I thought I would share with everyone my journey into the world of bodybuilding competitions!
Back in 2012, I decided I wanted to try and push myself to train and compete in a bodybuilding competition. It never happened. But I had the bikini, the shoes, and the hopes to one day compete.
For those of you who do not know much about the competition world there are 4 classes so to speak:
Basically as you go from Bikini, to physique there is more muscle and definition. I am competing in an OCB Bikini.
I won’t go into all the detail of each division, I feel the the pictures above help people get the idea. Also, there are two federations in which you can compete: OCB and NPC. I do not feel I can 100% give you differences between the two, as far as competing, you can do one or both.
As with all competitions, their are judges, and they declare the winners.
Ok, so now you have the basics! Back to my story!
After not being able to compete in 2012, I dreamed about the day that I one day would. And in the fall of 2014, I decided, my New Years’ Resolution for 2015 would be to compete!
At the beginning of 2015, I printed off meal prep calendars and started recording everything I ate throughout the day, and the portion sizes. This kept me accountable. I stopped drinking alcohol. (Not that I drink often, but if you are going to be serious about competing, you can’t have any) I would highly recommend the method I chose here, of writing down everything you ate and the amounts on paper for 2 reasons:
1. You won’t feel guilty for seeing the calories involved if you eat dessert or make an unhealthy choice one day
2. When you get a personal trainer to help you 12 weeks out (which I recommend!!!!!!) they will be able to see and calculate what you have been eating and help make a meal plan for you!
I started writing everything down in January, with the start of the new year. When I found my trainer, I was exactly 12 weeks out from the date of the competition I wanted to compete in, and ready to push myself.
*I want to make a side note here- at this point in my life, I was “healthy” and “in shape” by normal social standards. I had since 2009, essentially been going to the gym and doing some form of weightlifting 4 days a week. I also hike, backpack, and walk my dog (2 to 4 miles) every day. SO I was someone who was active and in moderate shape. This isn’t to dissuade anyone, but realistically, everyone is different, so while I was able to wait until 12 weeks out before getting a trainer, some people may need one prior to that. However, if you have never competed before I strongly suggest finding a trainer who has trained people for competitions or that has competed his or herself. And! most importantly, find a POSING INTRUCTOR!!!*
So, my new workout regime and meal plan started in April. Again, I was in moderate shape (pics to be posted later), but the new workout routine was designed to kick my A** and it did. I had felt prior to doing the workouts given to me by my trainer that I was in moderate shape, I did leg days at least 2 times a week, and had a blend of upper body weights for 2 to 3 days a week. I went from doing 3 sets of squats, with 8 to 10 reps and around 115 to 135 pounds to doing 4 sets with reps of 20,16,12,10 and increasing weights as the reps dropped. I started out only being able to do around 85-95 on those reps of 20, and by the time I got to the last set, my weights were barely up to the 115 mark. Now, I can do more, as I have gained muscle and strength. But I learned to value my trainer’s workout, and her knowledge.
Now, so everyone can get a good idea of what I mean:
The green sports bra is me in April at the start of my training around 137-138 pounds, the bathing suit is after 4 weeks of training and around 135 pounds.
I want you to take note, that there is only a 2 pound difference, and yes there was a drop in body fat percentage also.
The take away here, is that nutrition, a clean diet, and the right workout can shape you in ways you never thought.
At the start of my 12 week journey, although I had been eating pretty healthy, my macronutrients changed vastly. Where I had been eating around 60-70 grams of sugar a day, on the meal plan from my trainer, I was only eating around 40 grams. My protein went from around 100grams to 134 grams. You get the idea. I will say, the food has always been delicious, and obviously nutritious. But the changes did take will power to not give into sugar cravings. I can honestly say I do not crave sweets anymore and that processed, prepackaged food does not make my mouth water. After 6 weeks in, my meal plan changed a bit, mostly with a drop in calories. From that point on, and when it dropped 2 weeks out from the competition, my main struggle was that I felt hungry.
Is this 100% healthy? No. But in the competition world, you do have to lean out. Unfortunately it does involve a low caloric intake. I will say, the lowest intake was starting from 2 weeks out, at it was still around 1400 calories a day. Which, for me, made me feel hungry, but since it was only for two weeks, was a necessary evil. Hahaha. Once the competition was over, I went back to eating around 1700 to 1800 calories a day, and eating a clean diet. Staying on a 1400 calorie diet long term would not be healthy for me. Each individual is different.
I will say, for anyone interest in bodybuilding, the reason I recommend a trainer for at least your first competition so you learn the idea behind macronutrients, eating clean, and the workout that works best with it. Most people who want to get into good shape think…lets cut calories! I will only eat 1200 a day. The reality is, its the food you eat more so than the calories. Whole natural foods are always better than processed anything, and cutting calories when trying to lose weight needs to be done with guidance.
Did I do things wrong? Yes, there were days when I had cravings for chocolate. And I gave into them. I would allow myself a small piece. This mostly happened at the beginning/ in the first month. I also had my 27th birthday. And had a small amount of a gluten free cupcake my sisters bought me to celebrate. The first time I gave into a chocolate craving, I panicked and told my trainer. As she said as long as it wasn’t a huge “cheat meal” like a whole pizza, it would be fine. She was right. I had some days where I needed that little extra boost for motivation, and I stopped feeling guilty. I want to mention this because if you start feeling guilty for food, that could manifest later as an eating disorder. Take away here- try not to have full meals that are outside of your meal plan when competing, but if you need that small piece of chocolate, then take it. Do not let the craving get bigger, and do not ever feel guilty for taking it.
There were also days when, I was held late at work and couldn’t eat my pre-made meals as planned. I countered this later by making sure to pack extra/ emergency meals with me. But before I learned to do that, I just would find the best alternative that fit into my macros to help hold me over. For example, my meal 5 during my first 6 weeks had 4 tablespoons of avocado which was roughly 94calories (I don’t remember the break down of the macros). If I got stuck somewhere without my meals, I’d grab a small thing of almonds from the gas station, and look on the back of the package, to see how much I could eat that would be equal to 94 calories. This worked because the macros for avocado and almonds was similar.
I am officially at the 2 weeks out mark. My new plan of the 1400ish calories starts today. As soon As I compete, I will have an updated blog post to let you know how I did, and what I looked like. As of last week here is a flex picture!
I want to inspire people, I want to motivate them to be the best version of themselves. Does that mean competing? NO! Everyone is different. I may or may not stay in the competing fitness world. I have yet to decide. MY decision may be heavily based on how well I do on June 27th, and if I have a good time. I will say that my confidence has greatly improved. My energy levels have increased, and overall I do feel great!
And a some motivation: