Contest Prep, Nutrition, Wellness

Practicing what I preach


One of the first things we bodybuilders cut out during a prep is alcohol and sometimes it sucks. I was in prep for almost two years straight and it REALLY sucked. Although I would tell myself the standard I don’t need alcohol to have a good time schpiel, I was just really in denial, but my six-pack of abs made up for that. I’ve never been a big drinker, except during my clubbing years but that ended about a decade ago. Even so, it still sucks to cut out booze.

The reason for abstaining is simple: your body processes alcohol in a similar way as it would a super decadent dessert. So two glasses of wine is like a chocolate soufflé AND a slice of cheesecake. If you’re out to dinner and have a nice meal with a couple of drinks and then some dessert, it’s the equivalent of having all of your allotted calories in day in one sitting and then some, which ultimately leads to a plateau in fat loss (or muscle gains). As a result bodybuilders typically cut it all out completely unless it’s offseason, or they swap in booze for a weekly treat meal, which is no fun when you’ve been dieting down and can’t stop thinking about stuffing your face with a bucket of greasy French fries. I’d rather take the food over the drink any day. And so for the longest time, alcohol was a no-go for me and even going drinks with friends was usually my ordering a club soda with a lime wedge.

Last weekend though, I made the exception as a bit of an experiment to see what would happen when I drink during a contest prep. Granted I am still 5 months out, so regardless it’s no big deal. I wanted to see whether or not it actually is possible to keep it balanced and not wake up crazy bloated the next day. You see, I always advocate (as many fitness coaches do) this type of balance for my clients around the holidays or special occasions, when we know there will be good food, good drinks and you’ll definitely want to partake without feeling restricted. So I wanted to practice what I preach to see if it is possible without going overboard, and brother in-law’s 40th birthday bash would be the perfect excuse.

The day started out as a typical Saturday, where I got up at noon, fed my bunnies (pictured below) and sat down to a nice breakfast with a giant mug of coffee and a hilarious book that I could not get enough of. Nutrition-wise I’m pretty much doing macro counting as per my coach’s suggestion, so I made sure that each meal is a solid mix of complex carbs, healthy fats, and lean protein with lots of fiber. I hit the gym in the late afternoon for some serious lifting; back and biceps, which was surprisingly intense despite my ability to only curl a 25lbs barbell for 15 reps at 4 sets. I drank a ton of water all day so I was super hydrated and had another balanced meal before heading out.

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Bunnies!                                                              Breakfast (yum!)

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from this party as I was the youngest there and the only single one in-house. Plus the guest list consisted of couples with young kids who are oh so excited to have a night out without their tornado of toddlers around. Basically I was concerned that I wouldn’t fit in, even though I had already known everyone quite well for many years. What can I say except that I am a super shy introvert with some pretty intense social anxiety; but that’s a story for another day.

I had a rockin time! Seriously, this was the most fun I’ve had in a while and I haven’t partied it up in years, so this was a welcomed change of pace. The great news was that I didn’t overdo it and go on a bender or binge eat the available and yummy junk food, so much to my delight I woke up feeling pretty great the next day. I realized that the strategies of balance really do work here. I had about two drinks (vodka soda, my fave) plus one shot of coconut rum which warmed my tummy up real nice. I only ate about a handful of chips and that was it. About an hour before I headed home I started chugging water like a beast. I think I had about a litre and a half, so I sobered up pretty fast. I got home around 2am, fed my bunnies a late night snack and prepped one for myself too, albeit a totally unbalanced one which consisted of toasted white crusty bread with tons vegan margarine follow by a few bites of chocolate cake and more water. Just to be clear, this snack was for me, not my bunnies; they had wheatgrass. I binged watched a few episodes of The Real Housewives before heading to bed around 5am…although my bunnies were still going strong and hopping around, take about party animals! (see what I did there J)

When I rolled out of bed a few hours later I was thrilled to see that there was no bloating (or hangover!) and that my abs were still intact and very visible (see below). My body responded well to this strategy and it managed to use the extra glycogen towards filling out my muscles nicely and giving me a great post-workout pump when I hit the gym the next day. A real win indeed.


The moral of the story is that you can have fun AND partake without restricting yourself or doing the opposite and getting excessive. Balance really does work. So the next time you find yourself worried about an upcoming night out, don’t panic and instead try these tried and true strategies on for size:

  1. Eat lots of hearty and healthy food throughout the day
  2. Drink tons of water
  3. Get in a serious gym sesh with lots of heavy lifting
  4. Eat before you leave home
  5. Drink lots of water when you’re done with the booze
  6. Eat a little something greasy before you go to bed
  7. Hit the gym the next day and put that extra glycogen to good use

There you have it. Take it from someone who has spent the last two years being super rigid about diet and exercise and contest prep, this shit works. I’m finally starting to see that you can be a bodybuilder, look awesome while still having a life and an awesome time at that.

Contest Prep, Wellness

Peak Week Pain Points


Once again I have made it to Peak Week. It is the culmination of the entire contest prep process; from mass gaining all the way through to fat loss/cutting, this is the week where one’s physique is in it’s prime condition. This is the most exciting week of the entire experience, but it also tends to be the toughest too. After weeks and months of training, some may run out of steam right at the end because they went too hard for too long, while others breeze through with a big smile on their face. Either way, this final week of prep involves lots of adjustments and commitments, both big and small.

For me, this marks my third peak week leading to the biggest competition to date: Provincial Championships, where the top 5 in each height class move on to Nationals with a chance to earn their coveted IFBB Pro Card. Many of my fellow competitors will involve ladies who have been training and competing for many years, who qualified well over a year ago and/or have had a long time dedicated to their prep. In my case, I qualified only 6 weeks earlier at the Provincial Open placing 4th in my height class. On the plus side, seeing that I was already in peak condition at 6 weeks out meant that I wouldn’t have too much work ahead of me in terms of dieting down or trying to pack on extra mass. Ultimately this short prep was different from my first two in that I was able to maintain my physique while having shorter workouts and enjoying a higher amount of carbohydrates and still seeing great results each week.

Then there came the “problems” or “challenges”. At 3 weeks out I started a new full time job (yay!). Unfortunately my office is far from home and the gym, giving me a pretty sizeable commute each day (2 hours total). This also meant that fasted cardio would be a big challenge. Instead of getting up at my leisure each morning and taking my time before heading out for a run, I now have to get up SUPER early (usually as the sun is rising) and head out the door about 20 minutes after crawling out of bed. Even with my pre-workout supps, I still feel tired and I am definitely running at a much slower pace than usual. Then I rush back home for a couple minutes of stretching, get ready for work and run out to catch the bus. After a full work day, it’s back on public transport to the gym for some serious weightlifting. By the I get home I’ve had about a 14 hour day including my workouts and transport. Needless to say, I’m wiped! The first week was intense because that was the biggest adjustment, especially with sleep. Truth be told, my solution was to just drink more coffee, which helped in the short term, but by the end of the week I started feeling the negative side effects. Too much caffeine can cause insomnia and irritability, all of which I experienced a few days into the week. Not only was I having a bit of information overload, but I was also getting way too much stimulation without any quiet downtime that I so craved. So that first weekend, I completely cut out caffeine and switched to some soothing chamomile tea instead and took some time out to listen to a few podcasts on wellness and do some quiet meditation. At 2 weeks out, I kept the caffeine intake reasonable and only having coffee pre-workout even if I started yawning midday; I definitely felt better. I started to get into a groove with my new routine, started running at my usual pace and got my energy levels back up. I also started to appreciate the early morning jogs; there’s hardly anyone out, the sun is shining and my route goes through this beautiful bike path with lots of greenery and trees. A definite positive shift in energy by week two.

Here comes the really hard part. For peak week, I’m traveling. I’ll be spending the week at a hot and sunny spot, which sounds all nice and good, but the timing is a huge problem. First of all, my flights are super early in the morning so I’ll be getting up well before the sunrise. Secondly, a plant-based contest prep diet is hard to manage while flying, options are limited so I have to be super prepared and since I’m flying international there’s no way for me to prep meals in advance. The best I can do is bring along individual packs of protein powder with some brown rice cakes, and pick up some kind of veg at the airport. Now I can’t just have any kind of salad because these always have added fats, marinades and sugars, so I’ll have to settle for the non-starchy dressing on the side type of foods. The key here is to write down everything that I eat to keep track of macros throughout the day so that I’m not missing any nutrients. Another factor is water intake. Air travel causes dehydration and bloating, which isn’t a big deal for the departure, but coming back home is a major concern (I’ll get to that shortly). Thankfully I’ll be staying in a spot with a full kitchen ad access to groceries, so sticking with my nutrition is no problem. There’s also a gym nearby, so workouts can easily be done.

You may be thinking “well, at least you’ll get to soak up some sun on the beach”…NOPE! In the 3 weeks leading up to any competition you have to avoid the sun. That’s right, I’m going to the beach but have to completely avoid all contact with the sunshine at all times. Why? Because in the sun we tan, and tan-lines cannot be covered by the spraytan on showday. No matter how hard the spraytan company may try, any difference in skin tone or color cannot be covered and evened out by the spray and I’m sure you’ll remember that my posing suit is not like a regular bikini; it’s a lot smaller and sits on the body far differently than what you see on the beach. God help you if you get sunburnt because you won’t be able to compete at all; any kind of skin irritation or redness will only be accentuated by the spraytan. So I’ll be walking around in massive heat, completely covered from head to toe with a big giant hat at all times, even if I go into the ocean. Oh, and did I mention that three days into the trip I have to stop wearing deodorant? The chemicals in deodorant turn the spraytan green and nobody wants to see moldy looking armpits.

The flight home is a whole other animal altogether. Once again, I leave early in the morning, but it also happens to fall on the day that I start my carb load and water manipulation. I’m going to be running the risk of bloating due to air travel (a big no-no). Plus in a carb load we cut all vegetables and fats, so I’ll be pretty limited to what I can eat. Again, writing everything that I eat and drink down will be the key to staying on track. Worse case scenario it’ll all protein powder and rice cakes until I get home and then I’ll eat the standard tempeh, sweet potatoes and white rice. When I do finally make it home I have to do a full workout and pre-contest beauty prep (hair stuff, mani-pedi, etc.) and pack for the contest weekend. Busy, busy.

Now this show is different in that registration for my class which usually takes place 1 day out at around 1pm is now going to be at 10:30 am, and it’s not close to home. So once again, I’ll have to get up super early for a light workout, skin prep and probably get stuck in traffic on my way there. Thankfully I will be staying at the host hotel so I’ll be able to drop my stuff and have a few hours to kill before the athlete’s meeting and my spraytan. I will be taking the opportunity to go to the hair salon and enjoy a little bit of pampering and then hopefully have enough time for an afternoon nap in my room.

The game plan for showday is nothing different (hair, makeup in the morning followed by pre-judging), but…finals is way later in the night. Usually finals would start around 1pm, this time though it starts at 6pm, so there will be at least a 5 hour gap in between. So I caved and reserved my hotel room for an extra night (since check out is at 3pm)  that way I can take a nap in between, which I’m sure I’ll need and I can stay over night if the show finishes late, which for sure it will. Finals usually lasts about 4 hours, so we won’t be out of there before 10pm. It’s an added expense, but a necessary one.

It’s gonna be an exhausting week and if you haven’t already figured out by now, I’m felling fairly stressed out over this. Stressed over the travels, stressed over the timing and planning, and stressed over how tired I know I will feel throughout the entire week. I am, however, trying to focus on the bright side. If while away I feel tired, I will sleep and if I feel overwhelmed or overstimulated, I’ll take some quiet time away from everyone to get centered again. This may not the ideal time to travel, but I know I’ll still enjoy myself even if I’m not the norm and am pretty unconventional. This trip will still give me the chance to spend some quality time with my family, maybe take an evening stroll on the beach with my husband and hopefully move at a slower pace than usual. It’ll give me the chance to slow down and get some relaxation time in while connecting with loved ones Like everything else, the key to success is to work around what you already have in place and tailor your approach to that. In my case, maintaining a positive mindset throughout, by focusing on gratitude and the progress of this particular journey to the stage, is what will ultimately allow this to remain a positive learning and growing experience.

Start Strong, Finish Strong


Contest Prep

Show Day

This past weekend I finally hit the stage for my second bodybuilding competition after 16 weeks of prep. All the training, meal preparation and posing practice came down to one day and pretty much only a few minutes on stage. Here’s what went down during the intense competition weekend.

I went about this show a bit smarter this time around; I decided to stay at the host hotel instead of going back and forth from my home. Yes it would have saved me a bit of cash and I only live about 30 minutes from the venue, but it was worth every penny. The day before the actual show is busy and long so having my own room gave me space and quiet time to myself, away from the other athletes. Essentially I got to have a little downtime and some privacy to get in a little extra posing practice. Everything went smooth from registration to the spraytan to the athletes meeting. I had all of my meals prepped and labelled in my cooler bag so I was good to go.

On Sunday morning I woke early, 6am. Even though my hair and makeup appointments were only at 8am, I wanted to give myself plenty of time to get in my light morning workout. So I headed out for a walk outside (which also doubled as my morning coffee run) followed by some strength training work (with resistance bands) in my room and a little quiet meditation.  After my lovely (insert sarcasm) breakfast concoction of cream of rice mixed with rice protein powder, it was time to get glamed up.

On the left is me with my hair done and the right is with the full makeup. As you can see, it’s heavy and dark, but on stage it looks amazing.

We headed to the venue at 9:30am; bikini is always the last to step  onstage so although prejudging starts at 8am I didn’t have to be there until much later. I learned my lesson from the previous show with the spraytan retouch timing mishap, so this time I headed straight backstage to the spraytan area and got my retouch done right away. If you’re wondering how dark the tan is, well here’s a close look:

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Before stepping onstage for prejudging there are a few necessary things to do to get ready. A little last minute posing practice is a given for pretty much everybody; no matter how cramped we are backstage (and we really are) it’s so important to get comfortable with the movements. It’s kind of like doing a few warm up sets when you’re about to do some heavy weight lifting. Another important thing is to eat some fast digesting with a good amount of sugar. In my case, my coach always suggests a couple tablespoons of white rice with some maple syrup; although I’ve seen other competitors opt for chips and chocolate bars! The reason for eating this right before is to help get a good pump and give your muscles a little boost. Which leads to “pumping up” backstage. This is basically just doing some light strength training exercises to help get the blood flowing to the muscles, giving you a fuller look with lots of definition.


As always I was in Bikini Class A (under 5ft2), we were a total of 7 ladies. Since we were such a small group, there were no first callouts, we instead went straight to the comparison round. It went by so quickly it was crazy. Thankfully I had my hubby in the audience shouting some instructions for me to adjust my posing as needed; you’d be surprised how easy it is to forget to keep your belly pulled in or to just maintain a smile on your face! When we were brought onstage I was right in the center, which is the sweet spot…but that didn’t last. Usually during the comparison round the judges will ask some of the competitors to switch places. The key thing though is that the closer you are to th middle, the better you place. So I may have started in the center, but they had me switch with the lady next to me; that’s when I realized that I hadn’t placed 1st. Then they had me switch with someone even further out and that’s when I realized that I wouldn’t be in the top 3. Yes, it does go that fast and the judges work very quickly as we were up there for maybe 10 minutes.

I was still feeling good, but I felt that I didn’t hit my posing as “sharp” as I could have. To be honest I felt a bit shaky onstage even though I wasn’t nervous at all; thankfully my shakiness didn’t show.

As per usual there was a huge gap between prejudging and finals so I got a little bit of downtime with my family.18034259_10155280322035152_8032433566793186173_n

That black tarp looking thing that I’m wearing is a light robe; once the posing suit goes on and is glued (yes, glued) to your body, that’s basically your only clothing option until finals is over.


Finals was just as fast as prejudging. Everyone gets the chance to do a personal posing routine which lasts for about 10 seconds, although it does feel like an eternity! Again, I felt a bit shaky and like I didn’t hit my poses as well as I could have. They announced the top 3 and my number wasn’t called as I suspected. I gotta say that it sucks when that happens…you’re standing onstage with a big smile plastered on your face holding “relaxed pose” which is really just side pose in my case and you have to maintain that smile and poise even though you know you didn’t win.

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It was a disappointment and it’s hard not to focus on the final placing, but I did what I could. What I did realize was that I was a lot more focused on my placing more that just enjoying the experience. On the positive side was the fact that everyone was very nice. I’ve heard horror stories of how some athletes are mean or try to mess with your head or even try to sabotage their fellow competitors by stealing their shoes or contestant number so that they can’t go onstage! That wasn’t the case at all; everyone was friendly and open and I even spotted a couple of ladies from my first show 5 months earlier.

My goal with this competition was to come in with a better physique (tighter and more muscular), to place higher than I had at my previous show at 5th place) and to at least place in the top 5 so that I can qualify for the Provincial Championships. Done, done and done! I ended up placing 4th which means that I do qualify and will be heading to the Provincial Championships in just 8 weeks! This next one will for sure be tough as it is the best bodybuilders in the province fighting to earn a spot at nationals. I’ll be ready though. I have my work cut out for me, lots of posing to perfect, not to mention a body to sculpt, but I know I’ll be bringing my absolute best in 2 months. Provincial Championships: I’m coming for you!

Start Strong, Finish Strong

Contest Prep

Things No One Tells You About Competing

APQ Coupe Espoir 2017

There are many things that might surprise you when it comes to competing; mostly behind the scenes stuff that even I didn’t know until I started my prep. If you’ve been thinking about hitting the stage or even just watched a show or two yourself then this might shed some light of what it really means to be a competitive bodybuilder.

Before we go any further allow me to clarify that this may be TMI for some people…so, you know just FYI.

Most of these little known tidbits have to do with the spraytan, it really takes a lot to get it just right and even then it’s never 100% full proof and perfect. The spraytan is dark, REALLY dark and you are super brown, it’s more of a mahogany shade to be honest and it has this unique chemical smell that you can’t do anything to alleviate. Before we get to the actual application, there is a whole process of skin prep that goes on weeks in advance. Two weeks before the tan goes on you have to start exfoliating your entire body every day with a gentle but thorough scrub and moisturize twice daily with an unscented body lotion. Any fragrances will impact the color and evenness of the tan. Another equally important factor is that all competitors have to be completely hairless, as in no body hair whatsoever. If there is even a little bit of peach fuzz or stubble, it will show once your tan goes on and you will actually look really hairy. If you decide to shave you have to do it 8 hours before the tan goes on, but if you happen to regularly shave your legs, for example, you’ll be able to see when the hair starts growing back in the next day. So shaving usually isn’t the best option for areas that you shave regularly. Hair removal creams are a good option, but they can only be done the day before the spraytan and thus you run the risk of having a skin reaction to the cream, which will in turn mess up the tan altogether and hitting the stage might not even be possible. If you do go this way, try the cream on your entire body several months in advance just to be on the safe side. Then there’s waxing, the dreaded pain of having hot wax poured on your body in order to rip the hair right off. This was the option that I chose. It worked very well, but it was the most excruciating pain I have ever felt in my life, and this is coming from someone who had salmonella, and fractured their skull last year and also had a lumbar puncture done a few years back after an epileptic seizure (to check for meningitis). Those were nothing compared waxing. Yup, I did it all: Brazilian, legs, arms and underarms. It hurt so bad, there are no words. With each strip that was ripped came a whole slew of expletives running through my mind as I held on to the table for dear life. At one point I broke out into a sweat and saw stars. The worst part was when the hairs were too fine or short, the aesthetician would use a pair of sharp tweezers to get the hair out, one by one. This could seriously be used as a torture tactic that would guarantee everybody singing like a bunch of canaries. That being said, if you choose this torturous option, it needs to be done one week in advance of the tan to allow your skin to heal.

The tan will typically be sprayed on the day before you hit the stage and so that morning you need to exfoliate one last time, but with a concoction of dish washing soap and baking soda, but forgo the post shower moisturizer. Another fun fact to keep in mind is that 3 days before the tan goes on, you have to stop wearing deodorant. Yup, that’s right. Why? because the ingredients in deodorant will turn your armpits green with the spraytan, so unless you want moldy looking armpits, you’ll just have to deal with the fact that you’re gonna have a wee bit of BO for a few days. The only thing you can do is wash thoroughly and wipe down your pits throughout the day.

Then comes the actual spraying on of the tan. Here’s what goes down. The provider for the show will usually have a space closed off for the actual spraying and  for good reason. The men and ladies will have completely separate areas where they will be sprayed. The entire room will be covered in plastic and there are small makeshift “huts” for each athlete to stand in; this provides zero privacy and it is completely open in the front where the aesthetician will stand to spray you. And yes, you will be sprayed completely in the buff along with ten other competitors standing adjacent to you. So yeah, pretty any modesty or attempt to cover yourself up will not work, it’s really just a bunch of very fit naked people standing around being sprayed. The actual device used kind of looks like that paint gun thing used when you want to paint your house and the spray is SUPER cold. You will be told to stand in slightly awkward positions so that the tan goes on even and you will be sprayed EVERYWHERE, except the face. Once the first coat goes on you stand in front of a fan to dry you off and then you get sprayed a second time, followed by the fan again. After that, you have to wear light and breathable clothing (usually sweatpants and a zip up hoodie are good) and you can’t where any underwear or bras, that’s right, everybody goes commando. On top of that, you have to be very careful not to touch much of anything because the tan will come off and smudge, leaving you looking splotchy. What does that entail? You can’t sit down on the toilet (this is what I was talking about earlier when I said TMI). You absolutely have to pee through a cup and do it very slowly so it doesn’t spray everywhere and leave weird dots on your body, thus messing up your tan.

On show day, backstage the spraytan company has a set up for retouches. It’s the same idea except you get additional coats done while wearing your posing suit, then a glaze goes on (up close you look shiny, but from the judges and audience, you’re good), then you’re suite has to be glued onto your body. It’s not as bad as it sounds; it’s really just a roll on light glue that prevents the suite from moving as you go from one pose to the next. And you can peel the suite right off and no it does not hurt.

In terms of hair and makeup, well let’s just say that the makeup is super thick, heavy and dark (to match the tan) and the hair is big. Again, up close you kind of resemble a drag queen, but from the audience you look amazing.

Backstage is mayhem as there are athletes everywhere along with their coaches and bags of stuff including meals, weights or bands to get a pump before going onstage. It’s crowded, people are anxious and nervous and usually trying to do some last minute posing practice before go-time. But I must say that it’s awesome and exhilarating at the same time.

By the end of the competition I was sticky from the FIVE coats of tan plus TWO coats of glaze, feeling pretty thirsty from the water manipulation and really tired. Show day for me was 12 hours of intensity not to mention the day before which was also long from the registration, spraytan and athletes meeting, but all in all it was so fun and great. I can honestly say that it’s a really fun and interesting environment and culture to be a part of and I’m so glad to have fully immersed myself in it and look forward to do that again in just 10 weeks.

There’s a lot that goes into competitive bodybuilding, in fact it may seem to a lot of people that it’s not worth it or there’s really no point. I feel that above all else, it teaches you how to work hard, stay focused and love yourself. You really have to put yourself first; your health, your rest and your mindset. A coach told me not to look at the other athletes when I’m onstage and that the judges take care of the comparison so that we don’t have. “Make it about you”, she said. Wise words. So that’s what I did; I focused on presenting my best and giving my all while onstage and it was awesome. The entire experience was so positive because of that and since then I’ve gained a far more healthy outlook on fitness and nutrition than I have ever had before.

Start It, Finish It

Contest Prep, Fitness, Nutrition, Wellness

The Post-Contest Blues


There is a term that competitive bodybuilders are all too familiar with and as the title of this article so clearly states, it’s called the post contest blues. Although I swore that I would never allow myself to feel down in the dumps after competing, it still has managed to creep up.

I must say that I thrilled with the results of competing and of the entire prep in general. Even though as you may have read in my previous post that there were quite a few hiccups on show day, I still felt great. I did everything right in that I focused only on myself and presenting my best, instead of thinking solely about winning and beating the other ladies onstage. It was my first competition after all, so I decided to take the pressure off, just enjoy the day and hopefully not let the nerves get the best of me. It was so much fun getting glamed up and finally going through each pose during pre-judging and finals. I’m so proud to have gotten not only first callouts, but also placing 5th in my first show! Every competitor looked amazing and there over 80 competitors in the Bikini Division alone, so needless to say I relished in my accomplishment.

However, as soon as finals was over and I headed backstage to throw on my sweatpants and gather my belongings, I couldn’t help but feel a slight pang of sadness. At that point, most of the competitors had left (as Bikini always goes last) and so what had been an area filled with excited athletes and their coaches was now quiet and empty. It was all over; the prep, the training, the makeup and spraytan retouches, the last minute posing practice, my very first show was done. That sadness only lasted for a moment though as all of a sudden I realized that all that intense work that I had put into my training would be (for a little while) over and that I could take a much needed break from working out and having a regimented meal plan everyday. This was going to be great! I had big plans for the following week: I was going to sleep in, lazy around my home in my pajamas all day, make myself a hot cup of coffee with almond milk (which I had to cut out for the final 6 weeks of my prep) and eat only when I felt hungry as opposed to nutrient timing. Suddenly, I felt excited again about the possibilities and much deserved break that were ahead of me.

Unfortunately it was very short lived. I woke up the following morning really early, so sleeping in was out of the question. The coffee and almond milk certainly helped as did my nice and hearty breakfast along with my comfy pajamas. It felt odd though being at home, not having to go to the gym or do my usual fasted cardio; instead of feeling rested I actually felt unproductive. What was worse was the fact that I no longer had a nutritional plan to follow, so my mind keep wandering all day to what my next meal should be, how big, how many of each macro and so on. Then the cravings started, not legit cravings or hunger, just stupid cravings that my mind was trying to convince my body that it absolutely had to have. It took a lot of willpower for me not to stuff myself with chocolate and peanut butter, but I was hanging in there and I knew better. Even though at that point I had already decided to compete again in just over 5 months time, I no longer had a clear vision of stepping onstage and of my next prep, so the crazy cravings were non-stop and my discipline was being tested.

My coach like many others had mentioned to me that it is perfectly normal to gain some weight back in the days and weeks that follow a competition, but that it was crucial to not binge or overdo it as I could end up rebounding too fast and ultimately pack on excess bodyfat (which is super unhealthy) that will be very hard to lose the second time around. One judge from the show had said that she had worked with athletes who gained 10, 20 and even 30 pounds within a week! That sort of thing not only messed with your physique, but also with your self-esteem and body image, as I’m sure you can imagine. So I powered through and stayed strong, but it was far more challenging than it had ever felt during my 8 months of training.

Thankfully my coach sent over my recovery plans including workouts and nutrition for the next month and all was right again in my world. Initially I had planned to take almost an entire week off from working out, but I only lasted 2 days. I followed my coach’s advice and started hitting gym for my usual two-a-day workouts (including fasted cardio), but my new workouts are much shorter and less intense than before (30-45 minutes of weightlifting instead of 60 to 90 minutes). The focus now is more on gaining muscle and lifting heavier without packing on too much bodyfat in the process. So far, so good.

I do feel a bit bloated on some days and I certainly notice that my six pack of abs are less prominent than on showday, but thanks to my calorie increase and restored glycogen levels I am happy to say that I look redonk! When I hit the weight room and lift in front of the mirror it surprises me every time to see how fit I am and how shredded I look. Each day I make it a point to take some time out to appreciate what I accomplished and how far I’ve come. All that hard work definitely paid off and the best part was that the entire process didn’t have me going to any extreme where I felt deprived  in any way (except for the water depletion, but even then I was so excited on showday that I didn’t even notice).

I’m sure that the recent weather changes, gray sky and (gulp!) snowfall really haven’t helped in my quest to stay positive (seasonal affective disorder anyone?), but it’s all part of the process. Staying on track and maintaining the good habits that I developed is what matters most during this break from prep. The next show will definitely be tougher as will my next prep; it won’t be novice athletes only, but instead will include some seasoned competitors with far more developed physiques. I’ve got my work cut out for me, but for now, before the intense training starts up again, I get to bask in meals filled with extra carbohydrates!

Start It, Finish It




Contest Prep, Fitness

Show Day!


After eight months of training, I finally made it to the stage! I started my contest prep in March 2016 and this past weekend was the celebration of all my hard work. This was one of the most interesting experiences that I have ever had; it was something completely different and was a great learning opportunity. Although the day had its hiccups, it was very positive and I was able to leave the show with many good takeaways.

Let’s start with the day prior to the competition. This day involved registration, spraytanning and the athletes meeting; needless to say it was a long day. I arrived at the host hotel for registration wearing my posing suit under my clothes as per regulation; the suit needs to be verified by a judge to ensure it’s in line with the league rules. Unfortunately, what the league failed to mention was the fact that all female competitors have to also have their shoes with them at registration, which I did not. So after my husband dropped me off I called him back in a panic screaming at him to rush home to grab my shoes and bring them back in time. Thankfully he did, but it was enough to massively freak me out for about an hour. Not the smoothest start to my competition weekend!

Once everything was settled, I had a couple of hours to kill before my spraytan. The hotel at this point was totally overrun with bodybuilders and so I wanted to find a quiet spot away from the intensity and stress from everyone. I thought to myself “Where is the one place a bodybuilder would never go the day before a competition?” The answer was so obvious…


Yes, I walked over to McDonald’s, got myself a hot cup of coffee, connected to their wifi and proceeded to read the latest issue of Yoga Journal. I was able to carve out a little bit of quiet time and thankfully it helped me to relax before things really started to pick up.

Then came the spraytan. It is quite the experience! (I’ll get into details in a later article because it may be TMI for some people). The athlete’s meeting was shortly thereafter and then I headed home for the evening and attempted to take it easy and sleep before the big day.

Like most competitions, you have to be up early on show day. I was up at 6am for breakfast and a 15 minutes resistance band workout just to get the blood flowing. After fighting to put my contact lenses in for a solid 15 minutes, we were on our way back to the hotel for my hair and makeup appointments. My hair was curled, volumized and sprayed and my makeup was slathered on nice and thick, exactly as I expected. For anyone who may be considering competing, I strongly suggest you use the show’s services for hair, makeup and spraytan, not only for the unlimited touch ups they provide throughout the day, but because when you think your hair is set, make it bigger and when you think you’ve put on enough makeup, put on more!

Case in point:


Once I made it to the show’s venue for prejudging, I dropped off my things backstage and slipped into my flipflops and light black robe. Bikini always goes last, so I had plenty of time to my hair, makeup and spraytan retouches… or so I thought. When I headed over for my spraytan, they nicely told me that the retouches for my height class was an hour earlier! I totally freaked out; my tan needed to be fixed as it always gets a bit splotchy, I needed to be “glazed” and my suit had to be glued on before I hit the stage. There was very little time before my prejudging and so I spent the final few moments before rushing around, panicked and thinking that I may not actually make it! I did though, but barely. I unfortunately did not have enough time to pump up backstage or eat my pre-stage snack of rice and maple syrup (again, to pump and look a bit fuller onstage). But that was ok, the important thing was that I made it and I had about a minute to quickly go over my posing. Then we were off!

My coach really wasn’t kidding when she said that the stage lights are very bright. I unfortunately thought that this meant I wouldn’t be able to see the audience, which was so untrue because I could see everyone very clearly. I immediately spotted my family; they were like beacons right in the center and I had to remind myself to look towards the panel of judges. It was like sensory overload. There are so many little things to keep track of while posing onstage, but it’s really hard to remember when you’re actually up there. My abs were pulled in the whole time, I remembered to smile and knew my poses, but everything else was pretty much a blur. I think my transitions were a bit off, but apparently they still looked smooth, but I don’t think my glutes were pulled in as much as I they could have been and I may not have been twisting my upper body as much, as well. Despite all of this, I got first callouts!


img_3258          img_3256

*I’m in the one in the center of each pic in the dark turquoise suite. Pictured above is side pose and back pose, part of the mandatory quarter turns during comparisons.

I was on the far right throughout prejudging and made it through the comparisons in one piece and feeling really great. First callouts alone is a massive accomplishment! Everyone looked fabulous, it was so clear that we had all worked so hard to get to this place and so being part of the first comparison group was amazing. Prejudging went by very fast, I think it’s mostly because there were a lot of competitors that day.

Once that was over, I could breathe a little, but finals would be a few hours later. I got to see my family for a little while and eat my next meal of brown rice protein powder mixed with mashed sweet potatoes (it sound less than awesome, but it’s actually not bad).


Then came finals, but not before two more coats of spraytan and another hair and makeup retouch. I was legit brown, full on mahogany by this point and I felt like I was all hair once it had been curled and fluffed up yet again. As you can in theses pictures, the bright lights really do make everything look good and in no way over the top. Finals also went by quick as we each got the chance to do a personal posing routine and then lined up onstage. Although my husband said that I looked a bit tired by this point, I completed my posing exactly as I had practiced and felt good being up there. Yes, I was nervous but it still went great and I felt a little less stress than I had during prejudging.

img_3264                                                    *In this pic I am second from the left

Once all was said and done, I made my way back home for a much needed shower (that last coat of spraytan left me pretty sticky!) and much deserved treat meal of a veggie burger, some fries and a few vegan chocolate chip cookies. My tummy felt a bit heavy after, but it was delicious! The next morning as per my coach’s instructions I enjoyed a nice and hearty breakfast.


It was good, but very filling as the portion size was bigger than I’ve become accustomed to.

This whole experience was really special, I’m so excited to do this again and look forward to getting even better for my next time onstage. I hope to come in tighter with more muscle definition and to improve my posing and stage presence in the meantime. Competing as a bodybuilder is something really funny; at one point I looked around a saw a large group of very buff, overly spraytanned individuals walking around in sweatpants and flipsflops on cold November day, eating mountains of rice with some kind of protein out their containers (myself included). There is no where else where this would be the norm, but on a competition weekend its the way life! I am so grateful for having the chance to fully immerse myself in the bodybuilding culture during this past weekend and throughout my entire training. I already know which show I will compete in next, so Provincial Open: I’m coming for you!

Start It, Finish It