Official Blog of Allison Ethier

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Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
Official blog of Allison Ethier NSCA Personal Trainer, ISSN Sport Nutrition, Educator & Mom

28 July 2008

I feel cranky!

This is probably where it all begins. Today. I do feel really cranky today. I am not sure why I feel this way. Could it be the low calories that I have been on for the last 6-8 weeks? Maybe. Could it be my training? Maybe. Could it be that mother nature is set to visit soon? Maybe.

It is really easy at this time to start taking it out on your family and significant other. This is one of the main reasons why relationships in this industry don't last. It is hard for the other person to 'take it' all the time. During this period of time before the show one has to really keep their emotions in check. Imagine if every time I did a show I would treat my significant other or children disrespectfully? How many more shows do you think they would support me in? I try to do as much or even more for them during this time. It helps with those final few days as I am kept busy. Also, they are benefiting from my extra attention (or at least I think they do), before I leave for a few days. (I leave for Vancouver in 11 days but who is counting.)

I don't know how I managed to do 5-7 shows/year in my previous 10 years of competition. I am only on my second show this year and am due for another break. I can sense that my body is tired. I know I want to spend more time with my family without having to prep my food. At times, I feel I am always shopping for groceries, and preparing meals. This seems to happen on average every 3 days. I spend quite a bit of time looking at my watch--when to eat next; when to train. It does get a bit much (near the end especially) and everyone needs to have a sense normalcy in their lives.

I do have at least 2 weeks of vacation remaining after the Nationals. I will be spending another week in Toronto and then back to the Maritimes. I love spending my time there, and anyone who has ever visited knows how friendly, and warm this place is.

Near the end of the week, if I can figure it out, I will post some video of my posing and my routine.


25 July 2008

2 weeks before I leave....and something I have noticed.

I am starting to feel a bit of pressure for this Nationals. It is pressure, of course, that I put on myself. In the back of my mind, I know the outcome is out of my hands. Sometimes, I wonder if I create 'issues' in my mind. If I am not feeling stress or worry, I wonder if I really should be worried, and decide to create drama.

Do you create your own drama in your life? For example, I have this really good friend, and we all close to her knows that she creates her own drama. We tell her she is addicted to it.

I mention this as my training is going really well. I am on vacation and am able to focus on my training, get plenty of rest, spend time with my son, husband, and friends. Basically, I am not killing myself training. This is, of course, in comparison to when I am working, or my training of previous years. I can say that my training so far has been fun.

Could it be that after all this time I have finally found a balance? Being able to compete and have a life? If this is true, I have to say that it has been a long road to this point.

Around this time I am somewhat moody, and a little on edge. This does not seem to be the case at this point. But, I do still have 2 weeks to go so we will see. In order to cope, I do let my hubby know and we talk it out. It is more me talking and him going 'uh hun'. ;)

I am appreciative and thankful to have Erik Ledin of LeanBodiesConsulting on my team. It has been easier to stay motivated. I am more enthusiatic now, since my workouts are more of a challenge. It is a joy to lift heavy, and see the progression and changes in my body. To have a second set of eyes and opinions really helps.

Sylvia Tremblay is once again doing my suits. She does amazing work and has great customer service. She lives right around the corner so this is really a no brainer. She also did my routine costume. She is competing too. In my class - the short class. This is going to be one hard class.

In CBBF Fitness there are 3 rounds. The preliminary Rounds are in the morning. There is Round 1 consisting of the physique round - 2-piece of my choice. Then Round 2 is the fitness round. Round 3 is during the evening show which is the same 2-piece, but the top 5 are called out and are compared again. Some tell me that this is not judged, but is just for show.

I feel my physique has made some good changes this week. I am doing my routine full out, and can hit all the moves. A good friend made a recommendation to put a few other moves in my routine but it is pretty packed. It was really hard for me to cut down my music which was designed for 2 min down to 1 min 30 seconds. I am not sure why the CBBF seems to do everything just a bit differently. Speaking of the CBBF - the quarter turn to the side - is the jury still out on that one? Is it facing completely to the side, a la USA, or with the upper torso facing front (torso twist)? Hard to practice that one when there are so many variations.

My son was in the picture and well, I thought it to be funny to post this one.

22 July 2008

A humbling experience...lessens learned.

I have to tell this story. I have to get it 'out of my head'. (For those of you with conplusive minds that don't tend to shut off - yes, I have these tendancies too.) I am being completely honest. NO BS.

In March - 3 week after the Arnold I decided to do a small show here in Montreal Quebec. It was close to my home and I was 'in shape' from the Arnold (or so I thought). The show was to qualify me to attend the 'World Qualifier' which will be held in Laval Quebec in March of 2009. I had not planned to attend the world qualifier this year (which was in Winnipeg) but since the show was basically in my back yard next year it would have been good to go. Also if I do not win my pro card this year (the show coming up in 3 weeks), then this would be my back up plan for shows to compete in. (I would go to the Amateur again, and then the World Qualifier in 2009). So my reasons to do this show was:

1. to qualify me for WQ of 2009 &,
2. get my face out there in the Quebec fitness culture &,
3. show that I am serious about winning my pro card by only competing for CBBF events.

You might think that after all my years of competition and living in Quebec for the last 8 years, the FCPAQ (provincial body of the CBBF in Quebec) would have see my face before (and some have) but I wanted to be seen by the Quebec judges and see how the shows 'goes down' in this part of the CBBF. I knew that at Nationals some of the judges are the same and I just want to show them my stuff. This practice is nothing new. Many pros compete in many shows during the year, to hopefully get a better 'look' at the bigger shows.

I took a good friend of mine to the show with me for moral support.

When we arrived at the show, we went to the mandatory athlete meeting. At the meeting the regular things happened: sign in, hand in your music, show your bikini (making sure it was not too small), and that is about it. The guy signing us in was pleasant, and there was myself and one other girl competing. Great. Two fitness gals. The guy taking my music was asking me for my posing music - and well I never clued in - 'posing music?'. Fitness gals don't pose is what I thought. I told him that is my routine music and he responded like 'oh yeah' just the routine, shaking his head. I thought that was the end of it.

The next day, during the prelims everything went well. Everyone was back stage, tanning up. In Quebec they do things a little differently - for the figure girls - they do the quarter turns, but they also do individual posing routines of walking across a catwalk, and doing open handed bodybuilding poses. Kinda like strutting their stuff across the stage, and well 'prancing' is what I call it. Great that is what the figure girls do.

Fitness was up and we did the comparison round of the quarter turns. 3 weeks prior to this I did the Arnold show, and the 1/4 turn to the side, we face completely to the side now. Well, I did this in Quebec too. Apparently I was not to do this, and well was to the 1/4 to the side, the old way with my upper body facing front, lower trunk facing side. Seemingly no one corrected me as I stood onstage, and would feel the effects later.

The routine round was awesome. The crowd was nuts and loved watching my routine. I loved performing it for them as they were so responsive. Quebec has a great bodybuilding and fitness culture. They really understand the sport, and what it takes to get up on stage.

We wrapped up the morning prelims, and went back to the hotel for a nap.

During the evening show, as I was waiting backstage, I did have a girl come up to me and ask me if I was 'so and so'. I said sure, that is me. She wondered why I was here. And I explained to her my goals, and she seem to understand. She seemed to imply that this show was a bit small for me, and various others (her words) were wondering too why I was here.

I was a little bit taken a back by the implication that certain shows are perhaps beneath me just because I have some experience. I love to compete and well, regardless of the stature of the show, when you decide to change federations you have to follow the rules and well, start at the bottom and work your way back up. Sure the year previous I did go to Nationals, but that is a completely different stream of shows, from the WQ.

After we did a quick set of quarter turns, it was back into the fitness outfit for the routine. The crowd was even bigger than the morning. I was so pumped to be doing my routine. It went perfect, and the crowd applauded and cheered. I love that feeling. Perhaps that is what I am addicted to. The admiration of the crowd when a job well done is performed.

After that round, we were told to get back into our bikini's for the 3rd round - this is where I was confused.

The 3rd round consisted of the fitness gals, prancing like the figure gals and doing a posing routine to music - like bodybuilders. The other girl did not have music either and knew nothing of this round. (or at least she seemed to be on the same page with me - like hun? What are we to do?). This is something that i would have practiced had I known this round existed.
The other girl went first, and she looked as though she knew what she was doing. She did great. I however, I am sure, looked akward, and well out of sorts. I certainly felt off. When I got off stage the other girl and I exchanged high fives, to signify - wow, we got through it.

When it came time to announce the awards, 2 things always go through my mind.

1. Look happy for the other girl (s) when your name is not annouced, and

2. Answer to the question: Did you do the best you possibly could? If the answer is 'yes' the outcome for me (whichever placing - 'is what it is' - you will hear competitors say this a lot). If it is 'no' I still have to accept whatever placing I receive. (but I always try to prepare my training for a yes answer)

Well needless to say I was annouced 2nd. 2nd against a girl who has never competed before. I was a bit surprised. Even after they had given me the best routine award. I guess I did not know how to feel.

Many people came up to me afterward, and said that the federation was 'teaching me a lesson'. I was a 'transfer' from another federation or various other federations. Ok, I though well how long are they going to consider me 'not' to be apart of the family. I mean I have my membership with the federation, I have paid my money, what more do they want? Maybe I just don't believe that this would be the case. I really cannot believe the hype or that there is politics. I am perhaps still a bit naive or whatever you might call it. Or perhaps I just want to always believe that people do the right thing - all the time. I was asked many times who was my trainer and where did I train - maybe just for information purposes...but after telling them I do everything; confusion would appear on their faces.

After a while I did come to the conclusion that I was a bit embarrassed. Embarrassed that I lost to a girl who has never competed before. Why was this important? Well, since I want to have my pro card this year, and I cannot compete well against a girl who has no experience - how can I possibly best those girls at Nationals who have a lot of experience. (God, that feels so good to say it). This is my biggest fear, and why I probably was so upset at the time, but could not verbalize it.

I did wait around for the judges to see what feedback I could get - something I will never recommend for other girls to do in a such a subjective sport (and with your emotions running high & food running low, not a good idea - maybe a quick email a few days post show when you have recoved, but I digress) - I received so many pieces of advice - your shoulders are ok, your shoulders are to small, your butt is soft, your inner thigh you need to work on, your calves are too big - name it they mentioned it. The judges were arguing between themselves on what information to give me. I was even more confused and just thanked them so that I could go and drown my disappointment and embarrassment in some food.

After much reflection (in my friend) and various other friends in the industry - I have a new perspective on this show. What was I to learn?

You cannot have the highs without the lows, and well yes, maybe I was not at my best. I think I may have strayed a bit on my diet, and well I was not at MY best. I see that now. I did not bring the package I brought to the Arnolds, and well, did not even think anyone would be competing in fitness. (how many girls opt to do fitness nowadays....? Figure is stacked). Maybe (as some would mention to me, their words not mine) they were punishing me for competing for other federations years before. (I still don't believe this one...although have these thoughts...). I know now I needed to refocus and work harder for this show (for instance Nationals). This is where I really want to shine. I know that I am capable of good work, and just have to be on stage to show it.

But if I do look at my goals/reasons for doing the show - I accomplished them all. I met all my goals. The goal was not win, but the other 3 reasons mention - mostly to qualify for WQ next year in 2009 in Laval.

Nationals will be a good showing for me. I know what to present, and whatever the outcome I will still be working out at the gym the next day, eating well, and keeping active. That is just who I am. It would be amazing to be able to compete as a Pro in the IFBB representing Canada at least for one year. I mean, I am not getting any younger; but least with each show I am getting wiser.


20 July 2008

18 days till I leave for Nationals

Here we go - the final 3 weeks. This is probably the roughest time for a fitness/figure competitor. You are so close, and have to watch everything that you do. Your diet (most of the training), your training, for me routine practice, supplementary cardio (if needed), rest, your emotions (as sometimes they can be wacky), and try to maintain focus as the light is at the end of the tunnel is near.

I get very motivated at this time. Especially when I search the internet to see who will be competing in fitness. I know for sure from the previous year - Chantal Dicaire, Sylvia Tremblay, Allison Black, Tamara Vaughn, Ocean Bloom, and maybe Meagan McCurdy. All very talented fitness gals vying for the one pro card - an issue for another time maybe. It is going to be one tough show, as all the bodies of the girls I just mentioned are very different. The judges never give an indication of what they are going for. Everyone just seems to accept the fact that it is big, bad, and somewhat hard. I don't want to say hard - as some of the girls last year (IMO) were not hard, just big and bad. So maybe they are going for more of a shape, than leanness. I can never tell.

This year I am focusing on bringing my best shape. One that compliments the physique that I already have or should I say - been given by my parents. For the routine - I always try to bring the hardest routine that I can. That is the fun for me. I love to show off, and have the audience reaction of applause. That gets me pumped.

Erik has reassured me that I am working hard enough. Even though my cardio is low, my weights are heavy and intense. Love that. It is great to be lifting heavy. Routine is coming along as I am running it full out now. Twice today. That is about as much as I can handle. Then I am spent and need to eat.

Now this week - again diet was on, training was on. I still have quite a few days to make changes, and I am only doing around 2 hours and 30 mins of cardio. The diet has been hard as we have had many social events, and parties at our house this summer. So I am baking and cooking, and not even licking my fingers - nothing. Cannot have one taste of sugar at all.
This week I am going to cut back on my yogurt, and cut out my sweetener - I usually don't but since this show is so important I don't mind making a few sacrifices. Right now I am only eating the following foods: oatmeal, egg whites, no fat yogurt, bananas, chicken, ground chicken, broccoli, asparagus, sweet potato, protein shakes and dill pickles. Sounds really boring, but it is only temporary and I know that all those other foods that I love will still be around after the show.

Here are some pics from this week - on Friday.

11 July 2008

28 days to go.

I am home now from my 5 days in Toronto and then a 16 hour drive to the Maritimes. I spent around 9 days in the Maritimes. My training in the Maritimes was good. I was staying near the beach (which was a no brainer), but there was no gym in the area. So I had to commute to the city everyday. To and fro from, back and forth, to where I was staying to the gym on a daily basis, started to get a bit annoying. Where my home is, everything is very close, so having to wait to get somewhere is not something that I like. In my car anyways. If I walked a bit (like in Toronto) that is not a huge waste of time as I am exercising at the same time. Driving does not allow for that.

I also still have work to do from school, and other things in fitness to take care of so I needed to be home to do just that. Plus with my son, travelling with him, well, he was very reluctant to stay with relatives. Sure there is an adjustment for him, but if it is with the same person every day, that would be ok, but shuffling him to house to house well, has to be hard on him too. I know he enjoyed his time with the family too, but now that we are home....I can see that he missed being home too.

I LOVE the Maritimes and would stay there all summer if I could. Maybe next summer.....;)

Training has been good, considering the flux in my schedule. Diet has been perfect. One day I had a small blip as I went into town, thinking I would be back for supper. Well, got into my car to go home for the afternoon/evening and nothing happened. My car would not start/turn over, nothing....not one noise. Called CAA. Got a tow to the nearest shop to see what the issue was with my car. This can put a lot of stress on a person, but luckily I was at a friend of the family's house, and well, they were very generous to help me. Found out that my starter had gone on my car - it is not that old - 8 years. But I hear that cars don't last very long anymore. I would think they would last longer than 8 years - and I only have 110 000 km on it. Over 8 years...that is not a lot.

Still even with this I managed to eat properly.

Routine - started front half, back half. I am considering changing the music, but then again maybe not. Things are done and I know what comes next so maybe I will go with the familiar rather than something more current.

Today was my cheat meal - egg salad sandwich and peanuts - very exciting.

Here are some updated pics as of today. I still have 4 weeks to go.

05 July 2008

Trip to Toronto

My trip to Toronto last week went great. It was a busy few days. Drove up on Wed. Shot on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. Then I drove back to Quebec on Monday, stopped in at my school to finish up a few things and then kept driving to the Maritimes. It was a very long day.
I managed to stay on my diet for the whole time away, with the exception of Sunday night, and Monday as I ran out of food. Even though, I still managed to eat well while travelling, and my cheat foods are not really full out binging cheats. I did get in 3 days of workouts, mind you they were not as intense as I would have liked. Saw some of the photos and would love to share, but I have to keep them underwraps until September.

No cover shoot for Oxygen yet. I did do some wonderful training shots, which is great. I am looking to progress to the next level. I do my own leg work, and don't have an agent. I also don't live in a hub that puts me in a more likely position to shoot with various magazines. This can be very frustrating. I also worked with Cathy Chatterton, which were have been emailing for 2 years now, so it was wonderful to finally meet her. Also with my sponsor - Slimquick Extreme - so that we could update all my photos. Hopefully those turned out, as I did work with Glen Grant. Great to work with him in a professional setting.

While in Toronto I made a few observations; I am not a 'city chick'. I grew up in a relatively small town, or various small towns, and am quite shocked at the few random events that happened while in Toronto.
I do have to mention the positives - such as taking the subway and walking everywhere. I used to do this all the time when I was in college, and do miss it. What a great way to get in some extra cardio. My friend and fellow fitness gal - Liana Saadi - offered up her place to crash while I was in T.O. It was a wonderful area, near U of T, and everything was in walking distance. Since I live in the country, and have to drive everywhere, walking is not something that I do often and when I do visit the city, it is refreshing to just take in the sights and sounds.
With walking everywhere, you do up your chance of getting injuries - oh, let's just mention almost being hit by a woman in her car, not paying attention to the crosswalk signs. Luckily I was paying attention.
There are many sights to behold when on the subway as well - couples making out without noticing everyone else watching them...or maybe it was just me watching; a guy with so many sticks, and piercings coming out of his face some could think he was a distant cousin of a dart board; and people just sleeping, randomly - everywhere. I guess if you live here, you learn to get used to these sights. I am a huge people watcher so for me this is very entertaining.
I think I could just ride the subway, and watch people.
It was also Gay Pride weekend in Toronto. Although I did not go, Liana did attend and shot some very interesting photos. I did not know you could just walk around naked for the day??

I am currently vacationing in the Maritimes and will post some pics soon. I am finding it a bit tough to get to the gym, so I am trying to keep my diet on track. I am staying 30mins from the closest gym so to train, and return home takes about 2 hours. Still have not started routine practice yet. I will be doing that for sure next week. Just wanted to get my bearings first. I am finding that I am hungry sooner. This can be a good thing, but I still have 32 days left to diet, and I just don't want to get too lean too fast, and then I look too skinny. The other girls are so beefy that I just want to make sure I preserve all my muscle.

I will be moving to a different house next week. This should be a bit more consistent in my schedule. I am coming to realize that is the most difficult part of the summer - trying to keep a consistent schedule. Dieting in the summer is not what I would choose to do. It is all in line with achieving my pro card. I am not happy that the National show is in August, and really don't understand why Canada continues to do things so backward. A late fall show - say in October/November, or an early spring show in April/May would not fit well into my schedule in terms of travel, but in terms of timing & the diet - for me it would be much easier. I would be at work, with a consistent schedule, not a lot of travel involved, be very busy all the time - which I find helps to keep me on track. Not sure if I am just making excuses, or am having a bit of a minor bitch session here. Ok maybe this is a mini-vent. Thanks for reading, talk soon,