About the Competition: Rockstar

Wow.  As I sit down to write this post, I don’t really know where to begin.

I’m just getting home and back to reality after a whirlwind of a week in California. I know I posted some quick-hit posts about being in Cali and competing… but I’ll tell you all about it today.

So… I work for an amazing company. They do crazy things for their employees sometimes, and they like HUGE SPLASHY recognition programs, specifically sales competitions. This one is such a big deal… that they call it Rockstar.

About the Competition | No Thanks to Cake

I work in sales, so most days you’ll find me consulting with customers about how my products can revolutionize their business in some new and exciting way. So… when I had the opportunity to participate in a contest featuring the way I sell, I jumped right in.  You may remember that I participated in this contest last year from this post (and the four other posts I wrote about the trip I, II, III, and IV).

What I was tasked with doing is preparing 4 customer scenarios and developing a full presentation of products and services to “sell”.  Each scenario was 5-7 minutes, performed with no notes, and scored by a panel of judges on all sorts of specific criteria.  It’s intense to say the least, to pull all this together and still get your day job done.  But so worth it!

Each round of competition, the customers changed… so, I got to prepare 13 of these bad boys. During each round of competition, you’d pick a scenario out of a hat, one of the 4 you’d prepared… and then have 5-7 minutes to show your stuff!

Rockstar | No Thanks to Cake

That’s me with my girl Jade after the regional competition… you’ll see lots of pics of Jade as I recap this trip.  She’s amazing and so much fun!  I wish she lived in Denver!

So, after winning amongst my local team, beating out the remaining people in my department regionally, I along with 12 others got invited to participate with all of the competitors in the West.

This is where it gets splashy and fabulous…

On Tuesday, they flew all the regional winners into Southern California into gorgeous San Diego to compete. We took over the beautiful Loews Coronado Island, as there must have been about 200+ there. If you’ve never been to Coronado Island… wow. It is absolutely lovely.

About the Competition | No Thanks to Cake

My company is very big on making sure we got VIP treatment the entire time, so we stepped off the buses to find the paparazzi ready to take our pics, a step-and-repeat for us to pose in front of, and goody bags to pick up as we register.


After a poolside cocktail party and a welcome dinner, it was time to get a good night’s sleep for the competition the next day.

About the Competition | No Thanks to Cake

I competed at 9:18am the next day (thanks for all the well wishes, y’all!) and nailed it. It went even better than planned, and I walked out knowing that I’d be moving onto the next round. I love that feeling… when you perform so well, when your preparations pay off. It just feels awesome!

Also awesome, I got this Diet Coke during lunch… coincidence??

About the Competition | No Thanks to Cake

With a few hours to kill, I got a quick chair massage, visited with co-workers, and waited patiently for the winners to be announced – – and I was so excited when my name was called to take the stage for my region.

About the Competition | No Thanks to Cake

As a finalist, we had more work to be done. We were given another fresh scenario and had an hour to prepare for the next round. That 60 minutes went by completely fast, and before I knew it, I was back on stage… hopeful that I’d remember all the details of what we’d prepared.

About the Competition | No Thanks to Cake

While my performance was strong, I didn’t end up winning this round… but GOSH! I had so much fun along the way. And, to be named “The Ultimate Mountain Rockstar” for my region was totally enough!  Playing up the whole “Rockstar” theme, the trophy awarded at the end of the night was a guitar signed by the bands who performed… mine was a pretty mint green bass, and I couldn’t be happier!

About the Competition | No Thanks to Cake

Overall, it was an amazing few days… and such an awesome opportunity to showcase my sales skills and to meet our executive team.  I am so appreciative to work for such a fantastic company, to have experienced such a cool event, and to attend the concert that followed that evening. I’ll tell you more about that in future posts…

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Overcoming an Occupational Weight Loss Hazard

As of the first of the year, I got sorta-kinda-but-not-really-yet-in-a-way promoted.  My company did a reorganization of my department, and while my paycheck still looks the same, I took on a whole heck of a lot more responsibility and stress.

Nearly two months in, I’m sort of regaining my stride (sort of), but something new has popped up that is so crazy.

I’m entertaining customers over meals on most days!  Last week alone, I had three meals at fabulous restaurants in town (Denver folks:  The Rio, Pappadeaux, and Jason’s Deli.)  Now, the foodie in me gets excited, but that girl who just re-committed to weight loss freaks out a little…

All I REALLY want to do is to be left alone to my Jenny lunches and my pre-planned snacks.  That would be so much easier… but I can’t really take my food to the restaurant and not eating with the client would be just plain awkward.

So, I’ve been learning to work with it… and I thought I’d share a few tips I’m come up with.

Dining Out Tips | No Thanks to Cake
Check out the Menu Ahead of Time

I am notorious for this.  When I get an invite to dinner/lunch, I always go online and see what the options look like.  Most chain restaurants will even have a nutrition guide posted, which I’ll reference when making my choices.

I can always find SOMETHING to eat.

Also, the trick about reviewing the menu and choosing your meal ahead of time is that you will not get distracted by the menu when it’s crunch time.  For me, I also walk into the restaurant completely confident about what I’m eating and that I’m staying on track… which assures I’m going to enjoy my night.

Don’t be Afraid to Customize Your Meal

I used to be a little hesitant to ask for special requests with my meals.  I never like to draw attention to my strange order, but at this point… I just don’t care anymore.  I like my food my way (after all, I’m Sally Albright), and there are so many people that are ordering even stranger meals than I do…

Be clear and specific about what you want.  Break it down for the server clearly, and thank them profusely for building your salad just the way you want it.

Example of a recent order:  At Pappadeaux this week, I ordered the Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken (no breading), instead of fried, no cheese, no croutons, no bacon, no egg.  Add extra tomatoes and cucumbers, with a light vinaigrette on the side.  The server didn’t even flinch, and the order came out perfectly…

NTTC Bonus Tip:  Scan the other salads for extra veggies you want to add to your salad.  I always do this!

Pre-Party with Your Own Appetizer

Load up on a healthy snack before you head to your event.  Most times, I choose vegetables because they’re incredibly filling and low-calorie.  Example:  Here is the snack I ate before I went to a work dinner this week.

Dining Out Tips from NTTC | No Thanks to Cake

These vegetables with my Roasted Red Pepper Dip filled me up nicely before I arrived at the restaurant.  This helped me to ignore the bread on the table and to say “No Thanks” to the appetizers that were passed around the table. #NTTA

Plan for an On-Track Day for All Your Other Meals

You may have one meal that is a little in-flux, but the remaining two and all the snacks you eat throughout the day should be on point.  I find this easy to do by using my Jenny foods.  I’ll write down exactly what I intend to eat for the planned meals, and then pick my restaurant choice based upon balancing out the rest of my day.  Example:  If my day is carb heavy, maybe that meal out needs to be carb-free.

Regardless, make a plan for the entire day… and stick to it!

Watch Your Liquid Calories

With socializing, there is often alcohol present.  As you talk and laugh throughout the night, you may lose count of how many glasses of wine you have or mixed drinks you down.  Set a target for what you will consume while you’re out before you walk into the restaurant.  Maybe it’s one glass of wine, and if so, consider pairing it with your meal for the most enjoyment.


Wet your whistle the remainder of the night with water, and lots of it.  This will help you stay hydrated, avoid ordering more vodka, and keep you satisfied.

Enjoy Your Time

Your friends, family, and co-worker want to visit with you and enjoy time with you.  They are not watching what you are eating like you are.  Relax, create your plan, and enjoy your night.

What other tips do you have for staying on track while dining out?

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San Francisco, I Adore You: Part II

If you are wondering why I am in San Francisco to begin with, click here to read about how this whole thing went down… and if you missed part 1 of this trip, you’re going to want to read that here!

After the dinner on Tuesday night, I went straight to bed.  I didn’t practice, I didn’t stay up to visit, and I’m so glad I didn’t!

The next day was sure to be a whirlwind, and I knew I needed every bit of rest that I could get especially knowing that I would be setting the alarm for 5:00am the next day.  (Of note, my alarm goes off every single day at 5:00am, but I have to tell you… it never gets easier to set it.)

The next morning, I made the decision to rock it out with big curly hair…Rockstar hair, if you will….

Yep, that only happens if I literally curl every single piece, but it was worth it.  Super fun.  Note, as the night goes on… you’ll see it transform quite a bit, but it was great at 6:30am!

After a quick breakfast at 7am where I nibbled on a weird muffin, I came back to the room to obsess practice for the competition.  With a performance time of 9:26am, I had a lot of time to obsess practice.

I have to say… it went REALLY well.  I hit all the key points I wanted to share, and didn’t even go over on time!  They say all you can really do is your best, so that’s exactly what I did!

I was super psyched about the competition as was my travel companion Jessica and we decided to use our free time exploring San Francisco a little bit.  I have no idea where the boys led us… but we walked around a little and got some fresh air, which was awesome.

Quickly, our free time was up and we were due back at the hotel for the announcement of the finalists… and my girl Jessica took the trophy and won some SERIOUSLY cool prizes + an opportunity to compete in the finals!  So excited for her!!  

After the luncheon, it was time for our excursion… and what’s more San Franciscan than a Trolley Tour??

I figured this would be an amazing way to see as much as possible in the city in a short period of time, and I was right!  We got to see all the hot spots:  Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, North Beach, Lombard Street… just about everything!  PS… It was the coldest trolley ride I’ve ever been on in my life!  (And the first, but seriously COLD!)

By now, you’d think this day was winding down… oh, but it wasn’t at ALL!  Next and final stop, Alcatraz!  Our company had arranged for an amazing event to wrap up the day…. a live concert by Neon Trees on Alcatraz!!  We all bundled up and boarded the boat for the island.

The boat drove around the bay a little bit, which was awesome because 1) I love water, 2) It was just such a beautiful night, and 3)  it helped us to create crazy beach waves.  Yes, a boat trip is the real way to create those waves… who needs curling irons when you’ve got a boat??

One thing that still surprises me is how incredibly gorgeous the property was.  I mean, isn’t this one of the most scary prisons of all time?  Doesn’t look like it to me…

We had an opportunity to tour the facility before the concert, and I think this might have been one of the best tours I’ve been on.  Part of it was led by a tour guide, but when they switched us over to the audio tour, that’s when it got real..  creepy.

I think the fact that it was dusk contributed a bit too, making the prison walls look extra green and lighting yellow… Spooky is the word I’d use.  As you listened to the audio tour, you heard from inmates sharing their tales of Alcatraz… and they even built in prison-like noises which made it extra real.  The group as a whole got pretty somber during this part.

After the tour we were off to a meet and greet with the band and to dinner.  Now, for those of you who might be wondering… last meal was at noon, and it’s now about 8:30pm.  Yes, STARVING… but we quickly ate and headed upstairs for the concert!

The concert was amazing!  The opening act was Jake Miller, who I didn’t really know of until this night.  The headliner was Neon Trees who had a few songs I knew (Everybody Talks, Animal) and kindly played a cover of Human League’s Don’t You Want Me.  They put on a great show overall… loved it!  We were super close and right up there on the stage… unheard of for a big name band, and so fun!

And… while Jess didn’t win the Ultimate Rockstar title and while I didn’t either, I had a blast visiting with amazing friends new and old and had a fantastic time on The Rock!  I will tell you, I hit the bed at about 2am after we rode the ferry and the shuttle… which for this girl is incredibly late.  Especially after dancing like it was my job, apparently.

Someone at work sent me this pic on Monday morning.  In case you are wondering, it’s not often that I dance.  But when I do, it’s usually accompanied by me singing.  Yep, double threat… and now it’s captured on film.  You’re welcome.

Amazing, amazing day, and more to come regarding this wonderful week in Northern California.  Stay tuned!

Have you been to Alcatraz?  What’s your favorite thing to see in San Francisco?

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San Francisco, I Adore You: Part I

Hello, my dears!

I’m finally getting settled in after an action-packed four days in California.  I can’t even believe how beautiful Northern California is… and how incredibly different it is from Orange County and SoCal where I usually travel.  Such a lovely surprise to have a new place to travel!

One thing that I did find a bit strange was the temperature… who in the world would expect to be wearing jackets, scarves, and coats in July??  Thankfully, I had packed for the weather, but it was so weird!

We arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday morning, so excited about the events of the week.  I mean, it’s not every day that you get to get area-level recognition, compete in a big sales competition, and go to a concert on Alcatraz.  (Kind of a big deal…)

We flew into Oakland, and found this guy waiting for us in baggage claim.

Who promptly helped us with our bags and out into our transportation…

And, quickly we were whisked away to the hotel to get checked in and registered for the event.  In true Rockstar fashion, they had another step-and-repeat for us to pose in front of… I’m getting kind of used to these today, and that’s ok!!

Rather than head out and explore the city, Jessica and I decided to get checked in… iron our clothes for the week and prepare a little more for the competition that was scheduled to take place on Wednesday.

The rooms were gorgeous, with the most incredible view.  While I usually prefer a King, I slept so amazingly well in these doubles… it didn’t even matter.  Well done, Hyatt!

They even left a little box of chocolate in the room… which I plan to promptly take to the office tomorrow for someone else to eat.  Still, very nice job, Hyatt!

After practicing for a few hours, it was time to get fabulous and head up to the 36th floor for the cocktail hour.

The views were absolutely spectacular, and some of the clearest of the whole trip!

After the cocktail hour, we moved to the lower banquet hall for a big dinner and awards ceremony.  The food was amazing (including a tasty filet and BEET salad.)  The party planners also did a great job making sure the dining hall looked amazing with added touches like the record plates and the ice sculptures at each tablet.

We also picked up some fun swag this night including some Ghirardelli Chocolates, and doesn’t everyone need Rockstar glasses?

I’ll tell you more about the competition and our time in SFO later in the week.  Stay tuned!

Have you ever been to San Francisco?

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