Category Archives: Inside My Prep Life

CONTINUALLY SEEKING BALANCE; STOPPING THE DIET CYCLE

Recently I feel I have started to have a “breakthrough” and I am feeling hopeful again. You see the last week or two I feel I have slipped back into some habits I am not okay with. I have suffered from BED (Binge Eating Disorder) for a long time but thought this time would be different… and it was.. for a while. I went through my entire prep this year without any BED symptoms or actions. Which you would think if I was going to have relapse like symptoms they would occur during restriction, especially when things were a bit more aggressive in the end.

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(The leanness level I was able to achieve this year for my photoshoot with Ironman Magazine)

I was very hopeful and happy to not have any issues my entire 14 weeks prepping with flexible dieting and even post prep I felt like I did much better than I had ever done in the past. But these last few weeks something happened and things started to get confusing and I started to slip again. I have said this before, and I will say it again… Flexible Dieting does not just fix BED. It does help rid the rigid lines we create in what is “bad” and what is “good” and it does help us mend much of our distorted views on foods. It also can be very helpful in learning moderation. But again it is not a magic cure for disordered eating.

With that being said, I stopped tracking my macros about a month ago now. Some of you wont understand why or how I preach and teach IIFYM if I am not practicing. But what you need to understand is ADOFitness is built on the foundation of an open minded diet philosophy and none of our coaches nor myself are stuck in one method being the “only method”. I do believe in tracking macros, especially for contest prep, reverse dieting, or cutting. However, as someone who has different goals now, I do not believe it is the best thing for me at this time. I do want to preface that with the fact that I have been tracking for a very long time and have also experience with intuitive eating in the past and it worked well for me when I was not in contest prep.  I know what a reasonable intake is for myself and my intake is usually within range/reason in terms of macros regardless of tracking or not due to my experience. I wrote a blog post about that last spring that you can read here; Why I stopped tracking macros .

But let me go further into why I decided to stop tracking when I did. Coming out of prep I knew I needed to track somewhat and weigh myself to stay accountable when my body was still very much “sensitive” and I needed to keep myself from falling completely off post prep because it is VERY easy to do and not very easy to undo. I did very well with keeping my weight within 3 lbs of my low for most of those weeks. However, as time passed I felt myself having more of these BED like symptoms and knowing how BED works, I knew if I kept any type of restriction going it would only amplify this issue. I needed to get back to not feeling constrained or controlled and listening and being more in tune with my bodies hunger and fullness signals. I also noticed that if I approached my daily goal macro goal too early in the day I would get anxiety over the situation knowing I didn’t have much to work with and still had many hours ahead of me that I would be awake. Those type of situations were adding more stress to me than they were benefiting me and causing me to go back to the BED like triggers I had in the past.

So again, because my main goal right now is to find BALANCE and hopefully start a family, this is what I am doing for ME. If my main goal was to build for a show season next year or to cut for a photoshoot this would be an entirely different situation. So many people get so confused on what to do in terms of a plan for themselves and wind up getting more confused than ever reading what all these “fitness” people do online. But the thing is, THEY ARE NOT YOU. Ask yourself, What is MY goal? Is it to lose fat, build muscle, stay balanced, maintain weight, just find a weight and lifestyle that is sustainable? All very different goals that need very different approaches. Even I sometimes will put thoughts in my own head that I should be doing one thing versus another because I see someone I may follow doing it and its working for them. But then I have to stop myself and be very realistic and objective about MY situation and my ultimate goal. My goal is not to build more muscle, its not to compete, its not to stay so lean I damage my hormones, MY goal is to find a dieting approach that works for me in the long term and allows me to stay in a body I am comfortable in but still in a body that allows me to conceive, that allows me to be healthy, that allows me to keep my menstrual period. My goal is to rid myself of negative self talk and love my body even heavier than I am used to seeing it if it a healthy body. My goal is to beat BED forever and live a truly balanced and HAPPY life. These are my goals. So my plan is just that. To eat in a manner that I can sustain while trying to keep my body and mind as healthy as possible for my myself, my husband, and my future family.

So where am I at now? Well I came back from my 8 day long trip in Oregon after eating many things that were not what I was used to and many sweets and treats I normally wouldn’t and was absolutely shocked to see my weight still at 3 lbs over my low. However, since being home I have had more fluctuations with my weight than ever, seeing it jump up and down +5lbs just this last week. Thinking about how much it was stressing me out, I realized that the 8 days I was in Oregon I never weighed myself one time and although I was eating some things I normally woudnt, I felt good about myself and that was what mattered and made a bigger difference in my ultimate decision making everyday. So seeing how my scale weight since being home also started to play a role in my BED thoughts, I decided I am not going to weigh myself daily any longer. Again, I am now eliminating all factors that play a role on any type of thoughts that make me think of restricting. Because with BED, the more you restrict the more you repeat the cycle. And that does not mean you should just go crazy and through all your goals out the window. But that does mean you should focus on balance and being in tune with your body, mind, and soul. If numbers just add more stress to your life then are practical or necessary for YOUR goals.. my opinion is just to eliminate them and get back to what makes you happy.

 

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6 WEEKS POST PREP PERSONAL UPDATE

6 WEEKS POST PREP UPDATE

I haven’t posted an update for this week. I try to do this weekly for you guys on my IG and FB athlete page as I feel going a bit more in depth with my mental state while coming out of a prep can be helpful to some of you. As I have explained many times I have never had an easy time coming out of preps in the past. Mostly due to the extreme dieting techniques I utilized through my competition career (which is also why I do not compete any longer) but also due to the fact that I didn’t know or utilize flexible dieting until the last few years. But regardless of flexible dieting, reverse dieting is NEVER easy. Some people kill their reverse diets and seem to maintain their physiques easier than others. Even some of my own clients have surprised me with the way they have been able to come out of an aggressive deficit. But as someone who has dealt with extremes and also dealt with BED (binge eating disorder) I still have a hard time with it- although I will say every year it has gotten better and better.

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(My mom and I on the coast in Bandon,Or)

Most of you know I went back to Oregon for a week to visit family. I promised myself going into the trip that I would strive for balance in every sense of the word. Meaning I would enjoy moments with my friends and family, I wouldn’t stress too much over eating foods that I normally dont eat if the opportunity presented itself. Life is about making memories and spending QUALITY time with the ones you love.

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(My baby nephew Caden turned 6 months while I was home)

Overall I feel the trip was a pretty big success. I enjoyed a little too much carrot cake with my mom (carrot cake is my ultimate weakness and homemade from my moms garden was just impossible to resist).

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(My moms AMAZING homemade carrot cake)

But I also worked out everyday, even if that meant working out at my moms home gym which just had an elliptical and dumbbells one day. I got some epic lifts in at my bros gym as well (I always have good workouts there for some reason- maybe it brings me back to when I worked there or was in prep killing my workouts there.. not sure).

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(Post leg-day shot where I was pleasantly surprised to see my abs! LOL)

I didn’t kill myself with cardio but did a lot of HIIT (sprints and intervals on the rolling stairs) and did some MISS (moderate intensity cardio) when I felt like it in the form of high incline walking and jogging. But what I did notice as I was driving to the gym one day is my motivation and drive to workout has increased the last few weeks which is abnormal for me post prep. I usually feel a bit burnt out or just overall “tired” and feel I need time off after a prep. My mindset is completely opposite this time and my excitement and drive to workout was very much if not even more so there than when I was in prep. I think this comes from the fact that I didn’t burn myself out like I have in the past with preps and I am grateful for the sustainability I am feeling in my own fitness and health regime.

I didn’t weigh myself one single time the entire trip as I didn’t have access to a scale and honestly I feel like it was good for me. I judged my bodies response off the way I looked and felt and it was a nice break from stressing over weather or not a number would be up or down. I actually got to thinking one day that I probably weighed more than I looked like I did due to the excess sugar and intake but not knowing the number allowed me to judge myself more objectively and find more happiness in my overall thoughts about where I was at. Its crazy how powerful our brains are. When we see a number on the scale that we may not necessarily like, we can literally manipulate our thoughts to see something completely different in the mirror. This is why I mentioned at the beginning of coming out of this prep that I would eventually stop weighing myself but I do feel post restriction it is important to utilize the scale as an accountability mechanism to keep yourself in check a bit as things can easily spiral downward fast- I know (I have put on 20 lbs in less than a month post show before #guiltyAF ).

 

I was able to enjoy some of my old favorite restaurants that I missed which I was happy about. There are so many good places to eat in Oregon – one of the biggest things I miss about living there. I also posted this already but I went to a cupcake shop with my brother and sister in law one night that I had been to twice prior with them but never once tried the cupcakes myself because I was always dieting for one thing or another when I was in town. They have been raving about these cupcakes for years so I knew I needed to give it a try this time. I had the snicker doodle in the smaller size and honestly it was probably one of the best cupcakes I have ever eaten and I am sure glad I did finally try it! But what I was even happier about is the fact that I didn’t feel like I needed 10 more after eating the one and even when my brother offered another to me- I honestly felt content and like I already had a huge insulin spike from the one lol. Its amazing what happens when you become in tune with your body and you can actually FEEL the way sugar starts to affect you. I stopped at one and didn’t go home and say “well screw it I already ate a cupcake might as well eat everything…” which has been my mentality many times in the past. These little triumphs are huge for me. And every time I am able to experience these moments and feel BALANCED I am SO grateful because I know it will eventually become easier and something I no longer need to put thought into.

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(Cafe Yumm- One of my old staples in Eugene!)

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(Toadstool cupcakes- amazing!)

I also went out to lunch with my dad and brother the day before leaving and my brother wanted Thai food. I was a little nervous when I heard that because I thought their may not be many clean options on the menu. But thats what he wanted so I sucked it up and said I would figure something out one way or another. I ended up ordering steamed veggies and shrimp with no sauce and brown rice and then got some chili garlic hot sauce and soy sauce on the side. It actually was REALLY good. The funny part about the whole experience is my brother (who is a bodybuilder and was my first trainer) looked at me and asked what I was dieting for? I laughed and responded “nothing”. He then proceeded to ask me why I was ordering so clean? My response was “I genuinely like to eat this way” and he laughed and said “Amber, nobody likes to eat like that”. This had me kind of laughing at the irony of the situation as he was the one who started me on this whole clean eating thing 5 years ago. But the truth of the matter is, I honestly genuinely like to eat clean foods majority of the time and I thought the meal was delicious. In that moment though I realized how much of my actions over the last five years have become habit and how much more sustainable my lifestyle will get due to the balance I have created. Of course I like carrot cake and cupcakes- but I genuinely LOVE vegetables and clean foods. I crave them more than ever before and its not a struggle to order clean when I go out. Its not even honestly a debate in my head. I was being honest when I responded to my brother and I am so grateful for how far I have come with my mentality around food.

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The meal I ordered when we went out for Thai food and genuinely enjoyed 😉 

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BALANCE AND THE POWER OF “DOING IT FOR YOU”

I wrote this post about 10 days previous to going to the Olympia this last weekend. I have been so busy I wasn’t able to post it but thought it was something some of you may be able to take something from. So here it is:

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BALANCE AND THE POWER OF  “DOING IT FOR YOU”

Thinking a lot today about balance. Happiness. What truthfully makes me happy. My mind is going a million directions and a million miles an hour. Why? I know why. Because last night my actions didn’t align with my core desires. Last night I ate more than I thought I should. I ate because I felt hungry. I ate to feel content, to feel full, to satisfy what I thought was my desire. I think what we often don’t realize is that in those moments of “coping” aka using food to make ourselves feel better, we really are just ignoring our subconscious mind. We are ignoring what is at the root of those actions. We are ignoring our inner self. I am guilty of it. Very guilty. But I have started to recognize this and I have a strong desire to address it, come to terms with it, and figure out a way to change it. Change it to better me, to know myself, to fully understand myself and live a more balanced fulfilling life.

I have posted about my personal struggles many times. I wrote a very in depth article about my mind and the way I view food, nutrition, and the constant battle that goes on in my brain. I am happy to say I have come a long ways since I wrote that article only a year and a half ago. I feel I have made leaps and strides in my ultimate goal to find balance in my life, but I can admit I am still not fully there. I am still struggling with my own demons and I am still very much finding my way in this industry and world.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I have a constant sub-conscious pull to focus all my efforts on the long term desire to have children. But of course, I also have many career choices that are very closely tied into staying very lean and feeling happy in my own skin. I know better than anyone that competitors are their own worst self critics. It is very hard to be happy with your body when you have seen it at its best. The feeling of being incredibly lean is indescribable. You are happy with the way you look, the way your clothes fit, with the way you feel (sometimes) but often times you are also just as unhappy with what you have to do to maintain it, to keep it. You are unhappy when you go to bed hungry but happy when you wake up to take your selfies (lol, its true). You are unhappy when you are tired and hungry but happy when your clothes fit comfortably and every outfit looks good. You are happy when someone leaves a comment on your progress photo but unhappy when you realize you still aren’t as lean as you could be. Its a constant battle regardless. So many mental battles along the road of finding yourself, especially in an industry so hyper focused on appearance.

That brings me to my next thought. I have realized some things about myself and about others that I find interesting. It seems a lot of people have a tendency of rebellious behavior within them. If someone tells you that you cannot do something, you want to do it most likely. Why is this? Is it something we learned from a young age due to the constraints our parents put on us? Whatever it is, I have noticed it a lot with myself and my fitness goals lately. What I am getting at is this; I see myself self-sabotage in certain ways when it comes to industry goals. I think some of this has to do with my subconscious resentment towards the constraints I have felt but a lot of it has to do with feeling like I am being asked to do something to make someone else happy. For example, I know I want to feel good in my skin- I have personal goals to maintain a body I am proud of. I felt I was able to do that fairly well after getting done with my last prep for a few weeks. But as soon as I have someone telling me “I have to get lean” or feel that I am setting goals for others like prepping to look good at the O, I start to notice myself self sabotage in certain ways. I start to notice more binge episodes, more “I just don’t care’s” come out of my mouth, more of the “Fuck-it” mentality. But what happened to my goals? I still have MY goals.. so why am I doing this now? And thats just it, because the forefront of my mind is focused on doing something that is for someone else, not for my own happiness.

Dieting is never easy. Food is a necessity and we need it to survive. Anytime you restrict a necessity you will have periods of struggle. But the struggle isn’t as hard when you are doing something for you. When you WANT to do something to better yourself, and not for the benefit of other people is when it will play out the way it is supposed to. Our subconscious mind is so powerful in the way it plays out into our everyday actions. I truthfully believe that. If we can really tap into our sub conscious and ask ourselves “Why am I really doing this? What is causing this behavior?” then we could all answer most of our own problems. Sometimes its completely unrelated. Often times we will turn to food to temporarily make us forget about something, make us feel better, make us “live in the moment” only to then fill our minds with more anxiety, more worry, more mind games.

Instead we need to take a step back and realize what is really happening. For example, as someone who has always prided themselves on being efficient and professional with my work, it bothers me when I do not respond to work emails or inquiries in what I believe is a timely manner. But sometimes I validate this and just say.. a few hours from work is okay. But ultimately by putting it off further I create anxiety around it and it is still in the back of my mind. Instead of just getting it done and feeling good about accomplishing that piece of my personal satisfaction, putting it off often times has led me to overeat. I know those things have really no correlation but the more I looked at that happening the more I was able to associate the two things and how not dealing with my subconscious anxiety and stress was unfolding into my actions regarding food and the desire to want to fulfill that anxiety- I basically was trying to fix something completely unrelated with a temporary bandaid of the way food made me feel for those few minutes of eating.

These are the types of things that will ultimately lead to a balanced, healthy life. Recognizing the “why” is the first step, but untangling it is really the hard part. My biggest advice for those of you wondering why you may yo-yo diet or seem to be in a never ending mind game to find balance… I recommend analyzing situations and what is at your core. Changing your mind set on them can change your life. Our subconscious plays such a huge role in our outcomes. Take back control with your goals by changing the way you view them. Do them for you and only you. Repeat it to yourself, “I am doing this for me” when you feel the urge to fall off the wagon. And then re-evaluate what else may be urging you off your path.

“Whatever we plant in our subconscious mind and nourish with repetition and emotion will one day become a reality.” – Earl Nightingale

UPDATE: A few days after these thoughts, I was feeling MUCH better about things. I posted this on my Instagram account and wanted to repost how changing my mindset had affected me:

“Feeling REALLY good the last two days. Sounds silly but I feel like I have started to acknowledge how much focusing on doing things for yourself rather than others really makes a difference in your everyday actions with health and fitness. I have been focusing really hard on positive reinforcement with myself, viewing the gym in a positive light again and repeating to myself when things feel hard “I’m doing this for me”. I’m back on a mission to find my balance and am happy again. After realizing I didn’t have to shoot at the O, I of course ate some things I had been craving and it totally threw me off track. That’s always my fear when I go to that point of restriction, not just the physical rebound but more so the mental. I was justifying eating more again only to find myself feeling guilty about it the next day. I fasted Wednesday morning and thought ALOT about my mental state. Like I mentioned, I feel I was allowing my focus to be on others rather than myself. I was allowing resentment, anxiety, and fear of failure to play out in my self-sabotaging behaviors. I wasn’t dieting and working out for me anymore, but for what I felt others expected of me at the O. Once I turned that around and got back to focusing on me- I found my groove again. My happy place. Because I eat healthy for me. I work out because I like the way it makes me feel. I eat in moderation because it IS possible to not feel deprived but still be comfortable in your own body. I take care of myself because I have a desire to live a long healthy life, not because I want more likes on an Instagram picture. I don’t fear food because nutrient dense food- whether it healthy grains and breads, extra fat from avocado, or organic egg yolks- tastes delicious, is beneficial to balancing my hormones and helping me conceive one day. “I’m doing this for me”

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STRUGGLES AND MY PERSONAL LIFE

STRUGGLES.
We all struggle. We all have our own personal issues, family issues, life issues. In the large scale of things I know my struggles are nothing compared to some and often times find myself feeling guilty for not being able to see how many blessings I have all around me. A wonderful life I have, I truthfully should be very grateful. And I try to remind myself of that daily. To see the big picture in this superficial industry I often times feel stuck in.

So whats my deal? Why am I struggling?
Some of you can probably read through that first paragraph and here resentment in my tone. Its not something I try to hide although I do try to put as much positivity as I can out there each day. But am I resentful in my everyday life? A little bit, yes. You see this industry looks so glamorous from the outside. “You have a perfect body, perfect husband, perfect life.. what do you have to complain about?” right? But that’s just it. To achieve what we have, my husband and I, we have hidden many of our struggles to get to where we are at. Damaged our bodies, damaged our metabolisms, over dieted, over extended ourselves, put ourselves out there to be scrutinized, and most importantly risked the very thing that is so important to us both- having children.

Brandan and I both want kids. We knew as soon as we met and have had many conversations regarding having kids after we were married. As many of you know, we work closely with a hormone doctor and we both had our hormones tested last December when I first moved to Sioux Falls. We are both a mess in terms of balanced in hormones and where we will need to be in order to have children. Unfortunately the only way of getting our bodies back to balance is through increasing our body fat, allowing ourselves more rest and recovery and introducing some hormone therapy to help jump start our systems in that direction. None of which can be done efficiently when one is dieting and/or restricting for events every few months.

I have accepted that this is my/our careers and this is what we do for a living now. But I cant help but often times feel resentment when I feel I have another purpose to live for rather than how lean I can get to look good in a photo or at an event. Its funny, I have been called narcissistic, conceded, etc on a few of my blog posts. But what some people fail to recognize is that more than anything in the world I want what everyone wants- a family, a “normal” life, a life not full of selfies, abs, weighing myself each day, stress over what I look like, etc.

About a month ago I found out I would most likely have to diet for the Olympia, as I am signing with a new supplement company and will need to do another photoshoot. I have noticed as time goes on, dieting seems to get harder for me. Not harder in terms of wanting to eat things that are off plan necessarily, but harder due to the underlying thoughts I have about what it is doing to my body long term and how it may affect my future and desire for a family. These are the things people in my position don’t openly speak about. Its not all glamour and fun- trust me. I have realized I feel I have purpose other than dieting now, I have a husband and something to live for outside of what I look like. Its a dream come true although it also causes a lot of torment. I will elaborate further here in a bit…
So along with that, some of you know I had my eyebrows tattoo’d last weekend. I knew I would get a lot of criticism openly talking about that but I decided to post it on my Instagram anyways. Kind of superficial after everything I said above huh? But if I am going to be real with you all and pride myself on that, then I need to be honest and share these things too, as getting your face tattooed is kind of a big deal in my opinion. I explained on Instagram the reason I did this. To save myself from writing that out again I am going to paste what I wrote on Instagram here:

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“So today I had my face tattooed on. It’s funny cause people always comment on my “eyebrow game” but don’t realize I was blond for the first 19 years of my life. That being said I have tried to perfect the shape of my eyebrows for years so yes I have natural hair that provides the way my eyebrows are shaped. Unfortunately though, they’re naturally lighter than my hair is and it bothers me, so I fill them a little darker to match my hair shade a bit better. Anyways, I had heard about eyebrow hair stroke tattooing from a friend who had it done and really wanted to do it but had to find someone I trusted enough to tattoo on my face because every girl should know your eyebrow game is seriously one of the most important things in life (joking…kinda lol). I am super happy to say my hormone doctor in Lincoln, NE recommended someone to me who did them perfect today and I am thrilled with the results. So my first tattoo happen to be my face (sorry mom and dad)….”

The tattoo itself I do not regret at all. I posted an after photo as requested and I am very pleased with the results and do not regret my decision. I went very modest in getting this done and I have always been self conscious about not having my eyebrows filled in with my hair so dark so I feel this small procedure makes me feel much more confident. Like I mentioned, the shape of my brows has taken me years to “perfect” to my liking and I have hair everywhere I fill my brows, it just isn’t the color I wished it was.

(Post-proceedure photo)

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Anyways, the downfall was I had an allergic reaction to the numbing agent that was injected into the nerve and my face has been extremely swollen with lots of fluid in my eyes and face. My doctor had prescribed a corticosteroid for me to help with the inflammation and swelling. Anytime you introduce a steroid or any type of foreign substance into your system though you never know how you may react to that either and I have to say I have dealt with more consequences of doing so.

As I mentioned earlier, I have been collaborating some exciting moves in the direction of my fitness career lately. I was a Beast Sports Nutrition Endorsed Athlete but was unhappy with my working relationship and decided it was time for me to see what else was out there. I am excited to say I have had a couple great contract offers on the table from other supplement companies who I just happen to love. That being said, I thought I was done dieting for the year after my Oxygen Shoot in June and was being more relaxed with my nutrition while trying to reverse diet and get my metabolism to a healthier place when this all happened. So as I mentioned, now that I am collaborating a contract deal with a new company, I was asked to do some photoshoots for new content on behalf of whoever I chose to sign with at the Olympia.

I was 5 lbs up from my shoot weight when this happened, so at 4 weeks out I didn’t think this would be a big deal and could hang in there and diet one more time to make this work out. As an extremist, I never show up to a shoot, show, event, etc not feeling prepared. This is a blessing and a curse of the type of person I am. I dont like to not show up my best and represent what I know I can. So even though I had my reservations on dieting again, I started right away to get back to the condition I felt I would need at the O. The first week I noticed my head not being fully committed and I couldn’t figure out if this was due to me trying to maintain some balance in my life, or if it was my reservations eating at me with knowing I was only furthering myself from my ultimate goal of children. Either way, the changes I was making in my diet and exercise should have eluded enough change for me to be prepared at the O. The second week I wasn’t seeing the changes I wished for so I upped my cardio and cut my carbs a bit more but I also have had this voice in the back of my head this entire time that I would not go to extremes NO MATTER WHAT. Because extremes are what cause rebounds and I have been trying to avoid that at all costs. The crappy thing is I felt I was just finding a good off season/reverse diet balance with my intake and choices everyday and I knew going back into “prep mind” could throw this balance off course. For those of you who have never been through these things, this is a very hard thing to explain.

As for dieting, I was at 160 grams of carbs daily so figured bringing them down slightly would elude some changes that week. I didn’t see much in terms of scale change and that was frustrating for me. And then…. I got on these prescription meds and what do you know… I have gained a lb a day. 5 lbs up in a week and 9 lbs from my goal weight at 2.5 weeks out was not at all what I was planning for. I have been killing my workouts, cut my calories more and still gaining. Tuesday morning I woke up to a swollen face and weighed more than I had in a year. I was starving and pissed and I just lost it. Literally had a crying fest. I felt tormented inside and pulled in every direction. Long term goals versus short term benefit was eating at me, not to mention I felt the furthest I ever had from a goal in my entire fitness career. Thank god my husband is such a wonderful man and helped me threw my sob fest.

I have taken a bit of a step back to re-gather my thoughts on all of this and feel much better today. I have hit up the sauna, continued working towards my goals, and decided that regardless of shooting at the O I needed to stay positive and know that everything happens for a reason. Like I mentioned, I am tormented mentally each and every day. The life I live is a blessing but it is very hard to be pulled in two different directions and not have your career choices in line with your long term plans for a family. Dieting becomes much harder when you feel you have something else to live for outside of your old selfish extremist ways. But I have recognized that even that is a blessing. My life is everything I have ever wanted it to be. A wonderful husband, a thriving career, a warm home. I have the “simple” things that will forever be more fulfilling than my abs and I thank god for those simple things everyday.

Today I am two weeks out from the O and am happy to say I can finally see my abs again and my weight has come back down to 131lbs. That is still 6 lbs from my goal weight and what I would feel comfortable shooting at and still almost 3 lbs up from where I started. But its coming down slowly. I honestly have not posted many to any progress photos as I have been so disturbed at the amount of water my body was carrying and the way I changed shape so quickly regardless of all my extra efforts. But now all I can do is hang in there for two more weeks and see what happens. And although I hold some resentment towards this lifestyle and its affects on me personally, I will continue to enjoy the ride as long as I can (selfies and all).

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STAYING MOTIVATED…WHERE DOES MY MOTIVATION COME FROM?

MOTIVATION + THE IDEA BEHIND “JUST DO IT”

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People often ask me where my motivation comes from. What is it that makes the difference between the action that allows you to really pursuit your fitness goals and the decision to take the easier, more comfortable way out? Honestly, fitness has become such a habit for me that this question is often hard to answer. I have to go backwards in my own thought process – backwards in time to figure this out, even for myself.

You see, I used to be a “normal” girl. In college, I didn’t really diet. And when I did, it was a “phase” or a “fad” and I would often times find myself striving for a goal for a few days, weeks, sometimes months only to eventually lose interest or find myself back in my old ways. A couple months of hardcore working out and attempting to watch what I ate only to take twice as long off going to the gym and just “not caring”. So what changed me? Today my thought process and lifestyle is a complete 360 of what it used to be. But what was it that made me this way? Some people even say I am “too hardcore” or an “extremist” in the fitness world. Which leaves me asking… how did I go from yo-yo dieting and goal setting to going “HAM” each and everyday?

Over the last three years of competing, I have realized that not only has fitness become my lifestyle, but it has become my habit, routine, my everyday endorphin release and “happy place”. I often ask my clients, “Before you go to bed, what is it that you do every night without thinking?”.  The response is almost always the same, “Brush my teeth, clean my face, etc, etc”. Most people have a routine pre-bed that is done without second thought, without question, without pre-meditation. This is how I view exercise. I don’t wake up everyday and ask myself “should I workout today?”. It is something that is just done. I do not give myself a choice, an option, a thought of the possibility of it not happening. It is just an absolute, concrete in my daily routine.

I believe often times people view exercise as a negative thing. Because, well “It’s hard”. I think what people don’t realize is its not really any “easier” for anybody else. But yes, with time and strength activity will become easier once the body learns to adapt. However, when you are an elite athlete, you are constantly pushing yourself to the level of always feeling like “it’s hard”. So what makes the difference between those who take on that challenge, accept it, love it, and find passion in it, and those who shy away, let excuses and distractions keep them from it, and never reach their physical goals?

Well the answer and solution is – It’s 100% mindset. Once your mindset towards anything in life becomes negative, your subconscious mind will allow ways for you to avoid it. Nobody wants to do whats hard, but the challenge is pursued by those who look at the decision with acceptance. I believe way too many people allow themselves to talk themselves out of a challenge. We often resort to whats easy and comfortable- and for most, that is not exercise. Also, we tend to make goals larger than what may be in sight, and once we get on the path of thinking those goals are unobtainable or too far out of reach, we lose hope and drive towards pursuing them.

Anybody can lose weight, anybody can workout, anybody can have abs. Yes, its true.. ANYBODY. But most wont allow themselves to truthfully believe this as reality. Let me ask you if you have ever thought about going to the gym but felt “too tired” so you debated it while at work that day or whenever. In your head, you probably said things like, “well if I go… I have no energy so my workout is going to be pointless anyways” or you have felt like it will be so hard there is no way you would make it through any workout and then thought of something else that seemed important to occupy your time. It is these thoughts and this type of process that will continue because 1) you have now viewed exercise as “hard” and negatively put that connection in the back of your mind. And 2) allowed yourself to think if you weren’t going to really kill your workout there was no point in going.

But here is the thing… ANYTHING IS BETTER THAN NOTHING. And it doesn’t ALWAYS have to be hard. On top of that, I have to admit some of my most epic and best lifts came on the days I felt I was too tired to go. Once I warmed up and got in my groove, I had MORE energy and was able to get through a killer workout just fine. The underlying factor is, I went anyways and made the initial effort without allowing myself a choice. That is the ONLY difference between what I do and what others tell me they want to do.

So get rid of your negative perceptions of exercise, and like Nike says- Just Do It. Its not easy for anybody but it doesn’t always have to be the hardest thing you have ever done. You don’t have to kill it each and every time you go to the gym- the key is GOING. Once you have this negative connotation associated to the gym or exercise in the back of your mind, it will allow your subconscious to choose the easier alternative- almost always. Recognize it, change it, and accept that it is supposed to be hard. Start looking at it as a challenge, a personal triumph, prove to yourself that you can make it less hard by continuing to do it. Eventually this will become habit, and you also will find yourself addicted to the positives you get out of it. Not only physical changes, but mental and emotion mindset changes. You will experience the endorphins and energy rush that will hopefully make you an addict like me 😉

Regardless of your goals, the life of your dreams has always been closer to you than you realized. The drive and motivation to have everything good in life is inside you and created through your own desire and will to change. So keep your mindset positive and never give up.

XOXO,

ADO

 

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FINDING BALANCE & REVERSE DIETING

FINDING BALANCE & REVERSE DIETING

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Good morning! I have so much to say on finding balance and that will continuously be the underlying theme in most of my posts on my blog (I believe balance within this industry is the hardest thing one can strive for and therefor think it is very important to address). The following photo and post is a re-post from June 19th after prepping for my Oxygen and Ironman photoshoots, but I believe it is an important piece I wrote on reverse dieting and I will add a current update here as well:

As many of you know I have just gotten done with my prep and am now in the process of reverse dieting. Some people dont even know what that means. Basically you strategically and slowly bring your calories, carbs, and fat intake up from the deficit you were in previous to reaching your goals in order to avoid extreme fat gain/weight fluctuations and try to maintain a lean physique even while eating a more maintainable level of macros.

First I want to say that if you haven’t read any of my articles on post competition/prep struggles, I am extremely guilty of being that person who falls into a very dark/depressing place post prep. I have put on 10lbs in a matter of days after shows in the past. I have been miserable, disgusted with myself, not able to see my abs just 48 hours post show. A lot of you who have never been through what I am talking about wont have a clue as to why that is or how it feels, but those of you who do know very well that it is an absolutely miserable and depressing place to be in and even harder to get out of. I wont go into that more here but if you are interested in reading my article you can find it here:

http://www.cutandjacked.com/Competition-pre-vs-post-show-finding-balance

Regardless, this post is to explain how I feel I have finally found balance and am reverse dieting the correct way, which I am soo soo beyond happy about. This morning I weighed myself and I was 124.8lbs. Honestly I was absolutely shocked to see that number. Why? Because my prep low before I left for Oregon and my photoshoots in LA two weeks ago was 124.5lbs. So essentially today (6 days post shoot) I am up 0.3lbs from the lowest I had seen on the scale (I stopped weighing myself in Oregon due to not having a scale). This is absolutely amazing to me, as I have never been able to maintain my prep physique post show/shoot.

So how am I doing this?
Those of you who have been following me for a while saw that through my prep this time around I was not nearly as strict as in the past. I continued to use Walden Farms (and a lot of it), Sriracha (I used to tell myself this had too much sodium and sugar lol), I would eat things I never would have touched with my past preps such as arctic zero, peanut butter, ezekiel bread, fat free whip cream, etc. I didn’t really tell myself anything was off limits, I just made sure to track my macros. So those who are familiar with it… yes I was implementing an IIFYM approach to dieting and allowing myself a lot more flexibility and choice. Another key factor was I was implementing fasting windows. I have written about this before so I wont go into depth here about why I fast except say the main reason I was doing it was more mental than what I thought the physical benefit was. You see, in the past I was so caught up on thinking I had to eat every 3 hours that when I was done with a prep I would be eating ALL the time because I told myself I HAD TO. I was overeating constantly and eating all the time which is a terrible combination for weight gain. Fasting allowed me to view things differently. Change your mindset, change your actions, change your outcomes sort of thing. I implemented fasted essentially to prove to myself that I controlled when I ate, rather the other way around.

I will say I still allowed myself to indulge quite a bit in LA after shooting all day. We had In-N-Out, cookies, wings, etc. Friday, we had Krispy Kremes, pizza, wine, frozen yogurt Saturday, and even Sunday I had some carrot cake. However, I listened to my body and made smarter choices regarding food and also didn’t overeat every meal, allowing myself the ability to eat more calorie dense food for the planned outings. We arrived home Sunday night and I had already mapped out a plan in my head about how my week would go.

Monday morning the first thing I did was fast. Why? Because I wanted to again take back the control aspect around food. I knew I would be at home where I would have tons of options around me. All those yummy things I dreamed of for breakfast would be starring me in the face with nobody to watch me and tell me I couldn’t have them. Typically after dieting for a goal and being home without “constraints” I would have made a giant plate of protein pancakes with bananas and tons of peanut butter or something of the sort. But instead, I made nothing but coffee. Again, this is MY way of controlling my reverse diet mental aspects, and I am by no means saying this is the way for everyone. Either way, I fasted until about 2pm Monday when I had my first meal which was my usual oats and egg whites. I didn’t feel the need to overeat and honestly felt full from my normal portion sizes (I contribute this full feeling to my leptin levels being more balanced this time around from my strategic refeed days through prep).

Since Monday I have tracked all my macros. I gave myself a macro threshold which was about 40G higher in carbs than I was the last week from my shoot. From here each week I will up my carbs and fats slowly while I try to maintain or slowly gain weight. I would be perfectly fine maintaining even at 128-130 as I think that is still a comfortable weight for me. I have to admit though this week I have been abnormally tired and I haven’t had the strong desire to “kill” my workouts like before. So I have continued to work out but have been taking it easy. I haven’t been doing more than 30-45 minutes of cardio a day and have continued to lift more circuit style just to get my body pushing carbs into muscle tissue. I have allowed myself to sleep in a bit more than normal and obviously my body is thanking me for the rest right now.

One more aspect I have to add is that I obviously have my wedding in 9 days. Yes this has been a contributing factor to my desire to stay lean, however, even in the past knowingly having other goals on mind, I wasn’t able to find balance as I have now. It is all about mindset though and I highly recommended to set those accountability mechanisms in place post prep as well.

Current Update:

7 weeks ago (125.4lbs) Vs. Last week (129lbs) Pictured Below

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Since I wrote this article above 2 months ago I am pleased to say I am currently sitting at between 129-130lbs. I have continued to increase my calories and carbs and have also had some weekends where I haven’t tracked at all due to all the celebrations and normal “life” events we have had over the summer. One thing I have been missing is an accountability goal however and that is something I have been going back and fourth with needing at this point.

The Olympia expo is in 5 weeks which has definitely been in the back of my mind. I would like to go to the Olympia feeling good about myself of course but the idea of only being 5 lbs up from my prep low  has made me feel as if I don’t have much to work towards and I therefor have self sabotaged myself in a way with the type of mentality that says “I can get away with this” sort of thing. I have noticed myself becoming more relaxed with my eating habits and the desire to “live normal” has been eating at both Brandan and I as we try to enjoy our lives as a newly married couple outside of the fitness realm. I do contribute some of how I am feeling towards not having a set goal or timeline as I did previously for different events like our wedding and my birthday. So just today I contacted a photographer to possibly set up a shoot in Vegas during the weekend of the Olympia, more so to hold myself accountable in that aspect. I have been very torn on doing this as I know setting constraints and timelines on leaning out can also have the opposite affect on people and cause more binge eating or rebounding with the “I better eat it all now because I have to get back into prep tomorrow” mentality. I love the fact that for the most part I feel balanced with my food choices and intake so I am torn on forcing this type of an accountability goal for myself right now. I will continue to update everyone on my mindset with this and plan to write on the subject more moving closer to the Olympia.

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FASTED CARDIO & INTERMITTENT FASTING (IF)

Fasted Cardio & Intermittent Fasting (IF)

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Okay this is going to be a long one so bare with me. I get asked a lot about fasting and I have a lot to say on the subject. Apologizing in advance for spelling or grammatical errors as I tend to just type my thoughts out quickly/free write and dont proof read enough lol. Here are my current thoughts on the subject of fasting:

For starters, I want to make it clear that there is not one way for everyone and there are lots of methods that work for lots of people. So always find what works for you before trying to copy what anyone else is doing. Second thing is I want to put a disclaimer on this as I am a very knowledgable and experienced athlete, I feel I know my body well enough to know what is healthy in terms of extreme dieting and what is not and I dont want anyone putting themself in an unhealthy position as fasting can be very risky while cutting if not careful.

Okay so now that I got that out of the way.. I have been wanting to write on this topic for a while. However, I am still playing with the concept as I believe you can read information on every opinion out there- wether its backed by science or not- it seems anything and everything can be justified on the internet and sometimes I even find myself more confused on the subject after researching it. Anyone else ever feel this way? So in my opinion the best way of figuring things out is to test them on yourself and find what works for you.

I have to state that I have had many preps over the last four years which were all very different. I have had two different coaches and then coached myself with accountability check ins from my brother last year so I have experienced many different opinions and methods to prep. I have had preps where I never did fasted cardio, I have had preps where I did fasted cardio a few times a week, I have had preps where I utilized IF (intermittent fasting) one day a week, and last year I never fasted at all throughout my entire prep and had one of the most succesful years of my competiting career.

The first time I used IF it was extremely hard for me. The concept of not eating for a 16 hour window (basically from 10pm to 2pm the next day) was extremely hard for me. I would sleep in as late as I could on those days so I made sure to pick a weekend where that was possible. I would still drink coffee and water and take bcaas while I was fasting but my first meal wouldnt be until 2pm. Looking back- I think this was so hard on me for a few reasons. It was my third year of competing and I had developed this idea in my head that I NEEDED to eat every three hours or I was dying lol. The second reason was I had someone else telling me I HAD to fast and I have never been good at taking orders from someone else lol.. probably why I am my own coach and my own boss now, ha. So that being said, my mindset around IF at that time was negative. I didnt like it and I didnt like fasting. However, I did notice that the next day I would feel full easier and also my weight would typically drop.

When it came to fasted cardio in the past, again I have seen great results with it and I have seen great results without it. My mindset on fasted cardio previously has been this- If you are someone who feels naesous or sick if you dont eat in the morning and fasting previous to training (cardio) will affect your performance, then the benefit will not be there anyways and you should train in the state that you can expend the most effort. However, if doing cardio in the fasted state is something that doesnt bother you- meaning you feel no different than if you would have eaten and can still performe with some intensity than yes you can see benefit in fasted cardio. I have almost always been the person who feels sick if I dont eat first thing while in prep, which is why last year I never performed fasted cardio.

Now with all that being said, knowing that the body and brain changes with each prep and that many factors should be taken into account- I began to implement some fasting into my routine with my last prep and I continue to utilize it now. Let me address the idea of muscle loss really quickly here as well. Some people are so scared of burning muscle that they steer clear of fasted cardio all together. Why this doesnt bother me has to do with a few reasons. First, I always drink my BCAAs (Branch chain amino acids) along with some glutamine during fasted cardio. Second, I have a LOT of muscle for a bikini competitor and honestly wouldnt mind losing some lower body muscle (I know, I know- my gains). I develop lower body mass fairly easily and the problem with that is my legs become over developed and on my off season when I put on any fat mass, I feel bigger in that area which is not my cup of tea. Stretchy pants for life is fun and all but I dont need bodybuilder thunder thighs lol. The other reason I am okay doing fasted cardio is my carb intake is much higher than it was in my preps last year and I feel I have plenty of glycogen in my system to support my excercise even while fasting.

The other thing I have started to do is play with the concept of IF more. Now you may wonder why when I talked about my horrible experience with it previously. The reason why is this- I am starting to think long term about my brain and the way I view food. The concept of eating all the time has become so instilled in my head that post show or post diet I struggle hard because I feel the need to eat ALL the time and have had leptin issues which have made it very hard to feel full (I wrote about this in depth in my article published on Official Cut and Jacked if anyone is curious to read it the link is here- http://www.cutandjacked.com/Competition-pre-vs-post-show-finding-balance ) I want to be in control of those feelings when I am done this time around and IF has given me a feeling of control over my body. I control when I eat – IF proves this to myself as I can set a window for fasting and a window for eating that allows me to still get proper nutrients in but allows more control over the concept of not having to eat ALL the time. Plus like I mentioned- when I do eat again I feel fuller quicker than I did- most likely due to my stomach physically shrinking. I also am much more experienced with IIFYM and how to utilize that for reverse dieting than I was in the past, so that is also part of my current method but something I wont get in to here.

Again, this is what is currently working for me, my diet, my mindset and the way things in my life are currently set up. I dont expect anyone to be just like me or to implement the same thing as I do as everyone is different and you have to find what works for you and your current lifestyle.

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MY AUDIO INTERVIEW WITH “BREAKTHROUGH SUCCESS POINT”

Hey everyone!

I am honored to be one of the featured speakers for Breakthrough Success Point 2014! Join me at this FREE virtual speaker series: www.breakthroughsuccesspoint.com where myself and many other influential successful women are sharing our personal stories on how we broke through hard times and came out on top. Many people assume from the outside looking in successful leaders were either born into a fortunate upbringing or had some sort of advantage over others in order to get to where they are at. This powerful speaking series will empower all people- men and women- to fully optimize their happiness, wellness, and success. We’re bringing together an international group of highly influential women to share their life-changing, “breakthrough” moments and tips on how they’ve achieved success, confidence and extraordinary lives.

My audio interview went live today and I am so excited!

If you are curious to know about my background and how I got to where I am today please tune in by clicking the link below! And don’t forget to sign up before its too late to here all the motivational speakers!

http://leangoddessblog.com/amber-dawn-orton/

 

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BREAKING DOWN BINGE EATING: WHY WE DO IT & WHAT YOU CAN DO

Breaking Down Binge Eating: Why We Do It & What You Can Do

Lately I have been asked a lot about how I have found balance with my mentality involving food and the ability to eat in moderation, especially post competition or restriction. I have written about this topic before, because I believe it is something that should be discussed more. It is a very prevalent/ depressing part of the sport, that is often hidden or suppressed by many athletes. I have actually jokingly coined this term “PTCD- Post Traumatic Competing Disorder”. So, I figured, the best time to write about it, was when I was in the midst of dealing with it. So todays post is focused on binge eating and the mental aspects that go along with it, as I have gathered some archived writing I did on this subject last year post nationals when I was in the midst of dealing with this myself.

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At 6 weeks post Nationals last year, I was bouncing around with my nutrition and choices each day. Some days I was in the mentality that “I need to lose weight or lean out” again and therefor I resorted back to thinking I needed to be on a “prep diet”. The misconception there, which I have just recently been able to connect for myself, is that in order to lean out a bit, I didn’t need to go to the extreme of a prep diet. Extremes are what cause rebounds, and the ongoing cycle that causes bingeing which is being “all in” or “all out”. You see, for many athletes, once you achieve your “best” as far as weight, body-fat, etc. you will automatically connect extremes to getting back to that point (that is if you had the presence of these extremes in your prep plan or journey to your personal best, of course). One may think, “I need to be on fat burners again” or “I need to do extra cardio” or “I should cut my carbs today” because those are the things they relate to getting their “best” body back. However, these are also the extremes that lead to the ever so prevalent binge eating disorder that happens to so many in the industry.

I, myself, am very guilty of binge eating post long term restriction. But thankfully, I have found a solution that seems to be working for me. I wrote the following in a journal entry of mine after my last show in 2013:

I am now 8 weeks post being on a restricted diet, and finally feel “in balance” with my lifestyle and choices. It has taken 8 weeks for my leptin to restore itself- as I just now have the sense of being full again. But in order to get back to this point of balance, I had to change my mindset and reprogram the way I viewed food. I will explain here:

I have always been a big believer in variety in the diet. However, I have also been a very clean eater while in prep. I do not believe one should eat the same sources of foods day in and day out, but I do believe the micronutrients found in clean, wholesome foods are crucial in a prep diet. That being said, I allow all my clients including myself, to make substitutions between clean protein sources, fat sources, and carb sources as long as the macros are fairly close. Now that I am out of prep, I have been allowing myself a little more creativity in my diet. I love to cook, and seeing all the clean food posts on social media sights, such as instagram, has helped my creativity come out in the kitchen. But even with that aspect, I have found myself often overeating these clean foods, to a point where I feel guilt and ask myself why? As I have paid more attention to this “binge” type of behavior, I have found that I personally overeat for a few different reasons, the primary being:

1) It can take weeks post restriction for my “fullness” signal to tell me I am full again, which is directly related to my leptin levels. Explanation for this: “Leptin is a hormone that is tied closely to regulating energy intake and expenditure, including appetite, metabolism and hunger. It is the single most important hormone when it comes to understanding why we feel hungry or full. When present in high levels, it signals to our brain that we’re full and can stop eating. When low, we feel hungry and crave food. It does this by stimulating receptors in our hypothalamus, the part of our brains which regulates the hormone system in our bodies. When leptin binds to receptors in this part of our brains, it stimulates the release of appetite- suppressing chemicals. People with leptin disorders eat uncontrollably. So when you lose a lot of weight quick, via liposuction or serious calorie restriction, your leptin levels plummet. Subsequently, you get hungrier, your thyroid decreases output and your metabolic rate drops. Your body then increases catabolic hormone activity and appetite, making you tend to slip off your regime and gain all that weight right back. That’s why crash diets are often ineffective – your leptin won’t let you eat less, and even if you do, you’re lethargic and your metabolic rate slows way down.” (Source: http://nutritionwonderland.com/2009/06/understanding-our-bodies-leptin-the-fullness- hormone/)

Of course, just because it makes things difficult for dieting, leptin levels are far more sensitive to starvation than overeating. So when you cut calories and start to burn fat, the leptin levels in your body plummet, but when you eat too much they don’t skyrocket at the rate they decreased (which means it will take TIME for my body to feel full again post restriction) To lose weight and keep it off, you have to give your body time to adjust to the new, lowered leptin level, so it sets that as “normal” and you feel full when you’re supposed to.

2) I may have a craving for a food that I am trying to compensate for by eating more of a cleaner food choice (because its “better”), but it is not satisfying that craving the way I am looking for it to be satisfied. Explanation for this: I have created tight dietary boundaries for myself, and I classify foods as “good” or “bad” and instead of chosing to eat something “bad” to satisfy a craving, I think I am better off overeating more of something “good”. At the end of the day though, overeating is overeating- wheather its good or bad- it will lead to weight gain. And I have to remind myself that if calories in, good or bad, are larger than calories out, I will gain weight.

Helpul Tip: If your craving chocolate and you’re eating 3 brownie quest bars to satisfy your craving (because they’re “clean”), try allowing yourself the chocolate your craving- in moderation- and do not feel guilty about it. EVERYTHING IN MODERATION is key.

3) I am hypersensitive to food, food timing, and the way macronutrients affects me and I will be for some time. Interesting study that may help explain this: “In a mouse model of moderate caloric restriction in which a 10-15% weight loss similar to human dieting is produced, we examined physiological and behavioral stress measures. After 3 weeks of restriction, mice showed significant increases in immobile time in a tail suspension test and stress-induced corticosterone levels. Increased stress was associated with brain region-specific alterations of corticotropin-releasing factor expression and promoter methylation, changes that were not normalized with refeeding. Similar outcomes were produced by high-fat diet withdrawal, an additional component of human dieting. In examination of long- term behavioral consequences, previously restricted mice showed a significant increase in binge eating of a palatable high-fat food during stress exposure. Orexigenic hormones, melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) and orexin, were significantly elevated in response to the high-fat diet only in previously restricted mice. These results reveal reprogramming of key central pathways involved in regulating stress responsivity and orexigenic drives by moderate caloric restriction experience. In humans, such changes would be expected to reduce treatment success by promoting behaviors resulting in weight regain, and suggest that management of stress during dieting may be beneficial in long-term maintenance. And if you are like 99% of other competitors and you overeat peanut butter and other nut butters, this may help you understand your actions are NORMAL….”In examination of long-term behavioral consequences, previously restricted mice showed a significant increase in binge eating of a palatable high-fat food during stress exposure” (Source: PubMed- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/21123586/)

My Answer: So after recognizing these factors, I have come to find that my binge type of behavior is drastically lessened through following more of an IIFYM dieting approach. If you are not familiar with IIFYM it stands for If-It-Fits-Your-Macros and it is a way to incorporate more of these taboo “bad” foods into your diet and stay within reasonable dietary guidelines in order to avoid weight gain and binge eating. Through implementing this approach, I have realized how strongly connected our mental perceptions can influence our physical actions. IIFYM works because it changes the way we VIEW food. Like I said before, most competitors automatically know what’s “off limits” and what’s considered “prep” or “clean” food. But these very classifications we create through this mindset also lead to the black and white mentality that once you touch one of these “bad” food sources you have failed. And many times this thought of failure leads to binging because the competitor mind then goes to the “I might as well eat it all now” mindset. The “I might as well eat it all now” perception is something that is created by the idea that this food source will very quickly be off limits again- out of the question for consumption, taboo, “bad”, or will be “taken away”. Once the mind goes to this place of feeling restricted, our actions typically lead to the opposite extreme again- which post restriction and due to the reasons listed above is almost always binge eating.

So what do you do if you are in this place post competition or just tend to be a binge eater? Here are my recommendations:

1) Start today with recognizing the way you view foods, and changing your perception. The mind is the most powerful influence on our everyday actions. It controls more than we sometimes recognize. If you can change the way you think- you can change the way you act.

2) Know that it will TAKE TIME to feel “normal” again. Your leptin levels, hormones, and body need adjusting time. Allow the process to happen.

3) Give IIFYM a try! For more information check these sights out: IIFYM.com

http://www.trimmedandtoned.com/beginners-guide-to-iifym

4) Remember, life is about balance. And moderation is key!

I  would like to add I have currently been working with Maria Adelus who has started a very exciting and necessary movement for community action focused on eating disorder awareness. Maria and I invite you to please join the group page on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/687431751326181/

You can also follow Maria on her personal journey in community action through her social media pages and YouTube Video Logs:

Instagram: @madelus

Twitter: @mariaadelus

Youtube: The Eating Disorder Epidemic

 

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BREAKING ALL THE RULES

BREAKING ALL THE RULES

Lately I have been thinking about how many bullshit theories I have been told along the way in my fitness career. I had a coach who decided in 2011 I “didnt do well on grains” and implant the idea that oatmeal (one of my all time favorite healthy foods) and other healthy grains would not help me get lean. So I believed this theory and cut them from my diet, basically implementing a paleo approach- using sweet potato as my only starchy carb source. From there I was also told fake sugars would make me soft, so I avoided them at all costs. I was told that if I missed meals or didnt eat every three hours I would lose muscle mass and therefor it was absolutely imparative to eat all my meals at specific hours of the day. I was also told that I needed to eat within 30 minutes of a workout to fully benefit from the workout with muscle development. This coach made me fear peanut butter as a fat source as they would NEVER put it in my plan and said not even to keep it in the house (some of this may have been for my own good though as I did/do have a tendency of overeating it). I was told NEVER to eat a meal that contained fats and carbs together as my body would always only burn through the carb source leaving the fat source to be turned into fat. I was told to ALWAYS eat a protein source with a carb source in order to balance insulin spikes. I was told many things along my fitness journey by many people and over time I truthfully believed a lot of these “Bro-theories”

Now is there some truth to what I have written above? Yeah a bit. It is true that your body will burn through a carb source quicker than a fat source when pairing a meal high in both macronutrients. However, does this mean that you will absolutely store the fat as fat? No, not necessarily. And eating protein with a carb does help with the affect of carbohydrates on insulin, however does this mean you are doomed if you eat a carbohydrate solo? Absolutely not. All of these facts are based on a moment in time and dont take into account a persons individuality, lifestyle, metabolic efficiency, etc. All these theories do is mentally mess with an individuals head. And it definitely did so with me.

I work with a lot of girls in the competition world. Many of them who work with other coaches but contact me for advice, posing, etc. Just last week I heard horror stories from a few girls I met for posing about the things there coach was telling them. It made me realize how many people are willing to mess others up both mentally and physically to make a dollar. And the sad thing is, its a form of brainwashing when these young people actually believe these theories and ideas.

I have written many posts regarding balance and the mentality I have dealt with post competition/prep. Many of my struggles come from the fact that I had so many “rules” implanted in my head. As I mentioned in my most popular article to date “Pre Vs. Post Show: Finding Balance ( http://www.cutandjacked.com/Competition-pre-vs-post-show-finding-balance ) I always struggled with my mindset revolving around food. The idea of eating all the time or losing muscle mass was so implanted in my head, that I was overeating every three hours even when I wasnt hungry. I was so caught up on the idea that I HAD to have protein with my carbs that even if I had eaten 500 calories of various carb sources and was full I made sure to eat some additional protein, you know.. to stop that insulin spike (lol, wow was I messed up!).

So here is what I have done recently to find balance. I broke every rule I was ever told. Every single one. The first step was finding IIFYM and tracking my intake. This helped because it gave me a basis to work within but also allowed me flexibility. It took away the feelings of failure when I ate something outside of what I was used to, because hey.. if it fit my macros- it was okay! I mentioned to my husband when I first started tracking that i felt “controlled freedom”. Now those two words may contridict one another but lets face it, most people in this industry are in some way, shape, or form control freaks. You have to be to do what we do. IIFYM gave me the ability to be in control of my intake but the flexibility to work outside of the food sources I felt limited to.

I started eating carbs I enjoyed because nobody knows my body like me and if I had gotten lean on oatmeal and peanut butter previous to these rules, than realistically I knew this was not going to stop me from losing fat mass. And hey.. I made it fit my macros. I started fasting, oh but I was going to lose all my muscle gains right?! I fast because again it took back the control aspect from the theory that I had to eat every three hours. No you dont have to eat every three hours, you dont have to eat within 30 minutes of your workout, you dont have to eat breakfast. WHAT DID I JUST SAY? Yes thats right.. you dont have to eat breakfast. Thats another thing I was programmed for years to believe.. that I should eat immidately apon waking. So post show… I was shoving my face as soon as I got up.. and if I didnt get to eat I was cranky and anxious.

Now I want to address a few things. Specifically because I have clients out there that may be reading this, thinking.. “But you told me I should be eating breakfast and I should be eating my post workout shake and snack following my workouts?”. Most of you who dont understand or follow IIFYM may be following a specific meal plan with a total macronutrient breakdown that fits your goals. If you dont understand how to implement IIFYM, then yes- it is important to eat the way your specific plan is set up in order to reap the benefits. While in a deficit in particular (while cutting or trying to lose body fat mass) one should be eating more often especially considering an increase in excercise and the need to replenish nutrients through food sources. Now does this mean everyone HAS to follow these rules? Absolutely not. But if you dont have the education to implement another way based off your desired goals, then it is important to follow a specific plan.

For me in particular, the balance I have found in everyday life has come from breaking all the rules. Balance has come from figuring me out. My body. My mind. My happiness. I needed to break these rules in order to prove to myself that goals can be reached in many different ways. Nobody should tell you what you should do for you. Yes it is true there are some guidlines that benefit MOST individuals, but everyone is different and different methods work for different people. Be open minded. Dont believe everything you hear. Figure things out for yourself. If you bring an idea up to your coach who immidately shuts it down and tells you no- fire them. Remember balance is about long term sustainability. There is no one way or best way, find YOUR way.

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