Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Why I Wear Lipstick at the Gym

You know one of the annoying things about being a woman? Hormonal fluctuations. We’re a constant roller coaster of estrogen with water retention, bloating, cramps, and like 2 weeks out of the month of looking in the mirror and thinking “Damn! I look good!” Then with the fluctuations we have days that we just don’t like or recognize our reflections. So maybe we bundle up to hide our bodies even though they are still incredibly beautiful, the hormone goggles just don’t let us see that.

And then we muster up the strength and willpower to take our fatigued bloated crampy bodies to the gym. And no one gives us a tiara and chocolate just for showing up. Seriously WTF? Not feeling physically the greatest, mentally the greatest, we still show up and begrudgingly get the job done and leave feeling an odd mixture of a little proud that we showed up and a little disappointed that we just could not push ourselves a little harder.

That’s a mental block. I don’t feel good, I don’t feel I look good, I don’t feel like my workout will be good. Confidence – lost.

But those 2 weeks of normal energy, no bloating or cramps, not feeling like a water balloon – we walk in the gym and OWN SH*T! We have the “can do” attitude and we kick our own asses. We reach for heavier weights, we trust our bodies and our abilities. But why? It’s the confidence we feel. That inner “good” feeling of being comfortable with how we look and we let that feeling drive us.

And on those not-so-hot days, I MAKE myself find that “feel good” attitude. When I show up to the gym with my custom Nikes matching my capris, my capris matching my tank top, my tank top matching my head band, my hair in a “I just threw my hair up in a messy bun to make it look cutely effortless even though it took me 10 frickin minutes to get it just right” polished off with lipstick and mascara – know that I’m there to do some WORK! I’ll take the time to look good, so that I feel good, I feel confident and I’ll be STRONG. My pink-pouted self will grunt through my sweaty workout, wipe down the equipment, rerack my weights (and yours you lazy bum) and will walk out of the gym knowing that I gave it everything I had – breathing hard through my perfectly painted lips.

Friday, March 27, 2015

An Uncomfortable Reality

A lot of people don’t understand the crazy emotional struggle involved in binge eating and food addiction.  And yes - they’re very real.  It’s not about hunger or cravings, it’s about a complete and utter loss of power.  It’s an abusive relationship with food. With binge eating being something I struggled with personally for a few years, as well as being something I have helped numerous clients deal with – I felt compelled to write a little something.  Especially after speaking with a client today and hearing some of the words she used. I felt it in my very soul and felt I need to give people an uncomfortable window into that reality.  So here goes…

You took control over me. I rolled over and LET you have your way with me.  You didn’t take power from me, I opened my damn hands and gave it to you on a silver platter.  I let you dominate, humiliate, obliterate my entire being.

For hours.

And then rest.

And then for a few hours more.

So how was it that you are the one with all the power - the power that I gave you - and all I’m left with is guilt?  And today I’ll continue verbally bashing myself, and tomorrow will be more of the same.  I’ll hide myself from the world, embarrassed to even see the light of day.  I’ll stare myself down in the mirror and over-analyze every little piece of me.  And I’ll hate it all.  And I'll find a way to punish myself for letting it happen when I swore it would end after the last time. And the worst part is, that guilt that I feel now only guarantees that all this WILL happen again.  I haven’t learned how to hold my head high, to stand up, take back my integrity, and make sure you never overpower me again.  Maybe I don’t want to learn that.  I guess I oddly take comfort in being your victim, and that’s why the help I am offered falls on deaf ears.  I can’t see myself ever getting better, and on some level I suppose I don’t feel I deserve to be better.   I don’t want to face the reality of what my relationship with you really is.  Toxic.

And all you are – is food.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Chica Surf Adventures - Sometimes You SHOULD Believe the Hype!

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
Have you ever been the last of your friends to see a popular movie?  They tell you how great it is and it’s the funniest movie they’ve ever seen?  That happened to me with “There’s Something About Mary.”  Had the film all hyped up in my head, finally saw it and thought, “That’s it?  What in the actual f**k WAS that?”

My experience with Chica Surf Adventures… was NOTHING like that. 
My first wave of the trip
After reading about all the trip had to offer I had it so hyped up in my head that I believed there was no way it was possibly going to be as amazing as what I dreamed up in my mind.  Wrong.  So very wrong.  It was everything I dreamed of and more.  And I KNOW that sounds ridiculously cheesy and clichĂ© but dammit I can feel my heart smiling even as I write this.
View from a zip lining platform
Amanda and I - see what I mean about  her smile?
Now I've surfed before, gentle waves in Hawaii and around Huntington Beach, CA area.  Very limited experience, so booking a trip to Costa Rica to spend a week honing my surfing skills with other women sounded like a safe and supportive way to practice.  Now toss in some zip lining, horseback riding, stand up paddle boarding, sunset infinity pools, reggae dance parties, yoga, and garnish with tropical beach massage and you have yourself one hell of a tasty dish!  Now try doing that with complete strangers.  Bonds are immediately formed and completely unbreakable.  From the very second of meeting Amanda (owner of Chica Surf Adventures) and seeing her intoxicatingly warm and genuine smile, I knew we were all in for a real treat.

Surfing is a WORKOUT.  Trust me, I’m a doctor.  Okay, not really.  But I am a nutrition and fitness consultant.  I consider myself a fairly well-conditioned athlete - growing up as a gymnast and acrobat, now an avid weight lifter and yogi, frequent hiker, occasional kayaker and biker, and always looking for more ways to get out of the gym and play.  Surfing in stronger currents was certainly a fun new way to challenge myself and just the new workout I’ve been searching for. The shoulder and back strength to paddle out, the chest and arm strength to pop up, the leg and core strength to balance on the board.  Hooray for a full body workout!  And just when you think you can’t give any more, you have an encouraging surf instructor (mine was Jonathan) right there encouraging you, slapping you a high five, and helping you find the strength to hop on for one more wave.  After 2 hours of that sort of workout, your whole body is taxed, your mind is clear, your heart is happy, and your stomach is HUNGRY!
My instructor Jonathan and I.  Muy guapo!
Shrimp and coconut rice
Which brings us to food.  Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh the food in Costa Rica was beyond amazing.  The staff at the Funky Monkey Lodge never failed to impress me.  From the banana pancakes over breakfast, to sushi night, to pizza night, to the vegetarian lasagna, and of course let’s not forget about the pineapple flambĂ© for dessert!  I found all the produce to be much more flavorful there than here in California, which says a lot because living in San Diego we get fresh produce year round.  But the bananas were sweeter and not even remotely mealy, the avocados had an absolutely indescribable creaminess to them.  Every plate was full of color, a treat for the eyes and the tongue.

Our patio - I napped in that hammock a lot!

My soul sisters forever <3
I mentally prepared myself for the breath-taking views, the flavorful food, the friendly locals, being serenaded to sleep by monkeys, the warm sun, the gentle rain.  What I did not prepare myself for was the bonds formed with the other ladies on the trip.  Coming from all walks of life, about a 15 year age span between all of us, different areas across the country as well as Canada, from scientists to personal trainers.  Each of these ladies truly touched my heart and I will never be the same because of them.  I keep referring to this trip as “the trip of a lifetime” but I know those words can’t possibly be true since I’m already planning on making the journey again next year.  Chica Surf Adventures made me feel like a strong, capable, beautiful woman, ready to take on the world where ever the gentle waves take me.  Now THAT is the best souvenir you could possibly hope for.

You can also check out Chica Surf Adventures on Facebook here
or on the web at www.chicasurfadventures.com

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me?!?! - The Blog for New Competitors

Competing in Bikini was one of the biggest adrenaline rushes I've experience.  Each and every time.  The thrill and excitement never lessened from show to show.  But you already know that.  Every competitor is happy to tell you the incredible high they feel on show days.  But then there are many other aspects that people tend not to discuss openly.  I run a group on Facebook with one of my dear friends for new competitors where we discuss these sorts of things frequently.  But for those of you who do not have that sort of support group, I present to you the "Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me" blog comprised of very common forms of that question.

I call this the bride syndrome.  We've all seen brides depressed after their wedding day.  Is it because they married the wrong man?  Of course not.  It's because they've spent day after day, month after month preparing and planning for one single day.  And it's an amazing day that is gone in the blink of an eye.  Competing brings about the same emotions!  You spend 12+ weeks focusing on one single goal, every meal, every workout, every gram of perfectly portioned chicken, for one day that is over in the blink of an eye.  Post show depression is normal, and temporary.  Try setting other fun goals for after your competition like a color run, or surfing lessons, or that big long hike you've been waiting to try.

If you were shy about being naked around other people - kiss that goodbye.  The professionals who spray tan people for shows have a lot of bodies to blast with the horrendous smelling oompa loompa paint so they need to get people in and out of their tents as quick as possible.  That means you're moving from the tanning tent to the drying tent quickly - naked as the day you were born - in front of other people.   The tanning people are professional who see this every week, the other competitors see this every show.  No one is oggling your goodies just like you're too uncomfortable to sneak a peek at their junk.  So just relax and focus on not freezing while standing wet and naked in front of a fan.  I usually close my eyes and visualize my posing.

By the time of your show you can perfectly eyeball your portions of food before weighing them. Chances are you're going to see a plate of food after the show and secretly be calculating the macros in your head.  Or you're going to stand in Starbucks to order your grande iced coffee and shoot the barista an evil eye when she asks if you want it sweetened, and secretly judge the other people in line because OH MY GOD don't they know how many calories and grams of sugar are in that caramel frappuccino... ooooooooooh look at the whipped cream on it, that looks amazing... who is the culinary genius who created these things anyway?  And those little frosted cake pops?  Yes, I'd like to have 3 of those.  This is a very typical thought process.  You go from judging other peoples food choices to fantasizing about them.  Cakes and cookies and Nutella become stuff dreams are made of and nearly impossible to resist, when you enjoyed them before but could turn one down if you weren't really craving it. 

Unless you are a genetic freak of a lady, your boobs are going to deflate.  You thought going through puberty at 13 was hard?  Try going through it backwards as an adult.  Yes - its hard.  You breasts are going to shrink, and yes they will fill back out when you gain weight after your show.

"I'm going to spend the next 12 weeks working hard towards my stage body, there's no way I'll stray from that after I earn it!"  Nope, not how it works.  Not only is it not healthy to stay that lean all the time, but mentally it's challenging.  You thought it was hard to stick to your diet for 12 weeks leading up to the show, well the truth is the weeks after the show are even tougher.  You SHOULD reverse diet out of your competition prep, meaning you slowly add in more calories and slowly back off cardio.  That takes WAY more self-discipline than it did to diet down for the show.  So yes, your abs will slowly fade.  Sometimes completely, sometimes just a softer defined look.  But you're not going to be stage shredded every day of your life.  But practicing as much self control after they show is important to avoid a big rebound (significant weight gain post-contest from over-eating.)

Yes, you're working hard.  Yes, you're dedicated.  Yes, you're doing something that other people wouldn't ever consider attempting.  No, that doesn't mean everyone is going to support you.  Why?  It's not because you have "haters" or because people are jealous of you.  It's simply because your goal is something they don't understand.  You're choosing to be tired and grumpy and hungry to stand on stage half naked.  Definitely not a goal for everyone.  So be prepared not only for some people not supporting your goal, but for some rude comments.  Try working in silence.  You're going to be tempted to post progress pics every week because your transformation is very exciting!  But the more you refrain from that, the less of an opportunity you give others to criticize your goals.  Try searching for competitor groups on Facebook for support.  These are people who WILL understand your goals, and understand your insecure days too!

This is one of the biggest and longest lasting side affects of competing.  Once upon a time you were a girl perfectly happy to be a size 5, not ripped or shredded.  Soft body that you proudly strutted around with in a little bikini or a flirty dress and never gave a second thought as to whether someone was staring at your stomach or analyzing your thighs.  Fast-forward to 3 months post-comp.  Let's say you return to that exact same condition.  But now all you see is fat, you feel fat, you can't stop staring at you fading abs and poking at the soft spots.  The exact same body that you were once perfect comfortable in is one that you now find disgusting.  This mentality does not happen for everyone, but it is very common!  You just have to remind yourself just because your body isn't stage ready, doesn't mean it is incapable of amazing things and still is something that is to be loved, cherished, and appreciated.

This is probably the scariest one.  For girls who thought they nipped an eating disorder in the bud, competing often makes it resurface.  For girls who never had an eating disorder before, some will actual acquire one.  BEFORE you start training to compete it is VERY important that you have a good relationship with food, realistic expectations of what your body can accomplish, and make your health of utmost importance throughout your training.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Confessions of an Ex-Bikini Girl: A Giant Public Apology

Really Robin?  REALLY?  No

Let's play Jeopardy:

"People like to see my progress pics.  It motivates them."
"I just post ab pics to show people that they can do it too."
"It's not a booty shot, I'm showing everyone how hard I work on my glutes."

What are things I tell myself when I'm lying?  Ding ding ding!

Yeah, I was THAT girl.  Picking up my shirt, slight head tilt to the right, ab shot in the bathroom mirror.  And post - "Abs are made in the kitchen.  Keep that diet tight!"  Timer cam pic of my ass in a bikini - no wait I don't like the lighting.  Retake.  No I liked my pose better the first time.  Retake.  And post - "So proud of my glute progress.  Squats baby!"

Chances are if you're reading this blog, you have at least one friend on Facebook who does what I used to do.  Hell, maybe you ARE that person.  So let me explain for you the mentality behind these pics.

Competing as a physique athlete is a giant mind-f*ck.  Your life revolves around how you look.  That was my life for 4 years.  So as for the "progress pics" - they are posted from a place of needing validation.  Although I'd never admit it then (nor will the girls who do it now) I NEEDED to see people liking my picture.  I NEEDED to read the comments telling me I looked great, telling me I was motivating (which I wasn't), telling me they wish they could look like that, telling me I was pretty, telling me the wanted to be just... like... me!  And I'm happy they're not.  That is not a good person to be.  I'd tell myself I posted those pics to motivate others or to "hold myself accountable."  But looking back now, I know that's a load of crap.  I wasn't posting those pics to motivate other people, I posted those pics because the comments/likes/shares motivated me!  They fueled the ginormous ego-beast inside me.  I wanted to hear from other people how awesome I was.  And that's... well... sad, pathetic, childish.

These "progress pics" weren't motivating.  They were a GIANT neon sign to the world screaming, "I'm insecure.  Like my ab pic!  LIKE IT!!!!  LIKE MY ABS!  LIKE ME!!!!"  And yes - it makes me a little sick to my stomach now that I was that girl.  That I advertised my insecurities. I wore them like a badge of freaking honor - Lieutenant Robin von Insecurity, reporting for duty SIR!

So to all of you who I annoyed the living crap out of with my "progress pics" - I present to you on a silver platter a giant heart-felt apology. I'm sorry.  I was a chick-douche. Douchette?

During my last prep I did not post one single progress pic. I knew it was going to be my last competition ever, and this time I wanted to do it with a little dignity, a little pride, and an ounce of maturity.

And now that I'm coaching competition girls and nutrition clients, I STILL don't post ab/booty shots to try and round up more clients. How my abs or butt look on any given day has nothing to do with where I've come from, what I know, and how my clients respond.  I'm a well educated woman, my clients speak for themselves and THEY are my best advertisements, not myself.  I'd like to think my clients, prospective clients, and society in general will respect me more if I carry myself as a strong knowledgeable woman than as an insecure girl.  And well - I would add "professional" to the strong knowledgeable part - but I think I talk about poop too much for that.  Hey, still gotta be me, right? 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Letter to Myself - Half a Lifetime Ago

Me at 17
Dear 17 Year Old Robin,

You’re graduating high school this year!  Can you believe it?  This senior year you’ve just started to embark upon is going to be one of the most memorable years of your life.  I know your high school experience up until this point hasn’t been the greatest.  Teenagers can be cruel to kids who actually like learning, who don’t know how to dress “cool”, are socially awkward, and aren’t the “prettiest peach in the forest” – you’ll find out what that means when you’re 33.  But guess what?  Like all things in life – it doesn’t last.

College is going to have more highs and lows than you can possibly imagine.  Continuing to compete in sports acrobatics for your first 2 years is going to give you more confidence and discipline than you can comprehend.  And when you quit, you are going to feel LOST.  And scared.  You’re going to join a sorority which will bring you some of the most amazing friends – and will also show you the kind of woman you don’t want to be.  But unfortunately you’re going to have to become that woman first.  But like all things in life – it doesn’t last.

You’re going to continue to fall into the deep depression that has been setting in since you were in 10th grade.  And that depression is going to grow and manifest in you – exponentially.  You’re going to turn to alcohol to deal with it, and sex.  You are going to HATE yourself.  You’re going to hate yourself so much that one day you’re going to learn the horrendous buzzing in your ears that results from chasing a bottle of Advil with a bottle of NyQuil and vodka.  But like all things in life – it doesn’t last.

You’re going to graduate with a degree in math – whoda thunk? You’re going to be a teacher and learn how truly patient and strong teachers are.  And you’re not going to share those gifts.  So you’ll move on, to another job that you don’t love.  But like all things in life – it doesn’t last.

You’re going to start competing in fitness competition.  You, on stage in a bikini.  Remember that little wall-flower you were through high school?  She takes a flying leap out of her shell – more like a swan dive into an empty pool. You’ll obsess over how you look, over what other people think of you, over every little fat cell.  You’ll spend 4 years of your life dieting and gaining, dieting and gaining.  You’ll stare at yourself in the mirror no less than 20 times every... single… DAY.  The very thing you started to build confidence will completely destroy it.  You’re going to deal with feeling ugly, and fat.  But like all things in life – it doesn’t last.

You’re going to enter a relationship with the most amazing man.  Jesus.  Yeah, remember him?  One day He’s going to knock on the door of your heart, and you’ll finally invite Him in.  He’s going to show you that your fitness career was never about you, it was about everyone else BUT you.  You met some of the most incredible people. You found friendship, you found lovers, you found people who had a place in your heart before you even met them.  You found that you have a gift for helping people.  That love of learning that you were once ashamed of will prove to be one of the things you value most about yourself.  That love will help you change the lives of others, give them their health back, find a confidence in themselves that they’ve never seen before.  And every night before bed, you’re going to pray that this is one thing in life that does last.

So 17 Year Old Robin, you have a crazy, beautiful, tragic, exciting, scary, depressing, joyful life ahead of you.  So this feeling you have now of being scared where life is going to take you… like all things in life – it doesn’t last.

Almost 34 Year Old Robin

Thursday, June 6, 2013

25 Things You Didn't Know About Me

My friend Kari just posted her "Things You Didn't Know About Me" blog and challenged people to do the same.  So here's mine!

1. When I do something wrong, I lecture myself using my full name.  "Robin Jean Romero - don't ever do that again!"
2.  I didn't get my drivers license until I was 18.
3.  I'm allergic to bee stings.
4.  I learned that by stepping on one.
5.  My favorite thing to do growing up was baking cookies with my mom.
6.  I got my first kiss in a movie theater watching "Nightmare Before Christmas"
7.  I hate bacon.
8.  I have dreams that I'm diagnosed with cancer and happy about it because my sister had cancer when she was 16 and I was jealous of the attention she got.
9.  I should probably see a therapist about that.
10.  My biggest fears are enclosed spaces and the Blue Man Group.
11.  I can see peoples auras.
12.  I will gladly pay $25 to valet my car if it means avoiding parallel parking.
13.  I got a C in my first quarter of calculus and cried.
14.  I'm a horrible liar, so I don't it.
15.  When I was in kindergarten my dad told me every time I got sick, he'd get another grey hair.  I believed him and cried every single time I got sick until about the 4th grade when I figured out that wasn't true.
16.  I fall asleep on airplanes before they take off.
17.  I won a "Macarena" dance contest at yearbook camp the summer before my senior year of high school.
18.  One of the most frustrating things I've ever tried to learn was how to juggle. My hand-eye coordination sucks balls.
19.  I've never been in love.
20.  I've always wanted to take fencing classes, inspired by the sword play in "The Princess Bride"
21.  I quote lines from "Wayne's World" more than any other movie.
22.  I think I did of hypothermia in a past life, I get panic attacks when I'm really cold.
23.  My mom taught me how to crochet when I was really young.  I used to make clothes for my cabbage patch kids without a pattern.
24.  In elementary school I got excellent grades in everything except penmanship.
25.  My boobs turned 2 years old today.