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

 

Dear Body, Let’s Talk: #dearbody

Dear body. A letter to myself.

Dear body. A letter to myself.

Hey Everyone,

Today is Friday, but not any Friday. Today is the day that I am going to share some very personal things about my body, where it has been, and where I want it to go. I should say that I am likely not alone in anything that I will write here. I should also say that I am writing this letter to myself, to my body to be specific, but I am sharing it because I know that this will be helpful for others, as it has been a very eye opening experience for me. So, here we go. Here is the letter that I wrote to my body a week ago, and the decision that writing this letter caused me to finally make today.

Dear Body,

What up! 🙂 It feels kind of weird writing to you, while being inside of you at the same time. Oh well, details I guess. Jesus, where to begin? Let’s start at the beginning. Remember when we spent hours a day on a tennis court together, you know, basically the entire time that we were growing up. I trained you insanely hard to play competitively. I remember what it felt like to want to play pro so badly that it’s all that I could think about. We were so fit, so happy, so hungry, but not for food.

Then the years went on and I started to want it less, life got in the way, and then remember when that as*hole shot you in the arm on Christmas night? Yup, I remember that too. That was some scary sh*t. We survived, but we were forever changed. We were a little weaker on the left side, but a lot stronger on the inside. Remember how you spent almost a year with your arm in a sling, and we had to do everything with one arm? What a year that was. Remember when we could barely lift a bottle of isopropyl rubbing alcohol 5 times during physical therapy? We cried and cried, but we didn’t quit. We just worked it out, slowly, but we worked it out. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

Ah yes, then there was college. Were we training for anything then? Nope. And what happened during college? Let’s see; we started going to dance clubs (country bars) and dancing, and that was fun because we were so good at it. It was good exercise too.  We were so young, our body was perfect in basically every way, and we didn’t really have to work for it. We could just eat whatever we wanted, sleep or not, drink, and it really didn’t show. Those were the good old days.

Competed in some pageants for fun. Why not?

Competed in some pageants for fun. Why not?

Then remember how I thought it was a good idea to smoke socially, and start drinking socially. Wow those were two of my best decisions, NOT! I so wish that I had never begun either of those things. Why, you ask? Simple, because they are disjointed from who I want us to be. Then you got bigger, had cellulite, and just generally started to look less than wonderful.

I was so mad at you for betraying me and not giving me the beautiful body that I once had. You were likely very irritated with me for not taking care of you. We were stuck together, like it or not. Then one day I decided that I would fix you once and for all and I decided that I would just stop eating and I would work out like a crazy person.  Just for fun I thought that I would up the anti and take copious amounts of fat burners, energy pills, and drink tons of caffeine.

New Years Eve. I just didn't think I was thin enough.

New Years Eve. I just didn’t think I was thin enough.

Oh yeah, you got skinny alright. Skinny like someone who was sick, becuase I was sick. My mind was just crazy. It took me years to admit it, because for a while everyone said how great we were looking. I couldn’t stop and you were just along for the ride. I was anorexic, like seriously  anorexic for so many years. I don’t think that I have ever apologized to you you for that, so I am sorry. That was wrong. I hurt you.

I was anorexic. It took me four years to admit.

I was anorexic. It took me four years to admit. I weighed only 94 pounds here at the age of 25.

I was lucky to have some very good friends around me that finally said that I needed to deal with my problem, and I did. I was one of the lucky ones. Together we beat anorexia and we got healthy again. We gained a little weight, and life was normal for a few years. Then what happened to us? Come on, you know. Shorts became replaced by pants. Tank tops were now covered up by cardigans. Don’t you even think about forgetting that sarong thing that covers our butt at the pool every year. I know, I know, I can try to lie to both of us and say that I have been so busy and stressed out trying to build my company, follow my military husband around the country, raise our children, etc that I ‘just don’t have time to be that thin anymore’. I could say that, but it’s a lie. It’s a lie that I have been telling you, well, me, for years. You never bit off on any of that. You never stopped wanting to be better, but what could you do, you were stuck with me. I was stuck with you. We were so unhappy. We went on like that for almost 10 years.

This is not a happy girl even though I am smiling.

This is not a happy girl even though I am smiling.

Then one day, a friend told me that she was getting into bikini bodybuilding. I didn’t know what that was, so I looked it up and for some reason, on that day in 2013, I was hooked. I knew that was my path. I knew that is where you and I belonged. I signed with a team, and we trained, and we trained. We were starting to change. We were starting to look really good. I felt great.

My fitness team: Team Bombshell

My former fitness team. Team Bombshell.

Then, that fateful day (detailed in another blog post titled My Year in Review) you just stopped working. You started falling down stairs, I couldn’t speak correctly, you trembled all the time. We spent months at the Mayo clinic until it was all sorted out.  I knew deep down that you were broken, broken from all of the abuse in the past, broken from a decade of bad decisions, and when I tried to push you that hard without giving you what you needed, you finally quit. I was so emotionally broken. I felt like you took that from me. I gave you time to heal. I found a new way to make you work again. We were sick and we were hurting, but we found a way through it, together. 

Yes, I know that I continued to train you for the last year and half, but not in the way that we are now capable of, because I have learned to embrace the fact that I am not a ‘skinny’ girl. We have curves, which until I learned about bikini bodybuilding, I did everything in my power to hide that fact. You have broad shoulders, a tiny waist, and more junk in your trunk than we know what to do with, but we are strong. We are muscular, and if we work together, we can do great things. For all of those years, I was a ship lost at sea, and you were my unwilling passenger. I knew that we were going the wrong way, but I just coudn’t see land. I didn’t know where we belonged. It was like I was living someone else’s life. I always had this voice inside of me that screamed that this was not all there was for us. It was you. I didn’t realize that, but you were waiting, you were stoking the fire, you were waiting for me to see you for what you are. You were waiting for me to learn to love you for what you are, flaws and all. Thank God you were so patient and that you are still here and now healthy.

There are many people in our life that do not want us to train, that do not want us to compete, and that are perfectly happy watching us live a life that is short of the one that we can live.  They feel that way for two reasons. One, if we train, they will be forced to look at their own behavior and question if they should and could do better for themselves. Two, it is inconvenient for them. They think that we will change, and we will. They don’t see how much happier you and I will be, in all aspects of our life, if we can work together to get to that really healthy place, so we have to have enough faith for all of them.

I believe in you. I know that you are an athlete. You always have been. No matter what I have done to you, or what you have done to me, we have one thing in common, we both want better. I want to make you better. I have dreams. I have goals. I will no longer live this life, where I know that I am leaving things on the table that I don’t want to leave there.

It has taken me 40 years to realize that you and I need to work together to achieve our goals. It’s silly really if you think about it, because we want the same things; goals, accomplishment, rest, training, clean food for fuel, and plenty of water. I get it now. I am so sorry that it took me so long to figure out that I couldn’t short change you, that I couldn’t manipulate you, trick you, or in some other way make you deliver the results that I wanted without the work. I am sorry that you were trapped with me while it took me way too long to grow up. I am asking for your forgiveness. I want a clean slate. Can you forgive me?

I want to move forward with you, in a healthy relationship where we give each other what we need, and where we both benefit from that process. I want you to know that I have always been an athlete too. I think that is why I engaged in so many of the self destructive behaviors that I did. I was fighting you, and not for any good reason, other than self doubt. I want you to know that I don’t doubt you any more. I don’t doubt what you are capable of. I don’t doubt that you can deliver the results if I give you what you need.

I want to compete in bikini bodybuilding. I don’t want to do it for bragging rights, I want to do it for us. I want to do it so that my daughter looks at me and thinks that she can do anything. I want to do it so that my daughter grows up with a healthy body image. God, I don’t want her to go through what I put you through. I want to do it so that I can play in the pool with my kids on a summer day without stressing about my body. I want to do it so that I can go on a date with my husband without wondering if ‘I look fat’. I want to do it for me, because I still have the spirit of a fighter, of an athlete. That fire still burns inside of me, and I need you to help me make it a reality.

Will you go on this adventure with me? I want us to compete at a show in August, in Louisiana. Its far enough that we can train safely, consistently, and arrive stage ready. Will we win? I don’t know. I don’t know if we will win the trophy on this first time out, but I know that you and I will be winners if we work together to achieve that body. We can tweak everthing else after the first show, but we have to get ready, together. Are you with me? After that, we can do anything we want, but its’ going to be an adventure 40 years in the making. I am ready. Will you join me? We have 106 days, 15 weeks! I’ll meet you at the gym, near the weights. 🙂

XO,

Raphaela

Blackhawk Helicopter Crash in Florida: We Wait

Good Morning Everyone,

I woke up today, like any other day, and checked my phone before reaching for my water bottle. It was every military wife’s worst nightmare. There was a CNN Update and it read ’11 Missing after Blackhawk Helicopter Crashes in Florida’. I couldn’t even breathe for a minute. My throat felt tight and I felt the tears welling up inside of me. Anyone who reads that kind of a thing will feel deeply saddened, but for military members and their families around the world this kind of news is devastating.

I want to remain hopeful, as the news is only reporting that they have found debris. They say that the 11 are presumed dead, but nothing is confirmed. My thoughts switch immediately to the families of these service members. What are they going through right now? They sit, and they wait, because that’s all that they can do. They are powerless and broken at the same time. The thoughts that race through your mind are is it my Marine?, is it my Soldier?, if it’s not, do I know their wife, their children?

They wait for a knock on the door that they know will likely come. They know what they will see and it will be like some terrible nightmare, but it will happen in their homes. Those uniformed men and women will come. These brave people have to deliver that kind of news with honor and dignity, and they have to be very strong while they are delivering the worst news imaginable.

They will say those words that no one wants to hear. They will tell you that today your life is changed forever. They will be the people whose words confirm your deepest fears. They will be the fingers that walk up and put their thumb and index finger over the flame of hope that still burned inside of you when you heard about this crash. They will put out your hope. They will confirm that your loved one was among the missing, and is now confirmed dead. They will confirm your terrible thought, you are now a widow.

You will have to deliver this news to your children, and you will have to be strong until family arrives to help you because you likely do not live near your family. You live at your spouse’s duty station, and that is almost always no where near home. The families of these service members will receive this news. The moms and dads, sisters and brothers, and friends will all hear this devastating news today. That brave service member who everyone assumed was safe, because they were in the states, is gone. No one is prepared and so it hits you on an entirely different level.

The words will come, then the tears, denial, grief, the funeral, and then life will just go on for everyone else. Your story will not be in the headlines anymore, but your life will still go on. Your broken, gaping hole in your life will just have to keep moving forward. You will have to be a single parent, a widow, and people will talk about your ‘deceased spouse’ whenever you leave the room. That is your new life.

You may be wondering why I am writing such a post. The answer is simple. I am a military wife, and today all military wives are heartbroken. We wait together. In these moments, we make no distinction between branches of service. We all feel the same thing today, sadness. We are reminded today that we have to stand together, or we will fall apart. We are all asking ourselves what we can do to help, because those ‘sisters’ of ours are going through the worst day of their lives. We are reminded that tomorrow that knock could be on our front doors.

I have sent my husband on many deployments; Iraq and Afghanistan repeatedly. He flies Cobra Helicopters for the Marine Corps, so this crash hits me on a very personal level. We all feel this false sense of security when they are stateside that they are safe, and today is a reminder that this is a lie that we tell ourselves so that we can sleep at night. What else do you do? How else could you kiss your service member goodbye in the morning to go to work and know that you may not see them again? Service members, police officers, firefighters and probably others that I am overlooking right now, we all share that common thread.

Let us stand together today as military wives, husbands, family members, and patriots and support these families. No amount of money can ever put their dad in their living rooms on Christmas ever again. No amount of money can walk their daughter down the isle on her wedding day, or teach a son to grow up to become a good man like his daddy was. Lastly, no amount of money can hold those wives tonight as they realize that their spouse will never lie next to them again, never. They are gone.

I asked myself what I would want if it were my door that was getting knocked on today, and I would want a memory. It wouldn’t be about money, or help, because those things will come as a natural progression of this event. I would want a memory. I would want something that I could watch with my children, play at holidays, and share with my grandchildren about the man that was lost, the person we buried, my husband. That is what I would want.

The reason this occurred to me was as a result of the recent movie ‘American Sniper’, which is of course a heartbreaking account of one family’s loss. The reason this movie was so moving to me was not just how it documented the life of Chris Kyle, but how it offered his children a look at their father. They will have something to show who he was, how he was loved, and how he was mourned.

The next time you see a service member, be sure that you are mindful that they, and their families make sacrifices every day to prepare to defend the freedom that you enjoy. Our families are prepared, though perhaps not ready, to pay the ultimate price as patriots and supporters of this wonderful country that we live in.

With a very heavy heart and the utmost respect,

Raphaela Laurean

How To Choose Your Business Name

Hello Everyone,

I just shot a 3 part series (total of roughly 15 minutes) that details what I believe to be the most cost effective and efficient way to choose your business name. Whether you are thinking about starting a business, have recently started one, or are rebranding, these videos contain very valuable (and free) advice about how to get the job done quickly and correctly. I hope you enjoy these. I am posting the first one below. If you like it when you visit my You Tube Channel, just watch parts 2 and 3. Thank you.

Gratefully,

Raphaela

My Year In Review: Why I Have More Aliases Then A Colombian Drug Lord

raphaela, lorian, laurean, rafiela, name, change, merge, social, media, identities, accounts

Why Did I Merge Two Social Media Identities?

I will begin this post by saying that this is going to be a long post. It’s not a story that can be told quickly, and I am going to tell you the whole story. A lot of people that I know on both sides of my social media channels have been asking why the change, and what has been happening during the last year. So here goes……

Yesterday I engaged in the scary, but very rewarding adventure of merging two social media identities. For the last year or so, I had begun to develop my personal social media channel (www.raphaelalaurean.com). I began to develop this channel for two reasons. I was training for a Bikini Bodybuilding competition (say what??), and preparing for my EnvyTan products to move to Amazon.com. As you read this post, you will learn how these two things are tied together.

Initially, I started to develop this channel because I had taken on the challenge of training for a Bikini Bodybuilding Competition to really push my fitness to the next level. For reasons which seem kind of silly to me now, I was not really ready to share that kind of information with every person that I have ever known. It strikes me as odd, and very amusing, that people will share the most intimate, terrifying, personal moments of their lives with strangers without hesitation, but they always give pause when considering whether to share with those people who they truly know. Why is that? I can’t speak for you, but for me, I am sure that it is mostly insecurity. I am sure that it is rooted in a fear of rejection, and of being judged. People like to compartmentalize the people they know; this person is a great dad, this person is a business woman. It becomes very uncomfortable for people when someone that you know jumps out of any one box, and attempts to leap into another. My Mom has always said, “No one is a profit in their own town.” For example, I am sure that the people who knew a young Tony Robbins or Glenn Close did not take them very seriously when they were rising to stardom.

Anywho, back to the story. I joined Bombshell Fitness, went to their training camp, trained exceptionally hard for roughly 3 months (in the gym 2.5-3 hours daily), and was on track to do my first Bikini Bodybuilding show a few months later. During this time, to connect with all of the exceptional team mates and community members that I was meeting, I developed my ‘Raphaela Laurean’ page. It would have been fairly obvious to anyone on my other social media pages that I was bodybuilding if all of a sudden all of these ‘bodybuilders’ were my friends and posting ‘bodybuilding content’. I loved training with this team.

I saw amazing changes in my body and confidence levels (something every relatively new mom struggles with). Then one day, I fell down the stairs. At first I dismissed it because I thought I tripped. Then it happened again a few days later, but this time I was holding my baby boy when it happened, and I knew that something was very wrong. I started falling down stairs, not being able to speak properly (couldn’t recall the words that I was trying to say), I had terrible tremors, constant nausea, and I was in pain everywhere. After seeing every specialist in Warner Robins, and then Macon, GA, I was sent to the Mayo Clinic in Florida. I spent several months commuting back and forth to the Mayo Clinic (5 hour drive each way) with what seemed to be a mystery illness. As you can imagine, my training stopped, and I was suddenly planning for a different version of my own life. It was at this time, that I began to research moving my products to Amazon.com, and the real reason that I did that is because I was preparing for a situation in which I was either not present, or not well enough to manage the details of EnvyTan any longer.

I had CAT scans, PET scans, Biopsies, Blood work, MRI’s and things that I can not even pronounce done. My mother and I did eventually, and only by analyzing test results, figure out what was wrong (that is for another post). I have to thank my Mom for never stopping her research. She worked tirelessly around the clock analyzing the information that was being returned on these tests. She is the one who figured out what the problem was, not the doctors at the Mayo Clinic. Let’s just say that the show ‘House’ isn’t happening at the Mayo Clinic. They did not look at the overall picture, they looked at segmented pieces of information, and just couldn’t put it together. Regardless, I am extremely lucky to have such an intelligent and dedicated mom who simply would not give up on finding the truth. Thank you Mom. I love you.

I am not going to die, so don’t get too excited and start trying to lay claim to my personal treasures :-). While you are reading this, you will likely be thinking, I didn’t know anything about this. As I will explain later in this post, I never shared details of my personal life online, so this was completely a private struggle that consumed my life for more than half of a year. All the while, I was trying to run my business, raise my children, keep up appearances, and deal with my husband’s constant mini deployments (1 week here, 1 month there). Let’s just say that 2014 was not my best year.

However, I did learn some things during this year. I learned that when the rubber really meets the road, and you actually do share and ask for help, people are usually willing to be there for you. This was not a strength area for me. I learned that I can try to plan for anything that I like, and that I will almost certainly have to move left and right to get to that goal, where I used to think that it was a straight line. Becoming that ill, that suddenly, is a very humbling experience. When you have to ask someone to help you hook a necklace, because your hands are trembling too much to do it for yourself, you will quickly realize that you are not as perfect as you may once have believed. After months of living in uncertainty, and treasuring every day with my babies, because I was getting worse, I am a much more grateful, patient person now.  Things are different now. I have to listen to my body now. I have had to slow down a lot. I have had to learn to let a lot of things go, to keep stress levels very low. I have been given a gift to see people in a new way, and to appreciate that if someone is being grumpy or mean, that they may just not be feeling well, and it may have nothing to do with me at all.

Most of all, through all of the research, my eyes have been opened, very wide, to what is wrong with traditional medicine, and how it is practiced. I have learned that you ARE your ONLY advocate, and that if you don’t have someone (thanks Mom), or yourself advocating for your health needs, you will be swallowed up whole by the medical system. If you think I am joking, out of sheer frustration one day at the Mayo Clinic, I asked one of my doctors how this could be happening, and how they could not have an answer, he said, “Well, Raphaela, that is why it is called practicing medicine.” They would have had me taking more than 10 pills per day, living in constant pain, and never have fixed the problem. Enough said, I had to take control of the situation, and with my mother’s help, and a LOT of research, the situation is now relatively under control and I am happy to tell you that I do not take a single pill (mainstream medicine) to manage this situation. There is so much to say on this topic, and it will be the subject of later posts. For now, let’s get back to the meat and potatoes.

The second reason, which as you now know is only really an extension of the first reason,  was in preparation for my freedom from sitting as the “President/CEO” of EnvyTan.  I am still in charge of things at EnvyTan, but after 10 years in business, I have decided to reward myself by letting Amazon manage the warehousing, inventory, shipping, etc for my business. This decision was arrived at out of necessity, but in all honesty, the business has grown to a point where it is the best thing for our customers around the world. It is faster, less expensive, and requires much less of my time and energy.  All of the products will be available on Amazon right before Valentines Day this year, February 14, 2015.

As a result of this, I am finally free to have some kind of ‘personal’ life online. I always felt that it would be very inappropriate to share details about my personal life while I was running things from the corporate location. For example, no one wants to see you enjoying time off on vacation if it means that you are not available to answer their questions, or tend to their needs. That is a small glimpse of what I am talking about. Now imagine hearing that the person who runs the company where you buy your supplies is very ill. People tend to jump ship in these situations to protect their own business interests, and I completely understand that. Suffice to say, I felt it was easier and more inline with my company image not to share these kinds of personal things. All of that said, while reviewing my goals for 2015 yesterday, I decided that it was time to stop living this ‘Double Life’ and merge these two identities.

I have multiple sides of myself, as we all do; business owner, wife, mother, DIY’r, beauty enthusiast, and the list goes on. I guess I come from the tail end of a generation that was brought up to believe that if you can’t sell yourself, you can’t sell your products. That is still true, but the interpretation of that has morphed substantially over the last decade. People want to really ‘connect’ with the people that they do business with. They don’t want to buy from a brand, they want to be part of an overall experience. They want to be in the fold, not on the perimeter anymore. This is wonderful, but it takes a little getting used to. It takes time to embrace the idea that people are open to the fact that just because someone bakes silly cake pops with their kids on Saturday, doesn’t mean that they are not exceptionally good at manufacturing sunless tanning solution, the other 5 or 6 days of the week.

So, with multiple social media channels come many names. This was simple for me, as I have changed my name several times in the last 20 years. My brother says, “Sis, you have more aliases than a Colombian Drug Lord.” I think that’s a pretty fair assessment. 🙂

Legal: Raphaela Laureana Theresa Robertson (Maiden)
–Insert one or two marriages and you have various last names 🙂
*My friends in high school called me Terri, short for my middle name Theresa. Why is this you ask? Well, let’s see, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came out and then became insanely popular when I was about to start high school. Let’s review their names; Leonardo (nope, not a problem), Donatello (nope again), Michelangelo (hmm, my sister’s name is Michaela) and Raphael (you have got to be freakin’ kidding me). It was choose a nick name or suffer eternal wedgies in high school (lol).  My sister and I both chose nick names. Come on, you have been to high school. It’s like prison rules. 🙂

When I moved to LA, I figured that since I had finished college (you know like a decade later), that people would let that whole Ninja Turtle thing go….wrongo! Every time that I said my name, some knucklehead would say, “Oh, like the Ninja Turtles?” To which I would respond graciously, “Wow, yup, that’s first time that I have ever heard that.” In truth, I was slapping the crap out of them in my mind, but they had no clue.

Then, one of the 2 or 3 thousand guys that I dated in LA (ok, those numbers are slightly exaggerated), called me Elle. It was like a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Why hadn’t I ever thought of this? Regardless, I didn’t keep him, but the nick name stuck. From 2002-2013, this was my name. Come on, 11 years is a good run. 🙂

Flash forward to last year when I started Bodybuilding, I really wanted to switch back to my ‘real name-Raphaela’, and so I did. I am not using my legal last name for security reasons.When you share things online, you get to know a lot of people, and some of those people want to know you better than they need to ;-), so it’s just a safety thing.

Where does Laurean come from? My grandmother’s name was Laureana, so to honor her I chose to use Laurean as my last name on this account.  You get to an age, coming up to the ole’ 40, where you just become who you are, and you just stop caring so much about all of the other stuff. You take down your walls, and you celebrate what makes you unique and weird, even if you do have to share names with a Mutant Ninja Turtle (why, God, why did this movie have to be released again a few years ago to prolong this torture?) I am kidding. I just don’t care anymore. That’s my name. It was important enough for my parents to choose it out of the thousands that they could have chosen, and I will honor them by using my given name.

I was somewhat fearful that a lot of the people that I know in my ‘personal life-as Elle’ would reject this idea, but I was wrong. Almost every single person that was on my old Facebook page is on this new one. That was exceptionally flattering, not only because it meant that they want to keep in touch, but because it meant that I was now going to be free to share all of the information that I want to share with everyone in my life. I took a leap of faith, and so did the people that I value as friends.

So, what does 2015 hold? It holds the absolute possibility for a better year than last :-). I spent the last 4 months getting settled in our new home in New Orleans, getting well physically, and deciding how to spend the rest of my life. It has been the first time in more than a decade that I did not work more than 10 hours a day for EnvyTan. It was a much needed ‘Nomadic Year’ that only lasted for four months.

I am going to start training again, but not yet with Bombshell Fitness, as this program is extremely intense. I am going to start TerraFit, on the 12th of January, as I was invited by a family member to try this. Later this year, I will begin bodybuilding training again and I will keep you 100% in the loop, good and bad. I am going to focus on sharing this year. I am going to share all of the things that I have learned in life, in business, as a mom, military wife, and more. Most of this will be on my YouTube channel, because it is far less time consuming than writing blogs, so if you want to follow what I am doing, go and click the subscribe button to stay in the loop. No, this is not a shameless plug, this is me sharing how you can keep up with what kind of craziness I am getting into this year without having to read a blog :-).

Mostly, this year, I am going to spend more time dedicated to improving the lives of others, because I have been so very blessed in my own life. Even this year’s medical challenges were a gift. They have opened my eyes, my heart, my mind, and my life to opportunities which would otherwise never have been present. I wish each of you success, confidence, and authenticity in 2015.

Happy New Year Everyone. Make it Count! Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan!

Gratefully,

Raphaela Laurean

Bombshell Fitness Training Camp Is Intense!

I should start this by saying that one of the only parts of my body that are not sore are my fingers. I just returned from my Bombshell Training Camp weekend with Shannon Dey’s Bombshell Fitness in Daytona Beach, Florida, and all I can say is OUCH! FYI, do not judge the way that we look in these photos, we were soaked in sweat at the end of three days, but so happy to be done.

I was pushed this weekend, hard. I was asked to do things that quite honestly, I had no idea that I could complete. I was asked to run longer, lift faster, jump higher, and just plain push myself to new levels. It doesn’t matter what the specifics of the weekend were, but I will tell you that from the moment I checked in to the moment that the pictures above were taken, the only time that I was not covered in sweat was directly after my shower at night.

The next time that I see a girl that looks that amazing in a bikini, I am going to know how much work it takes to look like that. I have seen my share of challenges during the last 37 years, but this kind of training is all encompassing. These girls train 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with extraordinary focus and commitment.

I know that you are thinking, “no way that anybody trains 24 hours a day.” They do! I guess I should say, we do. We eat 6 meals a day, with a commitment to prepare all meals in advance and eat them regardless of where we are, are how we have to get the food into our bodies. Yes, there are a lot of meals that are consumed with your fingers out of a Ziploc bag, well mine are from Uline (most economical way to purchase a lot of reclosable bags for prepared meals). We train hard 6 days a week. I am not talking about throwing on a pair of yoga pants and working up a little treadmill Barbie sweat at your gym while enjoying the latest Beyonce album. I am talking about the kind of training where when you are through, you are offending yourself, if you know what I mean (hello, somebody needs a shower…STAT!).

If all of that doesn’t sound like enough fun for you, then it would be helpful to understand that we forego life’s little treasures on a daily basis in an all out effort to be committed to putting our best foot forward on the stage to represent Bombshells everywhere. We don’t drink coffee, add salt to our food, consume alcohol, grab convenience food, or a million other little things that most people enjoy without even thinking about it. We drink a gallon of water every day, and we are happy to do it.

My whole point is not to make Bombshells sound like superheros, but to drive home the point that this kind of training takes elite athlete level commitment. I know that a lot of the people in my personal circle of friends and family do not lend Bikini Bodybuilding the credibility that they should, and that is their reality, not mine. As for me, I embrace it. I welcome the opportunity to set high standards and goals for myself, and to wake up and go to bed every night focused on my goal-the stage-the win-the team.

To all my Bombshell Sisters, thank you to those of you who encouraged me, and all of the other Bombshells to dig deeper this weekend. Thank you to Jen Strobo and Shannon Dey for their invaluable, and very frank, advice about how to succeed in this industry.

If you are considering attending a Bombshell Fitness Weekend Camp, I say, “Go For It!” It will be hard, you will push yourself, you will cry (or maybe that was just me 🙂 ), but if you are there for the right reasons, you will finish it, and you will go home with the Team Bombshell pendant hanging around your neck. It will be a reminder to you every minute of every day that you pushed yourself, and that you can push yourself.

Gratefully,

Raphaela Laurean