Saturday, December 29, 2012

Looking back

As the year is about to finish, I feel like it is the right time to take a look back at 2012 and review my experiences.

There is one word that is perfect to describe 2012 to me and it is “heavy”. I went through a lot of changes on the professional and personal level and they all cost me tons of energy. Mainly during the first half of the year. It was not easy, but I am glad I survived them all with a much better perspective for 2013. Also because this “heavy” was not always negative, just extremely intense and powerful.

At a certain point, because of all the pressure, countless migraine crisis and many nights awake working, I decided to take my physical training to another level. I simply needed to switch my focus from the office at least for a bit on a regular basis. And for that, I had to find myself a new challenge.

I had already bought the book Body Design from Kris Gethin sometime before, but never put it into practice. The idea of waking up early in the morning just to do cardio was not viable to me. Or better saying, it was not viable until then.

I started following his plan and, to my surprise, my body started to change. Amazing! It was for real and it worked even for me. The migraines dimmed a lot and I was sleeping way much better too. The first signs of change started to appear.

It was then that I began to flirt with the idea of competing. Sincerely, I cannot stress how impressed I was with the direction my figure was taking. I was not becoming a fitness model just like that, but I was getting in shape! Even though I had returned to physical activities in 2010, it was only this year that I did enough to make a long term progress.

After vacation, I started my contest preparation. Things did not go so smooth as planned because of some health issues, but I made it to stage in October. And despite my qualification not being so good (4th out of 5), I had been beaten by the competition bug and was already hooked.

I had plans of participating in a show again in December, but again my health got in the way and I could not attend. It was not an easy decision, but it was surely the best one. Who knows? Maybe next year I can join the fun of the Flex Cup. ;)

Anyways, in spite of all ups and downs, I have to admit that it was a very positive year to me. It was challenging, but very positive. My whole view about life, myself and others changed. Probably because of the hardships, I became a stronger and more positive person; my objectives are even clearer in front of me; and very important, I know exactly what I want and am willing to do the necessary to achieve them.

Some accomplishments had already come true…
  • I am looking forward giving a new direction to my professional career in the beginning of next year. It is something that I have been dreaming about for a while and now it is here. I am counting down the days to start. :P
  • Also, I did my very first photo shoot. I was not in the best shape of my life, but I went through the experience. And I loved it so much that I am already putting ideas together for the next one.
  • Lastly, I started the training to become a Personal Trainer. Since I arrived in Belgium, I haven’t come across one single PT specialized in body building in general. For the “weak” women, there is only cardio. I want to change it, to help others get in shape in a safe and correct manner. I want to be able to share all that I have been learning with others as a PT.

Don't wait until you've reached your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take toward reaching your goal.

The only item from my personal list that will remain pending for next year is getting a sponsor. It was a “nice to have”, but sincerely, there is no rush. I am improving physically every single day, have previous experience in promotion of products and services and love helping and motivating people be successful too. So, I am sure that it is only a matter of time for the “right one” to cross my career. ;)

Finally, I simply cannot talk about 2012 without mentioning  the fantastic people I have been given the chance to get to know (better) this year because they have been playing a major role in my life. I joined Team Bombshell a couple months ago and they have been way much more than I could ever dare dreaming of… Everyone, coaches and athletes, is amazing and dedicated. Their energy is contagious! Specially Shannon Dey (she oversees us all and sometimes I have the feeling that she can read minds), my coach Vanessa Campbell (what a patience she has!), Jaime Baird (I identify myself a lot with her) and Nathalia Melo (I simply would not be here if it was not for her). I will also always be thankful to Kris Gethin (he showed the Path and is always incredibly supportive to everyone) and Cynthia James (not only she makes the best suits ever, she is such an incredible person!).

I am grateful for the people and lessons of this year. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and I am really thankful for all my experiences.

And your 2012? How was it?

Have a great time and stay strong!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Just this one

Holidays are here! Everyone is looking forward the time they will be spending with their family, relatives and friends. There is always a dinner here and a reception there etc. For some, the fun starts with Thanksgiving and it only ends by mid or end January.

For those who are on a diet, it can a quite challenging time though. It is not like you feel tempted to cheat or things like this, but the pressure of "just this one" is stronger than in any other time of the year. Peer pressure can take a complete new dimension when it comes from your beloved ones.

Caution : Holiday Eating

What to do then?!? Locking yourself up and hiding from any social contact is not a option, so it is better to be prepared.

First thing I do is avoiding what can be avoided. Do you really have to attend ALL those parties and come-togethers? If you are going to your work's dinner, maybe you could skip the night out or vice-versa. Prioritize the events that are  the most important to you for whatever the reason. This will already reduce the amount of times you will have to say "no, thanks".

If possible, bring your own food. Mainly when you are surrounded by family or close friends who know what you do, it is easier to discreetly replace one dish or two for your own. And the word discreet is very important here. Don't make a big deal of it if you do not want to call their attention too much. Remember that is no biggie.

Finally, remember that your body can also make use of some cheat meal once a week. And if you do not like the idea of cheating your plan, take the refeed approach. Pick foods that will stimulate your metabolism. Make wise choices in terms of quality and quantity and you will not only enjoy the meals with your beloved ones, but also keep your diet on track.

It is important that the celebrations do not become a burden to you, your training and those around you. Make the most out of it without stressing out. Remember that it is not about the food, but about the relationships! So have fun.

Enjoy the Holidays!!!

Healthy Holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The big deal about dieting

On my Facebook page, I frequently share posts on dieting, clean eating and healthy food. To me, it is not an option or a favor that you are doing to whomever.  If you want to improve the quality of your life, you have to keep an eye on your intake!

That said, there is a major difference between health and clean eating and competition diet. I can imagine that those who see what I eat and its amount might get a little bit confused. Isn't it only for bodybuilders?!?

And the answer is no! A normal person's diet should also be clean. It is not because you do not have to drop your body fat percentage to the minimum that you are to live a life full of indulgencies.

Stop rewarding yourself with food. You are not a dog!

First of all, it starts with knowing the concept of macros, what they are, what they represent in your diet and how to acquire right amount of them. These macros are calculated, among other things, based on the calories one burns in their daily activities. Athletes and office workers have different needs because of the way they expend their energy. If they combine both activities, like me, it is yet another thing. And so it goes...

I am not going to advance much in terms of how much macros one should include in their diet because I am not a Personal Trainer (yet!) and it varies a lot from person to person. Anyways, there are very good sites where you can learn more about them, including inputing your intake to check your general performance. Two sites/apps that I have used myself are*:

One frequent misconception is that you can limit the damage of a bad diet by training it off at the gym. And if you also believed in that, I am sorry to inform you that it is way far from the truth.

If you are not cleaning up your diet, you are not going to be leaning out.

Maybe you will say that life is too short; that it is just one doughnut; that you do not do it every day etc. And I am not disagreeing with you. However, the next time that feel like going "naughty" with your intake, try to think for a second on the consequences. What would be the impact of that meal in your progress? Is it still worth it? Will you be getting rid of that extra pound as fast as you chew it in? What about the sacrifices you have made so far?

Take a deep breath, drink some water (many times, it is all that it takes to forget that insatiable crave) and ask yourself it again. I am almost sure that the answer is going to be much different. ;)

Stay strong! You are way much more worth it than you may think now.

*Note: the reason why I stopped using apps to follow my intake is because I do not need them since I joined the Team Bombshell. Now I have my personalized plan, based on my needs and I do not count macros any longer.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Getting started

For now, I am going to take a break from posting on the Flex Cup because I want to write about something that has been on my mind a lot lately: starting off.

It has already been 2 years since I made my come back to the gym. A lot of things happened in this time, including a lot of pauses, restarts and changes. Maybe because of the approach of a new year and all this talk about resolutions everywhere, I feel compelled to share my 50 cents too.

I may not be there yet, but I am closer than I was yesterday.

Why do people generally start working? What is in most cases the greatest motivation to get off the chair? Someone else.

When I say someone else, it can be a role model that inspires you; or the comments of a friend, family member or relative; or even because of doctor’s recommendation. It is very rare to find people saying that they simply woke up in the morning feeling like working out again and doing it.

This kind of inspiration may help in the beginning, but let’s face, it does not always last long (enough)…

If you are in this crossroad now, I would like to share some tips that worked for me:

·     Take one step a time
I do not know how long it has been for you since you last trained. That if you have ever trained at all. It is true that having a goal is necessary so that you can start your plan, but be realistic. One cannot learn Physics if they are not able to count. Give yourself time to adapt, make small changes at first and enjoy your progress.

Like it or not, we are creatures of habits. If you have been drinking soda, eating sweets and fast food your whole life, you better be prepared that you will miss these things if you cut them from your routine. It is true that for some it works wonders, but if it is not your case, do not be too hard on yourself.
"Strive for progress, not perfection."

·         Be consistent
Guess what? Everybody has days when they wish they could stay longer in bed or watch that movie on TV. The difference is that extra push. Unless you are feeling really unwell, there is no other reason to skip a training. Even if you have to make a little shorter or lighter than usual, the only bad training is the one that you miss.

·         Get to know yourself
How are you feeling when that dessert becomes irresistible? Is it emotional eating? When you say you do not have the time today, is it really so or are you just not in the mood? Be sincere with yourself. It is important not only when it comes to fitness, but in life.

·         You can do it!
Different people have different goals, bodies and metabolism. Do not allow comparison to distract you from your objectives. You have your own pace and no matter how long it takes, as long as you believe in it, you will achieve it as well.

·         It is never too late
There are people who start in early ages and keep on going non-stop for the rest of their lives. Congratulations if you are one of these. If you aren’t though, as long as you are walking on the face of the earth, you have what it takes too. Age is just a number. What counts is your heart and soul.

·         Keep on learning
Internet is an amazing tool. You can use it to associate with people, learn exercises and techniques or even buy your supplementation. Use it to update yourself and grow. It can not only be a source of inspiration, but also be a great way to keep up with the new technologies.

·         Write it down
In the beginning, note down your goals. Then make sure you track your present measurements, food intake and physical activity. It will be of great aid when you start your plan. Once you choose your path (running, body building, martial arts etc), build your business case and keep it updated. You will be able to see your progress more effectively this way than just by looking into the mirror.

This is what worked/works for me. It is not rocket science, but will already keep you busy for enough time until it starts to come naturally. And if you ever feel in doubt or uncertain of your choice, go through this list or make your own. Remember where you came from and what your goals are. It always works.

Now go for it!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

And there was a Seminar

One week has already passed from the Flex Cup. Even though I was home for a couple of days, I did not manage to catch up with everything before getting back to the office.

I have to admit that getting over my no-show was not as easy as I wanted it to be. At the end, it took me more days that I planned. However, I had to allow myself heal completely before getting back on track.

Anyways, this entry is not about me, but about the great seminar I attended last Saturday.

The format was really light, ideal also for those who were tired from all the diet and training that is part of a contest preparation. There were three speakers: Harry De Jonge from Flex Holland and Muscle Totaal, Berry De Mey (no need for an introduction right?) and Hans Wassik from the Dutch Doping Authority.

Harry's presentation was full of helpful information for the beginners (remember that the Flex Cup is a beginners' show). He touched topics we all have to deal with in this amazing sport: diet, training, family etc.

Following it, the Joe Weider Bodybuilding Hall of Fame Inductee, Berry De Mey. He went through pictures from before and during his career as a professional bodybuilder while sharing about his experiences and learnings. 

Last but not least, Hans explained the approached used by the Dutch doping authority on dealing with a fact so common in various sports nowadays. Doping is a fact that people should be aware of. 

My notes from the Seminar in Dutch (sowy!)
If you ever have the chance to attend such a seminar, I would highly recommend you do so. Learning from experts, hearing about what they went through, set-backs etc and associating with other athletes is priceless.

I loved the experience and I am truly looking forward going to many more (if only I could attend Nathalia's tomorrow...).

Grab all learning opportunities with both hands. You will never know in advance how much they will impulse your progress.

Keep up with the good work everyone! And success! xxx

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Flex Cup Adventure

After participating in the Belgian Nationals last October. I really fell in love with competing. It is not like I did not like it before, but one thing is our expectation and another, reality. It could be that after attending a show, I would complete lose interest for the whole thing. However, the opposite happened.

So I decided to go for a second competition: the Flex Cup in the Netherlands. It was going to be my very first show after starting training with Team Bombshell!

To make a long story, after some health related setbacks, my coach and I decided that it was not the right time (see Note on Facebook). I was still feeling unwell, having issues with my blood pressure etc. It was not a wise thing to do to force my body that way.

It was not an easy decision, mainly because I had agreed with the guys from Body En Fit Shop to take some cool pictures with the swag they had sent me. But unfortunately, I was not really in a condition to represent them accordingly either. Thanks guys for the understanding and support!

As I still had my hotel reservation and tickets, I decided to go watch it. It was going to be the very first contest I had the chance to watch live, so why not?

What can I say about the experience? It was AWESOME!!!!!! It is special to see the passion for the sport coming from everyone. People are not just doing it, they are LIVING IT with the athletes. And that after probably months of planning, organization and so on. If you were not there this year, please make sure you go next time.

I want to write about so many things, but I will leave it the rest for next entry (entries?).

Always remember: Hard work pays off!


Arrival at the hotel on Saturday, December 1st, 2012.