Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Overcoming Set Backs

The end of 2015 has been a rough one for me.  Due to some unforeseen circumstances my plans to compete in 2016 have to be adjusted.  Rather than starting my competition season in the spring I will be waiting until the fall.  Starting at the end but there is nothing wrong with that.

In mid November I wasn't feeling well, actually most people I knew weren't feeling well.  I blame it on the strange weather we had here in Iowa, oddly warm and lots of rain.  I ended up with walking pneumonia, it took so much out of me.  I had to take three weeks off from training and it was so rough getting back into it.  Kickboxing was my go to, I was with other people who would push me and it is insanely fun.  I couldn't believe how wiped I got after just 5 minutes but I pushed through and got about two weeks in with Kosama.

This past Sunday myself, my husband and some of my siblings and their significant others played in a dodgeball tournament.  It was the first one here in Cedar Rapids and we got to play where our indoor soccer team plays.  We had a BLAST, even though none of us had played since high school.  There were a couple of traveling professional teams that played, I really had no idea there were dodgeball teams that travel all over and play.  They were GOOD and they threw the ball HARD.  We were The Mighty Duckers, although we were not quite as mighty as we wanted to be ;)

We were guaranteed three ten minute games, which actually meant about 3-5 games in a ten minute span.  We did alright in our first time slot and then played one of the professional teams in our second time slot.  OH MY GOODNESS, I didn't realize how much a ball like that could hurt.  The crappiest part about it was the attitude of some of their players, completely rude even after hitting my brothers girlfriend in the face (which is illegal) and rather than saying "good game" a couple players said "thank you" because they kicked our butts.  During one of these games I was walking off court because I was out and someone threw a ball at me, my left arm happened to be up and the ball hit my fist straight on jamming my wrist.  I thought it was broken I was in so much pain, thankfully an EMT from another team was watching so he came over immediately and confirmed it was not broken but that I should go to the ER.

So of course I stayed and played in our final round of pool play, not the smartest I know but I just couldn't not play in our last round.  I made it through but could not bend my hand down and could not grip anything.

My daughter and I went to the ER after we were finished, I have a severe strain in my left wrist.  Depending on how things go recovery could be 4-8 weeks, weight training is a huge no-no until my wrist is completely healed.


I just got back into the groove and BAM knocked back again.  I will be able to do cardio but my husband is leery about that for this week at least and honestly with the pain I have other than possibly the elliptical I'm not sure what I could do.

Frustration set in big time on Sunday as I let it really sink in realizing that the best choice I can make would be to push back my competition season.  In reality I will have nearly two months off from weight training and I will NOT step on stage again unless I am 100% confident, happy and ready to present a better me.

I am grateful for all of the support I have around me, thankful for the knowledge that stepping on stage is something I can do at anytime no matter how much older I am getting ;)  This will give me time to ease back into running before I start weight training again so I am able to do hopefully one or two half marathons in the spring.

Pushing forward is the only choice I have, for some reason these set backs have popped up but I will overcome them.  My wrist will heal, my body is still strong and I will just keep swimming!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

KettleGuard Review

I was so excited to receive my KettleGuards in the mail along with Grip Power Pad Lifting Straps.  My husband put me through a great kettle bell workout to really see how the KettleGuards worked.

Lifting with kettle bells is new for me, I normally get nervous when I have any movement where the kettle bell flips over and hits my forearm and wrist.  I felt more confident with the guards, the kettle bells bounced right off of them and they were really comfortable.  I even had more stabilization in my wrists using them.  They are soft and machine washable, these are something I highly recommend for anyone who lifts using kettle bells.

We did a little video, I know my form is not perfect but you can see how the guards protect my wrists.  Also I never look at my husband when he is training me, I focus on one spot and keep my focus there.  You don't know how annoyed I get when he at times moves right in front of my focal point, it completely throws me off ;)

I am thoroughly enjoying the change lifting with kettle bells.  My body feels an entirely different type of sore after these workouts and the fast pace really keeps my heart rate up.  I can't wait to see the different changes that adding these workouts in will bring to my body as I prepare for my competition!

Friday, October 30, 2015

7.2 Recovery Review

Not sure if any of you have heard of the 7.2 Alkaline Diet, here in Iowa it seems to be exploding.  A friend of mine reached out to me and wanted me to try a sample of the 7.2 Recovery, I was told that it helps make you feel less sore after training.  I train hard and after leg days my legs are extremely sore for about 3-4 days.  I was leery of the claims and told her I wasn't interested, she was super nice and let me know that if I ever changed my mind to let her know.

Well then my husbands boss had started taking it, a chiropractor she is friends with was selling it so Kyle got a sample and I decided to try it out.

Recovery with HydroFX


7.2 Recovery with HydroFX is a potent alkalizer, serving to effectively neutralize excess body acids of all types including lactic acid.

Enhanced Cellular Hydration:

7.2 Recovery with HydroFX has been shown to increase cellular hydration by enhancing the body's ability to move extracellular water into the cells.
I only added two of the benefits I was mostly intrigued about.  Honestly I was pretty excited to try it out, two pills three times a day, the benefits sounded amazing.  I've tried many supplements though and very few give me any true benefits.

This product has done nothing for me, the biggest sell for me was that it takes the lactic acid out of the body while it's being made.  We know lactic acid build up is what leads to the soreness.  My biggest test was 48 hours after leg day, I lift HEAVY on leg day and it takes about four days for the soreness to go away.  Sadly it didn't work for me, I continued taking it and have had the same level of soreness with all of my workouts.

Now again I'm not sure if my "odd" body type is what makes this product not really work for me.  Some supplements work for people and not for others.  My friend believes in it 100% and swears by it.

This is why it is so important to always get a sample of product, especially when it is something pricier.  I do not like to waste my money that I could spend on some new workout gear on supplements that don't work for me :)

Not gonna lie, I was hoping this was a "miracle" pill that would help with soreness.  In all actually drinking enough water and stretching are enough for me.  I shall continue to walk awkwardly after leg days and do some extra foam rolling!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

WeightLiftingGloves.com Ambassador

I am thrilled to share with everyone that I am a new Ambassador for WeightLiftingGloves.com!  This company is based out of Portland, OR and they carry a huge variety of products from weight lifting gloves to CrossFit gloves, wrist supports, lifting straps and so much more.

With my new training program I am lifting five days a week.  I've been without gloves and can't wait to get some to review for everyone.  My hands are taking a beating, now there is nothing wrong with callouses they are like a badge of honor but I do like to keep my hands soft.  I've had tennis elbow for over a year, it will never go away because I can't take off months from lifting or volleyball, straps are a must have for certain lifts, especially deadlifts.  Recently I started training with kettle bells at the gym Kyle runs, Kosama.  When I saw that WeightLiftingGloves.com carries KettleGuards I was so pumped, these are something I've never tried and would help protect my wrists.

Can you tell I am excited???  I am hoping to eventually do some give aways after trying out some of these products.  I truly believe there is something for everyone.

Dream big, work hard and don't be afraid to go after opportunities, you never know what will happen!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Perfect Workout Buddy

Having a great workout buddy is so incredibly important.  They can be the one that pushes you through one more rep, helps you increase the weight when you thought you couldn't, makes you run one more mile, encourages you to improve in your sport and helps you get to the gym when you just aren't feeling it.

Throughout my life I have been blessed with many amazing workout buddies.  I have played volleyball with my doubles partner off and on for 19 years (EECK, showing my age a bit).  Chris pushes me to be my best, we are very much in sync with each other on the volleyball court.  The best part though is that we have fun even when we aren't winning.  Our doubles game has vastly improved over the years, we trust each other and bring out the best in each other on the court!

Running has been a part of my life since I was in elementary school.  I didn't get into distance running until after high school.  In track I ran 400's and 200's, later in life I found myself actually enjoying half marathons, which is something I never imagined I would do.  One of my best friends from school participates in these races with me, Shalae makes the runs fun and we push each other to do our best.  My sister Jenn just started running longer distances, we do well with each other, my brother Larry even started this year, I just love that I can participate in this sport with my friends and family!  I adopted my sweet boy Hurley this spring, we've still got some work to do but he really makes me pick up the pace and simply makes my runs very interesting and fun :)

Shalae and I at one of our half marathons.

 My sister Jenn, the Dam to Dam 2015 was her first half marathon.

My brother Larry, the Newbo Run was his first half marathon.

My sweet boy Hurley, always happy to go for a run!

As I've gone through life working to stay healthy I achieved my biggest goal back in 2013 by competing if my first figure competition.  This was a personal goal I had worked so incredibly hard for with my husband as my coach/trainer and my best friend David by my side through so many workouts.  As I trained I focused on keeping balance in my life, teaching my daughter that you can achieve anything with the right people supporting you, a good plan and a positive outlook.  Bella, our daughter, gives my life such purpose.  Don't get me wrong, my life has always had purpose, but having her watch me changed things.  I want to raise her knowing she can be strong, healthy and enjoy living her life that way.
Last year I faced a huge change, I am one that does not deal the best with changes, especially extremely difficult changes.  My best friend and workout buddy moved from Iowa to Florida.  I knew it would have an affect on me but I really had no clue just how much it would affect me.  Over the past year I've continued to run races, participate in Kosama events but one thing has been lacking, my weight training.  Lifting heavy, seeing growth within myself and getting stronger was always something that was very special to me.  I had begun to wonder why I let that slip away over the past year.  My husband supports me in everything that I do, with his new position of running Kosama and making changes there he has been understandably focused on that.  Don't get me wrong, he still focuses on me and helping me achieve my goals but I've felt so lost.

We started my new training schedule and program this past week.  Kyle is so thorough in knowing the areas which need the most growth and how to achieve that growth.  Kyle goes with me when he can and he pushes me in an entirely different way than David, Kyle knows he can push me through every tough area I hit, he knows how hard I work and his pride in me makes me work even harder.  

As I've headed to the gym by myself I realized what I am missing, my workout buddy.  I used to be so excited after work to head to the gym with David, working out together was filled with hard work and silliness.  Without speaking a word we would know what the other was thinking, we knew each others limits and how to push one another past them.  I miss him, I miss him so much it hurts sometimes.  My days in the gym are very different but I imagine that he is there with me.  Last night I was struggling with my pull ups but I knew if David was standing next to me he would have told me to do one more rep, so I did.

 Don't get me wrong I still very much enjoy my weight training, my headphones are on very loudly blasting Rob Zombie, Korn and Die Antwoord.  I am in my own world dancing around, pumping myself up for each lift, but it is different.
I cherish my workout buddies, each and every one.  Make sure you always have that person beside you when you can and appreciate them making you do one more rep and pushing you a little harder.  The two most important men in my life are my biggest supporters and I would not be where I am in my fitness journey without them.

Kyle, my husband, my trainer, my rock supporting me as he always does.

I know how lucky I am to have these guys in my life.  Kyle beside me every day, constantly blessing me with his support, training and understanding.  David may not be here physically every day with me but his constant support and love still push me to be the best ME I can be each and every day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

So Many Activities, So Little Time!

The month of August has been a whirlwind of fun races and exciting volleyball.

My husband and I participated in the Squaw Creek Army challenge which was a 5k with obstacles and a LOT of mud.  We were so, so stoked to run this race!  I'm fairly certain they did not have enough volunteers, at the beginning the timing chips weren't properly working and the heats kept getting pushed back.  We were supposed to run at 10am and didn't hit the course until 11:30am.  We chose to do the "fun" run this year but next year we plan on participating in the competitive race so we can start earlier and hopefully will have a better experience.

It was a lot of fun, don't get me wrong but standing in the hot sun for so long and then waiting about half an hour in line at some obstacles was frustrating.  It was definitely a tough course full of big hills, muddy trails, huge hay bails to cross, wooden planks, walls to climb and repel over, culverts to crawl through, swamp to swim through and a wicked slip and slide at the end.  I didn't even bother to see what my time was, pretty sure I spent more time in lines than I did actually running.  We did have fun though!

After the run we went home and took a nice nap :)  Then we were headed to the Glo Run, our daughter Bella was super excited for this race.  I LOVE that she wants to do these activities with us, we have so much fun doing them as a family!  The Glo Run was a blast, we were covered in glo sticks, Bella and I painted ourselves with black light paint so the black light tunnels were extra cool.  We did this race with a huge group of people and look forward to doing it again next year.

 Just a couple of weeks later Bella and I ran the Flood the Run race, which is shorter than a 5k and had a lot of water based obstacles.  We started off going through the "human car wash", there were "snipers" with water guns, water slides, a rain tunnel and a huge slip and slide at the end.  It was a blast, just a fun run for us to do together and we got WET!  Right after that race we had an event at Kosama, Kick Out Cancer where anyone was welcome and rather than pay for a class people just made donations at the door.  All proceeds went to the pediatric oncology patients at the University of Iowa Children's Hospital.  The goal was to raise $500 and we raised $2167.83!!!  It was a wonderful day with so many generous people.  My husband had to do burpees for donations made, not quite sure how it worked because in my opinion he should have had to do one for each dollar raised ;)  Anyway he ended up doing 325 burpees in almost two hours.  Bella and I did kick boxing while Kyle did his burpees :)

I have been continuing to train for the Newbo Half Marathon, it is a week and a half away.  I've been very active but have not been consistent with my runs.  I feel better conditioned for this race than for my previous half though, hopefully I can meet my goal.  My little brother is running with me, it will be his first half marathon.  My last long run I did was during a weekend away with my best friends from high school.  We stayed at one of my friends sisters' house out in the country.  I ran on gravel roads and had some killer hills, the cows, horses, dogs and gold finches kept me amused, it really was a good run.

 The final session of sand volleyball has begun, I truly can not believe it is our last session :(  Chris and I have improved immensely throughout this season and we are currently undefeated, hopefully it stays that way and we come away with a first place finish in our division to end an awesome season!

Stay fit everyone, summer is ending but I am LOVING the cooler weather!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Conquering My Fears With My Daughter By My Side

I am continuing to evolve in my own little world of fitness.  My main goal was to compete as a figure competitor, which I have a achieved and continue to work towards improving on.

The best part of this has been finding new loves within fitness, pushing myself in different ways and including our daughter as I go along.  Each time I believe I have a limit I find myself pushing past it with my daughter cheering me on each and every time.

My running has finally become consistent again.  I am using a Nike Running training program for my next half marathon.  It challenges me and rather than running for say 3 miles, it will have me run two at an easy pace and really push myself for the last mile.  My speed is slowly increasing and my stamina is better than it has been.  I may miss a run here or there due to life and the craziness that comes along with it.  The heat and humidity are causing me to only be able to run early in the morning, some mornings my husband has to be to the gym to teach class by 5am and my father-in-law has to be to work by 4:30am which means I can't run because Bella can't be home by herself.  There are nights I plan on heading to the gym for a treadmill run (ICK) but something comes up like last night, an unexpected case of head lice for our daughter (again ICK).  So I just move my runs and use those days for my scheduled rest day instead.

I haven't been making it to Kosama as much as I would like to.  Bella has dance, soccer and now horse riding lessons during the week.  She is my number one priority and watching her do what she loves makes my heart soar, just like achieving my fitness goals.  I watched her face her fear of getting on a very tall horse, walked by her side as she took her first lesson and saw her ride alone all within an hour.  Our little girl is so determined and her perseverance astounds me.

On Sunday we did go to Kosama and Bella joined in for part of it.  We were doing squats outside in between tire flips, Bella decided to do some squats with me and we got some video.  Now I know her outfit isn't particularly practical for working out but next time she said she wants to wear shorts ;)  She knows she can do these things, she watches me and she learns, I love that she chooses to join in.

There is a plyo box at Kosama, I don't really have any issue with it until the highest level.  I hadn't attempted it but Kyle believed I could do it because level two was so easy for me.  It was intimidating standing there in front of the box that was pretty much waist high on me.  Knowing I wanted to jump on it without a running start.  It took me a little while but Bella was cheering me on and telling me I could do it along with Kyle, so I did it!  It was a great feeling and I did it more than once.  

Finding yourself achieve your goals is so empowering, no matter how small they may be.  My little cheerleader really pushes me, I love being on this journey of life with her and my husband.  I look forward to crushing more goals with them by my side!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tire Flips, Chicago and Volleyball

I've been doing some fun things lately, I love having a variety of activities to challenge my body and mind!

Kosama is very challenging, I truly wish I was able to go there every day but with half marathon training and weight training I am happy to make it there about twice a week.  There is a big summer challenge going on, I can't participate for prizes since my husband is the GM but I still love the big challenge days.  Sundays have been the extra workouts, I LOVE the members and the support they show one another.  Their enthusiasm, respect and encouragement help each and every one of them KILL their workouts!

Tire flipping is something I've been wanting to do for a long time.  It really works every part of your body but really gets the shoulders and core working.  My form was not the best my first time, I let my back get a bit too rounded and ended up using my leg to help flip the tire, although it was the bigger tire and after a long workout :)  My husband got some video, I promised I would start posting videos and believe me there will be many more!  Here we go with my first video :)

Last week I was able to go to Chicago for a visit with my soul sister and her mom.  Her mom goes every June for work and she got a suite at the Ritz Carlton with two beds and invited me to join them.  I was so grateful, it had been four years since I had last spent time with Stephanie.  We met when we were 19 and both of us were living in Seattle.  We immediately became the best of friends, so many things in common it is scary and we are connected in a way that is so extremely rare.

During the trip we did some workouts at the hotel gym, which was very well equipped!  We also went for a run on the Lake Shore trail, it was so beautiful!  It rained when we were there but we still really enjoyed ourselves.  My run was a good one and I start my next round of half marathon training this week.  

We enjoyed some amazing food while we were there as well, I could not pass up the eggs benedict, WOW.  We truly felt like spoiled princesses at the Ritz Carlton, everything we ate was delicious and the coffee was so good.  We did go out one night for dinner at Mia Francesca's, some of the best food I have ever eaten.  It was a wonderful trip!

When I returned I had a double's tournament to play in Friday night.  Chris and I did fairly well, we could have played better but things don't always go as planned.  My brother and sister were on a team as well it was fun getting to play them.

After four hours of doubles on Friday and my regular doubles and four's Sunday night my back was really feeling it yesterday.  So I decided to take Monday off but I am looking forward to a 3 mile run on my lunch hour today :)

My next half marathon is in just 11 weeks, I plan on getting all of my training in now that my abs are finally feeling better.   My chiropractor is truly amazing and after adjusting my legs which led to adjusting my pelvis I am having no issues.

I feel like my goals are kind of scattered all over the place at the moment so I am taking things one day at a time.  Running and volleyball are at the top of my list for priorities but I will get some lifting in too, 2016 competition season will come up quickly!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dam to Dam Half Marathon

I did it, I ran the Dam to Dam half marathon!

Heading into this race I knew my performance would not be at the level I wanted.  Due to my inconsistent training because of my ab issue and running on just about 3 hours of sleep.  Despite those issues I was excited and looking forward to the race.

Friday night my nephew Reggie graduated from high school, my sister Jenn (who ran the race with me) and I went to the graduation at 7pm and headed to Des Moines after 10pm.  We didn't make it to our brothers house until after 12am and we had to be to the buses heading to the dam at 5am.

When I first woke up I felt horrible but once we were on the bus and surrounded by other runners I started feeling excited and more awake.  It was a chilly morning, about 55 degrees, windy and it was sprinkling.  When we got to the dam we met up with my bestie Shalae, huddled under some trees and tried to stay as warm as we could before the race began at 7am.

Shalae and I have now officially ran three half marathons together.  After our first one we said we would never do it again, but after giving it another go we really do enjoy them :)

Shalae ran with another one of her friends and I ran with Jenn.  My pace was slower than normal but it worked out perfectly because I got to run with Jenn the entire race.  The cool weather felt awesome, it was packed at the start of the race on the two lane road of the dam but that helped block some of the wind :)

I really felt good most of the run, my lungs were great it was my legs that gave out in the end.  I only ran 30 miles in April and 28 miles in May, not good mileage at all!  My legs gave out at mile 12, after that it was completely mental just repeatedly telling myself I could run that last 1.1 miles.  Jenn started picking up the pace and I stayed back.

Not my best race but I did run the entire time and my official time was still faster than my first half marathon.  I was so proud of Jenn, this was her first half marathon and she was terrified, but she did AWESOME!!!

We have already decided we will be running the NewBo Half Marathon in Cedar Rapids in September.  I WILL get in the proper training for that one!

My brothers Larry, John and John's girlfriend Elizabeth came to cheer us on.  I stayed in Des Moines that night and had a great time at The Wine Experience enjoying some pasta and wine.  We ended the night with a competitive game of Monopoly :)  

I headed home on Sunday feeling good and played sand volleyball for two hours Sunday night.  I've rested up this week so far and am looking forward to getting into a real training routine with my running and weights.  Time to start working toward new goals :)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Why I Compete

Lately I have found my Facebook feed full of negativity in regards to competing.  I can understand a lot of it, the industry has changed so much in the past few years.  Adding in the new divisions of "bikini" and "physique", while some shows are choosing to completely eliminate women's bodybuilding in favor of physique rather than including both.  Competitors are becoming coaches with their only experience being the fact they did one competition.  They do not have degrees in exercise science, nutrition anything that a true coach should have.  Cookie cutter diets are everywhere with the majority pushing women to eat extremely low calories while doing way too much cardio in order to get them to very low body fat levels.

It makes me sad and so disappointed.

Yesterday I read a great article on Run.Lift.Yoga. I really enjoy this blog and you should check it out.  Bri is educated, honest and always has awesome posts.  Her post yesterday hit home for me, especially because I had previously read the article she was talking about and I myself am a figure competitor.  The article was written by Christian Thibaudeau and it is titled Why Are You Competing?

Bri is right on, training for an ultra marathon is extremely different than training for a competition.  In both cases you are pushing your body to it's limits, in very different ways.  You do not have to compete in a bodybuilding show to prove you can push yourself.

Christian was pretty harsh in some of his article, not gonna lie!  He was also extremely honest.  With the bikini category it seems like there are many more women choosing to compete, they may have decided to train three months before a competition because someone who works out at their gym claims they can train them, so they do it.  A lot of these women find themselves consumed by one goal, getting a trophy or some huge type of recognition!  They will do whatever it takes, they will not look into the background of their new coach to see if they are actually a certified trainer or nutritionist who knows the science behind building up muscle mass and decreasing body fat the right way.  In the end they may step on stage feeling awesome and rebound after the competition, gaining back way too much far too quickly because they didn't know about reverse dieting.  Their metabolism will feel the harsh changes and can become severely damaged and they end up on this vicious roller coaster of trying to stay in competition shape and unable to be happy with themselves at a normal state.

I have been an athlete all my life.  It started with running then volleyball and when I found weight training I just felt complete.  I met my husband through friends and it took us a couple of years to come together.  He was a personal trainer and we enjoyed working out, we had discussed the possibility of me competing but I knew deep down it wasn't something I was ready to do.  I was very critical of my body and going down the road of competing at that time, well honestly I knew I wasn't mentally prepared for it.

At the age of 30 I knew I was finally ready both mentally and physically.  You HAVE to be in the right place mentally because most women do not walk around year round in competition ready shape.  My husband and I set out our plan, I myself did so much research on "dieting" and in the end I realized I didn't want to "diet" I wanted to change my lifestyle instead.  I vowed that I would not cut out food groups, physically I am unable to even think about cutting water and sodium.  My body just can't handle that, I do not retain fluids and cutting water or sodium would end up with me fainting on stage, not worth it.  The best resource for me when it came to nutrition for competing was Layne Norton, he is AMAZING, seriously I love him because he brings science into it and he is so extremely intelligent.  I also chose to incorporate the Fighter Diet, I like Pauline but in the end I wasn't happy with cutting out certain foods.  I still eat loads of veggies but I will not give up bread, cereal or pop tarts for that matter.

My first competition was two years later and it was honestly so much fun and an eye opener.  I placed fourth in one of my divisions and realized that I still had a lot of work to do.  You can't put on muscle mass in three months, it takes years to build up good muscle mass for most people, myself included.  I was proud of myself standing on that stage with my family and friends cheering me on.  There isn't one person in my large family who doesn't support me and my choice to compete.  Their support has blown me away, I get teary eyed just thinking about how truly proud they are of me as I reach my goals.

As a mother I have chosen to be very careful on this path.  I want to teach my daughter why I want to compete and how I do it in a healthy way.  I know people say this all the time but this is me being 110% honest, I compete for ME.  I do not compete for the trophies which will set in my office needing to be dusted ;)  I compete because I LOVE to lift weights and train, I also LOVE to proudly stand on that stage.  I'm not one to post loads of selfies on my Instagram, of course I will here and there but I do it because I am so proud of my progress.  You won't see butt shots or side boob shots, that's just not me.  The sex appeal of the industry gets under my skin, but sadly it is what it is and I choose not to go there.

Here are some photos from my first competition.  So, so proud of myself and these photos showed me where I needed to improve.  I never look at them thinking badly about my body, I look at them thinking I would like more mass to my shoulders and to get some quad sweeps.  Areas I just want to improve so I bring a better ME to the stage next time.

In the photos above I have my husband, daughter, parents and two of my best friends, I can feel their pride and my joy in these photos.  I have many more with my siblings and best friends but there would be far too many to post.  I worked so very hard for months to get myself ready for this competition and yes it was worth it.  I didn't become a fitness model, or sponsored athlete or get thousands of followers on Instagram.  I didn't care, that was not why I did it! 

This photo is one of my favorites, my daughter and I proudly showing off what we accomplished.  Bella went on stage for the kids pose down and got her very own awesome medal.  She was so incredibly proud of me and proud of herself for going up on that stage.  This beautiful little girl right here is why I will never deprive myself for a competition, spend HOURS in the gym or become harsh on my own views of myself.  I choose to workout before she wakes up for the day and with my husband being the GM for Kosama she enjoys going with us for kickboxing workouts.

The next set of photos are from my second competition where I placed third in my category.  My best friend sponge painted the tan on me, it didn't take well and I was so much lighter than the other competitors that it played into my scoring.  I was very happy with myself, I could see the improvements from the previous competition, my niece Carley did this competition with me and we just had a BLAST! 

Another awesome photo of family who came to support me, again I have so many I won't post them all :)  Four out of my seven siblings were there cheering so loudly, knowing how hard I've worked.

Now we come to the present where I have honestly felt a bit in limbo.  I became a Complete Nutrition sponsored athlete, so proud to represent a great company with truly amazing products that I DO use.  I have had ups and downs with my health and had to make a difficult choice just 6 weeks out from a May competition.  I just wasn't going to be ready, sure I could make myself ready by going to the extreme, but it wouldn't be healthy, I wouldn't be happy and my daughter would see that.  My husband was very honest with me and we decided to wait.

My plans were to compete this fall, after a long discussion last night a new plan has come to light.  I am going to spend the next 7-8 months building the muscle mass I want, working out with my husband at the gym and our good friend Corey.  Kyle (my husband) got in some big tires and battle ropes at Kosama, we are so excited to incorporate them into my training.  I am excited and looking forward to taking my time and not rushing myself, there is no age limit in this sport so why pressure myself?

It takes years to build a competitive physique.  You may feel the urge to do it and think you can take a couple of months lifting weights and then do tons of cardio while eating minimal food to get lean enough.  Please do not go down that road, you will destroy your body and your mind.  If you can't still enjoy spending time with your family and friends, going out to restaurants (believe me you CAN do that and still make healthy choices) and other activities you are doing it wrong.

Life is about making memories with those you love.  Standing on stage for a couple of minutes should never be more important than the people cheering you on and supporting you.

In the end I compete for ME.  I am lucky to be married to a man who has the same interests as I do and a daughter who enjoys watching me compete and she also enjoys being a part of my journey.

Make the right choices for yourself and your family, they come first.  So tonight I am going to enjoy going to a concert with my husband and having a few beers.  Tomorrow I will thoroughly enjoying paying in a 3's sand volleyball tournament, Sunday a long run is in store along with baking goodies in the Easy Bake oven.  Monday we will remember those we have lost and thank those who have given their lives to protect our freedoms and I will hit the gym lifting heavy weights because I am fortunate that I am physically able to do that.

Life is short, do what you love with those you love and always be proud of YOU!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dealing With the Pain

Well I have to say I am disappointed in how everything has turned out for me, but I am healthy and able to be active so I am eternally grateful for that!

The fibroid is too small to be causing any issues, there are no signs of trauma to my abdomen.  My doctor recommended physical therapy, which I declined.  The money spent thus far to figure things out has been quite a bit and to do physical therapy for this, when I can't get a straight answer on whatever is truly going on with my body, no thanks.

I adore my doctor and I know she feels badly, but I told her I will continue to be active knowing my abdomen muscles are perfectly ok and I will deal with the pain.

My runs have been good, average pace on shorter runs is 9:03 per mile.  I am SO close to breaking through and getting below 9 minutes!  Long runs are slower and the abdominal pain kicks in around mile 8-9.  It isn't too intense until I finish, it is searing pain throughout my abdomen.  The swelling hasn't been as bad lately, there is a positive :)

My half marathon is just a week and a half away.  To be completely honest I am looking forward to running with my sister and one of my best friends, I am already feeling a bit sad at the thought of not finishing faster than last year.  I know I shouldn't really be looking at that part of it, but I am one of the most competitive people you will meet, it is just in my nature.

I'm not saying it is entirely impossible, but I am planning ahead to just be happy to finish the race with such minimal training and know that I will do better on my next race.

My husband had decided to wait to start training me for my next competition until after the half marathon.  I have done some kick boxing classes but man am I missing the weights.  It has worked out in a way with it being the end of the school year for our daughter, her dance recital is coming up, one of my nephews has his high school graduation so we have been BUSY.

This weekend will be a fun one.  I am playing in a 3's tournament with one of my brothers and my doubles partner at Volley's.  A full day of sand volleyball makes me very, very happy :)  Sunday I plan on running an easy 8-9 miles, then some shorter runs next week before the big event.

My blogging has been minimal, frustration plays into that.  Once I get back in the gym my posts will become more frequent and I'll finally be adding in some exercise videos and other fun stuff.

Thank you so much for all of the well wishes, I truly appreciate it! :)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Running Again!

Well I finally got my CT scan results and they were not really what I expected.  My ab muscles are fine thankfully and I don't have a hemorrhoid!  I do have a uterine fibroid that they will be doing an ultrasound on this coming Monday.  Apparently based on the location and size it could be causing my abdominal pain, so strange to me.

I am ok to run as long as I can handle any pain that comes along with it.  So I am back to training and have just three weeks until my half marathon.  I am slightly concerned only because I have missed so much training.  At least I have ran this race before, I know it isn't super hilly and I'm not a fast distance runner anyway :)

I would like to beat my previous time but I will not be disappointed if that doesn't happen, as long as I run the entire race I will be happy with that.

This ongoing issue has caused me to push back my next competition.  I was going to compete in July at the NGA 4th Annual Mr and Ms Sioux Empire Natural Bodybuilding and Figure Championship.  I was disappointed to have to make that decision but when it comes to figure competing I always want to bring my best to the stage.  I would begin my cut now and I just don't have the size I want to start cutting.

Hopefully we get everything figured out, I get back into my regular lifting routine and I can look forward to competing this fall.

It is hard for me to push back events, it really is.  I've learned to look at it this way though, there is no time limit, I can compete for as long as I am physically able and want to.  There have been some bumps along the way this year and I am making the proper adjustments which in the end will make me a better competitor.

Last night I got out and ran just two miles, I took my new running buddy with me.  I will have to split up runs to get him in proper condition, he made it two miles and we went at a slower pace than normal for me.  He did awesome though for his first run and I look forward to many, many more runs with my sweet boy Hurley.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sand Season Has Begun!

Sand volleyball season has begun!  We are die hard players at Volley's starting the season the last weekend of April and playing until the last weekend of September.  In Iowa that means we could be starting in 30 degree weather with sleet or ending that way.

Last night the weather was PERFECT!  It was in the 60's, sunny with a slight breeze and we were ready to play.

I play double's at 5pm with my good friend Chris.  We have been friends since middle school and have played volleyball together off and on for about 17 years (wow that sounds insane and not even possible to be true), we have been doubles partners for 4 years.  We have a four's team that plays at 6pm, we've got one of my little sisters and her husband's cousin who play with us.

We were just all so excited for the awesome weather yesterday, last year it was in the upper 30's with sleet/rain, awful.

It was a bit rough starting off, the transition from indoor to outdoor takes just a little bit.  It is so much easier to get some height off of a gym floor versus the sand.  Chris was jumping a bit too early but still getting his hits.  It took me a few times to feel comfortable jumping and hitting but I go there.

We won all of our games, it feels good to start off the season 6-0!  Hopefully we keep it up and continue to improve.

My running has been minimal, I've been having a lot of abdominal issues and I will be seeing my doctor tomorrow.  I feel like I've strained my abs, after a run they are extremely sore (actually they are constantly sore) and very swollen.  My half marathon is in a month so I am very anxious to figure out what is going on and hoping we can come up with something so I can continue to run and still run the half marathon!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Half Marathon Training Progress

My next event is the Dam to Dam half marathon in Des Moines, IA.  This race is considered Iowa's distance classic, last year was the first year they made it an actual half marathon.  In the years prior it was just short of a full half marathon.

Last year was also the first year I ran that race and I feel in love.  The start is at Saylorville dam ending at Center Street Dam.  I loved the route, starting off outside of town, running through Des Moines on the streets and some trails with a fantastic finish.

I've always loved races, the atmosphere, excitement and now that I actually run half marathons accomplishing that distance, all of it together is such an awesome experience.  My goal is always to run a better race, get a faster time and learn more about myself each time.

Yesterday I did a long run, six miles.  Life has been a bit hectic the past couple of weeks and I broke a cardinal rule, I skipped a couple of long runs.  I know that those runs are crucial, especially for myself.  My body needs to get used to the longer runs, so I was a little concerned about yesterdays run.

One of my favorite supplements from Complete Nutrition is 3plenish, it seriously has made a huge difference for me when it comes to endurance.  The electrolyte blend, modified release carb complex and blend of amino acids is unlike any product out there and it is all combined into ONE product.  I love both flavors and it honestly isn't a super expensive supplement.  I used to rely on Gaterade or Powerade along with energy gels, but I prefer the 3plenish by far, it has half the sugar that Gaterade has.  I do still need the energy gel along with it.  My body just processes everything so quickly, I can feel when I am giving out but making sure I take a couple of drinks after every song I listen to and having an energy gel every 3 miles, I can make it.

My goal yesterday was to run 10 minute miles, I came in just under that with 9:57 minute miles.  For me that is pretty darn good, I am not a "fast" distance runner.  Occasionally I start to freak myself out a bit on hills and I usually get a little bit anxious when I see the end in site, all I do is focus on breathing and count.

The only bad part of my run was that I started with the wind at my back and the last half was all into the wind, but I did it!  I was so proud of myself for running it after a heavy leg day on Saturday lifting 19,505 pounds :) I ended my Sunday playing indoor volleyball, we won 2 out of 3 games, all in all it was an awesome Sunday!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My Goals Teach My Daughter

Currently I am training for a half marathon on May 30th and my next figure competition on July 25th.  After my first half marathon I swore I would never run another, but I did and now I plan on doing a couple a year :)  Pushing myself again and training properly showed me that I could do it and actually have fun.  My goal for this years Dam to Dam is only to beat my time from last year.  My goal for the figure competition is to bring the best ME to the stage yet.

I do these things because I enjoy them, I like to push myself and have discipline.  I love to work hard for my goals and I share my goals with my daughter.  She sees me put in the hard work from going to the gym to going out for long runs on the weekend and playing volleyball on Sundays.  Soon she will be running longer distances with me and she can't wait to be able to start volleyball.

Last night she had dance and they received the recommendations for levels for next year.  Bella just lit up when she got her sheet and came running out of the studio to show it to me.  She went up to Level 3 in all genres, she was in Level 2 for ballet, Level 1 for tap and Level 1/2 for hip hop.  She could not believe she skipped an entire level for tap and was extremely proud of herself.

As we were driving home and talking about her awesome accomplishment she just amazed me.  She talked about how much she loves dance and that she knows she leveled up like she did because of her hard work but also because she has so much fun with dance.  My eight year old then went on to explain to me that listening to her teachers, working on her technique while having fun was how she leveled up.  But even if she hadn't she would have still been happy because it isn't all about what level she is at right now as long as she always works hard, has fun and is confident in her goals.

I asked her where she got the idea of working hard, having fun and being confident was a way to reach her goals.  

She said, "from you and daddy silly.  I love how hard you work for your competitions and I love watching you stand on stage and I know you don't care if you win or not.  You taught me that it doesn't matter if you win, just that you reach your goal and have fun doing it.  Daddy helps you by training you and teaching you to pose and he is proud of you."  

I didn't know what to say for a moment.  All I could say was that I was extremely proud of her and that she such a very special little girl and as long as she continues believing in herself and working hard she can achieve anything she puts her mind to.

I know she watches us and learns from us it is just moments like that where it hits me hard.  I feel proud that we are teaching her about goals and truly hope she carries these thoughts with her as she gets older and gets into sports.  

Today as I run on my lunch hour with extremely sore legs from leg day on Saturday I will think of her and how proud she is of me, that pushes me even harder for my own personal goals.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Internet Trolls - Sadly They Make Women HATE Themselves - Please Read

This afternoon was a doozy!

There are internet trolls everywhere.  Clearly it is much easier to say mean, disrespectful, hurtful things to people while sitting behind a computer and typing on a keyboard.  I often wonder if these people would say what they are saying if they were face to face with the person they were being so cruel to.

Now I know not everyone is a fan of every body type.  Some people like women who are curvy, skinny, rounder, pear shaped, dare I say muscular.  We women come in all shapes in sizes, just like men, GASP!

One of my favorite physique competitors is Dana Linn Bailey.  She works her butt off, I admire her dedication, work ethic and honesty.  Not everyone is a fan of her physique and her photos are often full of comments from people telling her that she looks like "a disgusting man", "a roided out chick dude", I could go on and on but I won't.

Today she posted a selfie and in the caption she talked about feeling down after her previous competition and that she mentally let herself break down.  Personally it really hit home because I myself as we all know just had my own little mental break down in regard to competing on Sunday.  So I decided to comment on her photo.  My comment drew in a really creepy internet troll, I've never really dealt with one but I was blown away by his complete disrespect towards Dana and then myself.  He obviously doesn't know either one of us but it was very easy for him to sit at his keyboard and be cruel.

I was so upset, SO upset.  I decided to screenshot the comments, when I refreshed the page he had deleted some of his comments so I didn't get everything but I will fill you in.

Now I didn't really get upset until the guy called me a "roided out chick dude".  Really?  The screenshot on the left was the beginning of the conversation, the one on the right is the end.  He deleted all of his comments he had left after the "roided out chick dude" comment, why, I have no idea.  You would think he would have wanted to remove all of his horrible comments.

He responded to my NANBF competitor comment with, "arod was tested".  Apparently that means that because A-Rod the baseball player was tested and got away with it means that I take steroids and manage to still pass my polygraphs and urine tests.  Believe me, I am a natural competitor and I do not take steroids or anything else that would be considered illegal by the NANBF.  I take protein, pre-workout and BCAA's, clearly that gives me an edge and that is why I've made it to the Olympia stage *sarcasm*. 

His response when I mentioned hoping he didn't have a daughter, because truly thinking of this man raising a little girl TERRIFIES me, was that he DOES have a daughter.  The comment he deleted was that he hoped to raise her so she doesn't ruin herself like I have ruined myself.

That is why I made that final comment, this man acted like he knows me and that is creepy.  I was being 100% honest as I told him that I hoped he saves such horrid behavior for the internet rather than show his attitude toward women to his daughter.

The other gents weren't very kind either, trying to stick up for me and get the dude off of my post.  Honestly in a way I kind of appreciated their attempts, but THIS is one big reason why women are afraid to be who they are, to let people know who they are, to show that they are STRONG and CONFIDENT.  Because of cruel people like this man.  

It makes me so incredibly sad.  Be kind to others, you may not agree with what they do.  You know what though, you do NOT have to make cruel comments on their photos or make cruel comments that a fan left on a photo.  I was not the woman who posted the photo, I was simply a fan of Dana Linn Bailey and I got disrespected.

I do not have a son but if I did I would be certain to raise him to be respectful of everyone, especially women.  I would raise him to speak as if anyone can hear or read what he says.  That man's employers would be able to see his crude comments, I doubt they would like to have that type of representation.

The internet is cruel.  I've always known it can be, but I was never affected personally quite like today.

Be kind, uplift each other, show love and generosity instead of unprovoked hatred and disrespect.

I hate that I let that man get to me like he did this afternoon.  Thank you if you read this, I NEEDED this vent.  I will hug my daughter so extremely tight when I pick her up after work and remind her over and over again how extraordinary, special and beautiful she is, no matter what anyone says.  I will also say that to myself and remind myself that I am proud of who I am, a hard working mother, a loving wife, daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend, a woman who is proud of her accomplishments and has many more achievements to make.

Body Shaming - We Saw Cinderella

I took my daughter to see the movie Cinderella.  

Before we went I saw many articles about the actress, Lily James, who plays the part of Cinderella.  The articles were about how she went on a liquid diet in order to fit into the corset for the beautiful blue dress.  I shamefully jumped on the bandwagon immediately and was appalled that a woman would do something like that to her body, agreeing with many I follow on Facebook.

Then I saw more articles that included Lily James feeling the horrible effects of being body shamed.  We were all body shaming her without knowing from her exactly what she chose to do for that role.  As I read other articles where she explained that liquids during the scenes where she wore the corset didn't upset her stomach like solids did, I understood a little more.  She then explained that she is a small build naturally.  The explanation of a small build slapped me right in the face.

I have a daughter who is very petite.  What if someday, actually I don't even have to say "what if someday" because sadly at the age of 8 it has already happened to her.  Body shaming begins at a very young age and my sweet Bella has been teased more than a few times for being so "small" and has been told that she is too "skinny".

Bella is EIGHT.  I foresee her as being petite her entire life, maybe she won't be, maybe her body shape will change and she will become more muscular like her mom.  However she grows, IT DOESN'T MATTER.  What matters is that she is always confident and happy with herself, living a healthy lifestyle.

A couple of days ago I decided to wait a couple of months before I compete in my next figure competition.  I wrote about it in my previous post, I was body shaming myself and that is NOT where I want to be.

I have chosen this hobby of figure competing because I truly enjoy it, the one promise I made to myself was that I would never become ashamed of my body, be angry at myself if my progress is slow and never, ever put myself down for taking the time I need to improve myself in a healthy manner.  I acted the complete opposite on Sunday and I shocked myself.  Thankfully I have a truly amazing husband/trainer/coach who could see it all happen and he was there to pick me up and help me get right back to where I needed to be mentally.

As I think about that, I wonder if Lily went through some of those same feelings.  Knowing how much of the world was bashing her for what she chose to do for her movie role.  She was not on a liquid diet for the entire filming of the movie, people just assumed she was by her comments.  I bet she wished she had never mentioned how she made it comfortable for herself to wear that beautiful blue dress.

I am not saying I completely agree with the process she took.  Actors and actresses go to the extreme all the time for movie roles.  You know what so do bodybuilders, figure competitors, models, the list goes on and on.  I do hate how the entertainment community pushes for seemingly "thin" women and I also hate how so much of the fitness industry is focusing more on the sexualization of athletes and promoting poor nutrition to get "fit".  However I will truly make a conscience effort not to body shame.

The movie was beautiful, magical and plain amazing.  Bella LOVED it and she was extremely thankful to me for taking her.  She never once mentioned how Cinderella looked so skinny and honestly in the movie it wasn't something that completely caught my attention.  People have said they would boycott the movie because of how skinny Cinderella looked, they would not have their daughters see a movie where the main actress drank liquids rather than eating solids when she wore the corset.

You know what, the only way most of our very young children would even know that fact would be because we told them.  Why in the world would we feel the need to tell them anything about an actresses "diet" for a movie role?  Is it explained to them why some Disney or Nickelodeon actresses are smaller?  Probably not because they are simply a smaller build.

So let's stop the body shaming.  Some women are naturally thin, some women are naturally curvy, some women are naturally muscular.  Let women be themselves and let's hope that we can all find a way to be truly happy with ourselves and portray that kind of positive attitude to younger generations.