It’s Growing Season

Growing can be fun.

 

It can also be scary.

Want it more than fear it

 

Some days I feel powerful.  I go to the gym, lift heavy stuff… decide to be a ninja…. 

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Going Big with Endurance

Go big or go home.

 

That’s my life’s mantra.

Why stop at 10 when you can do 11?  Or 30 when you can be 31.  If I can better myself without damaging myself, I’m going to go for it.  Today I’m bring back Work It Out to focus on endurance.

sprint2table-workitout… 

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A Day in Basel, Switzerland + WIAW

When in Rome…

 

Or Basel.  Whatever.

On my first full day in Basel, Lucie took me on adventures fit for a blogger!  But first we began in a predictable way… taking pictures of yogurt bowls before breakfast!

My bowl was goat’s milk yogurt (which Lucie bought special for me!) with cinnamon, Growing Naturals Vanilla Rice Protein, oats, strawberries, cacao nibs, and more of Lucie’s bread.  We took our beautiful bowls outside of a photo shoot in natural light.  Priorities!

Yogurt Bowl photo shoot… 

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Work It Out: Counting Is Hard

I have popcorn stuck in my teeth.

 

I need to work that out with some floss.

Popcorn.  Good carbs when you pop it fresh at home.  Why do I need carbs?  Because I’ve been working hard!  And I just like popcorn.  

It’s been a while since I posted a Work It Out, but I’m sharing an especially good one today to make up for it.

sprint2table-workitout… 

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Top 13 in 2013

You guys like dessert.

 

I guess that’s why we get along?

Happy New Year!!!

As I looked back at the top posts of 2013, I knew there would be a lot of sweeter dishes.  But whoa.  Of the top 13 2013 posts, 6 were sweet recipes.  What I didn’t realize was that the Work It Out posts are popular too!  I’ll do a better job to writing more of those in 2014 – I’ve been pushing it at the gym, but slacking on the writing.

Thank you to everyone for all of the visits, comments, and many, many laughs in 2013.  I’ve loved getting to know so many awesome people this year, and look forward to continuing these relationships for years to come.

Enough much!  Here’s the lucky (top) 13 to start out ’14…

Top 13 in 2013… 

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Accidental Long Runs + Mizuno Wave Rider 17 Review

Cardio hasn’t been fun recently.

 

The following post is sponsored by Fitfluential LLC on behalf of Mizuno. All opinions are my own.

I like cardio when it’s MY idea.  Having it as a mandatory daily activity during competition prep makes it a chore.  That’s a thing of the past (for now), and I have gotten the itch to run more.  The added motivation of new shoes doesn’t hurt.  Does anyone else get oddly motivated by new workout gear?!

I’ve never had the chance to try out a Mizuno running shoe.  When I got the opportunity to try the new Wave Rider 17, I jumped at it!  It’s a neutral running shoe with a good amount of support.

Mizuno Wave Rider 17

 

After all of the Thanksgiving festivities and football disappointments, I was itching for a run.  Sunday I headed out to tackle Atlanta’s hilly streets in my new Wave Riders…. 

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Competition Blues

When a big event ends it’s a little sad.

 

What do I DO if I’m not planning and prepping?!

Rest is a good thing, but it can be a hard thing to swallow.  I’ve heard people talk about feeling down after races, weddings, babies… and competitions.  This time around I’m feeling it more than I did before.  I think it’s because I know it’s going to be a long time before I compete again (more on that below).

sprint2table-workitout

Today’s Work It Out is my attempt to get over it by focusing on lessons learned at Kentucky Muscle and The Rocky, and getting excited to make improvements.

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Season 2 Lessons Learned

1.  Support is Invaluable

Having my trainer and 2 very good friends around throughout the process made it 100x easier.  Surround yourself with positive people, even better if they can empathize.  Heather and Lisa are versatile friends – they were the perfect partners-in-crime in Napa for my 30th and for competing!

Check out the transformation from July to November (photo-editing courtesy Heather):

From Napa to the stage

From Napa to the stage

 

2. Big Shows are Tough

I’m not talking just the level of competition (though it is harder).  I’m talking mentally.  They are long, long days.  The Rocky show was the most disorganized situation I’ve ever seen.  They let too many people enter, causing the show to run so far behind that my group was just getting on stage for pre-judging when the evening show was supposed to begin.  That show began 2 hours late… by the time we went to stage again I no longer cared even a little bit.

Rock out

It was an exercise in patience, rolling with the punches.  Thank you for the lesson… but never will I ever do a Colorado show again.  In near-ish the future I plan to stick to smaller shows.  If you chose them right, they are still competitive but you don’t end up wasting so much time.  I get that they want to make money, but there needs to be a cut off for entries.  It’s not fair to the athletes or the people who buy tickets.

 

3. Celebrate Small Victories

Not placing Top 5 doesn’t mean you can celebrate the small victories.  It’s no secret that I hate posing.  It’s as far out of my comfort zone as you can get.  Lisa, who has seen me almost since day 1, watched me in Colorado and said it’s the best I’ve never done.

Now I need to work on GROWING… Open comparisons side

 

4. Growth Takes Time 

I’ve gained a lot over the past 2 years, but I’m still too small.  I feel like I look big in the gym lifting, but then you put me next to the other women and I look tiny.  My trainer, Steve, has been telling me I need to take a year off to really grow.  Competing every 6 months or so means I cut too often and lose some of the gains I make.

Steve and me

So I’ve decided to listen to Steve’s advice.  I’m taking a year off to grow.  This is contributing to the “blues” because I love having a goal line.

(I’m not always the best listener ← understatement of the year.)

 

5. Food is Good

My nutrition plan leading up to competition wasn’t so restrictive that I was miserable.  You CAN compete in a healthy way.  It doesn’t have to be tilapia and asparagus (click here for the “why” on asparagus) for months.  You never need to be hungry (I stayed full!).

Towards the end you do need to keep with super clean and avoid anything that could bloat.  For me, that meant a couple of weeks that were heavy on the white fish and asparagus.  I cooked 2 pans of it for Heather and me the day before our competition!

Photo courtesy of Heather

Photo courtesy of Heather, whose spice drawer I could move into.

 

The happy part about a bulk year is that I get to have alllll the foods!

Heather’s husband, Kirk, help me kick it off right when he made smoked salmon and eggs benedict for us the morning after the competition.  I am still dreaming of this:

#yolkporn

“I can’t wait to find out what happens on page number two.” ~Jennifer Nettles, Page #2

***

Check out Heather’s Rocky recap here.   I’m excited she’s already planning her return to the stage!

Have you ever experience the post-event blues?  What do you do to cheer up?

Who is on your support team?  Tell them how thankful you are this week!

 

Competition Weekend Through an iPhone Lens

I don’t even bring a camera when I travel anymore.

 

Disclosure: The following post is sponsored by Fitfluential LLC on behalf of Verizon Wireless.

When I got my first smart phone, it changed my world.  I’ve never liked having to carry multiple devices or go to more than one source for tasks.

Verizon offered me the chance to upgrade from my iPhone 5 to a 5s and I pounced on the opportunity.  From the solid, light-weight of the metal-casing to the fingerprint-reading lock, I am impressed.  I also love the new iOS7 system.  It offers iTunes Radio, which is like Pandora but better because you can tag songs as favorites to remember to purchase later.  I’ve wished for this feature on the radio SO many times!

iPhone 5s

 

The light weight and the radio features allow me to travel light on a plane or the gym – just grab the phone and my in-flight entertainment or energy-inducing jams are there.  I love being able shake up my music songs – my playlist was getting OLD after all this competition training.

Since I spent the weekend with Heather in Colorado for our competition, I joined her for a final workout.  Radio up and headphones in, I killed the last back/tri workout I’ll do for 2 weeks (it’s REST time!).  It was SO much fun to be able to do it with a friend, and to shamelessly ask gym employees to take iPhone pics for us.

workout with Heather

 

Best of all is the super-fast Verizon 4G LTE service.  I’m extremely impatient, so being able to over-share instantaneously via InstagramFacebook, and Twitter is a must.  I did just that alllll weekend long from Colorado!

 

I’m drafting this on a flight home and the internet is painfully slow, so the full recap will have to wait.  In the meantime, here’s the iPhone-powered Cliff’s Notes:

Heather and I didn’t get top 5, but we had a blast.  AND we got to cheer Lisa, who placed 4th in Bikini Class C.

Lisa Heather Me

 

We celebrated in style at one of Denver’s best restaurants, Fruition.  Kait joined us too – it was so great to meet her for the first time.  I ordered pasta carbonara with hand-made cavatalli, pork belly and a 6 minute egg (I ordered that solely for the #yolkporn) and duck confit pierogi with caramelized brussels, kumquat marmalade, and roasted apple pan jus.

The food was great, the service was perfect, and the company couldn’t have been better… but I’m still amazed I didn’t fall asleep in my (unpictured) dessert.

fruition

 

Sunday was a beautiful morning – not a cloud in the sky!  Heather, Kirk (her husband) and I slept in and headed out for coffee and a hike.

We headed back to meet Lauren and Greg (her husband) for brunch.  We sipped on a Kirk-and-Heather whiskey barrel-aged homebrew (out-of-this-world good!) and shoveled a cheese plate in our mouths while Kirk prepared the meal  The smoked salmon eggs benedict was one of the best I’ve had!

Denver brunch

 

I’m sad to leave, but made a ton of good memories… and rekindled my desire to MOVE to Denver!  It was all pretty marvelous.

MMIM

***

I am so grateful for Heather and Kirk putting up with me me up for the long weekend, and to everyone who commented/tweeted good luck messages.  It all made the weekend that much more special.  Thank you! <3

Are you an iPhone or Droid lover?  What are your favorite apps?  I’ve become addicted to LINE camera.

Do you like to hike?  That’s one of the reasons I want to live in Denver!  

 

Work it Out: My Fitness Journey

Life is a jungle gym.

 

And I like monkeying around.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned lately is life isn’t linear.  This sounds obvious even as I write it, but over and over I’ve been surprised when my carefully laid plains deviate from the path I’ve plotted.  Things change – you grow up.  You learn new skills.  You have setbacks.  Life happens.

Plan changes have happened in all aspects of my life – career, relationships, fitness, etc. – and I’m sure you’ve experienced the same.  I gt a lot of questions about how I began competing, so today’s Work It Out is my fitness journey.  My jungle gym.

sprint2table-workitout

Before I get into it, I want to be very clear that this is my path.  I’ve done things that were right and that were wrong.  Some are tender subjects; they were part of my journey.  I know you all have your own stories.  I simply submit that I hope no matter where you are in your journey, that you stay true to yourself and have FUN.  No regrets. 

_______________________________________________________________________________________

I love a competition.  Sports, spelling bees,  pie eating… you name it, I’m up for the challenge.  It’s how I’m wired.  This has taken me on many a fun ride in my life.

Related to fitness, I have tried just about any sport you can think of.  I was lucky to have parents who encouraged me to sign up for all sorts of things – from ice skating to horseback riding to softball.  Softball stuck – I still play every season!

softball

Years later I still morn the day that bat broke.

 

In my college years, I wasn’t very active unless you count partying and working.  I was a bartender.  I smoked, drank too much, and ate crap.  Not surprisingly, I gained the “freshman 15″ (and the sophomore 15) and was always tired.  When my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer something clicked in my head.  His disease wasn’t related to unhealthy living; he had actually lost a ton of weight through diet and exercise a few years prior and never smoked a day in his life.

The message that life is short came loud and clear to me.  While my dad was getting treatments he continued light exercise to keep strength that allowed him to turn 6 months into 4.5 years with the disease.  Through his example, I was inspired to clean up my act a bit and started workout out casually.  It wasn’t a total turnaround… but it was a start.

no one wins

Which beer shall I drink first…

 

Fast forward a few years and I discovered a new passion – roller derby.  I only wish my dad had been around to see that!  I had a blast, met some really cool people, and skated about 12 hours a week.  It was thrilling.  I’d found a sport I loved again!

It also proved to myself that it is impossible to out exercise a bad diet.  I was doing intense workouts nearly daily but gaining weight.  I am not saying I was “fat,” but I wasn’t healthy and, more importantly, I didn’t feel good.

derby

 

Looking at my unhealthy habits, I decided it was time for a cleanse.  It was the derby off-season and I took the opportunity to give my body a break from getting beat up (literally and figuratively).  21 days of clean eating was amazing for me.  I reset some habits, had boundless energy again, and I learned to love running.

That Thanksgiving I ran a 10K with my baby sister and my mom!

Gobble Jog

 

Then came a new season of derby.  I was still doing really well with healthy living and had come back for the next season with more energy and passion and ever.  Whatever was in stow, I was ready to jump on it.  Life had other plans.  

I broke my jaw during an expo bout (bout = a roller derby game).  It was miserable.  I looked like Jay Leno and it cost me a pretty important trip in my new job.

 

6 weeks later my jaw was as good as new but I decided it was time to find something a little safer.  Plus, I’d lost a TON of weight from not being able to eat solids, which was not good for playing a contact sport.  I looked unhealthy, and I’d basically forgotten how to eat.  All I’d been able to have was soup, pureed oatmeal, and smoothies!

I struggled with the aftermath of that injury for a while.  Rather than derby, I ran all the time.  I was faster and going longer than ever, but – even though I was eating – my new teeny body couldn’t keep up.  When you are at a deficit and continue to workout at the level you were before… well, you are just going to get skinnier (read: my mom was worried sick).

I almost didn’t post this pic. It pains me to look at it… but it’s what happened.

 

Unrelated to that, my knee decided to give out.  I got half a mile into a run and was in so much pain I had to stop.  The doctor told me my ACL was hanging on by a thread and if I wanted to run distance again I’d need to have surgery.  That may have been the best thing that could have happened to me.

 

Time for a new hobby!  Instead of going under the knife, I decided to go the route of building.  Body building.  If I could build up my quads, my knee wouldn’t bother me in daily activity and running short distances.  I’d always loved lifting weights and had done a round or two of P90X, so it seemed to be the perfect next bar to grab.

Two and a half years ago I met with my trainer the first time and started down the path of something that would forever change my life.  Lifting feels like it did when I fell in love with softball – I look forward to going to the gym, I want to talk strategy with anyone who will listen… it’s my passion!

Lisa and me at Palmetto – both Top 5!

Since then, I’ve gained 10 solid pounds of muscle, 2 pounds of  boob, and competed in 2 figure competitions.  Much to my surprise I placed in both!  Rounds 3 and 4 are in 3 and 4 weeks… they are on very competitive stages, but I’m excited just to have the experience.  I’ve been watching the success of others around me and am stoked (do people still say that?) for the off season and a sold year of building.

I feel great: inspired, focused, and having fun.

 

Fitness looks like a million different things.  What you do isn’t important, as long as it’s something you love and something that contributes to your health.  Don’t be afraid to change your course as you evolve.  Yoga, walking, lifting, cross-fitting… whatever.  Find something you are passionate about and embrace it.

Having been both active and inactive to my detriment, I can promise you that finding balance and the thing that turns you on will make all the difference.  That high, that endorphin rush, is sheer joy.  It’s worth it to make time for it.

YOU are worth it.

***

Need some inspiration?  Check out this post full of inspiring athletes from all walks of life.

Have you always been “healthy,” or was there a turning point for you?

What brings you joy?

 

Pumpkin Almond Protein Batter

The closer I get to my competition, the more fun I have.

 

Ask me again in 2 weeks and I may tell you different.

Right now life revolves around the gym, food, and work.  I love all three of these, so why wouldn’t I be ecstatic?  Here’s how my typical Saturday goes down:

1. Wake Up, Eat, Get Dressed

I started my day with a delicious combo of oats, TVP, egg whites, cinnamon, ginger… and cheesecake.

The cheesecake part was thank to a Loranne Cheesecake Flavoring.  I topped with frozen cherries and a sprinkle of cocoa powder.

Cheesecake TVP Oatmeal

 

2. Go to Competition Suit Fitting

No pic till competition day… but I LOVE it!

My suit

 

3. Posing practice and Back/Tri Workout

I did this at my trainer’s gym, which I love because it’s an actually a training gym vs. a fitness club.  The icing on the cake was that I was the only one there for the last half of the workout, which was amazing.

Clearly this called for a photoshoot.

 

4. Meet with 1st Personal Training Client

I am SO excited to be working with a former roller derby teammate.  She is going to kick ass int he gym too!

 

5. Grocery Shop

I hit out massive Buford Highway Farmer’s Market and bought a TON of food for less than $70.  Including this new to me fish – Sheepshead:

sheepshead fish

 

6. Cook Dinner

I couldn’t wait to try my Sheepshead, so that’s what I had.  It’s delicious – a mild, meaty white fish that’s low in fat and high in protein.

Seafood is one thing I prefer to prepare simply.  I baked this fish with lime and a dusting of Indian spices.  Eaten with bok choy sautéed with garlic, green onion, and coconut oil, and roasted portobello with a runny egg, and a slice of Ezekial.

 

7. Clean Out/Organize Work Emails

This was a productive activity while watching FSU beat the yu-know-what out of Clemson.  Goooo ‘Noles!!!

 

8. Eat dessert

The following is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Designer Whey and Smari.  As always, all opinions are my own.

Dessert is my favorite par of the day.  Even better was the fact that I got to try 2 new things: Designer Whey Vanilla Almond Protein Powder and Smari Icelandic yogurt.  I normally make my protein bowls with Greek yogurt, but I am loving this Icelandic too!  It’s very similar to Greek in that its super thick, high in protein (higher than Greek, actually!), and the plain is low in sugar.

I decided to create a pumpkin protein bowl using the ingredients.   What resulted was a Pumpkin Almond Protein Batter that made me a little sad when I was over.  It tasted like cake batter.

Overall, it was a marvelous weekend!

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Pumpkin Almond Protein Batter

Pumpkin Almond Protein Batter

  • 1/2 C pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 C Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 scoop Designer Whey Vanilla Almond Protein Powder( 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch of cloves
  • 5-6 drops stevia
  • 1 T unsweetened almond milk (or other liquid)
  • Optional toppings: cocoa powder sauce (cocoa powder + liquid + stevia), cherries, cacao nibs, popcorn

 

Combine everything in a small bowl and mix until smooth.  You may need to add more liquid to achieve desired consistency.

Top with your favorites and enjoy!

*You can sub any vanilla protein and add 1/4 tsp almond extract

***

Did you notice anything in that pic of me?  I went dark for the winter… every time I look in the mirror I double take at the dark haired girl.

Have you ever tried Icelandic yogurt?

What does a typical Saturday look like for you?