Category Archives: Life Outside of Fitness

MY MENTAL STATE, PERSONAL STRUGGLES, WHY I FEAR MISCARRIAGE SO MUCH AND THE TRUTH ABOUT THE FITNESS INDUSTRY WHILE PREGNANT

I haven’t blogged in a while. I know I should be better with it and I am going to make an effort to blog more often during the remainder of my pregnancy. So thank you for those of you who are patient with my sporadic blogs and updates.

So lets get to the good stuff. This pregnancy has been anything but easy thus far. I had posted a few weeks ago about my struggles with it and in order to not bore everyone with more complaining I promise you this post is about more than my personal struggles but I do feel the need to tell my story and update those who might be curious or not following my @fokkenIVF page.

Many of you know by now Brandan and I went through IVF to get pregnant. It took us over 2 years and thirty thousand dollars to get to where we are at today so I am obviously very grateful to be pregnant. However, this pregnancy has been completely different than I could have ever expected or prepared myself for. I have a new found respect for anyone who has gone through a rough pregnancy because of it. Shoutout to those moms who did this multiple times. I am impressed.

So lets back up a bit, due to IVF I was put on a very restrictive exercise regime since the day I started stimulation meds. The reason being is the meds make your ovaries and organs VERY large and any twisting or sudden movement through the torso can have negative effects on the body and be harmful to the enlarged organs ( and I didnt feel working out was worth my health or having something go wrong for such an expensive/invasive procedure). So I discontinued exercise with the hope of getting back into it after we knew if I was or wasn’t pregnant. That process took about a month. When I found out I was pregnant at my first ultrasound they saw a sub chorionic hemorrhage (which is very common with IVF) but they put me on modified restriction of activity due to the presence of the hemorrhage. I was allowed to walk and do some light cardio and very light weight lifting (they said under 20 lbs and no more than 40 lbs on lower body days). For someone who deadlifts 265lbs you can imagine a 40 lb restriction made me laugh. But I eased back into it and got a few workouts in and was starting to feel better with activity back in my life regardless. And boy was I sore! It was like starting from the beginning after almost 6 weeks off. So I set a plan to workout for 2 days “on” with one day off and repeat that cycle to ease back into things. That lasted about a week and a half.

At my next ultrasound the hemorrhage had shrunk (good news right?) but they found a cyst on the umbilical cord and they also found the presence of a second baby. We had transferred two eggs so it wasn’t that shocking that both had actually implanted but the fact that the second was not seen at the first ultrasound threw us off a little. Unfortunately the second baby was so far behind in development they didnt have much hope for it being a viable baby I would carry to term. Next, the genetic counselor had to come explain to us the risks associated with the cyst being present as well which could cause major risks down the road and also a higher likelihood of miscarriage if the baby wasn’t able to get the nutrients it needed due to any blockage the cyst would cause. At this point I felt like nothing could go easy for us. But of course I was just grateful our original baby was okay as far as they could tell and we would have to wait and see if any of these things caused bigger issues for us. Talk about stress and anxiety.

The following day I started cramping at 10am. I felt the cramping was strange because I hadn’t had any cramping in a few weeks and it just didn’t feel normal. I told Brandan in the afternoon how I felt and I was a little concerned but we both read that cramping could be completely normal throughout your first trimester and so I tried to believe it was just part of the process. Later that day we had a bunch of supplement packages delivered. I am talking like 20+ boxes. Some of them weighing 30+ lbs. They were sitting on our porch outside and I didn’t even think twice I just brought them all inside one by one. And then it happened. About an hour later I went to use the bathroom and blood was in the bowl. The doctors had told me that I do have two reasons to bleed. The hemorrhage could cause me to bleed if it was being passed and I could also pass the second baby at any time. But even with that in mind all rationality went out the window and I instantly broke into tears when I saw the blood. Brandan was at a massage so I was alone. As soon as I calmed myself down I called the clinic. Unfortunately it was after hours and I had to get through to an after hour nurse. She told me I could go to the ER and get scanned for reassurance or I would have to wait until the next morning to go into my RE ( Reproductive Endocrinologist specialist). Knowing that the ER would take hours and if we did get bad news I would not want to be in that setting when doing so I chose to wait it out. Unfortunately three more times to the bathroom and the blood got worse and worse. Eventually though it did seem to lighten and I was able to fall asleep a few hours later somehow.

The next morning we were relived as hell to see our baby moving and its heart beat flickering still. That was great news. Unfortunately though my hemorrhage had tripled in size from just two days prior and ruptured which is what caused the bleed. We were fortunate that the hemorrhage wasn’t near the placenta but we were warned that this could cause major issues with our baby if it got larger. So back on bed rest I went. No walking, no working out, no lifting over 5 lbs, no anything. At this point I wasn’t sure if anything would go right this pregnancy and started getting very upset and depressed feeling. Working out has obviously been a huge part of my life for the last 6 years so to not be able to do something that makes you feel good has definitely been a struggle. Obviously I am putting the health of our baby as a priority but not even being able to walk in the sunshine with my husband has been rough.

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(Our baby measuring 10 weeks 1 day)

Thankfully, our last scan showed that the hemorrhage was “organizing” itself and had shrunk in size a bit. The other good news was the cyst was no longer seen on the umbilical cord. It was our first US with all positive news and baby was actually measuring one day ahead of schedule. But even with all of this good news the doctors still dont want me doing ANY activity. So I have come to accept my entire first trimester I will most likely not be able to be active or work out.

I also want to address the reason I fear miscarriage so much. I know every mother or pregnant woman who wants or desires to be pregnant fears miscarriage. Thats a legitimate fear for many of us. However (and I am not taking away anyone else’s feelings but I do believe we are in a very rare position to have a bit more anxiety than most) and here is why… Yes we spent a long time and a lot of money getting to where we are now. But typically when you go through the IVF process you have frozen embryos as back ups in case something doesn’t work out you can do whats called an FET (Frozen embryo transfer). An FET is a much easier process and only about 1/3 of the entire IVF process in invasiveness and length of time. Unfortunately for us none of our other embryos made it to freeze. So if we lose this one baby who has survived all of our other 14 eggs – we would literally have to start over from the beginning and pay approximately another seventeen thousand dollars to get back to where we are now. Not to mention the timeline and procedures, surgeries, and shots I would have to do completely over again. That is why I am beyond terrified of losing this little miracle. For us, its not as easy as just “trying again”.

I am now going on 11 weeks and nearing the end of  this first-tri scariness. But I cant help to be nervous as hell to do ANYTHING. Not to mention the last few weeks I have been so incredibly nauseous. I get sick if I dont eat but I get sick if I eat. Its pretty much a non-winning situation. Picking foods everyday is a battle. And unfortunately I have a super strong stomach and it takes a TON for me to vomit. I say unfortunately because honestly I know I would feel so much better if I could just get it out but I cant. I lay in misery on the verge of vomiting for hours some days multiple times a day but nothing happens. I have only actually thrown up one time since being pregnant. I never thought I would wish to throw up more. But this is the truth of pregnancy. At least mine.

So lets get to how this has affected me emotionally and how its taken a toll on my career. Again – I am not complaining just trying to create awareness of the truth of the situation. Through the IVF process its nearly impossible not to gain weight. Not being able to exercise, being put on excessive amounts of hormones, and just the stress and anxiety of the entire thing is bound to make anyone gain weight. It probably didn’t help that I was only a few months out of photoshoot prep when we started this procedure so my body was a little more sensitive to the increased hormones and decreased expenditure. Either way though, I gained about 12 lbs from my comfortable weight into the end of the initial IVF process. Now you add 7 more weeks of inability to exercise to that equation and a stomach that can only handle certain foods (CARBS) at certain times plus a baby and more hormones (yes I am still on large doses of progesterone and estrogen) and you are bound to gain more weight. So yes add +5 lbs to that equation and I am nw sitting at almost 20 lbs up from a prep weight I was comfortable at. Obviously I know this is all for the greater good. And I know I can lose it when I am done being pregnant. But I also know that anyone who has lived in the public eye for their physique is bound to have issues with body image and body dysmorphia. Now I will say this… I have come a long ways in viewing myself and my body in a rational way. And I know I dont look horrendous. I am not trying to put myself down or complain but the reality of it is I am very uncomfortable in the position I am in currently and the combination of not having a release through exercise to just FEEL better is very hard on me.

I have 22 companies I represent on a regular basis. Not even being able to get to the gym to take a selfie or promote products that I really do use when I am not pregnant and living my normal life is definitely causing issues in my career. I know I will probably lose some sponsors due to this process. Again I am okay with that. That is the reality of the fitness industry and “staying relevant”.I have already seen my online engagement decrease and I feel myself not even wanting to “try” some days.  I know I want a baby more than I have ever wanted anything so I am accepting that. But again it doesn’t mean its easy to watch income decrease due to situations you cannot control. Thankfully I do have some VERY supportive companies behind me through this process – Like RoyalSportLtd. who I will forever be grateful for. This industry is ruthless when it comes to athletes and affiliates and if you are not “producing” or staying relevant you can easily be cut from teams, not paid anymore, or lose your “place in line” to someone who is “up and coming”. I personally know a girl who’s main sponsor dropped her for not getting in shape quick enough post baby. She had so much pressure on her she ended up in the hospital for trying to workout too soon after delivery. Its the horrible truth of an industry built around body image and advertising. But that just shows the pressure we do have on ourselves in the fitness world.

So as of now I am just waiting this out. Hoping when I end the first tri here shortly I will have more energy back, be less nauseous, be able to get off the synthetic hormones and be able to return to at least walking and MOVING again to just mentally feel better. Its really not that far away now but its definitely felt like an eternity since I have been in control of my own body. I know this entire process is an amazing learning experience though. You become grateful for the days you do feel good. You are grateful for the days you do crave your normal healthy staples. You are grateful every time you see that heart beat and know you are now in control of another life that you are creating. You become grateful to create life because you know so many others out there struggle to do so. The exercise you once took for granted or even made feel like a chore is now looked upon as a luxury. Its all a learning experience and is definitely putting things into perspective. The last few years I have been longing to live for something so much greater than myself and I am finally doing that – to the fullest extent.

So happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who have been through it too. I commend you in your strength – especially those who have done this multiple times.

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~AD

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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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MY VERY CROOKED ROAD TO SUCCESS

My Very Crooked Road to Success

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Lately I have had a few people reach out to me and let me know that I have touched them in some way. It means a ton to me to hear this, especially from girls who I find as “peers” in this industry and definitely have never put myself “above” in any way. The word “inspiration” is used a lot when I read messages and comments by others and its still a bit odd for me to really accept that. I dont think anybody should be put on a pedestal, however, I do find myself admiring others achievements and success and do have my own “fitspos” that I find inspirational as well.

So I found myself wondering what makes the difference between those who find success and those who seem to have all the qualities on the outside but never seem to “make it” regardless of how hard they try?

Today I hold 20 sponsors and 4 lucrative endorsement contracts. I run an online business full time and employee three full time employees. I am married to the man of my dreams and to many probably have a seemingly “perfect” life. So… How did I get here?

I want to back up a bit and fill you in on my life and where I came from. I have posted a few times now about my background and the struggles I endured before portraying such a seemingly “perfect” life on social media. But for those who dont know, I will elaborate more on that because I do think it makes a difference in how I ended up in the position I am in today.

I am going to throw it way back to my first few years of life. As a child I was the only girl in my family and the youngest of three kids. My parents never had a great relationship, never married, and I would often hear them fighting. I never doubted that my parents loved me, I want to make that clear, but circumstances of the relationship they were in did affect me into my adult life. Often times I was left with my two older brothers to fend for myself, and as the only girl and the youngest I had to be tough and “fight” for what I wanted or it would have never happened. Nobody was there to hand me anything, I often felt like it was survival of the fittest between the three of us.

Moving into my middle school years of life, after we had moved as a family from Alaska to Oregon, we found ourselves living in a single wide manufactured home, super broke, and personally this was the most insecure part of my entire life. I was made fun of a lot in middle school even to a point of having a boy tell me I was so ugly I should kill myself. I never wore makeup, I wore grey, black, and white everything because I had no idea how to dress and these colors were “safe” to me. I did what I could to not stand out as I didn’t want attention on me. I was very much a tomboy but very insecure and never sure of myself in any situation. I remember asking my friends parents to drop me off at a store near our home and telling them I would walk because I lived close by and needed something from the store. The truth was I was too embarrassed for them to see where I lived. My parents did the best they could for us, and my mom would spend her last penny to make sure we participated in all the sports and programs we wanted to. So I was very much involved in sports – soccer, softball, volleyball, basketball, etc. She even signed me up for guitar lessons and modeling classes. Looking back I can see how much this active participation helped me grow as a child even though at the time all I could think about was how I wished we had a nicer house, a nice car, and nice clothes like my childhood friends.

I remember even back then thinking to myself that I was destined to be poor. I remember feeling trapped in that life and hating it. Thinking that I had to find a way out, but never having an answer as to how. I think that was my first real drive for continued education. My mom dropped out of high school and later went back to receive her GED. My father went to college but never finished, and although extremely intelligent, couldn’t seem to find his way out of the hole either. I knew I wanted to get an education with the hopes of doing better than my circumstances.

In high school, I was a very good student. I was in the honors program and graduated with a 3.8 accumulative GPA. I think the reason I was a good student was because I always had it in the back of my mind I needed to be a good student to change my circumstances. Sophomore year I started to wear makeup and dress up more. I started to be “noticed” and started to fit in with the “jocks” of our Varsity high school soccer team. I was still very insecure but seemed to finally be a little happier with the direction of my life at that point. I never really loved high school though and definitely had a few years of bouncing around from “click” to “click” because I never felt I really fit in anywhere. I went through a skateboarder phase, a raver phase, and a high heels and short skirts everyday phase. I think thats somewhat typical of kids trying to “figure it out” but I also experienced a lot of hardships most 15 and 16 year olds probably didn’t go through.

When I was 16 I didn’t get along with my mothers live-in boyfriend (my dad had moved back to Alaska and was no longer there). Things took a turn for the worse when he physically scared me after drinking at the bar and coming home drunk a few times. I had recently gotten my license suspended for not wearing my seat belt a few too many times and was living 20 minutes outside of town and place I went to school. I was in a bind because I knew I couldn’t continue living in that environment, had no mode of transportation, and needed to get out. So I decided it was not the place for me to be and ended up moving out shortly after. I had begun working at 15 and had a fairly steady job at a coffee shop at the time so I had some income. But moving out at such a young age definitely put things in perspective for me. My father would send money and help when he could and I moved in with my then ex-boyfriends parents (Yes it was a little awkward to be living with people I barely knew at the time but they were absolutely amazing to me and I wish I could repay them to this day).

I somehow got myself into college filling out all the application forms and FASFA by myself. I lived away from home until I went to college and moved into the dorms at 17. I originally thought I wanted to be a journalism major with a business minor so those were the classes I went for. The summer going into my freshman year I was also approached by a fellow grad student at the University of Oregon for a calendar project called “O’h Girls” he had turned into a business as his grad project. He asked that I be the “Oregon model” for the project and although I was fairly shy, I agreed. I had done a little bit of odd modeling jobs previous to that calendar but I never went seeking for them, rather just said “yes” to opportunities that would come my way. I never thought I was pretty enough to be a model and never ever thought it was something I would pursuit. I ended up shooting for that calendar previous to the beginning of the school year and landed the cover. Somewhere during the first semester I remember walking down the main street on campus and seeing myself on the cover of the calendar in shop windows. It was bazaar to me and I was more nervous for people to start recognizing me than anything else. I didn’t like to be the center of attention in large crowds, I hated standing up in front of people I didn’t know, and I was still very much that little insecure girl inside.

Towards the end of my freshman year I knew I would have to move out of the dorms and had no idea where I would go. I hadn’t lived at home in so long I knew that wasn’t an option and I always saw my parents throw money down the drain renting so I knew I didn’t want to do that either. I spoke with the women who so kindly “housed me” during my senior year of high school as she was working for a realty company at the time. I told her I wanted to buy a house. I was 18 years old and had no credit history. She thought I was crazy but I was determined. Long story short, I ended up purchasing my first home a few months before I turned 19 with my dad as a co-signer. My grandpa has passed away that summer and the money from his passing helped with a down payment. Doing the math, I knew I would need enough bedrooms to rent rooms out and pay my mortgage. So the home I purchased was a 6 bedroom house 1.5 miles from campus. At the time it seemed like the coolest thing ever. I was 18, owned a home, and was having 5 girlfriends move in with me. I had no idea what I was in for.

Buying a house made me grow up REALLY QUICK. All of a sudden I had a ton of responsibility, a mortgage payment, I was responsible for other peoples things as the “landlord” and I felt I was not living like most of my college friends. A few years into it I felt completely stuck. I didn’t want to live with other peopler anymore, I didn’t want the responsibility of the house, I wanted out of all of it. But I had a hefty mortgage payment to make, I couldn’t afford the house without roommates, and I had no idea where to turn. I was working 3+ jobs, going to school full time, and running myself into the ground. I had racked up $10,000 on a credit card just fixing things I had no choice to fix as a landlord- buying a new refrigerator, washer, air conditioners, etc. and being stupid and way too young to have a $10,000 credit card limit. I remember crying on the bathroom floor in my room many nights feeling like I was completely screwed and digging myself into a never ending hole of financial hell that my entire life I was trying to run away from. I wanted to live the care-free life of all the other 20 and 21 year olds that didn’t own homes and I felt I had dug myself into a financial stressful mess. Funny thing was, I had switched my major to finance because I wanted to learn all I could about how to avoid that problem.

When I graduated college I ended up receiving conjoining degrees. A bachelor of science in economics and a bachelor of science in business administration with a focus in finance. In all honesty, I knew finance wasn’t my passion. But something in me kept picturing myself in a suit working in a nice office, driving a nice car, and being a “professional”. That mindset was my drive because I thought that making that visual a reality would lead to success and happiness. I will say economics was something I found interesting and always excelled easily in those classes. Looking back at my college experience I feel a lot of it was wasted. Wasted partying, drinking, being too overly concerned with my terrible relationships, social standing, and trying to please others. I wish I would have made more connections, talked to more people, not been as insecure, paid more attention in class, and utilized my education better. It is apparent now my passion wasn’t in my studies but I honestly had no idea what my passion was- because I had no idea who I was. But what I was learning was how to figure things out on my own.

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The summer after I graduated I found myself working for a small online marketing company. It wasn’t a great job but it paid well and it was a job for my resume. I bartended/cocktailed on the side for extra money. That summer I was hit with the reality that I no longer had anything planned for my future. I felt very lost and like something was missing in my life. Thats the same time period when my brother presented the idea of training for a bikini competition to me. He had tried to get me to train for figure about a year previously but I ended up dropping out and had felt regret over the decision since. The bikini division was brand new and I had been doing some Hawaiian Tropic Pageants and modeling here and there and thought it was a perfect fit and something I could do well at. My competitive nature needed something to look forward to, a goal to distract me, something I could do for myself and that decision was just it.

I started prepping for my first show in late spring of 2010. The prep was by no means easy as I had never been one to diet. I actually used to make fun of girls who always seemed to be on a “diet” even when they were skinny. I never understood why skinny girls would run and I had never ever been brought up to restrict myself in any way, shape, or form within my family dynamic around nutrition. If anything it was more of a competition of who could eat the most. A few months into prepping I also was fired from the job I had. I honestly wanted to quite anyways but the sudden dismissal caught me off guard and definitely threw my anxiety through the window with the amount of bills I had to pay monthly to keep my house afloat. I questioned continuing with my prep and often times was late on payment to my brother for training. I felt tremendous guilt but knew if I dropped out of prepping my goals would be gone and I would feel even more lost than before. So I decided I would utilize all my extra free time to just prep harder until I could find another job. So thats what I did, went for more walks with my dog, worked out more, drank more water, etc etc. Around this time is also when I was finally able to figure out how to rent my house out. It was stressful kicking my 5 roommates out with a months notice but I knew I needed to get out of that situation and the only way to do so was rent the entire house under a lease contract. I moved in with a girlfriend and spent many hours alone cleaning out the entire house, painting, washing, prepping it for the new renters who would be moving in. I had no idea what I was doing but it was a distraction and learning experience. I remember vividly being at the house by myself painting some nights until 2am because I was on such a timeline. I hoped the house would be up to spec for a new group of tenants.

Once I was out of the home and the mortgage was being paid by my new tenants rental income I felt a huge sense of relief and freedom. I would say that point in my life was one of my happier years. I had goals, lived with a friend I adored, felt comfortable with myself and my body, and finally felt independent. Although I still didn’t have a “real job” or was making any sort of “real money” I felt my life was moving more in the direction I had wanted it to. I dont think its ironic that this was also the time period when I quite drinking. Looking back on the points in my life where I was using drugs and alcohol I always had high anxiety and stress levels. I dont think I ever really loved to drink, I think I did it because “its what everyone does” and I didnt know what else to do. Once I took alcohol and drugs out of the picture and started focusing on my health I was much happier. However, I will say I lost some of my very best friends due to my lifestyle change. People dont like change and I learned this lesson quickly when I got “dumped” by my very best friend for no longer wanting to be a party girl.

Jumping forward about 2 years I had competed in a few shows and done very well. I ended up winning the overall at my very first show which drove my passion to continue competing. I also ended up moving to Portland, a larger city about 2 hours North of where I was living. I had finally landed a job with a financial firm and thought I had finally gotten my foot in the door to where I wanted to be. I took the job with very little pay because I just wanted a start somewhere and thought if I could prove myself I would move up quickly in pay and would finally have the job of my dreams. It was during this time that competing and the gym had become a big side hobby of mine and a big part of my life. The guy I was dating at the time owned a gym and was a trainer and wanted to start our own competition team. I reluctantly agreed although my biggest fears would come true not even 2 years later. He utilized my success within competing to market himself and his gym and before we knew it we had 40+ competitors training out of his gym. I had a few people I worked with personally but it was by no means my focus or career.

I worked for the finance firm for about 6 months and can still vividly remember the day I decided to make a drastic decision that would ultimately change my life. I remember driving on my commute to work one morning and the sun was coming up on my early morning commute. It was going to be a beautiful day, the type of day that makes you want to get outside and just “be”. I wanted to be active, to be with people, to be in the sun but I was driving to an office to sit behind a computer and ultimately be micromanaged and someone else’s “bitch”. I remember thinking, “Is this what my life is supposed to be?” I had just gotten to a position with the company where I was about to get a raise, move up in my “title” and my benefits were about to kick in. I felt I had finally made steps to being in a “career” I had always wanted. But when I really analyzed the situation I knew I was miserable. I have never been one to take risks. I hate gambling and am a very risk averse person when it comes to anything financial related. This comes directly from watching my father spend thousands on lottery tickets and gamble beyond his means. I never wanted to be that way and longed for security my entire life. I was just about to get that security I had been wanting but I wasn’t happy. That is the moment I decided I would take the biggest risk of my life and quite my professional career to pursuit fitness full time.

I remember the day I decided to tell my boss a few days later. I walked into his office thinking we would have a mature conversation about how I wasn’t happy and didn’t feel the position was right for me long term but I could train someone to take over my position as a lot of what I was doing would need to continue with someone else. I wasn’t going to quite right away but rather just bring up the topic of me possibly phasing out. About 5 minutes into the conversation he said, “Okay well you can go then”. I about shit my pants as that was the last thing I was expecting. I had so many files I was in the middle of working on that nobody would know how to carry through as I had been taking care of all the details, so how could he just want me to leave? I didn’t get it. But he was set on his decision and let me go that day. I knew legally since he was laying me off in essence he would have to pay me for 2 weeks. So I figured at least I had 2 weeks to figure out what the hell I would do.

I jumped right into training the clients I had been working with here and there. I contacted everyone and anyone I knew about training to get them set up on a schedule – it helped that the guy I was engaged to at the time owned a gym with a fairly decent client base already. Within the first week I had a decent amount of clients going to keep me on my feet.

Within a month I had a full schedule of clients and wasn’t doing too bad income wise. However my ex was taking 30% of what I made since I was training in his gym. I thought that was a little odd but I figured it was contributing to bills and our future wedding expenses. This continued for about 8 months. My relationship with him however was deteriorating quickly. In October 2012 I learned that he had been cheating on me and acting inappropriate with multiple girls behind my back. Girls on our competitive team who I considered friends. Girls I helped train, taught posing to, and even spent the night at their houses. This had been going on for over a year and NOBODY on the team had ever brought it to my attention. Finding this all out was absolutely devastating. The worst part about it all was that I was living in his house, working in his gym, and driving a car that was in his name (he convinced me to sell my paid off car and take over payments on his- idiotic on my part but he was VERY manipulative). I felt I had gotten stabbed in the back in every way possible but the worst part about it all was my sense of security was completely wiped out from under me. I had no idea where I would live, where I would work, or where I would even go. I couldn’t even stand the sight of some people I thought were my friends and honestly was full of disgust for the industry and the sexual nature of it all.

I kicked him out of his own house after this happened and remember sitting in the same spot for hours on end just crying by myself. Feeling completely broken. Completely lost. Feeling like I did when I was that insecure little girl with no safety net and no security blanket. I had lost everything I thought I knew and felt completely alone and abandoned. I stayed in that house by myself for about a week just debilitated. I couldn’t function. And then one day I “woke up” from it all and I just said to myself “ I have to get myself out of this”. That strength I received that day was a blessing and I truthfully believe it came from my past hardships and feeling as if I had the strength to find hope again- even if I had to do it alone.
I ended up moving in with another competitor I had ironically met through my ex and had developed a very close friendship with. I dropped the car keys off to the car I was driving and was able to finance another car miraculously with the help of some connections I had made. I didn’t have a job and knew I needed to get my financial situation secured asap. So I started looking into keyless entry gyms in the area to move my business to. I found one that seemed to be a good fit and we negotiated a deal that worked very well for me financially. I moved what clients I could over to the new gym and then started to ask anyone and everyone if they knew anyone interested in training. I also picked up a side job because I wasn’t sure how my business would take off and wanted to guarantee myself some income. So I worked part time at a clothing boutique for a few weeks. However, to my surprise it only took me a month to double the income I was making previously at the gym with no expense being paid to my ex. The first few months living with my girlfriend I was VERY depressed although being around her was very healing as she was very similar to me in so many ways. I decided to completely throw myself into my work and before I knew it I was training 10-12 clients a day. I was making more money than I had ever made in my entire life previous to that time. But it wasn’t about the money, it was about keeping myself distracted and building my “security”.

During this time I also promised myself that I wouldn’t get in a serious relationship for at least a year. I was the girl who was always in relationships growing up and I wanted to finally be okay being alone. So I focused on myself, my work, and spending tons of time with my best friend and roomate. That was one of the best decisions of my life because I truthfully feel like I was able to heal and get to know me for the first time ever. Once I got over the pain of my relationship I felt my anxiety decrease daily. I had always suffered from anxiety but I finally felt I was healing from the inside and was “okay with myself”. I was okay with being alone for the first time ever and felt I didnt need anybody. That feeling was the most freeing and rewarding feeling I have ever felt in my life. I woke up each day happy. I felt I was finally pursuing something for myself and chasing my dreams and passion as I continued competing and building my training business. I was financially secure, paying my own bills, making my own schedule, being my own boss, and was genuinely happy.

Eight months after the breakup I met Brandan. We had started talking online and hit it off from day one. I never in a million years thought we would meet one another since I lived in Oregon and he lived in South Dakota so I talked to him like I had nothing to lose. I was myself, I was confident in who I was and knew exactly what I wanted. Although Brandan’s appearance would have made me put on a front in the past – thinking he was way too attractive for me and someone way out of my league- I felt a new sense of confidence from the pain I had healed from and decided I would just let things happen the way they would happen. I still had my goal of staying single for a year and very much intended to keep it.

Brandan had his fair share of success previous to us meeting. He was a bodybuilding.com athlete, had multiple sponsors, endorsement contracts and his face was everywhere online. Although I had had a lot of success competing and picked up my own sponsor with MaxMuscle I didn’t feel I was anywhere close to touching his claim to fame. The weekend we met in person I actually was competing at Jr.Nationals for my pro card and ended up missing it by 1 point. Although there was a lot of politics involved in the decision I was frustrated and felt I needed my pro card to be successful in the industry. Ironically, Brandan was at the show and pointed out to me that he was “successful” in the industry yet was also not a pro. Thats when my mindset changed. I had been chasing a pro card for so long thinking it was my only way to “become someone in fitness”. When the reality of it was hard work, drive, dedication, and making something of yourself comes from not giving up, standing for something, and believing in yourself. All qualities I had developed along the way and through my years of hardship.

Through building my relationship with Brandan he helped  “market” me in a sense using connections and his ability to “sell” me to companies. I also started putting more effort into my social media channels, my “image”, and what I represented online. All of these things happened rather quickly and I ended up landing a gig being a BSN girl at the Olympia- something I always dreamed of doing. I threw myself into whatever relationships I could create and negotiated contracts with companies I wanted to promote based off what I could offer them.

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Fast forward two years later and Brandan and I are not only happily married but have more endorsements and sponsorships than the majority of pro athletes. Not that we are “better” than any pro athlete by any means but we do very well as a team because we both have the same drive and ambition to work through hardships and hold on to hope.

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I can now say I am blessed with a wonderful marriage to the man I always hoped I would end up with- a very loving, caring, selfless, respectable man. We have a beautiful home, we pay our bills and have financial security and freedom to live a very blessed life. We do what we love helping others and am passionate about it every step of the way. I can honestly say that without all the struggles I endured I would have never had the strength to get to the point I am at now in my life and career. For every painful moment of my past I can now look back and see my blessings in the choices I made when I chose to never give up. I had to struggle to see my greatness in what I could achieve and am grateful for every second of it.

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WHY I STOPPED TRACKING MACROS

WHY I STOPPED TRACKING MACROS

I stopped tracking macros about 3 months ago and here is why:

I tracked macros pretty consistently for about 2 years. I tracked through my last couple preps and continued to track them post. Anybody who has followed me for a long time knows that I have struggled with my relationship with food ever since I began my competition journey. I have been that girl who rebounds post show. I have dealt with BED. I have dealt with extremes on both spectrums of health and fitness.

Currently I am in a place of limbo a bit with my personal life and fitness lifestyle. Brandan and I have been trying to conceive for 8 months now and have worked with a specialist since October. When trying to do “everything right” the most important thing when trying to conceive is proper hormonal balance. I am not going to go super into detail about that part of our personal lives in this post but I am happy to say my hormones have stabilized/regulated quite a bit. Even into the fall of last year I was dealing with low progesterone levels, low DHEA, adrenal fatigue, etc. I have gained weight as it was recommended to me, I have cut out most supplementation besides the basics and I have come to believe I have found my current “set point” in weight. I do believe in the set point theory and I dont believe I have given my body a chance to get back to that in close to 5 years (According to the set-point theory, there is a control system built into every person dictating how much fat he or she should carry – a kind of thermostat for body fat. Some individuals have a high setting, others have a low one. According to this theory, body fat percentage and body weight are matters of internal controls that are set differently in different people.)

Genetically I come from a family of ectomorphs and should not be able to put on a large amount of weight as my family history and genetics prove that. Before I competed I never dieted, I ate whatever I wanted, I worked out when I wanted and never fluctuated more than 10 lbs from my high school weight. However, over my years of dieting I kind of ruined that for myself and have messed with my hormones enough to be able to reach weights over what I believe are my “set-point” weight. Basically I overshoot my set point now due to a slower metabolism. I knew in order to really balance my body back out I needed to allow it to naturally get back to its current set point and from there my hormones would be able to fully heal and recover – as long as I stayed at my current set point and didn’t do any type of extreme dieting or exercising for a sufficient duration of time.

So that is where I am at currently. And how do I know I am at my personal set point? Because I stopped tracking macros and have maintained weight within a 3 lb range for the last two months or so. Even with a drastic decrease in expenditure and with a few weeks of knowing my intake was much higher than I should have allowed it I didnt range more than +/- 2-3 lbs in either direction. I was actually shocked and very happy to see my weight down 3 lbs after not weighing myself for 3 weeks and having less than sufficient work outs (I cut my workouts back in intensity with doctors recommendations and also cut back in the amount of days I was working out drastically. Some by choice- some due to life events and travel.) Am I at a higher weight than I am comfortable with? Yes most definitely. But do I know the long term benefit of allowing my body to heal? Yes most definitely.

Do I struggle everyday with this? Absolutely.

Another reason I wanted to stop tracking macros was because I needed to not be so ‘focused’ on food. I am the type of person who in the past would think about every meal before eating it. I would obsess over “what I could fit” in my macros and feel guilty when things didn’t fit or if I didnt hit my threshold. All of these behaviors come from years of restriction and strict comp preps previous to fully knowing how to utilize flexible dieting and have a less than knowledgable coach who did not have my best interest in mind.

I know myself well enough to know that the more I focus on something the more its hard to live in balance around that particular thing. So with food, knowing it has been my struggle for many years- mentally and physically, I knew I needed to allow myself to take the focus away and start eating more intuitively.

Intuitive eating can be VERY hard. Many people stop tracking macros and use it as an excuse to over-indulge or binge eat. I have definitely been guilty of that in the past. However, knowing that I had been off of a “restricted” diet plan/calorie deficit for quite some time- I felt my mentality around food in general was at a place where I could eat intuitively and not fall into the trap of feeling “out of control”. Plus I know so much about macros and micronutrients now that I can keep a fairly accurate count of where I am at in a day without physically counting. But that is also something I wanted to give up control of. I wanted to live a truly balanced life around food and with that goal in mind I stopped tracking.

Overall I feel good about this decision for now. I am not telling anyone else this to try and promote intuitive eating if you have no food related torment or dont have an unhealthy relationship with food. Tracking macros works and most definitely will still be used in my future if and when I decide to cut or diet again. But for now, I am finding my balance in the best and most positive manner I can. Hoping to conceive and live a more all around balanced life.

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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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PHOTOGRAPHY & REFLECTING ON OUR WEDDING DAY

I just received our wedding photos back this week and it made me feel like I was re-living that day again. What a beautiful day it was! Honestly I couldn’t have asked for a better wedding day. So many things that were supposed to go wrong but in the end it all couldn’t have been more perfect.

The forecast leading up to our wedding said rain Thursday through Sunday. I was so bummed seeing as how all my family and friends were traveling to town those days and I wanted them to enjoy there time here and see the state in its most beautiful setting. I always bragged to my family back in Oregon that I love that it “never rained here”… so I felt I had jinxed myself in a way. Most of my family and friends had never visited this part of the country and I just wanted them to be able to experience it the way I envisioned it in my head. Not to mention our rehearsal and wedding ceremony were both planned to be outside. The entire time Brandan kept PROMISING me it would be okay… and as a true South Dakota native I tried my hardest to believe him.

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While driving to our rehearsal it started to rain. I was EXTREMELY upset. But to my surprise as soon as rehearsal was scheduled to start the rain cleared up and the sun came out. We finished rehearsal and took cover under a large picnic area to have our scheduled catered rehearsal dinner. As soon as our food arrived, the rain came pouring down, but by then I didn’t care.. we were all under cover and hey… anytime food is around I don’t have much of a care in the world except for what’s going in my mouth lol.

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The next day my bridesmaids and I got up at the crack of dawn to meet for breakfast before hair and makeup. On the drive to the pancake house the sky was black with clouds and the forecast was not promising. I was devastated but was on such a time crunch with making sure everything was done in an orderly manner I decided not to focus on the weather and just pray for the best. By the time our hair and makeup was done and we went outside for pictures the sky had cleared and the sun was starting to shine through. I kept praying it would hold out for three more hours until we were inside for the reception. God granted my prayers that day because not only did it not rain but as soon as I walked down the aisle, the clouds broke and the sun was shinning right down on Brandan and I as we said “I do”. Brandan of course was at the altar whispering “I told you so..” But I have to give it to him… he has never let me down on anything he has ever promised me and I can guarantee I will never doubt him for as long as I live.

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(Bridesmaids Breakfast.. had to show my gains lol)

Needless to say, our wedding day was the most perfect day of my entire existence this far. I loved every moment of it and wish I could re-live it over and over. These photos and our wedding video bring me back to that day and make me so grateful that I found the love of my life who gave me my fairytale wedding.

I welcome you all to watch our wedding video at the following link:

http://vimeo.com/100888832

I also want to send a special thank you to everyone who was a part of our big day. And a very special thank you to Chris Wegner our videographer, and Brittany Kruger our photographer for capturing all our special moments.

To view more of Chris’s work please visit his website at http://www.chris-wegner.com along with Brittany Kruger’s Photography at https://www.facebook.com/BrittanyJoPhotography

 

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