Thursday, 15 December 2016

2016...muscles, figure suits and stripper shoes. What's in store for 2017?

So, it normally gets to this time of year and I think my Mum and Dad begin to suffer from mini anxiety attacks. Nothing to do with the hustle and bustle of the Christmas shopping, the trials and tribulations of Secret Santa or the thought of bringing out the emergency chairs for the social gatherings, but because this time of year I’m normally pondering over what my goals will be for the upcoming 12 months.
 
You might be thinking that’s a good thing, right? Wrong. When it’s me thinking up my goals for the next year you can guarantee it’s going way beyond the usual New Year resolutions of shedding a few extra pounds, tripping off on more adventures or gaining a little more independence in life.
 
Well, I guess that’s not exactly true. I do often have resolutions along similar notions however with my inability to be able to do ‘average’ those resolutions over the years have translated in Rebecca World to shedding a few extra pounds i.e. stripping every last bit of fat and becoming a bodybuilder; tripping off on more adventures i.e. leave your job on a career break and go to the other side of the world for 12 months jumping out of planes and swinging in bungees; and gaining a little more independence in life i.e. buying a house and taking on your first mortgage on your own.
 
You see, in Rebecca World I don’t do grey, I never have, I’m black and white and it’s either happening big and bold or it isn’t happening at all.
 
For once this year, my parents don’t have to worry about what big surprise might be coming next in my action-packed story (although disclaimer right here to say never say never because…well…you just never know what might be around the corner, do you? Sorry Mum). They don’t have to worry about what the next thing might be because for months now it’s been certain it will only be one thing. Bodybuilding. Bodybuilding. Bodybuilding (again, sorry Mum).
 
Pic: Fivos Averkiou
 
 It’s fair to say 2016 turned into the game-changer in many ways. My first year as a bodybuilder and I’ve never looked back (well, apart from in the midst of prep when I was gipping on cod looking back to a time when pizza was permitted in my life, but other than that) – all joking aside though and I actually haven’t looked back in that respect; I wouldn’t undo any of it for the world.
 
 
This year has been a fantastic year in many ways and I’m very thankful for all I’ve done and achieved both on and off stage. Stepping on that stage at the NPA Yorkshire’s in May was one of my happiest moments of 2016. It followed one of THE toughest challenges of my life; getting through prep was like nothing I’d ever done before in my life and it really was a rollercoaster for me.
 
Another day of posing practice
 
6 weeks out from comp
 
After vowing to never do it again, that soon changed and within months (in fact, let’s not lie, it was weeks, probably even days) I was already planning for the 2017 season. I guess it must be similar to childbirth in that once I was on stage and had the elation of picking up a trophy (similar of course to a baby haha) the pain of the prep just didn’t seem to matter anymore. I won’t say I’ve forgotten about it like they say you do with childbirth, because I haven’t, I very much remember the torturous days of being hungry constantly and trying to drown myself in green tea (don’t worry, not actually), but I guess it all seemed worth it on stage. (Apologies to the Mums out there reading this probably cursing me at comparing bodybuilding to giving birth…I’m sure it’s a breeze in comparison…or not)
 
Since May I have focused on building muscles and getting stronger. I’ve enjoyed my off-season and everything that comes with it and over the last few weeks in particular, as the year draws to an end I’ve spent more time thinking about what’s to come and what my priorities are for 2017.
 
For me 2017 is focused on getting back up on that stage and being the best I can be to put it simply. 2016 has been a whirlwind with many things happening in my life; buying my own house, trip to America, jetting off to Australia, starting back at uni, being back at work after a year off and in a new job with more responsibility. I’m not planning on any big changes in the other aspects of my life next year (she says) so my focus can 100% be on the stage.
 
Living it up in Vegas (June, 2016)
 
 
I placed sixth at the Yorkshires this year and I have set some more specific goals in terms of how well I aim to do next year but that’s something I’ve only shared with a few people and that’s how it will stay. I’ve got a couple of other fitness events thrown into the mix along the way with a 3 Peaks Challenge currently in the planning and it would appear I’ve been roped into doing Tough Mudder over summer but hopefully they will tie in nicely with my bodybuilding goals too.
 
Winter Warrior 2016...Tough Mudder 2017
 
 
So, I would like to say my Mum and Dad can sit peacefully as we enter into 2017 knowing there’s no real ‘wildcards’ on the line up for next year but I know their usual anxieties over my next big dreams will only be replaced with anxieties over my upcoming bodybuilding season with my plan to do bigger and better than this year. And I know how hard they found it watching me go through prep this year but there’s one difference I guess this time around; I know what I’m letting myself in for, I know how to handle the ups and downs, I know what needs to be done. I’m hoping for that reason I won’t be such a stroppy cow to be around. It also means that my game face is well and truly on and I couldn’t be more focused or determined to smash my goals over the next 12 months.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

No one has a clue what they're doing...we're all just winging it!

Okay so normally I focus my posts around health & fitness but now and again I like to throw a bit of life chat in here too when I want to. Recently, one thing I’ve tried hard to do is to give myself a break; and that’s both mentally and physically. Physically I’ve built a bit more down-time into my life to allow myself to do the things that I WANT to do not necessarily just what I NEED to do all of the time.
 
But I’ve also made a conscious effort to give myself a break mentally. I’m the first to admit I put a huge amount of pressure on myself; in every aspect of life and that’s because I want to do well and I’m ambitious. I want to have a successful career, I want to be in the best possible shape that I can be, I want to achieve academically, I want nice things and nice holidays and to see the world. I want to meet the man of my dreams eventually. And that’s not me being greedy; that’s just me wanting to make the most of my life and experience as much as I can.
 
But because of that I put pressure on myself; often sub-consciously asking myself if I can do better or if I could be doing more, which has led to me living a very hectic lifestyle but if I’m honest I probably wouldn’t have it any other way; I thrive on that a lot of the time. But lately I’ve learnt that it’s okay for me to not have my shit together all of the time and when you look around I think you’ll find that most people don’t have their shit together, people just to try to make out they do or they feel pressure to be living a certain kind of lifestyle. It comes back to the classic old saying that the grass isn’t always greener.
 
It was interesting as last week I got a message on Facebook from a girl I know. She messaged me for some advice on direction in life and in her own words she wanted advice from ‘someone successful’. Now don’t get me wrong I was very flattered that she viewed me in that way but it made me think that maybe she looks at me thinking ‘wow, she’s got her shit together and knows what she’s doing’.
 
Now I’m never one to make out my life is perfect because it’s not but obviously the impressions we can give off can sometimes be unrealistic ones. I don’t use social media to talk about the negatives in my life or the times when I’m not that happy (although I do try keep it as real as possible in this blog) because to be quite honest the majority of people don’t care and don’t want to read that stuff. The ones that do care are the ones that I would contact personally and so they know of my struggles and help me when I’m not feeling on top of my game.
 
On the outside it would be easy for people to think I have it all figured out; I have a good job that I’ve worked extremely hard to reach that position at such a young age, I keep myself fit and healthy and in typical Rebecca style never do things by halves so that healthy lifestyle turned into bodybuilding so pushing my body to the best it can be in my opinion aesthetically. I own my own house, I drive a nice car and this year I’ve holidayed in Australia and America. What’s not to love right?
 
Training days!
 
 
And I am extremely grateful for the life I lead; I know not everyone is in a position to do some of the things that I do. But I’ll put it out there now it’s far from perfect. To the girl that messaged me seeking advice and inspiration from ‘someone successful’ she didn’t see me three weeks ago on a Sunday morning when my boiler broke mid-shower whilst I still had shampoo in my hair, stood in my hallway, freezing cold, wet hair, crying my eyes out on my Dad’s shoulder; something I can’t even remember the last time I did before then. And you’re probably thinking jeez it’s a boiler. It’s not a big deal. But that was the final straw for me in a build-up over several weeks and months of stress and pressure from different aspects of life and it all came out that morning. It was much needed in many ways and prompted me to make some changes in my life but it was one of my lowest points of this year.
 
When my Dad asked what I was crying about I simply said ‘Everything, life is just hard sometimes’. And it is hard. Everyone has battles of their own and we often don’t have a clue what’s going on in other people’s lives really and it’s easy to think people have the perfect life or that people have it all figured out and they really don’t. Many people just won’t openly admit that.
 
Yes I do have all of the things I talked about above (good job, nice holidays, house etc.) but that comes at a price. It means I need a well-paid job and we all know they don’t come without the work and therefore I spend a lot of hours doing work. When I’m not in the office I spend many evenings and weekends sorting bits out that I didn’t have chance to during the week. Or sometimes it’s just the pressure and responsibility that is draining. Similarly to achieve well in bodybuilding that requires a lot of dedication, commitment and willpower.
 
Living it up in Vegas!
 
 
I saw a quote a few weeks ago that stuck in my head that was along the lines of believing we can have it all in our lives but maybe not all at once. And that really rang true to me. I try to have everything in my life lined up and that’s just not how life works. So I’ve tried to think about things differently and so I think to myself, okay I don’t have a huge social life right now amongst working and training but that’s okay because look at all the benefits to my life that working and bodybuilding bring and one day I’ll perhaps be able to let those aspects take a back seat whilst other things become my priority like having a family one day.
 
I’ll give another example. I went for coffee with a girlfriend of mine a few weeks ago. We’ve been friends a long time and over the last two years her life has changed a lot; meeting someone and starting a family. Now sometimes I look at her and think wow, I am so far off that. I’m not even with anyone let alone close to having anything serious or starting a family. It was interesting as when we had a chat she said she often felt envious of other people’s lives, mine included. She’d see me achieving in my career, training hard and looking in good shape, having freedom to do what I want and getting out and seeing the world. So again, the grass isn’t always greener.
 
Hosting a work event last week!
 
 
I’ll build on that a bit and talk about relationships. So I’ve been single for about 3 years now and during that 3 years I have done SO much that I probably wouldn’t have done had I been with someone. I took a career break and went off travelling, girls holiday to Vegas, took part in my first bodybuilding competition. I often get asked if I’m dating, if I’ve met anyone etc. etc. and yes of course I’ve done a bit of dating during that 3 years but nothing of any real substance for one reason or another.
 
Now edging closer to the big 3-0 and with the constant questions I get asked, obviously I have thought to myself that it might be a good time to look at settling down (not that it ever works out that simple haha). Because I think people generally expect that as a woman edging closer to my thirties that I would probably be ready for something more and that maybe those maternal instincts would be kicking in. They couldn’t be further away from kicking in if I’m completely honest. And I guess over the last year my approach has been if someone comes along then great I’m open to that option.
 
However in recent weeks when I’ve thought about that, the idea of ‘maybe I need to settle down a bit’ I have realised isn’t coming from the right place. I’m not thinking that because I really want to, but because of pressures and expectations. When I’m 100% honest with myself I actually don’t think I’m ready to settle down; I enjoy my freedom A LOT and everything that comes with that.
 
Many a time when talking about guys my mum has said to me ‘give him a chance Rebecca, he’s a nice guy’. My response is always that a cuppa tea’s nice. I don’t want ‘nice’ from a relationship. Right now I want adventure, fun, excitement, passion. And maybe that shows I’m not ready for a ‘proper’ relationship I don’t know but that’s just me being honest. And do you know what? That’s okay. I’m happy with my life and what I have going on and ‘having it all’ for me I guess does include a guy somewhere along the line, but that doesn’t have to be right now. I got told a couple of years ago to forget about Mr Right and to focus on Mr Right Now haha…that’s stuck in my head ever since.
 
So I guess the reason for my post is to assure people that very few people actually have their life together. No one’s life is perfect and people shouldn’t feel the pressure for it to be perfect, because that’s just not realistic. I’m honest and I’m real in saying it how it is and if even one person feels better about things for reading this post, then I’ll consider it a job well done.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

One month left of off-season...excited, nervous and enjoying having a full tummy!

Six months of hard work behind me and it’s almost time to wave goodbye to my first off-season and get back on competition prep.
 
In some ways it feels like a lifetime ago since I was on stage at the Yorkshire’s in May. In other ways it doesn’t feel like two minutes ago since I was gipping on my broccoli and vowing never to do it again. How time flies when you’re having fun, hey? It’s weird how the two contrasts in my perception of time differ so much based on the experience of that specific part of bodybuilding. The fun, euphoric moment of being on stage and all the hard work over the previous months paying off, seems so long ago. Yet the things that drove me to breaking point don’t seem to have been out of my life for long enough still.
 
And that’s where my mix of emotions come to fruition when I think about closing the door on the off-season and walking back into the crazy world that is competition prep.
 
I’ve had an incredible off-season; enjoyed two amazing holidays in America and Australia, plenty of time with family and friends and really enjoyed my time in the gym. I’ve loved getting stronger and feeling back to full fitness after feeling like a zombie for the last couple of months of prep. And it’s been nice to have variety with my training again and be able to have fun with it. I’m happy with the muscle I’ve added so far although I know there’s still some way to go yet.
 
I’m not going to lie; watching the changes to my body has not been that much fun and in all honesty I’d say it’s only the last 4-6 weeks that I’ve really felt comfortable in myself again which is a little depressing given I only have four weeks left to fully embrace it. I have found that side of things tough; I’d say it took a good couple of months for my body to stabilise after comp which saw big fluctuations in how my body looked and its composition. I really didn’t enjoy watching my abs disappear, my face fill out and my thighs become thick. I found it very hard mentally. The last 6 weeks though I’ve embraced those changes and enjoyed feeling and looking more ‘curvy’ especially when you remember that those changes are what are helping you develop in the off-season and get stronger.
 
 
 
 I also think it’s helped that almost everyone’s competition season has ended so everyone’s getting fat together haha (just kidding!) Throughout the summer months a lot of the girls I follow on Instagram who compete were preparing for other competitions so I was constantly faced with lean figures and abs popping all over the place. As it was summer too, a lot of people were trying to get in shape for summer holidays so I definitely felt out of place a lot during that time when I knew I wasn’t looking as lean and I was trying to build muscle which inevitably came with some additional fat too.
 
So with one month to go before the food cutbacks start, I’m feeling a range of emotions towards 2017. I have to say my biggest feeling is that of excitement. I’m excited to see the changes in my body, to be inching closer towards competition time, working on my posing and preparing to be on that stage. I’m excited to be back on stage and to feel that same buzz I felt this year.
 
I’m also feeling very anxious. Now it’s getting closer the struggles I had put to the back of my mind from this year’s prep stage, are becoming very vivid in my mind once again. Those very real feelings of being isolated when everyone is out enjoying themselves and you’re not able to join in properly; flash into my mind Those days where you’re constantly hungry and craving but know that giving in isn’t an option and those very tough times when it all gets too much and you’re left wiping away the tears willing yourself on. It is arguably the hardest battle I’ve ever done preparing to be on stage and I don’t forget how hard I found it at times.
 
In some ways I hope this season is ‘easier’. I went in completely blind last year and looking back I had no idea what was happening really and it was like an emotional rollercoaster. This time around I have no doubt it will be hard but I feel more prepared both physically and mentally. Plus I have a bigger network around me this time of people who are in the bodybuilding world and understand what it’s all about. That always helps and everyone is so supportive.
 
I’ve also put some things in place to help me be as prepared as possible for this upcoming journey. It’s safe to say over the last 6 months in particular, life has been hectic with all the different things going on in my life and it has pushed me to my absolute limits. I’ve had a few wobbles lately I don’t mind admitting, in my ability to cope with everything and I know I need to go into this season as fresh as possible.
 
I’m looking forward to some time off work over the Christmas period with not a lot planned so I can relax, recuperate and focus my mind for the upcoming year. I also have some time off at the end of January before the next phase of my competition prep begins to do the same again.
 
It’s going to be another challenging year; one that I’m sure will be full of ups and downs along the way. But there’s one thing for sure, by the time January comes I’ll never have been more prepared for anything before in my life. For now though, time to celebrate the Christmas period with family and friends; to enjoy a few too many pigs-in-blankets and to drink a few too many glasses of wine. In fact it’s almost like being on prep…prep for the actual competition prep so that I eat so much I almost can’t wait for my chicken and broccoli hehe!
 
Thanks for reading guys. Have a great week!

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Motivation is what gets you started...but what keeps you going?

One question that I often get asked is ‘how can you be bothered?’ when I’m going to train yet again or I often get the comment ‘I wish I had your motivation’. I’ve learned to just smile and go along with it when yet another person will say the same thing to me. But the reality is I’m not always motivated and I can’t always be bothered.
 
I don’t always bounce out of bed at 05:45 to go to Bootcamp and I can’t always be bothered going to train after a long day at work. These things are slightly easier now in off-season but on competition prep when my body is depleted and I’m on reduced calories these things are HARD. My motivation isn’t exactly through the roof either when during prep people at work would be tucking into cakes and chips at fuddles and I’m there sat eating my cod and broccoli.
 
The reality is that when my alarm goes off at some crazy early hour to go train, I’m laid warm in bed, it’s cold outside, I have a big day at work ahead of me and my eyes struggle to open. It would be the easiest thing in the world to hit that snooze button for another hour and skip my workout but I drag myself out of bed, pour myself a coffee, throw on some clothes and get out of the door to the gym before my brain has chance to process what’s happening and form any sort of protest.
 
So what keeps me going? What makes me resist that extra slice of cake? And what makes me go to the gym 6 days a week?
 
 
 
 
Discipline. It’s as simple as that. And for anyone on a health and fitness journey that’s one thing you have to learn…and quick. Because the motivation of the goals you’ve set yourself won’t always be at its optimum on a daily basis, especially when the going gets tough and you have hard days. The only way you will achieve it is through discipline.
 
Motivation helps when you have an end goal to focus on but that’s a general motivation that won’t always be there at 6am in a morning or when you leave the office headed for the gym.
 
You have to learn how to stay on track and what’s needed to hit your goals. It doesn’t mean living a completely restricted life (unless you are on a competition prep and then yes it does because you can sadly kiss goodbye to any lifestyle flexibility) but it does mean that you have to learn how to say no sometimes and how to make yourself do things you don’t always want to do.
 
If you want to lose a stone in weight before a holiday, giving into the vending machine every day won’t help you. And when that mid-afternoon slump hits and you just want a bar of chocolate it’s tempting to think ‘oh just the one, it won’t hurt’ but that will just move you further away from your goals. And it’s the same with going to the gym or any type of keep fit, you won’t always want to go. But that fat certainly aint gonna shift itself.
 
I’m not 100% disciplined all of the time as at the moment I’m on off-season which means I can have a little more flexibility in my approach so if I want a packet of crisps I can have one…but not every day so there’s still an element of being disciplined but within realistic realms.
 
Becoming disciplined takes some practice and along the way I’ve found a few things that help me to do that. Structure and routine is the key for me. Without a real structure to your life it’s hard to stay on track as there’s a lot of room for slippage. I am a real routine person so for me that always works best for me but especially when I’m on competition prep.
 
My weeks would be meticulously planned out to a tee. On the Sunday ahead of a busy week I would know what each of my meals looked like for each day (it wasn’t hard to remember though given that it consisted mainly of cod, cod and more cod. Oh and a few veggies). I’d know what time my alarm would need to be set for each morning to allow for my cardio before my working day. I’d know what body part I was training each evening and I’d know that my gym routine after work would consist of 1 hour weight training, 20 minutes cardio and 15 minutes posing practice. My life was like a military operation and of course it’s not great to have to live that way all of the time; and sometimes it’s not possible with other commitments but when you have such strict goals you’re discipline must match those goals.
 
I can honestly say that during prep I would not flinch if a slice of cake was put right in front of me (I might drool a little perhaps). There was not a single cell in my brain that would consider having that. It was purely not an option. Now bodybuilding is something that requires the utmost discipline at all times on prep, without fail. For most of you out there whose goals are within normal parameters i.e. losing a bit of extra fat or training for a 10k run for example, you won’t need to exercise the same level of discipline as what’s required to compete on stage, however if you can’t discipline yourself you won’t hit your goals, it’s as simple as that.
 
So next time you’re struggling for that motivation, remember that’s normal. But also remember to dig deep and find that discipline to do what you need to do. No one’s going to do it for you and no one’s going to be more disappointed than you if you give in and don’t hit those goals.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

What do you do when your daughter tells you she wants to be a bodybuilder?

Those who body build know that it’s not just your life that’s affected when you’re preparing to take part in a competition. The lives of those around you are massively affected also and your support network becomes a big factor in your success, or otherwise. I asked my mum to write a piece for my blog about her views on me becoming a bodybuilder and how she found the process, from the side lines.
 
Well never ever in my wildest of dreams did I picture myself sitting in the audience at Unity Hall in Wakefield, on a Sunday afternoon, 22nd May, watching the NPA Yorkshire Championships, let alone cheering on my youngest daughter in the Trained Figure Class 2 Competition.
 
What can I say? Rebecca has been into her keep fit and gym classes for quite a while now and loves her healthy lifestyle with a passion.
 
However, nothing could prepare me for the announcement that Rebecca casually dropped into a general conversation one day that she “wanted to compete”. I first thought it was a fad, typical Rebecca always striving for better things, bigger achievements etc. and to be honest I think my casual reply was something on the lines of “For God’s sake Rebecca, why?” or “What the hell for?” not taking what she had said too seriously. Big mistake. She was serious. She was determined. No matter what, she was going to compete.
 
Now as a mum of two beautiful healthy daughters, my own personal journey through the training and prep and strict diet regime was nothing less than a nightmare at times. The early stages I coped with ok as I would contribute by preparing batches of sweet potato mash, carefully weighed out and portioned into foil trays, cooking broccoli stems until I was gipping myself and I only prepared them! I had to make sure that when she came to ours for tea that accurately weighed chicken was plain and simple to accompany the lifeless mash and broccoli. I would on occasion get excited when she said she was changing her diet, thinking ‘oh thank the Lord’. Then she informed me that it would be a single portion of cod with accurately weighed peas!!! This was worse than the sweet potato mash and chicken. I tried to flavour and spice up the fish without adding calories. Not easy.
 
Now Rebecca’s dad, Steve didn’t like what he was seeing. As expected I was piggy in the middle.
 
“You need to tell her she’s not eating enough”
 
“She’s going to make herself ill” he would say.
 
Then I would have Rebecca saying to me “I’m not coming for tea if dad is going to be stuffing his face with pizza and wine. If I come I will eat before him and leave before he starts his supper”. This was a near impossible situation at times. “Dad never asks how my training is going” was another  question I had to try and explain.
 
Just let me make this clear before anyone reading this thinks that Steve doesn’t care. It was because he cared that he found it so difficult to support Rebecca on this occasion as much as he perhaps should have done.
 
As time passed by and the diet became more strict, the training more intense and Rebecca’s energy levels sometimes non-existent, her personality changed drastically too. This apparently is fairly normal for someone who is preparing for a comp and putting their body through such testing times. Life becomes so strict, no social life, no treats or alcohol, basically just training, sleeping (which also became drastically disturbed) and working was Rebecca’s life.
 
As a mum this was heart breaking to see at times. How I didn’t message her PT at times and ask him what the hell was he was doing to my daughter, I don’t know (Edit from Rebecca: Sorry Mikey I swear I never blamed you haha). The bubbly personality was quickly disappearing and being replaced by someone who was constantly snapping back, quiet and withdrawn from everyone. I found myself walking on egg shells when I was in her company.
 
Along with one or two of her friends I would then be the one left trying to lift her spirits, help to dry the tears that she shed and trying to support her when on more than one occasion she said to me “If I had known it was going to be like this mum I would never have done it”. But in true Rebecca fashion she never gave up. She was determined that she had come this far and she WAS going to compete!
 
As the competition date drew close I stocked her up with wine gums for the day of the competition and she had her bottle of wine ready for dehydration stage. Yes here I was again thinking to myself that Rebecca will be an absolute wreck if she ever makes it onto that stage and saying to her  “This isn’t right, this can’t be good for you”  “It has to be done mum” would be the reply.  Shut up Joanne and carry on as if it weren’t happening I thought.
 
Then comp day is finally upon us. I remember thinking to myself “let’s get this over with and get my real daughter back”
 
I get given the job of taking Rebecca and her comp tanning and support buddy, Lucy, to her PT’s house early in the morning. I leave them there, give her a hug and wish her well and I will see her at the venue. I then go on my next mission of collecting a dozen donuts from Krispy Kreme for the feast that Rebecca had planned with family and friends that evening.
 
I arrived at the venue that Sunday afternoon, full of nerves and not having a clue really of what I was going to witness. I sat with a couple of Rebecca’s friends one of which, we as a family have known well for many years; Steph. Now Steph along with me and my two girls is a Wakefield Wildcats fan and very inconveniently the competition date had fallen on the same day that the rugby league Magic Weekend fixture at Newcastle for Wakefield was to take place (Ironically Rebecca had bought me an overnight stay in Newcastle to watch the game as a gift for Mothers Day. This was quickly snatched back from me and replaced with a ticket to the NPA Championship!! - say no more on the subject Rebecca). Steph had it covered for me with regular score updates on her phone.
 
When Rebecca took to the stage I was so proud. All that she had worked for and sacrificed was now on show. You could see what it meant to her. All of a sudden I was cheering her on and chanting along with her friends as if I were on the terracing at the rugby match. She looked so good. Her bikini dazzled in the lights as she performed and posed on stage.
 
I don’t know much about these competitions but I do know that when she did her own individual routine, Rebecca was outstanding. So precise.  So accurately timed.  A different style to the other competitors. As near to perfect as could be. I was so emotional and excited for her but most importantly so proud. Her hard work and my mental torture was beginning to feel like it was worthwhile.  When they announced that Rebecca had been placed in her category and she collected her trophy, I couldn’t have been happier for her. It was so well deserved and meant everything to her.
 
 
 
 Every emotion you can imagine went through my youngest daughter that day. She had reached her goal and the bonus of a trophy was the icing on the cake.
 
She was glad it was over and at last she could return to a relatively normal life again. I remember her messaging me a couple of days later and it reading “I did it Mum”. I was choked.
 
As a birthday gift, Steve and I had Rebecca’s competition bikini and photograph framed as a memory and a keepsake of this special day which now sits proudly in Rebecca’s lounge.
 
After promising she was only going to compete this year for the experience and the challenge, she soon told me not long after that she wanted to compete again next year...watch this space!
 

Saturday, 29 October 2016

German Volume Training...1 week down!

This week I completed my first full week of German Volume Training (GVT) so I thought I’d write about how I’ve found it…HARD. And how I’m feeling...TIRED. And SORE. And that pretty much sums up today’s post.
 
I will elaborate slightly more of course but those three words do surmise the programme and its effects pretty well.
 
I’d never even heard of GVT prior to my PT suggesting it a couple of weeks ago so for those of you who don’t know what it is I’ll give a brief explanation. Essentially you’re working to the approach of 10x10. 10 sets of 10 reps of an exercise (or two exercises done in a superset) and this fills the majority of your training session. The weight you work at is approximately 60% of your 1RM. If you want to read more about the concept of GVT head over to bodybuilding.com as they have a really good post all about it. In my programme we have also added in a couple of accessory exercises to finish meaning each workout is approximately 45-60 minutes in duration.
 
GVT is intense and it’s got a good success rate for building lean muscle mass in a short period of time whilst also building good strength. I’d become a little bit bored with my workouts as I’d stuck to the same style of programme for a while so I was keen to give GVT a go when my PT put it on the table as an option. Due to the intensity I have four sessions per week of GVT and then another session where I can mix things up a little (Bootcamp is normally my fifth session) and then two recovery days (although one is active recovery so maybe a walk or something low intensity). I’ll be following this for six weeks and then we will review my progress.
 
Generally I’ve found the workouts themselves okay this week; I struggled a little bit on Tuesday as that was my first session in 6 days after being sick but I soon got back into the swing of things and Wednesday’s session I found tough but manageable. Yesterday on the other hand, was bloody hard. I can’t remember the last time I had to sit on the gym floor between sets but I did yesterday. My GVT was focused around trap bar deadlifts supersetted with goblet squats and it was my second legs session of the week so I was in a lot of pain. I swear on a couple of occasions there were tiny tear drops filling my eyes. And then this morning I was on shoulders and arms to finish my training for the week. Another tough session done.
 
1 week down!
 
It’s been good to mix things up and try a new programme and I think I’ll see some good results from this. It’s a strange approach as apart from Friday’s leg session the individual sessions themselves haven’t been that gruelling. However collectively my body has taken a hit.
 
I always know when my body is really feeling the effects of a tough week of training as my sleep pattern alters. I’m a good sleeper generally and pretty consistent; getting a steady 7 hours on average per night and normally just the occasional wake up for the toilet but I sleep quite calmly. This week however as the week has progressed my sleep has become a bit fragmented. When I start a new training approach and body is still adjusting I suffer from restless sleeps, which you’d think it would work in the opposite way but not for me. I also have more vivid dreams and fall into heavier periods of sleep so I’ve felt quite confused when I’ve woke up and been waking up several times during the night; a little disorientated. I know this will settle down in a week or so though.
 
My body also feels battered. Not huge DOMS in certain places but generally just aching and quite sore. I’ve had a lot of baths this week with Epsom salts and I’m booked in for a sports massage on Tuesday to ease some of these tense muscles. And I am tired. VERY tired. After last night’s session I could have slept the whole weekend and today I might as well have been on another planet I’ve been that wiped out. In a weird way though I enjoy feeling this way as I know its shocked my body into a new way of working and that will hopefully mean a positive effect in terms of muscle mass, strength and conditioning. I worry more when my body doesn’t ache and I’m not tired as I feel that I haven’t worked hard enough.
 
So I’ve got another five weeks to go. Keen to really have a good go at GVT and see what results I can get. I’ll keep you posted on my progress and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me either on here, on social media (links are listed on my blog page) or via email (again listed on my blog)
 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The Single Bodybuilder

I don’t tend to share much about my love life on social media (and rightly so, in my opinion it’s not the place for it) so I was a little wary about posting this but thought it might ring true with a few readers…and may provide a giggle or two for others (at my expense and I’m perfectly ok with that haha)
 
So I’ve been single for about 3 years now and only been bodybuilding for one year so I can’t blame it all on that; although it would be nice and possibly deter me from questioning any other reason why I may still be single hmmm…….
 
On a few occasions I’ve been asked ‘do you think it will be difficult to meet someone now you’re into all of this ‘bodybuilding business’?’ The question is often accompanied by sympathetic looks of concern that make the question pretty much rhetorical to me and might as well have been phrased alternatively that in their opinion I’ll be single forever whilst ever I’m obsessed with lifting weights, spotting new veins and drinking protein shakes.
 
And I’m not going to challenge that notion too much as believe me it often enters my head too after yet another year of unsuccessful dating since I returned home after my travels.
 
I won’t focus on any other possible explanations for being single as this is a health & fitness blog (and I also don’t want to get into that depressing realm) so I’ll focus in on some of the struggles I’ve experienced whilst dating over the last 12 months from when I began my bodybuilding journey.

 
 
I remember a date I went on around a year ago. It was a second date after date number one had gone as okay as first dates ever go amongst the generally awkward chit-chat that leaves me wishing I was back at home in my pyjamas with no social life. But anyway date number two came along and the cinema was the place of choice (not ideal I know given you can’t talk but then again it rules out the awkward chit-chat possibility and I really wanted to see the movie). All was going ok until a realisation part-way through the film. As I sat there I noticed my quads were bigger than his and with ‘another one bites the dust’ ringing profusely in my ears that was the end of that. At just 5’1” tall so relatively small across the board, if your legs don’t outsize mine then I’m sorry but it just aint happening! Next!  
 
Dating on prep was close to impossible. I did used to swipe through Tinder to pass the time, on one of many nights sat in munching broccoli while my friends were out painting the town red. I think I enjoyed the ‘game’ more than anything of swiping…ooh yes he’s nice, NOOOO, not a chance, yes nice eyes, oh he trains yep that’s good and so it went on. When it did turn from a swiping game into any form of conversation I instantly couldn’t be bothered (I know, never happy, right?) because it often followed the same pattern time and time again. The very original chat up line of ‘hey, how are you?’ pretty much sent me to sleep instantly and on the rare occasion it didn’t the conversation often soon came to an abrupt end at one of two points.
 
Either at the mere mention of being ‘a bodybuilder’ as I’m sure guys were sitting there imagining the stereotypical image of a female bodybuilder often on a stash of gear and looking completely unnatural and in my opinion not very attractive. Or when I posed the challenge that I couldn’t go out for a meal, wasn’t allowed to have an alcoholic drink and that I wasn’t particularly keen on the thought of a cinema date when I wasn’t allowed any popcorn. Not your easiest first date hey? And I’m not going to lie, I was horrible on prep most of the time. Moody, hangry (hungry-angry), frustrated to name but a few emotions so I don’t think I was the most pleasant girl to talk to let’s be honest.
 
And then you come across the guys that try and pretend to be into their keep fit just to impress you. That’s one thing that really annoys me. It’s not essential for me to date someone who’s a bodybuilder and I would much rather someone be true to themselves and say actually I hate working out than pretend to enjoy it just because they think it’s what I want to hear. It was always an immediate off-put as being independent myself, the thought of a guy not being able to have his own mind just doesn’t do it for me.
 
There have been many occasions in the last year when I’ve thought about whether being a bodybuilder will make finding someone more difficult (and believe me it is difficult anyway trying to date in the 21st century – you singletons out there will agree with me wholeheartedly I think). And I don’t know the answer to that in all honesty. I look at many fellow competitors who are in relationships so I know it’s not impossible; although I note that many of them also date bodybuilders so potentially that may be telling me it will be difficult for me to find someone who isn’t in this ‘world’ and that rules out a large amount of the population.
 
A guy I spent some time with earlier in the year said to me on one occasion ‘you’ll find it hard to meet someone whilst ever you’re doing this Bec’ – and that really stuck in my head as he took his training seriously, whilst never having competed before, so to hear someone who knows what it’s all about make that comment, made me question that myself a little bit more.
 
I have THE best friends so 'date night' is often spent with these babes!
 
My dating life has become a bit of a joke (in the nicest way possible) in the office amongst some of my closest colleagues with many a Friday having the usual conversation of plans for the weekend, to which I’ll occasionally hopelessly say I’ve got a date. Soon followed by the Monday morning conversation which generally goes along the lines of ‘yeah, never mind, not the one’. I’m sure it provides much entertainment for my work colleagues at least.
 
I don’t know whether bodybuilding makes my dating life harder. I do know it doesn’t make me the easiest person in the world to be with. I spend a lot of hours in the gym (on top of working a lot of hours and studying), my diet is somewhat restricted and I spend a minimum of 4 months per year on prep being a stroppy little carb-deprived cow that can’t go out for a meal or enjoy any breaks during that time. And that timeframe will only potentially get longer the more I get into the bodybuilding world.
 
But I love bodybuilding. I love what it’s brought to my life and how it’s changed me as a person. And that’s not something I’m willing to sacrifice for someone. One thing I know for sure is that it’s going to take someone special, whether they’re in the bodybuilding world or not, to take me on. I realise I’m not the easiest girl in the world to date. But I sure as hell know that I deserve that someone special so until someone comes along that can deal with my good, my bad and my ugly I’ll continue to take the world on, on my own.
 
Watch this space!