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“Be present, always.”

I downloaded “Damn Few: Making the Modern SEAL Warrior” by Rorke Denver on Audible this week. That book got me through last week in a lot of ways, if I’m honest. Seven hours of listening to that book. (I’m in the car A LOT) He narrated his own book, his voice is fantastic. And it was great hearing it in his own words and from himself. I can’t imagine what it takes to be a SEAL, or the wife of a SEAL. I have the utmost respect for the military and their families.

I’ve always had a fascination with the Navy. I considered joining when I was in high school. I didn’t know much about the SEALS. I was recently writing a short story with a military prompt and chose to make one of the characters a SEAL. Because I appreciate authenticity and I need to understand what I’m writing about. My research lead me to “American Sniper” By Chris Kyle. I haven’t finished the book yet but I did a ton of research on him. I watched several videos. I watched interviews with his wife, Taya Kyle, with him and people who knew him. I was instantly hooked. I needed to know everything there was to know about him, his comrads, and the SEALS.

I found Rorke Denver through this research, through realizing he stared in Act of Valor. I had avoided watching it and American Sniper because I wasn’t sure how they would affect me. My anxiety has been difficult to manage since having Bailey. Movies on terror and war tend to make it worse. Thanks to therapy, and the need to be inspired, I watched both. Holy crap. Inspirational, beautiful, moving. I’m almost through Lone Survivor. Anyone with a child knows that sometimes it’s hard to finish a book or a movie, lol.

“Damn Few” was incredible. There’s something in what drives a SEAL that I can’t help finding it inspiring; taking bits and pieces and applying it to real life. Their outlook on life, their drive, their focus. It’s enviable. It’s exceptional. They are the minority. It takes an extraordinary person to do what they do, to make it through that training and then to take it to the battlefield and beyond.

There’s a lot of talk about the mental, physical and spiritual journey that their training takes them through. That’s one of the things I find so interesting about it. The importance of TEAM. In training, BUD/S, they not only build the individual but they build the team. Working in an industry where being a team is so important, I took some things away that will definitely be useful, helpful and that I will pass on.

For me, it’s about the focus. It’s about the drive. It’s about being the best at what you do, working every day to be better. Embracing your faith, embracing your life, embracing truth. Positivity. It’s about pushing yourself beyond what you think you can do. It’s about not taking anything for granted. These are things I’ve been applying to my workouts, applying to my life. Things I hope to teach Bailey.

And remembering that there are people out there who risk their lives every day for our freedom, for what we have. Patriotism. I’m not going to get political, but I love being American. I love what we stand for. And reading books like this, it reminds me of that. I’ve read almost every book on the Kennedys, several on Vietnam and POWs, and I have a special fondness for the Revolutionary War. I have always been an avid reader and a history and military buff. I love that stuff. This book fits right in with that. Denver is strong, passionate about what he believes, what he’s done, his family, his brothers in arms. I can truly appreciate all of these things. I am better for having listened to this book. And believe me, I’ll listen again. It’s been added to my top ten all time favorites.

What’s your favorite book you’ve read lately? I’m always looking for suggestions!

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3 years ago…

Facebook kindly (lol) reminded me this morning that three years ago today I arrived in Fort Lauderdale to compete in my first figure competition. The show is called Southern States. It’s an NPC (National Physique Committee) show for amateur bodybuilding. It was seriously an incredible experience!

Not to say it wasn’t a hard road to get there. Everyone has their journey in whatever their passion might be. Mine became fitness and weight loss only a month after my wedding. I quickly became obsessed with the lifestyle. And that’s what it is–a lifestyle.

You eat, sleep, breathe what your coach tells you and the gym. An hour of fasted steady state fasted cardio at 5am six days a week. That’s a 4:15am wake up time. I did the treadmill, working up the incline almost every single day for 14 months to get to Southern States. An hour of weight lifting, as heavy as I could, six days a week (that was my favorite part!). I lost 45 pounds. I was in the best shape of my life, no question. And my confidence was at an all time high.

There are so many things you don’t know going into this though. My poor husband had to deal with a hungry newlywed wife, who had a very strict meal plan of 6 meals a day and no cheat meals for the first three months. NO ALCOHOL. Toward the end, weeks out from the stage, we’re talking 3 hours in the gym every day. EVERY DAY. It was brutal! I’m not gonna lie. But so worth it getting in that suit and up on that stage.

I cried. I can vividly recall one morning, walking on the treadmill, crying because I was so tired. I was easily agitated because I was taking copious amounts of caffeine in the form of preworkouts and fat burning pills. And I was hungry. HANGRY is more like it.

Why do this, you ask. Why torture yourself like this? Well, to be honest, I CRAVED it after a while. And the drive to succeed, the terrifying knowledge you’re going to put on a suit that covers very little along with learning exactly how much your body can take and how far you can push yourself…it’s motivating! There were days I wanted to quit. But I kept going because I knew this would change my life. And it did.

A lot has changed in three years. I did a second competition in October 2014, took the holidays off to eat and build muscle, and decided to do another local show in August 2015. Well, as life would have it, I got pregnant in April 2015. I haven’t seen those abs since, LOL.

The girls I met in Florida at that show were incredible. I still keep up with one of them. They were so genuine, so nice, so helpful. I was lost in a sea of people I didn’t know (I did compete with one friend there, but she was in a different division) and I really had no idea what I was doing. The tan is intense, dark and very easily messed up. You literally pee through a dixie cup with the bottom cut out so you don’t mess up your tan. I had to cut my water leading up to the show, meaning you taper off your water intake leading up to the day of the show when you have none. This dries out your skin and makes it very thin, which shows your muscles best.  The morning of I had only a small cup of coffee. That’s it. I cried that day in between prejudging and the night show when we went to lunch because I was so hungry and the one restaurant we chose only served already marinated chicken. I needed plain because I couldn’t have ANY salt. My amazing husband (who dealt with my moods and my tears like a champ) went across the street to Publix and bought me plain grilled chicken and green beans. Crisis averted and I didn’t mess myself up. It’s quite a balance when you’re that lean and right there. And even though I didn’t win, and knew I wouldn’t going into it because my posing needed work and I wasn’t nearly as muscular as those other girls, I still took this very seriously because I was that passionate about it! I still am! It pushed me to places I didn’t know I had. It’s not as hard for some, and probably harder for others. But for me, it was the hardest thing I’d ever done.

Would I recommend this? Absolutely. But you have to be serious about it. It’s a BIG goal to set out when weight loss is what you want. It’s daunting. And very, VERY hard on your self esteem. I am still struggling with self-acceptance because one can’t help but look at pictures when they were in the best shape of their life when they no longer look that way and wish for that body. I do. I want it. I WISH for it. But the thing is…you have to WORK for it. And right now, with a toddler, three hours in the gym is not possible. And she is my main focus. But maybe someday I’ll get back on that stage. I’d love to. We’ll see. Who knows what the future holds!

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Would you do it again? Have you ever considered competing?

 

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Intro

So this is my first blog post! I suppose we all start somewhere, right? I thought I’d give a quick intro to who I am and what brought me here before we get to the real stuff.

I’m a 31 year old working mom. I have a toddler, she was born five weeks premature. I had preeclampsia and an emergency c-section. This is definitely something I will explore more here. There is a lot going on with toddler mom life and so many feelings around having a baby in the NICU.

I grew up riding horses, competitively and for fun. I’ve met some of my best friends through riding. By 14 years old I had my first horse, and I still have her today (she’s 22 now!). I’m hoping my little girl gets a few good years with her.

I’m married to an amazing man. We’ve been together for 11 years, married for four. I’ll definitely blog about marriage because it’s obviously a huge part of my life and isn’t always easy (but always worth it!).

I competed in two NPC figure competitions in 2014. I lost 47 pounds training to do so. I’ll be blogging a lot about my fitness journey, getting back in shape after having my daughter. It took me 14 months to lose the weight the first time, and hours in the gym. I loved every minute of it but I no longer have that kind of time. I plan to be open and honest about my experiences here. It’s therapeutic for me. And MOTIVATING!

I love to write. I don’t do too much of it these days, but I also might share some of the items I’m working on.

I also have two teenage step kids and two dogs! Life is definitely interesting, to say the least!

I look forward to sharing what motivates me, as well as every day life, recipes, and mom stories. I’m excited to embark on this journey! Thank you for joining me!

Instagram: @cortneymarie307

Twitter: @cortneyrose307