The last week before the last week!

Striking a pose in my "sport" stilettos!
Striking a pose in my “sport” stilettos!

Well I’m almost there! This week is now officially the last week of normal prep. The week after that is prep week, which is getting your body ready for going on stage, and is, in a way, part of the competition itself. Magic things happen that week but you’ll just have to wait to find out what they are!

For the very last week of normal prep, my workout routine is the same, except it will be the longest. Each week I’ve been adding time to my cardio and reps so the time spent at the gym keeps getting longer and longer. I’ll be topping out at about 2 hours a session this week. So…yaaaay.

It’s also the time to write my check list and make sure I’m organized for the big day. I have a list of things I need already but this week will be time to make sure everything is bought, packed etc. The less I need to worry about during peak week the better.

I have all my appointments booked: hair, nails, even a photo shoot for two days before. I’ll be meeting with my posing coach at least once more and doing tons of posing practice at home. My hotel is booked, my car has gas and the tires are reasonably inflated. Sorted!

My diet will stay pretty much the same as well, except for a few minor adjustments. I still would like to lose a couple of pounds but at this point, my body is pretty much the size it’s going to be on stage so there’s no point in worrying too much about calories. Mainly, I need to make sure I’m eating enough to keep my energy level up this week and get through those last intense gym sessions.

The most important thing to consider with my diet is reducing bloat and water retention, so this is where the diet adjustments come in. Fiber, normally lauded as a great weight aid will need to be reduced as it can cause bloat. So, things like broccoli, cauliflower, brown rice etc will be eliminated. As will raw vegetables. Most of what I eat will be boiled or steamed.

I noticed a while back that dairy gives me a bit of belly bulge as well so I switched to vegan protein powder and eliminated dairy in my meals…mostly. I did still sneak a small taste of yogurt every now and then. When you aren’t eating anything sweet, plain Greek yogurt tastes like a freakin’ ginger bread house! Or whatever the sweetest thing you can imagine is. But from now on, it’s definitely not worth chancing it.

Steamed kale with mushrooms and scallops...a bloat-free masterpiece!
Steamed kale with mushrooms and scallops

Overall I’m pretty happy with my physique at the moment. I would have liked to lose more fat but I’m pretty stubborn that way. I do put on muscle easily so that’s really helped my shape, although for the bikini category too much muscle is not usually an asset. If I lose for looking too much like Wonder Women I don’t think I will be terribly upset! If I don’t place well, I’ll just automatically assume the reason was I looked way too awesome. You can actually pay to hear the judges feedback on your body but why would you want to do that? It’s much better to just make up a more flattering reason, and spend that money on wine. So much sweet sweet wine.

Eat once, measure twice

I’ve just passed week two of my competition prep and so far so good. But not perfect. The workouts are definitely going well. At this point they are relatively short: about 45 minutes in the gym. Every workout ends with 100 lunges, with 10 extra added on this week. The bikini contest is all about the glutes so my coach may have noticed I’m lacking in this area. When I first started losing weight, my butt looked a bit like an Easter Egg, very wide and oval shaped. When I started prepping for my first show it completely flattened out. I was not unhappy about this at all but Ana reminded me this is a problem. So now every single workout ends with lunges. It’s actually the best part of the workout because it’s without weights so I take it outside and lunch along the lake shore, which is a nice way to finish the workout.

The part I really need to work on is my diet. Not that I’ve strayed from my allowed foods but I have slacked a bit on logging. It’s not just enough to eat the right things, my macros need to be dead on and the only way to make sure they are is by tracking in a fitness app like My Fitness Pal or Build My Body Beautiful’s fitness app. This morning I made a recipe I found online that I thought I could easily adapt to fit in with my food list. (I’ll post the full recipe below.) The original dish is a layered casserole with sausage, vegetables, cheese and an egg. My adaptation was sweet potato, mushroom, green onion, ground beef and egg. I didn’t add any extra fat and measured my portions. It all seemed so innocent, but when I recorded it in my tracking app…whoops! Ended up being waaay to many calories and far too much fat for one meal.

Lesson learned: log your food, THEN eat it. Ideally, logging your whole day’s food in advance would make sure you are dead on, but that’s not always so easy since you can’t always plan every little thing ahead of time. What I’m going to try to do in the future is log half way through the day, and if the macros look off I have the rest of the day to make up for it. Repeating meals makes this a lot easier since you can check in advance and also saves the time of logging every little ingredient.

Sound incredibly dull and repetitive? Yup. But that goes with the territory of competing. You have to look at food as fuel rather than a source of enjoyment. I would not recommend living your life like this (how effn’ dreary amiright?). However, to lose weight it helps to shift this perspective for a limited amount of time.

If you read weight loss advice, you often hear about the benefits of keeping a food journal to keep you accountable. This can help but it’s much better to use a program that records your calories and macros, so if you’re not seeing results, you can go back and see exactly what the problem is. The is especially important when you’re carb cycling since your day-to-day macros need to be varied.

So since my breakfast indulgence, I’ll need to be extremely careful for the rest of the day to make sure I stay within my macro ranges. I think for the rest of the week I’ll stick to white fish and chicken for my meats as well.

I’ve also added creatine to my supplements, which will partially explain why the scale has not budged this week. Creatine helps build muscle but also can cause weight retention when you first start taking it. My husband went on it a few weeks ago and gained five pounds right away, but that dropped about a week after starting. For me I just haven’t lost anything so I’m expecting to see some movement on the scale when my body gets used to the supplement.

Speaking of husband, this week I’m preppin’ solo because Andy’s gone to Scotland for two weeks to visit his parents. Training can be a difficult and lonely sport at the best of times, so it’s that much harder when you come home to an empty condo. He’s also my chief photographer so I don’t have any progress photos to show at the moment. I’m very bad at selfies! I tried yesterday but no matter what angle I took I kept seeing a messy background. Once he gets back I will definitely start adding some photos. The best part about prepping is seeing the changes in your body. It’s really exciting to see how fast you can transform! Progress photos also remind me of the saying “what you eat in private you wear in public.” You can pretend you didn’t eat a 600 calorie breakfast but the photo of a bloated stomach will tell the truth.

My food today:

  1. Breakfast casserole (recipe below) (P+FC+SC)
  2. Proteine shake with 1.5 cup of blueberries (P+SC)
  3. Chicken and steamed broccoli (P+FC)
  4. chicken with chopped salad and mayo
  5. Shrimp with cabbage, mushroom, green onion
  6. 1 cup Cottage cheese, tablespoon almond butter, bell pepper

Improved version of breakfast casserole

  • 2.5 ounce of baked sweet potato cubes
  • 2.5 ounces of cooked ground chicken or turkey, seasoned with chilli powder and cayenne pepper
  • Half a cup of king oyster mushrooms
  • One green onion
  • One egg

Layer potatos, vegetables and chicken or turkey in an oven-proof dish, crack egg on top. Back at 450 for 10 minutes. This would be also nice topped with cilantro or watercress, and/or some Frank’s Red Hot sauce.

Workout:

Shoulders, back, biceps, triceps, lunges

Now where did I put my stripper shoes?

This is not a question I thought I would ever ask myself, but yes, those clear high heels fitness competitors wear are in fact bone fide “dancing” shoes. Mine came from seduction on Yonge Street. Actually, I didn’t think I would ever wear them twice, so they were soon relegated to a forgotten corner of my storage locker. I only intended to do one fitness competition. Just to see if I could do it. Plus the glamour of it all was alluring.

It was less than a year ago I had the conversation about competing with my coach Ana. I had just completed her eight-week weight loss program through Build My Body Beautiful and was buoyed by my accomplishment. I had been struggling with my weight for most of my adult life and finally felt like this goal was more than a pipe dream.

Posing like a champ after my first show on May 14, 2016. Cheesy perhaps, but everyone does it I swear!

Ana gave me an honest low-down of what prepping for a bikini competition was like. I was looking at at least four months of grueling workouts, five to six times a week. A strict diet that nixed wheat, sugar, dairy. And wine. That one was the hardest to accept. She asked me if I thought I could do it and I replied, there’s only one way to find out. I really didn’t know if I could, but unless you commit to a goal, you never really know what you can do. I was 38 and a half-year-old so I figured it was now or never.

I only planned to step on stage once. I didn’t even care if I placed, I just wanted to look like one of those impossibly lean, sculpted and confident fitness competitors, decked out in glittering costume jewelry and crystal encrusted bikinis. I was a bit embarrassed about how much I wanted to wear the get up.

Long story short: I did it and I won first place in the masters bikini division. So, mission accomplished right? Well, after months of dreaming about the food I couldn’t have and the relaxing weekends I had to forgo, I started to miss the discipline of a strict training regime. I also started to think that maybe working in fitness was my calling. Not to mention, I missed how my abs looked. So no sooner had I put my stripper shoes somewhere in my storage locker I decided I would do it again. And soon.

Partly the reason was financial: competing is expensive, but being able to wear the same posing suit, and shoes, and using my Ontario Physique Association membership, which is required to enter, I would be saving almost $1000. Not to mention the unused supplements in my pantry (no one’s ever died from expired fish oil, amiright?).

Last time I competed I didn’t tell many people. At first it was simply because I wasn’t sure I would go through with it and didn’t want to look like a flake. Secondly, I was looking forward to the day I could post a bikini-clad picture of myself to Facebook and have maximum impact. This time is quite the opposite. I was surprised how interested people were in the whole competing thing. I have never had so many people ask me about my diet, my exercise routines and whether or not I drank wine (sorry ladies I did not!).

So this time I’m going to blog every step of the way. I hope this blog will be useful to anyone who is either thinking of competing, maybe not in fitness but anything that takes a lot of discipline, or for anyone who just wants to make a change in their life. There may be a few who just want to witness me suffering and that’s ok too!

As of September 5 my stats so far are: 142 pounds. 14.5% body fat. Twelve weeks to go (my show is on November 26 by the way).

My trainer this time around is Ivan, Ana’s partner, so it will be interesting to see a different perspective on the preparation. They have also just developed a new training app, through which he will be delivering the program. After completing the first week of super low carb meals, I’m now on a pretty standard carb-cycling plan, along with two days a week of bootcamp, three days of weights and two days of rest. So far pretty do-able but I know it will get tougher as we get closer to the big day. Twelve weeks is actually pretty short window for a competition so the intensity will increase pretty quickly.

I will be posting lots of progress photos, meals and workouts so follow along if you dare! If you have any questions at all about the process please drop me a line. I’d love to hear your questions, thoughts and comments!