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


  1. So inspirational Odalys!!! Always admired this about you! Love this!!!

  2. Thank you so much hun.... hope to motivate!

  3. Very Well said.. I'm Glad I can help..