Round Two: 4 weeks out

Welp, I think its fair to say I’ve been in blogosphere hibernation. Like, my last post was in November?! Yikes! The good news is, spring has sprung, folks! Yep, jumping back on the blogging wagon in an effort to capture the ins and outs, highs and lows of my second season of competing. You may have already seen buzzings on Facebook & Instagram that I’m preparing for two competitions in May which means I’m already 4 & 5 weeks out from my shows! Just like Fall 2014, I’ll be competing in Bikini, Figure & Mixed Pairs.

Here’s the skinny on prep this go’round:

  • To Blog or Not to Blog?:  Comp prep. I’m at it again and boy, does it feel good! But for the last few weeks, I’ve had my blog in the back of my mind, feeling like I should be writing my weekly entries like I did last prep but then struggling to find topics “newsworthy” enough to write about. Each week passes and I still feel the same sense of writer’s block. What is there to write about that I haven’t already? I don’t even feel like I’m on prep – so what would I say? And, who reads this stuff anyway? And this week, for some reason, I realized 2 things that stirred me to write anyway: 1). Yes, this prep feels different but that is something to write about in itself; 2). If for nothing else, I write for me.  So here I am, blogging again. I suppose my biggest roadblock for writing was the fact that I really don’t feel like I’m “on prep”. I mean sure, my diet is strict, I have to pack dozens of baggies of pre-portioned food when I travel and I’m putting in regular hours of posing each week on top of my normal gym time, but it almost feels strangely normal.  Last summer, I was a newbie facing bodybuilding culture shock – I had no idea what it was like to go to a wedding and bring my own Tupperware! And therefore, I had a TON to write about. The emotional highs and lows, the newness of posing, the uncertainties of what was ahead. But this time, I feel grounded, laser-focused and calm. I know what I have to do to get the results I want. I know the difference between healthy physical discomfort and real “hunger.” I know I have a proven track record of being competitive on stage. I know that if I trust the process, I’ll be just fine. And with that, I find peace. So, I’ll continue to chronicle this second journey to the stage but accept that it will be different from last time. I mean, I still want to savor a glass (OK, a bottle) of wine like anybody else, but I’ve tasted trophies and tiaras and frankly, the wine can wait.
  • My First Bulk & Shred:  Following my first round of shows in Fall 2014, I embarked on my first bodybuilding “off season”. In short, the “off season” is a time to add back the lbs of fat lost during show prep and to use the extra body fat & calories to maximize muscle building for a period of time. So for me, October-February was a whole lot of eating and lifting and no cardio. During this time, I put on 15lbs from my stage weight of 115lbs to my “heaviest” at 130.  One can imagine the psychological challenge of working your ass off to intentionally gain weight and size as a female. To be completely transparent, this was incredibly difficult for me. My clothes didn’t fit. And the clothes that I could squeeze into just didn’t fit right anymore. My back was wider, my shoulders were bigger and my quads were (finally) coming in. The boho-chic look I’ve loved for so long just made me look bigger and broader than I actually was. Sadly, I had to break up with my loose, flowy tops and skinny jeans all in the name of feeling good about my shape again.  Shopping for a few figure-hugging outfits certainly helped band-aid the remainder of my winter blues. Fast forward a few months: I’m now shedding my “winter coat” of extra fat and holy cow – I see now why people bulk & shred! I don’t have a total number yet, but its clear I put on several pounds of lean, solid muscle beneath my layers of Christmas treats & massive bowls of oatmeal. Each week, my new shape reveals itself a little more; like peeling away layers of wrapping paper on a gift I’ve been working on for 6 months. Sitting now at 127lbs and feeling proud of my body is a victory in itself. Just a few years ago, I was obsessed with the scale. The idea of being over 115 was absolutely unacceptable – and for no other reason than it being an arbitrary numeric threshold in my mind. <115 = Good. >115 = Bad. Now? I see clearer than ever that the scale is really, really relative and does not account for other factors like body composition (let alone beauty/self worth/permission to eat pizza). While my first winter as a bodybuilder dragged me through some really tough mental mud, I am grateful for both the physical results and the psychologically-freeing experiences.
  • Cooking like a Bro:  Its a good thing I eat most of my meals in the privacy of my own home. Why? Because the dishes I concoct are just plain STRANGE! Bodybuilding food plans tend to evoke the inner problem solver in us all (my fellow competitors know what I’m talking about!). Craving pizza? Try egg whites with fresh tomatoes, basil & oregano.  Hankering for a crunchy, spicy snack? Cucumbers & hot sauce work for me. For a while, my favorite dessert was egg whites, rice cakes & sugar free maple syrup all mixed in a bowl. Totally normal, right? And this week, I’ve cut out all artificial sweeteners (they make me bloat) so that means my morning oats are flavored with just cinnamon & a drop of vanilla extract.  If I need a late night treat, I blend iced coffee with pure cacao powder. All in the conquest of trophies! Now, before anyone injects any anti-clean-eating banter, note that I CHOOSE to eat “clean” for a reason: I love the way “clean” foods make my body feel.  In the off season, I enjoyed many non-clean treats and found collectively that I just didn’t like how I felt when I ate them. Sure, they tasted great, but they didn’t feel as compatible with my body as good ol’ sweet potatoes and chicken.  In sum, I very happily and creatively eat like a bro.

With that, onward we go! 4 weeks until the stage!