Tag Archives: Competition Prep

What Do I Do Now?


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So you just finished a competition and now you don’t know what to do with yourself. You feel completely lost with your diet and training. Depending on your goals and what you did or didn’t do, post competition can be looked at in many different ways.

Most people get struck by post contest blues and cannot control their diet when show time is over. The discipline goes out the door and you basically are not able to say no to all the goodies you have been deprived of for long. When competitors go through this post-competition, They also noticed how fast the pounds come back even after only a few days of indulging. The head games start playing with us. We look in the mirror and wish we could look like the day of the show, and we start pinching at our stomachs and our butts. We try to go back on our diets, but that does not last long. Either the gym becomes an obsession or we cannot even drive by without wanting to cry at the thought of training.

What if you didn’t gain body fat? What if you just regained the normal few pounds? It’s not wise to stay lower with your calories just for the sake of staying at your pre-competition weight. Quite the opposite. You cannot think you are doing better because you are having less calories than your body actually can use. If your goal is to improve your physique and put on more muscle, you need to feed your body the adequate calories it needs in order to do so.

For those who don’t maintain a lean physique without cardio, then make sure you keep it up without over doing it, 4-5 times a week is great. But, if you didn’t need more than a few sessions per week to stay lean, then why not cut it down and do only 2-3 intense, short sessions? That way you can also have more energy for your weight training sessions.

If you have months to your next competition and you like how you look, maybe this is the time you need to experiment with other foods. Either you can add a bit more calories or choose some of your favorite foods and include them in your diet. What I personally like to do is a refeed day to fill up glycogen for better training and to prevent lethargy. This also helps our metabolism from hitting a “plateau”. Basically I eat more food and extra clean carbohydrates(always keep it clean!)

If you are just a few weeks between shows, make sure you reintroduce post workout carbs so  you don’t catabolize muscle. Pay attention to how you look so you can stop if your body starts to look smooth. Sometimes we end up looking even better a few weeks after our first show just by little diet changes.

Some people when they are really lean and have eaten too little and trained too much for a long time, the body can start to look soft. The natural response is to train more and diet harder. Most likely what needs to be done is……take a day off and eat more! It’s hard to wrap our heads around this concept when we have established a routine of 2 a day workouts and low calories.

Few things I like to do:

1. Eat a different breakfast
2. Have some peanut butter(or almond butter, or just nuts)
3. Have some fruit
4. Eat a fattier protein like salmon or bison
5. Eat different veggies like carrots or squash

Not only will you feel satisfied, you will most likely feel happier and more energized. Keep in mind sometimes the body may get a little bloated from food we are not used to, but I believe that this is probably a good thing for our metabolism.

Now it’s time to try to relax about the whole “what do I do now!” What you should do now is enjoy your food and training! Work hard and never stop reaching for your fitness goals, and come in more muscular and ready to kick butt at your next show!


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Remain a Fat Burning Machine On and Off Season

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Come competition time, the aim for all competitors is to become as lean as possible, while maintaining a hard physique. Although achieving this type of appearance should be relatively easy, there is one factor that often negates progress in even the most diligent: a slow metabolism.

A slow metabolism is the one thing a competitor does not want to be cursed with, when the main goal is to lose body fat.

Maintain a Healthy Weight Off Season.

The metabolism is adversely affected when one consumes a large amount of food for a certain period of time. In fact, the term yo-yo dieting stems from many peoples attempts to lose weight, while reverting to bad eating habits, when they should be sticking to a more sensible diet.

The body will simply adapt to maintaining a low metabolic rate if it has to continually adjust to a sharp decline in calories for a certain period of time, followed by engorgement for another period of time. This has obvious implications when it comes to losing weight during competition season. Attempting to lose fat at a rapid rate can also result in losses in protein, and loss of muscle protein means a decrease in metabolism. In my opinion, it is very important to keep a high protein diet, along with supplements like glutamine and branched chain amino acids during dieting to avoid muscle loss.

Another problem with drastic weight loss, is an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL). LPL is a fat storing enzyme that increases when calories are dropped at a significant rate. When your body produces too much LPL and you start to pile on the fat, you will possibly need to diet harder to lose this fat after, which may further increase LPL and making fat loss next to impossible.

Your best bet is to maintain a sensible eating plan during off-season, so when pre-contest rolls around, calories do not have to be severely restricted to lose weight.

Eat Smaller Meals

Eating smaller meals more frequently helps to keep the metabolic rate constantly heightened, and helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. A constantly stimulated metabolism means fat-burning over a longer period of time.

Stabilized blood sugar prevents the hypoglycemia that occurs when one eats a huge meal and feels tired and lethargic soon afterward, due to low glucose levels to the brain. The body is more likely to store fat when in a hypoglycemic state, due to spiked insulin levels.

Train Aerobically

Competitors serious about fat loss should engage in aerobic activity both off-season and pre-contest, to keep the metabolism high. Aerobics, or what we all like to call cardio, has a great effect on fat-loss. Cardio stimulates the metabolism, metabolizes fat directly as a fuel source, and burns carbohydrates. In turn, this will all help to lower the fat-storing potential of these macronutrients.

Cardio can however deplete the body of protein if done too often or for too long. Therefore, if you feel like you are losing muscle pre-contest, it might be a good idea to cut back on cardio to the point where fat, rather than muscle, is being utilized. Depending on the individual, cardio sessions 4-5 times per week for 40-minutes should be sufficient.

Train with weights

This should be an easy one for competitors: training with weights. Weight training builds muscle and muscle stimulates the metabolism to a significant degree. Individuals with more muscle tend to have more efficient metabolisms from the fat-burning effect that comes along with muscle.

Eat Protein

Protein plays a very important role in the fat burning process. Protein stimulates the metabolism far more efficiently than either carbohydrates or fat, due to the energy demands of amino acids.

In fact, studies show that eating a meal high in protein will stimulate the metabolism by as much as 30%, as opposed to fat or carbohydrates which increase it by around 4%. Protein will heighten the metabolic rate for around 12-hours after eating.

Eating sufficient protein shouldn’t be a problem for most competitors, as it is a fundamental requirement in terms of muscle building, and should be an established part of their nutritional plan.

Always eat breakfast

Breakfast has always been the most important meal of the day to most of us, and for good reason: it kick starts the metabolism and helps to negate the possibility of “indulging” later in the day.

Skipping breakfast will keep the body in starvation mode because it has essentially been fasting over an 8 hour sleeping period. When starved for too long, what can happen is the body will need to hang on to every available calorie, and fat loss will be the last thing to occur.

In conclusion, achieving your best body depends on a number of factors, including a functioning metabolism. A slow metabolism can decrease anyone’s chances of losing sufficient body-fat come competition time.

Rather than blaming a slow metabolism on genetic factors, follow these guidelines as best as possible, lose fat, look and feel great!


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Emotional Times During Competition Prep


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The 2012 competition season is in full swing, and there are many people prepping, including myself. Competing is very hard, especially for first time competitors. The journey can get tough when you lack the right support system or if negativity is an issue, whether it comes from you or your family or friends.

Not only am I prepping for my next competition, I am training a group of first time competitors for the 2012 BCABBA Western Canadians in Kelowna, British Columbia. It is a huge bodybuilding event held every spring, becoming more and more popular, with close to 200 competitors.

It is interesting to chat with the girls that I train because they all go through the same feelings and emotions during prep time. They often think that they are the only ones who feel this way until they chat with another girl in the group, then they realize that they are not alone. Bonds are formed and friendships are often made in my groups, which is wonderful because they learn to lean on each other.

Unless you decide to pursue competitions as a career, which is very hard to do, you must ask yourself “why do I choose to compete?”

Competing is a great goal to pursue for many reasons, for example, getting back in shape after having a baby, getting over a fear of wearing a bikini in public or just something that is on your bucket list. A few problems that arise is the fact that diet and exercise can be time consuming and take up all of your thoughts, emotions and feelings, which can turn a happy person into a totally different person that loved ones do not recognize.

When you decide to commit to a competition, you have to keep things in perspective and your priorities in order. Do give 100%, but learn to balance your training with your personal life to keep things positive with you, your family and friends. This sounds easier said then done, but not impossible. You must realize you can still go out for dinner and have a good time if you can deal with the pressure of bad food or drinking alcohol. Its all in your mind, and if you can learn to say no, this can make even the weakest person into a very strong person mentally.

Competing should not define who you are. We are all successful, beautiful women and competing is another goal that we do for ourselves, but should not be the end-all be-all. Always remember who you are, what your goals are, and why you choose specific goals, and always remain positive and true to youself as much as you can during your journey.


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Why Do You Compete?


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It’s a question that is asked so often: “Why do you compete”? I know why I do but I thought I’d put the question out there to see the responses.

To Challenge Myself (The most popular answer)

A lot of women who are already fit or bikini ready sometimes feel the need for a higher goal.  Deciding to compete is a way of taking them to the next level. Nothing shows dedication and strength like a fitness competition. They love watching their bodies change from ordinary to extraordinary!  One girl told me  “Win or lose, it didn’t matter. In my eyes I won as soon as I got on the stage”.

To Cross It Off My “Bucket List”

Many women answered that they wanted to do something to feel accomplished. They made the competitions a goal to achieve and then crossed it off their list. The ironic thing was, that they enjoyed competing so much that they became hooked after only one show!

To Defy the Aging Process

As time moves on, so does your strength and physical beauty.   Competitions have an interesting way of stopping that unflattering process. At 40 I could do more push ups that I could at the age of 20, simply because I wasn’t taking my health for granted anymore.  Competing is a great way to fight the aging process and feel confident again. Age shouldn’t define your physique, in fact some of the best bodies I have seen are on women over the age of 40!

A Weight Loss Goal

One girl I talked to had previously weighed 215 lbs before becoming a bikini competitor and you would never have believed it by looking at her now! These are the inspirational stories that move us into our own motivation.

“Competing is to show others that with enough dedication you can achieve ANYTHING! I competed the first time to prove to myself I could do it. I compete now because I love the process of changing my body through diet and exercise. I’m a competitive person, the stage is my carrot!” Kaylee Norton

To Show Off All My Hard Work

A lot of these women are nurses, teachers and moms. They are not interested in walking around town showing off their hard-earned abs. Competing is a perfect way for them to showcase their determination and commitment.  There is so much sacrifice and discipline that goes into this sport. It’s an amazing feeling to finally feel like your hard work is being displayed!

Because IT’S FUN!!!!

Ask any girl 4 weeks out from a competition if she is having fun. Usually you will get the answer “NO!”.  However, ask her again the day of the show and you will get a completely different answer. The pure adrenaline and thrill of the show are like no other feeling in the world. The glamour and sparkle of it all makes you feel beautiful. The lights and music make you feel like you are part of a spectacular Broadway Production for just one evening. A bonus to it all is the new friends you make and the experience that you will remember forever.


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Benefits of High-Intensity Interval Training


High-intensity interval training (HIIT) describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest. HIIT is an amazing workout for any fitness level, and a great tool to use in everyone’s fitness routine for many reasons.

A good example workout is running as fast as you can for 1 minute and then walking for 2 minutes. Repeat this 3-minute interval 5 times for a 15-minute, fat-blasting workout which will leave you sweating, feeling amazing and wondering why you didn’t start doing this ages ago. It almost sounds too good be true, but there are many proven facts about HIIT that will make you want to hit the treadmill as soon as you are done reading this article.

HIIT is the ideal workout for a busy schedule—whether you want  a fast workout before work, during your lunch break,or to get in quick shape for an event. The best thing about HIIT is how fast you can do a workout! You can fit this kind of training literally anywhere at anytime with no equipment necessary.

Research shows you can achieve more progress in 15 minutes of interval training 3 times per week than the person jogging on the treadmill beside you for an hour. According to a recent study at the American College of Sports Medicine, just 2 weeks of high-intensity intervals improves your aerobic capacity as much as 6 to 8 weeks of endurance training.

Not only do you burn more calories during HIIT workouts, but the effect of all that intense exertion kicks your body’s metabolism into superman speed. That means you will burn more fat and calories hours after your HIIT workout than you do after steady state cardio.

Most people aren’t used to or do not like pushing into the anaerobic zone (when you feel like you can’t breathe, your heart is bursting out of your chest and you want to collapse on the floor). Extreme training produces extreme results, like better aerobic capacity and endurance and faster fat loss.

Any bodybuilder, figure and bikini competitor know the risks of losing muscle mass along with fat during the cutting stage for a competition. While steady state cardio may encourage muscle loss, studies show that both weight training and HIIT workouts allow dieters and competitors to preserve their hard-earned muscle while ensuring most of the weight loss comes from fat. What a great combination!

In addition to increased fat burning and saving your muscle mass, HIIT studies have shown that it stimulates production of your natural human growth hormone (HGH) during the 24 hours after you finish your workout. HGH is responsible for increased caloric burn but also slows down the aging process, which makes us younger inside and out. Maybe that is why I still get asked for ID when I buy lottery tickets.

This is not a workout you can do while reading a magazine or gossiping with your friend. Because the session is so short, you should be working hard the whole time. If you feel like it was just an “ok” workout, then you did not perform the intervals properly. The trade-off  for this type of training offers seasoned exercisers and athletes a new challenge to bust out of plateaus and new exercisers a quick way to shed fat. Keep in mind that this is very challenging, and if you have been sedentary for a long time, you should start with continuous cardio to get your fitness level up.

This type of training definitely won’t bore you like continuous cardio bores most of us. You may be in pain, cursing the treadmill and want to give up, but stick with it, the results are amazing and worth it!


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