Summertime woes: A realistic look at swimsuit season

It’s June 16th here and if you live anywhere in southeast Texas, then you are probably hunkered down with your bottled water awaiting the ominous sounding Tropical Storm BILL….just the name inflicts fear. ;)

More fearful than any tropical storm is swimsuit season. I think I can speak for us all here right? There are just so many things that can go wrong…

I had my very own little run in with swimsuits a couple of weeks ago. You see, I can’t swim….I’m more of a sink or float kinda gal. Meaning when in a pool of water I usually end up close to the wall canoodling with my hubby :) totally acceptable behavior.

Anyways, I decided that this summer I should branch out. I mean, I just got onstage in the world’s tiniest bikini and was judged for goodness sake! I think I can learn to swim a few laps for sport. So, on we went to Academy to get a slightly larger and much more supportive suit….

Into the lion’s den:

It started off rather innocent enough. I walked in feeling full of confidence and eager to get this party started. I grabbed several suits in several sizes (cause you just don’t know with those things) and catwalked my way to the unisex dressing rooms…because we girls can have secrets no longer. I got the first suit on with a great struggle and looked in the mirror. Not good. Like, really not good. I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that I had just competed. I then promptly wondered what the heck I had been eating. It seemed like whatever wasn’t firmly encapsulated in the suit spilled elsewhere in the most unflattering fashion imaginable…..sort of like sausage which was busting out of its casing. With much effort, I removed the suit, though I did worry I might have to call in assistance. I picked up a larger size in bright red…side note: that’s a LOT of red no matter what your actual size. Though this one was a little easier to put on and the spillage seemed slightly more contained, I still began to question my training and nutrition. I didn’t bother with the third suit and I marched out to put those demons back in the cavern from whence they come, otherwise known as the swimsuit rack. I then perused the bikinis only to decide my fragile ego couldn’t handle that right now.

For the next couple of weeks (weeks, people) I struggled. It felt like my workout pants were tighter (um, they’re spandex). I got sick and had to go to the doctor where the nurse weighed me and I didn’t appreciate the number she wrote down (you’d think we gals could help each other out). I then had to go through old videos where all I could think about was how thin I was and that all my clothes fit then….

Here’s the catch: I work to empower women to forget the scale. I strive to have more women comfortable in their own skin. I love the variety of bodies on the beach and want others to focus on progress, not perfection. So what the heck????

There are many things that can go wrong while swimsuit shopping. Do any of these bring back horrid memories of yesteryear?

  • Swimsuit sizing if really weird! I think if I wear a medium in workout tights then I should wear a medium in swim bottoms. Is this too much to ask??!?!?!? When going through sizes, I always feel as though I have stumbled into the toddlers department and nobody was kind enough to point me to the correct place.
  • Lighting: really people? It seems as though the ONLY lighting available in these places is the large spotlight used for interrogations…..”Did you really log ALL of your food this week?” “Yes, I swear! I’m not guilty!!!!!” The higher end stores splurge on slightly softer lighting which makes me spend more money. I await a swimsuit dressing room lit in carefully placed tea lights and playing smooth jazz to mellow my fear.
  • You have to keep your underwear on while you try on swimsuits. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great rule, BUT it also added like 10 inches of fabric to my hips (OK< maybe not, but it feels like it).
  • Cellulite LOVES swimsuit shopping. You may not even see it in your shorts that morning, but by the time you pull on the plastic lined bottoms you can rest assured it will rear it’s dimpled head.
  • There seems to only be 2 (maybe 3) options when shopping: barely there skimpy OR old lady afraid of sunburn. The possible 3rd is the “fat displacing” ones that really do nothing other than squeeze body fat into even weirder places.

It’s a wonder any of us get out of the dressing room! The attendant smiles sweetly and asks “Did everything work out?” while I stand there with 23 different suits and tears in my eyes….I muster enough courage to smile back and say “Yes.” Like, duh, I like to keep at least 10 different sizes on hand!

To make matters worse, women are held to different standards than men. The men in my life don’t fret over whether or not their abs are flat in their long trunks….they really just want to make sure the trunks are big enough to allow movement and eating. Who eats in a swimsuit?!?!?!? If I ever get in it I certainly don’t want people to see me eating. That might make me relax my abs, which is one of the unforgivable sins. Guys swimwear sends a totally different message! It says “You’re cool man. Captain America trunks make the ladies believe that under that beer gut you actually look like Captain America”. Meanwhile, we slather on firming creams and practice rolling in and out of chairs so visible stomach flab won’t show :/

How do we make it better? Well, first off, we MUST adhere to the truth that we are all a work in progress. Progress denotes change….we are therefore, ever-changing. There is no such thing as the perfect body and I believe variety is a good thing. The second thing to remember is that body fat is normal and to be expected. Now, how much depends on lifestyle choices. There are a lot of lean people, but the only ones who are fat-free suffer from serious medical issues. So be thankful for your health.

I will be embarking upon a swimsuit shopping extravaganza soon and I have a plan that I think may just work. First, I am enlisting my besties to go with me. This sort of thing is better enjoyed in a group. Second, a good lunch with a couple of glasses of wine will be enjoyed beforehand as swimsuit shopping sober should be reserved for the youngsters who have yet to mature into their cellulite. Third, as women we must realize that we are far harder on ourselves than is necessary. We are defined by our character, not by any number.

So, I encourage you to go forth and shop heartily sisters! Show your daughters that we are comfortable with the changes and challenges of life. Be the best example to others of grace while in the dressing room…..and I pray every dressing room door will remain on its hinge during your adventure.

Be bold because you’re already beautiful,

Michelle

mc-7059 Photo by Kendra Harwell Photography

 

Bikini Morning Ritual and a Sample Meal Plan for Tight Skin

My rituals, or habits, play the biggest role in how my body looks and performs on a daily basis. There are a couple of things that are engrained in my daily behaviors which help me to get the most out of my nutrition and gym time.

THE GREEN SHAKE

I cannot stress enough how important this is. It brings my body into an alkaline state, making my supplements more efficient and my energy levels skyrocket. It’s best if you have a high-powered blender (Vitamix), but if not, simply run it through several times. I make mine in large batches and drink it over a 3 day period.

IN BLENDER (in this order)

2.5 cups pure water

3 cups fresh, washed spinach

Run blender on low/medium for a couple of minutes

ADD

2-3 cups romaine, washed

1 cucumber (washed and chopped)

Run for a minute

ADD

1 green apple, washed, cored and chopped

1 pear, washed, cored and chopped

2 kiwi, washed (skin can be removed OR left on for more fiber)

Run for a minute

ADD

1 banana

Small handful of parsley (if desired. Parsley is excellent for cleansing the blood)

Juice of 2 lemons

Blitz it good :)

Feel free to add the flesh of 1 ripe avocado if your diet is in need of healthy fats. If your skin is looking dull and lackluster, avocado will help.

Add more water as needed to suit your tastes.

Drink 16 ounces every morning. If you’re still hungry, opt for oatmeal.

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Sample Bikini Ready Meal Plan:

Upon waking drink 6 oz hot water with the juice of 1 lemon

Coffee or tea is fine, sans sugar or flavored creamers

Breakfast: 16 oz green smoothie, oatmeal if desired

Snack: Small handful of almonds or walnuts, 1 orange

Lunch: 2-3 cups mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumber, lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. 1/2 baked sweet potato, 4 oz baked or grilled fish (or canned tuna or salmon)

Snack: 1 scoop whey protein in 8 oz water. If this falls post-workout ADD 1 piece whole grain bread OR 1 banana OR 1 cup grapes

Dinner: 2 cups steamed veggies, 4 oz baked chicken or turkey, 1/2 cup whole grain rice OR quinoa, small side salad if desired (lemon juice over).

Snack before bed, if hungry: 4 oz low-fat (2%) cottage cheese OR 1 scoop casein protein in water

Follow this plan tight (6 days on, 1 rest day with a treat…not the WHOLE day people) for 4 weeks to notice changes.

Omit breads, crackers, pastas and sweets during meal plan days. Save things like this for treats :)

Michelle

Tough Love Tuesday: Soap Box

***Disclaimer: TLT is not meant to offend, only to inform. I do not hold back in the TLT videos and posts, so if you find yourself a little sensitive (we ALL have those days!) then please check out other posts. If you need a kick in the rear to get it in gear, then by all means let’s get going!***

I’m going to lay this one out for you: I’m about to climb upon my box. Take what you need, ignore the rest and come back when you’re ready.

I HAVE DEVELOPED A HATRED FOR CROSSFIT.

OK, I kept trying to keep an open mind, but this has gotten out of control. Little known fact, I do some training posts and stuff for Reebok, who put on the Crossfit games, so I must expand on my first point here. Crossfit in and of itself is not my enemy. If it is taught correctly it can be a great workout, but the whole phenomenon has gotten out of hand. First off, there are a large number of Crossfit people who have become a cult. I was able to help launch a new vitamin store in town in the Spring and the local Crossfit believers did a workout there prior to my arrival. When I arrived all I saw was knee-high compression socks. Why? Good question, but according to the non-trainer-trainer, when you Crossfit you need compression socks and these had the local logo. But why do you need the socks? I kid you not, this was the answer, “They help you work harder.” Um, really? Are they magic socks? compression socks serve a purpose and I have 2 pair in my sock drawer. They  are handy on 12+ hour flights AND I will wear them during a heavy plyometric workout to support my calf all the better, but they by no means make me work harder…perhaps they make one look as if one works harder. Second beef (mmmmm, beef). PALEO! Oh, my, goodness. Paleo is OK, but still falls under fad diet. Eventually, you will find out you are so not a caveman and you’ll gain back what the deprivation effect took out. Now, there are Crossfit Athletes and sponsored competitors that get paid to stick to it and swear by…because they’re paid for that reason. Layman like us need the variety. So, the question I loathe is “Is that Paleo?”. As I was spending my time in the shop, I was flanked by young, eager Crossfitters….asking recommendations on pre-workout potions to help them power through grueling workouts (I hold a specialty in supps), with which I replied, “Is THAT Paleo?” :) Last, and possibly most important, owners of boxes are not required to have certification above Crossfit (and some don’t even have that, which Crossfit is not cool with, so check out your box). Now, I’m a BIG fan of education. The world of fitness and nutrition is constantly evolving and your trainer has to stay on top of things. I have seen Crossfit injuries walk through because it’s only marked by time and load. I watch videos and break into hives over poor squat form! Perhaps they are in with the knee replacement biz…..it’s all a conspiracy. At any rate, just because you see “skinny” people doing it, doesn’t mean it’s your fast ticket to skinny, particularly if you have no idea what proper form is to start. Is all Crossfit bad? Absolutely not! I beg you to be careful, just like when hiring a trainer, do the homework and study up on the workouts and the people running it.

THE PROBLEM WITH NON-COMPLIANCE

The number one reason your transformation hasn’t made it to the next phase is simple: non-compliance. What does that mean? You are not following what your trainer has set up for you (assuming you have done your homework and hired a competent trainer). I know, you want to roll your eyes and whine about the fact that you work as hard as you can and your meal plan is SO strict…but I don’t buy it because I’ve been there. Your trainer has given you the golden key but you have to get off the couch and walk to the door. Don’t tell your trainer that you’re running when you’re walking the track checking your Facebook. Don’t say you never have treats when you hit up chocolate or chips (or chocolate covered chips) every other night, even if it’s “just a little”. People always complain about celebrities having it “so easy” when it comes to weight loss. BULL! They are more compliant! They have to be because they can lose large sums of money if they aren’t and bodies like that don’t come from getting fat sucked out. They have a goal, got a plan and stuck to it. Same goes for you. Suck it up, stick to the plan and trust the process. Just because the 50 pounds you need to lose didn’t fall off after 1 strict diet day does not mean you are beyond all hope…it means you have work to do and NOBODY will do it for you or give it to you. Your body doesn’t cash in on welfare of any kind. DO. THE. WORK.

THE FREEBIES

Do you know what I hear every single week? “Can you get me a meal plan?” “Can you set up a workout?” “You really should give out free fitness and nutrition stuff?” So, I’m asking that you put yourself in my shoes here…..I am extremely aware of people, yet I shiver at the thought of consistently asking somebody to provide their living to me for free. Oh, you’re a data processor, I am about 6 months behind on client records, care to help? Accounting!?! We don’t even want to go there. Stay at home mom? I have a kid that stays at home, think you could watch her while she whittles away at her math problems? Yeah, it’s not so fun right? But that’s just from me…amplify that by everybody you know (family excluded because their prize for putting up with me is advice when they need it). Here’s the real rub though. Do you know what happens when I give free advice or training sessions or meal plans? NON-COMPLIANCE!!!!!!! People just don’t do it, so I have wasted that time (by the way if I have already told you that I am happy to help you, then congrats! You’re in the family club and needn’t worry). There is LOADS of info right here on the site. I don’t hold back (clearly) and I stay up to date on fads, trends and the tried and true old school methods that really work. There are sample menus, recipes, exercises and videos. YOU just have to do one thing…THE WORK. Do you see a pattern, because I do.

Now that my fingers have tired from my ranting, I apologize for any hurt feelings, although it is key to learn that our feeling are our own and others should not be allowed to stomp on them…we control them.

If you’re mad, good, go use that. If you’re ready to do the work, find a meal plan (or get the whole big packet!), watch a video, get inspired and stop holding yourself back!

Until next time,

Michelle

Video Cred to JENNY MORGAN

 

Benefits of Proper Training: Knowing HOW TO Reach Your Goals

“Why do you train?”

It’s a common, yet confusing question. Each of us have slightly different goals when it comes to training. This is why we must approach training (and choosing a trainer) with a glass slipper approach: one size most definitely does NOT fit all….

COMMON TRAINING QUESTIONS:

What’s more important, cardio or weights? Honestly, there is a scientific theory based on how the body works and then there is one’s own knowledge of how their own body works. The muscles of the body are particularly designed to move the skeleton of the body. If the muscles atrophy and are no longer used, we can no longer move, period. While some of us may think the muscles are designed to help us look good in bikinis or fill out our jeans….they actually serve a more functional purpose. In order to gain strength (I’m not talking size at this point) we must place a certain amount of pressure upon the muscles in order to force them to adapt. The absolute GREATEST thing about being human is that we have been created to adapt. In order to create the needed pressure for the aforementioned adaptation we need some resistance training. Here is where it can go haywire for some: resistance training and body building are NOT the same thing. Training for muscle growth is vastly different (in both training and nutrition) from training for fitness, overall health and better strength. What would I consider resistance training for our purposes?

  • Weight training (obviously)
  • Resistance Bands
  • Exercise ball
  • Body weight exercise
  • TRX/suspension training
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Barre
  • Dance
  • Kickboxing
  • Boxing
  • Martial Arts

Honestly, I’m sure there is more but these examples will suffice for our purposes. These activities all help to build lean muscle and therefore allow the body to burn at a more efficient rate, meaning you’ll have a higher metabolism. Various workouts, such as kickboxing, dancing, body weight, etc. can actually help with cardiovascular health as well as maintaining and building lean muscle and are favored among those strapped for time and seeking more efficient workouts. So, where does all the confusion come in? In my opinion, it’s due to far too many opinions being thrown out there…..

One thing that is always remarked upon is weight training and women. I hope at some point we will get over this, but alas, we have not. Weight training will not make you BULKY. Women lack the needed testosterone to get super big. As a matter of fact, the women who compete in body building (the huge muscles) have to work far harder at gaining and maintaining muscle growth of that capacity. Nutrition and supplementation have to be spot on 24/7 and these athletes devote their lives to growth. Which is why people like me tend to lean towards bikini comps :) Case in point:

flat abs before                      weight training abs

So, the pic on top was taken at the tail end of a cardio rush, where I was simply doing cardio (running, kbox, etc) with no weights. The pics on bottom were 4 weeks later(2 weeks and 2 more weeks) after I picked up heavy weights again. See the point? Now, here’s the rub: weight work brilliant FOR ME. They happen to be my go-to and when I’m prepping for pictures, a show or even just the water park, I stick to weights and have minimal cardio. This is my gig nad by challenging and listening to my body I have found what truly works. It’s backed by the exercise science and my routines are pretty old school. I don’t throw in all this super crazy stuff….I lift things up and put them down LOL!

THE WEIGHT LOSS FIX:

What I always try to remind my clients is that our goals are not the same. My goal at times is to put on muscle and drastically cut fat. Theirs can be that the doctor told them they have to lose 50 pounds stat! These are 2 very different goals and should be approached differently. When you are just beginning a weight loss journey consider this: just move it. I really don’t care the type of cardio weight loss clients choose, it just has to be done consistently. I know Fitness Magazine had an article about how HIIT training can cut body fat faster, but I also know from experience that jumping repeatedly with over 200 pounds on your frame is not an activity you will keep up with! So, when you’re at the very beginning, JUST MOVE! Now, once you start to get your footing and you’re very focused on nutrition (water and greens will get you anywhere you want to go), start adding resistance training in order to bump up the metabolism and keep the skin tight.

MOTIVATION:

Here’s the deal with the M word…it is short-lived, but necessary. Where do I find motivation? EVERYWHERE! I can find it in past pictures (I mean, if my body did it once it can do it again!), old pics (AH!, I don’t want to go back THERE!), YouTube videos, magazine articles, movies, etc. I also keep plenty of fit friends in my circle and all up on my social media. When I decided competing would be in my future, I started gaining friends who were already doing what I wanted to do. That’s a key component to constant motivation right there. So think of your life a little different. I may not get paid big bucks to keep my booty in shape for a movie, BUT I train like I do…..so I’m ready when the call comes ;) Change your perception and make good choices on who you surround yourself with on a daily basis.

Now we’re moving forward, but I warn you not to get distracted and lose momentum! Think like a freight train, not a kitty cat….

Much fit love,

Michelle