I'm going to get a little vulnerable with you for a moment. We all have demons; sometimes they're around constantly, other times, they show up unexpectedly.
In the past, I've shared with you about my eating disorder. I have so much anxiety about relapsing that it's eating me alive. After getting fit and healthy, I look at myself and still feel unsatisfied. I can find the littlest area of fat on my body and convince myself that I'm "getting fat". While I know it's not true, I can't get the feelings to go away, no matter what I do.
I have an insane case of body dysmorphia. If you don't know what it is, here's the definition:
A mental illness involving obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance. The flaw may be minor or imagined. But the person may spend hours a day trying to fix it. The person may try many cosmetic procedures or exercise to excess.
People with this disorder may frequently examine their appearance in a mirror, constantly compare their appearance with that of others, and avoid social situations or photos.
I'm having a very hard time this week. Every time I eat, I feel sick. I'm to the point where I don't know if there's actually something wrong, or if I'm somehow suppressing anxiety about my eating disorder and I'm unconsciously not wanting to eat. I know that in order to gain lean muscle, I'm going to have to gain weight. I've been so scale conscious that my scale is now hidden.
I don't want to feel the way I'm feeling. I want to be strong, fit and healthy. I love seeing my muscles grow, it gives me confidence.
Anxiety is real. If you've ever dealt with it, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't, please try to give a little extra love and encouragement to your friends who have or are.
Writing, lifting and podcasting are my release. I always feel that if I could at least help one person with my words, then being open and vulnerable are worth it.
Sometimes life doesn't go the way you plan it. Grin, bear it, fight, and eventually you'll find the light at the end of the tunnel. And if you don't find a way, make one.
PCSD...I call it post-competition stress disorder. It may or may not be a real thing, but for me, it's definitely real.
Since stepping on stage on April 22nd, I've continued to hit the gym. With that being said, I haven't been eating as clean as I was during my 125 day transformation. I've felt a little bloated and can tell I'm not as tight and shapely as I was when I competed.
I was feeling okay about myself until I had my first post-competition measurements done. The verdict: I've gained more than 2% body fat. My first reaction was to completely freak out. In fact, I almost cried. Am I really flushing 125 days worth of hard work down the drain because I like cookies so much?
The answer is NO! I'm not giving up and I'm not backing down on how far I've come, I still have so much more to work for. I want so badly to gain muscle while staying lean.
Mentally, I feel like I'm losing it. Obtaining competition weight and physique is possible. Maintaining competition weight and physique is not healthy, especially if your goal is to build muscle. I could easily look like a string bean year round by sticking to a clean diet, but that's not my goal.
Muscles need fuel. But guess what that means? I have to eat.
I've written about my struggles with body image and eating disorders in the past. The good days definitely outshine the bad, but those feelings of self-doubt, insecurity and anxiety still catch me off-guard sometimes. In my mind, eating more protein and carbs is going to make me get fat. The reality is, eating more clean food, higher in protein and carbs, is going to give my muscles the nutrients they need to grow. As long as I continue to work hard, and lift heavy, I'm going to be fine!
I hate the voices inside my head! They make me feel worthless some days. Other days, I feel like I'm capable of anything and everything. Anxiety is a terrible monster. Insecurity is a terrible monster. Depression is a terrible monster. I'm beyond blessed to have so many incredibly supportive friends who help me fight through days like today.
The hard truth is that many of us feel this way but we don't always talk about it. We set goals for ourselves and when we fall short or don't accomplish them, we feel worthless. The best thing we can do is keep fighting, keep battling and no matter what, we can't give up.
When you feel discouraged, stop what you're doing, take a deep breath in, and look at how far you've come. Remember, it's not always about the destination, it's about the journey.
Like Coach Mark Mangino says, Keep sawin' wood.
What a wild ride! My first fitness competition is officially in the books. I can't begin to thank you all for the kind words, emails, messages, texts and encouragement along the way. I'm truly blessed beyond measure!
After training and clean eating for 125 straight days, this way of living has really become my lifestyle. Last week, I ate whatever I felt like eating. It actually made me feel pretty crappy and I gained 5 pounds within a few days. I felt sluggish and I was a little grumpy. It also made it really hard to sleep.
So what comes next?
I'm back on track this week with my clean eating and training. I already have my sights set on competing again the first weekend in November.
When I started this journey, my biggest goal was to become healthy and feel good about myself. Competing was secondary to my main goal. Now that I've done it, I can't wait to do it again. I also think it's going to help me stay on track with my eating and workouts.
So many of you have reached out to me asking me which specific diet I have been on to achieve the results that I have. The answer isn't simple. Every body is different. Every person is made up of different components. Something that worked for me might not work for you.
Here are the basics of what I did:
One of the biggest keys to my success was preparation. I tried to pick one day of week to cook and prep out all of my meals. Doing that has been really instrumental because I'm super busy.
The most important factor is staying disciplined, even when it's hard and you're not seeing the results you want. Losing fat takes time. Gaining muscle takes time. You're not going to see a change in your body right away. If it was easy, everyone would do it. Like I always say, it's not always easy, it's always worth it.
If you're tired of the way you look, change it! If you want something bad enough, you will stay committed and disciplined. We all have excuses; "I have three kids and I don't have time'" "I work bad hours and it's hard to make it to the gym" "I don't like eating healthy" "I'm embarrassed to work out in front of people" "I can't afford to eat healthy".
STOP MAKING EXCUSES!
If you can't find a way, make a way. Life is too short and too valuable to be living unhappily.
I used to use every excuse in the book as to why I looked the way I did. I hated the way I looked and I complained constantly about it. I stopped giving a crap. That feeling translated into every aspect of my life, from my job to my marriage to my friends, or lack of friends.
There are so many reasons we fall into bad habits. The good news is that we can break away from that way of living and create a new lifestyle. It's never too late to make a change. You're never too old or too weak to re-invent yourself.
Don't wait any longer! Don't start next week or next month or 30 days from now. Start right now! Take control of your life.
My next step in this journey is to start pursuing some of the other goals I've given up on in the past. I feel like I have a new life and a new confidence.
More than anything, I want to inspire others who have faced similar setbacks in their lives.
If you're reading this and you need extra encouragement, words of advice or someone just to listen, I'm here. I want to help! Please reach out to me. You're not alone in this. Your road of life doesn't end here.
If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you!
I got to go on Colorado's Best and talk about the competition, check it out here: http://kdvr.com/2018/04/30/daras-transformation/
Be sure to follow me on social: Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
I haven’t written a post in a while but I’m definitely not slacking on the social media selfies. You know what’s insane? There are only 10 days left until the Rocky Mountain Musclemania competition. That means I’ve been on this journey for more than 100 days now. Honestly, it blows my mind. Now is the perfect time for me to reflect on this process.
Speaking of my mind, there have been so many days lately where I actually feel like I’m losing my mind. I can’t tell you how many times during the last few weeks where I have really looked at myself and thought “I can’t do this. My body is not ready. I don’t have a butt. I still have cellulite. I’m awkward. I don’t look as good as the other girls. I don’t have the best theme wear. I don’t look good in booty shorts. I’m tired. Are my muscles even growing? What was I thinking? Am I really ready?” Those are thoughts that have flooded my mind and I probably think them on a daily basis.
But it then I stop myself. I didn’t decided to take this journey for anyone but myself. When I say that out loud, it sounds really selfish. I don’t want to get a healthy, strong body and mind for anyone but myself. If I did, I wouldn’t have made it this far. I would’ve given up after a few weeks like I have with so many other goals I’ve set in the past.
That’s one of the biggest, most valuable lessons I’ve learned on this journey. If you really commit to a goal, you can achieve it. As cliche as it sounds, nothing is impossible. You’re mind is the only thing stopping you from succeeding.
For the first time in my life, I’m learning to love food. I’m on my way to feeling comfortable in my own skin. Before this journey, I never really loved myself. If you know me, you know my story.
When I was 12, I was raped by my next door neighbor. I never told anyone, including my parents, until I was 16. I kept that pain inside and I let it eat me alive. I hated myself. I felt disgusting. I starved myself and if I decided to eat, I made myself puke. I was ashamed. I sought attention any way I could get it. That was one of the darkest times in my life.
When I went off to college, I got a new start. New friends, a new city, a fresh outlook. The world really was my canvas. I set my goals so high and got involved in as many activities as I could. Somehow, though, I still never felt like I was enough. I felt lost. I always found a way to screw up whatever I touched, or so I thought.
See, that’s the thing about me, my mind always gets in the way. Or maybe that’s the excuse I use.
I’m the worst at following through with my goals, dreams and aspirations. I graduated college, sure. That was a big goal of mine. But as I look back now, I can’t say that I gave it my 110%.
I have given this new lifestyle change 110%. I haven’t cut corners. I haven’t missed workouts. I haven’t cheated on my diet. I’ve spent endless weekends practicing my posing.
When I step on stage on April 22nd for Musclemania Colorado, I will be doing it as a new version of myself. A stronger mind and a stronger body. I will do it knowing that I did absolutely everything in my power to be the best version of myself. I’m going to feel proud.
The journey doesnt stop on April 22nd. This is a new lifestyle for me. I’m committed to reinventing myself. I’ve come this far, why stop now? I have a new list of goals and a new focus. I can’t wait to see what happens now that I have the ability to fully commit to life.
Even more important, if I can do this, you can do this!
Whatever it takes...That's exactly what I'm doing. I can't believe I've been living this new lifestyle for more than 60 days now. Let me be honest with you, it hasn't been easy. Like I keep saying, it's not always easy, it's always worth it.
Some days I feel like I'm on cloud 9. On those days, I look in the mirror and I feel so confident. I see major changes happening to my body. I'm slowly getting abs and it feels so cool! I feel like I can conquer anything on those days.
Other days, I feel like I'm sinking. I look in the mirror and I see thin, frizzy hair. I see a wrinkle on my forehead. I see cellulite that still hasn't disappeared. I feel defeated. I wish I was thinner. I wish my muscles were showing faster. I want to crawl into a corner and cry.
Change doesn't happen instantly. Growth doesn't happen instantly. Success doesn't happen instantly. It's all about the process. Never stop fighting. Never stop trying. Never, ever give up.
I have to keep reminding myself this every single day. I've struggled immensely with body image for the majority of my life. I battled anorexia and bulimia all through high school. I never felt good enough then and I still don't feel good enough today.
But what does that even mean? Who or what am I not good enough for? I have to stop comparing myself to others. Not one person is alike. We all have different goals. We all have different strengths and different weaknesses. That doesn't mean were less worthy or less special. The biggest thing to remember is this: nothing changes if nothing changes. If you don't like something, stop feeling sorry for yourself, stop complaining, and do something about it!
Training for Musclemania Colorado has given me new life. It has given me confidence where I had none. It has given me passion. It has given me fight. It has brought me from a spot where I didn't care about myself or who I was becoming to a place where I feel like my dreams really can become reality. It has given me a fresh perspective on life.
If you're looking for some inspiration, here's my advice: set little goals and work insanely hard for them! Goals take time, discipline and 100% commitment. You can't give up when you don't see results!
Guess what!? I made it to day 21! I can't believe it's been 21 days already, it doesn't even seem possible.
First of all, I'm sorry I haven't been posting every single day. If you're friends with me on Facebook, I've tried to share an update or gym post each day. I've been busy working hard on this new lifestyle!
I feel amazing, seriously, better then I've ever felt. I have energy, I have drive, I have passion. I'm determined!
I also feel like I've went through an emotional roller coaster the last 10 days. My sugar cravings are gone, my junk food cravings are also gone. There are days I get really, really frustrated that I'm not ripped and fit looking already. "Oh my gosh, I'm working my butt off and I can't even tell". It's such a mental game. I'm 110% in it.
Today, I had an amazing thing happen. First, I put on a pencil skirt! For me, that's huge. I don't wear pencil skirts...they make my love handles show and they don't fit my shape. But guess what, that's not true! I put it on and it didn't look half bad. Then, I got to work and one of my coworkers (a guy) said "Dara, have you lost weight?" I almost screamed out loud! Yes, yes I have!
Sometimes, you have to celebrate the little victories! My body is changing. I can see it now.
The weekend was a true test of my will power and discipline. I went back to Kansas to celebrate Christmas with my family. As soon as I walked in the door, there were cinnamon rolls on the table. The next day, there was a trip to Braum's, homemade meatballs, cheesy potatoes and more! There was a trip to the chocolate shop to get fudge and treats. A trip to my favorite coffee shop. All of the things I love so much and somehow, I DIDN"T EAT ANY OF THEM! I stuck to my diet and even made a trip to the store to make sure I had the groceries I needed to stay on my meal plan.
I feel mental fire coming on. A good mental fire. My mind is right and it's helping me in every aspect of my life. This new lifestyle change is changing me and it's for the better. If you've been considering a lifestyle change, stop considering and start doing. Life is too short to feel down, sluggish, ugly, unimportant, worthless. You owe it to yourself to get your mind and body right.
If you're ever interested in talking with my coach, Tiffany, I'd love to connect you! If I can ever provide you with any extra motivation or inspiration, I'd love to!
YOU'RE AMAZING! YOU, yeah, YOU, reading this!
10 days, already!? Today, I woke up feeling like the snot monster. Maybe that's TMI but it's how I felt. I didn't want to do anything. I managed to pour a tall glass of warm lemon water and take some DayQuil. Then, I ate a hearty, clean breakfast. I got an incredible leg workout this morning. I'm finally feeling a little better!
Yesterday was a good day. I ran/jog/walked 5 miles during my lunch break. It wasn't a fast speed but that doesn't really matter. I still hit my cardio range for more than 30 minutes.
One thing I've learned in the early stages of this journey, is that this truly is a lifestyle change. I've had to buy groceries based on my nutrition plan, I've had to prep food, I have to give myself plenty of time each day to get a workout in, and cook a separate dinner for Shane :). It hasn't been an easy transition and I've definitely found ways to complain along the way. It will definitely be worth it when I'm competing in April!
If you want to know some of the weird/gross/honest facts about the process, here ya go.
- My body is sore, to the point it's tough to get out of bed some mornings. Positive: I'm getting stronger & I won't feel like this forever.
-I pee constantly because I'm drinking more than a gallon of water a day. Positive: My skin is incredibly clear! And, my forehead wrinkle is shrinking.
-I gag down my oats in the mornings. I love sugar so much, apparently. Plain oats, with stevia and cinnamon isn't half as good as the delicious, sugary packets you get at the store. Positive: I'm not feeling sluggish from sugar.
-I eat. I eat A LOT! Like 5-6 times a day. Everything I eat is clean. Positive: My metabolism is going to get faster!
-LaCroix Sparkling water with Mint Leaves, Limes and Berries is AMAZING! Positive; It's totally cutting my sugar cravings!
I may or may not be a few days behind in writing an update, but I'm still making progress!
Here's the good news: I'm down 6.2 pounds! My sugar cravings are finally going away and I feel like I have so much more energy. I also don't feel like I'm starving to death anymore. I'm eating a clean snack or meal every 2-4 hours. My skin is getting really clear, also! I'm getting STRONGER!
Well, I'm not perfect. Dang it! Starting a new lifestyle during the holiday season has been harder than I imagined. On Christmas Eve, I ate 2 THIN slices of pie. Yes, I ate pie. Then, on Christmas day, I ate Buncha Crunch chocolates at the movies. I actually felt yucky after eating those things and I really have no desire to do it again.
Here's the positive, I may have strayed a little on Christmas Eve & Christmas but it helped me to refocus. I also think it helped me to get rid of that desire for sugar. I'm really excited about this lifestyle change.
Another thing I've quickly learned is that many restaurants have a "Healthy" menu but that doesn't mean the food is clean. There's a big difference between healthy-ER and clean. If you're curious, start paying attention to the labels on the food you eat. I've been absolutely stunned by how much sugar & sodium is in the food we eat. Sodium makes me feel bloated and sugar makes me feel sluggish. It makes sense that I feel so amazing, now.
If you know me, you know I absolutely love to snowboard! Shane & I went to Keystone the day before Christmas Eve. I was burning some serious calories and the conditions on the slopes were amazing! It was my first real powder day. I started feeling pretty confident and I was going a little faster than I normally do. I tried to switch from my heel side to my toe side and I flipped over my snowboard three times, while rolling down the mountain. OUCH! I managed to jam my elbow into my ribs. I'm really glad I wasn't hurt worse. Unfortunately, though, I messed up one of my ribs. It has forced me to cut back on some of my weight training this week. But don't worry, I'm still working out! Hopefully my silly rib will heal quickly.
Now that I've rambled on a little more than I planned to, I will leave you with this:
You can achieve anything you set your mind to! The only thing holding you back from reaching your goals is YOU!
Well, I've made it to day 3! I think I'm officially going through sugar withdrawal. It snowed today and got really, really cold! Somehow, I managed to bundle up and go for a 3 mile run. I'm definitely looking forward to more weight-training tomorrow.
I know it's something I shouldn't do at this point in my training, but I decided to weigh myself. At the beginning of the week, I was about 134 pounds. This morning, I weighed 128! I've been eating clean since Tuesday. Very few carbs, low fat and a TON of protein. I eat something every 2 hours. Who says you have to starve to be healthy?
I miss pasta, wine, sugar.....it's hard not eating the things I love and crave. I know it will be worth it in the end! It's all mind over matter!
Day 2 is underway. If I could eat an elephant, I probably would consider it. I woke up bright and early, at 5:15. I made some eggs and ate 4 slices of turkey.
Then, I made my way to the gym! I love leg day. Seriously, leg day is my favorite. I like it the most because my legs are much stronger than my arms.
Here's a look at my workout:
The workout felt pretty good, I even managed to break sweat! Here's the bad news, at least for my coworkers...I forgot my towel! So, I couldn't shower. Even worse than that, I forgot my bra! Not my sports bra, my regular bra. I had to go to work with my stinky gym clothes on and no shower. OOPS! Next time, I will plan ahead.
I've eaten quite a bit today and I still feel hungry. All clean foods. Every where I look, there's junk food! It seems worse because I'm eating clean. Today, we had a client leave us pies! And, it was pot luck day at work. I managed to find turkey, strawberries, and tomatoes. I also ate some broccoli. So far, so good!
I'm interested to see how I handle tomorrow. It's going to be snowing. Snow is not going to be an excuse for missing a workout. I will make it happen!