Contest Prep

The Next Big Challenge

 

In almost every post that I’ve written, I have mentioned the importance of constantly challenging yourself and setting yourself up for success with new goals. New strategies are invaluable; they keep your body and mind guessing and allow you learn and become stronger on the inside and out. With that in mind, I am happy to share and discuss what my next big personal challenge will be.

I have decided to enter and compete in my first physique competition in the bikini category and I am super excited! I have been tinkering with the idea of competing for a few years now, but I didn’t fully understand what I needed to do and how I needed to go about my prep and training, and so I ultimately I wasn’t ready. However, after my 12 week fitness challenge in 2015 I saw what I was really capable of and how I could work towards this and incorporate a fit lifestyle into my everyday life. The thing that really made me decide to do this was that I was finally able to find a coach that specializes in competition prep for plant-based athletes. This has been huge for me as every time I would follow a plan or program, I would always have to put in a ton of guess work in figuring out the best plant foods to swap in for animal based foods. No doubt each time I would probably end up with skewed macros or calories because something, somewhere was off. Thankfully the guesswork is no longer a problem and my coach has given me a personalized plan based on the foods that I actually like and based on what my needs are in terms of getting competition ready. The coach I am working with is about a 2 hour drive away so we communicate through email and skype and I send her progress pics along the way to make tweaks where needed.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with these competitions, allow me to shed some light. Bikini is considered a category in bodybuilding for women, where there is more of a focus on having a lean, balanced, muscular body with curves as opposed to the large muscular and shredded form of the standard bodybuilder. Competitors wear a bikini (posing suit), but it must abide by very specific standards; it’s not just an off the sales rack suite that you’d wear on the beach. Usually the suits are custom made with special fabric/attachments which is fitted to each competitor. If the suit is not in line with the regulation than the individual will not be allowed to compete, but if it is up to standard, the competitor’s suit will be taken into consideration during their judging. It is also the industry standard for all competitors to have a spray tan, because under stage lights when being judged, no matter how ripped you are, it will not show unless you have added color to your skin; you basically look dry, washed out and flat without it. Bikini competitors also have specific shoe requirements: clear shoes, high heels between 2-5 inches, no platforms are allowed. Hair and makeup also needs to be done, again specific requirements for the industry standard, and some jewelry is allowed such as bracelets (but not bangles), rings and earrings, just as long as it isn’t taking away from the overall look of the athlete, otherwise they will be marked down. Competitors are not only judged on all of this, but are also judged on their posing and stage presence, which brings me to the next part.

Strict guidelines are in place for posing and walking on stage. Posing isn’t just random and it isn’t just the typical old-school flexing, it’s a routine that needs to be rehearsed and practiced to perfection and is meant to show off the athlete’s best features. Judges look for someone who is confident and has poise and charisma. A posing coach or posing classes are a necessity here; some classes can be done online via skype, but it might not give an accurate depiction of how well an athlete is actually doing due to lighting and the quality of the video. For my competition I definitely want to do in-person posing sessions either one on one or in a class depending on what’s available. I can do a few sessions with my coach, but she is a bit far so I may go with a more local posing coach instead (which I recently found), so we’ll see what’s best.

This is a sport that can be very expensive to take part in; there’s a fee for pretty much every aspect of it. There’s the custom suit, shoes, coaching services, posing classes, a league membership fee, event registration fee, hair and makeup services, spray tan, not to mention the gym membership needed to actually get in contest shape, groceries and supplements. Then again, participating in almost any sport is expensive. Think about it: for hockey, soccer, baseball, basketball, etc. there’s league fees, competition fees, paying for equipment, travel, hotel, etc. Even runners will spend money for the right gear (shoes, clothes, race fees, wearable tech, etc.) so although many claim that it’s expensive to compete, this is the standard for any sport.

I can honestly say that I am very excited about this next big challenge; although I decided at the start of this year that I would compete, I only told those closest to me about this about a week ago. My first competition is in six and a half months and I started my training about eight weeks ago. Every six weeks I’ll be starting a new training and nutrition plan which will vary based on how well I am progressing. I’m already seeing some good changes and I dropped five pounds during my first seven weeks, bodyfat percentage-wise I’m not sure yet, but that will be calculated soon (bikini competitors usually drop to about 10% bodyfat on show day!). That’s definitely going to slow down (as well it should), but the goal here to train and sculpt the body to a very specific and proportionate look, by losing fat and building muscle and the same time. It’s all a very delicate balance between eating the right foods at the right times for the right portions, getting lots of restful sleep consistently, along with specific workouts, drinking specific amounts of water and taking the right supplements at the right times too. Everything is measured and calculated, food has to be weighed to make sure that it’s not off by even one gram, otherwise it could lead to excess calories or insufficient calories, which will impact the final look come competition day.

I’ve read several articles lately that mentioned how competitors will get very stressed, moody and even have vivid dreams about their upcoming competition. This is a big goal and competing is something that’s gaining a lot of popularity, especially in the bikini category; I took a peak at the photos of last year’s competition and there were a lot of women competing, which led to my temporary jacked up stress. I kept thinking: will I look like that? is my training schedule going to be too tough to keep up with along with working full time and planning my wedding? As a result, all week I’ve been having stress dreams about the competition where I forget to bring something with me, my suit falls apart, I forget to cut out the salt and water so I come out looking bloated, my tan comes out all patchy and weird… Hopefully these dreams will stop at some point soon. On the other hand my fiancé has been very supportive and has already prepped himself for my impending mood swings when I’ll be one week out from the competition and has strategized on the many ways that he’ll be “handler/assistant” the day of. There’s a lot of little things to think about, but thankfully there are many resources at my fingertips so I’ll find my way through. One thing is for sure though, I will definitely be using the hair, makeup and spraytan services that the event will be offering just to be on the safe side. For my first show, I don’t want to leave that responsibility up to chance; I’d rather go with the pros to make everything a seamless as possible.

Thus far I feel good, the nutrition plan isn’t too intense which is why I wanted to start my prep earlier so as to avoid having to go to an extreme or crash diet. The typical contest prep lasts 12 weeks, but since this will be my first, I wanted to give myself plenty of time and leeway to get to where I need to be. The first week of each new plan that I start though is usually the most intense; my muscles feel tired and I get very hungry very suddenly right around the two hour mark between meals. This is the second week of my second plan and unfortunately I’ve had a very busy week that has forced me to move my workouts around and has affected my sleep so I feel more tired than usual and as result more hungry. I do six days of 20-30 minutes of cardio and 5 days of weightlifting, cardio on my lunch hour and weightlifting right after work. This week though I had to move three cardio sessions to the morning which meant that I had to wake up earlier and one session of weightlifting to my lunch hour instead. This also meant that my pre and post workout meals needed to be swapped for different times during the day than what I’m used to. It’s manageable, but I do feel tired this week. Ultimately, the only way that this will work is if I fit in in to my schedule, even if that means changing up the timing every once and a while.

So that’s that. My next goal is a really big one, but I know it’ll be awesome. Guaranteed that I’ll go through the usual doubts, moodiness and bizarro cravings that every other competitor does, but the reward of being on stage come show day will make it all worth it. I’ll keep you all posted on my progress, to be continued…

Start It, Finish It

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