Input = Output

Most of us know this little equation from high school whether it be from Chemistry, Math , Gym or just a wise teacher. I remember first hearing it in 7th grade and of course, it still holds true and it can be that simple.

But i think adding a few details and commentary after all these years is in order.

Whatever your goals( fitness, debt reduction, wealth, career, sobriety, etc) the most important aspect to consider is how much you actually want it. There are many people who claim to want something but deep down are unwilling to put forth not only the effort, but the consistent effort to obtain it. I see this more often than i ever see those who really REALLY want something enough to put in the time, energy, and discipline it takes to achieve their goals.

The first part of that is planning. We could easily cut out half of those who say they want something just by pinning them down about their specific plans. I have done this in situations where i need to assess the amount of time i am going to spend to help someone or listen to them speak on the subject.

“What exactly is your goal and what are the steps you are taking right now toward that ?”

my example answer:” i want to work toward achieving the body i have envisioned by committing to a program of exercise 4-5 days a week for 2 hrs each time and in 3-4 months, dialing down my nutrition to enhance muscle growth as much as possible. I want to be ready to compete in approximately 2 years even if i choose not to at that time”

But even with a plan, nothing will happen until that plan is put into action. Day Dreamers will usually have a no plan or a flimsy one. They like to talk a lot about their goals without actually doing much of anything. But even worse is the person who is always making plans but never actually starting, much less committing to them.

“How many of these steps have you accomplished so far?”

My example answer:” I have been working out solo 4 days per week since June. I have been paying attention to 3 of my macros, adjusting as needed. I have just hired a personal coach to further enhance my progress, avoid injuries, and work through any obstacles. I have adjusted my budget to accommodate these goals in that i can afford proper nutrition and the trainer”

The last part is toughest- commitment. Any worthwhile goal(s) take more than a few half hearted attempts.By breaking down your goals into smaller steps and setting a time frame for each, you will have a much better chance at seeing them through.I usually suggest at least weekly goals, but daily is even better. It may take weeks , months or even years to be successful.

“How long are you willing to stay committed to this plan?”

My example answer:” i am committed to this plan for the next two years and will adjust it as needed for any obstacles( injury, loss of employment, natural disaster) . Barring those things ,I will re assess in two years.”

In summary, taking time to see your goal from beginning to end when you first start out makes for a better chance at achieving it.It helps to be able to plan for ( all the small and large ) tasks that will need to be accomplished , in what order and how long each should take.

And remember your input is directly related to your output!

A Side Note on Sobriety

It’s been a long while since i have addressed my recovery ( meaning sobriety) on here. I have been thinking of ways to do so off and on but cannot really pinpoint a specific way to describe what has been happening in that regard this year.

As a reminder to myself( we all need those!), i will start out with a very brief timeline of events since most of the details are still available on past posts and anyone wishing to read them can go back and do so.

In a nutshell, i started my recovery in November of 2018. By January of 2020 i was one year AF. In late 2020 i relapsed but did not acknowledge this to myself or the world until January of this year and again started to down the recovery road. Despite the impact of the pandemic in 2020, 2021 has been a much more challenging yet enlightening year for me personally.

Never the less, i will try to describe my relationship with alcohol now, at this point in time.

Full confession-in 2021 i have drank a few times. I am not trying to minimize the fact that this isn’t perfect or ideal. But i’ll lean on the hundreds of days AF, rather than berate myself for a few not-so-perfect days. The events of this year , both good and bad, for whatever reason-have re-set my brain somehow and it is difficult to describe. I no longer seem to “feel” like drinking , even when i have ample time and opportunity. Some of those times when i tried anyway, i didn’t even get a buzz , just felt full/ bloated and like i wasted my time and money.

Don’t get me wrong. I am still and always will be an alcoholic.There is never a time when i am NOT in danger of backsliding. But whatever is going on in my chemistry right now– I’ll take it. Because for some reason ( totally bewilders me) i have had zero cravings or desire, and it’s been like this since after my vacation in June. Go figure.

Anyway, that’s pretty much why i haven’t blogged about it . I can’t say what will happen next, and at this point i don’t even think about that.

All i know is that i am grateful for whatever is happening in my skull and body.

Hope you all are well!


Octopus Attack?

Today i had one of my regular deep tissue muscle massages. I get these as often as i can afford them and this year have finally found a wonderful, very strong female masseuse. These are done at my chiropractors office, and i also get adjusted separately about every 2 weeks. I consider these mandatory health measures and part of a life long maintenance program.

Every now and again i will try something out of the norm for pain and/or improved health. Since i previously explained that i have impinged my right shoulder and it will require some rest & recovery, i explained the area of my distress to the masseuse.Previously she introduced me to a hot stone massage and it was absolutely delightful. So when she asked if i would like to try “cupping”, i said “sure”.

Now, i have heard tell of this off & on over the years but never looked into it. I did remember that it was very low risk, and i trust her suggestions ( plus there wasn’t any additional charge) . I really had no idea what to expect. She explained that there would be an initial pinch, but it would fade quickly. The cups ( suction) were left on for about 8 minutes. She also said there would be a “little” bruising after but they wouldn’t hurt like a regular bruise.

As you can see a “little” was an understatement. But honestly, i don’t care about the cool suction marks ( basically large hickeys) because she was correct- the process didn’t hurt terribly and they will go away over a few weeks. Plus i get the added benefit of my grandkids being told by my daughter that an octopus “got me”…lol!

So, the big question. Did it help?

Truthfully, on this one i would have to say no. And i actually feel a bit more soreness in the area than before. It is tolerable so far and that part may or may not be normal. When i got home i read up on it in more detail and it appears that some people get immediate relief, others have to go back for it regularly.I wont be one of those people, and i certainly wont pay for it as an added service.It seems that altho it’s been around since ancient times, there have been very few serious studies done about it’s effectiveness. I did come across this:

“Metabolic hypothesis assume that cupping decreases increased muscle activity which results in pain reduction.18 Redness, bullae formation and histological changes in the skin are possibly due to vasodilatation and edema without actual cellular infiltrate,19 and these effects do not fit into immune system paradigm. Elimination of toxins trapped in the tissues by cupping also makes the person feels better.20 Many studies provided some evidence about the effectiveness of cupping in certain medical and health conditions.12“-(from a “.gov” site)

Am i disappointed? not really. I didn’t expect much, just hoped it wouldn’t make things worse.So far, almost any of my chronic or acute pain is best relieved with heat, ice, menthol patches and OTC meds- along with a maintenance program of lifting, chiro, and massage.

I will still try new things on occasion but wanted to share this one:)


My Secret “ABC” Diet

A long time ago in a land far away..(ok, it wasnt far away but it sounds more interesting that way:)…

I was 29 years old and just starting out with a renewed commitment at the gym. I had been faithfully going for 3 or 4 months, meeting with my trainer 4-5 days a week for an hour or so each time. I had changed nothing else in my life because just staying on track with this , plus working FT and having to juggle two kids and everything else in life was enough. But after these few months, even though i had seen changes, i began to notice my initial excitement was waning. Plus, i didn’t feel like i had as much energy as i had when i started and was becoming impatient for even more noticeable results.

I spoke with my trainer about it. I was starting to consider competing in the future. He asked how my diet was in general.Now this is something we did not discuss at the onset of my training because I hadn’t even thought about nutrition..I just wanted to look better in a bathing suit.

I told him what i was eating on the daily- mostly pasta, Pizza, sandwiches, processed foods, and whatever could manage in between. He told me to write everything down that i ate for one week. When i brought this back to him ( being very careful to write down exact portions and such) i was shocked to hear these words:

“well, you should probably be eating more calories if you want to gain muscle.”

It didnt make sense to me at the time.I had mentioned i wanted to enter a certain bikini contest in the next year , and would be competing with girls 10-15 years younger than me. I had expected him to say i should eat less! But then he explained.

In order to make the best gains in muscle i had to trick my metabolism. This is the diet he started me on and it has never failed to do just that.

It’s very simple.The idea is to change up your ratios of protein, fat, and carbs every 2 weeks

‘Week(s) A: 50% protein/ 35% fat/ 15% carb( high protein )

Week(s) B: 50% carbs/ 35% protein/ 15% fat( high carb)

Week(s) C: 50% fat/ 35% protein/15% carbs( high fat)

At the time i really had no idea how to even start counting my macros.Hell, i didnt even know what carbs were.He never gave me a calorie amount, or specific foods i had to eat, or grams of each to go by. He left it a that : juggle these macros every 2 weeks. Keep in mind i was trying to bulk up at this stage, and gain muscle – when you go into contest prep, all the rules change. He said carbs include veggies, breads, rice and pasta, proteins were meat and eggs, fats are butter an oil.I could still eat ice cream on occasion but should eliminate highly processed foods and most sugars.He kept it simple and it was all i needed to know at that beginning point.It worked miracles. My gains came faster than ever and i had more energy than i knew what to do with. I even started coming in and extra day a week just to do 45 minutes of treadmill on my rest day because i couldn’t sit still!

This time around i started out by “dirty” bulking. I did this because after a few decades i know how my body responds. This works until a certain point, at which i start to notice lagging energy, bloating and increased injury from improper form- it’s all connected. Since you can choose whichever week you like to start with, i have chosen C because breaking my “bread” habit for 2 weeks is going to be the hardest. I started Sunday(5 days ago) and can already feel the difference.

Hope this is useful to someone and , as always..


Actively Resting?

So, i finally had to concede that i had been pushing my luck with lifting heavier. While i have made some really great gains and have seen results i never expected in such a short time, I have impinged my right shoulder and must rest it for a few weeks. While it is tempting to just keep pushing through the pain, this is a common mistake with many newbies who, like me, are scared to “get lazy” and lose momentum.But i know from past experience that if i do, it will create a bigger issue that will take much longer to repair.

Now, understand- i am not simply ‘resting on my laurels’ like many people outside of the body building would envision.I am doing what is called “active resting”. And although, grammatically speaking, this is an oxymoron, there is nothing moronic about it.

First of all i haven’t just stopped working out. I am still doing leg and arm days, just not regular back and shoulder days. I take full days of rest, forcing myself not to do chores and run errands but rather allow my body to completely relax.

Secondly, i am not resting my back & shoulders completely. I am doing what are called “Blackburns” exercises. These do not involve any pressing or over the head extension movements.They are focused, alternatively, on building up the muscles that support my rotator cuff .There are a dozen or so youtube videos showing the sequences.

Thirdly, since i have been compensating for this pain , i am taking special care not to exacerbate any other areas . The other day i went to do leg day and after 2 sets had searing back pain. Rather than push, i did lower weights and alternate exercises that didn’t involve lower back strain.

Fourthly- another alternative to some lifting related issues is to do cardio only for a few weeks. I personally loathe cardio, but many use this method when in muscle recovery.

In a few weeks i hope to cautiously get back to progress. Until then- cleaner eating and less pushing.


p.s. decided to change out the photo- i think the first one was harder to digest for most ( a bit masculine) ..these maybe a little more palatable:)

p.s.s. ya know what? changed my with it…lol- i am proud of my hard work

What a Trainer Can ( and Can’t!) Do

As I have mentioned several times, a trainer can make a huge difference. But just what does that mean? I will explain – but first let’s take a quick trip down memory lane(lol):

I started lifting in high school when i was recruited into an after school program by my gym teacher. He was interested in starting a lifting group focused on female students to compliment the already running male dominated program in place. Unfortunately the group only drew about 3 of us and was not elected to continue the following year. Hence, the teacher opened his own local gym and this was the very first gym i joined. Of course, since we only had regular cameras and polaroids back then , and i was only a teenager- i have no photos.

The first photo here is the very first gym i joined as an adult, at the ripe old age of 22, back in 1989- 4 years after the birth of my daughter and one month after leaving her(abusive) father.It was my way of redeveloping lost self confidence as well as putting out a big “F*ck You” to my ex.

80s hair..yikes!

I worked out off & on over the years and during my training with a trainer in 1997/98 i decided to become a personal trainer myself. Sometimes, i have to remind well- meaning people at the gym that i have in fact been a P.T. and understand more than they realize. Example: the “big” guy who goes around correcting peoples form or giving unsolicited advice to random gym goers , even though he is not an employee:

“Hey , girl ( as he comes up behind me and actually TOUCHES my both of my arms from the rear) straighten out those arms and focus on this muscle here. It’s called a bicep. Don’t worry about the rest of your arms.”Ugh.

Please don’t do this. You do not know who has what background, but even more so- unwanted touching and unsolicited advice is inappropriate.

So yes, i was a trainer for a while myself as evidenced by the the following:

exhibit A

Now you know my maiden

exhibit B

Note the expiration date

So , anyway- back to the topic of this post.

A trainer is someone who can and will do the following:

  • motivate you to get your butt in the gym
  • show you a variety of exercises tailored to your needs, including age, physical limitations and goals
  • show you how to use good form to get the most out of each exercise and to avoid injury
  • advise you on nutrition, expected progress, anatomy, supplements, and general health/fitness information
  • take weights off and put them on during your sessions – this is a huge plus as it helps you to save your energy for the actual work out. Additionally, it helps to avoid injury from unplanned and awkward movements. I personally would never hire a trainer who do not include this service.

What a trainer can’t do:

  • Physically drag you or make you get your butt to the gym . The choice is yours. Only you can get ready, drive there and walk in the door, ready to commit.
  • Make you do the work out. Again, it is your body and mind that has to do the work. If you whine and complain and do not put in your best efforts, then expect results that reflect this attitude.
  • Stop you from poor lifestyle choices, especially when they aren’t around. Even if you make it to all your sessions, and do the physical work- things like binge eating, drinking alcohol regularly, smoking ( i am guilty of this one) or indulging in recreational drugs will hinder your progress and this will show in your results.
  • Be your mom. She/He isn’t responsible for keeping you on track by calling and checking up on you everyday. This usually only occurs when you are paying for a daily coach during a contest prep, and only if it part of the contract(usually this is an online coach). Even then , you will have to weigh yourself, take the required photos to send to them, write down and follow the recommended daily food and exercise plan. It can and will change daily during a prep based on what he/she sees.

A lot has changed since i was a trainer. I wound up leaving the field after about 2 years due to increasing malpractice insurance requirements ( if you train someone in their home, at their gym or even in your own home as an private contractor, the premiums can kill you financially).I could have continued to work as an employee at some gyms i was with for a time but the pay was awful ( minimum wage)and generally unsatisfying as you were not allowed to charge extra to train individual members.

Additionally- advances in science, technology and nutritional / exercise research has expanded and pretty much exploded with the internet. Many trainers are not simply certified as i was, but have an actual college degree. The field has become so diverse and specialized, i would no longer even qualify to train others. That being said, i do keep up with my own research on a regular basis and always continue to learn and grow. My advice here in this blog is based purely on my own experience and should not take the pace of a qualified, currently licensed trainer.

If you are considering a trainer, be sure to check their credentials, experience, and references at the very least. Word of mouth is always best, in my opinion, as is the presentation of the person themselves ( do they look like, act like and present themselves as someone you would want to be like?). I would never feel comfortable and confident in a trainer who was obviously over weight, unhygienic, or had a negative / harsh/ belittling attitude.

Hope this was of value to someone. Thanks for reading!

The First Time I Dieted for a Contest

My First “Shred” – around 1998 or so

I was asked what a ‘shred’ looks like. The above shows my before pic( purple dress) in 1997 when i was actually modeling but had a curvier figure, then 2 progress pics as i “bulked up” and finally the day of the contest. I did this shred after only 9 months of training though because it was my first time and i was consider this a mini shred.The contest was only a local bikini one. Figured i’d start small:)

I have other pics ,of further progress over the next 10-15 years- just have to find them.They are on an old hard drive.

But for anyone interested , let me explain the process.

Typically a full shred is after about 1 1/2- 2 years of building muscle ( also called “bulking”) . During the bulking phase you start out with the compound exercises and are lifting progressively heavier , focusing on hypertrophy/mass. After a certain point ( maybe 3-6 months depending on your body’s response time) you begin to sculpt as well, meaning that you add more specific exercises to balance, define, striate, and add vascularity.The basic compound exercises include squats, dead lifts, lunges, chin ups, benches, rows, and dips.Almost all other exercises are more specific to draw out the smaller muscles of the body.During this phase your exercises will be heavy weight/ lower rep workouts.

During the bulking phase you will eat a very high calorie/ high protein diet with less carbs overall. Most pro builders have a very boring, day to day diet which includes salmon/chicken/ beef/eggs with rice , sweet potatoes, and low glycemic index vegetables ( in moderation). the suggested protien is 1-2 grams per pound of body weight.Healthy fats are added in with flax or other oils. Supplements are used as needed or desired – usually in the form of protein shakes, bars , etc. which will be high calorie /high protein. This is a “clean” bulk. During my bulk i used MetRX shakes with milk, Creatine, and DHEA. A dirty bulk will include more junk foods like processed stuff, fatty foods , and sweets. It is possible to do either one and still shred down( i am still dirty bulking some days)- but a clean diet will naturally make you feel better , and cause less damage to your body. It will also take less time to lose the fat when you shred.You will do almost no cardio during this phase unless you are looking to stay lean year round – and that is not what a typical builder type lifter does.I did cardio once a week for 30 minutes during this phase.

During the shred ( also called dieting down) you will switch over to almost all protein, lower calories and almost no fats. No sugar, no added salt. Your proteins will come mostly from lean fish and lean chicken. Your carbs are very rationed- usually lots of spinache and asparagus- no rice, potatoes, pasta or bread.. Absolutely no alcohol and black coffee only. You will drink 1 gallon or more of water per day and your supplements will change from high calorie to low calorie .During this phase i stopped using creatine, used water in my shakes instead of milk and continued with the DHEA. You will also increase you cardio, and go with higher reps/lower weights in your workouts. I was doing 20 -30 minutes before and after each lifting workout at this time ( about 8 weeks out).No cheating.Pure commitment.

I had a trainer, and i highly recommend one for anyone considering this lifestyle.At the very least have one during your shred phase or contest prep.I had one for 9 months /5 days a week . However, back in those days, there was no internet like we have today. What we had was but a skeleton of todays choices. My trainer was there in the gym with me everyday, one on one. Now you can hire online coaches. All are expensive, but the right ones are worth it when the time comes. Without one, you will make mistakes, suffer more injuries and get less results.Though i have a lot of experience I will be getting one in about 1 1/2 years myself. Even professionals have coaches and trainers.

This is a very basic watered down version of what i did , and what to do in general. It isn’t for the weak. You will be sore, gassy, nauseous, and exhausted- A LOT. Sleep and hydration will be your only friends.

My personal suggestion is to try this out for one year and do a mini shred like i did. It opened my eyes to just how tough the lifestyle is. After doing the above contest, i decided to stick to maintaining my results and getting somewhat back to normal eating and exercising for awhile. I decided i could not maintain the lifestyle indefinitely . I did continue to focus on growth, and healthier eating but in a much more moderate way. I did not use a trainer after that point, as the one i had was prepping for his own contest and unable to train others.

I hope this helps and please feel free to ask any questions. There is a lot more info online these days , but that being said, there are is a lot more contradiction among pros and trainers.It is best to use discernment and do a good amount of research before starting any exercise program or diet, as well as talking your doctor.