Why Compete?

I’ve been debating doing a competition for months now. To compete again or not? Am I ready mentally and physically? What are my resources and who would be my support system? Should I be going balls to the wall or should I play it safe and just do my workout thing and wait to compete until next year? Am I ready for a calorie deficit and bro foods? Do I even have the time between a full time job, online school, and being a dog mom?

Well I’m doing it and I’ll be stepping on stage in 9 weeks for Emerald Cup yet again. So why? Why compete? Everyone has a different reason. My reason this time is very much different than my reason 2 years ago. 2 years ago I was hungry for gold, I wanted that plastic trophy, I wanted the tiara placed on my head, competing was my waking thought, continuous thought throughout the day, until I laid my head down at night where I would continue to dream about the stage.

2 years ago my prep was awful and my motivation quite vain and juvenile. I started dieting on 1,200 calories in January, 4 months before the show. I didn’t own a food scale so I under estimated all my chicken and turkey, so if I’m being honest, I was likely consuming between 800 – 1,000 calories a day. I lost my period for nearly a year, I had rashes and bruises that wouldn’t heal, and life on the home front wasn’t as peachy as I made it look. Competing was tough on my husband at the time. When the show was over, he said he would leave me if I ever competed again.

Well, 2 years later and he has left me. Not by my choice to compete, but by actions of his own. So I’m free. Free to do as I please. Free to surround myself with who I want. Free to follow my passions again, and free to not give a fuck about what everyone else is saying, doing, or thinking. Now is the perfect time to set my goals and hit them hard.

So what’s motivating me this year?

I am in the pursuit of physical and mental strength. I’m focusing on me 100%, something I never felt like I was able to do, and if I did, I was considered selfish. I’m done telling myself “You’re not beautiful, you’re not intelligent, you have no direction, you have no goals, you’re doing absolutely nothing with your life.” I’m done allowing my broken marriage to continue breaking my spirit. I’m proving to myself, and only me, that I have drive, passion, focus, and it’s okay to think about me and it’s okay to tell myself I’m beautiful.

I have such an awesome support system, I’ve met so many cool people already this second time around. My coach is a bad ass, let’s me blow up his phone with 5 million questions, he’s feeding me lots of food and I feel great. I’m getting my meals and nutrition from Physique Kitchen, delicious steak, rosemary potatoes and the works! 4oz this year looks different than “4oz” 2 years ago. I haven’t been hungry and the muscles are poppin’!

One of the reasons this sport is so appealing to me is you have control, you become so in tune with your own body, you are your own science experiment, you are the potter and the clay, every day you are learning. This year I am less concerned with a gold trophy, even though I will work hard like I’m winning first place. No, this year I’m hungry for a good experience, knowledge, and mental gain.

~Jess

 

One Year, My How Time Flies…

Holy shit.

It’s already been a year, my how time flies.

It’s kinda crazy how we are constantly changing as human beings, making mistakes, learning from them, growing, and changing our perspectives and the way we look at things.

I started this blog to document my bikini journey to the stage, to hold myself accountable, and to inspire others. I started this blog in hopes and dreams of making it big and becoming a sponsored athlete. My waking thoughts until the moment I laid my head down at night were glitz, glam, photo shoots, a perfect body, and a career in being a fitness model.

For the longest time I was trapped inside my own head, completely lost in myself, and I turned the very thing I loved into an obsession that would tear me apart physically and mentally.

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This is me 5-6 months ago. Hungry, unhappy, and erratic. April 2014.

The dream wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I sacrificed friends, family, happiness, and myself for 2 minutes and 47 seconds on stage and afterwards I said to myself, “That was it?!” I didn’t feel those anxious butterflies, I didn’t get those endorphins or the adrenaline rush, I didn’t get that overwhelmingly ecstatic feeling that I’ve heard about from so many fellow competitors.

The best part about that day was meeting all the great uplifting gals back stage, and the relief that it was over and I could eat that god damn greasy burger, pretzels with queso, and fries piled high.

After all was said and done, I couldn’t even have peace after that! I suffered from ‘post comp’ blues all Summer! What the hell! This ‘thing’ wasn’t gonna let go. I felt like a freakin’ bloated whale carcass! Another 3 months of body issues and internal drama with my self esteem.

FINALLY. I finally found happiness in not giving a fuck. Not giving two shits how many grams of fat I had that day. You know what fat does? Keeps you fuller longer and provides you with energy at your mundane desk job or hours spent studying. Not giving a flying fuck how many carbs I went over. You know what carbs do? Provide you with energy for those strenuous workouts and long distance runs.

Point is. I’m happy now. Truly 110% happy with where I’m at mentally, physically, and how I’m achieving my fitness, work, school, and life goals. That’s what it’s all about people.

You know what the funniest part about all of this is? Now that I’m truly happy, and promoting a realistic healthy life style, I feel like my ‘following’ or ‘stardom’ has definitely gotten knocked down a few pegs. Sure, maybe it’s my lack of selfies or douche-bag-trainer-posts but what the hell. At first it ‘hurt my feelings’ that people weren’t worshipping my ridiculous abs or telling me how shredded I am but the truth is – I AIN’T FUCKING SHREDDED NO MORE! I don’t need to weigh 110 pounds consisting of only bone, muscle, and failing organs to gain approval from the internet.

Update

This is me today. Healthy, strong, and happy. September 2014.

This is me, uncut, raw, and real. Take it or leave it.

From now this blog is just gonna be an ebb and flow of my thoughts, fitness related or not. You can choose to keep reading if you like, but if real life thoughts aren’t your thing you can move onto the next blog, I ain’t crying.

For those of you who have been reading, thanks. It means a lot that some people find interest in my sporadic posting. I hope we can have another year together! If not, I’m fine flying solo.

Have a great night, and thanks for reading.

~Jess

Photo Shoot with Amir Zahed April 5th

Hey Guy!

Here are the rest of my photos from my shoot with Amir at the beginning of April, 3 weeks before my competition. So happy with how they turned out! Amir has helped me out soooo much during this entire process, huge shout out to your great work!

These photos are definitely motivation to kick my ass back into high gear. I CAN look like that again, and I can do it so much healthier this time around. It’s summer time and I want to feel comfortable in my own skin and flaunt my hard work. A rockin’ bod shouldn’t be a temporary goal, something you achieve, walk out on stage and completely kiss goodbye a mere 2 days later. Maintaining a tight physique is a full time job, a commitment, you can’t cheat… it WILL show.

These photos serve as a reminder of all the hard work I have put in for 5 months. They remind me that I can achieve anything if I put 110% of my heart and soul into it. If I want something, I can have it, I will make it mine.

~Jess

 

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6 Mile Run – Feeling Phenomenal!

Hey Guys,

I have great news! I went for a 6 mile run yesterday and I actually did really well! Only stopped once or twice to snap a few pictures, I couldn’t pass up the photo op with how gorgeous the trail and the weather was yesterday. Our whole family went; Derek, Kaienna, and Keyda. Derek took Kai and Keyda on a scavenger hunt on the trail, looking for squirrels, flowers, birds, frogs, etc.

Scavenger Hunt

I put on some ‘Justice’ radio on Pandora and booked it for 6 miles. The trail was perfect! There was enough shade from the trees, plenty of sun, and breezes to cool off. The trail was dirt and bark, but in a few spots there were wooden bridges. The soft trail felt really good on my joints. My ankles have a tendency to feel stiff if I try picking running back up after a looooong time of NOT running.

Last time I had ran was during competition prep, but I wouldn’t really consider running on the ‘dreadmill’ for 20-30 minutes at a time running. Outdoor running is REAL running in my opinion. Getting in touch with nature, breathing in fresh air, clearing your mind, and just GOING is what I consider real running. I absolute HATE being cooped up in the gym running on the dreadmill staring at the person in front of me breathing in stale gym air listening to the dull pounding of cardio equipment. As much as I love Seattle’s gray gloomy weather, the only reason I wish it would be sunnier more often is so I can run outdoors.

Obviously I’m really excited about marathon training! I will officially begin my marathon training June 1st, that will give me 12 weeks until my race in August. Honestly, everything about running puts me in a stellar mood, I really can’t believe that so many people who lift and prep for bodybuilding competitions HATE it so much! I was probably the only person out of the people I had met at Emerald Cup that was like, “Hell yeah! Running! I love that shit!” 

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As much as I loved being in control and sculpting my own physique while training for Emerald Cup, aesthetics just aren’t that important to me. Don’t get me wrong, I care about how I look, but there are more important things in life like spending adequate time with my friends and family, and not to mention my MENTAL health. Running provides both mental and physical benefits for me, not to mention I can eat whatever I please to my hearts content, and I can enjoy the great outdoors.

I’m glad I have the knowledge gained from competition prep, and that I have the willpower to do something so incredibly challenging that most people CAN’T do. I can do anything if I put my mind and heart into it. If I want to be shredded, I know what it takes to be shredded. If I want ridiculously buff arms, I know what to do to get buff arms. If I want 9% body fat, I know how to eat and train to achieve 9% body fat.

I have the knowledge and I have the willpower.

I’m going to take the willpower and put it towards new goals.

 

~Jess

 

Product Review: MHP Xpel

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Stars: 3/5

Cost: You can purchase a bottle of 80 capsules on sale for $14.93 on Bodybuilding.com. 80 capsules gives you 10 days worth of water retention diuretic. Do NOT exceed this limit!

Pros: This product DEFINITELY gives your body that shredded, cut definition you want for a competition. Remember, you will NOT stay that shredded forever, it is physically impossible and unrealistic!

Cons: Be extremely careful with how you come off of this stuff. It’s an excellent tool to give your muscles the edge on a competition, however it can have damaging effects on your body post show. I give this product 3 stars because it works, but it hurt me the following week. I gained 14lbs of water weight in less than 72 hours post show, my entire body swelled up, and my intestines BURNED. These side effects were a combination of different things, but I will not be taking Xpel again in the future, I am sure there are much healthier alternatives to choose from to get that shredded look. Hope this helps!

Enjoy!

~Jess

First Week Back in the Gym!

Hey Guys,

I feel like I’ve been a little M.I.A this week. The workplace was a definite MADHOUSE all week and I’ve been trying to find a healthy balance between working out and coming home, sitting on the couch watching TV, eating endless amounts of food….. Good news, I’ve eaten almost all the sugar out of the house so next week should look much MUCH better as far as my diet is concerned.

POST COMP

1 Week Transformation, post comp shape is deflating!

I’ve been eating really well at work this week, even though I haven’t gotten into the groove of hitting my macros accurately. I had delicious sweet BBQ Chicken or Steak salad for me at lunch. One day I had an apple and split a Theo chocolate bar with Lazaro. The chocolate craving has been STRONG this week…. yesterday morning explained all of that though. I’m going to be very blunt here….. for 5 months of my training my period completely stopped, so having it back is an utter relief!

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New workout buddy, Katniss!

The gym has been pretty great this week too! I have a new workout partner who I’m trying to catch up to speed. She’s keeping up really REALLY well, I’m actually very impressed. Her name is Kat and we work together, we were friends long before she got a job with me at Microsoft. This week we started the 4 week Erin Stern training program. Successfully completed the first week with a couple workouts left for this weekend.

I really enjoy the structure of the training plan, but to be honest I’ve been modifying exercises to increase resistance/difficulty or increasing reps, adding drop sets, etc. I haven’t been wearing my Polar watch this week so I haven’t been able to calculate my calorie expenditure. Next week I will start wearing it again to see how hard I’m working and determine if I should re-write some workouts, workout longer, etc. It felt really great to be back! I’ve been so embarrassed to talk to anyone because of my weight gain. I keep thinking to myself, “They are gonna be so disappointed in me. They saw me a week ago and I looked so cut, and NOW I look soft everywhere.”

You know what though? I truly enjoy sporting a softer figure. Of course I have goals and areas of improvement, but I’m so happy to be back on track to living a normal life and finding a healthy balance. I can indulge when I want, I have choices, I have freedom. Some times I still can’t believe I can say ‘Yes’ to anything I want to eat. Haha, I think I’ve gone a little overboard with saying ‘Yes’ these past few weeks, but I’m working on self control and moderation. With that being said, if you have a myfitnesspal account, you should DEFINITELY add me and hold me accountable! You’ll notice I’ve been extremely inconsistent, too embarrassed to admit to the internet world I’ve eaten 3 boxes of Girl Scout cookies this week…. YIKES! Next week marks a fresh start, and don’t worry, I won’t be saying ‘Next week….’ at the end of next week 😉

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I can’t wait to get back into full swing. I definitely felt MUCH stronger this week, I put those extra calories from last week to good use. I was happy with my squatting weight. Even though I was able to increase my weight, I’m still too embarrassed to tell you how much 🙂 I have a couple goals I want to share with you guys so you can hold me accountable!

1) Complete the 4 Week Erin Stern Training Program – I will be using my body space as a guide for this training plan, however, body space isn’t very ‘user friendly’ so I won’t be tracking my workouts on their site. I will try to share my workouts as often as possible throughout the week! Please, please, please hold me accountable as much as possible, my readers truly motivate me to work harder every day! Without my readers, follower, and supporters I feel I wouldn’t have done half as well as I did during my competition training. You guys have been the best 🙂

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The lil’ black dress EVERY girl needs, I plan on rockin’ this one for my birthday

2) Lose Weight by my BirthdayREAD THE REST! I really hate the way that goal is worded. I don’t believe in losing weight, I believe in burning fat, building muscle, and changing body composition. I also really don’t enjoy setting specific dead lines for such goals, especially when the deadline is CRAZY soon…. but my birthday is in 4 weeks, and I would like to shed some post comp fluff, show off the muscle that I KNOW is hiding underneath so I can rock a cute black cocktail dress, look good, and go dancing with friends 🙂

3) CONSISTENTLY HIT MY MACROS! – I felt and looked my best when I was following IIFYM early in my competition prep. I was hitting my numbers consistently, allowing myself more calories overall, building muscle AND leaning out like crazy! I became miserable when I thought I needed to completely eliminate Quest Bars and nut butters, the 2 things that honestly kept me sane during the early stages of my prep. I didn’t understand why I needed to eliminate certain foods if I was accurately hitting my macros. This time I’m gonna train and eat how I want. IIFYM is so flexible, there’s no reason to binge or be miserable if you’re following this meal plan.

4) Begin running outdoors this Summer – The sun is beginning to come out more often than not, so I need to take advantage of the good weather and get back out there hitting the ground running. Is it sad that running up 5 flights of stairs at work leaves me completely winded? I feel like my cardiovascular capacity has decreased considerably. I’m my happiest outdoors running, I need to get back on it! Mapmyrun app and I are gonna be best fran’s again 🙂

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So excited, the trail looks amazing!

5) Register for Summer Blast Half Marathon at Redmond Watershed (Saturday, August 23rd, 2014) – YIPPEE! Local half marathon that only costs $41 if I register before July 25th! I marked the event on my calendar and it appears that weekend is clear, and if I begin training at the beginning of June after my 4 Week Trainer program is finished, I will have a sufficient 12 week training time period. Way too perfect….. destiny is telling me I need to register. Hello carbs! Hello bagels, cream cheese, and pastaaaaa!

6) Continue my Zuzka workout videos – I stopped doing my Zuzka workout videos as often during competition prep, but I miss them so much! I felt like her videos challenged not only my lean tissue development, but my cardiovascular strength as well. Her videos are so fun, quick, effective, and can be done at home if I’m truly too lazy to take the bus into Bellevue and drag my ass into the gym. I love how lean my legs get from all the burpees, jump squats, and every form of lunge she makes me do. Her exercises target EVERY muscle of the body. Even my arms and back get lean! Not to mention her abs are killer and she sure knows how to set mine on fire.

Whewwww! Those are my goals thus far! Quite a few of them, but a really great start 🙂 So excited for this summer….. it’s gonna be phenomenal!

~Jess

Monday May 5th Workout

Monday May 5th Workout

Hey Guys! Today marks Day 01 of my Erin Stern 4 Week Trainer Program.

Today targeted shoulders and arms with a short ab circuit at the end. I got a pretty good pump on, my goal is to lift as heavy as possible, increasing my weights within the next 4 weeks. It was a pretty basic workout, I’m really excited for tomorrow’s ploy and leg daaaaaay!

My friend Kat is doing the program with me, she has a free week pass at my gym and will possibly get a membership. Yippee! Lifting and squatting buddy 🙂 I can’t wait to build bigger stronger glutes, tone up, get rid of my fluff and see my abs again!

One day at a time done the healthy way. Slowly but surely and definitely maintainable 🙂

~Jess

Bodybuilding.com – Erin Stern Elite Body 4 Week Daily Fitness Trainer Day 1

 

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Bodybuilding.com – Erin Stern Elite Body 4 Week Daily Fitness Trainer Day 1.

 

Next goal!

I’m gonna take advantage of my Bodybuilding.com profile and take on a new challenge. Next Monday I’m gonna start the Erin Stern 4 week trainer program to reset my body.

I’m really excited to start eating better, flush out my system from all the crap I’ve consumed over the course of 7 days, get back in the gym and shock my body with some new muscle building workouts, and build a healthier stronger body. This week has been extremely rough on my body as well as my mind. Putting on 14 pounds post competition has really wrecked havoc on my mental well being as well as physical well being. I broke a lot of ‘Post Comp Rules’ and it’s only my fault.

#1. I headed straight to the salt and junk! – I had every intention to ‘Reverse Diet’…. that idea went out the window this week!

#2. I weighed myself a few days after competition. – BIG NO NO! Of course I will put on weight after the competition, in fact, I weighed more than when I started training for Emerald Cup!

I’m excited to say the least! I will keep you guys updated with my progress and let you know how the program goes!

~Jess

 

 

 

Emerald Cup Update!

 

girls2Let me start off by confessing that I haven’t eaten any REAL food today. Today I’ve had French Toast slathered in Caramel Almond Spread, Vanilla Chocolate Swirl ice cream from Costco, jelly beans galore, chocolate, Chicago style popcorn mix, pop tarts and peanut butter and so much more. I’m being real with you. Whew! Now that I have confessed, I will update you guys on my Emerald Cup 2014 Bikini debut experience!

It was a fucking blast. I had a great time! Of course I was stressed out beyond reason preparing during Peak Week, but the actual day was amazing. I met such amazing ladies, everyone was extremely supportive and complimenting each other left and right, and it was awesome being on stage. It was pretty cool FINALLY meeting all the gals that I have kept in contact with through Instagram and other social media. I felt like such a fan girl meeting everybody!

Emerald Cup on Saturday; at first I was skeptical of how the day would go, I was pretty disappointed when I found out the Bikini category had to come BACK for the night show. Last year Emerald Cup only held the bikini division during pre judging in the morning show. I had my mind set on eating a burger in the afternoon right after pre judging! Change of plans, I was going to be tanned, suited up, face caked in make up for HOURS and HOURS! *Le siiiiiiigh*…… ecup2

I met an amazing girl named Brittany Love and we remained Rookie buddies throughout the day. I invited her to my house so we could rest and get ready for the night show after pre judging. The morning show was STRESSFUL! We BARELY made it in time for my to go back stage, get glazed and pump up to go on stage! Apparently they were blasting through the program pretty quickly!

After we parked and I kissed Derek goodbye, I ran up to the 4th floor where we get ready and they were calling Bikini A to line up to go in the freight elevator to go down to the stage! I literally had to THROW my bag down and get my shoes on as fast as possible and catch the elevator before it went down! Talk about an adrenaline rush! I thought I had to walk out on stage right after that, but thankfully there were 2 classes ahead of us and I still had time to glaze, pump up, and get bikini bite for my bottoms. HOLY CRAP! SO CLOSE!

Pre judging went really really well! I did great on my posing, felt comfortable, but hopefully not TOO comfortable. You always think about what you could have done differently after the fact, but I think I did great for my first show! I got second call outs, placed 7th out of 24 gorgeous ladies! I was shocked! Emerald Cup is a huge deal, the largest and most prestigious show in the Northwest and I placed 7th! I actually did better than some girls who have been doing this for years and have won in the past. I felt SO honored!

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I actually had no idea what was going on while I was up there on stage for pre judging. I was just doing my thing, posing, smiling, checking out the judges and repeating in my head “#73, #73, don’t forget your number is 73 if they call you!” AND THEY DID! The girls were so sweet, complimenting my physique and my abs, I was probably blushing but you couldn’t tell with the copious amounts of make up on my face.

Success! I was well prepared, didn’t forget anything important that I might need, and didn’t pack too much either! All I ate all day were rice cakes, almond butter and honey. It was quite delicious, a lot better than what I had been eating all week!

After pre judging Brittany and I went back to my place to kick up our feet and relax. I popped in Mean Girls, I chilled and she napped for a few. Pretty relaxing! It was really nice living right down the street! Derek was a sweet heart and drove me everywhere I needed to be even though this was Kai’s weekend to visit. Kai was so well behaved and sat still for BOTH shows! Derek and Kai went to the dog park with Keyda since it was a gorgeous day while Brittany and I rested. I owe him so much! He’s done a lot for me throughout this entire process, he’s been beyond accommodating. I’m definitely a lucky girl 🙂

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For the night show Brittany and I made sure we got there at 6:00pm to give ourselves ample time to watch our friends and get ready ourselves ready! We had a lot more time to chat with the other girls and meet new people on the 4th floor. Bikini A wasn’t on stage until about 8:45pm – 9:00pm! Looooong night! I was such a nervous wreck for Finals! My face was twitching while I was smiling, and I nearly TRIPPED during my walk and poses! Ughhhhh! SO embarrassing, especially on the Jumbo Screen! The side of my shoe snagged on the staging. The stage was carpeted. No excuse, but the other gals said I recovered well.

Pre judging and Finals were both extremely quick! Hours or preparation, primping, fussing, and tons of money forked out for 3-5 minutes of stage presence! Great experience regardless, I’m really glad I set this goal and followed through with it. This has been an extreme challenge, the journey has been long and hard. I’ve given this goal my undivided attention, vested so much time, research, and resources into it but I’m so glad that I did. I learned so much, met such amazing people, and can say that I have competed in the largest bodybuilding competition in the Northwest and that I placed 7th out 24 amazing girls! This Rookie girl kicked ASS!

The best part was seeing my friends there! Jason & Sonya, Kat & Mat, Danielle & Gerrett, Amir, Derek and Kai all came out to support me! Some people came to Pre judging AND Finals! I felt so loved, it was amazing seeing them! After Finals Danielle and Gerrett came out to Rock Bottom Brewery with us. I did the big NO-NO and went straight for salt…. I ate the Ball Park Pretzels with cheese dip, the Laredo burger and fries, and a beer! Not to mention I’ve been gorging myself on candy and sweets all day! Shopping at Costco this morning was like being in heaven! I could finally order from the food court and buy any groceries I wanted! I’m a free girl! I think half the reason I’m gorging myself is simply because I can now. I can do ANYTHING. I can workout how I want, when I want, hang out with friends, go out to bars, enjoy happy hours, and eat whatever the hell I want.

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This has been an experience for sure. Would I do it again? I don’t know. I know for a fact that I won’t be competing in another bikini competition for a long time. I need to take time to relax, spend time with my family, and set new goals. My body and mind need a break from such a regimented schedule. I want to appreciate the small things in life again, my mind has been on a single track this entire time and it feels freakin’ great to be free!

Now I’m onto the next goal! Anybody got any ideas!? I really want to do another half marathon but I also want to try something new. I think for now I’m going to focus on reverse dieting (beginning tomorrow) out of this insane prep diet, creating clean healthy meals, and spending time with my friends and family. It feels freakin’ great and refreshing!

Thank you everyone for following my journey! I’m so happy I am able to inspire people, and I’m so happy you guys have been so supportive of me, it has helped me immensely! This isn’t the last you’ll hear from me, stay tuned for photo updates and other goals I have coming up!

~Jess