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My last post was on April 15th, way too long ago. I wrote about being discouraged throughout my training, and that I felt that the emotion of discouragement was unproductive and a waste of time. The blog post ended with these words: “I trust in this process and the results will speak for it in exactly 8 weeks!” The process I trusted was a nutrition and training protocol prescribed by two super successful trainers, my brother Pete Ciccone and his wife Meriza. 8 weeks after I wrote that post, the results did speak…and I won my first show ever!

That’s a real smile, I knew how hard I worked!

Receiving my award from beautiful Rosemarie! I never got to stand in the middle before!

Extremely thrilled and wanting to ride the excitement out, I looked to a national show 6 weeks later and made an attempt to place at the USA’s in Vegas. This would be the second time that I’d compete in this show; last year I placed 10th out of 35 and I hoped to improve on that. Plus, I would be wearing the lucky bracelet and ring that my beautiful friend Lillian let me borrow – she won 4 shows and I won the SoCals in it! I knew that I couldn’t lose, especially since I would be able to watch my brother Pete compete along with his 619 Muscle teammates, which is always amazing to see.

The amazing group of athletes I was proud to be a part of!

We don’t aways get what we want though do we? Feeling somewhat embarrassed, I did not place well – actually, I did not place at all!  A little rushed backstage, a little bit nervous, and questioning if I did enough, I did not bring my best to the stage that weekend and got lost in the group – there were 45 of us girls in Class C!  However, I do feel that I have made some improvements since last year. Some time off from running allowed me to add some muscle to my upper body. Unfortunately, it did not treat my thunder thighs so well!  Some people say that it is a subjective sport, competing in shows like this.  However, that does not really make me feel better. I would like to say that I just crashed and burned, or ran out of steam because that would mean that I went all out and I had no regrets.  But, that is not the case. I am starting to realize that training for these shows is not like training for a marathon – you don’t need to save energy for the run back home! The regret I have from not going all out, 24/7, the entire weeks of training – I imagine that is why I felt rushed, nervous, and questioned my level of preparedness. I plan not to feel that way again. Time to dust myself off and get ready for the next 12 weeks of insane intensity. Making my way to the NPC National Championships in November with the help of superstar trainer Meriza –

Striking a quick pose while trying not to fall…only 8 seconds to hit 3 poses!

With fellow 619 Muscle athletes and inspiration Francine, Figure Class Overall winner!


Not Only is Bruce Lee Hot, He is Really Smart…

One of the things that I hate to admit the most is that I have failed. The word failure, F!, has such a negative feeling associated with it, that it is no longer part of my life!

I recently decided this when making the decision to push back the date of my next NPC bikini competition from March to April, then to May, then finally to June! At first, I felt very badly about this. The reason was because my physique just was not going to be where it needed, and more importantly, where I wanted it to be in order to reach my desired level of success. After some time of training and dieting, I was disappointed and upset with myself that I had to make this decision. I worked hard to get where I was, and to push back the date because I wouldn’t be ready made me feel like I was failing!

I hate failing! I hate the feeling so much that I even tricked myself into thinking that I did not want to compete. How can I fail at something I don’t want, right? I stopped going to the gym, I stopped eating my healthy foods, I stopped thinking about the shows, and I even ignored writing a blog! I think I even ate some ice cream that I didn’t want just in spite of it all! That lasted a week… 🙂

Then I got sick, and that lasted a week…

So now, here I am, two weeks later, with a little less muscle, a little more flab, feeling way more “not ready” than before, and not to mention, way behind on my running schedule for the NYC half marathon! I am sure I am being overly dramatic because in the big scheme of things it really doesn’t matter, but still, all of this because I was mad about feeling like a failure! So, I have decided, failure is no longer part of my life. If there is something that I want to succeed at but can’t or haven’t, I have the power to change it. I have the power to change it so that I do succeed, and therefore I never fail but am constantly learning and living.

That will be my new mindset as I go into the next 14 weeks of dieting and training. But, I have to figure out why I wasn’t ready or where I needed to be. What do I need to change?

– Well, I already posted about the areas that I needed to focus on so I know what training I need to do. See Living Art – A Work in Progress

– I attended a nutrition seminar by one of the best in the industry so I know my nutrition is on point. (Thanks Pete Ciccone – 619muscle!)

– Everyone at the gym looks at me like I am crazy so I know I am training with passion…

I guess I will just have to keep on searching (and meantime be inspired by this poster of Bruce Lee)!


My Own Inspiration – Sista!

One of the reasons why I started this blog was to share a part of my life in hopes to inspire and motive others in some positive way. Well, I figured that I would write about one person that helps motivate me…my sister (a.k.a. Sista!!)

Although she is five years older than me, we are extremely close and people often mistake us for twins. I don’t mind this though – she is absolutely beautiful! But, there are so many other reasons why I look up to my sister, and I am sure many people feel the same way about their siblings. With graduate degrees, starting her own businesses, and zealous passion to be her number one version, Maria makes being smart, beautiful, and independent look so easy! But I know how hard she works, and I admire that.

She is one of the reasons why I continued to study to get my own graduate degrees, started training for marathons, changed my career path and followed my dreams to move to CA. I do not try to copy my sister, because she has her own goals and passions, and that would just be annoying. Instead, I try to emulate her passion and dedication. She has made many breakthroughs this year, and whenever I am feeling down or like I should just give up on something, I think of her and I always get back to it!

So, I just wanted to say – thanks Sista! For showing me what hard work is, and what it actually means to be true to yourself ☺

Pictured below, a side by side of my sister and me…so cool that I could even be a little like my big sister!

Abandon a Goal? Yes!

One of my favorite books that love to read, especially when I am in need of motivation, is called Thinking Body, Dancing Mind It is about reaching extraordinary performance in all areas of your life, but I especially enjoy it because the authors share their messages through examples of sports and athletes. One of the chapters that I recently looked back at was about goal setting, because this time of the year really has me analyzing my goals, as I am sure it does for many others. The book shared this quote:

“Within the Self, there is a central force of character that unifies thoughts and actions. When you are not in accord with your goals, you may feel indecision, conflict, or malaise; when you are, a sense of self-confidence and well-being will surround you.”
-I Ching no. 45

I couldn’t agree with this more, especially since I recently decided to abandon my goal of completing a triathlon this spring. I set this goal with a family member last September. Since then, we have been swimming, running, and cycling. This was especially hard for me since I barely knew how to swim at the time and the most i had ever biked was 10 miles! My goal was to be able to complete the swimming portion of a quarter mile in 10 minutes or less, and the last time I swam I had gotten as fast as 1:15 a lap. I could do about six in a row, and I needed to do 8…almost there.

But sometime mid December, I just didn’t feel like going anymore. I thought maybe because I was training and dieting for a bikini show earlier December, that I was just tired. I told myself I’d get back on track as soon as it was over. Well the show came and went, and two weeks passed. Then I said I didn’t want to swim because I felt fat and out of shape, and didn’t want to put on my suit! So I thought to myself, if I’m not going to swim then at least I will bike!….but I never did. When I went to the gym, I would say to myself, “I feel like running, I will run” or “I will bike when I get one outside, because cycling inside is so boring to me!” But that was all excuses! And I knew it…

Why was I making these excuses though? I wanted to do a triathlon and I wanted to do one with my sister! Frustrated with myself, I set out to plan my workouts just so I could have something to follow day by day, no excuses! I wrote it out on my iPad on the way to my New Year’s holiday vacation. I knew that when I got back from my vacation, it’d be business! Crazy, hardcore training! No excuses!

Well, during my vacation, in freezing cold NYC, I completed the longest run that I had done in a while. With gloves, headband, two pair of socks, and tons of layers, I don’t remember complaining at all during the run. It was a hard, exhausting run of course, but it felt natural and fun for me. Thinking back now, I remember asking my friend that week like almost everyday, “When are we going running?” or “let’s go running! Let’s go running!” Also, I didn’t pack my suit for swimming or shorts for biking, I packed my sneakers and outdoor gear for running! That should have told me something.

Well it did, I know the reason that I made all those excuses was not because I was tired, lazy, or lacked motivation, it is because it was the wrong goal for me! So I changed my goal. I changed it that week on vacation actually, when I got an email saying that I had been accepted into the NYC half-marathon lottery for March 2012! I was so excited and still am, I even scream yahoo! Now, my new goal is to do the NYC half-marathon in 97 minutes. That time gives me a guaranteed entry into the NYC full marathon, something that I have wanted to do for a while! You know you have the right goal when you go to bed thinking about how excited you are to get up the next day and make it a great run! There is no indecision or conflict, just self-confidence and well-being! You enjoy the journey of reaching the goal, because it is after all, all about the journey, not the destination!


Living Art – A Work in Progress!

A few weeks ago, after I posted about my results from my last show, I got some good feedback about what I was doing, right and wrong. I always love to get feedback in my quest to achieve any goal, because it can only help me. Even negative feedback makes me sometimes think “screw you!”, and then I just try harder. However, there was a certain piece of advice that really stuck with me. Thanks Pete!

What my older, wiser brother told me to do was to remember the old saying about how success leaves clues, and to follow the clues that successful people leave behind. He told me to keep my eyes and heart open to self-analysis of the things I am doing to be the best I can be! And of course, he then says…”time to grow!” Well, because of my engineering and financial background, the word analysis really got me excited (yeah, yeah I know, I’m kind of a nerd) and I decided to take this to the next level. This analysis is beyond calculating and manipulating protein, carb, and fat ratios for nutrition on Excel and calculating weekly mileages and average paces for training. It goes beyond looking in the mirror and at photos and asking what my weak spots are…

While I was waiting for my largest meal of the day to digest before going for a long run, which is oatmeal at breakfast time, I combined my scientific background with my love and eye for art and beauty, and have created what I call… “Paulina Carla Living Art – A Work in Progress!” It is a photo analysis where I have overlaid photos of a previous NPC bikini champion that I deemed successful onto my photo from my last show. I then drew on my photo the areas that I needed to improve in order to reach my own masterpiece! Note, this look can only be achieve through diet and exercise….NO surgical help!! Lol. Then I removed the overlaid photo and voila! Aside from realizing that there are two major round things missing from my living art, I can see more clearly the areas that I need to target.

I am not sure if this is what my brother meant by stealing clues and self-analysis, but I thought it was kind of funny! And believe it or not, I accomplished all of this on my IPad! Thanks Apple!

Note: this is only the front for now, back is for another day…or never!


Inspiring Strangers

While running on the treadmill at the gym, as part of my “that girl’s crazy” workout, an older woman started on the treadmill next to me. I had the setting on at 9 mph and was very much in my zone, making sure not be distracted by anyone working out near me. For some reason I had a lot of energy that morning (probably from enjoying a couple days off from the gym and my favorite Starbucks iced americano at breakfast), and found myself running at 7 min/mile pace for several minutes very easily. As a runner that had to run 10 marathons in order to qualify for the Boston marathon, that is fast for me and I was kind of proud! Well in the midst of my runner’s high, this woman next to me stuck her hand over to my treadmill and pointed at my time. I was kind of annoyed for being disturbed and grunted a “what?!” and she just smiled and gave me a thumbs up (and yes, I did feel bad for being a little mean).

Later, after my workout she approached me as I rinsed off my face, all messy and dripping with sweat. She said she loved running next to me and was so motivated that instead of stopping as she initially planned, she continued her workout and kept on going. I was kind of surprised but I thought that was really cool! In the midst of what was a great workout for ME, and where all my intentions were selfish, I had actually impacted someone else in a positive way!

And strange enough, a similar thing happened several days later. I was running along a walkway at the beach, when I decided to work on my stairmill skills outside. There are many stairs leading up and down the walkway to the beach that I decided to run up as fast as I could (plus I had a good fast song playing on my iPod). Darting in between surfers coming down with their big boards and kids playing around, I skipped, jumped, and high kneed my way to the top when I noticed a woman sitting at the top of the stairs watching me. At first, I was annoyed, wondering what the heck this lady was staring at! But I just decided to ignore her and not let her distract me from my mission of sprinting to the top. Of course, when I got to the top I could still feel her eyes on me, so I looked over and she gave me a big grin and two thumbs up.

Now, I don’t know what was up with the thumbs up that week, maybe I was training like a maniac for my upcoming show and people could see it?? But, either way, it made me a lot more aware than I have ever been. Even when you are all alone, in your zone, in your own world and you think that no one is watching, that nobody cares, someone probably is! So even if not 10000 people read this blog that I am throwing out there, to share all the ups and downs and lessons learned in training, I will keep writing (and training like a maniac) because you never who you might reach by doing the things you love to do, and who might be inspired to not quit and just decide to keep on going!


If At First You Don’t Succeed…

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again! and try, try, try some more!!…and one more time!

It seems like that has been the saying of my life lately, and some things just do not come easy for me! Sometimes, I look around at everything that is going on around me and feel like I have to work so much harder than others to get what I want. This often relates to work and school, but more recently with my own personal goals.

Take for example, marathon running. After I did my first race at the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Marathon, finishing in a little over 5 hours in much pain with horrible blisters, I set the goal to run fast enough in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon. That would mean running 26.2 miles in under 3 hours and 40 minutes (8.4 min/ mile). The time, 3:40, is a time that would be engraved in my head for the next 2 and 1/2 years…. Because that is how long it took me to qualify, and I ran 8 more marathons in that time frame to do so! I remember talking to several people that qualified on their first marathon, and wondered why it was so much harder for me. Did they want it more? Did they train harder? Did they eat, sleep, and dream of qualifying more than me? Maybe. But I really think they were just faster naturally. Whatever the reason though, I still had to work harder to get that fast. Or, at least it felt that way!

Now, the same goes for competing in NPC Bikini competitions. I competed in my first NPC show at the Atlantic States NY in 2010 and placed 10 out of 18. I didn’t do too bad, but I had the same feeling as after I ran my first marathon: I knew I could do better and I wanted to do better! So I made The Goal: to win a show and turn Ifbb Pro. To date, I have competed in 7 NPC shows. Does that mean I need to compete 2 more before turning Ifbb pro? Perhaps so! One show to win local and another to win nationally?? Well, however many it is, each show has brought me and will bring me closer to my goal, little by little. My shoulders get a little rounder, my abs get a little tighter (unfortunately my thunder thighs never go away but that’s another story), and my presentation gets a little cleaner. Sometimes I might tweak too much here, too much there, but it is all a learning experience for me. And it is certainly healthier than lying on the couch eating potato chips!

So, however many shows it takes to do, I will do. As long as I am always learning, growing, improving and having fun…which I am! So maybe this saying is a good one: If at first you don’t succeed, try try try again and try try try some more!!….and one more time! Because, if it is only the journey that matters, not the destination, then I get to have that much more journey to enjoy! See me below, enjoying my journey yesterday at the NPC Excalibur in Culver City, LA. I’m chillin’ with big bro Pete and beautiful Khay Rosemond!


Being Thankful

Thanksgiving is almost over here and, for first time ever on this day, I am going to bed a little hungry! That is because I am getting ready for an NPC bikini show next week – the Excaliber in Culver City. No pie or mashed potatoes for me, but I did make 3 pies from scratch so it definitely smelled like Thanksgiving!

But, food is not what it’s about anyway!!! Or so they say… 😉
I did take the time to reflect on what I was thankful for though, as I usually do almost everyday, and believe it or not, it is a lot! So, I am just sharing a photo of who I spent my time with today, and was so grateful to be able to so….my older siblings! They are the most beautiful, smart, talented, creative, and inspiring people that I know. As teachers, trainers, and artists, I know that they reach many people and that I am not the only thankful one! Thanks guys!!