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Stronger Than You Think
|Posted on May 15, 2013 at 8:13 PM||comments (21)|
How committed are you?
Before you start putting your competition prep plans into action, you REALLY should take a moment to figure out WHY you are competing. Whether it is part of your bucket list/pushing yourself to the next level/seeking notoriety…your reason will determine how committed you are and which path you will take to reach your goals.
Truth be told, no matter what your reasons are for competing, there will be many sacrifices needed to be taken to reach your goals. Time, food, friends/family and sleep are usually the main factors in your life that will be sacrificed. How may you ask? Here’s how:
·Time – Be prepared to spend plenty of time in the gym. Whether it is doing cardio, weight training, posing or practicing your routine (fitness/physique/bodybuilding), you will be spending much time in the gym to prepare for your competition. Cardio= 45-60 minutes, weight training= 45-60 minutes, posing= 60 minutes, routine= 60 minutes (physique/bodybuilding), routine= 2hrs (fitness). Now if you add all this up, it turns out to be a lot of time doesn’t it? If you compete, it turns out to be a part time job. You should really sit back and think if this will be all worth it.
·Food- Be prepared to give up all the yummy delicacies and desserts that you normally enjoy. This is not your Zone, South Beach or Atkins Diet. At least these diets permit some foods with flavor or fats. Dieting for a competition will require 8- 16 weeks of restrictive/non flavor filled diets.
·Friends/family – If we had 26 hour days and 9 days in a week, we probably would not have to sacrifice time with our friends and family. When you tally up the time needed to prepare for a competition, it will not leave much time with loved ones. You would probably have enough time to see your family or friends every other week.
· Sleep- Speaking from experience, a good portion of my fitness competition years, I probably averaged 4-5 hours of sleep a night during the week days. During a majority of this time, I didn’t have a regular full time job. I was a free lance trainer and group fitness instructor. If I didn’t teach/train, I didn’t get paid. Therefore, I had to teach/train during peak times. (before work, lunchtime, after work) So I had to get up at 5 am to get to work to teach or train. Meanwhile, for a good period of time, I was going Monday- Thursday to train my fitness routine from 8:30 pm – 10:30pm. I would not get home until 11:30pm. After cleaning up from the day and preparing for the next day, I would go to sleep at 12am. Long day? Not enough sleep you say? Please keep in mind, this was during my fitness competition years. When I switched to figure and physique, I did get a few more hours sleep, but not by that much.
I was very fortunate enough to have a husband who is very supportive. He helped cook and prepare all my meals. That saved me quite a few hours a week. I know NOT everyone is as lucky and have to do everything themselves. As I stated before, you really need to sit down and think very carefully if you are ready to make this sacrifice. You know the saying, “Behind every successful man is a successful woman”. Well, this also applies to a successful competitor. Let me just say, “Behind every successful competitor, is a SUPPORTIVE team (family/friends)”. This post is part 3 of the Competition Perspective series. If you missed the previous post, you can check here. Please check back for my next post… How far will you go to compete? If you have any questions in regards to this topic or general fitness, you can reach me at [email protected]. Looking forward to hearing from you.
|Posted on May 7, 2013 at 12:19 AM||comments (1)|
If I could get a dollar for every time someone said they wanted glutes like mine, I would be able to buy a nice new car. Coming from a family of ladies with flat glutes, I have to say I am proud of how far my glutes have come. It just took one judge at Team Universe to say to me, “You have a nice physique but your glutes could be a little bigger.” Now 17 years later, I am still so focused on making sure my glutes are so firm you can bounce a quarter off of it (well almost).
If you follow the below two exercises in a superset fashion, you will see your glutes rise and become perkier than you can imagine. Do 15 repetitions of the first exercise and move onto the next (without rest) for 15 repetitions as wells. Do three sets of these exercises twice a week and you will see results.
1) Split lunges – Start standing with your feet together. Take a step back with your right foot and place it on a step, bench, platform or TRX system. Make sure that your feet a far enough so when you lunge down that your left knee stays at 90*. Inhale when you bend your left knee. Exhale and push through your left heel as you stand up. You should feel your left glute doing most of the work. Adding hand held weights, kettle bells or any extra resistance will add more lift to your glute. As soon as you finish your set of 15 reps, repeat on the right leg. Once you finish the second leg move onto the exercise below.
2) Reverse hip extensions – Lie face down on a bench. Rest your hip flexors on the edge of the bench as you hug it. Start with your knees bent towards the floor. Inhale to prepare. Exhale as you lift your legs straight up and out in a V shape. You should feel your glutes and abductors doing most of the work. Do 15 reps and go back to the above exercise with very little rest in between. Just like the exercise above, added ankle weights will lift your glutes.
I would love to hear from you. If you have any questions or request for exercises for certain body parts, please email me at [email protected]. Thanks for stopping by! Come back and visit soon!
|Posted on May 4, 2013 at 10:02 PM||comments (0)|
Competition Perspective…Under your control or not so much? Pt 2
Why are you competing?
This is the question you should ask yourself before you take your first step towards competition preparation. Are you competing because:
·You want to push your fitness to the next level
·You want to use this as a marketing tool for your business
·You want to get your face into fitness modeling
·You want to cross it off your bucket list
·You want to attain “pro” status
Whatever your reason to compete is…keep in mind that it is all about you! From my experience, I have seen many competitors (myself included) get wrapped up with the supposed stardom from competing. If you are clear on your reasons why you are competing, nobody will be able to detour your goals or make you do things that you DO NOT want to do.
If you have read my website you know:
·That my competition career started out as a way to push myself to the next level. At first, I started as a bodybuilder just to see how far my body can go.
·Then fitness competitions came on the scene. I knew as a bodybuilder I could not go anywhere because I was too small. I started to think if I am successful as a fitness competitor, I can better market myself as a trainer.
·As I competed in a few smaller competitions, I realized I would love to get a fitness modeling career going. All I had to do is to place well in nationals or better yet turn “pro” as a fitness competitor.
·At my first NPC Fitness Nationals, not only did I placed 5 out of 50 competitors, I earned my “pro” status. Not too shabby?
Once I turned “Pro” with the IFBB, I thought it was going to be easy to get sponsorship, fitness modeling and/or spokes model jobs. Boy was I wrong…It seems “Pro” status isn’t what it cracked up to be. It seems that you don’t have to be a “Pro” to get the work. As time went on, I had come to realize that if you have a few connections, a good marketable look and persistence, you may have a chance.
Just remember, if you do not get the jobs or attention that you were hoping for, please do not think you are worthless. You have no idea, how many competitors I have seen go down the dark road of inadequacies. Don’t forget, you did something that about 80% of the population would not even do. Get on stage in a skimpy little bathing suit that barely covers your body.
At the end, if you can remember why you wanted to compete, 90% of the time from my experience, is you want to push yourself to the next level. You are winner…you are worth plenty…nobody should make you feel otherwise…..
This is the second post of “Competition Perspective…Under your control or not so much?” series. If you missed the previous post, please check here. If you have any questions in regards to contest prep or post competition schedule, please contact me at www.marieallegro.com. I am also available for everyday fitness/wellness questions. Check back soon and thanks for visiting.
|Posted on April 25, 2013 at 12:05 AM||comments (0)|
Competition Perspective…Under your control or not so much?
45 years on the planet…21 years of them involved in competition, in some form or another. Whether competing, coaching competitors or both, I have experienced in varying degrees, situations where I lost perspective to why I was competing. More importantly...my sense of self.
In this series, I will discuss several aspects of events that may occur, before, during and after competition. The topics that I will discuss are as follows:
·Why are you competing?
·How committed are you?
·How far will you go to compete?
·How important is your placing?
·The big picture….
My goal in this series is to assist you with making the correct decisions that will not make you lose your sense of self, integrity and self worth. In my experience, I cannot express how many times I questioned myself as a wife, competitor, trainer and coach. If I can prevent that series of events happening to you, then all of it, will have been well worth it.
|Posted on April 13, 2013 at 8:51 PM||comments (0)|
Congratulations…You just did your 1st fitness/figure/bikini/physique competition…Now what? Pt 5
As the weeks go on after your competition, take your time getting back together with your friends. If you try to make up time too quickly, you can burn yourself out fast. Remember... you just went through 16 weeks(more or less) of intense dieting and training. Now it is time for you to enjoy and savor the time with your friends and family.
It would be no surprise after all the weeks of dieting and secluding yourself away from your friends and family, so you would not make anyone uncomfortable…You find it a challenge to work yourself back to meeting with them.
I remember when I was preparing for my competitions, one of my best friends, Linda said to me two months before my shows, “Give me a call after your show so we can hang out like regular people”. Believe or not, I was not offended…if anything, I understood her. I appreciated that she gave me my space to do what I had to do and not make me feel guilty for choosing to compete.
I even had to stay away from my family a month prior to the competition. During the preparation phase you need to surround yourself with positive reinforcement. Though I know my family loves me and wants me to do well, they may not have understood the whole dieting phase. You know how some cultures see plumpness as being healthy.
With my family, it was easy to get back to our usual gatherings. The Monday after my competition, my mom would make my favorite two dishes…and she made it with love and a big smile. She wouldn’t show it but I could tell she enjoyed every moment as I inhaled dinner.
During my years of competition, I have learned who my true friends are. As I mentioned above, my best friend Linda gave me the space that was needed for me to prep for my competition. She didn’t give me any guilt trips for not spending time with her. To come to think about it…I was blessed that most of my friends understood and gave me space.
|Posted on April 5, 2013 at 8:50 PM||comments (1)|
Congratulations…You just did your 1st fitness/figure/bikini/physique competition…Now what? Pt 4
Avoid body dysmorphia and depression
After 16 weeks (more or less) of dieting, training, posing, walking, anything and everything to do with competition, it is now Monday morning after your 1st show, what are you going to do now? After dedicating 6 days a week and 2-4 hours a day to training and preparing for a competition, you may be left with a feeling of emptiness. Don’t be surprised feeling depressed too because all the anticipation of stepping on stage to compete…the climax has come and gone. The feeling of worthlessness may appear as well because everybody who knows you may have been complimenting you with an abundance of accolades. Now, with your competition, the climax has also come and gone for your friends and family.
The one thing you need to keep in mind…
·You are the same awesome person the week before your competition as you are after the competition. Nothing has changed except that you can return to your normal life. What helped my clients and me is to plan your following year. If you decide to continue competing, you will need to listen to the judges’ feedback and work on a plan to make the improvements necessary. This should keep your mind occupied. Whether reshaping your body or revamping your off season diet, this should keep you busy and not dwell on the emptiness of not having a competition to focus on.
·Another factor that may occur is body dysmorphia. The day you step on stage, you will probably be in the best shape ever. But you have to keep in mind the body you present on stage is not the real you. Remember you had to carb, sodium and water deplete a few days before your competition. Depending on your height/size, we can be talking about a 4-8 pound difference. In addition to the depletion, you had to cut your calories to about 1000- 1200 calories/day. Which is not feasible, especially if you live an active lifestyle. Be prepared to gain (if you slowly add back in the depleted items) back a few pounds a few days after your competition. Please know that you deserve one meal (burger/ice cream/pizza) after your competition. However, do not eat everything in sight or your body will balloon up. If you follow my previous blog, you should be able to maintain a comfortable and realistic weight.
·Another thing to remember, at 115lbs (just a number I chose) as you were losing weight is the same look as you are going back up. It is amazing how some competitors think they look totally FABULOUS at 115lbs as you are coming down but think they look out of shape at the same weight as you are returning to a realistic weight. Something to think about, huh?
Keep in mind you are FABULOUS no matter where your weight ends up because you did something not everyone can do. Be proud of your accomplishment! You are one rocking DIVA!
|Posted on March 29, 2013 at 8:00 PM||comments (1)|
Return toregular eating habits
After about 16 weeks of deprivation from your favorite foods (hamburgers/ice cream/chocolate…) the first thing you want to do after stepping off the competition stage is devour anything in your sights. But is that the smartest thing to do?
Speaking from experience, I understand nothing would make you feel better than a huge plate of fries or a bowl of ice cream. However, after weeks of dieting your metabolism has slowed down and the water depletion the last few days before your competition can cause your body to go off course. You will need to slowly add back regular food and water into your eating habits to avoid your body from bloating.
Here are some thingsthat worked for me and my clients. Slowly add back the following:
·Water - As you depleted water out of your diet for the last three days before your competition, your body is craving it and will soak it up as quickly as you drink it. To avoid your body from swelling up, I suggest the following:
1) Slowly drink about 1 quart of water once you step off stage. Stay with about a quart for a few days.
2) After about 5 days, add another 4 – 6 ozs every couple of days. 3) After 10 days, you should be back close to ½ gallon of water. If your normal intake is higher than ½ gallon then you should be back to it about 2 weeks.
·Sodium – Though the RDA recommends no more than 2400 mg a day, your body has been deprived of sodium the last few days before your competition. To avoid your body from swelling up with the addition of water and sodium, I suggest slowly add about a few 100 milligrams of sodium every 2-4 days after your competition until you reached your usual intake.
·Carbohydrates - Just like water and sodium, the last few days of “carb depletion” before your competition (except for the loading up phase), your body is craving for carbs. This is another aspect of your food intake that needs to be slowly added back into your diet. To avoid bloat, if your contest prep had your carb intake about 25 – 75 grams a day, I would suggest the following:
1)Increasing your intake to 100 grams a day for about a week.
2)After about 7-10 days, increase to 150 grams of carbs a day.
3) You should be back to your regular intake of carbs in about 2 weeks.
·Calories– If this is your 1 competition, I recommend working with a nutrition coach with experience with this type of preparation. Your nutrition coach should have a pre-contest plan and post- contest plan as well. If your diet consisted of 1200k, your nutrition coach should have a plan ready for you to slowly to add a few hundred calories every few days once your competition(s) are over. I had my clients add about 100 calories every 3-4 days. If my clients’ caloric intake was about 2000 calories prior to contest dieting, I would have them back to that amount in about 2 weeks.
·Sugar/desserts/yummystuff – This should be a no brainer. One serving, once a week…
This is the third post in the series “Now What?” If you missed my previous post, check here. Check back soon for my next installment… Avoid body dysmorphia and depression. If you have any questions on this topic or any other questions, please contact me at [email protected].
* Please be awarethat I am NOT a registered dietician. All the above suggestions are strictly from my clients’ and my ownexperiences.
|Posted on March 19, 2013 at 10:56 PM||comments (1)|
How to adjustback to a less hectic workout schedule
As soon as you wake up the Monday after your show, you realize you don’t need to hit the 1st of 2 cardio sessions a day anymore. You also realize you don’t have to train 6 days a week of weights and cardio at an hour a clip each. Wow! Almost three hours are given back to you.
How do you adjust your workout to a less hectic schedule? After you take two weeks off from the gym, for a few weeks:
·Go back to one cardio session a day at 30-45 minutes 4-5X per week
·Choose a less impact cardio to give your joints abreak
·Do a total body conditioning program 2 – 3X perweek
·Choose lighter weights for your total body conditioning programAfter 6- 8 weeks working out with this suggested program, go back to your regular weight training program. Whether it is a 3 days on and 1 day off or 2 days on and 1 day off program, your body should be rested enough to go back to hitting it hard. You should also have gotten feedback from the judges and start working on the body parts that need improvement.
If you are working with a trainer/coach, you should start a new plan for the upcoming shows/year within a month. After a month of not thinking about competitions because I want my clients to just breathe a second, we hit the ground with a new plan. "Failing to plan is planning to fail". Something to think about when prepping for a competition!
This is the second post in the series “Now What?” If you missed the 1st post in this series, go here to read it now. Check back soon for my next installment…Return back to regular eating habits.
If you have any questions on this topic or any other questions, please contact me at [email protected].
|Posted on March 11, 2013 at 6:55 PM||comments (2)|
You just stepped off stage of your 1st competition. You dieted, trained, posed and walked for the last 16 weeks (or more). You scarf down your 1st hamburger, milk shake or whatever you have been coveting the last few months. Now you realize that you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn on Monday morning to hit your cardio or weights. Thank God! What a relief! Or is it? Over the years, as a competitor and coach for several competitors, the following is what I have experienced and found helpful to return to a less hectic schedule. Over the next several posts, I will be sharing steps to:
After 22 years of dieting and training for competitions, I experienced many episodes of up and down moments of self doubt, depression and body image issues. After putting everything into perspective, I have come to realize that I am okay! With the information that I will share, I want to help you avoid the pitfalls that I have experienced.
This is the 1st post of this series. Check back soon for more information in regards to topics mentioned above. If you have any questions on these topics, please contact me at [email protected].