Monday, March 29, 2010

Tara Ballard's Contest Prep Update

Keeping It Real

In this post, I had planned to discuss the importance of rest days and the part they play in training. But I'm going to save that for another time, as the events of the last couple weeks have made me realize I need to write about something I believe is equally important when training to compete....keeping it real.

Anyone training for a Figure, Fitness, or Bodybuilding competition will tell you that the process can be extremely stressful- the sometimes two a day cardio sessions, the hard-core strength workouts, the strict diet, the planning and preparation... all of these things can turn the calmest, nicest person into a hot mess, especially as showtime approaches. It can be all-consuming, and any of you who have been through it know what I mean. When I was training for my last fall contest last year, I remember preparing one of my not-so-tasty dry ground turkey meals; Nick (as he often does) reached over to take a bite, and I basically went Ninja on him- this from an otherwise cool, calm, and collected person! But that's what carb deprivation and dehydration can do to a girl!

So, you already have all the stresses of training for a competition. Now throw in a dose of real life, and the curveballs it can throw at you when you least expect it, and you have what could be a recipe for disaster. How do you handle it? Do you completely wig out, get angry at everyone and everything, or do you just suck it up and deal with it? This is where it's extremely important to remember that we made the decision to compete; we made the choice to endure the grueling hours of training and to eat dry chicken and asparagus when our friends are eating things we can't have. No one forced us to do this. It is our choice. I have learned that hard way over the past couple weeks that real life takes the priority over all else. It has to. And when real life throws curveballs, then you just deal... and you know what, most of the time your world stays intact, no matter how much you think it's going to fall apart. As difficult as it gets, especially when you feel like no one gets what you're doing, take a step outside your stress and remember the things that mater most in your life; love, family, friends, health, is these things that will be around long after your big moment on stage.

I'm saying these things as much for me as for you. If you've read my prior posts, then you know that my dad has been struggling with a rare blood disease called Amyloidosis. A little over a week ago, Dad was rushed to the hospital. I'm really not sure if he would have made it through the night if he had not gone. His blood pressure was down to 70/40, he was totally incoherent and unable to even sit-up on his own. After a barrage of tests, it was found that his one good kidney was basically non-functional. My sister, step-mom, and I pulled several all-nighters, and even when we did get sleep, it was fitful. Luckily, the wonderful team of doctors at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center were able to get Dad stabilized, but it took several days. In the meantime, he developed shingles (very painful) due to his suppressed immune system. Over the past two months or so, Dad wasn't able to eat a whole lot; anything he did eat went right through. As a result, he was severely dehydrated and down 40lbs.

Remember those curveballs I spoke of? So how do you think I dealt with this situation? Did I stress because I was missing my incline treadmill HIIT workout?Or because I missed a meal and didn't get my gallon of water in? Was I angry that this had to happen NOW right when I'm in my training groove?? NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT... I have said it before and I will say it again- my dad and his health take priority over all else. Granted, I'm still 9 weeks out from showtime, but it would have been the same had I been one week out or one day out. Keeping it real....sucking it up when real life takes over...being there for my dad when he needs me. THAT'S what it's all about. There will always be another competition; I only have one dad.

Dad is doing better. He came home from teh hospital a couple days ago after a week-long stay. He is still fuzzy, and we still have a lot to deal with, but hopefull we are on the right path. One wonderful thing that happened this week; the insurance company overturned their decision to deny coverage of the medication Dad needs to keep his disease under control. It took some heavy-hitting legal scare tactics to accomplish this, but they relented!!!! Yeah!!! He wills tart back on his medication as soon as he is a bit stronger.

I'll get back to training in the next post.

Until next time, train hard, find happiness in every day, and above all else, KEEP IT REAL.


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