1 Month Post-Comp
Long time no blog! Wow – 30 days have already passed since my first competition season came to a close. And although the journey to the stage technically ended a month ago, the challenge has continued through the last few weeks as I slowly reintegrate back into “real” life. From eating foods I haven’t had in months to adding back physical hobbies outside of weight training, October was a month of exploration and adjustment.
- Chocolate Cake + Indoor Soccer: The most obvious “reward” of the days following the end of a competition is the freedom to eat what you want, when you want. And by all means, I certainly enjoyed this freedom! I celebrated my birthday with chocolate cake, I indulged in a glass of wine (or 2) at a college friend’s wedding and I exercised my culinary liberties in the kitchen with go-to favorites like homemade bolognese. But interestingly enough, after a few bites of each decadent meal this month, I found myself content. My stomach is quite sensitive to these “new” rich foods so I’ve been taking it slow so as not to experience discomfort (Trust me, I learned my lesson after having one big bowl of plain greek yogurt a few weeks ago; My tummy is NOT a fan anymore!). So for the most part, I’ve been eating pretty clean with treats here and there as I please (including my favorite Chocolate Peanut Butter Lava Cakes shown below!) Overall, the biggest change food-wise is a major increase in calories to get back to a place where I can start building muscle again and putting on some weight. The even bigger reward to me is reintroducing activities that I LOVE that have been off-limits, one of which being indoor soccer. I forgot how much I love playing (shout out to my late ’90s Grape Crusher Girls – you know who you are). Of course, I’m still strength training regularly (back to lifting heavy and major leg-day soreness!). I’ve fallen in love with the challenge and the high I get from the weight room – there’s just no going back!
- Adding Back Curves: The flip side of the increase in calories is the obvious body changes that come with it – my abs aren’t what they were a few weeks ago. I’ll be honest, this was tougher for me than I thought it would be. I had never seen my body as lean and ripped as it was on stage and it was psychologically tricky to watch the mirror get a little curvier this month. Sure, a lot of it is just the daily fluctuations of water, etc., but it still can mess with your head if you let it. But here’s the deal: stage-ready, 9% body fat female bodies are NOT sustainable nor good for long-term health. And even though my brain knows that to be true, I still had to show some patience with myself as I digested this information. There really was no way around it – “Danielle, you’re human!” And so, I’ve listened. I’ve found little ways to mentally embrace this transition with positivity. I take more time to dress up every morning, even when working from home, because it makes me feel beautiful. I make a point to mentally focus before each strength training session, telling myself to bust my ass and use all of the delicious fuel in my body for some serious muscle gains. I set aside a Sunday afternoon here and there to make a delicious and balanced meal from scratch, sipping an Oregon Pinot and watching football. My body has been a major focal point of my life for the last few months and I’m shifting back to a place of balance. The key here is that I am NOT turning a blind eye, going to an extreme and undoing all of my hard work with overindulgence. I just won’t do it. As an athlete, my body is still an incredible gift and I refuse to slack on my responsibility as its #1 caregiver. In fact, by adding back the calories, letting my body adjust back to a place where it is metabolically comfortable and still challenging it in the gym every week, I’m being the best caregiver I know how.
- What’s Next?: As I sit here and watch the cursor blink as I silently ponder how I want to answer this question, I feel a small grin pushing through my lips. Why? Because I’m always a gal with a plan. That’s just the way I’m wired. And yet, I sit here and find myself pleasantly surprised that I don’t have a plan right now (weird!). And I’m happy with that. Maybe the plan is to not have a plan (is your head spinning yet?!). I’m looking forward to tasting all of the flavors of the holiday season with family and friends, spending Friday nights with my husband at romantic restaurants, and letting my brain have a bit of a break from the intensity of competing. Will I compete again? While I haven’t officially signed my name on any dotted lines, I will say that I absolutely loved the experience and could certainly see myself doing it again. But I’m also open to future challenges that may cross my path. As for SHESTRONG, I’m looking forward to returning to my blogging of yesteryear with new recipes, videos and stories of strength – the reasons I started this blog in the first place.
Again, I cannot express the magnitude of my gratitude (giggles) for all who have followed along and supported me in this mighty challenge. It has been my goal to be as honest, transparent and open during this whole process and I hope I was able to deliver a bit of a “behind the scenes” perspective of what its like to be a competitor. I suppose there’s no better time to say it – “that’s a wrap!”