Posted by: thehungryrunner | February 25, 2008

Diary of a National Fitness Competitor, Part 2 of 3

 If you missed the explanation for Part 1, this is a reprint of a 3-part article I’d published in my newsletter last fall.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Whoever said “there is no substitute for hard work” – was it Thomas Edison? – was right.  At least, that was my attitude today.  I had a good, long practice, including drills of each major stunt or skill I have in my routine, then some runs of the routine itself.  What we often do as competitors is to divide up the routine into sections, then work on each section repeatedly.  For example, I might work on just the first 25 seconds, go back, and do it again, until I feel strong about it.  Then I’ll start about 20 seconds into the routine and do another 20 or so seconds’ worth.  And so on.  It allows you to hone and clean the quality of your movements, without having to tackle the entire thing at once.  Because the whole routine really does leave you heaving.  This way you can get good stuff done, without rendering yourself incapable of walking out of the building once you’re done!

Eating-wise, I think I’m making a mistake in allowing myself to drink copious amounts of diet pop (a huge vice of mine that surfaces from time to time).  That, and while my eating is clean, I’m not yet being overtly cautious with sodium.  At least, I’m hoping these are the culprits behind my feeling oddly “spongy,” like my body is making a sloshing sound when I walk.  But fortunately, it feels superficial, where I can sense that underneath I have definitely increased my muscle strength, particularly in my legs.  Past experience with competitions, filming, photo shoots, etc. has taught me how sensitive my body is to sodium and carbonation, so I knew that to allow these things could spell trouble.  And to be sure, I will be cutting out the carbonated beverages and drastically reeling in the sodium within the week before nationals.  But somehow I thought it wouldn’t be so bad to allow them to remain on the menu before then.  I’ll give it another day, see what happens.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Okay, I gave it another day, and now I’m DONE.  This means war.  I made the fatal error of stepping on the scale, probably a desperate attempt to convince myself that it’s not as bad as I thought.  So much for that pep talk.  So now I must face the “enemy” and chuck the salt and pop from my diet.  God forbid I accidentally poke myself, I’d spring a water leak just like a cartoon character!

On a good note, I did have another good practice.  Didn’t use the stilettos, just worked on the routine, and about five hundred handstands.  I also tried performing certain moves with my eyes closed, to help train – sing it with me, folks – my proprioceptors!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

No entry yesterday, too busy working on the new website.  I decided to take it easy and just do a long walk.  No easy accomplishment though, as we had rain most of the day.  But by evening we had a break, so we grabbed the chance to get out.  While I’m in no hurry for cold/damp to replace the hot/humid we’d had recently, I have to admit it smelled so fresh and clean outside!  It’s nice to have these nighttime summer walks.  It keeps me in touch with the outdoors, which is a good balance to all this competition craziness.

Today was a long practice session, followed by a long workout at the gym with my husband.  In other words, back to reality!

But I think I have identified one of the reasons why I enjoy competing so much.  If forces me to have to take those precious couple of hours on the weekend to head downstairs to the classroom normally used for my yoga classes and train/practice by myself for a couple of hours.  While I love interacting and socializing with people, no less my husband, there’s something awfully sacred to my well-being to be able to take this time for myself, especially since it entails my dance.  I find that my sanity and well-being are closely hooked into how much dancing – and I’m referring right now to artistic dance, not social dancing at clubs or weddings – is a regular part of my week.  Lately I’ve been drawn more to exploring a more sensual jazz style, but my mood can change on a dime.  Sometimes I’m in a flamenco mood, sometimes I feel like working on my ballet, sometimes I sometimes I need to either go more modern/interpretative – a choreography “jam” session if you will.  It all accomplishes the same thing, and that is it calms me.  I feel more in touch with my body, with the pure joy of movement and movement awareness, and I know this affects the rest of my day and week.  I can only hope to remember this even when competition season is over.  If I can incorporate this kind of activity at least once a week, I think it will be a good thing.

No diet pop today, but I did allow a couple of small bottles of Perrier.  I “heart” Perrier, it would be my constant beverage of choice if it weren’t so expensive.  It will be interesting, assuming I succeed in avoiding any diet pop over the next couple of weeks, how it will feel to taste it again.  Typically, I find I can’t stand the flavor at first, having become accustomed to the clean taste of the sparkling water, but time…and the need for caffeine and calorie-free beverage options…has a way of eroding that initial repulsion.  I’m ashamed to confess my choice of first post-competition diet pop will be none other than an ice-cold Tab cola.  Could I find a more chemically tasting selection?

Monday, August 20, 2007

If I may be frank, I’m a bit overdosed on competition prep.  It’ll be good to spend the day focused more on clients and classes than carbs and calisthenics.  Add this to the long list of why I love my work!

A friend of mine keeps urging me to try a bodybuilding show one of these days.  I appreciate her enthusiasm for how well she thinks I would do, but I’m just not sure that’s a route I wish to go.

Monday, August 27, 2007

As I awoke this morning, I couldn’t help but marvel at how becoming (and staying) at one’s ideal weight and fitness is truly a matter of “boring” winning out over “seductive.”  The idea of a crash diet, extreme measures, a quick fix….it’s all very alluring, and obviously it’s what sells books, infomercial gadgets, etc.  But the reality is, getting one’s weight and body shape where they want it is simply a matter of doing what needs to be done for a long enough and consistent enough amount of time to actually see the changes.  I’m practically falling asleep just typing that as it’s just not that exciting, but there it is!  I’m finally seeing my abs popping, and the rest of my physique coming into focus.  The difference?  Counting every single milligram of sodium, right down to the “naturally occurring” sodium in the fish I’m eating.  I bought some low-sodium tuna, found the lowest sodium salsa, checked on the sodium counts of low-calorie pancake syrup, fat-free cream cheese, and Egg Beaters….and am pretty much keeping it all under 1000 a day.  In some cases, far less, especially if all I’m really eating is fruit, vegetables, and lean meat and/or fish.  But wow, what a difference it makes!

Dress rehearsal tomorrow.  My biggest challenge:  having to fake the “slide-through” in center splits on my stomach.  I can do it perfectly with a shirt on, but my stomach sticks to the floor when bare, resulting in a floor burn if I’m not careful!

And one other possible problem, and this one is embarrassing:  Any time I workout or do a fitness routine with my midriff showing, there are certain movements that, when performed on my back, create a suction/release with my bare skin on the floor that results in what I can only describe as a very loud bodily emission.  If you know what I mean!  In the case of my routine, the risk of this happening is when I wrap my foot behind my head, which is even “worse” as it really suggests that I am experiencing some horrible indigestion, brought upon by the contorted position.  Let’s this doesn’t happen!  Can you imagine?  You’ve just nailed your routine, you’re in the final movement, and along comes that sound.  I think the only recourse would be to kill myself upon leaving the stage.  Or fake my death by lying there, motionless, until the ambulance arrives.  At least hope that this would give them something else to talk about.

More entries soon!

-ep

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