Week 7: The Return of Cardio

Wow. I’m sitting on my comfy couch, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket and sipping water from my monstrous, “you must be a body builder”, 2-liter jug and am savoring this moment. I am about to capture a week that turned out to be a major turning point in my competition prep thus far. I treasure these weekly moments of reflection, especially the big ones. Here’s a snapshot of the last 7 days for me:

  • The Return of Cardio: Had someone told the cardio bunny Danielle of yesteryear that she’d go 2 months without running or hopping on any machine, she’d say something annoyingly trendy like “um, you’re cray cray.” And here I am; cardio free since early June and feeling fantastic. I used to have such a hard time conceptualizing the fact that in order to sculpt a shapely figure (ahem, muscle!) I had to EAT and LIFT to build and not run 8 miles every day. I know I’ve shared this new-to-me knowledge several times before but I’ve actually lived it strictly for the last 2 months and suddenly, the light bulb is shining even brighter. I get it! But, in preparation for the contest, there does come a time for dropping that last layer of “squishy” to reveal the hard earned muscle below. Cue the cardio! I’ve been back at it, 7 days a week, high intensity and man, its a double edged sword. It is insanely tough to bring my A game each and every day no matter how I tired or hungry or just plain unmotivated I feel (thank goodness for a heart rate monitor that keeps me honest!).  At the same time, I forgot how intense the post-cardio high can be. That dripping in sweat satisfaction of kicking your own ass. I dig it! I’m really pumped because last week I was on a high calorie and high carb food plan to trigger some more gains but naturally gained a bit more squishy on top (that fat +water retention). This is where I needed my mind to kick in, stay focused, and not be deterred by my abs taking a mini vacation. But now with the cardio in my corner, and my calories dropping this week, I know I’m headed back to ab city!
  • This Just Got REAL: Something shifted in my mind this week. Until now, I’ve conceptualized the finish line as just that: a place I’ll get to, but it’ll take me some time. All of a sudden, I feel like that finish line is just around the next bend. Cheat meals are gone, calories are dropping significantly, I received both of my suits today (YEA!) and I’m seeing my physique really shape into a competitor’s body, not the one I’m used to seeing in the mirror. Although I’ve been very focused since I first started, I hear a voice in my head now that wasn’t quite as omnipresent before. It’s that voice of seconds and inches. The one that plays games with me during cardio: “Oh, you call this your max? Not anymore; you’re better than that. Champion every. single. second.” The same voice fights for every inch when I train. Squats are deeper, muscles squeeze tighter. I am undeniably convinced that this voice will bring the best me possible to the stage in September. Its the aggregate sum of every single second I chose not to waste with mediocrity, every single inch I battled my body for, every single ounce of food I selected as worthy to fuel my progress, that will make the BIG difference come game day. I’m a detail-oriented person in every facet of my life. Sometimes it haunts me or make me the weird kid, but in this instance, its my ace in the hole.
  • Pinterest Is Mean: Boozy Coconut Hot Fudge Sundaes? Double Dark Chocolate 7-layer cake with Black Velvet Buttercream? I mean….

Get this: 5 WEEKS OUT. For real!