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Why knowing my motivation won’t help you find yours 

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This past weekend was a whirlwind of emotions. It was my second bikini competition and aside from excitement I also felt slightly disappointed. I had brought the best package I possible can at this point in my journey and I had to keep reminding myself of my goals for this show.

The goal was to be better than I was last time. End story, just knock that package out of the water – and I did just that. My external goal, the one I couldn’t control was to not tie in last place. This was a big show and the physiques were amazing – every single one of them, so I will take my last place tie and be happy.

I will use this show and these feelings as motivation next season to be better. Having surgery in a few weeks will also help make me more competitive on the stage. One issue I did have on show day was determining if certain foods were truly helping. An example is sodium in the sandwich that I ate. The purpose was to make me a little tighter, but because of the excess skin it was hard to see if this had any effect at all.

I’ve been asked how what motivated me to get started or what keeps me motivated to keep going. I’ll tell you, but here’s another secret. Knowing my motivation to start and continue my journey won’t help you start or continue yours. You need to ask yourself what your goals are and decide why you are creating those goals to begin with.

So, what motivated me to get started? What did I do in the beginning?

I felt like I wasn’t able to control that was happening around me. In the fall of 2011, I had gotten out of a long term relationship, a relative was diagnosed with cancer that had an unclear timeline, I was still applying for jobs in my field (6 months after college), I had just acquired my learner’s permit (yes, for driving) and I had applied to graduate school. There were too many things that were happening that I didn’t have the final say in.

Turning internally and focusing on my health was a way for me to feel control of something. I started with slowly changing my nutrition – eliminating things with little value that were mostly filler in my diet like soda, chips, etc. I calorie counted in the beginning because at the time it made sense. I’ve tried eating paleo – learned it’s not my thing, but further instilled my love of meat and specifically bacon. As my goals have become more structured so has my eating. I’m eating for fuel, rather than desire. That’s why I flexible diet or macro count – whatever you want to call it.

I also started attending zumba classes and going to a few other classes with my friend Mellfire. The weight slowly came off and as it did I changed my eating and my routine. In four years, I’ve added running (sprinting and 5Ks as the longest distance), weight lifting, yoga, zumba, HIIT and outdoor cardio like hiking to my routine.

I didn’t have any guidance in the beginning and in fact, my doctor kept trying to give me diseases and excuses as to why I wasn’t or couldn’t lose more weight or weight at a faster pace. He never ran any tests – he would just spit out diseases like PCOS, which is very real and something many women do have. I however, don’t. I just like to eat and while I was calorie counting in the beginning and it helped, I also stalled with my loses until I adjusted my eating and goals again.

What motivates me to get up early?

I work an hour away from my home city. If I work out at night that means I will get to the gym around 5:30 pm (if I leave work on time and don’t hit traffic). This also means I won’t be home for dinner until around 7 pm (if I get in and out in a timely manner). Well, everyone goes to my gym at night and you have a hard time getting in and out, so for me, it makes more sense to go to bed between 9-10 pm and go to the gym when it opens at 5 am. I can come home and make breakfast and then I can have the evening to myself.

There are days that my bed feels nicer than getting bundled up and going outside, but I know if I don’t go in the morning, I won’t go in the evening and then I’ll be mad that I didn’t go at all.

What motivates me to get in the gym 6 days a week?

I have goals that I want to accomplish, but I also don’t want to be in the gym hours on end. Going more times a week allows me to concentrate on muscle groups in my lifts in a more focused way. It also gives me flexibility to complete my workout in about an hour and have the rest of the day to accomplish whatever else  need to. i also like the gym. It’s truly the only me time I feel like I have. If I’m not working, I’m sleeping or working out. I live in a city where I didn’t grow up or go to college. The gym is a time for me to work on me, but I’ve also met a few awesome people. We all workout in the morning and talk to each other.  It’s like home away from home.

What motivates me to make healthy decisions when I go out, especially when those around me aren’t?

If I know I’m going out, I will typically look at a menu beforehand and decide what I want to get, this helps me make better decisions during the day. For me it’s about balance and sometimes that means getting a salad with chicken and other days that means getting a burger, but subbing out fries for a vegetable – yeah, fries aren’t a vegetable. I don’t feel deprived this way and if you are putting a lot of emphasis on feeling like you are missing out, then I suggest talking to someone who specializes in eating disorders or trying to analyzing why you associate those feelings with food. It doesn’t mean that you have an eating disorder, but many who do have other underlying issues they need to work on. I’ve worked through mine and I’m not ashamed to admit that. We all have demons and battles. You need to figure out what works for you.

What do I do when I don’t have the motivation?

Just like everyone else, there are days I just want to eat ice cream and lay in bed binging Netflix, but that’s not life and at the end of the day I would be mad that I didn’t clean the apartment. Motivation can be fleeting, but you need to look at the overall goal. If having the cupcake will hinder all progress and throw you off track, then maybe you should pass on the cupcake. But if you can balance the cupcake with egg whites and broccoli, then saying yes to a treat every now and then. It’s the same with exercise. Will skipping cardio today ruin everything you’ve been working for? Probably not. But if you will be mad at yourself later that you didn’t suck it up a go, then you should probably go. I do ask myself these questions – can I fit a lift in later?  Can I fit this dessert into my macros? How will that change my eating for the rest of the day?

I have a low bullshit tolerance and I don’t like excuses. I travel for work and I still eat well and workout. We all have different priorities and are at different points in our lives. I don’t have children and aside from my boyfriend, I don’t need to be concerned for anyone else, but me. This isn’t being selfish, but putting my goals and hopes first is easy for me to do. I know it’s not the case for everyone, but it can be made into a conversation to involve those who are important in your life to see how they feel about the changes you are considering making.

When you ask me where I find the motivation, I guess I search within. I want to continue to better myself and continue learning and showing myself what I’m capable of. My current motivation is knowing next season is going to be so much better and that I have all summer to grow for the fall, and I have a lifetime ahead of me.

<3 Cristina

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