About 12 weeks away from the Night of Champions, something occurred to me:
I am leaner than I have ever been. In better shape than I have ever been. The last thing I want is to gain a bunch after the most proud moment of my life, only because I dieted for 18 weeks and can't control my binging.
And what does my friend Kari Keenan always say? "Failing to plan is planning to fail." Little does Kari know, I take all her words to heart.
The plan? Well, I only wanted to gain back 5 or 6 lbs. (Update: At the doctor last night I weighed 111.5 lbs, which is actually only up by 3 lbs from my lowest prep weight!)
One of the things I learned in my very first competition prep, is obviously how my body responds to a great many things. I had no clue, let me rephrase, NO CLUE how my body would react to the "stress" of Contest Prep. And by "stress" I mean:
-Different diet than I was used to: Extremely high protein, upwards of 200g per day and very high volume of food.
-Excess cardio: Every morning 6 days a week, and every afternoon 6 days a week, and continuing to go up from there.
-Time! I had no time! EVAR!
-Anxiety: I had some anxiety about competing, strutting my stuff on stage in a teeny-tiny bikini, and fear that I wouldn't bring my body fat down enough. Ha! Why do we worry about dumb things? lol
-Anxiety also led to: insomnia, teeth grinding, crying, neglecting Handsome, forgetfulness, etc.
But the one thing I learned about myself, which is probably the more important thing to take away from this is... I'm curvy. My body retains a curvy shape (thanks mom!). I truly have hip & butt muscles. Hello! :) Also, my muscles get stringy the moment I go off creatine. I cycled off creatine the last week in July and first week in August and those whole 2 weeks, I just noticed that my body almost wanted to go bikini. Kind of like my brunette hair wanting to be blonde.
It became a thought at about 11 weeks out, more of a discussion at 9 weeks out, and a decision at 6 weeks out. I have nothing but love and a special admiration for girls who do figure... I seriously think these women are SO SEXY!!!, but believe that my physique is better suited in the Bikini Division, especially after some posing. The look of the bikini girl is just as hard to achieve as a figure girl, and am inspired by their lifestyles.
I feel that I have made a well informed decision and am excited for what will really be only 3-4 months of off season will bring to my body. Training for figure brought me confidence I could have never achieved in going straight into bikini. I also feel that training for figure has brought me to a more muscular point, which seems to be what judges are looking for (me!)... And I couldn't be more proud of the round shoulders I've built or the nice muscular back I worked on for months.
I have to admit, I have been excited for this for weeks. I began planning my off-season about a month prior to NOC and finalized it that entire week I was out with pneumonia. I had quite a few reasons and ideas in mind:
* Trying to by-pass the post-competition blues by having a plan to move right into.
* Succeed at by-passing the post-competition blues by having a plan I'm excited to move right into!
* Tapering off cardio, so I'm not stuck with loads of new pounds... (but with pneumonia, this didn't happen... Cardio went to a grinding halt and I had to purely rely on diet. A strength I never knew I had.)
* Having a post-comp diet plan to move right into that supplements my tapering off cardio & moving into a build... with loads of foods I've missed so I can be excited about it and not feel the need to cheat all the time.
Kinda funny now, I had all those plans and pneumonia really messed up everything. BUT! I have my diet and workouts planned through the end of the year. Of course I always leave myself the freedom to change whenever I want, but I enjoy having a focus and a plan.
Like I mentioned, my body is in a prime condition to build right after leaning out for a comp, which I had been doing for 18 weeks, shed 15 lbs & went from 21% body fat all the way down to 10% (ish). Before that, I spent 8 months adding muscle. So, my body is getting used to this cycle: Build up, lean out, build up, lean out.
Going back, since I have spent 18 weeks on a very low carb, no fat, very high protein diet... My muscles literally had NO glycogen stores by the time I was home sick with pneumonia. After my first cheats, I was willing to bet my muscles would soak all that up! Might as well use that energy to work on the body parts NOW and not when I think its time that I might be ready for a build. I am ready now!
My first 4 weeks post-prep (I can't really call it post-comp can I, lol?), like I've mentioned before, are moving right into a build.
- October: My first 4 weeks (once I'm back from being sicky) was going to be focused on tapering off cardio from 80 mins a day, down to 15-20 by the end of October. However, since I more or less just STOPPED doing cardio, I don't feel a huge need to taper off. Once I get back, I'm sticking to 15-25 mins a day. Diet intake has to increase by quite a bit to build, and that has certainly already happened. I plan to go back on creatine only during these 4 weeks to truly supplement this build. I am looking to add a little muscle in the hamstrings, glutes, & abs.
- November: November is going to be a few things. More cardio just to lean out some of the fat I most likely put on during October. I really want to make more room for other things this month... Maybe some TRX workouts with some old football cone & T-Drills (I LOVE conditioning/cardio work... maybe another reason Bikini is better suited for me), definitely a lot of yoga, and some fighting classes! I do plan on going back into my first phase of contest diet for the month.
- December: December will be about building once more. This will depend on how my physique shaped out in my first build. If my trainers and I feel that I need just a little more, then I will go that route. I expect to still need to add a little... I have zero abs right now lol. I want abs. Abs.
- January: January will be much like November, but with less cardio. Because I expect to start Contest Prep sometime in January for heading to the Emerald Cup (& maybe the Empire Classic... its the week after the Emerald... we'll see what Handsome thinks about this...). January 30th is 12 weeks out but when I start will depend on what I look like in January. But I would like to make 12 weeks my goal, which will hopefully keep me focused thru the holidays.
So! What am I working on??
I took the opportunity to have my prep-coach evaluate my physique once I was about a week out. I was finally lean enough to see exactly what I wanted to work on in my own body. I felt like I couldn't really see the muscles until that point. By then, I also felt like I was seeing myself as I was. Its hard to not have distorted vision on your own body during contest prep since you are CONSTANTLY evaluating your body lol! Also by that point, I knew I was going to continue in Bikini.
Although many say that the Bikini division is so subjective, and it is, there is some science to it. Judges are looking for certain muscles to be round, some to look athletic, etc.
* BOOTAY - This muscle will be built. And in Bikini it is a LOT about the booty. Which I have a lot of, but want just a bit more to appear really tight as I lean out.
* Hips & Inner Thighs - No kidding. I feel like I need only just a little more muscle in each, but I feel like it will help my existing fat pockets grip to my body more easily. Will help shape the fat, since I can't always get rid of it. :) Good plan, eh?
* Abs & Obliques - I want to create that definition, and again... give my fat some muscle to cling to.
* Lower Back - Just slightly. I want to also increase strength here, more than I'm looking for size. Will help me stick that booty out. LOL! There IS a reason for this, the fusion in my spine (T12-L2) is directly on my waist, so I can't flex backward much right there. I have to rely on my lower back for this.
* Hamstring Tie-In - I am more or less happy with the size of my hamstrings, but really want to work on that tie in. This will pretty much just be a whole lot of lunges, single leg presses, and split squats.
* Biceps & Shoulders - Both only slightly. Both I would just like more round.
*I am currently very happy with the size of my triceps, my upper back (traps & lats), and quads.
So, since we are all in this together, I am making a committment to myself and to all of you. You all have given me much encouragement and insight on my journey to the stage, that I feel an avenue for progress is exactly what I need in the next 4 months. You can expect from me (and feel free to yell/slap me if I miss one):
*Progress pictures at the end of every month
*Detailed progress of my previous month, including weight. I really want to be sure I maintain. For those of you who don't know my philosphy on weight, it is just a measurement of progress.... NOT a measurement of
value. I like to know my weight, so I know how much lean body mass I have.