Contest Prep

The Home Stretch

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There are only 16 days left in my contest prep, that’s right, just over two weeks until I hit the stage again. Which means that I’m in that final phase of dieting down and trying to take off any remaining body fat while maintaining as much muscle as possible. Both carbs and fat are drastically reduced, while protein intake is massively jacked up. What does this all add up to? A very drained and exhausted individual.

I started my final fat loss phase a few weeks ago and I can honestly say that it hasn’t been easy. Not only am I doing 5 days of weightlifting (thankfully not too heavy and not lasting longer than 1 hour), but I am also still doing fasted cardio 6 days each week. On top of that comes posing practice, which is so tiring. With posing I have been aiming for 15 minutes of practice each day for the past three weeks which might not sound like much, but imagine trying to hold certain position, while contracting and pulling in your muscles without letting go or squeezing and wearing 5 inch heels at the time…it’s not easy at all. As of next week though that will increase to one full hour of posing each day.

Nutrition-wise, all I can say is that it’s working very well and I don’t feel hungry or have any cravings, but I’m am definitely feeling the effects of this diet. Like I mentioned I am tired all the time. My pre-workout stack definitely helps to give me a boost so that when it’s time for cardio or weights, I’m good to go, but within minutes of finishing up my energy tanks massively. Outside of the gym I basically want to lie down and sleep all the time. I’m even feeling it with my mood; the amount of angry journaling that I have been doing these past few weeks has been like nothing I’ve ever written before. The tiniest thing annoy me or things that I wouldn’t really care about bother the hell out of me. It’s very frustrating.

Thankfully though I have the support of a great coach and last week when I sent her my weekly progress pics, I made sure to tell her exactly what was going on and how I was feeling. Her immediate response was that she could she the misery in my face in the pics (see below), but that my energy and mood are an indication that my current plans are leading me to the fast track of overtraining. This is a big no-no with contest prep as it leads to hormone fluctuations which ultimately halt progress and impact how I look and feel on show day. This is why so many potential competitors with the best intentions don’t end up completing their prep or binge eat or don’t respond well to their final diet. They come up onstage looking flat or bloated without any good definition, they feel terrible onstage and some don’t even make it there altogether.

In my case, all that rage and exhaustion can also indicate elevated testosterone which is perfectly normal for this phase especially once a woman’s body fat percentage drops below 15%. However, it can also mean that I may peak too early and not be able to maintain the physique or respond to the pre-show carb-load. Again, this is why some athletes come out looking deflated onstage. So my coach and I have made some tweaks to make sure that I’m okay to get through the next 16 days in one peace without punching people in the face on a daily basis. My diet initially had no added fat, so that’s changed now and we’ve added coconut oil to my first and last meals of the day. It’s glorious, every bite tastes so much better now! My coach also sent me some great motivational videos to psych myself up before each workout and told me that when my mood starts to get intense, to direct it all towards her with angry emails. Yes, she told me that it’s totally fine for me to do this because she gets it, she’s been there and she knows exactly what it feels like.

On my part, if I feel tired I will just take a nap; sleep is my best friend. I’m also going to be starting off each morning with a few minutes of quiet meditation to get centered and indulge in hot bubble baths every few days to take the edge off. That’s the absolute best that I can do for myself to make sure that I feel good about what I’m doing and why I have chosen to compete. I love bodybuilding, I love this lifestyle. The last leg of the journey is always the hardest, but I’m so close that I can see it and feel it everyday. Two weeks out, that’s all that’s left and I know that it’ll fly by so fast. I can’t wait to be onstage again and get to experience the culture and community of competing again. Being in that environment and focusing on presenting my best, as opposed to just beating the person next to me, is what really matters and soon enough I’ll be up there again rocking it onstage!

Start Strong, Finish Strong

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Contest Prep, Fitness

Show Day!

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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…

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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:

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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!

 

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*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).

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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.

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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.

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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