It’s been 4 days since I stepped on stage and accomplished a goal I started training for last October and wow what a journey it has been! I’m going to summarize my thoughts on preparing for a show and my experience on the day of the competition 🙂
First of all to anyone who thinks that training for a competition/getting as lean as possible while maintaining muscle mass is easy, you have obviously never trained for one before! It is even harder if you are someone like me whose starting body fat was over 25%! Most of the women who compete in figure competitions (especially in the WBFF) will step on stage with their body fat around 8-10%) or lower. This is why I gave myself a lot of time to prepare for the show (most people do a 12-16 week prep while I did a 24 week prep). Now, even though I have competed before and have an great understanding how the body works, what type of training and diet is required, I decided to hire a online trainer (Sara Fennell) who I would report to every week with my progress and she would provide me with my diet and workouts. I am always eager to learn as much as I can in hopes of improving my knowledge and expanding my expertise. She was great and helped get me in better shape than my first competition (3 years ago). One thing that I learned through this process and by watching my client (who was prepping for the show as well) transform as she followed the meal plans I gave her and the workouts I provided is that I really enjoy training someone for a fitness competition and I am fully capable of doing so! Check out Tiffany’s before and after photos….
Before (June 2011)
After (April 2013)
Tiff has been training with me for almost 3 years and after seeing Jamie Bell (a friend and client at the studio where I work) transform as she competed in her first fitness comp she decided that she wanted to compete as well! So we sit down and I told her how long it would take her to prepare for the show in April and she listened to everything I told her (did all her cardio, lifted weights 6 days a week, followed her diet, practiced posing) and the whole time maintaining an amazing attitude about the competition. And clearly her hard work paid off! She lost 20% body fat, almost 50 lbs and has become a happier, healthier, sexier, more confident woman!! This was a life changing journey for both of us as we learned the importance of consistent clean eating and the results that come with hard work in the gym! One thing I told Tiffany from the beginning was to have a goal of stepping on stage NOT a goal of winning. Some coaches may not agree with me (including my own coach) but to be honest, why put so much pressure on yourself to win or earn your pro card (especially if it’s your first show) when the fact that you have decided to compete and the act of stepping on stage in the best shape of your life makes you a winner alone? Less than 1% of people (or so I’ve heard) actually compete in fitness competitions, many people have intentions of doing it, but not many go all the way! Many people forget this and get so caught up in striving to earn a medal or placing top 5, for me, it’s not about this! This is why I train for a fitness competition, I do it as a personal challenge and because I like seeing how far I can push my body!! I’m also a personal trainer so it’s kind of my job to stay in shape and I want to make sure that I look the part!!!
It is an extremely challenging task, not only because you must spend a lot of hours in the gym and kitchen but also mentally as you must overcome many cravings, social events, mental battles, getting used to a new body/leaner version of yourself etc…ask anyone who has competed and they will agree that it is the hardest thing they have ever done not only physically but mentally as well. It is very helpful to have a strong support network/other friends competing if you decide to do something like this, I found it VERY helpful having a big group of people from our studio competing as I felt I had others to vent or relate to about the whole process. So thank you to Team Ottawa for being an awesome group of people to go through this with!
So while there are many positives when it comes to prepping for a fitness comp there are also some negatives….for example, the last few weeks of training. Everyone has a different prep, body, response to the diet etc but I must say that the last few weeks are not the healthiest especially for someone like me whose body does not go below 20% bf very easily or below 160 lbs. One thing I don’t like about the last few weeks is the lack of energy, feeling constantly tired, irregular bowel movements (gross I know but not cool!), being freezing cold all the time, and people constantly telling me I must be starving myself as I look too skinny (it’s true but it’s the way I have to look for the show, which is one day and to be honest I probably eat more than most people do in a day!) So yes, it isn’t so ‘healthy’ the last few weeks leading up to the show but in order to get our bodies to be as lean as possible (for the purpose of the show) we must eat very restrictive diets, do lots of cardio and weights, but again it is only temporary! I think the worst is the water depletion that most people do the week before the show (ugh awful!) but again temporary and it’s only for the purpose of looking as lean (and dry) as possible on stage!) Since the show I have gone back to a healthy eating plan (still eating 6-7 times a day) with lots of protein, veggies, healthy fats and complex carbs.and drink 2-4L of water a day! I feel fantastic and love grocery shopping when I can buy a variety of foods (not just fish, nuts, green veggies lol!) I must say this time around I was not having as many cravings as I did my first show and I have been very good about not binging on unhealthy foods since the show! I am about to start my vacation where I will be eating out for most meals and I am already excited about all the healthy foods I will be ordering!!
The day of the show is the most exciting part and the whole reason why we set out to follow our meal plans and training programs in the first place! I competed with the WBFF this time as there was a big group of people training for the same show and it was in April which meant I would be training through the winter and would be in great shape for warmer weather (BONUS!) I’m so glad I did because they put on a great show!! The venue was in Montreal at the Place des Arts right downtown. The atmosphere in the dressing room with the other athletes was very supportive and having my client and other friends from Ottawa there was amazing!
It was a long day (up at 6am for make up and hair appointments) with prejudging at 10:30am then the big break until the night show at 6pm but that’s life! The worst part was not being able to drink water all day AND trying not to wreck my spray tan! The steak and potato at lunch time ( I was allowed to eat out in between the shows) was AMAZING!!! OMG!
The best part of the day though was definitely when I first stepped on stage, with a big smile on my face, strutting my stuff in my bikini and clear heels (haha) and felt 110% confident and proud of myself for working my butt off (literally) and doing what I had set out to do!! I even got emotional that day when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror while the girl was doing my makeup, I couldn’t believe what I looked like! I was like “Wow that’s me? That lean, fit, beautiful and happy girl in the mirror is me??” It was a moment I’ll never forget. Just thinking about how hard I worked to get my body in the shape it is was an incredible feat! Another emotional moment for me was seeing my client walk across the stage with so much confidence and sass!! She looked phenomenal!! She did it! She did something completely out of her comfort zone and rocked it!!! WOW! Very proud (and emotional) day!!
I was so happy that my mom and sister among other friends and co workers were there to support me! They all witnessed my transformation and were very happy for me and it was nice to hear them cheering from the audience, not to mention the awesome photos they took that I will have forever!
So overall it was an amazing and memorable experience! Everyone asks me if I will compete again and to be honest I probably will but not any time soon, I need to give my body a break as I pushed it pretty far and missed out on a lot of fun the past 6 months or so. So who knows, maybe I will, maybe I won’t. One thing is for sure, I am always up for a challenge and love pushing myself past my comfort zone to accomplish goals I set for myself.
Off to the mall to do some shopping, it’s always fun to shop when you lose weight, new body=new clothes!