Workout Wednesday: Still going & post baby goals.

It’s happened. Baby Rebel has decided to start dropping, and tugging my belly down along with him, so I had to do it. I had to buy a maternity band. It helps. Some. It doesn’t provide full relief, especially on my round ligaments, but it is better than nothing.

The count down is on, he’s coming and coming soon.

So I’m done working out, right? Wrong.

My dog had an injury at the start of the year, and now that he’s done with the meds and on the mend, we have to do some rehab walking to build up the muscle in his hind end and back legs. Granted, it’s not far, but it’s probably the first time we hit the road to walk in quite awhile (my extreme fatigue issues with my legs have kept us from our regular walks). After getting the new band, I wanted to test it out on a walk. So we walked.

Then I came home and did a light weight and band workout on legs. I hit shoulders yesterday, and did a little yoga after a walk the day before. The working out, even if it’s only for 20-minutes, has been immensely helpful in dealing with the changes in my body, any pain, and of course, my spinal disease (I’ve been fortunate enough to have had less than a handful of flares during almost 9 months of pregnancy).

While I was working out tonight, I got thinking about my post-baby goals. For most of my pregnancy, it has been to, of course, get back to where I was at strength wise, and continue chipping away at and chiseling my physique. Get that bulky, muscled athlete look back. That still holds, but something else has surfaced in my goals. Be a better yogi.

I love yoga and have been doing it for just about a decade now. It has helped with my back, keep me somewhat flexible (I’ve concluded I’ll never gain full flexibility), keep me stretched and just in general it’s made my body happy. BUT, that’s just your basic yoga. When it comes to those challenging moves where almost your complete body becomes levitated off of the ground? Nope. I’ve never been able to accomplish that. Seriously.

Me who has a leg press of over 600-pounds. Me who hit deadlifts over 300-pounds. The same girl who could back squat her weight, plus some extra plates. Or the same girl who hit a bench press of 10-pounds shy of her 128-pounds.

Super strong me has never been able to do those beautiful flows that move the body around and lift it into the air.

My balance has always been kind of crappy, and while yoga helped me gain some balance, I just never had enough to make those fluid moves. And that’s where my goal now lies. Building my balance, building my strength in the right ways and places to do those moves.

I can blame this new-found, driving desire on the amazing yogis I have found on Instagram. And the stunning Laura Sykora (if you’re not following her on IG, find her and do so, you won’t be let down!).

This, this right here, I will get here. I can do it. wpid-img_20150121_175503.jpg

Winter Scales. Stretch Marks. Happy Skin.

I live in the frigid white north (AKA, Maine). A mile from the water, so we get all of those “warm” and “lovely” sea breezes. So winter time is particularly joyful. I know, you’re all reading this “from away” saying: But it’s so pretty!

Sure it is. But it gets really old after awhile. It does make you tougher. Weathers you. And after so many of them in a row, you become immune to it and think nothing of it.

However, it never stops messing with your skin. EVER.

If you don’t use or like lotions, potions, etc… You might as well face it, you’re going to be a scaly reptile for six or seven months out of the year. You have to put something on your skin. Especially if you want to age somewhat normally. Otherwise, you’re going to age pretty damn quickly. Or look like you have.

Who wants an 80 year old’s face when they’re 30? Certainly not me.

I’ve always been adamant in my skin care routine. Lather up with a good body butter right after my showers (best time to moisturize actually, you’re skin is more receptive of it). Then I slather on lotion a few times throughout the day.

Keeping your skin moisturized keeps it happy and healthy. Wrinkles come later because your skin can retain its elasticity better. And stretch marks, while there is no actually, sincerely proven way of preventing them, keeping your skin hydrated will help. Either fend them off for a bit, or at least they won’t be as bad as they could potentially could be.

Anyone can get them, but some people are in fact, more susceptible to getting them. A variety of factors play into whether you’ll get them or not. Genetics, age (surprisingly younger people are more susceptible than older), etc.

So far during my pregnancy, I’ve been lucky enough to have only gotten about a handful of them. Of course, I’ve gotten them in the oddest places on my belly. Not on the bottom, around the navel, on the sides, or on the top like most pregnant women who get them see. But hey, I figured, at my size pre-pregnancy, I wouldn’t get through “un-scathed”.

My goal from day one was: I know I’m going to get them, I just don’t want to FEEL myself getting them.

Feel? You can feel stretch marks?

When I started really packing on muscle size, and growing from pancake booty to cute, perky booty, I experienced my first adult stretch marks. Three dash marks on each side. That’s right. Three on the side of my right butt cheek and three on the side of my left.

Let me tell you this: I could feel it happening over time. It’s like a slow elastic break. It was rather disturbing to be honest.

Given these new stretch marks I’d gain during pregnancy were going to be on my belly? No. Way. wpid-img_20150113_144547.jpg

My skin care routine changed. The soaps I used in the shower all were moisturizing in property in one way or another. Post shower, I use BioOil (or in my cheapskate case, Skin Renew, the Rite Aid version – it’s like $20 cheaper and the same exact thing), and Aquaphor on my belly, sides, back and thighs. All places that I’m going to grow the most during this baby making process.

The rest of my body gets treated to the usual Skin Milk lotion that is seriously probably the only thing out there that keeps my skin hydrated this time of year.

In the mornings, before I dress (I shower in the evenings), I slather on another round of just the BioOil on my “trunk area” and lotion regularly the rest of me and I continuously lotion throughout the day as I need to.

My skin looks and feels great, despite the stretch marks I have gotten. I didn’t feel them, and they certainly don’t look as angry as my booty ones did when I got them (they’ve since faded to be the typical shade-lighter-than-skin-tone). So all in all, it seems to working wonders.

I’ve been asked a lot by expecting moms, moms trying to conceive and moms who have already had their bundle, what exactly I’ve been doing. I tell them that it’s not a magical cure when I give them my routine over the past eight months, I let them know right away it’s not the cure all, but I can tell them that their skin will most certainly love them for it.

Love your skin and it will love you right back. Treat it good, and it will be good to you.

I am fearful.

I feel that this posting needs to start off with a few things before we get into the “dirt” of it…

First, I’m not religious. By any means. For the longest time, just to get my paternal grandfather riled up, I’d say I was “anti organized religion”. Eventually, I just became a “non practicing Catholic”. Which was most true, since I, as a baby, wearing one of those god awful white dress things, had a Catholic priest dump water on my head, in a Catholic church — making me in the ultimate end, Catholic. But, I never went to church (except that one time when I was five, or that other time I went to a wedding and probably sprouted horns because I was sitting there sans the skivvies), and I never did that confirmation/Catechism/whatever the heck it’s called like everyone else on my mom’s side of the family did.

Second, I’m not political party aligned. I’m not right or left. Conservative or liberal. I’m that pain in the ass that sits right in the middle. Annoying the crap out of those officially affiliated with a specific party. I can see both sides, and whether or not I agree, well, that depends where my opinion lies.

Okay… and here we go…

I fear for my child. I fear for his future. His beliefs. I am fearful.

Why?

We like to tout that society has come so far in being open and accepting. That one religion isn’t crucified because of the actions of only a small number in that religion. Or that an entire race won’t suffer the same fate.

Racism is dead. Freedom of religion is alive. Everyone has the right to express their opinion via the long standing Freedom of Speech.

I could go on. But I’ll stop right there. I’d just be wasting my breath. Because it’s all wrong.

I always valued the fact that I am hungry for knowledge. I love to learn. I love to expand my horizons. I feel that despite being very well rounded in all things, I can always be more. It’s something in myself that I have always wanted to instill upon any children I may have. I want them to know. I want them to learn.

I also want them to be like me. Along with educated, I want them to be unjudging. Open minded. Compassionate. Accepting… and more.

All things that people claim to be today, and most, sadly, are not. I know a woman who is a lesbian, but is anti-homosexual. How that is even remotely possible? I don’t know. She doesn’t believe in equal rights or marriage for anyone in the LGTB community. Anyone.

A friend who is deeply religious has set out on a warpath to exterminate (his words, not mine), the entire Islamic religion based on what only some in that religion have done. Whatever happened to love thy neighbor? Or to just love, period? How can he crucify the whole for what part have done? Maybe it’s because I’m not religious that I do not understand.

A former college classmate, who claimed to be the least racist person she ever knew, yet called every white person she knew a “honkey”, made reference to her black friends as “her niggaz”, and even called her own race, spics and wetbacks.

The times I’ve heard men criticize the men of the middle east for their treatment of women, then turn around and treat the women around them as beneath them.

The women who are abused, who, until realizing that it’s not right or okay (which is a different story in itself), plead the case of their boyfriend/fiance/husband saying “But he’s a good (insert religion here) man”, as if it justifies what it being done to her.

The times I, myself, have been told in political discussions that my words or opinions do not matter because I’m not a Republican or Democrat. I’m just an Independent. I’m an atrocity to this country.

Or the times that I have been told in religious discussions (much like one unfolding on my social media feed currently about the “need to exterminate” Islamic people), that I just need to leave the conversation. I’m not a religious or God fearing person. I have no say.

It doesn’t take away my education. It doesn’t take away that I have read the “books” of many, many religions (I say books because we could be here all day if I got down to specifics for each religion I have educated myself on). It doesn’t take away from the fact that I pay attention to politics, I know what is going on, I know what it means for me as a citizen of this country.

I have fought hard to stay true to myself and who I am despite witness this going on around me. At 31 years old, I can still say that I have not given an inch of who I am.

I want desperately for my unborn son to be able to stand tall and be true to himself. I fear the pressure that society puts on people who don’t “mold” to one or the other. I fear society itself and how it can quiet him potentially. How it can possibly stifle him.

I am fearful.

Foodie Love: The One Dish Kind.

I love to cook. There is no way around it. When I first started out on my own, even though a lot of it was boxed, canned, or 75% prepped already for me, I found I enjoyed cooking. As time passed, I got damn good at cooking from recipe books and making my own recipes.

The suckiest thing ever about pregnancy? I still love to cook, I just have lost my ambition for it. I have gone from cooking dinner on average of five or six times a week to maybe one or two and most times it’s something quick and thrown together. We’ve eaten a lot of chicken burgers. And meatloaf. And bar-b-qued bake chicken.

The crockpot has become even more my best friend than ever. Throw a hodge podge in there, and even if I’m not feeling food come dinner time (a foodie’s worst nightmare), at least my husband will be fed.

The stack of “to trys” from Bon Appetit magazine has grown to be rather daunting. Some of the easier prep and short on cooking time ones I’ve been lucky enough to get my mojo going enough to try, the rest are just going to have to wait.

It’s a shame really, seeing actual dust gather around the utensils that I, just a few months ago, used regularly.

When I can get the gumption up to cook, it’s still my tried and true favorite: One Dish Meals. Sure, I like to make sides, extras, etc. to go along with chicken a la whatever, steak seasoned with that, ground this and so on, but one dish is where it’s at. It also makes packing up left overs and eating those left overs easy as hell.

The problem is, as I’ve learned to cook without recipes, throwing my own creations together… I kinda stopped measuring along the way. Everything just gets chopped, sliced, or tossed in. I call it: Hail Mary Cooking.

Which makes it hard to pass on recipes.

Like tonight. I knew I wanted shiitake mushrooms, my little person in my belly was nudging me towards meatballs, my taste buds were saying grape tomatoes and capers.

Out of my craving, this was born.wpid-wp-1420509421724.jpeg

What’s in it:

Chicken Tomato Basil meatballs
Capers
Shiitake mushrooms
1/2 chopped onion
1/2 chopped red bell pepper
Grape tomatoes (sliced)
Garlic
Italian marinade/dressing
Orzo
Mozzarella (as a topping, and just a sprinkle!)

And how did it taste? Delicious. I haven’t lost my touch at all. And I know once baby comes in a few weeks, time will not be on my side. But I can only hope that I can get back my “juice” to get cooking. I’ve got a lot of ideas kicking around my head to try for dinner, and I have a lot, and I do mean a lot of recipes from magazines and cookbooks that I’m itching to cook.

When You Come Full circle.

I feel like I’ve sort of come full circle in my fitness journey, but yet, I’ve done more than come full circle.

I started working out, at home, awkwardly and privately, to some VHS tapes I bought (I feel like I’m dating myself there by saying that). I progressed from there to printouts from magazines like Women’s Health, before finally being able to afford a gym membership.

Now that I’m no longer a gym patron, I’m back to working out in my home. Certainly things this time around are a lot different. I have a lot more knowledge, I have become a trainer, I actually have weights (because I can actually lift them now).

I don’t need the VHS’ (or DVDs) anymore. I still thumb through fitness magazines a lot, reading the stories, checking out the workouts they publish. I browse around on BodyBuilding.com a lot still.

But my goals have also changed. When I started out in my bedroom the summer after I graduated high school in ’02, I just wanted to stay active. I wanted to tone up just a little. Over those first few years of working out, even after I bought my gym membership, that goal held intact. I started running more and a new goal was added, to start running races. Improve my time. Improve my endurance.

Then the muscle bug came. I wanted shape on me. The only way I’d get that was to put on some muscle, start carving my body.

Then I became a powerlifting monster. Setting PR after PR with my squats, deads and benches. My body was carved by everything I did. I was looking lean, mean and athletic.

So hey, why not try to cut up and lean out a little more, maybe do a competition? New goal!

Right now, my goal is to just stay healthy, active and moving during the last few weeks of pregnancy (that’s right, it’s coming closer and closer!). I have the weights and tools I need at home to continue doing so. Beyond pregnancy, once I get going again… I’ve got some ideas in mind, but nothing is cemented yet. Will it be run more? Be faster? Or lift heavier than ever? Or compete?

You’ll all just have to wait and see what I decide to do once that time comes. I think I’ll title the tale “Stories From the Fit Garage”

Looking back: 2014.

Oh 2014 has certainly been a year. And looking back on it today, I found myself having a “moment”. Of course, I was having my most reflective moment of the year about 10 minutes before finishing my last workout in my gym, not for 2014, but forever.

I found myself a little nostalgic as I finished my shoulder workout and looked around the space that I have used to sculpt my body, build strength and set some pretty great personal records over the past 12 years. It’s hard to believe that when I started there, I was only pushing a single 25-lb plate on each side of the leg press. Or that I didn’t even know what a deadlift was.

This year, in this gym, my body has seen some of it’s most drastic changes. For the first time in my fitness journey – I was finally sculpting shoulders. Erin Stearn’s Elite Body workout gave them that boost they needed. Instead of having that rugged, firm athletic appearance, I was leaning out. I was, by the end of May, on track to my first stage appearance in the fall.

This is also the same year, that after a year of not really powerlifting – at all, I hit the gym one night and by the time I walked out, I’d broken my backsquat PR of 125-lbs, setting a new one at 140-lbs, and randomly deadlifted 300-lbs for 10 reps, finding myself surprised that I hadn’t lost more of my “powerlifting abilities” during that year. Excited that I was so easily able to get back to 300-lbs, I was setting myself up for breaking my 350-lb for five reps on the deadlift by the middle of this summer.

Then four days later, I found out I was five weeks pregnant. All powerlifting came to a complete halt. And my fitness journey became something else.

Pregnancy has made EVERYthing “something else”.

After receiving the news at the end of April, that at most, with all the medicine of today could do, it was coming time to accept children were not a part of my future, finding out that I was pregnant, was shocking. Life suddenly became…. different, for a lack of a better word.

2014 has had bad news and bad people, and a car accident, but knowing that I had a little tiny human growing inside of me has canceled out every single bad memory, every single negative thing that has been said to me, and all I can think of is the positive.

I was able to be a part of a good friend’s amazing journey to her second time on the competition stage. There, I met some wonderful people in the industry, learned a lot of the ins and outs of it and competing. At the same time, I got to meet one of my fitness idols, Mike O’Hearn. I got to watch him pose. I got to pat Stryker.

Sure, being pregnant this year took me off course and down a different road, away from my own competition, but hey, it’s not like it’s the end of the world. There’s always next year. And those that know me, know that I don’t ever give up, sometimes life needs a little rearranging, but I always make it happen.

Through ambassadorships with two fitness brands, I have met some incredible people whom I’ve grown to admire. One ambassadorship brought me the opportunity to be a part of an upcoming e-book.

Pregnancy has brought me so many great things as well. I’ve moved around the camera. After reading this article on HuffPost, a cord was touched inside. At that point in time, I wanted to work on moving around the camera. Coming out from behind it, but never really could. Knowing that I have a little one coming made things different. At first, yes, I forced myself to do it, but I did it.

In doing so, in documenting my fit pregnancy on social media, I realized something with all of the feedback I was getting (okay, 99.9%, you still have those negative bitches out there): Women were finding my journey encouraging, influential, positive. Other fellow fit pregnancy women and I connected, and have become a part of each others journeys. I found current moms working their way back to their fit lifestyles. It’s like a blooming flower, that just keeps getting bigger and bigger. And it’s amazing. Empowering.

It’s really great when you find yourself at that point in life when you realize just how tiny the negative stuff really is. Just how monumental the positive is. How when you really focus on finding the positive in everything, just how upbeat and bright your life will suddenly become.

Next year is going to be a heck of a road too. We’re starting it off a little rocky, dealing with an injury from our furbaby this morning that has his lower back and hind legs weak and a little messed up, but he will be okay, so that’s all that matters. A very special little boy will come into the world in February, bringing a shining light into our household. I’ll finally, after all of these years, be getting cozy with weights in my own space. I’ve got some really great plans worked out for fitness for the local people, a great program I’m working on for online clients to purchase – and I’m even looking at considering a YouTube channel with workouts (that’s right, not just photos, but videos of me… Moving up in the world!). And I’m also going to start my fitness road to get on that stage. Maybe not in 2015, but by the end of 2016, it will happen.

So long 2014. You’ve been a pretty great year and have left me with a lot of beautiful memories.

Workout Wednesday: Sickness, mold and WOSS.

I’ve been down with a horrible cold for a few days, and while normally, a head cold wouldn’t keep me from working out (I’d just take it easy instead), being pregnant with a head cold is a different story.

So last night, when I started feeling pretty dang good, I almost went to the gym. But very smartly decided against it.

By the time this morning rolled around though, I was ready. Between being sick, eyeball deep in sports season, the holidays, getting baby stuff ready… Four days of no gym had me sweating bullets and I couldn’t wait to get in there and do something.

Threw on my gear, grabbed the dog to take him for a ride and headed out… Only to get to the gym, and walk right back out.

Why?

This photo right here………..  wpid-img_20141224_133617.jpg

What’s that you ask? That my dear readers is mold. Black mold. And it’s not the only place in this gym that has it. I’m sure of it. Just because you cannot see it, doesn’t mean that it’s not there.

The leak down from the roof, through the second floor, to the first (where this photo was snapped), has gone without repair for so long, that it’s no longer able to hide just how bad it is. (It’s also not the only place that leaks).

I stood by the squat rack, staring at the wall in complete disappointment for a few minutes before muttering “So this must be what blue balls feels like”, earning a chuckle from a fellow gym patron.

When I pointed out the mold, he wasn’t laughing anymore. I can have a clear nose, but the second I have set foot in the gym over the past few years — instant running nose. I’m a snot machine. Seriously. First sign that something clearly isn’t right.

At first, I had planned on going back to my gym post-pregnancy. But as time went on, I realized, why should I? Everything I do there, I can set up in my garage. After some thought, a plan was formed. Action started last week when I ordered some 40lb kettlebells from Cap, a WOSS Attack Trainer ($40 at Amazon compared to TRX for $200 anywhere else), and making a list of the heavier KBs I’d need, what I’d need for weight bands and sketching out just where in the garage I could set up a rack with Olympic bar and weights.

After being a member of my gym for 12 years, the only sadness I feel is: Leaving my lifting buddies. The crew that is in when I’m in is pretty great, and I will miss them.

But we go to the gym to be healthy, improve ourselves, and you’re certainly not going to accomplish that at my gym.

…So I left today. Before I even touched a weight. Even if I wasn’t pregnant — not worth the risk.

Instead, I came home and set up the WOSS to test it out. Figuring not only could I test this out, see just what I could do with it (and if I could do what I wanted with it, and if it’d work in my home), I could at least hit back and chest today.

wpid-img_20141224_143142.jpg Let me tell you this: Don’t waste your money on the TRX system. WOSS has a line of different types of systems at varying prices, all for just a fraction of what the TRX costs. And it’s the same damn thing. Just a different name.

I attached this baby to my front door and went to town. I did flyes, reverse flyes, lat pulls, narrow rows and more. I’m certainly feeling it, and it feels good.

Much like the TRX, you can set this up anywhere. It’s winter, raining and crappy out, so I just used a door in my home. You can use a tree, your squat rack, a beam, etc to set it up. You don’t need much space, and it’s easy as hell to set up. It’s versatile, you can work your full body with various moves. And you can just pack it right up in the bag that comes with it and take it with you, anywhere. (They also have travel trainers)

To see just what the WOSS has for you and your needs, check ‘em out here.