Strong (Wo)Man

The gym is my happy place.

 

It really is the most relaxing part of my day.

Sometimes you need to get out of your comfort zone.  We grow from challenges… so I decided to challenge myself to a Strong Man!  That may have been a bit of a crazy move, but whatever…

Bring It On Life

 

When I arrived at the Lee Haney event, I was surprised to find out that there was only one other female competitor.  That was really intimidating… there was only one other women willing to try this?!  She was really great though – her friendliness and outgoing attitude did a lot to calm my nerves!… 

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The Company I Keep

House guests are my favorite.

 

Well, some guests…

This weekend I had the best guests possible – two of my favorite blogger friends!  Heather and Sarah started out as internet friends, but we become fast “real” friends after meeting in person at food-related conferences (yet another reason you should attend the Blend Retreat!).

I was so excited to spend the weekend showing them more things I love about my city!  Our first stop was to Atlanta’s “ethnic” food strip: Buford Highway.  We dined on Vietnamese food at Chateau deSaigon.  We have some sort of shrimp patty wrapped around sugar cane sticks, a sweet and sour tamarind soup, shaken beef, and burnt rice.  The rice was my favorite, but the other tow said it reminded them of burnt popcorn.  Probably why I liked it…

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Work It Out In Style

Black is my color.

 

It’s how I like my coffee and my clothing.

I tend to think no one notices what I wear at the gym… and it’s reflected in my attire.  I rotate between the same 3-4 black and/or grey shorts and tank top combos.

Then I wear color one time and get 4 comments.  Apparently they do notice.  Oops.

How cool is this mesh back?!

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Reebok ZQuick + 5 Fast Miles

My shoe collection is out of control. 

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Reebok.

I’m not complaining!  As someone who works out nearly daily, I actually use the 10 pairs of athletic shoes in my closet.  Dress shoes, notsomuch.

This is why I was so excited when I had the opportunity to try out Reebok’s new ZQuick. I realized I’d been wearing Reebok apparel for a long time, but had never tried their shoes!

ZQuick

About the ZQuick… 

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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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Touring Atlanta + Sizzlefish Holiday Giveaway

Staying in town can feel like a vacation.

 

Not quiiiiite like going to Tahiti… but you know.

This weekend Sarah graced me with her presence.  She drove in Monday night from Birmingham and we spent the next 2.5 days touring rainy Atlanta.  It’s fun to entertain out-of-towners because you get to see your city in a whole new way!

Sarah arrived Friday afternoon with cookies in hand.  She shared the Vegan Carob Peach Fudge Cookies from her #strangebutgood post Friday.  They were the perfect appetizer before we headed to dinner.  We did so much I have to break it up into 2 posts.  Today is the “doing,” and the Atlanta food tour will happen Wednesday.

Sarah cookies

 

Saturday morning we hit my gym for a glute workout.  Check out this IG video for a taste of what we did.  Sarah hung like a champ!  She’s a natural.

After a solid hour of hard work, I told Sarah she was ready to compete… so we practiced a pose (this is why I don’t do bikini):

Sarah, Toisha, me posing

 

Naturally this had to be followed with a trip to Buford Highway to shop the massive international farmer’s market, where we met up with Sarena.  We were there for 2 hours… only a food-friend can understand how grocery shopping is an entertaining sightseeing activity.

I had told Sarah how cheap it is, but she was still shocked at how little her market finds were!  The new-to-me treats this time were a Ponkan orange and some sort of Korean puffed rice crackers.  I also found a giant bag of my favorite Chimes peanut butter ginger chews!

Buford Farmer's Market

 

That market is massive - it’s like the size of Wal-Mart.  You can browse an entire aisle of Mexican hot sauces, or sample baklava at the Easter European bakery or peruse greens you’ve never heard of before. Watching my friend wander around filled with wonder at all the international delights was the best part of my weekend.

Sarah left yesterday.  After trying to convince her to stay, I sent her on her way in true blogger fashion – with a to-go container of protein oatmeal. More to come later in the week… I need to leave room to tell you about an amazing giveaway!

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I have been obsessed with Sizzlefish ever since I had the opportunity to try a box via Fitfluential.  The fish is delicious – it surprised me how fresh it tastes despite being frozen.

Last week I pulled out a piece of the salmon to cook when I was short on groceries.  It thawed while I was at work, so all I had to do when I got home was squeeze some lemon juice, dill, and pepper on top before broiling it for 7 mins.  Easy dinner!

Sizzlefish Salmon

So what’s in it for you?

The awesome people at Sizzlefish agreed to do a special holiday giveaway!  Not only will you win a box of this Holiday Sampler (worth $59!), but they will also send a box as a gift to a person of your choosing!  Feel free to pick me. ;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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I’m a little sad it rained all weekend – I wanted to take Sarah on a walking tour!  From the looks of it, everyone else had rain or snow too.  Bring on the sunshine!

What is your favorite fish?

Do you consider grocery shopping a form of entertainment/tourism?

 

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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A Day of Food at 4 Days Out

Change is often slow.

 

The bane of my impatient existence.

Change does come to those who stay the course.  When I started training for competitions I had some muscle tone, but was underweight and had literally run my ass off.  I posted about my journey here so I won’t rehash.  What I will say (again) is that there is NOTHING you can’t accomplish with hard work and the unwavering belief that you can do anything you want to if you want to badly enough.

Yes, I’m still small for Figure; I know I have a long way to go.  This weekend’s show is the most competitive one I’ve ever done and I know I won’t place.  That doesn’t lessen my excitement to have the experience, and to be around so many inspiring competitors.  AND – regardless of the outcome – I’m pretty damn proud of this progress in about a year and a half.

Progress pic 2013

Competing isn’t easy.  Some days I don’t want to get up and do cardio or eat healthy food or hear snarky comments from people… but it is worth it.  The good days and the personal satisfaction outweigh the bad.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: find something you’re passionate about and go do it to the fullest extent.  It could be running, lifting, painting, writing code… whatever!  You will be more fulfilled and SO MUCH happier – it has made all the difference for me.

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Enough inspirational mush!  This WIAW I am 4 days from my 3rd figure competition!  Bring on the lean protein, complex carbs, and yes… the asparagus

WIAWbutton

Read on for my eats, and then check out Jenn’s blog for everyone else delicious creations!

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Breakfast:

As usual, I started the day I with my Aminos and ACV morning cocktail I swear it’s more energizing than coffee.

Breakfast was pancakes.  Not as good as my usual.  These were just oat flour, an egg white, baking powder, and cinnamon.  BUT… I got to have pancakes!  The sauce was the best part.  I mashed up raspberries, added a dash of maple extract, and microwaved them for ~10 secs to create a syrup.  I’d eat that outside of competition prep!

With a side of Cinnamon-Flax Baked Chicken.

oat cakes and raspberry sauce

 

Mid-Morning Snack:

Leftover Parrot Fish with asparagus and sugar peas.  Nom.

The fish looked prettier on Instagram 2 nights ago.  For those that were curious on Monday, the fish was tasty but nothing out of the ordinary. It was a mild white fish, on the meaty side and slightly buttery.

parrot fish

 

Lunch:

I froze last week’s leftover lean beef burgers for lunches this week.  It was just as good warmed up and eaten with sweet potato rounds, asparagus, and red peppers.

Some have asked why I eat the majority of my asparagus raw.  The reason is VERY important: I like it better raw.  It has a sweet crunchiness.

burger

 

Mid-Afternoon Snack:

I gave in to a cliché and went back to an old recipe this week… Tequila Lime Tilapia.  Tilapia is “the” source of protein for many in the bodybuilding community.  Variety is a better choice for me; if I had to eat the same thing every meal I’d never make it.  Tilapia is fine in moderation though!  Especially with tequila.

The fish and calabaza squash were cooked during my Sunday meal prep.  I reheated them ate at it with a quick raw salad of yellow cherry tomatoes and white asparagus tossed in a mix of nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar, and a homemade Mexican spice blend.

Tequila-Lime Tilapia

 

Dinner:

Dinner was a roasted veggie fest – part of this week’s food prep was a giant pan of white and green asparagus, red bell pepper, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, green onion, and fresh herbs in Meyer lemon juice.  I also tossed pieces of the actual lemon in the pan too.  It’s completely edible and not too sour after a good roast.

Eaten with my favorite protein: Sea Bass.

sea bass and roasted veggies

 

Dessert:

No more diary and no more protein powder in my diet… it’s Cinnamon-Flax Baked Chicken and carrots for dessert.  Admittedly, this is NOT my favorite part about competing.

chicken dessert

***

“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” ~Diane Ackerman

What are you passionate about?

Do you prefer veggies raw or cooked?  I generally like ‘em raw… though I do love a good char roast.

 

Work It Out: 15 Minutes Is All It Takes

Who doesn’t love a quickie?

 

Cardio!  What are you thinking?!

In my last couple of weeks of competition prep I’ve added cardio.  15 minutes per day, high intensity.  Normally I run sprints but – of course – I pulled my hamstring.  No more sprints.

In effort to get my cardio in, I’ve had to adjust.  This week’s Work It Out is dedicated to my back up plan.

sprint2table-workitout

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I dislike forced cardio.  Some days when I’m antsy or when the weather is nice I love a good run, but when it’s prescribed I’m less enthusiastic.

Mindset is important.  I get up in the morning and get it done.  15 minutes of fasted cardio.  15 minutes is all it takes is my mantra.  

You can do anything for 15 minutes!

15 Minutes Is All It Takes

 

You are probably familiar with most of these moves.  When you do the jumping jack and running portions, do them quickly to ensure you keep the intensity up.

Wacky Jacks may be the one you haven’t tried.  I “borrowed” it from my P90X days.  What I like about them is that they work your core too.  You start like a regular jumping jack with your hands behind head.  Then drive your elbow to the hip or knee, jumping to alternating sides.  Click here for a quick video demo.

Pop Squats I’ve talked about before here in the Save Your Knees Work It Out.  I love these for the burst of energy.  They are great for the buns!

Note: You can modify these movement to accommodate your specific needs or limitations.  For instance, do the push ups from your knees, or replace pop squats with regular squats.  Listen to your body.  If it hurts, stop.  NO need to be a super hero and risk injury!

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With a few days left till my competition, I’m doing these or getting on the elliptical doing intervals, forward and backward, every day!

What is your favorite “quickie” exercise?

Do you prefer cardio or lifting?  Neither?  Both?

 

Weekend Warrior

Who said weekends are for rest?

 

Thought let’s be honest – I appreciated the extra hour.

Weekend warrior-ing has been my M.O. in the past, but in recent years my warrior-style has changed.  These days it’s all about productivity.  Rest is a good thing… and I did rest from job-related activities.  The work I did was fun to me!

I spent fun time in the kitchen making 72 of my Sweet Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins to take to a men’s shelter for a chili dinner.  It was fun to do – I love baking for others!

Sweet Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins

 

Saturday my cousin (the one I did the adventure race with) treated me to a pre-game sideline tour of the Georgia Tech field and seats to the Homecoming game.  We are all huge Tech fans in my family; I grew up going to games with my dad.  It was a big treat to watch the team warm up on the field.

Those guys are HUGE!

GT Homecoming 2013

Can you tell we’re related?

 

We were gone all evening, so I had to smuggle in food in my purse.  Turkey roll-ups, anyone?

My 20-year-old self is making fun of me for sneaking in heath food rather than whiskey. ;)

 

Saturday and Sunday both included workouts.  I love when you get to the week before competition – it’s added motivation knowing it’s your last workout for each muscle group.  This time next week I’ll be done with my 3rd figure competition and less than a week out from my 4th in Denver with Heather!

The Breakfast Club got me through my cardio – I even stayed an extra 5 mins to hear the closing monologue.  Then I had to take of pic of the Famous Amos bag on the locker room floor… I resisted the urge to check and see if there were any cookies left and went for a photo shoot instead.

You see us as you want to see us: in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions…

 

Sunday Funday concluded with a trip to my favorite international farmers market!  It’s always a crowded on a weekend afternoon, but I put on my ninja socks and kicked it.

Of course I bought plenty of lean protein and asparagus for my final week of prep, but I also scored with super cheap pomegranate!  I refrained from the avocado drink mix, but had to get a pic as proof that my favorite #strangebutgood protein shake add isn’t THAT weird.

Other highlights included the kabocha squash Thai curry they were sampling… let’s pretend I didn’t take a bite... and a new-to-me fish. The Parrot Fish was too pretty not to try!  I had them fillet it for me before taking it home.  Can’t wait to make dinner with it tonight!

Buford Highway finds

 

Sunday night I realized I hadn’t sat down all day long.  I get it honest – my mom is the same way.  Some might prefer a more laid back weekend, but I am not happy unless my hair is on fire.  It’s pretty marvelous.

MMIM

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There are, of course, exceptions.  I’m going to have a full, restful weekend to recover from back-to-back shows.  Anyone want to come over for chocolate cake and red wine? ;)

Have you ever heard of Parrot Fish?  Any preparation suggestions?

Do you prefer a super-active weekend or a restful one?  What are your to-dos on your days off?