Friday, February 27, 2015

Forging The Future

Life is kind of like metal. Sometimes it's fluid and moving along. And sometimes it gets hard and it feels like you're stuck. Either way it's beautiful and tough. And it makes an amazing circle that can bond two people forever.

Sean's ring

Sean asked his friend to make the ring he will wear, conceivably for the rest of our lives. It arrived today and it's gorgeous! I can't thank Barefoot Forge enough for creating this work of art. You can also find them on Facebook here. Please give them a like and follow if amazing, handcrafted jewelry is of interest to you.

Handcrafted Damascus Steel Rings from Barefoot Forge

In other big news, I finally have a show date. I chose the NPC Mid-Atlantic Cup Championships on May 16. That puts me at roughly 11 weeks out right now! I'm really happy with my gains so far but I'm worried about leaning out. I'm trusting my coaches to guide me through all of this and I know everything will be just perfect if I stick to their plan!

Me - December 1, 2014

Me - Today

I've ordered my bikini and competition jewelry. I have my heels. It's all so real now. But first, I'm off to South Carolina to move my future husband back to PA! So, if I happen to be MIA this week, please forgive me. WE will be home next weekend! 

Have a wonderful week fit fam!


Saturday, February 21, 2015

You Can't Match My Hustle

I'm not one to let the opinions of others change me. If I was I probably wouldn't be rocking a hairstyle that's been compared to the Misfits or have six tattoos. I wouldn't have kept my pregnancy and baby at 19 and begun working in the 'man's field' of industrial radiography at 21. I wouldn't have bought my first home that same year or graduated college while working 80 hours per week on a power plant outage. I've never had things 'easy' and I never expected anything to be handed to me. I work for what I have and I work even harder for what I want to have in the future.

Tell me again how much you hate your job

As of writing this, I took control of my life 104 days ago. I walked into Anytime Fitness on November 10, 2014 and signed a contract that changed EVERYTHING. Over the last 15 weeks I have quit smoking and stopped drinking. That's right... completely dropped those bad habits. I overhauled my nutrition and turned my lifestyle on its head. I'm too busy keeping track of how many ounces of water I've consumed to worry about petty things and I'm not just content with my life anymore. I'm on the verge of joy at almost any moment.

I am looking forward to goofing off with this man for the rest of my life

Of course, my happiness, lifestyle changes, and accomplishments have brought out the haters faster than a tween chasing Bieber. At first I was kind of hurt and figured there was a misunderstanding of what I was trying to accomplish. Hence my first vlog on why I chose bikini and how I wasn't killing myself. It didn't take long for me to realize that the people tearing me down aren't just confused or worried about me. (If you're not a fan of vulgarity, stop reading now.)



NOPE. They're assholes. I'm succeeding in ways they've never believed possible. I'm taking what was once only dreams and turning them into reality. I'm chasing my future like a cheetah hunts down a gazelle. I'm hungry. I'm driven. I'm hustling. The haters can only project their failures onto me because they fear change. To change the course of their lives requires taking a risk. They are afraid of taking that first step. They fear failure, rejection, and the unknown. They fear ME.

In 104 days I have accomplished more than most people put on their New Year's resolution list. I have:
1) Quit smoking
2) Quit drinking
3) PR'd my 5k
4) I am up 4 pounds from my marathon weight and it's all muscle (proof here)
5) I changed careers. I lost my job December 23. I started as a Brand Specialist for DICK'S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon January 3. I passed my ACSM personal training exam January 29 and I start my job at Anytime Fitness this coming Monday. 
6) I joined the Flawless Physique Competition Team. Yes, I will step on stage in a bikini and enjoy every minute of it.
7) I got engaged!
8) I reached my goal of being able to do a strict pull-up. I can do ONE, just one, but I can do it.
9) I can deadlift my previous 1 rep max for sets of 8 now
10) I can squat more than my own weight

How you actually support a woman

And the best part of all, no one can take these things away from me. The hatred, the comments, the jabs disguised as a joke.... none of them diminish what I've done. I'm still going to marry the kindest and strongest and funniest man I've ever known. I'm still going to have two beautiful daughters. My life is still going to be full of promise. And I'm still going to reach my dreams. The only thing that changes is that now I know who deserves to be a part of it.

So, my dear haters, this is the end of the time I have designated for you. This is the last of my energy that you will drain. From now on your comments will be deleted and you will be blocked. I have goals to reach and dreams to chase. I don't have the time for your negativity and I won't apologize for cutting you out of my life. If you can't match my hustle then you'll just have to sit your ass down.




Friday, February 20, 2015

A Week of WIN

My life is beyond crazy right now and, for the first time in a LONG time, it's ALL good! My last post was only a week ago and already things are changing.

The biggest change is the news that Sean got a job here in PA! I will be travelling to SC the first week of March (for the last time!) and then we will be moving him here! I am so unbelievably excited to have my partner in crime in the same state. We have been through so much and survived seven months of being 600 miles apart. Hopefully I will never again go weeks (or even days) without seeing his face! And once he is here the fun of apartment/house hunting begins! Oh boy!

This picture says a lot about why I am head over heels for this beast!

On top of Sean's new job, I also have one! Starting this coming Monday I am the newest personal trainer at Anytime Fitness Leechburg. I can't help but feel like this was all somehow meant to be. Sean and I had our interviews the same day. He got the job he felt was the best fit for him and I got the one I have dreamed of since I joined Anytime. They are going to allow me to take a week away right when I'm just starting to get Sean moved and the timeline for my training period coincides perfectly with the end of my DICK'S Pittsburgh Marathon job for the year. The schedules work together perfectly! I just couldn't imagine things being any better right now!

My training is still going strong. Thanks to Casey and Steve at Flawless Physique, I am stronger than ever and starting to feel ready to step on stage. I was looking at the South Carolina Bodybuilding Championships for my debut but I have no reason to travel to SC anymore! So now I am hoping to do a May show in Pittsburgh to coincide with the end of my marathon work and the beginning of taking on full time personal training. 


I have made a lot of friends at my gym already. And they push me every day! Today, two state troopers took time out of their own workouts to help me get my first pull-ups. I started with two chin-ups (in the video) and then was able to get a single pull-up as well! I feel like I could take on the world! Next goal is to lose the kick and be able to perform them strict!

I don't really have a conclusion for this blog. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has supported me or cheered me on when things were falling about. I am not always an easy person to deal with. I'm not an optimist and I often let my hustle get in the way of my personal relationships. But a handful of real life friends and a bushel of my social media peeps have always had my back. I can't wait to pay it forward as I move into this next stage of my life!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

My big news and small updates

I'm pretty sure EVERYONE knows by now but I wanted to share it here as well. After I took (and passed!) my personal training certification I made the drive to South Carolina to spend some time with Sean. It was our pretty typical week together. I played with the dogs and cleaned around the house while he was at work. And in the evenings we meal prepped and hit the gym together. Then, on Sunday, he changed everything.

Sean woke me up around 4am Sunday morning and hustled me into the car. He handed me his hoodie and told me to use the hood as a blindfold any time he asked. I was too groggy to argue and over the next two hours we chatted and laughed all while I kept getting a hood thrown over my eyes every time a road sign approached. The highlight of the trip may have been when we got pulled over! The cop asked Sean where we were headed and Sean just froze for a minute. Then he asked, "Can I write it down because I'm trying to surprise her?" The cop apparently figured out what was up and let us go on our way!

Blue lights! 

We arrived in Myrtle Beach just as the sky was beginning to lighten. Sean directed me out to the pier and we watched the sun rise over the choppy waves. It was breezy out over the water so I was clinging pretty tightly when Sean pushed me back a little. He looked at me for a second and then said something along the lines of:

"Sara Altair, I want to ask you here beneath the sun and the moon (both were out) if you'll marry me and share all the miles we have to go before we sleep."

The pier where Sean proposed

Sean took this picture right after I said yes

I, of course, started to cry and said yes. We spent a little more time on the pier before we went back to the car to retrieve another coat for me. We decided to walk the beach looking for shells and just enjoying our moment before we returned to our usual, crazy lives.

 Sean on the beach

So many shells

Sean found me this perfect shell

 The ring

Sean also got me a QALO ring so I can work out with it!

Our challenge now is to get him back to Pittsburgh. Everyone keeps asking if we've set a date but we need to live in the same state first! 

Lastly, I created another vlog. Just a rehashing of the engagement and some small updates on my competition training. Enjoy!


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Let's Do Work!


I passed! I passed! I'm an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer! 

So who's ready to get fitter, faster, and/or stronger?! I'll be picking up a limited number of online training clients starting in February. I will also be making myself available for one on one consults and workouts at your gym (if you can bring a guest) as my schedule allows. Hopefully soon I will have a 'home' gym for the locals to come train with me too! If you are interested then email me at brazentraining@gmail.com and let's get started! 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Controversy in a Bikini

I've gotten some pretty hateful comments and some very wrong assumptions about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. So I thought I'd try a vlog and put some truth out there! I hope you enjoy. Please like and subscribe to my YouTube channel, Brazen Training, if you like this.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Nutrition for Athletes

Yesterday I had an amazing opportunity! I got to speak at a UPMC Sports Medicine Marathon seminar for the DICK'S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. The other presenters included Leslie Bonci and Dave Spell. Leslie is the director of Sports Nutrition at the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine and she also consults with Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, and the Pittsburgh Ballet. Given her amazing credentials and fun personality I paid strict attention to her presentation so I could share the wealth with all of you!

Leslie brought lots of foods for everyone to see

Of course, the first thing every marathon runner or endurance athlete is concerned with is hydration! Leslie explained that the newest research shows 70 ounces of water per day is the baseline for women. Men need 90 ounces minimum. What I found most interesting is that everything you drink (that isn't alcohol) counts towards your baseline! That doesn't mean you can just drink Pepsi or apple juice all day and be okay but even soups and foods high in water content can count towards that minimum intake. Just be sure you add enough water or sports drink to make up for your exercise habits too!

And what about that morning coffee? Or your afternoon energy drink? Maybe you take caffeinated gels prior to or during a run. The maximum amount of caffeine you should ingest per day is only 400mg! Leslie showed us a couple popular products, like Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy shots, and demonstrated just how quickly caffeine adds up. So be sure you're not hurting your body or performance by overdosing on caffeine every day!

Athletes also tend to be concerned about macro nutrients and how to balance their protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake for optimal performance. I learned that it's very personal and usually requires a consult to figure out percentages but there are guidelines that can help. Protein should consist of 0.5-0.8 grams per pound of body weight and be spread evenly throughout the day. Eating an eight egg omelet in the morning and little protein after is not optimal and will lead to muscle loss. So spread it out in little bits through each meal! Carbohydrate intake needs are around 3g per pound of body weight. Leslie also mentioned that fat intake should never be less than 20% of your diet. So no more counting every little bit as long as you hit your minimums!


Leslie also talked a little bit about the hottest trends in the diet industry lately. Gluten free anyone? You will have lower amounts of prebiotics in your digestive tract and it will be hard to hit your fiber intake minimums. Considering 70% of your immune system lives in your digestive tract this is a BIG deal. Try adding Chia seeds for fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids (keep them in the freezer to keep them from spoiling). Eating yogurt with live active cultures or kefir can help too. If you don't want to eat dairy then try taking a daily supplement.

How about coconut oil? Well it's primarily a saturated fat (read, not so great) and it does NOT help you shed body fat or lower your risk of disease. Instead use olive oil and save the coconut for your skin and hair care! Walnuts will replace that unhealthy fat too. A golf ball size serving is the way to go.

Running and other sports result in lots of aches, pains, and inflammation. Instead of popping an NSAID or pain killer you can try tart cherry juice for a natural anti-inflammatory. Drink 8 ounces of juice or a serving of the concentrate after your next run. Ginger can minimize delayed onset muscle soreness (500mg is about right). Turmeric is a tasty spice that also works as an anti-inflammatory and may help prevent Alzheimer's. Try putting 2/5 of a teaspoon in your next dish. Dried plums contain Boron which is necessary for bone health. Eating just 3-4 per day will keep you topped off and also contains those helpful prebiotics!

Finally, who doesn't want to improve their performance? Dietary nitrates can decrease the oxygen expense of an activity. This means you use less oxygen to create the energy to power your workout and tire less quickly. Bodybuilders use supplements like NOXplode but dietary nitrates can be found in some common foods. A spinach and/or arugula salad, for example. Other choices include celery (about two stalks) and beets. And lastly, replace the iron lost with every foot strike using black strap molasses. Just adding a TBSP to your oatmeal or in place of honey in homemade energy bars will do the trick.

So I hope that helps with your nutrition questions! Please feel free to click the link to contact Leslie or follow her on Twitter @LeslieBonci. And look for the next UPMC Sports Medicine seminar coming soon!