Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Scale!

Maybe we should just stop with the scale if it brings your motivation down.

Women are constantly comparing themselves to other women. I’m not sure why we don't embrace our own bodies and its structure; but I guess in our minds the grass is always greener on the other side. Now don’t think men are off the hook! They too compare themselves, but usually want to be built and lean like what they see in muscle magazines. It's a harsh and stressful world we live in and the biggest stress comes from physical appearance and acceptance. Unfortunately, many women want to drop weight for the wrong reasons. Instead of having improved overall health as the main goal, women tend to strive towards impressing others or fitting into society’s definition of beautiful. 

If we were to set fitness goals with health as the goal, we would all stop trying to rush those pounds off. Slow, steady and correct should be the priority. If you truly care about your health, then this should be a lifestyle change. Sure you can starve for a month or two and drop lbs off the scale, but what are you really losing? Lean body mass, that's what! Yes, fat as well, but why lose muscle? Women especially who have higher risk of osteoporosis should want to maintain as much lean body mass as possible. Why do women care so much about that scale? Even worse, we compare ourselves to males. For example, you and your male significant other go on a diet and he loses 10lbs in a week just by cutting out soda while you see maybe a pound or two. Ladies, news flash…we don't have hormones like males. Our bodies will fight us harder, remember we are made to bare children! 

The scale is only one indicator that’s not 100% for males or women, there are many factors you must consider. Don't think fat loss is not occurring just because the scale didn't budge. Don't think your diet failed if the scale goes up. There are many reasons for that too and women especially should compare weight only during menstruation phase; monthly. 

Here are a few things that factor into your weight:

Glycogen storage- This amount depends on your current intake of carbohydrates. For every gram of carbohydrate that your body stores via glycogen, it also stores three grams of water. This isn't a bad thing people! Carbs are very important and filling out your muscle glycogen helps give you a tight firm look (doesn't mean to go overboard either).

Water retention/depletion from sodium- Your body adjusts to the new levels of sodium accordingly via the hormone aldosterone. Eat out one day and notice more bloat, and scale will be up. That's not fat, it's water. Give it few days it will go back down. Monitor your sodium, don't cut it out if you’re very active, just don't over consume either. Eat what's appropriate for your body's needs.

Cycle bloat- Women will retain water during their cycle. Best for women to only compare weight from month-to-month.

Dehydration- Most people neglect to intake enough liquids a day. Especially if you're consuming sodium. Try to aim for 128oz of liquids a day. Of course if you're training hard and maybe heavier built you can aim for 1.5 gal a day. Keep hydrated. Yes its more weight on scale, but it's not fat! When you’re not hydrated you'll weigh less. We drop easy 3 to 5lbs of water weight when we compete, this is not a healthy thing to do for long periods of time. 

This article breaks it down like I explain to my clients who ask me about the scale.

This article by Lyle Mcdonald breaks down how women's hormones fluctuates the scale, as well it will show you best times to do more power training. I recommend when trying to lose weight, use the scale as your guide and weigh in one time a month the morning right after each cycle.

Seriously, the number you see isn't just FAT!

          These articles explain why we have fluctuations and is why I stopped caring about the scale and started focusing more on how I look and feel. The only time I weigh myself more than once a week is when I’m getting close to a competition and its more to analyze every detail possible. For example, does my weight go up, stay the same, or decrease when I refeed during competition. I get curious and I love learning the science behind it all, like how long my body holds onto the water weight before dropping etc.

I hear too often from clients how "the scale isn't changing" but hear "I love my energy" and weeks later "wow I fit into a pair of jeans I couldn't fit into before". But as soon as they see scale the same, they still aren't happy. That just goes to show why some women shouldn't weigh themselves! I would be thrilled to know I'm holding on to mass and losing body fat. That should be everyone's goal to live a healthy fit lifestyle. One thing I can say, all my clients learn to love training, learn to love eating, and finally learn to not care about the scale (even if this is the hardest part). Be patient to be successful, stop looking for quick fixes because every time you bounce back you'll think you're a failure. Just stay focused and enjoy what you love in moderation. This is why I teach macronutrient intakes. It lets you have your cake and eat it to. Too many restrictions can cause failure. I feel it’s even harder on women then males because we are built smaller and are only allowed so many calories. All our favorite foods are high in calories! But that's why learning proper nutrition and setting up your goals can have you succeed and stay successful in becoming Fit, Focused, and Fabulous.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Is Aspartame toxic?

Is Aspartame bad?

I am so busy with my exam and getting ready for my competition that I haven't had time to post my monthly blogs. But it's been to long so here is a short one. I kept it simple and put up links for those who want to read different views on why aspartame is safe.

To much of anything is bad such as
Water, the gym, veggies, even fruits, this
doesn't mean you have more of these things nor cut them out. I personally feel if you're overall healthy and active you have less to worry about when it comes to enjoying some aspartme. Make sure you exercise, be smart and learn to observe and listen to your body. There are so many myths out there and one that used to confuse me was the myths on aspartame. When I first started "dieting" I would enjoy a diet dr. Pepper everyday to feel at ease, then I would be told how bad it is for you, and how aspartme can harm you. Well there went my only enjoyment while dieting. I didn't even do research, I just believed what I was being told. Well the older I got the more I started to realize people don't know shit, and excuse my language.

To many conclusions are made based on rat tests. Which isn't even clear research on the effects of aspartme. Maybe people fear what they don't know, they say well preservatives this and that etc, well everything is processed to some extent and a lot of foods and drinks you enjoy contain preservatives.  Aspartame is made by joining together the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and are found naturally in many foods. Aspartme are components of things we intake already! Aspartame is approximately 200 times sweeter than sugar. So only a very small amount is needed to give food and beverages a sweet flavor.

The acceptable daily intake (ADI) recommendations are:

FDA: 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight
EFSA: 40 milligrams per kilogram of body weight

Example used on site:
A can of diet soda contains about 185 milligrams of aspartame. A 150-pound (68-kilogram) person would have to drink more than 18 cans of soda a day to exceed the FDA daily intake. Alternately, they would need nearly 15 cans to exceed the EFSA recommendation.

So my conclusion on this quick blog is, go ahead grab that diet dr pepper, feel great and don't worry, just be healthy and stay on track. If something sweetened with aspartame can keep you focused on your fitness goals then I say go for it. Get your facts straight and remember the beauty of science is that you are your own canvas; trial and error, and experiment to see what works for you and your body.

Main site to research:

Some videos to watch:

Video with Jeff Nippard interviewing Kamal Patel from This video goes more in depth of many myths with protein intake from meats and fats, but also touches on aspartame.  I wanted to share this video because it just goes to show how many misconceptions are out there! Do your research, think trial and error and figure out what's best for you, but don't jump to conclusions.

BioLayne another great researcher goes into detail about what toxic really means. Again what is toxic do you really know?

Non scientific video but so funny and he takes words out my mouth but in a crazy manner, watch this video to laugh but I guess learn.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Building Muscle

How do we build muscle?

People make building muscle much more complicated than it really has to be. Okay true, it’s not an easy process, but it shouldn’t be over thought either. Men and women read magazines and believe everything they read. Well here is the reality, there is a lot if B.S. out there! True some are good sources but there are many bogus ones too. There is only one secret to gaining muscle and that is to get stronger! The stronger you are the more weight you can lift, therefore you’ll be more muscular.  Especially if you’re a natural lifter.

Mistakes I’ve encountered at the gym:

Train 5-6x a week, one muscle a day.
Go to failure every set to get “pumped”.
Use many isolation exercises per workout, to hit each muscle from each angle.

If you’ve done this due to what you’ve read, you’re doing it wrong.  The only people who will get results from that routine are genetic freaks, steroid users, and advanced lifters. An advanced lifter uses the one muscle group, one time per week split after they have spent few years developing their body. It’s used to tone each muscle up and enhance areas that are lacking; bodybuilders usually do a lot of isolation because they get judged on symmetry. But you need to build those muscles first!

So here is my tip, if you’re not lifting more weights today then you were lifting a year ago, even few months ago, then you are NOT building muscle! Women on the other hand work great with volume but still need to go heavy enough to make gains. Sorry ladies, those cute pink dumbbells won’t do you justice.

You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to build muscle. Think strength training, and make it efficient.  You don’t have to be in the gym 6-7x a week, for hours! Stop the complicated methods and stop reading to much nonsense. You don’t have to confuse your muscles by changing exercises every session. You need to keep progress, doing the same routine for a period  is fine, just add 5lbs each session or weekly and there you go, you’ve confused your muscles. Also every type of training out there has a purpose, but to build muscle, stop with these failures, you’ll burn yourself out mentally, lose motivation and quit! You don’t need to be sore! No pumping muscles needed! When you’re stronger you’ll have muscles. Do compound exercises and keep heavy, maybe add extra sets to keep you in hypertrophy.  To make gains you need to keep heavy, get rest, and can not be at a deficit.  Diet goes hand in hand with muscle gaining. If you read different it’s a lie, unless you’re a beginner or on enhancements.  So start a program and stay consistent with one but keep adding weights.

Example of some compound exercises:

Barbell row (gets bicep work done and back)
Bench press (chest/tricep)
Overhead press (delts/ tricep)
Deadlift (back, legs)
Squats (quads/hams)

With these exercises you’ll burn more calories and save time! As well you can go heavy every time, get stronger A.K.A gain muscle! Free weights are key to balance and build strength. Although I’m okay with my clients learning on machines for form and to connect with the muscles they are training.

So remember, progressive loading is key to building muscle. Have a workout routine consisting of compound movements. Remember to rest and eat properly, don’t over train nor under train. You must challenge yourself and keep heavy. Have fun at the gym and remember, more and more and more for a natural lifter is not the answer for gains, strength training and progressive overload is the answer for a natural lifter.

There are many benefits to compound exercises. I recommend you hear this podcast on Sports Performance Radio (SPR) with Lyle Mcdonald on weight gain.

Hear this podcast:
Gaining Muscle

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Why do diets fail?

Structure is key to real success no matter what your goals are!

Structure is the key to lifestyle change. Many of us use the word “diet” with short-term deprivation, something we can go “on” and go “off” of. This is already setting us up for failure. To many decisions to make, yet we really don’t make smart decisions. We know we must cut calories, so we eat less of everything, and our body rebels. How about we actually sit down and think things through, set some realistic goals instead of just calling anything and everything a “diet”, or maybe starting some new hip fad diet because you want something fast. You need to plan in advance so that you avoid having to make dozens of daily decisions about diet and physical activity. Investing in a structured exercise program and nutrition, frees your mind from decision fatigue. As the saying goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. There’s too much pressure on what’s labeled as good and bad foods (sugar, for example). Nothing is good nor bad, you just have to be accountable for your macro intake! I love this article by Menno of the “sugartruth”. 

Overall lifestyle change should be your priority. If you don’t keep your diet on check, or at least very healthy, you can't get optimal results. As well workouts should be individualized depending on your fitness level.  I love this guy Menno's train of thought. There are so many great coaches, physiologist, scientists etc. that have great advice and information. Instead of me writing a really long blog, I decided to share links to these articles that might help you understand more about why diets fail.

As a female, I think we have it harder. I will give my opinion because I've been the yo-yo dieter, the confused one looking for easy tricks, and fell for well-advertised products. 

Diets fail because:

  • There is no structure.
  • Unrealistic goals are made.
  • We obsess about number and calories.
  • We give up if we feel like we've messed up.
  • We don't know where to start.
I Am human and LOVE FOOD! Sometimes I have abs other times I don't.

When you see results it will motivate you, but being so lean all the time isn't healthy just be happy with any changes you see. I too suffer when I am not as lean as I want to be, even athletes go crazy, but we are realistic too.

The best answer I can give is to first get moving and get into lifting. Then start a healthy lifestyle by taking processed foods out and limiting them. Never put foods in a bad/good category because you will crave what you can’t have. Finally start increasing protein to help with hunger. That doesn’t mean go drink a shake (although adding a shake into your diet isn't bad, especially post weight training), it means include more meats, dairy, fish etc. This will hold you down (especially if you include fiber; vegetables). Now once you feel ready to learn, invest in someone who knows what they are doing and can guide you to learn about macronutrients and micronutrients.  If you're going to invest in anything it should be on your health and in knowledge. 

People are impatient. They want it fast and live in this dogma of fad diets and misconception. I was at fault too! I definitely understand why women are impatient especially the menstrual cycle messes everything up even more, but it is very important. I will discuss more on menstrual cycle and its importance in a different article. I leave you with this, we are humans and might mess up, but we shouldn't give up!

These are pics of me off season. I look into the mirror and wish I could be lean and not suffer, but it's not realistic. Instead I've learned to admire what I've built, and know that it's not over yet! There are 2 seasons for us and its not just for psychological benefits but for physiological ones too. You too can achieve your goals, just learn to be realistic and do it correctly. We all struggle, but sticking to it and getting back up when we fall is true success.

 Watch this video that another great researcher Alan Aragon talks about fad diets:

 Lyle Mcdonald’s article on why diets fail:

 Last but not least, another physique coach whom I admire and respect is Menno Henselmans. He wrote a great article about why diets fail and the advice of “eat less, move more” is bad advice. He talks as well about structure and its importance for a healthy active lifestyle. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Do we need supplements?

Are Supplements needed in order to live a healthy lifestyle?
We are what we eat, so why live off processed items and so many supplements? Do we need them?

What are supplements?
Why and when should we take them?
The FDA states that a dietary supplement is a product intended for ingestion that contains a "dietary ingredient" intended to add further nutritional value to (supplement) the diet. A "dietary ingredient" may be one, or any combination, of the following substances:
·      a vitamin
·      a mineral
·      an herb or other botanical
·      an amino acid
·      a dietary substance for use by people to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake
·      a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, or extract
Dietary supplements may be found in many forms such as tablets, capsules, softgels, gelcaps, liquids, or powders. Some dietary supplements can help ensure that you get an adequate dietary intake of essential nutrients. Others may help you reduce your risk of disease.
A dietary supplement is meant to provide nutrients that may otherwise not be consumed in sufficient quantities. This is the reason I am definitely not against supplements.  I feel they play a role in our hectic lifestyle. This does NOT mean you should over consume them! Your body is made to adapt. Over using a supplement will cause more problems than benefits. I recommend discussing the use of supplements with your doctor, especially if you have any health conditions.
Many are in search for a magic nutritional formula to help them perform better and control their weight. People often intake food supplements and drugs to help them achieve their goal. But people need to remember the supplement industry is very competitive. They sell products promising to build muscle, enhance performance, and help reach that perfect body. What's real and what is the hype? Money, money, money!
I think supplements are important for those who have a busy lifestyle. They also can play a crucial role when trying to make gains (add muscle), or for weight loss (to some extent). One very important macronutrient for both weight gain and loss is protein.  Most people do not consume enough. If I tell my clients to check their total daily intakes, protein is very low with carbs and fats being the highest.
This is where I think protein shakes would be a great supplement. If you’re just being lazy and want to drink all day then good luck on real gains and hopefully you won't be hungry throughout the day. Protein shakes are broken down and absorbed into your body a lot faster than solid foods. Yes they are important when you're in a rush, post workout to recover faster, or when your intake for protein is REALLY high.  Other than that I say EAT YOUR FOODS! Here are recipes for shakes, just make them work into your macro needs.
The number one supplement source I recommend is FOOD. It provides you with proper fuel. The best part is you know what you’re putting into your body! Exclude all these processed products if they're not needed. Before considering any supplements, make sure you have your lifestyle on check. What I mean by that is, are you eating a balanced meal? Have you learned how to eat properly for your body and needs?  Once you're accustomed to a healthy lifestyle, old habits will be less frequent to show up because you'll be aware of your needs.
Laziness should not be in your vocabulary if you care enough about yourself and health. You must want change and make these changes correctly to succeed long term.  Now after all that is in place, I recommend a few supplements.  In the end if you have the extra cash, and supplements will motivate you to get into the gym, then that’s great! First invest in food and the gym, then go down list and figure out what you need. Not all supplements are needed. Each one is unique and meant to be implemented for different reasons.
What I recommend depending on person and goals are:
Protein shakes:
They have many benefits the main effects of whey on muscle/strength are:
·      Building Blocks: It provides protein and amino acids, which serve as building blocks for increased muscle growth.
·      Hormones: It increases release of anabolic hormones that can stimulate muscle growth (with working out), such as Insulin.
·      Leucine: It is high in the amino acid Leucine, which is known to stimulate muscle protein synthesis at the molecular and genetic level.
·      Fast Absorption: Whey protein is absorbed and utilized very quickly compared to other types of protein.
They can help especially during workout to deliver energy and keep you anabolic. Dieting is catabolic, which means it can lead to muscle breakdown. I believe BCAAs are especially helpful for maintaining muscle mass while on a calorie-deficit diet. They're particularly useful for bodybuilding competitors who take their physiques to the lean extreme.
ZMA is a combination of zinc monomethionine/asparate and magnesium aspartate plus vitamin B6. It's strongly supported by clinical research to be an effective supplement for enhancing muscle recovery, boosting muscle size and strength, and even aiding fat loss.
This is a molecule produced in the body, where it stores high-energy phosphate groups in the form of phosphocreatine (creatine phosphate). During periods of stress (workout), phosphocreatine releases energy to aid cellular function. This is what causes strength increases after creatine supplementation, but this action can also aid the brain, bones, muscles, and liver.
Pre workout:
The right one can boost your strength, endurance, focus, and muscle pump. Too much information and all ingredients play a role, so check it out here.
Multi Vitamin:
They are designed to protect against micronutrient deficiencies resulting from inadequate dietary intake. Look at it as a micronutrient insurance.
Fish oil:
It benefits us by preventing many health issues including: heart disease, ADHD, anxiety, depression, high cholesterol, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, alzheimer’s disease, eczema, diabetes, cancer, weakened immunity, autoimmune disease and macular degeneration. Also, it’s been proven to aid the body in weight loss, fertility, healthy pregnancy, healthy skin and increased energy.
It helps the body form bones and teeth and is required for blood clotting, transmitting signals in nerve cells, and muscle contraction.
Vitamin C:
It has a range of functions. It is needed to make collagen, a substance that strengthens many parts of the body, such as muscles and blood vessels, and plays important roles in healing and as an antihistamine.
Electrolytes are made up of sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphate. They carry electrical charges that are responsible for stimulating muscles and nerves. They also regulate the amount of fluids throughout your body, which affects cellular function, blood volume and blood pressure. Sodium plays the primary role in water regulation, but they all help keep body fluids balanced.
Cinnamon extract:
A little bit of cinnamon goes a long way, and its antioxidant abilities are what makes it especially beneficial to include in your diet. As little as 1/2 of one teaspoon of cinnamon daily can have positive effects on blood sugar levels, digestion, immunity, and more. Check out this site to see list of benefits.
Fat burners:
The problem with fat burners and other similar supplements is that it will not get you anywhere if you are completely dependent on them. Regular daily diet and exercise is the biggest part of the battle. Decreasing the daily calorie intake along with regular exercise is the biggest part of fighting fat. Fat burner can enhance the results as a supplement. So once diet and routine is in check, and you’re at a plateau, that’s when I would recommend including fat burners for energy booster. 
Where to start... which one should I use?

There's so many to pick from but doesn't mean you must get all. Try one at a time, see what you like and what works for you. This list is only including supplements I use or recommend, there are many more out there. I personally love Protizyme PB protein shake and Tag glutamine supplements. I intake my vitamin, fish oil, chromium, vitamin C, Calcium, Aminos, and when I need that energy boost I go to pre-workout that has creatine.  These work for me and keep me motivated. Caffeine is definitely in my diet as well as is my stimulant and a natural fat burner.  Unless I am on comp mode, I don’t intake any fat burners to aid my performance. Food is my big player and what I invest mostly into. I hope this article helps a little. If you go to a supplement store, the one I currently go more frequently to is NXT on Steinway.  They price match all products and are very informative. If you live closer to Crossbay then check out Natural Body, they are amazing as well with great customer service, been going there since I started competing. Take it one day at a time and stay focused on your goals. Use supplements to keep you on track not as a magic resource.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Real me!

Before I post new blogs on topics I get requests for, I decided to dig a little deeper and tell my readers about the real me. I posted a Bio to explain how I started my fitness journey, but there are so many things that make me who I am and I’d like to share some of them with you.  On the surface, you might see an accomplished trainer and competitor. But if you peel back the layers, there’s more than what meets the eye. Even the most experienced professionals were once beginners. This blog might be longer then intended, but it’s so hard to summarize everything in only a few words. 

The girl next door whom loves getting dolled up even though she has muscles.

Who am I? I am just a personal trainer for NYSC who is very passionate about nutrition and fitness.  That passion has driven me to compete, to teach, and inspire those around me. Living this lifestyle has taught me so many valuable lessons about life and the person I want to be. Getting to really know your body and mind is the greatest gift you can give yourself. But what makes life interesting is learning how others view me as well.  

Personal Trainer for NYSC

As I’ve been settling down into living a competitor’s lifestyle over the past few years, I noticed several changes from how the world accepts me. I didn't understand why people seemed shy, or as some clients finally confessed, intimidated.  Their feelings of intimidation weren’t because they thought I was superior to them, but were because they felt discouraged and afraid. Afraid of what? First, my appearance. They saw a fit lady with muscles and started to fear the unknown. Many were also afraid to try things outside their comfort zone. Seeing someone out of the norm might make a stranger jump to conclusions. They're probably thinking upfront "oh my, this lady is going to kill me". Or they might have thought “She has no idea how hard this is because it comes so easy to her. My schedule is much too hectic”. I've heard females say "Oh I don’t want so much muscle, I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder". Females also think "Well, I’m a mom. My schedule revolves around my kids; I don't have time like her. She looks likes she trains 2-3x a day". Even better, they will think, "She doesn't know what it's like to be overweight, she's always been fit".

These are just a few of the judgments placed on me before people actually get to know who I am. Once my clients get to know me, they learn I’m not as different from them as they thought. First off, I’m just as busy (if not more).  I have a child. I was a yo-yo dieter, which led to gaining a lot of weight at one point in my life. Yes, I do know what it’s like to be overweight, embarrassed and uncomfortable in my skin. I work. I am an athlete. I’m human…I just LOVE fitness and decided to take it to the next level. I have more muscle because I worked hard to grow them. It didn’t happen overnight, I’ve been building my physique for over 3 years. Nevertheless, I’m still absolutely relatable. 

3 years of hard work and still not done to accomplish the physique I desire.

It's easy for me to tell my clients “Do this” and “Do that” because I once had to “Do this” and “Do that”. I know what it takes. I understand the fundamentals of body composition.  Now that doesn't mean it’s easy and that it won't take work. Hard work is part of the process! Ok we can go back and forth and talk about quick results as I spoke in my other blog the "Fast Approach". In the end, it all just comes down to your goals.

What I recognized from friends and clients is that they think I have this lifestyle down pack. That I eat, breathe, and sleep the fitness lifestyle.  To an extent maybe my crazy self does, but in reality I'm just like you! The real me is a working mom who struggles to live this fitness lifestyle 24/7.  I might make it seem easy but trust me it’s far from it and has excluded me from many things and people. I can’t help but isolate myself sometimes because just as judgments are placed on those who are overweight, I also face a lot of criticism. Sometimes I brush it off like it doesn’t bother me, but deep down no one wants to be judged based on their appearance or lifestyle. Especially if it’s something you work very hard to maintain. 

I’ve been told I’m intimidating because I don't look like the average female.  But what is average anyway? I’m constantly faced with people who think muscle on a female makes her masculine. In my opinion, I’m VERY feminine and my muscles doesn't change that, they just enhanced my physique. You can check out pictures on my instagram and Facebook, nothing out of the norm. Intimidation comes from insecurity and being uneducated. This is why I really focus and stress my clients to be more knowledgeable.  If you learn how to train (even just the basics) and how to eat for your goals, this lifestyle will be less intimidating.  Females won't be scared to train around men, which is one topic I hear often. If you have a routine each week and have a plan for what you want to do in the gym, you’ll have much more confidence. Men are usually less intimated, but same goes for them. If they learn proper techniques they will be more driven. We're all alike and we all struggle, especially when we’re learning something new.  Instead of being intimidated by an athletic physique, try and learn from them. If they're a trainer, maybe hire them!

Not trying to be "normal". Just trying to be me.

If you’re wondering what my very glamorous fit life looks like, here’s a glimpse (ha!) I get up very early in the morning to be able to see my clients, talking about 4am. After that, I try to stay focused and motivated to workout. True, you can say that working in a gym makes things easier. There are two sides to that story though. How many times has a trainer, myself included stated, “I'm tired, I'll train tomorrow”.  It’s just that easy! Walking away from it is easier then to push your-self towards it. Okay so that’s just the first part of my daily routine. Wake up 4 am check, next is to train clients and help them understand what it takes to reach their goals. With me there is no short cuts. My clients need to learn and be realistic! I already have made many errors on myself, so if a client wants to live off a supplement or just read a meal plan that’s not even customized for them, that doesn’t tell them why they’re consuming those macronutrients, then I am not the trainer for them. I customize their intake and from there the process begins. Hard work and knowledge, it’s priceless and means you won’t feel DEPENDENT on a product or a one-way life style.

After I train my clients, I have to train myself. No one is pushing me or telling me what to do, I am my own motivation. I don’t mind though, because weight training is my therapy! It’s a huge stress reliever and afterwards, I’m much more relaxed. My session intensity depends if I am off-season or on season. Those who are not athletes might not understand the difference, but during off-season, athletes slow down to recover more in order to prevent injury, as well they usually feed more and train for gains. Off –season my split might be more divided into muscle groups to try and hit each muscle 2x a week and I usually implement a heavy day (3-5 rep range) and a lighter day but still heavy (8-12 rep range), with rest in-between. On-season intensity skyrockets because we need to achieve a certain goal and this goal is unrealistic and unhealthy. Which is the only down side to competing. If you want a chance at winning, very specific things need to be done. So my training might be upper/lower split with rest pause instead of full 1-2 min rest for 3 sets. It’s crazy, but it helps get heart rate up and keep it up. This takes a toll on me especially due the dieting. 

I choose to be FIT, FOCUSED, & FABULOUS.

As far as nutrition, I experiment a lot with dieting during my off-season. It’s a great way to learn what works and how to satisfy my cravings. It's so hard to see food the way you should once you’ve been competition lean. After my show, I go crazy for a time period just wanting to stay lean until reality hits me. All of a sudden my body catches up and I’m 10lbs heavier. It's the never-ending cycle of a competitor’s life and it only goes to show how normal we are.

Imagine knowing your new body can burn more calories than before thanks to you new LBM (lean body mass).  This sounds like heaven to those whom love to eat!  Once we’re in comp mode, our calories are cut while keeping our training intensity high. You might go from eating 2500 cals and then dropping to 1000 while ADDING cardio. Don’t forget we still need to function at work, with family, and in society. So now I am tired after training and I get to eat. Then go home drop my bags, now I got a dog so even more to do, I must feed him and walk him. Then go get my precious baby from school. Okay MOMS out there, it is very hard! Especially when you’re on a diet and can’t have certain things or must limit the amount of food you intake. You think that I don’t want to eat a nice glob of peanut butter after making my daughter’s sandwich? OF COURSE I DO! But I don’t. Because my goals are more important than short term food cravings. 

My two babies, they are my responsibility but doesn't mean I neglect myself!

 Are you someone who has to bring their work home with them? Yea, me too. I still have plans to write out for my clients. I also must prep my foods and eat my meals (I usually have 3 meals left when I get home). Are you someone in a relationship? Yea, I was too, at the moment I am not but it's now added stress. This lifestyle can seem selfish because of how much time and attention we must pay to ourselves. But our significant others deserve our time and attention as well in order to maintain a happy home. I remember when I had to prep my ex's meals along with mine. Then goes homework time and study time for Azaylie. Finally I get some down time at around 7pm. Not really, this is when I study and do research before my last meal, and then I try to be in bed by 9pm to start my day at 4am once again. Looking at this in writing seems so much simpler than when I am at home (trying to not seem overwhelming).  

What about a social life? I can tell you one thing…this lifestyle can get very lonely. I don’t really have time to go out. The few close friends that I socialize with usually come to my house because they understand. All they do is see me in the kitchen or on the computer as we are chatting away. This is my hectic life, and well… I love it.  I’ve never been the type to stay still. But this goes to show there is always time for the gym, you just have to want to do it. Even if it means waking up at 5am, and for some that’s too drastic. It’s your life and health, you choose how you want to live and look as you age.

There are so many positive things to being a competitive athlete. Although it seems hectic, the advantages outweigh the dis-advantages. So lets me discuss my dark side on competing.  It’s tough being a bodybuilder. You’re the outcast and most people don’t understand you. You basically live under a microscope with constant judgment. Something as simple as me carrying my jug of water around is criticized. You can feel lonely as well because you don’t know whom you can count on. You think you have amazing friends but as you get deeper into the sport they distance themselves more, or just are over the fact you “don’t have time”.  They even just see you as a 24hr adviser for nutritional and fitness advice and forget sometimes I don’t want to discuss work ALL DAY! I go to family events maybe for 2 hrs. max before I need to leave. This is the kind of sport that will pull you into a thin string, you’ll try to hold on to it and hope not to brake. It leaves you drained in a way most people don’t understand, hence all the social complications. 

My lifestyle is so different from 3 years ago. I love music and dancing and partying. But to be honest, not so much into alcohol anymore, I am more into sleep. I guess you start to miss it when you officially don’t get enough of it. I’ve experienced that along with these changes in my lifestyle, there’s a change in my circle of friends. Who wants to hang out with someone who can’t eat out, can’t drink, or has a scheduled life that if broken they go crazy because this sport makes them more OCD then they already are? Maybe that is it, I am not sure, just assuming. I’ve even considered quitting because I felt I couldn’t handle this pressure of being “perfect Ody”. Instead, I choose to be selfish in one thing at least! And this affects my life in a positive way, so I’m sticking by it. Those who truly care will be there! In the end, my daughter gets to see her mom on stage and she gets to learn from this. Most importantly, she will know that the scale means NOTHING! She will be optimistic to this lifestyle and not criticize it nor be scared of it.

The women I was when I started is the same women here today but advanced!

My fitness and nutrition routine has become a habit. The easiest thing I can compare it to is waking up and brushing your teeth every day.  I am far from perfect.  If I were perfect, I wouldn't go through the "struggles" we all go through. I would live in the perfect fitness world and stay lean, wake up to workout, eat, and even sleep all day. Wow, that would be a dream to get paid to do that! Imagine the good life. Well sorry, that’s not my life. I am just like you! Which is why there is no excuse. The struggles in this sport are basically loneliness (outcast), stress, perfectionist, body image problems also occurs, and mental destruction if you don’t have thick skin! This sport causes you to always want to be lean. It took me 2 years to finally understand the importance of body fat, obviously not being over weight but being healthy. Main advice I have to any female wanting to do this sport, more than males, is to be very strong! Criticism will come left and right as well judgment. You must do this for yourself, not to please anyone else nor have to give explanations. Trust the process and have fun, you’ll benefit so much and always compete with yourself to be a better you. This sport definitely made me mentally stronger and more independent.

I hope from this article you can see that I am just like you, just as busy, and I still strive to get my routine in. All you need to do is start with low frequency. Meaning 2x a week into the gym and increase however it fits your schedule. Something is better than nothing. Remember, we can’t judge a book by its cover and you never know how hard it is for some one else. We all have difficulties, but when you want something so bad, you’ll do all that you can to succeed. It’s easy to cover up our sacrifices when we suffer. But in this sport, you take it and just roll with it! Complaining doesn’t change anything. It’s a waste of energy!  Anyone can start a fitness journey and chase a dream. Don’t be afraid of accomplishing a goal based on the time it will take. The time is going to pass anyway…so start now!

The gym is part of my life because I chose to have it be just as important as any other daily routine