Thursday, August 29, 2013

#DesignerWhey Sustained Energy Review & Giveaway!

Disclaimer:  I was provided with products from Designer Whey to review as part of my affiliation with FitFluential.  
As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Off-season aka improvement season is in full effect!! You guys, this is the first "real" off-season I've had since I started competing three years ago! I know I haven't officially shared what's next on my competition agenda but here's what you should know, my clear 5 inch heels will be resting comfortably for at least the next 7-8 months.

During these next few months, I have certain goals I am working towards which include adding muscle to my upper body. Yes, you read that right - I am working on adding muscle! The feedback I received after Junior Nationals included a portion about adding mass to my upper body and you know I had to make sure I was reading the email correctly!!

 The past several years I have focused on decreasing size and now I was being told I needed to add some. I am also still focused on Operation Build-a-Back and gettin' that booty like Serena! This means a change in training and slight changes in my diet which is why the opportunity to try the new Sustained Energy protein powder from Designer Whey® was perfect!

From the Designer Whey® website:

"Designer Whey® Sustained Energy™ is specifically formulated with our proprietary Endurance Blend™. Designed to give you balanced, stimulant-free, sustained energy through fast absorbing whey protein and slower absorbing soy and casein proteins, giving you a steady supply of essential amino acids while helping you control hunger with fiber.  Packed with 16 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and 19 Essential Vitamins & Minerals and naturally flavored and sweetened – all for only 100-good-for-you calories!"

When prepping for shows, I normally use a whey isolate protein powder for any shakes that I may have. Whey isolates are generally lower in taste calories, fat, sugar, and carb grams. Since I don't have to keep as close of an eye on these numbers (improvement season equals a small amount of wiggle room), I decided that I would replace my whey isolate with the Sustained Energy powders I had received.

Post-cardio deliciousness!
The first shake I made was a fairly simple one. I'm always scared of getting fancy with new ingredients so I tend to stick with what I! I decided to treat myself by drinking my shake out of my Wonder Woman glass instead of a plastic shaker. It's amazing how awesome you feel having a healthy meal out of a real cup :)
Ingredients:  water, 1/2 cup of raspberries, 1/4 cup of chia seeds, Vanilla Bean Sustained Energy

In addition to confessing my fear of fancy protein shakes, I will also admit that I rock bandannas while drinking my protein shakes in the kitchen! I will also admit that I drink Metamucil to help me stay regular. Metamucil is not the easiest thing to drink so I will mix it into other things if I can (remember my Power Slushie?).

This shake was really a spur of the moment idea but it came out perfectly, not too thick or chalky!! As I was making it with the ingredients I listed in the shake above, I remember that I hadn't taken my Metamucil so I added a scoop to the Nutribullet and threw in a banana since it was obvious things were gettin' cray cray up in my kitchen :)
Ingredients:  water, 1/2 cup of raspberries, 1/4 cup of chia seeds, 1 banana, 1 scoop orange flavor Metamucil, Vanilla Bean Sustained Energy

If you have not had the chance to enjoy the yumminess that calls itself "Cream of Wheat Instant - Chocolate", you must to do so immediately. I am obsessed with mixing my cream of wheat with protein powder and so I had to try the Designer Whey® with it. The Chocolate Velvet flavor is quite strong so you know what that means? I did my happy wiggle while enjoying my pre-workout carb meal. It pains me to think about giving up this meal when prep starts but that's so far away, I'm blocking it out :)

Designer Whey® has a pretty great product on their hands. I like the idea of a protein powder giving you long-lasting stimulant free energy! What a simple yet amazing concept! I will admit that I am a bit disappointed by the nutritional facts but only because this is a product I personally would not be able to use during competition season due to the number of protein grams (too low) and carb grams (too high) per serving. But again, it's not competition season so I'm enjoying my two new protein powders!

Guess what?? You can enjoy them too! Designer Whey® has generously offered 6 of my readers the chance to win their own canister of Designer Whey® Sustained Energy!  To enter, you just need to comment below with which flavor you would choose if you won.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Release Tuesday

I haven't really been a fan of J. Cole's 
other songs but this one is an exception.

Plus, who doesn't like a song that features TLC?!?!
*fyi - this live version doesn't feature them

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Let Me Give Thanks

Michael Simon Photography
The moment I won my class was three years in the making. I stepped on stage for the first time July 2010 and it has been quite the journey since I made the decision to become a figure competitor. The journey has been full of many things including tears, frustration, confusion, determination, and asparagus :)  It has also been filled with some amazing people that have, at times, carried me toward the finish line when I couldn't get my legs to work. I would like to take some time to thank some of these people.

To My Yellow...aka The Boss...aka Bird Bones...aka Genie Beanie! More than three years ago you kindly responded to a stranger's questions about competing in your Oxygen journal. You took me under your wing and you saw potential in me when all I could see was a sad, lost, chubby woman.

Don't ask! What happens in Chicago, stays in Chicago ;)
When we met face-to-face for the first time in Chicago, it felt coming home. You have not only been my coach but you have become one of my best friends. Thank you for pushing me, encouraging me, befriending me, and loving me. I couldn't have changed my life without your help. Now, enough of that emotional stuff. Start stretching your muscles and tell your liver to get ready - Black and Yellow's Excellent Adventure Part 2 is going to be EPIC!!!

To my hubs...aka The Boss #2...aka my partner-in-crime...can you believe this madness?!?! What a ride! Thank you for joining me on this crazy ride this past three years. Thank you for showing me that my body can do more if I ask it to. The workouts you create make me want to punch you at times but I know you know what you're doing.

Thank you for picking up the slack on the home front when I'm running on fumes. You grill a mean chicken breast and can package meals like a pro! I am so appreciative that you have put me in my place when I've needed it and made me pancakes when you knew I needed "real food". I know there's more fun, chaos, and adventure ahead - care to join me?  "We ride together. We die together. Bad Boys for life."

Puttin' in work at my home away from home!

To Frank, owner of Desert Sports & Fitness...thank you for your support over the past few years. Your sponsorship earlier this year helped me take the leap and compete in my first national competition. I remember a couple of years ago when Tom & I were talking to you after one of my competitions and you encouraged me to think bigger, venture out of my comfort zone, and keep after my goals. That truly meant a lot to me. I consider Desert Sports & Fitness on Ajo my home away from home - it is my place of worship, my sanctuary, and my office. Your staff (hey Joella & Steve!) are amazing and do a top notch job in keeping the gym clean and organized. I'm also very thankful that they let me stash my meals in the refrigerator when I work out :)

To my crazy family....I know I'm not the easiest person to deal with, especially when I'm prepping so thank you! Thank you for telling me I could do this. Thank you for watching The Princess so I could go to the gym or run errands or just have a moment to myself. Thank you for teasing me about bringing my own food to Family Day. Thank you for it all!

To my readers (especially those of you who have been with me almost since the start - Melissa, Crystal, Lacey, Ana, Chelsea, Jen, Stacy, The BoBettes) have no idea what means to me that you read this blog. You have no idea what your positive words, encouraging comments, and support have meant (and mean!) to me. I know that are so many other blogs you could be reading and so many other things you could be doing with your time so thank you. Thank you for believing in me, supporting me, and loving me. I treasure each and everyone of you.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How It All Went Down - Part 2

My amazing parents! My Dad always has to be a brat
when someone is taking his picture :)

It turns out I wasn't going to be alone during my weekend in Mesa. My parents made the drive up from Tucson to hang out with me and attend Finals! I was so happy and a lot  little less lonely. We decided to hit up a new outlet mall and have lunch before I would have to return to my hotel to get ready for the athlete's meeting at 4:30 pm.

photo credit
Retail therapy was exactly what I needed to get my mind off of prejudging, my loneliness, and worrying about what would be happening later that night. My birthday had come and gone a few days prior and since I couldn't treat myself to a slice of cake, I would have to settle for a new purse and/or a new pair of shoes!!

Apparently, Dad needed retail therapy too :)
Call me "high maintenance" if you want but
Coach brings joy to my!

The outlet mall was outdoors so I tried to stay in the shade whenever possible and not overheat (can't sweat off the tan!). After a few hours of shopping, we decided to have lunch and then head back to the hotel. At lunch my parents asked questions about what had taken place the night before at prejudging and how I felt going into finals. I remember telling my parents that the official goal was top 5 but unofficially, I really really wanted to place in the top 3.

Walking into the venue for the athlete's meeting, after driving around & around & around trying to find parking, I felt like I just wanted to get the damn show on the! Backstage, you can definitely tell a difference between this night and the night before. At Finals, competitors are a bit more relaxed, social, and calm. I think this has to do with the fact that the "judging" is over and Finals is the "show" - bios for each competitor are read, individual presentations, routines are performed, basically all of the fun stuff.

Killin' time by striking a pose :)

From my facebook page - I met Marci at her first show,
NPC Terminator in Tucson 2 years ago!
There is a lot of waiting at Finals...I mean...A LOT!! As I did the night before, I found a small corner where I could put down my yoga mat and relax until it was time for Figure to go on. I was a little antsy and could feel myself starting to get stressed out about the fact that soon we would be finding out placings. I propped my feet up, put on my ipod, and took a quick power nap.

They're so pretty!
When I woke up from my nap, I realized that only 20 minutes had passed and there was still quite some time before Class D would be walking across the stage. I decided to find my parents' seats and say hello and possibly walk around the small expo that was being held in the lobby. After chatting with the 'rents for a few minutes, I headed back to the dressing rooms to start getting ready. On the way back, I made a small detour and asked one of the expediters if I could snap a picture of the trophy table for my blog. I told him "this might be as close as I get to a trophy tonight" while I was snapping pictures, he just chuckled and let me do my thing.

Finally, IT WAS TIME!!!!

Class D was lined up backstage and we were given instructions about when to walk out on stage, what poses to hit, and all of those important things. I just remember thinking "Your mom is here. Don't do the dip!". You might be wondering what the dip is....see below... :)

My mom hates, with a passion, the dip! I knew that if I did it, she would scold me the second I walked off I decided no dip at the end of my individual presentation.

Michael Simon Photography

The emcee began introducing the girls in our class and one by one, they walked out and posed. I wasn't nervous or scared. I remembered feeling like I had done everything I needed to and I was just going to enjoy the moment. I heard the emcee say "Next we have Tenecia Phillips..." and it was showtime. I put a huge smile on my face, put my chest up, and walked out as confidently as I could.

Michael Simon Photography
Michael Simon Photography
Michael Simon Photography

As the remaining girls were introduced and we did a set of quarter turns for the audience, I remember telling myself to continue to pose strong and look directly at the show photographer (he sits behind the judges).

Michael Simon Photography
I wanted the pictures that The Bosses saw to be the best ones possible and if by some miracle, this show was the one I did well at, I wanted the pictures to be on point (crazy & slightly cocky, I know) so I made it a point to look directly at the photographer and channel all of the episodes of America's Top Model I had watched in my life (

After each class and its competitors were introduced, there was going to be a short intermission for the audience. During this intermission, the expediters had explained to us that they would be posting the lists of each class and those who had placed in the top 5 would have their names highlighted. Jessica and I nervously waited for the list for Class D to go up and after what felt like an eternity, the list went up and this is what we saw....

Both of our names were highlighted!! We both screamed (not in a loud, obnoxious way) and congratulated each other. We ran to the dressing room to fix our suits, touch up our makeup, and reapply glaze. The expediters were asking everyone who had made the top 5 to make their way back downstairs because trophy presentations were going to start within the next few minutes.

Trophy presentations for the classes before our's went quickly and within a few minutes, Class D was ushered out on stage. The emcee called the number for 5th place and it wasn't mine. I thought "ok..this is a good sign" and 4th place was called. Again, the number wasn't mine and I started to get excited. I knew that no matter what happened next, this was my best placing to date! I heard the emcee say that the trophy for 3rd place would be given to #63 and I clapped. Jessica had placed third in her first figure competition and I was so happy for her. Then it hit me. It was down to two of us. I looked over at Katie (#60) and I felt amazing. I had met my unofficial goal of placing in the top 3. I was going to get 2nd out of 15 competitors and that felt pretty damn good.

The emcee said, "please take the trophy for second place over to number six...." and I started walking forward...and then I heard " SIX-TY Katie Durkin" and I gasped. I'm pretty sure I did the whole Ms. America, I think I'm going to cry thing. Then I heard my number and name being read as the winner of the class.

Michael Simon Photography
Michael Simon Photography

You guys, I almost started crying. All I could think was, "This is what it feels like". As I walked off stage after the comparisons for overall, one of the trainers pulled me aside and told me it was about damn time and at that moment, I couldn't help but start crying.

In complete shock that I just won!

I love the "holy sh!t" look on my face - priceless!
Jessica and I found each other and took a couple of pictures together. I sent off an excited message to The Bosses, my sister-in-law, my sister, brother, and a few friends. And then I sat down and took in the moment.

I have struggled with thoughts of quitting or switching divisions because I wasn't sure if figure was the right fit for me but I kept telling myself not to give up quite yet, fight for more just a bit longer. This moment felt incredible. It wasn't about the trophy or the tiara (but let's be real, who doesn't love a tiara?!?) - it was about knowing that I could be successful even if others were telling me that I should walk away. It was about pushing myself, sacrificing, being willing to make changes.

I'll leave you with a couple of pictures from the end of the night. I have people I need to thank but I want to do that in a separate post, especially since this one has gone on & on :) I will be adding pictures to my facebook page so if we aren't friends yet, feel free to add me!

From Instagram - my Dad & I celebrating my win!

Michael Simon Photography

New Release Tuesday

"Show me how big your brave is"

Conquer your day, do that one thing you've been too
frightened to do, 
be the master of your fate, the captain of your soul!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, August 5, 2013

How It All Went Down - Part 1

For some reason I have struggled with writing this recap post. I wonder if it's because I have so much to say about this particular show or I had some sort of block.

I apologize in advance if this post is jumpy or doesn't quite "flow" - bear with me!

photo credit
This particular show was not originally on my 2013 competition schedule. As I briefly talked in my "This Might Be A Good Time" post, the team decided I should do this show so I could attempt to re-qualify nationally for the 2014 competition season. Since the decision to compete was a "last minute" decision, Tom was not going to be able to travel with me to Mesa and attend the show. There was a birthday camping trip that he and The Princess had planned that happened to be the same weekend as the show. He and I both knew this camping trip was more important than the show :)

This was the first time I would be traveling to a show by myself! I know many competitors do shows on their own but up to this point I had done 9 shows and Tom had been at each and every one. I was nervous but excited. This wasn't going to be a big deal. I would drive up to Mesa on Thursday, camp out in my room until prejudging Friday night, do the same thing Saturday, and then head home on Sunday.

Making Pro Tan footprints after round 2 of tanning :)

Peak week flew by really. I worked Monday & Tuesday and Wednesday was spent watching my cutie patootie nephew. Our living room was a disaster area! Between all of the stuff for the camping trip and all the things I was packing got my trip, the room looked like chaos!

What didn't look like chaos was my physique. I had made it a priority to trust the process this time around and not stress about the things I couldn't control. I gave myself a specific bedtime and I stuck to it!

Positive messages from The Boss :)
My favorite line from As A Man Thinketh by James Allen

During my cardio sessions I read "Creative Visualization" or "As A Man Thinketh". In other words, I worked really hard at drawing in the positive and pushing out the negative!

Thursday arrived and before I knew it, Tom and The Princess were driving off and I was finishing up a few last minute chores and double-checking my bags. There were two stops I had to make before leaving Tucson - I needed to hit up Target for a yoga mat and bands for backstage (see my "Pack It In" post for a list of what other things I take backstage with me) and I needed to get my eyebrows threaded. Once those things were taken care of, it was time to hit the road!

I headed straight to athlete check-ins (after being stuck in traffic for what felt like hours due to two different accidents) which was being held at a local gym. I pulled into the parking lot , walked inside, saw the line and all of the competitors waiting to check in, and all positivity went right out of the window! I texted The Boss a frantic message about looking like a bag of rocks compared to some of the women I was seeing and she reassured me that I was acting like a complete jackass :)

Due to the large number of competitors, it took awhile to get checked in but while I was waiting I finally meet Jessica! She and I connected through Instagram, then began emailing each other, then texting! This show was going to be her first figure competition after competing in bikini last November. She introduced me to her friend Liz and we chatted for a few minutes before agreeing to keep an eye out for each other at the next day's athlete's meeting.

My home for the next few days
My hotel was about a 35 minute drive from the gym and it was close to meal time. I ate my last meal in the car and tried not to freak out about all the beautiful bodies I had just seen. Once I was checked into my room and had dragged all my stuff from the car upstairs to my room, it was time to send pics to The Boss. My hotel room did not have the best lighting so I resorted to standing on the toilet seat and taking pictures of the bathroom mirror :) I changed into my jammies and called it a night.

The view from my room on the 9th floor!

Friday morning I woke up feeling less overwhelmed and I decided that I was going to be as still as possible. I kept the curtains closed, only got out of bed for meal time and potty breaks, and alternated between napping & watching television. Before I knew it, it was 3:30 and time to start putting my face on.

I sent one last picture off to The Boss and headed over to the venue. The expediters and show promoter talked for a bit and then we were being called up by our divisions and height classes. It turned out that they had to do some shifting of classes based on who was competing so instead of competing in Class E, I would be competing in Class D. With the modifications made, Jessica & Liz ended up being in my class as well!

One of the few backstage pictures I uploaded to my Facebook page
Figure Class D

I stuck with my routine and found a small corner to put down my mat and put up my feet. Figure was close to the beginning of the show so I knew I didn't have long to wait before going onstage.

While waiting to go on, I met another competitor that I had connected with on Instagram. (Hi Kristel!) It was her first competition and we chatted about various things like when to glue yourself into your suit, when to glaze, when to pump up, etc. Before I knew it, Teen Figure was being called and that was my cue to start pumping up and put the last finishing touches on my face.

As Class D lined up, I grew more and more nervous. I was antsy and couldn't keep still. Luckily I had brought my bands downstairs with me so I continued to pump up (I wanted to keep my shoulders full) in addition to doing push ups against the wall. As we lined up behind the curtain, I was struck with overwhelming nausea. I told Jessica that I thought I was going to throw up! She chuckled and told me that I was an old pro so I shouldn't feel nervous. I was crouching down, praying that I wouldn't throw up when it was time for us to walk out. As I straightened up I told myself "It's time to do the damn thang!". The second I walked past the curtain, my nervousness went away and a smile came across my face.

Michael Simon Photography
Our class consisted of 15 competitors so we were put into 2 lines. As the first line of competitors "presented" themselves to the judges, I along with the remaining competitors stood off to the side of the stage. I have read on various forums that even if you are not standing directly in front of the judges, pose as if you were. I made sure to stand up straight (Tom always scolds me for slouching), pose like my life depended on it, and smiled until my face hurt.

Michael Simon Photography
It was our turn to pose in front of the judges and the head judge ran us through our quarter turns. I remember thinking "chest up - no slouching!" and when we did our back poses "wide! pose wide!!" and "feet together! pop that booty!"

The head judge thanked us and told us to go back to our spots. I started to walk back to the side of the stage when I heard the head judge say "We would like to see..." I wasn't quite to my original spot when I heard "Number 64". I remember saying "oh...ok!" out loud (lol!) and I walked to the line I had just left. The position I was standing in,  facing the judges, was second from the right or what is usually assumed to be 4th place. I was happy about where I was standing as we went through out quarter turns. If I could stay in this spot and not get moved to my right, I might be in the top 5.

Michael Simon Photography

The head judge then asked "number..." and "number 64" to change places. I thought "64? That's me!" and I moved to my left.

Michael Simon Photography
Now I don't remember how many girls were to my left or to my right. I just remember being excited about being moved to the left because that had never happened before. We went through our quarter turns, girls were moved but I remained in the same spot, and we did our quarter turns again.

Michael Simon Photography
As we hit our back pose, we waited to hear "quarter right to the right" and it didn't happen so we posed and posed. After what felt like 20 minutes, we heard the magic words and we continued on with the turns.

Michael Simon Photography
When we faced the front, we were asked to hit our modified pose and there we stood for at least a minute or two. The the head judge thanked us and second callouts began. As second callouts were taking place, I remember being excited about the possibility of making top 5 while at the same time feeling sadness that Tom wasn't in the audience.

After the judges thanked our class and excused us from the stage, I walked back upstairs to check on Kristel. After getting her into her suit and glazed up, I realized I had hit a wall. I gathered my things, found my car, and was on a mission for a burger (minus the bun) or a carne asada burrito!

I sat in my car texting The Boss and The Boss #2 about making first callouts. I found a burrito shop and then made my way back to the hotel. I attempted to wash off my drag queen makeup, put on my jammies, and checked my phone. I had a message from Crissy my sister-in-law and it was a cute picture of The Princess sitting by the campfire eating a hot dog. I sent a picture of me taking a bite of my burrito to her and then sat in silence.

I was a mixed bag of emotions. I was happy that I had possibly placed in the top 5. I was sad that my family was having fun elsewhere without me. I was scared that maybe I hadn't done as well as I thought. How was I ever going to get to sleep?

I've babbled long enough so I will stop here. I promise to finish the in part 2...before 2014 :)