July 18. 2016

I Have a Confession

Hey guys, I’m still here. I survived another day! Or at least a few days since I last talked to you guys. Speaking of which, the last time I wrote to you guys I said that I wasn’t competing again this fall. Like I said it wasn’t that I couldn’t but emotional I felt unstable. Just because I am following a road down a different path doesn’t mean I have given up on my journey. If anything it relit my fire to continue on.

That being said I want to talk about something that I struggle with and I know most people struggle with, it is your relationship with food. We need, want, crave that substance and sometimes this leads to issues like eating disorder. Here’s my confession, I have a minor eating disorder. Some people may be offended by that statement but give me a second to explain why.

As a child I wasn’t active. I did not participate in any athletics or activities. My parents went through a hard divorce and I was stuck in the middle, by myself. Growing up, my parents were busy which for the most part left me to fend for myself. Which means feed myself. Survive. As a kid that never had sit down dinners. I lived off ginormous bowls of cereal. I remember my dad finally noticed that I was eating cereal out of a mixing bowl and he told me I was going to be fat. It made me very upset, I was only 7 and didn’t know what else to do.

As I grew up I would eat whatever I wanted. Once I was in the seventh grade, going through puberty, I had gained a significant amount of weight. So much so that other kids my age started a rumor I was pregnant. I ended up transferring schools.

It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I really noticed a problem again. I was stressed about picking a career and life at home was rough. Most days I would eat a pizza, with ranch, and ice cream. Soon my stress turned into underage drinking. I drank until I was full, would be sick, and then continue drinking. I know, not a proud moment of mine.

Weight started to pack on. I just didn’t care. I didn’t care how I felt or what I looked like. It was a problem that I have been working on ever since. Especially now, I felt that since I am not doing a show this year maybe I should go to the store and get the goods… if you know what I mean. You know what a cookie wouldn’t hurt me but here’s the thing. I binge. I eat till I want to be sick. I eat till I no longer can taste the food. My heart takes off and I feel like I am going to die. THAT RIGHT THERE IS A DISORDER!

So me not doing a show was not “oh she can’t do it”. It is I don’t want to for my own personal sanity. It took me so long to be ok with food and then having that food limited is even harder. Right now I’m taking that time to refine those skills. So when it is time guys… You bet I’m all in to win!

Thank you guys for listening to me and the continued support!

Until next time,

Cassandra   

July 15. 2016

Learn to Let Go

Hello and welcome back! I am going to start off by saying today I am going to be writing about my feelings. Surprise, surprise Cassie is emotional again. What can I say that’s me! In my last post I talked about not letting fear hold you back. Well now I want to talk about realistic goals and aspirations.

If you have been following me you know that I was looking to compete again in the fall. After my last show I gained weight. It happens! Some of it was needed and some of it wasn’t. I really tried to reverse diet and not eat bad, honestly I can say ate unclean about four times in total since I got off stage. So the weight gain was not planned or anticipated on my part. I have beaten myself up over and over again, I have been so discouraged about what I did wrong.

For my body, weight packs on easy and I have a hard time losing it. So being heavier and the scale not dropping, I am struggling to stay motivated. In my last prep what had me push through was I loved the changes and how I looked each week. It simply isn’t happening now. I try to keep saying to myself just keep going it will come back. It will but not in time for this show. I shed a few tears today but I know this is just another bump in the road.

I could have lost the weight in time but with that I could lose most of the muscle we are trying to build and hold onto. To me it just doesn’t make sense to do this show and that breaks my heart but these things happen and we have to be honest with ourselves. What sucks the most though is how hard I tried to stay ready for prep after my last show.

Now my plan doesn’t change. I have to lose this weight and see where to go from there. No I don’t have a show in mind. To be a better competitor I have to be ready. Which entails having more muscle and less body fat. When I feel that is accomplished I will think about picking a show. I really just want to feel good in my skin again.

Since my morale has been so down I just haven’t been able to snap into my groove. Each week that passes and the scale hasn’t gone down just hurts. Last week I did something I would never do before. I ate my feelings. I was so upset about my body that for a moment I said forget this! In turn made things worse. I am backing out of the show for my well-being. I don’t want to have issues with my body or food.

I’m letting go of these struggles and have to reassess. I will be better each and every day. I will not do something that isn’t benefiting my personal growth. Even now that I am sad and disappointed, I still have my goals to work on for myself. This is not the end it is to be continued…

I found out this week I get to go to Pittsburgh to support my team at a National show! I am very excited! They worked so hard for this and they get to show it off now! I want to be there someday so I have to learn from them how to do it and succeed.

Until next time guys,

Cassie

July 13. 2016

Off Season

Hey everyone! 

Today I wanted to talk about something that is probably a bit of terminology that most have heard. That's the off season or the non competing season. For those of us that are competitors we know that there really is no such thing as an "off season", it's kind of a bad term, but I believe it's used as a psychological trick in a way. To fool us into thinking we are getting a break, when in fact, it's the furthest thing from the truth there is. 

See when you want to be fit and healthy, you can't just take a break. Athlete, non athlete...it doesn't matter. Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about a day or two break, I mean just throwing your diet in the toilet and not working out for extended periods of time. There are folks who do this, especially after a show, which kind of stinks for them as it makes it that much harder to bounce back. 

I'm very methodical and very OCD with my health and fitness level. I'll admit (again I'm sure) that I'm not a hundred percent perfect on my diet after a show. It's extremely difficult to be unless you've been doing it a long time or you are just that strong willed person who can take beating after beating. Most of us though try to gain back some semblance of what we believe normal to be and then dial it back from there. 

One thing I do that a lot don't is hit it hard and heavy the week after a show and for the next several weeks. Most take a deload period after a show, which in truth is a good thing. I don't however because I find after dieting down hard it's my prime time to grow and gain some much needed mass. 

Now back to the "off season". Again, if you are someone who wants to stay in shape all year around, or keep yourself healthy, there simply cannot be these extended periods of rest. Unless of course you have a doctor advising you to do so. Everything is circumstantial, but generally it's go all the time to stay where you're at and improve. 

A lot of avid exercisers make the mistake as well of not going to the gym during the summer months. I've heard it all, but the biggest reason is "I'm going to be outside more". If your outdoor experience includes gym equipment, then great, otherwise you're not going to be getting the same effect. You can play with the kids, swim, walk your neighborhood...etc. Nothing is going to beat that gym experience as far as caloric burn from weight training. So there's no reason to avoid it for three months during the year. 

The same applies for holidays where the gym is open, we all still usually have at least an hour during that day (unless you're cooking all day, then you get a pass). It is especially important on these days as well since most will over indulge. Now you cannot out train a bad diet, which is what a holiday equates to 9 time out of 10, but it's good to start a calorie burning process prior to a feast just to offset as much as you can. If you carb cycle, then it's perfect for a refeed/cheat as well (assuming you're not gorging yourself silly).

So what I'm trying to get at today is to not make excuses. There is no off season. The off season starts when we are physically incapable of performing exercise. Which I've seen a lot of folks that are in far worse shape than I (having physical disabilities) and they are still there hitting it as hard as they can.

Some food for thought today!


Stay motivated. Stay positive. Enjoy life, but get that workout in!!

Thanks so much,


Adam Hartley

ahartley@customfitnessconsulting.com for customized exercise and nutrition programs

July 11. 2016

No Fear

Hello and welcome back everyone! Happy Monday! Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend and now you feel refreshed and ready to tackle more goals!

Today I wanted to talk about my personal fears and what I experience when I let those fears take root in my head. We all have fears but at the end of the day, how do we interpret this emotion into a benefit for ourselves. Without fear there would be no courage, so in my opinion you need one to experience the other.

I struggle with letting fear dictate my life. It comes in forms of self-doubt and insecurity. So this weekend I made a challenge with a friend that I could not say anything negative about myself. That was my challenge and I didn’t come up with this challenge, my friend did. That shows how harsh I can be on myself if someone is saying this is your hardest obstacle.

I am going to tell you my fears that I think about. One is the fear of letting others down. I am a people pleaser. I put others before myself and I enjoy doing things to make everyone happy. If I am getting stressed about school, prep, or a job I am at it is more than likely I am worried about upsetting others. Maybe I’m behind in my homework or if I am in a prep situation I am worried about being ready in time. The reason I like making others happy is because there isn’t quit a better feeling, in my opinion, then when someone tells you how proud they are in you. That is always the win in my eyes.

 Another fear I have is being alone. When I struggle at anything I tend to pull away from others around me because I am in a bad mood. I never want anyone around me to experience bad vibes from me, I want to be up lifting as much as possible. As humans we are social creatures of habit so extended periods of time away from social contact I think does take a toll on one’s spirit.

So how do we cope with these fears? Create challenges for yourself. Do not be afraid of failure. What is failure? Failure is when there is lack of success. That means YOU have determined what is successful for YOURSELF.

On a side note, I am officially 16 weeks out! I cannot lie, I have had fear about this prep because it is so much different from my last one. I fear I won’t be ready or be my best but I cannot think like that just because I haven’t done this type of prep before. I want to be my best, make everyone proud, and I want to win. Those are my goals. So no more fear of cardio, the hunger, or the low energy because we have those goals to strive for and we are stronger than our biggest fear.

Enjoy the week friends, keep those doubts in check and we will continue to keep moving forward. I will be back for more Friday!

See ya,

Cassie 

July 7. 2016

Organization and Prioritize

Hey guys, it’s finally that day again! Friday! I am not going to lie I am ready for some down time. I don’t know if it’s because I have been pretty busy this week or just stressed but I am not feeling too good. I have this awful headache and I don’t get headaches. Maybe a couple a year so this is weird. Also I have been so terribly weak this week. In the gym and just during the day. I get run down and my body is defiantly asking for a break.

I wanted to talk about today’s priorities. You guys have known I have been struggling with my weight gain and some body issues, well I have been strict in my diet and pushing harder in the gym in hopes I will in a sense “return to normal”. Guess what happened? Nothing. Dealing with my frustrations and emotions in this manner in the end just doesn’t work. Which fueled my frustrations every day I stepped on the scale and saw no change, after that I would go and push myself hard in the gym lifting some days for 2 hours, whereas my body was use to before around one hour. Look at me now, I feel beat up. Feeling under the weather is not what I wanted either. Strong and healthy at the end of the day is what is most important. No competition or “look” is greater than the importance of my health and well-being.

That was just one example of priorities. I often hear many people talk about not having time for the gym which I believe is just another excuse. Honestly it’s whatever we tell ourselves. If I am telling myself I am unhappy then I am going to be unhappy. There is a difference between being too busy verses going to the gym and eating clean just not being a priority. I do not know one person that I would genuinely say is too busy to be active and make smart decisions when it comes to food.

If you really want to achieve something, then you will make it happen. There will be nothing to keep you from your goal. It is about organization and prioritizing your day to day tasks. Even if you do not have that much time. That effort you put in is just one step closer. If you have to wake up earlier yes it can be rough but your body adapts. Your metabolism speeds up and you can make it a habit.

In my eyes right now, I may need to back track and reassess my outlook. Being unkind to myself is never going end up making me happy. I just want to feel like I am accomplishing something again. So for now its rest and relax to get Cassie where she needs to be when it is time to begin real prep life again.

Enjoy the weekend! On Sunday maybe sit down for an hour and plan out your week. Family time, work, weekly tasks, and so on. I am about to eat my eggs and watch a movie crossing my fingers that I may feel better tomorrow.

Peace out,

Cassie

July 6. 2016

Reflecting on the Last Year

Hello friends. Today I'd like to talk about the last year of my life. 

Yesterday I turned 34 and it gave me some time to think. I didn't do much of anything for my birthday because I find the older I get, the less I want that "party" or even the gathering of people. I just like to hang out at home and relax. Which I don't think there's anything wrong with that. It gave me lots of time to just exist and not have to stress about a ton of stuff for no reason.

My days aren't extremely stressful by any means, but sometimes they do wear me out. I know and have experienced much worse stress, so I'm grateful for the small amount I have now. One thing I was able to reflect on was what I've accomplished in the last year of my life. 

During this last year of my life I stepped on a bodybuilding stage for the first and second time. Both times I became nationally qualified to compete to become a pro level bodybuilder. I became co-owner of Custom Fitness Consulting. I became a property owner and now have two houses I am renting. I am financially secure for the first time in a long time. My dad has been a cancer survivor for four years (his last treatment was on my birthday four years ago). I've gotten to spend some much needed time to bond with my wonderful children this summer so far. My wife and I will be celebrating 15 years together and 13 married next month and I love her more everyday. And so on. There's a ton of stuff I'm forgetting to name, but you get the point.

I have had hard times this year as well, but the good far out weighs the bad. I am able to look at it and observe the good and the bad and decide I'm happy. Truly happy. Sure things could be a bit better, they always could, but I'm content right now. I'm grateful for the life I've been given and for the people in my life.

This next year, I'm going to do my best to improve myself and just try stay happy again. If I go at it one day at a time, there's no stopping me. I'd like to say I have this enormous plan of success or wealth planned in the back of my head. Truth be told, that's just not me. I like to live life as it comes. The good and the bad. I plan ahead but not so far that I lose sight of where I'm at right now. Which is a great place and I don't even want to leave it. 

Today I'm going to get some things done and enjoy my kids again. Family is one of the most important things in life to me and I wouldn't trade mine for anything. They are my sunshine's as sappy as that sounds, it's true. 


Today I am grateful, I am blessed and I am happy. Truly and fully happy.


Thank you all and I hope you can find peace in today as well! Enjoy what you have and love one another.


Thanks so much,


Adam Hartley


Co-Owner Coach Custom Fitness Consulting (email for nutrition and exercise plans) ahartley@customfitnessconsulting.com

  

July 4. 2016

Growing Pains

Happy Independence Day America! I hope everyone is relaxing enjoying time with those closest to them and maybe eating some good food… hey do it for me!

So last week I didn’t even truly realize it was Fourth of July this weekend till Thursday. I am loosing track of things so much easier now. Once I thought of hey it’s the day to celebrate and this is one of my favorite holidays. I just think of the term “independent”. Yes the holiday is to celebrate a given event, but we aren’t talking about that here. We are talking about the term that was chosen for this particular day.

If you have followed my journey you would know I have had quite the year. Some really good times and then some not so good. But this last month… Whoa it hit me hard. I guess that is the term where they say “life happens”. Obviously I am still figuring it out and how to handle these situations. The biggest problem I needed to approach carefully was the stress for all the situations happening.

Day in and day out, I was tried. I wasn’t always my best but I never just sat back and watched everything go down. I know you guys are probably wondering what I am talking about. I am vague for a reason. You guys don’t need to know the details, and trust me you don’t want to. That would start more of a book than a blog.

I didn’t have mom or dad to call to help me. I had myself and I needed to figure out how to fix things that were happening around me. You guys ever have those days where it’s just one thing after another? Well, that was my day that turned into a week that followed into the next month. Boohoo poor me? Um no! Sometimes I think like that but that’s for a brief period of time and then I snap out of it. Ok it’s not always immediate that I snap out of it! Sometimes I cry like a baby. That’s how I act like adult. I cry and put myself in timeout on occasion, and that is the truth!

Yep, I have fallen down! Not just fallen down but face-planted on the cement pavement. But hey my journey is unique to anyone else’s. I always forget that. We go around comparing ourselves to something that could be “some-what” relatable. If there is one variable that is different in two given situations that can change the outcome. Don’t waste your time look at the ones around you or sweating the small things. You are given this as a way of learning. I mean yea it’s not always pretty but you have to do it! It is called surviving!

When each day ends, you are held responsible for your actions. So don’t sit back, take action! Be more thankful for the gifts we get where things are not always a struggle. Work harder to achieve your goals. And when you have a bad day, you need to come back swinging! That at least so far what my adult life has taught me. It is how to fight back and not give up

Enjoy the day guys and be safe

-Cassie

July 1. 2016

Give em’ a Break

Hello good day kind folk. How was your week? Good? Great! It is the end of the month and another month soon follows! July, the middle of the summer. We have had a few months to enjoy the heat and now it is a little much for me personally. Especially trying to grow right now… I went from an igloo in 80-degree weather to help me I’m melting! On top of it I have really fair skin and I swear every time I step outside it’s like an immediate sunburn. Crispy Cassandra? I would be an awesome vampire, with my porcelain skin. Just saying!

Anyways it’s that time for myself where I am thinking about school this year. I have already signed up for a few classes but need to make sure my schedule is right then work towards that goal! That’s how any point is in our life. We are always moving trying to progress forward. Be that if it is a career or personal achievement. Go, go, go. Push, push, push!

It is a give and take. Output and input. I was reminded that this week, ever since my competition I have kind of went in the gym with more of a loose regimen of what I needed to and also what I wanted to do. My biggest goal was to fill my legs so really I had two upper body lifts then I would train legs every other day and take a rest day when my body really started to hurt. This unbalanced structure made sticking to my diet very hard. I would say these last two weeks were harder than most of my last prep. Because I was working out so much harder and not fueling it entirely or allowing it to recover. I found myself very tired and would find myself needing to take a nap to get through the day.

So as nice as it is to go enjoy a hard work out, it made other bits of my life more challenging than they should be. I was out-of-whack or off balanced. I went from working out for around 45-50 minutes to pushing 2 hours in a short time span.

My body wasn’t adjusted so it made my diet harder. Simply because I was working out so much more than I was use to and I wasn’t getting enough from food or rest to properly recover. I found myself adding food to just help me sleep at night. I would lay in bed thinking “am I always going to be this hungry? Surely something it not right”.  This has been a whole different ball game that I have been working on getting used to. In a few short weeks it will be time to start cutting again and that’s what I need my energy for. The big push. The grind down to see what improvements I have made.

What I want everyone to take away from this is every time you take, you need to give back! It doesn’t need to be fitness related. If you are a career driven person, make sure to have down time with your family. On the fitness side, don’t be afraid of a rest day. Even an active rest day. Down time is good for the soul to reboot and be ready for whatever challenge we wish to pursue!

Thanks everyone for taking a moment to read my blog and keep up with my journey! Enjoy this holiday day weekend and some good down time spent with family and friends.

-Cassie

 

 

June 29. 2016

Staying on Track

Good morning everyone! It's another beautiful day outside and I for one intend on enjoying it!

I thought I'd talk a bit about a struggle most people have, including myself. That struggle is staying the course and pushing forward no matter what. I recently competed in a bodybuilding show. Now if you've read about or done a bodybuilding show, you most likely know how hard that some of us have to diet down in order to step out on that stage. I'd say that diet wise, this competition was much harder than my last. Mentally I felt ok about the whole process, but I was always hungry. That's normal though and that's how you know you're doing things right. It's all part of the suffering and pain that we go through, but enjoy on some level.

So I got on stage, did the best I could, and was done. It all happened so fast I couldn't believe it. Afterwards I was hungry. I was hungry all the time. So I ate, and ate and ate. I didn't always eat junk food, but I did eat too much. This is something that happens to a lot of competitors and athletes. After you prepare for so long then finally are done, you've mind and body are screaming at you for some kind of satiety. The foods I was eating during my show prep were enough for losing weight, but I wanted to feel full again. 

So I ate for two weeks, jumped up in weight, and felt terrible for the most part. Why? Well, my metabolism was screaming at me. It was angry for the constant shock I was giving it. After having some free time, lifting heavier again and eating when I wanted or how I wanted, I decided it was time to bring it back in. I cleaned my diet up and have lost 10 pounds in this week alone and yes it's only Wednesday. 

Now why did I take a two week break and kind of just relax? I truly feel like I needed it. I needed it mentally and physically. My body needed extra nutrients and just more energy in general and I believe in the end it will have been a great benefit to me. 

The issue with what I did however is not what I did, it's how I did it. I ate too much too fast and my body didn't know what to do. So I got what's called a spillover effect. It's happened to me a few times now, and I believe unless I reverse diet very hard, I may not be able to prevent it. Other than being less than aesthetically pleasing, there is no danger in a spillover UNLESS it's internal. Thankfully for me, my preps are done right and that is not a huge concern. Spilling over internally means fluid on your organs. Externally is fluid (water) on top of muscle. The body doesn't know how to absorb it right because of going through dietary restrictions and just generally being tired. 

So post show, I learn. Each time, I learn about myself about my limits and about what's healthy for me. I now know for a fact that I can't go carb crazy. I can can increase my healthy fats, proteins and a bit of carbs (clean carbs or complex) and be just fine.

Now carbs are not the enemy. In fact it's the opposite. Carbs are very important. It's only when I've been hard dieting that I have any kind of issue. It's because my body has adapted to not having as many carbs and it does not want them like my mind wants them. 

So staying on some kind of plan is key to success. Regardless of if you compete or not, I truly believe it's important. The accountability alone makes it a great thing to follow. I need that accountability and so do most people I've met. When left to our own devices, most of us won't know what to do. So we seek out help and it changes our mindset and allows us to grow. 

Not a day goes by that I'm not thankful for the path I've chosen. I love eating right and being fit and healthy. It's a fantastic feeling and one I wouldn't trade for anything.

So try your best to stay on track. If you set a goal, accomplish it. If you fall off during that goal period, don't fret, just get up and dust yourself off. You will be ok as long as you continue to fight for what you want. That's key. Not giving up and pushing no matter what. Everyone has roadblocks, but you eventually learn how to go around them. 

I hope everyone out there has a fantastic day! Enjoy your family and friends and get in that gym!!!


Thanks so much,


Adam Hartley

Co-Owner/Coach Custom Fitness Consulting 

ahartley@customfitnessconsulting.com 

June 27. 2016

In the Moment

Wow, I can’t believe it is almost July already! Hey guys, hope you enjoyed your weekend, maybe got to go outside and sun bathe or if you’re anything like me I avoided the heat at all costs and took multiple naps. I know that makes me sound lazy but rest up for the week ahead and I have some crazy workouts lately. Every day after I train, I come straight home eat and take a 15 minutes power nap, it feels like I was knocked out. I don’t always get to enjoy that time to recover, some days I am running around and others a totally bum. Balance right?

The matter of today though friends, I want to talk about living for today. We hear this phrase all the time but do we ever truly live it? I know I don’t every day. It is hard, we get caught up in other obstacles that it takes away from it. But to be blunt, we will never get this time back. The time it takes you to read this blog, you will never get those minutes back (time well spent in my opinion).

This isn’t supposed to be, well let’s be super optimistic and everything should be rainbows and butterflies! Don’t get me wrong we need all the positivity also. To whomever is reading this, take a moment and sit back and truly think. What does it mean to live for today? Open yourself up to so many more things that this life could offer. We tend to just be going through the rolls as a parent, student, athlete, employee, etc. but not living our life that we have been given.

For me personally you guys have read in previous blogs of mine, that struggle with body image of myself and giving this time for my body to grow. As a matter of fact, this is the first time I have done this. I will not get this feeling back. Maybe at times it isn’t the best feeling. How can I view this as something I may enjoy more? I set a challenge for myself.

The past few weeks I have said I feel lost and have been kind of down. I can say I am super excited to feel a little challenged again. That is why I love this sport/hobby, it is always challenging.  The reason I liked prepping for a show is because every day was a new obstacle to overcome. So after the competition I felt like I was twiddling my thumbs a little bit waiting to start prepping again which over time I lost focus on the goal because I didn’t feel challenged. In turn I was no longer living in the moment. I kept thinking I can’t wait to start cutting again or what am I going to do after the show. So on and so forth.

I never played sports when I was younger and never really had hobbies. I feel like I floated through what was either expected of me or just what I had to do to get by. Even whenever I started something new, I soon lost interest because I didn’t feel challenged.

My challenge to you guys this week is set a goal to challenge yourself today, this week, this month, or this year and live in every second of your day to pursuing that goal!

Happy Monday to all, see you guys on the flipside

-Cassie

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