Tag Archives: willpower

Mind Over Matter

This is a guest post by Eva McElwain Tucci AKA Gammianne and mom to Hungry
 
How many times have you heard the saying mind over matter?  When you are an exerciser, in time, working out becomes as essential as breathing and eating (and you can eat more when you work out which is a bonus point)
 
As stated in a previous post, I started exercising when I was 15 years old. I went through the Jane Fonda era …yes I had matching leotards, leg warmers, jazz shoes and the Jane Fonda album (yes I said album–those round discs we would play on a turntable) . I am relatively certain that Hungry remembers the Buns of Steel, Abs of Steel VHS that I used to work out to.
Sunbathing with the kiddos

Sunbathing with the kiddos

 
Back in the day, I would often work out three hours a dayAerobic Classes, Spinning and Weight lifting comprised the bulk of that workout ..oh and at least twenty five minutes of ab work a day. This served me well through three children by the way as my stomach is still as flat as a 20 year old due to all that time spent (downside to strong abs …babies don’t drop very quickly during birth but giving birth is always worth the effort).
 
I loved working out. I am wearing the same jeans I was wearing ten years ago …bonus as I have too many clothes to bother with multiple sizes . I weigh the same as I did when I was 20 as well (admittedly it may not be in the same place. I call this shape shifting). 
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I started heavy duty on the aerobics when I was diagnosed with very high cholesterol levels while still in my twenties. I tried the low fat diet but diet is a four letter after all and that was not working for me as I LOVE TO EAT. I had read an article that aerobic exercise increased the HDL’s (good cholesterol) in your system and therefore lowers the overall ratio of your cholesterol. I actually managed to bring my levels from a  ratio of 6 to less than 3 over a period of twenty years.
 
In 2008, I suffered a serious cervical spinal cord injury and was unable to continue many of the exercises, duration or levels that I had previously performed. Aerobics were out of the question due to compression on the spine. I was limited to use of the elliptical, the bike , leg weights and have been in physical therapy for seven years for my neck and arms.  Prior to that, I was considered to be pretty “ripped”.
My daughter, granddaughter, and I

My daughter, granddaughter, and I

 
There are days that I feel wobbly, off-balance , tired and in pain but I keep trucking to the gym (at off times with all the other 90 year olds). Just kidding, I am only 54 …I just feel like I am 90 and the 90 years olds do give me moment’s of pause because I do not want them to fall over on me and hit my neck. I try to always stay conscious of my environment as personal trainers may be tossing balls around with clients and I stay out of harms way. So my answer is go when it is quiet but keep going.
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Even though I am suffering a disability, there is not one of my doctors who tells me to discontinue. My body is riddled with arthritis from various accidents and a genetic predisposition and they tell me to keep moving or I will get stiffen up. I was recently away for three months which is the longest time in all these years that I have been without a gym. If anyone read my previous post, they know this was a dastardly winter and I made do with the elliptical and walking in the snow as much as I could. 
 
I am back at the gym and starting over. When I saw my neurologist recently, that was the first thing he advised me to do. Plus, I still eat whatever I want, whenever I want (yea ..some people hate me for that). Remember, mind over matter and never give up. And as always, stay hungry and fit!

Want to Increase Your Willpower?

One of the most simplest yet most effective core exercise requires more willpower than it does strength (although that certainly helps, too). What am I talking about? The Plankof course! When I train clients, I experience more people dropping out due to sheer loss of willpower rather than muscle fatigue. Because it’s hard to fatigue your core. Although some people do go until their muscles fail, which is something I absolutely admire. You can tell when this happens–the entire body will start to shake and they will fall on their face. Admirable. But go ahead, try a plank real quick, go as long as you can. Notice how you kind of get bored and your willpower muscle starts to fail? Let’s change that.

Planking--keep it tight!

So I challenge you to try to do a plank every day for the rest of the year. Train your willpower (and your core), bat down your boredom and focus on strength and discipline. I believe and I know through experience that practicing the plank over and over is the true way to increasing your willpower enough to actually plank until muscle fatigue. Who’s with me?! Plank every day to stay hungry and fit!

  • Question of the day: Which exercise do you find you stop doing out of boredom/lack of willpower rather than muscle fatigue?

BONUS…SNAKE PIC

Dovah being silly

Dovah being silly

How to Complete a Transformation Contest (I Did It!!)

So this is less of a “how-to” and more of a “I-freaking-did-it” post. And this is even less of a “I’m-gonna-win” and more of a “I-made-it-through” post. I think you’re getting the picture. But you can still pick up some tips from my journey. Don’t worry, I’m not going to write Day 1: I cried for lack of cheese. No, no, but an overall view of the contest and my journey through it. Let me start by saying that I, an already-fit personal trainer, dropped 6.5% body fat and 10 pounds. Anyone can do anything they put their mind to. That’s what I love about humans, we can always adapt to become stronger, better than what we are. This may be a long post, but it for me it was a long journey (that I can’t believe is over). You can skip to the end for tips or take a few minutes and read the whole thing.

Back shots, before and after

Back shots, before and after

If you aren’t sure what contest I’m talking about, read this briefly. I completed a 6-week (plus a 10-day cleanse before that) “Strong to the COR” transformation contest. It was sponsored by Cellucor, a popular supplement company. The grand prizes for one male and female are 10k a piece along with supplements, apparel, and a free cruise. Sounds pretty nice. But I wasn’t in to win. I know that sounds bad. I was in it to win it for myself and complete it all the way for myself, but I had an inkling I wasn’t going to win as other females came in weighing 200lbs with 30%+ body fat percentage. Much easier for them to complete a transformation than a 135lbs, 20/22% body fat percentage gal like me. And 6-weeks isn’t a proper time for a true transformation, most contests include bulking and cutting that consist of maybe 6 months. But here I am, coming in at a fit weight and body fat to prove to myself that I can do anything.

For the "before" pics, we tried to get me as messy as possible and push my stomach out as much too!

For the “before” pics, we tried to get me as messy as possible and push my stomach out as much too!

And I made it to the very last day. Despite vacations (ice cream, you are my downfall), dinners out, and moving, I stayed on track for the most part. Sure, I did have ice cream in Iowa on vacation, sure I did have a slice of homemade pizza, but I stuck to my macros. And I killed it with my workouts. For the last 3 weeks of contest, I used Ashley Conrad’s 21-Day Clutch Cut. Basically, shredding workouts in addition to the clean-eating I was doing. Her program consisted of HIIT (high-intensity interval training) that was slowly built up (last week was awesome torture) and strength circuits to keep the heart rate up and the body strong. She put in rest days, but I wasn’t so good at listening to those. I always had to do something, even if it was a trail run with the dog we were taking care of.

Mid-workout

Mid-workout

Around Week 3, right around/before I started the 21-Day Cut, I started to feel not as focused, not as dedicated. I was still killing it with the workouts, but my eating habits were slipping. I was still sticking to my perfected clean-eating, but I started to pick at bad foods. That’s my bad habit. My friends all know this—I pick at things. Which is one of the reasons I wrote this post. After I slapped myself into shape, I really buckled down with the eating. Sure I’d pick here and there once in awhile, but when I saw Hope Solo diving across my screen, I knew that it wasn’t worth it to mess around. Chris always says, “Keep your eye on the prize.” And I did, and it helped. I started seeing results, my back became beastly and my abs visible.

Actually developing some abs

Actually developing some abs

The last week and a half was my super clean-eating, low-carb, high-fat week. This was probably the most monotonous with meals, but I was okay with it. I was in it to win it (not ACTUALLY win it…but you know what I mean!), and there was no room to mess around. I went longer on my circuits, harder on my HIIT, and cleaner with my nutrition. Peeling hard-boiled eggs became my bane. My meals normally consisted of tuna, avocado, eggs, nuts, protein shakes and hot sauce. And I made it work. No actual carbs, but I would get them from things like vegetables and such. I really started seeing the results by this time and I turned in to a lean, mean egg-white-eating machine. And I made it all the way to the very last day, even though we were moving the last 2 days that made it tough to squeeze workouts in.

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I couldn’t have done it without support. Every step of the way, Chris was there to push me on and catch me if I fell. He was a great coach (even though he never thinks so). He provided me with meal plans and workouts before Ashley Conrad, and supported and encouraged me to just finish that last circuit. It helps to live with your coach, and he really made the difference for me. As did my friends, and family (whenever I talked to my dad, he would cheer me on and say he’s behind me the whole way)–jeez, I have a great ring of support. I would text my friends in anguish during my workouts and they would tell me to finish that last set, that I would regret if I didn’t and they would send me strange picture messages through emotes (COUGH—Kathleen).

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What did I do on Monday, the day of contest completion? WENT CRAZY. Just kidding…kinda. My stomach had felt a little weird from eating bread the night before (carb loading to fill out my muscles for pictures), so I didn’t feel like having a huge breakfasts. I greased myself up, did some exercises to pump up my muscles, and Chris photographed me in my poses. We went to Spruce Confections, our favorite bakery, and got warm croissants. Mmmm! I can’t describe how good it was to have one.

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I went through the day not feeling great after eating a brownie, some yogurt, and peanut butter. I shocked my system a little too much. Once I ate some Wahoo’s tacos, I felt better—real food helps, I think. For dinner, my cousins, my cousin’s boyfriend, Chris, and I went to our favorite Italian place in town to get a wonderful dinner. We were seated outside and just had a great time—I got pesto gnocchi. However, I couldn’t fill up too much because Chris had challenged me that I couldn’t eat a pint of Glacier cookies and cream ice cream. Who are we kidding, does he know who I am? So after that Italian feast, we headed to Glacier and I finished the pint in 12 minutes. That’s right, I always make my Powell family line proud (we are known for our love of ice cream). Not to say I felt great afterwards (rather, I’m still feeling the effects of dairy, which I hadn’t had for at least a month, sitting in my stomach 12 hours after), but it was fun to finish and celebrate with family and friends.

Tacos

Tacos

Gnocchi

Gnocchi

photo 3 (19)

Megan caught stealing my food

Megan caught stealing my food

Nice view from the table

Nice view from the table

Gettin ready to CHOW DOWN

Gettin ready to CHOW DOWN

 

Start of ice cream

Start of ice cream

BEASTED IT

BEASTED IT

So what the heck should you learn from this? How to complete a transformation contest

  • Find a support network. Whether that means your partner, your friends, your family, even online—find that support group. On bodybuilding.com (where this contest was hosted), there was a forum for all of us doing the contest, and there were loads of supportive people all helping each other to make it to the end. You may think this is all about your body, but you need support to keep going.

  • Find a meal plan that works for you. I happen to enjoy nuts, eggs, tuna, and avocado—but maybe you don’t. It was tough for me being a vegetarian on a bodybuilder’s diet (it’s much easier with meat), but I made it work. If you aren’t sure what to eat, search online for resources, ask a trainer, nutritionist, or someone you know that’s into the fitness industry.

  • Don’t only do cardio. This is a transformation. It’s not just about weight loss. You want to build muscle. If I had no muscle, I would look pretty horrible. My muscle is what makes me look good, what makes me stand out, and look strong. And I am strong Stronger than I look too. You do cardio, you’re just going to run your butt literally off and have no structure to your body. Incorporate strength training and cardio.

  • Don’t starve yourself. I know you want to win. I know you want to see a difference in your body. Starving yourself is not the way to go, see the point above: you won’t build muscle, you won’t look good. Don’t become a stick, it’s not very attractive, and people who lead transformation contests do not appreciate it. They appreciate muscle, definition, toning, and HEALTHY effort.

  • Give yourself some breathing room. It’s okay not to be on the ball every single second—especially if it’s a 6-week contest! I wish we could all be paid to do these contests, but we’re real people with real lives and real work. Things come up, you may not be able to hit every set of that workout you wanted or you may have to scarf something down on the go. Maybe you go to a family reunion and can’t resist Grandma’s strawberry pie—it’s okay. One cheat meal isn’t going to kill you. Breathe, and continue on.

  • Count your macros. Working out is important to build muscle and lose fat—of course! It’s a big part of this transformation process. However, without proper nutrition, all that hard work isn’t going to go too far. Check this post out to learn more about macronutrients and comment if you have more questions. If you count your calories, carbohydrates, fats, and protein, you will be fine in the eating realm. It comes down to pure science, and there’s something beautiful about that. Stick to your macros and you will see a difference.

  • Keep your eye on the prize. Like Chris said—this is so important. Want to pick at the brownies you just made for everyone? Keep your eye on the prize. Weigh decisions. Is it actually worth it to eat that piece of cake or lick of frosting? Probably not. Reject those animal impulses and use that willpower muscle. It’s my favorite muscle.

  • Measure yourself every week. I might’ve thought I wasn’t making any progress, but then I had my fellow trainers measure me and I was seeing the body fat drop. We are hardest on ourselves so get the real hard facts of the progress you are making through your hard work.

  • Focus on the positive. This could be one of the most important things. I’m very hard on myself, and sometimes I can get negative with how hard I’m working. This is bad. We don’t want to be negative about ourselves because it will lower our motivation level. Look at the positive things that you’ve done—you actually got to your workout, you resisted that candy, and you are staying on track. Don’t look at the negative—it’s not going to help anyone.

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So here I am, at the end of 6 weeks, transformed and happy. I’m proud of myself for going all the way and happy with my results. It has felt like a long journey, and I learned new things about myself. But now I’m wondering…what’s next? Compete in a contest to stay hungry and fit!

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My Hell Week is Over

Disclaimer: I would never suggest this “diet” to anyone else. For me, it was just a willpower test I’ve wanted to try. I am highly against crash or fad diets.

Second Disclaimer: This is kind of a long post, but only because it means a lot to me.

I did it. I did it! I did it! If you’re wondering why I’m seemingly raving mad right now, direct yourself to this postIf you don’t feel like reading the whole thing (even though it’s short), I’ll give you a little summary. I did a crazy thing of subjecting myself to 7 days of 560 caloric hell. The actors from Spartacus did this to get lean and in slave-gladiator-like shape for their show. It was a prescribed four water protein shakes a day. That’s it. For an entire week. And that was while they were at “Gladiator Camp” doing 4 hours of combat work each day. I unfortunately had no such camp to attend, so every other day I completed the hellish Spartacus Circuit (3 times over). And on the other days, I did other cardio and strength exercises.

Working hard during a Spartacus circuit

Working hard during a Spartacus circuit

So last Wednesday I forwent food, subsisting on only 4-5 protein shakes a day (water mixed with protein powder). If any of you know me, I am hungry most of the time. Why do you think we named this blog Hungry and Fit? I didn’t choose to do this to lose weight or lose inches (even though I am doing this contest), I did it for the sole sake of testing my willpower. And I did it. I didn’t touch any food for that entire week though I drooled and craved it constantly. I’m waiting for someone to send me my “Willpower Extraordinaire” plaque, but I guess it takes time to mail.

My only sustenance

I am very proud of myself and happy I pushed through. Water, gum, and ice are the three material things that really helped me get through it. Oh, and video games. Thanks, nerdy side of myself, for helping me get lost in that while I wasn’t working out or working. More than those, Chris and friends really supported me. Chris was there for me every step of the way and my friends would text me each morning say, “Alana, still staying strong?!” I appreciated it more than they know. Because I was definitely an infinitely more grumpy person during that week. You can especially ask Chris, but also my workmates like Daisy or Kim too.

How I felt

How I felt

Again, I would not suggest this to anyone. After only consuming 560 calories a day, working out every day, and continuing an active-paced job, I lost ten pounds (I know my mum is yelling at me right now back home). Ten pounds in a week is NOT GOOD. Listen to me, I’m a trainer. That’s what you call a bad crash diet. Again, I want to reiterate, I did it for the willpower test, because for me, I think at the end of the day, if you don’t have your willpower, you don’t have anything. It was extremely rough the first few days–who am I kidding, it was rough for the entirety, but I started getting used to not consuming food. However, by the end, my body was pretty mad at me, making me a little sick and weak. Again–DON’T do this. I’m just sharing my achievement. It ended up de-motivating me for my contest because I was so miserable without food and feeling weak.

"Before"

“Before”

"After"

“After”

I’m showing you pictures of how my body slightly transformed, not as motivation, but to document how this affected me.

You can imagine how blissfully amazing this day of rebirth into food has been (if you think I’m being dramatic, blame my dad, he’s an actor). I had my meals planned days in advance (because what do you do when you can’t eat? You think about food!). I was in such a better mood than I had been all week and I was just happy because I did it. I accomplished something I had wanted to for a long time now. I’m all for celebration, but I’m still on track for this contest. And although today is a “cheat” day (you’ll get descriptions and pictures after this of my meals today), I’m going right back to strict eating of lean proteins, veggies, fruits, and complex carbohydrates to get to my “extremely fit” goal with Chris at my back as a coach.

This wasn’t even close to my cheat day before the Spartacus Hell Week (in terms of bad food), but it was cheat enough for me because it was real, beautiful FOOD. Let’s look at the menu.

For Breakfast: Dot’s Diner

Small House Breakfast...that's fake meat

Small House Breakfast…that’s fake meat

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I really tried slowly eating, but you can’t understand my excitement and happiness. I ate most of it, but not the whole biscuit. Stomach felt funky for a few hours, but it just needs to get used to solids again.

For Lunch: Snarf’s 

Tuna sandwich...mmmm

Tuna sandwich…mmmm

Face of bliss

Face of bliss

The mouth-watering in this situation happened to be ridiculous. Again, tried to take my time. 

For Dinner: Korea House

Korea House in its amazingness...we would eat here every night if we could afford it

Korea House in its amazingness…we would eat here every night if we could afford it

Happy last meal

Happy last meal

I wasn’t going to (or supposed to) have any thick dairy like milk or ice cream, but we were served it by our favorite Korean chef and we always put respect, honor, and morals before anything else.

All in all, I’m glad I did it. I’m proud of myself. But I will never do it again.  I only wish to inspire people to try to reach higher and higher, because you never know what you’re capable of. Wish me luck on the rest of my 5 weeks til the end of the contest! Going to be on an eating plan of tuna, beans, rice, vegetables, grapefruit, banana, fish and oatmeal! Use your willpower to stay hungry and fit!

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The Best Test of Willpower

If you read my post yesterday, you’ll know that I’m doing a contest to transform myself (from fit to extremely fit) and see how strong and lean I can make my body. I started off with a 10-day cleanse, a cheat day, and now Hell Week begins. Again, here is my bodyspace. This is when I need the most support. When the days look bleak and I’m not looking forward to much at all. When my stomach begins eating itself.

I’m not a fan of fad diets. And this isn’t a fad diet, it’s getting my body to a certain point where I can then maintain it for the next 5 weeks or so with lean proteins, veggies, and complex carbohydrates. But even before I knew about this contest, I wanted to do this challenge. I wanted it primarily for the ultimate willpower test. Now you’re probably screaming, “What ‘diet’ are you talking about!” Check this video out, don’t worry, it’s only 2-3 minutes long and it’s a lot of fun.

My “diet” is based on the actors who trained for Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the Starz series, the original series with the late Andy Whitfield. 4 water-protein shakes a day. That’s it. And that was all the while doing 4 hours of “Gladiator Camp”–which I would love to do, but it’s damn tough. To get lean and mean. I got my protein powder from tigerfitness.com (Machine Whey Powder) which Chris recommended as one of the best protein powders, especially for this task (and similar to what they used).  So this is what I’m doing: four or five (alternating each day) protein shakes, which is just protein powder and water. That’s it. For seven days. 

The protein I'm using

The protein I’m using

I just completed Day 1 and it feels like a century. 4 water protein shakes spaced roughly four hours apart. The first five hours and last five hours were the toughest. However, I was able to complete a 1.64 mile trail run with a dog and a 1.5 hour arms workout. Not bad, but again, it was rough and miserable. Any food sounds good. I use water and gum to curb my constant hunger. This is a willpower test and I can do it. I know I can. I want to see how far I can push myself. Like I said, I wanted to do this before I even knew about the contest just to test my willpower. 

Trail run

Trail run

So here I go, eating like Spartacus and also training somewhat like him (doing Spartacus workouts). I’m looking at 4-5 water protein shakes a day for the next 6 days. Every smell and glance of food will tempt me, but I will stay strong. This will keep me hungry and fit! 

My only sustenance

My only sustenance

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Motivation Monday: What Will Happen if You Keep Going?

You’ll get stronger. Sometimes it’s tough to keep going, day after day, with workouts, with progress, with fighting towards your goal. We know. Many times we’ve gotten knocked down, but we push ourselves back up. We understand how tough it is to keep all that fight going, but let me tell you, it is worth it. Don’t give up.

One of my inspirations

A question I would always ask isWhat’s going to happen if I keep going?” It is a question I would often ask during workouts with friends I would lead. A way to keep them (and I) going. When our lungs are burning, our legs are aching, and our muscles are screaming at us to stop. But what if we keep going? We get stronger. Hard work, persistence, willpower always pays off.

Chris' inspiration for a body goal from when he was little--good old Conan

Chris’ inspiration for a body goal from when he was little–good old Conan

So when you’re on the last leg of your run, when you’re on the second to last rep of that squat press, or just have one more lap of swimming to complete–think of this question:

What will happen if you keep going? You will get stronger.

Cheers! And as always, stay hungry and fit!