The Show. (Part 1)

The countdown is over, the show happened, and my tummy hurts. I did it. I competed in a bikini fitness competition, the Jay Cutler Classic here in Boston on Saturday. I don't even know where to start!

So peak week, the week leading up to the competition was one of the funnest parts. The diet was changing every few hours, I was in constant contact with my coach to manipulate water intake and food plans depending on how my body was reacting. It was so cool. Workouts were limited and the week was all about preparing for Saturday. Hair appointments, nail appointments, 7-Eleven runs (to get candy for the big day!) and grocery shopping to prepare my meals for Saturday which consisted of:

  • 2oz chicken and white rice
  • rice cakes
  • blueberry jam
  • peanut butter
  • bananas
  • Detour bar
  • Reese
  • Pretzel M&Ms
  • Twix bars
  • Wine :)

Then came Saturday. I was 126 lbs. and 10% body fat. I had hit my goals, I was ready. My water levels were depleted, I had two coats of tan on and I headed to the John Hancock Theatre to check in. I was immediately overwhelmed. I've never seen so many orange people with big hair and big muscles. I felt totally out of my element. Then I found one of my teammates, Zhubin, who was also competing in his first show, and Jen, another teammate, and the day got better!

The thing about shows is it's really a waiting game. I got there at 8:15AM and didn't step on stage until 5PM. Needless to say we had time on time to kill. Jen and I were backstage together all day and we had and awesome time! She did my makeup, we practiced posing, checked in with our coach Johnny every two hours so he could tell us what to eat next and the excitement built! Right before we went on my boyfriend Ryan showed up with BEAUTIFUL flowers, funny signs, and much needed wine to calm our nerves :) Jen and I ran backstage, chugged our mini wine bottles (first drinks for us in MONTHS) snagged our favorite candies and headed to line up. We "pumped Up' with resistance bands so my baby arms and shoulders could be seen on stage and waited. We ended up waiting for a while before we got on stage. I was in two classes, Novice D (the tall girls) and Open F (the really tall girls). Jen and I were both in Novice D so it was fun to be on stage together. 

The first time we walk on stage you hit all your poses, front, side, back, front and a wave. I walked on stage and I honestly have no idea what I did. It's like I blacked out. I got so nervous. So many lights. So many people! So many judges. For each class everyone walks out alone and does their poses, then the groups are split in two for comparisons where you're all lined up together and the judges tell you what pose to hit. Then everyone is put on the edge of the stage and calls outs happen. You want to be in the first call outs (those are the best) I was in the first-ish...the called our 5 girls, sent 3 away and then called 3 more, basically trying to figure out the 5th place (top 5 get trophies).

The second time on stage I felt much better and more confident. I knew what to expect. The nerves were gone.

After pre-judging they have a break and then finals. At finals everyone gets introduced and walks on stage and they call the first 5 places. By the time we went on stage for finals it was 10:30PM and we were tired and mostly just over it. So we did our final walk, met up with our team and celebrated an awesome day, and our huge accomplishments. We might have walked away without trophies but that wasn't the point. It was a huge show, with stiff competition, and I felt so proud of the journey I had taken and the progress I made. That's what it was about. I just felt great.

We took the party to Precinct and I got my beer (YUM) and sliders and fries. It ended up to be a pretty awesome day.

After a couple days of reflecting, I'm not sure I'll ever do another show. But I didn't completely hate it as much as I thought. It gave me a goal to work towards and dedicate myself to. I'm really looking forward to enjoying my summer without measuring food and feeling guilty about cookies and cold beer. Maybe come fall I'll be looking for that challenge again or maybe I'll have found a new one. But I'm so grateful I did it. I'm so proud of myself for doing it.

Results: I ended up coming in 8th out of 19 in Novice (my goal was to be in the top half) and 6th in my Open class, just one place away from a trophy. So I'm happy :)

Stay tuned for Thank You's, updates, and my food splurges :)

8 Days.

Happy Friday world! I woke up jumping out of bed this morning. The sun was shining, birds were chirping, and I had energy to get after my fasted cardio. This week (2 weeks out) has been a really important week of my prep, it's the last big push before the show. In addition to my normal five workouts, I have three days of cardio and four mornings of fasted cardio.

Fasted cardio = my personal hell.

I've mentioned before that I don't like morning workouts, and morning workouts where I have to keep my heart rate high for 30 minutes when my body is sore all over from yesterday's workout and on no food...the worst. However, fasted cardio is really effective for me. Jump starts my metabolism in the morning and I feel it burning all day. And today it wasn't so bad! I've been feeling minor shin splints this week so instead of my usual run I did some HIIT in Copley Square instead. Then ya know what happened? These babies were poppin!

For a good reason. In addition to the extra workouts I've had this week, my diet has also changed. All week I'm slowly depleting carbs (as Johnny tells me to), every two days the diet changes. I'm hovering around 1200 calories, with my protein intake remaining high and as my carbs are cut my fat intake raises (YAY peanut butter!). 

I had to go two days this week without peanut butter and I honestly think it was the first time in YEARS I hadn't had it. Thank goodness that's over.

Basically I'm tricking my body to burn all of the existing fat to use for energy opposed to the carbs I'd be feeding it. Then early next week (peak week!) I'll get a MAJOR re-feed day where I eat a ton of carbs (clean carbs) for my muscles to fill out again. They're working in overdrive this week so we gotta keep them happy before the big day.

So I'll leave ya with highs and lows for the week:

Highs:

  • ABS!
  • I have a whole new love for food since I've been so hungry this week.
  • Matcha. My afternoon pick-me-up.
  • Everything Hoodie Allen.
  • Low energy but high spirits!

Lows:

  • Fasted cardio. Ew.
  • I skipped fasted cardio yesterday. I was a little disappointed in myself but my body was telling me no.
  • No posing practice yet. I need to learn how to walk on stage now. Crunch time people!
  • My hands are torn up from my arms/back days. Ouch!
  • Low energy levels, but big spirits!

Huge final shout out to my boyfriend who has saved me this week. I forgot my lunches at home one day (grabbed the wrong tupperware) and he drove them to me at work. LIFE SAVER!!! Second shout out to my parents who have given me some great pep talks supporting from afar! Then finally my coworkers...sorry you have to sit with HANGRY Erin all day, but keeping me away from the unlimited kid cereal and M&M's is crucial. Couldn't do this without you guys. 

A final BIG THANK YOU to all the social media love. This is honestly one of the toughest things I've done and the messages, texts, Instagram likes and comments truly mean the world to me. When I need extra motivation, that's what keeps me going. Thank you.

"People underestimate their capacity for change. There is never a right time to do something difficult." - John Porter.


4 Weeks...What did I get myself into?

I have a tendency to jump into things without researching them or even fully thinking them through. It usually works for me in the end and I end up with some experiences I'd never take back but I do feel like I'm back there again. 

I'd actually never been to a bikini fitness competition until last weekend (five weeks out). One of the girls on Team Anthrofit was doing a "pre-show" (she's competiting with me in four weeks but wanted a little stage practice first), so a few of us road tripped down to the south shore to support Jenn.

Jenn is the brunette smokeshow right in the middle. She looked amazing and so comfortable on stage. When I get up there, I hope I have half the grace a poise she did. Well done lady!

So I'm sitting in this auditorium with my coach Johnny, two of my teammates, Ashely and Loren, and Jenn's BF Ryan and all the sudden it hits me like a ton of bricks. That's going to be me in five (now four) weeks. Excuse my language but I just had this..

OH SHIT

kind of moment. Know what I mean??

I'm not sure why it took me so long to realize it but actually standing on stage, in a bedazzled bikini, clear plastic heels, 14 shades of tan, and posing in front of judges, had never actually really settled with me. I've been so focused on the prep that the end result wasn't in the front of my mind. Like at all.

It was a good moment though. This challenge, this journey has never been about a stage and a bikini, it's been about the process and the challenge of it. It's been about testing myself physically and mentally. It's about picking a goal and sticking to it. Five months of intense training and strict eating guidelines, could I even do it??

I'm going to give myself a little pat on the back right now because I am doing it. I'm more than doing it I'm thriving in it and that's something I've never thought I'd be able to say.

I have truly enjoyed this process and learning about my body and what it's capable of. I'm not sure I would've been able to learn the same things if I hadn't decided to do this competition. The competition gave me a date to work towards, but in the end it taught me about a lifestyle and a new way to approach health and fitness. 

I've honestly gone back and forth about whether I'm actually going to step on stage, not because I don't think I'll be ready, but more because it's not really me. The posing, the stage, the bikini, that's not the part I've been excited about at all. But I keep going back to the fact, that it's one day and one more experience I'll have. I might totally hate it and that's OK. I also might love it and that's OK too. But it's a journey I started, I might as well finish it with the intended plan. 

So here's my progress at four weeks. I set PRs this week in my squats, got a little creative with my cooking, and met with a fabulous posing coach Geri to start figuring out what the heck I'm going to do when I'm actually on stage.


Thanks for all the love and support! I've realized what an isolating journey this can be and all of your encouraging words are so helpful and much needed.

"Challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful." - Joshua J. Marine.

Instagram(Inspirations).

I love Instagram. I'm on it all the time. Whether I'm shamelessly uploading gym selfies or browsing through posts at lunch, I love it all. What I love most about Instagram is the health and fitness community I've found. I often need an extra push to go to the gym, or a small reminder to stay on diet. That's what Instagram has been for me, an added tool to connect with like-minded people and stay on track!

I wanted to share a few of my favorite people/pages that I follow and you should follow too!


@katefit_

Meet Kate! She's wonderful. We connected back in the fall as we both went through the NASM training to be personal trainers simultaneously. Since then she has launched her own training business and website you can check out here! I really like her page because she posts quick workouts you can do at home, beginner yoga challenges and her adorable husky. 


@rawfigure

Meet Cathee! We actually met randomly at the gym (Equinox), I had seen her around for a few weeks and she absolutely crushes it. She's wonderful, extremely determined and traveled international to compete in figure competitions. It's great seeing her lovely, familiar face in the gym. I love her Instagram because her abs are insane (amazing motivation) and she often posts simple clean recipes that I love to help switch up my normal diet. She also introduced me to #BuffButter so God bless her for that! Check out her website here.


@emmakate_92

Meet Emma! I randomly found her but I really like her page because of her authenticity. She's currently in college studying accounting and training/prepping for NPC competitions. Knowing how hard it is to stay on track with a career, I can' imagine how much will power it must take to do it in college! She's so cute and not afraid to tell you about her crazy cravings and fights through them!! Plus I love all her Nike gear, duh. Her next show is in one week so good luck to you lady!!


@fitmissdani

Meet Dani! She's a college student at my alma mater, UNCW! She teaches several classes at the college gym (which I always thought was a cool job and wish I had done!). I love her page because like Emma, she does a great job of balancing the healthy life with the college life. My favorite though is she posts amazing and simple recipes that are so yum. Her sesame tofu recipe is bomb!


Then I of course wanted to share the pages of the girls on my Anthrofit Team! They are a constant source of support and inspiration!

@lorenpete1991 @ashley_hatcher @jcfitness4u @nicole_kulma @johnny_loreti


And don't forget to follow my page! @ebailey_fitness

Temptation.

I’m currently on the plane (ok this was four days ago, its been a busy week!) on the way back to Boston from a wonderful weekend away with my family in Wrightsville Beach (my first love). It was so wonderful having the four of us together for a long weekend, the more we grow up the harder it becomes. 

Last week having such a low really lit a fire under my butt. I have seven weeks left, and in the grand scheme of life that is nothing! I have to keep remembering that. I chose this. I dedicated myself to this. If I don’t give it my best, I’ll only let down myself. However, with that said, TEMPTATION was EVERYWHERE. We got a three bedroom oceanfront condo (instead of a hotel) so that I could have a full kitchen to cook. A HUGE thank you to my mom and dad for changing their plans to support me in this journey…but it wouldn’t be a family vacation with a test or two for me. So here we go:

  1. I flew down to Raleigh and got to spend the night with one of my best friends from college and we got a yummy vegan dinner (high on carbs but totally clean so I didn’t feel bad!).
  2. Wendy’s: My parents picked me up in the morning and we stopped and got lunch at Wendy’s. Shouldn’t be a huge shock that eating clean is just about impossible through fast food. I got a grilled chicken sandwich and ate just the patty with a side salad (no dressing).
  3. Oceanic: One of the yummy restaurants right on the ocean. It’s known for is southern spin on fish. They bring hot fresh hushpuppies to your table with fresh butter to start. Mom saved me and just ripped me off a bite of hers, YUM! I got a grilled salmon salad with citrus dressing (I should’ve taken more pics!).
  4. Mexican: Saturday night were the big basketball games and my Dad and sister are HUGE fans. The family ordered Mexican (my favorite) and I made my broccoli and grilled chicken. I did save a couple carbs and fats so I could have a chip of guac!
  5. Easter: Thank goodness the Easter bunny found us all the way down in Wrightsville Beach and brought us goodie bags filled with candy. I think the Easter bunny wanted to save a trip because he also brought one for my roommate and boyfriend so now I have THREE BAGS STUFFED WITH CANDY sitting at my feet and I’m dying to dig in. They even included the Reese shaped like eggs. Those are the best. This is my resisting. 7 weeks.

I have to say I couldn’t have stayed on track this weekend without a few things:

  • My supportive family: Yes they might have teased me some, but they made sure I had plenty of healthy food. As soon as we got to the beach my Dad jumped back in the car with me (after a 6 hour drive) to go to the grocery store and get food because I was starving after just two meals for the day. They even let me cook one of my go to dinners (grilled chicken, veg and brown rice) for dinner and loved my every day breakfasts of egg whites, Ezekiel toast and salsa. You guys are the best!
  • Natalie: She’s one of my very best friends and my complete inspiration to do this competition. I spoke about her in my first post. She drove two hours to some spend the afternoon with me, going through a glutes workout, and giving me endless tips for the journey. Honestly seeing her really helped me remember how driven and motivated she was (and is) and that I can do it too. She was impressed with how much I can lift (as I never lifted when we were in college together) and that was all the confidence I needed.
  • Froyo: I don’t know why I can’t find this in Boston, but Wilmington has a froyo place that carries Newberry froyo thats clean and only 8 CALORIES an oz. 8!!! It’s amazing. Just amazing. I went twice.
  • Ashley in her first comp: One of the girls Johnny also trains competed in her first competition this Saturday and ROCKED it!! She placed in three of her divisions and looked stunned. She even made her own suit. Like what?! Well done lady!

Such an awesome weekend. I’m really proud I stayed on track. I even packed a ziplock of grilled chicken and broccoli to snack on on the drive from Wilmington to Charlotte to fly back. I never in my life thought I’d be car snacking on broccoli. Who am I?! The purpose of this post was to share temptations and then share craving and how to get through it. So sorry for the monologue but let’s finish strong!

I was definitely hungry sometimes this weekend. It was an active weekend making sure I completed my workouts, long walks on the beach with mom, a couple beach runs, and beach volleyball! Things I needed to stay on track:

  • Crystal Light (sweetened with Truvia): First, beach water is gross. But second having my 24oz water bottle filled with watered down crystal light at all times helped me stay satisfied when I was hungry. Often times your body telling you your hungry is really just you dehydrated. I’m definitely not dehydrated because I can’t even sleep through the night anymore because I have to get up to pee. Twice. But, keep your water bottles filled and drink up!
  • Green Tea: I think I just get bored with water and then want a flavor, green tea helps.
  • Coffee: Hot. Cold. Blended. I don’t care I’ll take a large! Coffee is a god send for me. It filled me up or at least prolongs my hunger until I can get a good meal.
  • Apples: Yes they’ve got a few carbs, but they’re also delicious and crunchy and make me feel like I’m eating a lot!
  • Get up and go! Lots of times I think I’m hungry but I’m really just bored. The more active I am and busy my mind is the less I find myself wanting food. Talk a walk. Read a book. Take a nap. Who cares, just get out of the kitchen!

I won’t bore you anymore for now! Again, just a wonderful weekend and I’m ready to get back home (Boston) and see my love, train hard, and eat well. 

Do you all have any good craving curbers? I’m always looking for more! Any good clean recipes too are always helpful!

Thanks for the constant support, you all have been wonderful! Happy Easter!

…maybe just like one Reese egg? Is that Ok?! 

When it rains, it pours.

It was a really rainy week, figuratively and literally.

Ok. I'm not proud of everything I'm about to say, actually most of what I'm about to say. But this week I had the conversation to quit prepping for the bikini fitness competition too many times. It was all too much. My head wasn't in it. My heart wasn't in it. My stomach definitely wasn't in it. I had all but given up.

A couple weeks ago I started [two] new jobs. The past six months I've really been looking for a new challenge and thus had started to purse several different avenues to see what stuck. The problem was ironically, they all stuck. The fitness competition started as a way to give myself a new challenge and a new focus. I had time to learn about different workout techniques. I had time to meal prep and try new recipes. I had time to workout at lunch and made time to workout with my trainer. But two jobs later, I lost all of that time and something had to give.

I recently became a part-time trainer which was honestly my perfect scenario that I was thinking about when I was going through my NASM CPT training. I didn't want to be a full-time trainer, I wanted a marketing career in health/fitness and have a couple clients on the side. Turns out that sweet gig is almost IMPOSSIBLE to find. Until I found this position and got my couple clients on the side. But now those hours after work that I had for my training have become quite limited. That same week, I got my new job, which also happened to be my current "dream job." You never turn those opportunities down. 

So here we are. I just finished week one at my new job, which is going really well! I'm the new Social Media Manager at Withings, a connected health company based in Paris with our North American office in Cambridge. Like anything new, it shakes up your life a bit, shakes up your routine. My world was centralized in one area, my apartment, gym, and office were all within a mile of each other. I worked a very 9-5 job and my gym was literally next door. I had no excuses.

Now I walk 1.8 miles every day to/from work, in the opposite direction of my gym, and polar opposite direction of my trainer. My new office supplies snacks, which is so generous, but they aren't in my diet plan and end up as added temptation. So this week work wise was great! I am definitely working longer hours [I'm new, and social media never sleeps], but I really feel like I am doing what I want to do. But sometimes somethings gotta give...and this week it was my fitness competition.

I only had time to do two of my five workouts this week and only one of my two cardio days. And neither of those workouts felt good, nor satisfying. My body wasn't moving. My mind wasn't in it.

Then Wednesday we hosted an even at the Apple Store on Bolyston to train Apple employees on our new products and demo some for customers. The day at Apple ended up being from 1:30-8:00PM. I cracked. Halfway through I got a venti black tea [and a chocolate chip cookie] and after ended up ordering dinner [pizza]. Then Thursday it was supposed to by my workout with Johnny but late into the day I felt swamped and being new couldn't leave in time to meet him. So I cancelled my workout [again, SORRY Johnny!!!] and was later peer pressured into grabbing drinks with a few new coworkers. I cracked. I came home and thought I couldn't do it. It just [again] wasn't the right time.

I was wrong. It is the right time. It's exactly the right time. I was blessed before to have such a conducive schedule to work my fitness competition prepping around, but that's obviously not always going to be the case. This fitness comp was so black and white for me. I was all in or all out. Which is great, except that life isn't going to tee it up for me, I have to create the opportunity and stick to my commitments. I'm allowed to cave without failing. I'm allowed to have a crazy week, and do my best within it. They won't always be that crazy, I'm not here to quit.

I love to workout out. I love eating well and feeling those benefits. I love the community I've become a part of because of this fitness passion. But just because I love it, doesn't mean I'm going to feel that same love and passion everyday. This week I needed to be reminded of that, and most of all reminded of why I'm doing this. I need motivation too, I'm only human. 

Such truly perfect timing for my motivation occurred on Thursday. I was at Commonwealth with coworkers last night finishing my one beer getting pressured for the second and I get a Facebook message from a girl I went to college with. I girl I looked up to because she was on our collegiate tennis team at UNCW. I knew her through the tennis community, no one I was ever super close with but someone I really admired. She's got a killer backhand, and I had literally just seen that she finished a marathon this weekend before I got her message. She expressed how impressed she was with what I was doing and how I was inspiring people. I wrote back explaining the coincidental timing of her message and how much I needed it. She left me with this:

I have had a few weeks where it becomes more of a hassle to train then anything, but it definitely pays off!

We're all just human. We all need motivation, love and support. This is one of the hardest things I've ever done. Sometimes life tests you, and sometimes life wins. But it only made my mental game stronger. I just left the gym after a great cardio and leg session. My boyfriend and I have salmon and brussel sprouts in the oven and I'm back at it.

8 weeks baby. This week I thought I failed, but I think I just got stronger.

"Failure doesn't come from falling down. Failure comes from not getting up."