Preparing for Morocco: Part I Fitness

My Trip to Morocco is fast approaching!  While I have been trying to find some time to prepare for next weekend’s trip to Venice for Carnival, however, it’s actually more important that proper attention and preparation is focused on my upcoming mountain biking excursion. I still need to get my leave approved which requires me to submit additional paperwork (must get it done before Thursday), and I have to book my train ticket to the airport…but those are not the more pressing details.

I will be mountain biking between 25-50 miles a day during this trip while living amongst locals and/or in a tent.  Unless I ensure I’m in proper shape to make it through and have the right equipment with me; I’m going to have a miserable time!!

Mountain Biking Shape

Last week I was only able to make it to the gym once. That’s not going to cut it to get me in shape to mountain bike for 6 days.

  • Day 1: 50 miles
  • Day 2: 40 miles
  • Day 3: 35 miles
  • Day 4: 25 miles
  • Day 5: 52 miles
  • Day 6: 20 miles

On my trip around Lake Constance last May, I biked about the same distances each day (a little less) but it was all flat. Besides it being all flat, I was on my own, taking it at my own pace. I could stop whenever I wanted and rest if I needed. I’m not sure who the other people are who signed-up for the same trip, or what kind of shape they’re in, and therefore, what the pace will be. I don’t expect it to be out of my league.  Ultimately, those factors really don’t matter as much as being able to be in the saddle pedaling for hours at a time without getting exhausted.

I need to make sure I have built up the endurance and I’m prepared to endure “the saddle.” I’m not bringing my bike with me so I have no clue how comfortable the seat of my rental will be.

The goal is to train so the ride isn’t as much of a challenge. Instead, I want to be able to focus on enjoying being out there in the wide open space, absorbing all that my new environment has to offer and get rejuvenated by spending a week outdoors.

Pedal, Sprint, Run, Pedal, Row and Pedal Some More

This week and upon my return from Venice, the focus will be on pedaling…both for duration, endurance and sprints. I won’t just be spending time on the bike, spin bike that is, since it’s too cold and icy to break out my mountain bike and hit the trails. But I also plan on running, and rowing to help develop the endurance, and power bursts I’ll need to get up the hills.

I’ll have to find the time and energy no matter how hectic and draining my work schedule is. It does make it easier to get the training in, when I know it’s for something specifics.

A Little Less Weights

Of course, I’ll also keep hitting the weights but will probably cut it down to 3 may be 4 times a week; will keep it higher reps and more super-setting. Since I have no plans on competing again, I don’t worry about maintaining muscle mass these days. I’m much more focused on keeping my strength and continuing to develop greater endurance. I’ll be spending most of the summer outdoors mountain biking or hiking, so I might as well start adjusting now.

Yoga and Body Weight Exercises

Speaking of adjusting…I’ve been more deliberate about stretching and it’s made a HUGE difference. I plan on hiring a yoga instructor for some at home sessions. I really do want to get more into yoga.

I also know there are some excellent benefits to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and body weight exercises…so I’m going to put together some workouts I can easily do on the road, or wherever I find myself. I’ve been used to going to gyms and again, it’s time for me to adapt to some new environments based on the various new things I want to be more involved in.

Will be keeping everyone posted on how I feel, look and perform as I implement some changes!!

How About You?

Did you have a long bike trip you prepared for?  What fitness regime did you implement to prepare?  I would love to hear from you!  Comment below or contact Ann’s Adventure Tour Travel Writer and Blogger here.

Shaking Off The Sluggishness

Since this was my first year competing, I had never experienced going from competition mode to offseason mode – the transition was relatively easy and as my muscles became layered by a sheet of fat…I learned to live with it.  It was awesome to not be hungry all the time. At my leanest I was 115, at my heaviest in the “offseason” I hit 131 (I’m 5’3”). I continued to train 5-6 days a week to include low level cardio 4-5 times a week. I alternated between training heavy and training with very high reps but had decent rest periods and rarely elevated my heart rate.

I had no idea how sluggish I was in fact getting/becoming until I transitioned from “offseason” to prep mode 15 days ago.  I also forgot (never would have thought I would have forgotten so easily) how much dieting and being hungry sucks.

Not having really increased my heart rate to any significant levels in months…basically equaled my getting “out of shape” at least cardiovascularily (that’s not a word but you know what I mean) speaking. I’ve been re-integrating more HIIT training into my training in order to mix things up and it’s been challenging.

The weight is coming off slower than I expected and I find myself suffering from the “I’m dieting so why don’t I look like my shredded self yet.” I’ve come to realize that when you’re hungry you’re a lot more critical of yourself and what results/gains you should be seeing.  When you’re not hungry/dieting – you don’t have expectations of what your body should look like…you’re just happy you don’t look too fat.

It has taken me the last 15 days to basically get my head back in the game. I didn’t realize mentally I had been “taken out of the game” but somehow I did. Bodybuilding is a mental game, it is those who are mentally more focused and committed who become Pros and excel in this sport. I’m happy that my other professional goals are requiring a leaner version of me and I’m getting a big head start to my 2013 prep. Will be keeping a more shredded look all year in 2013…to do things differently this go round.

Hey!  It’s all about trial and error. You have to figure out what makes you feel the best and what makes you the most competitive.

P.S. My pictures and videos from my 2012 prep – HUGE source of motivation right now so definitely recommend documenting your journey. You’ll be very glad you did.

Mission Qualification: In Full Effect

Sitting on a plane from Hartford to Tampa, making my way back to New Orleans from a week in Massachusetts where I enjoyed some quality time with my family and did some work for my older brother.  I can’t believe a week has already gone by since the Camellia Championship and that I’m only 20 days away from the Greater Gulf Championship.

Like I mentioned in my other post, my debut was a blast, a learning experience and a fabulous time.  I’ve received awards in the past, and I’ve won a few things here and there but winning my first competition and becoming Louisiana’s first ever Women’s Physique winner was like nothing I had ever experienced before. All of the pain, hardship, struggles, difficulties, disappointment etc. I’ve experienced in the past made it all that much more valuable to me.  The support and congratulations that came pouring in made me feel so special, loved and cared about. I definitely got a winners welcome from my family at home and that was very awesome!!

Lessons Learned from Debut

I made sure I was well prepared from my debut but at the end of the day; until you’ve actually done something – there’s only so much preparing you can do.  With that being said, I can say I learned a lot from my first competition.

Less Running Around: I did way too much running around on Thursday and Friday.  I did not get to relax much at all.  They were both pretty non-stop days. Now that I know everything I need to do – this time around, I won’t be running around so much and I will definitely make sure I already have all I need the week before.

Posing: Many people told me how different posing on stage would be compared to posing in the mirror and man…were they ever right! Standing there on stage, whether there’s a competitor next to you or not – you feel very alone and obviously exposed. The lights are bright; you really can’t see much of anything at all and all you hear is a little voice giving you directions.  By the time you’ve run the check list in your head of what you need to do for the pose called – the next pose is being called so you can’t be certain you struck the pose the best you could.  There’s of course no time to think about that because you’re going through the checklist for the next pose.

I was not as prepared as I needed to be for the 45 seconds posing at pre-judging.  I also chose to have my hair down and had not practiced moving my hair to properly expose my back.  For the evening show, by the time it was time for me to do my routine I was starting to fade…too hungry and too thirsty.  I had wobbly legs during my routine and was cramping as I was leaving the stage.

There was also the whole changing my music to my routine last minute.  I need to nail down my routine and music right away this time.

On Saturday, I had everything I needed.  I ran into some traffic at 4:30am but still managed to stay on schedule. I was relaxed, ready and excited by the time we were at the athletes meeting before pre-judging.

Head Judge Feedback:  I did not see my score sheet but I did get much needed feedback from the head judge, Luke Tesvich. He said I was hard enough and dry enough, however, I was too lean.  For the next competition, I need to come in with fuller muscles – I could afford to put on a few pounds.  (Something I never thought I would hear). Some additional feedback from his lovely wife Robin was to work on my side chest pose and she recommended pulling my hair back from my face. Both also said I needed to do something about my top…it needs a little stuffing 😉

Mission Qualification Prep

So…based on the feedback from the judges, my coach allowed me to have my sushi and bagel on Sunday after the competition.  He also added the carbs back into my diet.  On Sunday I was already back in the gym hitting some shoulders.  I returned to training heavy – my rep range 8-12; working on continuing to build up my muscles.  The addition of the carbs filled me back out nicely.  I was even allowed a cheat meal yesterday (Friday night) so I chose to go to the Olive Garden.  The extra carbs and fat from my cheat meal made for one heck of a leg training session earlier this morning.

Since there’s only 20 days to the Greater Gulf, no major changes are implemented in my training, supplements or diet.  My final week will obviously be different this time since I won’t have to go so long without carbs and I will get more carbs the day before the show to make sure I do have fuller muscles.

I’m going to keep training hard and I plan on brining an even better physique to the stage on June 22nd.  I know I’ll be going up against some of the same competition and hopefully many others as well and my plan is to keep on winning!!

The Transformation Happens in the Kitchen

At the end of June, I decided I would start competing in the NPC Women’s Physique Division next year. I made the announcement on this blog on July 3rd. Since that time, I’ve been hard at work transforming my body. It’s been 7 weeks and the progress is right on track – I’m very proud of the results I’m seeing/getting.  Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I look in the mirror, so I know it’s really my body reflected back to me. People I meet and especially people I know are also taking notice and I’m starting to get the question: “How did you do it?”

I wrote this in my July 3rd blog post: ”Dieting has always been the missing link for me”.  I’ve been training since I was 16…going hardcore in the gym has never been a problem for me but I have never, EVER, reached this kind of leanness and muscularity because I never followed a true diet. I didn’t have the discipline or real desire to do it.

However, the truth is, it’s mostly ALL DIET.  My first diet was a strict 1,145 calorie diet for five weeks.  Now, I’m on a carb cycling diet.  I pretty much eat the same exact food day in and day out.  I spend many of my days starving…although I’m on a 1,300 – 1,450 diet now depending on what carb day I’m on. Let me be clear about this I’m not starving myself – I end up starving because my body has become very efficient at using the calories I provide it and tapping into fat to get the remainder of the fuel it needs.

I take far burners with all my meals, and I’m also on NO now.

I train 6 days a week…and one of those days is a cardio only day.  I train for about 1.5 hours and I really only do two a day on days that I cheat on my diet which is once every two weeks now.  I do a lot of high intensity interval training and I lift from light to medium weights.  I want to go heavier but I have to be careful about my elbows. I hate taking a day off but I must also be careful to not over-train.

I don’t want to avoid helping people…but I want to be clear about what I’m going through. There’s nothing easy about it. Yes, it’s incredibly rewarding but it’s also incredibly limiting. I have to plan all my meals and I don’t go places where I can’t take my meals with me.  Everything I eat is measured and “accounted for”.  I drink a gallon to a gallon and a half of water a day. I have to eat when I’m not hungry and I have to stop eating even when I’m still hungry. You have to be committed and absolutely dedicated to getting the physique you envision.

A six pack is made in the kitchen NOT in the gym.  It’s just a fact.