With only a few weeks left until I step onstage, things are getting intense. I’m up to 1.5 gallons of water per day (not counting coffee) and I’m down to about 1200 calories per day mostly coming from protein (fat is almost non existant and carbs are limited to veg and a little post workout sweet potato). The goal now is to take off any tiny bit of body fat so that all of my hard earned muscle and curve will show while I’m under the bright stage lights.
Although I started my prep back in March, it’s now the end of October and that means it’s time to “tighten up” as my coach put it. Thankfully my entire training wasn’t quite as intense as it is now; many competitors go super low calorie from the get-go and spend months doing two 60 minute cardio sessions per day plus weightlifting! Yikes. Now I’m at 5 weightlifting days and 5 fasted cardio days each week and even that will shortly be done as I get closer to show day.
For now though, sleep is my best friend. When I don’t get restful sleep I feel lethargic and snippy. The important thing to keep in mind with any intense training is that the harder it gets, the greater the recovery time your body will need in order to see results. Another interesting thing is that although I have cut out weekly treat meals at this point, I surprisingly don’t miss it. Before I would count down the days to my next treat meal, making big plans for what I would indulge in, but now there’s nothing. No cravings, nothing. It certainly helps to look in the mirror and see my six-pack of abs and cellulite free tush, but all in all I’m good. The first few days on this stricter diet were challenging (as it usually goes with any diet change), but I got used to it really fast and the only time I get hangry is when I’ve gone past the 2 hour mark since my last meal.
I continue to get creative with my allotted ingredients for each meal, so there is no deprivation here. Most recently I came up with a protein packed postworkout waffle that I love and find is only fitting for the cooler autumn weather.
Pumpkin Spice Waffle
4 oz baked sweet potato (without skin)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg, cardamom, clove (optional)
In a bowl mash sweet potato until smooth then add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined (texture should resemble a thick batter). Heat waffle iron on medium-high, when ready pour in batter and spread evenly throughout. Cook until golden and crispy.
I’m usually not one for cooking with heat when it comes to protein powder, but this recipe is really good and combines the complex carbs and lean protein to help me recover post workout. You may have heard of protein pancakes and such; they have been very popular with bodybuilders for many years and are now becoming more mainstream for those looking for a healthier alternative to the standard (and unhealthy) breakfast. Instead of spending money on the expensive pre-made mixes that you can sometimes find in store for a hefty price, try your own recipe instead (like this one) or do a quick google search for protein pancake recipe and you will find tons. There are plenty of options that play around with protein sources (some use egg whites or silken tofu instead of protein powder) and complex carbs as well.
As I’m nearing the end of this training, I’ve come to realize that the final weeks of contest prep are a lot like kindergarten where snacks are scheduled, naptime is essential, and you’re always right on the edge of throwing a tantum. It’s funny because I swear its true. Without question, this entire experience has been completely worth it. I’ve learned so much and have a far better appreciation of how important it is to put your health first, always. Being stage lean may be only short term, but the journey towards it is really spectacular.
Start It, Finish It