You asked, and I answered! Here are the results of my Q&A, Part 1. I chose eleven questions to answer for Part 1 and will be following up with a Part 2 to answer the rest.
Keep the questions coming and I will do a rolling Q&A throughout my entire competition prep this season!
I wish I’d known how to have better balance my first prep. Everyone talks about balance but what does that actually mean? Balance is something you have to learn through practice. Before my first show and during my first prep, I thought I had to have an all-or-nothing sort mentality or I would fail. I’d never achieved the level of fitness I wanted to achieve to be competitive in my first show. I didn’t realize that I didn’t have to choke down tilapia and asparagus for five meals a day to succeed.
Now I know about things like flexible dieting and how to have a balanced and sustainable fitness lifestyle that also allows for me to feel more social and less isolated while I’m working towards my goals.
If I want to go to happy hour or out to dinner to spend time with friends, I feel 100% comfortable doing that now (and ordering a sparkling water with lime or something specific off the menu if I’m trying to make it fit in my macros) whereas before I felt like I couldn’t even be around the bar or go out to eat or I might make a mistake and drink or eat something I wasn’t supposed to and that might derail my progress.
Just like one healthy meal won’t make you fit, one untracked meal won’t make you fat.
I started seeing my body change in college and then pretty dramatically when I started working full time as an engineer after college. I grew up as an all-around athlete and could eat whatever I wanted without worrying about weight gain. I was always slender and fit growing up until my mid 20s when things started to change and I started seeing some weight gain and added fluff from things like alcohol and poor nutrition. I wondered to myself… if I didn’t make my health and fitness a priority now, then when would I?
I had relationships in the past that felt very possessive. I always needed alone time but often I’d find myself becoming dependent on the person I was dating for emotional support and let that take up the majority of my time. I wanted to get into shape but I was stumped by not knowing quite how to make that happen.
I was also a little nervous starting out in the gym and moving beyond the cardio equipment because I was worried I might make a fool of myself.
It wasn’t until I hired a coach to help me compete in my first show that I actually buckled down with the accountability and guidance to make that happen.
My goal was to just step on the stage at first, back in January of 2015, and prove to myself that I could follow through on that commitment to myself. When I did step on stage for my first bikini physique competition in the spring of 2015, I felt so empowered; I wanted more from the sport and I wanted to come in looking better for my next show. So I started seeking out other resources to further my knowledge and help me excel in the sport.
I train all out with heavy weight now. I remember when I could barely do chest press for 3 sets with 15 lb dumbbells. Now I grab the 45 lb dumbbells after warming up and utilize a training partner to spot me on heavy lifts so I can go all out to failure within my desired rep range based on my training programming.
My food selection is so flexible now! Once you’ve been doing this long enough you start to learn how to manipulate macros really easily. Some days I’m just craving some halo top or Lenny and Larry cookies… and that’s okay and totally normal! I’ve learned to make healthy substitutions over less nutritious options that taste roughly the same to make things fit in my daily macro budget for the day.
It took a lot of time for me to develop balance in my life competing in an extreme physique sport but also enjoying being social and good food! I’m still working on it and learning new things everyday. I think the key is to define your principles by which you live your life, create boundaries for people, and hold true to what’s important for you.
Lots of times you will be confronted with food pushers or people that are “concerned” for you because you are interested in what you are eating or won’t eat certain things that they’ve decided you should be able to eat. You just have to do your own thing and own it. I’ve always been someone that thrives with independence.
I also work with my husband to make sure I stick to my goals. If we are going out for a dinner, I will make a plan with him before about what I want to eat and drink to stay on track with my goals. I will say, “I’m not interested in drinking tonight, so make sure I remember that.” And he will! Sometimes when we go out to eat, I’ll get handed the beverage menu and I’ll start looking through the cocktails, he’ll then remind me how I felt before we ended up “in the moment,” and that’s the motivation I need to set the menu down and stay on track! We’ve also picked places to eat where we can enjoy what we are eating on the menu without going completely off track.
This year I am planning to compete in Jr. USA Nationals in Charleston, South Carolina in May. Jr. USA Nationals will be my first show of 2018. Last year I started out the year with two “warm-up” shows before hitting the National stage, placing 5th at Jr. Nationals in Chicago and 4th at USA Nationals in Vegas. This year I do not plan on competing in a warm-up show. I want to hit the ground running with a National show to kick off 2018 and we will see where I go from there!
My long-term goal is to compete in 2018 in the Portland Classic that is a going to be a new Spectrum Fitness Productions competition located in my hometown… as a bikini professional in the IFBB! This is the first IFBB/NPC (pro/am) show to come to Portland, OR so I’m really excited for the opportunity to have all my friends and family there. However, I don’t know if I will compete in it if I am not a pro by that time.
Adversity is going to show up everywhere. When you are doing what’s best for you and with good intentions and people react a certain way, say certain things, or try to hurt, isolate, or disrespect you for the decision you’ve made, that says something about THEM, not YOU.
Last year I left a team environment where I was seeing things that didn’t add up, it wasn’t healthy, and actually felt downright toxic to where I was sick over the things I was seeing and the way I was seeing girls treated behind their backs via emails, phone calls, texts, etc… I removed myself from this situation cordially and then was retaliated against a few weeks later for whatever reason.
I simply had to move on with my own clear conscious knowing that I was better than that and wasn’t going to stoop to that level or play that game. More than that, I wasn’t going to let the drama deter me from my goals or distract me from staying focused on my goals. Adverse situations we face in life can make us stronger, give us compassion, and help us become better people with greater perspective and purpose if we let them.
Don’t get me wrong; the things that occurred, targeted at me to hurt me, truly shocked me. I wondered, “Why me?”” But then I looked at who was spreading the drama and misinformation meant to make people turn against me, hurt my business, and defame my reputation, and I had already written them off as being fake and full of bull, so why was this situation any different? Also, typically when someone is accusing you of wrongdoing and trying to blame you for something that’s wrong in a disingenuous way, it’s usually over something that same person is very insecure about because they are actually the one that is guilty and projecting these insecurities onto you in an attempt to make themselves feel better.
And the good that comes out of these situations is that you find out who is really there for you and who isn’t which is a very important thing to know. I’d rather see someone’s vicious behavior right away and know to stay far away from them than be tricked or abused later on down the road.
I have some guidelines I use to set people’s initial macronutrient intakes. Some people are already tracking and know what their intake is without having direction, and that is a great place to start. If someone hasn’t been tracking their intake and wants to start nutrition coaching for me I will typically ask them to start tracking what they regularly eat (honestly) to see where their current consumption is at.
The first thing I will adjust with nutrition is protein intake. Rarely is a person’s protein intake too high. Most people aren’t eating enough protein to be able to support muscle growth or maintenance. Depending on what the person is trying to achieve, I will set their protein to roughly 1 gram per pound body weight. I’ve noticed vegans can struggle with getting in enough protein. If this is the case I’ll make food selection recommendations to help them work through this issue. After adjusting protein, I’ll adjust fat intake to roughly 20-30% of their daily caloric intake and then set carbohydrates to get them to roughly the same caloric intake they started at. Then I will manipulate macros from their starting point to coax the body to respond accordingly to get the client to their goals.
Everyone is different with where they start. If you aren’t sure what you are eating and are totally new to tracking and just want a meal plan to follow to get started, I will sometimes make a guess of where I think you are at calorie-wise based on lifestyle discussions and then adjust from there.
If a person is at really low calories, I may have to work them up to the macronutrient numbers I would like them to be at for hormonal and metabolic health by performing a reverse diet manipulation of macros.
Results can take months. I’m talking months to see results that are more than a 5 lb weight fluctuation. Adjustments should be controlled to be able to determine cause and affect relationships. You want to give your body time to adapt to new numbers before changing them again.
I recommend 1-1.2 grams of protein per pound body weight to grow lean mass and at a minimum, 0.8 g /lb body weight to maintain lean mass.
I haven’t heard of any kidney issues in this sport personally. However, I am an all-natural athlete and I’ve only worked with all-natural clients so if you are using prescription drugs or other things like that to try to get results, I am not knowledgeable about the side-effects.
Definitely, and that is when you know it’s time to switch up your workout plan! If you are able to increase weights week after week with progressive overload, there is no need to switch things up! If it’s not working… that’s when you know it’s time for a new program!
I actually don’t have an abdominal routine because I feel I get ab recruitment from simply engaging my core during exercises for stabilization. If I’m struggling to stabilize my core I might add in some ab work to make my stabilization muscles stronger for my other lifts.
The thing about abs is that you have to be lean enough to actually see them. You cannot spot reduce the fat in your midsection. Once you are lean enough, you should be able to see your abdominal muscles!
*Thumbnail photo take by Wainwright Images