Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Favorite Things of 2012

I frequently get asked what products I use and love, both for health/nutrition, and just life in general.  So I thought I'd wrap up my blog for the year with a list of my favorite things!

 Oh hai Brad Albertson
This is probably the question I get asked most frequently.  619 Muscle Foundations protein is my favorite. Yes, I am sponsored by them but I chose my sponsors based on products I use and believe in!  So what do I love about this one?  It's clean.  118 calories, 26 g protein, 0 g carbs, 1 g fat, sweetened with stevia, loaded with BCAA's and glutamine.  I absolutely love it!  The peanut butter flavor is my fav! 

This stuff will blow your MIND!
D-Stunner by Betancourt Nutrition is something that I've recently been introduced to and HOLY COW!  It was love at first try!  This pre-workout is not the cracked energy jittery type that makes you feel like Beavis when he turns into the Great Cornholio.  And no jitters means no crash!  Just a nice bump in strength, power and breathing.  That's right, it helps you breathe better! There is a bronchostimulator in this product to help improve your breathing during exertion!

Yes... my grips are pink and black like everything else I own
I REFUSED to leave the Olympia Expo this year until I bought Versa Gripps because I didn't want to have to pay shipping online.  Well in the midst of all the excitement I completely forgot to go shopping - how incredibly unlike me!  In the last 15 minutes of the expo I frantically ran over to the Versa Gripps booth to snag my pink and black FIT model grips.  I absolutely love the control and improved grip I have when training with these. The FIT series is designed for my girly smaller hands and freakishly small wrists.  I lost these for 2 days and was devastated.  They enhance my workouts SO much!

The Robin Bra - named after ME!  Not kidding!
I am absolutely in LOVE with BodyRock Sport!  Kelly has designed some amazing bras that are not only the most comfortable and supportive out of all the gazillion sports bras I've owned, but they're fun and fashionable!  This year I was beyond flattered that she whipped up the fun green one pictured above and named it after me!  These bras are great because they even have hidden pockets to store a key or iPod AND it has a light layer of padding so that the whole gym doesn't know when you're cold.  Bonus!

Nice bag!
I don't travel lightly, that includes when I go to the gym.  I am an OCD organizational freak. Enter: The Peacoat Class bag by Fitmark.  It's like a dream come true, in a super high quality back pack.  Shoes go in the bottom, insulated compartment for your water bottle, padded back pocket for a laptop, anti microbial bag for your funky sweaty clothes.  SO FABULOUS!
So badass!
Yes, I read other people's blogs.  This gorgeous lady is Kari Keenan - a figure competitor determined to earn her IFBB pro card.  She's hard-working, smart, sweet, a great writer, and she sends me pictures of cats.  Duh, of course I love her!  Her blog covers so many great topics from training, to dealing with the emotional hardships of prep.

Did I mention I hate interval training?
I hate doing intervals.  Like really, A LOT!  They kick my ass and make me pray for death, but it's a very highly effective way of training, thus I do it.  I found this app and its AMAZING!  Again it appeals to the organizational freak in me because you can color code the warmup, highs, lows, and cool down periods.  You pick the length for each period, number of intervals and BAM you're on your way.  It takes all of a minute to set up.  

Game changer!
 I have horrible skin.  HORRIBLE!  Total combination skin, acne prone, just disgusting.  This stuff changed it A LOT! Much more even skin tone, faded old acne scars, just youthful glowy skin!

Alison Burgess
Annie Parker
Okay so it's a tie.  But they're both blond fit girls with names that begin with "A" so I figure I can post them both.  Shuddup, it totally makes sense.   Miss Alison Burgess and I met about a year and a half ago competing but developed a great friendship this year.  She's my go-to gal for advice about basically everything under the sun.  She always says things that makes my mind go in directions I've never contemplated so I can honestly say I really am a better person for knowing her. And also, she sends me pictures of cats.  And then there's my little pocket sized friend Annie Parker.  We have one of those friendships that consists of finishing each others sentences, laughing at things that no one else understands, and even started a business together!

So that's it folks!  My favorites of 2012!  Wishing you all the best in the new year!  xoxo

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Screw Being an Adult- Train Like a KID!: The Key to Fitness Success

I'm a big kid at heart.  I am still intrigued by the magic of Disneyland.  I make wishes on shooting stars and dandelions. I hate doing chores.  I love watching cartoons.  I have aspirations of one day opening an indoor tree climbing gym. I think boys are icky - well okay maybe not that part.

Do you remember being a little kid?  Did you ever run so fast you thought your legs were going to fall off? Or feel like an Olympic gymnast swinging on the monkey bars?  Remember when PE was your favorite time of day because you'd get to be active?  When did all that exercise become a chore?  The point is, we were active in our childhood because we made it fun!  We ran around because we chose to, not because we felt like we had to!  Make your workouts fun again.  BE A KID AGAIN!  Involve your friends and family! Seriously, try playing "Duck Duck Goose" as an adult. It's exhausting.  Sit down, get up, SPRINT, sit back down.  Interval workout baby!

How many of you have ever tried to have a conversation with a 3-year-old?  I'm sure lots of you have, which means you are well aware that the favorite word of every 3-year-old is "Why?"  So what happened to that?  When did we feel like we know so much that we stopped asking "Why?"  Surely we're not so arrogant as to think we know it all.  When you're working towards your fitness goals - whether they be to build muscle, burn fat, run faster, run further, lift heavier, live longer - don't forget to seek the answer to WHY you're doing the things that you do.  Why should you lift in that repetition range?  Why should you be eating those sorts of foods at those specific times?  Why do you have to drink so much damn water?  If you know the answers to these, good job little slugger!

Let's play $10,000 Pyramid.  Goldfish crackers... plastic bag full of cheerios... peanut butter and celery...  granola bars... THINGS THAT YOU SNACK ON!  Ding ding ding! Winner.  We ate more frequently as kids.  We snacked!  Common meal plan as adults: coffee for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, mid-afternoon latte, dinner, DONE.  Bad idea.  3 planned meals a day all involving protein, carbs, and healthy fats, with 3 snacks a day, MUCH better idea.  Eat like a kid, small frequent meals!  

You know what else we did better as kids than we do as adults?  Rest.  We took naps, we went to bed at a consistent time.  We slept in without guilt.  So do it!  SLEEP!  Sure you may have to sit down and manage your schedule a bit, but you need sleep.  And I know some of you are saying "I'll sleep when I'm dead."  Well cool, if that's your attitude that whole "dead" part is going to come MUCH sooner than you think.  8 hours of sleep per night gives you 16 quality hours of day.  5 hours of sleep gives you 19 ass-dragging coffee-chugging fatigued-body hours of the day.  Not really a great trade-off!

So my advice to you - be a kid.  Train like a kid - make it fun! Think like a kid - ask why!  Eat like a kid - small frequent meals!  Rest like a kid - ni-night!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Trapped: What Metabolic Damage Feels Like

That's me.  Trapped.  Former me inside the soft squishy shell that is my current self.  I live in a world where I am surrounded by people who are the epitome of fit.  Who judge other people who don't fit their ideals of what "fitness" looks like.  Who think it's perfectly acceptable to call other people chubby.  

And so I'm stuck.  There's the girl I remember 20 lbs ago who was very proud of the physique she worked so hard to get.  And she's stuck inside me just begging and screaming to get out of this body that is keeping her trapped.  This isn't a body that came from mindless eating and laziness.  It came from being too concerned with the fit body I sought comfort in. 10 months of dieting... TOO LONG!  Regardless of changes to my diet, lowering calories, more cardio, my body stopped responding.  And then started to gain weight. And then would.not.STOP!

So how did that happen?  I've heard of metabolic damage before.  I've heard of countless competitors eating nothing but tilapia and asparagus and doing cardio twice a day - an hour in the morning and an hour at night.  I was SO FAR away from that.  My meals were balanced, I ate more carbs than most girls my size, and more variety.  Cardio?  Usually 4-5 days a week, maybe 30-40 minutes.  Nothing too extraneous.  So did I think I was putting myself at risk for metabolic damage?  Not really.  I've heard of girls achieving that state after prolonged dieting, but I didn't FEEL like I was doing anything remotely extreme enough to reach that state.  So I just kept going.  BIG MISTAKE.  My body basically started to think I was living on a deserted island where food is scarce and I needed to hunt for what little game there is on my island.  So it slowed my metabolism down to protect islander Robin from diminishing away.  So no more cardio for me (woohoo) so that my body doesn't think I need to save my energy for hunting.  And I slowly have to eat more food, so that my body thinks Islander Robin's food supply is becoming more plentiful.

With my current diet, most people would lose weight following the same diet without even exercising.  Me?  Lifting 5 days a week, still gaining body fat.  So I just keep going until my body gets used to this caloric level and stops storing everything as fat, and then add in another 50 calories a day.  And then repeat until I can get my body used to an extra 350 calories a day than it's getting now.  And in that process, I'll gain more body fat.  And people will continue to judge me.  They'll continue to look at me without even bothering to mask their expression of "What the HELL happened to you?"  And I'll continue to tell them that I'm bulking for bikini, because that's just makes me laugh every time. 

I feel okay about my current body.  I'm learning to accept it.  My ass and boobs are GLORIOUSLY round when I have extra weight on.  And I like the softness to my face better as opposed to how sharp my features get when I'm lean. I don't feel insecure about myself until I hit the gym because frankly that's the only time that people stare.  To a passerby on the street, I look average - huge thanks to the obesity epidemic in America. Not big, not skinny, too much body fat to see any muscle definition.  Just a soft curvy girl.  In the gym however, I'm "chubby". 

I have at the very least 8 weeks of continued caloric increase before I can start trying to get my body fat down again.  I think it will take longer than that for my body to adjust.  This is a much slower process than I ever imagined.  But I owe it to myself to take the time and get there.  Then it's time to cut SLOWLY down to a good maintenance weight for me - which is about 12 lbs less than my current state.  If I can do that comfortably, then I can start cutting for competitions and photo shoots again.  This is a very long road ahead of me... maybe I should buy more shoes!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Fitness Elite: Did You Miss Share Day in Kindergarden?

"That's my treadmill."

"Some slutwhorebag parked in my spot."

"He's on my bench and doing chest presses with bad form.  I'm training for a show so he should move and let the real athletes use the equipment."

"She had the nerve to ask me what my diet is like.  Doesn't she know I pay good money for that?"

"He's taking up my space to do a bunch of curls. I bet he's never even done a squat."

"She's fat, why is she even in the gym?"


I am so tired of the elitist attitude I've seen/heard in the gym as well as bragged about on social media.  People are actually proud of the snobby attitude they've developed.  Really?  We all had to start somewhere.  We were all a little lost, a little overwhelmed, a little intimidated at first.  We weren't born knowing proper form.  The knowledge of nutrition we learn in school growing up is minimal... you know in environment that now considers pizza a vegetable..

because it has tomato sauce in it...

even though tomatoes are actually fruit...

What was I talking about?  Oh yeah!  Sharing.  The gym is not YOURS.  The space is not yours.  The weights are not yours.  That treadmill or stair master is not yours - even if you may use the same one 29 days out of the month if someone else gets on that damn machine at your usual time it doesn't make them a bad person.  If someone isn't in great shape why do you question why they're at the gym?  They're there TRYING to make themselves better!  Why not walk by and say hi?  Tell them you've noticed they've been working hard.  MAKE THEIR EXPERIENCE MORE COMFORTABLE AND INVITING! Keep them coming back!  Make a difference!

I'm not talking about the people who come there and sit on equipment just to talk on their phone or check out people.  I'm talk about the people who are there legitimately trying.  Bad form and all.  They are TRYING.  They deserve to be there.  They have a right to be there.  The gym is just as much theirs as it is yours.

People like they way you look, they come up and ask what your diet is like... and your response is to tell them you paid a lot of money for it. TRUE STORY.  Yes you did.  And most coaches make you sign a non-disclosure agreement as they should.  No, you don't need to tell them your exact diet - it was custom made for you and likely wouldn't suit their specific needs anyway.  But what you can do, is give them general knowledge!  "I eat a lot of lean meats, veggies, complex carbs, healthy fats like almonds and avocado.  Muscle Egg egg whites are ALWAYS stalked in my fridge!  After I work out I have a 619 Muscle protein shake.  Try the peanut butter, it's great!"  See?  Didn't give away my plan, gave them some tips.  Gave them HOPE!

I'm a firm believer that knowledge isn't yours to keep, it's yours to share.

So help someone.  Make a difference.  Give some tips and pointers.  LEARN TO SHARE!

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Cool Kids Table

Do you remember what your school cafeteria looked like?  The tables all neatly arranged.  Those little food trays?  The almost too shiny freshly mopped floors that REEK of ammonia?  And of course, the segregation.  Every school cafeteria has a "cool kids table".  The kids who dress nicer than everyone else, who seemingly always have something interesting and fun going on in their life, who can make your day by asking you to borrow a pencil because OH MY GOD that means they know you exist!  That table is the topic of conversation, everyone dreams of getting invited to sit there.  

And then there are kids like me.

The little nerd girl sitting alone silently picking at her sandwich, occupying the last 6 inches of bench, rarely even looking up from the table.

That concept DOES NOT GO AWAY.  You'll see that in offices, and for me - in the fitness world.  In the southern California competition circuit, there is a very obvious cool kids table.  They're at every show either competing or watching one of the other "cool kids" dominate their height class, who do not accept anything other than first place as being a success.  They're the ones who pop up in just about every picture taken at shows, who have the largest cheering section of friends - and even people who have never even met them but have looked up to them for years, are constantly asked to shoot with the top photographers, who have a ton of sponsors, who have amazing parties to celebrate their victories. 

And then there are competitors like me.

I show up to the competition, excited if I even place (which I haven't).  My success is just even being able to get up on stage.  I get excited if absolutely anyone is clapping for me. I have one sponsor who are some of the most AMAZING and supportive people you'll ever meet.  After the show, I go home, alone, and shower and sleep.  And then I always seem to get a message on Facebook the next day, from some girl who competed in her first show - thanking me for making her feel more comfortable and less out of place.  And saying she looks forward to competing at another show with me in the future because I helped her have a fun and amazing experience.

And then I realize how much I don't want to sit at the cool kids table.  I'm fine sitting at the end of the nerd table - because I'll always move over and let you sit next to me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012



You know that all consuming feeling? You try to distract your mind, but it just gravitates back to one though? You want it more than anything, more than the air you breathe? The kind of hungry that courses through your body, you can feel it in your bones, in your eyelashes, in your soul?


But not for food, I hunger for the stage. I hunger for the tired body, for the smelly spray tan, for the drag queen makeup, for the bikini that costs more than my car payment, for the bright lights, for the hundreds of pairs of eyes analyzing every inch of my body. I hunger for the adrenaline rush of stepping on that stage and strutting the body I spent years sculpting and months revealing.

I will make it happen.

I will stay HUNGRY!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Little Engine That Could - Choo Choo MF'ers

I am a gluten intolerant metabolically damaged sufferer of IBS with adrenal fatigue syndrome and a thyroid problem.

Okay, not really.  But if I listened to the advice and diagnoses of everyone around me, that would be my current state.  Yes, my progress is lacking, and by lacking I mean has come to a complete halt.  MANY people in my situation would have thrown in the towel WEEKS ago.  Not me. I just harness my inner "Little Engine That Could" and keep on chugging along.  CHOO MF-ING CHOO!  

So how am I overcoming all this?  I talked to my amazing coach, Pete Ciccone of 619 Muscle.  This is the whole point of having a coach.  Having one voice to listen to, one plan to follow, one mind that is staying a step ahead of you and figuring out the best way to help you progress as an athlete.  There is so much clutter between what you read and what you hear and unsolicited advice that people will toss your way because everyone wants to believe they know best.  Anyway, Pete asked how I was feeling and I believe my direct quote was "I'm tired, hungry, sore, grumpy, angry, I hate everything and everyone and I want to die."  And no, that is not me being over-dramatic.  That is exactly how I have been feeling for the past 2 weeks.  Anyone who knows me is aware that those are very un-Robinlike characteristics.  So he re-evaluated my diet and training program and decided I need to eat more.  HALLELUJER!  Bring on the apples, grapefruit, pineapple and almond butter!  Throwing a little extra coal in this engine and this "Little Engine That Could" will be the "Little Engine That Did"!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Something is Wrong, But Nothing is Wrong, But Something is Wrong, But Nothing is Wrong?!?!

I feel like crying.  I want to cry.  I have an OVERWHELMING URGE to cry.  About absolutely nothing.  There is nothing bothering me right now, nothing is making me sad or upset.  I just can't shake the feeling that I am going to start crying at any second.  But nothing is wrong.

But something has to be wrong.  10 minutes ago I noticed that my jaw was completely clenched.  Like I'm stressed out beyond belief, on the verge of pulling my hair out.  But nothing is wrong.

But something has to be wrong.  My heart feels like it's going to beat out of my chest.  Like I am anxious or nervously panicking.  But NOTHING IS WRONG!!!

And no, it's not PMS.

This is one of the unpleasant aspects of changing up your diet.  It can throw your hormones out of whack.  So what do I do in this situation?  I just keep going throughout my day, remembering that nothing is wrong until I can get home, put on an emotional movie, and just cry.  "The Blind Side", I'll be seeing you later!  <3

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How to Support a Dieter - For Dummies

Your friend, your spouse, your roommate, your co-worker, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your son or daughter, your mother or father, your sister or brother... SOMEONE around you is dieting.  So how the heck do you deal with them?  Here are a few simple rules to follow to be supportive.

1. STOP TELLING THEM WHAT YOU ATE!  The dieter in your life is restricting their food to things that will nourish their body and help them reach their goal.  That does not mean that they stop getting tempted by pizza or cookies or ice cream.  And that CERTAINLY does not mean that they want to hear about it.  I often find myself in the situation of saying something like "Wow, I've been craving pizza for 3 days now!"
WHAT PEOPLE USUALLY SAY: "Dude, I had this pizza yesterday from this place in Little Italy! It was to die for!  Perfect soft crust and the cheese was super fresh and melted to perfection.  You've got to try it!" 
WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD SAY: "Wow, good job at sticking to your plan.  That's great will power.  Hey did you see Magic Mike yet?"  Don't make them miss the food they want even more!  They're resisting temptation, it's not an easy thing to do.  Change the subject!  Help them take their mind off the thing they're craving!

2. STOP TELLING THEM THEY'VE LOST ENOUGH WEIGHT!  Your idea of how the dieter in your life should look may not be the same as the picture they have in mind.  It is THEIR goal, not yours. 
WHAT PEOPLE USUALLY SAY: "You're too skinny now!  Eat a cheeseburger!"
WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD SAY:  "You're making great progress!  How far are you from your goal?"  Acknowledge their progress in a positive way!

3. STOP CRITIQUING THEIR FOOD CHOICES!  When someone is on a diet and is trying to keep their food choices as healthy, lean, and low calorie as possible, they're going to get creative with some of the concoctions they come up with.  Just because you would not eat it, there's no reason to let them know that.
WHAT PEOPLE USUALLY SAY:  "That looks gross!  You're really going to eat that?!?!"
WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD SAY: NOT A DAMN WORD!  I'm quite sure you wouldn't like them telling you that your food is fattening and how many calories and grams of fat it has.  So don't critique their food either.  When people seem me walking around the office with a big bowl of egg whites with mustard and cayenne pepper on it, I have been told "That looks horrible" on more than one occasion. Yeah... I like it and I still have to eat it, but it's a HELL of a lot less appetizing when someone else expresses how unapproving they are of my meal choice.

4. STOP TEMPTING THEM! This is the one that bugs me the most.  It's almost like people make it a game to try and break me.  You wouldn't hold a beer under a recovering alcoholic's nose, so don't hold a cookie under mine! 
WHAT PEOPLE USUALLY SAY: "Just have one cookie, it's not going to kill you.  I won't tell anyone."
WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD SAY: "I'm sure you'll be able to enjoy one some other day."  Just because no one saw you eat the cookie doesn't mean you didn't consume the calories.  Remember, the strictness of one's diet doesn't last forever.  People eventually allow themselves the chance to enjoy treats and the foods they love.  Eating off plan makes you overcome with guilt, enjoying a treat when it's part of your plan makes it much more enjoyable.

5. STOP TELLING THEM HOW THEY'VE CHANGED!  They are STILL the same person, they have just decided to pursue a healthier, longer life.
WHAT PEOPLE USUALLY SAY: "You're not fun anymore!  Just come out and have a drink!"
WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD SAY: "Let's make plans to hang out.  How does Sunday sound?"  Trust me, they still like you.  They still want to be a part of your life just as much as you want to be a part of theirs.  And that might mean they're not going bar hopping with you or out to dinner on any given night.  But don't cut them out of your life, they'll make time for you.   There are PLENTY of activities you can do that do not involve food or drinking.

I hope this has helped you find ways to deal with and support the dieter in your life.  Always exercise precaution, changes to your diet more often than not affect your mood.  Your dieter is likely to be more sensitive than usual.  Be kind, be supportive and encouraging, and be yourself!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I've been doing a lot of reading, research, and some personal experimenting.  I've found something that helped me drop 5 lbs in one week!  Me!  With only 4 workouts, no cardio and no changes to my diet!  Bubbies Kosher Dill Pickles!  Just by eating a Bubbies kosher dill with breakfast and one before bed my body has kicked into metabolic overdrive!  How you ask?  The particular way these pickles are brined gives them an ideal water to sodium ratio and since they are also loaded with fiber this combination acts as a catalyst to draw water into your muscles thus activating your muscle fibers from the start of the day so that they burn more calories though out the day even while you're sedentary!  The dill has trace amounts of capsaicin which is a natural metabolic booster.  Eating one before bed time has the same affect so that you're burning more calories in your sleep!  This is amazing!

Okay, so how many of you are frantically searching for places that sell Bubbies Kosher Dill Pickles, and how many of you are currently Googling to see if pickles have any of those properties?  Point being, I just made all that crap up.  Until about 10 minutes ago I never even knew of Bubbie's brand of pickles. Any meathead with a computer can give dieting and training advice and PEOPLE WILL FOLLOW IT!  Do not under any circumstance take dieting and training advice you find at face value without doing a little research first!  Check their sources of information, are any medical journals or studies cited?  Did it come from a .com or .net domain as opposed to a .org or .gov (which TEND to carry a little more credibility, but not always.)  Did they give a name brand product or a type of product?  If they're constantly name dropping one brand, most likely they're getting kick backs from that company.  There is a lot of false information floating around out on them there interwebs.  Do yer research buckaroos!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

In the Begninning...

Every journey begins with a first step...

So where did my journey begin?  I was one of those kids who ran before I walked, I needed to climb on everything, I was a master of bed jumping, and I never once touched the lava (aka the carpet) when jumping from the couch to the coffee table to the rocking chair in the living room.  And guess what? My sister was the same way.  Guess how annoying that was for my parents?  Yup, throw the kiddies in gymnastics and tire them out. Plus we TOTALLY wanted to be like Mary Lou Retton after watching her in the 1984 Olympics.  I was 4 years old then and I STILL remember watching her vaulting to victory.  So that was the very beginning.

Fast forward 26 years later...

30 years old, office job, normal gym-goer.  Retired gymnast and acrobat.  What's a girl to do?  I thought turning 30 should be memorialized with something epic.  Marathon!  No wait, I hate running.  Bikini competition? Sure, perfect!  I love working out!  Wait?  What do you mean I have to diet?  Ummm so switching to Splenda when baking cupcakes counts as dieting right?  NO?!?!  Okay fine, I can diet for 12 weeks.  That's such a small fraction of time in the grand scheme of my life!  And besides, this is just a one time thing.

And of course being Robin, nothing EVER goes as planned.  My one time check off my bucket list changed my life.  I fell in LOVE with the fitness industry.  I've tried going back to a "normal" life and I realized fitness is my new "normal".  And yes friends and family tell me I'm obsessed, even lost some friends because of it.  But I really can't think of anything I'd rather be obsessed with!  I had a few years of my life where I was completely miserable and self medicated with a lot of alcohol.  I think this is a way better choice!  I like being able to constantly set new goals and blow them out of the water.  I like knowing that I'm strong.  I like knowing that I'm turning 33 in a few months and people still think I'm in my early 20's because I take good care of myself.  I like constantly pursuing knowledge of health, and I like knowing that I love and respect myself enough to still have the occasional donut or cupcake or ice cream because I will ALWAYS have a sweet tooth and I'm okay with that.  ;-)

Friday, May 25, 2012

GUEST POST: Socializing on a Diet 101 by Janessa

Being on a diet is hard, but maintaining an active social life on a diet can be torture.  Whether you are preparing for a competition, wedding or just trying to get in shape; social situations present obstacles standing in the way of your goals.  If you are like me, you like to spend time with friends going to sporting events, concerts, wine tasting festivals. . . you name it.  But the problem when sticking to a low calorie diet or a restrictive diet, as was my case, enjoying these events can be difficult.  

Some of our favorite activities in our 20’s and 30’s usually involve eating and drinking alcoholic beverages.  Over the six weeks I was on a restricted diet, I definitely struggled when in social situations.   One of the most effective ways I found to make sure I didn’t drink was to volunteer to be designated driver.  This was a sure fire trick when going to concerts or bars, to make sure I didn’t slip up and drink.  Just make sure your girls are kicking down some gas money!   When I wanted to have a drink, I would often have a glass of soda water with lime.  And you can ask the bartender to put it in a regular drink glass so it takes some of the pressure off from your friends.  It will look like you’re enjoying a cocktail and you won’t have to field all the “why aren’t you drinking?” questions.  

There were two other big benefits to not drinking that I always kept in mind.  One was that I always felt AMAZING the morning after a night out because I never had a hangover.  Hangovers were definitely NOT something I missed.  The second thing that was a hidden benefit to not drinking was the tremendous amount of money I saved!  Especially at ball games and concerts were drinks are so expensive.  Avoiding alcohol was definitely good to both my waistline and my pocket book! 

Without a doubt the hardest part about being on a restrictive diet was not avoiding alcohol, but rather sticking to the plan and not cheating.  It can be really difficult when your friends are enjoying all kinds of delicious and forbidden treats around you, and you are ‘enjoying’ what one might call rabbit food.  It can be so easy to just steal a nibble here and bite there.  Often once we start on that train, it’s difficult to stop.  Or we figure we have already blown our diet for the day, might as well go for the gusto and start again tomorrow.  That’s just plain dumb.  I can quote a bunch of popular pins circulating Pinterest  and Facebook right now like, “ Nothing tastes as good as fit feels” but a picture of a toned fitness model covered with spray on sweat isn’t going to inspire me when I am staring down a plate of onion rings.  So I had to come up with some techniques or tricks that helped me stick to my plan and succeed. 

 #1 You’ve got to plan ahead.   I tried to eat at home before I went out.  If I knew I had already eaten my calories for that particular day or evening, I was less tempted to eat anything extra.  I also tracked EVERYTHING I put in my mouth. . . umm, blushing. Well, everything I ate anyways.  (Insert “that’s what she said” joke here)  I prefer My Fitness Pal which you can access online at or as an app on your smart phone.  By knowing exactly how many calories I was taking in, it made it easier for me to avoid overeating.  I often plan my whole day early on in the morning leaving room to make changes throughout the day.   Tracking your calories online or on your phone makes sticking to your plan so much easier.

#2 You can call me “Have chicken breast, will travel.”   As often as possible I tried to pack my meals and take them with me.  If I was going away for a period of time, I would bring a bunch of groceries with me in a cooler.  If it was just a day excursion I would pack my pre-cooked meals and snacks.  When attending family events, barbecues and outdoor adventures you can bring your food uncooked so you can throw it on the barbecue with everyone else’s food.  One of the most important things I found was to try and be like everyone else as much as possible. If you don’t feel like you’re missing something, it’s a lot easier to stay on track.

#3 Surround yourself with supportive people! While every one of my friends supports my goals, they are not always the best influences when it comes to sticking to a strict program.  Surrounding yourself with people who have similar goals or understand your dietary needs (and don’t mind sticking to it themselves for a little while) can be very helpful.  I went to the movies with my girlfriend who had been on the same diet and she brought me fresh strawberries for a snack.  People like that, really help you stick to your plan.  

#4 Always have a few tricks up your sleeve, or in your bag.  I always carried various flavors of gum.  If you felt the need to munch, pop a piece of sugar free gum in your mouth.  Mint is best because the mint flavor tends to eliminate that hunger feeling.  If you’re at home (or in public like a few people I know) you can brush your teeth when the urge to eat hits.  A clean minty fresh mouth will make you less likely to munch.  Sort of on the same lines, I found that a cup of black coffee was really satisfying when I felt the need to snack.  Coffee is a strong flavor and I found that once I was drinking coffee, I didn’t really want any other “flavor.” (For example: Hot Coffee + Nachos= not the business)  Hot beverages feel satisfying and again the flavors sort of quelled any cravings I had. 

            So there you have it, my tips and tricks for maintaining a social life without abandoning your diet plan.  I know it can be hard but you don’t have to give up hanging out with friends or doing fun things just to meet your health and fitness goals.  It is possible to maintain both you just have to have a little willpower! 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Too boob, or not to boob...

Let's talk about BOOBS!  Seriously.  It's a hot topic in the fitness community. I GUARANTEE you that if you get 10 female competitors in a room within 2 minutes the topic of breast implants will come up.  I get asked A LOT of questions about implants, so I figured I might as well address the common questions all at once. Here we go...

Honestly, it depends on a few different things.  In figure and bikini, judges still want you to look stereotypically feminine.  If you've leaned out to the point of losing all the soft curves that typically define your outward appearance as a "woman" (i.e. hips, butt, breasts, become straight in the waist) than yes, breast implants would work well to your advantage to soften up your look.  However, if you retain more of a curvy hour-glass shape (wider hips, round glutes, tapered waist) you still have a feminine shape and implants wouldn't matter as much.

That is completely a personal choice.  Going under the muscle provides a much softer and natural look when you're lean, though the pain and recovery time is significantly increased than should you opt to go over the muscle.  So weigh your options, softer more natural look with increased pain and longer recovery?  Less pain, quicker recovery, less natural look.  I feel it important to note that whether you go under or over the muscle will not affect your readings on mammograms.  Your doctor will still be able to take clear and accurate mammograms if you have implants once you reach that age, regardless of implant placement.

There is no set time for this, it is purely on a case by case basis that will be discussed with your doctor.  The healthier your body is before your surgery and during your recovery, the quicker you'll be back in the gym.  In the weeks before your surgery, load up on vitamin enriched fruits and veggies, keep your water intake high, keep your cardio up so that your heart is nice and healthy and most importantly your circulation is increased. Your nutrition is just as important after your surgery so that your tissues are getting the proper fuel they need to recover and repair. 

Other factors that affect recover are the size of the implant, the placement of the implant (under or over the muscle), your body's natural ability to recover, how prone you are to swelling and bruising, and your own natural pain tolerance.

For me personally, I was cleared to resume cardio and light weights after one week.  I wasn't comfortable moving my arms a whole lot after the first week so I did cardio on a stationary bike, and then gradually resumed my weight training program the following week. My doctor (the FABULOUS Dr. Alexander of Alexander Cosmetic Surgery in La Jolla, CA) has worked on several gals in the fitness world and informed me that we tend to have a SIGNIFICANTLY less recovery period than average girls since generally speaking our nutrition and overall health is more optimal.

The incision site does not affect your recovery time.  The implant can be placed through an incision in the armpit, under the breast fold, or through an incision around the nipple.  In the event that the implants need to be removed, replaced, or upgraded, a nipple incision is the only one that can be re-opened.  Opting for one of the other locations would result in having more than one scar.

That is completely up to you and you alone!  DO NOT let other people, including your doctor, into choosing a size that you don't want!  Many doctors will try and talk you into going for a bigger size than you want because it is quite common for girls to wish they would have gone bigger after their surgery.  Chose a size that you will be comfortable with.

There are 3 factors that affect this: 1) safety, 2) feel, 3) price.   In the event that something happens to your implants, saline can be safely absorbed by the body.  However silicone can be poisonous to some people.  It is unlikely that your implant will rupture, but there is still some risk.  Silicone (especially the new cohesive gels) have a more realistic look and feel to them over saline implants.  And lastly, silicone implants are more expensive than saline.

So there is a handful (pun intended) of information for the fit gal looking for breast implants.  If you have any further questions, feel free to post them in the comments and I'll do my best to address them.  If you don't feel comfortable asking them in an open forum, you can email me at

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Just a quickie...

The shock of being off-season is finally subsiding.  I'm getting used to knowing that there isn't a show or a photo shoot in my near future that I'm working towards.  Right now it is literally all about ME.  It's up to me to push harder on the tough days.  It's up to me to control what I am and what I am not putting into my mouth.  I had a week of just utter fatassery and the bloat from that is starting to subside as well.  Definitely put on some weight, mostly in my ass which I FOR SURE am not complaining about!  This is a time to enjoy some extra calories, some heavy lifting, and some growing muscles!  The motivation will strictly come from within.

Speaking of motivation... I realized that I have some friends who have some accomplished some INCREDIBLE feats that I think will be great motivators for a lot of other people so I've approached some people about doing a guest blog post for me.  Really excited for them to share their stories with you all!

If you have a weight loss, muscle building, marathon running, triathalon crushing feat of badassery that you think people would like to hear, please send me and email at I'd love to share your story!

Monday, May 7, 2012

I Broke Up With My Boyfriend... Sort Of

Heartbreak, it's not just for couples.  This weekend I made one of the most difficult decisions I've been faced with in a long time.  I opted not to compete for the remainder of the year... just 24 days out from my next competition.  So close, yet so far away.  A lot of people have been asking how I feel about withdrawing from the competitions.  My response is "I feel heart broken."  You know that feeling when you break up with someone?  Like you're sad and depressed but you know it was the right decision even though it hurts? That's how I feel.  I've been getting over it all weekend and then realized I needed to cancel my hotel room for the Memorial Day show at Muscle Beach, and I started crying all over again.   Like finding your ex-boyfriend's hat in your car a week after breaking up with him.

So why did I withdraw from my shows?  Reason being, I simply can't afford it.  I won't get into all the details but I've been financially struggling since I moved to southern California and it's all starting to catch up to me now.  Not competing in these shows saves me in the neighborhood of $700.  Now keep in mind I already have my suit, shoes and NPC card.  Yes, competing is THAT expensive.

I have had NUMEROUS people offer to cover expense for me.  WOW!  Completely overwhelming, that not one or 2 or 3 people offered, but many more!  However I politely declined their offers.  This is MY responsibility.  Although I have invested an extraordinary amount of time and effort into training for these shows, they are just 2 locals shows that I would not have done well at.  I have been in contest prep since July 5th of last year, and my body has reached exhaustion.  Despite how strict my diet and training program has been getting, there is no way my physique would have reached the point of being a contender for placing at these shows.  I would have been competing merely for the experience, so I would not have felt right allowing other people to help me out financially.

The hardest part was telling my coach.  He has invested so much time and effort and energy in helping me achieve my dreams. I was honestly afraid to read his response.  But he told him he did the right thing, and strongly thought that I needed to go off-season now.  Okay, nerves calmed.  He was VERY supportive of my decision, and maybe even proud of me.  Then I had to tell my sponsors.  More nerves.  Oh crap.  They're going to be pissed.  Nope!  More support and love and encouragement. Whew!  Although I still have the looming thought that there are MANY people out there thinking "I knew she couldn't do it."  And unfortunately I KNOW that thought is correct.  There are a handful of people out there with a holier-than-thou complex when it comes to training.  And since I don't train "their" way, I'm just setting myself up for failure.  I'll let them bask in the glory of my withdrawal if it makes them feel like a better stronger person. I don't choose to rain on other people's parades.

I, for the first time in 10 months, am "off season".  That doesn't mean I'm living off pizza and beer and donuts (mmmmmmmm... forbidden donut), I still have a very structured diet and training program to follow.  Slowly my coach will be adding in more calories and removing cardio to give my body time to adjust.  Then it's time to start building.

So onward and upward.  Time to repair my mind, my body, and my broken heart.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Body Image - Change Your Glasses

This is a picture of me by the fabulous photographer Scott Allison of

I have to say, I'm pretty darn proud of this picture.  I'll never be a girl with skinny legs, I'm not genetically programmed for that.  There's a good deal of meat there from years of gymnastics and acrobatics, and my legs are where I store my fat, and I'm okay with that.  Those legs pack a lot of power.  In short, I love the way I look in the is picture. 

Fast-forward to the next day. 

I spend a bulk of the day crying over how I looked.  Why?  Because I shifted my focus from my photo shoot to my competitions in 4 and 6 weeks.  And in the world of the bikini division of body building competitions, this body is fat.  At my last competition I received a lot of criticism for not being lean enough and it was suggested that I drop another 5 lbs of fat before I step on stage again.  That equates to me needing to lose 8 lbs from this picture and that is a lot for someone my size.  Especially to do in 3 weeks before depleting.  Panic set it, and I felt fat.

I cried.

A lot. 


When just the day before, I was pool side in front of no less than 20 people in this itty bitty custom made bikini feeling confident and secure and so very comfortable in my own skin.

I feel like I own a few different pairs of glasses.  One for my normal every day self, a slightly different pair for photo shoots, and an incredibly harsh pair for competitions.  My personal goal is to be able to forget the image when I'm wearing "competition glasses" the second they come off my face and remember the pride and satisfaction I feel when I'm wearing "every day glasses".  This is my third year competing, and I'm still amazed at how much this sport messes with your mind.