Thursday, September 27, 2012

Finding the Motivation to Embrace Fitness

Finding the Motivation to Embrace Fitness
Well, the Olympia (the “Olympics” of the fitness industry!) is the event of the weekend, and a great time to find the motivation to continue to work hard toward your fitness goals, or kick-start a new plan! 
Someone asked me a question today that was actually a major “aha” moment.  The question was, “Wendy, I have gotten to the point where I am not happy with my weight, and the way that I look, but feel that I am caring less and less about it.  It worries me, because I used to care so much if I gained weight.  How do I change that?”

I thought about this for a moment, because I have learned from myself and from our clients that staying in shape is a full-time job in itself.  You can’t “take time off” so to speak from caring about your fitness.  You can’t get in the shape you’ve always dreamed of, and then maintain it without continuing to work on it.  But that draws a bit of frustration for people, because then when do we get a break?  Why does it have to be so hard?  At times, it is almost frustrating to witness the bliss of the fitness ignorant – the people who don’t care, and have never cared about being in shape or healthy.

I’m not going to lie, you DO need to think about it always, but it can be very fun and super rewarding.  For example, think about how such a little can go a long way.  If you wake up earlier, and go for a 30 minute jog, skip the latte and opt for a regular coffee, choose an apple instead of a muffin, and eat a chicken breast with rice and veggies instead of a sandwich with ham and cheese…  You can STILL majorly enjoy your life, and you get to enjoy the body you live in.  Extra bonus! 

We had a client one time tell us, “I am so jealous of my friend.  She goes out and drinks when she wants, she eats whatever she wants, and she skips exercise if she wants.  She just does whatever she wants without the strain of thinking about being fit and healthy all the time.  I just feel like I have to think about it constantly, and it is so tiring!”  Do you know what we told her?... We said, “Yes, well it LOOKS like you care, and it LOOKS like your friend doesn’t.”  Just that alone was a reality check for her.  “yes, I guess you’re right!”  See, if you focus on the things you do get to enjoy with a healthy lifestyle, instead of focusing on the things that you must give up to be healthy, you will be so happy!  You get to live in a house – your body – that you cannot step out of!

It is good, in my opinion, to look at the extreme version of fitness to dig for motivation to continue with your fitness program.  This is why I say that following the top athletes at the Olympia this weekend is a great way to get this motivation.  Instead of viewing the extreme as “ridiculous, unhealthy, unattainable, not desirable”, think about where those thoughts stem from.  Are you mentally forcing yourself to remove this level of fitness from your mind as something you want, so that you don’t have to be so strained with thoughts of achieving it?  Many people do this, it is okay!  Heck, I’ve done it before, and then realized that it was because I didn’t want to push myself to get there!  Instead, I think, “How on earth did she get her butt to look like that?” – or – “What do I need to add in my program to achieve that level of conditioning in my legs?”  And NO, this is not shallow.  We decide that it is shallow to desire looking the best we can, because it is hard to do. 

I will tell you that I live fitness every day.  I maintain it every day.  When I was younger, it was easy for people to say, “You are still young, and your metabolism is fast, just wait until you’re older!  It will eventually catch up to you!”  What will catch up to me?  I’m about to turn 31 years old, and I refuse to let it “catch up” to me.  My husband, Matt, is 36 years old – and he refuses to let it catch up to him.  We just made up our minds to stay healthy and fit. 

You can put yourself first on the priority list, and decide to be the best version of yourself TODAY.  No more excuses or reasons to not do this.  At the beginning, you will have more bad days than good days.  But when it becomes your lifestyle, you will have more good days than bad days.  I am telling you it is okay to fight through the bad days – you NEED to fight through those bad days, even if you or someone else tells you that you need to give it a rest and let loose.  Yes, let loose, but the only way to do it in style is by achieving and maintaining the best “you” possible!

Monday, September 17, 2012


It has been a wonderfully long road for me and my husband to get to this point, in which we are finally launching our official website!  We plan to offer so many great things for people who are in need of professional guidance with their nutrition, exercise plan, and competition preparation.
A lot of people have wondered, and many have asked why we have not launched something like this much sooner; since we have been training successful competitors and clients for several years now.  It has taken us up to now to finally make this happen because we believe that if you want to do something well, you have to do it right the very first time.  This past year has been a rollercoaster of accomplishment, struggle, learning about business success, and learning about ourselves individually and as a team.  I will first go over my experience in my rookie season as a professional figure competitor, and explain some of the struggles that Matt and I faced throughout the year with regards to my competitions and the launching of our new business.
Almost one year ago, I achieved an amazing accomplishment; that was winning the Overall Figure title at the NPC USA Figure Championships; which is where I earned my IFBB Professional status.  It was an amazing experience, but I was surely humbled as I made my way into the pro ranks with a very rocky start.  You see, I have not exactly had the “pro debut” that dreams are made of.  I have definitely struggled in my initial year as a pro.  I can’t make excuses since I feel that each time that I make my way on the stage to compete, I am bringing my very best package with no exceptions to this rule.  Not to mention the fact that I am not fond of when girls talk about how frustrated they are with how they placed, etc.; as if to say that they thought they were better than all of the girls who beat them.  For me, I look at my results independently from the other competitors.  For example, I don’t think, “I am so mad that I took (x) place because I should have beaten all of those girls!”…  I think, “Man, I believe that I was good enough that day to be a top finisher in any lineup because of the package I brought.”  And if that doesn’t happen, then I am bummed that it didn’t.  Make sense?
In my first pro competition, the 2012 IFBB Governor’s Cup Pro Figure Championships, I came down with a terrible flu just 2 weeks before the show.  But don’t feel too sorry for me; I was behind on my training and my diet (I know, I preach to clients all the time about how bad this is.  We are all human, what can I say?).  Well, the problem with being behind is that you don’t have any time to lose, and that is likely why I got sick.  I had to over-train and over-diet to try and get in shape on time for the show.  Ironically, I still had to take two precious weeks away from my training before the show due to catching the flu. 
To prevent obtaining a $5,000 fine for pulling out of the show, I decided to compete.  It was not the best experience for my pro debut, but I still placed 7th in the end. 
Not sure my placing would have been much better either way, it is just that my experience would have been better if I felt great.  I also hid being sick from everyone.  I believe that is the right thing to do in this type of situation.  It definitely would have sounded like an excuse, and in no way did I want anyone to think I was trying to make an excuse in case I didn’t win.  Still, not a bad placing with all things considered.  But damn, I really wish I would have done it differently.  Oh well, you need to push to the future…
So, I had chance number 2 to make my comeback at the 2012 California State Pro Figure Championships; which was my 2nd pro show, and the last one on my resume of shows.  As you may have guessed, I was more than determined to prove that I could come back looking like the winner that I knew I was.  I trained hard and dieted smarter.  On the day of the show, I was heads and tails above where I was when I won the esteemed title of Miss Figure USA in 2011.  I felt great, and looked my best.
I stood on the stage with such a sense of accomplishment.  However, while I was on the stage, everything seemed like such a blur.  I remember standing off to the side after performing my model turns while the callouts were being made.  The first callout was made, and I wasn’t called out.  “No biggie, Wendy.  Maybe you’ll make the second one.”…  The second callout was made…  I told myself, “Okay, Wendy, no worries.  They just don’t like your look.  It’s alright.  YOU like your look.  That is ALL that matters anyway, right?”…  The third, fourth, and finally fifth callouts were made.  I started to think that maybe I wasn’t really standing there.  Maybe it was all a dream; just my imagination that I was even on the stage.  No joke, I really thought that for a moment.  Then, when all of the callouts were over, the judges had their heads down tallying the scores.  I assumed we would all exit the stage and it was over.  I just didn’t get called out – this happens sometimes, right?  I mean, it was happening to me… Then, I was called out with 2 of the girls who were in the first callout. 
It was like the twilight zone!  I wasn't sure where that would place me, because I was pretty sure that the judging was over.  I was really hoping for a top 5 placing, but I thought that was a little hopeful.  No one was really paying attention as we made our quarter turns.  It was mostly a gesture to let me know that is where they would have placed me if they didn’t forget about me.  Well, I wish I could put that on my competition resume.  I wish I could say, “I took almost last in the end, but I was supposed to be closer to the top of the list…”  Don’t get me wrong, the ladies who placed deserved it; each and every one of them.  Just stinks for me, that’s all. 
I held my head high, and felt nothing but pride for how happy I was with what I physically accomplished.  My physical accomplishment was only tainted slightly by the placing which must go on my resume, but eh, say la vie.   The world keeps turning, right?
My main focus, anyway, has and will always be my business with my husband and the amazing clients we have the joy to work with.  For example, despite my experience in my pro debut, we had several clients who did very well in the amateur division in both bikini and figure.  Additionally, we had a bikini client win her class and almost win the overall in the amateur bikini division at the California State Championships.  Those were successful achievements for me and my husband for sure!
While training for my pro debut (likely why I was slacking on my diet and training for the show), my husband and I began working very hard to perform photo shoots, and we began the initial process of learning to create helpful products for people to utilize.  We attempted to work on business deals with various producers, photographers, web developers, etc. etc….  And through these experiences, we have come to decide that we choose to work solely with each other.  Neither of us has much savvy with computers, programming, or technology in general; but we must learn and make this a priority.  We’re pretty smart, so we think we can put our brains to the test.
You see, we are both a part of what I like to call the “hybrid generation”.  We grew up learning to type on a typewriter, graced through college with the use of a computer, and danced into graduate school with some web assistance.  And then, boom!  As soon as grad school was over, the internet generation emerged.  Great!  Just what we needed; more things to learn after all of that schooling!
Technology is now our priority.  We plan to utilize technology to produce our amazing products with which we will help hundreds of thousands of people world-wide.  We intend to help people make lifestyle transformations, and we also plan to provide tools for trainers to use with their own clients.  It will be a whole shop of goodies for the new, health-minded generation!  It will be a “CyberBodyShop”, and we can’t wait for you to see what we will have in store!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Another Summer to Remember

Summer has always been my favorite time of the year. Ever since I was a little kid, I would roll my eyes when my classmates were counting down the days until Christmas. While I never really felt the "Joy" of the holiday season; the fourth of July really got me excited.  I never believed in Santa Claus or flying reindeer but to me summer was truly magical.

The last three summers have been even more spectacular than the summers of my youth.  Lets start with the Summer of 2010:
On August 7th 2010 Wendy and I were married in an ultra casual ceremony in San Diego California.   Wendy had just finished 4th at the USA the week before. We had been so focused on Wendy's contest that we put almost no planning into our wedding. You might think that "winging" a wedding ceremony was a recipe for disaster; but it turned out perfectly.  Everything just seemed to come together perfectly and effortlessly. The day I married Wendy was the best day of my life.

Wendy showed up in Las Vegas in July 2011 ready to claim her pro card. 4th place the year before was a great accomplishment at the time but this year, anything less than a first place finish was a defeat.  After pre-judging it was clear that Wendy was going to take the A class and earn that elusive pro card......

As expected based on the call outs at pre-judging, Wendy took her class and earned her pro card.  She won her class, but could a little A class girl win the overall?  Leaving Vegas with a pro card would be a mission accomplished, but leaving Las Vegas as the overall winner: "Miss USA" would be a life long dream come true.

My heart dropped as they moved Wendy from the outside to the middle during the overall judging. For those who are not familiar with how figure is judged, this meant she was battling it out for the title.
As the judges put the girls through their quarter turns, Wendy came alive. She just projected.... Winner.

The judges handed their decision to the announcer, "And your overall winner is....... Wendy Fortino!"  She did it! It was the greatest accomplishment of her life. This accomplishment was made even more sweet by the fact that all of our friends and family were there in Las Vegas to share that moment.

This was also my greatest accomplishment as a trainer.  It was so sweet to have my first professional athlete be my wife.  Wow, two incredible summers in a row, how can we top this?

After having Wendy win the overall at the USA, I didn't know how we could possibly top that the next year.  The 2012 NPC San Jose was the kick off show for summer 2012:

Our clients basically cleaned house at the San Jose: Tasha Standrich won her bikini class. In her very first show Natalia Fermin won the figure overall title. Mark Beyers won the Masters, Super heavyweight and the overall Bodybuilding title. Mark had actually won the teen division of this show 23 years earlier. So, he accomplished his goal of winning as a teen, masters, and overall winner.  Mark is truly the ultimate "Mr. San Jose." Christine Chanda earned a fourth place finish in a very tough figure C class.

Mark Beyers had played in the NFL for the 49ers and the Detroit Lions. I think playing in the NFL is every young mans dream but Mark actually dreamed of becoming a Professional Bodybuilder.  Unfortunately, his time in the NFL led to injuries which required over 14 surgeries.  His doctor released him to start training only 16 weeks out from the Masters Nationals, a pro qualifier.  This was a really short period of time to produce a pro caliber physique. I put together a plan that would allow him to carefully recover from his surgery while building quality muscle.  Mark is a dedicated athlete and has phenomenal genetics but this was a very tall task.

 After snagging an overall victory one week prior, at the 2012 San Jose Bodybuilding Championships, he more than earned his qualifying standard to head to Pittsburgh and attempt a shot at earning his pro card. And that is exactly what he did! Mark took Pittsburgh by storm, winning the overall victory at Master’s Nationals, and his professional bodybuilding status!

Mark is the prime example of what can happen when a true talent and high level of dedication are combined in the sport of bodybuilding. Many people talk about their hopes and dreams, but Mark goes out and just does it. We are so proud of him, and everything that he stands for!  I don't know how we can top the last three summers but I can't wait to see what the future holds.