Saturday, September 29, 2012

2 weeks out: AU NATURALE

The title of this post is a hint at what I'm changing about my diet for the last 2 weeks of prep before my first show! I've made the decision to cut out my beloved monster until i step off stage. Don't get me wrong, I will .. repeat WILL drink one AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after my show. I'm removing everything artificial from my diet to make sure there is NOTHING standing in the way of looking MY best on stage. Since I pretty much eat 100% natural otherwise, monster, flavored seltzer water, and sugarfree gum are the only vices I have. Oh, and my all-natural protein powder, but that has some shit in it. So I'm bidding good bye to it. I will chew gum to help hunger until a couple of days before the show. Sorry in advance for anything I might say/tweet/do in this process.....*mom*

I'm ALSO cutting out these artificial things in hopes that it will help my eczema to heal. Yes, I have a slight eczema problem, which I've done ENDLESS research about, seen dermos, been prescribed corticosteroid creams that i REFUSE to poison myself with. Lots of things contribute to flare-ups, but my issue is that it is on the right side of my FACE! It recently got SO bad because I cut my fish oil OUT of my diet because of the fat content. Okay, that wasn't smart, in hindsight. Removing omega 3 fatty acids from my diet caused everything to DRY out...making me realize that YES, it is true---fish oil works wonders. Not only did I reintroduce fish oil, I introduced flax oil, evening primrose oil, and biotin. Taking those EVERY DAY. only a teaspoon of each has definitely helped in just a couple of days! After my show, I will obviously increase the dosage without worrying about the fats I'm adding.
Here's a supplement plug: TAKE FISH OIL, PLEASE!!!! In the oil form if you can--I use Carlson's fish oil, in lemon or orange flavor. They actually taste good, and no "fish burp" after effect...yikes. Flax oil is another source of omegas. Evening primrose is specifically for help with skin repair! Biotin helps skin, hair, and nails, and is a capsule.

Anyway. 2 weeks, and my stage bikini is still digging in my hips, and I REFUSE to have a rhinestone muffin top on stage. So, I'm making a little alteration to my diet and cardio, just reducing my carbs by a little, eating asparagus and egg whites and chicken. Green beans after a workout. Also thinking about cutting oat bran and replacing it with canned pumpkin, for both carb reasons AND eczema. Grains might contribute to certain skin conditions, so going completely hypo-allergenic could definitely help! 

I will continue to do high intensity cardio, not chilling on the elliptical for 2 hours a day with no resistance. I do use the elliptical certain days, because it is no impact and enables me to get my sweat on and burn the extra calories. For the last 10 weeks, I've been focusing on making sure I get visibly LEANER, steadily. Now, I know I have to drop inches and pounds to look tight on stage in my suit. I'm ready, and I WILL be unstoppable for the next 2 weeks. I WILL go to sleep earlier to wake up early for cardio. I will not eat anything extra, besides what is ON my plan. 

No, I am NOT doing this for you. Not for NPC judges. This is for ME. I want to be PROUD the minute I wake up on show day with the package I am bringing. I am my own competition. There might be amazing, cut, lean, beautiful girls on stage competing against me. But after the show, I might not see them ever again. I don't CARE about them, or if they place better than me. It's about ME! My goal was not to be  115 pounds or 10% bodyfat or  to have 34 inch hips. My goal from the start was to look my best on stage. To be well conditioned and tight. Not to look starved and dieted and cardio-ed down. To look perfect in my suit. For the past months, I've been visualizing myself posing on stage, smiling, and confident with my physique. I know the feeling I need to have in order to get my abs looking flat and waist tiny on stage. I should feel depleted and emptied out, running on adrenaline from being on stage. I just lit a major fire under my own ass to hustle and kill it for the next 2 weeks so that I know I gave 100% effort. I want to be proud of the pictures that go up on the internet so that I can plaster them on every post and tweet I write. 

With all of this said, I'm off to do my Saturday workout. Tomorrow is my LAST rest day until the Friday before my show. Thats a LOT of gym time to make the most of. And believe me, i WILL make the most of every single gym session to look contest ready. 

OH, its national coffee day. DRINK UP!!!!! Enjoy some lo-carb monster for me too....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Alright. This is nothing but a workout post. I had a SICKENING leg workout today, and SMASHED my deadlift goal: 155 pounds. Got 3 reps without straps, then 5 reps WITH straps. I was SO thrilled, and continued to deadlift as heavy as possible after hitting the mark.

Here you go: (Always foam roll/stretch/warm up!)

warm up: 5 minutes on the stair monster, level 70-- skip steps

Find a barbell and a box. I lift the barbell from the ground, using 25 pound plates for full range of motion. Plus, I'm only 5'3.

Warm-up for deads:
stiff legged deads 45lbs/15 reps
deads 95 pounds 12 reps x 2
deads 145 pounds 10 reps
GO TIME: deads 155 pounds 3 reps
add straps: deads 155 pounds 5 reps
reduce: 145lbs 8 reps
115 lbs 10 reps *ss* 15 narrow box squats
115 lbs 8 reps   *ss* 15 narrow box squats
115 lbs 6 reps  *ss 15 narrow box squats*
115 lbs 4 reps *ss* 15 wide box squats
115 lbs 2 reps *ss* 15 wide box squats
95 lbs 10 reps *ss* 15 wide box squats
95 lbs 8 reps *ss* 20 reverse lunges
95 lbs 6 reps *ss* 20 reverse lunges
95 lbs 4 reps *ss* 20 reverse lunges

De-load bar, finish with stiff deads 45lbs/15 reps

Good mornings SS ATG squats 30lb barbell 3x12

Stair monster 5 minutes level 70 skip steps

circuit: 3x15
reverse hyperextensions feet turned out (glute focus)
Wide plie kettlebell squat 40lb kbell
calf raises parallel/turned out

leg press circuit:
feet wide and high 4x10
feet narrow and high 4x10
calf raises 4x20

Final superset: 4x15
hyperextensions (no weight/10lbs/25lbs/10lbs)
elevated butt plank
hip bridges

SMOKED. walk on the treadmill 5 minutes 3.0mph 8%incline to finish

Talk about SICKENING leg workout. Took close to 90 minutes. Minimal resting, just time to deload and reload plates onto the barbell.

Amazing what a day of feasting on carbs can do for your workout the next day.
Try this out if you're brave!! For deadlifts, figure 155lbs is about 1.25x my current bodyweight. Multiply your weight by 1.25 to see what that would equal for you.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Closer and Closer.

I am SO close to my first show.  I've been reflecting a lot about how I've taken myself through this journey, with no help. No, not NO help.

I haven't paid anyone to help me. The internet is the world's most fucking amazing resource people. Blogs, scientific articles, fitness pro's facebook pages, twitter, etc--are all available to everyone at NO cost. It takes a certain person to read through the bullshit to find the gems--be that person. Read for pleasure, but with intention. Find bloggers or fitness professionals that are currently doing what you aspire to do. Follow them, subscribe to their updates. LEARN from them.

Wanna have the physique of a competitor? Well, don't you think it's a good idea to find out what the pros do to look that way on stage? It's not stalking, it's LEARNING. WATCH Erin Stern and Nicole Wilkins cheesy little Q+A videos, you might learn something new! You have to be 100% invested in yourself if you want to make any type of transformation, so soak up all of the information available to you, and APPLY some of it. Whether you want to drop 10 pounds, gain 10 pounds, get shredded and become an IFBB pro--you need to do the hard work. Paying someone for a plan isn't going to get you there. If you commit yourself to that plan 110% percent, then yes--YOU will get somewhere.

That is exactly the reason I chose to train and prep myself. I am NOT a team player, and I don't really like being told what to do. I have the self-control to plaster myself to the stairmaster if I slip off my diet. I cried in pain during my prep from pushing myself so hard. No coach was pressuring me, I have such a strong laser focus that I am able to push myself beyond my limits. Sometimes, that's not such a good thing (avoiding tears during prep is a good thing...not a bad thing.) By taking myself through this process, I've also learned a lot about what I WANT for myself after my shows are over. I don't want to gorge on food and go into a forever "off season." This is a new way of life for me. I've become incredibly disciplined during these past couple of months, and have come to understand the notable difference between a real tablespoon and a hungry tablespoon. I look forward to staying lean after my shows, and slowly taking off some muscle and overall size (yes, I've decided I'd like to be a little smaller) and continuing to sculpt my backside. Being smaller is more appealing to me--perhaps since I've been "big" for so LONG! Also, I do see myself competing in the bikini division for a while, so I will continue to bring my shape closer to the bikini "mold." 

I've also learned to appreciate the energy that calories give me for my workouts. After my shows are done, I will NOT bring my calorie intake up by 500 calories immediately and stop doing cardio. I want to slowly up my daily calories, while revving my metabolism by performing explosive cardio and hard weight workouts. I've learned that eating between 3-4,000 calories primarily from carbs on the same day as a full body scorcher does not put ANY weight on me if I stick to my diet ALL week, and only do that ONE day. I will continue to do that after my shows, and will definitely be enjoying lots of fall foods....AHEM, PUMPKIN.

I've learned that I can complete intense workouts WITHOUT insane amounts of "fuel" in my body. Um, bodyfat is a pretty good source of fuel, in case you weren't aware. By keeping a steady flow of carbohydrates, and staying really full by eating a veggie feast each night, I've stayed content on my contest diet. Cravings are unleashed on my one day a week to eat super carbs...but I do NOT crave real junk, simply because I didn't really grow up eating any real junk, and its never in my house! Except the occasional leftover birthday cake or home made cookies. I have a pretty clean palate--it craves oatmeal, and boring stuff like that.

I really do LOVE working out, pushing myself, and proving that it IS possible to do it on your own. I understand that many don't know where to start, and that's why I write this blog. Start here. Sort through my posts, understand what I've done to get myself here. Understand the long journey behind this physique that is currently less than 3 weeks away from a National Qualifier NPC bikini show.

So yes, I'm extremely proud of how far I've come. But I am not done. I never will be. Always strive to be the best version of yourself.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Get OUT of your GYM!

With 3 weeks left until my first NPC bikini show, its safe to say I've seen a lot of the gym. Oh, and it doesn't help that i WORK at the gym that i WORKOUT at. I absolutely love my gym, hold it very close to my heart. But sometimes, a change of scenery is REALLY what I need. Since school is back in session, I can't hit up the school track anymore because the kids use it during the week. I don't run on the streets, I'm not a roadrunner. So, I've been an absolute gym rat.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to train with Kelvin Gary at his brand new facility in Manhattan:
Bodyspace Fitness .

First, allow me to rave about the fact that my friend Val and I had the entire gym to ourselves! Kelvin trained us together, and there were no other clients in the gym. Talk about private training! The gym is outfitted with turf, (pretty sure the only turf spot on 14th street...) kettlebells, dumbbells, cables, racks, ropes, a SLED, stationary bikes, treadmills, and LOTS of fun toys.

Kelvin set up some circuits to challenge us involving pretty much every toy possible. Sandbags, kettlebells, sled, dynamax balls, TRX, ropes--you get the idea. I loved the set up, and I was able to use things I'd NEVER worked with before, but have always wanted to.

I know--Personal training can get expensive, but even if you're a seasoned athlete or think you know everything about fitness--you don't. Personal training is NOT only for beginners!! I believe that I am NEVER done learning. I will never know ENOUGH about fitness. Another set of eyes on you is a plus, because you might benefit from a little correction! I learned how to make my kettlebell swings more effective for the hips and glutes, rather than being a knee-driven motion like I had previously been favoring.
Another major benefit of working with Kelvin (or a GOOD trainer): he mindfully planned a workout for me and Val to complete, with timed intervals of rest and work, which kept the workout organized and effective. He also structured the circuits like I do for my own workouts, ensuring that you can keep moving from one exercise to the next without a certain group of muscles being too taxed. Example: first exercise shoulder/back dominant, next exercise leg dominate, next exercise arm/core dominant, next exercise speed/agility focus..etc. Keeps you moving without being to fatigued to complete a number of exercises back to back---maximizing effectivity and calorie burn. That, what I like to call smart training.
Don't try doing a circuit of back squats, lunges, deadlifts, and box jumps. By the second round you might hurt yourself.
Another plus about working with a trainer: They make up the workout for you! Kelvin was creative, and was able to direct Val and I so we didn't really have to THINK at all. JUST WORK OUT.

Reasons BODYSPACE is worth a visit:
--Kelvin (and his trainers) are seriously awesome, and know their stuff. They care about fitness.
--You will leave your comfort zone. If not willingly, you will be pushed.
--Access to some seriously valuable training equipment that might not be available in your gym. Battle ropes and the sled are tools I'd KILL to have regular access to. Let me say---battle ropes are a bitch. Legs hurt but you wanna spike your heart rate? Back away from the elliptical, go find some ropes. Don't stop for 30 seconds.
--You don't have to fear the crazy gym goer or people dropping weights near your feet
--Even if you're a gym snob, it never hurts to have another set of eyes watching you while you perform exercises. Especially for less seasoned athletes, small corrections can change the way an exercise targets a certain bodypart, and save you from injury or unnecessary strains.
--SO. MANY. TOYS!!!!
One thing you can be sure of: I WILL be going back there to train, and maybe shoot some videos with my girl Val.


Dear New York boutique fitness connoisseurs: If you pay upwards of $30 to take a packed class, it might be a good idea for you to miss a class and head over to BODYSPACE for a different approach. They do offer small group classes, but some one on one attention might be just what you need to tap into your inner fitness fiend and wake up those muscles. Yes, I'm quietly insulting boutique-y clique-y pilates/barre/lululemon only studios (too many exist.) Pulsing your foot behind you for 43 minutes before hitting a plank or two and curling 3 pound weights will NOT sculpt the body you've always wanted. Nor burn the calories from your skinny vanilla latte. Go see Kelvin and say Liz sent you to build some muscle.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012


It makes me sick to think of the number of people out there who blame CARBS for their own inability to lose weight. I'm not in the mood to write an informative post about the difference between rice crispies and brown rice cakes, but I will take a moment to explain how helpful carbs can be for increases in strength and power.

When trying to lean out, drop body fat, lose weight--whatever you call it, a lot of people tend to lower their starchy carbs. By "starchy," I am referring to grains, high glycemic fruits, potatoes, etc. I follow this protocol for contest prep. I eat 1 serving of "starchy" carbs (oat bran) for breakfast, and only have another form (rice cakes) post-workout. On non-weight training days, I have oat bran for breakfast, and rely on broccoli and green beans for carbs for the rest of the day.

However, carbs ARE necessary for ME personally. Most people who train intensely benefit from the presence of carbohydrates in their diet. If you read my blog, you are familiar with my once a week carb up. Once a week (usually monday,) I double my carbohydrate consumption, and eat more starchy carbs as opposed to veggie carbs. This is NOT a "cheat day," because the sole purpose is to replenish glycogen stores, and to provide fuel for my muscles for the following week of workouts. Yesterday, I had over 300g carbs, and it was JUST what I needed.

Benefits of my carb load:

During my leg workout today, I deadlifted much heavier than I have been able to the past few weeks. Since I weigh less and less each week, my workouts and strength have been decreasing slowly as well. The heaviest I'd deadlifted in the past 3 weeks was 115 pounds, usually keeping the weight between 85 and 105 pounds. 

Today, after warming up, I killed 8 reps with 135! Did it again. I was feeling strong, so I added a 5 pounder to each side, a conservative load increase of 10 pounds. 145lbs for 8 reps, then 6. I know 145 pounds isn't very heavy, but considering its a lot more than I weigh, I feel pretty good! Also, 155 is my ultimate deadlift, so I wasn't far off today. I probably could have handled 155 with my lifting straps.

And I felt like I could keep going! I had a ton of power throughout the rest of my workout: my step ups, box squats, kettlebell swings, etc--were all explosive! And, I sweat like a monster (another side effect of the carb load.) 

I feel STRONG again, like I can take on each workout like a PRO this week.

If you have never played around with your carb intake, I do suggest it if you train hard. The extra carbohydrates in your body will give you the POWER to bust through strength plateaus, and likely result in some of the best workouts you've ever had.
And no, it won't make you fat.

Thank you carbs, for making my week 10 times better.
And thank you Allegra, for helping my allergies immensely.

Hope I inspired some of you to do some deadlifts ;-)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Its a bumpy road.

You know those times where it seems like NOTHING is working in your favor?

Well, I got smacked with allergies, sinuses, and symptoms of calorie depletion AT THE SAME DAMN TIME. My head feels like it weighs 100 pounds, I'm stuffed up, and feel a bit weak--especially during my last few workouts. I'm giving myself a carb repletion today, which will hopefully give me a boost so that I can knock my training out of the park the rest of the week. 
Battling fatigue is not fun. I feel like all of my energy is put forth into one of my maniacal workouts, and then I'm DEAD the rest of the day. I never used to have this issue when I was eating "to build muscle."
So now that I'm getting WAY leaner than my body likes to be, it's even harder to push the weight and turn up the cardio. On Saturday, doing 12 reps of military presses with the 40 pound barbell was EXHAUSTING. A couple of months ago, I was throwing a 60 pound bar around NO problem! I was working on my dumbbell shoulder presses with 35's, now I stick to 20s. Oh baby will I have some stuff to work on once my shows are done!
Today was one of those days that I REALLY did not feel well enough to train. BUT I had no fever, just crazy sinuses and allergies. So I WENT, did upper body circuits and ended up lasting 25 minutes on the stair monster after my workout. I worked out for about 75 minutes total, and it DID feel a bit better to sweat it out.
I REALLY hope these carbs wake up my system--I have a show to train for, this is NOT the time to be a wimp.

I made a compromise today. I did not put myself through a typical MONSTROUS workout like I usually would on my carb day. Tomorrow, I want to feel better and have a solid Leg workout, and then I want to continue feeling better each day! I know how to keep my diet super clean, clean enough to make up for lack of caloric expenditure--and might have to make some compromises this week if I can't put forth enough energy for my workouts. 

I'll take some good allergy meds, force down tea (i HATE tea without sweetener,) and keep my thoughts positive. Sometimes, its all you can do. By keeping my outlook positive, hopefully my body will be HAPPY and lose some weight this week. I got a big show to be ready for!

I will continue to get EXTRA rest, being that I can barely walk straight since my head feels so gigantic and heavy. 
What can YOU take away from this blog? Well, understand the importance of compromise when it comes to training and dieting. When you ask your body to perform at such a high intensity, and don't feed it quite enough, it might retaliate. Environmental factors like bacteria and allergens DO exist, and there's not much to do about them, so you have to work with what you've got! Sickness and allergies are the WORST, but we have to treat them, rest our bodies, and overcome them. Going 70% instead of 110% IS the better decision sometimes, when your body is feeling down. And um, an extra day away from the gym won't kill you. It's about the long run for all of us! Treat your body with care, and remember that it takes a bit of time to HEAL, no matter how small the ailment or sickness. REST and RECOVERY are crucial, and a little bit of icky herbal tea never hurt anyone..

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Train like a bikini girl...PSYCHE!!!

I'm training for a bikini competition. 4 weeks left until my first show. 7weeks until the 2nd show.

Here's what I'm NOT DOING (nor have I been for the past 2 months of prep):
-regular fasted cardio 
-90-120 minutes of cardio each day, plus weight training
-lifting light weights
-hitting the gym twice every day. in fact, i rarely go 2x  

Get the point? A lot of bikini competitors are notorious for spending HOURS on cardio equipment. (SO ARE THOSE FIGURE GIRLS...)

When I first started preparing for my shows, I knew the fasted cardio thing was OLD SCHOOL! That is NOT to say I HAVENT done fasted cardio during prep. I have! During the summer, I loved waking up early and going to the track before breakfast. But my goal there wasn't specifically to "burn more fat by doing fasted cardio." I don't like to eat before training, it feels amazing to run and do stairs without a bunch of food in your tummy.

A ton of articles I come across advocate HIIT cardio, and suggest that INTENSITY trumps DURATION when it comes to maximizing fat burn. Why shouldn't that apply to contest prep, when fat burn is a SERIOUS priority?

With that said, here's what I HAVE been doing:
-HARD cardio, like incline intervals on the treadmill, sprinting, and killing it on the stair monster.
The major change I made was to get in cardio 5 days a week, REGARDLESS. sometimes 6. Super sore legs are NOT good for sprinting or hauling ass, so THAT is the time that I'll get on the elliptical with an incline. Ellipticals are excellent for NO impact cardio. Perfect for "recovery"cardio. 
-No cardio session longer than an hour. 
-Either mixing segments of all-out cardio into my circuit workouts, or doing 20-30 minutes of HARD shit after my circuit workout.
-Adding plyometrics ... often. Burpees and squat jumps are my usual choice.
-Utilizing circuit style workouts, as opposed to the heavy heavy weight training I was using before. 
-Lifting in the 12-15 rep range (mostly) 3-4 sets of 3-4 exercises backtobacktoback
-full body exhaustion AND cardio every saturday, the day before my REST day. I EARN IT.

So I'm giving you a sample of what I MEAN when I say FULL BODY EXHAUSTION.


Here's today's workout:

Stairs 12 minutes:
start level 60, increase each minute until 10 minutes
Sprint min 10-11
SLOW DOWN min 11-12

circuit 1: 3 sets 12 reps
prone on incline bench bilateral db rows w/25s
stiff deadlift to overhead press w/40lb barbell

Stairs 13 minutes:
same pattern, start at level 65 this time

circuit 2: 4x15 reps
decline abs 
decline oblique twist 
kbell DEEP squat w/upright row 30lb kettlebell

back to the stairs 15 minutes:
legs started to feel REALLY weak at this point (thank you lower carbs..)
2 mins each level.
**60/70/80/90/repeat until 12min** 
sprint/recover until 15 mins

circuit 3: 3 sets 
deadlift w/100lbs 10 reps
tricep rope pulldown 15 reps
stiff lat pull down 15 reps

Circuit 4: 3x15, to failure last set
parallel reverse hyperextensions
turned out reverse hyperextensions
dumbbell lateral raises

ALL DONE!!! You should be TOASTED. Looking back at the workout, I realized there's no CHEST involved. I trained my chest super hard the other day, and had ZERO energy for pushups or chest presses or cable flyes today. Not an excuse, but I didn't NEED to train chest anyhow. Usually, I do include pushups in my full body workouts though.

This is a solid 90 minute workout, no questions asked. I was absolutely dead! And THAT is how I AM TRAINING for my bikini competition.

**bonus info: Saturdays I deplete my muscles by working out like this, taper my carbs slightly, then Sunday is day of rest and very low carbs, and MONDAY is CARB DAY, with another upper body circuit workout and cardio. Tuesday, regular carbs resume and I train legs HEAVY on glutes and hamstrings.**

Happy training!! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Understand Cravings

Surprisingly, I have virtually NO cravings on my contest diet. Do I get "hungry"..of course. However, after I eat my green beans and grilled chicken, and take my dose of fish oil or healthy fats, I am feeling great and satisfied again. One thing you should REALLY think about is WHY you crave a certain thing. Craving Something super fatty? A burger? Candy? Peanut butter? 
Let's say you're craving a burger:
think about the last time you ate. What was the meal? Have you consumed enough PROTEIN today? Lacking fats? Just had egg whites and spinach for breakfast, worked out for 2 hours, then had an apple?

Ummm hello, your body might be ready to eat the kitchen sink. Compose a balanced meal complete with PROTEIN, lots of fibrous veggies, and a serving of FAT. 
Squash the burger craving with this EXAMPLE: grilled chicken, 1/2 avocado, atop a huge bed of lettuce and chopped cucumbers, bell peppers, etc. Even have quinoa or brown rice or some flax crackers if you're jonesing for carbs. All of that food will STUFF you, AND stabilize your blood sugar for around 400 calories, maybe less-maybe more. But it is NOT about the calories. Let's take a look at the NUTRIENTS your body can utilize from whole foods in that example meal:
Avocado: contain vitamin E, potassium, B-vitamins, Folic Acid. "act as a "nutrient booster" by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein" Avocado Facts
romaine lettuce: vitamin C, potassium
Bell peppers: Vitamin A (essential for eyesight), Folate, Vitamin K (assists in blood clotting), Antioxidants like lycopene which help to prevent CANCER, and Carotenoids which prevent HEART disease, potassium
cucumbers: Vitamins A, B, C, magnesium, silica, potassium, calcium, folate... and they contain 96% EAT UP!!! 
chicken breast: contains niacin, selenium, vitamins A+B, **more important is that you add some form of PROTEIN to this meal to satisfy your body's need for it. If you don't already understand the importance of eating protein to promote stable blood sugar and aid in muscle preservation and repair....Google it! Again, you don't HAVE to eat 400 grams of protein a day. That will not give you muscles. But you should (in my opinion, based on what I've read and what has worked for me) aim to consume .75g-1.5g protein per POUND of bodyweight each day. With that being said, a simple way to break it down is to eat between 20-30g protein in each meal. More if you weigh over 150 pounds.

Let's compare that with eating a burger at a diner or chain restaurant. The most benefit you will find sandwiched between saturated fats and simple sugars is little reprieve from lycopene in the tomato, or some vitamins in the small amount of lettuce on the burger. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and WONT use McDonald's as a comparison:
I searched typical burger info on the web, Applebee's burger contains 770 cals, 15g saturated fats...yikes.
check out all the fun stuff that could be in the BUN alone:

INGREDIENTS: Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Barley Malt, Ferrous Sulfate  (Iron), B Vitamins (NiacinThiamin Mononitrate  (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin  (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid)], Water, Sweetener (High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar), Yeast, Soybean Oil, Contains 2% or Less of Wheat Gluten, Salt, Calcium Sulfate, Dough Conditioners (May Contain Sodium Stearoyl LactylateTricalcium Phosphate,ethoxylated Mono And DiglyceridesDatemDicalcium Phosphate,Mono And DiglyceridesCalcium Dioxide, and/or Sorbic Acid), Vinegar, Soy Flour, Yeast Nutrients (May Contain Ammonium ChlorideAmmonium PhosphateDiammonium Phosphate,Ammonium SulfateMonocalcium Phosphate and/or Calcium Carbonate), Cornstarch, Wheat Starch, Enzymes, Calcium Propionate  (to Retain Freshness), Soy Lecithin. If Topped, Also Contains Sesame Seeds, or Corn Meal.

The point of this post is NOT to pick on hamburger lovers. In fact, if you make it a point to eat QUALITY meat (like making the burgers at home..) a burger CAN be a weekly indulgence, as long as you fit your own dietary needs. I used a hamburger because it's a classic "comfort" item to order at a restaurant or diner. 

I used to crave lots of CARBS. And if I picked up a jar of peanut butter, 2 tablespoons never happened. know why? Because I would eat eggwhites at breakfast, workout like a MANIAC, snack on cucumbers, celery, and peppers, maybe eat more eggwhites.. Notice lack of something? Um. NO complex carbohydrates either PRE or POST workout, and ZERO fats. Of course my body was craving something. So yes, I was giving my body minerals and vitamins and protein, but no omega-3 or omega-6 essential fatty acids, not enough soluble fiber ( found in oats,) so I would really be LACKING ESSENTIAL nutrients, and was not balancing meals properly. Hense, CRAVE central.

Carbs don't make you fat. Fat doesn't make you fat. Protein doesn't make you fat. The way you choose to combine these three macronutrients is up to you. Everyone is different, but everyone needs SOME food from each group. When you choose carbs, proteins, and fats from WHOLE food sources, it's very hard to go wrong. 

Sure, a banana might be high in sugar and carbs, but i will STAND BY my opinion that it won't hurt as much as skittles. Once in a while, skittles are OKAY if you MUST have some! But for everyday food choices, don't you think potassium-filled bananas are a little better for your working muscles?

Think peanut butter is your worst enemy? I beg to differ. Natural nut butters ARE a healthy source of mono and polyunsaturated fats--the kind of fats that have been proven to LOWER your triglyceride and  blood cholesterol levels. You're better off with too much pb, or too many macadamia nuts, than with trans fats hidden in pillsbury icing, or saturated fats leaking out of fast food items.

My ultimate goal for this post is to encourage readers to indulge SAFELY. The closer a food is to the ground, the better it is , and the SAFER it is for your body. Do not eat based on calories!! Eat based on what your body needs. Even if you eat a few too many blueberries, or too many almonds--let's get real. How bad could it really be? Not to mention, your body has to work harder to metabolize food in its natural state. Guess what that means? Your body is going to burn more calories digesting that grilled chicken meal example than if you were to eat a processed crap meal. You know how HARD it is to digest all the fiber in good food?! It puts your body to work, and keeps you full (and

Anyway, next time you want an almond joy and pop tarts and pizza, maybe eat some almonds, strawberries, and fresh mozzarella cheese. 

Was that a long enough post?! Wowzers. I probably made you hungry. go eat!!! 

I'm about to eat eggwhites with 1/2tb peanut butter and some broccoli! 4 weeks out and YES peanut butter is in my diet for another week or so..4g of fat people. Tastes better than fish oil ;)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Progress thus far

With 1 month left before my first show.... here's a mini photo haul...
enjoy. got some WORK cut out for me this month! STAY TUNED

july 3rd

august 3rd

first week of sept

july 3rd

aug 3rd

mid august

early september. 5weeks from comp

Sunday, September 9, 2012

NASM workshop recap

So, if you aren't familiar with the NASM, its a well-respected and popular organization through which many people obtain fitness certifications to prove their expertise. NASM stands for National Academy of Sports Medicine. I'm earning my personal training cert through NASM, and attended a 8 hour live learning workshop today, as a precursor to taking the written exam. I won't lie, I have NOT been studying my textbook as I should be. I assumed that listening and taking notes at the workshop would pretty much set me up for the test, since I am ALWAYS reading about updates in the field of exercise.


After attending the learning workshop, I am re-inspired to crack the textbook and memorize the difference between the biceps femoris (nope, not in your arm people) and the TFL (tensor fasciae latae,) and many more. The workshop did teach me a lot of useful things. I learned a lot about functional anatomy, and need to get more comfortable with addressing concentric, eccentric, isometric, flexion, hip extension, muscular imbalances, etc. These are all things i KNOW, but couldn't necessarily explain to someone in an eloquent manner.
The workshop also taught me about program designing, and the importance of keeping your client's muscle imbalances in mind when deciding EVERY component of the program--from trigger point and warmup, to the resistance training. 

Okay. You guys know I have an opinion. Let me tell you what made my skin crawl by the end of the lecture. NASM training structure is like ANTI-LIZ BRODY. My workouts are probably the instructor's nightmare. The trainer stressed that NASM training programs are set by evidence, and their effectiveness is based on research--fair. What about all of the articles on VOLUME training that I've read from RESPECTED sources, that cite actual studies? I asked the instructor what he thought of German volume training: 10x10, and explained that I use it in deadlifts. Another BUFF dude said that he used Japanese method of 5x5 bench press, using 245lbs for each set. The instructor actually said that there is no evidence that those programs work. He finally backed down and agreed that such programs MIGHT lead to strength gains, but continued to insist that since NASM is backed by RESEARCH, that it would be more effective.

That's just one instance. The instructor also bashed split-training. Made fun of bodybuilders who devote a day to shoulders, chest, back, legs, etc. Umm, excuse me?! And also, according to him, a deadlift is not the same type of full body exercise as a squat to curl to overhead press. Little remarks like that over an 8 hour period drove me NUTS!!!! And this guy didn't exactly look like the world's fittest guy either. 6'3 (he only mentioned that like 8 times...), and not particularly buff, nor lean.

Bottom line is that NASM training is NOT about looking like a fitness model. Perfect textbook exercise form trumps true muscle pump in the NASM standards. Cheating a movement to crank out negative reps isn't kosher over there. Overloading the muscles to the point of cripple is not in the NASM book.  But, that is because most personal trainers do not have the luxury of working with athletes and competitors. The typical client is a couch potato looking to drop out of the overweight category. For these reasons, the NASM guidelines are appropriate: safe protocol for the average man or woman, with potential for results.

Don't get me wrong. I can learn a lot from the NASM textbook. But the more valuable lesson here: sometimes, you need to agree with principles you do NOT believe in, in order to get what you need. In this case, I will suck it up, memorize the facts, and pass the test. I can assure you that I would never expect a client to perform the same types of workouts that I do, but I certainly will not be stopping at 3 sets per body part, just because NASM says so. I will continue to overload and cripple, because it sure works for me, and the bodybuilders and competitors I've learned from.

My bitch comment of the post: The instructor stopped at BAJA FRESH for lunch...

Best part of the workshop: 3 notably attractive black men with very nice physiques. A little eye candy never hurt during an overhead squat assessment!!

You bet I'm crackin that textbook and cozying up with my study guide to make sure I PASS the exam when I take it--hopefully SOON!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

5 weeks.

Just under 5 weeks out from my first NPC bikini show. The contest diet is tightening up EVEN more (aka certain calories are getting dropped in a week). While my prep has been full of veggies and protein, and a pretty significant carb count, the monotony and strict nature of my diet has started to take its toll. I catch myself likening peas and zucchini to starchy carbs, might as well eat a banana, or piece of cake, right?
NO. The contest prep mindset is tough. I've become so wrapped up in my precise macro plans and limited food selection, that I've convinced myself that nearly everything outside of my PLAN is off-limits and will derail me from the stage. Long gone are days where the presence of fresh blueberries in the fridge means they end up in my oats, just because I want some. Now, if I open the fridge, my eyes go STRAIGHT to my carton of eggwhites or measured-out chicken breast. Blueberries are SUGAR, and obviously they will ruin my progress for the stage. THIS IS HOW MY BRAIN WORKS LATELY...and I'm going to have some major things to deal with once I step off the stage. I want to teach myself how to readjust to eating, and realizing that I CAN do what i ADVISE others to do. Natural, whole foods, can only do so much damage. Zucchini, indeed-is a vegetable, not an evil carb. These are things I will deal with AFTER my competition. At least I know my thinking is messed up and flawed.
Another really hard part of preparing for a competition is trying to visually monitor your progress, without SCRUTINIZING every single inch of your body. It's nearly impossible. I have never been this small or lean, yet I still find myself criticizing areas that are still holding fat, and blaming myself for not working as hard as I could be. What a bunch of bullshit! I've worked myself SO hard during this prep that I've overworked my body a number of times, and had a couple of emotional and physical breakdowns. I work out like a MONSTER, and am not one to smile for 2 hours on the elliptical. So, even though I typically work out once a day, the intensity of my workouts is HUGE, and more than enough to spur the fat loss I need. 
Preparing to step on stage is NOT easy, and I knew this beforehand. While it might seem easier for some people, I can guarantee you that EVERY competitor knows what it feels like to work his/her own ass off and risk the possibility of still not being GOOD enough. I am not looking to be good enough for anyone other than myself, but I need to regain my self-confidence and security in order to feel proud of what I've accomplished. I find myself staring at my current physique in the mirror, and along with picking apart every flaw, I think about how "fat" I must have looked before I started my contest diet. WHAT?! That was less than 2 months ago, and people complimented my physique and were amazed by my transformation at that point. I was proud of myself THEN, and now I feel like I can't compare to other NPC bikini competitors. I do WAY too much comparing, and need to just focus on my own strengths.
I need to blog more. It makes me so much happier to write and release my thoughts. Lately, I haven't even had time to check twitter, let alone write blog posts. I can't go to school full time this semester, along with competing and working. It's too much stress. Succeeding in my competitions is my NUMBER ONE priority right now, to regaining mental strength and emotional stability. I need to make sure that I step on stage the most confident and radiant I can possibly be. That is going to require some intensive work on my end, but I'm prepared to keep it up and do some hard work to get what I want.
I am making a vow to calm down, release the harsh judgement I place on myself, and continue on my journey to leaning out and stepping on the NPC bikini stage on October 13th.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back to school blues and BOOTY WORK

Today, I went back to class. I go to NYU, in case you were wondering.

Call me ungrateful, unappreciative, obnoxious, whatever. Lots of kids would KILL to attend NYU full time. If I could give them my position, I would. Despite pleading to drop out, my parents wont let me. So I go.  I'm fortunate to have more than half of a brain, and was able to maintain STRAIGHT A's last year without buying ANY books. Correct. I made the Dean's list with a little help from wikipedia.

Anyhow, I am commuting to school rather than living in downtown NYC. Due to my contest prep needs and work schedule, I decided it'd be nice for me to try out living at home and going to school in a more "part time" way. Today, I walked into my first class, and there was some freak sitting reading HAMLET for pleasure. I died inside. I don't read ANYTHING besides fitness/nutrition related things, because everything else bores me to TEARS. But, I understand that I am a "good writer," and therefore am supposedly majoring in ENGLISH?! I'm gonna die of boredom.

Anyhow, I really don't want to dwell on how much I hate school and am miserable to be responsible for attending class any longer, but I HAD to do SOME venting...

So when I got back from the city today, I made an eggwhite disaster (word to the wise: NEVER add water to your eggwhites. It does not create volume, only a messy pan. Sigh.)

I THEN amped up for my leg workout. I have to AMP myself up like a lunatic before leg training, because I am less than 6 weeks from my competition, and can NOT have ANY wrinkles or cellulite, I work way too hard to have a droopy fat butt. When I want to give up, I just think about the girls that are winning in the bikini division right now, and how much pain they likely endured to get their butts into shape! Anyway, here's today's fast-paced, sweat-monster leg workout. You do NOT need cardio in addition to this 80 minute hot box.

10 minutes stair monster, get loose, familiarize yourself with your glutes and hams, and feel the contraction and power before you hit the weights.

Warm it up: 
Leg press (no plates added) Wide stance, feet at the top of the platform, knees to arm pits, pulse at the bottom. Keep repping it out until your inner thighs feel engaged, and start to burn. Then, do one leg at a time, until your inner thighs and glute muscles are fully awake. Then, use the machine to activate your calves and stretch them out. It took me 5-6 minutes to get sweating and feel my lower body muscles getting to work.

--warm up the hams and get the glutes going: perform good mornings/stiff legged deads with no weight, really fast, utilizing the hamstrings and glutes exclusively.

Go to work:
100lb barbell. Stiff legged deadlifts superset w parallel and turned out jump squats.
Countdown reps: 10/9/8/7/...1.
Totals at 55 STLDs, 55 parallel squat jumps, 55 turned out jump squats

Keep working: circuit.  3 sets 10/12/15 reps
ONE LEGGED stiff deads w/35lb kettlebell. 
one arm kettlebell swing 15lb kettlebell, DEEP SQUAT
kettlebell windmill 15lb kettlebell

Blast it: kettlebell swings and step ups
35 lb kbell 10 reps / step ups holding kbell 10 reps each leg
25 lb kbell 12 reps/ step ups holding 12 reps per leg
15 lb kbell 15 reps/ step ups holding 15 reps per leg

Dont die yet: reverse hypers (bench swings) and plie squats 4 sets
10 turned in/10 turned out
plie squats, pulse at bottom, explode out

You can almost die now: hyperextensions 3x15 turned in/turned out
15 parallel
15 turned out, SQUEEZE cheeks together at the top

DROP DEAD. Foam roll. Stretch. Drink protein and BCAAs. Waddle to car. Pop your rice cakes and drive home. Walk through the door and crash.

BOOM!!!! Wait a few hours and now it's DINNER TIME!!! Chicken breast and green beans on the agenda.

Want motivation to do this? Google:
Nicole Nagrani
Tiffany Upshaw
India Paulino
Vida Guerra

(Hopefully after my competition, I'll be telling you to use MY picture for reference!!!)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September 1st: 6 weeks out!!!

I CANNOT Believe its September already. Where the heck did summer go?!  I won't lie, ever since I decided to compete on October 13th, I have had TUNNEL Vision, and definitely am not "living in the moment" like I should be. As someone said, I truly have "laser vision." My mind is entirely focused on successfully following my prep: diet, training, and everything else involved.

The past 6 weeks, I have gained a TREMENDOUS amount of discipline, and have proved that I AM capable of getting on stage. I have reached the point where I am incredibly anxious and excited to finally achieve what I've visualized for so long. Post-competition concern tries to distract me, but I'm trying to avoid negative thoughts. For the time being, I need to focus on PRE-CONTEST, and doing whatever it takes to train hard and continue to get leaner. 

Every competitor is different, but it does seem like an overwhelming number of female competitors boast about their 1-2 HOURS of cardio 7x a week. Going into prep, i KNEW that I could not handle that much cardio volume on top of my intense workouts...nor did i NEED that. I'm sorry...but I believe that if you TRULY keep your nutrition program clean and are meticulous with your food, you don't need to climb stairs for an hour as soon as your eyeballs open in the morning. As a matter of fact, when I was earlier in prep, I was doing morning and pm cardio, and saw the back of my legs looking looser, and freaked out. Guess what I did? Stopped the 2x cardio, and went HARDER in one session. I won't lie, I'm doing more cardio than I'd like to right now, but its just enough to get me where I need to be, to push my body over the edge to burn the calories. And my workouts are so tough, and are very demanding, so I only have about 3 INTENSE cardio sessions (45-60min) per week. I do cardio 5-6 days a week, never over 60min in a session. I typically spend 75-90 minutes working out if I'm combining strength+cardio.

I'm not going to lie and say I'm eating a healthy diet with 1800 calories a day. I started at 12 weeks out with 1740 calories, and have been decreasing since then. The meal plan I follow has moderate carb cycling involved. On days that I strength train, I eat rice cakes post-workout, bringing my daily carb total 40g higher than days that I don't workout, or just do cardio. On complete rest days, I don't have oat bran for breakfast either, bringing my carbs 80g lower than workout days. (long story short...less muscle work means less or no starchy carbs. no rocket science.) My calories come from 40% protein, 40% carbs, and the remaining 20% from fats. My calories are the lowest I've EVER kept them, which concerns me for post-competition, as I want to REV my metabolism so I can stay lean on more calories.

Another thing that contest prep has taught me is that the body doesn't starve your muscles away. I used to get so MAD if I went 3 hours without food. Now, I understand that your body can do MORE than survive if you don't feed it exactly on time. In fact, I just take my BCAAs and Glutamine after a tough cardio session, and WAIT an hour to have anything..hello extra fat burning potential!

I got my suit a couple of weeks ago, and it fits TIGHT like it should. the top is tiny, and will fit when my boobs are done shrinking (bye boobies...), and the rhinestone connectors on the hips give me just enough muffin top to motivate me to keep leaning out. The color is amazing, and I am THRILLED. The blog will NOT be seeing my suit until the competition! 

I really hit a wall of physical exhaustion and mental turbulence last week. My increased training volume, decreased calories, and addition of a new job and schedule all accumulated, and resulted in absolute CRASH on saturday and sunday. TWO back-to-back rest days, and a major accidental cheat on sunday night (Talking 1000+calories later..) I felt WAY better on Monday, and guess abs were TIGHTER by tuesday. My body had been TOO deprived all week, and the extra calories did more to HELP than HURT. Now, I will resume my weekly CARB day. Nothing wild, just double serving of oat bran, a CLEAN carb source that I LOVE for breakfast. Keeps me full for 5 hours too.

I am going to try to blog MORE, since I'm settling back into my school schedule, and will have set hours at work. I refuse to blog worthless shit. I know nobody wants to see pictures of broccoli, eggwhites, and a tablespoon of flax...EVERY DAMN DAY. Or hear, "So today, I worked out!" Like...Duh. I only blog when there is something i feel is WORTHY, and trust me, I have a TON of things I would DIE to write, but it's so much effort. I would make a Vlog, but frankly...every Vlog is annoying. Who wants to watch some girl they don't even know (or do know) awkwardly self-tape a monologue about fitness and nutrition for an unnecessary amount of time? 

For pics, make sure to follow me on INSTAGRAM : Lizbrody
I will figure out a way to get my iPhone pics to my blog ASAP so there are pics to go along with the writing.

Hope you enjoyed the update--no matter how fast you eyeballed it :)