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

27 March 2011

2011 Arnold Classic Wrap Up & Up Next

Hi Everyone-

Yes, it has been too long. I am amazed at how the time just flies by.  I guess I must be having fun at whatever I am doing as I seem to look up and the day/week is done.

For the Arnold I left on a Wednesday, in order to be all settled in on Thursday.  Thursday was spent much of the day relaxing, working on client files, and resting.  I very rarely get to just sit and relax, and when I do I only need about one day and then I am ready to get going again.  This time I did sit, relax, nap, and browse the stores in the downtown area of Columbus - which included a CVS and the grocery store.  But I love shopping in the US as there are products we don't have access to here in Canada so it is an adventure.

I was to have a few friends staying with me - but unfortunately they could not come.  I was completely bummed, but 'everything happens for a reason'.  I do understand why other girls come with a variety of people with them at the shows along the circuit.  I have never really traveled with anyone - it has always just been me.  I would always meet girls at the shows and have my crew to hang with, but for an event as the Arnold - this time, (and last year too) it would have been nice to have my own 'crew' there for me.  I am very independent, and so for the next show I have at least one person there for me.  It does help to know you can lean on someone if you need it.

Thursday evening was spent doing registration, and the 'meet and greet' with Pros and was paired up with Canadian bodybuilder Ben Palulski.   We spent about 1.5 hours at that event, and then continued on with our pre show prep of tanning, and lastly a final meal before bed.

Friday I was up early feeling great. I had vowed to do my best at this show.  I had makeup and hair by Elaine Goodlad, and Nancy Jambazian.  Prejudging began at 12pm, and we were on around 1pm.  The backstage area for the Pros is pretty plain.  Just some tables and mirrors.  Nothing any more special than when you were an amateur - except there are girls back there to help you out with anything you need.  I did have a few girls who were amazing with me, and am thankful that they were there.

Prelims went as well as could be expected.  I am still a rookie (or at least I see myself that way) and many of the girls have been competing as pros for years.  I am very thankful to be invited to the Arnold, and will continue to push to make those top spots.  It does take time to move up the ladder after having climbed the amateur ladder for year.  It is the same story when you turn pro - you have to climb the ladder.  How did I think I did in the physique round - I loved my body - however, the judges did not appreciate it the same way.  Hey, everyone looked great so what am I going to do complain - nope.  There are always more shows.  ;)

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing, but not for long.  This year I went early to the venue to be able to 'feel out' the backstage area and play around on the main stage.  I did this in order to 'feel' what the energy would be like at the night show; so that I would comfortable in the situation.  There are certain things a fitness gal can never control on the day of the show -

the lighting of the stage
the floor surface
whether the floor is slippery or not
the sound of the music
the tempo of the music (sometimes it is different with different machines)
warmup area
ability to stay warm before going on the stage
temperature of the theatre

So even though you have practiced a lot in an aerobic room etc the day of the show it is best to try to get accustomed to the situation as quickly as possible before doing the routine.  I feel that it is key to the fitness competitors having a great performance. When there are paying customers (the audience) watching - it is very important.

The night show began with the bodybuilders going on first. At first the girls were a bit concerned as for the oil that might be on the stage however, the sound and light crew figured out a mix of cleaning products to be able to clean the stage in between the bodybuilders and the fitness gals.

I went out there, set for my routine and you know what I told myself in my head - "this is fun".  Every move - saying 'this is fun, this is fun'.  And it was.  I nailed it.    No bobbles, no missed moves, all done, and complete.  The results - last place.

Am I bummed.  Nope.  I nailed my routine - the final results are what they are.  I cannot decide or predict what the judges will decide.  In my opinion I did great and I was very proud of myself for overcoming a fear that I held for one year.  In order to be able to return to the Arnold stage and 'fix' the mistake (or do over) from last year.  I did exactly what I set out to do.

Photos of the event -
Flex Magazine

Suit was by my sponsor and IFBB Fitness Pro - Tamee Marie - and if you love the suit she has it for sale.  Contact her  -

On Saturday, I had my presentation on my diet and training and how my did doesn't 'suck' (yes, that was the title) for the International Society of Sport Nutrition.  I did a lot of 'trial and error' over the years, and kept many journals since 2001.  It was quite interesting to see how I finally managed to come out with good diet and training regime for myself.  Now I share this information with others as I am personal trainer, and help with their nutrition, and finding a way to incorporate that into their lives.  It is hard.  Hard to diet, hard to training consistently, and never give up.

For the rest of the weekend, I spent hanging out with JanTana and her crew. She had asked me to do some body painting for the weekend.   So I was a cat on Saturday and a super hero on Sunday.   They are such an amazing 'family', a real team atmosphere.  I use her products all the time for my shows, and use them for when I do my spray tanning at events throughout the year.  You can see some of the pictures on my facebook page.

On Sunday I had planned on browsing the expo, and wish I could have, but I was so tired - (as I am sure many were that day), I had to go and pack and get my flight home.  I had heard that I might not make it home as there was a snow storm up the east coast.  And well, I did not make it home.

I got to Regan International, and well, that is where I stayed for 4 extra days.  I was to be home on Sunday evening, and I did not end up getting home until Wednesday - so I was only back at work on Thursday.  Home was hammered with snow - so much that the city buses were pulled off the road - and well, if you are from Canada, and have experienced severe snow they only way you know it is really bad is when the City buses get pulled off the roads.  And they were.

So I spent 3 days in a hotel, by myself, trying to work.  I took this as an opportunity to rest up from the weekend.  I welcomed the sleep and the quite.   Did I get as much work done as I wanted - no.  But I was very well rested, and ready to get back on my diet when I got home.

Yes, that is right - more dieting.  I am going to New York Pro on April 8th.  There are only 4 shows before the Olympia and I would really like to qualify for this show this year.  There is the Arnold, NY city, Germany and Toronto.  I considered Germany but it is too much time away from the family and my clients.  I have heard that many girls will be showing up to the 2 shows as like I mentioned there are only so few shows in fitness and to get to the Olympia you have to make the top 3 spots - I am hoping that those girls who are already qualified don't show up to the shows, but I know that if you want to be the best you have to compete against the best.  Either way I am going for it, not holding back.  So over the last 2 weeks have been upgrading my skills in my routine. I really did not have time to do another routine with only 4 weeks to the NY pro once I finally got home.  Now it is less than 2 weeks away, so solidifying the routine is my main concern, and just repping the heck out of it.

So back to the grind for me.  I am very excited to visit NY city again, I had so much fun last year.
And this time I have a friend with me for support.

Should be a good weekend,

Until next update,


02 March 2011

2011 Arnold Classic Blog Update 6

Hi Everyone-

Here it is. The last step in the journey.  

I find the last 2 weeks the hardest.  I say the ‘hardest’ as you are either trying to bring your body in, or else just holding the line.  Although I have been in both situations before a show, the last weekend before the show for me is the most difficult.  I find myself dreaming of food.  I watch TV - and see food commercials, and think, hmmm I would love to eat that.  Not really the junk – just more of the good stuff – like oatmeal with fruit and nuts, or salad or warm bread & butter. (I think you all know by now I have a thing for bread – Mmm)

I find grocery stores particularly interesting and I purposefully walk down the junk isle to see what I cannot have, or will be having in a few days.  I do try to remind myself that the food will always be there, and even with non dieting times.
I would not eat really badly normally. It is only during show prep that I want that stuff.  It is the lack of the option to have that stuff that makes me want it. Right now my body is starving.  It wants food.   Just a few days.....

I leave tomorrow, and then compete on Friday.  It is interesting how I get to this point and the only thoughts are about having it over.  These thoughts tend to kick in just 3-5 days before the show.   I think every show I have been at I have heard or overhead a competitor make this statement - "I just can't wait for it to be over".  Yes I have those thoughts as well.  But I always have those thoughts just before competing.  

I try to reflect on my process through the whole competition phase, and every prep it is the same feelings that arise near the time of the show.  It is different with the Arnold as it is such a big event, and most shows I can be in and out in a weekend.  Arnold - 5-6 days of stuff with travel, and the expo - and more athletes in 3 days in Columbus than at the Olympics.  I am sure once I get there my mind will change - again more reflection - once I am there my mind has always changed.

So last week's training and diet - I did cut a few things - like peanut butter from my diet and just replaced it with more controlled foods - like almonds. Some times with the PB you take a bit more, no slight bit more, and then well, then you know it you are over your planned meal's calories.  And when you are trying to make your body look a certain way for a certain date - it does matter!

Training was great last week, felt really strong, and routine practices were strong.  I do go with how I am feeling on most days, but near the end I have to push myself.  I have never really thought about it, but I don't have a coach - not in the athletic sense.  I see my competitors have trainers with them while they train - and I don't have that.  Not for the routine, or with my own training. I am very independent that way, and really don't know how I would manage having them there as my schedule is so inconsistent.  But I will say that it would be nice to have them (or anyone) there.  To push you to keep going, try harder, and be better than last time.  All of this - at least with the sport that I participate comes from within.  And it is hard. It is hard to keep going. 

Notes to myself, my body and how I feel at this point: (4-5 days from the show)
I do love what I do, and am in love with it, but near the end of the journey you are tired, and I am tired. I know it is due to a lack of gas in the tank, which can affect your training, and motivations.   I mention this all for my own benefit as sometimes it is hard to remember exactly how you feel (or I how I felt) when you are dieting, and training and are at this point before a show.  This time I feel cranky, moody, and out of sorts.  (Perhaps the last show prep, and before that, but I don't remember from show to show)  It only kicked in on Sunday, the week before the show.  So I guess you could say I am right on schedule.  There are moments since Jan 10 (when I started my diet) that I was cranky but knew that it was only temporary, and would fade.  But the last 3 days have been tough.   I feel myself being cranky at my son, (which I hate myself for after), and have avoided being outside as I am cold all the time.  I also avoid being too far from the house or knowing where a bathroom is as I am drinking quite a bit of water.    This is the last 3-4 days of the prep.  This is what you do to get yourself to one of the biggest stages in the world for the sport that I do.

I need to be able to return to my blog and read this now and again to know how it feels in the moments before the show.   These are my thoughts when I am prepping.  Perhaps there are others who do not feel this way.  Is it necessary to feel this way – no.  Some handle the prep better than others. First timers might experience this as they are not used to the sacrifices that you need to make to get to the stage, ready, and on time.  As you prep more and more, you see the work involved, and know that it is part of the process.  Even though I am ‘experienced’ does not mean that I am immune to those feelings.  I just choose to ignore them.  I have the will power, to ignore. 

Am I ready?  Sure.  I just have to go out there and do what I have been training to do – perform.  My only responsibilities this weekend are:
1.      show up in shape.
2.      nail the routine

Everything else is just details, and I don’t sweat the rest of the weekend.  ‘No worries’ is my philosophy for the time I am at the Arnold.  Sit back, and enjoy.    I always think – “what if this is my last show”, and question, “how do I want to remember the experience?”

Pictures from last week.

22 February 2011
22 February 2011

Arnold Classic Weekend Schedule: Friday - competing - VIP meet and greet.
Saturday - ISSN Conference 1-2pm
Sunday - home.

If you see me – stop me, and say ‘hello’.  I might have a few photos on hand to sign and give away. The new Slimquick Razor is out and I have some fantastic shots to share with you all. 

Today: Travel Day
I met someone on my flight down who I know from the competition circles – and she is competing this weekend in the Arnold amateur.  It was great talking to her as I see her enthusiasm for the sport, and how motivated she is to keep going and get her pro card.  I remember when I was like that.  Striving, pushing, dreaming and hoping.  It really made me think about where I am in my career and what I really want to do with it.  What do I want to accomplish? 

I am about half way to Columbus right now, and am starting to get excited. Perhaps it is because I saw people I knew on the plane.  I am starting to feel the spark.  I am sure once I get to the host hotel – the Double tree – where all the action is, get settled, and organized, I will be more willing and ready to be in the zone. 

I know this weekend is going to go by in a flash, so I will bring my camera to be able to remember it all.