My Competitive Journey

My competitive journey has been a whirlwind of ups and downs. After competing last night and my goal coming to fruition, I have a lot to say about this sport.

First, I must thank my supportive tribe of individuals. My boyfriend has been with me day in and out, witnessed my struggles and gave me the encouragement when I needed it most. My coach Lucienne has the ability to coach me on the level I needed. I think that is what makes a coach great – to understand your client’s personality and learning style, and then adapt your coaching to them. I must thank my family. My Dad has been my biggest cheerleader no matter what I do. He was there at my figure skating competitions. He was there at my volleyball games. He was there at my graduation. Any large accomplishment I have achieved, he’s been there right by my side lifting me up. I have several supportive friends that I plan on reaching out to individually, but I must say if you’re a friend of mine and are reading this, please know I could not have done this without you.

Now, I’ll get onto talking about show day. I am pleased and honored to announce, I WON Bikini Novice Tall at Mr. And Ms. Natural Minnesota. This is what I set out to do, and I have achieved it. I interviewed my coach on New Year’s Eve in 2018 and told her my intention was to compete in this specific show. Two weeks previous, I also competed in Natural Iowa. This was a great idea of my coach, to compete in more than one show knowing all the time, dedication, and hard work this sport requires. It was perfect that Natural Iowa was two weeks before the competition in Minnesota. I was able to get my “first show” jitters out, and I knew what to expect at my second competition. My head was in a much better place during my second show. Not to say my first show didn’t go well, I am pleased to announce I placed second in Bikini Novice Tall.

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I think the biggest thing most people from the outside looking in miss, is how this sport is much more mental than it is physical. From the outside, you see competitors spending hours in the gym, being diligent with their diet, saying no to donuts in the office, getting a soda water at happy hour, but you don’t see the incredible hard work of training your mind.

It’s easy for an outsider to see the social media posts about training at the gym and think, “Wow, that must be hard”. I’m here to tell you, being in the gym is what kept my sanity during the past 6 months. It was a constant in my life that I knew I could count on. To be honest, I’m already back at the gym right now writing this blog post as I am incline walking. An outsider may perceive this as me being a “fitness freak” but I am happy to wear that title loud and proud. This is what keeps me, me.

Over the past 6 months I have dealt with a lot personally. In March, my incredible Grandfather passed away. A few short days after, I found out one of my Aunt’s dogs that I love dearly, passed away. My mother went back into hospice. I’m currently training a puppy (enough said there). My mother fell and broke her hip. My brother and I had to make a hard decision of surgery or treat the pain as her guardians. I get news that my Aunt’s second dog (they were brothers) also passed away.

The night before my first competition I read an email from my mother’s hospice nurse informing that my mother had a fall in the shower, and had a contusion on her left cheek bone. A week later we get notice she had another fall. (Thankfully, her hospice nurse has ordered a new wheel cheer to accommodate now). Last Thursday my boyfriend’s childhood dog also passed away.

Deep breath. There it is. In sequential order. Now layer dealing with the psychological effects of carbohydrate and calorie depletion of a competition prep. The cherry on top is dealing with naysayers that don’t understand why you’re competing in this type of sport.

Now you may understand why I think being in the gym is the easy part. Here’s a funny full circle moment, I like the sport of golf because it is a humbling, mental game. Maybe this is why I was able to thrive in competitive bodybuilding. Honestly, I think I had a lot of things from my childhood and upbringing works in my favor for this sport. Growing up a competitive figure skater, I was used to competing as an individual. I was the only one on the ice and felt the pressure of all the eyes directly on me. I had the years of training to appear graceful and elegant on the ice. My mind was already being trained for competition at a very early age. My Mom even open enrolled me in a different elementary school that got out of school earlier so I could make to the higher level ice time with my coach. Thinking back, my competitive figure skating years resemble competition bodybuilding prep. I figure skated before school, after school, and my during my “off days” I was still training, off ice. I practiced ballet and dance to work on my presentation.

I have reflected several times “what could have been” if I kept up with figure skating. As I have trained my mind, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and the Universe delivers you exactly what you need, at the right time. Figure skating delivered me incredible skills that I am able to translate not only to other sports, but in my everyday life.

This has been a long reflective post so if you’re still with me and reading this, THANK YOU.

Everyone is now asking me, “What’s next?” “When’s your next competition?” “Are you going to eat (insert a non-nutrient dense food item here)?”

This is what I can say today. Yes, I ate donuts, chocolate, a cookie, a burger and sweet potato fries, and had wine last night. I have yet to decide if I’ll compete again, and I am a 100% okay with that. I do know I will always value health and fitness as it has such a positive mental effect for me.

What’s next? Do you want to know more? Comment below, reach out to me via email, or through social media. I am a personal trainer, and am certified in Fitness Nutrition. I have the capacity of understanding how hard it is to change habits. I am happy to announce I am accepting clients for online and in person, personal training, nutrition coaching, and being an overall health coach. Let me guide you to not only look better, but feel better physically and mentally.

In sincere gratitude,

Annie

No Beginners Allowed

I sit here in absolute awe of the beautiful mountains of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It makes me take a step back, take a deep breath, and be filled with what nature provides. I am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to travel and snowboard here at Mount Bohemia.

It truly is a different place up here. Their tagline is “no beginners allowed”. It is extreme back country where they do not groom any of their runs and you can ride in very fresh powder. For scale, I took a photo with snowboard next to it.

Friday night, we drove even further to the tip of the UP to Copper Harbor. We hiked about 2 miles, in snowboard boots, to have a wonderful view and out first ride of the weekend. There’s something to say for hiking that hard and far, getting up to the top and knowing you’ve made it. You have earned your ride down. As some would say, “You earn your turns”.

It was my first time riding in about two years, and I can’t really put into words the feeling that engulfed me as I laced up my snowboard boots and strapped into my board. I felt home.

An oversight of mine was not trying on my gear before riding. As I put on my snowboard pants, there was no way I could wear them without a belt. It made me take another step back and realize how far I have come on my fitness journey.

It was my first snowboard trip without drinking. To be completely honest, I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything by not drinking. I participated in fun events, like a limbo contest that I was very close to winning. Too bad my height is against me in limbo! Another fun event I participated in was the “Man Carries Woman” event, which is apparently super popular in Finland. My friend Kristen empowered me to participate, but participate in the sense that I would carry someone else.

Here’s a video of me trying out the typically carry of this event with my friend Jennifer:

After realizing I can complete the event, we did compete, and took 3rd place. Here’s another highlight video, and shows my cabin buddies Kristin (banana) and Brandi (Hawaiian tourist) attempting to compete piggy back style.

This was so much fun, and made me think I could maybe compete in a strong(wo)man competition someday.

I am so lucky to have such supportive and kind friends that push me to my full potential. What was even more motivating, was how understanding they were of my competition prep. They saw me pull out my Tupperware and ate lean protein, guac and rice. They commended me for doing what I was doing when I was out to eat with them, and eating my prepared food.

It was very motivating putting on a swimsuit for the hot tub and feel proud of the body I have earned.

A weekend was well spent. Mount Bohemia is such a great time and I am grateful and fortunate for my time spent up here with such amazing people.

Love and Light,

Annie

Why I Hate the Word Diet

Before I get into why I hate the word diet, I want to give a huge shout out to Perfect Fit Gear co-owner, Anita Swole for having me on her podcast, Balancing Act.  You can access the podcast through this link.  I also want to give a huge shout out to her sister, Camile Swole for summing up what was discussed during the podcast:

“Anita interviewed a soon-to-be first time competitor. Her website is bunnyflexfit.com Her definition of success will not be a trophy or a place, but her success will be the transformation her body goes through during this process. She plans on competing in the 2019 Mr. and Mrs. Natural Minnesota Bodybuilding Competition on May 24th and 25th.

“-Thinking about nutrition serving as the prevention of diseases, not just flavors of food.
– Thinking about exercise as a way to combat depression or anxiety instead of just a requirement to low body fat.”

These were the two biggest takeaways I got from listening to this weeks episode of Sowle Sisters Balancing act where Anita flew solo this episode when she talked to first-time competitor Annie Rathman!

This was SO fun to listen to for me! I actually related to her viewpoint SO much. I wish other bikini competitors would also shift focus on certain aspects of competing. They touch on
– Definition of a successful prep
– Nah- Sayers
– Getting offended
– The effects of fitness in other ways than vanity
-Thinking about nutrition serving as the prevention of diseases, not just flavors of food.
– Thinking about exercise as a way to combat depression or anxiety instead of just a requirement for low body fat.
– Life happens
-Intuitive Eating

Make to check out Annies blog she mentioned in the episode!
bunnyflexfit.com/2019/01/18/how-f…owerful-emotion/” – Camille Swole

Check out the rest of their podcasts on SoundCloud

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Now, onto my definition of the word diet.

Hate is a strong word, I guess I shouldn’t say I hate the word “diet”. I would say I do hate the negative connotation with this word.

Diet, has a few different definitions within Merriam-Webster’s dictionary:

diet

noun

di·​et | \ ˈdī-ət  \

Definition of diet

afood and drink regularly provided or consumed
diet of fruits and vegetables
a vegetarian diet
bhabitual nourishment
links between diet and disease
cthe kind and amount of food prescribed for a person or animal for a special reason
was put on a low-sodium diet
da regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight
going on a diet

 

As I read through those definitions, what sticks out to me is the definition about how the diet is set for a definitive period of time. I feel this connotation, sets up a lot of people for failure. For example, “21-Day Fix,” how do you think you will truly make a lifestyle change and create a habit that will keep with you for the rest of your life, in 21 days? I’m not saying this diet is not effective, but it has something in common with other diets. Think about: Atkins, Zone, Keto, insert new fad diet program here. What does all of these “diets” have in common? It makes you focused, and consider what you eat before it enters your mouth. After you hit your goal of say about a 15 pound weight loss, most people think they deserve a treat, and slowly but surely go back to the way they were used to eating, and gain MORE weight back than they originally had!

This type of yo-yo dieting is not great for your body physically, and mentally. It creates this mind set of guilt with food, and a mind set of “oh I’d be much more happier, successful, a better person if I lost 15 pounds” or “I am a failure since I ate a donut”. This type of mental guilt breeds eating disorders and overtraining.

Why don’t we shift our mindset and instead of saying “I am going on a diet” to “I am creating a lifestyle change to become healthier”. The latter suggestion states your why, and shows it isn’t for a finite period of time. I think this type of answer would defeat any type of naysayer telling you that you do not need to diet.

I like Whole30’s approach of defeating naysayers, you tell them you’re doing a 30 day experiment to understand how to nourish your body properly. What is the person that says, “look at you being healthy” going to say to that?

There is no “quick fix” to lifestyle changes and becoming physically fit. It is feeding into out instant gratification culture and society, but unfortunately body composition change is driven through hard work, and consistent dedication. Body composition change does not come from a short, finite period of time.

 

Thanks for listening to my rant. I think this is an important message for people to understand you can’t just drink Slimfast for 3 weeks and keep the weight off for the rest of your life.

Quiet consistency is how you drive change, and become your best self physically and mentally.

With gratitude, thank you so much for reading. Please comment on your thoughts about the word diet and your definition.

Exactly What I Needed

I am so happy I have a job that allows me to take bereavement leave. This past week has been up and down, time of sorrow and time of joy. As I wrote before, my life always has a way of evening itself out.

Thursday night, I attended an event that I was on the brink of bailing. I was making up excuses and reasons as to why I shouldn’t go, and made up my mind to do something else. Just as I was about to leave the house, I get a message from a friend that was leading the fitness event asking if I would like to be on stage. That was the spark I needed to help me make the decision to go to the event.

I honestly cannot put into words how much this event was exactly what I needed. It was Fitbit Local Minneapolis’ event where it was a combination of HIIT training, Dance, and Yoga. I moved my body, endorphins were released, and ending with yoga put me in a place of peace. After the class, I had so many people come up to me and tell me how I crushed the workout and they were impressed. One guy even said, “Way to be a role model up there for the rest of us”. I was honestly shocked when I heard that. I was thinking, “Who, Me?”

This concept brought me full circle, and remembering why I am doing this fitness journey. I got certified as a personal trainer because I want to help people live healthier lives, and not live their life in pain. I want others to realize they can do all the things, just like I can. I’ll leave you with some amazing pictures from the event.

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What Keeps Me, Me.

Life always takes us by surprise. Just when you think everything is going great, there is something that pulls the rug out from underneath you. It knocks you of your feet and you need to figure out how to stand back up again. I’ve noticed my life is a little bit of a rollercoaster, that somehow balances itself out. I say this because whenever something very bad happens, something equally good happens in a short time proximity.

This past week I have been dealing with a lot. I always am dealing with the hardship of my Mother, as her mind slowly gets taken away from her. Piece by piece, day by day. It’s hard to out into words how you witness such a strong beautiful woman who had it all together, decline into a form where she no longer can go to the bathroom.

Layering on that, my Grandpa has been declining rapidly on a slippery slope. And with a heavy heart, I will share he passed away on Friday night.

Grief is such a vast topic, everyone grieves differently and there’s different types of grief. With my Mom, I call this ambigious grief. I grieved her the day she got her diagnosis, and every day beyond that.

I had shocking, sideswiping, rug pulled out from underneath me grief, when my oldest brother passed away. I couldn’t believe it, and went through a longer denial stage of grief.

With my Grandpa, I’m not saying it was any easier, but he was 95 years old, and his last week was in the hospital. We knew his time has come.

If you search grief in Google, you’ll maybe discover the Kübler-Ross model, otherwise known as the 5 stages of grief. They are:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

These are general stages, I do not believe everyone grieves in this perfect order. I do firmly agree with the model on the last stage of grief is acceptance.

With my Grandpa, it was much easier to get to acceptance. I think what made this easy, is the night of his passing, he visited me in my dreams. This was so very special and I absolutely cherish it.

Thinking about my brother, it took a long time for me to get to acceptance. Even when you may think you’re at acceptance, that doesn’t mean you will never have a STUG: Subsequent Temporary Upsurge of Grief.

For example, whenever I hear the band Green Day I think of him. Funny enough, when I hear someone say the word “moron” I think of him. There are other things I could list out, but I believe you get the point.

Grieving my Mom is very hard to explain. Her physical body is still here, and I am her legal guardian. I don’t have a Mother I can go shopping with, or talk about boys, get pedicures, etc. I do have my Mother’s physical body here on Earth, and I’m not sure where her mind and spirit have gone.

This is why I call her grief ambigious, it truly is hard to explain. I’m at acceptance in the sense that I know Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death, there’s no cure, no treatment, and we know little about the disease in general. What is interesting is how I am grieving her soul and spirit, and I will have a different experience when her time comes.

To wrap all of this together, I want to bring up the concept of a Mind-Body link. Your mind is 100% linked to your body, and will affect your output if your mind isn’t in a good stage. For me, there’s also an inverse relationship of this. It helps keep my mind at ease, if I push my body. I cope by keeping up with my workouts, meditating, and nourishing my body with foods that make it happy.

I let my coach know what happened Friday evening, and she was surprised I was at Sunday Conditioning. Without hesitation, I said, “This is what keeps me, me”. I know who I am, and I need to workout to keep my mind right. I have two short videos to share of the workout I did Saturday morning.

This was a special workout since I was working out not just to get stronger, but to focus my mind, and to cope. I video-ed some Step-Ups and Glute Abduction.

I also have good metrics to report on my check-in. This is Check In #3, and while I have lost a total of 2 inches, and the number on the scale went down short of two pounds, I will post my pictures because that’s where I do see the true body composition change.
Weight: 142.5 lbs

  • Chest: 36″
  • Waist: 27.5″
  • Butt: 37.5″
  • Thigh: 22″
  • Bicep: 11″

Again, I’d like to close with gratitude. My last post about fear preformed really well. I am honored and grateful you have read this. Thank you.