Monday, February 22, 2010

Tara Ballard Contest Prep Update

2/15 through 2/21/10 Update- Ups, Downs, In-Betweens, Oh my!

Hi everyone! I hope this finds you all happy and healthy! As I posted on Facebook a couple days ago, "this weeks has been fraught with ups, downs, and in betweens. Wheels are in motion though, and giving up or giving in is NOT an option!"

I am mainly referring to a topic I discussed in my last post: my dad's battle with Amyloidosis, and our battle with his healthy insurance company to reinstate coverage of the medication he needs to keep his symptoms under control. I have good news to report on this front, and this good news is in large part due to being able to get the word out on this blog.

I mentioned in my last post that we were pursuing legal action against the insurance company; given the fact they covered the medication Dad needs for several years, it is just wrong that they play with his life, and deny coverage now. In addition to getting the legal ball rolling, my goal was and is to explore any and all options for dad's treatment; hence last week's post.... I figured the more I can get the word out, the better. So with legal wheels in motion, it seemed like we were in "hurry up and wait" mode.....hurry to get all details to the wonderful attorneys I work with, but wait for response and resolution from the insurance company. In the meantime, the alternative treatment Dad's doctor started a couple weeks ago really wasn't working. On Wednesday of last week, the doctor told Dad of a new treatment that Boston University has been having success with. BU is a forerunner in research and treatment for Amyloidosis, and is where Dad went for the clinical trial in 1996, which saved his life. He began this new treatment on Thursday. I don't want to say I'm skeptical by nature, but it's more a case of wanting all the facts. Dad didn't know the name of the new treatment, which means I couldn't research it to know what kind of success it is having.... but then, a wonderful thing happened!

The president of the Amyloidosis Foundation (, Mary O'Donnell, contacted me via email. It seems she has search alerts set up in Google and Yahoo which alert her when a site mentions certain terms (like Amyloidosis). She was a bit baffled and surprised when she received an alert that sent her to a blog promoting women in Figure, Fitness, and Bodybuilding :-); but she found my post from last week and emailed me. We spoke Thursday night, and she let me know that there has been a lot of research in the past several years, and that there are better options now than Intron-A (the medication Dad was on previously). I told her of the new treatment plan Dad's doctor started, but at that point, I wasn't sure of the name. I knew that it is a type of chemo, but that's it. She told me that if the drug is Velcade, then that's a good thing, as they are seeing very good results with this drug in the treatment of Amyloidosis. I was later able to verify that it is indeed Velcade that Dad is being treated with now! Also, if his insurance doesn't cover this drug, the pharmaceutical company will help with coverage. Had Mary not seen my post on this blog, I would not have this information!!!!! From Mary, I have now been able to obtain the information I need to research Dad's treatment options and know that he is getting the best option possible!! Very cool!!!! So, a HUGE shout-out to Jason for making this blog possible!!!

As I said last week, I know this has nothing to do with contest prep per se, but life events such as this can definitely affect training, diet, stress levels, sleep patterns, etc. It is a huge priority in my life at the moment, and as such, a part of what affects my contest prep.

As far as training goes this week, it was good. The great thing about getting a good workout is the feeling afterward. I am usually so much more focused and energized afterward, which enabled me this week to read/research for Dad. The only bad thing is it is hard for me to turn my mind off at night, so sleep did not come easily these past few days. Lot's of late nights and early mornings, which made for a pretty exhausted Tara by Saturday!! I slept for about 12 hours last night though, and boy did it feel great! If only sleep worked like AT&T rollover minutes! If I need 8 hours sleep per night, wouldn't it be great to be able to rollover those extra 4 hours for use next week! :-) If only it worked like that!!

Workouts this week went as follows:

AM: 30 minutes incline treadmill sprints; Abs
PM: Back/Biceps with Jill; taught 60 minute Cycle class

Bikram Yoga

AM: 30 minutes Stepmill HIIT/Sprints
PM: Legs with Jill

AM Taught 60 minute Cycle Class; Abs

AM: 45 minute incline treadmill walking intervals; Abs
PM: Shoulders/Chest/Triceps with Jill

30 minutes Stepmill HIIT; Heavy Legs**/Heavy Abs


Yikes-lot's of cardio this week... that snuck up on me, mainly due to the addition of teaching two cycle classes. That won't happen this week!

** On Saturdays, I have started adding some EDT (escalating density training) to my leg workouts. EDT is supposed to be great for lagging body parts; for me, quads and hamstrings have always been hard to build, probably due to being a runner for so long.

Here is how it works: pick two antagonist bilateral body parts (chest/back, right leg/left leg, etc.) and pick one exercise for each part, using a 10 rep max as a guide. Set a timer for 15 minutes, and do up to 5 reps for each exercise. Record the number of reps done in each round; if you chose the right amount of weight, your reps should go down as you go along. Add up the reps done for each exercise at the end of the 15 minutes, then try to beat that number the next time, using the same amount of weight. When your reps increase by 20%, increase the weight. I ahve been doing this with leg extensions and lying leg curls. The first week I did it, I underestimated my 10 rep max, so it took awhile for my reps to start going down. This week was much better- and boy, am I feeling my hams and quads today.... a wonderful thing! We'll see what happens next week!

If you ahve any questions on EDT or anything else, please feel free to email me at I would lvoe to hear from you!

Until next time- train hard, and find happiness in every day!


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