This Above All: “Don’t Forget to Come Up for Air”

I know I’m not alone in feeling that some days I’m just keeping my head above water. I’ve said it before, and I’m gonna say it now too, every day is what you make of it. If you have an outlook that it’s going to be a good day the chances are a lot higher that that’s going to be true. The same goes for negative thoughts going into a new day as well. I make lists to keep me organized and to give me some sense of control. I’m the kind of person that needs to see things being checked off as they happen. I’m not unique in this way, they call those people Type A.

I keep a handwritten calendar and a digital calendar just so I always have a place to write things down at all times. My handwritten calendar is at home and sits on my desk or in bed with me while I do homework or client check-ins. I keep a notebook on me at all times so I can jot down ideas as they come and go, mostly for stress relief, but sometimes just to write something that I’m thinking about. I blog because writing helps get everything out of my head and onto a screen so that I can reread it and make sure that I’m able to make some sense of it.

But through my lists, calendars and words sometimes it’s seems like I’m just going through the motions. Sometimes I feel like there’s a current pushing against me and pulling me down. And sometimes it’s in my head. I tell my clients it’s about stepping back and saying “no one is making you do all of these things. These are things that you want for yourself, for the long term, to better your opportunities.” And sometimes I remind them that it’s it’s OK to sink to the bottom and look around before bobbing right back up to the top.

Today I’m reminding myself of this. I just need to make sure that I get a big gulp of air just in case I sink down again.
Two weeks ago I was given my work schedule and I was booked for full-time hours. I wasn’t hired to be full-time, that’s not part of the plan. I’m going to school full-time and I’m coaching at what I consider to be a full-time caseload.  Working a retail job full-time was never part of the plan. I pointed this out to my manager and he told me that he felt bad because he knew I wasn’t making a lot. I told him I never approached him about getting more hours so he should’ve never assumed that this would’ve been OK – he needs to ask me before adding this many hours to my plate. I told him that I would try to handle it because I didn’t want to put him in a position since the schedule was already made, but the sinking feeling has been happening on and off. For those who don’t work retail – part-time is about 20 to 30 hours, but I was supposed to be scheduled for about 25-27; full-time is 30 to 40. The past two weeks I’ve been booked for 36ish hours, not including breaks.

I’ve got a lot going on, I like it that way, but after being on leave for so long it’s an adjustment being this busy again. I’ve been steadily chipping away at my lists and making sure I can check things off, but as each day passes and to-dos are completed, more are added to the list. Because I recognize that I was going to become overwhelmed, I decided to not take on 12 clients this month. I had a few clients tell me that they wanted to take charge and go on their own, something that I definitely encourage. It’s an opportunity for them to take with they’ve learned and apply it on their own terms, but there’s also allowed me to downsize slightly. For me this meant instead of 12 I took on eight individuals. That’s a manageable number, some of them are reoccurring and some of them are new, which means they’re on different check-in schedules.

Today started as an amazing day and I’m going to try to finish it that way, but right now as I’m writing this I’m frustrated. I’m stalled in one of my papers, and struggling to get the words out. The other paper I have no issue with and the outline itself is about the length of the paper supposed to be. But – I have a few chapters of reading I need to get done too and discussions. Just because there’s a paper to write doesn’t mean that the rest of the work is paused.

I was supposed to have therapy today, but since we went to an every other week schedule, he took me out completely. I need to send him an email to reschedule, but I also need to look at my calendar and see when I have time. Sadly I fear that I won’t have time for at least two weeks because of class and my outside-of-the-house job. I had some things I wanted to talk to him about – classes and work, personal things like prep and JP. I talk to JP and I talk to friends, but being in therapy is different.

I just wanted the break from everything. I love the gym because it gives me a place to release energy, but that doesn’t mean I have the chance to get thoughts out of my head – that’s what therapy and writing are for.

Right now, I don’t want to go to work because when I finish posting this I’m going to be highlighting through journal articles for my paper, which has had to evolve into something more broad due to lack of accessible research. I can think of all the other things I need and want to get done. I’m working on dividing my list: things that NEED to get done and things I WANT to get done. Ultimately, I WANT to get the dishes cleaned and out of the sink, but that can wait until tomorrow. I’m sure some of you could argue that I didn’t NEED to go to the gym, but ultimately – I did, that’s part of the plan. I did cut off two exercises for timing and went as hard as I could with what was on the agenda.

So the plan for the rest of the day is to at least pretend to breathe, make a cup of tea, knock out at least another paragraph of my paper, set a timer to work on client work and head off to work for the night. I’m bringing a text book to work tonight to read at least a chapter and check that off the list.

I have two more shifts this week and I have Friday off from my out-of-the-house job, which will give me time for writing my papers and client work. If I can just make it through this week, I will be gold.

On a positive note, even with this frustration I don’t feel anywhere near as stressed as I did months ago. That’s still something.

❤ Cristina

Advertisements

This Above All: Pull Happiness From Everywhere

This week my manager and I were talking about my weightloss journey. He’s bulking and I’m cutting again. There’s also another employee who’s cutting for figure. We work at a supplement store so I assumed it would be common practice for the employees to be this way.

I showed him a transformation photo. Actually, I showed him this one.

He looked at it and then looked away. Then he asked to look at it again. He said it didn’t look like me, and I agree. I think there’s features that you can see of my current face in my old face. But it’s not me anymore. I’ve talked a lot about the mental growth that you can’t see in the photos that we all share. I’ve talked about the struggles that you can’t see either.

For me, this whole journey was about re-gaining confidence and pushing myself to new limits. Not only telling myself I can accomplish great things, but then actually following through. It was about proving myself wrong because more importantly this is for me and no one else. Taking risks and  learning a lot of new things along the way. I’ve told you this before. This isn’t anything new. This is what the journey is about.

But I guess something that we’ve never really talked about is happiness. We’ve talked about how goals evolve and how methods need to be flexible to support new and evolving goals, but what about happiness. What does happiness look like at different stages?

My manager kind of asked about this. He said you’re smiling in the photo, didn’t you know you were that big. Had this been someone online, I would’ve been pissed because that’s such an odd thing to say. But since there was some context to our conversation, I just explained – it was the Senior Ball during Senior Week in college and it was a lot of fun, I was still happy as a heavier person. As a fat person I was still happy. Size doesn’t dictate true happiness.

This I believe wholeheartedly.

Today I pull happiness from a latte or a homemade cookie from the farmer’s market. I pull happiness from a cup of tea waiting for me at the end of a long day. I find enjoyment from hearing that a client believes their week was successful even if there were a few bumps in the road – they are learning to not be so hard on themselves.

Before, I remember being excited for a nice day to be outside with friends on campus drinking a beer. Not wanting to miss a moment and being pissed when I was stuck in biology lab on a Tuesday night because night class sounded like a good idea at the time. I didn’t want to be left out. I found happiness in all experience – good and those to never be re-visited.

When people tell us that we’re fat or were fat or are getting fat, they’re not telling us something we don’t already know. I knew I was getting heavy, but I chose to not care. As my waist grew so did my defensive humor, and now as a more fit person my comebacks are fast and I’m considered witty. Go figure that was used to deflect before. When I started losing weight, I started for find happiness in places I never thought I would like the gym or trying a new recipe modification.

Clearly, I have always loved food and I am a self proclaimed foodie, but I had never been this creative in the kitchen before. Now, I’ve set boundaries. Not everything should be healthy, some things are best when the stick of butter stays or you sneak in extra peanut butter. Happiness is when JP will try some random creation and actually enjoys it.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be sad sometimes. Go ahead and cry if that’s going to help. Scream if you need to, but try to not break your cell phone – nothing is worth a cracked screen.

We all experience sadness differently. Don’t think just because someone shows you highlights online that they are never sad. Some are just better at hiding it. I think frustration can fall into that as well. I still get sad or angry or frustrated when I don’t do something well that I know I’m capable of doing. Again, I don’t think size dictates how you feel about anything – you don’t lose your emotions when you lose weight. You may gain some perspective, but I don’t think you completely change your emotional thought process.

I look back on photos and try remembering what was happening when it was captured. Some smiles are genuine and others are cheesy, some have terrible angles because that’s how I thought I could make myself look thinner. No, Cristina, that’s not how that works at all. You just look like you have a broken neck – oh well, lesson learned. Also, duck face, not cute. Try again. I never thought about if I was unhappy. Of course I had times of sadness and times I didn’t like my size, but I don’t think I would’ve ever allowed that to consume everything I had. I had a lot of sadness and anger and frustration this fall and that was exhausting. Kitchen floor and all, but comparing my old life to this one including the fall – nothing can compare. I am the fittest I’ve ever been and something still triggered me.

I believe I’m the happiness I have been in a while and that’s exciting and scary because I love this feeling and I don’t want it to go away. I also know that means I’m going to have to work at keeping it. Finding happiness in the perfect cup of coffee and reminding myself that a 5-hour class on a Monday night is going to be worth it when I hold that degree. Look forward to each day at work because I truly love what I’m doing. It’s not just a job, it’s the hallway to greater opportunity.

I’m lucky that while some shitty things have happened, I have also had some opportunities line right up.

Today, look for happiness in places you don’t always seek it from. Maybe it’s five minutes of quiet until you realize the kids trashed the living room. Or maybe it’s not cooking the yolk all the way through – I hate when that happens. I hope you can wear a smile on your face because happiness looks great on everyone, at every size.

❤ Cristina

Save

Coming Home Bikini Prep Series: Post 4 “Empowered or Degraded, That is the Question”

Today I got to practice my first rule: If you can’t be nice on my profile, I’m going to delete your comments and block you. That was liberating.

So the comment was about how the person felt that “body shows” were degrading and didn’t understand how I could feel empowered by participating especially when the poses are suggestive and I have to wear “stripper” heels.

Well. Here’s my take.

The level of competing I participate in is bikini, this is the lowest level of bodybuilding and is the most attainable. For women, the next levels of bodybuilding are: fitness, figure, physique and bodybuilding. Each one requires more muscle than the last and bikini, fitness, figure/physique/bodybuilding require different suits. Bikini and figure require heels to be worn while the upper levels don’t. Wearing heels help accentuate the muscular definition in the lower body without flexing. In my opinion, from what I’ve read the judges are looking for symmetry or balance, fullness and some curves for bikini competitors. As the levels become more muscular they continue to look for balance and fullness, but more about the definition of the muscles over curves. This also is why the poses for bikini to figure to physique and bodybuilding are so different.

Now, for the men because the comment doesn’t mention much about if it’s degrading to men. Men’s physique is essentially the most attainable for their gender. They wear board shorts and go barefoot – personally I would love to see a man walk in heels, but the point of this level is upper body. How do their latissimus dorsi look? Oo that’s a sexy word. How full are their biceps and how defined are their abs. Their poses are to help accentuate these features. If you look at higher levels such as bodybuilding you’ll see men in speedo-esq suits that barely cover their glutes and they equally do a back pose to flex and show off the definition of these muscles.

Now, do I think it’s degrading or empowering?

Below is the definition of degrading, in case you wanted to know.

definition

#thanksGoogle

It definitely seems very subjective and very personal. I don’t think this is degrading, if it was I wouldn’t be participating. What I think makes it appear degrading is the lack of understanding and knowledge of the sport – why women AND men do various poses for the different levels. Why each has a different suit or costume – whatever you want to call it. Similar to a beauty contest, which I personally have no interest in – long dresses and heels are asking for disaster when combined – presentation of yourself is important. If you look miserable, why would you place well or win? So yes, I may bounce slightly as I turn, but I make sure that my poses are helping me show of the hard work I’ve put in. I’ve worked hard for this booty and I purposely want the world to see it.

Now here’s the definition of empower.

definition 2

I believe this sport is empowering, not necessarily for the 15 seconds I get on stage, but for the 12 weeks, 17 weeks, 22 weeks that have lead up to those 15 seconds. Don’t get me wrong, I emailed three friends, texted JP and asked a coworker before I ordered my suit on Monday because nothing is more exciting and nerve racking than getting the colors right. That suit color can make you feel good especially when you have your hair and make up done up in a way that you never believed possible, but it’s the discipline for proper nutrition (for this sport) and training that makes you feel on Cloud 9.

In my first prep, I not only taught myself how to lift, macro count and design workouts, but I went from lifting 25 pounds in a back squat to 125 pounds. I lost 24 pounds over 22 weeks, went from a size 8 to a 6 and never hit below 1500 calories daily during prep. I didn’t feel like I was overworking or under-eating. I learned everything I could about the sport. It gave me a new appreciate for what my body was capable of and I had a new perspective of exercise. I had broken all the myths I believed about lifting and women in one summer.

In my second prep I hit a new personal record of 165 for a back squat at my lowest weight at the time of 130 pounds – 35 pounds over body weight for 3 full sets of 5. My sprint was the fastest it had been at the time of 7:50/mile. I learned how to fuel my body and push my macronutrients through volume foods. I learned new recipes and gained even more confidence by openly talking and showing off my loose skin. I lost 20 pounds over 17 weeks and was the lowest weight I had been in almost eight years. I also set myself up for a successful tummy tuck, which lead to a successful recovery.

In between my second prep, surgery and surgical recovery I have learned how to maintain my weight without large amount of cardio a week, but by eating enough for my body and varying my lifting. Today I am nine weeks post surgery and my back squat is comfortably at 145 for full sets, pushing it at 150 and I hope over the next few months to get back to 165 and then break that PR.

Through my second prep for the Cutler Classic I learned how to trust someone else. I had coached myself through my first prep and was hesitant to have a coach for my second, but having had worked with Alaina Sanders for three months prior to the start of prep, I felt like she would have the best of intentions. I have trust issues and she helped me see that there are people out there willing to work with you, not against you. There are people who will support you and help you figure out the next step.

Since having surgery, I am now at my lowest weight on this journey and I have been maintaining it for 7 weeks (since being cleared to go back to the gym). At 127.6 pounds and a size 0, I’m getting ready for my third prep (starts Sunday!). I can’t wait to see what my body can handle as far as weight because a new PR sounds fantastic. I also can’t wait to see the science experiment that is refeeds. I’m maintaining at a higher caloric rate, which means I’ll be able to cut at a higher caloric rate. It’ll be new to me to eat this much and lose weight without over doing it in the gym.

The weeks leading up to the show remind you that you can do anything if you work hard and put your mind to it. They also show you that as long as you’re willing to learn you will be successful even if you don’t walk away with a piece of metal.

I have a better question – why does society still believe that they need to protect women from what they believe to be sexual objectification, but they don’t believe the need to protect men? Does the sport not objectify their bodies in any way? Just because they don’t wear heels doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain things being looked for in order for them to win, but they aren’t being questioned about their desire to compete. While the sport does have a sexy component to it, why does that mean it must be bad or degrading? There are women who are proud of being porn stars and see themselves as artists, they see it as a job. There are women who feel empowered by being strippers or exotic dancers – whatever you want to label them as. They acknowledge it’s a job and they feel sexy doing it. Obviously this isn’t the thought of everyone in those industries, but why is it okay for someone who thinks negatively about these jobs or roles or athletes to push and/or assume that everyone else should?

Go find a hobby that involves turtlenecks and rock yourself in the corner. I’ll be in the spotlight with my hip popped to the side and a smile on my face.

❤ Cristina

A Week in Review and Week 3 of the Reverse Diet

Last week was the third week in my reverse diet to maintenance. I’ve already  surpassed the macros that were prescribed when I was 3.5 weeks into my reverse before surgery. It’s pretty damn exciting to see what the body can do when it has proper nutrients. It’s also crazy to see how much food one can actually consume. Obviously the foods your selecting determine the quantity that you’re eating, but regardless, I’m eating more and maintaining my weight. Well, I was until the end of the week.

Let’s review shall we?
This was the week of the big move. Stress levels were high, I cried more than a normal person should and I had a little more fun with my food than I normally do. But it did start out good, well kind of.

If I could ignore Sunday I would. Holy hell, what a cluster fuck. We started to load the larger items into the storage unit to then break the key in the lock and get locked out of our storage unit. Way less than ideal and led to tears and yelling.

But then something kind of cool happen in the midst if that. A bunch of my Instagram followers have started using my coach as their trainer because a lot of them have seen my progress and then done their research on her. Cool and weird, but maybe it’s a sign that she’s a great coach. Someone gifted me a month of free training with her. I had already paid until July, but now I’m good until the end of August when we start prep. I cried because 1. I was already frustrated, but 2. How freaking crazy is that? Someone told her that I was inspirational and impacted them so this was their way to pay it forward – not the exact words, but yeah. I say it all the time- I’m by doing anything special, and I’m still always surprised when people say things like this. Maybe one day I won’t be so surprised, but until then I’m just going to be in the corner with my jaw on the floor.

Sunday night resulted in burgers and calamari. We had our first date at this place, it’s called Brew City. They have the beer selection for draft beers, but after the Sunday we had beer was not happening. From sweating through the day and trying to keep up with water both JP and I threw off our electrolytes. So salty food was slightly necessary and that point we didn’t really care about tracking.

It’s equally possible that we didn’t care so much that we also picked up a cupcake to share too… Oops, #sorrynotsorry.

I’ve moved on from my lack of tracking and I hope you do too. Anyway, Monday.

Monday was A BIG DAY because I got cleared to resume everything. My surgeon doesn’t want to see me until April 2017. We will take photos then of the progress. I was also cleared to not wear my garment unless I felt like I needed it. This made me so excited. I would be able to run again and not die in the 80 degree heat this summer. Everything is healing nicely and my scar looks great. However, I have decided to wear it during hard cardio because the impact of hitting the ground during a run or sprints is pretty damn uncomfortable at the moment. I also wore it while we moved because I swell with the heat and last week was HOT.

Tuesday was a more eventful day in a positive way at work; I had a luncheon in downtown and that meant I got to throw on my heels and put on a fancy dress. I bought this dress in March, when I was 135 pounds and toward the end of competition prep. It was at that point I knew surgery was what I wanted. I love this dress, but wearing it in March, in Florida with spanx on underneath was not ideal. I didn’t want that to be my normal. Wearing this dress on Tuesday made me feel like a million dollars. It fit how it should and hugged where it should. I never felt weird wearing it except when I had to remind myself that sitting down wasn’t making me look bad.

Tuesday night we cupcaked! After a successful day at work, this seemed right. I’ve become friends with the owner of Kadoodles near Worcester and after seeing her Heath Bar Crunch cupcakes over the weekend I was like I need to obtain those this week! I posted on their Instagram asking if they would have more, so she made two for me and JP and set them aside. So Tuesday we had 1.5 cupcakes because I didn’t realize the gave me two Heath Bar and I picked up a Samoa Cupcake too. Well, you can never have too many cupcakes, right? We had these while we took down the Christmas tree. We both were a little emotional about the tree coming down unwillingly, but this was the perfect way to celebrate. So we packed a lot on Monday and Tuesday we packed some more and the tree came down. Close to that chapter. 

Wednesday was a standard rest day. I wished I was at they gym in the morning, but instead I cleaned and packed. Then we celebrated Waffle Wednesday. I’m weird and I don’t care who knows it. I think Waffle Wednesday, Taco Tuesday are life. I have Pancakes EVERY Monday too. Yes, Pancakes get capitalized. As soon as these were devoured, we cleaned and packed away the waffle iron. It was a sad moment.

I had a work retreat during the day, which made the day go by fast, until out of nowhere I was exhausted. Maybe it was the packing and lack of sleep finally catching up to me. The stress certainly wasn’t completely released at the gym. Mid-week was kind of rough. But I stuck to my guns and packed my snacks and lunch.

My coworkers watched me eat 5 different times and drink 100 ounces of water. One clapped when I finished the jug off, he was impressed. My boss looked at him and said “you know she does that every day, right?” I laughed because I do drink a ton of water daily, but we all have offices so it’s not noticed as much, however, they all know I eat a lot of food.

Wednesday night was still as warm as it was during the day and we needed to escape the apartment. It was soul sucking to say the least. We took a 2 mile round trip walk to the grocery store. Picked up a diet soda and Powerade and then walked home.

My second leg day falls on a Thursday and during the move I wasn’t super thrilled to be leg lifting, but it needed to get done. So I threw on my crazy clothes and fit in my morning workout before the day got busy.

On the way to the storage unit we stopped for coffee because that’s what helps make the world go round. InHouse Coffee is a gem that many don’t realize exists. They make their own grounds and have ridiculous flavors like: Brownie Toffee Crunch. What do you think I got in my cup? So good and helped kick off the morning.

More craziness ensued when the bank started being difficult, but we had also stopped by the post office on the way home to find a lovely package from Alicia with the perfect note and goodies to get us through the next week. I’ve already tried two of the bars she sent me and I’m planning the others for this week.

As it turned out, the bank’s errand runner couldn’t come on Thursday after all, since the agreement never specified that I needed to be out by 11 am on Thursday, instead of the afternoon like had been discussed. We were able to stay another night and get the rest done on Friday. That gave us more time and meant more could be moved directly into the apartment. We wouldn’t need to get a hotel room like we thought we might and stress could go down a little bit. To relax, we showered then headed for the Farmer’s Market and dinner.

At the market I found a mermaid Cristina cookie and yes that’s what I am calling it and have been calling it since I saw it.

Since we knew dinner was going to be heavy, we decided to not eat it Thursday and instead we had it on Friday. The prettiest sugar cookie ever and it tasted amazing too! Dinner was from Mezcal, a restaurant also in Worcester. They have the best guacamole and even though we kept saying we didn’t need it, it came down to “Fuck it, I want it.” So we picked buffalo chicken guacamole out of a plethora of flavors to choose from. Sadly, it wasn’t spicy enough so we asked for some hot sauce and I poured it on. Sometimes I just want my mouth on fire.

My entree was my alternative go to – chicken fajitas. Typically, I eat all the meat and veggies. I don’t eat the tortillas, or I’ll only have one. I usually kill the salsa and guac too. That’s exactly what I did because yeah, I had already gone over my macros for the day, but I had also walked almost 7 miles and lifted for 10 hours. No reason to add more damage to the nutrition, but I also couldn’t get too mad at myself either.

See FitBit stats from Thursday below.

See? I really couldn’t be mad.

Friday was THE BIG DAY. After my workout, I came home to find JP already packing the van and cleaning. We were rushing around and I was already exhausted. My workout had invigorated me and then I felt knocked down again. I made breakfast, which was a special treat. I had ordered Doughbar Doughnuts and they had come in. So these were quick and easy to eat along with our egg whites before really getting the show on the road.

After some crap and people being ridiculous, we were out and at the new place around noon. We unpacked a ton and got a lot set up. We stopped by Birchtree for lunch and to pick up bread because they are closed this week for vacation. It’s very sad, my heart is breaking. We both agreed to keep it lighter for Friday night dinner, so we had Panera. Salads for both of us with chicken for protein.

We were so close to being able to relax. Then I checked my FitBit.

Yeah, thank God that was bed time for us.

Saturday. Well, I have never liked rest days and I had never been more thankful for one. So naturally I slept until 6 and woke up. I mean that’s late for me since I’m up at 430 during the week for the gym. Sleeping in is actually tough for me.

I did my check-in with Alaina keeping in mind macros had been shit the second half of the week. And aside from some lower swelling from the heat and lifting boxes all day, I felt ok enough. I think the photos weren’t too bad.

The scale, however, reflected the swelling, the increase in sodium and lack of proper balance with hydration.

Whatever, it’s one week. Shit happens. The guacamole was good. The cookie was good and my legs were sore AF from everything we had been doing. Something had to give a little and this was going to be it.

Surprisingly, Saturday’s meals were excellent, water was better and because EVERYTHING was moved into the new place, we had a lot less to worry about.

FitBit check?

 

And somehow 7 miles happened on a light day.

We did take a break from unpacking and cleaning to shower and check out the local car show that JP had been talking about for a few days. It was pretty cool. It’s mostly muscle cars. Lots of Mustangs in lots of colors. Of course, whenever something looked interesting JP stuck his head in to see the details of the interior and the engine.

After a day of not being as stressed, along with a much better following of my nutrition, I felt like a lean bean on Sunday when I woke up. I weighed myself just to see what the difference was and it was a pound. So down a pound from the morning before and up a pound from last week’s check in.

While I’m excited about my reverse, I emailed Alaina the Sunday weigh in from my phone and suggested that we hold of this week from an increase because I wasn’t hitting my nutritional goals last week and I know that if I do this week, it’ll balance out. I have new workouts in hand, I had emailed her in the middle of the week asking to add some specific exercises back into the routine and great minds think alike because she already had added almost everyone I asked for.

It’s going to be a better week. Last week, all things considering wasn’t terrible, just stress levels were high, I wanted to cry and there was more yelling than normal. I am still tired and slightly cranky like a 5 year old who missed nap time, but I’m optimistic about this week.

I dropped JP off at the airport a few hours ago and I’m actually sitting in a cafe in Wegman’s writing this. I do need groceries and I promise I bought a snack so I wouldn’t mooch their internet. It felt good to sit down and just brain dump the past week.

So overall – macros: on point until Wednesday and not so much again until Saturday. Workouts: pretty solid every day. My body kind of caught up to the pain on Saturday, but thankfully leg day on Sunday did help with stretch the muscles again.

I’m meal prepping some things tonight so nutrition can be on point. Bella is with my backpack so she can help pick out snacks. It’s weird not having JP here, but I guess this was our normal before and hopefully it won’t be our normal for too much longer. I’m heading to check out and see what Halo Top flavors are available. I hope everyone had a great Monday and that your Tuesday doesn’t drag ass like Monday’s normally do.

 

❤ Cristina

 

One week out/first week of reverse dieting 

To celebrate the ending of prep, I went to brunch on Sunday with my boyfriend and got the most amazing pancakes ever – Blueberry Pecan and Mascarpone. I went with a large stack because YOLO and I ate the whole stack – no regrets!

I did get egg whites on the side because protein is necessary. Since we had brunch a little later than we normally brunch, we didn’t eat a late lunch or an afternoon snack. We actually took a nap when we got back home from Boston, woke up and went to the gym and then came home to make dinner. We had a pretty lean dinner – chicken and veggies, this is pretty standard for us. It balanced out the carbs from the morning, but we also like chicken and veggies. We did try a new gelato. Full fat and all. But we stuck to the serving size and enjoyed it. I was mindful of what I was eating and logged/estimated to the best of my ability. I had asked Alaina to give me some loose macros so I would have a guide and I didn’t really go over them. I used this day kind of as a refeed day, and then jumped right into my new macros on Monday to start my reverse diet.

For those of you who don’t know, a reverse diet is when you  intentionally add nutrition back into your daily eating plan slowly. Many competitors do this after a show or full season of shows. It’s important that you increase slowly so that you don’t gain fat or gain weight back too fast. Everyone’s body is different and can handle different amount of nutrition at a time. This is an important step after season because stage weight isn’t always the healthiest to maintain year-round. Even those who are naturally lean shouldn’t be at stage weight all the time. Reverse dieting helps you get back to maintenance, which in some cases may be higher than where you were when you started your cut. Many think this is bro-science, but it actually makes a lot of sense scientifically if implemented correctly. There’s a number of reasons to conduct a reverse diet; while my macros never hit below 1,400 calories during prep, they were low for me. So this is something to help bring me back up to a sustainable number of macro nutrients.

This is the first time I’ve ever done a reverse diet. As you know, I’ve been losing weight for over four years so this concept is completely foreign to me. But unlike my refeeds, I’m really excited about the process of reversing and eventually maintaining my weight. This is a huge change for me and another opportunity to learning and research so I can take on the next part of my journey.

Alaina has been pretty amazing with designing my macro nutrition goals so that I was never hungry; always content, but so that I was at a point where my progress was going to be steady through prep. I knew that I would be in good hands working with her for my reverse. For the first week, we decreased my protein by 5g to  keep our numbers with 1g of protein per pound I weight. We hadn’t decreased my macros for the last few weeks of prep and my protein was a little higher. This kept me full, but it’s now appropriate to adjust it. We also increased my carbohydrates by 13g. I know for some this doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you think in terms of food, this is caramel rice cake or half a banana.

When I weighed in yesterday, I was still at my show weight even with the increased in macros. This was exciting for me because it means I’m adjusting to the increase in food and my body should be able to handle more nutrition than when I started my cut.

Saturday morning check-in. 1 week post show.

Even my abs came out to play.

I shared on my instagram a lot of the foods that I was consuming this week. Similar to my prep, I was able to eat out as well as eat meals I prepped at home. Throughout the week my boyfriend and I managed to cross off a few restaurants we’ve been wanting to try. We live long distance and it’s a pain in the butt because the list is forever growing, but we were able to make some good choices and have fun while he was home.

Welcome to Moe’s!

On Wednesday, we checked out Wahlburgers in Hingham. It’s the original location and it’s a burger joint, which only makes sense for them. They have a few sides that aren’t fried, but not many. As I was looking at the menu I noticed that the burgers they offer are pretty large, mostly 1/3 and 1/2 pound burgers. However, the kids menu offers a 3 ounce burger. I called to see if adults could order off the kids menu and to ask what the lean to fat ratio was for the meat they use. I was told “yes, anyone can order off the kids menu.” I was also told they use the standard 80/20 lean to fat ratio for ground beef. A quick google search told me that for 3 ounces there is 15F 0C and 22P in a serving.

Knowing what my macros are it was a no brainer to get a kids burger. This way I could eat it in true form with a bun and all. Instead of fries I got an entree mixed greens salad, which was high in volume and helped keep me full. Taking all parts of the meal into consideration I could estimate the macros and still accomplish my eating goals for the day.

On Friday, we went out to breakfast for bagels at a locally owned place that my boyfriend used to frequent in his college days. I had never been there before even though I live down the road and have lived here for four years. I know I’m ashamed too. Just like with Wahlburgers, I checked out the menu and found that they had cinnamon raisin bagels – my favorite. They also make the cream cheese there. They had a maple raisin cream cheese and I won’t lie I was sold when I saw it. I didn’t even consider another cream cheese. To find the nutritional value estimates I looked at a few chain places like Dunkin Donuts as well as brands you find in the store like Thomas’s Bagels. I took an average of what I had found and determined the macros I would use for the bagel. I did the same with the cream cheese. I usually get dressings on the side and I figured I could do the same with the cream cheese so I could portion it out myself. They actually serve it in a 2 ounce cup with is 4 tablespoons or 2 servings of cream cheese. So this was a lot easier to figure out than I thought it would be.

Alaina and I agreed that my reverse for the first week was extremely successful. I enjoyed everything I was eating. I never felt like I was having to choose one food over another. It’s the same philosophy I had during prep – it’s not never, it’s just not right now. We were able to have a lot of fun and going out for date night meant a lot. Since I’m not on prep, I was able to bring alcohol back into my daily diet. I had decided to do a dry prep because I wanted to make sure I was eating enough and not wasting my nutrition on liquids. I count alcohol and I believe that anyone serious about tracking should. For macro counting, there are a few ways to track alcohol. I deduct carbohydrates when the nutritional value isn’t provided.

For beer, many will scan into My Fitness Pal or you can easily search the number of carbs in a Pale Ale. However, for liquor, carbohydrates are converted during the distilling process. They still have “energy” or calories, so to find the macros I take the calories and divide by 4 – 1g of carbs is 4 calories. Some people deduct from fat. I prefer not to do that because peanut butter. Something like bourbon doesn’t reflect carbs because of the distilling process, however, Bulleit Bourbon has 109 calories for 1.5 ounces so for this I can determine that I need to keep 21g of carbohydrates aside for this.

Determining the carbohydrates in liquor helps me decide how I want to have a drink; is it something I want to mix or have neat. Bourbon is something I drink neat, so I don’t need to be concerned with added carbohydrates than what is determined from a serving. During a reverse it’ll be easier to fit alcohol in, but it’s not something I usually splurge on anyway. We like to do more pairings and had actually set a aside a few bottles of beer we really wanted to try post-prep.

Banana Bread Beer – 13c for the whole bottle, shared for dessert.

Since this first week was so successful we’re increasing my fat by 5g and my carbohydrates again by 10g. My protein is at an appropriate level for my body weight so that will not be increasing anymore. I’m interested to see how my body handles the food this week.

As far as my workouts go, I’m still lifting six days a week. I have three days of cardio and it doesn’t exceed an hour and 20 minutes. This week my cardio is staying the same as last week. My lifts are relatively the same. We did change a few exercise sets to alternate with high and low rep weeks because I found myself exhausted after an upper body day this week and that’s not the point of my workouts, especially now. I think being a little tired is fine, but not exhausted. I’m also not cutting anymore so I want to make sure that my workouts are appropriate.

I know for some people being in the gym that many days is tough. It’s not realistic for everyone, but for me it’s my alone time. It’s the time of the day when I know my only focus is me. So this schedule works for me.

I have a few work lunches this week; one where I don’t have any control over what’s provided and another where I do. Throughout my prep I handled work events very well so I have no concerns about these during my reverse. It might be a little easier with the increase!

Below are some other photos from the week. It’s weird to see how the body adapts and changes, but I don’t mind being a walking science experiment.

Talk to you soon!

❤ Cristina

Typical Pancake Monday

Dessert – single serve complete cookie

 

Breakfast – 1/2 cup egg whites + blueberries and peanut butter oats

 

Yogurt + Fudge brownie goldfish and whip

Grilled Haddock + broccolini and yellow squash

Leg day

Cashew apple salad and protein bar lunch

Homemade Sweet Potato Muffin

Recipe: Pro-Yo Pie

Being on prep you need to be creative with your ,even if you follow flexible dieting because it can’t be all Oreos and ice cream all the time. I eat a lot of yogurt, specifically Greek yogurt, even outside of prep because it’s a great source of protein and it’s one of the few dairy products that agrees with my stomach. It’s also flexible enough and can work as a dessert.

In college, I developed a sensitivity to dairy – I was tested and it wasn’t a full blown intolerance, but I’ve identified things that make my stomach very upset such as soft serve ice cream, milk and cheesecake. The last one kills me because if you’ve ever been to Cheesecake Factory you know that those are so hard to resist. There are so many possibilities of flavors and styles and now I miss out, but not quite.

A lot of people make protein yogurt or a protein pudding because it has a taste and texture like dessert. This is something I do often and depending on my macros I’ll add granola or fruit to it to round it out and make it more filling.

A few weeks ago, I found mini graham cracker pie crusts at the store and I thought it would be interesting to see how a pro-yo pie would be. My favorite pro-yo to make has cinnamon swirl whey in it and when made with a few other ingredients, it tastes just like cheesecake.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • vanilla extract
  • water
  • plain Greek yogurt: 5.3 ounce container or 150g
  • Splenda
  • 1/2 scoop flavored whey – the kind and brand will change your macros
  • mini graham cracker pie crust
  • Optional items: sprinkles, oreos, whip cream

 

Directions

  1. In a bowl, scoop your yogurt out of the container. I buy the individual yogurt cups when I make this so it’s easy to measure. I also use fat free yogurt, but you can also use 2% if you need the fat macros.
  2. Add 3 tablespoons of water to the yogurt and mix slowly. This will thin it out and make it easier to add the whey later.
  3. Once the yogurt and water are mixed out completely, add a teaspoon or two of vanilla extra. This is more to your own taste. You don’t need a lot, but I like a little more vanilla than most.
  4. Add in whey. This is completely up to you on the flavor and the amount. When I made this a few weeks ago I used 7g of chocolate chip cookie dough whey because it was the last of the container – I added a little more vanilla. Tonight when I made this recipe, I used half a scoop of cinnamon swirl. So if you want more protein then add a little more whey, but remember to add a little more water because it’ll be really thick otherwise.
  5. This is the part I usually taste the mixture and decide if and how much Splenda I need to add. Half to one teaspoon is usually enough.
  6. You can either choose to mix in other things like sprinkles or a crushed up Oreo if you want to, but if you don’t, just scoop some of the mix into the pie crust. Not all of the mixture will fit, but that’s why you have a spoon.
  7. Set in the fridge for about 30 minutes to an hour. I usually make this the afternoon I know I want it for dessert.

The macros for the basic recipe are: 5.3F/20.5C/28.5.

Below are some photos of a variation I made adding in half an Oreo and using the other half as a decoration.

My friend gave me this because I “had”to try the flavor, but she knew I didn’t want a box in the house

 



 


 

❤ Cristina

The power of having a support system

No matter the task you’re taking on, there will be challenges of varying levels. This is a given, nothing is easy. When I started my weightloss journey, I didn’t have a support system or any one person who had verbalized that they believed in me. It was clear to me that to be successful, this had to be about me, for me, and I had to believe that I could accomplish the goals I was creating for myself.

Let me say, that this journey should be about you anyway. It shouldn’t be about getting someone to notice you. It should be about your health, how you feel about yourself and you should be slightly selfish in your goals. No one will make you successful, but they can help support you and give you tools that will lead to success when combined with hard work.

The simple definition of a support system from Merriam-Webster is:

 A group of people who someone help, encouragement, etc.

A more complex definition is:

A network of people that provide an individual with practical and emotional support.

As my journey has evolved and my goals have become more complex, I’ve learned that I can’t do this on my own. It took a lot for me to admit it, but while I had been flexible dieting and macro counting for over a year, I knew I need more guidance when it came to determining when and how to adjust my nutrition. I also had hit a wall in my lifting. I felt great about my lifts, but as far as configuring optimal workouts, I didn’t feel confident that I would have much success.

It’s okay to ask for help

I’ve talked about working with a trainer on my instagram page. We started working together in October and not only has my body changed, but mentally I feel like I’m in a really great place. Working with her has been a partnership. She listens when I say there’s something wrong, like the time I had a tendon rolling over in my wrist and it hurt to curl or the time I had lactic acid build up in my shoulder and it was preventing maximum mobility. She adjusted my workouts while I worked with my chiropractor to fix the physical issues.

When it comes to eating, as long as it fits it gets eaten. This creates balance because ice cream doesn’t always fit, but it also means I don’t need to overload on the veggies either – I learned this hard way. This means that she lets me experiment in the kitchen as long as I’m hitting my macro nutrient goals. Bring on yogurt bowls and vegan stuffed brownies!

*side note – according to the latest nutritional report from the CDC the average American only need 14g of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed – I was consuming way too much for the amount of food I was eating and it was causing some digestive issues.

She does more than just design my workouts and adjust my macros based on my progress. She’s there when I have questions or concerns about my progress. She’s reminded me to trust the process and to not freak out – or at least minimize the freaking out during prep. She is the professional that I hired to keep me on track, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t try to turn to my friends too.

You learn who supports you at your craziest

Throughout this journey I’ve learned who is here for me and who isn’t. Those who are here for me have been willing to listen and learn about why I’m competing or why I’ve lost as much weight as I have. Those who weren’t truly supportive, well, they’re no longer in the picture and it’s not my loss.

My friends have been extremely important in this process. Educating them can be fun and it can be a pain in the ass. The fun part is when they’re willing to experiment with food with you – thanks Jessica for enduring my burrito bowls, protein pancakes and scale portioned meals. The pain in the ass part is when they forget that you’re in dry prep – yeah JP, no bourbon. Or when they don’t realize that brunching in town may kill all your food for the day – looking at you again babe. But the fun part again, is when they tell you that they don’t get it, but they’re proud of you because they know it’s important to you – oh those college friends of mine.

It’s also ok if you don’t have friends physically close to you that don’t understand what you’re doing and why. This isn’t just about my journey, but all journey’s. Because of the stereotypes out there about weightlifting, some of your friends may try to tell you to not try hitting the weight room. Because of other myths about nutrition, some may tell you that you can only clean eat or only calorie count to lose weight. The truth is we are all different and we need to try different methods. For some it’s seeing or doing it that confirms if it’s the right step for them.

I tried macro counting with a clean eating focus during my last prep – by the end I wanted all the limited edition Oreos, that’s when I decided to just macro count and try to make good decisions. I’m down almost 36 pounds from macro counting: the first 24 from clean eating, then I gained 10 pounds back post-show when I wasn’t clean eating or tracking as carefully, then lost 22 with 100% flexibility. I had to learn that it’s ok to stare at the Oreo’s and eat them in moderation. But I wouldn’t have tried being 100% flexible if it hadn’t been for some of the lovely friends I had made on social media.

My friends mostly live in my phone

While I agree, there are aspects of social media that are damaging the new and even some of the older generations, I also believe there’s a lot of good coming from it. For me, it has been about connecting to like-minded people with similar goals and dreams, but maybe different methods. I met Sarah, you probably know her as @fit_badger15, in September 2014, but we started texting and sending each other care packages in December 2014. It’s been over a year since that started. Every month we send the craziest things from protein bars and hot cocoa to t-shirts and mugs. We’ve exchanged Christmas gifts and she sent me goodies from her trip in Ecuador. I also send her postcards while I travel for work. It was Sarah who introduced me to the Bikini Body Guide, or BBG. It’s circuit style training and at the time I needed something new – it was pre-Alaina and post-1st bikini competition. I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted and with her assistance, I dove into BBG and got to my lightest weight at the time 149 in June 2015.

I met Tresa or @not_a_runner in the summer of 2015 and I met her as she was determined to be a powerlifter. Now she’s not so sure, but she knows she loves lifting and that her health is equally as important as her strength. Similar to Sarah, Tresa and I send each other care packages and text more often than I do with friends I’ve known longer. She’s helped me get comfortable with lifting, but also push myself to lift heavier and be confident that I can finish a set. Because of her my squat max increased 25 pounds throughout the fall before I started prep.

The other day on instagram I had posted about the army of people behind me, most of which I have never actually met in person. Maybe I log on too much, but sometimes I need a little reassurance – I believe we all need reassurance sometimes. We need someone there who will believe in us when we don’t. People, who will equally tell you to act like an adult, put on your big girl pants and get your shit together, while in the same breathe tell you it’s okay to feel like crap every now and then.

The support system, whether made up of people you see every day or people you can only “pen pal” with, is important for success. The journey needs to be about you, but it needs to somehow encompass people who can help push you when you want to stand still and help give you the confidence you need when all you want to do is sit on the floor and eat peanut butter. My hard work has gotten me this far, but it’s been paired with someone else’s guidance the past few months and support that I have found in the most unlikely of places.

❤ Cristina