Saturday, September 15, 2012

6 weeks out from the Shawn Ray Classic

It's official. Why is that so difficult? Truly putting it out there is a little scary. Sure, people who know that I've been prepping for a figure competition have cheered me on and encouraged me, but setting an exact time and place makes it seem more "real" and definitive.
The journey this time around is very different than the first time around in so many ways. For example, there were no expectations the first year. I just didn't want to look ridiculous or as if I didn't stand a shot at placing in the top five. Placing did not matter as much as stepping on stage as a worthy competitor. I didn't really expect anything else. This time, the bar I've set for myself is set much higher. Stepping on stage with an improved physique is the primary goal, but I can't deny that I'd like to place again.

Another big difference this time around is that I've dealt with more set-backs. There was the MCL injury from last summer, recurring sciatica which has finally seemed to disappear, a mother-figure/dear friend who died of brain cancer after a long, hard battle, a big career change (from self employed to employee), still plugging away at my college degree,some teenage parenting stresses, some financial set-backs.... It just all seemed to happen at once. Overwhelmed and full of doubt, I quietly struggled with believing in me again while I, once again, found myself believing in everyone else. My metabolism hasn't liked the stresses and lost sleep. On top of that, inconsistency in my workouts and diet in the off season have proven to be a metabolic nightmare for competing.

Thankfully, this journey back to the stage gave me something positive and beneficial to work toward. There have been a few times when I considered quitting. Those moments of self-doubt would creep up, sometimes even keeping me up at night. I'd ask myself why I'm doing this. A horrible voice would tell me that it's too hard and then a strong, wonderful voice would speak up from within my heart saying, "Gretchen, you've got this. Keep moving forward." Like a father telling his child to get up after falling off of a bike and ride again, I'd get back up and keep pushing toward my goals as I'd remember that this journey is worth completing.

Now, I sit here wondering something... Do my weight-loss clients feel this way? Do they embark on this journey to be stronger and healthier only to find themselves scared that it's too hard? Do setbacks keep them up at night doubting their worth? Do they believe they are worth this journey? I believe in my clients! If you're one of them and you're reading this, know that I'm on your team! Let's do this. Dominate the journey!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

October 27-stage ready!!

That's my goal competition date! No excuses, no turning back, no mediocre or half-hearted efforts.

My husband is behind me, my kids are cheering me on, and my confidence is higher.

I'm not sure what I'd do without such a supportive family.

What are your goals? Do you have a plan? Who is supporting you? Get rid of your sabotaging habits and get to work. Reach out to like-minded people. Don't look back. The only one holding you back is you.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Progress better than I thought

Okay, proof is in the pudding. Before the willingness to face the truth of progress pictures, I was nervous. My coach, Dr. Layne Norton, requested progress photos and my immediate thought was, "Uh oh, I'm not sure I want to see yet...". Looking at the numbers on the scale, I was sure I'd see progress yet to be made rather than progress already made. Boy was I wrong! Much to my surprise, even with crummy posing, what I saw was a wider back, fuller glutes and quads, stronger shoulders, and a leaner than believed physique.
Numbers on a scale serve only a partial purpose. Without an opportunity to visually assess your physique, you only get part of the truth. Regardless of whether you like the picture-taking, this is a must if you want to know what that number on the scale means for you individually.
The good, the bad, the ugly.... Take those pictures. This week, next week, the following week... Then pat yourself on the back when you see the final "after" picture.
Here I will begin posting my weekly pictures and keep you posted on my personal progress. The journey back to the stage is a big one and I'm inviting you to join my in my ups and downs.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Move forward!!!

The body-fat is finally starting to drop again after over six months of feeling "stuck." Did you think you're the only one who ever feels "stuck" or like you're in an inescapable plateau? You're not alone. Among figure competitors, I believe that it's a dirty little secret that we're often too embarrassed to share. We feel overweight when we are not. We feel defeated every time our lips touch a white carbohydrate. We feel lazy when we're not doing countless weekly hours of cardio. We feel week if we're not hitting weight-lifting PR's at all times. And then it clicks...

Logical thinking takes over, focused ambition replaces defeating negative thought patterns. Some people say that the sport of figure competition is selfish and unhealthy. Well, I don't believe this has to be the case. As a matter of fact, I believe that it can be therapeutic IF we are willing to look at things logically, if we are willing to be held accountable not just physically but also spiritually and in our interpersonal relationships.

I've learned that there are many parallels and life lessons that the sport of bodybuilding--particularly figure competition-offers. As a life coach, I have learned that it is important to not just set goals, but to also be willing to state those goals to others who can hold our feet to the fire in reaching those goals. This is true in everything from achieving financial freedom to developing enduring spiritual disciplines. When I was willing to apply this truth to my pursuit of a figure competitor's physique, I called on the best coach I could think of, Dr. Layne Norton. Boy was it humbling to send those first "progress pictures". Talk about laying it all bare. He was able to better guide me with that in hand. At first, the goal was to walk on the bodybuilding stage with a figure competitor's physique. AND I DID IT!!! I did very well three times in a row. But then what?

Well, within weeks, I'd lost sight of the elite physique. A combination of sporadic binges and depressing, self-defeating thoughts began to take over as I gained at least 20 pounds in what felt like days. That's when I knew that I had to contact my coach again. That expert guidance, consistent accountability, and honest coaching were just what I needed to regain a sense of determined focus. I believe the same sort of thing happens to people in other areas of life. For example, a friend once spent two years digging out of debt. How did she reward herself? She made huge purchases, including a luxury vehicle. Eventually, she was in debt again. I'm sure if she'd had someone to keep her accountable (a life coach, a pastor, a friend...) for just a little longer, she'd have developed the disciplines and knowledge she needed to maintain that financial security and independence.

Other life lessons I took from my experience as a figure competitor are just as important. Early in the game, I realized my need for a figure coach. Tina Peratino of Center Stage Figures was absolutely amazing. She showed me how to present my curvy physique in the best way possible. I didn't realize how little confidence I had until I had to stand in a room alone with this little power house of a woman, alone in nothing more than my swimsuit and competition heals. The shaking, the tendency to not stand erect... Tina helped me through those things with the kind of experienced direction someone who'd never done a competition (and some who have) needed. In life, sometimes, we may need someone who can help us see not just our flaws, but also our strengths. Do you know what your personal strengths are? What makes you tick? Sometimes realizing our purpose involves some soul-searching to see what others see in us. I'll bet there's something about you that makes others want to be with you. What is that? Tina helped me see that about my figure, but there are others (especially my husband) who I often count on to tell me what they see in me as a person. This encourages me to ask myself how those strengths of character or personality are being used to be a blessing to others. I can see where my efforts may be misdirected and where I could be more of a benefit to myself or others in my life. Just as Tina helped me put my best foot forward on the competition stage, other loved ones help me put my best foot forward where it matters in my day-to-day living. Sometimes, this may mean saying "No" a little more often, or taking scary risks professionally.

The final lesson I learned in my experience as a figure competitor, or shall I say I realized more fully, is that there will always be someone who wants to do what you do better than you. Sometimes, these people are worthy of that and often times they aren't. Sure, we see this in the work-place and kids see this in school. But do you recognize it in every-day life? If you do, how do you respond to it? Do you take it personally? Do you embrace it? See, at my first competition, there was one competitor who beat me. Stacey Ellsbury. Boy was she amazingly beautiful! Her stage-presence was phenomenal. From her walk, to her well-sculpted shoulders, she had the whole package. If I was going to place second to anyone, she was the person to place second to. There were other competitors who were not nearly as, dare I say, lovely as Stacey. See, backstage, Stacey quietly kept to herself for the most part, but she was so sweet to all competitors at all times. For example, I'd lost my bracelet (turned out it was inside the sleeve of my sweatshirt) and she'd offered hers to me. This young woman didn't know who I was and had no reason to want to help me; after all, I was her competition. But you know what, she did want to help. It was obviously genuine. There were other competitors who would hardly even make eye contact with me, even if I said "Hello" as I passed. They were catty or cold, stand-offish at best. I could either let this intimidate me or I could stand tall and keep my eyes on my goal. You learn a lot about yourself and others in an environment like this. I learned some good things about myself that day. I learned that even when I am beyond scared and overwhelmed, I can stand tall with a smile on my face. I learned that I'm more gracious than I often give myself credit for. I learned that I can follow through with something that is difficult and overwhelming. I also learned that if I wanted to compete again, I needed to bring in a stronger and slightly more conditioned physique. When I return to the stage, I'll bring fuller shoulders and a teensy weensy leaner overall package. I'll keep my stage presence though.

These were things I needed to realize about me. My loved ones may have seen these qualities in me, but it was necessary to do something for me so that I could come to that self-realization on my own. What are you doing to see your full potential? Are you settling for mediocrity in your life? Are you selling yourself short because you're scared? Is there something that you're holding off for "when you get around to it" because you're concerned that you may fail? Whatever your answers are to these questions, I hope that you will be somehow motivated to put one proverbial foot in front of the other and move toward your full potential.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


This is my year...
My year to compete with extra muscularity and more leanness
My year to finish my NASM certification (another personal training certification)
My year to increase my revenue and decrease my time on the road
My year to graduate from Liberty University with my degree (want to finish before Joshua graduates from high school).
My year to find a consistent training partner who is not afraid or uncomfortable spotting me when picking up and putting down big weights.
My year to keep my client newsletter updated and sent regularly.
My year to maintain spiritual growth and accountability with close Christian friends.
I'm worth it!

It's your year too! What will you do this year? What are your personal goals? What would you like to accomplish? Put it down, tell everyone that you can what those goals are and when you plan to reach them, and do it!!! You're Worth It too!!!