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.