Monday, November 26, 2012


The greatest conflicts are not between two people but between one person and himself.
~ Garth Brooks 

Confidence is courage at ease.
~ Daniel Maher

Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles.
~ Alex Karra

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself.
~ Harvey S. Firestone

Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.
~ Herman Hesse 

Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom, and being one's own person is its ultimate reward. 
~ Patricia Sampson 

Behavior is a mirror in which every one displays his own image
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

People are like stained glass windows -- the true beauty can be seen only when there is light from within. The darker the night, the brighter the windows
~ Elizabeth KublerRosn

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.
~ Confucius 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bodybuilding, Motivation, Mind games

I frequently train twice in one day, I have to so I can fit everything in. I am doing everything within my power to add muscle, I sometimes feel I have become one of those lumbering, slow moving Bodybuilders who avoids fast movements for fear of burning up precious muscle.

It's an exaggeration, but there is some truth in it. I have changed, and I like what I see. I have almost eliminated all cardio, I ride a spin bike two times a week for 30 minutes, that's it, and it may go soon but it does help me keep my head together.

It's all about the head, the mind. 

I have always had a hard time adding the amount of muscle I want, not compared to your average woman, but compared to devoted and dedicated Bodybuilders. And, for the first time in my life, I am thinking I may actually be there. What do I mean "there"? 

I mean being a Bodybuilder.

For years I have laughed and said I was not a Bodybuilder, not that I find anything wrong with them, but there is a difference between a Bodybuilder and a Figure Competitor.  I am no longer a Figure Competitor, that's part of my past, I am moving onto Women's Physique. It's a whole new game for me. I find though, that I am training like a Bodybuilder, I have the mindset of one now.

And I love it.

Having been on both sides of the fence, and only on "this" side for a short time, I can now see the difference. I used to train to sculpt and add a bit of size and lean out. Now I train to get as big and muscular as I possibly can. Oh I won't get huge,  I cannot because I am drug free, but I can get bigger, and I look forward to it! 

I look around at other women in the gym now, and I realize that I am one of the biggest, the most muscular. I am no longer "on the fringe". I look more like a Bodybuilder than a Figure Competitor. I always felt that I had to differentiate between the two for some reason, especially when people asked me about it, almost like I was defending what I was doing. Everyone would say "are you a Bodybuilder?" and I would immediately say "No, I am a Figure Competitor"  and then try to educate them about the difference, I no longer do that. 

I am a Bodybuilder.

People seem to look down on Bodybuilders, like they are lacking in intelligence. Sure, there are plenty who are (just like every other profession or hobbyist) , but really, Bodybuilders are calculating, intelligent, motivated and focused individuals. More so than your average person. I think that the fact that Bodybuilders have an amazing and incredible drive that your average person lacks, makes them look like "freaks" to others.

Welcome to my freak show.

I guess I hadn't felt that I deserved to call myself a Bodybuilder yet, but I do now.

I realized that doing all that cardio year round was just counterproductive to all my hard lifting, it cancelled it all out. I have learned to eat enough to grow, yet not so much that I gain too much bodyfat. I have learned to lift heavy, really heavy and concentrate. I have learned to keep myself motivated while I am in the gym, so my mind is present and concentrating on the task at that time. I think only about lifting weights when I am there, nothing else.

Concentration is paramount to my success. I have to get my head in the space, the right space, or I will not be successful. Motivation and internal drive, its something that a Bodybuilder must have, every single day. 

I think about my training all the time, in fact during most of my waking hours, and it's odd to me. I am not planning a career in this, but I have such a passion for it that everything I do is planned around it. My food and the timing of what I eat is of the utmost importance. Oh I don't deprive myself of things I want, at least not right now when I am not in competition prep, but I still weigh (in my head) and consider everything before it goes in my mouth.  I plan my big simple carb meals after training, just to take advantage of that window for growth. If I want chocolate I will have it then, when my body can actually use it.

I know that most people find the mindset strange, and the whole sub-culture of the Bodybuilding world warped and perverted in a fascinating sort of way. But there are degrees of it, from a young and healthy woman who is trying to sculpt and create the body of her dreams; to a college athlete who is trying to better himself in his sport; to the gym rat who works for a couple competitions every year; to the hardcore, drug taking men and women who look freakishly big and vascular. 

They all need some kind of motivation and inner drive that sets them apart from their peers, something that pushes them to go the extra mile. While you are sleeping, we are building. While you are dining, we are building. While you are lounging watching TV, we are building.

The average person cannot do this, this is not an average endeavor. This takes a special person, a special drive.

The video below said that to me. It's full of huge, grotesquely over muscled Bodybuilding men, but you can see no matter what goes on, these men have a drive that is amazing. A drive that is motivating. A drive that is inspiring.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Homemade Roasted Cashew Butter

I love nut butters, love them! Cashew butter is great but it's best roasted, and most of them at the store are raw, what's the deal? Same with almond butter, roasted and salted is oh so much better! 

The good stuff will set you back a pretty penny, that's for sure. The last jar of cashew butter I bought was $14.00. And, these days you cannot even trust anyone who makes it! Have you heard about the Sunland peanut butter recall? Sunland makes several different brands of peanut butter, in fact, I was eating one of the recalled butters! The latest report suggests that they even knew that they were shipping tainted products! 

Sundland manufactured many different brands and products, not just nut butters, in fact, here is a list of over 100 products that they had to recall.  I was ill from it myself, for two weeks I was not feeling up to my usual perky self, (I won't go into details, use your imagination here) but things just weren't right. I would eat a tablespoon of peanut butter every few days in a shake, and it was one of the recalled ones! It was the Trader Joe's Valencia Peanuts with Flax Seeds. 

David came home from shopping one day back in September and casually said "no peanut butter. They recalled yours" and left it at that. I ran to check the open container in the fridge and it was one of the bad ones....I started to feel better shortly after chucking it in the trash can.

I digress. I was chatting with my friend Ada Chan on Facebook and she said she made her own peanut butter, so I thought I would make my own cashew butter. Do you recall that I bought a Vitamix from the auction when Dave Draper's old gym in Santa Cruz closed? I have the espresso machine and grinder too, a veritable espresso and smoothie bar right in my own kitchen! I will flex when I make it for you too if you ask!

I got the roasted and salted nuts at Trader Joe's (hoping they were not tainted). I am sure you can get them cheaper at Costco, but I'm not a member there. Into my Vitamix they went, with nothing else. 

I followed the directions, turned on variable speed with the tamper in the center, then up to high speed and listened for the change in the sounds. From a low chug chug to a high speed whir, immediately turn it off or the machine could over heat.

Here is a short video of some unknown male making honey roasted peanut butter, but you can see how the tamper works, it's indispensable for this. 

Here is my finished cashew nut butter! I made a lot, I am bringing some to Roy on Wednesday, he loves roasted nut butters too. David is very good about trying everything I make but nut butters just don't thrill him like they do me and Roy.

Yum, yum! Gotta lick the tamper! Don't worry- I thoroughly washed it afterward. 

Oh, then I went down to Body Exotic and got my nose pierced. It was a day off and seemed like a good time to do it! Thank goodness Daniel was there, he did the last three (I did the other three myself) and I feel more comfortable with him. We had a good chuckle as we chatted about which jewelry to select and the pros and cons of each. I got the most expensive item they sold, but it's also the best, set in prongs, designed small and flush and it's secured inside, I cannot remove it or lose it, I have to go have Daniel take it out if I need to remove it.

Back home and here is one jar of roasted cashew nut butter. Next I am making roasted almond butter. And maybe some macadamia, I have several cans of roasted and salted ones that were given to me as a gift.

I just need to make sure I ration it out!

Monday, November 19, 2012


Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.
~ Tom Robbins

All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, 
those that are movable, and those that move.
~ Arabian Proverb 

Our lives are a sum total of the choices we have made.
~ Dr Wayne Dyer

Sow a thought, reap an act; Sow an act, reap a habit; Sow a habit, 
reap a character; Sow a character, reap a destiny. 
~ Unknown 

You have powers you never dreamed of. You can do things you never 
thought you could do. There are no limitations in what you can do 
except the limitations of your own mind 
~ Darwin P. Kingsley

The more you praise and celebrate your life, 
the more there is in life to celebrate.
~ Oprah Winfrey 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Muscle Soreness and Massage

I have been sore, for weeks now. It’s odd, I go through periods of not being sore for a long time, then all of a sudden I feel like I am hit by a Mack truck for days on end. I can usually count on being sore when my training changes, sometimes it lasts and sometimes it doesn’t. This time it’s been a while.

Typically when I start a new program, I am sore the first few days after a new exercise, grip, or foot stance. It doesn’t take a huge change to make my body respond. I can tell the difference between muscle soreness and an injury, although I try to ignore it, or just brush it off, I know the difference, when I try to “convince” myself that I am only sore, I know it might be more.

I have been cursed with a couple of issues since June, my left hamstring, left glute and both hip flexors.  You have read all about it over and over, I won’t go on about it. In the last two weeks I have now just decided that my hamstring is fully healed. I started up training again with my regular weights long before that though, and I could tell after every workout that I still wasn’t…quite….right. 

But I kept going. Might have been a bad idea, might not have been. The soreness was more of a pain, and when it’s not evenly distributed, that is worrisome. But now;  now I can tell the hamstring is fine. The only soreness is a muscle soreness that both hamstrings feel, it’s not pain, and it’s done, a part of my past like so many other things I will allow to slip from my memory bank.

The last couple weeks my upper body has been crying, but it’s not the soreness of an injury, it’s muscle soreness. I seem to keep training so hard that I don’t ever give my body enough time to recover. My delts are tremendously sore due to the slight changes in foot position and tension that Roy has made.

He has me standing with my feet four feet from a pole, I am leaning in and doing a side lat raise. Now you have probably only seen people do this leaning out, but we are doing it like this to recruit the delts differently. No one will dare say anything to me such as suggesting that I am doing it wrong- one look at my arms and they shut up and start taking notes.  It’s obvious something I am doing is working. Even my son saw me recently and said “My god mother! Your arms are huge!”

I am training my Back hard and heavy as usual, super heavy and only once a week; my lats have been screaming for weeks. I have had trouble sleeping because it’s all so sore. My arms cannot find a comfortable position as I try to lay there, I move and toss and turn. Laying flat on my back seems to offer the most relief, but not how I like to sleep; I just lay there, wondering when the soreness will subside.

Dressing and undressing have been a challenge, a couple times I came home and was alone, all I wanted to do was to take my shirt off, so I crossed my arms at my hips (right hand to the lower part of left hem of shirt, and left arm to the right hem), I couldn’t lift and uncross them to take my shirt off. I just crumpled in frustration and slumped to the ground.  Just….want….it….off…. I want to cry but I really don’t have tears, it’s more frustration than anything. I pick myself up and get the shirt off. Luckily I have no hips, so I can pull my bra top down past my hips and butt, and off, I just step out of it, there would be no way I could remove a tight piece of clothing over my head and shoulers.

David has had to help a few times, he laughs when he does and likes to watch me flounder a bit but we both laugh afterward.

I couldn’t take it any longer, so the other day I texted Matthew at Trio Therapy: “Can you see me this afternoon? I am so tight, my lats, delts, shoulders, upper back; and my left hip flexor just a tad”

Yes, he put me down for 5:15…I waited anxiously all day.

The pain and the pleasure;  along with the relief that comes from a deep tissue massage is amazing. Sometimes I want to cry. As he worked on my left  I.T. Band, I think I flinched, he said “Are you ready for this?”…”Yes” I was, I took a deep breath and slowly released it.  His arm traveled up slowly, the pain coursing through my body straight to my core.

The left glute. Nothing…..the piriformis was fine! But over to the right and that glute was sore, but not the I.T. Band, how odd. I said “This time it’s the right butt cheek and left I.T. band; at least the soreness is moving around and not staying on the same body parts, I suppose that’s a good thing”. He laughed and said that he could tell by how deep he could go and my reaction each time.

He was working on my shoulders and lats, it didn’t feel like he had to use a lot of pressure to make me feel the intensity of it, but then there is really no fat anywhere on my back, so his hands are moving over lumps and bumps that are hard, and tight and very, very sore. I am breathing hard, sometimes I find myself holding my breath and I have to tell myself the pain will go away, breathe, breathe. 

My arm is hanging limply from the table, and he holds it gently at the shoulder, to work the knots out of the upper shoulder, I can hear the hard tissue moving under his hands. It’s those damn chin ups I tell myself. But my back, my back has gotten so wide, I cannot stop now.

Biofreeze sprayed over (most) of the body. I laugh and tell him “You know how many Biofreeze accidents I have had in the last couple weeks?” 

Then to the front of my body, my quads are sore and I hadn’t realized it, you don’t sometimes, at least not until someone puts pressure on them.  The chest, the neck, and parts you just don’t think about.

My left hip flexor, he finds ‘the spot” and I rotate the leg in and out, just a slight tightness on occasion, but why put up with that? I want it completely gone. I told him how a guy at the gym was “flashing” me from across the room; he was lifting his long shorts to reveal pink Kinesio tape on his leg!  When I spoke to him a few days later, it turns out it wasn’t Kinesio tape at all, it was pink duct tape! His daughter was working on a school project, so he decided to put some tape on his leg as he had seen on mine…..I told him that tape must have hurt like a son of a gun when he ripped all the hair off his leg removing it, Kinesio tape doesn’t do that. So when Matthew was asking which color I wanted on my leg this time, I got pink in his honor, and I showed it to him the next day too!

90 minutes later, actually a bit longer and he was done. I could lay there for three hours doing this if I didn’t have to get up to use the bathroom.

I slipped into my clothes and uggs, home to egg whites and spinach and bed. I slept better, my shoulders and back didn’t keep me awake all night long.

Massage is vital for healthy tissue and muscles, especially if you exercise like I do. Don’t take it all for granted, healing just doesn’t take time, your muscles need proper fuel, rest, hydration and post training bodywork. That includes stretching and massage.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Kettlebell Snatch

Kettlebells,  I love them but I hadn’t used them in months.  

Several years ago I used to train with kettlebells on a regular basis, with SC. I even bought some of my own because the gym I went to didn’t have their own (and they have since purchased two complete sets, although I have yet to see more than one or two people, including most trainers use them correctly).

I love the power I feel from kettlebells, swinging that heavy, round, cold bell just gives me a thrill. Some of the movements are slow, like the Turkish Get-Up, but most have some momentum behind them.

The Swing is the classic and probably the easiest; it is also the one that everyone does wrong. I see the a trainer at Gold’s show people incorrectly all the time.  A Swing is where you hold the bell with two hands, and it is “swung" between your legs, and you crouch down in a semi squat as it passes through and behind you, then you use the hips to thrust forward, the arms are only holding onto the bell, they are not “lifting” it or providing the power as it swings in front of you and up to chest level. It’s all in the hips and the glutes.  Hence the name “swing” and not “lift”.

This is not to be confused with the way you may see some Crossfitters "swing", they bring it up above their head, I know there is a method to their madness, but I am not a Crossfitter, don't want to be a  Crossfitter and cannot speak to the sport. 

I believe someone once told me their style is "American Style" but Kettlebells originate from Russia, and that's the style I am discussing. I am not here to get into a debate about which is better, so if you want to form your own opinion, here is an article that does a good job explaining the differences (although I think it is slightly biased.)

What people do wrong is they think the power comes from their arms. They try to move the bell with the power of their arms and not their hips and glutes.

The Snatch is my favorite, this is a one armed move almost like a swing, but the bell is brought over the head and the arm locked out at top.  Just watching someone perform kettlebell snatches is exciting! It’s a true all over body exercise. Snatches are a great way to burn calories while still using weights, in other words, an “approved” form of cardio in my book!

Kettlebells require you to use your hips, glutes and core. This is why I stopped, every time I would try to do some swings or snatches, the ripping and searing pain in my hip flexors, running down the front of my hips would instantly stop me.  If you do them correctly you will immediately feel it in your hips, glutes, hamstrings and abs.  

If you are doing them incorrectly, it doesn’t matter if you have tight hips (like I did), nor does it matter what shape your glutes are in, you will not understand the power of the bell because all you will be doing is a little dip with the knees and then attempting to pull a heavy iron ball up with your arm and shoulder. You will probably feel it in your back, shoulder and face due to the contortions you will make attempting to wrestle the beast up. 

Saturday I was feeling good, each day I feel better and better, so I decided to try a few snatches as my post lifting burn out, something just to get me huffing and puffing.

I have some old tube socks that have been cut into bands, I slip then over my hands to help protect them so my thick calluses don’t rip with the bells, and they also work like chalk to absorb the sweat, otherwise those things can go flying! 

Here is a video I took in my backyard demonstrating the Kettlebell Snatch, this was taken in February of 2011. 

As you can see, the only effort on my arms is when I lock them out at the top of the snatch, I am not using the power of my arms to propel the bell up and over my head, it  flows easily from the hips and posterior chain.

Monday, November 12, 2012


"Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that is where I renew my springs that never dry up." 
~Pearl S. Buck 

"There is an opportunity for us to renew ourselves. There's an opportunity for us to leave the past behind and present something different for the future." 
~Jay Weatherill 

"If you've lost focus, just sit down and be still. Take the idea and rock it to and fro. Keep some of it and throw some away, and it will renew itself. You need do no more." 
~Clarissa Pinkola Estes 

"The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, every place is the center of the world." ~John Burroughs

"Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain. An occasional glance towards the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point." 
~Harold B. Melchart

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Things do not change; we change."
~Henry David Thoreau

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." 
~Ambrose Redmoon

"By recollecting the pleasures I have had formerly, I renew them, I enjoy them a second time, while I laugh at the remembrance of troubles now past, and which I no longer feel." 
~Giacomo Casanova 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Modern Dance

Have you always been athletic? I am asked all the time. I guess it's rather odd to find someone my age as fit and devoted as I am to something that is not "gentle" like yoga or Pilates, who claims to have started "getting fit" at age 40.

This is me, 34 years ago in 1978 when I was 17 years old. I was a dancer in high school. I loved dance and danced a few hours a day, I studied Modern dance and I was also a student teacher, I loved it that much. I recall that in my senior year of school, I danced 3 to 4 hours a day. I don't think they have a budget for dance in public schools any longer, it's a shame.

I suppose this is where I got my start in the love of a physique based sport. Dance is very much like being a Figure Athlete, it is a form of self expression where your body is the canvas for the mood and story you are trying to tell.

This picture appears to be a ballet stance, but it's not. Modern dance has it's roots in ballet, but is considered  a more rebellious form of dance, more free spirited and unrestricted.

In Modern dance, the dancers often appear to be flowing and moving, but not necessarily following a choreographed set of movements,  although it is highly choreographed, believe me. I think what I loved the most were my solo's where I could then do what I wanted, drawing from the theme of the story, and dance with abandon while the rest of the troop and the audience watched.

I often got a bit too carried away, in the picture above, our dance was choreographed to the song "A Fifth Of Beethoven" performed by Walter Murphy in the movie Saturday Night Fever. I was dressed as an old lady with a cane, barely able to walk, but slowly, as the music got faster, the clothes came off, along with the hat, the shoes, the pearls and I was left in this, dancing like mad. if you don't remember Saturday Night Fever, or the music, here is a short video. (There are several videos below, email readers will need to navigate directly to the blog to view them).

Modern Dance is often mixed with jazz, and that was often the case with many of the dances that we choreographed. Our dances tended to be more fast paced, and set to current music.

Below is a video of a wonderful dancer, who is dancing to something that is similar to the types of dances our dance instructor choreographed for us.

Once I was a witch doctor, and wore a skin colored body stocking and had only a rabbit fur loin cloth on, that seemed to have upset the school principal and he insisted on previewing all dance performances prior to any live performances thereafter.

Here is a video that explains the history of Modern dance.

My desire to move into Women's Physique seems fitting, the body and muscles have been well developed, and the desire to dance and perform is still there, the two, combined together are an exciting prospect for me.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


I think it's a four letter word to be honest! How much cardio should a person do? There is no set answer nor is there a right one. It all depends. It depends on the person, their caloric intake, their other training or sport and their goals.

But it's mainly about THE GOAL.

A while back I wrote that I would be increasing my weight training and decreasing my cardio "because I didn't like how cardio made me look". One of my readers asked about it, "what did you mean, you didn't like the way cardio makes you look?"

Let me explain. I think too much cardio makes most people look tired, ragged  emaciated and skinny. If you want to insult me, tell me I look skinny. Skinny is not attractive in my book, it is synonymous with starvation and eating disorders in my mind. 

The problem is, most people don't know when to stop doing cardio. They think it's the magic ticket out of the realm of fat. But it's not, take it from me. 

These pictures were just taken the day I write this. In fact, I almost always use current pictures, (I will tell you when they are older ones); it helps me see where I am everyday and it "keeps it real"; you see me year round as my physique changes and fluctuates.  You don't just see me at my best (but then you know that already huh)?

I think I look great- I am very happy with my physique right now. I am not dieting, in fact, I am enjoying quite a range of foods and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich moments before sitting down to write. (That was after a can of tuna mixed with a mashed up hard cooked egg and a huge spoon of dill pickle relish. Dill pickle relish has no sugar like sweet does).

My goal right now is to add muscle, lots of muscle. It is a difficult endeavor for a woman, we just don't have the necessary muscle building testosterone like men do. It is proven that you need a surplus of calories to build (fat or muscle); and you need a deficit to lose (fat or muscle). Anyone who tells you that you can add a significant amount pf muscle and lose fat at the same time is trying to sell you something, I guarantee it.

Yes, there are methods of "body re-composition"  where you can increase lean mass and decrease fat, but this is mainly for extremely overweight people. When you are at my level, where i have been training for a long time and my physique is fairly dialed in year round, it's more fine tuning and it's not as easy.

I look around at people who lift, then they head up to get their cardio in. These people are either competitors who are trying to lose fat (and they will probably do a second cardio session the same day), or they are people who never look any different. Their cardio wipes out all the hard work from their lifting. Many of these competitors will end up looking like they "dieted too long" when their competition rolls around, and it's because they did too much cardio.

A couple months ago I cut way back on cardio, and I stopped all steady state cardio altogether. I am doing "cardio" 2 times a week for 30 minutes, that's it! 

And I look like this.

I have been riding a spin bike with my gymboss, so I am basically doing intervals on a bike. I cannot tell you how important this little electronic gadget is, it ensures you stay on task and don't cheat. I set it on 3 minutes off (seated ride) and then 1 minute on (standing, hard pedaling, butt hovering over and just touching the saddle, all the power coming from my quads). There is a loud beep and a vibration (I need all the help I can get because my music is so loud) for 5 seconds at each start and stop point.

I am actually seriously considering eliminating all cardio for a while. It would be interesting to see how I change!

I still lift every single day, and on Wednesdays twice a day! So I am still quite active, in fact I am in a gym, lifting 70 minutes a day (2 days a week) and 120 to 150 minutes a day (the other 5 days a week, usually split into two sessions). Yes, that's over an hour on my "short" days and 2 1/5 hours on the "long" days.

This is the first time in years that I have done this, and I like the results. I look full, muscular, healthy and lean still. 

I think that eliminating most of the cardio has allowed my body to grow the way I want it to. And as I mentioned, I am not dieting, but it certainly is not a free for all! During the entire month of October I strayed into the Halloween candy only one day at work, that was it for candy.  I have been adhering to my typical diet where all food is weighed and measured, but I allow myself to eat with the family several times a week (when I am not lifting at night with Roy). 

How much was I doing before? A lot compared to now, but not a lot compared to many other people I know. I would do steady state cardio (treadmill or stairmill) for 30 minutes 5 times a week. In addition, I was running stairs and jumping rope at lunch 4 times a week. I will start in on this again, but not until I get closer to a competition, when I need to drop all the extra fat (and yes, I do have fat that needs to go for a competition).

I have replaced my cardio with heavy lifting. I train hard, as hard as possible every time I am in the gym. And Roy ensures that my weights go up, no stagnation, always improvements.

It shows that sometimes we can have blinders on about our training and diet. I have relaxed the diet a bit and cut way back on the cardio and I couldn't really be happier with the results.

Think about your cardio and training, and then assess your results. Are you happy? Have you been "busting your butt" yet not seeing the results? Maybe it's time to make a change. Yes, it was a bit frightening, I was sure I would blow up like a balloon, but I didn't did I? Not even close. 

Drop me a line if you want to chat about it and I will give you my honest opinion. I don't recommend making drastic changes if you have an event on the near horizon, such as a competition, or a wedding or vacation. But if you are ready to make some positive changes, think about it.

Set a goal and
Lift Hard.

Monday, November 5, 2012


As I write this on Sunday evening, just before I go to bed, I am reflecting on my own need for motivation.  I find it interesting and puzzling that so many people look to me for motivation, I never quite understand why they do. I don't feel that I am a particularly "motivating" person, but I do know that my outlook on life tends to be a bit more positive, pro-active and open minded than most.

I have found that looking at the glass "half full" or searching for the bright side of things always seems to serve me better, no matter what the situation.

I spent the day eating and drinking. No, actually the entire weekend. Ugh. To most people this would be cause for celebration, in fact, that's what it was! But to me, and many like me, it becomes a time of regret, of anxiety, of "why did I do all that"? 

But it shouldn't be. Spending time with loved ones, family and friends enjoying food and wine should be a fine thing to do on a beautiful weekend.

I, just like so many others who compete, need to remember that life is about balance. I can work my tail off most of the time, and then I should be fine letting loose every once in a while without beating myself up.

I want to say thank you to David for bearing with me all the time. Thank you for understanding my needs and waiting patiently for me. 

"Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony." 
~Thomas Merton 

"In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth." 
~Patti Smith 

"The failure-dichotomy principle: failure is good. Failure is not an option. Balance those in your brain."
~ Donny Deutsch

"The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you've lost it."
~ Unknown Quotes

"A warrior balances solitude and dependence."
~ Paulo Coelho
“There’s no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves”
Frank Herbert

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and 
 ~Thomas Merton 

“Wisdom is your perspective on life, your sense of balance, your understanding 
of how the various parts and principles apply and relate to each other. It 
embraces judgment, discernment, comprehension. It is a gestalt or oneness, 
and integrated wholeness.
~Stephen R. Covey 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Active Myofascial Therapy

Nice tape huh? Kinesio tape applied by Matthew Trujillo of Trio Therapy

So let's back up a bit. A while ago I experienced a great stretching session with Stephen DiLustro, it made my whole body feel better and set the healing process in motion. But the more I read, and thought about it, I realized that the Stretch To Win sessions would be great for continued flexibility, but I needed to fix my injury first. An intense stretching session every few weeks wouldn't fix the problem, in fact it may hinder it. 

I talked with Matthew and explained my problems. I have already seen a chiropractor, physical therapist, massage therapist, stretching with Steve and my family physician. I refused to believe that I had strained hip flexors and would have to just stop using them. I had stopped squatting and lunging for almost five weeks, and no changes.

After stretching with Steve I knew that Matthew's techniques would be what my body needed. He is an Active Myofascial Therapist. He uses similar stretching techniques that Steve does, and incorporates trigger point massage. 

We chatted on the phone and I went in to see him on a Friday. It was typical a Friday, the gym at 5:00am, work till 11:30, training with Roy at noon, posing with Kristy Enos at 2:00, then off to meet Matthew for the first time.

We went into a therapy room, similar to but larger than a massage room. He wanted to see me lunge, stand, walk, squat. He asked if I have ever heard of a pelvic tilt. "Yes, and I have one." I explained. Then I told him of my dilemma, I know I have one and I make every effort to tuck my hips in and not create the "sway back", but in posing practice, you have to make the sway back, you work hard to stick the butt out!

I laid on my back on the table and he started in looking for the painful areas of my left hip flexor, it was easy to find. Tight as a guitar string, just slight pressure made it feel as though it might snap. He applied pressure and then instructed me to rotate my leg in slowly and out, we did that a few times. He had me perform "pelvic tilts" to retrain the neuro-muscular connection. With every move I made, he applied pressure.

At one point I almost jumped off the table, "You tased me!" I said. I was sweating. His finger was pressing in on a muscle running up my groin, and a sharp, intense pain zipped from his hand all the way down my leg, to my foot. He apologized (although he hadn't done anything wrong) and said it was a nerve reacting to the treatment.

He worked on my right, but it wasn't as tight. He worked on my glutes, that darn piriformis on my left side is a stubborn little cuss. Then on to my QL. There is a video here that shows trigger point massage on the QL.

Matthew had me perform various stretches, holding for 2 seconds, then relaxing 2 seconds, before the brain told the muscle to tighten even further. With the Stretch To Win I was holding 3 seconds, not much longer.

We were supposed to go for one hour, and ended up spending 90 minutes. Matthew ended by applying the Kinesio tape (above) to the areas we worked on the most. This would stay on 3 to 5 days.  The tape is close to the thickness of human skin, and the body doesn't recognize that it is a foreign object. It lifts the skin allowing increased blood flow and circulation of lymphatic fluids. It's waterproof and you don't even notice it's there (unless you are looking at my picture, then it stands right out).

I enjoyed the session, Matthew was fun and very personable, as I made fun of myself and the "bodybuilding world" he joined in by asking questions about it that many other people have always wanted to ask but were afraid to. The type of sessions we had were ones where talking is best, it would take my mind off the pain and discomfort as he poked and prodded my sore muscles.

Afterward Matthew had me lunge, squat, stand, walk, I immediately felt better! I also had homework, I needed to do my stretches and pelvic tilts.

The next day at the gym, I talked to more people than I had in a year! Everyone came up, motioned for me to take out my earbuds, wanted to talk. They all wanted to know what it was, what was it supposed to do, what did I hurt, how long would I wear it, on and on and on. At times I think it was a good excuse just to chat with me.

I would go back on Tuesday to see Matthew again, and the days in between everything felt better, I was really experiencing prolonged relief for the first time in months. Training went well, I was lifting more than ever. I got up to 205# (10 reps) on my RDL's but we backed off to 200#.

Tuesday I went in, I had texted Matthew earlier and he said I should take the tape off, he would be applying more. Below is the second taping, as you can see, the tape now extends down my legs lower, and over my left hip, the pain and tightness shifted! He said that wasn't unusual at all. 

When I arrived, he asked if I had been doing my stretches and pelvic tilts. "Yes, I have." I said, "But I have a question- I was explaining the pelvic tilts to my trainer and I couldn't explain WHY I was doing them."

Matthew looked at me with a straight face and said "Oh those? Those were purely for my own personal entertainment."

We looked at each other for a couple seconds and both burst out laughing. He had me for a minute! Then he explained it was neuro-muscular retraining. 

We went through the same trigger point massage, I rotated my leg in, then out. At one point I started laughing and Matthew asked what was so funny. "I just tased myself!" Just like last time, but I could now control the nerve by how I moved my leg....a bit frightening.

Matthew worked on the hips again for an hour, and the adductor, IT band and QL. The glutes got their share, "windshield wipers" ha ha, I love it. On my stomach, he finds the nasty piriformus and presses in, then instructs me to bend at the knee, bringing my foot up in the air and move my leg back and forth, like a windshield wiper. The pain as I move my leg is one of those "hurts so good" pains....he says I can stop, but I think I keep wiping...

A week later I am back, we would work on the tight areas again and a little massage, you can see the third taping below. Only one leg! 

Seems my adductor has been giving me a lot of pain, literally! Matthew didn't have to work on the right hip flexor much, and the left only a bit. He massaged my lower body quite a lot, but it wasn't one of those "oh so relaxing I want to drift off to sleep" massages, in fact, it was quite painful at times.  I am always amazed at how tight my whole body gets. I forget that I really expect quite a bit from it.

I suppose this was more trigger point therapy and sports massage. I know there were spots that hurt like a son of a gun when he moved his forearm over them. The kind of pain that makes you breathe in really quickly and sort of hold your breath, and then you slowly release it wondering if the pain will also stop.

I must say, that Matthew does win the award for glutes though. I have written over and over how I want my glutes massaged, I always have sore glutes. The massage therapists I go to do massage my glutes, but everyone seems to have their "limits" and it has always stumped me because the glutes are the biggest muscle in the body, if you are a real athlete, these suckers are sore!  I think Matthew pretty much just tossed the blanket aside and dug in, it was heaven! I am sure he would not do this if you had instructed otherwise.....

He worked on my back and shoulders, I told him that sometimes I am so tight, I cannot pull my shirt over my head, and David just laughs at me. Oh he helps, but not right away, he will let me flounder around until I beg for help. 

Matthew also introduced me to Biofreeze pain reliever an amazing product, I am a junkie! He sprayed it on the target areas after each session, and all over my back on the last one. I bought several containers from him, the gel and the spray. Take it from me, use gel on your hip area. Spray can freeze body parts that you really don't want frozen. And make sure you wash your hands after applying it. This morning I applied it to my hamstrings, then slathered my sunblock on my face. A lot of soap and water later and then I was fine, just a slight delay in my morning routine.

So how is my body after all this?

I am sore. Wednesday is my two a day lifting day. I train arms at 5:00 am on my own, then quads at 5:30 pm with Roy. I was sore, all over my entire body when I met him. I told him that I really cannot have any work like this done before a hamstring or quad day, I am just too sore afterward.

But the hips, how are they? I think I found my cure! The pain I had been experiencing is gone and the tightness is dramatically reduced, I have to search for any discomfort. The range of motion is back, I can squat low without the tearing feeling in my hips. 

Is it completely gone? As I write this on Thursday night, every muscle in my body hurts. It's a combination of a change in my training (and when my training changes I go through new found soreness each time), and the massage therapy I went though. I am not feeling the intense pain when I sit, or drive a car, or try to lower myself onto a toilet, or when I am sleeping, yes I was in pain as I would lay in bed. So while I am not completely healed, I am almost there. Like any injury or overuse issue, it will take some time, but I am close, very, very close. 

Provided I continue with my stretching and pelvic tilts, and my rumble rolling, I am confident that I will be right as rain very soon. Matthew said I should probably come back in two to three weeks. And I am calling Steve too, I have plenty of room (and need) in my life for a lot of bodywork.

Give Matthew a call, or visit his website. He can fix your aching body.