The Road to Figure, becoming a bodybuilder, and why you should do what suits you best

Happy Monday people!!!!!

This particular conversation/post has been on my mind for months now (I have a very busy mind) and it will more than most likely make it to video…..for now, we’ll all read together :)

If you’re just looking to lose some pounds and have zero interest in lifting anything…..please read on! I promise you will get something out of it ;)

Bodybuilding and the Figure decision:

gym selfie 7jpg from fasted cardio, calorie restriction and circuits……

Musclemania 2015 Front Side Pose to competition.

I’ve been involved in the fitness industry for over a dozen years now and I came from HATING sports and fitness of all kinds. I was never athletic and my start in fitness came in the form of yoga. So, after teaching yoga and a load of other aerobics classes, I began to develop an interest in weight. The weight training I did was not bodybuilding as it was mostly light weights with just enough reps to keep me small (there will be a WHOLE other post about our obsession with small-ness soon). It wasn’t until a year ago that I decided to get serious, start an actual bodybuilding program, stop trying different fads, and possibly even compete.

Years ago I thought I would compete in the bikini division and even began some prep. If you’re even thinking of playing around with competing, I encourage you to get to know the different levels of competition and the competitors within them. You see, bikini was going against everything I was…..I naturally love weight in all forms, meaning I can put on muscle and fat pretty easily…taking it off is a different struggle entirely. Training for the bikini division was making me physically ill because I was going against my natural body type. So, last year I decided on figure and started training the way my body responds best :hard and heavy.

In my quest for a figure physique I was able to make peace with foods I had long since left behind (because eating ENOUGH is paramount) and I embraced the discipline it took to put the muscle on and eventually strip the fat off. While contest prep was hard, it was far from brutal or undoable…..coaching is key here. In fact, after a lazy summer (spent with diagnosing some health problems that have been left to their own devices for far too long), I am gearing up to start a new competition season, hoping to bring my best to the stage each and every year.

In my quest for Figure, here are a few things I have learned about Bodybuilding:

  1. You have to be humble. True bodybuilders are not proud and they really do not belittle others. We all start somewhere in this sport and we all realize that in order to be our best self we must be accepting of flaws….in ourselves and others.
  2. It’s not about the HOW MUCH. I always thought it was simply about how much one could lift, but bodybuilding is about having a critical eye that can look for balance. When striving for a balanced physique we have to step back often and assess the situation. When in prep, my legs have to be run to balance out. They tend to hold more muscle than the rest of my body put together….so lifting lighter, added plyo and running are crucial to success.
  3. Embrace your whole body. You cannot HATE your body into submission. It just doesn’t work that way. I had to learn that my body really did work as one unit and if I wanted that unit to be successful I had to lead it as ONE….not belittling or ignoring the parts I felt weren’t up to par.

3 month front progress  3 month back progress Progress pics 3 months apart.

I also had to get comfortable with the changes in my body. That lean machine on the right is NOT the norm as that is the night before stage. The human body (some more than others) likes some body fat :)

So, embracing the changes during and after show prep can be challenging (and a whole other post), but mastering that part of the mind is empowering to say the least.

Now, it’s your turn…..

What if you have no desire to compete?

What can you possibly learn from a competitor?

The lifestyle of a competitor is not that far off from what ANYBODY needs to reach any goal. Check it out:

  1. Consistency. This is the #1 thing you need to reach any goal. Just like in the middle of prep I can’t decide to start eating ice cream for every meal or just do yoga for my workouts, the DAILY things you do can drive you towards or away from your goal. Develop consistent behaviors that propel you forward.
  2. Check in with your progress. No matter the goal, make sure you are checking your progress. I’m not a huge scale fan, but progress pics are the bomb! I could tell on a weekly basis what was changing and what was lagging behind. Develop a progressive system to see how close you are getting to your goals. Try monthly goal checks and to-do lists to start.
  3. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. I know you hear it a lot, but you really can’t change ANYTHING (weight, money earnings, level of respect, kids behavior, career, etc.) without getting uncomfortable. So stop lolly gagging around and step into the uncomfortable stuff so you can move through and move on!

Whether you’re looking to start your own business or step on stage, you can learn a lot from the perseverance and consistency of a competitor. A lifestyle of success is directly related to a lifestyle consistent with your convictions and goals. Step out of your own way, into the uncomfortable, and fight for what you are after in life.

Stay humble, but stay strong,

Michelle

 

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

 

Fun Friday: The Pinterest Workout

Happy Friday!

OK, so I was totally not getting the big deal about Pinterest when it first made the online circuit, but I get it now! It truly is a legal addiction….. I mean, you get to mindlessly sift through pictures of pretty little things, what could be better?!?! As women are very visual creatures, we have all fallen into the Pinterest black hole at one time or another. Then, our workout time magically disappears :) I know you’re really concerned with getting your workout in (well, at least if you really WANT to feel and look better!) so I’m here to help with a fun little workout.

The Pinterest Workout

Every time you pin an item of clothing: 50 jumping jacks

Every time you pin shoes: 20 walking lunges

Every time you pin a crafty home improvement project: 10 burpees

Every time you pin a hairstyle: high knee runs for 1 minute

Every time you “LIKE” a pin (cause you can’t commit to re-pinning!): 30 walk outs

Every comment: 10 push ups

Every single time you pin a workout you know you will not do (ahem): 20 butt kicks, 20 sumo squats, 20 jump squats, 10 push ups, 10 triceps dips, 50 mountain climbers. Learn from your mistakes…

Every time you pin running shoes: Run for 5 minutes

Every time you get lost looking at celebrity pictures: Plank until your arms cannot utilize your phone or computer

Everytime you think “I should really go workout”: 20 jump lunges

Give this workout a try while you’re looking at pretty pictures and within a week, I bet your schedule will magically clear up for other workouts ;)

As always, MAKE it a Fun Friday and LIVE OUT LOUD!!!!!

Michelle (yes, I am addicted as well!)

Pinterest_Logo

www.pinterest.com

Motivation Monday: Biggest Loser Recap

Well, it’s that time again…..time for millions of viewers to slide into our couches and watch a show about weight loss :) Seems a bit odd, right?

Last night marked the beginning of a brand new season for the long running show. Jillian Michaels made a triumphant comeback and was in rare form. Bob Harper is still holding tight to his long-playing role as the top trainer and Dolvett Quince came back to resume his role as well. The BL also added a twist to the show in that they are bringing in 3 kids to be ambassadors for fitness. This means they won’t be at the ranch full-time and they cannot be eliminated. Good move on their part for bringing awareness to the childhood obesity epidemic. Oh, and Alison Sweeney is hosting again and might I say she looked FABULOUS last night!

As I move on through the recap, I need to remind you that the Biggest Loser is first and foremost a REALITY TV SHOW. They cater to ratings. I’m not judging, but I feel that some people watch the show and get caught up in the alternate reality of it all. Take it with a grain of salt people…… First night was exciting for sure. I loved the way each of the trainers handled the kids. Children should be trained differently from adults. Both in training progressions as well as motivation. The adults were a bit of a different story. The first workout was par for the course and each trainer stuck to their respective roles. I have to say, Jillian makes excellent points about the way we treat and speak to ourselves. I love the line she said about “That is abuse. All of this in here is not.” I agree whole heartedly. Now, I may not kick people out of my gym when they get dizzy (I usually offer a G2 and tell them to rest as it’s usually due to poor fueling), but I agree with her tough approach. you have to want it badly enough to challenge what has become your normal.

Aside from people dropping like flies and feeling poorly about the state of their own health (or lack thereof), everything went fairly smooth for the opening evening. As I sat and watched (with the rest of America!) I was bombarded with a lot of thoughts about this entire approach to weight loss. I mean, ALL of the contestants chosen made comments about the fact that they were doing this for their health and/or to live for a certain loved one. So, here’s the thought that keeps banging away at my heart and mind…..Why on Earth do you have to wait to be on a reality show to do it?

Whoa! I know what you’re thinking, “Come on now, at least they’re trying”. I say, no, they haven’t even begun to really try. Here’s the place I’m coming from. I have lost 104 pounds. No trainer, no huge gym, no pre-planned meals, no TV show, no cameras. Some might rebut by saying I already knew how. You would be wrong. I started right where many of these contestants start. There is NO lack of knowledge available, there is a lack of discipline to go get it.

Real fitness is just that, a DISCIPLINE. It’s not about motivation, inspiration or TV ratings. It is developing a discipline within your life to commit to your health and the health of your family. The young man who goes by Bingo (isn’t he precious???) is the same age as my son. It has taken me taking responsibility and telling him “Just a small serving” or “Get up and go do something”. Goodness, most of the time I get up and do things with him! And I’m busy too people, so don’t even try….. Develop a discipline in life and you will succeed. Success is derived from discipline.

So, I promise I’m not hating on the show! I realize that it does get some people inspired and that is worth the watch itself. Here’s the rub though: years ago when I first started teaching aerobics I had a lady who came religiously to my classes, and she was losing weight steadily. Then, one day she stopped coming. A few weeks later, she met me up at the gym. She explained that the Biggest Loser was coming to Houston to hold auditions and since you have to be a certain amount overweight to participate, she stopped working out and was gorging to gain her weight back. Houston, we have a serious problem….

Why do we think that only a TV show can save us? We are enamored with the celebrity of it all. Ask any professional actor and they will tell you the celebrity part is the worst part of the whole thing. Yet, we pine for it. It’s as though we honestly believe that living in an alternate reality is the only way we can succeed. To that I say this: if you believe you can only succeed in an alternate reality, you have already given yourself to failure. There was a man chosen who stated he had waited 3 years for his chance to be on the show. THREE YEARS!!!!! Do you have any idea what he could have accomplished in 3 years?!? And yes, I get the fact that when you do it on your own there are no cash rewards, no accolades, no interviews……but honey, it is so worth it!

The dedicated discipline you earn from putting in your own work far exceeds anything a reality show can offer! You want to see a change in this world? Start a fire in you first! Be the one that begins to develop a change in your own family. Take personal responsibility for your health and fitness. Stop making excuses and playing the victim! You and I are no different from each other. We both hurt, we bleed, we struggle, and if you’re like me, we have a raging sweet tooth! But you know what? Fitness doesn’t care who you are, how much money you make a year, where you start, or how long it may take. Fitness is available to EVERYBODY. You don’t need a membership, you don’t need a certain color shirt and you sure don’t need to be picked from a crowd. Did you realize that as of right now over 66% of the United States is struggling with obesity? That’s the MAJORITY! You are no longer going to sit idle amongst the majority, waiting hopefully for your name to be called. You will stand from this day on. You will walk tall and know that YOU CAN DO THIS.

So, what’s it going to be? Are you in or are you out? Are you tired of waiting for your “chance”? Be the first to step out and make a real change…..no script required :)

LIVE OUT LOUD!

Michelle

NEW DVD REVIEW! Biggest Loser Power XTrain

Hi guys!

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve reviewed a new workout DVD, so I thought I’d hop into the new year with The Biggest Loser DVD series.

For those wondering, although Jillian is back on the show (which airs this Sunday evening) she’s not in the video.

This DVD follows the same circuit style fashion as the others. Why? Well, circuits are the BEST form of exercise when you’re trying to lose weight. It’s effective because it keeps the heart rate up and provides cardio as well as strength training. We ALL know that is essential to keep the skin pulling back to the muscle. Now, as a disclaimer we all know that we cannot expect Biggest Loser style results unless we’re already on the show…..and have a couple hundred pounds to lose :) These DVDs do appeal to those just jumping back into working out or trying it out for the first time.

The big question: Do they work? Yes they do, in my opinion. The problem with any DVD is that it is up to the individual to push play though. They can only film it for you, not do it for you :)

Power X Train takes your workouts to a different level. This DVD is more like actual training in that there isn’t a lot of pre-choreographed movements and everybody is on their own pace. All trainers featured do give awesome form tips, but ya’ll know Bob is the favorite! He states at one point “I focus on your FORM first, then reps” and I couldn’t agree more. Bob is in true form throughout his part, making sure even the home viewers know exactly what to look for in their form. This is of great importance as form is key to not only preventing injury but also expediting your results.

You need your own body weight and some handheld weights for this DVD and you will also need some space. They take you through your paces, but you are always encouraged to stay at the level that works best for you. As always, modifiers are front and center and you can choose the former Biggest Loser contestant you want to follow. As with anything else, consistency is key. If you’re in love with the Biggest Loser DVD series, this is a great one to add to your rotation.

Until I see you again, remember….LIVE OUT LOUD!

Michelle

P.S. Who’s planning on watching this season?

I’m in SHAPE…the magazine!!!

I just wanted to take a minute and share this with ya’ll :)

I was featured in a SHAPE Magazine article, along with 19 other beautiful ladies, about getting fit without running. If you know me, then you know I’ve struggled with wanting to be a runner, but never quite making it due to past injury. Just because I can’t pound out marathons (and trust me, I have MUCH respect for those who do!) doesn’t mean I can’t get fit and sculpt a functional body to boot. You can check out the entire article HERE: http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/20-super-fit-chicks-who-dont-run?page=2

 

Have a healthy day!
Michelle

Shakeology Nutritional Cleanse

Happy Fun Friday!

Watch the video, then check out the plan :) Remember, you can totally workout while on the cleanse, BUT it is against my professional recommendation to cleanse during bootcamp or the harder challenges like Turbo Fire and P90X.

3 Day Shakeology Nutritional Cleanse

These meals stay EXACTLY the same for 3 days.

Meal 1: Shakeology flavor of choice, blended with 12-16 oz water and 1 serving of fruit, ice to taste

Meal 2: Shakeology flavor of choice blended with 12-16 oz water, ice to taste

Meal 3: Shakeology flavor of choice blended with 12-16 oz water, ice to taste

Meal 4: 2 cups mixed green salad, 3-5 oz chicken breast, squeeze of lemon

Snacks: If you do get hungry during the cleanse you can snack on a piece of fruit in the morning and cucumbers in the afternoon.

Water: DRINK A LOT! You’ll need between 90 and 120 oz per day

Order Your ENERGY Here

Don’t let the word “cleanse” scare you! You can still lead a totally normal lifestyle during this cleanse. You CAN go to work and no I will not write you an excuse to stay home. Should you find yourself running to the bathroom to pee a lot (hello giggles, calm down) that generally means your diet is a little sugar heavy and your kidneys are getting cleaned out. If you find you’re running more for bowel movements (simmer down!) that means you’ve been hitting a few too many processed foods and late night snacks that stack up in your intestines. You may now go enjoy lunch!

As always, pay attention to your body and rest when you need to (not at work, unless that’s acceptable!). Post in the comments if you did the cleanse and what results you had. Did you lose anything? Did you keep any off? That kind of stuff.

Have a healthy day!

Michelle