This is Divorce: The Sudden Shift in Your Reality

This is Divorce

This is Divorce.

Hello Everyone, 

For many weeks I have been completely silent online. There was one reason for that only; my husband and I separated for the final time. Just before we separated he began an argument with me about what I had been writing on my blog. He said that I was using my blog ‘to trash him’, which was in no way true. I was simply explaining some of the ins and outs of my personal life, and how you can not allow those factors to cause you to lose sight of your goal. 

That said, for the duration of our marriage, he never watched any of my YouTube videos, nor read any of my blog or social media posts. Suddenly, upon realizing that we were on the brink, he took interest in what I was writing and saying. I am not writing any of this to be mean or spiteful, but only to explain why I didn’t write anything for so many weeks. 

Let’s just say that for the purposes of this blog at this moment that the safety of both me and my children was in question. That reason, coupled with my new knowledge of the fact that he was reading all of my social posts, did not lend itself to an environment where I felt free to share. Has that changed? Only slightly. I am sure that at some point he will make time to pry into my life by reading these posts, but after weeks of losing the right to write on my blog, I simply do not care anymore. 

I decided for myself that he was not going to take one more thing from me, not my training goals, not my spirit, and not my ability to communicate with the world on my blog or any other social media channels.

There will be a time in the future where I may share the details of the final moments of our marriage, but this is not the time. We are getting ready to go through an ugly divorce, a nasty custody battle, and I will not provide his team of paid henchman with any ammunition to use against me and my babies. The only thing that I will say is this. I did what any mother would do in my situation; I protected my children, even at the expense of my marriage. Enough said for now. 

This pretty much sums it up.

This pretty much sums it up.

So what does divorce look or feel like? It feels like having your guts ripped out, while watching your standard of living plummet towards the earth, and having to figure out how to rebuild your life from basically nothing, and you have to do it all with a smile on your face to protect your children from the truth of their life. 

It doesn’t hit you all at once. For me, it happened in little ways. First, it happened the day after he left. I was making our usual amount of coffee, and realized that I no longer had to do that. The next day, it was looking at the door and seeing three jackets hanging, where once there had been four. It is tiny little knives that meet you around every corner.

Little knives in your heart.

Little knives in your heart.

You think you are just going to do the laundry, when you realize that one of his socks was mixed in with the clothing. You are overcome with a myriad of emotions; anger, resentment, profound grief, disbelief, disappointment, fear, and so much more. You look at your children playing joyfully in the bath tub, and you try to establish new routines, implement new rules. You have to tell your children that ‘Daddy loves you very much, but Mommy and Daddy are not going to live together anymore’. You have to fight back the urge to say the things that you are really thinking, because this is not their fight. Thankfully in our situation, they were not asking where Daddy was or why he was gone, so that has been a small blessing in all of this.This is their only childhood, and it is your job to protect them from this terrible new reality. 

When my parents were going through a divorce, I felt like a tattered and worn ball that was thrown violently between two parties that didn’t want to play ball. They were both highly educated, incredibly intelligent people who made the profoundly stupid mistake of not understanding that we were not responsible for their divorce. They would take their resentment towards each other and pour it on us like some disgusting syrupy goo that you could not wash off. I remember thinking that I wished that they could understand that I could, and would not divorce either of them. I was not going to choose one over the other, even though there was plenty of reason for me to do that. I was only issued one mother and one father at birth, and I didn’t get to dismiss them from my life because my parents were unable to make their marriage work. Case closed. 

Why do I tell you that? Simple, because I learned from their mistakes. I know what that feels like. I know the insecurities that created in me and my siblings. I simply will not do that to my children. It is my job to model love, compassion, and strength for them, even if I have to do it as a single mom who doesn’t think so highly of their dad. Is he a terrible person? I will let my children form their own opinions about him. As for what I think, I wouldn’t divorce a kind and loving husband, so I guess you can deduce what I think. I am not saying that he will not make a good husband/boyfriend to someone else down the road, but I am saying that the shelf life of our relationship expired, a long time ago. I was too patient, too forgiving, and simply just too stupid to end it. Thankfully, his actions took care of that for me, and now all I have to do is deal with the collateral damage. 

Do I hate him? No, I still love him. I will always want the best for him. I just no longer want to be a welcome mat for he and his family to abuse. Honestly, I could fill this blog and several others with the terrible things that happened during the course of our marriage from he and his family, but I probably won’t. The reason is because when I decide that I am truly done with something in my life, I release it. I don’t hold onto it, mull it over, regurgitate it and reanalyze it. I try to learn from it. I make my peace with it, and I just go on a more mature, more seasoned version of me. More to the point, my children and I deserve a peaceful life, filled with two parents who love them, and are whole. The only way that he and I will be happy is apart. It took me years and years, almost 10 to realize this, but it is an undeniable fact.

I also have the ability to understand the long game here. Someday, emotions will calm, he may remarry, I may remarry, we will have to learn to find peace in the one fact that we have to co-parent our children together. At the end of the day, years from now, that is all it will be. It will simply be another relationship in my life that I need to manage. It will have a different dynamic. It will have different expectations, but I hope that it will always have love and respect. I know that may take many many years to achieve, but I will conduct myself according to that one goal. I do not want to do or say anything that my children would ever look upon with disgust. I want them to see their mom as someone who took a really bad, and completely unfair situation, and built a life for them that was so much sweeter than the life that they had. I want our story, my story to be one of victory, not simply survival. I want to thrive in my divorce, not just survive my divorce. 

So what do you do? How do you go on? You make the slow realization daily that you were once a person who didn’t have another half. You used to be able to choose your own movies, your own evening activities, meals, vacation places and more. You were a person with hobbies, friends, goals and dreams of your own before you merged them with someone else’s. You realize that for the first time in your 40 years on this planet, you are actually going to be allowed to exist, in your own right, and live your life your way. There are these small victories that happen when you realize that grocery shopping is easier, there is less laundry, and you can really focus on yourself and your children. 

These children are going to need a lot of love and counseling. I can help them with the love, but we are all going to counseling together (Ava, Cash, and I-not the ex). They need to realize that they are not at fault and that they do not come from a broken home. They lived in a broken home, a very broken one, but now they are going to live in a whole home, one where the foundation is solid and stable and sure. I despise the term broken home, because it is positively laughable to assume that simply because two people manage to tolerate each other and live under the same roof, that they are somehow not broken. This is a lie. It’s a lie that society feeds us, to keep us in place, to keep us half alive. 

Sure there is a stigma with walking around with two children, and no wedding ring. People look at you. They make assumptions about you that may or may not be true, but they don’t really know anything about the situation. Just today, the kids and I had to get out of the house, so we walked into town to get ice cream. We live in a very upscale part of New Orleans. When we walked into this store, ordered and sat down, I felt the stares. I noticed one blonde woman and her husband in particular who kept looking at my left hand for a ring, which was not present. 

She was your typical trophy wife; tall, blonde, well dressed, huge ring, etc. She was me until 2.5 weeks ago. She is just walking around in her safe, secure, over privileged life not wanting for anything. What she doesn’t know is that the river that separates her life from mine is not so wide. She could be me in an instant if the tides turned. As I sat there thinking about that, it occurred to me that even though her stares were making me uncomfortable, that I didn’t want to live her life anymore. 

She was at this ice cream parlor, and it obviously meant nothing to them. They ate half of their ice cream and threw it away. For us, it was a huge treat. My children at every last bite of their ice cream, because they know that it will not happen again for quite some time. It occurred to me in that moment that I felt somewhat dead in my former life. We had everything and absolutely nothing at the same time. This new life will come with far less in the physical sense, but we are blooming as a new family unit. 

In case you are wondering if I have completely let go of my bikini bodybuilding training as we have navigated this new life, NOPE! I haven’t missed a single workout. I have lost more than 10 pounds since I began training. It has actually been wonderful to have a goal and a plan to focus on while the rest of my life is very uneasy at this time. Bragging? Not even close. I am simply telling you that when you make a decision for yourself that you are going to do something, you will move heaven, hell, and anything else that comes down your path to make it happen. 

It is going to be a long, bumpy, and windy road until this is over and I can look back and laugh. That said, I am going to strap myself and my babies in and enjoy this ride. I feel alive for the first time in so many years. I feel free to breathe, to exist, and to be. 

Living my Life, 

Raphaela

Bikini Bodybuilding: The First Two Weeks

Bikini, bodybuilding

What to expect during this phase of your journey into bodybuilding.

 

Hey Everyone,

Well, today is officially the end of the second week of my training for my bikini bodybuilding show. I thought that this would be a great time, you know-while it’s still actually in my mind- to give you an inside look at what to expect during those first two weeks. In order to get to the 101 basics of bikini bodybuilding, I first have to walk you through the personal stuff so that you can see ways of dealing with the things that will come your way during this part of your journey. So, let’s take a little trip to make sure that your head is in the right place, so that your body can follow.

Let’s go back for just a second. When I told my husband that I was going to start training for a show again, he was not happy. He is not supportive of this lifestyle or this sport in any way. To be clear, I am not saying this for pity.  I need to say that so that anyone else who is in that position knows that when you finally make this decision for yourself, you will need to go it alone, at least in the beginning.

Two weeks ago, we had a huge fight about this, which I detailed a little bit in my last blog. The point that I want you to take away is that you have to state your goals, out load, for every and anyone to judge. You need to own them, represent them, and be proud of them. Some will judge you, but you will find that most will actually be pretty supportive, or at least encouraging. Strangely enough, most of the people who will actively encourage you are not the people who you are closest to. I really don’t understand why this is, but it is how it will begin for most of you. Knock, knock. Who’s There? Jealousy and Change. Nope, we don’t want you here. Accept that this will be reacted to in many different ways, and just know that it has NOTHING to do with you, and then move on.

For me, when you question something that I have said that I am going to do, it only makes me want it even more. Ok, ok, Raphaela, get back to it. 🙂 Any who, I told him on a Friday that the following Monday I would begin training. We fought. I prepared my meals, my workout plans, and laid out all of my outfits, slowly and deliberately throughout the weekend. I wanted to make this transition as easy as I could on everyone in my family, so I made sure to do these things on my time, not theirs.

On Monday, I got up, got the kids ready, then went to the gym. I worked out, ate clean, drank my water (1 gallon per day…seriously do not skip this). My husband gave me a bunch of lip about how it must be nice for me to go to the gym while he has to go to work. To that I say, I chose a different path in my life. I work for myself, and I have worked for more than a decade at my business to put it on auto pilot, or at least mostly, so that I could have the freedom to do other things. While he was going to work, getting promotions, getting accolades, and moving our family around the country, I worked my a*s off from wherever we were living. I rebuilt my business repeatedly to support him. I mean, I worked all the time, nights, weekends, during holidays, during his repeated deployments, during our moves, 3 hours after I had both of our children, and more so that I could have this freedom. So, basically, I think that it is kind of amusing that he is frustrated by my freedom, especially since it has no financial impact on him. Regardless, I just went right on with what I wanted to do.

At nights, instead of simply sitting down to dinner with the kids, then bath, then bedtime, I set up a mini activity for us each night. I knew that it would make the temptation of snacking or emotional eating less likely to derail my plans. It started with me making the kids meals in little to go containers and then pulling them around the park, or our city, while they ate. We saw a lot of really cool things that we would otherwise have missed. They really enjoy our little sunset dinner cruises. One of our evenings out, we had the opportunity to watch a pilot drawing in the sky. It was very cool and the kids loved it.

 

 

We saw someone writing in the sky.

We saw someone writing in the sky.

When Friday night came, I knew that would not only be a struggle, but a temptation, as we have gotten into the habit of having a few cocktails on Friday night after the kids go to bed and just spending time together. I told him that Friday morning that I would be watching a movie, not drinking and hanging out. He rolled his eyes, which I expected. When Friday night came, I made my 6th meal (right on schedule), and I turned on a movie that I have always wanted to see, and never made time for ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’. He asked what I was watching, and I invited him to join me, which he did while saying, ” I reserve the right to go to bed in like three minutes because this movie is going to suck.” No matter, I turned it on anyway. We sat and watched the movie, and our son woke up and decided to sit with us for a bit. The whole time, my husband kept making fun of the movie, and I would just tell him how much I was enjoying it. I watched the movie, finally (only like 30 years late 🙂 ) and went to bed early. He stayed up doing whatever.

I woke up early on Saturday, the kids and I had a beautiful breakfast together and then we went for a bike ride together. Then came Saturday night, aka, the night that I am supposed to have a cheat meal, which I did, but I decided to cheat clean. This means that you eat something that is not on  your normal meal plan, but that you prepare or eat food that is still a healthy choice. Cheat meals can undo a lot of progress, and I just didn’t want to do that. I made my cauliflower pizza and it was soooo yummy. Seriously, I would rather eat this than @Dominos.

Cheat Meal Cauliflower Pizza with Spring Onions,  Tofurkey Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Faux Meat Sausage and Fresh Grape Tomatoes. Yummy!

Cheat Meal Cauliflower Pizza with Spring Onions, Tofurkey Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Faux Meat Sausage and Fresh Grape Tomatoes. Yummy!

 

I know, I know, you are thinking, “Wow, this really doesn’t have much to do with bodybuilding.” Hold your fire there sunshine, because you will soon realize that getting control over the space between your ears has EVERYTHING to do with bodybuilding. You have to train like a champion before anyone even knows your name. You have to show people, with actions that you are not going to be stopped. It doesn’t have to cause fights, but it will likely be uncomfortable in the beginning. In the end, who cares? It is not my issue if others are made uncomfortable by my progress, it’s theirs. That takes some time to really own, but once you really grasp that, you will become a MUCH better bodybuilder.

One night I was going to bed at 9:45 so that I could be in bed, sleeping by 10. He asked my why I was going to bed so early. I explained that I needed eight hours of sleep per night. He said, “Why, because you’re an athlete? Yeah right.” I said nothing. I know what I am, and I know where I am going, so I brushed my teeth, washed my face and went to bed. I could bore you with all of the antics and petty comments that he made, but at the end of the day, it was textbook behavior, so I just decided to pray for peace in my household, and I pressed on. I planned my work, I worked my plan, and I continued training. I set everything out the night before. I prepared my meals for three-four days, two times a week. I drank a lot of water. I peed a lot, like I am considering moving an iPad in there :-). I slept for 8 hours per night, period, no questions asked.

I can not stress to you enough the importance of rest. It makes it vastly easier to train hard. It has a huge impact on your ability to stick to your meal plan. It keeps stress levels low, and it really causes you to prioritize what needs to get done. I go to bed at 10 PM and wake at 6 AM, seven days a week. I do not make exceptions to that rule, because it simply does not pay off to do so. Some may think that is really boring, but anyone on a mission knows that this is absolutely necessary to be fully available and present in your life.

Yesterday, something magical happened. My husband actually texted me asked me how my workout went. I will look upon that as a sign on hope. Ok, that or he was just really bored at work. 🙂 Regardless, my story, and my path will be different from yours. Some of you may have a huge support system, and some of you may not. The point is to take control over these struggles, to empower yourself with the understanding that you can and will effect positive changes in your life, but that it may not happen right away.

Outside of the emotional side of it, there are some pointers listed below that I really encourage you to follow.

Bodybuilding Pointers:

-Write down your workouts before you get to the gym. Know how many sets you are going to do of each, how long you will rest between sets, and leave a space to write how much weight you lifted so that you can track your progress. Say it with me, YouTube is your friend.

-Lay your workout outfits out in advance. This makes it an automatic behavior when you wake up. You wake up, you brush your teeth, you get into your workout gear. If you work out at night, lay them out anyway. Take them with you to work. Finish work, change your clothes and go to the gym. If you have children, make sure your gym has a daycare. If it doesn’t, go during lunch, because you will not be wasting time running around looking for food, because you will already have food with you. Don’t give yourself excuses. I used to get up at 4:30 in the morning to drive 27 miles into Los Angeles to beat the traffic so that I could work out before getting to my office at 7:45 each day. Get it done!

-People say that it’s 80% Diet, 20% Food. I couldn’t disagree with that more. I think it’s 15% Mental (giving yourself permission to succeed, and not giving yourself permission to quit, not concerning yourself with what others think, and not robbing yourself of a goal that you are worthy of achieving), 15% Exercise (seriously 45 minutes of weight lifting 5 days a week and 3 sessions of High Intensity Interval Training 3 days per week should do it), and 70% Diet (It’s not a diet. It’s choosing to put fuel, not garbage in your mouth. It’s understanding that you are building your body, and that you must feed it the proper fuel to make that happen.) A piss poor diet, matched with endless hours of cardio at the gym will not give you a chiseled bikini bodybuilder body. Trust me, I have tried that plan. It DOES NOT work. Stay Focused. Train Hard. Eat Clean!

-Don’t count calories, figure out your macros. There are all kinds of online tools to help you do this. I really love FitDay.com. Enter what you eat, adjust the proportions of food to fit whatever Macro split you are trying to hit. I am currently doing 50% Protein, 30% Carbs, and 20% Fat, but my goals may be different from yours. Macros help you to understand how much protein, carbohydrates, and fat you need to feed your body to make it do what you want it to do. Bodybuilding is NOT about counting calories, it’s about feeding your body the fuel that it needs to be able to perform the way that you want it to perform. Get a food scale. Click here to buy the one that I use. It’s not the most expensive, but it gets the job done, and has for the last 6 years. It’s the cost of a six pack of soda, so don’t make excuses, just do it. Prepare your food in advance, weigh your food, and eat only that amount. This is how you build a lean body.

Get A Food Scale Today. You can not afford to not own this. Don't count calories, understand Macros.

Get A Food Scale Today. You can not afford to not own this. Don’t count calories, understand Macros.

-Write out your weekly meal plan, and stick to it. I eat 7 times a day, no that is not a typo, 7 times per day. I eat at 6:30, 9 AM, 11:30, 2PM, 4:30, 7PM and again right before bed at 9:30. I eat basically every 2.5 hours, and drink a lot of water between meals. I never feel tired, or bloated, or hungry because I am always giving my body just enough fuel to burn and not enough to have to store. On cheat nights, do yourself a favor and cheat clean. The sky is the limit. Check out Pinterest for hundreds of cheat night meal recipes. I don’t eat anything but Fish (Pescetarian) and I created a Pinterest Board, which you are welcome to follow for those recipes. In case you don’t think that this works, you should know that I have lost 7.2 pounds in the last two weeks, so it absolutely does work. I promise. 🙂

-Drink your water. Don’t skip this one. Don’t short change your body, just drink it. Milk does a body good? I don’t know about that. Water definitely does a body good, well great actually :-).

-Watch videos on YouTube of competitions, look at pictures of bikini competition suits, and just generally recenter and refocus yourself several times per day. Trust me, do yourself a favor. People will say that what you are doing is not normal, but you have to remember that you are not shooting for the middle here. You are trying to effect change in your life, and yes, all of the things mentioned above are normal for competitive bodybuilders, fitness models, or anyone else who wants to live a healthy lifestyle where they are proud of their body.

-I would set up a schedule for yourself, as I have done for myself of when and what you are going to buy during what weeks. For example, this week, I purchased my competition heels, in two weeks, I will sign up for my NPC card, etc, etc, right up to the week where you buy your suit and make your hotel accommodations. If you do it in little pieces it will be less of a shock to your wallet, and it is like setting up a system of incremental rewards to keep you moving forward.

I hope you found this helpful. I hope you don’t give up on yourself. I hope you follow my progress, and I hope that you achieve the body of your dreams. If you want more regular updates, check out my YouTube channel for more about Bikini Bodybuilding and more. I shoot videos about a lot of things there, my life, my family, my fitness journey, and just yesterday, about repurposing your old tank tops and turning them into workout tanks. Don’t forget to subscribe so that you are notified whenever I upload a new video.

Here are a few examples in case you want to make your own, or feel free to take my ideas and recreate them. I would be flattered :-).

Ready, Set, Lift. My DIY Workout Tank

Ready, Set, Lift. My DIY Workout Tank

Leave Nothing DIY Tank Top. I wore this today and it really helped me to focus on putting everything I had into my workout today, and leaving nothing in the tank.

Leave Nothing DIY Tank Top. I wore this today and it really helped me to focus on putting everything I had into my workout today, and leaving nothing in the tank.

 

Thank you for spending some time with me. Now go plan your work, work your plan, and maybe I will see you backstage at a show some day.

Loving It All,

Raphaela