Heart songs and shit sandwiches…..What next?

Feeling the same downers as I did after a big show. You prep and prep, live the goal day by day, chip away at everything that is a distraction, until the big event comes. For me, it was always dance shows. This last time, it was the end of the Oxygen Magazine 90 day challenge and the hope of making the top 20, maybe even the cover. I didn’t make the top 20, by the way, but I am kind of glad. I needed a break from everything. Although, if I had made the top 20, I would have embraced it. Either way, It’s ALL GOOD.

I had knee issues crop up, and I was just plain tired after waking up at 4 am 5 days a week and busting my ass in the gym. I pushed hard, I didn’t miss one workout the whole 90 days. My meals and macros were on point pretty much the whole time. I didn’t drink alcohol for the last 5-6 weeks. I felt amazing the last official workout before I took my AFTER photos. That expression is PRIDE, pride in myself for seeing it through, for giving it my all, for committing FULLY to myself and my goal. No excuses, to me or anyone else.

#FlexFriday This is the face of one HAPPY lady! I DID IT! I committed fully to myself for 90 days. It wasn't easy, yet it was, because I was ALL IN. See that picture on the right? That is PRIDE, .....pride in myself for a job well done. I haven't seen that face alot over the years. I had issues with my low back, my sacrum, my shoulder, and my knees, so I trained smart, but I always trained hard. I didn't miss one workout, and my food was on point! I learned the exercises, the meals, how to balance my macros, what protein powders to use and what supplements to use.. I dragged my butt out of bed at 4am every weekday, and if I woke up late, I got my #workout in somehow. I worked out six days a week and devoted my Sundays to rest and food prep. I invested a huge amount of time, energy and money (mostly for food) in this, and I am super stoked with the results. You know the best thing about this? I DID IT FOR ME, AND ME ALONE. Nobody suggested this, and at first I honestly doubted if I should go through with it, but something inside said it was not up for discussion. I am #foreverchanged. And what is really amazing is that by bettering myself, I inspired many others in my life to do the same. Now, that is something I didn't expect, and it makes me happy to know I can make the world a better place simply by loving myself fully. #ilovemylife #inspiration Thank you @oxygenmagazine , @erinstern5 and @amandalatona ! #oxychallenge #teamerin #teamboth #teamamanda #bodybuilding #fitat40 #fitfam #covermodel #covergirl #healthyliving #weights #noexcuses #trainhardyall #muscle #guns #biceps #gainz #oxygenexhale
Awesome, right?……………………
So, NOW WHAT??!!!
I think of doing a competition, and it’s exciting. I love the life, having a plan and sticking to it.
I love working on something similar day in and day out and noticing the changes in myself from day to day, week to week. When you do an activity regularly, you become more aware of how every part of your life affects your health. Then, my knees start talking. My adrenals start talking. Both are telling me to lay off of them a bit.
I started this so I could get stronger for dance, aerial, yoga, acroyoga, etc. YET, I didn’t make time for much of those. I got stiff because I didn’t stretch enough….huh. I haven’t started my Integrative Medicine Fellowship, but I am signed up. So much to do, so little desire to commit to anything right now.
Last night, I watched an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert. Lots of things hit me, but what really stuck was when she talks about the “shit sandwich.” There is often the desire to do something grand with our passions. As young’uns, we think we want to “be” so many things, and then we go to college and realize we have to work at it.
It’s not fun all the time.
Liz talked about the shit sandwich that every endeavor has. If you keep doing an activity despite the shit sandwich, then it’s worth continuing for you. For dance, I sacrificed so much every day, but the joy of dance made ALL of it worth it. What are you willing to put up with to do what makes your heart sing? If it makes your heart sing, does it matter?
It made me remember that dance is the one thing I am willing to put up with just about anything to have it in my life, so I am not sure why I am not doing it more. For now, I am just going to start there. I got stronger, I accomplished my first goal, now it’s time to figure out the next part.
I don’t need to decide right now what the next thing is. I just need to allow it to percolate. I will be drawn to what is right for me, bit by bit. Having that trust is hard, but it pays off every time!

Protecting the Void

I am deeply protective of my ME time, in a way I never knew before. I don’t think it came so much out of a conscious decision to protect my time. Rather, it came out of an intense desire to focus on a personal goal and to pay attention to my physical and emotional needs on a daily basis.

I recently spent about 4 months diving into a fitness challenge/contest, where the grand prize was to be on the cover of Oxygen magazine. While I wasn’t dead set on getting on the cover, I was going to make sure I put in the work to give myself every possibility. The caveat was that I wanted to do it in a healthy way, with balance and attention to my energy levels and daily needs.

I have had adrenal fatigue and am still not over that hurdle. I may never be fully free of adrenal fatigue, and that’s probably a good thing. I have a habit (I won’t say it’s good or bad) of diving in to something I am passionate about and pushing my limits. My body has finally learned to tell me when to slow down. Or, perhaps, I just finally learned to listen.

During the course of restructuring my life to incorporate 5am workouts, mealprep at least twice a week, learning new recipes and new workouts, and then actually putting it all into action, I became a bit of a home body. I knew I had to get up at 4am, so I didn’t go out often. I wanted to eat the right things, so I didn’t go out to eat. I was tired at night from getting up early and working my ass off, so I didn’t go to fun happenings like West Coast Swing, which would have kept me out until 10:30 on a week night. I didn’t plan things on Saturday morning because I wanted to be able to sleep as late as noon or 1 if I needed to. (If you want to see my healthy obsession with the process and the learning, check out my IG page @amyrxbaker)

While some of this may seem extreme, it was so good for me to be able to say yes to what I was doing and no to distraction, to know that I was making the decision to honor the commitment I had made for 3 short months. I needed that.

Yesterday,  I realized that I am feeling lonely, but then I don’t make an effort to go out and be with people.  At first, that felt so contradictory, but I really don’t want to go to the effort of being with people just because I am lonely. I want to reach out to people from a good space, not a space of lack. 

I am getting to know myself.  I am giving myself the space for creativity, allowing the space to try new things, revisit the things I love, allow spontaneity and experimentation.

There is a void in my life after the challenge, and nature abhors a vacuum. As long as I allow the void, the goodness will flow in. I don’t need to fill it myself for the sake of filling it. Let nature and inspiration do that!

6 Weeks Into the Ultimate Challenge!

***It is now halfway through week 11. I didn’t finish this and just got busy, but here is how I was feeling halfway through the challenge.

Here I am, 6 weeks into the Oxygen Magazine Ultimate 90 Day Challenge, and a mere 6 weeks to go. I really thought I would post more blogs (typical of me to think I can do all of it, all of the time). Difference is, I haven’t gotten down on myself like I would have in the past. I am sharing a lot of pictures on Instagram (@amyrxbaker) of my progress, of recipes, of food prep…. so many of food prep.

A reminder of why I started this challenge: to get strong again, so that I could pursue other interests without instantly injuring myself; and to get disciplined and find a way to get fitness and good eating into my life so that I could better tackle the other big ticket items I have pending in my life.

So, let me see if I can recap some of what has happened to me in the past six weeks:

  1. I have rediscovered my love of cooking and trying new foods. So, when I started this challenge, I heard the quote “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym”. I had poo-poo’d how I used to eat when I was working out every day and looking AMAZING 13 years ago. I had something going, though, if it weren’t for the underlying eating disorder. Now, I am realizing how easy clean eating is, one recipe at a time. I am finding new food items not even suggested by the coaches. Protein anyone? I will probably post separately on some of my nutrition finds, which are super exciting to me. Seriously, I could go on for pages about the things I am learning and trying.
  2. I spend what feels like half of my day in the kitchen. Holy cow! Am I glad I have TONS of small tupperware containers. Food prep is king in this world of bodybuilders and bikini models. Be prepared or go home, basically. With 3 meals a day, plus 2-3 planned snacks, you need to be armed with good food at all times. Most of my time spent on this challenge has been trying new recipes, food prep, dish washing….every day….so.many.dishes.
  3. I am inspired again to learn all about the foods and supplements I put into my body. I have always been interested in Sports Medicine, metabolism, supplementation, and now I have created yet another chance in my life to experiment on myself. One thing I want to know is WHY I didn’t know about supplementing with glutamine when I was doing 5-hour long rides every week. I need to talk to my ex-coach about that one. Try it. It’s good for a lot more than building muscle mass.
  4. I am unashamed of my body and am posting before and weekly pictures on Instagram and Facebook. Yep, my butt is officially out there for the world to see! (Covered, of course) I am not doing it for the compliments or attention, although compliments are always welcomed. I am not doing it for any other reason than I am sharing what is important and exciting to me. Yes, my weekly progress pictures are exciting and they are teaching me patience. When I think I haven’t made progress and I want to get down on myself, I look closely and can see changes from Day 1 to Day 41. I also remind myself that changes come gradually, with consistent hard work.
  5. I am focused on my growth and making no excuses to anyone. I am not drinking, although I may have a beer or glass of wine once a week. I am not staying out late, because I need my sleep so I can get up at 4:30am to be in the gym at 5am. I love what I am doing, and I feel no need to justify any of what I do, which is a shift for me. I used to feel guilty and selfish for taking care of myself. Now, it is self love that fuels me. The intent is soooo different than it was before. This time, I am doing it for ME, not so I can have the perfect ass to impress others. I am doing it because I can, and because it lights me up.
  6. I am trusting the process despite not becoming cover model material in just 6 short weeks. Patience is not my strongest virtue, but thankfully I spent many years, day in and day out, in the dance room studying ballet. I know it takes consistency and hard work, and I am rediscovering that fortitude I thought I had lost.
  7. I spend way too much time on Instagram and Facebook, and that’s OK. I find myself trolling Instagram, admiring all the IFBB pros and their amazing physiques.  I especially love to see their “before” shots. It shows me how far I can go, too. It’s fuel for the fire. On Facebook, there is a group for each of the coaches, and since I paid to have both coaches, I get access to 2 private groups where women share their struggles, triumphs, questions, and pictures. I can’t say how amazing it is to be a part of a group of women that post pictures of themselves in their underwear, showing off their new muscles, their perkier rears, and their overall pride in what they are doing for themselves. SELF LOVE. There is no shame in loving your body. Don’t tell me you have never looked at yourself and thought, “Dang, that looks good” and then went and took a selfie. Imagine sharing that to everyone on Facebook.
  8. I am finding a stability in myself that I haven’t felt in a long time.
    I like being alone. I love doing MY thing, and focusing on bettering myself. I love setting my own schedule, being clear about my priorities and not making any excuses for what I am doing. I love treating myself right, and I love my own company.