Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hanging Leg Raise

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The hanging leg raise is a great ab workout, but many people don't perform it correctly. I see many people using momentum to swing their legs up, when you should be slowly contracting the abs to bring the straight legs up, hold for a few seconds then slowly lower again, everything in a controlled fashion.

This can be performed gripping the bar of a squat rack as I am doing here, or it can be performed with the padded straps that are made just for this purpose.

I prefer to grip the bar as I feel I can control my body better, and concentrate on a very tight core. It is difficult to do many of these at once, I superset them with reverse crunches. I will do 20 reverse crunches, then go straight to the rack, do 10 leg raises, and complete 4 sets of this without resting.

You need to go directly to my blog to see the video, it cannot be seen via the email distribution.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Chilled Zucchini Soup with Purslane

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Another great gift from my friend, a huge bag of fresh purslane. Most people have never heard of purslane, but they have probably seen it, it grows like a weed.

Once I was training on the football field with SC and I said "hey! look, you have purslane here!" I grabbed it popped it in my mouth and chewed, he was stunned.

He was more astonished not because I ate the weed from the ground, but because of what he has seen all the football players do out on that field ....he didn't think it was a very smart thing to do.

Condemned by some as an “unsightly, pervasive weed,” purslane is also a free backyard source of protein, vitamin E, vitamin C, and the best source of Omega 3 fatty acids of any leafy plant. There’s no reason to spend money on fish oil supplements if you have this tasty food source growing in your backyard or vegetable garden.

Whether you eat it raw in salads, stir-fried, or added to soups and sauces, purslane is a delicious addition to many recipes. It’s easy to grow, tastes great, and – best of all to anyone struggling with rising food prices – it’s free.

Also called Summer Purslane - purslane usually grows spread out flat on the ground. It can be found growing in almost any unshaded area, including flower beds, corn fields, and waste places. Purslane can be found growing in cold climate areas (e.g., Canada) as well as warm areas (e.g., the Caribbean).

It has been used in salads and as a medicinal plant (for people) for hundreds of years. Called Verdolaga in spanish, it is a vegetable green used in many Latin American countries. It is also popular as a salad green in France and other European countries. It is similar in taste and consistency to watercress. It can be eaten fresh or cooked and has no bitter taste at all. Since it has a mucilaginous quality it is great for soups and stews.

It has rosettes of fleshy, paddle-shaped leaves, each with a small (1/4” wide) yellow flower. It is grows low to the ground in large circular mats up to 1.2m across and it is succulent with short leaves less than an inch long scattered along its brownish stems. The flowers only open for a few hours in the morning sun and there are usually five petals but sometimes four or six. Its seeds are ovate to triangular, reddish brown to black and shiny. Each plant is capable of producing 240,000 seeds which are viable for up to 40 years. It is found in gardens and bare ground from June to October.

I made this soup the other night, delicious on a hot summer day. It is creamy, yet has no cream. The ingredients are ones people give you - zucchini and the purslane, which you can go find in your backyard! It is from the Food and Wine 2010 Annual Cookbook.

This soup does not have any characteristics of split pea soup, which I don't particularly care for. It is fresh and light. My 16 year son did not care for it, he would rather have a slab of meat, any meat. My husband loved it, in fact had some for lunch the following day.

6 servings 45 minutes plus 3 hours chilling time

1 Tbsp olive oil plus extra for drizzling (if desired)
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 pounds small zucchini, thinly sliced (save aside a few shavings for garnish)
1 1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp finely shredded basil leaves
1 cup ice
1 cup purslane leaves

In a large saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the thyme and bay leaf and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the sliced zucchini, season with salt and cook, stirring occassionally, until tender, 10 minutes.

Add the water and bring to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat, discard the bay leaf and stir in the shredded basil.

Working in small batches, puree the soup in a blender until very smooth (do NOT try to blend any hot soup all at once, it will explode out of the blender, don't ask how I know this, just trust me!)

Transfer the zucchini puree to a glass bowl, add the ice and refrigerate the soup for at least 3 hours, until thoroughly chilled.

Season the soup with salt and pepper. Ladle into shallow bowls and top with a small handful of purslane leaves and zucchii shavings. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with a salad and crusty french bread.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Getting Started Again

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I am looking forward to getting back in the gym and lifting weights. At this point I believe it will be August 2, but I am hoping to get clearance for a bit earlier date. If I start back on the 2nd, it will have been 12 days of no training, longest I have ever gone.

I emailed SC to ask where I should start, I mean I don't think I can start back where I left off. I will probably not have the strength, and is it the right thing to do?

SC said " Go thru some volume, when you get back into it. That with the restricted calories and you should shed weight fast with the VO2 protocol and the shoe routine"

I bought a new 3 ring binder, yes I walk around the gym with a clip board just like a trainer does, and I know many people think it's rather odd, but it is the only way for me to ensure I am following my workout and accurately recording weights and reps. My new binder is chock full of training logs, daily nutrition, my mouth guard, everything I need to lift and train.

I will lift in the morning every day, then each afternoon when I get home from work is "cardio". Not your traditional style cardio, that has it's place pre-competition, this is hardcore, burn it up fast, blast your butt stuff that will leave you wishing you never embarked on this adventure!

Three days a week is Viking Warrior Conditioning, which I shall write more about later. It is a VO2 protocol kettlebell conditioning program, a program that is set by a gymboss, an interval timer that signals when to start and when to rest. Using the gymboss ensures that you don't rest too long, nor do you push yourself too much, it keeps you right on track.

Three days a week is my strength shoe plyometrics, although I suspect I will need to start with just plain plyo's for the first week.

Sundays are "bootcamp" that I do with "R" in the gym at the club. We set up a series of exercises we cycle through to make us sweat and breathe hard!

Here are my weights for the first three weeks:

Volume Training After Illness
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's Only Baloney

Kristy 2010 NPC San Jose

I have mentioned a wonderful inspirational  book several times, and I have a story from it that I would like to share here. The book is "Winning Ways: How To Succeed In The Gym And Out" by Randall J. Strossen, PH.D.

This particular story hits home with me, I have always believed that we shoot as high as we aim. If we settle for just "OK" we will no doubt be just "OK". But when we believe we will achieve our goals and our dreams, we do.

This is story #58: It's Only Baloney

The doctor came out of the delivery room and told the man that he could either save the mother or the child but probably not both. As good fortune would have it, both lived, but the baby's arm was broken during the delivery, and in such a way that all the nerves in his left shoulder were shattered.

Despite a surgeon's best efforts to reconnect the nerves, the boy would face life with one arm that was a caricature of the other. His left arm was four inches shorter than his right. And even though he spent his first six years with his left arm in a heavy steel and leather brace and his first thirteen years in twice-weekly physical therapy sessions, his left arm was virtually useless. He would never be able to raise it over his shoulder or even straighten it out; he would never be able to clench or extend the fingers. In fact, learning to tie his shoes was one of the biggest challenges of his life.

But this kid was no whiner, so instead of cowering in a corner, he squared off with his challenges. For every insult he had to endure, he just got tougher as he fought back. When he was 14 he said "I discovered that $42.00 was all I needed to erase the hated image of myself that faced me every night from the mirror...My left arm hung crooked by my side, practically without muscle" Forty-two dollars, you see, was the price of a barbell set he'd seen advertised in a magazine. Since his family could barely afford the dollar for each of his therapy sessions, he knew it was out of the question to ask for $42.00. What did he do? He saved the .10 cents he'd been spending on bus fare from the hospital twice a week, first by walking and then running the five miles. That, he said, marked the beginning if his athletic career.

He got the weights and put them to good use. It wasn't too long afterward that he began playing high school football, earning his eligibility by wearing a baggy sweater and keeping his arms behinds his back so the physician wouldn't notice his gimpy left arm. He won a starting spot by always trying to hit harder and be tougher than any other kid on the team. The kid with the withered left arm was moving up, and you might guess he went on to a nice job in a local car dealership, married his high school sweetheart, and lived happily ever after, with his high school football letter proudly displayed in the family room of his suburban home.

That wouldn't be a half-bad story, but the real one is even better. The kid gave the track team a shot, and one day he threw the hammer. Even if you've never seen the hammer thrown, you might guess that its a two handed event, which it is. As with the shot put, the best in the world are among the most powerful athletes on the face of the earth. If the kid had been a cry-baby, if he'd said to himself, "I'm only a cripple," he'd had never made it this far, but he wasn't one to let his vision be limited by the piles of "I'm only..." baloney. He stuck with the hammer, attacking the event with his characteristic ferocity.

Fast forward a few years to Melbourne, Australia, and the medal ceremonies at the 1956 Olympics. The reporters were yelling at the winner to raise his arms over his head for their victory photos. The man raised his right arm, but even to that day-the day he climbed to the highest level in his sport-he couldn't raise his left arm above his shoulder. Harold Connolly may not have been born with two good arms, but that didn't keep him from winning the gold medal in the hammer throw. It didn't keep him from making the next three Olympic teams, either. If he had succumbed to the "I'm only..." baloney, he'd probably have been a bitter man hiding in some dark corner. Instead, there he was, standing with the Olympic gold medal around his neck and the world at his feet.

The "I'm only..." baloney has a long history. It's been both proffered as a reason for not taking in challenges and, conversely, rejected as so much drivel. For example, in the Old Testament, when Jeremiah was told that he'd been appointed as a prophet, he tried to wiggle out of his mission by saying "I'm only a boy," which netted him the rebuke, "Do not say, I am only a boy." Jeremiah got the message and went on to work.

You might not be Harold Connolly or Jeremiah, but their examples teach us a lesson: Don't sell yourself short; don't ever limit your vision of what you can do; don't ever say, "I'm only..." because that's nothing but baloney.

Winning Ways if chock full of similar stories. Whether your goal is to lose weight, eat healthier, reduce stress, stop smoking, makes no difference. Believe in yourself and you will succeed.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010


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I am a blogger for Wellsphere, an online health site. Wellsphere’s mission is to help millions of people live healthier, happier lives by connecting them with the knowledge, people and tools they need to manage and improve their health.

A key feature of Wellsphere is their WellPages. After extensive research and development, Wellsphere created WellPages, which enable people to quickly and efficiently find comprehensive, personal answers and support for their specific health needs — all on one personalized webpage. In addition to expert and patient articles, WellPages present a holistic view, including relevant news, articles, videos and pictures from reliable sources ranging from the FDA and Harvard Medical School to leading health and fitness magazines. Instead of having to spend hours visiting many different websites to get a complete answer to their health concerns, people can instantly get a comprehensive picture within seconds. Powered by Wellsphere’s Health Knowledge EngineTM, WellPages provide the unique ability to quickly and efficiently answer people’s specific health needs, and has made one of the leading consumer health websites in the world.

Another key to Wellsphere’s success is the breadth of knowledge across its network of experts and experienced health writers, and within its caring community.

Wellsphere’s HealthBlogger Network consists of over 3,000 writers and bloggers and includes leading medical minds from Stanford, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Yale and other top Medical Schools, as well as patients facing difficult diseases, who bravely share their stories of survival. Wellsphere is extremely selective in admitting writers into its network, ensuring that they are highly credible, eloquent, and caring. By creating such an extensive writer network, Wellsphere is able to connect people with a variety of personal and medical perspectives on any health issue.

I recommend browsing their site and perhaps joining the online community, you can even search for writers or professionals in your immediate area. You can find the communities you are interested in, subscribe to writers that interest you and connect with others who have similar interests. I write for the "Healthy Living" community.

The other day I watched a video presented by Wellsphere, it is rather lengthy but I found it interesting to hear the presenter state many of the same facts and recommendations that I make throughout my blog.

We all learn differently, some of us can comprehend facts better when presented by a speaking person than just a written document. I do recommend taking the time to listen to this.

The speaker is Lisa Brisse, founder and owner of State of the Heart Fitness in Santa Monica, California.

Stress, Eating and Exercise: It's Role in Effective Weight Loss

Watch live video from HealthCentral on
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Monday, July 26, 2010

Spoons are a girl's best friend

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That's right, I said spoons, not diamonds! I LOVE spoons! I find that some of my most favorite foods are best eaten with spoons. I actually take what others eat with a knife and fork, make it "spoon" food and create a whole new dish, that is usually much more interesting and tasty.

Spoons allow you to use your imagination. Spoons are also associated with comfort food, they make you feel good.

Think about this:

Two people, same "diet". They will each have 4 ounces of chicken, 1 cup of vegetables and 4 ounces of rice.

Eater #1 has a baked chicken breast, a mound of plain brown rice and 1 cup of broccoli on the side. Maybe a squeeze of lemon all over. With a knife and fork this is a fairly boring meal.

Eater #2 (me) has 4 ounces of brown rice in a large bowl, topped with 1 cup of small broccoli florets, and 4 ounces of baked, cubed chicken breast. Topped with some low sugar Teriyaki sauce, this becomes a wonderful, nourishing rice bowl, and I can eat it with a spoon.

I create all sorts of wonderful meals that are completely different using my "spoon" methodology.

I bake, boil, broil or BBQ my chicken breasts and then cube them all up, weigh them and place them in small zipper freezer bags and then into one large bag and freeze them.

I bake, boil, BBQ or saute several different vegetables and I will portion them out into different combination's and store them in the refrigerator or freeze some (yes you can successfully freeze some cooked vegetables).

I may have one container of only mushrooms, or may combine mushrooms and asparagus. I like to mix cauliflower and broccoli; cauliflower and mushrooms; zucchini and mushrooms (can you tell I like mushrooms?)

I cook a large amount of rice, then weigh that out and put it into containers into the refrigerator.

Every evening I get my meals ready for the next day to take to work. I will take two different vegetable containers, two rice containers and two chicken packets out, I place one of each into my glass serving/storage dishes, pop the lid on and take them with me.

I will have two completely different meals, with everything I need. One I will squeeze fresh lemon over, the other I may top with soy sauce or Thai chili paste.

Try "spoon" cuisine, you will find it livens up everything.
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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Baby Steps, Giant Gains

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I woke up yesterday pain free, the first time in 14 days!

I had been give the OK to start taking "short walks" so the previous day I walked 2.6 miles but it took me 50 minutes. Probably because it was the first bit of activity in four days and my head hurt a great deal.

Today, I woke with no pain, had my protein drink and set off, feeling really good. I walked farther, 3 miles this time and shaved 5 minutes off my time, so I walked farther and faster!

It was early, 6:30 am and a Saturday, so all was quiet. I looked around and thought, I could easily break out in a run and no one would know! I decided against it though, I don't want to push myself too much yet.

This is a good sign, I am getting better. The emotional lift from the respite in pain is amazing, I started to feel alive again.

The headache didn't start in again until 25 minutes after my walk, but the time without it was wonderful!

My family can always tell when I am feeling better, I start cooking! I pulled all the vegetables out of the refrigerator, to see what I could create. I parboiled collard greens, then cut them in a chiffonade. I peeled and cut a bunch of carrots, threw them in a pan added a big bag of mushrooms, cut into chunks, then added the greens.

I oven roasted everything together and after it cooled, I packaged it up in zipper bags, threw it in the freezer and now have my vegetables for upcoming meals.

Collard greens are amazing, they have such a sweet flavor. I never tried them until a friend of mine brought them to me recently. She lives around the corner and signed up for a CSA, but her husband has been out of town a great deal, so she cannot possibly eat all the vegetables, so I am the lucky recipient of her bounty. I have been home, she has been stopping by, it's been great.

Then I started in on Curry Chicken from The Eat Clean Diet cookbook. I have to change the recipe, it calls for chicken breasts pounded thin that will be stuffed and rolled. I have a pound and a half of "chunks" of chicken breast, you can see it in the bowl above.

If the chicken curry tastes good, I will post the recipe, it was easy, especially changing it the way I did.

"R" came by with a bottle of champagne, we sat in the backyard and talked, it was great to have her stop by, I have felt like a shut in, not going anywhere except to the doctor or the store with my husband driving.

I will try to take three walks a day, depending on how I feel. Life is getting better!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What Motivates You?

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We are all motivated differently, but it seems quite evident me that motivation is really an internalized function. I think if you ask people who are successful and appear to be motivated, they may not be able to always give you a specific answer about just what does motivate them other than to be the best they can be. They have a drive, a need, a passion that only they can fulfill.

People ask me how I can keep getting up early every single day to train, don't I get tired of it? No, I don't. I live to train, I love to train, I feel most alive when I am in the weight room lifting weights. I am often oblivious to those around me when I am there.

I talked to SC the other day, he was my trainer for 3 1/2 years. Due to some logistical issues, we had to stop, but I hope to start up again soon with him. SC called to tell me about his vacation, we hadn't spoken in about 3 weeks.

It was great to talk with him, I told him about my competition, he told me about his trip. I went to the gym the next morning and as soon as I loaded the plates on the squat rack, I thought of him and I added more!

Just talking with him on the phone motivated me. When I was training with him, my weights went up every single week. You are not progressing if you are doing the same thing over and over, and I was doing that to myself. I knew I could do better and I knew that if I was lifting with him, I would be lifting more.

Find someone that motivates you.

I do get a great deal of motivation from reading, reading of others successes, failures and attempts. I have included some quotes here that motivated me, hopefully they may inspire you.

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
– Hellen Keller

“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
- Mahatma Gandhi

“We don’t see the things the way they are. We see things the way WE are.”
- Talmund

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
- Dr Wayne Dyer

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
- Thomas A Edison

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, determines your altitude.”
- Zig Ziglar

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
- Winston Churchill

“Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”
- Muhammad Ali

“Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.”
- Peter Drucker

“Success is what you attract by the person you become.”
- Jim Rohn

“It isn’t what the book costs. It’s what it will cost you if you don’t read it.”
- Jim Rohn

And last, but not least:


Friday, July 23, 2010


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Creatine is one supplement that we should all take, at least those of us who weight train.

For some reason, people are afraid of creatine. I have learned in my life that people tend to fear what they do not know. Let me educate you so you will no longer be afraid.

Were you aware that creatine is not banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or the International Olympic Committee (IOC)?

I have taken some information here from the Mayo Clinic:

Creatine is naturally synthesized in the human body from amino acids primarily in the kidney and liver and transported in the blood for use by muscles. Approximately 95% of the body's total creatine content is located in skeletal muscle.

Creatine was discovered in the 1800s as an organic constituent of meat. In the 1970s, Soviet scientists reported that oral creatine supplements may improve athletic performance during brief, intense activities such as sprints. Creatine gained popularity in the 1990s as a "natural" way to enhance athletic performance and build lean body mass. It was reported that skeletal muscle total creatine content increases with oral creatine supplementation, although response is variable. Factors that may account for this variation are carbohydrate intake, physical activity, training status, and muscle fiber type. The finding that carbohydrates enhance muscle creatine uptake increased the market for creatine multi-ingredient sports drinks.

Published reports suggest that approximately 25% of professional baseball players and up to 50% of professional football players consume creatine supplements. According to a survey of high school athletes, creatine use is common among football players, wrestlers, hockey players, gymnasts, and lacrosse players. In 1998, the creatine market in the United States was estimated at $200 million. In 2000, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) banned colleges from distributing creatine to their players.

Creatinine excreted in urine is derived from creatine stored in muscle.

Enhanced muscle mass / strength

Several high-quality studies have shown an increase in muscle mass with the use of creatine. However, some weaker studies have reported mixed results. Overall, the available evidence suggests that creatine does increase lean body mass, strength, and total work. Future studies should take into account the effect of different individual fitness levels of study subjects.

You can go to the Mayo Clinic's site for a great deal more information.

I thought these two short videos were interesting, if you are going to take creatine, make sure you do it correctly so you are not wasting your money, and you can reap the full benefits.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Illness and Recovery

I am experiencing an illness, something more serious than a cold or a flu. This made me re-think how many people live with chronic pain, illness or disease, and how difficult every day is for them. Or, there are people who are experiencing difficulties with their health that may not be life long, but long term.

Everyone wants to live life pain free, healthful and full of energy. I need to remember that it isn't as easy as I always think it may be.

The last time I experienced anything this severe was in October of 2009, when I was diagnosed with a repetitive shoulder use injury, my Doctor said he thought I may never lift weights again.

Luckily, I am stubborn, I have an extremely high pain threshold, and I refuse to stop, that it takes a lot to slow me down. My shoulder is fine now and my Doctor is impressed.

This most recent event started with an incredibly forceful headache at my competition, on July 10th, the pain just flooded over me in waves and was felt through out my body. A woman there gave me two Excedrin and it subsided, then I forgot about it. It came back just a couple hours later, with a vengeance, I was at home for lunch and took more pain killers. That night at the finals, I was on stage and it hit me once again, so strongly that I thought I would pass out right there in front of everyone on stage, I did not.

My headache continued although it was not nearly as intense as it was that one day. I saw my Doctor on Tuesday, I had been living with it for 4 days.

After explaining the symptoms, I had a CT scan, and was given Vicodin for the pain, and still I never missed a day at the gym. I was on vacation, so it was easier to go about my day, even with a throbbing head and neck, I didn't have to work or really think.

Things seemed to get worse, and my son had a wonderful Lacrosse tournament on Treasure Island in San Francisco on Saturday (I made my way to clubhouse, you can see it above), we decided we would drop him off at the appropriate time, then drive over the bridge for our fish tacos and wine for breakfast, and get back in time to see the end of game one (1 of three that day, with three more the next day).

I was fine, I was still living with the nagging, throbbing headache until the end of the day, when I ended up curling up in the car for three hours as the pain was unbearable. The noise, the sun, the activity all took it's toll. The pain would not go away despite the Vicodin.

I was back at the doctor on Monday, blood work was done and a tentative diagnosis was made. I waited for the test results, and was told that I had to take an entire week off work, no driving, and no going to the gym. No exercise for a week, I have never done that in my entire life.

I asked for something to help me sleep, I hadn't slept much in 10 nights due to the constant throbbing of my head, so he prescribed Ambien. Vicoin in the day, Ambien in the night, no exercise, just laying around with a headache, not even able to sleep much.

I actually slept 10 hours with the Ambien, although I do not feel as though I slept, I am sure my body needs the Ambien right now, but I don't remember my dreams, and don't remember sleeping, I don't feel rested.

I am writing about this because it makes me realize how important my health is to me. I take it for granted, and I think many people do. It shows just how important it is to get out and do some sort of physical activity every single day if you are able.

Me? I spoke to my Doctor and he has referred me to a neurologist. He wanted to make sure I was home and not working (I have been sneaking in work here and there though). It sounds like I will be fine, it will just take a bit longer and I am just waiting to feel whole again. I would like to get back to work and I am really looking forward to getting back in the gym, I have a new sense of excitement and I know I have extra weight to lose just from the days of "doing nothing".

I have reviewed my training log, changed up some things. I will be incorporating a new cardio regime into my days to help speed the fat loss. Weights in the morning before work, then kettlebells or plyometrics after work.

I have a set back, but nothing that I cannot deal with. It just means I have to make up for a little lost time, but I am not giving up.

I will never take my health for granted again, I will approach every opportunity as if it were the last.

As coach Dan John would say: Never Let Go.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Slosh Pipe

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I made this slosh pipe. It is a wide piece of PVC, with one end capped and glued, the other end has a screw cap. It is to be partially filled with water, so when you attempt to hold it, it "sloshes" back and forth, it is quite unstable.

Once filled 3/4 with water it weighs about 38 pounds.

I read about this in Dan John's book Never Let Go, A Philosophy of Lifting, Living, and Learning. I loved this book, I enjoy Dan's writing. Dan is a coach, a teacher, a philosopher, his book is described this way: Coach Dan John breaks down the most complicated concepts of strength training and high-performance athletics in a no-nonsense, yet clever and motivating manner. Workout routines, Olympic lifting guidance, Highland Games, track and field and Strongman events are all covered, in addition to weight training philosophy for the general public.

He writes with humor and common sense, it all just sounds so logical when he lays it out for you.

So in his book he talks about this slosh pipe, and how he and his buddies train with it, they do farmer walks, squats, just about anything. I decided I needed one so I could wrestle with the beast in my backyard.

The pieces were cheap, it cost less than $20.00 to make. I took it to show SC, he liked it too and handed it to one of the guys on the baseball team to try out. It was pretty funny because they all said it would be light and easy to hold. Surprise, it was like it was alive! The water moves back and forth and you really need to brace your core to control it.

I emailed Dan and sent this picture, he responded back that he was delighted to hear I made it.

If you want an interesting piece of equipment to train with, I suggest making one, and if you read Dan's book, you can get the simple instructions and learn quite a bit at the same time.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nicoise Salad

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A fantastic summer dish! I couldn't have this when I was prepping for a competition, but now I am able to and it is oh so wonderful!

The best anchovies are those you get packed in salt. We use quite a bit, so we buy the big round tin imported from Italy, it lasts for months in the refrigerator.

Remove a couple whole anchovies from the salt and rinse in cool water, then soak to remove all the salt and to soften them.

Boil a couple eggs to your preference, we like our yolks still soft.

Thickly slice some heirloom tomatoes and lay on plates. Slice cucumber and lay on top of the tomatoes.

Dice up green bell pepper and french breakfast radishes and scatter over the top.

Lay tuna chunks on top, we prefer the long loins packed in oil, but if you are really watching your fats, feel free to use tuna packed in water.

Separate the anchovies into fillets, then lay on top, add the halved or quartered eggs.

Finely chop fresh chives and sprinkle all over, top with a few nicoise olives, then freshly grated pepper and a drizzle of fruity olive oil.

Serve with crusty french bread.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kai Greene

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Kai was a special guest at the San Jose show, here is Maria on the left and me on the right. He is a big guy, and to give you an idea just how big he is, Maria is 5' 5" and 122 pounds, I am 5' 3" and 120 pounds (we are both wearing 5" heels) and Kai is 5' 8" and 302 pounds....of solid muscle. Check out those hands, he could probably easily touch his fingers together wrapped around one of our waists!

Kai was a very kind and gentle person, we talked for quite some time. I quickly felt that bodybuilding was almost a religious experience for him, and when I looked at his site and read his bio, I understand why. Here is a bit about Kai.

I was born July 12th in Brooklyn, NY. At the age of six, I became a ward of the state of New York due to a problematic home environment. For the next ten years, I would be in transitional placement moving from several foster homes to institutional placements. It was within this environment I found weight training as my refuge.

Deep inside of my soul, there resided many talents that few people were aware of most importantly my burning desire to be a visual artist. My two worlds would eventually meet and interconnect as my own body became my subject of study. I became my own living model. I utilized my own physique to gain a greater understanding of space and movement, creating works of art that became increasingly detailed and complex over time.

My exponential growth and development drew the attention of my 7th grade English teacher. Since my school conduct was far below the expectations tolerated by the facility that housed me, I was introduced to the idea of teen competition. Because of my enthusiasm and desire to measure my physique against competitors my own age, bodybuilding became the behavior modification tool that would prevent me from becoming a so-called "statistic".

The beginning of my bodybuilding career helped me to build my confidence and the belief in my own ability as a bona-fide competitor. I spent the better part of my middle school traveling to different shows and taking teen titles. After taking second for the first time in my young competition career, I decided to take a hiatus to pack on some real muscle and re-emerge as a force like no one had ever seen.

It was at this time that I was introduced to what would become my home and institute for competitive education, 5th Avenue Gym. It was in this small basement gym in Brooklyn, NY that I met some of the most impressive natural athletes the world had to offer. It was here that I would soak up the knowledge that would provide me the ammunition necessary to destroy the biggest bodybuilding monsters.

Before my 19th birthday I turned pro with a natural organization, and held the distinction of being the youngest natural professional bodybuilder in the world. My pro status allowed me to take my competitive aspiration to a larger stage.

I won every professional title that organization had to offer. In the summer of 1997, I set my sights on gaining professional recognition with the IFBB. It was brought to my attention that in order to gain pro status I would have to first qualify through their amateur organization called NPC.

My competitive career with the NPC was filled with mixed success. As a natural athlete, my goal was to win the Team Universe and acquire pro status with the IFBB through the Amateur World Championship. In 1999, after two unsuccessful attempts, I won the heavyweight division and overall title at the Team Universe and was invited to compete at the World in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Recognizing that I had placed fourth out of dozens of the world's best competitors, I was still disappointed. I took a four year hiatus to re-group and continue the never ending work on developing my physique. I was determined to take my rightful place in the pro ranks.

The nay-sayers said that it couldn't be done, and I began to believe them. I went to school and focused on developing my talent as an artist while continuing to use my own physique as my artistic learning tool. I continued to do what had always brought me great comfort and feelings of stability and consistency; I trained and trained hard, but not for the purpose of anything but my own peace of mind.

In 2004, it was brought to my attention that the NPC Team Universe had become a Pro-Qualifier for the IFBB. Though I had been away from the competitive scene for five years, I committed to myself that I would return to reclaim my title as Team Universe overall champion and ascend to the IFBB pro ranks. As a result of my dedication and desire to overcome the ever-surmounting odds against me, I arrived from my home in Jacksonville, Florida to NYC's Tribeca Performing Arts Center to do damage. On August 8th 2004, the judges recognized the physique that I labored for so many years and awarded me the heavyweight and overall championship by unanimous decision. My day had finally come. After 16 years, I finally made the transition to the IFBB Professional ranks.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Back to Reality

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It has only been one week since my competition, and I have already gained 11 pounds. Now I know a lot of that is glycogen in my muscles and water retention from all the sodium, so some will quickly fall off. It is emotionally and psychologically difficult the first two weeks. A competitor will go from looking ripped, fat free, tight, tan and simply beautiful to looking like an average person in just a few days; however it is really hard to accept.

I think it is very important for others to know how hard it is to achieve this look, not only the weight training and the diet, but the emotional difficulties. If it were easy, you would see a lot more people walking around like this everyday.

It is not possible to hold the "competition" look for long, I suppose that I could hold it for a bit, but it would be a struggle. One of the incentives that allows you to even carry on each day is the fact that you know once the competition is over, you can live like a regular person again.

I completely let loose for a week, and that means I allow myself to eat and drink whatever I wish, so of course my body soaks it all up like a sponge.

My stomach was tight and flat a few days ago, it now jiggles and is round, I am still amazed how quickly it transforms!

The other night I was reading a fitness magazine, and the "pro" bikini competitor said she was 118 competition weight and 120 off season. This is the kind of stuff that upsets me and it makes people everywhere feel like failures. The "pro" is not being truthful, we all fluctuate a few pounds, so why is she making it sound like her weight doesn't fluctuate between seasons? I have never met anyone who competes who doesn't add several pounds in the off season, that is the only way to add muscle and maintain sanity.

In a couple days I will go back to my diet and I will stop drinking again, save an occasional glass of wine, and I will then drop a few pounds, as I slowly adjust I will mentally accept my new body, a "real" body that is still fit and healthy.

I actually think I look best right in between, not my thin 120 pound competition self, and not my current 131 pound soft self, but right around 124 pounds. I have some curves and muscle, but not much fat. I should be there in about three weeks I think.

I have three sizes of clothes in my closet because of this process, so I never need to go buy new things, I just move into the next size up or down.

This is when I start getting excited about lifting again, as you must take in more calories to build muscle, although to add lean mass and not just fat mass, those calories should be from healthy foods, not junk. I am training hard, and plan to train my legs three times a week to grow my quads. I have been reading and studying, and I know I can do it.

I just need to remember the same thing I tell others:

"It's the journey, not the destination, enjoy the trip"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cellar Door

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Sunday's lunch was the Cellar Door in Santa Cruz.

This is a wine tasting room and cafe, the food is fabulous!

David, Cooper and I shared a few starters, smoked fingerling potatoes with aioli; Castelvetrano olives, roasted garlic and meyer lemon; Monterey sardines, date and toast.

The fingerlings are sublime, I would order them every time. David loved the plump sardine, although neither Cooper nor I are sardine fanatics.

Then David had Line caught black cod, farro, beets, squash and orange while Cooper and I had the same dish of seared skirt steak, spaetzle, spigariello, onions and sauce romesco.

Followed by wine tasting for two, then a nice ride home in the convertible.

As you can see, my week following a competition is quite the culinary treat, I enjoy really quality foods, and luckily live in an area that has some of the most amazing restaurants!

I do enjoy them and don't feel guilty, it is all a well deserved treat and once I go back to my regular diet, I will quickly shed those extra pounds I gained.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Maria and I

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Here we are in our beautiful matching suits! It's OK that they are the same fabric and rhinestone pattern because we are different height classes, so we will not stand next to each other on stage. We have the same suit maker and she does a great job.

Maria and I met in May of this year. I was on the stair stepper about two weeks prior to a competition and one of the trainers came up to me and asked if I could help train a gal who was going to enter her first competition in July.

I explained to him that I was only two weeks out from my own and just didn't have time to spend on anyone other than myself at the present time, I was trying to fit in my two a day sessions and hold down a full time job and take care of my family. He said maybe I could just give her some pointers, mentor her, after all "you look fantastic and can really help her"...well of course that did the trick. I gave him my card and told him to give it to her and have her contact me.

Maria emailed me about a week later. We agreed to meet and I would give her some NPC magazines to look at to see what the judges wanted, and we could do some practice posing.

We became fast friends after that. What's so interesting is our age difference, we are 28 years apart! I am 49 and Maria is 21, but we have a common interest, a passion that we share and that is what creates the bond that holds us together.

Over the last few months we have met for posing, a bit of lifting, diet talk, suit adjustments, make up comparisons, and she invited me to her University graduation party where I met all of her family and friends.

Having someone to plan and hang out with at a competition makes it all so much more fun. I feel that I have helped her quite a bit with my knowledge of what to expect and how things work, I have been in several so it is all very familiar to me. I introduced her to lots of other competitors and made sure she was calm and collected the whole time.

Maria has helped me too, I was ready to quit, tired of the politics, the preparation, the waiting, the drama, the disappointment and she gave me something to look forward to and I saw it all through new lenses. Maria gave me a new sense of purpose and enthusiasm. I had more fun at this competition than any of the others, and it was because of Maria.

We had a great time together, and are planning to enter the San Francisco show in October. The break will give us time to gain some weight, add some lean muscle mass, relax and recharge.

I am very proud of her accomplishments, Maria has worked harder than most people you will ever meet in your life. On January 1, 2010 she was 165 pounds, and with a strict diet, dedication to cardio and weightlifting, she has become a stunningly beautiful and successful figure competitor.

We discuss "clean eating" and drool over goofy things like peanut butter, jelly, honey and quinoa. We are getting together soon so I can give her some clean eating cooking lessons before she heads off to medical school in August, I will sure miss her.

Maria entered the MaxMuscle 2010 Transformation and is now one of the top 20 finalists out of over 7,000 entries! You can see her gallery of her personal transformation.

Here is a short movie of our day, turn up your speakers and experience the fun!


Thursday, July 15, 2010


Creatine is one supplement that we should all take, at least those of us who weight train.

For some reason, people are afraid of creatine. I have learned in my life that people tend to fear what they do not know. Let me educate you so you will no longer be afraid.

Were you aware that creatine is not banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or the International Olympic Committee (IOC)?

I have taken some information here from the Mayo Clinic:

Creatine is naturally synthesized in the human body from amino acids primarily in the kidney and liver and transported in the blood for use by muscles. Approximately 95% of the body's total creatine content is located in skeletal muscle.

Creatine was discovered in the 1800s as an organic constituent of meat. In the 1970s, Soviet scientists reported that oral creatine supplements may improve athletic performance during brief, intense activities such as sprints. Creatine gained popularity in the 1990s as a "natural" way to enhance athletic performance and build lean body mass. It was reported that skeletal muscle total creatine content increases with oral creatine supplementation, although response is variable. Factors that may account for this variation are carbohydrate intake, physical activity, training status, and muscle fiber type. The finding that carbohydrates enhance muscle creatine uptake increased the market for creatine multi-ingredient sports drinks.

Published reports suggest that approximately 25% of professional baseball players and up to 50% of professional football players consume creatine supplements. According to a survey of high school athletes, creatine use is common among football players, wrestlers, hockey players, gymnasts, and lacrosse players. In 1998, the creatine market in the United States was estimated at $200 million. In 2000, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) banned colleges from distributing creatine to their players.

Creatinine excreted in urine is derived from creatine stored in muscle.

Enhanced muscle mass / strength
Several high-quality studies have shown an increase in muscle mass with the use of creatine. However, some weaker studies have reported mixed results. Overall, the available evidence suggests that creatine does increase lean body mass, strength, and total work. Future studies should take into account the effect of different individual fitness levels of study subjects.

I thought these two short videos were interesting, if you are going to take creatine, make sure you do it correctly so you are not wasting your money, and you can reap the full benefits. Will Brink's Creatine: How To Get The Most from This Supplement

Chez Panisse

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Chez Panisse is one of my favorite restaurants, and I can always get my son Cooper to come along too. It has been known as one of the top restaurants in the United States for over 20 years.

Chez Panisse opened its doors in 1971, founded by Alice Waters and a group of idealistic friends. A neighborhood bistro, it is named after Honoré Panisse, a character in Marcel Pagnol’s 1930s movie trilogy about waterfront life in Marseille (Marius, Fanny, and César), as an homage to the sentiment, comedy, and informality of these classic films.

From the beginning, Alice and her partners tried to do things the way they would like them done at a dinner party at home, with generosity and attention to detail. The Restaurant, located downstairs, is open for dinner Monday through Saturday, by reservation only. The fixed dinner menu consists of three to four courses. The menu which changes every night is designed to be appropriate to the season and composed to feature the finest sustainably-sourced, organic, and seasonal ingredients including meat, fish, and poultry.

Prices for the restaurant are $60 on Monday, $75 Tuesday through Thursday, and $95 on Friday and Saturday (not including beverage, a 17% service charge, and 9.75% tax). Monday night’s menus are typically simpler and more rustic or regional than on other evenings. Friday and Saturday night menus are somewhat more elaborate.

The Café at Chez Panisse, located upstairs, opened in 1980 offering an alternative to the set menu served in the Restaurant downstairs. The Café serves a moderately priced à la carte menu for both lunch and dinner. It has an open kitchen along one side of the room with a charcoal grill and a wood-burning oven. The menu is inspired by the market and changes every day.

Alice and Chez Panisse are convinced that the best-tasting food is organically and locally grown and harvested in ways that are ecologically sound by people who are taking care of the land for future generations. The quest for such ingredients has always determined the restaurant’s cuisine. Since 1971, Chez Panisse has invited diners to partake of the immediacy and excitement of vegetables just out of the garden, fruit right off the branch, and fish straight out of the sea. In doing so, Chez Panisse has established a network of nearby suppliers who, like the restaurant, are striving for both environmental harmony and delicious flavor.

David and I spent Bastille Day, Wednesday, July 14 at the cafe. For starters we had a glass of cava and Canard Farm rocket with anchovy, garlic, and egg (David) and Pizzetta with tomato sauce, Monterey bay squid, and aioli (Kristy picture above).

Next was a bottle of 2007 Saumur-Champigny with Liberty Farm duck leg confit cooked in the wood oven with frisee salad, fennel, roasted figs, and sage (David) and Rigatoni with shell beans, tomato, pancetta, savory, and ricotta salata (Kristy).

Finally, Blue Bottle coffee with Frog Hollow Farm Blenheim apricot tart with noyau ice cream (David) and Mint-chocolate ice cream with bittersweet chocolate sauce (Kristy).

Everyone should experience the wonders of Chez Panisse, and now they are even on open table!

Dinner? I am making Spanish Garlic Soup with an egg. It is olive oil, garlic (it is Bastille Day), homemade chicken broth, paprika, cumin, saffron, a few slices of stale bread and two eggs that will be cooked until just set, right in the soup. It is delicious, very healthy and light and neither one of us could really eat much more than that!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


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My favorite muscle(s) to train, I love nice, big round deltoids! Many try to achieve this and few do. The reason? They don't train all heads of the deltoid.

You have the anterior (front), medial (side) and posterior (back) heads that all need to be trained to achieve this nice round look.

The seated dumbbell press will work all heads, but this is not enough to get that round cap. The Arnold press is fantastic and should be included as part of your routine, this will work the anterior and medial heads.

For the anterior (front) you can do:

Front dumbbell raise
Plate raises
Front barbell press
Upright rows
Incline dumbbell and barbell press
Incline dumbbell flye

For the medial (side) you can do:

Side dumbbell lateral raise (starting DB from your side not in front)
Cable lateral raise (raising arm from the side not across the front)

For the posterior (back) you can do:

Bent over lateral raise
Bent over cable lateral raise
Bent over barbell row
Incline bench lateral raise (face down)
Reverse peck deck flye (this is a machine)
Lying side lateral

There are many others, this is only a short list to give you an idea. To properly train shoulders you need to devote time, and many reps of different exercises.

Remember that these are small muscles and can be injured easily. Once you injure your rotator cuff, it can be extremely difficult to ever heal it. This is not the time to try to impress those around you with your strength. Training shoulders twice a week may even be too much for some, so take it easy and never train them more than twice a week, no matter how tempted you are to rush it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Emergency Food

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It is vital to have an emergency supply of food on hand in case you cannot be where your food is, so maybe you are stuck late at work, or are stuck out of the house longer than you thought, there are many things that can happen. You should carry these staples in your car and keep them in your office as they will get your though any emergency.

I always have these things in my office:

RTD (Ready to Drink) meal replacement drink, I like Myoplex Lite Chocolate Fudge
Myoplex Lite Peanut Caramel Crisp Bar
Can of tuna
Bag of instant oatmeal
Whey protein
Microwave Brown Rice
Raw Almonds
Rice Cakes
Peanut Butter

I carry a few of these items in my car in case I get stuck.

The biggest issue with not having an emergency supply is that you will get hungry and then eat the very first thing you can, and this is usually not healthy food and you will probably eat too much of it because you are so hungry that the fact you have eaten won't even have time to register in your brain.

Now you don't have to keep a huge tub of protein powder in your office or car, you can put some in an old jar or Tupperware container and leave the tub at home.

You can always find water (you had better have a huge bottle with you at all times), so you can mix the oatmeal and whey protein with water and you have a complete meal.

You can eat the tuna from the can (you can buy pull top tuna cans) or put it on rice cakes.

I like to mix tuna and rice together for a "tuna casserole".

There are several combinations here of healthy, perfectly balanced meals. I save the RTD and the bars as a last resort, I prefer to eat whole food instead of drinking it and no matter what is in (or not in) those bars, they are never as healthy as real food.

Remember to set yourself up to be successful!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Post Competition Celebration Week

I am taking an entire week off after my competition (July 10th). I will spend the week relaxing and eating foods that have been on the "do not touch" list for ages. I will be quite loose about my diet the first week, then not quite as relaxed the second, then it's back to normal.

When I say normal, I do not mean competition prep normal, I mean a balanced, 6 meals a day diet, with an occasional plate of pasta, some lamb or pork, in other words, a few normal foods will find their way into my otherwise strict diet. I do need to gain some weight, it is not healthy to try to maintain the weight I am right now.

To give you a taste of what I shall be up to, here are some of my plans.

On Sunday, David will make David's Famous Fizzes, and I have been hankering for some sourdough toast with jam. Then it's off to Santa Cruz for lunch with our son (Cooper) at Bonny Doon's restaurant "Cellar Door" . This restaurant has an atmosphere and philosophy closest to any tapas bar I have ever been in, outside of Spain. It is a joint effort between Randall Graham of Bonny Doon Winery and David Kinch of Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos.

Monday Cooper is off to Lacrosse camp at U.C. Santa Cruz for a week, so after we drop him off, we will have lunch at Ristorante Avanti in Santa Cruz. They have an ever changing menu of fresh, seasonal ingredients, you never know what the day holds until you look at the chalkboard.

Tuesday is probably Yankee Pier in Santana Row for the Chef's shellfish platter which is oysters, shrimp and cheviche, plus all bottles of wine are half off in the month of July! Or we may just have some wine then slip across the street the the Left Bank for steak frittes and salad Lyonnaise.

Wednesday is Bastille day, which commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789; the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation, and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution. Festivities are held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic. We have reservations at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, and this is one of only 6 special events they celebrate there, so it will definitely be the highlight of the week!

Thursday, no plans! I may make homemade pizza and lounge in the backyard. But that may also change!

Friday Cooper will be picked up and we will head off to Aldo's on the water in Santa Cruz for some of their infamous deep fried calamari, just caught that day.

Saturday morning is off to San Fransisco to Mijita's at the Ferry Plaza Market. Traci Des Jardins is the chef of this fantastic Mexican restaurant. We will dine on fish taco's and red wine for breakfast, then wander through the stalls of the market and the farmer's market outside.

I still need to fit in a naked lobster roll from the Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City, I know Cooper will want to go too.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

2010 NPC San Jose Bodybuilding & Figure Championships

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The day is almost over, it's 11:00 pm and I am sitting here with my HUGE glass of water and a nice glass of champagne.

I have eaten a cookie that the expediter Keith gave me backstage, my Doritos's, some milk duds and half a banana ("M" needed the other half, she was cramping up).

I came in 2nd place in Master's 45 and over and 5th place in open "B" division. I had a super fun time, I met lots of new friends and connected with friends from previous competitions. I even met a woman from my gym who was in her first show.

The setting made it easy to spend time together as a group, we were in a small ballroom, the pump up room was the make up room, was the tanning room, was the lunchroom.

As usual, there were an incredible number of beautiful bodies, all tanned and oiled and full of muscles, it's fun to eat rice cakes and watch oiled men pump up.

The demographics are changing, I have noticed it in the last few shows, but this one was more evident. The "Bikini" division is new, I believe it started in 2009, in fact, when I was in my first NPC (National Physique Committee) show, I witnessed the debut of the very first woman to win her bikini "Pro" card- yes there are "Pro" bikini competitors!

Because Bikini is still a fledgling, the industry has not yet decided the "look" they desire as the "perfect bikini competitor" and this means that women are not quite sure exactly what the judges want.

What I have noticed though, is that the division is growing in leaps and bounds, overtaking Figure at times!

Figure is fast becoming an older woman's sport, it takes a great deal of muscle maturity to have the look they want. It takes a lot of time in the weight room. Your shoulders must be at minimum 15 inches wider than your waist, and your hips must be at least 5 inches wider than your waist or you cannot place in Figure, you do not have the symmetry they are looking for. If you are not at that point, you can step down to Bikini, there are no set guidelines such as this yet for that division. A Bikini gal cannot step up as easily to Figure though as she will typically lack the width in the shoulders and carries more body fat.

I am sensing that because of this, we will be seeing more younger women who are fit and want to compete in Bikini, while the older women who have lifted for years and wish to maintain that will continue in Figure.

Tonight my Masters over 45 division had 9 women in it. The Masters 35 to 44 had even more. The open divisions were smaller, maybe half the size. Bikini was the largest group there.

At first the energy was incredible, the Figure gals and Bikini gals all chatting together, the male bodybuilders spend time pumping up alone and the few female bodybuilders are completely alone. Then as it got to be later in the evening, the competitors started getting tired, and thirsty, and wanted to get it over with. It is such a long day.

Now, I am getting ready for a long, hot shower and will watch the brown dye swirl down the drain, it will take some time to get it all off. Then some pizza and pinot noir with David and Cooper.

Then, sleep, blissful sleep.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


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I am writing this Friday afternoon, my second competition of the year is on Saturday, the day you are reading this.

I sat down on my bed to rest for a while, I am tired, there is so much physical and emotional preparation that goes into each one of these, until you have done it yourself, you cannot even come close to imagining it.

The highs are oh so wonderful and the lows are so very dark. Everyone rides the same road up and down, but feeling alone many times.

The diet is what is most difficult for me. I love lifting weights, and can do it for hours. I mean a friend can call up and say "let's go lift weights!" and I jump at the chance.

The diet is hard because you are so alone from everyone else, they all eat something different and at a different time. You are constantly cooking, yet you cannot eat what you are cooking until your scheduled time. It's not the food that gets me down, it's the fact that eating is a communal event, a way to share life with people, I often feel I am not able to share this experience.

But that will all change very soon. I am at the home stretch, I just had my last "diet" meal.

I haven't trained since Tuesday, you have to stop a few days before, and I haven't slept in, I have gone into work early since I will be out so long, I have to catch up.

I took Friday off, went into the club at 7:30 to check my weight, I am at 120 pounds, I wanted to come in at 120 to 121 so I am perfect! On July 1 I was at 122 pounds and 4.80% body fat, so I am guessing I am about 4% right now.

Hair cut at 8:00am (see above I like the bangs!)

Manicure and pedicure at 10am (I am boycotting fake nails, I grew my own out and they look lovely), now I don't have to struggle with them all day and then soak them off.

Cooked my meals for the show, steak, chicken, rice, asparagus.

Packed everything I will need to take with me even though there is no hotel involved, it's almost like the days of an infant with the darn diaper bag and everything but the kitchen sink in it.

Took off my make up and will shower soon then down to the hotel for my spray tan. I talked David into going with me, he can sit in the bar and have a cocktail while I am tanned. Let him get up close and personal to everything.

I am looking forward to dinner. I reduced carbs for a few days, then added them back, now I am trying to saturate my muscles with glycogen. I will have RARE steak, baked potato, asparagus and a nice slice of homemade cheesecake. I made it a couple days ago, Kim told me to have it Friday night so I look full and round, I couldn't bring myself to buy an inferior product when I know I make such a good one. Plus my son loves it and will eat the rest. A win win for everyone involved!

One last meal of 3 ounces of chicken and then to bed early.

I will wake up, eat steak and potato and start the stage make up. Put on my suit and jewelry then sweats and flip flops and head down to the Convention Center. I will probably stop by and pick up "M" in her hotel room, see if she needs any last minute assistance.

Then we will head over to Exhibit Hall 3 and wait for the athlete briefing and registration. We have to check in at 8:30 but none of the figure competitors will even go on stage until 11:00 at the earliest, all of the bodybuilders go first.

The first show is open to the public (paying of course) and is called pre-judging, but there is nothing "pre" about it, this is where they decide who gets what place. You are almost sure to know what place you are in by where they line you up for the final look. Some women get so discouraged here that they don't bother to come back for the evening show.

Everyone up on the stage has busted their butt for months, they all look great and it takes guts to stand up there in front of everyone. I have a great deal of respect for every single competitor who does come this far, no matter where they place.

Pre-judging will end late, after "lunch" time and then we have a few hours to rest before the evening show. I may hang out in "M"s hotel room for a while, but will most likely drive home for a quick lay down.

Back at 6pm for the athlete brief and we go through it all over again, but this time with a huge audience, lots of lights and music, an emcee and trophies are awarded. The only placings the judges don't know until the evening show is the "overall" winner.

The overall winner for figure is selected form the first place winners of each open height category. All of the first place winners will be lined up and compared side by side. The overall winner is awarded an Excalibur sword, is featured on the posters for the following year and usually considers going on to compete at the National level.

Then, I kick off those 5 inch heels, rip open my Doritos and eat them while chugging a huge bottle of water, you can't have much all day so you are dying of thirst. After the Doritos I break open the Milk Duds and strip off the suit.

Naked women will be standing all over in the locker room, make up smeared, tans blotchy, eating every kind of junk food you can imagine, huge smiles, hugs and laughter, some will be shrieking and dancing.

"M" wants to go out to Original Joe's for dinner, it will be about 11pm and I know I will be tired, maybe I will go, maybe I will go home.

David will get home before I do and will be waiting with cold champagne for me and a big hug and kiss.

And then a long, hot, steamy shower and one more piece of cheesecake.