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 :)

Progress.

I got the sweetest note a week ago from a girl I went to high school with. Partaking in her own fitness journey, she shared how much my Instagrams, Facebook posts and blog posts have inspired her. I can't even begin to share how much that meant to me! Such a sweet gesture completely made my day and that was the encouragement I needed to not get a cookie from my favorite food truck "Cookie Monstah" parked outside my building today. Thanks Brittany, you rock!!

It made me want to share a little more about where I started. I've learned A LOT in this past year about health and fitness and where I want to be in the space, but it wasn't always like that, I didn't even have a gym membership for a while.

I grew up playing tennis, that was my thing. My sister and I would go to tennis summer camps and I imagined us being just like Venus and Serena Williams! My AIM screen name in middle school was eWimbledon19 ... because I wanted to compete in the Wimbledon Grand Slam tournament by the time I turned 19. Big dreams I had. There was no way that was happening, but regardless tennis was my sport. I played soccer as well but that didn't last once I got to high school. My coaches kept telling me I need to be more aggressive but contact just really isn't my thing. So I picked up track instead. I ran the 400m for a couple years (hated it, longest sprint ever) and ended up becoming a jumper. Long jump and triple jump were my specialties. It was fun being part of a big team, staying in shape, and working on my agility...all for tennis season in the fall.

When I got to college I still stayed part of the tennis community, playing club tennis, working at the local country club teaching kiddie lessons, and helping out with the varsity kidding summer camps. Then I studied abroad where a two mile run twice a week was considered decent exercise, and pastries were a daily must, I was thanking the lord for my good genes. I wasn't immune to gaining weight but my metabolism kept me slim and able to fit into my jeans. I just had no muscle definition. I didn't feel strong or healthy and at that point I didn't really care. It was good enough. I went to the gym some but I was a classic 30 minutes on the elliptical, a few ab exercises and I was out of there. The gym seemed like a scary place. There was the boys section full of heavy weights, and the girls section with cardio machines and kettle bells. It was just the way it worked and I wasn't about to be one of the girls trying to figure their way out in the boys sections. But those girls, that could hold their own and throw around a little weight, they were always impressive to me. One day maybe I'd be like that too.

So then I graduated, spent that summer in Wilmington, waking up before work for a beach run and quick dip in the ocean and head into the office. Come September when I moved to Boston I continued to run, it allowed me to explore a brand new city. Running helped me make Boston my own. I loved it, before work, during lunch or after, it was my adventure and my escape. I didn't need a gym. But I loved trying all the new studios around Boston for their free passes, FlyWheel, Btone, PureBarre, Barry's Bootcamp, The Club, I tried them all. Come January it was far too cold and snowy to run outside anymore and I settled on a neighborhood gym, Beacon Hill Athletic Club. That's when I started lift more, learning how to lift weights and use body weight as my resistance. Take that for a about a year, some bootcamp sessions in the summer I led, and then I met Johnny and here I am. 

Fitness has always been a part of my life, but it hasn't always been my passion. I'm still learning, I learn something new every day. I ask questions, probably lots of dumb ones. I read articles, Greatist is my go-to. Fitness has been a constant in my life and has become my passion, but I wanted to enforce that it wasn't always the case. I still need motivation to go to the gym, I still need reminders to not get pumpkin bread at Starbucks or order a full bottle of wine at dinner. But I still do all of those things. I still find excuses to go to dinner and order mussels (my favorite) so I can take the table bread and dip in the yummy sauces. I still have late night cravings for sleeves of cookie dough and will run across the street to Salem Market to fulfill them. I'm not superhuman. I'm just trying my best.

I was hesitant to share some progress pictures but I think it also adds an element of authenticity to the journey. So here we go. The picture on the left was taken a little over a year ago, when I was in my running only phase. Lean, yes but not strong. The picture on the right is last weeks progress pic for competition prep, 15 weeks out.

*excuse the mess please!

Ok, the two pictures shock me. But the one thing that has been really helpful is to take pictures along the way to see your progress and how my training is developing. Based on these pictures a few things jumped out at me that I wanted to share, including:

  1. I actually weigh less in the photo on the right than I do on the left. The left photo I was sitting at a 140 lbs. and the photo on the right I'm at 131 lbs.
  2. I wear the same size clothes in both photos, I don't actually look that "big" in real life. For one reason I'm obviously flexing and secondly after you workout your muscles have swelled creating the bigger appearance and more definition. (I was actually kinda scared of this picture when I first took it!). I'm stronger, I've gained definition, but I haven't gain (much) size.
  3. I spend less time actually working out now than I did in my cardio (I still do cardio, not totally cutting that out!) phase. Yes, some of my workouts do take some time, up to an hour and fifteen minutes maximum, but before I used to feel like I had to spend hours on a cardio machine or and hour or two running outside to see results. I focus on five days a week when before I felt like I needed to do all seven.

I wanted to share these photographs not only because I am proud of my progress so far, but because I wanted to debunk a few myths as well! I have a whole post on that coming up soon so please email or post below any questions or comments you have about workouts or training, I'll be featuring the top questions asked! ebaileyfitness@gmail.com

Looking forward to hearing from you!

 

Part 2: The Workouts.

My body is hurting as I'm writing this, I had a leg day with Johnny last night and ouch. I started by hitting some PR's on my squats and was fighting through finishing the rest of the workout. My body felt like jello. It was one of those days my meals didn't totally line up, and I was extra hungry which made me feel sluggish by workout time. Those days will happen. But then you wake up the next morning and as you get out of bed the soreness sets in and it weirdly feel like a sense of accomplishment. 

Like yeah, I did do work last night and my body hates me and thanks me for it!

So soreness, I'll take.  I'm currently in a hypertrophy phase of my training which means I'm going for high volume workouts (sets x reps x weight).  I focus on 5-7 exercises, 2-3 sets each, and 12-15 repetitions. I have five workouts a week including: legs, glutes (favorite), arms - pull, arms - push (least favorite), and plyometrics (beginning to love it, probably because its become my Friday lunch without with coworker and friend Julie). Each workout starts with a 5-10 minute jog to get my heart rate and body temperature up and ends with some serious foam rolling. I do one workout a week with Johnny, usually a legs or glutes day because I feel safer lifting those heavier weights with someone stronger than me making sure I won't hurt myself while still pushing me. He uses an app/website called Trainerize, which allows him to give me my workouts and then I can just login and track them as I go. It's awesome.

As much as I enjoy the workouts he gives me, I still like changing it up.One of my new years resolutions was to practice yoga weekly, which hasn't exactly happened but I have gone some! It then reminds me how tight my body is, so I love going into those classes ready to stretch and move my body at a slower pace and focus on how it moves. I also used to be an avid runner (Boston winters now make that impossible for me) but I intend to run more than a mile once this snow begins to melt. 

It's amazing seeing my body change already, and realizing that all the hard work and sacrifices I've already made to stay on track are actually working. Today my body feels tired, but that's just so that tomorrow it will be even stronger than before. It's all part of the journey.

My Workout Goals:

  1. Be able to do a pull-up, unassisted
  2. Practice yoga weekly
  3. Get a six (or four) pack
  4. Stretch/foam roll daily
  5. Learn to listen to my body, push myself when I feel strong and rest when my body needs the recovery

It's a journey, I'm just learning as I go.

 

"Great changes may not happen right away, but with effort even the difficult may become easy."