When one’s will power upholds throughout times of temptation, the feeling of accomplishment is indescribable. This past weekend, I reunited with my two best friends from college in Washington D.C. for a weekend of fun and freedom. My goals for the weekend were to stay on my nutrition and exercise plan without sacrificing the little time that I had with my two amazing girlfriends. To say I was scared is an understatement.
With all of my meals packed into new Tupperware, I made it through the TSA checkpoint and began the challenge that many of us face daily—balancing life and fitness goals. I can say, with a smile on my face, that I accomplished my goals. I ate my meals and only my meals, I got at least 45 minutes of cardio in each day (a mile walk each way to the gym was an added bonus), and most importantly, my time with the girls was not hindered. I made it, but it was no walk in the park. As my friends ordered Thai food delivery and sipped vodka tonics, I ate my pre-portioned chicken and vegetables and sipped on club soda with lemon. While it wasn’t ideal, rather than dwelling on what I couldn’t have, I focused on the people I was with and how much fun I was having. Mental strength is what kept me on track through the weekend.
Not Everyone Will Be 100% Supportive
In the past, I have talked about the necessity of a good support system along this journey to the stage. But, what do you do when the people that mean the most to you are not as enthusiastic as you are about this new way of life? I faced this head on during my weekend away. The lifestyle of a fitness competitor is one that can lead to great health gains as well as some risks. Competitors can fall into the trap of body perfection obsession. This is the worry of my loved ones. I sat with my friend this weekend and listened to the recurring concerns and questions about my journey to the stage. I am not saying that these concerns are invalid, as I have battled body issues in the past. However, without completing this journey, there is no way for me to know if I have grown strong enough to overcome my battle.
Leaving D.C., I am left with one word that seems to remain true throughout this entire journey—balance. Training balance, nutritional balance and mental balance. Without a balance between what I love to do and what I need to do, I cannot move forward successfully. Finding that perfect ratio will allow for success on stage but also success after the competition is over.
Facing A Holiday During Prep
With my first challenge behind me, I must move on to the next—going home for Passover. Passover is my favorite holiday, and one of the most important traditions of the holiday is the Passover Seder. A traditional meal filled with roast meats and potatoes, fruit and nut salads, matzo ball soup and plenty of red wine. Participating in the Seder while maintaining a strong hold on my nutrition may be harder than my weekend with the girls. Similar to the challenge of Thanksgiving, adjusting the way we participate in traditional meals and events is a challenge. We want so much to keep our traditions the same, but to keep our goals in tact, we must adjust how we approach such traditions. While the entire meal will not be transformed in order to fit my needs, I am confident that my family will be able change small portions of the meal to fit my needs and goals.
Losing Fat, Not Pounds
Before I left for Washington D.C. I had my six-week check-in. Throughout this process, I’ve tried to go into the check-ins with my coach Kristi Tauti with a positive mindset, believing that I worked hard enough to see progression. That is how I felt heading into this past check-in. Visually, I could see improvement, and I was excited for the numbers. Once again, my body confused me. I was up 3lbs but down .5% body fat. However, unlike the last set back, I wasn’t completely disheartened. I felt and looked good, and with a lower body fat percentage, I was still on the right track to my goal.
With the show getting closer and closer, I have begun fasted cardio in the morning. I wake up, take a thermogenic and L-carnitine to boost my metabolism and energy and head to the gym to get my sweat on. The exciting thing about fasted cardio is that because I am not behind on my progress, the calories that I would usually consume prior to my cardio session get re-distributed in other meals. Meaning that I can add extra egg whites to my morning oat/quinoa bake (favorite meal of the day!) and a small amount of grains to my mid-morning snack. It’s the little things that excite us during contest prep!
A Final Thought
With spring now in session, it is time to refresh and renew one’s lifestyle and mentality. Constantly shifting habits and improving one’s balance in everyday life can only increase our happiness. I hope that my trials and triumphs can help you to move past your own and gain greater strength in any challenge you face. As always, please feel free to find me on twitter at @RachaelBruin or leave a comment on this blog below. I would love to talk with anyone who has questions, suggestions and opinions. Thank you for all of your support, it means more than you could imagine, and, as always, #trainhard.