I survived Punta Cana. Before leaving I was concerned that I would drink too much while away, eat my face off, and train less. To my own surprise, I found that it was only normal for me to get up early and run on the beach before my day started. I worked out every single morning and decided to spend more time running than lifting at the gym to give my body a much needed rest. I did not deprive myself of any food - one night I ate 5 slices of cake. I ate 3 meals a day instead of my usual 5 since I was burning less calories just lying on the beach all day… it also helped that the heat took away my never-ending appetite that I usually have. My motivation to stay fit and lean for this upcoming competition kept me disciplined. I simply just did not feel like sipping on “cervesas” and cocktails all day long, but I did let myself indulge in Dominican rum during a day trip to Saona Island, and may or may not remember the end of that adventure… To be honest I was expecting some loss of my gains upon my return home, along with some difficulty in the transition to following my macros again, but it feels good to be back in my routine. It was nice not to meal prep for a week (okay maybe I meal prepped a few times for our day trips and the plane ride home), but I am glad to be eating my regular meals again. I went to Punta Cana without any expectations in terms of training and eating clean, and I am happy that I was able to stay mentally strong and disciplined while away. On top of all that, I even managed to get a yoga session in, as well as work on my focus through some meditation in the sun. A week of rest and relaxation definitely did the mind and body good as I feel refreshed and energized at work and have definitely gotten stronger with my lifts. I am ready to crush these next 10 weeks of mental and physical preparation for my first bodybuilding competition.
It’s crunch time as the word, “no” will be a big part of my vocabulary. This will be a true test of my mental toughness as I will not be drinking or eating out for the next 66 days. Nutrition is everything so it is important that I stay on point with my macros. Don’t get me wrong, I will not be starving myself or depriving myself of chocolate and carbs. My goal is to do this in a healthy way which means to eat as clean as possible, but not completely cut out the foods I love, otherwise I will go crazy! I’ve done well so far - since May last year I have been counting macros from Monday to Thursday and eating what I want on weekends, so I know that I have the discipline to continue this hard work daily for a few weeks.
As I mentioned in my first blog, I will be sharing my brain training program with you in order to educate and increase awareness of the importance of mental skills training (MST). Today I started to put together my mental workout which includes:
The 2-to-1 Breathing technique
Highlight reels (visualization)
This is a pre-performance mental routine that will last 5-10 minutes, which I will use to stay in the zone on game day. It is important that I perfect this routine so that it is useful when I need it the most. Like any mental skills training program, trial and error is a big part of figuring out what works for you, so I will be incorporating the routine to my lifting 5 times a week, and posing practice. By using the routine on a daily basis, I will be able to quickly figure out what mantras, cues, statements and images are best for me to stay confident, in control, and focused when I get distracted or find myself having negative thoughts.
In addition, I will have to watch posing videos and learn how to walk gracefully in 5-inch heels. By setting short-term goals, blocking off times during the week to research, pose, and practice my mental workout, I can assure that I stay on top of my prep.
Today I determined that my 2-to-1 breathing technique will consist of a 4 second inhale, and an 8 second exhale. Will this work? Who knows. I will try it out this week and see if I have to adjust. I came up with a mantra to use to replace negative thoughts and 3 powerful cue words as part as my performance statement. The hardest part of my MST program is visualization since I have never really used this in training before. It will be hard for me to imagine past successes since I have never competed on stage and therefore have no experience to draw from. For this reason it’s very important that I do proper research by watching videos and choosing professional competitors that I would like to mirror. The concept of “substitution imagery” was brought to my attention a few weeks ago from Christine Carter, a professor and performance psychology coach who gave an excellent lecture on mental skills training for musicians. With this exercise I will literally be picturing my head on someone else’s body - weird, I know. After I start practicing posing I will then be able to get a better idea of what I want my performance to look like, making it easier to create my Highlight Reel. Finally, I chose 2 identity statements that are positive and empowering that will help me feel confident.
An important part of any MST program is reflection and self-awareness, which I will be doing in a journal, as well as in this blog series. Reflection allows us to analyze our strengths and weaknesses, enabling us to better determine what has to be improved and what has to be done to maintain consistency. This is one of the first skills I teach my clients as without it, it’s hard to turn weaknesses into strengths. I will be reflecting on a “lowlight” and “highlight” of my mental skills training of the past week in each of my posts so I know how to adapt for the upcoming week - so stay tuned to see how the the concept of trial and error is used when creating an MST program.
Now that I have the “rough draft” of my mental workout, it’s time to put it into practice this week during my lifting sessions and posing practice. I believe that mental training is just as important as physical training, so I will be doing my brain exercises 5 times a week, just as often as I train. In addition, I will continue to meditate daily as this practice has allowed me to improve my focus.
My goal this week in addition to implementing my mental workout to my training, is to research (watch videos) for at least 20 minutes a day, find 2 professional figure competitors that I admire, and to practice walking in 5 inch heels - wish me luck...
“Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” -John Wooden