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 November 2009

Late Nov/Early Dec Update

Where has the time gone? Since the Olympia I have been working hard at school - teaching my new workload of grade 8 math, science, and ethics. I know this school year has been extremely hard, and I have not had this much work to do in 8 years. My first year of teaching was this busy, but that was to be expected.

I teach the same group of students all 3 subject areas. So I see them at least once a day, and sometimes twice. With all that has changed for me this year, I have to say that someone has blessed me with awesome students. I don't want them to know that I think they are awesome, but they ALL are awesome. As long as my lessons are well constructed - they all will work, and be on task. All of them. Some minor discipline issues, but they are in grade 8 this is normal. But overall, they work, they hand in their stuff, and are conscious of their behavior.

I wanted to give up one course, as I am working 50+ hours a week for a job that requires me to be in the building (including teaching time) 16 hours. My goal for taking a reduced workload was to spend more time with my son, and that was not happening. I am still really confused on what to do. I am sure the year will pass by and nothing will change. I will probably have taught this new workload (secretly enjoying my students more), and then see what will happen for me next year.

I have talked with my principal, and expressed my unhappiness, and hopefully he will listen. Right now he does not seem to be listening. He says he will talk to me in February and explain why the change was made. People around me are baffled why the change was made. Hopefully I will get more clarification later in the year.

Other options...

I am still toying with the idea of doing personal training. Yes, I do want to do this but finding the time is tough. I can find the time to mom stuff, teaching stuff, wife stuff, house stuff, me stuff (when needed), and try to do the fitness stuff - however doing fitness stuff for others is more time than there is in 24 hour day. This is a project that I will be researching and working on over the next few months.

Lately, I am not sleeping well. Do you ever get like that? Not being able to sleep for no reason? I finally feel like I have control over the situation at work. But still, not sleeping. Tired, but not sleepy.

New IFBB Pro....

I think I might be excited for the upcoming fitness season. I still really enjoy competing and know that I am not finished just yet. I get very excited when I think about the upcoming shows, and events. I have applied to the Arnold Fitness International and am hopeful that I will get an invite. I am a huge fan of the event, and after having competing twice in the Arnold Amateur, I would love to be at the Arnold now as an IFBB Pro. I would love to be able to show my stuff on THAT stage. I have been dreaming of this moment since I began fitness, and it is very close now. I am so grateful to still be doing this after all these years, and just hope to continue for a few more years. The Arnold and eventually the Olympia are my goals for 2010. I do have other shows that I would like to do this year and will post that list later in the month.

I am always training. People I know always ask, "still training?" My answer of course is always 'yes' still training but not always dieting. I don't go through those phases of going for a while, and then stopping. I always go to the gym at least 4-5 times per week. Even at my busiest with school or fitness I still manage to go. I find of the diet, sleep or training - if I am lacking time sleep is the first to go. Then diet, then training. I am enjoying my break, and know that it is time to get on the wagon again, but like last year at this time, I am looking forward to the shows, and the preparations. I think I have come to realize that I no longer have to do fitness, I choose to do fitness. For years, and then some I would compete out of pressure (self pressure or external pressure) to compete. I felt I had to compete. Now, I truly want to compete.

To eat or not to eat....?

Do I find certain aspects of dieting hard? Sure. When I am stressed, or near that time of the month I feel like binging. In fact I think I have always been a food binger. Fitness did not bring it out in me. I can remember at times in University eating a whole pizza by myself. Or huge bowls of pasta. But I was so active that it never caught up to me. I live on either end of the bell curve. There is no happy medium with me. I am either all in or all out. I cannot have just a few m&ms. It is the whole bag. Just because I know what to do does not make it easier for me. So how do I stay on track? Deny, deny, deny. I know that in the end the means are justified. The means for fitness includes the diet. It is just part of the preparation.

When I take breaks from the diet - like now, the urge to binge goes away. I always consider food as a source of energy, and not just for pleasure. Sure there are times that I allow myself to go crazy. Once a week at the most. Again, when I am working I am super busy, train regularly, and am active, so can afford the calories. Right now I have no urge to binge eat. There are a few Christmas parties coming up, and I always arrive already fed. That way I will not fill up on just anything. Most times I will just have a drink or two and wait to get home to eat. I always ask myself if eating the food will make the social event better. Most times it won't. It is not always about food, but when you are dieting, some how it is all about the food.

Suggestion for future shows...

I wish I could compete without having to be in shape, and just do the routine. Hey, they have bikini, figure, fitness model why can't they have 'just routine'. They have just body events, why not just truly routine events? I know that most girls don't want to (or feel they are not capable) do the routine so they do figure or fitness. What if there are girls who just don't want to do the diet - they should have just the fitness routine. Maybe that would bring more girls to the arena. And it is highly entertaining as well.

So what is going on now? I am focusing on getting a new routine in the works - music first and then starting my diet in hopes of making to the Arnold this year. There is another pro show 2 weeks prior to the Arnold, and am hoping to be able to make it to that one as well.

I think the list for the Arnold is out around the 3 week of December......

Until then.....

A.

17 October 2009

October 2009 Update

Hi Everyone-

It has been 5 weeks since my last show, and 3 weeks since the Olympia, and boy, am I craving another show. I am sure that it is not the right time to compete, or perhaps that I still follow the shows online, but I do like when my body is in tip top shape.

Olympia 2009
My first experience at the Olympia was great. I arrived on Thursday and puttered around. I worked all day at the Bodybuilding.com booth on Friday and Saturday. By Saturday night I was pretty spent and super tired for the flight home on Sunday. The 3 hour time change did me in for sure. I did work out both Friday and Saturday morning to try to get acclimated as quickly as I could. Flying West is ok for me, but coming home is the worst.

I managed to go out on Friday night, as there were friends in town that I had not seen in a while so I had to take advantage of the situation. However, I did have to cut the night short in order to look 'presentable' for Saturday. I am sure glad I did. Saturday I thought I was going to be able to make it, and perhaps stay up all night long, but a 6am flight the next morning (yes, I realized later that this was not smart) was hindering me from a having a good time so I cut the night short and went to bed. I just cannot seem to party it up like I once could. And reality set in as I did have to go back to work on Monday, and well, was not familiar enough with the material in order blow off an entire night partying. Plus, I have responsibilities at home (ahem, my son). Anyone who has kids knows that being tired, and taking care of a young child is not fun. Next time I do go to the Olympia I will plan for one more day for recovery. It was a again, a fabulous time at the Bodybuilding.com and after party at the Encore - at XS. Gorgeous club - I would love to be able to go and enjoy once more. :) Next year for sure, I will plan to stay out late and party the night away in Vegas. (typical me though...even since college I have been known to get all dolled up, start having a good time, and then just get too tired and go to bed..weird, I know...?)

Another show?
I had a huge desire to go to one more show for the year - the Fort Lauderdale Pro. However, after discussing it with my hubby and knowing that I had traveled every 2nd weekend for the last 8 weeks (for 5 days a piece), I realized this was not a good idea. Another day off work, and time away from my family - I had make the right choice and not go. It was not the diet, or the training or any of the prep stuff that would inhibit me from going. I was pretty selfish for the last 8 weeks, and got a lot of support and encouragement for it, so I had to let the year end on a good note (the Olympia) and set my sights on next year.

Right now I am watching the 2009 World Fitness Championships online, and really wish I could be there. Again I had to decide a while back about this show. No regrets for sure, but the experience would have been nice. I would have to take at least 2 weeks off work, and well, that is just not feasible when you are a teacher. So instead, I am going to Sri Lanka, and Qatar at Christmas. Travel - yes; dieting, and training probably not.

It is a tough choice sometimes when you choose to compete. Finding the balance between family and your training can be very taxing on relationships and your work. I find myself looking for the balance in those moments. Training will always take a back seat to my family, if the decision has to be made. I do plan way in advance for any show - I ask my hubby - 'hey, I would like to X show at this time - can WE do this'. It is not just about me, as I do need him to be on board with whatever I choose. I mean, he gives me the same respect. If he wants to spend weekend with the boys, he asks, and says 'hey is this ok?' We discuss it and then decide. Luckily this is the way our relationship has always been. I am grateful that he lets me be me.

Teaching.
I have to say that this year has been the toughest year of teaching yet. There have been numerous issues that I have been through since the beginning of school 7 weeks ago. I am trying really hard to keep my head up. And just 'keep swimming'. I do feel as though I am finally getting my feet under me. I did have this huge plan to help students who are not succeeding, and find the reason why. Instead of doing this with grade 9s and 10s, I have implemented my plan with grade 8s. They are a little more needy than grade 9s and 10s, but I like them. I am a 50% workload, but yet, I work all the time. I am trying to find the balance with my work. I plan to work during the day, and try not to take work home.
I know that I am doing better teaching than I have ever done over the last 8 years. This change has been a wakeup call in many areas, especially when it comes to life's work. I constantly question whether I am doing my 'life's work', and if teaching really is my calling. I am not sure I am ready to be put in this type of box for the next 10, 20 or even 30 years. I am feeling at times very confined, restricted, and unhappy. There are moments that I enjoy - like the teaching and interacting with my students, however, all the other administration stuff can really bog you down. It keeps me shaking my head, and wonder why I continue to put up with this nonsense?

Training.
I love to train. I love to train heavy. Right now I am back to an older program in order to put on some more size in my upper body. Hopefully I can do this. The most difficult part is eating a bit more to keep up with the demands I place on my body. I like to stay relatively lean all year long, and when I up the weights, there are times when the lbs like to come on as well. It is always different as this time I am moving much more than I have ever in the past for my work. I am in different corners of the school, which requires me to be go, go, go. Eating more has not showed up on my body yet, but again it has only been 5 weeks since my last show.

Post show ...this time around.
Last time I was post show, I had many feelings of depression and basically gorged myself with food to make myself feel better (mid March/April 2009). This time I took control and I did not allow it to happen. Sure I ate a bit more, but the overly full feeling you get from eating too much just did not feel right this time. I was wondering if I did that subconsciously to sabotage something good that was going on in my life. I am continuing to try to be grateful for what I have rather than what I don't have. I have my health, my family is doing well, I have food on my plate, clothes on my back and a roof over my head. All the other stuff (which I do stress about) is unimportant. I realized that last time I was punishing myself for things I have no control over. The only thing I can control is my training, my diet, and my reaction to things. I knew this time that I would not gain all my weight back in 2 weeks. So far it is working and I am feeling wonderful. I still have my treats with my friends, and eat well (or clean) the rest of the time. Just because you have experience with training, dieting and competitions, does not make it easier to make the right choice after the show. I do know what to do; just this time I am actually following advice I would give someone else.

What's next?
I do hope to get an invite to the Arnold Classic. I will have to put in a request or some sort of application to be invited, and then the list of competitors who will be invited is posted online around Christmas time. That way it still give us all time to get our diets together before the Christmas holidays begin. I have many ideas rolling around in my head for a new routine. I am very excited to begin work on that but will have to wait and see if I can get invited.

Based on last year's schedule quite a few shows were in March/April (in fitness) and I would like to take a go at the them at least once. I am coming to a new understanding of where I am at in my whole fitness hobby, and would like to enjoy all of it with my eyes wide open. I know it cannot happen like this forever, and I just want to make the most of it.

2010 Bodybuilding.com Ironman Spokesmodel contest
The 2010 Spokesmodel contest is now on - make sure you sign up. It is for guys, and gals. Just get yourself a bodyspace profile, and sign up - you never know what could happen. ;)

19 September 2009

Olympia 2009 - Las Vegas


Don't you just love the autumn? I have had or we have had, I should say, a very wet summer, and now the weather is just beautiful. I would have liked July to be a 'school' month, and then we should have September off. Just a thought...

Well, it has been one week since my last show. I am craving another show. Yes, I am crazy but I would love to do the Fort Lauderdale pro show which is the 10th of October. I know that my physique is not on par with other pros, but it is a work in progress. I would like to just have more experience on the pro circuit, have fun with the girls, and just 'see how I do'. Placing well was important, as it lead to a Pro card, but now I just want to get better each time I compete. Not sure if doing another show is in my schedule, but I know I want to, but perhaps may not have the time to. It does land on Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and well, the weekend before is homecoming at the local University and well, things can get a bit crazy around here during that time. ;)

Oh, and I did I mention, I am moving all week. Yes, we bought a new house. My husband has been moving things all week, while I oriented myself back at school. I do feel as though I have my feet under me know. It can be very stressful when you just don't know what you are doing with your job. This weekend, I am planning on doing all the 'little stuff' for the move, and then letting him and his helpers (he has lined up many), move all the furniture when I am gone. So when I return we will be in the new house.

Next weekend is the Olympia! I have never been to the Olympia. I hear it is quite a scene. I will be working the Bodybuilding.com booth all weekend. Lots of product to give away so make sure this is your #1 spot to visit if you are planning on attending the expo. I am hoping to attend the night shows, but I think they might be all sold out!

I am trying to 'hold the line' with my physique this week. It is hard at times, but I am managing. I did not want to go through the rebound that I experienced last March after the Arnold. This time I think I have things under control. I was not as strict with myself, and did diet longer, but not harder.

After returning home from the Atlantic City Pro show, I had an interview with Jenna Mitcheson with American Body Plus. It was wonderful to be able to talk about my experiences this year. I find through my blog, and talking to others you gain a good perspective about competition, life, and the balance between the two.

And I did an interview with Dave Palumbo, for RXMuscle.com and I found my routine and the post win Interview. I was very excited, and extremely proud to be in that moment.

And I did post my 45 second routine on my YouTube channel.

See you all really soon at the Olympia - I will be arriving Thursday.

A.

12 September 2009

Atlantic City Pro

(45 sec cat suit - Gone!)
Hi Everyone-

It has been a really long journey this year. Many highs. And many moments that make you ask yourself, 'why do I do this again?'. Well, being in Atlantic City and having my Pro debut moment was definitely worth all the ups, and downs and then some.

I was prepping all week for school to make sure my students were taken care of for the classes that I was going to be absent. I am really hoping things went well, and I did bribe them with candy so I hope that worked ;)

They had posted the final list of competitors at www.ifbbpro.com , and well I was not on the list. All week I was anticipating my name to be on 'the list' of competitors competing at the Atlantic City Pro, and well, I hate to admit this but when I did see my name on the list by Wed night (the night before I was to leave), I was a bit worried. Did they not accept my application? What was going on? I emailed them just to make sure, (and a few other friends to see if this was normal), and they all reassured me things would be fine and I would be able to compete. I can be a bit of a worrier, if all my ducks are not in a row. I was leaving Thursday around noon, so sleeping Wed night was a bit tough. I did call the IFBB on Thursday am, to verbally confirm my attendance, and they again, reassured me that everything would be ok, and I would be on 'the list' by today. And after teaching a class, I checked back and by noon - I was on 'the list'!
Huge moment for me. To be listed among these girls is such an inspiration and honor.

So I went home, got my gear together and I was off.

But before I was even on the highway to the airport - I got stopped. I got myself a speeding ticket. Damn. I will be checking for the speed signs on the way home, for sure. I thought it was a certain limit, and well the cop told me otherwise. I am mentioning this, as I was determined to not let it bother me, and affect my focus. These 'little issues' can sometimes bring us down, and well, I have been working toward not letting the 'little issues' get to me so that I can focus on what is most important. And this ticket, although annoying, is not a huge issue.

My flight at the airport, was delayed, but that was fine, as I did have work to do.

I arrived quite late in Philadelphia, and then took a shuttle to Atlantic city and the host hotel. It was a long trip, and I was glad to get to my hotel. Atlantic city does remind me of Las Vegas, but my driver, told me not to 'insult' Vegas by doing that. ;)

Friday I was up early to tan with JanTana. Then off to the athlete meeting at noon to get my number, and hand in the music. I was the last girl to sign in, as well, I was not on 'the list' they had at the table. However I reassured them that I was ok to compete, and received my number (#13), and handed in my 2 rounds of music.

On my way to the hotel I did hear the news. Yes, I am one of 2 (Sofia Johnson is the other), to be the last pro debut fitness gals to do the 45 second routine, and one piece. (All those going to the Olympia are not pro debut girls). The IFBB Pro has decided to do away with the 45 second mandatory round, and the one piece round. Anyone want to buy a full body cat suit? See more information on HardBody.com.

(Renee, and I)

I met some new girls at the meeting, talked a bit, and then was back upstairs to get some more tanning. My friend Renee came down from New York to visit, and hang with me for the weekend. She was a huge help, again, a friend bringing me groceries, and just helping with other things for the show. I don't usually travel with anyone, but having her here, really helped me this weekend. There is nothing around the hotel to buy groceries, etc, and well it is quite expensive here in Atlantic city.

Friends, good friends, like Renee, I have made through competing in fitness. I do feel really blessed to have them around me.

The afternoon was filled with getting ready for the night show pre-judging which started at 5pm. The one piece was first. Tracey MacDonald who so lovingly lent me her one piece, was a beautiful CeeJay suit. I was tanned, oiled and ready to go. It was so great to be up there with those girls. There were 3 call outs, myself in the 3rd call out with the other newbies. Sometimes I find myself on stage watching the other girls rather than focusing on what I am doing. It was very exciting and very hot on the stage. Man, the lights were hot. I was sweating quite a bit under that one piece. The round went quite quickly.

The two piece round was next. I started to turn a bit green. It has been a long season for me, so my skin is probably sick of the tanning, and scrubbing. So I tried to fix it and with the help of Marnie Holley (fellow Canadian and fitness pro) help to fix my color. It really only turned green where my suit was as I was sweating so much. We went on stage, similar call-outs to the one piece, 3 rounds of call outs, and we were done. It went so fast. After, friends told me my color was off, and well if I look at pictures - yes, I could have been darker.

Up next: 45 second mandatory round. I loved this round. Luckily, Skinzwear.com was able to get my costume to me in two business days - and that meant shipped to Canada. Amazing what you can get done when you have to. My friend even video taped the routine for me. I was pumped to do that round, and think I 'hit it'. Too bad there won't be any more.






(myself and Tracey Greenwood)

That was that, for pre-judging. I grabbed my stuff, and went off to a restaurant to have a bite to eat. Showered, and went to bed. I was pretty tired by the end of the night, and really just craved sleep.








(fellow Canadian - Marney Holley)

On Saturday I really did not do too much. Fix my tan. Do my hair and makeup over again.
Get some sleep and try to relax a bit before the night show.

The night show started at 6pm. I arrived early, around 5 to start warming up the routine. I was told that for the physique confirmation rounds in the evening fitness would only be doing the one piece, and figure doing the two piece. The routine round quite quickly and I did do my routine well. I was happy with my performance. I do have it on video but it is in pieces. It was the same routine as nationals but I felt I had more pep.

The awards were announced later in the night. I placed 9th out of 10 girls. There was supposed to be 13 girls, but one switched to figure (you can switch between fitness & figure once you obtain your pro status), and 2 other girls dropped out. I understand how this works, so I am perfectly fine with the outcome. No worries, no issues, no complaints.

You can see pictures and results at:
MuscularDevelopment.com
RxMuscle.com
FlexOnline.com- (scroll to the bottom)

Full results will be posted on IFBBPro League site. Then I will know how I ranked in each round.

(Aleisha Hart, IFBB Figure Pro, and I)

Reflection....I think it is was a great showing considering I just turned pro two weeks ago, and that this is my 5th show of the year. I have many improvements to make.
The one piece round went great, and I thought I looked good. The suit was not small enough in the butt.
The two piece my color was not great - I started turning green. I am realizing now what I need to do when I do shows back to back like this. How I need to prevent the 'greeness' for coming. Also my two piece did not look 'great' on me. I think I made the wrong suit choice. Again the butt was not small enough. Who knew how small the suits the pros were wearing are 'that' small. It does not look like that on stage, but in person, they look quite small. Note taken.
I am also not as muscular as the other girls. I am a small frame so it is going to take a while to get up to that level, but I am up for the challenge. It is wonderful to see changes in your body. I will try to find out how to contact the judges, and ask for some feedback on improvement. Saturday night I do think I looked much better, especially with my tan.

Routines - I cannot complain. I did my routine perfectly, and hit all my moves. I liked what I presented, and proud of myself to actually jumping right in. It can be scary the first time you do something so new. But for me this was not scary. It felt as though this is where I should be. I felt completely at ease with being around the girls, and was not nervous. The Arnold this year I was really nervous. This pro show - not nervous, just excited that I got to show my stuff with these accomplished girls. They were all friendly, and welcoming.

(Tina Durkin, and I)

Immediately after the announcements of the awards, I headed straight to the buffet at the Borgata. I ate way to much, and headed straight to bed as I had a long day of travel on Sunday back to Canada. Who knew you could feel drunk on food.






What is next for me? Well, in another two weeks I will be off to the Olympia with Bodybuilding.com. How exciting! I have never been to the Olympia and am so glad that my principal has allowed me to take a few days off to travel and be among these very inspiration people again. Come and stop by, talk a minute and receive lots of samples!

Monday it is back to teaching, back to my diet(at least for 10 more days), and get back in the gym to train heavy again. Gosh, I love training heavy.

02 September 2009

North Americans - Results!

(me and Kim Tilden, newest IFBB Figure Pro)

Hi Everyone-

I cannot believe it. The goal finally achieved. I am the 2009 North American Champion and with that an IFBB Fitness Professional! Whohoo!

How do I feel? Blessed, and a little relieved. You hope, train, dream, and prepare for so long to achieve one goal, that when it finally happens, sometimes it is a bit overwhelming and you really don't know exactly the words to describe how you are feeling. I have to admit that I have not had time to reflect much on my experience, as the days leading up to leaving for Cleveland where filled with teacher stuff - meetings mainly. So I spend 4 days before Cleveland doing teacher stuff, preparing lessons in the hotel room in Cleveland, and then just this past Monday all the students returned to school. For parents this might be a relief, but for a teacher, the first day is the most stressful day. Things are not organized, and well it is very chaotic.

So I waited at least 3 days after the weekend to prepare this blog entry. I had to get my work organized, as well try to find time to plan to go to the gym, and well, I am stressing about what I am teaching - ethics - yes, I teach ethics. My colleagues are very helpful, but still, me - teaching ethics and religion. It is just very strange.

Leaving for Cleveland during this time was probably not the best idea, but there are times in your life that opportunities present themselves, and you just have to find a way to make them happen. It was a bit more stressful to fly as this time I decided to fly from the US and since I do not fly out of that airport very often - I really did not know how to get there. There was many back roads and small towns to go through, but obviously I did make it - after getting lost twice.

After arriving at the airport in Cleveland, I am always up for an adventure, so I took the subway to the hotel. It runs directly to the airport to the Tower City and the hotel is in Tower City. So you don't have to go outside at all. Which is a really great thing about this show as it down poured the entire weekend. I arrived at Tower City and to my surprise is inside a mall, so that you can go shopping if you want to. Bonus. And Tower City has free wireless. The internet - my addiction.

I checked into my hotel and a friend, Rachel Vienneau-LeBlanc had stopped by to deliver my groceries. How cool is that? A friend who went to get groceries for me. She was competing that weekend in figure. It was a huge help, and a huge relief, as any competitor knows that when you get to the hotel the first thing is trying to find water. Rachel and her husband were helpful, warm, and very generous all weekend. Probably because she is from the Maritimes. (like me ;)

Friday was a busy day. Getting up at 6am, there was tanning with On The Mark Tanning, then registering for the show, more tanning, some time to relax, athlete meeting, and then sometime to get organized to compete. The routines were on Friday afternoon to start the show at 3pm, with the physique round being on Saturday. Gary Udit runs a very tight show, and I love that you can count on that.

(Me, Paige Oliver, Babette Mulford)

The stage was carpeted, and at first I thought this to be a problem, but underneath it was a bit bouncy, like spring floor - so it was all good. Besides these things happen all the time you just never know what kind of floor you are going to get at a show so you just have to go for it.

The routine went really well. I was very happy with my performance. Whenever the routine is over, and you have done it well, it is a huge worry put to bed. I love doing the routine, but there are always possibilities of mistakes. I noticed a few Canadian judges on the panel - not sure if they were judging me or not. But I had seen them 2 weeks earlier so I had to make sure my performance was on par with the Canadian Nationals, just in case. And that was it for Friday.

After the performance I noticed I was turning green a bit. Poor skin prep on my part. Two weeks between shows is minimum I can do in order to get my tan right for the next show. I did not exfoliate well the night before so I decided to shower and start again. I went back to my room, showed up, and then went for more tanning. During this time I was hanging with Tracey MacDonald - a fellow Canadian, Maritimer, who now resides in California. She gives a lot of perspective to the industry and has been a fitness competitor, now figure competitor and she may be onward toward another goal. We hung out, ate, and had awesome laughs.

On Friday night I did stop down to the lobby, and happened upon the SiouxCountry.com crew taking the group photo. I think I missed the 'official' photo, but I was there, and someone did take a few pictures. I just have to find out who. And find the photo.

Saturday morning came quickly. I went to see Elaine Goodlad, makeup artist, and host of Bodysport Radio. She does an amazing job of highlighting the face on stage for shows. Unfortunately my eyes would not cooperate. They watered all day Saturday. All day. Basically, I was crying all day. I guess one day of makeup is ok, but two really puts stress on my eyes - I don't wear makeup that often. We got through it, and well after getting my makeup done, it was a waiting game until around 3pm. The figure gals were first, and I did want to see the show. So I went down to the venue around 10am, and it took about 30 mins per class. There were 6 classes I believe, and then there would be figure masters, bikini gals, and then the fitness gals. It was ok, as I was able to rest, talk to some of girls, get to know many more, and shop a bit.

The physique round in fitness took less than 5 mins on stage. They did individual presentation, lined us up, switched the line and then we were done. We had about an hour between prelims, and finals, so I went back to my room and rested, stopped back at Elaine's room for a quick touch-up, and off to the evening show.

The show started at 5pm and fitness routines were first. I still get nervous even if we are not judged. I was starting to get really tired, so during the final performance I did miss my handstand move. I was a little concerned afterwards, as I always want to give my best and well that was not my best.

The rest of the night show was filled with watching the women's bodybuilding individual routines, and men's over 40, and over 50 routines, before they would be giving out the awards for fitness. The night show went really quick as before I knew it the fitness gals were back onstage for the awards.

(me, and Stephanie, ClassB winner)

The announcement of the placings went quite quick, and as fast as I was ons tage, they announced me winner of the Class A division. Whohoo! One goal achieved. Myself and Stephanie - the Class B winner, posed for the Overall Title, and after a few short quarter turns (which seemed like an eternity at the time), they announced me as the Overall winner, and with that I was the overall winner, and newest IFBB Fitness Pro. I can remember seeing friends of mine on the side of the stage, and them clapping, and smiling - that was really fun. To be able to share this with my friends.

Congratulations came from everywhere, and I am so lucky to have friends like this to support and encourage me, not just through the tough times, but also share in the good results as well. Tracey MacDonald gave me a huge hug as I walked off the stage - I felt really overwhelmed at this moment. Ok, so I cried. It is to be expected right?

I did a quick interview for RXMuscle.com with Dave Palumbo, and then I was off backstage to gather my things, and my thoughts. Friends greeted me with 'congrats', but I was really not sure what to do next. I did want to watch the figure results, but my eyes were burning by this time, so I did what any competitor wants to do (besides eat, but I did that too), I went to take a shower.

I was in and out of my room in 45mins. Back downstairs to see the final overall results of the figure event. You can see full results of the North Americans and photos of the show at www.rxmuscle.com, and www.musculardevelopment.com.

After that I hung with Rachel and her husband and we hit Hard Rock Cafe for some good eats.














(Rachel, far left, she placed 5th in her class
)

Sunday, I was up early, packing and getting ready to leave.
Erik Ledin and I had a good chat on Sunday, and talked about what is next.

So what is next for me? On to compete in the Pros. That is right, I am jumping in. No waiting. I am going to the Atlantic City pro show in 7 days. I am very excited, but it is hard to think about the show, when I have so much other work to do. I think this is a good thing, as I am sure I would over think the entire situation and it would make me very nervous. So the best thing for me right now is to make all my arrangements to go to the show (which I have done), and train when I can. The problem here might be that I come in too lean. I find once the process gets going, it is hard for me to slow it down. Plus I am back working running all over the place. I have no central classroom, so I am really running from classroom to classroom to teach.

So this week, I sent in my application and entry fee, made hotel, flight, and transportation arrangements (I am flying into Philadelphia), ordered a black cat suit, hair, and nail appointments for next week, and well, am enjoying every minute of it. Nicole Duncan is bringing a black cat suit for me just in case mine does not arrive on time. Tracey MacDonald lent me her one piece- just stopped and pulled it right out of her suitcase at the hotel - and she placed 4th in Figure Masters. That is a lot of trust. Those one pieces are not cheap! These girls are awesome and I am going to owe them big time.

I cannot wait to be on stage - you can see a list of competitors at www.ifbbpro.com. I am hoping they will add me to the list soon, as I am very excited to be sharing the stage with these girls. I have competed with some, over the past few years, and others I will be meeting for the first time. I will be off on Thursday to the show, and it will be an interesting experience I am sure. I am ready to learn more, and grow as an athlete into this new realm of professional fitness competition.

My goal is to be at the Olympia (and the Arnold) as a competitor. Either this year, or in the future. I will be at the Olympia this year, in 2009, regardless of the outcome. It will be my first Olympia and this is a very busy month, but exciting. Did I mention I am moving my house around the 15th of the month?

Thank you to all who have continued to support me over the past year, and also my career. There are those of you who have been around since I started competing, and those who have helped guide me to my Pro card. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are my 'teammates' and I could not have done this without you.

Slimquick Extreme & Explorer Technologies - Myslimquick.com
Erik Ledin - Leanbodiesconsulting.com
Mike Davies - FitnessFactory.com
Cathy Savage - CathySavageFitness.com
Dan Brown - Performancelab.ca
Bodybuilding.com crew - Bodybuilding.com
SiouxCountry.com - Thank you so much for your coverage of the show, and wow! I am listed as an IFBB pro with my photo on the right column of the page - that is really cool.

My husband for allowing me to be myself, and supporting me though each and every show.

My staff at school, family & friends who understand my crazy dieting, and my administration for approving my absence in order to compete during the school year. (and I will be asking for more days off.....;)

My fans - Thank you for your support, words of encouragement - I have not had that many posts on my Facebook page! I did start a fan's page. I have many more 'friend' requests to confirm, but I think I am limited to 5000 friends - not sure what the limit is on a fan's page. Wow! Thank you for all your words. I have read them all.

This week will be filled with training preparations, more cooking, practicing the 45 second routine, posing, trying not to lose muscle and come in too skinny, and preparing my lessons for the week. I have to build a terrarium this week, and read more about the internet and illegal downloading....until next week.

A.

22 August 2009

Perspective & North Americans

Hi Everyone-

This week I am in Winnipeg visiting family. Actually between Winnipeg and West Hawk lake. I took some pictures and I will share later. Monday I go back to school, and well on Thursday I am off to Cleveland for the North Americans. Needless to say I have a lot of things to do before I am off again.

I have never been to Cleveland or to the North Americans show promoted by Gary Udit, but have heard only good things. I am so glad they decided to offer a fitness division this year. And another crack at a Pro card. With athletes coming from Canada, USA and Mexico - the competition I am sure will be fierce!

It will be wonderful to see so many familiar faces, and of course meet some new ones. At CBBF Nationals this year I met so many wonderful gals - mostly in the fitness division as we were all back stage at the same time. The figure gals, and bikini gals I did meet, but there are so many and we are all on at different times that it is tough to get to know them all. I did meet a few in the Keg restaurant after the show. It is the tan gives us all away. ;)

There are times when I am posting things, questions, comments or ideas that perhaps does not sit well with some. Or they might read into what I am writing and then send it to someone else and say hey, "I think she is talking about you". Tsk, tsk, tsk. Someone trying to create drama.
Funny, if something is perceived as negative it spreads like wildfire, but yet, has anyone ever emailed someone I specifically wrote about and told them - "Hey, Allison said some really nice things about you on her blog - read this"?

My thoughts, are just that - thoughts. They roll around in my head and the best way I know to get rid of them is to write them down. Often they keep me up at night. Insomnia. Writing in this blog is therapy for me. Training is also therapy. Even if I was not a fitness competitor I would still train. My mind would not be so preoccupied with the show, but I would train everyday, and have a good time at the gym. Training and writing help calm my mind.

Maybe being so open with my emotions in a public form is not a good idea? I guess I will have to look at the benefits vs the negatives to keeping the blog going. The goal was always to help others who want to or consider competing in shows and give them a perspective through my own experiences. I only wanted to motivate through personal reflection, validate others experiences, and allow discussions to be had through questions/comments. This is only one point of view.

Was I upset about the CBBF National result? Sure. Sad - yes. For a moment. But you get over it. You spend so much time and energy preparing for a show, and well, (and I think I have mentioned this before in previous posts) -- I am entitled to my feelings. I allow myself to vent, or whatever I need in that moment, and within a few days I accept the outcome. I am an emotional human being, and sometimes very impulsive, and need time to process things. Being a bridesmaid all year was just not the plan. When I play I always go for the win. Anything less and the result is unacceptable - for me. I set my expectations very high. This is just me and my personality. It has nothing to do with the other girls competing in the show. In no way do I carry it to another event or show. Give me a few days to regroup and I am ok.

But here is my question to you:

What do you do? After you competed, and then have the result and it is not what you wanted, what do you do? Eat? Of course. But after that what you do really tell yourself to make all the work and sacrifice palatable? How do you deal? Do you ask the judges for feedback? Who do you turn to for guidance, and support? What do you do to make it work? To move yourself forward? I welcome your thoughts.

Many have written and reminded me how accomplished I am. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This does help put things in perspective. I am continuously working on my perspective. A positive, more upbeat perspective. I am 2nd. Yes this is very close to be first. 2nd in the short class in the country.

I love competing in fitness as I control most of what I do, but the part that I don't control is the outcome. My emotions I need time to process the situation and then I move forward. I have moved forward, and after I post this consider it moving forward.

I know eventually I will get a chance to be an IFBB Fitness Pro. I feel that I could learn way more, and grow more as an athlete by competing in the Pro ranks, than spending another year as an amateur. The good thing is that there are always more shows around the corner. I am young and do have time to achieve this goal.

Next up for me is the North Americans on August 27th to the 30th. In about a week, I will be competing in Cleveland. This could be the last show for me for a while, so I am making it count.

Tomorrow is always a new day to do better.

A.

16 August 2009

The Result

(Sherry Boudreau, me, Jodi Boam)

Hi Everyone-

I know I have been absent from this blog, but it has been on purpose. I had to take myself away from things that clouded my focus. Not so much this blog, but the internet in general. About 9 days away I was feeling like I could not make it to this show, but luckily through the encouragement of some really good friends I did make it.

One year and one week I had waited to compete in this show. Now it has come and gone. How did I do? 2nd. 2nd place at the 2009 CBBF Fitness and Figure Nationals. Damn! Not the results that I wanted.

How was my performance - awesome! I did it perfectly and am really proud of myself. I am sorry that the judges did not see it that way. I will be off to North Americans and try my body & routine there and see what happens.

I felt really relaxed all weekend, and wanted to work on my confidence, and performance to know and understand that I can 'do it' when it mattered. And I did just that. I could not have done any better. I did awesome work yesterday. And I do not often say good things about myself in this respect as I am very hard on myself. But yesterday I rocked.

I brought exactly what they [the judges] wanted - darker, fuller, better suit choice a more flashier costume and more dance. I guess they did not want me. They wanted someone else.

I did not see any of my fellow competitors routines so I cannot comment on what they did. I do not think anyone has taped my routine, as they did not have a videographer there this year. I do have some pictures so I will post them at the end of the entry. (update - routine is online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPYcf3BChSE)

Feelings? I am bit bummed. Bummed to think that Canada does not believe that I am qualified to be a pro this year. Will I ask for feedback? Probably not. Or maybe just not yet. I would have to decide soon, as the judges will forget. But I cannot see myself asking. I am sure they would just say similar to things like last time. [I am a smaller frame by nature and am limited by my genetics - comments by head judge last time]

This could be my naive or maybe because I am a teacher, but I refuse to believe in the politics. I always keep faith and hope that the judges know what they are doing and will choose the best to move to the pro ranks. People to continue to tell me things, and well, I just don't want to believe them.

Questions do run around in my mind. For instance, I do see some of the girls being pretty chummy with the judges -- does that matter? Or does the head judge decides who she wants as the winner? No - they would not do that right? Does it matter what trainer you have? Declining my invitation to Worlds - did that matter? How many times you have been at Nationals? (I have been 4 times - btw) I keep pushing these thoughts out my head, as I have found they will only cloud my focus, and I do want to keep an open and positive mind (this was a new resolution of mine for January and I am sticking to it) And someone came up to me in March and told me I would not win Nationals - Yes, it is official - I am very naive.

To me, it is not just about choosing the winner, but also the person who will best demonstrate talent and hold their own in the pros. I feel I can do that. I understand there is a hierarchy when you get to the pro ranks, but with that being said, you are a PRO - the biggest hurdle is already accomplished.

My love and respect for this sport has not dwindled. I follow many of the shows, love all the girls, getting to know them, hearing their stories and lives, and just being around those that are just like me. My motivation for competing has not lessened, in fact this show perhaps has fired me up even more. All year, things have been happening, and there is a reason for this, and I am not sure yet why...but it will all become evident soon. I have faith.

I do know that I am really tired, and have been up late, so I do feel emotional. Probably a combination of too much sugar, too little sleep, and a bit of anxiety as school starts in a week.

I want to thank everyone for this words of encouragement, and feedback after my performance. Fans who said hello - your compliments make my day, and during these times I carry them with me. Thank you. I love talking to all of you. (actually I think I just love talking....ha!)

On to my real life....

I have come to the conclusion that I will probably not return full time to teaching for a while. I am going to try to keep a 50% workload and then work towards training other girls for fitness/figure/bikini and training the general masses to achieve their goals. I will be working on a nutrition certification this year as I do have quite a few things to do this fall.

I love fitness. I love talking about it. I love researching it on the computer. I love studying it. It is stuff I do anyways. I just need to get my butt in gear, and do it!

Today, I might have one meal off my plan, but it is back to the diet mode, and getting my butt tighter for North Americans.

But this week, I am in Winnipeg - and need a gym near West Hawk Lake - any ideas? I will post on facebook and see what happens.

Here are some pictures.
(me and Myriam Cantin)









































































Me, and good friend Sherry Boudreau


I want to Thank Sandra & Ross Wickham for putting on a great show. Organized and on time. What else can an athlete ask for? The moderators were wonderful in getting everyone to the stage on time, lined up and ready to go. Thank you again, and your hard work and dedication to the sport is very evident.

A.

05 August 2009

8 days....

Ok, so here we go. The final big push. I have been struggling lately with motivation. Not sure it is because the end is in sight, or that the end is really in sight.....;)

I have been busy with various family activities over the past week. For one, we bought a new house, and sold our old one. We put our house on the market on a Wed, and by Sat we had 4 offers. About 5 days later I was signing the papers for sell out house. This is a big change for me. I remember moving into this house, and it was during preparations for a show. The move was from an apartment to a house, so, we did not have a lot of stuff. Now that we have a house, and a kid, well I just hope I don't get as stressed out about the whole situation like I did last time.

This past weekend a family member got married. Yes, I did it - went to a wedding, ate my 'diet food' and survived. It was a good time to be able to go back home and have some good weather. (unlike the vacation where it rained everyday). I even managed to go out one night with the girls and get home very early am. No drinking. No cheating. They were all drinking beer and margaritas and well I had my eggs, chicken, asparagus and some cottage cheese. Oh, and lots of water. I was glad I did go out as normally I would have stayed home. My life needs to be lived, and well if I am going to compete, I have to be able to do both.

This week, I have family visiting from various places. So the house is a buzz. I think it is great to have them around, as then I am always thinking about them and not myself. As long as I get my training in, and go to bed at a reasonable hour, things remain good.

School will be starting in about 2 weeks. My attempts to stay in the math department, and convince my principal it is the best choice for my family and for the department, have failed. I am more than 99% sure, I will getting the new workload. My compliance should never be confused with acceptance. I think this a move that is not in my best interest, and because I want to put my family first - I get the leftovers for workload. Funny, a woman who puts her family first in the traditional sense, and try to contribute to society by having a part time job just does not seem to be acceptable. I am in the business of education for Pete's sake. You would think they would be a little more accommodating? My new schedule does not allow for me to keep my son home some days from daycare. I am teaching everyday - even if it is just one class and well, my son has a schedule too, so he has to go to daycare, everyday. I will see what I will do in August. The most frustrating part is that I have to clean out my classroom. Do you know how much stuff a teacher accumulates? I swear, we are all pack rats by nature.

In other news, I am competing in 8 days. Or leaving for Vancouver in 8 days. I cannot wait to eat! I am so craving, and oogling the TV commercials lately. Different foods, such as ice cream (which I would never eat), hamburgers, nachos, fries - all the really bad foods. I know it is because I cannot have it now.

I took pictures yesterday, and well I feel really fat. Not phat; fat. I think that I have gained muscle, but I am not sure of what is going on. All my clothes are loose like usual, but the scale has not really gone down. I remember a time when this has happened - back when I was training in 2007. I started at 120lbs, and ended at 120lbs when the diet was all over. Perhaps it is possible to go in 2 directions at once: gain muscle, and lose fat? I am not as lean as I was for the Arnold- but am 'fuller' as they say. To me, that just is a loose term to mean - fat. Others would disagree but what else can I say? I like being small, tight and little. I just hope the judges appreciate, and reward my 'new' look.



I still have 8 days and a lot of things can change between now and then. Today I am off to practice my routine -- which I have to say is going really well. I enjoy this routine, and think it is a better reflection of me.

Until Vancouver, I leave with this...

With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.
~Thomas Foxwell Buxton

Talk soon,

A.

27 July 2009

17 days to Nationals

Hi Everyone-

The summer is flying by. Unfortunately the weather is not cooperating - rain, rain, rain all the time. Which can be viewed as a good thing as we are having less BBQ outside this year. Isn't that what summer is all about - friend, family, food, fun and well BBQ fare. There is less 'tempting' food around which is a good thing. I never cheat on my diet, but not having it around does help.

Training is going really well. At first I was a little worried, as my weight does not seem to be coming off as easily as last time (in March was my last show). In hindsight, I did start cleaning up my diet a little earlier, near Christmas, for a first week of March show. Although I tried to follow the same time line as before, I am not working right now. Moving all day while teaching really does make a difference. I have upped my cardio a bit, and cut back on some more calories, and things seem to be moving in the right direction. I do enjoy seeing the changes, and really don't mind doing the diet. It is summer, so wearing 'cute' clothes always seems to go better when I am a little leaner. Post winter weight gain can be a bit depressing when the clothes come off for the first time.

This upcoming weekend I have a big challenge ahead of me -- a wedding to attend. It should be ok, but weddings are just so much fun (most of them anyways), and well having a few drinks with the hubby would be a good for a laugh. However, there is plenty of time for celebration after Nationals, and any other time of year. ;)

My routine is coming along and I can finally get through it. I think it is much better than what I presented at the Arnolds or the Naturals. Unfortunately, it is not up to me to decide if it is better. Still doing the same routine as before - a Star Trek themed routine. I do have a better costume - more flash - and a routine which I feel reflects me. Sometimes I get bogged down on what the judges want instead of what I want. Whenever I do what I feel is best for me, and do what is in my heart, things seem to work out better.

Physique wise, I think I have brought up my shoulders and back. But, like most women getting the butt to tighten up is really the last thing for me. Grrr.

I am really excited to see everyone at the show. I always love talking to the girls, and seeing how their prep went, and what they do in their own lives.

Right now I am still pondering over what to do about school. Take the new workload which I know I can do, but will take a while to get used to and not have sour grapes about how things were handled. I guess this really is the best option as then I have a job to go to and still have some spare time to pursue other interests. Like, actually doing personal training, and guidance for those girls who want to start competing. I just hope there is a clientèle out there for me to work with. English or French it does not really matter, however, my French is very basic, but I am always willing to learn. I seem to have quite a few 'friends' willing to share their information which gives me comfort to know that I can get help when needed. I wonder how hard it is to do online training?

My mindset right now is stable. I am not over thinking the show too much. I tend to allow my thoughts get the best of me, and well, this time, I will be prepared with all aspects of competition and just go there to do my best. I will be trying to take as many pictures as I can, as who knows what is going to happen tomorrow. I could get hurt, and not be able to compete ever again. I just want to leave my best product, best showing for that moment in time, on the stage. I have allowed myself to be part of the journey this time, rather than just going through the motions, and get to show day, and realize - "how did I get here?"

I was very nervous for the Arnold - and I am not really sure why. This time I will have excitement for the show, but will control my emotions to be more focussed, more in the moment.

I know my time is short in the sport and I really do want to make the most of every minute. I need to look my fears straight in the eye, and just go out there and 'do'. I have many more days of practice/workouts/meals/training ahead of me, and want to be present for every moment of it.

Here are some pictures from last week, and this week.

Pictures- 23 days to Nationals (my little guy wanted to try posing this time...and he helped me put on my shoes)





Pictures - 17 days to Nationals




16 July 2009

28 days to Nationals

The countdown has begun. I am really nervous. I am not working right now, as I am on summer holidays, and have time to be left alone with my thoughts. Sometimes this is a good thing, but when you are a bit of a worrier, like me, this is not always the best scenario to be in.

Prep time for me is best when I am really busy; no time to think or do. And somehow everything still gets done. None the less, I am still keeping myself really busy, finding things to do. I have a house that is a job that is never done, and have to prep for my classes for next year, so that makes for plenty of reading.

My training I felt was always good, and challenging but evidently I have been enlightened and brought to a new level of fitness. Why do I say this? This week was a particularly fun week in the gym, as I went to my first Mike Davies fitness camp in Columbus Ohio.

Not knowing what to expect, I signed up for the camp with the intention of getting a bit of motivation and inspiration for Nationals, and perspective on what it is like and/or what it will be like when I turn pro. I definitely achieved my goals, and I got a huge bonus in being able to hang with some really cool girls for the weekend. Including a couple of fitness pros.

Tina Durkin and Nicole Duncan just happened to be there for the weekend. How cool is that? I get to go to my first Mike Davies fitness camp and hang with the Pros. Including his wife Julie Palmer. I picked their brains as much as I could without seeming like too much of a fan or stocker. I really know quite a bit about many of the pros, and respect them highly as I know how hard it is to do what they do. And keep doing year after year, and never giving up. That is serious dedication and passion for what they do. Amazing to be able to hang with them.

There were some other girls Gina Molinaro, who just happens to be competing this weekend at the Figure Masters. Mona who is new to the scene, but has a body that is going to impress many when she does take the stage. Kim was in fantastic shape, looked liked she was competing this weekend. And Debra Lavette who is 'bringing it' to North America's.

It was an absolutely fantastic weekend.

We training immediately when I got there on Friday early afternoon, then we ate supper together as a group. On Saturday we trained at 6am, then early afternoon bootcamp (killer) and posing. We rested for the afternoon but I decided to go to gymnastics. For me that was a big mistake at this point I was so sore in the legs that I could barely walk. I was useless at gymnastics. We arrived back to the house, showed, and ate a meal out. Not too bad, just a little something to keep us motivated. Sunday morning I training and then left for the airport. It was a quick in and out, but I learned so much.

This is a camp that I would attend again. It was great to hang with girls who are just like me and just be who I am. I felt very comfortable being around everyone, in that atmosphere where whatever I eat is not being judged. Not that people around me judge my food, but they do ask questions. I just felt really comfortable. Like this was my place to be. It does make me think about teaching and how much anxiety I am feeling towards next year, and maybe I am doing the wrong profession? I mean if I am going to start all over again, which is how I feel about the 3 new classes I am getting next year - should I not be starting all over in the thing that I am most passionate about?

Last week and this week have been great for training and diet. I was super sore and really had to take Monday off, but once I got back in the gym the movement helped relieved the soreness I had. Today is Thursday and I am feeling better, but not 100% yet. By the weekend I should be ok.

Here are some updated pics as of Monday. I could not flex my legs as it was too painful.









This week I have been working the routine. I think I have finally come up with something that I am happy with. Now I just have to commit it to memory. I love when I finally get to the place where I know my routine and have the confidence that I can do it. I am also working on a new costume. Hopefully the judges will think it is more 'flashy' this time. It is still in its early stages but it is coming along nicely.

I was considering going back to a few older routines. I will probably do that when I turn pro, but for now I am more motivated to move forward. I know I can do my 'Star Trek' routine better, so I will do just that.

I was some other girls blogs/photos of their progress, and well I think I am going to stop doing that. I think it might cloud my focus and get into my head.

Till next week.

A.

07 July 2009

38 days to Nationals

Hi Everyone-

Here are the pictures update. I have made progress. I weighed myself the other day at home and I was around 126lbs. I know 125lbs is a comfortable weight for me and 116lbs is way to skinny for a show. I did 12 weeks when I came into the Naturals and I was too skinny. Too cut, too lean, too everything - but I did really like the way I looked. I am not sure of what the 'look' is for this year, but I am seeing a 'softer' trend. A trend away from the hard cut look of years previous. Fitness, figure and now bikini continues to surprise many. When you think you have the look defined, bamm, the judges come up with something new.

This week's focus - the routine. Gotta get'er done!

A.





05 July 2009

40 days to Nationals

Hi Everyone-

After my rant of last week, things seem better. Perhaps this is the wake up call I need in my life to pursue employment that is more in line with my true passion. Sometimes I think I do things that others expect from me, although they are not putting this expectation on me, but it is my perception of what I feel they want from me. I am a bit of a perfectionist, and funny thing is that many girls are perfectionists and the have a passion for fitness, figure, bodybuilding, etc. I have always been athletic and interested in health, fitness and training. However, I always went against what I was good at as I fear that once my hobby becomes my job, I will not have passion for it anymore. Teaching allows me many freedoms that I enjoy, and the students are hilarious. This would again depend on what day you ask me, but in general I enjoy them. But, I do have other goals, and this change of workload might be a sign that it is time to look into other options.

This week I was on vacation in the Maritimes, near Moncton NB. This is where I am from and have many awesome memories from my time growing up around here. Yes, the people are different. They are uber nice, welcoming and will talk to you anywhere, and anytime. It is more laid back here, no one is in a rush. If you try to cross the street (not at a cross walk) people will stop - try to do that in Montreal. The only downside to my vacation - the weather. It rained all week. So here we are at a cottage on the beach, and it was raining all the time.

We spent much of the time with family, friends, and meeting everyone's children. There are so many new babies arriving, that I cannot seem to keep up with the names. There are times when I do wish I lived closer to home as all the grandparents are in the Maritimes, but there are many positive things to living in Quebec as well. For example, $7/day daycare, and the focus on the French language.

Training
Before my vacation, due to the amount of stress I was under, I trained everyday. It was hard some days, as I only had 4 hours of sleep but I did as I needed the movement to calm my mind.

I am not supposed to be training everyday. I have to stop that. I am trying to maintain my muscle and over training is not going to allow me to do that. So this week, I trained 4 days, non consecutive. I still have not started routine practice. Not sure what is holding me back from starting the routine practice?

I am excited to be back in my own gym at home. I like the familiarity. I do need to get into a dance studio this week, as I am away next weekend. My goal is to have at least the main structure of the routine finalized, and the music finalized. That way when I get back from my trip I can spend the rest of the time just running the routine full out.

Diet
Before my vacation, my diet was perfect. I guess stress will do that to you. I cooked, I ate, I cleaned, and well I worked. I was in and around the school this week, trying to clear up marks, and clean up my classroom a bit. (gosh I love my classroom) I really need to be drinking more water. That I will set as a goal for the following weeks.

Thinking I could keep up with the diet while on vacation this week, I did plan to eat well. However, at certain meals this was not possible. I did eat clean most of the time, but there were some meals that were not so great. When you are in an Italian's house, you do not refuse food. They would have understood if I pulled out my broccoli, chicken, and sweet potato, but when there is a 4 course meal offered to you - by an Italian - you take it.
Let's just call that my cheat meal. ;)

When you travel is it important to have all the tools necessary to keep on point. Hindsight, I would have cooked more meals, and traveled with that. I had cooked twice while I was on vacation, as I did have a kitchen but was missing certain things to watch portions - such as measuring cups. Packing the food was tough as I did not bring any Tupperware, but did have zip locks, so I used those. I usually keep my protein shakes in my diet up to around 21 days before the show, and well I ran out of protein powder. All rookie mistakes, fixable, and well I just could not be bothered.

I was trying to maintain a certain amount of family/vacation balance, to the point where it is not noticeable that I am dieting, and not to throw my family out of whack too much. I mean, I think about Nationals all the time, and don't want my life to pass by me and not to be a participant in my life for the next 6 weeks. I want to be able to enjoy my summer some, and still be a contender for the top positions and ultimately my pro card in August. I do not feel that suffering through the diet phase equals more success on stage.

Last show, I was way to skinny, and you never know what kind of body they are going to reward at a show. My focus is being able to diet down slowly as to not lose muscle, enjoy the process, and live my life, visit with friends, family, have parties, and socialize. Summer is so short, and I want to be able to enjoy it. It just has to be without those summer foods for the next 6 weeks.

I will update pictures when I return home.

Talk soon,

A.
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Insist on yourself; never imitate.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

30 June 2009

My real job.

Hi Everyone-

This week started out as a good week, but then took a turn for the worse. I attended a math conference for 2 days for grades 10 and 11 mathematics. That was a really fun. Who would ever think that right? My math department is quite fun, and very animated, and they have a good perspective on things.

Right now in Quebec, there is a major reform going on in all the programs in the high schools. Math, the subject in which I teach is much harder, more difficult than it has ever been. Topics are being brought to students a year earlier than previous, and now they are evaluated on competencies. The largest problem teachers are having is in evaluation. How do you evaluate a competency of a student in math without the basics of math knowledge? One (the knowledge) leads into the other (competency). We as a math department are seeing huge gaps in information of students who are currently in the grades 9, 10 and 11 levels.

This year was my second year within the new reform, but my 8th year teaching grades 9 and 10 math. Even though I have a biology background, I have only taught math.

Upon my return from this math conference, my principal announces to me that I am being put in a grade 8 science/math/ethics course for the following year. 3 new preps! I had put in for a 50% workload, but the amount of back ground work and prep does not equal 50%.

I have to say that I am completely beside myself with worry for the following year, and have not slept well since he told me this. I did not put in for a 50% workload to work more. And changing my courses, it will not allow me the benefits that teaching 50% gives. You might be in front of the students less, but the amount of work that you are doing actually equals 100%. One thing that people don't realize about teaching is that, you are working all day on your feet, and most times you have take home work that can be upwards of 3 hours or more every night. And I teach at a public school! And then on top of that teachers are expected to participate in the school in afterschool activities, and sports.

I am not sure what I will decide for next year. What he told me was only a 'preliminary' notice and I have received nothing official on paper. Yet. So you might think that I am hopeful that my workload might be all math, but I have spoken with the principal on 2 occasions, and he reassures me this is how it is going to be. If and when I choose to come back at 100%, I can have my grade 10s back. That would be 3 courses at the grade 8 level and 2 courses of math. With that kind of workload coming back full time does not seem in the cards for me.

And you wonder why the system finds it hard to track students, or that students are not achieving in the classroom? Maybe the system should look at how much work is being placed on its teachers to do their job effectively? At what point in the day do you stop doing your job? 5pm? 6pm? 7pm? 8pm? Most are at school by 7:30am and do not leave till 5pm, grab some supper and basically keep working. How do you manage to do that when you have a family, or other responsibilities outside of your working day?

Is it not too much to ask to give the teachers a workload they actually will enjoy? Back in the day when there was an excess of teachers (this is not the case anymore), if you wanted to be a teacher you taught what you were given. However, nowadays, there are no teachers, there is no more excess. In fact, schools are hurting for qualified teachers. Younger teachers will not put up with the issues affecting the school system today. Most times schools will hire people who do not have degrees, in order to fill vacant positions.

So how did I deal with this blow to my ego? Being the resourceful person that I am, I went to the grade 8 teachers and asked them help me with books, and outlines at least for the summer. I have to now spend my summer preparing for next fall. I would have been preparing for math classes anyways, but the material would have been familiar and I would have known what direction to take when developing new assignments. Now, I know nothing about the program, the direction, how long to spend on what, etc. And a new part of my teaching will include science fair, and sex ed. Yes, now I will be teaching sexual education. (ok, that part might be fun, cause at least the students are interested in learning that).

I am trying to get over my feelings but it will be hard for me next year to trust those that make these decisions. This was a complete blindside, and a principal is under no obligation to give reasons for the change, besides professional courtesy. A principal is allowed to give a teacher whatever workload he feels there is a need. The funny thing is, there is a need for math teachers in my department and he is switching an experienced math teacher for those less experienced. This does not make sense to me. And I have to add, I have not had an evaluation. No one has been in my class to evaluate me, ever. Bottom line is the principal has the right to choose workloads for the teachers, and the teachers, well they can take the workload, or choose another option.

Anyways, I will be doing 'homework' all summer and due to my training for Nationals, this could be looked at as a positive thing. It will keep my mind and my hands busy.

I will update next week on fitness, but for now I just had to vent.

Vent over.

A.