Natalie Newhart http://natalienewhart.com Natalie Newhart Tue, 18 Jul 2017 00:46:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.1 Jr. Nationals Update- 6 Weeks Out http://natalienewhart.com/blog/jr-nationals-update-6-weeks/ http://natalienewhart.com/blog/jr-nationals-update-6-weeks/#respond Sun, 14 May 2017 23:07:14 +0000 http://natalienewhart.com/?p=883 Today is May 8, 2017 and I’m 6 weeks out from my Jr. Nationals Show in Chicago, IL. The biggest thing I have to say about my current journey is that, in comparison to my last prep, this one is different in so many ways- from mindset to nutrition, to training style, motivation, progress, temptations and distractions. You’d think it’d ...

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Today is May 8, 2017 and I’m 6 weeks out from my Jr. Nationals Show in Chicago, IL. The biggest thing I have to say about my current journey is that, in comparison to my last prep, this one is different in so many ways- from mindset to nutrition, to training style, motivation, progress, temptations and distractions. You’d think it’d be easier my second time around, but it’s not…here’s why.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS
During my last prep, I was fucking hungry for success. After being suspended from CrossFit in March, I was angry, frustrated and determined to achieve a certain fitness status as I had put SO much work into my level of fitness that year. I was confident that I was going to qualify for the 2016 Games that year. After being disqualified, I felt like I had unfinished business, that I had something to prove to myself, and my first bodybuilding show was my outlet.

Despite it being a stupid local show with a cheesy plastic trophy, I was willing to die for that 1st place finish. It was more about the accomplishment and satisfaction that I’d get from that win than the actual attention or trophy. So, needless to say, I was driven as hell, and there was absolutely no chance that any girl was going to work harder than me…and it showed on stage. I got one compliment after another about how great my conditioning was, yada, yada yada… but it wasn’t a surprise to me- I got out exactly what I put into it, a champion mentality and a champion status.

A NEW PERSPECTIVE
This time around, things are a bit different. I’m no longer angry about my CrossFit suspension. Instead, I see it as a blessing in disguise and have had spent a lot of time reflecting what it is I want out of life and what makes me happy. For the longest time (10 years to be exact), I thought that the only way I could be happy was if I placed top 10 at the CrossFit Games. Although that was a fun and challenging journey that has made me who I am today, I’ve realized that I have been so freaking close-minded and selfish for the last 10 years of my life! Of course, that’s just part of the process when you’re trying to be a professional in whatever you’re space you’re in, but what an eye-opener it is when you step away from the sport you’ve been obsessed with for so long. In the end, we all just want to look good and feel good, right? Well I thought CrossFit was the only way to achieve that, but I have learned that is not the case- the opportunities to achieve such fitness success are endless

Needless to say, my perspective on winning and competing has been a little different this time around. Of course I want to win and will do whatever it is I need to do to bring my best on stage, but this time around I just don’t feel as confident that my physique is good enough to bring home the gold medal and pro card… and its way too late now to make it better.

SELF DOUBT
The only thing I currently have in my control is my “conditioning” (leanness) on stage. I didn’t really take a break from my first show to when I started prep for this show, so I never really got a chance to make the changes I wanted or needed to improve my physique- stuff like widening my back, building up my shoulders, and improving my biceps and triceps.

So as of now, it all comes down to who shows up on show day and what level of conditioning they are in… I have to keep reminding myself that these things are completely out of my control, and should only be focusing my efforts and intensity on what I can control, which is working my ass off in every time I step into the gym and following my diet to a “T” (easier said than done, of course).

NOT A LACK OF HARD WORK
I do feel like I’m a little behind the ball as far as conditioning goes sitting 6 weeks out, so that’s been frustrating as well. Its frustrating because I have NOT slacked on training, cardio or nutrition- I’ve been doing my part of hitting the weights as heavy as I can, burning as many calories as I can, and sticking to the diet the best that I can. The diet has probably been the hardest part for me this time around because my calorie intake is certainly less than it was during my last prep with my cardio/training volume being higher. Therefore, cravings and temptations have been pretty bad.

ADDICTION TO CALORIE-FREE FOODS
They’ve been so bad that I started to look for ways to increase the volume or satiety affect of my food. I experimented with calorie-free sauces and sweeteners such as Walden Farms and Stevia Its been about 2 weeks after incorporating these foods into my diet, and I’m just now realizing that that was a bad move and will be removing it from my palette after today. Once I introduced those sauces and sweetness into my diet, I got hooked on them.. and i mean hooked. Two Stevias per day turned into 10 very quickly, and I started to eat the Walden Farm sauces by the spoonful rather than as just as a sauce on my food. I craved the sugars non-stop and have been addicted to them ever since I started using them. Before I added them to my diet, I was totally fine with just plain old sea salt on all my food… that damn sugar, whether its artificial or not, is just so darn addicting and I’m hoping I can kick the habit. Lesson learned.

WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD
All in all, I’ve been putting in the hard work needed to be stage lean but my body doesn’t seem to be responding as well as I’d like it to and I’m not sure why. Am I training too hard? Not eating enough? Not recovering enough? I don’t know. All I know is that my will and hard work is not the reason for my lack of progress, and that is one of the worst feelings in the world. I plan on pushing the needle for another week or two before I decide if my body will be ready for the stage or not, a decision I’m not excited to face. Stay tuned to hear what happens next.

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U.S. Open Reflections http://natalienewhart.com/blog/u-s-open-reflections/ http://natalienewhart.com/blog/u-s-open-reflections/#respond Wed, 19 Apr 2017 19:39:29 +0000 http://natalienewhart.com/?p=759 My reflections on the U.S. Open powerlifting meet. Where do I begin? Let’s just start off by saying that my performance didn’t really go as planned… and I believe it’s 100% the result of trying to prep for a bodybuilding show at the same time. Lesson freaking learned. Everyone around me told me that I wouldn’t be able to do ...

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My reflections on the U.S. Open powerlifting meet. Where do I begin?

Let’s just start off by saying that my performance didn’t really go as planned… and I believe it’s 100% the result of trying to prep for a bodybuilding show at the same time. Lesson freaking learned.

Everyone around me told me that I wouldn’t be able to do both and well [swallowing my pride], turns out they were right. I can be quite stubborn and think that anything is possible so long as I put my heart and soul into it, but then theres always that dose of science that stands in my way. I understood the consequences of training both sports, I just thought that if I had enough grit and tenacity that I’d be able to surpass it and achieve the results I wanted. Simply put, I just wasn’t willing to throw away the past 4 months of physique training for a powerlifting competition that may or not pay off in the long run. I wasn’t even sure if I would like powerlifting; I just figured that it’d be fun to compete in a performance-based sport again, get some exposure as an athlete, and use the training as a supplement to my bodybuilding training.

Because my squat, bench and deadlift numbers were pretty good towards the beginning of my bodybuilding prep (when I weighed about 126-127#), the people around me believed that I could be pretty competitive and possibly even podium at the U.S. Open. And maybe that would’ve been the case if I hadn’t continued the cutting phase of my bodybuilding prep. But, like I said, my original plan for this year was to earn my pro card and try to qualify for the 2017 Olympia and I had no desire to halt my progress or not finish what I started. Therefore, I continued to drop weight as planned for my bodybuilding prep.

When I started my 4-week powerlifting prep, I think I weighed about 126lbs. Four weeks later, on meet day, I weighed my lightest so far at 119lbs. Although I looked and felt great, my strength just couldn’t be maintained, no matter how hard I tried.

I failed all of my third attempts at each lift, numbers that I definitely expected myself to hit with no problem. And I really don’t think it was because I was new to the sport, or new to the environment, or any other excuse people want to justify me with. I believe it was completely a result of my drop in weight and limited calories/carbs that I had been sticking to.

As far as the actual event goes, it was interesting to say the least, an eye opener. I really had no clue what to expect. It was similar to Olympic Lifting, which I’ve competed in several times before, just with a lot more aggression and animal-like energy. Like Olympic Lifting, timing your warmups and preparation was crucial- the lifts move pretty quickly with each lifter getting 1 minute to perform their lifts, then maybe 30 seconds for the guys to change the bar weight. The intensity was also similar to Olympic lifting in the fact that you only had once chance to get the lift; there’s just a lot more technicality involved with Olympic Lifting than Powerlifting. Powerlifting is all about raw strength and aggression- the girls I competed against were freaking impressive… and slightly intimidating. I thought I was tough, these girls were on a whole other level.

Another difference was the number of events; Olympic Lifting has 2 events (snatch and clean and jerk), whereas Powerlifting has 3 (squat, bench, deadlift)- by the time it was my turn to deadlift, I was feeling pretty smoked despite the downtime I had between lifts. The fact that you have to turn the switch from 0 to 100 9 separate times throughout the day was surprisingly exhausting; I didn’t expect to be exhausted from that, especially since I’m so used to doing way more volume in a normal training day. It was certainly a humbling experience.

Overall, I walked away from the competition feeling pretty frustrated that I wasn’t able to perform to my expectations. I dedicated so much time and effort, and sacrificed a good chunk of money to take on this powerlifting meet and I question whether it was really worth it… the feeling of regret, a feeling I absolutely hate more than anything in this world.

Although the results were not what I wanted, I still had a great experience- the best part was just being able to bond with some of my teammates and coaches at Kabuki Strength. As I reflect over the weekend, I realize what things in life are actually important to me and make me happy. Its not the podium or the fame as I once thought; instead, its quality relationships with the people closest to you and being grateful for what you have. I’ll always love the pressure and growth you get from competing, but where you finish is not as important as I once thought… placing 1st doesn’t make you happy for long (maybe a few seconds or minutes, if that?). That’s why you truly need to enjoy the process of the daily grind and sacrifice versus thinking that happiness is always on the other side of achievement.

That being said, even though dieting is THE WORST, I’ve really enjoyed the disciplined process of bodybuilding and will do everything I can to bring my best package to stage. I do miss being an “athlete” and having fun with workouts/cardio, so I plan on looking into doing some local CrossFit competitions just to keep the journey exciting. But for now, all eyes are on my Junior Nationals Physique Show June 15-16 in Chicago, IL. Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t Lose.

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U.S. Open Powerlifting Training- Week 3/4 in Review http://natalienewhart.com/blog/u-s-open-powerlifting-training-week-34-review/ http://natalienewhart.com/blog/u-s-open-powerlifting-training-week-34-review/#respond Thu, 13 Apr 2017 23:01:05 +0000 http://natalienewhart.com/?p=648 I apologize, I’ve slacked on keeping my blog up-to-date regarding my training progress for the U.S. Open and, honestly, I often wonder if anyone even reads this stuff or cares for that matter lol. Regardless, this post will cover the past and last 2 weeks of my training for what’s considered the most biggest powerlifting meet in the world. By ...

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I apologize, I’ve slacked on keeping my blog up-to-date regarding my training progress for the U.S. Open and, honestly, I often wonder if anyone even reads this stuff or cares for that matter lol. Regardless, this post will cover the past and last 2 weeks of my training for what’s considered the most biggest powerlifting meet in the world. By the way, I think its being called the “biggest” because it’s the most prize money that has ever been raised for a powerlifting meet; with there being lot of money on the line will bring out the biggest and best powerlifters from around the world… so it’s pretty cool that I get to be a part of it.

The last 2 weeks of training have been the worst by far and often led me questioning if I even deserved to compete at this event. My overall volume peaked in Week 3 (of 4) and my body struggled to handle it. I was failing lifts left and right; in fact, there was one day where I actually failed all three lifts (squat, bench, and deadlift) at the numbers I was supposed to hit- let’s just say that was a REALLY bad day, filled with lots of tears and questioning of whether I had what it took to compete. For the most part, the entire Week 3 of training was just slop- nothing felt good and I rarely hit the numbers I was expected to hit.

Everyone says that’s the way you’re supposed to feel two weeks out from the event but being my first powerlifting meet, its hard for me to trust that that’s the best strategy leading up to such an intense event. I personally want to walk into that arena with confidence, even knowing that I still have more in the tank, rather than questioning what I think I can or should do because the past two weeks of training have been so shit.

Needless to say, Week 3 of training completely crushed any and all confidence I had leading up to this event, and Week 4 has been all about trying to regain that confidence back, which has been a slow process. I only had one good training day this week  (Week 4) where I felt like I was starting to move the weight well again, and it was my last training day of the period.

I do understand the theory behind over-reaching and then super-compensating during a deload week, but since I’ve never done it to this extreme, I really have no idea what to expect on meet day. Will my strength be there or will I be intimidated by the weight? All I can focus on right now are the things that are in my control, with my mindset being one of them. I can assure you that my mind will be ready and I hope my body will be too.

Today is Thursday and I lift on Sunday- the next few days will be spent traveling, recovering, stretching, visualizing and possibly some light jogging or swimming. I really don’t know what to expect come meet day, which is kinda scary but also kinda the fun part. And although I’m new to powerlifting, I’m certainly not new to competition. I’m excited to perform under pressure and see what I’m capable of in such an intense environment.

On a side note, I’m sure that training bodybuilding on top of powerlifting hasn’t help my ability to recover but, like I’ve mentioned before, my physique show in June has been my original priority and I wasn’t about to just let my physique fall by the wayside for a chance to podium in a sport that I’m not sure if I’ll ever compete in again. The last thing I want is to be standing on the bodybuilding stage in June thinking that “I could’ve done more, should’ve given more.” For me, the pain regret is one of the worst feelings in the world; I’ll choose the pain of discipline any day. Not to mention, with my attempt to stay on track for the BB show, I’ve been steadily losing weight which is great for the show but not so great for lifting heavy. It’s definitely been a battle to try to balance training and prep for both sports, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I’m so fortunate for this opportunity and I’ve learned so much about myself and powerlifting in the past 4 weeks. I can’t wait to see this thing through and finish strong.

#whateverittakes

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U.S. Open Powerlifting Training- Week 2 in Review http://natalienewhart.com/blog/u-s-open-powerlifting-training-week-2-review/ http://natalienewhart.com/blog/u-s-open-powerlifting-training-week-2-review/#comments Wed, 29 Mar 2017 15:47:19 +0000 http://natalienewhart.com/?p=629 Week 2 of training powerlifting and bodybuilding went a lot better performance-wise than week 1. I finally figured out how to train both sports while managing to get just enough recovery to hit the gym hard the next day. My routine typically goes like this: 5-7am: Work from home 7am: Leave for powerlifting gym, eat breakfast on the way 8-11am: ...

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Week 2 of training powerlifting and bodybuilding went a lot better performance-wise than week 1. I finally figured out how to train both sports while managing to get just enough recovery to hit the gym hard the next day.

My routine typically goes like this:

5-7am: Work from home

7am: Leave for powerlifting gym, eat breakfast on the way

8-11am: Powerlifting training- I start with a core piece, then go into my squats, bench and deadlifts.

11-1p: Eat/recover/computer work

1p: Drive to athletic club

2p: Eat again

230-4p: Train bodybuilding: legs, delts/tris, or back/bis

4p: Head home

415-7p: Eat; prep food for next day, computer work

730p: Bed

Mondays are my hardest days because its my knee wrap day, and thus, my heaviest day. Squatting with wraps is absolutely exhausting and extremely time-consuming. It literally takes me 2 hours to get through 7 sets of singles or doubles on my squats! The fatigue is unlike what I’ve experienced through CrossFit,  bodybuilding, or any other sport. It honestly feels like I’m getting hit by a train 7 times in a row- sounds crazy I know, and maybe its because I’m still not quite used to the wraps, but every time those wraps go on, my body goes through complete shock for a good 5 minutes. It sucks the life out of me   and by the end of my single or double squat, I just feel like collapsing on the floor.

Despite the fatigue associated with wrap days, my progress in the lifts is going just as planned. This week, I worked up to an easy 330# back squat, 200# bench, and 330# deadlift. Based off how those lifts felt, I am confident that I will be able to hit my goal total of 365-215-365 on meet day. Three more weeks of hard training should do the job (hopefully).

Although my powerlifting numbers have been progressing, my show prep has not been going all that great (check out my YouTube videos to see/hear my frustrations). For the past 5 out of 7 weeks of prep, my bodyweight has remained unchanged despite the reduction in calories and increases in cardio. Because the plateau was lasting so long, I started to think that maybe I had some metabolic damage left over from my last show. When my coach agreed and brought up the point that we may have to cancel the show, I was extremely frustrated and upset that all my hard work and sacrifices over the past 4 months was a waste.

I told myself I’d give it a few more days and try a few more things to see if my body would respond. I drank magnesium glycerinate for digestion, started taking Ashwaghanda for stress, and I started to incorporate a trip to the Steam Room to relax and focus on my breathing. Unfortunately, none of those things seemed to make an immediate difference.

On the other hand, when I woke up on Saturday morning, my bodyweight was about 2-3 pounds lower than it had been! Something happened and I honestly think it was a result of time than any of the other changes I had made. Turns out that this type of “chunking fat loss” is pretty common among women, whereas men typically have more a linear fat loss progression. I honestly think that my body just needed time to respond to the changes and once it did, it did in a big way.

So, as of now, the show is still on the prep continues for both, the US Open Powerlifting and Jr Nationals Physique. I’m anticipating the next 2 weeks will be pretty brutal with calories continuing to decrease and intensity increasing in my lifts. Recovery will be key this next week.

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Training for the U.S. Open Powerlifting Meet – Week 1 Review http://natalienewhart.com/blog/601/ http://natalienewhart.com/blog/601/#comments Wed, 22 Mar 2017 01:58:58 +0000 http://natalienewhart.com/?p=601 Two  weeks ago, I was invited to compete at the U.S. Open powerlifting meet on April 14-15 in San Diego, CA. It was such an honor to be invited to such a prestigious event that I immediately jumped at the opportunity and went all in without really putting much thought behind it. I have never competed in a powerlifting meet, ...

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Two  weeks ago, I was invited to compete at the U.S. Open powerlifting meet on April 14-15 in San Diego, CA. It was such an honor to be invited to such a prestigious event that I immediately jumped at the opportunity and went all in without really putting much thought behind it. I have never competed in a powerlifting meet, and here I am striving to be competitive with the best lifters in the world, and I have less than 5 weeks to do it. The funny thing is… I think I can do it.

Goals

My goal is to podium in my weight class, but a first place medal is not out reach either. In order to podium, I believe I’ll have to total 950 or better. My goal lifts are: 365 squat, 220 bench, 365 deadlift. I’ll be squatting high bar with wraps, and pulling sumo for the deadlift. In order for me to achieve these lifts, I’ll need to put everything I have into every training session, on top of training  and prepping as hard as I can for bodybuilding- this is not an easy task to say the least.

I honestly don’t think I realized what I was getting myself into when I made the decision to accept the invite. I tend to think that I am some invincible super-human that can do anything (such as train powerlifting while prepping for the biggest bodybuilding show of my life) as long as I put my mind to it;  while that may be partially true, I am constantly reminded that my body is not the machine I think it is or want it to be. My mind is obviously far more stronger than my body will ever be- that can be a good thing or bad thing depending on how smart or stubborn I am with my recovery. Needless to say, its been a challenge trying to balance both my bodybuilding and powerlifting training sessions over the past week, and I can only assume it’ll get harder as the meet gets closer and my calories become fewer.

Balancing Powerlifting and Bodybuilding

Since I only have 5 total weeks to train for the meet (including a deload week), my PL training plan is pretty aggressive as far as intensity and volume; it’s nothing I’m not used to or afraid of, but the intensity has been an adjustment and the fatigue from the heavy lifts definitely makes it a challenge to put the same amount of intensity and effort into my BB training.

I train powerlifting 5 days a week: squat 4 days, deadlift 3 days, and bench 4 days.

I train bodybuilding 6 days a week, split up in to back/biceps, delts/triceps, and legs. In addition to the training, my calories are being cut each week and cardio has been increasing slowly each week as well.

I learned very quickly that in order to put a decent amount of effort into both sports, I have to break up my powerlifting and bodybuilding training into 2 separate sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. When I accepted the invite to the US Open, I told myself and everyone around me that I was still going to prioritize BB as it was my original goal; although I’m doing the best I can with both sports, BB has definitely taken the back seat in the past week, simply because I need most of my energy first thing in the morning to hit the big lifts.

Hardest Part So Far

Out of all the lifts, squatting with wraps has been the biggest adjustment and most challenging phase of this training. Mondays are my squat with wraps day, and they are THE WORST. Not only does it take me an insane amount of time to complete the work required, but it’s also some of the most excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced (and I like to think that I’m on the tougher side of the spectrum). If I were to compare it to something, it would be that initial shock when you hop into an ice bath or the adrenaline rush you get when you break a bone- its kinda like that.. my breath gets taken away, my body freezes, my breathing becomes shallow, and I have to just suck it up and find my own happy place to get through it. Apparently, my legs should de-sensititize the more I use the wraps, so I’m looking forward to that.

 

Other than the wraps and the ridiculous amount of time everything takes, I’ve actually really enjoyed the the training stye. It’s been fun to hit the low rep schemes of 1-2 reps, and its exciting to see your numbers go up each time. All in all, the first week of training for the U.S. Open went pretty well and I’m right on track to hitting the numbers I want.

Over the next few weeks, the hard part will be making sure that I’m managing my recovery properly so that I can continue to progress. Besides foam rolling, getting 8 hours of sleep and drinking 1 gallon water each day, I’m just trying to stay in tune with what my body is telling me- if I feel like my CNS is trashed, then I’ll stick with lighter weights for BB, or I’ll switch up the split order of my BB training. I think that feeling out each day and being able to adjust on the fly is what’s gonna allow me to train at my fullest potential for both sports. Looking forward to how Week 2 goes!

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March 2017 Topic: My Top 4 Lessons on How to Be Resilient Lesson 2: Get Good at Problem-Solving http://natalienewhart.com/uncategorized/march-2017-topic-top-4-lessons-resilient-lesson-2-get-good-problem-solving/ http://natalienewhart.com/uncategorized/march-2017-topic-top-4-lessons-resilient-lesson-2-get-good-problem-solving/#respond Wed, 15 Mar 2017 01:57:17 +0000 http://natalienewhart.com/?p=553 March 2017 Topic: My Top 4 Lessons on How to Be Resilient Lesson 2: Get Good at Problem-Solving It’s inevitable: everyone falls down from time to time — it’s just that some are better than others at getting back up. Being one of the smallest competitors in the CrossFit field, my biggest challenge was moving heavy loads (objects or barbells) ...

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March 2017 Topic: My Top 4 Lessons on How to Be Resilient
Lesson 2: Get Good at Problem-Solving

It’s inevitable: everyone falls down from time to time — it’s just that some are better than others at getting back up.

Being one of the smallest competitors in the CrossFit field, my biggest challenge was moving heavy loads (objects or barbells) quickly. Although my strength was always my biggest weakness, my heart to succeed was my greatest asset. I believed so much in myself that every time I ran head on into a challenge or obstacle, it was my mission to deconstruct the challenge and solve the problem.

When my job as a hydrologic technician was not conducent to training for the Games, I quit my reliable government job and opened up my own gym so that I had the ability to train full-time.

When I ruptured two discs in my back during training, I had to take a step back and prioritize my core strength and physical therapy so that it would never happen again.

When my strength numbers plateaued, I moved to a bed-bug infested apartment in Ohio in order to work with one of the best strength coaches in the world.

When I needed to see where my fitness level was at compared to the rest of the field, I was wiling to use whatever little money I had in my bank account to travel across the country and train with the best athletes in the world.

When I started facing anxiety and mental breakdowns during training, I hired a sports psychologist to help me with my mindset.

Today, when I look back and wonder how I made it as far as I did, I realize that with each problem I faced, I sought out a solution to that problem. It were these problem-solving skills that allowed me to inch my step closer to my goals. My recommendation to you would be to solve the problem at hand by breaking it into little mini problems/goals and chip away at them one at a time. By anticipating that the problems will be there and not being afraid to attack them, then you wont get so knocked down when they arise because you have built up the confidence to handle whatever situation may come your way. Having strong problem-solving skills will allow you to accomplish smaller short term goals and ultimately keep you motivated to keep persevering towards your bigger vision.

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Top 4 Lessons on How to be Resilient http://natalienewhart.com/blog/top-4-lessons-resilient/ http://natalienewhart.com/blog/top-4-lessons-resilient/#comments Wed, 08 Mar 2017 16:16:50 +0000 http://natalienewhart.com/?p=543 Lesson 1: You Are in Control- How I Dealt with Divorce During 2013 CF Games It’s inevitable: everyone falls down from time to time — it’s just that some are better than others at getting back up. For as long as I can remember, I have always had that resilient mindset to never give up, no matter how big the ...

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Lesson 1: You Are in Control- How I Dealt with Divorce During 2013 CF Games

It’s inevitable: everyone falls down from time to time — it’s just that some are better than others at getting back up.

For as long as I can remember, I have always had that resilient mindset to never give up, no matter how big the setback. Maybe its the way I was brought up, or that I’m extremely competitive, or maybe its because I tend to pursue everything in my life with an enormous amount of grit and passion. Regardless, it has always been an important character trait that I’ve highly embraced and valued in everything I do, and I believe that everyone can benefit from strengthening their ability to be resilient. This month I’ll be sharing 4 lessons that I’ve taken away from multiple adversities I’ve faced in my lifetime, in hopes to enhance your ability to keep going when the going gets tough.

What is Resilience and Why Do You Need It?
Being resilient is the ability to get back up when you’ve been knocked down. It’s the mental fortitude to cope with stress and hardships such as:
– job loss
– financial problems
– injury
– illness
– divorce
or on a smaller athletic scale:
– malfunctioning equipment
– poor judging
– last minute changes to an event/competition
– a workout that’s not in your favor

The key component here is that resilient people choose to face these challenges head on and find a solution, rather than falling into despair and letting it get the best of you. Simply put, resilient people know how to adapt and overcome and will often bounce back stronger because of it.

Dealing with Divorce During the Most Important Time of My Life
Being an aspiring professional athlete for the past 10 years, its not surprising that most of my hardships in life involve some connection with my athletic journey- one of the larger ones I’ve faced was going through a divorce during my CF Games debut in 2013. I was part of that very common group of couples where CrossFit (or other fitness endeavor) becomes the source of all relationship problems. Like many, CrossFit changed my life and I became obsessed with it; opening up a gym and training full-time for the Games didn’t help. My marriage was at its worst after I had punched my dream ticket to Carson, CA in May of 2013. Stress was high, the fighting was constant, and yet I still had to balance it all out with running a gym and training for the Games. It was an emotional roller coaster to say the least.

The week before the Games, I had just had enough, I couldn’t deal with it any longer. I was stuck in a position where I had to choose between pursuing my passion with CrossFit, or giving up my on spirit and dreams in order to save the marriage. During one of our most heated fights, I made up my mind, grabbed a few of my things and walked out the front door without the intentions of coming back. I was on a plane to Carson, CA two days later to embark on a dream that I had been working on for so long. It wasn’t exactly the way I anticipated my experience to be but I knew that a trip to the Games may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it was up to me how I was going to handle this situation. I could have very easily gotten depressed and forfeited my spot, but instead I chose to pick myself up, dust myself off, and make the best of it.

Lesson Learned: Sense of Control
I realized that the experience I was about to have at the Games was completely in my control- I could either handicap myself by dwelling on what had just happened or I could choose to stay in touch with the present and execute each task at hand to the best of my ability. Even during the toughest times of our life, it is important to understand that the choices we make, our attitutde, our ability to cope, and our future is completely within our control. Resilient people see this and use it to their advantage to take the next step forward.

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The Dark Side of the Bodybuilding Diet- Part 2 http://natalienewhart.com/blog/dark-side-bodybuilding-diet-part-2/ http://natalienewhart.com/blog/dark-side-bodybuilding-diet-part-2/#comments Wed, 01 Mar 2017 02:51:13 +0000 http://natalienewhart.com/?p=528 In Part 1 of this blog, I talked about the eating disorder issues I experienced after my first show as a result of my first attempt at the bodybuilding diet and prep. In Part 2, I wanted to share the negative affects that the show had on my own body image and how I’ve dealt with them. As I’ve said ...

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In Part 1 of this blog, I talked about the eating disorder issues I experienced after my first show as a result of my first attempt at the bodybuilding diet and prep. In Part 2, I wanted to share the negative affects that the show had on my own body image and how I’ve dealt with them. As I’ve said before, the purpose of my blog posts is not to hate on the sport of bodybuilding, but rather bring awareness to how this sport can affect you by documenting and sharing my own experiences.

Disciplined Bodybuilding Diet = Huge Results
I’m just gonna start off by saying I’ve never been so cut and peeled in my life until I decided to do a show. Even in CrossFit, when I was training 5-6 hours a day, 6 days/week for a period of 10 years, my body composition was not even remotely close to what it looked like just after one month of prep into my first show. All I did was take a serious, disciplined approach to my diet, and vio-la, my body completely changed in a matter of weeks. It was pretty awesome to see how a couple of simple changes affected my appearance in such a big way (see below).

Natalie-Newhart-6-week-transformation

Diet is the most important aspect of training. Let me help you achieve your goals.

As I got closer to the show, my body continued to lean out, eventually reaching an ultimate low of 5% body fat on show day. Although I loved the way I looked, I knew coming into it that it wasn’t realistic or healthy for me to maintain such a low body fat, but I was determined to stay as close to it as possible- at least that was my goal. After all, I had worked so hard for that body and I wanted to enjoy it for as long as I could. Wouldn’t anyone want the same?

From Perfection to Constant Imperfection
I think that’s why the post-show food binges got as crazy as they did, because I had been resisting temptations for the past 4 months and yet, even after the show was over, all I wanted to do was continue to resist food, because now I was so afraid of getting “fat”. You know what they say “whatever you resist, persists” and that was definitely the case with me- I would refrain from eating any and all temptations until I couldn’t resist any longer, ultimately leading to a binge that lasted hours at a time. Then, of course, I’d go back to resisting and it was this constant cycle that I explained in the last blog post.

One month after the show, I was sitting at 7-8% body fat (which is still pretty damn lean) and yet would be disgusted of how I looked in the mirror because I was constantly comparing myself to what I looked like on show day. The negative self-judgement and unsatisfied mentality was constant, tiring, and annoying to those around me I’m sure. If I were to look at those 7% BF pictures of me now, I would think that I looked damn good… “how could I have thought I didn’t look good enough?!” Any rational person would’ve thought I was legit crazy. But that’s what the show does to you- it creates this unhealthy perception negative self-worth based on whether you have a 6-pack or not.

Keeping Perspective during the Offseason
As I started to get further into my off-season, my new coach was pretty firm with me putting on some body fat in order to make the gains needed to achieve my Olympia goal. “You want me to do what?!” I’d say to him. Well, he doesn’t really put up with my shit, so if I wanted to give it my best shot at qualifying for the Olympia then I had better suck it up and put my big girl pants on.

Learning how to give myself permission to put on body fat was about as slow as watching a seed sprout through the dirt. The only thing that got me through it was keeping the end goal in mind: the Olympia. I couldn’t think about how I felt and looked in the present because the present condition didn’t matter, it’s the final product that was most important. So I did I had to do… I swallowed my pride and went all in- committed to gaining weight and build muscle by taking out all cardio and eating at a caloric surplus.

At the peak of my offseason, I weighed in at 130 pounds, which is 6 pounds more than I have ever weighed in my life and 13 pounds more than what I weighed on show day. Needless to say, I felt like I wanted to vomit every time I had to step on that damn scale. My clothes got really tight, my self-confidence reached an all-time low, and I hated that I was eating 3x more than my boyfriend. The only positive that came out of the weight gain is I that I did get strong as shit, and that made training fun. If i couldn’t look good, then at least I was good at lifting some impressively heavy shit- that was my saving grace.

Respect for the Sport
Going though such extremes of body fat has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to deal with. I will out-work, out-train, out-hustle anyone but when it comes down to putting on weight and minimizing cardio, that’s when I crumble. In fact, if I were to ever quit bodybuilding, this would be the reason why. It takes an impressive amount of willpower and courage to go through all the phases of a bodybuilding competitor.

Again, this is yet another reason why I have the utmost respect for bodybuilding competitors, because it’ such a challenging journey, and I feel like there’s never a time where you can just appreciate your body composition. Maybe it’s just something I haven’t learned yet and comes with time in the sport, but you have to make it that long first. My hat goes off to all the competitors out there that have figured out how to appreciate their body in all forms. I will continue to do my best in finding that appreciation.

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The Dark Side of the Bodybuilding Diet- Part 1 http://natalienewhart.com/blog/dark-side-bodybuilding/ http://natalienewhart.com/blog/dark-side-bodybuilding/#comments Thu, 23 Feb 2017 03:14:23 +0000 http://natalienewhart.com/?p=504 Refeeding After the Show It was the night of my first physique show and I had just won my class and the overall, earning my right to compete at the next level, a National ranked show. I was happy with the results but definitely not satisfied. Although the bodybuilding diet and training was certainly difficult, I knew I was capable ...

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Refeeding After the Show
It was the night of my first physique show and I had just won my class and the overall, earning my right to compete at the next level, a National ranked show. I was happy with the results but definitely not satisfied. Although the bodybuilding diet and training was certainly difficult, I knew I was capable of outworking the Regional-level girls and I wanted more of a challenge. Little did I know that one of the biggest challenges of my life was about to punch me right in the face, and I had no warning: the post-show rebound.

The show ended around 10pm; most of the competitors stayed another night at the hotel, but i was too cheap to do that so I anxiously picked up my trophies, loaded up my car and hit the road for the 3-hour drive back home. My plan was to totally let loose that night, to not restrict myself on what or how much I ate, and then to get back on track with my normal diet the next day. I had been dreaming of this night for the past 4 weeks so it was exhilarating to know I could finally eat whatever I wanted, especially since I had earned it.

For the drive home, I made sure all my snacks were sitting within an arms reach of the drivers seat- I had 3 bags of flavored rice cakes, a family size bag of sweet and salty trail mix (my fav), a jar of chunky peanut butter (another dangerous fav) and a gallon of water (something I desperately needed). This list isn’t exactly what I had in mind as far as an all out food party but I was in the middle of nowhere and there was no way in hell I was going to hold off my hunger any longer- I did, however, call in an order of sweet potato fries from Red Robin to pick up on the way home. To me, it felt like a perfect Christmas morning, only with food instead of presents.

About an hour into the drive, I was no longer eating out of hunger, rather it was more like an auto-response I couldn’t control: hand grabs food, food goes into mouth, hand grabs different food, food goes into mouth; I repeated that cycle for literally 3 hours straight! In the beginning, I thought it was a little weird that I couldn’t stop myself from eating but I didn’t make a big deal out of it- I heard the other competitors talking about all the food they were gonna eat post-show, so i figured it was totally normal to pig out and feel a little out of control after depriving yourself for so long.

Uncontrollable Hunger Continues
It was 1am by the time I got home- I was absolutely exhausted and my stomach was so full that it hurt to move. When I pulled up to my house, I told myself that I was going to avoid the kitchen and go straight to bed. Five minutes later, I found myself in the kitchen eating chicken breasts, salted brown rice and peanut butter (typical bodybuilder diet necessities and all I had in the house).

It was at that point that I started to realize that this wasn’t normal- there was something wrong with me because I had absolutely NO control. I would tell myself, “ok one more spoonful of peanut butter and then I’m going to bed”… then I’d close the jar and attempt to put it away, but before I’d fully close the cupboard door, I had this insane urge to go for more! You know when you start to take food away from a hungry dog and they eat faster and faster as the food is being taken away from them? That was me, but I was doing it to myself and because of that, I was able to pull the food back out and keep eating. That’s not normal!

So this constant battle of putting the food away and taking it right back out lasted for like another 30-45 minutes, and I had no concept of time because I had such tunnel vision on the food. It was insane. And it didn’t even matter that the food was boring baked chicken and brown rice with no seasoning besides salt; it could’ve been a container of mustard and I would’ve ate the whole damn thing. I had never experienced such loss of control. After 4 hours of constant eating, it got to the point where I was so full that I was on the verge of throwing up, simply because there was no place for the food to go but out; I guess you can call it a blessing in disguise because I was forced to step out of the kitchen to go to bed.

Binge-Eatng Confusion
The next few days weren’t much better. It basically became a cycle of binge eating for hours at a time then trying to resist eating for the rest of the day because I felt so guilty and disgusted from binging (still with boring chicken and brown rice- the peanut butter was long gone by this point). The binging made me feel full and in pain that I had no desire to workout, which in return made me feel fat, depressed and worthless. It was horrible and unhealthy. I had never been at such a low point emotionally. I didn’t know who I was becoming and I was scared to say the least- scared that I wouldn’t be able to pull myself together and that this style of eating habits would be my permanent future.

The Post-Show Problem
While I lay depressed on the couch the week after the show, I did a ton of research online and reached out to a few people with similar encounters- I learned that what I was experiencing was completely normal and typical for a competitor right after a show (especially for a new competitor)- it even had a name, known as the “post-show rebound”. I felt slightly relieved to hear that I was not the only one, but fucking pissed that nobody warned me about it. Apparently it’s a really big issue in the bodybuilding world, but nobody’s freaking talking about it! Umm are you kidding me…why is nobody talking about this?! People talk about it like its no big deal, but thats a BIG problem in my eyes. Heck some of stories I read were about girl who gained anywhere from 10-40 pounds in a single month! The more I learned about this post-show rebound, the more scared I got, because I knew I was in some serious shit.

The Stress of Training Takes a Toll
Some people manage the post-show affects better than others, but “research” does say that the harder you train for a show, the more stress you put on your body, and the worse rebound effects you’ll experience. Once again, I wish I knew this before getting myself into this situation, because I did intentionally stress my body to its limits with the thought that that’s what I was supposed to do; don’t get me wrong, its not supposed to be a walk in the park, but even I don’t think I should have pushed it to such extreme measures, specifically because it was my first show. And my coach didn’t really know how much training I was doing, so that didn’t help; instead, he’d just look at my body fat numbers, and if they weren’t decreasing, he’d tell me to do more “cardio”. By the end of prep, I was training about 6 hours a day, so yeah, I was pretty shot.

Training Doesn’t End After Collecting a Trophy
Even though I put myself through some serious stress and deprivation, that’s not where I went wrong- where I went wrong was the lack of planning/guidance after the show, because my coach never said anything about it. Good coaches will put you on a reverse diet, meaning that your calorie intake increases slowly over time so that you don’t go crazy and create metabolic damage. Its not that I had a bad coach (after all, I did win), I just don’t think I had the best coach because that whole reverse diet thing is an important piece of the show process. So, for any of you who are planning on doing a show, do yourself a favor and hire a coach that knows what he’s doing and has your best health in mind.

For the next 8 weeks, I walked a fine line between being in control and having a full on eating disorder and needing help. I tried to go back to the same meal plan I was on during prep but the binges never really went away. I was confused- was I supposed to restrict myself to a meal plan then binge because of I was restricting myself, or should I not restrict myself and eat whatever I wanted… I didn’t know which was worse, they both ended up in out of control binges.

The Danger of Uncontrollable Hunger Cravings
I knew it was bad when I started stealing food from the grocery store…
(I’ve actually never told anyone about this [not even my best friend/boyfriend] because I’m not proud of it, but I feel the need to be completely open with you because it needs to be heard and I think people need to understand what this sport can do to you if you aren’t properly prepared.)

So at first, I would stop at the grocery store to buy something I specifically wanted or needed and would just so “happen” to walk through the self-serve trail mix aisle, would load up a bag of my favorite goodies, then cruise the grocery store in the slowest lap times possible (acting interested in various food products even though I had no intentions of buying them) until the trail mix was completely gone, and then I’d check out. That was the beginning.

Once I got away with the trail mix, I took it a step further… I’d pass by a product that looked absolutely delicious (such as cookies, chocolates, or that special flavored Chex Mix) and I would get this insane craving to have it right then- thing is, I didn’t want to buy the whole bag because I knew wouldn’t be able to control my serving size… so I was that person that opened the bag up, grabbed a handful and put it back. Once I got it away with it once, it happened a few more times until I got some help from a friend, and got it under control (well, somewhat).

I will occasionally still do the whole trail mix sweep but, honestly, doesn’t everyone do that? I don’t feel as nearly ashamed with that as I did with actually opening up packages of food and putting them back. Ugh just saying it out loud disgusts me- but honestly it was either stealing a little bit of food or buying it and gaining a ton of weight like the other girls. I’m not trying to rationalize my behavior, well maybe I am, but its easy for someone to judge when they haven’t experienced the lack of self-control for themselves.

Like I said, I certainly didn’t have to share that experience with you but I want to because its about time someone starts talking about the realistic nature of this sport. I wouldn’t want ANYONE to go through what I went through, and my experience isn’t event that bad. Here are 2 more stories I learned about recently:

  1. One girl went to the grocery store, bought a bag full of sweet potatoes, and sat in her car in the parking lot, eating so many RAW sweet potatoes that she put herself in the hospital!
  1. Another girl asked a neighbor to hold onto her jar of peanut butter because she didn’t want it in her house until she felt like she had control. One day, when the neighbor was at work, the girl carried a ladder down the alley to her neighbors house, broken into one of the 2nd story windows to grab her peanut butter!

The Darkside
Crazy right! I just think that people need to be aware of these stories whether they’re looking into doing a show or not… we can all learn a lot about stories such as these because we all have our own skeletons in the closet and battles of our own. By the way, although I had a rough start to this sport, I do not want to come across as if I’m bashing bodybuilding. I do think that bodybuilding teaches you some extremely valuable tools and lessons, and I’m enjoying the sport more and more each and every day. It’s just a challenging sport, and not everyone will be able to handle the demands it requires. I have such an immense amount of respect for what these competitors are able to sacrifice and do on a daily basis- these guys are at the top of the game when it comes to discipline and it truly is impressive.

The Truth About the Bodybuilding Diet
That being said, I feel the need to educate people about the triumphs and tribulations that are faced in this sport. I’m currently working on starting a podcast where I’d interview various bodybuilding competitors and share the good, bad and ugly experiences as well as the physical, mental and emotional demands that this sport requires. Let me know if you guys would be a potential listener and what, in particular, would you like to hear.

By the way, I haven’t even talked about the mind-fuck that the show had on my body image and how I see it these days… that will have to be on a whole post of its own.

To Be Continued…

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My First Bodybuilding Competition http://natalienewhart.com/blog/first-prep-mentality/ http://natalienewhart.com/blog/first-prep-mentality/#respond Wed, 15 Feb 2017 16:40:11 +0000 http://natalienewhart.com/?p=497 Hungry For Greatness When you know you’re destined for greatness, your potential haunts you. It keeps you up at night, and you won’t feel complete until you succeed. That potential had been haunting me for 10 years since I started CrossFit, and now it was worse than ever being so close to my version of success  only to have it ...

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Hungry For Greatness
When you know you’re destined for greatness, your potential haunts you. It keeps you up at night, and you won’t feel complete until you succeed. That potential had been haunting me for 10 years since I started CrossFit, and now it was worse than ever being so close to my version of success  only to have it taken away from me (see previous Blog: “Why I Did It”). Needless to say, I was hungrier than ever and physique bodybuilding was next on my radar.

I decided to give bodybuilding a shot simply because it seemed to be the sport most similar to CrossFit… or at least that’s what I thought. Looking back on it now, I was totally clueless on what I was actually getting myself into. In fact,the person reading this right now probably knows more about bodybuilding than I did. All I knew about this “sport” was that Dana Linn Bailey did it, and she looked freaking amazing. I had seen some online training videos of bodybuilders so I knew they lifted heavy, trained hard and looked at themselves flexing in the mirror a lot, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Regardless of how much I knew about the sport, I was all in— I wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of winning a show because I was willing to out-work, out-hustle and out-grind the rest of my competition that had been at this sport for years.

I hired a coach in June 2016 and set out to do my first show in October; that left me 3 months to “prep”. In that 3 months, I had to lose 5% body fat, learn this new style of training, learn how to pose, and put together a 45 second posing routine… oh and move from Colorado to Oregon. No big deal, right?

12 WEEKS OUT
Twelve weeks out was the start of everything. At this point, nothing was really that hard or stressful, plus I had the excitement of a having a new goal on my side.

The diet was strict but it wasn’t impossible. Of course I was hungry and had your typical cravings and temptations, but overall it wasn’t that bad. My coach basically gave me a list of foods and quantities I could choose from, and the only thing I really liked on there was chicken, cheddar cheese and brown rice, so that’s what I ate 5 meals per day for 12 weeks straight and I absolutely loved it every time. One “cheat meal” was allowed per week as well. Within the first 4 weeks of being on this nutrition plan, my body totally transformed. I lost about 6 pounds of fat in 4-5 weeks, putting me at an all-time “athletic” low bodyweight of 113 pounds. I looked and felt amazing.

The training took some getting used to, switching from moderate intensity, high rep CrossFit-mode to high intensity, heavy weight sets taken to failure. The volume between the two sports is similar but the intensities are extremely different. With CrossFit, you’re taught to move quickly with efficiency and strategy. With bodybuilding, you’re taught to move the weight in the least advantageous way possible and take each set to ultimate failure a.k.a. crying on the inside, and sometimes the outside too. This style of training is no joke; it certainly isn’t for the weak-minded as your results are completely dependent on the effort you put into each rep, set, and session.

For this reason, training was my favorite part about this prep; I genuinely enjoy the grind and mental toughness of any physical challenge. Unlike most bodybuilders out there, I did CrossFit and interval workouts for my “cardio” because it was way more fun than spending an hour on an elliptical or step mill  (FYI: bodybuilders call it cardio, CrossFitters call it “conditioning”or “workouts”; I switch between the two).

Posing, on the other hand, was a nightmare and I hated every single second of it. I tried to teach myself through YouTube videos but I just looked stupid no matter how hard I tried. I figured if I couldn’t get this posing thing down, then my body better look damn good on its own by working my butt off in the gym- something I knew I was really good at.

6 WEEKS OUT
About six weeks out from the show is when things started to get tough. The better I looked, the worse I started to feel and the more that was asked from me as far as volume goes. While my calorie intake was being cut further each week, the less energy I had and yet the more cardio I was told to do.

Here’s where I went wrong: when I started the prep, I was already doing 4-5 hours of training, with about an hour of that being cardio/CrossFit; that means in order to lose body fat, I had to do more cardio than the base I started with (because you can only take your calorie intake so low). Little did I know, this is why most BB competitors do minimal conditioning in the off-season, so that they can use just the slightest increase in cardio as a tool to drop the body fat.

As far as posing went, I began practicing with a local team once a week but I still continued to look and feel like a very awkward gorilla in a skimpy bathing suit. This whole posing thing has been the most uncomfortable part of this whole process, especially when I have to practice in that gawd-awful suit. Unfortunately, it’s part of the game I chose and will only be of increasing importance the higher I move up the ranks; so I did my best to suck it up and see it as a challenge for me grow and conquer.

2 WEEKS OUT
Two weeks before the show was when I was at my worst; I was up to 3 workouts per day and 3-4 hours of strength training with only 1300 calories; it was insane! I literally felt like a zombie; I was constantly exhausted, hungry and extremely emotional. I have never been one to cry much, but sure enough I found myself crying nearly every day for the last two weeks because I just had nothing else to give and yet my coach kept demanding more out of me. My daily routine became very robotic, operating on a forced, repetitive 3-hour cycle of eat, train, sleep; taking the day on 1 hour at a time was the only way I could get through my day.

As soon I was done eating one meal, I would start counting down the minutes till I could eat my next one. My weekly cheat meals were no longer an option, and Crystal Light and Jello became my life-savers. My training went from 1 really long session per day to 3-4 short sessions because I was needing longer rest periods in between sets and I would nap 1-2 times per day (either in my car, at the gym or at home) in order to have enough energy to finish my training.

I was literally running myself into the ground; my eyes were bloodshot, my skin was paper thin, there were a lot of days in those last 2 weeks where I wasn’t sure if I was gonna stand up with the bar or just pass out. I had never depleted myself so much, but I did what I had to do. For all I I knew, the emotional and physical battles I was experiencing was part of the sport so I knew i had to stay strong if I wanted to win. Not surprisingly, my posing still sucked but at least my body was looking the part.

One exciting part of this point in time was when my coach told me that I could start thinking about a high carb meal I wanted to have the night before the show. Not only did I constantly think about this momentous meal, I researched the various restaurants I’d be driving past on the way to the show, screen-shotted pictures of my favorite meals and put some seriously detailed thought into what this meal of choice was going to be. It was pretty awesome daydreaming about this meal, and often helped get me through some of the low parts of my day.

1 WEEK OUT
Leading up to the show, I felt like shit but I looked great. It was the final home stretch so that was enlightening. I had made it this far, sure enough I could make it one more week.

I was down to just eating chicken and almonds. Veggies, Crystal Light and Jello were all cut from the diet. Cardio remained the same, but weight training became more CrossFit-like with high rep sets of low to moderate weight to keep inflammation down; I only had to train 4 days this week, with Friday being a rest/travel day. Sodium was cut completely out of my diet starting Wednesday and water was cut on Friday; neither of these was hard to handle.

I felt like the worst had been over and now it was just time to shine. On my 3-hour drive to the venue on Friday, I stopped by Red Robin to pick up my ultimate “cheat” meal: The Marco Pollo burger with sweet potato fries (in case you want to see this beauty: http://www.redrobin.com/menu/full-menu-rrgb-t5/finest-burgers/the-marco-pollo.html). Unfortunately, I had to wait another 4 hours till I could even eat it, so it was cold by time I slammed that bad boy down but it was just as good as I imagined it to be.

SHOW DAY
When I woke up on show day, I looked and felt bloated. I couldn’t believe it, all this sacrifice and hard work only to not look my best on show day?! Obviously the burger and fries was not a good choice, probably because my body was so accustomed to eating the same thing for the past 12 weeks that it didn’t know how to digest such a complex meal. I was pretty frustrated that my coach didn’t guide me better but what could I do at that point.

That morning of, I did my own hair and makeup (pretty sure a child could do a better job than I did), because paying $300 for someone else to do it just sounded absurd. I was pretty nervous headed down to the event area; I didn’t know what to expect or what to do. I totally just relied on watching the other competitors and copying what they did. When I walked into the athlete staging room, I was pretty shocked at how good these girls looked. I was certain that not a single girl or guy could have trained harder than I had, but yet they still looked amazing- how did that happen? Needless to say, I started to think that I did not have this in the bag (especially with my current bloated situation) and realized it was gonna be a challenge rather than a walk in the park as I had hoped.

Almost all the competitors seemed to have a personal coach with them, helping with them whatever needs they had; that didn’t seem to bother me much though, as my CrossFit competition experience trained me well on being independent. Besides, unlike CrossFit, I knew the work was done and all I had to do was walk on stage and smile.

When my class got called up on deck, all the girls grabbed their bands and dumbbells and started “pumping up”, so I just copied what they did- a few pushups here, a few bicep curls there and some lat raises in between. I couldn’t seem to replicate the same pump as I do in the gym but whatever. I did my thing on stage, walked off was called back out for finals and the overall. I walked back on stage, gave my fake, cheesy smile and copied the same stance and pose as my competitor… then I hear, “And the overall winner is “Natalie Newhart”. “Sweet I did it!” I thought to myself. I couldn’t believe it, it was pretty surreal to have my name announced through the speaker system at a competition I really knew nothing about. I had accomplished exactly what I set out to do- to work so damn hard that my the other competitors didn’t stand a chance, despite my horrific posing, hair and makeup. It was quite satisfying.

Unfortunately, the trophy came with a price. The exhilaration was short-lived and I was unaware that the worst was yet to come- the “post-show rebound”. Stay tuned to hear about worst and hardest part of the entire prep, what I wish I knew before I started bodybuilding.

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