Get Out Of Your Own Head!

61300034 - picture of young sad woman in the kitchen

Image ID : 61300034
Copyright : Kamil Macniak 

I’m writing this as much for myself as I am writing it for you readers. I had been meaning to write a blog post about how to break the vicious cycle of overthinking which comes with anxiety. Honestly, there really is no point to worrying about what may happen, and there is never a good enough reason to lose sleep. Yet many of us will toss and turn, ruminating over current dilemmas, and robbing ourselves of precious slumber, all because we just can’t turn off our brains.

When we obsess over situations which we have little power to change in that moment, we act like hamsters on a wheel, going endlessly around and around, finding no exit and no solution.  So why do we do it?  How do we let it go?

Though it can be difficult to break free from the urge to keep thinking about how to solve problems in our lives, doing so is a vital component in calming our nerves and keeping us balanced and sane.  So the next time you find yourself fretting over something like a conflict at work, a financial issue, or something else which has you all tied up in knots, do the following:

  1. Ask yourself, “Will worrying about my issue help me in any way to solve it?”  If the answer is no (and it usually is no), then there truly is NO POINT to thinking about it.  Let it go, breathe, and get on with your day.  
  2. If you just can’t turn off your thoughts, then grab a notebook and a pen, and write down a list of all pros and cons and potential solutions you can think of.  Then put your notes away and don’t look at them until the next day.  Quite frequently, you will find your answer in those notes you scribbled.
  3. Remember that there is ALWAYS another way to look at a situation, even if you think you are stuck.  So think outside the box.  
  4. Sleep on it.  We often get ourselves so worked up about conflicts and obstacles, that simply getting a good night’s sleep can help to clear our thoughts so that we can tackle such conflicts with a refreshed mind.  


Pushing Through – Dealing With Troubling Times

Life is not about how hard you can hit, but how much you can get hit & still keep moving forward. -Rocky Balboa
It is commonplace these days to hear people say that times are tough, and indeed they are. Truth is, there will ALWAYS be something we will be forced to contend with. At times those challenges can be so trying that they threaten to break our spirit and obscure the light at the end of the tunnel. However, it is imperative to push through those trials and tribulations while remembering what our goals are.

Your goals may be long term and centered around a career aspiration or the pursuit of an avocation for which you have great passion. Perhaps you have a weight loss goal or want to improve your general health. Or maybe you compete and are chasing after that elusive Pro Card or Olympia qualification. Chances are that any challenges which hit unexpectedly have no direct correlation to these goals, so why allow them to push you off course? You may get knocked around a bit, but the important thing is to get back in line with that prize you have set before you.

It always amazes me to hear patients and clients describe how they abandoned their meal plans and exercise regimens, and thus their fitness and health goals, when they were forced to deal with stressful life events such as divorce, legal issues, job loss, or family illness. What goes through my mind when I hear such things is that these people are doing themselves a disservice by dropping a regular regimen which has immense long term payoffs. A thread of stability is established when there is consistency with food intake and exercise which can actually lessen the impact of life stressors. Energy levels are boosted, depression is minimized, and an individual can assert his or her own personal needs in the face of adversity.

So if tough times are getting you down, remember to put the oxygen mask on your own face and take care of your own needs. Those who persevere will be rewarded after the storm passes. Hang in there!

How To Choose Your Next Show

Originally published on RxGirl on Saturday, 03 August 2013
If you compete then you know that prepping for a contest keeps you focused on a singular goal. But what happens when that show is over and your placings compel you to shift your strategy? Financial considerations, geographical logistics and time needed to improve on your physique are variables which can come into play. This is true regardless of whether you are an Amateur competitor or a Pro.

Whatever you do, refrain from jeopardizing your financial security or your job security and only do those shows which you can truly afford. If you need to work on building muscle, leaning out, or improving balance or symmetry, you need to be realistic and give yourself enough time to make those changes before you hit the stage again. If you know that you have weak points with your presentation (posing, competition color, suit selection, makeup, hair), make sure that you correct these issues so that you bring a noticeably improved package to the stage.

If you are competing locally and have yet to qualify at the national level,I always advise selecting a national qualifier for your next show. If you are near the bottom of the barrel, choose an event which is at least 12 weeks out so that you have enough time to make improvements. If you are nationally qualified but have never stepped on the national stage before, you might want to compete in a local or regional event in a metropolitan area so that you get more of a feel for how a large scale show is organized. It is important to bear in mind that national level events have stiff competition, so make sure you practice your posing and get everything lined up in time for the national stage.
NPC Team U teaser
Master’s level competitors always face a bit of a disadvantage because of their age, so I always advise them to confine their national appearances to pro qualifiers which feature Master’s divisions. Keep in mind that a Pro Card is a Pro Card, regardless of whether you get it as an open or a master’s competitor. I also advise master’s competitors to enter as many divisions as possible to increase their chances.

For Pros, it might be a good idea to consider Pro events in different parts of the country so that you are seen by different IFBB judging panels. This also enables you to increase your exposure and fan base. If you or your sponsors can handle the expense of international contests, you may consider traveling out of the country. If you are chasing after an Olympia qualification, you could stack shows so that you increase your chances of getting into the top five and getting points.

Whatever level you compete at, remember to have fun and enjoy the journey!

Maintaining Focus In The Midst Of Chaos

Originally published on RxGirl on Thursday, 04 July 2013
If there’s one thing I have learned during my life, it is that there will always be challenges to face and overcome. Such trials can be immense and carry the power to derail us from our daily routine. However, maintaining consistency in a daily routine, especially during the most difficult times, provides balance while also keeping an individual on track with contest prep or other fitness related goals. In some sense, such a structured routine can almost serve as a welcome haven when everything else is chaotic, provided it does not make excessive demands on one’s time or energy resources.

This year has been an extremely rough one for me, characterized by both my parents being hospitalized, the dissolution of a two year relationship with a man I was very much in love with, job loss, etc. I think most people would have buckled from the pressure, but I was so incredibly stubborn about staying on track that I pushed through the emotional and physical pain and became more creative about how to fit my ever increasing workout loads into the chaos that defined my life. If anything, the trials I went through made me all the more determined to get the job done with my contest prep. I put the horse blinders on and headed down the track at a full gallop. Ironically, though I have been working less in the past month, I am busier than ever and often go through my days in a bit of a fog. It is commonplace for me to forget whether I am at the gym for my third or fourth workout, or which office I was at yesterday. My attitude lately has been, “hold on tight!” which is indeed what I have been doing as I have ridden the crazy crests and troughs of each day.
Horse Blinders
I know that those of you who compete are Type A personalities, driven, committed, strong and stubborn. I also know that some of you will abandon your plans to compete in upcoming contests when life throws you a curve ball. I honestly think this is a mistake. Why forgo the pursuit of a goal (i.e., prepping for a contest and competing in it) when things get nuts? We are in a unique position to inspire and lead by example, so when we give up on achieving a competition or general fitness goal, we are sending a message that it is acceptable to adopt an off and on approach to the “can do” attitude which is common in the fitness world. I am not saying that we should be burdened by the responsibility to carry the hopes of others, but that we best serve ourselves and others when we adopt a tenacious determination to reach our goals. If you can remember why you are driven to compete and to reach your personal best, and make a decision to hold yourself to your regimen in the midst of adversity, your victories will be sweeter than ever.

I Love My Freedom

woman-with-arms-outstretchedI am a relationship minded person, I live in one place for many years at a time, and am a planner. Yet I recognize the fierce need for freedom which pervades all areas of my life. I cannot stand being held back, tied down, or told I cannot do something. I am notorious for tackling all kinds of projects, even if I have had no prior experience and risk failure. I like being the boss, but it is more important for me to be in control of my own life, navigating through it the way I prefer. I am also a bit of a loner and prefer to chart my own course instead of following the pack. The past few years have given me wonderful opportunities to express myself in the way that I want to, and I am grateful for the ability to run around and frolic through life, enjoying all that it has to offer.

I am sure that the countless threats to my freedom which I have had to deal with throughout my life have only made me stronger. When I think of how fiercely I have fought for autonomy and a voice, I realize how much of a warrior I am. If someone doubts my abilities, I want to prove them wrong, NOT because I have a chip on my shoulder, but because the “can do” mindset is so deeply etched in my personality. Nothing that I do is on the beaten path. I look different, behave differently, navigate through life differently, and could never be described as being a “typical” anything. And you know what? I like it that way!

What I have learned throughout my life is that if you want freedom of movement, you can have it as long as you realize that you manifest whatever it is that your subconscious mind harbors. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. If you believe that something or someone has control over you, then you have given up the battle and you will manifest situations which will truly make you feel trapped, shackled, and stripped of your personal freedom. If you believe that you can shape your life the way that you want without mowing others down in an effort to reach your goals, then you will empower yourself. Everything we hold onto should be done with an open hand, allowing energy and opportunity to move organically. When we grasp, grab, twist and otherwise restrain the energy, it can often turn on us and create conflict, throw up obstacles and threaten to rob us of our freedom. This is a lesson that I am FINALLY beginning to understand after all my time on this planet.