SiS: Adventures in Competing – Week 7: Exercise

WEEK 7: Exercise

In our seventh episode of our Adventures in Competing Erica, Stephanie and I share some of our knowledge about exercise. I talk more about exercise, picking up where we left off last time we focused on exercise. I go through weight lifting for your specific goals, different types of cardio and finish off with cooling down… just like you should 😉

Rose Blackman – Young Professional – Eat Clean, Train Dirty, Think Nerdy

Stephanie Laurendeau – Stay at home Mom – Decide, Commit, Succeed

Erica Willick – Finance Exec & Mother – Strong Body-Mind-Life



Adventures in Competing – Week 4 – Lifestyle

WEEK 4: Lifestyle

This week Stephanie, Erica and I talk about how each of us make competing a part of our lifestyle. It is so important to make this something you can live with as it is supposed ot be an enjoyable experience. If you are hating every moment of your contest prep all for the hopes of 2 minutes on stage being worth it, this will be the harder 3 months of you life and nothing will give you back that time. Coming up with a routine that works for you day-to-day and allows you to enjoy the rest of your life will preparing for your competition is the best way to go!

Rose Blackman – Young Professional – Eat Clean, Train Dirty, Think Nerdy

SiS: Adventures in Competing – Week 4 – Lifestyle – Rose

Stephanie Laurendeau – Stay at home Mom – Decide, Commit, Succeed

Erica Willick – Finance Exec & Mother – Strong Body-Mind-Life


Plans, Plans, Plans!

I have noticed that people who are “in to fitness” tend to be those who like planning too. Or maybe we just develop an affinity for planning because “Failing to plan is planning to fail!”. It kind of ends up being a chicken vs. egg argument. The end result being mounds upon mounds of fitness and nutrition plans. I am no exception, except that I tend to change me plans on a an almost daily basis.

What doesn’t change are my goals.

Goals for me are the foundation of a plan, so that is always where I start, and today I have decided that my goal will be a repeat of last years (with a better placing). I will be competing at the UFE Halloween Mayhem Show on October 26th!

I have shown you what my plans tend to look like before, but I wanted to go through my though process a bit more and why I plan how I do.

FIRST – The Goal

This is 2 fold; What I want to achieve before I start competition prep, and what I want to achieve by the show.

The goal is to be a little leaner and a little more muscular!

The goal is to be a little leaner and a little more muscular!

1 – I want my off-season to end with me about 6-8 pounds away from ideal and which a bit more muscle than last time (maybe 4-5 pounds).

2 – Show up slightly leaner with 4-5 pounds more muscle than last year and place top 5 at the show.

SECOND – The Math

So my goals include building some muscle; I figure I have probably put on 5 pounds of muscle already, but the trick is maintaining that while losing fat. And I want to come in leaner.

My stats from my show last year were 132 pounds and about 13% BF. This year I would like to have about 10% body fat and about 4-5 pounds more of muscle, so what does that result in for the scale?

Last year’s Lean Body Mass = 132 lbs / (1 +13%BF) = 117 lbs of LBM

This year LBM goal = 117 lbs +5 lbs = 122 lbs of LBM

This year’s goal weight = 122 lbs * (1 +10%BF) = 134 lbs of scale weight

Therefore my goal weight per my scale for the show is 134 pounds if I hit all my targets, this is completely flexible based on what the mirror is showing! And my goal for the off-season is to end at around 140 – 142 pounds.

My current weight as of this morning is 149, so I need to lose 7-9 pounds in the 15 weeks before contest prep.

THIRD – The Timing

Now that I have the dates and the weights in mind I plan out the timing of things and see what special events I have to compensate for (because I don’t believe in not eating what you want on your birthday and the like). For this I usually download a calendar in word and put in all the dates that I thing are pertinent. Some of the ones I have included are:

  • The contest date
  • The contest prep start date (12 weeks before the contest date)
  • Vacations the will interrupt workouts and eating
  • Special events where I will be going out to eat (like Mother’s day, Father’s day, Birthdays, anniversaries etc.)
  • Active events that may interrupt my training schedule (like the 2 spartan races I am doing this summer)
  • Fitness events that I might want to look good for (like the Toronto Pro Supershow) – this is only relevant if I want to cut back on salt or carbs in order to make sure I’m not all puffy, nothing would change for the workouts or diet and I would never crash diet for something like that

When all that information is in the calendar, I start counting back and labeling the weeks away from the competition and contest prep and divide my goal needs, by the weeks to get my weekly goals.

I have 15 weeks until contest prep would start, minus 2 weeks in San Francisco, so 13 weeks. Therefore 9 pounds/13 weeks = 0.7 pounds per week on average

I have 12 weeks of contest prep. Therefore 6 pounds / 12 weeks = 0.5 pounds per week on average

Once I have those amounts I back look at the special events and estimate any “damage” I might do, for instance, on my birthday I might think I would gain 2 pounds over the various celebrations, therefore I would need to compensate by losing 0.7 pounds per week.

And we haven’t even gotten to the strategy of how to get there yet!

FOURTH – The Workouts

I always start my plans with a workout schedule, this time around I intend to workout more with a routine and in the morning. Since I want to build muscle in the off-season, my focus will be hypertrophy training with between 24-30 working sets and working in the 8-12 rep range. I adjust as I go and the plans I have for workouts will be used only as long as I see progress.

I also what to improve my running capacity because I am doing some races this year, so I am planning on doing 3-4 days of cardio, mostly running, per week.

My current plan is:

Build muscle in the off season!

Build muscle in the off season!

Sunday – Legs + abs
Monday – Pull muscles + shoulders + 30 mins run or Stairs
Tuesday  –   Yoga + 30 mins run
Wednesday – Legs + abs
Thursday – Shoulders + 30 mins run
Friday – Rest day
Saturday – Push muscles + 30 mins cardio
FIFTH – The Diet
This goes last because it is so dependent on everything else! My goal for my diet is to keep my calories as high as possible while still losing weight. My plan right now (which will start on Monday) Is to eat 2000 calories per day for one week and see if I lose any weight, if I don’t lose weight I will decrease my calories by 100 cals/day, but given the amount of exercise I am planning on, I should be able to lose between half and one pound per week. Starting with calories high allows you to adjust when you hit plateaus, which are inevitable.
I also aim for a minimum of 1 gram of protein per pound of LBM and try to keep my carbs between 100 – 150 grams, the remainder of the calories come from good sources of fat.
I don’t want to say too much more about my diet because everyone is so different, but just make sure that you don’t try to go from eating 2400 cals per day at maintenance to 1300 cals per day for 12 weeks, you will destroy your metabolism and after 3 weeks of rapid weight loss (muscle too!) your body will adjust and you will stop losing weight.
So that is my (long-winded) approach to planning for fitness goals.
Does anyone have something that they do differently? I am always looking for new ideas 🙂

Why I <3 back day

Listen to me… please, just listen. Nothing makes you stand out more than having a strong back and shoulders.

Do you know why?

I’ll tell you my theory… it’s because you can’t see your own back… but other people can. If you develop your back well it shows that you are not a meat head who is only working mirror muscles and you take your training seriously.

Personally, I find a well developed back on a man to be extremely attractive. V-taper, definition and all the fun ripply stuff that happens as they move just makes my insides go all wriggly (TMI?). AND I’m pretty sure I’m not the only woman alive to feel this way… so men, take note.

For women though, it’s one of the few areas we can get totally shredded without having 4% body fat and/or taking steroids. We don’t naturally carry a lot of fat on our backs and they aren’t inconveniently covered by mammories which also require clothing to cover that area. Our abs can be developed, but that’s strictly diet and genetics. Get lean enough with good genes and you’ll have a 6-pack; more than 12% body fat… no 6-pack for you! But your back can look ripped all year round!DSC_5715

I think I’ve mentioned it before that I get compliments disproportionately on back days vs. every other day. Monday was no different, I was doing pull ups and had a guy comment that I was strong, and then I was doing reverse flyes and got a pair of guys asking if I was an athlete. This sometimes happens on leg days, and almost never happens on “push” days and absolutely never happens during cardio… no one seems to find my sweat inducing 70 step per minute step mill workout impressive. Go figure.

So what I am trying to say is TRAIN YOUR BACK!… you may not see it, but everyone else does and there is just something empowering about back exercises. I mean, who doesn’t want to be able to pull their own body weight over a bar?

If the whole vanity thing wasn’t enough, there is of course the fact that training you back muscles dramatically reduces you risk of back injury, improves back pain and corrects back posture… but everyone waxes poetic about that stuff, so I’ll just stick to the fact that back and shoulder muscles are HOT!

So here is a workout for you to get a super hot rear view… and I’m not talking butts for once people 😉

Exercise Sets Reps Weight (what I used… use your judgement)
Chin ups (hands facing your body) 3 As many as you can, or 10 if you are using a machine to assist you Bodyweight, or enough machine resistance that you can do 10
Rear delt flye machine 3 10 85 lbs
One arm dumbbell rows 3 10 each arm 45 lbs
Seated rear delt flyes with dumbbells 3 12 15-20 lbs
Dumbbells bicep curls 3 10 20 lbs
Lateral deltoid raises 3 12 15 lbs

Wonderful Weekends

So much happened this weekend which marked the 2 week point to my first ever competition, so I’m sorry for the radio silence, but this is going to be a lengthy post and you will probably see I didn’t have much time to write a blog.

The lovely Lisa from

Firstly, I would like to give a shout out to the beautiful Lisa of who I met at the KW Oktoberfest Natural Classic this weekend. She was competing in the Figure Medium category and Figure Masters. She placed second in both thought I thought she was definitely the best up there. It’s hard to know exactly what the judges are seeing and I was pretty far back. But if you pop over to her sight you can see the pictures of her on stage, she looks incredible.

We chatted while my boyfriend kindly took some photos and shared a mutual respect for each other’s awesome shoulders. I don’t know why, but having strong shoulders creates an unspoken bond that can’t be beat. I had started following her blog maybe 2 weeks before the show and am so happy I recognized her from her vlogs. Her site’s tagline is “A working woman’s guide to keeping fit”, obviously this called to me. If you are looking for some great tips and motivation, check out her site.

Finally getting to meet the amazing Tosca Reno

Secondly, also at the competition and the main reason I went to this show in particular was Tosca Reno (author of the Eat Clean Diet) who I am so inspired by. She has not competed in years, but the recent passing of her husband, Robert Kennedy, inspired her to compete again at 53 and boy did she look amazing. I got to chat with her for a quick moment before her coach pulled her away to eat (she literally grab her and pulled her away shouting “eating, now” which was kind of hilarious and awesome). She was really kind and wished me luck in my competition saying I looked very fit. I swear I’m not usually the type to get all excited about celebrities, but I was absolutely giddy about seeing her as you can probably tell by the goofy grin on my face.

 Tosca competed in the Bikini Tall and Bikini Grand Masters, winning first in the Grand Masters category. I did not see a more genuine smile on any other competitors face. You could just tell she was so thrilled to be there and doing her husband proud, proving that age is just a number.

Thirdly (maybe I’ll stop numbering these because this could be a long list) I made awesome Paleo Banana Pancakes courtesy of Mark Sisson’s recipe plus a bit of baking powder to make them fluffier and egg whites instead of whole eggs. The combo I used was:

Paleo Banana Pancakes (for 2 servings)

Me saying “no” to pictures in the morning


  • 2 ripe bananas
  • ½ c. Egg whites or 2 whole eggs
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut (or other nut) butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Spices to taste – vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg etc.
  • Butter or oil to grease pan


  1. Mash bananas in a large-ish bowl with a fork or put it in a food processor if you have one
  2. Add the egg whites and peanut butter to the bananas and mix thoroughly, try to make the batter as smooth as possible. Microwaving the peanut butter for 15 seconds will make this easier.
  3. Add the baking powder and spices and mix to combine.
  4. Heat a large pan to medium heat and grease well with butter
  5. Add the batter to the pan (I made 2 batches of 4 pancakes) and cook for 2-3 minutes , or until you start to see bubbles on the top of the pancakes, then flip (carefully) and cook for another 2 minutes.
  6. Top with your favourite topping, I chose to grate 1 square of 85% lindt dark chocolate over mine, because chocolate, peanut butter and banana is an amazing combo.

Nutritional info (per serving): Cals – 250    Carbs – 35 g    Fats – 10 g    Protein – 13 g

These were made on a high carb day, but I still had a side of peameal bacon to add some lean protein to the mix. 

Fourthly, my boyfriend and I carved an awesome pumpkin with some friends of ours after a great workout. The workout consisted of a 30 minute interval run in which I hit a max speed of 9 mph for a whole minute AND I didn’t get a single stitch. This is a big deal for me because I really suck at running, but my 11 year old brother has been trying to get better at cross country running even though he too sucks at running. He used to come dead last, literally, and he finished in the middle of the pack this year. So if he can do it, so can I!  I ran a total of 3 miles in 30 minutes which isn’t half bad IMHO.

After the cardio we did a chest, shoulders and abs workout with some full body moves thrown in for good measure.

Chest, shoulders and abs workout


  • Cable chest flyes – 15 reps, 4 sets
  • Cross body cable pulls from low to high – 10 reps each side, 4 sets
  • Crossover pushups on the bosu ball (one hand on the bosu ball and then pushup and transfer your body over the ball) – 12 reps, 4 sets
  • Kettlebell swings – 15 reps, 4 sets
  • Lateral deltoid raises – 15 reps, 4 sets, last set drop set 12 high weight, 12 low weight
  • As many pushups as you can do in 1 minute, I did 54 but the last few were pretty ugly, so let’s say 50.
  • Bicycle sit-ups – 30 reps, 4 sets


Then on to pumpkin carving! We did a dog howling at the moon and our friends made kind of a disco ball pumpkin by drilling a tonne of holes in theirs. We also toasted up the pumpkin seeds with some salt and butter and snacked on those while we worked. Yum. But I am definitely retaining water today from the salt (and the excess food which I’ll discuss below).

Fifthly, (told you I should have stopped numbering) we went to my parent’s house for dinner which is always both good and bad because my mom is an amazing cook. Her food is always healthy, but I always eat WAY too much of it. We picked up my grandma and headed over where the smell of roasting chicken and sweet potatoes was wafting from the house. I think I must have had about 8 oz. of chicken (with some of the skin plus homemade gravy) and maybe the same amount of sweet potatoes  plus some lovely cauliflower, broccoli and green beans. I also had 3.5 of these little butter cookies that my mom had bought from a local store. They were way too good. FYI 4 cookies ran a total of 150 cals so it wasn’t that ridiculous of a portion size in case you were thinking 3.5 cookies! OMG!

Obviously this was too much food and so close to the competition it was not ideal, but I am just going to push on and do lots of cardio today and be as good as possible until the day of the show.

So that was the awesome weekend I had. I am going into my last 2 weeks of contest prep and will be doing the following:

  • Cutting out dairy (other than whey protein) and grains entirely because these can be sources of inflammation and therefore hinder the look I want
  • Adding more cardio to between 1 and 2 hours per day until the Thursday before the show
  • Doing more full body workout sessions and while my last leg focuses day being this Thursday and just trying to tighten as much as possible
  • Limit my sodium intake in the last week before the competition
  • Drink lots of water!

Carb deplete and then load in the last 5 days leading up to the competition with clean carbs and not junk food.

So there you have it. What a wonderful weekend. I hope all of yours were wonderful too!