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

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!