Thursday, August 21, 2014

Not in it to win it

The first show(s) that I did, my goal was to get up on stage and say I completed a figure competition. Once I accomplished that, I decided my next aspiration was to actually enjoy the process. Since I started this competition prep almond 9 weeks ago, I have worked hard not only on my transformation, but also on my mentality toward the challenge. Last time, being the first time, I was nervous about every part of the competition prep and the day of show which didn't allow me to appreciate the changes I was able to accomplish along the way. This time I know the small bouts of suffering lead to awesome outcomes.

That is why I am not in the competition to try and win it. First of all, it is a PRO qualifier in Boston. There will be dozens of girls that I will be competing against who do this all the time. Second, I keep reminding myself I want to enjoy (obviously not completely possible, especially toward the last few weeks) this prep so that I may want to do shows again. Lastly, this is still only my 3rd show, ever. My main goal is to beat my previous self. I wanted to take what I learned from the first show and apply my new theories and techniques to this show. I have no fears about being on stage and already feel a bit stronger in my posing (although I really need to be practicing more). I had a lady show me some new poses and I really am looking forward to strutting my stuff :) Last show I looked rigid, this time I will be more comfortable on stage. I gave myself way more flexibility in the diet this time around, and I think it worked better for me. I wasn't so rigid in getting every single piece of my daily diet plan into each and every meal. If i didn't have a meal prepped, I'd head to the grocery store and try to recreate what I was supposed to have or even go to a restaurant and have them make something similar to what I was supposed to be eating for that meal. I had extra bites of food. I'd snack on fruit. Thus far, I have not felt deprived and am still really enjoying the diet. My workouts have been enjoyable. It helps that my brother and other family members are close enough now that I can workout with them and they can keep me motivated. Also, there have been days that I was to physically tired to move a single weight, so I'd take a day off. I have not felt like exercise has been a burden or a punishment this whole prep, and I've even been doing as much as 2 hours of cardio a day!

So, whats happened the last few weeks? I have been lucky enough that my grandmother has a spare bedroom I can shove most of my essential day to day belongings into, even if I have consumed the entire room, she has not complained yet! All of my cooking has been getting completed between my grandmothers and my cousins. I basically cook chicken every other day. Its a good thing I've been splitting my grocery shopping up between several different grocery stores, otherwise people may think i'm hoarding chicken. I went to planet fitness......once. I ate chocolate, several times. I ate at restaurants. I exercised more than I was scheduled to some days and skipped workouts other days. I restrained myself when food temptations were there and I consumed extra calories when I thought my body needed them. I'm using this prep as a learning experience, trial and error, experimenting with different theories. One of those theories is to eliminate the creatine supplement 4-6 weeks prior to show and then load it again the week before show. I stopped taking creatine last week and haven't noticed that much of a difference in my strength. I was worried about losing too much size last show, but this time know that I need to do whatever I can, try whatever techniques, to eliminate as much body fat and get the cuts rather than worry about keeping the size. I haven't lost any size yet, but feel like my arms have become more defined. Could be from the diet or could be from no more creatine, either way something worked!

Next, starting today is when things might become not so pleasant and a bit more difficult. I am starting a small version of a carb cycle. Not as intense as the one I did last prep, I've learned so much about my body and how I respond to diet changes in the last year that I feel pretty confident in the plan I have developed for this carb cycle. The calories will be around 1300 and I will do Sunday, Monday, Tuesday around 60 carbs and Wednesday, Saturday around 90 carbs. I have switched from lifting heavier weight sets of split body to lighter weights full body/plyometrics and added in a whole butt load more of cardio. I don't feel like i've overtrained at all so far, as I had done in the first show. No more "cheats" or "refeeds". This is where everything really counts and really matters, so I'm willing to give in 3 1/2 weeks of straight focus. I have explained to family that I will be a little distant the next few weeks, and its not that I'm upset or disgusted with any of them, its just my technique to stay focused. I become hermit like, and for 3 1/2 weeks I don't feel like that will be a super challenge as long as people are open and understanding to what I'm doing. Don't expect me to have much energy for anything other than work, working out and cooking/eating my meals. I will be resting a lot, won't be taking many outings and will be mentally consumed with getting ready for the stage. I also have in the back of my mind how I want to "recover" from this show. Last time I had this extravagant plan on how I would slowly reintroduce more calories and carbs each week and slowly lower the amount of exercise I did daily. Well that didn't work! Go figure. I had lived so long on a restricted lifestyle, that without the fear of stepping on stage anytime soon, I lost my motivation and my willpower. This time, I notice I feel so much better on prep that I don't want to go back to the drag of processed foods. I learned that the hard way after last show. I will stick to clean eating, but will eat what I'd like in a moderate portion when it is time for a meal. I have a very flexible and varied meal plan that I have developed so I can have options for each meal. I will incorporate this into a maintainable lifestyle and hope to empower others to make the same changes!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Making my mind matter

Its been a few weeks since I've last updated. A couple things have happened.

1. Tough Mudder:
The running part was a lot easier, the obstacles were a bit more of a struggle. Last year I went into "beast mode" and killed the race. I was completely wrecked from it, but felt like I made the race my b*tch. This year, having been in competition prep for a few weeks prior which meant I wasn't able to fuel up as much as I did last year, I didn't actually achieve "beast mode" but still felt accomplished. I did spend the day and a half prior to race day consuming a few more carbs and calories in order to survive the race. Race day I ate what I felt would give me the most energy and avoid the most cramps. I think I achieved a good balance in that aspect.

2. Partial move to Vermont:
I started my new job at On Track in Burlington a week ago yesterday. It is an awesome gym in Burlington with lots of fun new toys to start working into my routine! I spent 8 hours last Wednesday driving to Vermont. It was mentally draining and emotionally taxing. Mentally, because of all of the competition prep I need to be focused on (food eating/prep and workouts) and trying to establish a new clientele and business in another new location. Emotionally because of all the ties I have developed in Brockport that I will soon be leaving. Its going to be difficult to detach. Also, we have not found a place to live in Vermont yet so I spent the past week mostly living out of my car. I've done it before, I can do it again, but it doesn't make it any more fun the more you do it.

3. More time in the car:
Last weekend I took my brother and husband from Vermont to Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks for a obstacle course race up the mountain. We meet my dad there, and all three of them participated in this 3.5 mile muddy race up and down the slopes. It was fun to watch, but being that I had done the tough mudder the weekend before, and had a few cuts and bruises that I was healing, I didn't think another race a week later was a good idea, so I sat it out and took pictures. Its always a highlight for me to do those kinds of adventure races and fitness challenges with family, so I was happy to be there. However, another 5 hours in the car that day just about did me in.

I started my second attempt at this 12 week journey with high hopes and spirits. This was the layout of my plan:

- Do a re-feed the day of Tough Mudder to allow for proper fuel to get through the race.

- Add fruit back in. I took it out last prep because it was what the "PRO's" usually do. But I met a girl at on of my shows who ate fruit during her whole prep. She won. Fruit was back.

- Have one or two higher calorie (1600 instead of 1400/1300/1200) days per week or every other week

I almost lost it. Several times. Prior to starting this prep, I told myself I wanted to have more of a positive mind set through the whole thing. I told everyone that I would attempt it again, but if I started losing my mind I would step down. I started strong, my mind was sharp and focused. Over the last 5 weeks, pieces of it started falling apart. This is what has truly happened:

- I over shot my re-feed for Tough Mudder by several hundred calories. I even ate ice cream. Twice.

- Fruit has literally been my savior. Many times. I have it put in my meal plans but when I was hungry and starting to wear away, I turned to fruit. I have had plenty of extra servings of berries and watermelon.

- I think the first 4 weeks I was actually more at about 1600 calories MOST days instead of a few days.

I've also had bites of things. Last prep that was off limits. No extra anything, no added servings. This time, I've had small bites of someone's meal. I've added more or different veggies to certain meals. I've gone to restaurants for meals. I even put skim milk in my coffee sometimes. And since I'm being honest; I've had an evening of decadence in chocolate, when I reached my lowest point. However, even with all of these detours, this prep has been going better physically than it did last time. Now, I did start at a lower body fat this time than I was when I started last time, which does help, but I've noticed more change in the past 3 weeks than I had in the first 7 weeks of the last prep. I have maintained a consistent definition progression most noticeable in my arms but also my abs are completely flat again already and my legs are smaller (which I was going for).

How can I argue with that?

The most noticeable change has been my weight. I started a week earlier for my last prep. I've been checking my notes and determined that after 8 weeks of prep last time I got down from 145# to 137.1#. I've been in this prep for just under 5 weeks and I've gone from 150# to 136.9#. BOOM. Last time I wasn't as concerned with the weight going down, but after looking at the pictures of me at competition, I knew I needed to slim down quite a bit more this time around.

Why I think this prep has been more successful:

-Instead of so many steady state cardio workouts I have done 2 days of sprints. I do 1 minute jog at 5.5 mph and then sprint for 30 seconds at 10 mph. Repeat for 20-30 minutes. Works like magic. The steady state cardio that I do is now basically all fasting. I'll wake up first thing in the morning, have a cup of coffee, through some BCAA in my water and do 45 minutes about twice a week. That's it for cardio. I was over training for too much of my last prep and I wanted to avoid that this time around.

- Last time I was afraid of losing too much muscle. Again, after seeing pictures from competition, I knew I had a lot more to slim down and didn't have to worry about losing muscle because I had so much of it. So instead of sticking to heavy weights all the time with minute rests, I'm doing a lot more circuit training with active rest periods, giant sets, and a little bit more volume. Last time I had every workout scheduled ahead of time. What exercise with what weight/sets/reps preplanned to a T. This time I have what muscle group or cardio I am doing each day and then depending on my mood and energy I just throw a workout together on the spot. I am much better at being successful this way.

-Added fruit back in. Again, has been a savior in replacing the sugar cravings.

- My mind has been occupied with other subjects outside of diet and exercise. Even though the move and all is a mental stressor, it is also a distraction from thinking about food all day.

So through all of this, I have decided that I want this prep to be as much a mental transformation as it is a physical one. I've said it before, and I truly do feel this way, I do enjoy this lifestyle. I want to learn how to be more present in each moment instead of getting anxious about all of the processes I have to go through in each section of each day of the week. I am the type of person, and it seems to get worse when I am in competition prep, that I will be processing in my head what I need to do to successfully accomplish something 12 steps ahead of what I am doing at the exact moment and end up tripping on what I am doing in the next 2 steps which sets me back even more. I'm always afraid to miss something or forget something that I might need later. I just need to get over it and enjoy each step, good or bad, that each day has to offer. I push my body to the limits, but I want my mind to agree and be happy with what I put myself through, otherwise it is just a drag. I know competition prep is a challenge, and you can't be successful without a significant amount of sacrifice, but it took me almost 2 months to recover from the last show, I don't want to repeat that again. I want to live this competition prep in a way that allows me to return to a more stable lifestyle more effectively and I know that it will be 90% how I mentally handle the next 7 weeks. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ten days down

Ten days back on competition prep and I feel like I never left. In a good way. I am remembering and realizing how much better it feels to have meals scheduled throughout the day, pre-planned and pre-measured amounts of food used to fuel the body for the tasks assigned for the day. I have given myself a lot more freedom with my diet and it is actually working better for me. I'm not as strict with getting the exact right source of protein or vegetables and if I have an extra serving of fruit or veggies, I'm not punishing myself. AND, as I just mentioned, we added fruit back in for this round of dieting. I have done more research and fruit doesn't need to be eliminated, just used appropriately, and it is making a huge difference in my mental state. Fruit is sweet, so it feels like a treat and that is something I like to have every day. I don't feel deprived at all, I feel empowered. I know the struggles I faced last time and I am changing my mindset on how I am approaching them. That's all it comes down to, how you mentally prepare yourself and how you choose to look at the challenges. I know that each challenge I faced last time, resulted in this amazing, unbelievable physique and it is what keeps me motivated. I did it before, I can do it again, and I will do it again, better.

My approach the last 10 days:
1) Like I said prior, variation in diet. As long as my weight doesn't go up, I'm not going crazy on whether or not I have fish instead of chicken, or broccoli in stead of spaghetti squash.
2) My workouts are total opposite to what I was doing before. Last time I was concerned about losing muscle so I kept my weights heavy and rest periods the normal minute between. This time I am keeping the intensity high during each lifting workout, with active rest periods and lots of plyometrics in between. I'm not doing so much steady state cardio, 2-3x a week for about 40 minutes, but am definitely incorporating a lot more sprints. I need to trim down my legs a lot more and sprints seems to be the most efficient and suggested way of accomplishing that. And I really like the sprints, 20-25 minutes and your done.
3) I'm not as stressed about getting each of my meals in at the exact right time. If I'm 20 minutes early or a half hour late, not a huge deal. I need to keep this a maintainable lifestyle and allowing room for flexibility seems to be key.
4) Similar to #3, I am not getting anxious about hitting my workouts at the times I think I need to (based around my food intake and work schedule). When I get them done, that when they get done. Can't predict everything and need to keep the flexibility.

Goals:
1) Maintain this mentality
2) Successfully move and obtain a new position as a personal trainer in Vermont while maintaining my diet and workout regime.
3) Continue to kick butt in my workouts

I'm still not doing any measurements, just keeping track of my weight for fun. I can feel a difference and that is enough of a change for me to stay motivated, the numbers have no value in my life.

Friday, June 20, 2014

12 weeks out

The last 2 weeks I have been on a "moderate prep".  I wanted to ease myself into the strict diet so that I do not burn out halfway through. Since I started last Monday, I am down 7 pounds. Sounds like a lot, but it is basically all "water weight" since I spent the few weeks prior to that "bulking". In just a short 2 weeks I have seen a significant difference in my definition already and it is getting me very excited for what I might be able to achieve this time around.

I have decided that I will weigh myself once a week, just to keep track, but will not look to deeply into the numbers. I realized, from last time, that the weight will come off. Progress will happen, however little it does, and will result in a great change. I don't plan on taking body fat measurements because there are too many variables that can alter those numbers. I'm not even sure I will be taking progress pictures. I know that last time that was the only thing that kept me motivated, but I think this time it might make me more nervous. I want to make this more of a lifestyle then a 12 week challenge so to keep measuring changes might make me anxious, especially if they don't happen like I hope. Last time I FELT the changes and that in itself is one of the best motivators. I know that when I work hard it will pay off and that eating the way I need to will make me FEEL so much better. That for me is going to keep me focused, how well I felt with the foods we were eating.

I also hope that because I will be in the process of moving back home to Vermont and finding new work that I will be kept busy enough that I won't even notice hunger. I'm pretty sure that most of my problem the last time was that because it was winter, and I had no outside of the gym obligations, that I was always thinking about food and sitting around waiting until my next meal. Summer time there are more things to do outside, my workouts can go outside, and I will again be keeping busy with the move. Being around my family is always a motivator because I love to help them promote healthy choices and lifestyle and for me the best way to do that is to be a good role model. I also see the move equally as a challenge. I will have to make sure I stay on top of food prep, to make sure all of my food is ready when I need it. Or I will have to recruit family members to do some cooking and preparing for me.  

I have a slightly different approach to my plan for this prep. I know from last time what changes I need to make. Workouts will be more fat burning based instead of muscle maintenance and diet will be a little more lax since I am starting leaner for this prep than I did for the last one. I'm excited to start prep again. As difficult as it was, there was something rejuvenating about it. Digging down as deep as you could to pull out your inner warrior and test it in a battle against yourself.

I'm lucky enough that one of the ladies that did the show with me last time is up for another challenge. It will be difficult though because for the second half of prep we will be living 350 miles apart. If anyone else is interested in joining me for this experience, I would love to have someone in Vermont to keep me accountable!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

I'm Back!!!!

Its been about 6 weeks since I've updated my status so there's a few things to catch up on.

I've been in my "off season" since I finished the second show in April. This essentially means I've been working on gaining muscle, which obviously results in weight gain. Most people give themselves a restriction on how much weight they can gain on the off season..... I did not. I know myself well enough now that my body likes to maintain a certain weight, usually with no extensive effort on my part. I stuck with mostly healthy foods, but definitely got my share of other types of foods as well. What I've determined from reintroducing "off limit" foods back into my diet is that I either made myself very sensitive to certain foods, or I was sensitive to these foods before and was just used to the symptoms they gave me because I dealt with them daily. Although I missed eating my "prep" type foods and meals, I wanted to give myself a break from meal preparation and having such a strict eating schedule. I came off basically all of the supplements I was taking during prep like CLA and L-carnatine, but still am taking creatine and using protein powder.

The last 8 weeks I've been arguing with myself the pros and cons of doing competitions. I know I want to do another show, but am I willing to commit that much time and effort again. It was completely mentally, emotionally, and physically draining, but there was something invigorating about testing your limits to that extreme. The results were pretty cool too. I think that because the previous shows were my first attempt ever, I didn't have a coach to help me with anything, and I was also coaching the other ladies it was too much for me to actually enjoy the experience.

Also, I just found out a few days ago that my husband and I will be moving....again, however this time it is to a place I know I will enjoy. I'M MOVING HOME! That's right, we're headed back to Vermont!!! It is a bittersweet move though. Over the last 2 years I have made some wonderful friends and have had the most amazing job ever so it will definitely be difficult to leave.

So, with all that being said, I am aiming for my next show to be September 13th in Lexington MA (just north of Boston). This means that prep started Monday. I have reevaluated and redeveloped my competition prep program to allow more variation in food types, less heavy weight lifting and more plyometrics/cardio, and made sure I have a positive outlook on this experience by putting less pressure on myself. I've definitely picked a challenging time to partake in a competition prep with a long distance move, trying to find a new place of employment, and all the social gatherings of summer but I am up for the challenge and request the support of all those I see in the next 14 weeks.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Life on the other side

It is now just over 2 weeks since I finished my second ever figure competition. Life is slowly returning to normal.

The first 3 or so days after my second competition I felt as if I were a 4 year old child rolling carelessly down a sunny grassy hill. It started out as good fun, then would end in sickness. I reintroduced so many "off limits" foods that I was not used to and I ended up feeling like vomit by the end of each day. I kept trying to start my days off well, and they did end up being fairly decent, it was just that my body not used to all the different foods. A lot of it had to do with my mental state. For 14 weeks, I had not been able to eat simple foods like cereal, sandwiches, fruit, dairy or eat the foods I felt like eating when I felt like eating them. I hardly even wanted a lot of the foods I was eating, but because they were off limits for so long I felt that I had to reintroduce them and remind myself of why I wanted them. It ended up being that I didn't have the same palate for certain foods and they didn't taste as wonderful as I had remembered or they didn't have the same satisfaction as before or they didn't seem to be worth the added calories. But again, because they were off limits, I wanted to see what it was I had been thinking I was missing. I finally started feeling a bit better by the beginning of the second week. I had a basic reverse diet I reconstructed based on how unsuccessful I was at the reverse diet during the first post-competition week. I stuck to it about 75% of the time....most days. A lot of it had to do with the sugars I reintroduced, they are the devil!!! My blood sugar, which was basically stable for the whole competition prep, was fluctuating similar to a roller coaster, up and down and twisting around. As good as sugar tastes, it is a quick satisfaction resulting in a negative plunge in mental, emotional and physical state. Sugar makes me tired, and I want to have energy for my day and my workouts without the aid and necessity of caffeine or preworkouts.

Moving forward I have decided to take my "off season" to maintain the muscle that I have, possibly working on developing a few lagging muscle grounds and evening out the symmetry in my current muscle. I am going to bring my calories up to about 1800 (depending on what muscle group I am working on for the day) so that I can maintain muscle. I am still going to follow a preplanned diet, I feel so much more in control when my meals are planned out for the week and all I have to do is eat as scheduled and not think about what I should be eating throughout the day. I have a lot of the clean foods that I enjoy in my meal plans like salads, protein pancakes, clean treats. I am going to keep my weight lifting  pretty similar; 5 days of split body, cardio will be 3-4x a week mixed up between HIIT and steady state since I am still trying to keep my body-fat low. There are a few shows this fall that I am considering doing which would require me to start a competition prep diet again sometime in June, so I am going to use May to regain focus and eat a few strategically planned treats. I actually already have a new competition prep diet plan and workout routine developed to try for the next time!


What I've learned about myself and life during this process:
1. I can do a figure competition
2. I am insulin sensitive, too many carbs (or sugar) and my body responds poorly
3. Everything you put into your body affects you sooner or later, some things have a quick appeal followed by a negative affect even days later.
4. Food is just fuel, I have so much more energy when I choose good fuel.
5. I don't hate cardio as much as I thought I did.
6. Patience. I am really bad at waiting. I am the super opposite of a procrastinator. If there is something to do, I want to do it right away to get it over with and not think anymore about it. Having to wait to eat until certain times, or wait to get workouts in was a real test of my patients.
7. I pushed passed so many emotional and physical barriers I didn't even think I could, determining that my threshold needs to be pushed every so often.
8. Finding balance, with everything in your life, is key. Once you establish it, maintaining it is essential.


What I will do differently next time
1. I will start my diet a few weeks earlier to allow myself to get leaner then I did this past prep.
2. I will not do a carb cycle during the middle of my prep diet
3. I will put in more "off limit" foods in my prep diet; like steak and fruit
4. I will do more running for cardio
5. I will adjust my workouts throughout the process to focus on more fat burning toward the end and worry less about muscle loss.
6. I will fluctuate my calorie intake to fuel my workouts as needed.
7. I will practice posing a whole heck of a lot more. Just from looking at pictures of me on stage, I could tell my posing wasn't as strong as other girls and that is a big part of your score.

Here's to a successful off season

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Team Danielle

Here it is. The final page of the first chapter of my newest project. Its actually a little bitter sweet. I have absolutely developed so much more physical, mental and emotional strength then I thought I was capable of having. They truly are right when they say "willpower is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger it gets".

I'm so glad to say that my second ever figure competition was 100 times better than my first attempt. I had so much more confidence knowing a little bit more what to expect and having my amazing support system there to cheer me on. I was more excited to see my family for the first time in months, the show was just something that was able to bring us together.

Peak Week #2: After having such a unkind first figure competition, I wanted to give myself a little bit of slack and try and enjoy the last little bit of my figure debut season. My workouts were long, but instead of doing the structured workouts I had planned out for myself, I did whatever my little heart desired! It was awesome to go back to enjoying exercise, the way I have for the last 14 years. I knew there wasn't much I could change with my physique in a week so I decided to use this week to trial a different approach to the diet of peak week. I progressively got lower in carbs for my depletion instead of staying low in carbs for the whole week. I definitely liked this approach much better than the previous week. I also think that I started "carbing up" too soon. My body responds quickly to carbs and since I already had good size on my muscle I don't think I need to fill out that much.

I finished peak week strong. That was what I was more anxious about, was messing up my peak week as I had done the week before and going into my show over thinking what I had done and with such little confidence. I had made the trip up to my dads house on Wednesday to spend some time with him and to get the trip out of the way earlier in the week. Thursday I did some baking, ironically enough when I bake my mind wonders away from eating. I like trying new recipes and developing my own. Of course all of these goodies were clean, but still they were off limits for now. But Thursday was also the first day of carbing up. I am so sensitive when it comes to carbs. The whole start of peak week, when you go low in carbs, I feel great! My body moves well and I don't feel bogged down. As soon as I started adding carbs, I started feeling like scum. Its the surge of glucose running through the body that makes me feel skirmish. Its so strange to me, most people love this part! They get to have solid carb sources that are supposed to provide great energy and mental clarity. But with not being able to workout for the 2 days prior to show (so that your body has time to recover and you don't look swollen on stage) all these extra carbs were just circulating through my body with such fire and with no escape. My body responds to an increase in insulin poorly. The more carbs I eat the hungrier I get. I got through Thursday and made it through Friday decently as well. I started losing my mind just before my family got there Friday evening. I was staying at the hotel near where the show was taking place and I was starting to get anxious. Not necessarily anxious about the show, I knew my family was proud of me and that was most important, but I was getting anxious about all the steps I had to take to get ready the following day. As soon as my family got there, the skies opened up and the world was clear again. One of the voids in my life had been filled and the other void (food) was shortly going to be filled as well. All was well. As I got closer to the end of the week, I slowly stopped having so many cravings. It was like I knew soon enough I would be "allowed" to eat whatever I wanted, but now I actually didn't really want them anymore. I think it was more of the  "you can't eat this" mentality throughout the last 14 weeks that made me really want anything. I was actually just excited to go back to eating enough calories so that my workouts weren't so weak.

I got to the day of the show feeling the best I had in weeks. I actually slept through the night and woke up refreshed. I had breakfast in bed, my eggwhites and oat pancake with peanut butter and jelly!! Started getting ready and headed to the place they were holding the show. Everything about the day went really smooth, unlike the previous week. I got my last coat of spray paint put on, suited up and put my barbie face on. The rest of my family showed up and then it was show time.The show started at 2 and there was no 5 hour break in between prejudging and the night show which made all the difference in the world. My husband helped me get ready back stage, once you glue that bottom part of your suit on, bending over really isn't an option so it was awesome to have him there to hand me things. I went on stage with such confidence. I knew there were big differences between myself and the other girls I was on stage with, but they weren't bad differences. I had the size, which I've known I've had this whole time, and they had the cuts. Last weekend the judges were looking for cuts, but this weekend I overheard a coach tell her girls that these judges were looking for size so I thought I had a chance. I didn't feel bloated or over-carbed, I felt the tightest I have so far. I spent way more time on stage this weekend then I did last weekend, which made me feel like the experience was worth it. I did 2 different categories and so I was on stage for about 6 minutes. Which to many might not seem like a long time, but remember while on stage you have to squeeze and flex every muscle in your body and suck in your belly and smile. To hold those positions for minutes.....exhausting. By the end of the day my lower back was cramped, but it was all worth it. The evening went smooth and I was able to visit with my family throughout the event. I finished 3rd (out of 4) but had learned so much about this sport and about myself that placement didn't matter. It was the experience that nobody would ever be able to take away that mattered. Also, how can you be disappointed when you have a huge cheering squad who all had "Team Danielle" t-shirts that my mother and aunt made (oh, and those birthday party whistle things blowing around).

Through out the week I started developing the plan for my next season. I have learned so much through this experience, and surprised myself here at the end with such desire to continue with it! Even my originally unsure grandmother gave me the thumbs up to keep at it!

So my first real meal post competition: Salad bar, baby back ribs and a toll house cookie pie with vanilla ice cream. I felt absolutely so wrong sitting down to a meal at a restaurant. I have grown so accustomed to this new lifestyle. I knew that I needed to give my body a treat, and since I had been dreaming so frequently for the last 14 weeks of these guilty pleasures I know I needed to let myself have them. I actually didn't really want the dessert, my family was so great and brought me all kinds of sweet treats already, but again I had been dreaming so frequently of such indulgences I thought I should at least let myself see if it was all I remembered. And it wasn't. To my complete shock, sugar wasn't as appealing to my taste buds as much anymore. Now, don't get me wrong, I ate the whole dessert, but it didn't have the satisfaction I thought it would. It was then that I realized, I don't really need these things in my life as often as I had before. I was perfectly content with my clean treats. Now here is the problem. In my opinion, sugar is a socially acceptable drug. As soon as my body had a dose of full on white sugar the insulin spiked and with that follows a drop. Once the insulin drops your body wants more sugar to keep that "high" feeling and the cycle begins. I had a few of my families treats on the hour ride back to my dads house from the show. I knew right then that I had to shower and then go to bed when we got home to avoid eating all of the sweets! My willpower is so much stronger and I know that I will be able to avoid these sugar surges. The feeling is not appealing, especially when you've learned how "clean" you feel when you stick to good healthy food sources.

It is 4 a.m. and I have been up since 3 a.m. working on this post. With all the extra energy I stored up last night from a full dinner and desserts I am ready to hit the gym. This is when I wish I was back home so I could go to my gym, 24/7 FitClub, and hit the treadmill and weights at this time of day. It has been about 5 days since I did a real workout, feels like forever!!  I just looked up the hours to the YMCA here in Malone NY, where my dad lives, and they open at 8. I'm gonna try and get some more sleep, but guess where I"ll be at 8 o'clock this morning!