It has been a while. I think I have not posted here for years. Maybe because I was discouraged from the last competition and maybe because I don’t feel that drive that I once did that kept me enthralled in a healthier lifestyle. But two weeks ago, I attended the Red Clay Writing Institute in Athens, Georgia and the workshop reminded me that I am a writer. I think that I forget! Not only do I want to write again, I am more willing to share some of the stories that have not been shared in the past. I have written a very short story about my first bodybuilding competition and those who have competed will relate. Here it is. My first post since October 2014.
She stood behind the curtain backstage. As the MC called her name, she found herself shaking and thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?” Her hand moved across the back of her suit as she made sure it was still in place. She looked down at her chest to see if anything was sticking out. The last thing she wanted to do was flash the audience. The MC ended his introduction and she stepped with one foot in front of the other until she was fully past the curtain. Good thing she had a little sip of wine because she was about two seconds away from passing out. The music was turned up loud and she looked out at the crowd but the only thing visible were the bright lights, the row of judges in the front of the auditorium and her boyfriend. Making her way across the stage in those five inch heels started to become easier with each step.
The first pose was one that she practiced over and over again with her coach. Left hand on her hip, right leg out to the side and a big grin with eyes on the judges. Her muscles flexed as she held the pose for a few seconds, but her face still looked relaxed. If only the audience knew how painful it was to hold those poses. She walked to the right of the stage and turned, showing her well-earned striations. Then she moved to the middle again with her eyes on the crowd. This was no time to be nervous. She had suffered through grueling workouts and walked a very fine line between fat loss and starvation for twelve long weeks. As she walked to the left, she thought about all of the food she was going to eat after the night was over. She turned around and showed off the v-taper on her lean back, and back around to display her six-pack abs. None of the women were as lean as her. After the T-walk on stage she went behind the curtain and her coach congratulated her. Never in a million years did she think that she would compete in such an event!
All the women went out together and followed the instructions of the judges. “Quarter turn to the right, quarter turn to the left, face the back, face the front.” They were up there for what seemed like forever. One by one, the award winners were called out on the stage and she heard her name. Fourth place! Not bad for a first timer. She was inspired beyond measure and she was inspiring others. Just a few years ago she was overweight, unhealthy and unhappy. The next day she talked to the head judge and asked for feedback. “You were just too lean. That was extreme. Nobody wants to see that.” Did he not realize how hard she had worked for her body? His words cut her like a knife. In her mind, her muscles showed her hard work and dedication that none of the other women had. But in his opinion, she should have been softer. Forget that! If she was going to do this, she was going to go all out. She could be “soft” by just not working out, but this was bodybuilding for God’s sake. When she was obese no one told her to lose weight so she could be healthy, but here she was talking to a man who promoted a healthy lifestyle telling her that she went too far. A Black man who should have been supportive of his Black sisters.
It was in that moment that she realized no matter what you do to your body there will be people who don’t like it. Too muscular? You look like a man. Too soft? You are fat. Small ass? Get some butt injections. Breasts small? Get some implants? Hair nappy and too Black looking? Get a relaxer to look Whiter. Bodybuilding taught her discipline and pride and she learned to love herself for who she was no matter what the judges thought or anyone else who decided to judge her body.
October is here! It’s time for some new recipes! I really enjoy eating pumpkin, but it’s harder to find outside of the fall season. I purchased two cans of pumpkin last week and decided to do something with them. I made a healthier version of pumpkin bars that are easy to make and have a good amount of protein. I added chocolate chips because I just love chocolate. You could substitute the chocolate with nuts or blueberries. These are great pre or post-workout.
- 2 scoops of chocolate protein powder
- 1/4 cup of flaxseed meal
- 1/2 cup of chocolate chips
- 2 whole eggs (can substitute egg whites)
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil melted (or leave out for less fat)
- 1 can of organic pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1 and 1/2 cups of ground instant oatmeal
- Enough almond milk to wet the mixture to the consistency you desire ( you can also use water)
1. Spray a square glass baking dish and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Take about 2 cups of dry instant oatmeal and grind in the blender until it is the consistency of flour. Measure out 1 and 1/2 cups of the ground oats and place in a bowl. Add the baking soda and protein powder in the bowl with the oatmeal. Add the flaxseed meal. Mix.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the canned pumpkin, vanilla extract, eggs, coconut oil, and chocolate chips. You can also add in stevia if you want more sweetness.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until blended well. Slowly add in the almond milk to make the mixture smoother, but it should still be a little thick.
5. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Check often and make sure it doesn’t dry out too much.
6. Take out and cool.
7. Cut into 10-12 squares.
Gluten-Free, IIFYM, Flexible Eating, Keto, Low Fat, Low Carb, Atkins, South Beach, Zone, Non-Fat, Diet, Free Range, Organic, Natural, Raw, Whole Wheat, Sugar Free, Vegan, Paleo, Vegetarian and more! What are you? Do you classify yourself as a devout follower of a specific style of eating? Do you shun those who like to indulge in a nice juicy burger on two fat slices of white bread? Do you turn your nose up on those who eat only plant sources of food? Are you a food shamer?
Since when did the way people eat become a fad? When did we turn into a society that is totally obsessed with the way people eat? Why do we call some food bad and some food good? We have all turned into a bunch of food shaming lunatics. I started thinking about this the other day when I was offered a piece of homemade pound cake. In the past, I would have felt guilty for eating it, and if I did eat it, I would immediately get on the treadmill to “burn it off.” But you know what? I ate the cake, and it was good….and then I went about my business. I didn’t care if it had 200 or 500 calories because I know I don’t eat cake every single day. I eat in a way that allows me to consume a lot of whole fruits, vegetables, meats and grains and snack foods such as cakes, cookies and so on. But, I don’t obsess over every single thing.
I used to be horrible; especially after my first figure competition! I ate like a cow, and then felt guilty. It was pretty much a daily process. I gained weight and then had to work twice as hard to get it off. Competing had my mind screwed up when it came to food. I was so used to being super restrictive that I had a hard time making the transition back to everyday life. Before I competed, I did not have this issue. I am much better now. I used to judge people who ate a certain way and shame myself if I ate a cookie or a burger.
I’m done with that. There is no black and white when it comes to nutrition. It is a gray area. You have to learn to look at the macronutrients in your food and not just the name of the food. Burger does not equal bad and “Clean Food” does not equal good. If you eat too many “clean” foods, you can gain fat just as you would from “bad” foods. The best way to avoid becoming a food shamer is to do your own research. Learn about nutrition so that you can make smart choices. Don’t judge people by the way they eat. Learn how to eat a variety of foods. You might find that there is something you’ve never tried that you like. Unless you are an athlete or preparing for a bodybuilding competition, you can be a little flexible with your diet. You will be happier for this in the end, and you will learn how to control your food impulses.
It’s always a good idea to change up your training regimen every now and then because your body adjusts to a routine after a while and eventually it stops responding. Also, you just get bored of doing the same thing every day. If you plan to train for life, you have to find ways to make your workouts exciting. So in an effort to keep things exciting, I decided to try a new type of training called German Body Composition training for four weeks.
This training parameter originated in Germany of course but was made famous by Charles Poliquin, and is based on the German Volume training program. In German Volume training, the goal is to lift lighter weights, about 60% of your max, 10 reps for 10 sets. So ultimately, you are increasing the volume of your work. When you take a look at any GVT program, it is easy to be skeptical. It LOOKS too simple. Bodybuilders are used to doing a certain number of reps for 3-5 sets. But, let me tell you that it is tough! I was sore for days because of the workload. I also needed more recovery time during the week. I trained for 3 days in a 5 day period…so, 2 days on, 1 day on, 1 day off, etc…. My program was a little different because I added auxiliary work at the end of the workout and I still did cardio throughout the week. That is why the version I did is called German Body Composition training, because your main goal is still fat loss. With GVC training, the sole focus is muscle building.
If you are going to try GBC or GV training, stick to your basic lifts like squats, bench press, and dumbbell curls. You are only doing 3 or 4 exercises in one session. If you want, add auxiliary work such as ab exercises, or dumbbell rows for 3 sets of 10-12 reps. You will be so worn out by the end that you can’t do much more than that. Just think about it…you are doing 100 reps of an exercise in one session!! That is a lot. Here is an example of one of my workouts:
Lying Hamstring Curls: 10×10
Cable Leg Pull Ins (Abs) 3×10-12
Seated Calf Raises 3×10-12
Needless to say my glutes were sore for a while.
After my four weeks of high volume training, I feel stronger in the gym. I have more energy while still keeping my carbohydrate intake relatively moderate which keeps me lean. I also have more strength in my cardio training. I attend spin class regularly and have noticed that I have a little bit more endurance during the class. I also have more endurance on the treadmill and running outside.
So, if you want a change, or if you just want to challenge yourself, give GBC of GVT training a shot.
Are your fitness goals a reflection of what you really want to do? Too many people make the mistake of doing something just because everyone else is doing it. Your friend decides to go on a 10 day cleanse and only drink their food, so you give a shot. Everyone is trying Crossfit so it must be for you, right? People are jumping on the Paleo band wagon, so that means low carb and no bread is the way to go, correct? Wrong. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you have to do what works for you. If you do something without your heart being in it, or because someone else wants you to, you will surely fail. You might actually complete the task, but you have to ask yourself will you be happy.
If you are like me, you need a goal to keep you going. I have to have something in the forefront that makes me get up and train and eat a balanced diet. Right now, my goal is to encourage other women and to be an example of living healthy and being happy. It is not about a number on a scale, or getting shredded for a competition. It is about challenging myself to reach limits that I did not know were possible. Bodybuilding is a part of that, lifting weights is a part of that, spin class, yoga, running…and the list goes on. I decide what I want to do, when I want to do it, and when the time is right. Who knows what my next journey will be, but I am sure that it will be done in my time and with passion.
So just remember that you need to think in terms of your LIFE…not just for the short term. How can you live this way for life? I have tried many ways, and I will share with you what works for me.
- Having friends who are active and encourage and support my lifestyle.
- Reading and researching the areas that I have an interest in. Don’t just go blindly into a training and eating plan until you know what you will be facing.
- Keeping everything in perspective. Life is too short to worry over every little thing. If I have an off day, I just get back on it. Yes, sometimes my whole week is off!! But, I never give up. If I fall off the wagon, I eventually get back on.
- Sharing my struggles with others. People need to know they are not alone in this journey.
- Flexible eating. My plan is to live a LONG life. I am not going to live it without eating cake! If I want it, I eat it in moderation and add it into my macros. Food should not be thought of in terms of good or bad. Think about food in terms of meeting your fitness goals and you will have a healthier relationship with food.
- I have stopped comparing myself to others. This becomes very hard when you do bodybuilding competitions. You are judged subjectively and can’t help but see how you compare to the others on stage. Comparing yourself to others can lead to depression. I had to realize that I have a unique body that is a result of my genetics, and my lifestyle. I have to work with what I have, and if it’s good enough for God, it’s good enough for me!
Learn to love yourself enough to strive for health and you will be just fine. When you live healthy, and do what is true to your heart, you feel better!
“You are so busy being YOU that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.” —John Green