? If they reevaluated goals in the middle of the week after realizing they may have taken on too much, is that success – allowing yourself to reevaluate and not feel defeated? Is success partly looking at what you have accomplished and understanding why other things weren’t done and maybe continuing to work on them each week instead of setting a hard deadline?

A YouTuber I watch often made a video about this over the past week and it had me saying yes, over and over again. Success is different for everyone and it will even look different for you each week.

Finding a new routine took a lot of effort and is still taking a lot of effort to ensure that I feel like I’m doing everything I want to, everything I need to and that I still have time to breathe. But like I do with my clients, I ask myself what good still happened this week, what was I able to get done.

This week – I got four lifts done (skipping today as a rest day). I got a 98% on my quiz in A&P. I got a 94% on my exam in nutrition. I had date night with my boyfriend and ate the most ridiculous of ice cream sundaes. My lifts felt better than they have in weeks. I wore a crop top and wasn’t self-conscious about it. I gave myself a break from studying for two nights so I could relax and be strategically spontaneous.

Maintenance is hard, but to me it’s not necessarily about the scale or the tape meaure. Finding a new routine is hard. Shifting focus is hard. It’s through what challenges us that makes us better. The qualitative goals challenge us more than those that are quantifiable and they should. It’s like oxygen, we know it’s there because we’re breathing, but mostly we’re trusting that it doesn’t run out and leave us gasping. We have to gauge our progress in our qualitative goals based on feeling and we have to trust ourselves that we’re doing everything we can.

I am doing everything I can. I feel pretty good about the future.

❤ Cristina

Recipe: Banana Peanut Butter French Toast

We’ve been having a little fun with some food, while being mindful to not be too big of assholes. I still enjoy eating healthy, but we’re being a little more flexible with our breakfasts and making them a little bigger…especially on lab days where I can’t bring food into the room because #dissection.

What You’ll Need

  • Bread – your choice, I used Pepperidge Farm Cinnamon Raisin
  • Egg whites
  • Peanut Butter – your choice, I used Jif
  • Half a banana
  • medium sized skillet

Directions

  1. On both sides of the bread spread your peanut butter. I used a full serving for my sandwich so I divided it evenly on both sides. I know someone is thinking, but the fat! Yes, I know, but trust me it’s worth it.
  2. Slice your banana into pieces about a centimeter thick. I used about half a banana for my toast – so a whole banana for both our sandwiches.
  3. Put slices onto one side of the bread and close with the other side. Yep, directions for a 5-year-old. This is where the full serving of peanut butter becomes more than tasty and is useful. It holds the sandwich together because bananas are slippery.
  4. Preheat skillet so it’s hot for when you place your sandwich on it.
  5. Place your sandwich in a shallow bowl and pour egg whites over. We eat half a cup of egg whites regularly, so I measured a half cup and poured that over. By pouring the egg whites over the sandwich you ensure that it gets covered and is less likely to fall apart.
  6. Immediately after covering your sandwich in egg whites, bring it over to your skillet and cook for one to two minutes before flipping. You may need to use your hand to hold the sandwich together during flipping just because it’s heavy.
  7. If you feel that it needs a little more cooking time that’s completely fine, bread thickness and amount of egg white absorbed will change cooking time slightly.

 

The macros for my sandwich and toppings – left over egg whites not used on sandwich eaten on the side – were: 11F/48.5C/20P

All the items I used to make my sandwich were found at my local grocery store. They’re not fancy and in many cases people view them as bad foods. I’ll preach moderation because it’s true.

I’m interested to know if you try different nut butters and breads and how your sandwich turns out. If you make this, send me an email and let me know how it was!

❤ Cristina

 

 

Take That Jump: Some relationships are finite

I had a realization on Wednesday and it’s a big one. It’s one I wish I had sooner.

I like my body a lot more now that I’m not sharing it with 35,000 people.

I enjoy sharing my story, I think it can show others that great things are possible. That small things are possible. That you can make a goal, you make many goals, you can work towards them and in time, you will be successful. I think for a period of time sharing my body – the good, the bad, the in between made sense. I started blogging to stay accountable. As my focus in life changed and what was important changed, the parts of my day I shared on Instagram also changed. I have only ever had one account. It was my personal account and I shared things that were important to me.

My boyfriend. My lifting. Cupcakes. Doughnuts. School. Travel. Bella and Hippo.

I shared my surgery. I shared competing. I connected with a TON of people. At one point sharing my journey this way helpful and necessary.

But Wednesday while I was sitting in class, I had to adjust my jeans because they’re too big. I noticed I didn’t mind how it felt sitting in the chair. My stomach was still flat even though I’m a few pounds heavier. My clothes still fit pretty much the same as they did before. I noticed that I wasn’t self-aware of my breathing and how I looked in the chair.

After work I called Alicia and I told her about my realization. Her response – “I’m proud of you”.

I’m down 1.5 pounds since I deactivated my account and that tells me that even when I didn’t believe social media was impacting me, it was. My stress has been on the floor. Sleep is good. Food is good. Water is good. Classes are going really well. There really hasn’t been much change other than my appetite is normalized and I don’t feel anxious when I reach for my phone. I’m also reaching for it less.

I like my body a lot more because I’m not absorbing other opinions. I’m not absorbing backhanded comments. If I like my hair then I know I like my hair and that’s the end of the story. Sharing my transformations, and there will be one below, allowed me to share what can physically manifest if you put in the effort. Many times it was a reminder for myself that I’m not and never will be old Cristina. That photo down there is a person I will never be again and I know that. So I’ll share every now and then because sometimes I need a reminder, but I don’t need one like I used to.

Like all relationships, there’s a purpose and sometimes that purpose is finite. It just took stepping back to realize it. 

❤ Cristina 

Halloween costume found while cleaning out boxes

Take That Jump: This is the start of something good 

“I can do this, I don’t know why 4 weeks ago, 8 weeks ago I didn’t, but now I can.”

That’s what a client said to me a few weeks ago during a check in. That was our last check in for the “structured” part of our coaching-client relationship. 

So if, she can face her goals and fear head on, so can I. 

This is my new blog series. I’m going way back to basics. I haven’t been myself and those who know me know this too. They know that while I tried to overcome the negativity that continued after my first show of the season, it continued to eat at me. It doesn’t matter how many times I say people are bored and that’s why they’re mean and say the shit they do, I still try to wrap my head around that behavior. 

It’s not about ignoring comments or who’s winning the battle or war, it’s that this shouldn’t have been happening to begin with. So now, I’m going back to where I started. I’m going back to writing. If you want to keep up with my journey, I’m going to force you to follow me the way I want you to. I’m going to make you read it. Yep, instagram is deactivated until further notice. It’s not going to be a daily adventure, even though I enjoyed taking you through my day. It’s going to be a collective post of my week – what was good or bad, exciting for me. 

I’ll get back to posting recipes too.

Asking you to join me on my journey, whatever that journey is, is a privilege and a lot of people abused it. FUCK THAT. 

This is my life. My journey. My story. 

I will tell it and share it how I want to. So I hope you like reading because I miss writing like I used. It took me a few weeks to write the first post in this series because I was scared I would get emails tearing me down, but you know what, I didn’t write and I still got emails. I got emails about my physical appearance, emails calling me a fraud for coaching, I got emails and messages about my relationship – saying they felt terrible for JP because he was “stuck” with me, emails telling me I’m a terrible representation of bodybuilding, messages saying I got fat – I’m sorry I’m not stage lean year round? The list goes on. My behavior doesn’t change the behavior of those who are choosing to be negative towards me. If I ignored them, they come my way and if I acknowledge them I’m told that I’m asking for it. yeah, ok, that makes sense. 

I’ve had this conversation with friends before – do we really think they’ll stop once I have my degree? Do we really think they’ll stop once I obtain my personal training certifications? Hell no! Because there will always be something they will comment about, something they will always pick at.

Take that jump is going to be about the risks I’m taking this part of my journey. The risks I’m taking with JP. It’s about the next part of the journey, whatever that path looks like. It’s about setting new and different goals, and diving in head first. 

If you’re reading I hope it’s because you actually want to be here and if you’re reading because you can’t look away from this car crash all I can say is…

I can’t believe I was scared of disconnecting. I think I felt that it would ruin coaching or my ability to connect to others on their journey, but there’s always a way to connect. We did so before social media platforms came around and I have no issue doing it differently now. 

You want to know about my day? It was uneventful, but I got 6 hours of studying and homework done. Everything for my nutrition class is finished for the first week including two quizzes, so now I can focus on studying for my exam and quiz this week in A and P. I like why I’m learning, it makes sense. Some I already knew and obviously a lot I didn’t. 

I’m going to make mistakes, but with 5 weeks left of these classes I hope it’s minimal. 

I took a break to eat because of course I did. Here’s a shot of my mid-morning snack: chocolate protein cauli-oats. Solid use of mini chocolate chips. 

We’re going to lay down for a bit before figuring out dinner plans. I think we’re leaning towards scallops, but haven’t committed to anything yet. 

I hope you have a great Saturday night, and take the jump with me. 

❤ Cristina 

This Above All: I Did This

5 shows. 4 suits. 3 seasons. 2 pairs of heels. 1 goal. just be better.

Just getting healthy means hours in the gym. As a competitor hours in the gym are strategic and meticulously planned. I’ve lifted millions of pounds since June 2014. I’ve also lost 50 pounds. I’ve consumed more asparagus than any normal person should and my tolerance for water consumption could make a lake run dry.

I did this.

I started competing because I needed a challenge. I needed something to push me and make me go out of my comfort zone. I needed something new. I needed something to help me find myself.

It seems that whenever I find myself needing to find myself I pick up something different. A few months ago I talked about how through this sport I did just that and I feel ready to move on. It’s sad and exciting at the same time, but I’ll get into that a little later.

On and off because even when there’s not a show in view, you’re revolving around the sport, I have been dedicated to figuring out what will shape my body, fuel my body and drive me mentally. It’s not about staying stage lean all the time, but the eating habits, the workout habits – they stay with you all the time. When you’ve been tracking your macro nutrients for as long as I have you can cut something in half perfectly and gauge 4 ounces of chicken just by looking at it. It takes time to get there, and while I won’t be as strict with tracking now that I’m not competing, I think it’s beneficial for everyone to track in some way for a period of time.

This season meant everything. I wanted to do shows I had never done before. I wanted to push myself. I wanted to get as close to placing in the top 10 as possible. I wanted to get close to a national bid.

I did two shows that were smaller than the Boston shows I had done in the past. I knew they were smaller, but my classes were smaller than last year. I was still excited, but I didn’t know what to expect. In Connecticut, the day flew by and I felt like it didn’t happen. I had 6 women in one class and 7 in another. I placed 4th in both my classes and that was the best physique this season.

Vermont was a few weeks later and I had 6 women in my class, but there was only a 3 point difference between me and the 5th place woman. Everyone looked amazing and I knew going into Vermont my head wasn’t fully in the game. There had been a lot negativity after the Connecticut show online from trolls and it had me questioning myself and why I compete. It had my anxiety amped up. My eating wasn’t perfect and there were days I didn’t workout because I believe if your head fully isn’t in it you’re more likely to hurt yourself. I know some people believe you should push through it, but you know what – what’s going to piss you off more: having a shitty workout and hurting yourself or skipping the gym?

I was up a few pounds and I was okay with that.

The week leading into the Cutler Classic was a cluster fuck to say the least. There are things that were positive like finishing two exams with mid-level B’s, getting an A on my final paper and supporting my own clients. However, there are things that didn’t go according to plan like staying on track with peak week or getting into the gym. I chose to focus my time on things that weren’t optional because those things felt more controllable. I was having panic attacks every day after being attacked by relentless trolls that thought digging online and creating multiple accounts was a solid way to spend their time. I know, ignore the trolls, but it was more than saying I’m ugly or fat or shouldn’t compete. If you’re new around here I’m sure you’re confused and that’s fine, but if you’re not, then you understand that there’s a line between trolling and stalking and harassment. It got into my head and I found myself binging because that settled my anxiety. I had insomnia at the beginning of the week and lost my appetite at random. It was one extreme or the other.

I’ve said it before and so have other competitors – it’s not necessarily prep that’s hard, it’s the things outside of prep that impact you. When my anxiety is bad, it’s bad. It’s not just one attack and done. I had multiple attacks in a row and I had some while in classes. Thankfully, I’m overly open and my professors know I have PTSD and anxiety so when I needed to step out they knew to not ask what was going on, they just let me remove myself, calm down and re-engage as able.

From Connecticut to Boston, in 4 weeks, more like in 2 weeks, I was up between 7-10 pounds. Essentially the weight I had lost, but as of this morning I’m down a pound, so I know there are a lot of factors impacting true weight and added retention such as hormones released during stressful situations – they prevent other processes from occurring, sodium and water intake – water was definitely not where it should’ve been the past week or a so and that means that if I was consuming more sodium I’m retaining some water too. Sleep impacts stress, which releases more hormones and then finally, yep, binging, those calories count. But you know what, I’m not truly mad about it.

JP sat in bed with me and ate a pint of ice cream with me. He asked what was wrong because he knows the behavior is different than normal. I gave him a look and he said “I know, so do you want me to tell you to stop or should I just let you do what you need to?” I tell my clients this: sometimes you need to ask yourself is this going to help right now, am I’m going to feel guilty about this or can I do something else to solve the problem. In a few of those moments: movies, puzzles, a walk, a nap, a cup of tea, texting a friend – weren’t enough. So yeah, the pint of ice cream in the moment – completely necessary.

Am I comfortable, not quite. I would like to be around 129ish. That’s comfortable, so really that’s only 3-4 pounds.

Any who…

So the last show of the last season:  Jay Cutler Classic.

At the Jay Cutler Classic someone said backstage “you compete in Boston to be competitive, you compete at a small show to get the trophy.” That couldn’t be more true. You will never see more hard working and lean bodies in one area than at a competition in Boston. You will never feel more drive and determination than in those halls, those rooms, by the vanity mirror.

Many compete for the trophy, but when you’re in Boston and there’s 35 just in one height class – you know it’s cut throat. Everyone is nervous. No one knows if they should do their routine every time they hit the stage or just the first. No one knows what the judges look for and when there’s a lot of abs and well shaped glutes around, it’s hard to say what will make someone stand out.

The guy on the stage lining us up apologized that when he pictured our line up in his head, it worked, but he had never seen so many people in a height class.

You compete in Boston because the energy is exciting and if anything you showed up and stayed for finals.

Bodybuilding is an individual sport where individuals can support each other, lift each other up, drop jaws at shared stories. It’s ok to be selfish, want to be the best and want the trophy, but it breaks my heart that there are competitors who think it’s a waste of time to stay for the night show when they don’t think they’re going to place. I think that speaks volumes.

Side note – they rejudged my 35 person height class at the night show… there were a number of people that didn’t show up and had been called for first and second call outs that weren’t called in prejudging – that’s their loss.

I found myself in my first season and it lead me to JP. I showed myself that I could learn something new in lifting. I coached myself and read everything I could and dabbled with a bunch of different things. I started macro counting and now I have it down to a science. I wasn’t super comfortable eating out at first, but that summer I learned how to balance what I needed to be fueled with what I wanted as a treat. sprinkles on everything please. I experimented a lot in the kitchen and discovered a lot of new foods that I had refused to try prior…like fish. I reminded myself that if I put in the hard work and am willing to go out of my comfort zone good things will come.

In my second season, I learned to trust someone else. I did use a coach and for prep it was fine. Then it wasn’t. Nonetheless, the experience taught me that you need to be able to let others guide you, but you also need to question directions so you can have understanding. You should always know why you’re doing what you’re doing. I also learned that I didn’t have to live uncomfortably in my skin. I know this one is common sense, but at the same time it’s not. In March of my second season, I had my body fat tested and I learned that I was hovering around 16% body fat. That was a lot lower than I thought it was and it meant that parts of my body I thought were fat, were actually skin. I met with my primary care doctor and asked for names of private practice plastic surgeons so I could start the conversation of excess skin removal. I qualified for a lower body lift and tummy tuck, but after talking about my fitness lifestyle, my surgeon and I decided that just a tummy tuck to remove almost 2 pounds of skin was enough.

While it’s a struggle sometimes to see myself in this body, it was harder to hold my stomach in my hands. It was harder to be aware of my body when I was naked or running or trying to buy clothes. Wearing a size 0 and also wearing Spanx was ridiculous.

This season I learned that you never know who is going to show up, but as long as you do and you give it your all, that’s what matters. I have received a lot of love this season. I have received a lot of hate. Because I like saying this so much… I’ve said it before, I am a normal person with extraordinary hobbies. I finally can admit that I want to show other normal people that they can do extraordinary things. You can dream big and it’s not a joke. You may need a little more time, but even in a competition setting – you determine how long you will give yourself to be ready, it’s not a race.

Thinking back on April, as a whole, it was still really good. It wasn’t in good in ways I expected, but it showed me that growth is measured in many ways.

I’m currently sick in bed, and I’m getting read for finals.

I’m excited about summer classes. I’m taking anatomy and physiology as well as nutrition this summer. I’m excited about the work I’m doing with my clients. I’m starting a new lifting program – you can find it here. I want to hit a new PR with my deadlift, I can do better than 155. I’m going to do some running this summer, maybe a few 5Ks. I think I’m going to really dig into my Pinterest account too – we want to make ravioli from scratch.

I do have a plan and since Sunday, it’s been fine. I know that’s only a few days, but hey, you need to start somewhere. I’m leveling my nutritional goals out so that they are just above what my prep macros were. Just because I was eating like an asshole doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have some structure to get control back. Prep macros were 50F/145-155C/130P. First step – 50F/177C/125P. We’ll see how these go for the next week or two then increase. Like I said, I would like to lose a couple pounds that I gained back and compared to my activity levels this is still a cut, just slower. Being comfortable isn’t going to be a race.

This isn’t an off-season. It’s the rest of my life. It’s re-learning my body. Figuring out balance in a life setting that doesn’t include competitions. I think that’s a pretty good challenge.

❤ Cristina