Monday, April 23, 2012

Figure Competitions

Boy, do I have a treat for you today! Meet Lauren. I used to work for Lauren for 4 summers during my college years at Colorado Golf Club, and she and her hubby Ben hold a special place in my heart. She has the coolest job in the world (Showroom Manager at Lululemon Athletica Colorado Springs!) and she is the sweetest person you will ever meet. After I found out about Lauren and her competition, I just knew I had to ask her some questions to learn more about her experience, and wanted to share her words with you all. Not only was it her first competition, but she placed 2nd in her novice class and 5th overall. Thats amazing! Good job Lauren :)

What is a  figure competition?
I competed in a figure competition.  There are different divisions that you can compete in: Bikini, Fitness, Figure, and Physique.  Each division requires a different amount of muscle and leanness.  Bikini requires the least, and Physique requires the most.  Figure is right in between, and fitness is similar to Figure, but in Fitness you are required to perform a routine.  The goal for Figure is to have muscle tone and definition, while still maintaining a feminine physique.  You do a series of poses for the judges and are judged on your leanness, symmetry, etc.

How did you hear about this competition/decide to compete?
I was a runner for many years, and the last race I did I realized I was not as in love with racing like I used to be.  I had always thought about doing a figure competition, and decided after that race that this would be my next challenge!  It was a bucket list kind of thing!  I had been training with my trainer for a while, and mentioned wanting to compete...and things took off from there!

How long did you train for?
I trained for almost 4 months.  My diet and workouts started the day after Christmas, and the show was on April 14th.  

What did your physical regimen look like?
My training was a split schedule where I would lift 4 days in a row, and then take one day off from lifting, and start the cycle over again.  It looked like this: Back/Chest/Core; Legs; Shoulder/Core; Biceps/Triceps.  I did cardio every day and also did two plyometric workouts a week.  At the end, my schedule changed to a three day split, and I would sometimes do two hours of cardio a day.  I also supplemented my workouts with yoga when my body felt up to it.

How did your eating have to change, and what did your diet look like?
My diet was the biggest thing that changed in the whole process, and was probably the hardest part.  I carb cycled throughout the entire prep, so I would have two high carb days and then a low carb day.  By "high carb" I mean that I was able to eat oatmeal and sweet potatoes.  Otherwise, it was chicken or fish, egg whites, green veggies, and some healthy fats (avocado, almonds).  I ate every 2.5-3 hours, and I was allowed one cheat meal a week.  My diet continued to get more and more restrictive, and the last two weeks, I was only eating tilapia and asparagus.  The last 4 days it was tilapia only, and I was also not eating any salt until the night before.  The day before and the day of, I was only allowed to eat sweet potatoes every few hours.  Up until the Friday before the competition, I was drinking between 1.5-2 gallons of water a day.  The Friday before, I had to stop drinking water until after finals.

Can you describe what the actual competition was like? (The day of, getting ready, the actual competition process, finals, etc.)
The night before the competition, we had check in, a competitor meeting, and then it was off to get spray tanned.  This process took about 1.5 hours.  The next morning, I headed back to get my final coat and touch-ups on the spray tan, and then it was hair and make-up.  Once I was all ready to go, I headed to the venue to check in and pick up my number.  Pre-judging happens in the morning, and is the first time that you step on stage.  During pre-judging, you walk out with the girls in your division, and do your individual poses.  Once everyone has done their individual turns, everyone lines up again and you do quarter turns/poses (front, back, and right/left side).  This allows the judges to do comparisons of everyone lined up next to each other.  It's possible that you could do one set of quarter turns, or 6.  It just depends on what the judges need to see.  The judges will make call outs, and you will do your turns again.  Once this is done, you file off stage.  At this point, the judges have pretty much made their decisions on how you will be placed.  I competed in two classes, so I had to do this twice. The rest of the day is a lot of sitting around while watching the other divisions during pre-judging.  I was able to rest for a bit back at the hotel before finals.  Finals is a almost the same process as pre-judging, but you don't line up to do quarter turns.  You walk out individually and then everyone lines up together before the judges make call outs and announce the top 5.  I placed 2nd in my Novice class, and 5th in my Open class.  (Classes are based on height.  Novice is for anyone who hasn't competed before or has never placed in the top 5 before, and Open is for anyone.)   Then it was time to drink water and eat!

What was the best part about the whole process?
The best part was definitely the people.  I met so many wonderful people throughout the process and at the competition.  Everyone is going through the same thing, so you have a wonderful support system.  I am on a team, so there were 6 of us who competed at the show.  We did a lot of team workouts, team dinners, and had a lot of fun along the way.  There was so much sportsmanship backstage, and everyone is so encouraging of each other.

What was the worst part?
The worst part for me was definitely the diet.  Mentally it was really hard at times.  My energy levels were so low, that it made everything require so much more effort than something normally would.  Since I was eating so often, my entire day would revolve around when I was going to have my next meal.  And eating the same thing everyday got to be very boring.  Especially for someone who loves to cook and eat as much as I do!

Do you plan on continuing to compete?
I don't think so.  I am so happy that I did it, and have never felt such a sense of accomplishment.  However, I'm happy to be back in a balanced routine.  If there is anything that would make me want to do it again it would be the people!

What is some advice you would give someone who might be interested in competing?
My biggest piece of advice is to really understand the commitment that something like this takes.  I knew it would require dedication, but I didn't realize that it would completely take over my world.  From meal planning and preparation, to workouts, to posing practices.  It requires a lot of sacrifice.  I would also say that if you are thinking about competing, to really giving it your all.  If you are going to invest the time and money and takes to do this, don't sell yourself short by only doing it halfway.  

What did you learn about yourself during your journey?
A lot!  Probably the biggest thing I learned is that I am not as regimented of a person as I thought I was.  While I like my routine, I realized that I need some spontaneity in my life!  This journey requires so much planning, and I found myself longing for some excitement and spontaneity.  I also realized just how important my family and friends are to me.  I had to sacrifice a lot of time with family and friends during this process, and I missed the people in my life more than I thought I would.

Here are some photos of her during the competition. You look fantastic Lauren, congratulations on your success, and your killer bod!

Lauren is the 2nd from the left

Friday, April 20, 2012

Summer Sun Protection

The weather is heating up and summer is right around the corner. In Colorado the second the temperatures get above 60 degrees girls are strapping on their bikinis and laying out in the sun. I want to give you some helpful tips and knowledge on sun protection and skin care. I am very passionate about skin protection and my closest friends will say I’m a bit of a nag when it comes to wearing sunscreen! But my heart behind the nagging is good- I was diagnosed with melanoma (a form of skin cancer) a little over a year ago. It was a crazy time of my life, wondering how at 22 years old I was meeting with an oncologist, having numerous tests ran and going through multiple surgeries because of cancer. I had a wonderful surgeon who did an amazing job removing the cancer. And although that cancer spot has been removed, I continue to have other “concerning spots” removed and visit my wonderful oncologist every six months. 
I’m telling you this, first, because I want to let you in on a season of my life that has changed me forever. It has shaped me and broken me and stretched me and grown me. I am also telling you this, not to scare you, but to help protect you from what I had to go through. If you can take away just a few of these tips and tricks to protect your skin, you can make a huge difference in the future of your health. 
The ABCDE’s of Skin Cancer

A- asymmetric- If you draw a line though this mole the two halves do not match

B- boarder- Edges are uneven or scalloped. 

C- color- Having a variety of color. Different shades of brown, tan, or red through out the mole is a indicator of melanoma.

D- diameter- Usually the diameter (size) of the melanoma is larger than the size of a pencil eraser.

E- evolving- Any change in the size, shape, color, elevation, or any other irregular trait is a warning sign of skin cancer. Bleeding, itching or crusting is a danger indicator. 

Tips to Protect

  • Use a moisturizer with SPF
  • SPF stands for sun protection factor. The higher the number the more time you can spend in the sun without getting burned. Also the higher the number the more protection. 

For example, if you usually start to redden in 20 minutes from being in the sun with no protect and then you apply SPF 15 you can stay in the sun 15 times longer- meaning 300mins without getting burned. This is the science behind SPF’s but my rule of thumb is to reapply sunscreen every 2 hours
  • Use water proof sunscreen when swimming, at the beach, or working out. Sweat and water will remove the sunscreen and reduce your protection.
  • Have a friend, family member, or cute husband check you back for moles and dark spots. Our backs tend to get burned most often but its the one place we cannot check ourselves.
  • Don’t forget to put sunscreen on those cute toesies! The tops of feet and in between toes are very vulnerable. 
  • Please, my girls, avoid indoor tanning- at all costs! 

My favorite face sunscreen is Aveeno Positively Radiant, SPF 30 

Lather on that sunscreen and Enjoy the warm summer sun!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

"Do you see what I see.. What I see is Me!.."


The sisters I love to love...

Dear MK&A,

You have been some of my best friends since the days of It Takes Two. Staying up late together, making up songs, dances, and skits together, and always getting the cute guy at the end of the movie. You helped me with my memorization skills with such lines as, "Do you see what I see? What I see is me. I see me too! Does that mean there's two of you, or. or... two of me?!" I still to this day know every word to It Takes Two.. and proud of it :)
Now that you two are all grown up and full-fledged hotties, I look to you as style icons. Not afraid to push the boundaries and hit the runway with aww inspiring styles. Whether Boho or Classy you girls know how to work it and be confident in your own skin. I am proud of you for that. You ladies are role models of the finest, having your own clothing line{s}, making movies, and not to mention your own star.. You're doing it and leaving sparkles with each step.

I know we had some rough years there, but hey who doesn't? Growing up in the spotlight since you were littles can affect a sister. I'm not one to judge. We moved past it and came out better than before! And hey, that's reality, and anyone who can't see that is in a land where you girls are the definition of perfection. HA.. No one is! Not even my MK&A.
 Well girls, here's to many many many more years together! Rockin' the runway, killin' the fashion trends, and making a mark on this world that's all our own!

I would like to finish up this letter with words of your own, words that I hold near and dear to my fashionista heart...                                                                  

"When I get dressed I think of it as dress-up time, like the clothes are costume pieces. That's why I like vintage- it has a story behind it. I'm not afraid of walking down the street in something that people think is crazy. What I can't stand is looking like everyone else."

Love you like a sister,
Gabrielle~your fellow sparkle leavin' fashionista



Sunday, April 15, 2012

Take a day…GET AWAY!

       The end of the semester is drawing near and I feel like I am finally finishing my “school marathon” If you’ve ever run a race before you know how extremely exhausted you are when you hit ohhhh mile 8 or so. It is when you hit that wall of exhaustion that you have to remind yourself of all your hard work and training, switch to your power song, and finish strong. So in leu of my sprint to the “end of the school finish line” I decided to take one final day to rest so I can finish up my college career well. My Saturday consisted of…
- Sleeping in
- Breakfast in bed with my journal 
- Lots of cooking
- Clean eating
- Yoga 
- Fun work out classes
- Pandora station set to Temper Trap 
- Never changing out of my cozies
- Mani/Pedi
- Hand written cards 
- Blogging 
Breakfast in bed! (Braverman cup :) 


Growing up in fast pace society, it can be difficult to turn off the things that connect us to the craziness of the world and take time for ourselves, but it is so important. I’ve chosen to incorporate this post into the “fitness blog” because rest is essential to your health. Wherever you find yourself today, be it in the throws of end of semester tests, papers, and presentations or burnt out on work commitments or any other roles you play STOP, make a list of what makes you feel alive, say no to a few commitments and do the things that give you rest for one day. Your body will thank you for it. 
Almond Coconut Butter: 

What you will need:
2 cups of dry roasted almonds
1/3 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 tsp of sea salt

1. Place all of the ingredients into a food processor (if you do not own a food processor its a great little kitchen item to have).
2. Turn your food processor on high and let it run for about 10 minutes. Half way through you will start to wonder how in the world this crumbly mess will turn into almond butter but trust me.
3. Check your almond butter at 10 minutes. It should start to transform into a chunky butter at this point. If you like smooth almond butter let your processor run until it is nice and creamy.
Scoop out your fresh almond butter and place in an airtight container or jar.  

Strawberry Yogurt Muffins:

What you will need: 
2 cups of fresh strawberries
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1 tbsp of baking soda
1/4 cup of sugar
1 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt
2 egg whites
2 tbs coconut oil
1tsp of vanilla extract or almond extract   


1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Stir together all the dry ingredients.
3. In a blender puree one cup of strawberries.
4. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites. Add the yogurt, strawberry puree, oil and vanilla extract. Combine with dry ingredients. Chop up the remaining strawberries and add to batter.
Spoon the batter into the muffin pan. Bake for about 15 min.
Black Quinoa Salad with Mango, Avocado, and Tomatoes:

What you will need: 
  • 1 cup uncooked black quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 large mango, diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 medium avocados, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

      1. First, using a strainer, rinse the black quinoa under cold water. Add quinoa, water, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Let cool quinoa cool to room temperature
     2. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, mango, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, and avocados. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, and cumin. Pour the dressing over the quinoa salad and gently stir until well combined. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Strawberry Yogurt Cake

Here's a great yummy treat that wont break the bank or expand your waistline. I made it this past weekend for an Easter brunch at my in-laws. The cake got rave reviews! It would be great for any dinner party, brunch, shower, etc. And as usual with most recipes I like to try, it involves greek yogurt! This key ingredient made the cake so soft and moist

Strawberry Yogurt Cake

Strawberry Yogurt Cake
Adapted from here
 Serves 12
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Tb. lemon juice, divided
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 8 oz. plain or vanilla, Greek yogurt (I used Honey Vanilla!)
  • 12 oz. fresh strawberries, diced
  • 1 cup powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 325*. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sift together the 2 ¼ cups of flour, baking soda and salt.
  2. Using a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in 1 Tb. lemon juice. Alternate beating in the flour mixture and the yogurt, mixing just until incorporated.
  3. Toss the strawberries with the remaining ¼ cup of flour. Gently mix them into the batter.
  4. Pour the batter into the Bundt pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool at least 20 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Once cooled whisk together the remaining 2 Tb. of lemon juice and the powdered sugar. Drizzle over the top of the cake.

*Because I used a little bit thicker yogurt, my strawberries did not all fall to the bottom of the bundt pan, but were more dispersed throughout. It still looked pretty! Here is a photo of my cake (please excuse the terrible iPhone photo):

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Everything BUT the kitchen sink

Our latest addiction, or what some might call drug are protein bars. In our amateur state we followed recipes, tried various ingredients, and made them into bars, balls, and cupcake tin forms. We might argue that we have become protein bar connoisseurs; eating them by the handfuls and joking (but not really joking) about how we could finish a whole batch in one sitting. Bars are our specialty and we are confident in saying that we can make any type of bar with whatever ingredients are lying around the kitchen.
We call this, the "Everything BUT the kitchen sink" method. Anything goes when you make bars, there are just a few essentials to create the base mix and then after that add whatever you would like. Add all you got, a little of this, some of that, pinch here, dash there and viola, you got yourself the most healthy, delicious protein bars around. Just remember, leave out the kitchen sink ;)

Here are some of the base items you will need:
-Peanut butter/ almond butter
-Superfood/ Seeds

Add it in like a froyo topping:
-flax seed
-wheat germ
-chia seed
-sesame seed
-yogurt chips
-dark chocolate chips
-dried cranberries
-coconut flakes
-chopped nuts
-coconut oil
-Protein powder

Here is a timeline of our most recent creation (tonight)…
These are our bar staples! We also call this bird food

Melted pb, coconut oil, agave, and vanilla. Add to chopped nuts.

Mix wet and dry ingredients

Be creative with rolling, pressing dough into a 9x13 or placing the dough into cupcake tins 
Top with coconut flakes for flare

Starting out a novice, heres a good recipe to follow:

Erin and Mekenzie's Everything But The Friggin Sink Bars: 

  • 1/2 c. peanut butter/ almond butter
  • 3tbs. agave/honey
  • 2tsp. vanilla
  • 3tbs. coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/4 c. chopped almonds
  • 1/4 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 c. shredded coconut (extra for topping)
  • 3tbs. ground flax
  • 1/2tsp. cinnamon 
  • pinch of nutmeg 
Combine first four ingredients into a saucepan and add to dry ingredients. Mix and press into a 9x13 or cupcake tin. Refrigerate and enjoy with a spot of tea or a sweet cup of coffee. 

- Mekenzie and Erin