2017 Cut - Week 10/Day 70

I'm the worst blogger ever lol. Not really because I haven't been at it long enough to really validate that but life got busy and it took a back burner. So I'm going to have to give you the cliff notes version. 

Week 6-7 - Pre-Arnold Sports Festival Feb 26-March 4 - My last blog post was the week prior and I was at a sticking point around 154 lbs. I had an off-plan meal that Sunday (Feb 26) and by Wednesday (March 1) I had dropped down to 151.8. Left that Thursday for the Arnold and wasn't able to weigh but had another untracked meal that Saturday night as well. 

Week 8 - Week after the Arnold. Weight was back up to 153 after the Arnold thanks to female stuff and fighting off the Arnold crud. My husband had the full blown flu that week so things were tough at our house. I got a shortened version towards the end of the week and just didn't feel 100% so we hung around the house most of the week. 

Week 9 (March 12-18) - Last Week - I weighed in around 150.6 on Wednesday so was super happy to see 149 on Saturday morning. And then I proceeded to have pizza and a brownie Saturday night but #YOLO (and in my defense I had a lot of macros to play with). Weight was up this morning but that is to be expected. 

On Wednesday, I checked in with Coach Paul and shared some ideas I had for how we could continue to make progress but make my quality of life a little more manageable. With powerlifting training, you'll have really hard training days that you do the big lifts (Squat, Bench, Deadlift) and then have lighter "accessory days" with exercises that complement those lifts. I tend to be very hungry on Mon, Wed, Friday, & Saturday - my heavier days and not so hungry the other days of the week. I suggested that we do High Calorie Days and Low Calorie Days moving forward so I have enough food to fuel those workouts and then eat less on the days I don't need it. This approach has worked well for me before so I'm excited to see how we progress moving forward.  

I've finally broke through a training plateau and feel like things are progressing again. And with that comes aches and pains, but otherwise I still feel fairly strong. When cutting weight and doing strength sports, you have to try to drop body fat while maintaining as much strength as possible, but because you weigh less, everything is going to feel heavier/harder than it looks. My programming coach, Ryan, put it well and said "When your cutting you always feel like you're going to die" :P To an observer the set might look super easy, but meanwhile you're having chest pains and feel like you need an oxygen tank or a wheelchair HAHA! 

We're just under 12 weeks out from my meet. Ideally I would like to make the 63 kg (138.6lb) weight class, but my current goal is to get back under 145 and see how I feel strength wise. It's not worth it to cut down a weight class if your performance suffers greatly. Hoping to see 145 by May 1st but you never know! 

Here's the numbers. I'll try to get better about updating from here on out!

Starting Weight: 158
Current Weight: 149.8

Starting Macros: 2080 Calories/ 140g Protein/ 245g Carbs/ 60g Fat
                            1915 Calories/ 140g Protein/ 215g Carbs/ 55 Fat
                             1750 Calories/140g Protein/185g Carbs/50 Fat

Current Macros: High Day 1830 Calories/145g Protein/ 200g Carbs/ 50 Fat
                            Low Day 1465 Calories/145g Protein/120g Carbs/ 45 Fats

Starting Cardio: 4 days of Steady State Cardio for 20 mins
Current: 4 days for 25 minutes/1 HIIT Session on Saturday
 

Measurements: These just haven't been changing much! A lot of that is due to glycogen and muscle fullness!
                         Starting                  This Week
Waist                   32.5"                         30"
Hips                      39"                           37.5"
Quad                     24"                          24"
Bicep                    12.5"                         12"
Upper Hip            36"                            36"

2017 Cut - Week 5/Day 35

....

I don't know what to say other than dieting is hard but it's also a privilege and I'm not going to complain. There are people all over the world starving and I am fortunate enough to choose whether I diet or eat in a surplus. I will remain positive. 

If you've ever purposely eaten more, when you have to turn things in the opposite direction, it's not a ton of fun. You miss the days of eating how you wanted and what you wanted, but you have a goal and you gotta stick to your guns. 

When you envy the person at the restaurant eating fried chicken tenders and fries while you eat your grilled chicken salad, wondering if they are even conscious about the nutritional value of their food, if there is even an ounce of guilt, concern or even joy about this meal - you are on a diet. I often wonder what it feels like to just eat with no mental consciousness of it because I've never known that. I probably sound like a nutrition nut job right now but I'll accept that. Going to stop before I lose followers :P

We didn't see much progress last week so I got another macro drop/cardio increase and started the new numbers on Friday (Feb. 17). Saturday I worked out with Team Chubby Unicorns (Co-Ed Powerlifting Team at Rhino's Gym in Fayetteville) and was on my 3rd rep of my AMRAP set when I felt my lower lumbar tighten up. I finished the set and got out of the rack and within a few minutes could hardly bend over without discomfort. I was able to bench without pain, but I as pretty miserable the rest of the day. I could stand and sit without pain but bending or the sitting down/standing up motion was ouchy. I kept ice on it and took ibuprofen and then ended up getting a massage Sunday evening. 

Fortunately, a girl I met through the powerlifting team at Rhino's had just opened a new sports massage office and was doing discounted sessions on Sunday, so she was able to fit me in and try to figure out the problem. Many low back issues come from another area (normally hips, hamstrings or glutes) so after checking my hips she had me flip over and checked out my glutes and sure enough - huge knot in my left glute. Felt like she was pushing a golf ball around. So after some cupping and gua sha (google it), she managed to get it mostly loosened up and sent me on my way. Today I have a nice purple butt with circles on it, but I feel a lot better. I was able to teach my Circuit Training class Monday morning and do most of the bodyweight leg stuff with little discomfort, but my programming coach Ryan has suggested we take the week off from squatting and lighten my load significantly with deadlifts. Fingers crossed I'm back in the rack sooner rather than later. 

And going to be honest, I was pretty bummed about my back and was in a not-so-great mood so when the hubby suggested we go to dinner afterwards, I jumped on it and had all intentions of not abiding by any macros. I haven't been off of my numbers since the very beginning of my cut and hadn't had a refeed this week so I just ate a very modest/low carb/low fat/high protein/high veggie breakfast and lunch in preparation for a good dinner. We went to Bubba's 33 (if you've never been and there's one near you - YOU MUST) and I won't go into details about what I ate - but I ate good! Not a binge by any means but I did enjoy myself. And I had been craving a brownie like a mad man so I had a brownie. Sometimes the craving wins.

I'm not condoning eating your feelings or cheating on your diet when you have a goal in mind, but if it's not going to completely derail you or lead down an off-track spiral, there's no reason why you can't indulge every now and then. I knew ahead of time that I would be going out and I made the decision to eat what I wanted. And I knew that the next day I would be back on my plan and doing my thang. Here's hoping it results in a nice little leptin spike and a weight drop!

And here's the numbers: 

Starting Weight: 158
Current Weight: 154

Starting Macros: 2080 Calories/ 140g Protein/ 245g Carbs/ 60g Fat
                            1915 Calories/ 140g Protein/ 215g Carbs/ 55 Fat
                             1750 Calories/140g Protein/185g Carbs/50 Fat

Starting Cardio: 3 days of Steady State Cardio for 20 mins
Current: 4 days for 25 minutes
 

Measurements:
                         Starting                  This Week
Waist                   32.5"                         30"
Hips                      39"                           37.5"
Quad                     24"                          24"
Bicep                    12.5"                         12"
Upper Hip            36"                            36"

Obviously the lighting is different in the pics and I can't go back in time to retake my before pics so this is what we're working with. These were Sunday morning around 8am. Not much of a difference but I can see progress so I'll take it. You're going to have weeks where the numbers don't change and you can't let that discourage you. Progress is not linear. 

#LoveYourself

Happy Valentine's Day! Today we celebrate love, romance and all things chocolate! Hallmark Holiday or not, who can't get on board with chocolate? If nothing else, take time to love on those that are special to you and even sprinkle some love to your neighbors today. But also, take time to love yourself today. 

You can be your biggest advocate or your biggest critic. Sometimes I think we all need to take a step back and love ourselves the way our loved ones love us. The people that love you aren't concerned with those 5-10 pounds that you think you need to lose. Or even the 50 or more that you should lose. They're concerned with your heart and your well-being. The people that love you don't care that you have cellulite or that you're starting to find gray hairs. They cherish the years that they've known you and the memories you share. The man that you started a family with loves your stretch marks... they came from the life you two created and are raising together. Look at yourself through someone else's eyes. 

Our society has really embraced the #loveyourself movement in recent years and I'm completely on board with it, but I think we shouldn't let a movement make us complacent. Love your body at every size, but also love yourself enough to put your health first. Some bodies just tend to carry more weight than others and that's life. Some bodies tend to carry less weight than others. Continue to get uncomfortable. Some people are introverts, some are extroverts, and some are stuck in the middle (Yes I can talk to a stop sign. No I don't want to go out in public tonight). Sure you have a job now that pays the bills...but do you really love it? Life is too short to be unhappy, to be mean to yourself and to be complacent. So today, I challenge you to #LoveYourself in all seasons, sizes and situations because if you don't love you - how can anyone else?

#LoveYourself enough to make changes towards a healthier you.

#LoveYourself enough to not care what others think about you.

#LoveYourself enough to set goals - physical, personal, professional goals.

#LoveYourself enough to exercise when you're stressed rather than eat.

#LoveYourself enough to get the grilled nuggets when you really want the fried ones.

#LoveYourself enough to just eat the ice cream rather than depriving yourself. 

#LoveYourself enough to pick out the thing you like about yourself rather than what you really don't like.

#LoveYourself enough to ask that girl/guy out that you feel like would never give you the time of day. Rejection only stings for a minute.

#LoveYourself enough to stop comparing yourself to others. Sure Kim Kardashian is rich, but she also has terrible form in the gym. Also, that lady that looks like she has it all together on social media, probably only had it together long enough to take that selfie. Who even knows if she's wearing pants?

#LoveYourself enough to get out of debt.

#LoveYourself enough to remove the toxicity from your life - people, places, addictions.

#LoveYourself enough to lose the people that drag you down.

#LoveYourself enough to make new friends. Get out of your comfort zone. Try something new.

#LoveYourself enough to pursue that thing you've always dreamed about doing. 

#LoveYourself enough to take the trip. It's just a few vacation days and a airline ticket.

#LoveYourself enough to be selfish. Be selfish with your time, your resources and your energy.

#LoveYourself enough to take on more than what they pay you for. Show them what you're worth.

#LoveYourself enough that you'll love others. Make a difference in someone's life just because you can.

#LoveYourself enough to be bold in your faith. 

#LoveYourself enough to take time to do what makes you happy and be with those that make you happy.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the gist. People always think of love as a projection onto someone or something else. But sometimes you just need to project that right on back at yourself. Cover yourself with it. Roll around in it. And then go sprinkle that stuff on everyone else! 

2017 Cut - Week 4/Day 28

Annndddd I got my first macro drop this past weekend. Jinxed myself by posting that I was expecting no changes. I keep having to remind myself that I'm still cutting on a significant amount of calories for a 5' 3.5" female. I have never lost weight on this many calories ever, so I need to stop griping so much. Reverse Dieting literally changes the game because you have been on the other side of the fence -- AND THE GRASS IS GREENER YALL! Your pants might just not fit! lol But once you get a taste of those luxury macros (i.e. all the potatoes, ice cream and peanut butter) it is hard to have to cut! The only plus side is I know I will be so much more diligent in the beginning of my reverse diet this next go round to keep the body fat down. 

*Just a quick Reverse diet definition if you aren't familiar with it - reverse dieting is essentially just that - putting your diet in reverse. Rather than slowly dropping calories/adding cardio, we slowly add calories/drop cardio so that our bodies can adapt without gaining a significant amount of body fat. Typically when people jump off of a diet head first into a bowl of Ben & Jerry's, they end up putting on more body fat than they'd like because their body is in a depleted state and will store it faster.*

Really my cut hasn't been that bad. My energy is still pretty great and I am not experiencing any significant hunger. I have learned through trial and error that I can't do my powerlifting workouts first thing in the morning anymore and expect them to feel good. My heavier training days tend to fall on my busier days client-wise and trying to squat 265 for 5 sets of 6 at 5 am with only a pre-workout meal and a liter of water in you is no bueno. I find I feel much better if I do them later in the day when I've had a few meals and a good amount of water. I've always been an early morning gym goer, but I've just had to listen to my body and be smarter. 

I do want to take a second and brag on my coaches/support system. Paul has been so awesome to work with over the past two years and even though sometimes I want him to coddle me, he is very cut and dry which is what I need! And then on the programming side, Ryan is seriously the bomb. He is all the way on the West Coast but always happy to answer questions or text me about froyo lol. I had a not so great squat AMRAP the past two weekends and he sent me a great pep talk about adaptations and I really felt much better afterwards. 

And let's not forget all my fitness girlfriends! I have so many people that text me to see how things are going or encourage me or tell me to stop whining. It's so nice having a support system that understands what you're going through and can offer outside perspective. 

And with that, here's the changes!

Starting Weight: 158
Current Weight: 154

Starting Macros: 2080 Calories/ 140g Protein/ 245g Carbs/ 60g Fat
                            1915 Calories/ 140g Protein/ 215g Carbs/ 55 Fat

Starting Cardio: 3 days of Steady State Cardio for 20 mins
Current: 4 days
 

Measurements:
                         Starting                  This Week
Waist                   32.5"                         30"
Hips                      39"                           37.5"
Quad                     24"                          24"
Bicep                    12.5"                         12"
Upper Hip            36"                            36"

 

 

2017 Cut - Week 3/Day 18

Sorry this one took so long! I actually took my pics and measurements on Tuesday, but life got busy and I didn't get around to writing everything out. So I'll update you up until this point and then hopefully get another update up the first part of next week!

Short and sweet - everything is moving along. The scale has been a little all over the place but that's normal. With the intensity of my training, inflammation in my body can cause it to be up or down, along with how late I ate the night before/water intake/poop or lack thereof/menstrual cycle etc. Basically, so much effects the scale so don't let the number get to you. It's just a measure of progress. 

Diets/Cuts normally have phases. The first week after a calorie cut you tend to be very hungry as your body isn't used to the decrease. As things adapt, normally the hunger is less noticeable. But different things can cause you to be more/less hungry. For me, an increase in training or a day where I'm sitting still causes me to be more hungry versus a day that I'm busy I might not think about eating for several hours (Trust me I never forget to eat. I don't know how that's possible.). I am an eat every 3-4 hours kind of person because I just like to eat and I'd rather have smaller, more frequent meals. Two days this past week, I was SUPER HANGRY. I could've eaten everything in sight and was craving a lot - donuts, pancakes, mozzarella sticks....

But, the biggest tip is to find a way to combat those cravings or keep your mouth busy. Drinking water, flavored water, BCAAs or even a diet soda tend to help me, as well as saving a majority of my calories for later in the day when I tend to be more hungry. A little preparation goes a long way. 

I didn't do a refeed (higher carb day) or a cheat meal the first two weeks, so this past Sunday, I ate relatively low calories most of the day and then splurged on some pizza that evening! I try to stay as close to my calories as possible so that it still remains structured without it being an all-out binge!

Here goes this week's stats and pics! I did my check-in with Coach Paul this morning and I'm awaiting his response! Most likely it will stay the same, but I'll update you in the next post if it doesn't! 

Current Macros: 2080 Calories/ 140g Protein/ 245g Carbs/ 60g Fat
   *Same as starting! 

Cardio: 3 days of Steady State Cardio for 20 mins
 

Measurements:
                         Starting                  This Week
Waist                   32.5"                         30"
Hips                      39"                           38"
Quad                     24"                          24"
Bicep                    12.5"                         12"
Upper Hip                                             36"
*I decided to add this measurement (around the hip bones above butt) because I tend to carry fat there and wanted to be able to track changes.

 

How a Bikini Competition Saved My Life

Let me start off by saying that if you haven't read my "About Me" page - then reading that may give you some insight before you dive into this post. But I'll humor you and offer a cliff notes version:

- I've struggled with my weight my entire life. I was obese as a child and have basically had to "diet" aka monitor what I eat since I was a child. 

- I have attached a lot of self-worth to my body at times in my life and felt that I needed to look a certain way for other people. 

I can remember being 11-12 and looking through Oxygen Magazine, doing the ab workouts and just wishing I could look like those girls. For years I dreamed of competing in a bodybuilding show and once I got to college, attempted several times unsuccessfully. Finally, my final semester of college (August 2013) I made the decision to hire a coach and do it. I went in blindly. I only had one friend that had competed before and she never really had any "food" issues as far as overeating or using food for comfort, things I had dealt with for years. I was competing trying to fix a problem - a food addiction - which did nothing but make the problem ultimately worse. Think you are addicted to food? Be deprived of everything you enjoy for a while and see how you are after that. DEPENDENT to the point of insanity upon food. 

The first few weeks weren't too bad. I lost weight rather quickly off the bat, the cardio was bearable and the food wasn't terrible. I loved seeing my body change and I was getting a lot of attention from others as they noticed. Obviously as progress stalled, things got more intense and food became less. By the end of my prep I was eating a lot of fish and doing cardio twice a day every day. I had a wonderful, supportive coach, but she knew I wanted to get on stage and she knew what would be required. 

I think the first time around I really didn't know just how sucky you can feel at times so some days it wasn't as bad and some days it was terrible. But I had blinders on and wouldn't stop until I reached my goal.

The final weeks were brutal. I was tired most of the time, I was emotional, hangry and always cold. Prep brain is a real thing and forming sentences and communicating with others is not always easy. I had scheduled class all day on Tuesday and Thursday so that I only had to go to campus those two days but man were they brutal days. I was up at 5am, training and doing one 40 minute cardio session, go to class all day and then do my second cardio session that evening. 

The end of October, just two weeks out from show, my church back home was hosting a revival. It started on Sunday and each night the number of people got bigger and bigger. I was hearing about people standing against the walls and lives being changed each day to the point that they had extended it past its intended end on Wednesday night to Thursday night. Praise God it was extended. I had no intentions of going, but on Thursday I just felt like I needed to go. I was leaving to go back home that evening after class anyway, but I felt a sense of urgency that I don't know if I've felt since. I remember standing in the basement of the Journalism building outside of my web design class and calling Michael, my then boyfriend - now husband, and asking if he wanted to go. I got some mumbling but I remember saying "I'm leaving early and I'll be there so you can come if you want." 

I skipped my last class and headed home. I still don't know why, if it was the prep emotions or just the Holy Spirit, but I cried all the way home that day. For 2 hours, I cried. I went straight to the church; I still remember exactly what I was wearing - old baggy sweatpants, a long sleeve shirt and a vest. None of it fit because none of your clothes fit on prep, unless you buy new ones that won't fit after prep. Everything just kind of hangs on you. Jon Reed, an evangelist was the speaker that night and the church was packed. I sat in a pew with my boyfriend and some of our friends in the middle of the sanctuary. The praise band sang some songs and then the speaker stood up.

I couldn't tell you what the message was on that night. I sat in that pew, holding on for dear life while God revealed a lot of things to me that I didn't want to hear. I had made a profession of faith and was baptized as a young child, was very active in my church and in the Women's Missionary Union through high school. I had a relationship with God, but he had been pushed out of my life during college. I was doing things MY way and on MY time and was only going to church when I was home and it was convenient. The spirit of conviction was there, but it was ignored. But on October 24, 2013, God had a legitimate come-to-Jesus meeting with me. I am thankful He did it in a church pew and not in a hospital bed or a ditch.

I had put so much value in my appearance. I was in the best "aesthetic" shape of my life (we won't go into my actual health at that time), but was at my lowest spiritual health. I was competing for selfish reasons, to feel good about a body that wasn't sustainable and get recognition from others for how "dedicated" I was. God made me take my body to the brink of exhaustion, in order to show me that it really wasn't all about me. That I was trying to do it on my own when in reality my successes and my blessings were things HE had given me, not anything that I had earned. I was only capable of doing what He allowed me to do, whether I gave Him the credit or not. 

The pastor began the time of invitation and he went through the steps to salvation. I knew them by heart, but for the first time in my life I cried out, truly desperate and physically and spiritually starving. He then asked that if you prayed that prayer, that you look up at him, so I did, still clinging to the pew for dear life. Lastly, he asked that if you prayed that prayer, that you would stand up, unashamed and make your profession of faith. Nails still dug into the pew, God managed to push my butt up and I stood. To my surprise, Michael stood up beside me along with several of our other friends. We would later be baptized together, along with my dad - a day that I will forever cherish.

They called us down front and took us out to meet with the counselors. I remember asking my group to please just pray for me, that I had never been so exhausted in my life but I had to make it another week. They brought us back in the sanctuary and my sister sang "Not Guilty" by Mandisa, a song that I will always associate with that day. 

I had felt like there were times in my life that I was doing God's will and I had a relationship with him, but whenever a pastor would say "Do you know without a shadow of a doubt where you would go if you died today?" - I always doubted. Since that day I've never questioned my salvation. I've been off-track and am still a sinner - always will be - but I know who holds my future and I know who orchestrates every single aspect of my life, good or bad. 

The final week of my prep was a breeze after that. I spent my cardio worshipping God, praising Him for what He had done for me. Just over a week later, I stepped on stage and achieved my goal of competing. 

I think God had tried to get my attention several times before, but it took really being that physically and spiritually broken to truly desire Him. His timing is perfect and I will never forget that, even when I am impatient or stubborn. 

The days, months and years that would follow would test my faith more than it had ever been. I've always heard people speak about "seasons of refinement" and boy did God refine me right on up! Immediately after my show, I dealt with binge eating disorder, a common side effect of competing and being deprived. I would eat until I was physically stuffed and couldn't breathe, but would continue to eat because I was dependent upon food. I began to use laxatives to try to counteract the binging. I gained most of the weight I had lost during prep back in a matter of weeks. I would try to compete again several times unsuccessfully. I graduated college just a month after my show, so into the no-mans-land of post-college pre-work force I went. It took 6 months of frustration and failed attempts before I would finally have a "real job." Once we were engaged, we dealt with the frustration of finding a house, planning a wedding, and preparing for married life. 

In 2015, one of my best friends lost her husband in a tragic accident and just 9 months later, we lost her in a similar accident. She was the friend that pushed me to compete initially, drove 3 hours after working night shift to surprise me at my first show and was my ally through the entire process. The next year of my life was spent being confused, being angry and being heartbroken. I questioned God more in that time than I probably ever have. But I always remember in Isaiah where the scripture says "My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." We don't always understand and sometimes we think we know best, but we don't. It's not about us and many times God uses our most troubling times to teach us the biggest lessons. 

It would take years and lots of prayers, before I would get to the place that I feel like I'm where God wants me to be. And that place could always change. I see girls that have perfect first competition experiences and they thrive and I wonder "Why couldn't that have been me?" But nothing that happens in our life is by chance. God created us for a purpose and with a plan in mind. We just have to let Him get in the drivers seat. Jesus died on a cross for my sins so that I could live for Him and with Him in eternity - not so that I could live for me and my selfish desires. We have to stop making it about us and make it about Him and His kingdom. 

That experience and the years following have helped me grow so much as a person and as a Christian. I can get in my own head too much and let little things get the best of me, but God never fails to remind me that He is so much bigger than I am. He is so much bigger than any problem we will face in this lifetime. He is so much bigger than any physical ailment, any addiction or any eating disorder. He is bigger than our finances, bigger than our relationships and bigger than the mental battles we all face regardless of the extent. He is bigger than our heartbreaks, our society and even bigger than my quads. When life consumes us and we lose our focus, all we have to do is look to the cross and He will intervene on our behalf. 

Life is going to throw some trials and some tribulations your way. You will falter and fail more than you'd like. The devil is going to come at you and Satan always seems to attack in spurts throwing one thing and then another and another at us. But even Satan and his demons tremble at the name of Jesus and when he throws his best ammunition at us, it is because he can see the armies of angels that surround us. 

I hope that my story has an effect on you. If you are a Christian, I hope it gives you hope that you can overcome the struggle that you face. Our struggles are ever changing. While I no longer face disordered eating, I still have good and bad days when it comes to body image. My struggles have shifted from career uncertainty and being an adult period, to being a better adult, a better Christian, a better wife and maybe even one day a better mom (yep that's right - you heard it here first! Kids are no longer completely out of the picture! lol The "I Told You So's" can commence in the comments) And I so want to be a better coach - a better encourager and a better ally for those of you that are going through similar situations. 

And if you are not a believer, I pray that you will feel the working of the Holy Spirit in your life and reach out to someone you know (or me!) so that they can counsel you in making the biggest decision of your life.

 

2017 Cut - Week 2/Day

We survived the first week fam! I started my new macros last Sunday and while there were several days I wanted to eat the paint off the walls, I stuck to them and was consistent and got through. I even tracked all weekend (sayyy whaaattttt - that never happens if its not deadline induced cut lol). Mikey & I were going to go down to the beach on Sunday so I was planning to have an untracked meal, but due to the weather we decided not to so I ended up just sticking to my numbers. 

Honestly, it's a definite decrease from what i was formerly eating (aka Everything), but I really don't feel deprived and haven't had too much hunger yet. Shoutout to Tarrah Speer, Jaime Kallay and Hayley Baxley for talking me out of eating everything lol. It took a solid week before the scale moved at all thanks to my female reproductive organ drama, but I knew that was a contributing factor. Moral of the Story: Be patient and don't get discouraged. 

I also started new programming this past week and it KICKED MY BUTT. More volume and accessory work to just really build as much strength as possible before my next week. I also have 3 days of back work now, just because my back has always been a weaker area and is so vital to the Big 3 Lifts. 

I've registered for the USAPL North Carolina State Championship Meet on June 10th in Raleigh so that gives me just under 20 weeks to prepare. Hopefully if we take this cut slow and steady I can get down to my weight class and maybe even be able to eat more going into the meet, but we will see! Looking forward to the weeks to come!

Current Macros: 2080 Calories/ 140g Protein/ 245g Carbs/ 60g Fat
   *My numbers will stay the same until I hit a plateau - i.e. weight doesn't move for 8-14 days

Cardio: 3 days of Steady State Cardio for 20 mins
 *I typically use the elliptical or the treadmill for this and get my heart rate in the 65-75% zone and stay there

Measurements:
                         Starting                  This Week
Waist                   32.5"                         31"
Hips                      39"                           38"
Quad                     24"                           24"
Bicep                    12.5"                          12"

While a lot of my measurements have dropped, a lot is probably contributed to bloat. During the first week of a diet you'll typically drop some water weight but that is to be expected. It will be a long time before that quad measurement goes down at all LOL

And now for the pics! Yes the lighting is different but most pictures will be early morning before the sun comes up moving forward. The left is my starting pic and the right is currently.
*Click on the far right of the photo to scroll through*



 

2017 Cut - Day 1

I've put it off long enough fam. The holidays are over, my birthday is behind me and it's time to get to work. I got on the scale for the first time since early December this week and it was definitely a reality check! 

Since the end of April, I have been "reverse dieting" - i.e. slowly adding in extra calories to build my metabolism back up after dieting down for my bodybuilding shows. I've also been trying to put on some quality muscle mass. I've been working with Paul Revelia of Team Pro Physique since early 2015 and he has helped me diet down successfully twice and has been guiding me along this reverse diet.

He so graciously agreed to let me document my cut with you guys so I will be doing weekly progress updates with my progress pics, weight changes and changes to my calories!

I follow what is called "flexible dieting" or IIFYM (if it fits your macros). Essentially I track what I eat to hit a certain number of grams of protein, carbohydrates and fat to meet my caloric goal. These numbers are specific to my body based on several factors and calculated by my coach Paul. Counting macros can be confusing at first but makes it easier to make adjustments as you diet and plateau, and gives you the flexibility to change your food choices and fit in treats on occasion! For more information, I suggest reading Sohee Lee's or Krissy Mae Cagney's e-books on the topic!

So without further ado, here are my starting stats!

*NOTE* DO NOT TRY TO USE MY NUMBERS TO REACH YOUR GOALS! They are specific to me and will most likely not work for you. This is merely an example!

Nutrition at the end of Reverse Diet -  2410 calories/135g Protein/310g Carbs/70g Fat

Starting Macros: 2080 calories/ 140g Protein/245g Carbs/60g Fat

Starting Weight - 158 lbs

Starting Measurements: Waist - 32.5"   Hips-39"   Thigh-24"  Bicep-12"

I will also be adding cardio back in this week after not doing any the last few weeks

anddddd here are my pictures from this morning! #gainingweightiscool

 

 

Don't Crash the Plane

“You can’t imagine just how much believing in negative thoughts is affecting your life…until you stop.” 
― Charles F. Glassman

It's easy to think negatively. If we aren't optimistic, we can't be disappointed. If we don't try, we can't fail. It's easier to just keep thinking "what if" than to actually put in the work to be able to say "I did." 

Wait...

 

WHAT?!

I used to be that girl. I was that girl several times during several different seasons of my life. Some days I still am that girl. 

I can be the Queen of Excuses. I'll make them for me, for you, heck for the weather. If excuses burned calories, I would be shredded. 

But sometimes, you just have to get out of your own dang way! 

Positive thinking is a powerful thing. Rather than saying "oh that will never happen," think "what if it actually did happen?" or "it WILL happen!" Prayer and positive thinking can get you a long way in life. 

I really got into fitness my freshman year of college. I was in a new place with not that many friends and terrified of the Freshman 15, so I started going to the gym. It soon became my place of solitude and became a routine. From my freshman year to my senior year, I tried several times to be "lean" or even work towards a competition prep. Finally, my senior year I decided it was "now or never" and I hired a coach. I remember talking it over with Michael and I asked him "But what if this time isn't any different? What is to say that I won't get a few weeks in and quit like I always do?"

And in the next breath he said something to me that has never left me - "You've just gotta want it bad enough."

Enough.

Enough that I won't let myself quit. Enough that I will put in the work even when I don't want to. Enough that I will sacrifice what is necessary and think positively that this will happen. 

And it did. Since that moment that word has almost become my motto. Over the years, what it means to me has changed several times. But nevertheless, it is powerful. 

Love yourself enough that you will get out of your own way. Stop making excuses and thinking about what could be and make it be. We've only got one shot at this thing called life and you'll never know if you don't try.

And stop beating yourself up. Think positively about yourself and TO yourself. You are your own biggest advocate, but you're also your own worst critic. Sure, other people will root you on and help you along the way, but you have to execute and be kind to yourself. If you don't like you and you don't root for you, don't expect anyone else to either.

For every positive comment, you'll get two negative ones. People are looking for you to fail so they can feel better about not going after their goals. And you might fail - you probably will fail at some point. But failure doesn't mean you're finished. Pick yourself up and in the words of Aaliyah (May she RIP), dust yourself off and try again. Put your head down and work.

What if an airplane pilot said "Oh, I've hit a little turbulence, guess I've gotta crash the whole plane." 

Um NO! You get through it and keep flying. No matter how close the ground may seem, you keep that plane in the air. Your turbulence might be a busy schedule, it might be sickness or it might be stress. You might be yelling MAYDAY! with a bag of M&M's in hand - keep the plane in the air. Wake up the next day, forget about it, and ascend again. 

I want success for every single person that I talk to. I know how it feels to not know where to begin. But you have to figure it out and you have to begin. Let's think about the plane again - have you ever really felt comfortable during take-off? Planes take off into the wind. Your heart races a little, your stomach feels like it's in your feet and your ears are popping. But once you get in the air, you start to relax and get comfortable. Going after your goals is the same way. The beginning is going to be uncomfortable. You're not going to know where to begin, but you do. Before you know it your wheels are off the ground and you're climbing. You might hit a bad patch of air and dip down, but you keep climbing. And soon enough, you're at cruising altitude and you're comfortable. Things are a little bit easier. 

The patches of turbulence will always be there. Life is going to happen and you're going to have to adjust, but I promise you, if you keep flying the plane, you'll reach your destination. 

25 Lessons Learned by Age 25

Happy Birthday to Me! 25 years ago I became the 4th "Clark Girl" and forced my mom to have her only C-Section of all 4 (Anybody else try to hang themselves with an umbilical cord?). Looking back at birthdays over the years it's always funny how different each one is, but that's whats so fun (or not fun) about growing up! In honor of making it to a quarter of a century, I decided to share 25 lessons that I've learned so far. I'm sure there are many more, but these were the first that came to mind!

1. "His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are higher than our ways"

I remember being 22, fresh out of college and I heard a sermon from Isaiah 55:8. At that point in my life I was trying to transition from being a student to a professional and was frustrated with the process. And this passage of scripture sucker-punched me. I'll never forget that day or that sermon, and it always reminds me that even when I don't see it, He is working. My God is working long before I even need Him to and His plan is far greater than mine. It's always amazing to me to look back on key moments in my life when things seemed so out of reach and now I know exactly why they happened as they did. 

2. Treat others how you want to be treated

This is the Golden Rule but people don't always abide by it. Go above and beyond for people, even if they don't for you. Treat people kindly, compassionately and with honesty even when they don't deserve it. You never know what is going on under the surface and sometimes you can truly make a difference just by being nice.

3. Be Selfish

On the flip side of that, be selfish sometimes. Don't do things just to please someone else and learn how to say "no." I am very much a people pleaser, but I've definitely learned lately that sometimes I just have to do what is best for me regardless of another person.

4. Always have a snack

If you know me I rarely go somewhere without survival food. I am not nice when I'm hungry and other people do not deserve what they tend to get if I haven't eaten.

 

5. Always have a jacket

I am perpetually freezing. My husband is the opposite along with a majority of society. Never leave home without a sweater regardless of the the fact that it's July.

6. Mind Your Own Business

Some things just don't concern you and sometimes people don't want your help or your opinion. Live your life, do your job, pay your taxes and don't worry about what other people are doing. You're wasting energy on things that don't concern you.

7. Be Honest

This tends to get me in trouble sometimes, but it's so much easier to be straightforward than "beat around the bush" trying to get your point across. My friends and family tend to say "MC will say anything cause she just don't care" and while that is sometimes the truth, it did take me a long time to get to this point. But you're usually more likely to resolve the issue if you just cut to the chase. 

8. Think Positively

Positive thinking can get you a long way! I am not always the best about finding the good in a situation, but it tends to get you farther than being pessimistic. Positive thinking produces results!

9. Spend time with Grandma (fill-in-the-blank with said family member)

My Ma Ma is my best friend and she turns 90 next week. I know one day she will not be around, so I try to make time to spend with her. Sometimes it can be weeks in between, but she has taught me some great lessons over my life time from finances, relationships and cooking!

10. Never Stop Learning

Learn from Grandma, learn from textbooks, learn from Google and learn from others. You can't be an expert in everything but it helps if you have some knowledge!

11. Money isn't everything

And everyone older than me rolls their eyes at the 25-year old. Some days I think "Man you really should've stuck with the Law School plan" or "Why do I not have a reality show yet?" but then I stop to think about how rich I really am. While having a lot of money makes things easier, it doesn't make you any happier. If it's not going to put you in debt, take the trip! Buy the shoes! Do what's going to make you happy!

12. But don't be an idiot with debt

"Oh it's just a payment" I've only acquired a few small debts beside our house payment since becoming an adult, but even the small ones can be a pain to pay off. It'd be much easier to save until you can afford it or finance it comfortably.

13. Don't be complacent

Never stop trying to get better. People go to college, get a job and that's it. Always try to better your craft and learn as much as you can. Things change, advancements are made and you will get asked about it. On that another note, don't be complacent with personal things. Continue to grow closer to loved ones, continue to push your body physically and never stop seeking spiritual knowledge.

14. Love your body for what it can do -- not what it looks like.

This one has taken me nearly the entire 25 years to learn. We're our own worst critics. And sure, we might wish we were 10 lbs lighter, we didn't have stretch marks or cellulite, but let's be honest -- your body functions each and every day to keep you alive. It knows when to breathe, when to pee, and when to tighten a muscle to protect you from energy. Not to mention the additional things you put it through like running, lifting weights, doing yoga or playing a sport. When we shift our focus from what we look like to what we can do, we become less concerned with what we look like. And a lot of times, the look we want comes with the ability. I'm heavier now than I've ever been and some days I really dislike how I look. But I also squat over twice my bodyweight, deadlift as much and bench more than some guys I know. #winning

15. Take more pictures

While most of society is anti-selfie and "Unplug" these days, and I wholeheartedly agree for the most part, sometimes I really wish I had taken a picture. I'm very much an in-the-moment kind of person but I often get home and think "Man why didn't I get a picture/video that" For example my 15 rep squat set at Team Pro Physique Camp with my coach and several team mates rooting me on.

16. Don't sweat the small stuff

If it's not going to matter a week or even a day from now, don't stress out over it. Stuff happens and it's life. Move on.

17. Pick your battles

Some things are just not worth it. There have been several instances where I've looked back and said "Why did I even make a big deal out of that?" Sure, reoccurring things should be addressed, but don't pick a fight for the sake of fighting. (I love you Mikey C sorry I'm psycho sometimes)

18. Work quietly

People are so quick to tell the world everything they're doing when sometimes you're better off to put your head down and grind in silence and then let everyone see the result. This goes for everything from contest preps, business ventures, and relationships. Everyone doesn't have to know every little detail about everything you're doing.

19. Be Consistent

Consistency can make or break you. You don't have to be great every single day, but you do need to be consistent. Routine makes things work better and people know what to expect. If you're going to be late, be late consistently. That way no one is surprised when you're late.

20. Admit when you're wrong and apologize when needed

Don't let pride make you a poo poo head. If you're wrong - say that you're wrong and if you need to apologize, do it. Grudges are silly.

21. Eat the cake

Unless you have a hard deadline on the calendar that you absolutely have to be in a certain physical condition for it - EAT THE CAKE. Don't be the person that goes to a birthday party and says "Sorry can't have any" even though secretly deep down you're dying for a piece. If you genuinely don't want it or know it's not worth the calories then by all means pass it up. But don't suffer for the sake of suffering. (If you're someone that just doesn't like cake then you're a weirdo and we can't be friends anymore.)

22. Always tip the waiter

Having worked in food service making a whopping $2.14 an hour - tip your waiter! If they suck, tell management, but at least give them 10%. They did at least give you a service and chances are management will punish them enough. Ever worked all night and came home with hardly any money because human being suck and don't know how to tip - this girl has.

23.  Eliminate toxicity from your life

Toxic people, toxic places, toxic things - eliminate them! If every time you leave a place, you leave in a bad mood - stop going there! If you end up mad or have a headache every time you're around a certain person - stop being around them. Some situations can't be avoided but if you can eliminate it - do so.

24. Live with an attitude of thankfulness

We are so blessed. If you're reading this - you are blessed because you have access to the internet. You also have eyes that can see and a body that can maintain enough function to keep you alive. It's easy to get caught up in what you don't have but appreciate what you do. 

25. "If your life isn't what you want it to be -- change it." - Jennifer Hanna

Many people know I lost a dear friend and her husband last year within 9 months of each other. Jenn gave a eulogy at Mitch's funeral and said the following:

"If you have a dream, chase it. If you have a passion, live it. If you're life isn't what you want it to be, change it." 

They lived by those words long before she said them and they encouraged me to go after the things I wanted. They pushed me to do scary things and those are the kind of people you need in your corner. I've never forgotten her words and since losing her I cling to them. Don't let anything stand between you and your dreams, your passions or the life that you want. Life is too short to live with regret or bitterness. Don't let the opinions of others or the amount of work required deter you. Don't be afraid to fail, but don't be afraid of success either.