My First Fitness Competition
So I did this thing last weekend and it was pretty amazing!! That’s right, I competed in my first fitness competition. When I say Fitness I really do mean Fitness because there are different categories when it comes to bodybuilding competitions (bikini, fitness, figure, physique, bodybuilding). Several years ago I competed in a Bikini competition which is a different class… so to be fair I have competed in a total of two competitions so far in my life. As most of you know I struggled with a massive body fat over-shooting after training for that bikini competition. I struggled to get the weight off afterwards because I was constantly binge-eating and had severe food anxiety. After going through a lot of healing on the mental/emotional level and recovering from an eating disorder I was ready to get my body back! I wanted to train for a competition because I knew I had it in me to do.
My official prep began on February 15th, 2016 even though I started a bit earlier in January I just wasn’t as focused as I could have been until February. These photos below are from February 11th and yes I had A LOT of work to do…
I had a decent amount of muscle mass to begin with so the main goal here was to just cut body fat in time for the competition. I attribute a lot of my muscle development to using P90X years ago and more recently Body Beast – these are amazing at-home workout programs. The focus in Body Beast is heavy lifting, trust me ladies, lift weights and you will SHAPE your body, you will not become bulky – the bulky feeling simply comes from having a higher amount of body fat.
I had a goal set, I got to work because I was on a mission! I lifted weights 4 days per week, did some gymnastics training and 1-2 days of cardio. I tracked my food intake using an app called MyMacros+. It is SO important that you have your nutrition in check because your diet is 80% of your results. In order to make this work with my life, I always planned ahead, and cooked my food in bulk. I have a very busy life because I own two businesses and I was finishing school at the start of my prep so being prepared was key. If I was going to be away for the day I would make sure my meals were ready! Here is a sample of one day where I was out of town and all my food for the day was prepared.
The approach I took with my eating was and still is very flexible. I do not follow a strict meal plan because I do not feel that is realistic, it doesn’t allow you to go out for food or stray very far from exactly what is written down. Prior to my competition prep I was even more flexible with my nutrition in the sense that I would estimate more often, but when it comes to competing you need to be VERY accurate. I have a small kitchen scale and measuring cups and spoons to help me keep track of my food. You’d be surprised when you actually weigh your portions out that you are most likely “over-doing” it every time you try to estimate. It is okay to estimate but keep in mind your progress will most likely be slower. Here are some of the meals and snacks I ate during this prep…
I post a lot of my food photos on Facebook so check me out here to see what I am eating. I even made myself a mini birthday cake because my birthday was a week before the competition. Come on, you can’t have your birthday without cake, protein cake that is 😛
Now, when you start losing weight everything goes pretty smoothly but eventually the hunger really does kick in and especially around that time of the month for me. I am hoping most ladies will understand! I used to use that time of the month as an excuse to just over-eat but I had to push through these cycles to keep the progress moving forward. Some little tricks I used to stay and feel full was to eat volume foods, for example: applesauce, canned pure pumpkin, VEGGIES, spaghetti squash, miracle noodles (a serious life saver). I also drank lots of zero calorie drinks such as water, Steaz and Zevia sodas! I even made popsicles from Krisda drink crystals…
As I stayed consistent with my nutrition and training I was absolutely thrilled when my physique started shaping up. I put together a progression of my physique from the beginning of my bikini prep in 2012 up until April 2016…
My abs had come back, yay!! I wrote post on Facebook about how happy I was but that this journey was so much more to me than just getting abs again. I had to stop focusing on weight loss before and heal on a much deeper level before I could get back to this point. My abs reappearing were a symbol of my determination, my ability to conquer obstacles and just knowing that I am back in control. My confidence level sky-rocketed!
To see the results of your hard work paying off is incredible. I know most of us want to be 20lbs less yesterday but this process takes time. For several weeks my weight stayed the same but when I took my weekly progress photos (which I recommend you do too!) there were still changes. So you can just ignore the scale because it really does cause unnecessary stress and unfortunately weight loss is not linear.
Since the competition was getting closer I had to kick up the cardio a bit more and calories began to decrease. I danced and kicked and punched in my basement with TurboFire (one of my all-time favourite cardio programs). As I got even closer to the competition I took a less intense approach to just relax and did some walking on the treadmill.
My glutes and hamstrings hold the majority of my body fat which is common for most women and what some may consider our stubborn fat! I promise you that you can tighten up these areas it just takes TIME, consistency and dedication.
The week leading up to the show I did a bit of a depletion, this is where my carbs were very low in order to tighten up and the day before the competition I had a significant amount of carbs to fill out my muscles. I didn’t change anything with my water or sodium intake I just kept it steady throughout the week. On the day before the show I had to travel to the hotel to get my first coat of spray tan before the athlete’s registration and meeting. It’s so funny to me because I rarely every get a tan so this looked interesting…
Everything happened so fast that morning, I didn’t have much time to practice beforehand and then all of a sudden I was called out! It was a lot of fun! I really can’t wait to make improvements though to my routines for the upcoming competitions.
I was having some fun posing for my mom backstage – she was such an incredible help and support for me during this process and on the competition day! Here was the backstage dressing room filled with amazing women who worked so hard for this day…
I am not sure where my mind was because everything was happening so fast, I forgot all of the little things I needed to tweak my posing so this could have been much better but that’s okay. Overall though it was an incredible learning experience and I am considering it my warm up show for the next one! My boyfriend and I had time to kill between the morning and night show so we went to the mall to shop around 🙂
We have to laugh because he is ALWAYS eating food around me lol. The night show was approaching and I had to be back in time to get my make up and tan touched up. I sent some progress photos to my coach to see if I needed to carb up some more…
Everything was still looking great so I took some pre-workout before my routine at 6pm. I was EXHAUSTED by this point. I absolutely love Beachbody’s Performance Energize, it is all natural and gives me just that extra boost I need even with just half a scoop but of course on competition day I took a full scoop lol.
In the evening show this is where they award the medals! I received mine!! 😀
We went to Abruzzi in London, Ontario which is an Italian inspired restaurant. I should have taken pictures of the appetizer and desserts we all had but I was just so excited to eat more food by this point lol.
I left the competition with so many samples and for winning my class I got free workout pants and a camo top. Sweet!
I took my physique from this…
From February 15 – May 21st, 2016. I couldn’t be more proud of myself and I want everyone to know that you really can reach your goals. You just have to put your head down, stop the excuses, and get to work! That’s my little bit of tough love for you today 😛
Here are some key things I experienced and learned that are hopefully helpful to those considering competing or are on their fitness journey…
1. Consistency is KEY, don’t beat yourself up if you have a little mistake just keep moving forward, your efforts will compound over time.
2. If there is food around, it does NOT mean you have to always eat it. Trust me, you are not rejecting people as a friend if you say NO to them when they want you to eat more food.
3. Competing is pretty expensive so you may have costs associated with some or all of this: registration fee, membership fee, travel, hotel, hair, tanning, make up, suit, food, supplements, jewelry, shoes, a coach, gym membership, photographer, etc.
4. Keep yourself feeling full with volume foods like applesauce, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, veggies, etc. Use no calorie sweeteners like stevia.
5. Get enough rest, recovery and sleep – over-training is not something you want to do.
6. Do not drop your calories or carbs so low initially, you will need wiggle room when progress stalls.
7. Find other ways to cope with stress! Even for myself in the past I used to self-soothe by eating food. Try going for a walk, drawing, dancing, singing, making a craft, call your best friend, etc. instead. Catch yourself when you are reaching for food for comfort, you will start to break this habit.
8. Get a support system or an educated and experienced coach who has your well-being in mind – if you have someone holding you accountable and someone you have to report to you are more likely to keep going and stay focused.
9. PLAN ahead – I can’t stress this enough, bulk cook your food or prep your meals. We are all busy people but we all have to eat every day so a little planning will save you time and stress, trust me!
10. Stay flexible and positive! Try a more flexible approach with your nutrition so you actually enjoy what you are eating during the process. Also, keeping positive as best you can because there are times where competition prep can be mentally draining. Competition prep is almost more of a mental game than anything.
11. Have a plan of action for after the competition – enjoy a night out with dinner and dessert then re-focus. You will want to keep up most (not all) of your training or cardio at least because you cannot just stop everything you were doing or you will most likely gain more weight than you want. Gradually increase your calories each week after the show, and yes you will gain some weight but that is okay!! You cannot remain in competition shape forever without negatively affecting your health over the long-term.
I hope this has been helpful and inspiring for some! Thank you so much for reading my competition prep story. For those following me my next competition is the OPA Provincials on August 6th, 2016! Message me any time if you have questions 😀 I am always happy to help.