I am sad to report that we live in society that settles. In the last two years since I have been in Houston (and even in my return visits back home to Missouri), I have spoken to so many people who seem content in complacency. Raised by my independent, strong-minded mother, settling was never an option. Not in our words or actions.
Obviously, I do not believe that I am alone in the fact that I had parents who encouraged me to live life, push myself, and never settle; but I am more aware that as we get older and leave our childhood behind, we settle deeper and deeper.
Remember when you were a kid and you thought anything in this world was possible, simply because you believed? We had the wildest dreams of being astronauts, doctors, and ballerinas; even a princess seemed like a rational career for some of my girlfriends at the age of 5. Young boys in my class wanted to be superheroes, police officers, or pilots. And when someone shared what they wanted to be, in a unified chorus we would all say, "Cool, I want to do that too!"
When did we stop wanting those things? When did we stop dreaming and start settling? When did we stop living?
Not soon after we are encouraged to be imaginative and dream big, we then learn as we grow up that imagination is not for adults and that dreaming is not productive. Sometimes we even get in trouble for day dreaming or having "foolish and outlandish" ideas. We are told that we need to be rational and realistic. The very same people who told us to dream big dreams, years later tell us to stop. So, we do.
And now I pose a question: Who told you that you had to settle?
Although I am only in my twenties, I have learned quite a bit through my life experiences. One great lesson that I learned was that the minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get less than you settled for. One you drop the standards of what you want in your career, in romance, in your fitness goals, and your success, it is easier to drop the bar a little lower... and a little lower.
You promise yourself that you will not ever go below a certain level, but then you find yourself lowering the bar once again.
As I continue on pursuing my goals for fitness and health, I have had to be conscious not to settle for mediocrity. Sure, it might be easier to eat this quick unhealthy option over preparing healthy meals, but what is the outcome? It may be easier to cut myself short a few reps with the barbell, but what do I gain? It may be easier to finish my cardio a few minutes early, but what is the point? Why not just give it my all? Why not just commit and do it right?
So I asked myself the other day, "Who told me that I could not compete in my first figure competition?" Not Lee. He is 100% in my corner and has even changed a few of his eating habits to support me. Obviously not my trainer Wes, he believes that I can do it, and offers great advice and coaching. Not anyone in the gym. Not anyone in my family.
No one told me that I could not do. Except one person. Myself. Because when I fail to push myself and settle for less than the best, I am the only one telling me that I cannot. Today that changes.
Never settle for less than you deserve. Demand the best and accept nothing less.
In Fitness + Health,
~ Q. Olivia
As a small business owner, I love quotes related to mentorship, leadership, and business management; and Kenneth Blanchard is an expert in those areas. The above quote showcases the difference between interest and commitment, and the results of those differences.
Someone can have an interest in a variety of topics, hobbies, and subjects, but a person who is committed in those areas treats it differently. I have an interest in fitness and health; but I am committed to competing in a figure competition and helping others with their goals.
Interest is reactive. Commitment is proactive.
When you are interested in something you sample it, try it out and play around with it. When you are committed to something, you take solid action steps to move toward the desired outcome. When you commit to something, you have an expectation of results, not just a wish.
The day you choose to draw a line in the sand, set your priorities, and refuse to allow anything stand in your way, you are on your way from interest to commitment. If you desire to achieve excellence, you must be committed totally and completely.
Commitment stems from discipline and passion.
Both are required to succeed. Discipline pushes you over the difficulties on your journey towards your goal, and passion drives your actions from the heart. Once you connect your goal to your heart, your life changes, your attitude towards the situation takes a 180* turn, and your feel complete in your daily actions towards the goal. For me, there is nothing better than working out, eating clean, and sacrificing my guilty pleasures, because my heart knows what I want and I get pleasure when I move forward.
I challenge you to ask yourself how committed you are to your goals, your dreams, and your success. Whether in business, fitness, or personal growth, asking that question will help you determine your next steps. As we move into the "Resolution Season," I encourage you to buckle down and decide what you want for your health, your life, and your family.
Interest or Commitment. What team are you on?
In Fitness + Health,
~ Q. Olivia
Welcome December. Hello to chilly air, frosted windows, seeing your breath, early sunsets and gorgeous starry skies. Hello to gloves, sweaters, pea coats, hats, scarves and boots.
Hello to snowflakes, snow angels, sledding, and skiing. Ice skating, snowball fights, icicles, and building snowmen. Hello to the first snow fall of the year, so pure and perfect.
Hello to thick socks, warm blankets, cuddling, pajamas, hot chocolate, and sitting in front of the fireplace.
Hello to twinkling lights, Christmas music, snow globes, carolers, watching a Charlie Brown Christmas, decorating the tree, and wrapping the perfect present.
Hello to wreaths, tinsel, untangling lights, pinecones, garland, glitter, candles, ornaments, and paper snowflakes. Hello to candy canes, secret Santa, holiday parties and tacky Christmas sweaters.
Hello to driving around looking at lights, holiday parades, everyone dressed as Santa, stockings, holiday crafts, and the twinkle in a child's eye.
Hello to holly and mistletoe, holiday traditions, baked goods, eggnog, and the sweet aroma of gingerbread, cinnamon, peppermint and vanilla.
Hello to the Christmas Spirit, joy, love, peace... and magic for those who still believe ;)
- 2 Bullion Cubes (Chicken)
- 2 Cups of Water
- 1/2 teaspoon of Crushed Red Pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of Black Pepper
- 1 lb of Shrimp
- Half of a Red Bell Pepper (diced)
- 1 Serrano Pepper (sliced)
- 1 Can of Spicy Diced Tomatoes
- 1 cup of Dice Onions
For some, change sounds scary and uncertain, but all change means is to make something different or to become something else. Change is different for everyone, but everyday we should strive to make a change, to become different, to become better.
Last week, I made a change. I officially began my competition prep with my trainer Wes. We had been training occasionally off and on and getting my mind wrapped around the idea of healthy nutrition and fitness. As of November 4th, training has commenced.
For those who do not know, I can be quite impatient. So of course, after one week, I wanted to see some results (which has not happened). The waiting part is the hardest in all of my changes, but it is also when I am the strongest.
During the wait period, we learn things about ourselves that we never knew. We may become weak at some point, but we learn the true meaning of endurance, focus, drive, and perseverance.
Anytime I think of change, I am reminded of my dad talking to me about the life of a butterfly and the similarities between them and humans. Butterflies are beautiful creatures, seemingly delicate, but very strong despite their small size.
As we all learned growing up, the life cycle of a butterfly consists of four phases: eggs, caterpillar, chrysalis, and then the butterfly. The fourth and final stage is when the butterfly is most noticeable to us. It has colorful wings and flutters among the flowers on beautiful Spring days. Of course, before that so much happens that we often do not see.
For me, phase three is the most incredible phase. It is the changing phase and the biggest determining factor of how the butterfly will look and function for the rest of its life.
The life cycle of the butterfly has been a great mystery for those in the sciences. No one knows exactly how the caterpillar changes its form in such a dramatic way, but according to researchers there are clusters of cells called imaginal buds which comes from the word "imago," referring to the adult phase of the butterfly. Imaginal buds also means "to imagine" and psychologists use the word imago to mean an idealized image of a loved one, including self. So the imaginal buds contain the blueprint for a butterfly its entire life, meaning that even while it is a caterpillar, it is "imagining" being a butterfly. It is already in its DNA.
For me this a great lesson. Although I am not where I want to be, I know within me I have the blueprint to be a competitor in fitness competitions. So while I am eager to become the bright, beautiful butterfly, I know that I must first endure the changes in my own phase three.
My dad used to tell me the familiar story of the young boy who saw a butterfly hatching from its cocoon. The boy noticed that the hole was too small for the butterfly to get out, so he attempted to help the butterfly by cutting the cocoon with scissors, allowing the butterfly to easily escape the cocoon. The butterfly was swollen and had shriveled wings. Days went by but the butterfly's wings never dried out, and it could never fly. Why? Because it never struggled.
A butterfly's struggle to push its body through the tiny opening forces the fluid from the body of the creature and into its wings. After the wings dry, the butterfly then can take flight. Without the struggle, the butterfly will never fly as it was created to.
In the same way, without struggles, we will never become what were are destined to be. Allow yourself to go through change, and allow that change to truly mold and shape who you. In fitness, in your career, in your marriage, or any area you know you need to make that change.
In Fitness + Health,
~ Q. Olivia
Each time I step into the gym, I always take time to reflect or audibly state my goals. I definitely believe in setting your goals and keeping them in front of you at all times, whether visually or on a card that you repeat. It sounds cheesy, but it works.
When we are constantly reminded of something, it is difficult NOT to accomplish the task, or at least work towards it daily. When I do this, my workouts are automatically more aggressive, more precise, and more enjoyable. I complain less and usually make it a point to complete one more rep; to squat deeper; to squeeze harder.
The key to a killer workout? Have a plan. 98% of the time, I walk into the gym knowing exactly what exercises I am going to perform and what machines I am going to use. I usually have them written down on a index card, or even listed out on my phone. If you have a workout plan that you are doing it, follow it. Most plans that professional lay out work for a reason. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Without a certain amount of intensity, you will never see results. On those days, I don't even break a sweat. I always make it a priority to break a sweat during a workout. My goal is to always walk out of that gym knowing that I owned those weights. Knowing that I killed that work out.
Be guilty of killing every workout, no matter what. Give it your all, all the time.
Until Next Time,
~ Q. Olivia
"Champions aren't made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them - a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the SKILL, and the WILL. But the WILL must be stronger than the skill."
I had a workout with my Coach, Wes Simon on Sunday and as I finished a rotation of exercises, he said, "Remember, that girl next to you is working harder than you."
A champion is born when the decision is made to win. Right now I am my biggest competition. But as soon as I become the best ME that I can be, all of those ladies lined up on stage next to me will be my competition.
Train like a champion. Live life as a champion.
In Health + Fitness,
~ Q. Olivia
With that being said, I cannot think of a better week to work the core. Now to be honest, for the longest time I had no idea what BOSU ball was. I used it, but I just referred to it as a "half exercise ball." But now that I have been properly introduced to it, in all its wonder, I have become quite fond of that little half ball.
It definitely promotes balances and stabilization. Either side of the ball gives you an optimal workout. Ohhhh, optimal. Look at me using fancy words.
Anyway, here are some photo examples of various workouts that you can do for a set amount of time (the plank of a bosu ball) or 3 sets of 15 reps (squats on a bosu).
How often have we not done something (or the opposite) because we were too afraid? Afraid of failure, afraid of success. Afraid of other's opinions. Afraid of change. Afraid of the unknown.
There is an acronym that I love for fear that says: False Evidence Appearing Real
Your challenge this week is to look in a mirror and ask yourself, "What Am I Afraid Of?"
Your next challenge is to answer the question honestly and out loud.
Once you give your fear a name, it does not seem so scary. It may actually even sound silly.
Conquer your fears, and claim what is yours.
In Love + Fitness,
~ Q. Olivia
Is your goal today to be great, or just mediocre?
I plan on living the rest of my life as a champion. For now, I have to train hard and never give up.
Today, make the choice to live your life as champ. Nothing else will do.
Until Next Time...
~ Q. Olivia
I am all about community, and reaching goals together. So I am going to jump on the fit wagon and take this challenge also.
There are a lot of variations of this challenge, so look online and pick the one you want. I saw challenges that started with 20 squats, and others that started with 50 squats or more. Everyone has different fitness levels, so start where you feel comfortable. Remember, you are your only competition. Listen to your body.
Here is my May Squat Challenge:
Feel free to start this challenge with me this week, OR you can wait until next month. Either way, I think this is a great way to make sure your glutes, quads and lower back look stunning in your summer clothes this year.
Take the challenge? Join me!!
~ Q. Olivia
Today's Fitness Fact:
As we know summer time means we shred more clothing and show of those awesome body parts. Legs, arms, and stomachs. But with all of the tank tops and swimsuits that we wear, one key body part sometimes goes untouched at the gym and can make a huge difference in our definition.
That my friends, is the BACK. In our quest to tone our arms and get lean legs, sometimes we forget that a nicely toned back does wonders for our summer shirts and dresses.
This Wednesday's Workout: Seated Narrow Grip Cable Rows
|Keep legs slightly bent and squeeze at the top.|
There are many variations of this exercise. You can do it on a cable row machine, one the floor, or even with free weights. The placing of your feet and the height of the cables can all work different areas of the back. I love back days and this workout is always incorporated in my routine.
|Be sure to watch your posture; straight back and chest out|
You can also check out videos to ensure proper technique and execution. While the back is your support system, muscles can also easily become sprained or injured if you do not perform the exercise correctly. Have a workout body assist you in ensuring proper posture and placement of hands, feet, etc.
You can also view a great video here at Bodybuilding.com!
Try this workout this week and I promise you will feel the results the next day, if not the same day. The soreness will also help you know which areas of your back you are working.
Remember: Sore Today. Fierce Tomorrow.
Until Next Time...
~ Q. Olivia
If I asked 100 people why they worked out, I would probably get 100 unique answers. They may be similar, but they would be unique to each individual and their life.
Find your why, and make it happen. When you do that, you have no excuse or reason not to achieve what you set your heart and mind to do.
Fill in your blank daily. It may change, but that blank, will be the motivator to get you out of bed and to the gym.
Know Your Why. Apply it.
Today, I work out because... I have a competition in less than 6 months. I know this is going to get me to the gym this week, because I refuse to be the weakest competitor when I take the stage!
Why are you striving for your goals today?
Until Next Time...
~ Q. Olivia
I went to several gyms, took a few tours, and got a couple of free passes to try the places out. One gym in particular marveled about its theatre room. This room had dozens of treadmills and ellipticals all lined up side by side, and a massive screen projector that played movies all day. The room had low lighting to 'set the mood' for watching movies. Seriously?
I remember thinking, "I can watch movies at home. I come to the gym to workout... in the light." I quickly left that gym.
In October 2012, I found the Houston Gym. I liked it immediately.
I love my gym. It is a place for serious trainers and athletes. It is un-commercial (which I love). And all of the patrons have gym etiquette. They put the weights back. They wipe off the benches after they sweat on them. And you never see people just sitting on a machine taking up space. People actually workout and then get up when they are done.
For the last two weeks I have been on the road, so I have not been able to see my comrades and gym buddies. And I actually miss them!
The gym environment is really crucial for me, especially with the goals that I have. I hate messy/unclean gyms, and I really dislike looking for workout equipment because people do not know how to put things back.
The above photo reminds that it is not the money that you pay, or all of the posh-ness and amenities. It is the hard work and dedication that matter. When you pay for something, you appreciate it a bit more. You are more accountable. You are more determined to make it happen.
So for me, it is more than just the $30 a month. It is the accountability that I have with the regulars that I see all the time. It is the friendships that I make. It is the desire to be around other competitors and winners. It is the way I feel when I arrive, and more especially, when I leave.
No. I do not pay my gym dues in money. But with my presence and commitment.
Until Next Time...
~ Q. Olivia
A strong core is essential in overall strength and fitness and has great benefits:
A Strong Core Reduces Back Pain
Abdominals get all the credit for protecting the back and being the foundation of strength, but they are only a small part of what makes up the core. In fact, it is weak and unbalanced core muscles that are linked to low back pain.
Weak core muscles result in a loss of the appropriate lumbar curve and a swayback posture. Stronger, balanced core muscles help maintain appropriate posture and reduce strain on the spine.
A Strong Core Improves Athletic Performance
All powerful movements originate from the center of the body out, and never from the limbs alone. Before any powerful, rapid muscle contractions can occur in the extremities, the spine must be solid and stable. The more stable the core, the more powerful the extremities can contract.
A Strong Core Improves Postural Imbalances
Training the muscles of the core helps correct postural imbalances that can lead to injuries. The biggest benefit of core training is to develop functional fitness; the type of fitness that is essential to daily living and regular activities.
Here are my top three favorite moves that strengthen my core and keep my waistline slim.
1. Side Plank + Leg Raise
This is an intense workout with tons of core benefits, and you get a little burn in the buns also. You can start this workout doing a normal plank. Then adjust your weight to either side. One you have stabilized your body weight and you are parallel to the floor, you can proceed with raising your leg. You can either do reps (lifting your leg up and down) or you can just hold your leg. Both are great options to strengthen that core!
2. Knee Tucks + Push Up
3. Standing Abs
It is imperative that I remember that (for the moment) they are not my competition. I am my own competition. I have personal goals that I want to reach that are irrelevant of who else is training beside me. Once I hit my goals, transform my body, and take the stage, then those standing next to me will be my competition.
Until then, I will challenge the girl in the mirror to work hard, eat right, and be the best that she can be. I am my competition....
Just wanted to send out a quick Monday motivator to get you through the week.
This week I am going to challenge you to set 4 Rules for yourself regarding your nutrition, health or workouts. We live in a society that has rules pouring out of every crevice and cranny. Rules regarding every aspect of life. Rules imposed by our government all the way down to rules imposed by our parents.
According to the Miriam Dictionary (you know I love defintions), rules are "a set of explicit or understood regulation or principles governing conduct within a particular activity or sphere."
We have all heard the cliche that 'rules are meant to be broken', but rules were established to create order and structure in our society, community, government, churches, schools, and everyday life. So why not have rules for the most important thing? Your health and physical wellness!
This photo inspired today's topic:
I love these four rules, not just because of the content, but how each one starts. The rules do not state what one will not do, but what one WILL do. We always need to focus on our abilities, rather than our incapability.
Rule 1: I will never go 3 days without exercise.
- I love this rule because once you miss a day, it is so easy to miss another... and another... and another. Life happens, but even if I can only find 15 minutes do to some cross training or calisthenics or tabata and HIIT.
Rule 2: I will work out at least 3 times a week.
- Again, I will always make an effort to get it in three days a week. When I work out I feel so much better. I am less stressed, I am more calm and happy, and confident. I am also closer to my goals. There is never an excuse not to work out when you have the time.
Rule 3: I will never miss a Monday.
- I like this one. My fitness week starts on Sunday though. That is my meal prep day, I plan my days at the gym and the workouts that I will be doing each of those days. In addition, I always try to get a workout in. It gets me excited about the week ahead, and motivates me to get up early that next morning (Monday) and make it to the gym at the forsaken hour of 5:00 AM. Mondays are crucial for me. If I miss a Monday workout, chances are, the rest of my week is off kilter.
Rule 4: I will never give up.
- This may seem like a silly rule, but it is needed. How many times have we had a bad week (eating unhealthy or not working out) and it turns into a bad month, a bad quarter, and a bad year. Before too long we are no closer to our goals and its January 1st. Never giving up is a crucial rule because it means no matter what I do or do not do, I will not quit. If I have a bad week, I will ensure the next week is better. Once you can string a few good days and weeks together, you will be looking at one amazing year.
One co-worker asked if I was "going to look like a man," while another athlete asked me if I am going to get bigger than my husband. Seriously?
Some people have made rather disparaging remarks about women who are heavy lifters and compete in physique categories.
For all of those out there wondering what I am going to look like, here is this week's motivation in the form of this picture...
So we have two women on the left (what women think happens) and the two women one the right (what really happens). My goal is to be on the right side. Lean, toned, and athletic.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with how the male and female bodies differ, here is some basic information:
1. Men have more testosterone. Enough said.
2. Men naturally carry more muscle mass than women.
3. Women's breast do not get bigger because they lift weights (if that was the case, I would have started weight lifting in middle school, haha). If anything they actually get smaller because you are decreasing your body fat. Boooo!!!
While there are some women who do look like the professional bodybuilders on the left, most of those women take some form of anabolic steroids (synthetic testosterone) along with other drugs in order to achieve high degrees of muscularity. That is not something that happens just by lifting weights alone. And most of those female bodybuilders have a crazy work ethic, are in the gym multiple times a day, and some even have good genes :)
And while, that life style or body type may not be for you, it does not mean it is not attractive. Since my training journey, I have met some insanely muscular women, and they are beautiful from the inside-out. They are fierce competitiors, and have dynamic muscle definition that I would kill for.
Long story, short: Do not be afraid of weights. Lift hard, lift heavy and you will see your woman curves become even more pronounced. I promise you... you will not look like a man.
|beautiful fitness competitors who lift weights|
Check out some of the fitness/figure competitors on Bodybuilding.com or the NPC/IFBB websites. All of those women train hard and heavy, and they look like women.
Lift like a man, look like a woman.
Until Next Time...
~ Q. Olivia
In recent conversations I have heard several men and women negatively discuss vitamins and supplements, as if they were drugs or performance enhancers. Yes, late night infomercials are notorious for advertising "Get Quick" results from their products. Promises of dramatic weight loss in a matter of days or weeks. Deep down we know this information is inaccurate, but the next big thing is ever present in our media. Even supplement companies have promised the perfect body with a magic pill.
Hit the pause button and rewind. With all of the commercials and articles, we have forgotten the real purpose of a nutritional supplement and what it supplies your body with, and what it does not do for the body. With all of the information out there about dietary supplements, it can be hard to filter the truth from the sales pitches.
A supplement is defined as something that is added to make complete, make up for a deficiency, or strengthen and extend the whole. Synonyms for supplement include: addition, replenish, complement, or add. In simple terms, a supplement is to help make up for a lack of something in your diet, or to help you get more of a particular nutrient that you aren't getting enough of in your regular diet.
For example, I am anemic. I have two types of anemia. Iron deficiency and pernicious anemia. Both types are caused by a lack in something that my body does not produce enough. Obviously the first one is a lack of iron, and the pernicious is caused by a lack of vitamin B12. As a result, I spent my early college years fainting, experiencing extreme fatigue, having abdominal/intestinal issues, numbness and tingling in my hands and feet, and false positive Pap smear results. After finally going to the hospital and being examined, the doctors told me the results and my treatment options.
So I began eating foods that were filled with Iron and Vitamin B12. When I went back up for a follow up, my levels had increased slightly, but were still below what doctors considered healthy. So, nutritional supplements were recommended. After a few weeks of consistently eating properly and taking multivitamins, I begin seeing a difference in my energy levels and my focus. I also did not get dizzy from standing too quickly, and physical activity did not leave me with no breath. After a month of changing of this new regiment, I returned to my doctor, and he was ecstatic to see that my Iron and B-12 levels were finally above the red line. I was too!!
While there are many opinions of vitamins and supplements, they have a specific purpose. They are micronutrients that benefit the body in a unique way. Vitamin A supports bone growth and vision. Vitamin E strengthens the immune system and helps repair our DNA. Iron carries oxygen in the blood both in the blood and muscles. Vitamin B12 is a crucial vitamin that plays a key role in the functioning in our brain and nervous system.
So as you can see vitamins and minerals are crucial in allowing our bodies to heal and protect itself. Taking a multivitamin does not make up for an unhealthy diet nor are they a substitute for nutrients you can get from fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. They are a safeguard against periodic vitamin shortfalls in your diet.
Choosing A Vitamin
- You get what you pay for. I am not saying that you have to spend hundreds of dollars on a multivitamin or an iron pill, but super cheap generic brands are usually a waste of money and time. You do want to go with quality over quantity. After all, this is your health.
- Natural + Organic. Look for vitamins that do not have tons of fillers and unnecessary ingredients. This tends do just drive up the price for things you do not really need. If you can research the farms. Are they organic? Did the farm use pesticides or synthetic fertilizers? If so, your vitamins may have been stripped of their natural ingredients.
- Choose one that provides a variety of minerals and vitamins, like a multivitamin. Unless your doctor recommends it, avoid taking supplements that provide a single mineral or vitamin.
- Check the expiration date. The vitamins I use are pretty high quality. They are manufactured as I order them, so they are never sitting on a store shelf for over a week. Never buy supplements that do not have an expiration date. If there is an expiration date, make sure you will be able to finish the bottle.
- Take your vitamins with food. This is a good reminder to also eat healthy. Remember, they are supplements, not food. Do not take think these can replace a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
- Always read the ingredients. Watch out for any allergies!!
- Contact the company if you have questions. A company that sells quality vitamins should have a customer service that can answer your questions and provide you with information about what you are taking.
- Remember that no supplement has ever proved to cure diseases. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious of supplements, or people that make promises of quick and dramatic results.