Why compete at all?

We all know there has been a lot of bad press/social media about competing in fitness events recently. From the horror stories about coaches being bullies and peddling drugs, to the standard of too much cardio and too little food for female competitors, to the downright scary of bodybuilders DYING from electrolyte imbalances after competitions. There have certainly been a fair share of reasons NOT to compete… so why should you?

Let me first say that I love this lifestyle and I love the idea of competing, but I did struggle with it after my first competition. So I’m not going to say it’s all rainbows and butterflies, but there are some definite positives and people should know about them.

So here is my list of WHY COMPETING IS AWESOME!

  1. You meet the most amazing people
    One of the amazing women I met backstage

    One of the amazing women I met backstage

    seriously, the women (and a few men too) who I have met through the process of preparing for competition and the actual day of the competition are the most stellar people. They are inspiring, and honest and oh so motivating. When you really start to get into the whole competition side of fitness you discover that there is a whole community of people going through the same struggles and the same successes as you. You are not a freak, you are not alone and you are awesome too!

  2. You learn a lot about your body – When you are aiming for the levels of leanness that it takes to get on stage, you start to figure some stuff out about your body by necessity. For instance, I learned that I have always been sensitive to gluten because when I dropped my carbs, I stopped eating gluten… all of a sudden I felt WAY better. I hear this all the time, because by doing contest prep you are forced to pay attention to your body and when things aren’t going as planned (like not losing weight, or looking bloated etc) you start to troubleshoot issues with your diet and exercise and maybe even your sleep, or stress!
  3. You learn a lot about who you are – This is a tough process. It take some serious dedication and you learn real quick some really great things and some not so great things about yourself. Maybe you have the willpower to move mountains and can say no to free chocolate with ease, but you become a super grouch after 40 minutes cardio. You weaknesses and strengths will come to the surface under the pressure of this prep, and in discovering these you can work on improving those weaknesses and building on those strengths.
  4. You will see HUGE changes in your body – I can tell you right now there are not a whole lot of things more motivating than having to get on stage in the tiniest bikini of all time. You will work hard and you will get results, and when you look at your stage photos compared to your starting point, your mouth will drop, and I guarantee you will be proud of what you accomplished. You will get to see your body at a level that many people will never achieve, and then you get to look for improvements for next time. It’s part of the journey and it’s a thrilling one.
  5. You get to be someone else’s motivation – this is my favourite one. We all have people we look up to and have motivated us to take this journey. By the time you step on stage you will be that for someone else! Someone will see you and think “wow, she is killing it in the gym – I can push harder” and they may even ask your advice. It;s an amazing feeling to be able to inspire someone to do something you are passionate about.

With all the reasons I have for competing, I must say that it is not for everyone. You have to make sure that it fits with your priorities and your life at the moment. And make sure you understand the sacrifices you will have to make.

But most of all make sure you educate yourself. (As I say, Eat Clean, Train Dirty and THINK NERDY)

The negative stories we keep hearing aren’t really about competing… they are about people doing dangerous and abusive things to either their own or someone else’s body and mind. The best defence against that is to make sure you know why you are doing whatever it is and you know the repercussions of those things. Be safe, but know that this is an amazing experience and one that I would highly recommend ūüôā

 

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Competition mindset

It’s been just over a week now since I started competition prep and I wanted to talk a little about my mindset and how it has changed since I competed last year.

I realized only now that by the time I actually started “prepping” for the show that I did last year I had already attempted 7 weeks of prep 5 months earlier when I injured myself, AND I had essentially been dieting (i.e. restricting calories and monitoring exercise and food) for 13 months… that’s a long time. What I have come to realize is that I was already a little burnt out by the time I even started my prep, so while I was definitely excited and committed to compete and do well, I felt deprived and restricted.

This time around, I have essentially been off dieting for about 9 months. Albeit there were always a few weeks here and there where I attempted to lose some of the weight I had gained in the off season, but never for long and never very restrictive. Going into this prep now I feel so excited and determined. I do not feel limited so far and have not craved a cheat meal. I have so much more knowledge and a huge support group that I have met through this blog, the show, and Team SiS.

I am, however, slightly terrified that I am coming into this prep too heavy and won’t be able to lose all the weight before the show, or at least not without dropping my calories lower than I want to and doing some long cardio sessions. I know that this is weighing heavily on my mind (pun intended) because last night I had my first competition nightmare. I was in some sort of airport/mall and everyone was eating ice cream. Ice cream is my FAVOURITE! So I had some, I didn’t ever have a lot, and I didn’t feel bad about it in the dream… until I remembered I was competing. Then I started trying to calculate how many calories were in it and if I could work it off etc. etc.

For the record, I am not craving sweets in real life, not do I try to “work things off” if I choose to have something that is not part of the diet.

I think, more than anything, this was about feeling that I have a lot of fat to lose in a short amount of time (please keep in mind that I’m only talking about competition prep here and not normal life in which I’m perfectly happy with my weight).

Me looking very sweaty from running sprints this morning.

So, this morning when I didn’t want to get out of bed, I did anyways. I went and did my 15 sprints, and then did 1 more for good measure. But I will not reduce my calories, or car cycle out of fear. If at the end of this week I have not dropped weight, I will re-evaluate my plan and determine if I should make an adjustment. That is what I do at the end of every week.

I will stick to the plan, and I will not do anything drastic, because I want this prep to be an example that you can compete while being healthy. Not to mention that I personally want to remain healthy in all aspects throughout this prep.

I’m sure many of you have felt this way at some point or another. You are following a plan, but the scale isn’t moving… or it’s not moving as much as you want it to. So you panic and you do something drastic, and then you rebound and you fell off the wagon. Well I won’t succumb to the temptation and I hope you won’t either.

We all need to work at being more moderate with our approach to our bodies and remember that this takes time. So I will wait and see what this week holds. I will do all of my scheduled workouts, and I will eat the way I had planned. And we shall see!

 

 

Ready… Set… GO!

I have 78 days until UFE Halloween mayhem.

I have 43 weight sessions scheduled between now and then, half of those are leg days.

I have over 700 minutes of HIIT cardio to do or almost 13 hours – compared to many competitor plans which at 1 hours of cardio, 6 days a week would be 72 hours over 12 weeks!

I have exactly 9 total hours of steady state cardio planned – 45 mins, once a week.

I have 390 properly portioned and nutritious meals to eat until then.

And I have to go from this…

Please ignore the fact that my eyes look horrendously puffy… I just woke up.

To looking tighter, leaner and more muscular than this…

Me at competition weight

Me at competition weight

I’m going to be honest and say that’s a daunting task in 12 weeks. Many of the girls I know, including Erica Willick and Stephanie Laurendeau who will be in the same competition as me, are much leaner to start with and don’t need to lose the approximately 15 pounds I will.

BUT… I can also honestly say I am sooooo excited with my starting point (despite the clearly not excited face in the picture). I have so much muscle on me that I can’t wait to see. mostly of its in my butt which you of course can’t see in the picture above… but here is a side by side of my starting points between the 2 competitions (about a year and a half between them):

Starting Points 2

Side shot where you can see the changes a little better

Starting Points

Back shot – please ignore the fact that my back is warped… my spine sucks at its job

So you may notice that these are pretty much the worst pictures of all time. But I’m posting them anyways because I think it’s important for a lot of people out there to know that even though right now, buy industry standards I am fat, I actually love the way I look and I am very proud of how much I have changed my body. Yes I will be happy to shed some of the extra pounds I am carrying, but I love myself at every stage and that’s imperative!

Side note – I have the most horrendous DOMS right now and am having to postpone my first Plyo leg workout until tomorrow. I will not skip it though!

 

Vacation and Starting Contest Prep

I’m baaaaaaack!

Ok, so as I said before I wasn’t going to be posting a lot because I was on vacation and generally just trying to stay off of the internet a bit more and enjoy real life. But I have officially started my contest prep as of August 5, 2013! So along with prep I will be back to writing lots of blogs, and even more excitingly, posting vlogs as part of a project with Stephanie from Operation Competition Lean¬†and Erica from Sister’s in Shape.

You can watch my first video here talking about what is happening for the next 3 months of my life. Also, in case you haven;t noticed my trend of loving research and generally being a huge nerd, I decided to make my personal motto for competing

Eat Clean, Train Dirty, Think NERDY!

Stephanie has her first video up now too which you can (and should!) go watch here:

SIS: Adventures in Competing – Stephanie’s Vlog #1

And once Erica’s is up I will update this post as I’m sure it will be stellar, in the mean time she has lots on her youtube channel which you can see here.

Competition prep this time around is going to be very different than last time. I’ll be talking lots about it, but some main differences are I’m starting my calories at 2000/day (many of you probably think I’m crazy, but I’m already losing weight), I’ll be doing mostly HIIT cardio starting at only 15 minutes 3 times per week and I will be much more regimented (mostly because I now know way more).

Another huge difference is my starting point. This past year I put on a lot of muscle, but also a lot of weight and my body normalized around 150 pounds (I was 133 at competition), last year I was between 142 and 145 at the start of prep but I only prepped for about 9 weeks. I’m actually really excited to see how my body does this time around because I think my metabolism is in a much better spot, and I really do have a lot more muscle on me. I don’t really have a weight “goal” but I am guessing I would look very lean and stage ready for the figure category at around 135 pounds, maybe as high as 138 if I can maintain most of my muscle!

I’ll talk more about what’s happening with the competition in my next post, but I do want to touch on my recent vacation…. guys I climbed 3 summits (all above 8,500 feet in elevation) in 4 days with my boyfriend!

Flexing at the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

We went to California and did sooooo many amazing things thanks to his sometimes excessive love of planning ;). I will admit right now that I drank copious amounts of wine while in Sonoma Valley.

A lot of wine was had in Sonoma, some while listening to New Orleans Blues music live.

We had so much fun, ate a tonne of great food and were both incredibly active – I think we hiked a total of 33 miles (not kms) in 4 days and summited 3 peaks with changes in elevation of more than 3000 feet per day all with a 30-40 pound bag on our back! After all that I can tell you that my calves have never looked better! And just look at the view!

Just chilling next to some snow and a 2000 foot cliff… NBD

The vacation was really perfect timing, I had a great time and came back right at 12 weeks out from my competition UFE Halloween Mayhem on October 26th. Now the hard work comes!

Lessons learned from my first fitness competition

Ok as promised, I am doing a post on the more emotional side of the competition experience. I hinted yesterday that I had a couple realizations and I want any of you thinking about competing to understand the ups and downs of the competition. I was going to go into a certain level of detail, but I think it will be better if I just give you a list type dealio…

Things that were awesome:

  • Meeting a tonne of amazing, like-minded people

    Some of the wonderful girls I met

  • “Getting my feet wet” so to speak
  • Knocking this off my life long to-do list (this is something I’ve had in the back of my mind since I was 16)
  • Realizing how much will power I really have
  • Realizing I am really motivated by goals and not just general ideas or wants
  • Mini-dance parties back stage

    Dance parties help calm last minute nerves

  • Eating chocolate and drinking wine in a tiny bikini
  • Having a photo shoot – this was an absolute blast and the few shots I’ve seen I absolutely love, it was playful and enjoyable!

    I love this shot! Healthy Vision Photography did an amazing job!

  • Being in the best shape of my life – by far!
  • Getting to understand just how lucky I am to have my wonderful boyfriend, he was more supportive and helpful than anyone has a right to expect and I cannot possibly thank him enough for all his help and love throughout this process.

    I took this photo for my wonderful boyfriend

  • This is the most important one – well and truly loving the way I look. If you have read The Whole Story¬†you know that I have had a relatively rocky relationship with my body and food in general. I was really worried about going on such a strict diet because I have a tendency to obsess and go way into the realm of crazy. But I didn’t! Yay! I kind of cried a little the morning after the competition when I realized how long I have spent not liking my body and realizing that from day 1 of this process (not just at the end) I have truly loved my body for what it was able to do, how it looked, and what I was doing for it.

Things that were not so awesome:

  • During peak week these things were really not fun:
    • Cutting out fats which made me feel legitimately stupid
    • Cutting out carbs which made me feel sluggish
    • Cutting calories which made me tired
    • Cutting water – just because it sucks
    • Trying to give it my all in workouts when I was experiencing all of the above
  • Being judged solely on my appearance – I realize that this is the WHOLE point of this competition, but I can honestly tell you this hadn’t occurred¬†to me before it was actually happening. It blind-sided me. Please if you are going to do a competition, prepare yourself for this! If is hard to hear that you aren’t good enough based only on your looks even when you volunteer for it.
  • Wearing heels and arching my back all day… my quads were burning from the posing!

    See that arch? It is hard!

  • The rebound from food and water depletion above. I had some really salty foods and a lot of water the next day. It was not even that large a quantity (I mean it was a lot compared to the diet, but not an insane amount) and I actually ended up throwing up! I am 100% convinced this was from the sodium and water imbalances in my system! If I do another competition I will try to remember that and add sodium back in a little slower.

So obviously there are a lot more pros than cons, but that being judged one really threw me for a loop! So please be prepared for that.

On a different note, tonight I made black bean brownies a la Chocolate Covered Katie with the modification of using butter instead of oil, maple syrup as the sweetener and topping it with dark chocolate, white chocolate chips and a sprinkling of coconut. They were delicious AND healthy Рgluten-free (if you use GF oats or you can sub for a different GF flour), egg-free, milk-free, and nut-free. Awesome right? They were such a nice texture and a great level of sweetness. Of course the Haagen Dazs I topped it with was less healthy, but shhhhhhh!

I also made monkfish for dinner which is something I will post about tomorrow because I feel like not enough people now what or how amazing monkfish is!

Last thing – I did my first workout after the competition and it was super simple, but awesome! I think I’m going to drop the workouts to 3-4 times per week for the next little while and I will post what I did tomorrow along with the fish stuff k?

Love you guys!

Some shout outs to other awesome blogging fit-chicks:

Check out Jennifer Mota’s¬†blog about her first competition experience at UFE Halloween mayhem too!

Along with Primal Competitor who actually placed 3rd, because she rocks, in her first ever bikini competition with the NPC and is moving up to the regional level… woot woot!

And just for good measure, also check out Lisa at Figure 911 who is far more experienced but no less amazing and has her last competition of the season coming up… good luck girl!