The Road to Nationals Starts Today

 

On Saturday, I competed in my eighth Strongman Competition, the Strongest Southern Belle in Cynthiana, Kentucky. This was the largest women’s-only Competition in the world (woah.) With 80 competitors, there were a lot of incredibly strong women and some awesome competitors.

 

I was able to take home the title of first place, sweeping all five events. (And, snagged some pretty cool hardware.) This win qualified me for the United States Strongman National Championship. So…..the road to Nationals starts today.

 

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First place in the under 123lb weight class

 
I competed last year at USS Nationals as a last-minute decision. And after placing third, I’ve had the itch to go back ever since.

 

In the three months between now and Nationals, I have my work cut out for me. The competition at Nationals is ridiculous. Like, “a whole ‘nother level” type of competition. These girls are seriously strong.

 

So, in order to make sure I’m ready for the competition, I have to have a plan. Here’s what I’ll do:

 

Set A Training Program: I’ll meet with my trainer and set a training program that will help me steadily increase my weights and train the implements. Nationals has some unusual events this year (seriously, Google “Fingal Fingers” – that’s one of the events.) Some of these events I’ve never even tried. So, I’ll have quite a bit of research on the events and some technique to learn. I’ll also start Youtubing videos (not ones of cats playing the piano.) But instead, I’ll check out how the best of the best do these implements. They say, the best way to learn is to emulate the greats. I’ll start Googling now….

 
Take Care of Myself: In order to be in top performance shape and compete against the best in the nation, I’ll need to stay healthy. That means no injuries or setbacks. So, I’ll continue my cardio (hello, running shoes) keep up my regular weight training, maintain my massages, and eat well. (That means no donuts.)

 

Find a Training Partner: Y’all already know I love competition, and not just at a strongman competition, but in my everyday training, too. I like to train with someone because it pushes me to do more, go harder and, well, just do better. It’s even better if I can train with someone that’s just a little better than me. Talk about pushing yourself! If they get 11 reps, I want 12. If they do it in 32 seconds, I want to do it in 31. No only does it make me better, but it will help me get ready for the top-level competitors I’ll face at Nationals. A training partner gives you someone that shares a common goal, someone to bounce ideas off of and, someone to compare your bruises with.

 

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Stay the Course: Three months can be a long time. I’ll need to stay focused on my goal and make sure I don’t lose sight of it over the next 14 weeks. I’ll lean on my awesome training friends, super-supportive husband and trainer as a support system to help me stay focused. I keep a quote framed on my desk that says, “Remember your goals.” I’ll keep my sights set on that trip to Louisville in June.

 

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I keep this framed quote on my desk to help stay focused.

 

The thought of competing at Nationals has me excited and, quite honestly, I’m already nervous.  I have no idea where I’ll place – could be first, could be last. But, this year, I plan on going into the competition prepared and ready to give it my best. It’s going to be a fun ride these next three months….and I simply can’t wait.

 

Nationals, here I come!

 

 

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Tomorrow Is My Competition

 

 

Tomorrow I will compete in the Strongest Southern Belle Strongman Competition. It will be my eighth Strongman Competition (I can’t believe it’s been that many!) I’m excited, nervous and simply can’t wait until tomorrow. This competition is pretty unique. It’s the largest women’s-only competition in the country with 80 women competing. Wow! The energy, music, crowd and food (yes, the food is really THAT good) make this my favorite competition each year. And, to make it even cooler, it’s happening right here in Cynthiana. (It’s pretty awesome to only have a two minute drive to this event.)

 

This competition is a qualifier for both USS Nationals and the first ever Women’s Worlds Competition. So, the competition is going to be stiff.

 

For those of you that have never competed in a Strongman competition before (or for those of you veterans) I thought I’d let you in on a glimpse of my pre-competition day today.

 

I woke up this morning and weighed in early (want to get that out of my way.) I didn’t have to cut any water or do anything crazy to hit weight. I weighed in at 121lbs, fully clothed. Funny thing – my normal, everyday “walking weight” is less than 123 pounds, but I worry about weight before every weigh in. Usually, I stress about it so much the week of competition and weigh in WELL below 120 pounds. This is the first time I honestly tried to weigh in as close to the weight limit (123.4) as possible. Success. I can scratch this off my list for the day.

 

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Official weigh in this morning.

 

I skipped my morning workout today. I want to make sure my legs are fresh for tomorrow morning.

 

As for my food today – I’ll eat like I normally do: oatmeal for breakfast and eggs for lunch. Dinner will be a meal out with the family. I’ll definitely have a glass of wine (or two.) This splurge will help settle my nerves a bit (and, I’ll take any excuse to have a glass of wine.)

 

I’ll also lay out everything I’m taking to the competition tomorrow. Which is So. Much. Stuff. I literally take:

  • Three pair of pants
  • Two tshirts
  • A tank top
  • Sweatshirt
  • My gym bag
  • Wrist wraps
  • Two belts
  • Change of socks
  • Lifting shoes
  • Foam Roller
  • Tennis ball (for rolling out tight muscles)
  • Bag of “tacky clothes” for the Atlas Stones.

 

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You’d think I’m packing for a week-long vacation.

 

Seriously, that’s more stuff than I take on vacation. But, when it comes to packing for a competition, I channel the Boy Scout motto here, “Always Be Prepared.”

 

I’ll top the night off with a hot Epsom Salt bath to relax. Then get in bed early for a good night’s sleep.   I’m counting on the wine to settle some of those pre-competition jitters and help me sleep well, too.

 

I hope to do well tomorrow. It’s no secret that I’d love to bring home a trophy. But not only that – I want to perform to the best of my body’s ability. That sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Winning is great. But winning and really performing at peak level is even better.

 

There’s always some self-doubt that creeps into every competitor’s mind before a competition. I honestly tell my trainer before each competition, “I don’t feel like I’m ready.” Then afterwards, I eat my words saying, “You were right – I was ready.” I hope that tomorrow my months of training and hard work pay off.  I’d sure love to repeat those words again, “You were right….”

 

Tomorrow will be a long day filled with heavy lifting, lots of smiles and a crazy flood of emotions….and I simply can’t wait.

 

If you’re in Cynthiana and looking for something to do, swing by the armory sometime between 11:00-6:00. You will see some incredibly strong women lifting some incredibly heavy things and you’ll have a blast doing it.

 

Strongest Southern Belle, Here I Come!

Ode To The Sweaters

 

There are some girls that can finish a crazy hard workout and have makeup still intact, ponytail still spunky and just a slight glistening sweat glow. I am not one of them.

 
When I finish a workout, I look a bit more like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Dripping sweat, purple faced and any makeup I once had on has since melted off into a puddle on my shirt. Really – I sweat so much that no one wants to follow after me on a bench. “How much sweat” you ask? So much sweat that you’re left wondering if I accidentally spilled my water bottle. So much sweat that getting my wet sports bra off after a workout looks a bit like a greased cow putting on a leather onesie.

 

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My post-gym selfie.

 
So, I’m always surprised how much commentary people give to what girls look like in the gym. Some are “too sexy” others “too sweaty.” You know what – who cares? Everyone is at the gym for their own reason. And they wore whatever they felt like wearing. Want to wear full makeup and lipstick – do it. Want to wear yoga pants with dried spider tacky – fine by me. The main thing is: these people are actually AT the gym. They’ve made the decision to show up and do whatever type of workout they want at the intensity of their choosing. Bravo, ladies.

 

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I’m usually wearing whatever yoga pants are on top of the “clean” pile of laundry. Ditto on my shirt. Do they match? Who knows? It’s like a game of Gym Clothes Roulette.

 
That being said, I show up to each Strongman competition in lipstick and pearl earrings. Laugh if you want, but I’m the one that’s going to be deadlifting the car. When you’re brave enough to compete in Strongman, do it in whatever makes you comfortable.

 
Everyone wants something different from their workouts. Some may want to torch calories. Some may just want a light workout. Some want to lift heavy, others light with reps.

 
Seems like the gym and fitness community would be a happier place if people would focus less on others and more on themselves.

 

Get in the gym. Wear whatever the hell you want. I’ll be the one right there with you – soaked in sweat and looking like a hot mess. Lord knows I certainly won’t be judging.

 
And to my fellow sweaters out there – keep it up. Someone has to keep the deodorant industry in business.

 
Stay Sweaty, Sweat Angels!

 

 

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I Will Never Look Like Gwyneth Paltrow

 

I will never look like Gwyneth Paltrow. This is probably a “duh” statement for you guys, but it is a bitter pill for me to swallow. And, it’s something that I have to remind myself of….a lot.

See, I would love to have her build: that tall, slim frame, long arms and thin legs that are just made for skinny jeans. However, in case you haven’t noticed (and how could you possibly NOT notice) my body isn’t built like that. My quads are large. That’s maybe putting it nicely. My quads are big enough to demand their own zip code. They’re large enough that they could command their own nickname -Quadzilla, Quads for the Gods, Quadsimodo….(I certainly hope none of those stick.)

 

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I actually measured my quads the other day. They measure 21 ¾”. Which made me cringe. Because, I guarantee Gwyneth’s quads don’t come close to 21”.

But this leads me to today’s topic – knowing (and accepting) your body type.

My quads have always been a touchy subject for me. They’re large, there is no thigh gap (seriously, who has a thigh gap??) and skinny jeans are my worst nightmare. It’s the part of my body that is my least favorite. But I had something happen to me the other day that completely shook my perspective of those big tree trunks. I was training in the gym and a girl walked up to me and said, “I would kill for your quads.” Yep. Those six words hit me like a bus. I stood there, stunned, as I had an epiphany right there by the Atlas Stones. It never occurred to me that someone would actually WANT big quads. That someone would see them as an asset. I was their Gwyneth. Mind blown. Isn’t it funny how the grass is always greener?

 

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I know my body is built to grow muscles. Seriously, I don’t get a ton of protein, I don’t take supplements or shakes – but if I even look at a barbell *BAM* instant quad growth. That’s just how my body is made. However, I have a friend that crushes protein, tosses back protein shakes like it’s her job and works out every bit as hard as me. But even with all that, she has the hardest time increasing her muscles mass.

Guys, it’s a little thing called genetics.

I read a quote once from Girls Gone Strong co-founder, Molly Galbraith saying, “If you want longer, leaner muscles, get different parents.” Woah. That’s deep.

Listen – it doesn’t matter how low my body fat gets or what type of workout/exercise routine I follow, I will never have small thighs. My genetics just aren’t made that way. All I can do, all ANY of us can do, is to do the best with the genetic cards we’re dealt.

But keep in mind – The same genetics that predispose me to big quads also help me to have a killer six pack and shoulders that could hold a football team. Queue the “Facts of Life” theme song here, “You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have the facts of life.” (I know you sang that in your head.) Ahh, yes, Tootie, truer words were never sung. Our genetics give us both the things we love about ourselves and the things we dislike. If you don’t like your genetics, take it up with the Big Guy Upstairs.

It’s no secret that this girl has some serious quads, and enough junk in the trunk for a road trip to Vegas. But you know what? Those big ‘ole thighs have carried me 26.2 miles in a marathon, allowed me to squat over 300# and help me crush some 5K times. Yes, they’re big. Yes, they will never like anything titled “tapered” but they’re mine. And they’ve allowed me to do some pretty awesome things. It’s not just the size of your quads in the jeans, but what those quads can do for you.

 

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So, go ahead, toss out whatever is YOUR “Gwyneth” and replace it with a realistic image of your body and what it can be. Appreciate your body type and focus on sculpting it to be the best it can be for YOUR body type.

And to all my fellow Quad Queens, repeat after me: “thank goodness flair jeans are coming back in style.”

 

 

 

How to Be a Good Fitness Friend

 

Competition Week – What’s On My Plate? (aka: Why Sodium Matters)

This week is the week of my next Strongman competition. Saturday I’m competing in the Strongest Southern Belle. I feel pretty good about my training and I’m ready for the competition. However, competition week brings one thing that every strongman competitor dreads — the weigh in (queue dramatic music.)

 

 

I’m competing in the Lightweight Open class, which means I have to weigh at or under 123.4lbs. I’m pretty lucky that I weigh under 123lbs on any given day. But, I will take a few steps this week to make sure I hit my weight and that there’s no salt-induced surprises on weigh-in day. This week, I’ll watch my sodium intake.

Sodium, or salt, makes your body retain water, which can add up to some extra water weight on the scales. According to the American Heart Association, 98% of Americans eat twice the amount of sodium recommended for a healthy diet. I’m probably guilty of this. Sodium isn’t one of the main items I track in my daily food intake. But this week, I’ll make sure to watch it carefully.

 

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Too much salt leaves you feeling bloated.

 

I never understood how much of an effect sodium had on your body until I played around with it before one competition. And my (unscientific) findings — boy, does it affect your body! One week of reduced sodium and I feel tighter and less-bloated.

This week, I’ll adjust my normal eating habits to reflect a low-sodium diet. Here are a few things I’ll do to reduce my sodium this week:

Lunch Meat: Deli ham and turkey are crazy salty. I’ll skip these and instead use fresh, grilled chicken breasts (more details below) for my meat this week. Oh, and no bacon.

Salad Dressings: These little guys are sneaky salty. Just two Tbsp of salad dressing can pack up to 300mg of sodium (which is 15% of your daily quota.) I’ll steer clear of salad dressings or use low sodium options.

Salsa: I put it on my eggs every day, but jars of salsa are one of the highest sodium offenders. Instead I’ll chop up fresh tomatoes and add them to my eggs or use some of the homemade, no-salt-added salsa my awesome friend made for me this week (thanks, Emily!)

Hot Dogs: I occasionally like to eat some low calorie turkey dogs for dinner (and yes, I realize not many people over the age of 30 eat hot dogs for dinner) But I definitely won’t eat any hot dogs this week. These delicious guys are super high in sodium.

Anything Canned or Any Frozen Meals: On a busy morning, I’ll eat a Special K breakfast sandwich. Not this week. Any frozen meal is going to be packed with sodium. Same goes with canned soups. I’ll wait until next week before I eat either of those.

Nuts: I pack almonds or pistachios as snacks throughout my day. But these are salted and not on my list for this week.

Ketchup: Be careful here, guys. Ketchup, mustard and any sauces are notoriously high in sodium. I’ll skip sauces this week and save the ketchup for my post-competition hamburger.

Reduce my Diet Cokes: (I shed a little tear as I typed that.) Everyone has a vice. This is mine. But, this delicious nectar of the gods unfortunately contains 40mg of sodium. So, I’ll limit my Diet Coke and instead up my water intake.

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Again, I’m not cutting weight for this competition. There’s a totally different technique for that (and that’s a blog topic worthy of its own excruciating post.) This is just a way that I’ll make sure I don’t retain a lot of water and get a shock when I hop on the scales.

So, after reading the list above, you’re probably asking “what WILL you eat this week?” Well, here’s a list of what I’ll focus on eating this week:

Fresh Fruits: I love apples and cutie oranges. They’ll be on my list of go-to foods.

Oatmeal: I’ll eat it for breakfast, but I’ll cut out the brown sugar. Just add my almond milk and fresh berries.

Grilled Chicken Breast: I’ll grill it myself (or volunteer my husband to do it.) That way, there’s no added salt or marinades with high sodium. Use fresh herbs or lemons for flavoring, if you need something.

Peas: I like them. They’re yummy. Just be careful not to add salted butter. There’s sodium in that, too.

Eggs: You already know my house eats about 2-3 dozen eggs in any given week. This week will be no exception.

Potassium-Rich Foods: Foods that are high in potassium can help you get rid of excess water. They’re natural diuretics (foods that help decrease the level of fluid you have in your body.) So, I’ll make sure to add some of the following to my weekly mealsBananas, Sweet Potatoes, Asparagus, Pineapple, Grapes, Lettuce and Kiwi

 

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This week, I’ll focus on my diet. It’s part of my pre-game routine. I want to ensure that come Saturday, my body is running at peak performance level – not bogged down and bloated. And, important side note, I know I won’t see any crazy number on the scales at competition weigh-in.

So, if you see me this week pushing the salt shaker aside, give me a nod in solidarity. ‘Cause you know I’m getting ready for Saturday’s Strongman competition. And just know that for this week, THIS will be the only salt I’ll be partaking in.  (Go ahead and click it, you know you want to….) 🙂

 

You’ll Never Guess What I Saw at Target

 

Yesterday, I went to Target. And guess what greeted me at the door:

 

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Yep, those are bathing suits.

 

As much as this makes me kinda sick to my stomach, I also love this. I love this because I’m a planner. Really. (I seriously bought my husband’s Christmas present in June.) This brightly colored display of lycra was a great reminder that bathing suit weather is right around the corner. Actually, I have a counter on my phone that counts down the days until June 1st. It’s exactly 103 days until my booty is crammed into a two piece. So, if I want to make any changes in my body before then, I need to start now.

 

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You have to start early to be ready for summer.

 

You’ve heard the saying, “summer bodies are made in the winter.” So true. You can’t start working out in May and expect to see huge results by June.

It takes time to see changes in your body. Believe me – I wish I could workout for a week, turn down a few brownies and see results. But it does not happen like that.

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I think of working out as a 401K (remember I have a Finance background.) Humor me here – with a 401K, you just put a little money into your account every check then one day, you look at your balance and see all those steady, little, weekly deposits have added up to a big balance.

 
Same with weight loss. You make little changes every day, little workouts, day by day, week by week. Then one day, you look up and realize each workout and sacrifice added up to one ripped girl.

 
So, go ahead and tape a picture of a bathing suit to your fridge as motivation. Because in 103 days, you’re going to be up close and personal with that spandex.

 

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Picture of my countdown app. Summer is right around the corner!

 

Summer here we come!