<![CDATA[Center Stage Figures and Physiques - Blog]]>Thu, 15 Feb 2018 05:45:54 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[WHAT DEFINES A LEADER and HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?]]>Sun, 13 Aug 2017 21:34:42 GMThttp://centerstagefiguresandphysiques.com/blog/what-defines-a-leader-and-how-do-you-define-successPicture
Yesterday while I was at a competition, I ran into several people I've coached over the years, that I haven't seen in a while. Our interactions got me thinking...
I've been in the industry for a bit (12 years to be exact) and coaching for 9 of those. Over the years, I've seen many of the athletes I have coached go on to be successful athletes and successful coaches themselves.
I'm not gonna lie...once upon a time I got all kids of butt-hurt when someone "left me" to 1) to to another coach or 2) decide to become coaches themselves.
I thought they owed me something. I thought they should give me credit for helping them along the way. I thought I was somehow unsuccessful in the sense that they didn't want to "stay with me" and instead wanted to branch out on their own.
There were MANY (and still are unfortunately) that I did not think were qualified to be coaches; but then there are many who have become amazing coaches in their own right. The truth is...we ALL have to start somewhere.
In all my years in leadership working for DoD and other Federal Agencies, I learned that a successful leader is one who inspires others to be successful. Successful leaders encourage others to be successful without them. Successful leaders WANT others be successful without them.
When you lead, mentor and coach someone who becomes successful in their life; whether it be on stage, in their career, establishing their own businesses, or in anything....THAT MAKES YOU SUCCESSFUL!
Sure, it would be nice if EVERYONE you coached along the way publicly "thanked you" or told the world that they wouldn't have been "great without you." But the truth is that REAL LEADERS quietly understand the role they played in someone else's journey; and ultimately in their success. It's an internal sense of satisfaction.
So yesterday, at the show, I ran into many athletes that I once coached. Some hugged me and smiled, we chatted and they were genuine; I know I made a difference in their life. Others wouldn't so much as look at me and one even barely grunted at me with a hateful look. I relish the genuine moments I have with those I have coached and understand that they thank me quietly and most importantly, that I KNOW I played a part in their journey. 
It's not about how many PRO titles I helped them achieve. It's not about the wins. In fact some of my MOST successful athletes have NEVER won a show. I know that I can quietly relish in the fact that my leadership has helped to make others into successful business owners, athletes and coaches. This is MY win.
#teamcsfp #csfpcoaching #leadership #coach #mentor 

<![CDATA[Kitchen Gadget Hacks for Meal Prep]]>Tue, 08 Aug 2017 11:29:39 GMThttp://centerstagefiguresandphysiques.com/blog/kitchen-gadget-hacks-for-meal-prepRaindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens - these are a few of my favorite things...

Ok, maybe not the raindrops, roses and kittens...those wouldn't be all that useful in the kitchen! However, the gadgets I'm talking about here are ones I absolutely CANNOT live without when it comes to meal prep. As far as I'm concerned, every kitchen should have these essentials to help make your meal prep quick, easy and painless!

Egg Steamer
I struggled for YEARS trying to find the perfect way to boil eggs on the stove. I tried every method to achieve the perfect boiled egg (you know the one where the peal just falls off) to no avail. No matter what I tried, I'd end up losing half of my eggs and chunks off of what was left...and seriously frustrated! Then someone suggested I try an Egg Steamer. The first time I tried it I was immediately hooked! So much so that I bought two so I could cook more eggs at one time. EVERY time I use my egg steamer I have perfect eggs where, literally, the peal just falls off. It times the cooking perfectly for me based on how I want my eggs cooked (hard or soft boiled) so there's not thinking on my part. Set it and forget it! Most only cook 7 eggs at a time (although I've seen a few that do up to 12), but you can cook a few batches and have boiled eggs for easy grab and go protein throughout your week.

Microwave Steamer
I've had my Pampered Chef microwave steamer for over 15 years now and it's still going strong as one of my MOST used kitchen gadgets. We've had several other steamer gadgets in our kitchen such as: rice steamer, veggie steamer, etc. All were the type you had to plug in and took up tons of room. I've ditched all of the fancy electric steamers for just this one. I use this microwave steamer for everything from steaming potatoes to shrimp to veggies! I use it extensively for steaming shrimp because that's my latest obsession and the protein I like to eat every day. Keeping some steamed shrimp on hand is another great way to have grab and go protein that's enjoyable to eat cold just like boiled eggs.

Slow Cooker/Crockpot
I know the latest and greatest these days is to use the "Insta Pots" but I haven't gotten around to testing those out yet. However, until I get there, I'm still enamored with my slow cooker. The slow cooker has been my SAVING GRACE for meal prep AND family dinners for as long as I can remember. As far as I'm concerned NO kitchen should be without one of these. The options for cooking mass quantities of protein (and even veggies and starches) are endless! No matter what yummy protein source you put in, it always comes out moist, tender and delicious! Some of my favorite go-to's are shredded bbq chicken breast, asian lean beef and broccoli, Italian chicken thighs, pork tenderloin and lean beef stew. This is another set it and forget it gadget. Add your protein, your seasoning and in 4-6 hrs you have protein for the week!

Veggie Spiraler
If you're having to low-carb it for a period of time, there's nothing like having "veggie noodles" to fill the gap. There are a lot of fancy veggie spiralers out there these days, but I still have the "old-fashioned" hand-held one like below. You can spiral everything from zucchini and squash to cucumbers and carrots. If you need a low-carb option for your next spaghetti night, try spiraling your veggies in lieu of pasta! 

Digital Food Scale (duh)
As we all know by now, if you aren't controlling/monitoring your caloric intake, you won't make the progress you are aiming to make! "You can't change what you can't measure" holds true here as it does with many things in life. Whether you're on a meal plan or flexible dieting, weighing, measuring and tracking your intake is the #1 way to ensure progress and consistency. In fact, when I work with clients, I advise them to weigh/measure using the scale (oz/grams) instead of cups/spoons, etc. because it's FAR more accurate that way. The food scale is the MOST ESSENTIAL meal prep/food tracking tool for EVERY kitchen!

Muffin Pan
Muffin pans offer a wide variety of options for the meal prep-er in you! You can make mass quantities of things like egg muffins, protein muffins, meatloaf muffins, etc. So many options and recipes galore for this handy little kitchen gadget! Making pre-portioned "muffins-versions" of foods is another great grab-n-go option for busy folks trying to stay on top of being prepared with their foods. It's easy to make a bunch and freeze for use throughout the week, when traveling, etc. I recently switched to a silicone version of the muffin pan and I'm soooo happy I did! No more sticking to my tin bakeware...but of course the choice is yours. And a side note...another great option for this is the "loaf pan" where you an make several larger versions of the same meals into loaves!

So....there you have it. These are MY go-to kitchen gadget essentials that keep me and my meals prepared! So many ways to have grab-n-go options that are tasty and easy to prepare when you're a busy food prep-er just trying to reach your goals.

Stay tuned for my next blog - "CSFP Food Hacks for Meal Prep" and my favorite things to ensure every meal is as palatable as it is healthy!

For more information on Team CSFP coaching for training, nutrition and posing check us out online: www.centerstagefiguresandphysiques.com or follow us on IG @csfpcoach or @teamcsfp and on Facebook at ​www.facebook.com/CenterStageFiguresandPhysiques/
<![CDATA[From Boohoos to Badassary]]>Wed, 15 Feb 2017 18:19:22 GMThttp://centerstagefiguresandphysiques.com/blog/from-boohoos-to-badassHow to go from "why me" to "try me" when shit gets hard.
My strategies for overcoming adversity, illness and injury – or basically anything that sucks!

​As most of you already know, I’m sitting here (literally sitting) recovering from what seems like my hardest surgery/injury yet.  I’m on orthopedic surgery number seven in fewer than 20 years so you’d think I’d be used the recovery and rest period by now. But low and behold, this has been a serious gut punch for me; the true difficulty of it all was just unexpected. This girl needs to get back to being badass with the quickness!
Many of you may have already seen my Facebook Live video from last week where I bared my soul to everyone about how hard I’d been struggling. Hell, I even shed a few tears and opened myself up to the world; or at least the FB world of those that follow me. If you missed it, be sure to catch all of my soul baring, heat-wrenching boo-hoo fest here.
It’s funny actually; so many people tell me I’m brave for sharing my struggles so publicly the way I do. Maybe I am brave, who knows. I know it’s hard for most to be vulnerable at all let alone in a public venue. But the truth is, sharing my story is what helps me get through hard times. Knowing that I am possibly helping someone else who may be struggling with the same or something similar…THAT is MY therapy! So, yeah, there’s a selfish aspect to it I guess, but ultimately, this just all falls into my passion for coaching and to be the very best coach I can be, opening myself up and exposing my vulnerabilities is one of the best qualities I think I can offer a client, or a friend, or maybe even just a random social media stranger.
If you don’t have time to catch up on the video, here’s a recap for you:
  • I’m an athlete and coach (duh) recovering from surgery, on crutches, unable to do much of anything in order to maintain my badass credentials.
  • I’m an addict and my drug of choice is the endorphin rush I get from training. Being able to be physical, get my heart rate up and workup a sweat are the things that make me feel like a badass. I’m in a better mood; I’m a better mom, wife and coach. I NEED my fix! I need to push my physical limits and I can’t.
  • I’m going through withdraw now because I haven’t been able to train at all since surgery two weeks ago. I can’t do anything to get my heart rate up, or work up a sweat. There are no endorphins or adrenaline.  I don’t have my fix. I am suffering from badass withraw.
  • I suffer from depression. I realized in 2007 after back-to-back surgeries to repair my torn bicep and labrum in my shoulder, that I suffer with bouts of depression. My lack of physical activity sent me into a tailspin. One, which took me over a year to overcome. Once I got through it and came out stronger on the other side, I swore I would never end up there again and would do everything in my power to avoid it; yet here I am, sitting on the ledge, with my former badass self, trying not to go over the edge.
So that pretty much sums up the video, which was incredibly cathartic in and of itself, but now it’s time to share what I’m actually doing about it and how I’m getting through it all.  I want to share with you, exactly how I’m going from boohooing to getting back to the business of badassary. While my specific struggles right now are related to recovering from my recent hip labrum surgery, these are strategies I have learned to use throughout my life and many different challenges. I use these same strategies when coaching clients as well. So here we go:

Positive Self-Talk 
This is the number one strategy for me. There’s a quote I saw once that said, “Positive people aren’t ones that never have negative thoughts, they just don’t let the negative thoughts run their lives.” I use this strategy with my clients quite a bit too. What people don’t realize is that THIS ONE IS THE HARDEST for most. We are always so quick to judge ourselves negatively, thinking that we must be perfect, and we forget to practice self-kindness. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend (something negative), why would you say it to yourself? Positive self-talk does NOT happen over night, and like with anything, it takes practice to become a habit. I have to practice this daily (sometimes hourly) as the negative committee comes knocking at my door. I literally (and sometimes out loud) have to have a conversation with myself and convince me that there is something positive in whatever the situation. For instance, when I’m feeling especially blue because I can’t do something, I remind myself of how much I’m going to inspire others with my recovery. When I come back (in my mind) better and more badass than ever, it’s going to inspire someone. So this little blip on my radar, it’s meant for a bigger purpose. Now, I may have to say this to myself over and over to actually believe it, but like I said, it takes practice. It’s not something that will come naturally or easily. But once you start, with consistency and practice it will become a habit, and soon you will find that you are suddenly as kind to yourself as you would be a friend. Your situation does NOT define who you are!

Ok, so I know I said my movement is seriously limited right now and it is, which is why this time has been so much harder for me. Last December I had shoulder surgery (again) and since I KNEW I wasn’t going to let myself slip into the “all or nothing” mentality and depression like I did in 2007, I was PREPARED to do whatever I could. I used to be so all or nothing that if I couldn’t train the way I wanted (lifting heavy ass shit) I would do nothing at all, and hence the depression set in. So last year, within two days after surgery, I was walking on the treadmill (arm in a sling), or walking outdoors when the weather was nice, and within a week I was riding my spin bike one armed. A few weeks later, arm still in a sling, I was squatting and doing what I could with one arm and my legs. THIS HELPED KEEP ME SANE! So, I thought, well this hip surgery would be no different. I WAS PREPARED for this one the way I was last year. Except…I didn’t realize exactly how hard it would be to get around on crutches. The last time I was on them, was for a knee surgery in my very early 20s (20 yrs ago), and I only required them for about a week. This time, life is much busier than in my 20s and there is so much more to do that simply cannot be done on crutches. Have you ever tried to carry a cup of coffee on crutches or show someone how to bikini or figure pose??? I seriously underestimated my ability to have movement. Oh and to top it all off, because I also had an injection in my AC joint of my shoulder, I had to be careful how much time I spent on the crutches so as not to tweak the shoulder more. That said, I’m still getting in WHATEVER I can. This includes a whopping 20 min on my spin bike with NO tension and physical therapy exercises; absolutely nothing that gets my heart rate up or makes me sweat. I literally have to drag myself out to my garage gym to do these things. I hate them. They remind me of what I CAN’T do and what I’d rather be doing. But the point is, I FUCKING DO IT! This falls right in hand with the positive self-talk from above. I have to talk myself into doing this every day. It doesn’t come easy and I don’t like it. But I do it. Movement is movement and I know that this is what I must to in order to survive and not fall off the depression ledge. So do whatever you are able because anything is better than nothing!

Eat Well and Be Well
Look, I’m the first one to admit that I like to eat my emotions when I’m sad; and this particular struggle has been no different. However, I’m still ensuring that I’m taking care of my body with the nutrients that it needs to heal. Whether recovering from an injury, or just something else that’s really fucking hard, your body needs GOOD FOOD to help it thrive and heal. Eating crap will only make you feel more like crap, especially if you can’t get that movement in the way you want to. I didn’t decide (this time unlike in 2007) to just turn my boohhoo into a binge fest too. How is additional weight that I have to lose post recovery going to help me feel any better? It isn’t, so I’m watching my nutrition to ensure that doesn’t happen, at least not too much. Now, the other part of this, the “Be Well” part, for me that does take into account a little emotional eating here and there; and that’s ok with moderation. I allow myself the things that, for the moment, make me feel better: potato chips, peppermint patties and the occasional french fries or wine. The key to allowing myself to have some emotional eating without the guilt is being very mindful about it. I am very purposely and strategically allowing myself to have these treats, pretty much every day, because they are foods that fuel my emotions and my soul, just like the other foods I eat fuel my body, as an emotional being, these are equally necessary to me. BUT IT CAN’T GET OUT OF CONTROL! If you fall into the guilt of eating something, “bad,” this goes against the number one rule of positive self-talk. It’s OK to have some treats that make you feel good, but it’s NOT ok to feel bad about it. ALL FOOD HAS A PURPOSE! If you are mindful about what you are doing with your nutrition, it can be a powerful tool in your recovery.

Flex Your Inner Strength Muscles 
Yes, I know it sucks and the emotions that come with it are the worst. But I have to let myself grieve. It’s OK to be pissed at the world. It’s ok to be sad. It’s OK to cry and be angry and frustrated. It’s OK to cuss, kick and scream. It’s OK to FEEL emotions. I have to get it out and then move on; I can’t let it linger into something (depression) that it doesn’t need to be. This, once again, goes back to #1 (positive self-talk) in that I have to be kind to myself and know that it does NOT make me weak because I am sad, angry and on the verge of tears most of the time. Giving myself permission to FEEL the emotions, embracing them for the moment and then moving on is what gives me strength. Strong people are not the ones who never cry or share their emotions; in fact it’s just the opposite. It takes some serious strength and courage to allow myself to be vulnerable in the moments when I need to be. I feel, reflect and learn from these moments; these are the moments where my inner strength muscles are making “gainz.” Just like flexing my muscles in the gym, flexing my inner strength muscles are equally necessary to my mental health survival. I feel it, and then move on, I don’t wallow in those negative emotions for very long. With every struggle comes increased strength and with every set back there’s a opportunity for a comeback. I have to embrace the suck change the recording in my head rom “why me,” to “try me,” in order to get back to the business of badassary.

Find Your Inspiration and Motivation 
It’s super hard to stay motivated when I am feeling like my body is broken and I can no longer do the things I love. It’s tempting to feel like I’m somehow how less of a person because I can no longer be a badass. I go through this nearly every day at some point. When things get really tough, as corny as it sounds, I search out motivational quotes. I have a few that are my favorites; I keep these close and read and re-read them often. I also use music quite a bit as inspiration when I’m feeling especially blue. I have an entire playlist of “inspirational” music where the lyrics speak to me and help to uplift me. I’ll often use the inspiration music playlist for those moments when I hate my physical therapy exercises because it’s not all “beast mode” like I want it to be. Sometimes, we just need a little extra encouragement from an external source to boost us back into badassary.

Find a New Focus
If you’re suffering through an injury that has you sidelined with not much to do (physically), like me, find something to do that challenges you mentally. If you’ve wanted to take a class, or read a book, or anything you don’t normally have the time to do; now is the time to do it! I’ve spent much of my down time working on business things that require me to be sedentary and on the laptop. Things I can never seem to get to when I’m working with clients in person on a regular basis or out and about running errands. As much as I HATE sitting still, I’m doing my very best to make good use of the time that I’m forced to sit. I find that having a new focus or goal during my recovery time has helped, even if just a little, in distracting me from the fact that I “can’t” do the things I want to. I’m currently studying up on how to be even more badass!

I know this can be the hardest thing to do for many. It goes hand in hand with embracing the suck and flexing my inner strength muscles. We are programmed to “not feel” or “not show weakness and vulnerability.” After all, athletes are STRONG; we eat weakness for breakfast right? Whether you share with someone close to you, or the social media world, or maybe even just with yourself by means of journaling, sharing enables you to verbalize instead of internalize. I’ll admit, as open a person as I am, it can be hard for even me to show my emotions to clients; to share with them that I struggle and that even the strong Mama T feels weak and vulnerable sometimes. It doesn’t make me less of a coach or a weak woman; in fact it’s quite the opposite. It makes me real and helps those around me see that we ALL struggle. If can share a part of myself with others to help them through something they may be struggling with, this gives me the opportunity to make me a better coach and really, just a better human. And of course, it contributes to increased badassary.  

Look, I’m not a doctor or therapist (although I might play one on TV), and these are not the be all end all of strategies that can be used to overcome adversity. But I can tell you that these are tried and true strategies that I consistently rely upon to get through even the toughest of situations. Yes, I’ve related this to my recovery from surgery, but I fall back to these often when life throws me curveballs.  I won’t lie; my emotions are still all over the place. I have kinda good days, and some really bad days; and I still feel sad and helpless sometimes, but when I do, I give myself a good ole fashioned “inner bitch slap,” use one or more of my strategies, and get back to the business of being badass! If I can do it, you can too!

Mama T

<![CDATA[Where One Journey Ends - Another Begins....]]>Thu, 09 Jun 2016 23:39:01 GMThttp://centerstagefiguresandphysiques.com/blog/where-one-journey-ends-another-beginsPicture
Wow, I seriously cannot believe tomorrow is my last day working for the federal government. It’s been such a long time coming, with so many moments where I never thought it would get here, that I can’t believe it’s actually here – and it’s less than 24 hrs away!
I’ve been thinking about putting my thoughts and feelings into words for weeks now, but for some reason just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Maybe it’s because putting it on paper (or social media) makes it REALLY real.
Tomorrow marks the end of my 15-year government career. I’ve spent time at the US Patent and Trademark Office, the Smithsonian, and the Dept. of Defense. I’ve been very successful in my career, despite not finishing college, or maybe rather in SPITE of not finishing college. I worked my butt off moving from contractor to government, starting at a GS-7 salary and working my way through the ranks where I will end my career as a GS-14. I’ve worked with great leaders and have had the opportunity to lead others. I’ve had struggles and challenges, but through it all, I learned and grew into the dedicated civil servant that I am. I loved working for Dept. of Defense. I believe in our mission and it was at least a small way I could give back to my country; having never been in the military, this was my way of giving back. It’s been a great road; leaving is bittersweet.
During my 15-years with the government, some pretty amazing things happened to me. I married my soul mate and partner in crime, Eric, gave birth to an amazing little boy, Nik, and discovered the sport of natural bodybuilding. During my own competition career, I met an amazing woman, Mary Bell, who was not only my coach and mentor, but also became one of my dearest friends. In 2008, she took a chance on me and asked me to take over coaching on the East coast as she moved across the country. That first year, I had 5 clients. I was a nervous wreck as I was learning “on the job,” discovering my own unique methods of coaching and using much of what I had learned from Mary. I must’ve done something right because somewhere in the last eight years, I have gone from 5 clients to over 250; this year alone we have helped 150 clients in some way, big or small. But this isn’t all about the business to me, the number of clients I have, or even how much money I make. Somewhere along the way, I discovered my true calling, my passion, my WHY I do what I do. I realized that I was not only helping these women look great on stage, but I was helping to empower them in every aspect of their lives. I watched them grow as athletes, women, wives, mothers, and business people – every aspect of their lives changed as they found their inner strength through the power of competing. Coaching was what I was meant to do!
It made sense really, as I’ve thought about this a lot recently – thinking of how my life has gotten me to this point. My childhood wasn’t always great, there was a lot of addiction and dysfunction; but somehow I managed to persevere. Perseverance is key here. I never look back on my childhood and think “why me?” Instead I think “thank you for making me stronger, giving me the ability to persevere when things get tough, and the internal strength to conquer any obstacle thrown in my path.” When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teacher or a veterinarian. I loved to teach, even back then. I always had a can-do attitude. My grandfather tells me, even now, that I was always one that was moving forward and wondering why others couldn’t get it together and move forward like me. Fast forward to my government career where I ended up in many teaching and coaching roles. I traveled the country training Patent Attorneys, I trained Smithsonian employees and coached and mentored in everything I’ve done with DoD. Coaching, teaching and training just seemed to come natural to me. It was truly what I was born to do. I overcame the odds against me in my childhood. I overcame the odds against me in the government with not having a college degree. I overcame the odds in my issues with binge eating disorder, body dysmorphia, depression and a plague of illness and injury along the way. I persevered and it has made me a better coach for it.
In the last 8 years, Center Stage Figures & Physiques has grown leaps and bounds. I’ve accomplished things I only ever dreamed I would do. If it weren’t for the amazing support and expertise of my business manager, Brandi, I know for certain I would not be here writing this right now. In the 3 years we’ve been working together, we’ve not only grown our clientele, but we’ve had 3 hugely successful seminars (with more on the way), 2 successful competitions (with another on the way), we’ve written and published a book, added training and nutrition to our already successful posing services and basically kicked butt with everything we did. It got hard, but we persevered.
I managed to do this all while continuing to sustain my government career, take care of my family, manage my own health and fitness (5 surgeries along the way), and coach hundreds of clients each year. It was hard; I sacrificed so much time with family and friends. I worked 7 days a week, often 15-hour days trying to get it all done and be everything to everybody. I almost quit several years ago, three to be exact. I decided it would be easier to just coach as a hobby and stop trying to build the business into something that could sustain me; it was just a pipe dream after all. Or at least I thought. I remember the night I posted a plea on Facebook. I asked people to tell me how I had impacted their lives and if I were to stop coaching, what that would mean to them. The response was overwhelming. I knew, right then and there, I had to do this. I had to make this work for all the women (and men) who depended on me, as well as for my own happiness, fulfillment and wellbeing. I’ve never looked back. I persevered.
So here I sit, 8 years after it all started. Tomorrow will be my last day working for the government. I am achieving the dream I have worked so hard for, yet it is still bittersweet. I have struggled this week trying to find the right emotions and what I should be feeling. I couldn’t find any, not excitement, not sadness, not nervousness, nothing. Then it hit me, the lack of emotion wasn’t lack of emotion at all, I was simply feeling a sense of calm. I am ready. I’ve never been so ready to do something in my life. It’s the right time, the right place, and simply the right thing to do. Of course I AM excited, nervous and even a little sad. But mostly, I’m calm. I have THE most amazing support system in my family, friends and clients. I know I will be successful, because it’s the right thing for me to do. Those around me know the WHY behind what I do. It’s never for the money or the glory or how many clients I can coach. It’s about bettering the lives of those around me. It’s about having some impact, no matter how big or small. It’s about inspiring others to search out their own passion. It’s about ensuring all women (and men) get the chance to find their own inner strength, outer strength, and perseverance.
If you’re still with me, thank you for reading this. Thank you for taking the time to share in my moment. Thank you to my amazing husband, Eric for all his support and patience and for sacrificing his own time with me, so that the women I coach could have my support. Thank you to Brandi who was able to take my vision of what I wanted to accomplish and make it a reality; this truly would not be possible without you. Thank you to Mary Bell, who, without her, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with the sport; her own passion for helping others is what set me on the path to this where I am now.  Thank you to my dear friend, Raima, for being my eternal sounding board, my sanity check, and for making me realize how much what I do means to people. Thank you to my amazing mother in law for all her help and support while Eric and I ran around with clients, she was there for our Nik. Thank you to all the friends that I never get to talk to or spend time with because I’m always working or with clients. Thank you to the family I rarely see. And last, but not least, thank you to all of the clients I’ve worked with over the years. Every one of you has had an impact on my life and has made a difference in where my journey would eventually take me. Thank you all for being on this journey with me. Guess what??? The journey is only beginning. Hang on tight – it’s gonna be a great ride!

Mama T

<![CDATA[How Will You Define Your Win?]]>Wed, 27 Apr 2016 15:23:02 GMThttp://centerstagefiguresandphysiques.com/blog/how-will-you-define-your-winBelow I share with you my 7 year competition journey and how I discovered it's never about what you win on the stage, and always about what you learn along the journey.
With so many of our clients preparing to hit the stage for spring shows, whether their first, third or 10th,I felt compelled to tell you all a little about my own competition journey. I realized, while having a heart to heart with a client about her recent placing in a show that many don’t know my competition journey and what it took for me to get to the top – and you may be surprised by what I mean by the top.
My first figure competition was in October 2005, the OCB Charm City Classic (which will always hold a special place in my heart). I stepped on stage just 18 months after having my son, with the help of the best mentor and posing coach a girl could ask for, Mary Bell with Center Stage Figures. I was READY to really kill it on that stage. I wanted to win, it wasn’t about being the best I could be, I really really wanted to win (I was a fresh-faced newbie who didn’t know better). And what made matters worse for me? I was one of those genetically blessed gals who was born with the propensity to put on muscle very easily. Although I had been training with weights since my early twenties, I didn’t really take it seriously until I was about 30 years old. And I can tell you I didn’t even think about doing nutrition the right way until I was trying to lose the 50 lbs I had gained while pregnant with my son. It also didn’t help that on social media (before Facebook, IG, Titter, etc.) I was the SHIT! We had a chat board back then for the OCB where many of us would post our workouts, what we ate every day, etc. I had many followers, and many people in my corner rooting for me, and of course telling me that they just new I WAS GOING TO WIN! They were well intentioned of course, but it set me up for some serious disappointment down the road.
Ok, but back to my first show…I was ready, so very ready. I had the best posing coach, the best suit designer (Kira with Vandella Costumes), the best nutritionist (I thought at the time), and of course the support of my family. Yup, I was ready. I hit that stage the most confident I had ever felt. I was the “go-to” girl backstage helping everyone else with their nerves. When the results were in, I had won my novice short class, then took the overall for the novice and placed 2nd in my open class (there was no debut back then).  While I was excited for winning novice and novice overall, I was a bit butt-hurt over losing in the open class. But looking back on photos, 2nd is what I deserved, so I quickly got past that and moved on to my 2nd show planned just a few weeks after. I WAS SUCCESSFUL STRAIGHT OUT OF THE GATE!
The 2nd show was SUPER small, only 17 competitors, but even though there were only three of us in our figure open class, it was pretty tough competition. I placed 2nd once again. I was a bit disappointed, but looking at the photos, I had to agree that I deserved 2nd. That ended my first “season” of competing.
The following spring, 2006, I had two shows planned. And with the success I had in my 1st two shows (1st novice, novice overall and 2 open 2nd place wins), I was SURE this was my time to win my pro-card (yes, having only competed in 2 shows…sound familiar?) Once again I felt on top of the world with so many people I was inspiring on social media (i.e. our chat board) and the support of my new nutrition coach and of course my posing coach and friend Mary Bell. My entire journey to the spring 2006 stage was me GOING FOR MY PRO CARD! 
My first show was a warm-up. I once again placed very well in my open class. 1st place, but I lost in the overall. Once again, while disappointed, I could see why I didn’t win that overall. And really, that was ok because the show I was really gunning for was the 2006 OCB Spirit of American up in Massachusetts. I had a whole team of folks behind me going into this show. Lots of friends I had made on that chat board, everyone was rooting for me. It was the BEST I HAD EVERY LOOKED (in 4 shows mind you..but I worked my ASS off for it). I was confident there was no one who had worked as hard as me or wanted it as badly as me…THIS WAS MY SHOW!
When it was all said and done, I received my worst placing to date (remember 4 shows) and came away with a 3rd place in my open class. I placed below a girl I had beaten the week before in the show where I took first. I felt the judging was unfair (in fact still do no matter how many times I look at those photos). When I came off stage I cried for the first time, I was deflated, disappointed, and wanted to quit. After all, there couldn’t have been anyone who worked as hard as me or wanted it as badly as me. This was supposed to be MY show!
That year, my sponsor encouraged me to compete in one show that fall, again the OCB Charm City Classic. Much of the feedback I would get from judges in my previous 4 shows was that I was so muscular I should do bodybuilding. Back then, the figure division wasn’t as muscular of a look as it is now. I reluctantly agreed, but bodybuilding was simply not where my heart was, I wanted to be a figure competitor….but if the judges were telling me I wasn’t the right fit for figure, I might as well give this a shot.
It was the WORST prep of my life. This was my 3rd season in a row competing, 5 shows in 12 months. I was beat up and worn out. I cheated throughout my prep on my diet, my cardio and my training. In fact, I would set my alarm to get up to do cardio in the morning, but would turn it off and go back to sleep. Eric got so mad at me that I would set it, get up, then go back downstairs to sleep so he would think I was doing my cardio. I HATED AND RESENTED every minute of that prep. I also hurt…everything hurt. I had nagging injuries that just wouldn’t go away. But I persevered and hit the stage in the 2006 OCB Charm City Classic in my women’s bodybuilding debut. I WON the whole show and earned my pro card in my very first time on stage as a bodybuilder.
Would it surprise you that I wasn’t even excited about it? I knew that 1) I had NOT done my best or brought my best package to the stage and 2) I won that show by default because the others on stage with me that day just weren’t up to par. I won because I was the least fat on stage….at least that’s they way I looked at it. I had cheated my way through my prep and felt horrible about the whole process. I simply could not get excited about my win or my new pro card. Bodybuilding just wasn’t what I really wanted and I didn’t EARN it the way I should’ve.
That following spring, 2007 was supposed to be my next season. Again, going for that elusive overall figure win and my pro-card. But those nagging injuries from the fall 2006 prep just wouldn’t go away. And in January of 2007, just as I had begun my prep for the spring shows, I found out I had a torn distal bicep tendon and a torn labrum, both in my left arm. Instead of spring shows, it was spring surgeries for me…two of them to be exact with nearly a year of physical therapy between them.
I fell into a deep depression after this. I was such a balls to the wall person that if I couldn’t do the heavy lifting workouts that I wanted to, I didn’t do anything. I literally did not go to the gym for over a year. My only training was with the 1-2 lb dumbbells in physical therapy. It was demoralizing and depressing to not be able to do what I had once done so easily. I ballooned up in weight to over 140 lbs (I competed at 108-110 lbs). So not only was I no longer able to lift the way I wanted, I felt horrible about how I looked. It’s embarrassing to go back to the gym looking out of shape when people in the gym have seen you looking your best. I no longer looked like that elite athlete that everyone ooggled over every time I stepped into the gym. I couldn’t lift like I had the last time I was in the gym. And the worst part is that I had built my ENTIRE INDENTITY around being a figure competitor…and now that I was no longer a competitor (because I was sidelined with injury), I had LOST MY IDENTITY. I was simply lost, depressed and “fat.” I don’t think I need to go into all the other emotions that come along with that, things like worthlessness, etc. You know where all of that leads.
But there was hope. Sometime in late 2008, it hit me. I had to pull my head out of my ass and get back on track. I gave myself what I call my  “inner bitch-slap” to get out of my funk and get back to being an athlete. I started at home; I was still too embarrassed to go to the gym as heavy as I was. I wanted to get a little bit back to myself before I entered the gym again. Once I got moving again, and started to feel more like myself and got back to the gym (now training around my repaired injuries – no more back squats for me due to my shoulder issues) I set my sights on shows in the fall of 2009.  In 2009 I decided to hit the NPC and the INBF stage for the first time. The INBF had just brought on the FitBody category (women’s physique in heels) and I was freaking thrilled to be able to wear my precious heels, glam up with jewelry, and hit poses that showed of my muscles. To me, this was the very best of both worlds and what I thought was the perfect fit for me and my body. First was the NPC show. It was small, again only about 17 competitors, I placed well – 2nd place again to a girl far more muscular than me, but I didn’t complain. Then I flew out to Sacramento to compete with my friend and mentor Mary Bell in my first INBF show. I competed in figure and fitbody that day. When the results where read, I was devastated to learn that  I had placed 4th in figure (my worst placing to date) and didn’t place AT ALL in fitbody.
This was a serious WTF moment for me, but also a turning point in my competition career. I had a complete 180 mental switch during the prep for this season and even following the show results. The 2009 season was about my COME BACK! What I had to overcome to get on stage that year was nothing short of a miracle (in my eyes). I had to fight through depression, injury and regaining my identity. This was also the year my son started kindergarten and we discovered his “special needs,” which was one of the most difficult times in our lives.
The moment I stepped off that stage in 2009, everything I felt about competing changed for me. I stopped thinking about the WIN and started thinking about ME VS. ME (yes, it took me THAT long to figure it out). I realized that my prep that season was the BEST I COULD BE FOR THAT MOMENT IN MY LIFE. Was I in my best conditioning? No, actually, I wasn’t. But considering where I started and what I had to overcome during my prep, it was THE BEST I COULD BE IN THAT MOMENT AND THAT PERIOD IN MY LIFE. From then on, every prep was a new chance to overcome a new challenge. I wanted to change my body to prove that I was, in fact, capable of winning a figure pro card, which required me to change the way I trained to change the way I looked. I was determined to do the best I could with my life situation at the time of each show I prepped for.  I wanted to be just a little better mentally, physically and spiritually with each prep. Every prep became more about what I learned about myself (strengths, weaknesses and triggers for binges – yes, I suffered from binge eating disorder too.).
The next time I hit the stage was 2011. I had 3 shows planned that spring. INBF Natural North America, INBF Mr. America in NYC and the OCB Richmond. I was competing in figure, figure masters (I was finally old enough) and fitbody that year. I worked my tail off during this prep. Life at home was still really tough with our son and trying to figure out how to help him. Our schedule was full of challenges but I pushed and did the very best I could, and brought the BEST package I had ever brought to all three of the stages I hit that year. The final result was an IFPA Figure Master’s pro card and a WNBF Fitbody pro card. But damn, that figure open pro card was still just so elusive. I was in the top 2 in every one of my classes that year, and was thrilled with every result because my mindset going into that season was to look more like a figure competitor and I did. I had completely changed my body and my mind. What I defined as a win, was no longer a first place or overall trophy, it was what I learned and what I changed in myself.
My final season (although I didn’t know it at the time) was spring 2012. I was hitting the fitbody pro stage for the first time, as well as the amateur figure stage at the INBF/WNBF Natural North America and then headed up to Massachusetts for the INBF/WNBF Northeast Classic. I had a new, amazing coach, who helped me battle through my fear of carbs (my competition nutrition journey is a story for another time). He pushed me more than I’d ever been pushed….but I was eating more than I had every eaten! I had this amazing energy going into these shows. I didn’t know at the time, that this would be my last time on stage, but maybe someone else did. I felt great. It was my best prep ever. I looked and felt better than I ever had in all my years competing. Yet, I had NO EXPECTATION OF WINNING. I had already won a million times over with how I looked and how I felt.
My first show was the INBF/WNBF Natural North American where, to my surprise, I SWEPT THE SHOW and won EVERY SINGLE CLASS I was entered in. I WON MY FIRST PRO FITBODY TITLE, placed 1st in the Fit Mom category (a fun category just for mom’s), and FINALLY WON THE FIGURE OPEN OVERALL earning my Figure (not master’s) pro card – only 7 years after I started competing). Two weeks later, still riding that high, I went into the next show competing as a pro in both figure and fitbody (they no longer allow you to cross-over in the pros, but they did then.) In that show I place 2nd in pro fitbody and 7th in pro figure (I think I was 7th lol I like to pretend that one didn’t happen). However, strangely, I was NOT disappointed I hadn’t even placed in pro figure because I got to watch two of my dear friends have their dreams come true and place first and second in pro figure. And placing 2nd out of so many amazing fitbody pros was more than I could’ve asked for. The whole prep and competition experience that year was truly the best experience ever. Not because of the wins, but because of the experience. The wins were great, but I took so much more away from that prep than any trophy or medal or a few hundred bucks could ever give me.
My FINAL win that year, was in conquering the post-show binges I had always had. Because I was able to prep without dangerous, starvation tactics, I never felt deprived and no longer had the need to have that post show (weeks long) binge that I would always have. The nutrition light bulb finally came on and I was able to maintain being relatively lean for years after that, including now, four years post-retirement.
2013 was supposed to be my final year competing. It was going to be the year I retired, but after some major soul searching, Eric and I both decided we had accomplished enough in our careers and had nothing more we needed to prove. After competing for our son’s entire life (so far) it was time to hang it up and focus on our family and our clients. I had won everything I ever set out to win.  I overcame injuries, depression, binge eating disorder, self-loathing, and found a new sense of passion and purpose in helping others “conquer the crazy” through this process.
So what is the point in me telling you this VERY long story? I want you all to realize that this sport is about SO MUCH MORE THAN WINNING A TROPHY, A MEDAL OR A PRO CARD. If all you focus on is that win, you will, no doubt, end up disappointed almost all of the time. While you believe that you are the one who WANTS IT MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE and HAS WORKED HARDER THAN ANYONE ELSE….every other competitor standing on stage next to you wants and had done the same. WE ALL BRING OUR BEST to that stage, what happens on the stage is up to a bunch of strangers and a little bit of luck! You CANNOT let the results from a brief moment on stage DEFINE YOUR JOURNEY. No one can define that for you, only YOU can define your journey and what it will mean to you. YOU DEFINE YOUR WIN, not a trophy, a medal or a few dollars. Don’t get so hung up on your goal of winning, or “doing well” that you lose sight of the real wins along the way. If you only define a win by earning a cheap piece of hardware, you have tragically missed out on what this sport can truly show you and the thing it can teach you.
1st Show Oct 2005
Final Show June 2012
<![CDATA["Blame Marlana"....for being a badass!]]>Mon, 28 Mar 2016 21:40:58 GMThttp://centerstagefiguresandphysiques.com/blog/blame-marlanafor-being-a-badassOur team CSFP sponsored athlete, Marlana Anderson, is 5-weeks out from her second competition. This is only her 2nd prep! After hitting the stage for the first time ever last fall, Marlana was hooked! She started with Center Stage Figures and Physiques as part of our JumpStart program - our 90-day intensive program designed to create the foundation for structured eating and rigorous training. JumpStart "graduates" not only come away with the proper foundation for training and nutrition, but the necessary goal-setting skills, dedication and commitment it takes to enter into full-blown contest prep! Marlana is enjoying the process on her own (for nutrition) this time around and really learning what her body needs to be at it's best. We're following her on her last 5 weeks of her competition prep for the ANBF Old Glory Natural Classic on April 30, 2016. 

Here's Marlana's 5-week update and some photos:

"So this past Saturday, and these photos, are 5 weeks mark until Old Glory.  I had a bit of struggle this past Friday, you can watch more about that on my meal preps and meldowns vlog this week.  But overall, I feel amazing.  The struggle starts to hit around 7 weeks out, and at this point you have been dieting for SOOOOO LONG and the show is still so close, yet so far.  There are days where all I want to do is say eff it and eat a double cheeseburger.  And honestly, when I have given into those "life or death" cravings, the food is not that good and I feel like crap afterwards.  I feel lazy, and heavy, and all I want to do is sleep.  The best things to do in those situations once you gain control, is to go to the gym.  Put those extra calories to good use and you will feel so much better afterwards.  Is it a set back, yes, but it doesn't make you a failure.  Failure is quitting, and quitting something when it gets hard is easy.  But its pushing through your setbacks, dusting yourself off, and "just keep swimming."  As competitors, we all struggle.  No seriously, we all struggle.  The struggle is so real.  But its when you push past those mental boundaries you set, that's when the magic happens.  That is when you see what you are really made of.  And guys...I'm made of 100% BADASS!!! 

To follow Marlana on her competition journey, check her out on YouTube "Blame Marlana"

<![CDATA[My "Real-Life" Photo Shoot]]>Tue, 15 Dec 2015 20:02:20 GMThttp://centerstagefiguresandphysiques.com/blog/my-real-life-photo-shootPicture
Hey Everyone! It's been a while since I've done a blog. Life's been more than busy with the business. We're writing a book, planning our WTE When You're Competing Seminar and two shows in 2016, putting the finishing touches on our WTE book and we just finished up another amazing competition season for Team CSFP in Key West!

While we were in KW, I decided it was time to do my first ever "real life" photo shoot. If you follow me, you know it's been over 3 years since I've stepped on stage, in that 3+ years I've suffered numerous health issues as well as injuries. I struggled with my weight as I had to take many weeks and months off from training and finally find the right nutrition strategy for my body that my GI system can take. One that allows me to feel good physically and mentally. I've also had to significantly modify my training due to my busy schedule and my injuries. In fact, I don't even belong to a gym anymore! My garage, or as Eric calls is, Peratino's House of Hurt, is my gym now for my 4-5 day p/week 30 min interval training sessions. Yup, that's all I do. 30 min, 4-5 times p/week...and at 4:30 am no less. My diet consists of approximately 2400 calories p/day filled mostly with moderate proteins, high (good) fats, and low to moderate carbs. I take absolutely no supplements. I don't eat before I train. I don't follow anything that some would believe is "ideal"; but I do what works for me and makes me feel good. I eat "intuitively" and practice intermittent fasting, not because that's ACTUALLY what I'm trying to do, but more because I only eat when I'm hungry. There are some mornings I don't get my first meal until 10:00 am; and that's usually after getting up at 7:00 am. Now, this is usually only happening on the weekends, my weekdays are far more regular since I'm up earlier, but my point is, I listen to my body. I don't always eat every 2-4 hours, but mostly I do. It all depends on my schedule and what my body wants. Oh, and did I mention I most certainly partake in adult libations? I love my vodka and wine (no, not together), but yes, I partake.

So what's my point in all of this? Well it took me such a long time to get here after suffering the consequences of so many years competing; it was just really rough on my mind, body and soul. I am FINALLY in a place where I am 100% happy in my skin (ok, maybe like 95%); but really I am happy. My clothes fit (I wear a 0) and I no longer care about any number on the scale. In fact, this weekend, I was able to wear a pair of shorts that I wore for a photo shoot in 2012! It's the little things! So, again, to my point. I have struggled for years with body image as so many do when they leave the stage (or even while still on it). I forgot what "normal" was for so long. While I was competing, you wouldn't catch me doing a photo shoot when I wasn't in competition shape. I decided, this weekend, after all my years of struggling, that it was time to do a "real life" photo shoot. I wanted to show not only myself, but other women that it's OK to NOT be in competition shape and still be (and feel) strong, fit and sexy. So I took the plunge and did it. At first, I wasn't sure I loved the pics because for a moment, my mind went to my last competition photo shoot and these pics were most certainly NOT them. Then I remembered quickly why I had done this, where I am currently in my life and how I really feel about myself...which is pretty damn good.

So I wanted to take this moment to share some of myself with you. To share with you that I feel good in my "normal life" body and wish desperately for all women to feel the same. Our news feeds are always full of hot hard bodied photo shoots, but rarely you find the real life ones..at least not from fitness competitors. Ladies, please remember that a competition body is NOT your ideal body or your ideal body weight. It is intended to be captured for a moment on the stage and not be your forever skin that you live in. Competing shouldn't be your life, and neither should your competition body. If I have to always be 5-10 lbs over what someone else might call ideal, I'm ok with that because that 5-10 lbs is my real life. Could I be leaner if I wanted to be? Sure I could. Do I want to give up the fun I have in my life for it? Absolutely not, at least not now. I will leave you with a few shots from this weekend. Here I am, in my real life body. I'm 4'11.5", 120-123 lbs (121 in these pics), 42 years old with 1 child and 20 years of lifting under my belt. I eat potato chips and drink wine (in fact, I had 3 glasses of wine the night before this shoot). Live your life ladies. Your body doesn't define who you are or how you should feel about yourself. This is real life.

<![CDATA[My Life in Balance and in Health!]]>Sat, 03 Oct 2015 00:24:40 GMThttp://centerstagefiguresandphysiques.com/blog/my-life-in-balance-and-in-healthPicture
The picture on the left is where I started this chapter in my journey. You may have read my blog telling you where I was starting from. I was the heaviest I had been since I retired from the stage, everything hurt, my digestive system was severely out of whack, I spent more time at the doctors being poked and prodded then I did at the gym, and I was at the end of my rope...mentally, physically and spiritually. In the picture on the left I was around 130 lbs @ 5'11.5". 

The road was NOT easy. The elimination diet I had to undergo to find the foods that were wrecking my body (yes, even the healthy ones), was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Eliminating all starch AND caffeine at the same time damn near brought me to my knees. But after a few weeks, I really started to see changes; not only in how I felt, but how I looked. During this time I also went through several steroid injections to take care of a torn labrum in my left hip and (what we know now) torn bicep tendon in my left shoulder. I didn't workout AT ALL for nearly 8 weeks. I couldn't! On this elimination diet I had NO energy, at least not at first. Within a few weeks, I started dropping weight and started looking less puffy. Even my close friends who see me every day were noticing that I wasn't as puffy. I eventually went from nearly 130 to 119 lbs in a matter of 7 weeks. And I can't forget that we were preparing to promote our first show ever (a raging success if I do say so myself). A lot was going on, but I stayed the course. I found that the following foods were the absolute devil for me: Onion, sweet potatoes, garlic, peppers, artificial anything, and many more. I ate very paleo and nearly keto with next to no starches  in my diet at all. I started to feel AMAZING!!!! The super high fats, proteins and veggies with small servings of fruit really changed my life!

So all of this was back in the April/May timeframe. Since then, I have started to bring some foods back into my diet and not live so rigidly. I have the occasional adult beverage (in moderation and ONLY with spirits I know don't give me issues). I stay clearly away from the foods I know will make me suffer, but still occasionally allow myself to enjoy some treats, even a starch here and there. As long as I don't have TOO much of anything that could cause me issues I'm ok (except onions...can't touch those ever along with a few other things). 

I've also finally gotten my GROOVE back with my workouts! I stopped forcing myself to go to the gym after work. And when I say forcing myself, I was FORCING myself. I didn't enjoy it ever. I didn't enjoy lifting weights anymore, at least not in the traditional sense. I was exhausted after work and usually had to decide if I was going to get my CSFP work done or a workout and CSFP usually won...so I was next to never workout out and I hated that. So, I made a dramatic (for me) change to my workout schedule. I used to get up at 3:30 am every morning to get to work by 5:30 so I could leave early and get to the gym...except I was never going to the gym. So one day, I decided to get up at 4:00 am (I am a very OCD person, this was difficult for me because it meant I had to park somewhere else at work and walk further...OCD!). So I set my alarm for 4 am, rolled out of bed, had a cup of coffee for pre-workout (yes, I went back to coffee after the elimination diet), and was in my garage for my workout by 4:30 am. I finished my workout by 5 am and was at work by 7 am! My 30 min workouts are INTENSE! i have to work smarter, not harder (well actually I'm working smart and hard), but I have found that I absolutely LOVE getting that extra 30 min of sleep and getting my interval training done in the morning. After about a week of doing it regularly, I found that my body was craving it. It was never difficult to get it in because I WANTED to do it (I also wanted to catch up on Orange is the New Black while running on the treadmill LOL). But I finally found that workout groove again and was loving it.

The injuries have persisted, but I've modified the workouts to accommodate and work around them. I have surgery scheduled in December to take care of the torn bicep tendon in my shoulder, but for now a 2nd steroid injection has at least taken the edge off so I can continue my workouts! I also finally gave into my anxiety and asked for help in the form of medication. My schedule super hectic right now managing my full-time job, my family commitments and my CSFP work (writing the WTE When You're Expecting book, planning the WTE 2016 Seminar and planning for 2 competitions we are promoting next year); I was prescribed a low dose of Welbutrin. And while it's not the be all end all, it has helped tremendously with the stress and anxiety that I simply couldn't control with exercise, yoga, etc. Like the steroid injections, it's temporary as I get through this phase of my journey.

So here I am today! Sitting at just under 121 lbs 6 months into this phase of my journey. It was hard (really hard) in the beginning and I've had some rough spots here and there in the middle, with my weight going back up to 126 when I allow too many things into my diet that cause me inflammation and bloat. I eat very small amounts of starch (maybe 1/3 c of rice p/day) and keep my fats very high and my proteins moderate. I don't track what I eat. I eat by intuition. I eat when I'm hungry. Sometimes I practice intermittent fasting...but only because I get busy on the weekend and don't have time to eat between clients (I'm joking about the intermittent fasting...I think that's a crock of BS...but technically if I don't eat for 5-6 hrs I might as well call it that). I allow myself a treat if it's something I really want and I know it won't kill me digestively. I pay for it when I eat things (like dairy) that I shouldn't or if onions sneak into my food somewhere. 95% of the time my foods are whole and natural without anything artificial. Eating this way, without stressing about tracking macros or making sure I eat every 3 hrs has really taken significant burden and anxiety out of my life. I truly have found the balance I crave. I've even been able to have some wine without it causing major digestive unrest. I look and feel better than I have in the last year and a half. My goal now is not to make GAINZ, I don't care about lifting heavy and putting on size...I care about feeling good, feeling good about how I look, enjoying my workouts and having the energy (mind, body and soul) to get through my incredibly hectic and exhausting days. I am 100% enjoying my life right now. I am so incredibly blessed. There will be more bumps on the road through my journey, but every bump in the road only gives me another lesson learned and more strength to make it to the next phase. Morale of the story...never, ever, ever give up! You will find your balance. It has taken me years and a lot of heartache to find mine and I'm certain I will lose it again somewhere along the way...but the important thing is that I always get back up...learning every step along the way.

"Through pain I gain strength"

What will that next phase be??? Stay tuned...there is so much to come in the next year! 

And don't forget to check out all the amazing things we have planned coming up in 2016!

<![CDATA[So You Say You Want to Compete – But Are You Giving Yourself Enough Time?]]>Fri, 26 Jun 2015 20:45:45 GMThttp://centerstagefiguresandphysiques.com/blog/so-you-say-you-want-to-compete-but-are-you-giving-yourself-enough-timeLately I’ve been seeing a phenomenon of new clients coming to see me that want to compete. A few of the first questions I ask every new client: Why did you pick that show?  Many have already chosen a show date, but being new, haven’t really figured out what it will take to get there. Many have chosen a date based on a show that a friend is doing, or their trainer said it was a good one, or their birthday is coming up, a big vacation, etc.  Then there are others who may wake up one morning and think…”you know what, I’ve been training really hard for a few months now, I think I’d like to get on stage.” And with that…they make the decision to get on stage with X number of weeks/months to prepare.

12 week contest prep is the magic number, right? (…because Oxygen said so)

With some clients, I can tell right off the bat that a 12, 16, etc. week prep will be perfect for them. They’ve usually got a great foundation of muscle, don’t have a significant amount of body fat to lose and already have a good foundation with training and nutrition. Then, there are the clients who have a significant amount of body fat to lose (20+ lbs), yet they have decided to compete in 12, 16, etc. weeks based off of some magical number they may have read somewhere that says a competition prep diet is 16 weeks. Unfortunately, there is NO magic number of weeks it will take every person to get stage ready.

So let’s address that for a minute – what does “stage ready” even mean? This is also something that is very individual, just as the amount of time it will take to get stage ready, everyone’s idea of what stage ready means to them is different. Some clients “just want to get on stage and be in the best shape of their life” and don’t really care if they look like they “belong” or if they win. Others, want to at least look like they belong (again, this is very relative) and lastly there are those that want to be shredded and are coming to win!

I just want to look like I belong on stage! (what on earth does that mean anyway?)

So the first thing you should ask yourself when you are thinking of getting on stage for the first time is “what is your ultimate goal” for getting on stage? What do you envision yourself looking like when you step on stage for the first time? Do you want to look like Dana Lynn Baily or Nicole Wilkins? (btw…completely unrealistic goals for the majority of first timers…but we’ll address that in a bit) Or are you happy just being in the best shape of your life because you just lost 50 lbs and want to show off your hard work? Keep in mind, when deciding what “look” you want on stage, you must also understand the methods of the people you are comparing yourself too (i.e. chemically enhanced or not – using performance enhancing drugs, number of years training, supplements, genetics, etc). If you chose to go the “natural” route, be sure you are looking at the physiques of those who compete in drug-tested organizations and not just someone in a magazine or on social media whom you have no REAL idea what their methods are. (OMG…is she saying that there are people on social media who aren’t natural…um…yeah she is!

Yup, I wanna look like DLB…woohoo…let’s do this!

Now that you have decided on what look you would like to have on stage, you must take a good, hard, look at where YOU are currently. And I mean a real, hard, honest look at where you are. You may have already come a long way in losing weight, putting on a little muscle (although you still can’t really see it through some of the body fat), and you should be VERY proud of that accomplishment.  Do you know if you have enough muscle to compete in the category you’ve chosen? Have you ever been really lean before or have you mostly been 20+ lbs overweight? Do you have any idea how your body responds to certain types of nutrition, training and cardio programs? If you are doing this stage thing for the first time, the answers to most of these questions are likely ‘no’…and that’s just the cold, hard truth. So how the heck do you know how long it will take to get on stage?

Competition prep is like Project Management...

In Project Management, a good rule of thumb is to determine your “work breakdown structure”; which means you basically determine ALL the little things that have to happen to get to the end goal of your project. For instance, if your project was building a house (like building your body), you’d have to clear your lot, run electric and water to the lot, level the ground, pour the foundation, order the lumber, hire contractors, etc. If you were a contractor and I told you I wanted my house built in 16 weeks so it was ready for a big party I wanted to have, and oh by the way, I want this really rare type of wood for my frame. And oh yeah, it’s winter, so weather is likely to be a factor too. Did I even consider how long it might take to have that rare wood shipped from the depths of the rain forest in Africa? What if there are non-stop snow storms this winter? Have I accounted for this? There are a LOT of things that have to happen to build that house! Remember, building your body is just like building a house. You must have a foundation and frame before you can put the roof on!  You need to understand how long EACH of these individual parts of the job will take, then add those up to determine how long the whole project will take (also taking into account things that could stall your job, like bad weather).

No way man! I want what I want when I want it!

Prepping your body for a competition is no different! So let’s say you’ve decided that you want to compete in women’s physique, and you want to be shredded on stage. You’ve only been really training seriously for a year or so and you just started to learn about the proper nutrition and you have more than 20 lbs body fat to lose (this is me buying a lot for my house with no water, electric and full of trees). Now, you’ve come to me, the contractor, and told me you want to build this body in 12 weeks because you’re going on a big vacation…and well…you heard that 12 weeks is the magic number for building a body like this because that’s what it said in the brochure. You’ve never been lean before, and don’t really know how your body will respond leaning out. No idea if you can consistently lose 1-2 lbs of body fat per week, if you will stall at some point (you will definitely stall at some point). The fact is, you aren’t really even at a place to accurately determine how many weeks it will take you to get the look you want because you’ve never even been close to it. Just like with my 16 week house building project in the winter on a lot with no water or electric and my desire for exotic wood from Africa; your prep is likely to leave you disappointed and frustrated…and may lead you to incorporate dangerous and extreme tactics to get there. Like me and my new house, I may be able to force the contractors to get that thing up in 16 weeks, but they’ve cut corners to me where I want…and now I’m living in a dangerous situation, in a house bound to collapse on me with the first strong wind. Are you willing to do this to your body too? Incorporate extreme measures to get to your goal…only to have a moment on stage and then have your body give out on you post show (i.e. the dreaded rebound)? Or be severely disappointed with the look you bring to the stage? And of course, even though as a good coach (or contractor) I have told you that what you want is unrealistic, you were determined to make it happen….and now it’s my fault right?

Ok, so….. how DO I know how long it will take me to get stage ready?

In all seriousness, the BEST thing you can do is talk to a professional BEFORE you make any decisions on contest dates or time frames. And I mean a professional, someone who has experience in getting all different types of people ready for competition (not your local gym trainer who has no competitor experience). And a MUST in my book, is to already have a strong foundation in training and nutrition, prepping your food, weighing and measuring, etc. (This is why we started our JumpStart program). This person should be 100% honest with you and understand exactly what your goal is to look like on stage. With that, you can make an assessment (WAG – or wild-ass guess) at how long it will likely take you to get there. For example, let’s say you talked to a professional and based on experience, their best guess is that you have approximately 25 lbs to lose JUST TO LOOK LIKE YOU BELONG (again, whatever that means)…and at least 30 or more to really be competitive. You’re currently losing an average of 1 lb per week doing 4 days of cardio and training 5 days a week eating X amount of calories that are likely too low to begin with. If you continue losing 1 lb a week consistently, or maybe on a really good week you lose 2, the soonest you might be ready to step on stage would be 20-25 weeks (giving yourself 1 lb a week fat loss – btw, much more than 1-2 lbs a week fat loss is NOT advisable…this is what will lead you into the dangerous practice zone). And I would consider this a relatively aggressive schedule (20-25 weeks) because we really haven’t given any leeway for weeks that you don’t lose anything (or that snowstorm that keeps me from pouring my house foundation). No trainer, I don’t care how good they are, can guarantee that kind of consistent fat loss because there are always too many unknown factors; factors which you must take into consideration when making the decision to compete on a certain date. Is this starting to make any sense?

So what’s my best advice?

  1. Talk to a professional about your goals BEFORE you decide on a date (no you don’t have to hire someone to do your prep) and get a professional opinion. Have a “come to Jesus, no shit” conversation and assessment of where you are, where you want to be and how you will meet your goals in a safe, effective and healthy manor. ***All that know me know that I am usually telling clients not to look at how far they have to go, but rather how far they have come...but in this instance, it is actually very important to look at how far you have to go. It is the only way to accurately assess your "work breakdown structure" and all the things that must happen to get you to the stage.
  2. Assess if you have enough muscle, size, shape and symmetry to be competitive in your chosen category. Determine your end goal – what your “stage ready” means to you. 
  3. Look at pictures of athletes’ transformation pictures – if you plan to go the “natural” (i.e. no WADA banned substances) route, be sure you are only looking at the transformations of those competing in drug-tested organizations.
  4. Get an accurate assessment of your weight and body fat if you can (bod pod is best, calipers by someone with experience is 2nd best, those Tanita scales and hand held things suck).
  5. Determine approximately how much body fat you have to lose; and allow yourself at least 1 week p/pound of body fat you need to lose. Also ask yourself if there are any potential obstacles in that timeframe that might keep you from making progress (vacations, etc). And give a few weeks “padding” for weeks where you may lose nothing. It is FAR more desirable to give yourself too much time then not enough time.
  6. Get yourself to under 20% body fat (preferably 15% - measured accurately by a bodpod if possible) FIRST -  BEFORE settling on a date. This is where you can potentially and safely, give yourself a 12-16 week prep and will be able to see more accurately what your body looks like and if you have the appropriate amount of muscle, shape, size and symmetry for your category.

If, and only if, you have honestly completed steps 1-6…..

Set your competition date, put your plan in action, hire a professional if you can afford it, stay consistent, keep your eye on the goal, get up when you fall down and most importantly, be the bad-ass you know you were meant to be….and most importantly…


Check out some of the natural athlete transformations below. Most of these transformations were first-time competitors. Their methods of getting stage ready are varied (some IIFYM, some meal plans, some done safely and others not), but ALL are 100% blood, sweat and tears and absolutely NOTHING on the WADA banned substance list. These are real transformations, and real people.

**These photos are not filtered, photo shopped or modified in any way to make them look better***

<![CDATA[Getting My Balance Back.....Day 1]]>Mon, 06 Apr 2015 06:41:56 GMThttp://centerstagefiguresandphysiques.com/blog/getting-my-balance-backday-1Picture
Here I am at 2 a.m. on Monday morning and I can't sleep. Mainly because I WAY over ate this past weekend and my stomach is killing me and my heart is pounding. Yeah, I ate like a prisoner on death row having their last meal (or meals)...or maybe like a physique competitor getting ready to end and off-season and start a competition diet. Either way...wholly molly I'm paying for it now! I won't say I have any regrets about it though. It's actually a great lesson in why I shouldn't be eating that way to begin with. Truth of the matter is, I DON'T normally eat that way, only on occasion, but this weekend I had 3 days of "those occasions". 

But today...today starts anew!

It's going to be super tough day without coffee; especially having been up since 2 a.m. But the meals I've packed for the day I'm actually excited about! I cooked up a whole organic chicken in my crockpot (seasoned with just sea salt), organic chicken thighs on the grill marinated in coconut aminos (if you've never tried these you should they are great). I have some beautiful sweet pineapple, blueberries and raspberries, boiled eggs (with the yolk, my favorite breakfast these days) and yummy rice pasta and jasmine rice to round out my meals. But you know eating like this is not new to me. Maybe just the food combinations. I've been prepping food on Sunday's and taking my meals with me everywhere for over 10 years. And even though my dietician told me not to weigh and measure, I did. There's no reason to OVER eat, but I will still eat to satisfy.

Oh, and wow...as I was reading through some of the material she gave me on the hidden things in our foods...I was SHOCKED. I thought I knew a lot, but really, not sure I did. Especially with CORN; which was one of my highest reaction foods. I had NO idea all the things that had corn hidden in them. 

Did you know what HONEY can be made from CORN??? Yeah, much of store bought honey has caramel coloring...and caramel coloring is derived from corn! Brown sugar too!

Now, I don't eat much honey, and when I do it's raw and organic, but still. Just goes to show you that we really don't always know what's in our food. 90% of the time, I'm not eating anything that has more than one ingredient in it. I just prefer it that way, but that other 10% of the time can wreck havoc on your body, even the seemingly innocent stuff.

I'll leave you with these pictures I took yesterday to show where my body truly is on this journey. I haven't been able to workout much for the last 5 + weeks due to some injuries with my hip, back and shoulder. I'm only recently getting back to being physical again. And I believe much of my diet has been causing quite a bit of fat and water weight gain as well. I feel and look very bloated in these pics as I probably should with all the crappola I was eating this weekend (and never mind the alcohol I drank). I'm using these pictures to mark a place in my journey and to show you what the real me looks like. Completely unposed, cellulite and all! We'll call this #mushymonday LOL.