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.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Final Countdown - Peak Week Exhaustion

Seems like everyone I know is gearing up to get on the competition stage soon and show off the results of months of strict dieting and training.  Enter: peak week.  The week before the show that may or may not involve dietary, water, and training changes.  Regardless if you deplete and load, or just stay the course, people are typically very tired, grumpy, angry, irritable, and completely EXHAUSTED. 

People as me why?  "Why am I so tired?"  "Is it normal to feel this exhausted?"  "Shouldn't I be more excited?"  "Why am I so weak?"

It's simple.  Your mind is done.  It's a few steps ahead of you.  I relate this to marathon runners crossing the finish line.  If you've ever watched the finish line of a marathon, you'll see these runners in perfect stride for miles and miles.  And then they can see the finish line, and that beautiful stride gets broken.  The powerful legs turn to jello and get shaky.  JUST from seeing the finish line.  Their mind says "There it is!  We are SO done!"  Nope, still have some distance to run.  So the body starts trying to relax and recover before the race is even complete.

That is what peak weak is.  In your mind, you can see the stage.  You see the finish line.  Your mind says "Score!  At this time next week we're done with this diet, lets start recovering now!"  Nope, still have a week to get through despite your body's insistence that you're done and ready to relax.

So yes, it is normal to feel like complete and utter roadkill during peak week.  And ummmm... if you're getting ready to compete for the first time, I'm just kidding.  It's all sunshine and daisies and shitting rainbows.  :-D

Thursday, January 10, 2013

So You Train Your Body - Do You Train Your Brain?

We lift, we press, we pull, we sprint, we climb, we sweat, we TRAIN HARD!  We sculpt strong well defined bodies, but how many of us remember to train our brain?

Now I'm not talking about doing endless amounts of sudoku puzzles, studying vector calculus, and trying to solve the Kobayashi Maru. (Oh shit!  Did she just make a Star Trek reference?)  I'm talking about training your brain to benefit your fitness endeavors.


One of the biggest struggles physique athletes face is getting a grip on their diet.  There are a ton of ways to diet your body down to compete or for shoots, are to just plain look good.  Finding the diet that works for you is step one, actually sticking to it is step two.  If you've never attempted a competition diet, let me tell you!  Mentally.  You're denying your body of natural urges, not always eating when you're hungry, not succumbing to cravings.  One thing you mentally have to train your brain is to know the differences between hungry, thirsty, bored, and craving.  Easiest way I've found of doing this, is simply to wait!  Drop whatever you're doing, drink some water and distract yourself for 5 minutes.  After that time is up, are you still hungry?  Usually not, just bored or craving.  If those 5 minutes are up and you are still legitimately hungry, reach for some veggies!  I like to opt for cucumbers because their high water content keeps my belly full.  If you're craving, it's definitely more difficult.  For me, I try to distract myself as much as possible. Watching a movie or tv allows your mind too much room to wander back to food, so try calling a friend, reading a book, playing a game.  I like to text the guy I have a ridiculous school girl crush on, because he usually tells me he's craving baked goods too, and that we don't need them, and then he'll change the subject so that we're not talking about food.  Works every time!


You messed up on your diet, you ate a cookie... or 12.  You meant to grab 2 almonds and ate 2 handfuls.  Just one little bitty spoonful of Nuts-N-More chocolate almond butter turned into eating the entire jar.  (Yes, these are all things I've done.)  So go to the gym and hop on the stair monster for an hour and burn off those extra calories, right? 

-Knock knock.
-Who's there?
-You... and you are SO WRONG!

Why are you so unbelievably wrong? Punishment cardio is training your mind to think you can delete a mistake with extra cardio.  It's telling yourself "Oh I can eat whatever I want because I can just un-eat it with extra cardio."  You're training your brain to do it again!  So what should you do?  NOTHING.  You messed up.  Oops.  Move on.  Feel the guilt for a bit, let it remind you that you don't want to do that again.  And then just move on.  One mistake isn't going to throw you off.  Several mistakes will!  So don't train your brain to think those mistakes are okay, train yourself to not make them again!


Do what your trainer tells you to do and ignore the unsolicited advice of others.  You'll hear that from a lot of people.  But do you ever bother to take the time to find out WHY your trainer makes you do what you do?  Why do you have to drink so much water?  Why aren't you eating fat pre and post workout?  What are those delicious BCAA's doing?  Why is that 619 Muscle protein such an awesome option for post workout protein?  Why does my muscle recover so much quicker when I eat Betancourt Nutrition's Glutamine Chewies?  Train your brain!  Learn the answers to these questions.  Consistency is the main key to progress, and when we know why we're supposed to do certain things, that consistency becomes so much easier!

So take the time to train your brain, it will only make your body better!