I’m back!! Sorry for being away for so long, I’ve been trying to take care of a lot of things, self care included and it took me away from being able to blog effectively. Maybe some day I will write about it.
But what have I been up to besides that? I moved into a brand new classroom in my school and it’s a self-contained K-2 room. It’s really amazing. The room is brand new, we have a lot of nice new furniture and some well loved items too. My teammates are also AWESOME and the kids are adorable.
I have also been lifting a lot (of course!). I got a coach who is based out of Salt Lake City and he is pretty awesome/knowledgeable. Check out this husband/wife team here , (Shawn and Kristen Bellon). I have made a lot of strength gains in the past maybe 8 or 9 months we have worked together. It’s very exciting to see progress and to feel stronger. I’ve also been focusing on form and trying to understand my body mechanics so I can be a better lifter.
I recently competed in the Northeast Iron Beast held at ABC Sports and Fitness in Latham, New York. It was my 3rd year doing this meet and it’s always well managed and really fun/supportive. It’s amazing to see so many strong women who cheer each other on. I always meet really great, new people and see some awesome old friends at these meets. I also always leave inspired to keep going and be the best I can be. It’s also a very well run meet!
I did pretty well at this meet. I was mostly happy with how it went because I not only added 63 pounds to my total, but I also learned a lot and gained experience.
This was also the first time I needed to cut some weight in order to be in the weight class I wanted/feel strongest in. I knew months before that I would probably need help doing so because I am really bad at figuring out my own macros (protein, carbs, fat). So now I have an awesome nutrition coach too, who happens to be one of the co-founders of the Plantbuilt team that I am on! Check her out here at Vegan Proteins (Dani co-owns it with her husband, Giacomo). Not only did I end up meeting weight, I was a couple of pounds under and felt great (still do!).
Since I had to cut weight, I also had to do a water load the entire week of the meet. I normally drink about a gallon of water so I had to up it to 1.5 gallons a day, which was interesting because I had to go to the bathroom every 30 minutes BUT I felt pretty amazing and my skin looked so good! I also didn’t get to eat breakfast until after I weighed in. In past years I would just eat a normal Saturday breakfast of 2 waffles with real maple syrup and some Beyond Meat chicken. However, I quickly learned that wasn’t enough fuel for the meet because Dani set me right! I ate one of the biggest bowls of cereal ever out of a huge reused Earth Balance container (haha, looked like a weirdo!) and it was glorious. I felt ready and strong!
Squats went really well. I made all three lifts so that was exciting compared to past years. I opened with 159.83 pounds, then did 165.3 pounds, and finished with 176.4 pounds and definitely could have done more! I have squatted 190 before but was having hip issues a few weeks before the meet so we (Coach and I) wanted to play it safe. I was very happy with my squats. Check out my last one…
Bench went much differently because after warmups my shoulder was bothering me. I have a past rotator cuff injury and some weird scapula issues. I should have played it much safer with my bench numbers because the most I’ve benched so far was 105 pounds and my first attempt was 95 pounds. Sadly, even though I made two of the lifts, none of them counted because my butt came off of the bench both times. This just meant that I would not receive an official total at the meet and wouldn’t be able to place if able. That was a bummer BUT I told myself that I did make the lifts and was only held on a technicality so I knew I just had some more learning to do. I took it as a learning experience and decided to focus on my deadlifts. Check out my bench…
Deadlifts are my favorite lift, although squats are creeping up there. I just love being able to pick up a heavy barbell off of the floor. It’s incredibly empowering and badass. I opened with 242.5 pounds and it moved pretty well. My second attempt was 259 pounds and the third was 270.1 pounds. All of them counted and all moved well. I struggled a little bit on the last one to lock it out but I got it! SO far this is the most I’ve ever deadlifted. I’m going to test them again in a few months to see how much I can really lift outside of a meet. Watch my last deadlift (with a cameo from meet director, Jim Kipp!).
Overall it was a really great meet. There were a lot of impressive and strong women and it was amazing to meet, lift, and cheer for each other. I left feeling happy, satisfied and extremely inspired to keep working my ass off.
What is meal prepping? Meal prepping is when you take a day, night, or a couple of hours to make your food for the week. Some people prep a meal, several meals, or all of their meals and snacks for the entire week. I find that it’s very helpful to prep your meals in advance.
Meal prepping helps you make more nutritional food choices and is very helpful if you have a hectic schedule. Think about it! When you’re super busy you don’t really have a lot of time to cook food. So what do you do? Typically, most people would opt for eating out, some kind of fast food, or a processed food that is quick to grab and eat. Meal prepping helps you avoid doing that and gives you better fuel for your hectic schedule. Food is fuel and sometimes what you eat or drink can bog you down at some point. And if you’re a busy person, you don’t have time for low energy.
I also love the idea of meal prepping as an athlete. It helps me know ahead of time what I’m eating and I know that I’m going to reach all of my macronutrient (carbs, fat, protein) goals for the day/week. It gives me the fuel I need to be a better athlete while still eating the foods I love.
So what do you do? Some people might just make up several different components of their meals and measure them out later, while some people pre-measure all meals out and package them in containers.
Here’s a rad video from Cheap Lazy Vegan about Meal Prepping. Check out her Youtube channel, it’s pretty awesome.
It depends on your goals and your time, both for cooking and for eating. I have a fair amount of time during the week so I usually prep on Sundays and either Wednesday or Thursday. I also only need to prep my lunches for work because I eat breakfast and dinner at home, with plenty of time to cook them. I also just bulk pack mine and measure it out real quick in the morning. I don’t have a lot of containers and have a little time in the mornings so I can do that.
What do you include? I usually have either a marinated (with a little oil for fat) baked tofu or tempeh, roasted sweet potatoes/gold potatoes/or quinoa, and some kind of steamed/no oil roasted veggies…broccoli rabe, kale, carrots, green beans, brussel sprouts, corn, squash, etc. I always try to do a veggie mix with at least one kind of leafy green veggie. Most of the time my meals have some kind of theme to keep me from getting bored. I mix the flavors up every week. Sometimes I throw hemp seeds or nuts on top for my fat. Sometimes I make nutritional yeast sauce or a cashew sauce for the top.
Here’s my very basic guideline for a tofu or tempeh marinade. Use whatever seasonings you want in it to switch it up. Some ideas:
Smoky: Add 1 tsp smoked paprika and a pinch of oregano
Italian Herb: Add ½ tsp each of oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary
Asian: Add 1 tsp of chopped garlic and ginger with some sesame seeds, or maybe a little orange rind
Mexican: Add ½ tsp cumin and chili powder
Also feel free to experiment with the flavors!
- block of tofu or tempeh, cut into squares or strips
- 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/8 c water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk all ingredients with whatever spices/seasonings you want, except protein, in a bowl. Add chopped protein and toss to cover.
- Spray a baking sheet with oil spray and pour contents onto it. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until cooked to desired color.
If you missed part one, check it out here.
Next up was bench, so I immediately started warming up. I was still feeling a little down about my squatting but tried to push it out of my head. I warmed up with a teammate so that was super helpful because we were focused on helping each other. I felt much better by the time our group was up and occupied my mind by focusing on the commands. There are way more commands in bench compared to the squat. You basically have to take it off the rack, hold it up as still as possible while you wait for the official to say “start”. Then once you bring the bar down, you have to hold it there until the official says “press” and then once completed you have to hold it in the finished position with your arms straight until the official says “rack”. If you miss any of these commands, the lift does not count. We practiced these a lot in training so it would just become second nature. My first attempt was 77.2 pounds and went up easily. My second attempt also went up pretty well at 82.7 pounds. My last attempt can be seen below at 88.2 pounds. I made all three of these lifts and was super excited about that.
I felt really happy and comfortable after a successful bench. I waited a little bit to warm up for the deadlift. Here is where I sadly messed up. Before, I had a bit more time in between the previous group and my group because it took longer to set up the rack for each person. I figured I had the same amount of time. I forgot that there are no racks to move around or rack heights to change so the deadlift groups go much faster than squat or bench because the spotters are only changing out the weights. I started to warm up and had a couple of lifts left when my group was called. I tried to quickly do my last two warmup lifts. The second I put down my last warmup lift, my name was called. Now, you only have a certain amount of time to complete the lift, it might be one minute. I had to stand there and try to calm down since I usually take a couple of minutes of rest in between lifts. Officials were telling me I needed to go so I just said that I needed a second. I took a couple of deep breaths in and out and walked up to the platform. I had to make this lift at 231.5 pounds so I could go for the next weight. I slammed my feet where they needed to go, tightened my back and glutes, puffed out my core, took a deep breath and picked it up. It was a green light! I was psyched. My next attempt was 242.5 pounds and I made that with a tiny bit of difficulty. By this time, I was super tired. Hurrying my warmup and the first lift really took it out of me. I really wanted that last lift. Sadly I just couldn’t quite get the last lift of 253 pounds off of the floor, which was sad because I was able to lift 250 in training. I think I was just too fatigued and that’s ok.
Overall, it was a really rad experience and I knew when it was over that I wanted to do another one. I’m kind of hooked now. It was a really positive and empowering experience. I got to meet all kinds of really awesome people, watch really badass people beat their own records, and was able to bring out my own inner badass. I really loved it and am going to start training for another meet next week. I also have plans to do two more (possibly 3) next year…and one is gonna be super duper awesome and in another state.
I used to hate bananas. Seriously, I was one of the pickiest eaters alive. When I was little, my parents tried to get me to eat so many things and I only wanted to eat hot dogs (hey, I haven’t always been vegan sadly), box macaroni and cheese, and peas. After I became vegan I started broadening my food horizons. I still don’t like to just eat a banana by itself BUT I love banana whip (aka nice cream) and sliced bananas on toast or a rice cake with some nut butter. I really love this chocolate banana whip though. It’s a perfect snack, especially before a workout, because it’s a fair amount of carbs and fat with a little protein. This is also super duper easy to make. You just have to plan ahead the day before and cut up the bananas to throw in the freezer. I will buy a bunch of 6 or 8 large bananas so I can prep 4 containers at a time. Then I just pull one out and whip it up right before the gym. Easy breezy vegan ice creamy.
Basically just throw the bananas into the food processor with the almond milk, cocoa or cacao powder, and small amount of protein.
Then slowly add a little more milk until it starts moving, but not too much because you don’t want it liquidy. You just want it to be able to start processing.
It should look similar to this when done. Sometimes you need to use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl or a knife to break up large banana chunks and reprocess.
Dress it up with your favorite toppings. I like to top it with 1 tbsp of Sunbutter or PB and some chocolate chips.
- 2 large bananas, sliced and pre-frozen
- 1/8 cup cocoa or cacao powder
- 2 tbsp almond milk (any plant milk works), may need a little more to process
- 1/2 tbsp-1 tbsp protein powder
- Throw frozen, sliced bananas into food processor.
- Add protein powder, cocoa powder, and almond milk.
- Process until smooth. You may need to add some more milk through the feed tube while processing to get it moving. You also may need to scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula or use a knife to break up large chunks. Add just enough milk (in a really slow stream) until it is moving well enough to process. You want it to be the texture of soft serve ice cream. Process for about 1 minute until smooth and fluffy.
- Great toppings include: 1 tbsp of nut or seed butter, chocolate chips, crushed cookies or cereal pieces, chopped brownie or cake, sprinkles.
- Adding a cookie, brownie, or cake will up the carb count if you want it to.
About a year or so ago, I found and fell in love with, powerlifting. What is powerlifting you ask? According to wikipedia “Powerlifting is a strength sport that consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three lifts: squat, bench press, and deadlift”. If you asked me, I would say it’s a badass sport focusing on the above three lifts.
How exactly did I get into it? I had been weight lifting on and off for years and had a lot of friends who were powerlifting. I would see their amazing pictures and videos defying gravity and defying their own preconceived notions of themselves in the process and I was mesmerized. I researched some basic information to get started, and armed with some advice from friends, began my own journey into powerlifting.
Learning the basics was a very interesting process but I did it. Then I was able to start adding weight to the main movements and was constantly getting stronger. It totally felt super badass and empowering to be in a gym full of big, burly people and doing the same movements as them. As I learned, I kept increasing my weights. I remember how amazing it felt to finally deadlift 200 pounds. It just felt so amazing to hit a huge goal and kick it’s ass. It was empowering and definitely helps me in everyday life too because now I am not struggling to carry all of my groceries.
Me Without A Clue Above!
A short time after I closed the bakery I hooked up with a really great coach in the area, Jeannine Trimboli at Real Fit Life (check it out!), and started training with her. Her program was a really great fit for me at the time because she is super positive and knowledgeable. I then decided to start training for an actual powerlifting meet. I will probably talk about training for a meet at another time but I want to fast forward to the actual meet experience.
My first meet was a mixture of many emotions. I was super excited and also really nervous. I would have to be lifting in front of a fairly large crowd of people and lift among people of all experience levels. It was definitely a little bit out of my comfort zone at the time. In addition to the emotions and crowd, I would also have to successfully navigate the meet so I could be aware of when my group was up or when I was up. There’s a lot going on honestly. The meet was at ABC Fitness in Latham, New York on January 23rd. When I first got there, I had to check in at the table and sign a waiver and a form stating that I don’t use any performance enhancing drugs (this is something I will NEVER do). Then I received a bracelet saying I was a competitor. Next, I had to get all of my gear inspected and approved so I pulled everything out of my bag: flat soled Chuck Taylor shoes for deadlifting, my Adidas Powerlift weightlifting shoes for squatting and benching, Strengthshop weightlifting belt, wrist straps for bench, Inzer singlet and a sufficient t shirt for underneath, and my knee high socks for deadlifting. I was good to go and moved on to get weighed and submit my first lift attempts.
Getting weighed was weird because it was a huge line of women going into the bathroom. Once I got in I realized that I had to strip down to my underwear to weigh in, which is something I haven’t done in front of a lot of people before so that made me a little anxious. I was fine though because I was starting to get amped up. Everyone in line was super duper nice and reassuring. Actually, everyone at the meet was super duper nice and reassuring. It was really great for a first experience. After I weighed in I moved on to the platforms to find my rack settings and get them written down on my card. This saves a lot of time during the meet so they can have it all setup for you when you come up to the platform during your turn. If this didn’t happen, the meet would take too long to finish.
After I got everything settled it was time to warm up and then watch other weight classes go. I was honestly nervous and sometimes confused the entire time because I was a meet newbie but between my coach, teammates, and other competitors I was able to successfully navigate it and didn’t miss any of my turns. There are announcers calling out lifters for their turns and there are monitors to watch to see the order for each group so you can keep track of when you’re up. Each lift is also more technical at a meet because not only do you have to remember all of your usual cues for performing the lift, but you also have to know the judges commands and not miss any or your lift will not count.
The first lift was the squat. I had been working on my squat for a really long time and it still didn’t quite feel awesome. In fact, it was only a week or two before the meet that it felt ok. Squatting just always felt like a struggle to me, and now I realize that it was because my body wasn’t happy with the way I was doing them (I will write on that some other time). Needless to say, I was pretty nervous about squatting. I started to warm up using the list my coach had given to me, which basically consisted of lifts working up to the first weight performed. It’s very important to warm up adequately because you’re going to be putting a tremendous amount of stress on your body while performing your three highest lifts for all three kinds of lifts. You don’t ever do that in training because it takes a lot of time for your body to recover. That is why training efficiently and safely is so important…you are getting your body ready to be able to lift a lot in one day at a competition.
Anyways, after I warmed up my group was called and I realized that I was FIRST to go in my group. That made me even more nervous! My first squat was 121.3 pounds (at a meet it’s all in kilograms so the numbers are weird). I ended up going way too low and couldn’t get it up so the spotters caught it for me. I was too nervous and weirded myself out. I was kind of upset but shook it off and was determined to make the next attempt. I ran to the judges table to hand in my next attempt, which was the same weight, and sat down to watch some other really badass people lift. Soon enough I was up again and was ready to go. I got under the bar, picked it up, stepped back, braced my core, took a deep breath in, went down and came back up. I was so excited that I forgot to wait for the judge to tell me to rack the bar, and I did it BEFORE she said to, so the lift didn’t count. I was so upset and took it out really hard on myself. People I didn’t even know were coming up to encourage me and told me to shake it off. It was really awesome. I handed in my next attempt at 132.3 pounds because the second lift felt really strong. Sadly, I didn’t end up making this squat either so none of them counted in my total score. I was so disappointed in myself for a bit but I was able to eventually rise above it as I warmed up for bench. Stay tuned for the rest of the competition in part two (this is way too long already!). XOXO
My 2nd squat attempt at 121.3 lbs during my first powerlifting meet