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How I Wrote a Book!– Plus FREE Bonus

I originally posted this on my self hosted blog at http://www.valeriewiest.com, But I figured that since I still have visitors to this blog, and this post is really important to me I would share it with you all as well!

After doing a bunch of competitions I realized that there were no really good books or guides to help people navigate the whole process. So, I started working on my own bikini competitor handbook.  Writing a book has always been one of my goals but I never knew how or when that dream would be realized. Since writing and publishing a book is easier than ever, I would like to show you how I did it to hopefully inspire you to do the same.

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The first step was to create the content. Using a few posts on here as inspiration and knowing the basic information I wanted to convey, I came up with an outline and started working on filling it in. It wasn’t a short process—it’s taken me about 9 months. I worked on writing chunks while my son was napping or after everyone was asleep. If you would like to make an e-book make sure that you use the table of contents feature on MS Word, so that formatting your book for e-readers will be easy.

Once I had the finished creating content, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment and relief. The next step was editing. I read over my book 4 times, correcting spelling, formatting and fixing holes in content. I also added in citations and a bibliography using the tools in MS Word. My friend’s mom is a professional editor and she was kind enough to look my book over too. Editing took a lot longer than I thought it would and was probably the most painful part of creating the book.

While I was busy editing my book, I hired a free lancer to create my book cover. I used fiverr.com which is a website that allows you to seek out freelancers willing to do work for $5. With a few extras, my book cover cost me about $40.

To upload your e-book to certain websites it has to be formatted in a certain way. Calibre is a free program that allows you to do this. I used Callibre to convert my e-book into the .mobi version so I could sell it on Amazon.

After I had the converted version of my book, I went to kdp.amazon.com to self publish my book using Amazon’s kindle direct publishing service. I uploaded my book and cover art answered a few questions, set the book price and after about a 12 hour wait, my book is available!

See how simple that was? If you have always wanted to write a book, I really encourage you to get out there and go for it!

My book is available for FREE for a limited time! Check it out HERE. If you enjoy it the greatest complement would be a positive review on Amazon.

I’m Moving!!!

So…. I am moving my blog to my self hosted website: www.valeriewiest.com

Please come visit and subscribe there! Thanks for your support! I love you guys!

Give Gratitude for a Healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is this week.

It is a time for joining family and friends for a feast, but it is also a time for giving thanks.

The problem is that most people take the former to the extreme and forget the latter; cramming congealed canned cranberries and stuffing themselves with heavy butter laden stuffing and forgetting to be thankful.

I see gyms open on Thanksgiving morning so people can purge the overload of calories they have yet to eat.

Then comes the post-Thanksgiving regret. The next day you can’t fit into your pants, the next week you step on the scale and see the pounds creeping up—and they don’t stop packing on until maybe you make that New Years Resolution to lose weight. You manage to peel off a few pounds before you lose your resolution to stick to your Resolution and return to your old habits.

But I’ve been thinking, what if we took a different approach, what if we cooked or encouraged our family to cook healthy alternatives to favorite dishes, what if we savored a few bites of our favorite dishes and stopped eating when we were full?

I want people to lose the idea that they are “being bad” by enjoying Thanksgiving and instead wake up to the true meaning of gratitude. Be grateful for your life (in spite of your problems), be grateful for your body (even if it is not the perfect shape), be grateful for all the luxuries you have just being able to sit (or stand or lie down) and consume this post.

Treat your body with gratitude and respect and feed it with things that will nourish it. Do things that will benefit it, be active, be healthy and be grateful for the ability to act in such a way. Don’t look at healthy behaviors and foods as a punishment for “being bad,” learn to enjoy them and approach them with a sense of gratitude.

By all means, enjoy your Thanksgiving but remember the true essence of this day is to celebrate gratitude. Find peace if you over indulge, forgive yourself if you eat more than you intended and truly enjoy the spirit of giving thanks and the ability to give yourself a new start with each day.

And by the way, did you know that gratitude is good for your health?

Scientists have found that people who regularly practice giving thanks, have better kidney function, lower blood-pressure and stress-hormone levels, and a stronger heart.

I feel like Thanksgiving has become more about gluttony and regret than gratitude and I believe that it we focus on the true meaning of  Thanksgiving we will have a healthier and happier holiday. Cheers!

Source: Louisa Kamps. 6 Surprising Reasons Why Gratitude is Great for Your Health. http://www.realsimple.com/health/mind-mood/why-gratitude-is-great-for-your-health

Yoga: It’s not for me… or is it?

I’ve had many of my Pilates clients come and tell me that while they love my Pilates classes, they HATE yoga. I used to be the same way. When I work out I want to feel like I worked out and yoga always seemed too slow and uninteresting.

But that changed when I got pregnant. Prenatal yoga seemed like a great idea.I was so used to going balls to the wall in everything that I did, that yoga gave me a chance to slow down, listen to my body and connect with my unborn son. I realized that yoga didn’t have to be simply about “working out,” it could be about mindfulness and learning about my body and myself as a person. I also realized that I could not selfishly push myself to the limits, now that I was growing another human being.

After I had my son, I stopped going to yoga. Time was scarce and what little time I had to work out, I felt, needed to be focused on cardio and weights–losing the baby weight and transforming my body. This feeling continued as I entered NPC bikini competitions. I barely had enough time to fit in all the workouts my coach gave me, there was certainly no time for mindfulness and breathing.

After my last competition I went on vacation and stumbled upon this lovely little yoga shop, Yolicious, while I was out for a bike ride:

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If you are ever in Santorini, Greece, you must check it out– it is located on Kamari Beach, you can find the Yolicious page here. The owner Konnie, a cool German woman who wore a “F**K YOGA” t-shirt to our yoga class, is really passionate about yoga. Her passion was infectious and after I bought some cool workout clothes from her shop, I had to sign up for her sunrise yoga class the next morning.

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Konnie and I spoke about how American culture is always “push it to the limits” when it comes to working out and she told me that she focuses on breathing to help slow us down and calm our minds.

Yoga on the beach was magical. This was the view:

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The yoga class was the perfect start to my morning  and I felt energized and ready to start my day. It really rekindled my love for yoga and helped me better understand how beneficial it is to use yoga as a complement to my other activities in the gym.

Now that I am back home I am trying to take a yoga class once a week on my active rest days. It really helps to release my tight muscles, calm my mind, and bring perspective back into my life.

Interesting that even though I disliked the slowness of yoga, it was probably exactly what I needed to achieve balance.

Do you enjoy yoga? Have you ever thought you didn’t like something before you really understood it?

Facing Fears in and out of the Gym

Last week was a rough one for me! It started with no internet at our company (which lasted all week leading to a general feeling of unproductiveness), my son pooping in his pants everyday at school so that I had to go pick him up and change him, my underwear ripping in half at the gym (that was embarrassing), getting in a car crash (in my brand new car–not my fault), showing up late to just about everything, overdrawing on my account because I forgot to transfer money and the list goes on and on.

I started out with a positive attitude but as the week wore on my feelings changed to “I just can’t wait until this week is over and I hope like hell that next week will be better.” I started out thinking how lucky I was to have all the luxuries I do and how my problems are minor “first world” problems, but as the week continued I kept thinking that if this streak continues maybe all my luxuries will be taken from me.

Interestingly, “facing your fears” has been a theme from my week. It started with Chalene’s podcast “Too scared to try,” that pointed out that fears stand in our way and that you don’t need to be perfect to face your fears, you just need to be good enough to make a first attempt.

Then, it was the women’s group I attend twice a month and although there were only three of us this week, we had a great discussion about fears, procrastination and friendship.

Finally my week finished with an awesome yoga class by Jessie Kates where she encouraged us to face our fears with a headstand, reminding us that we are exactly where we need to be.

Although I wouldn’t consider myself a “spiritual” person. I do believe that sometimes the universe sends us messages and for me last week was clearly about facing my fears.

The most primal emotion is fear, we experience fear to help us survive, but in this modern world, I believe that fear holds us back a lot more than it helps us.

Have you ever taken a good hard look at your fears, if you read my last post about excuses, you know that I feel that excuses can be subconscious and so can fears! Sometimes we are not aware of what is scaring us in the first place and it ends up holding us back in unexpected ways. In fact, I believe that in some ways, excuses are manifestations of fears.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to transform my career and my life, but I had no idea that fear played such a huge role in that journey. As I have mentioned before, I was afraid to share my blog, afraid to ask for sponsorship, afraid to even take the first step toward my dream. I am facing my fears one by one– I asked for sponsorship (got rejected but that’s ok it was a learning experience), I quit my job, I put my story out there and now I am facing another fear: creating a facebook page.

Just writing that makes me feel silly (It’s only a facebook page after all, there are people with real problems and fears out there), but really I am worried that people will perceive me as vain or conceited, that no one will even like my page, what I am really fearing is judgement and failure. But I have to try right? After all, its just a facebook page.

That’s one thing I have learned about fears, the only way to get rid of them is to face them head on.Each time you face a fear, the fear fades a little bit and it is easier to face your next fear because you have that experience.

That’s where facing fears in the gym comes in. What an awesome place to practice facing fears in a (realtively) safe environment! Whether it’s trying out a headstand in yoga, conquering the squat rack for the first time, or simply getting up the courage to start at a new gym in the first place, each fear you face helps make fears in your regular life easier to face. The sense of empowerment you get from accomplishments in the gym, clues you into the empowerment you can gain from facing other fears.

That is why the gym and exercise in general is so much more to me than fitness, it is a way to empower yourself and enhance your life.

What fears have you faced in or out of the gym?

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Hotel Gym Workout

When I am on vacation I love to workout. Working out is not a burden to me, it’s something I love doing because it makes me feel great. That’s why, whenever I go on vacation I try to book a hotel with a gym. However, you can never be sure what kind of gym you are going to get. For the most part, I have been pleasantly surprised, but this past trip I was massively disappointed. My husband and I just got back from our trip to Santorini and while the weather and scenery was beautiful, the gym was rather lacking. While I love getting exercise by running or biking outdoors, I wanted to do some strength training too, so I headed to the gym. The only equipment they had were a shoddy old treadmill, an elliptical, a stationary bike and a barbell chest press with a few weight plates.

Never one to give up, I relished in the challenge of getting a good workout with just the items listed. I decided on a circuit style total body workout, I used the barbell from the chest press to do squats, deadlifts, lunges, bicep curls and shoulder presses. Turns out, with a little creativity you can get a great workout with minimal equipment. I’ve also linked each exercise to a video explanation if you need it!

You can find a link to my other ideas for working out on vacation here. I also did some yoga on my trip and I can’t wait to tell you about the studio and my experience!

Any great hotel workouts you’ve had?

Goal Check – In

Hi guys! Hope you are having a nice weekend. Can you believe the year is already over 2/3 done. I can’t! Where does the time go?  Anyway, I felt like now would be a good time to do a goal check-in.

 

Eat less processed food.

Eat less processed food.

Did you set goals or resolutions in January? Do you remember what they are?

One thing I learned from my husband is to write my goals down and keep them visible daily for a check in. A great way to do this is to set your goals list as the background on your desktop or phone.

I went back to my post on resolutions to check in with my goals and here they are and how I am dealing with them:

1. Stop helping others achieve their dreams by sacrificing my own: I have found someone to start to replace me in my husband’s company and I am starting to see an exit plan. I am now focusing on what I would like to do with my career to help me pursue my dreams. I found a great motivational podcast that has helped put me in a great mindset and has helped give me ideas on what I should be working toward.

2. Make time for friends: I feel like I could still do better with this one but I did recently go to New York to visit a friend. I have also made more of an effort to reach out to people and go to events that I have been invited to.

3. Eat less processed foods: I am happy to say that I have achieved this goal! I don’t know what finally helped me change, but I finally went back to eating mostly unprocessed food.

4. Put more time and energy into developing my career: I just signed up for a continuing education program with my Pilates “idol” Rael Isacowitz. I CAN NOT WAIT! My time is so limited lately it is hard to balance my career, family and other jobs.

5. Feel better about myself: I started seeing a therapist, although this is hard for me to admit, I was getting very depressed for a while, I went to see my doctor about it and she recommended I go to a counselor. I did and it has been helping.

I am happy I have made so much progress on my goals, but I still see that there is room for improvement and work. If you can take just one step toward your goals each day, no matter how small it may be, imagine how far you will be this time next year!

How are you guys doing with your goals?

East Coast Classic and Maryland State Bikini Competition Re-cap.

Hey Guys!

My husband is away for the weekend so i finally have some time to catch up on the blog. I wanted to do a re-cap of my last competition– The East Coast Classic and Maryland State NPC Bikini Competition.

I felt a lot more comfortable going into this competition because I already had 4 competitions under my belt including one national level competition. I ended up getting a hotel the night of the competition so that I could be by myself and get ready without having to worry about taking care of my son. I got a great deal on a local hotel through Priceline so I went ahead and booked it.

After I packed all my things I headed to the host hotel to get my spray tan. This is where I started to get a little nervous. If you have never been to a check in, you basically walk into one of the meeting rooms in the hotel and confirm your information and height with the people running the show. A lot of the people at the check in are judges, which can be a little intimidating or a great opportunity depending on how you look at it. You can also bet that all of the competitors are going to be eying each other up.

The competition tanning was done by Liquid Sun Rays, and they did an awesome job. In my past tanning experiences, once you get sprayed, you stand around drying with a group of naked girls. This time, they had separate little compartments for each girl to dry and get dressed, which made it a little less awkward. My tan also turned out perfectly this time, which I was so happy about because every other time my tan has been jacked up. (I will do a follow-up post on my preparation routine for getting the perfect spray tan.) Big thanks to Heidi and the team from LSR!

After the tan I headed to my hotel and quickly fell asleep.

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Hair and Make-up done be me!

The next day I woke up at 6am to prepare for the show. For nationals, my coach taught me how to do my own make-up and hair so I used her techniques for this show too. As I mentioned before, if you are good at doing your own make-up and hair this can be a huge time saver!

The Athletes Meeting for the show was 8:30 so at 8, I headed over to the venue. My friend, who is on my team, was there getting her hair and make-up done.

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Athlete’s meeting

Just a note to other competitors– if you are competing with a friend or a team-mate, beware! Sometimes friends can be great if they stay positive and supportive, however this is an “I” sport, as my coach would say. The competition does whacky things to people and I have competed with “friends” who have been jealous or negative and it ends up affecting me as well. STAY POSITIVE and surround yourself with positive people.

Anyway, time seemed to speed by. I checked out of my hotel, got my touch up tan and didn’t really have much time to spend with my team mate. By the time I had done everything, it was time to get in line to go on stage. I got a little freaked out because I had initially put on my application that I was Class C (5’5″-5’7″) but somehow I got put in Class D (5’7″+) While I could have let that stress me out, I really didn’t worry about it too much. If I brought a good package I felt like I would win either way.

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Waiting around with my team mate 🙂

While waiting in line, I had time to scope out the other competitors and I saw one that I knew had brought a better package than me. That is a sucky thing to have to admit, but I am a realist. I am not going to delude myself that I am the best when I can appreciate someone else’s hard work and recognize that they deserve to win. I decided in my mind that I would not be disappointed in my self if I placed lower than her. I know that some people say to “think positive,” but like I said, I am a realist, not an optimist.

On stage I felt like I did a great job, and as I expected, I got first call outs. By where I was placed on stage, I figured I got third and although I wished I had gotten first, the girl I thought would place above me was placed for 1st so overall I was pretty happy with how I did.

The disappointing part came next. Because the show was both the Maryland State and East Coast, we only got to do our posing routine once if we were doing both categories. For the East Coast they had the girls who were not in the Maryland State show do their routine, and then everyone posed together.

Perhaps I was being overly optimistic, but I thought I would definitely get first call outs– I didn’t. In fact, girls that placed below me in the Maryland State got first call outs and I didn’t. That made me feel really mad and disappointed. After all, my body hadn’t changed in the 10 minutes between the Maryland State and the East Coast Classic, changing the places of competitors between the two competitions just didn’t make sense to me. I ended up placing in the center for second call outs which was like 6th place.

My face felt hot as I walked off stage and it was all I could do to not cry and pack up my things. I know 6th place isn’t bad and I should be proud of myself. I kept telling myself that it didn’t really matter and that I brought my best package yet, but I couldn’t help but criticize myself internally. I knew I could have leaned down a little more, been a little stricter with my diet. I could have done better.

I had planned to stay around the venue, but since my house was only 40 min. away I thought that it would be better if I headed home and took a break to just be with my family and forget about the competition.

That ended up being a big mistake. When I came home, I saw my husband’s new car in our garage. He hadn’t told me that he was leasing it, so that was another thing that upset met. When I walked in the door, his workers were demolishing our guest bathroom so I couldn’t even relax. I blew up at my husband. I let me tears flow. I hadn’t realized until that moment how much stress had built up inside me or really even how much the outcome of this competition had meant to me. We made up and he offered me a big hug before I left for the night show.

I re-filled my cooler and headed back to the venue. When I arrived, I chatted with my team mate. She knew a lot of other competitors so it was really nice to meet new people. After the pre-judging in the morning, everyone is a lot more relaxed. The judging had already taken place, so you don’t have to worry as much about everything and it is just time to celebrate and strut your stuff on stage. I ended up placing just as I had thought– 3rd in Maryland state and 6th in East Coast. I was really hoping to win first in my class this show. I had registered for Team Universe, which was a national level show the following weekend and if I couldn’t place at a local show, I felt that my chances at nationals were non-existent.

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Ready to go home!

I left quickly from this show without taking many pictures or stopping by any booths. It had been a long, disappointing day, but somehow, it lit a fire under my butt.

Sometimes I need to stumble a little to realize that I need to work a little harder. I had been so focused on building muscle and “eating clean” that I did not get lean enough. Ultimately I decided not to do Team Universe and to go to the beach with my family to recharge instead.

It was exactly what I needed. I am planning on doing the Shawn Ray Classic in Baltimore on August 16th as my next show. My focus and drive have gone up, I’m hitting PRs everyday in the gym, and I have reduced my overall calories a little more. Hopefully I can burn off this stubborn belly fat and take first place!

 

 

To Plyo or not to Plyo

Plyometrics.

Love them? Hate them?

I have to be honest, for me plyometrics are a total mind f*ck. I mean, by then end of a good plyo sequence, I feel like I am going to die. So in order to do a plyometric workout again I have to trick my mind into believing that I’m not going to die.

For bikini competitors, plyometrics are pretty standard as part of the training program. However, I was really, really tempted to skip them each week because they take a lot of energy, and are pretty hard on my body. That’s when I started to do research to see if they are really worth the torture that I feel they are.

For those of you who don’t know, plyometrics are, plyometrics can be traced to Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky, a Russian scientist who developed the method after observing that Olympians. He called this training “shock method” which incorporated both depth jumps and depth drops. Yuri developed his method in the 60’s and 70’s. Today Plyometrics has come to mean almost any type of training that involves jumps or explosive movements.

I started doing my research to find out how plyometrics impact physique hypertrophy and muscle building. Specifically, I wanted to know if plyometrics would help me in my pursuit to improve my physique.

What I found was this small study showing that plyometrics increases the area of type I & II muscle fibers. I also found this study comparing the effects of resistance training and plyometrics. It found that plyometrics were the best at increasing power, and both resistance training and power were similar in increasing strength and gross muscle size. Finally I found this study comparing a program of only strength training to a program of only plyometrics to a program that incorporated both. What they found was that the program incorporating both strength training and plyometrics worked best at increasing both strength and power.

So in conclusion, it looks like the data supports that plyometrics help build muscle and that the best program is one incorporating both strength training and plyometrics.

Even though I am not a huge fan of doing plyometrics I will continue to incorporate them into my workouts. I find that plyometrics are easier to take if I superset them with a traditional strength training exercise. For example, supersetting squats with high jumps. I also think plyometrics are great for mixing things up or getting an intense workout when you don’t have a lot of time or equipment.

Here is a simple plyometric plan. I usually repeat it circuit style 4-5 time:

  • 15 pop squats
  • 15 switch lunges
  • 15 wide stance jumps holding for 5 seconds at the bottom of each jump.
  • 15 narrow stance jumps
  • 15 frog jumps

Do you do plyometrics? Love them or hate them?

Choosing Your Competition Bikini

Hey guys Hope you are having a nice weekend and Happy Father’s day.

I really wanted to post about choosing a competition bikini because it is something that felt really confusing to me when I first started. The chooses can be overwhelming and it is hard to know what the judges are looking for if you are unfamiliar with bikini competitions.

First, let’s start with wear to buy your suit. I got my bikini from Waterbabies but here is a list of some popular suit makers:

 

COLOR

Next let’s talk about color. You want to choose a bold, dark color that will not be washed out on stage. Primary colors tend to pop so start by looking at blues, reds, yellows. Besides primary colors bold purple and green can look great too. Orange and pink tend to blend in with the spray tan and pink can come off as cliche. Do not choose pastels or white. These colors tend to wash out under the bright lights and it is easy for the spray tan to rub off on lighter colors making the suit look dirty. I wouldn’t go crazy with patterns or lace that could distract from your physique.

FIT

There will be lots of options for fit. For smaller busted girls, definitely go with a molded cup and ask for pockets so that you can stuff your top. Usually you can choose between the size and shape of the top and bottoms. It is best to stick with the traditional triangle top rather than selecting something different or asymmetrical- choose skinny or regular triangle based on your bust size. For bottoms make sure the back is a scrunch to enhance that shape of your rear. For NPC 1/3 of your glutes should be covered, but I think keeping this guideline in mind less coverage shows off more of your hard work! If you have any questions about fit and sizing reach out to the suit company and ask before you buy.

CONNECTORS

source:alibaba.com

Connectors are the sparkly bits that connect the parts of your suit together. You can have connectors on the straps at your neckline, between your cups and on the sides of your bottoms. Some companies also offer an option to have sparkly back connectors. My advice for you is to look at what the pros are wearing and try to mimic that within your budget. Right now the dangly connectors on the hip are popular. If you are on a tight budget this is one of the areas you can save on by choosing less expensive connectors. One other tip is to avoid choosing connectors that have small details. These have a tendency to break.

EMBELLISHMENTS

Sequin vs. Bling? I say if you have the budget for it, go with bling, crystals pick up the light a little better. However, if you are only doing a local show and looking to save money sequins can look great too. One of my favorite suits that I own is a sequined one. Crystals vs. Rhinestones? Make sure you get good quality crystals. Crystals are finely cut pieces of glass or stone that catch light and really sparkle. If your suit maker says that they will put “rhinestones” that can mean anything including bits of dried glue. Trust me, the first suit I ever bought had rhinestones and it looked cheap and tacky. If you are going to spend the money on bling make sure they are quality crystals (Swarovski is one renowned brand of crystal).

BUDGET

Your competition bikini can be very expensive. If you are just getting started, no need to break the bank– You can find great suits for around $100 at some of the sites I listed. Set yourself a budget and work from there. Also if you have a budget in mind and see a suit that you really like, you can let the designer know about your budget and see if they can make something similar in your price range.

FINAL ADVICE

The competition bikini is a very important part of your competition package. Make sure you are presenting your best self. Even thought I have given several guidelines, the choice is ultimately up to you so choose something that makes you feel amazing on your big day!

Have you bought a suit yet? Any tips or warnings for newbs?

XOXOX
Fitval