6 Tips to Make Your Fitness Resolution Stick

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Photo by Ramirez Creative

With the New Year right around the corner many of you have decided that your New Years Resolution will be to join a gym and get in shape. While I think this is a terrific resolution, less than 10% of you will actually stick to it. This happens for a few reasons, the main one being that we set unrealistic goals for ourselves and fall back into our old habits quickly.

So, lets discuss how we can avoid this and make this the year that our resolution to get fit sticks!

1. Set your goal and be SMART about it. Meaning; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time.  For example, your goal could be ‘I want to lose 20 pounds (specific) in 16 weeks (measurable, achievable, time), so I can feel confident this summer in a swimsuit (relevant). Once you have your goal, write it down on paper and place it somewhere you will see it daily. Remember to stay realistic with your goals.

2. Plan and Schedule. Decide how many days per week you want to work out (3-4 is a good start for a newbie) and schedule those days and times into your schedule. Planning ahead is key and scheduling your workouts ahead of time will keep you from using the excuse of not having time.

3. Create Healthy Eating Habits. While working out can have a great impact on your health, its important that you pair this with healthy nutrition habits as well. Eating the right foods can fuel your workout, aid in weight loss or in gaining muscle as well keep you energized throughout the day. Small meals consisting of protein and veggies every 2-4 hours, 50-75 grams of carbs after your workout, a daily dose of healthy fats and a minimum 3 liters of water per day is a good place to start. Prepping your meals ahead of time is a great way to stay on track.

4. Accountability. There are a few different ways to hold yourself accountable. You can hire a trainer, tell your friends and family of your goals or find a friend who also wants to make fitness a regular part of their lifestyle and hold each other accountable.

5. Motivation. Motivation is key and while the first few weeks into a new resolution is usually smothered in, it can fade fast. Keep your motivation up with trying one or all of these-

    • Set performance goals (hit a 1 min plank by week 2, 5 unassisted chinups by week 5 etc..)
    • Take weekly progress photos
    • Buy a new outfit one size too small
    • Enter a transformation contest

6. Find the right Gym for you! Some gyms have scheduled hours, some gyms are open 24/7. Some are female only and some have sections for just females and open co-ed areas. Some will have classes they offer for a fee or for free to members. Some gyms require a year contract while others will let you pay monthly or as you go. Its important to shop around and find a gym that will not just fit your needs but one where you will feel comfortable as well. Most gyms offer a free week or drop in so take advantage and check out a few before making any type of commitment.

Competiton Prep B.C. – Women’s Bikini with Annette Mountford

13708309_10153533031681557_2314448385603230473_oThe time is now.

It’s busy, really busy. There’s bustling and hustling.  People are rushing around.  Other people are standing still in lines. There are beautiful, tanned bodies all around me.  It’s dark, it’s loud.  There is a unique smell in the air; Like sweat and peanut butter, spray tan and high protein diets.   “Look at your number Annette, don’t forget your number” I say to myself as I chant 565 in my head.

A stranger rubs shiny glaze all over my body, and glues my suit to my ass. Is it too late to pee?  I begin pumping up my shoulders and back muscles, with oily bands and spray-tanned weights. This is it. This is the place I worked so hard to be.  This is the pinnacle of a year of sobriety and hard work in the gym, even harder work in the kitchen, and 4 months of intense, focused competition and posing training.

Someone asks me what my number is, and files me into a line up of bodies that are all in peak condition. What have these athletes gone through, to get here?  What challenges did they have to face, and overcome to get to this moment. What an amazing group of humans.

It’s almost time! I can hear the crowd from behind the red velvet curtain.  I can see a sliver of light, and a small glimpse of the class before mine.  They are on stage, presenting to the judges. Now I can see the crowd. I have adrenaline surging through my body. I live for this feeling.  “Butterflies in my stomach”, “nerves and fear” kind of feeling.  It is only when we face our doubt, and our fear, that we can truly grow.  These moments mold us. These moments are what life is all about.  I calm my mind.  I have to focus.  This is no time to let myself get distracted.  “565” I say again.

The line ahead of me begins to walk out.  It feels like a wave pulling me forward.  I take a breath, check my posture, and step out.  The light washes over me. I feel the adrenaline rushing through my body.  Exciting every cell. My senses are all overloaded with energy.  I am addicted.  That was all it took.  One moment.  In that one moment, I knew my life’s path.   I am a competitor.  This, is my destiny.

12234966_10153034054796557_6939018595250375587_nMy path to competition wasn’t something that I really planned for or expected.  I simply made choices. Choices everyday, to better myself.  To become more of what I was really meant to be.  Competing was just the final step for my sobriety and new lifestyle.  It was a celebration of all that my husband and I had done, not just to get to stage, but to make better choices for our lives.  No one sees the 2.5 years of training in the gym, of learning food prep, of posing class every weekend, of changing our whole lifestyle.  It takes a lot.  It takes everything you have.  But that, is why it is so worth it!

Competition has taught me the value of working hard for what you want most, and when you finally reach your goal, it is a feeling that will never leave you.  It is the feeling of achieving something you cannot buy, and can’t fake.  Bodybuilding is a total solitary thing.   You may be on a team, or have a coach, or a trainer.  But it is YOU that will have to do the work. You will have to push yourself, push yourself past the point you were once comfortable with. It will be YOU that hits every rep, every set. And in the end, it will be YOU that grows, and gains from it.

Starting out competing can be difficult. Especially if you are not a “gym person”.   My first suggestion is to make sure you love the process.  It is a very challenging road to walk down.  If you do not already love lifting, cardio and eating clean, it will be even harder for you.  There are days when you fell like you are running a non-stop 16 week marathon.  Am cardio, then food prep, then back to the gym for weight training, then work, life, family, then laundry, then pm cardio… and repeat.  You are sore, you are smelly, you are tired, and you are broke (lol).   But did I mention it is worth every minute of it!?

I would make sure that you go to a few shows first.  Check out how the show is run.  Find a team that you feel will fit your needs.  Do your research.  There are so many coaches out there, and no two are alike. You should always feel confident in your coach.  Prep should never feel unhealthy.  I was eating big, well balanced meals, every 3 hours. I wasn’t doing crazy cardio, until the final few weeks.  If you are doing a prep on your own, make sure you are doing loads of research, and really design a plan for yourself.

Try volunteering with the BCABBA.  Both my husband and I volunteer for the BCABBA.   He bought a support membership so he can come to all the events and meetings and be a part of the experience, even though he is not a competitive member(yet).  You do not have to be a bodybuilder to be a part of this amazing group.  Because I only did one show at the local level, and winning overall at the Popeye’s Fall Classic 2015 qualified me for Provincials, I didn’t really get to have a lot of show/stage experience.  I found that volunteering gave me great insight and experience into how the shows are run.  I met all the amazing people who organize and run the shows (volunteers).  I was able to really be there for the other athletes, on their special day and made so many new amazing friendships.

By the time I stepped on stage at my second show, Vancouver Pro\Am 2016, I knew all the amazing volunteers and I knew so many of the amazing athletes I was competing with.  It really felt like a huge family reunion!   I was so grateful that I had volunteered at all the shows, it made me feel like I was really a part of the bodybuilding community and I was able to share such an amazing day with everyone I loved.  It was such a great feeling being on stage. Knowing that so many of the people in that room, were my friends, and team mates. For Steve and I, sharing our journey with everyone, was what really made it so special.

I have competed in 3 shows from Nov 2015 – July 2016.  One local level, one Provincial level and one National level.   I must say, at the core, they were all basically the same.  There is an athletes meeting the Friday night before the show.  Make sure you bring your suit for check in and lots of meals.  You never know how long they might take.   Bring (at least) 2 suits just in case you do not get passed, and be aware of the suit requirements.  At Nationals they are very firm about these requirements so make sure you fit your suit properly.  Bring your ID, and cash is usually required for booking the stage photographer(highly recommended and usually around $100).  If you do not buy the professional stage shots, the judges cannot give you feed back.  So be prepared for this extra fee.   You usually get your first coat of tan on the Friday night too, don’t get wet after you have your tan on.  Make sure you prep your skin properly the week before your tan.  Ask your tanner for specific instructions to get the best result. Get good rest, and be packed up and ready the night before.

The morning of your show, will start early.  Make sure you are listening at the athletes meeting, to know when you are supposed to be at the theatre.  Do not be late.  It is impossible to know exactly what time you will be called on stage.  Some shows go really slow, but some shows go very quickly, so if you do not show up on time, you might miss your call.  On show day, your only job is to NOT MISS YOUR CALL.  Do not hang out in the parking lot, do not wander around the venue…just wait where the volunteers tell you to.  They will find you when it is your time, but only if you are in the athlete’s area.  I have seen competitors miss their stage, because they were on the phone in the parking lot, or they fell asleep between the morning and night show.  You worked for 16 weeks, and show day is not the day to mess up.

For show day you may want to bring:

A big mirror, blanket, pillow, spray tan, bikini bite, water, snacks, paper towel, towels, shower cap, cups (lol), bands or weights, glaze, ID, magnesium for cramping, umbrella…

It is very chaotic backstage, and very messy. So try to keep your stuff all in one spot. Once you have your tan on, you cannot get wet. One drop of water, can run a streak down your whole leg.  Touch-ups are usually available and can help, but its better to try to not ruin your tan. Make sure you are covered up until your group is called. If someone splashes water, clothing will protect your tan a little.

Make sure you are practicing your posing before you go on.  Do not go out there “cold’.  Run through your routine a few times to get your body ready.  And also stretch! Get those beautiful muscles nice and limber.  Once you are about to go on stage, remember, you are there to show people, what can be done with hard work and determination.  No matter what happens out there, always present your best and have fun!  You never know who you are inspiring!  Always smile. Even when your face starts shaking, keep smiling.  You want to make sure that you are projecting your energy outward.  Shine!  Be confident.  Own your moment!

I would suggest booking photo shoots around your show day.  Some people like to do the week before, and some do them the week after.  It is important to capture all your hard work.  If you are going to look for sponsors or start a fitness business, you will need pictures of yourself.  Its really fun to look back and compare my stage and photo shoot photos, from each competition.  It’s a great way to see your growth.

The goal is to place well on stage, yes.  But what you gain is not from a trophy or placement.  What you gain comes from every time you stepped into the gym, from every weight you lifted.  Don’t forget, no matter what happens out there, YOU did all the work, and YOU overcame challenges.  YOU are an absolute rock star!   You will forever be apart of a family of people, who love what they are doing, and who live with passion.  You will learn things about yourself that will surprise you.  You will become stronger than you ever though you could be.  You will rise, and you will lift others too.

Your time is now.

Annette Mountford

Follow Annette on Instagram @Annette_Corvette

Fitness Competition Prep – 10 Tips to Save Money

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As promised, a follow up to The Cost of Competing in Fitness Competitions with some great tips on how to save yourself some money!

  • Save on your suit – There are a few ways to save on your suit. You can purchase a used suit (most have only been worn once) or buy an off the rack suit or a basic custom suit and bling it yourself! You can purchase wholesale stones (hello eBay) and  glue them to your suit and save quite a bit. A basic custom suit runs about $150 while a custom blinged out suit can add another $100 easy. The more bling, the higher the cost.
  • Save on Hair & Makeup – this one can be tricky and I only suggest using someone other than the official provider IF they have experience. Stage makeup is very different than your every day make up and if not done correctly can be a total disaster. Hair is not as tricky, but again, you want to use someone with experience doing hair if it’s an area you lack in. Hiring or enlisting a friend who has experience in these areas can save you up to $250!
  • Shoes – don’t impulse buy! Shop around online on places like Amazon and eBay and guaranteed you will find yourself a better deal then by purchasing from a shoe store.
  • Jewellery – stores like Ardene’s and Claires have a hue selection of accessories that wont cost you a fortune. Aldo Accessories has beautiful jewelry as well but the prices are a little higher. (I paid $50 for a pair of earrings and a bangle)
  • Hotel – plan for a two night stay if competing out of town. There will be a ‘Host Hotel” where athlete meetings, spray tan, hair and makeup take place however you are not obligated to stay at this hotel. While it does make things easier to stay at the host hotel and most will offer a discount to competing athletes, you can save by booking at a cheaper hotel, I just recommend it be close by.
  • You also have the option of sharing a room with another competitor to help cut costs. If you do not happen to know of anyone else competing, find fellow competitors on Instagram or Facebook and ask! (search the show, ex: #PopeyesFallClassic) While this may sound a little crazy and awkward you may just be surprised at how many other competitors are traveling alone and wouldn’t mind saving on room costs!
  • Food – most of your meals should be prepped anyhow but once the show is over you may want something different or a treat so plan ahead and prep this meal and pack snacks.
  • Mani/Pedi – do it yourself!
  • Supplements – shop online and use coupon codes or stock up on a sale.
  • Shop in Bulk – your meal plan will most likely include eating a lot of the same foods so buy what you can in bulk or again, stock up on a sale for items that wont expire anytime soon.
  • Competition Coaching/Training – you can save big here by hiring an online coach HOWEVER, do your research, ask around and only chose this option if you have experience in the gym! If weightlifting is new to you hire a trainer, even if its just for 6 weeks to learn proper form and technique and how to use the equipment before enlisting an online coach to guide you through prep. Depending on where you are at when you start competition prep, the length of time you will need a coach/trainer will vary. If you have been working out for some time but just need help getting stage ready, 12 weeks is usually enough time.

Things you DO NOT want to skimp on!

  • Nutritional Coaching – as someone who has their fitness nutrition certification I felt pretty confident during my prep doing my own nutrition plan then once I hit 3 weeks out I started to panic because I had never had to deplete or manipulate water and sodium intake and when researching there were so many options I was totally overwhelmed. I hired myself a coach and he guided me gracefully through the last few stages to get me super lean and it was the best decision I ever made. Nutrition is key both during and after prep so unless you have experience here, leave it to someone who does.
  • Stage Tan – while many will tell you that you can save by getting your spray tan done elsewhere or doing it yourself, please let me explain, it’s not that simple. First off, you want to be the right shade and trust me, if you rely on yourself or someone else, you will think you are dark enough and you wont be. Stage tans are ridiculously dark and you do not want to be up there standing out because you are pale (or green) in comparison. The official tan provider is your best option and will also offer free touch ups which will be needed! Did you know that sweating will turn your tan green? Yup. So please, leave it to the pros, they will take care of you 😉

 

 

 

 

The Cost of Competing in Fitness Competitons in B.C.

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So you have decided you want to compete in a fitness competition and want a rough idea of what it’s going to cost you to do so. Well, I’ll be in honest in that competing is not cheap, there are ways to save money and we will go over that in another post but first, here are some things to consider when deciding to compete in B.C. and a rough estimate of what they may cost you.

 

 

Membership $100

  • you must register and pay to become a member of the association. To join the BCABBA it will cost you $100

Show Registration $100

  • you will pay $100 to enter a show. If you plan to enter more than one category it will cost you an additional $50

Tanning $150

  • depending on the official provider of tanning/hair & makeup, the spray tan alone will cost you roughly this amount.

Makeup $125

  • again, this is the estimated cost if using the official provider of the show and dependent on who that provider is.

Hair $125

  • same as tanning and makeup, estimate of cost if using the official provider.

NOTE – if you chose to have the official provider do all 3 (tan, makeup & hair) they will offer you a discounted rate bringing your cost down slightly.

Suit $150 +++

  • you can pay as little as $150 for a custom suit with an upwards to well over $1000 depending on what you want and how much you are willing to spend. You can purchase off the rack suits for your show but make certain they fit the rules for your category.

Shoes $40+

  • if you are competing in bikini or figure you will need heels! cost depends on where you buy and the style you choose. I was able to get mine on sale for $65 which isn’t bad considering I can wear them for my future shows.

Jewelry $25+

  • again, depending where you shop and what you buy. The basics are bracelets and earrings. I purchased my bracelet and earrings from Aldo Accessories (great selection) for $50.

Those are definitely the musts, however the list does not end here. There are many other things to consider when competing and the prices will vary depending on many different factors.

  • training
  • nutritional coaching
  • posing coach
  • supplements
  • meals (although these can be simple as you may eat a lot of the same things, it can add up)
  • travel costs, hotel, gas, food etc
  • manicure/pedicure
  • hair removal for show day (waxing)
  • haircut/color/style
  • hair extensions
  • bikini bite (suit glue)
  • photography
  • show tickets for family & friends

So, as you can see, competing is not cheap, it is however, totally worth it!! I will be following up with a post on How to Save Money When Competing so be sure to check back for that. 😉

 

Fitness Competition Prep in B.C.

Photography by David Aboody

          Photography by David Aboody

Last January I decided to compete in my first fitness competition and so of course, I spent a lot of time searching Google for any and all information on Fitness Competition Prep, with my main focus on Bikini Competition Prep since that was the category I would be competing in.  While I was able to find a TON of information on prepping for a fitness competition, I found it difficult to find information relevant to competing in B.C. and more specifically as a BCABBA athlete.  So, I have made it my mission, as I prep for my next competition, to share as much information as I can in regards to preparing for and competing in B.C. as a BCABBA athlete.

That’s not it however, I have decided that while I may now have some experience in prepping for a fitness competition, there are many others out there who do as well, and some have a lot more, so I have reached out to them and have some pretty exciting content coming. My main goal is to leave no stone unturned, cover every category there is and help you prepare for your first fitness competition!

We are #TeamBC and as you will see on the BCABBA’s Mission statement, “We do more for others as a team than any one person can do”

Stay Tuned …

xo

 

 

7 Tips on How to Avoid Workout Burnout

05-04-14_happy_exercise_shutterstockI wanted to do a quick follow up post to my last one, Is it Workout Burnout? so that you can learn how to avoid and prevent workout burnout from happening to you. Not something that just happens to beginners, even the most experienced athletes can become burnt out the when they ignore the signs and keep pushing.

Staying consistent in your routine is the key to success so avoiding exercise burnout is important if you have goals to reach. Here are some tips on how to avoid workout burnout;

  • Ease into it – if you are new to working out you’ll want to take it easy at first and allow your body and mind to adjust. 2-3, 30 minute sessions per week is a good place to start, gradually increasing over time.
  • Keep things fresh – avoid doing the same routine every session, this will get boring fast and boredom decreases motivation.
  • Switch it up – your routine should have minor changes every 4 weeks and should change almost completely every 8-12 weeks. Not only is this to keep things from getting stale but is also key in breaking plateaus.
  • Rest – rest days are just important as training days. While at rest your muscles heal and grow and strength improves. You also lower your risk of injuries, reduce fatigue and avoid burnout.
  • Reward yourself – set goals and when you hit them, reward yourself! Lost the first 5lbs, get yourself a deep tissue massage. Hit the gym all 5 weekdays this week? Treat yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant.
  • Get a gym buddy – having someone join you during your workouts is not only great for motivation and accountability but can make your sessions that much more enjoyable.
  • Play – the gym is like a playground for adults and guaranteed, there are going to be some machines or accessories you will have a lot of fun with. Play around, learn new things and have fun with your workouts!

 

Is it Workout BurnOut?

burntoutGym life is going great, you’ve been giving it your all, making it in to the gym as much as you possibly can and the results are starting to show. It’s an amazing feeling and you can’t believe you waited so long to start and all you can think about is your next session.

Then one day you find yourself a little moody and the littlest things start to annoy you. You shrug it off and keep on training even though your a little tired because you haven’t been sleeping very well the past few nights. That of course is the reason why your workouts now leave you feeling fatigued instead of energized and you seem to be sore longer than usual. Next thing you know, your usual gym session time rolls around and for the first time you dread going.

If you nodded your head yes while reading that then you are, or are, on your way to workout burnout. The main signs of burn out include, but are not limited to-

  • sudden feelings of moodiness
  • feeling sad or down
  • having troubles sleeping or sleeping too much
  • increase or decrease in appetite
  • muscle soreness that lasts longer than usual
  • exercise leaves you feeling fatigued and not energized
  • feel unmotivated
  • you’re getting sick frequently or taking longer to recover

Now what? Well, the good news is, you can get back to that euphoric state that exercise gave you but first, you need to listen to your body and take a time out. Exercise burnout not only takes a toll on you physically, but mentally as well and it’s important that you give both body and mind some time to relax to avoid making things even worse. For many avid gym goers, this wont be easy, missing a day in the gym leaves you feeling guilty and anxious. The thing is though, your body is going to appreciate it and in this time, heal, allowing you to accomplish even more when you get back to it.

So how long do we need to rest for? This is completely individual, for some it may be a few days where as others may need a little longer. I do not suggest you stop all forms of fitness completely, but you most definitely need to take it down a notch (maybe two) and allow your body to heal. During this time it also important to work on your mental well being and take the time to remind yourself this is for the best and not beat yourself up over it. Remind yourself why you started working out, why you loved it so much and why you want it to be a positive part of your life. Then, when the time is right, ease back into it and enjoy it and the countless benefits it has to offer. ♥