Competitor Blog: Bread like things - a review

I am an amazingly lazy cook. I love eating but I hate cooking. I think it’s a chore from the devil. How can something so awful and labor intensive be required several times a day?! I wish that I enjoyed it but I just don’t.

I love sandwiches because I am busy person. I don’t want to have to slow down and bust out a full service of silverware at every meal. I also hate washing all those dishes. Unfortunately, sandwiches typically require bread and therefore carbs. Don’t try and tell me to wrap it in lettuce; those suggestions will get you punched. Recently I found these little foldy sandwich thin things, FoldIts. It’s made by FlatOut which has a couple things I have tried and been very happy with. I selected the Ancient Grains variety as it had the most protein, sitting at 10g per serving (3 fat and 17 carb). The bread is the right balance between fluffy and the good kind of chewy. It doesn’t taste grainy or like dirt. I think I like these better than typical sandwiches because they keep my hands even cleaner since there is a folded edge! I like these better than wraps because they give more bread like substance.

One of the other items I have tried is called Artisan Pizza Crust by FlatOut. It’s an incredibly thin crust that cooks remarkably fast. I have made BBQ chicken pizza and buffalo pizza on these. It takes less than 10 minutes to get a meal completed. I think I spend more time weighing my ingredients than baking the pizza. The rosemary and olive oil one is my favorite and has 6g protein, 25g carbs, and 1g of fat. This is similar carbs to a slice of bread but it has a much larger surface area and you can really spread your protein toppings out over the top. Since this is so thin the crust does tend to get a little floppy but the edges will crisp up nicely.

The thing about IIFYM that I love is the flexibility to still eat things that I want to eat. Any diet out there that forbids certain things is sure to set you up for failure. Does this mean I get to eat whatever I want whenever? No. But it leaves me the choice to make the decision (and sometimes sacrifices) for things that I really want to eat. What tricks have you figured out to get the things you enjoy back onto your plate?

Competitor Blog: Practice Posture

When I first starting posing I would get scolded for looking down. Sand, my posing coach, would ask me what I was looking for on the ground. When you walk on stage you want to have your head up and look the judges right in the eye with a look that says “this is my stage and I am the best thing on it”. You can’t do that with a rounded shoulders and eyes averted.

Over time, I think a lot of women learn this unconscious habit of casting their eyes downwards and slumping forward. It’s as simple as avoiding dealing with other human beings or appearing “too inviting”. If you don’t make eye contact you don’t give another person a chance to try to grab your attention and interact with you. Slumped over you try to make yourself look less noticeable and unassuming. A lot of people will accuse you of “sticking your boobs out” simply from having your shoulders back. If you have ever had to fend off a person’s unwanted and over-zealous attempts at wooing, you totally understand. If you have yet to experience this yet in life, I envy you. 

I also would be scolded for walking like a lumberjack. I can’t help it! I have places to go and no time for a sassy little sashay. But when you step on the stage that is EXACTLY what they want. You can’t stomp out to your spot on the stage, rigidly do your turns and stomp off. Well, you can but it won’t place you very well.

I practice my “girl walk” up and down the straight stretch of hall at my work. It’s relatively low traveled and it’s nice and long. Here I practice how the “girl walk” feels and try very hard not to overthink it. It’s a gentle sway, almost drop of the hip. It is a weird thing to try and explain and I imagine everyone feels it a little different. Once you start focusing too hard on the walk you will lose it.

So I started to make the effort to improve my posture and exude self confidence. Throughout the day I try to correct my posture. I do stretches to help loosen up the front muscles that have been shortened from years of crap posture. I do exercises to fire the back muscles that help pull the shoulders back. When I walk down the street I send mental feelers out to my body; are my shoulders back and posture decent? Do I have my head up? When I am at the gym walking through the floor I give myself a little pep talk “Are they looking at you? Damn right they are looking at you! You own this place. You are the winner of this day and you keep that tiara up high!” It sounds ridiculous but it does really help get you in the brain space you want to be in when you step on stage.

By working in these little bits into my day I am practicing portions of my posing. It is important that you practice posing until it is automatic. That way if your brain tries to freeze come show time your muscle memory will show you the way. If you are not practicing for a show practice for life. Fix that posture!

TransActive Fitness:Less Can Be More

He hands me the dumbbells and tells me to do overhead presses. I aim to please. 

Halfway through...I just can’t. I am surprised, and I think he is too. They aren’t THAT heavy, and definitely nothing compared to the burly guys around me grunting and groaning and straining. 

Here let’s give you less weight then…(me, mortified and grateful)

So he does, I am able to bust out the set, and I am also silently judging myself.

I get through this workout...I work really hard, and I feel awkward that I am just not pushing the weight I think I can, no matter how much I focus my mind and muscles.

I come home and ponder. Is it my diet? Is it because I have been gone for a month travelling? Am i getting old? Is it because I had strep throat the week before?

The next day I wake up and my arms are wrecked, in a good way. I message Mike and tell him so, and he reminds me, “If the muscle engagement is on point the low weight can be a tool to help you contract the muscle. It's not always necessary to get as much weight up as possible. Like in life, it's all about how you engage with it.”

That helps me adjust my perspective about what I accomplish and what I struggle with…”it's all about how I engage with it.” 

I give myself permission to listen to where my body is at without judgement, to advocate for it when it tells me less weight means more precise form, and to have compassion for it when it is vulnerable. 

Now I can't wait to see what kind of conversation I get to have with my body next session.

TransActive Fitness: The Sweet Spot

My body aches for days after our workout.

I am not injured, I am not unhappy, I am just sore.

There is a good kind of a sore when your head's in the game, when you have have a trainer that pushes you past your perceived limits but not past your limits of personal safety.

This is the sweet spot.

Sometimes I judge myself at the point of “failure” when I physically cannot finish the set I am doing. Sometimes I lament outloud. Mike is always good at reminding me that when I cannot finish the last couple it is because we have found the sweet spot, the right point, and if I could finish then we hadn’t yet found it.

Working with a personal trainer serves so many purposes. To help us authentically stay within our sweet spot, to help us avoid getting injured, and to put our successes and perceived failures in context. There is a physical sweet spot, and also an emotional and mental sweet spot.

As a trans person there are ways I limit myself all the time with my thought processes, and also ways perhaps I set a higher bar that is not realistic for me to reach. All of these things could keep me from moving forward. Having someone external who believes in me, and can work with me to find my sweet spot in every session impacts not only my workouts, but also my way of thinking about myself in the world.

Thanks Mike.

Competitor Blog: Finding Satisfaction

I was designed to eat. When people say “Oh, I forgot to eat!” I am immediately appalled. My whole life can be summed up by moments of being awake counting down the moments until I get to eat or sleep. I am essentially a sloth trapped in a human’s body!

This can make cutting macros a bit of a challenge. There are many times I find that I still desire to eat more. Please note that I am usually no longer “hungry” or feeling hunger. I just enjoy the eating process; chewing, tasting, and feeling the warm hug of carbs in my belly. Since eating my weight in food is not an option I have picked up a few tricks to help tide me over. 

Water never does the whole “fill up the space and feel full” trick. I like my water icey cold and I will drink a lot of it but all it does is make me and my belly cold. It is flavorless and does little to appease my demanding taste buds. Coffee however fills me up quite nicely. It’s warm and I can get it flavored without extra calories/macros. If I am feeling really generous I can doctor it up with some sugar free creamer (tracked of course) or some sugar free flavored syrup. The flavored syrup is my new thing for home. A little can really go a long way! I use ½ a tablespoon and it is plenty. Coffee works better than tea for the full feeling. I am not sure why but I try not to look a gift horse too hard in the mouth. I did not drink coffee before but now that I have started it is a nice routine. I even have decaf because sometimes I feel the need to “snack” at night time and this can help if I am feeling desperate. 

Keep busy. It is easier to do physical busy activities on the weekend. Often you won’t notice that you are feeling a little hungry if you are up trying to get a chore done. Even if you do think “hmmm I could eat” you are usually so into your project you can put it off until the next appropriate food time. The important thing is to make sure you stop and eat at regular intervals. Otherwise, you may find yourself ravenous and falling headlong into poor food choices.

I am a soda drinker. I like the fizzy bubbles and the sweetness. Try making your own Italian soda’s. Using the sugar free syrup and club soda I can make myself a sparkly beverage to help cut the sweet tooth. It’s different from the La Croix flavored waters which are OK but a little bland. It really can help shake up the monotony of water and it feels like you are having a treat.

So tell me, do you have any tricks that you use to help pacify your consumption cravings?

Competitor Blog: And then I got mad - living with a chronic condition

If you have been following me for a while you may have picked up on the fact that, sometimes, I am a train wreck. I struggle with migraines, tension headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) all of which likes to manifest with a whole lot of nausea. I have a list of triggers that I know and some that I am still figuring out. Sometimes I go days or weeks without any issues. Other times it seems like it feels like a competition inside my own body on what is going to break me first. Migraines and IBS flairs both tend to land me in the recliner strategically positioned as to not anger the beast that is within me.

For me, carb heavy things are comforting during a flair up and with nausea. This gets difficult sometimes when trying to keep track of macros. I am very fortunate as to have a fair amount of carbs but not so many as to eat mashed potatoes at every meal.

Sometimes, I get mad and defiant at my own stomach. If I am going to be painful and nauseous anyways why does it even matter what I eat? This is typically when I fall headlong into a crap food bender. I think part of the reason is because I am trying to find some small semblance of comfort, even if it’s emotional comfort or the brain chemical dump of eating sugar and shit.

I have done better this go around, so far, with my emotional eating. But it has happened. I always feel a little guilty after I am done. But honestly who suffers from these decisions? My spouse and family may suffer the backlash of my flair up (we only have one bathroom). Mike may suffer from the frustration of not getting anticipated results. But the person who is paying the real price is me. I am penalizing myself for having ailments that cannot be controlled and throwing a tantrum because of it. I *really* like to control the things in my life. I am putting a long term goal and objective in jeopardy so I can shove easy gratification in my face.

So what am I going to do about it? I am going to acknowledge that I have some unhealthy coping mechanisms like emotional and sometimes binge eating. I am going to try to be more aware of these tendencies. I am going to forgive myself for screwing up. I am going to try to do my best to stick within my macros when I don’t feel well but I am not going to make myself sick(er) over it. I won’t make excuses for eating like crap. Follow people who I find inspirational on IG. People who have a tougher hand dealt to them by life and handle it with way more grace than myself.

It isn’t an exhaustive list but it is a start. I am still going to have to deal with the demons in my brain and belly. I just need to make sure I don’t give them any more fuel.

Competitor Blog: 1. 2. 3. GO!

When you first start your workout journey you have the excitement of something new and novel. You are going to go and you are gonna kill it, you are going to feel energized, you are going to have the clean body lines of a Lamborghini and it’s gonna be great! Unfortunately, the day dreams and the novelty wear off pretty quickly. What do you mean I have to go every day (or damn near close)? Quickly, many become frustrated when they look in the mirror and don’t see changes after day one (I did the thing! Where is my reward).

The exercise journey really is a journey and a mental marathon. So how does one find the motivation to get it frequently? Here are some things that I have found that help me:

  • Put money down on your goal. For me I am a bikini competitor. I find a show I want to do and I sign up for it or put a deposit down on a suit. I could absolutely not do what I signed up for but then I am losing money.
Another reason I can't work out at home
  • Tour the gyms and sign up for one. It’s similar to putting down money for your goal. I recommend finding one that is close to your house or work. Find one that you can easily hit when you are commuting so you can incorporate it into the already existing daily routine. For me the gym holds some motivation because I go there specifically to work out. When I am trying to workout at home I can be easily distracted by what else I need to do or I just lay on the floor because no one is going to judge me for that at home. 
  • Set yourself up for success. Every night pack your gym bag and leave it right in the way. Or if you gym in the morning put your gym clothes right next to your bed. You want to limit the chance for finding excuses. 
  • Be honest with yourself. I can come up with 100 very convincing sounding reasons why I can’t work out. These are excuses. I am not saying every day will be at the gym or be the most bad ass workout ever. Sometimes your workout will be short and lack luster. But honestly you can get SOMETHING in almost anywhere. 
  • Be creative. Some days you aren’t going to make it into the gym but you can certainly knock out something at home. Spend some time this weekend researching the web for free resource videos (Mike’s site, the very one you are reading this blog on, has some). Then write yourself a few home workout plans.
  • Invest in a few home items. Various resistance bands are a great place to start and fairly inexpensive. Keep an eye out at Ross and TJ Maxx for items you might use. I got an awesome 36” foam roller for $14 there! If you are looking to pick up weight keep an eye on Craigslist and OfferUp. Occasionally peruse Amazon. 

  • Believe you can do it. Because you can even when don’t want to. 

It is going to be work. You are still going to have to make the effort to do it. It will take time. But it IS worth it. Some days will good and some bad. Do it anyways. Invest in yourself, you ARE worth it.

Competitor Blog: The Feedings - How I plan for food success at events

There are a lot of people who start the fitness journey and say “I am going to be bikini ready! Gym won’t know what hit it! Abs are mine by summer!”. They go to the gym and a lot of people really do try hard while they are there. But what is a million times more difficult than making yourself go to the gym every day and lift things up and down or get that dreaded cardio in, is food.

Food has ingrained itself into just about every nook and cranny of our social structure. Birthday parties, anniversaries, baby showers, meetings, reuniting friendships, just general snacks hanging around the office. Food. Is. EVERYWHERE! And people get weird about other people not eating the food. I still enjoy participating in celebrations and catching up with friends. It just takes a bit more planning now on my part.

Here are some tips that help me survive events.

  • Eat a nice full meal before you go. Not some tiny little snack, a bit of lunch meat, saying it will hold you over. It won’t. Leave your place feeling full and satisfied. 
  • Pack yourself snacks in the car. My go to is cottage cheese. It’s relatively low in fat and has a decent amount of protein and can be scarfed pretty quickly. Jerky is another compact snack which is even easier to pack. 
  • Carry around a drink. I usually will grab a water or iced tea to have around with me. Other people are uncomfortable with the concept of you not eating. I don’t know why but this is a thing. When they see a beverage in hand they are able to relax that you are partaking with them. They don’t have to know what is in the cup. 
  • If the event is going to be particularly long, pack a lunch too. This is less likely to help you seamlessly blend into a group but it will ensure you stay on task. Make up any story you like. I stick with the truth: I am an athlete and I am training for an upcoming competition. If they want to know more they will ask.

You will get razzed from time to time but most of the people who do this are trying to be funny and lighten the mood. They do not understand the sacrifice and dedication it takes not to fall headfirst into the fruit tray (which are tons of carbs and you know you shouldn’t “eyeball” the weight). You absolutely can have your social time AND stick to your meal goals. It just takes some strong will and dedication.

Competitor Blog: What if I don't eat on schedule?

I am an eater. I love to eat. All the food all the time is my preference. But sometimes I make really terrible and stupid decisions. Not just about what I eat (because chicken nuggets doused in sauce ARE life). But also about the frequency in which I eat.

My body requires a fairly steady state of consuming fuel. The work week for me is easy-peasy; breakfast at 7:00, snack at 10:15, protein shake after the gym 12:30ish, lunch after that 1:00, snack at about 3:30 and then dinner about 6:00. I have the blessing of food prep assistance from my husband during the week. But once the weekends come I am usually more on my own. I don’t have lunch prepped out for me and sometimes I am in charge of the meals. I hate being in charge of the meals but it’s fair, I digress. On the weekend I can get SUPER lazy. I don’t want to fiddle with snacks because I am bored of them, nevermind shakes. I am not that creative or good of a cook. So I find myself slipping into not eating on a schedule like I should.

I happened to do this recently where I ate within my macros but definitely not how I should be eating. I should be eating with mindfulness, thoroughness, and consistency. Instead I was hoovering in a half a chicken breast off a fork while trying to gather myself to leave the house. I left the house with no snacks and vowed it would be fine.

Decidedly it would be less than fine. My day stretched on and I was getting hungrier and hungrier. I managed to refrain from eating the smorgasbord of snacks and delicious treats that were strewn about the event I was attending. I carefully checked the nutrients and made sure I could fit the impulse buy of food that I picked up from the store on my way home. I consumed my newly acquired snack with scary speed which helped to dull the pain in my stomach. Once I got home I quickly made dinner and finally sat down to eat.

I did not feel well. Even after I ate I did not feel well. I felt shaky and ran down. My stomach hurt. I had a headache. My body was aching and I could NOT get warm. It felt as if I had a virus all because I didn’t eat with the frequency that I should have. I know my body. I should have known it would react poorly to such little food with such haphazard consistency. I have a stomach condition which complicates things. I get blood sugar dips that make me sick. I get headaches from lack of food (or just breathing sometimes it seems). I know better.

This was a kick in the pants to pay attention. Food is fuel for your body. If you don’t fuel your body well it’s going to make you pay the price. I vow to do a better job of planning my weekends. I can still be a lazy slug but even slugs are eating.

Ab Roller Progression

This is a pretty grueling exercise, but Harley was killing it. This is the third set of these I made him do. These are super challenging because of the directional change. Check these out if you're looking for a new core exercise!

Taylor Dead Bug Kettlebell Variation

Taylor and I always have fun in the gym together, and this video is a good example. We've been working her core a lot lately. This is one of her favorite new ways we've used recently. I borrowed this one from Tony Gentilcore.

Competitor Blog: Changing Protein

My favorite thing to hear at the doctor’s is the phrase “as we age”. Thanks jerk face for yet another reminder that I am getting older. The ever increasing collection of white hair that rivals a unicorn wasn’t enough or the fact that I feel 9:00 pm is going to bed late. But lately I experienced one of these conversations when I went to the doctor for my skin that was breaking out like a pubescent teenager. It seems, as we age, our hormones change and that could be the cause of my breakouts. The doctor prescribed some medicine which is supposed to help (and keep me from clawing my skin off my face) and also recommended that I switch from whey protein to a vegetable based protein. Of course because I just opened a brand new bag of whey protein open.

So I journeyed down to the supplement store to see if I could discover a vegetable protein that was: 
  • High in protein without requiring a million servings 
  • Didn’t taste like crusty tree bark 
  • Wouldn’t cost me my first born
Now as you can imagine the vegetable protein section of the supplement store is fairly small but there was about 7 or so different types of protein there. I chose to select mine based off protein amount, then fat amount, then carb amount. I wanted to get the most protein for my buck. I selected the Vega Sport in chocolate. One full scoop supplies you with 30 g of protein. 

So off I went, new protein in hand and a heart full of hope. I really didn’t know what to expect. The guy at the store had a sample of another brand and it didn’t leave me with a longing for more. But this is protein powder. I don’t think I will ever be sitting at home and think “Dang! You know what I could use? A refreshing protein shake.”

Here is my experience with it thus far. Do not let it sit around, you will regret it. I mixed up a shake and then my youngest wanted some snuggles before bed. I had drank about half of it and left it for maybe 10 minutes. When I came back and gave it a shake it felt weird but my brain was like “nah, girl you are good”. So I take a big ol’ swing. Mother of God! My “drink” has turned into a thick gelatinous mass. I choked it down because, well, it’s weighed and in my food tracker so I have to. But every time I have to try I gag and die a little inside.

Even though I bought it reading the 30 g of protein I usually only do half a scoop, which is also listed on the label. I feel like the listing of the 30g was a sneaky way to get suckers like me looking for a high protein point reeled in. This is 9 under my previous whey protein and leaves my a little more prone to needing a second protein shake. Which for weird reasons I never want to do.

The flavor is chocolate-esque. In my opinion it is a little sickly sweet. I imagine that is because they use stevia to sweeten it. I HATE stevia in most things but I digress. I usually will drink my protein with my fiber supplement. Believe it or not I like this protein way better with the fiber then I did my other shake. The fiber supplement mellows out the over sweet and the texture seems to improve.

My husband has remarked how big of a mess I seem to be making with this new powder. Be warned: vegetable based protein powder likes to go EVERYWHERE. It seems to clump in the scoop and even cling to a spoon. So you end up trying to dislodge a significant portion of the powder from the scoop and subsequently flinging it. Or not realizing there is more in the scoop that decides it will dislodge midway between shaker cup and container. It isn’t just this brand either. I purchased another brand without flavor to try baking with and it does the same thing.

All in all I will survive with my vegetable protein. I have figured out some tricks like: 
  • Use more water than I am used to 
  • Always drink it with my fiber 
  • Drink it quick, this isn’t a shake for savoring 
I hope my trials and tribulations in the protein kingdom has helped you should you decide you need to branch out to a different supplement type.