Don’t get me wrong – I am ready, 4 weeks out. As per usual. Just this morning I was debating whether I should go and do a stair sprint session or rest – quick check in the mirror showed that all important hamstring and ‘glute-ham’ tie in has improved even on last week – sweet. Rest day it is.
But compared to my last 2 preps, this one has been a pain my vastly improved butt.
2 years ago, I had 12kg to lose and we did a 20 week prep…we hit our stride within 3 weeks and the fat came off 0.5-0.7kg/week regular as clockwork. From a training persepctive the workload on top of my normal 5 resistance session only increased by 1 HIIT session for 8 weeks . Job done. Easy. My diet was totally on point the whole time dropping from 2200 – 1750 calories with a 60P, 30F, 5C split. I even started allowing myself a little leeway by eating brekky out at my favourite cafe’s a couple of times a week. I came in perfectly 2 weeks early.
Last years prep was an absolute dream – again we went for a 20 week prep and this time with only 6kgs to lose we wanted to do it as gently as possible to ensure I had the strength and stamina to manage the monster season I had planned. 20 weeks out we dropped my calories from 2300 to 2200, then 2100 and 2000 over 6 weeks. We dropped my resistance sessions from 5 to 4, added a HIIT session instead and then….
Did not change another thing.
for 11 weeks!
And off came the fat 0.3, 0.3, 0.3, 0.3, 0.5, 0.5, 0.5, 0.25, 0.5….regular as clockwork and I was stage ready 4 weeks early!
Mentally I was sharp and focused the whole time, energy levels in general were high and I was hitting PB’s just a couple of weeks out. I allowed myself more leeway with my diet – during the week I was totally on point 70%P, 25%F, 5%C this time, and I started having a chocolate bar with my refeed meal, I ate out for brekky 3 times a week, on weekends I’d eat out for dinner as well sometimes.
Everything was easy, and just happened – exactly as it should have.
So heading into this prep, I was completely confident that it would happen exactly the same. 20 weeks out, again with only 6kgs to lose calories dropped by 100, then another 100, then another 50, then another 50…
Now this year I’ve had a lot of issues with inflammation and intolerences, so despite training twice a day, for about 3 months I couldn’t get my calories up above 1800 and my weight was fluctuating all over the place like you wouldn’t believe – 2kg in a day sometimes, 4kgs in one week at one point! This turned out to be the tomato allergy thing. Having got that sorted I only had enough time to build up to 2200 calories – not quite where I wanted to get to given that I had 6 months of twice a day training and really needed to be at a higher level.
Anyway so I started cutting and within 4 weeks was already down at the lowest point I got to on last years prep…and nothing was happening.
We added in intensity work to my 5 resistance sessions and added a HIIT straight away.
I put ON 1kg.
So I’ve been dieting for 6 weeks and I’m 1kg HEAVIER than when I started??
I dropped another 50 calories off my diet…so now I’m on less than last year…
An finally things started shifting…ever so gradually…0.1, 0.3, 0.1…
I started stressing, at this point I’m not going to get there. This is where comp prep can mess with your head – I kept badgering Aiden – can we do extra work? Am I working hard enough? Should we add another HIIT session? Should we start adding conditioning? Should I do a big change on my diet and slice 150-200 calories off it…and perish the thought…should I do CARDIO??
Now, I knew all of this was completely irrational, I know that our process works – but there was something else going on and I just wasn’t seeing enough evidence of it happening
So I went through my diet again with a fine tooth comb – what was I doing differently from last year? Same foods, same timings, same refeed meal, same cafe brekky’s…
one tiny difference – my macro split was 55P, 40%F, 5%C
ok, take the fat down a little and up the protein.
02, 0,5, 0.2…
better, but still excruciatingly slow.
So by the middle of June with 12 weeks to go I was still sitting at 61kgs – waay to high for my liking, even though Aiden assured me that its entirely possible I’ve put in about 2kg of muscle, just for my mental state I really needed to see the scales moving downwards.
In addition to being more than a little concerned about lack of progress physically, outside of prep everything else was starting to go a bit nuts. All of a sudden I was getting requests coming from nowhere for people wanting posing sessions, so I was spending a lot of time juggling, shuffling, and squeezing people into the few hours I could do at the weekends. I also had the coaching and mentoring program dropped in my lap, so suddenly I’ve also got 10 people to coach with their diet and my job has gone a bit full on as well with the only other Business Analyst going away on holiday for 5 weeks I am the sole BA across 3 major projects, 2 of which are teetering on the edge of meltdown.
On the competition admin front I was finding things much harder than last year as well – none of my federations had confirmed if they’d received my payments, my credit cards hadn’t been charged – should I be booking flights or not? Am I in the competitions or not – in the case of the WNBF Universe – is the competition even going ahead???
Hair and makeup quotes were coming in at twice the price of last year, I have no idea of who the tanners are, what the host hotels are…
Get your shit together people, I need to know this stuff!
Stress levels through the roof.
Aiden expressed his concern that I had taken on too much and for about 6 weeks he was right, I was drowning in overwhelm at the unexpected suddeness of it all and not sleeping properly. Consequently my energy levels have been awful, my training has been down on the levels I usually hit during prep and it was all starting to become a battle. Mentally I wasn’t enjoying anything, and even started hating the entire concept of prep, competing, lifting weights, having to get up at 5:30 every day to put myself through hell. The gym, usually my happy place, became a complete chore, somewhere I really did not want to be – why on earth was I doing this?
It got to the point where I turned up one morning and flat out refused to lift a weight or I’d quit.
Aiden made a deal with me – one set of heavy compounds then we could kick the shit out of some pads and do some stair sprints, then we’d do a week of conditioning work.
At least it kept me in the gym.
I needed to re-group and find some way of making this work, so I went back to my diet – there HAD to be something in there that I was doing differently.
And I found something.
I hadn’t been having my green soup for dinner. Now I’ve been hammering the green stuff like I always do, just not the soup.
This soup has every cruciferous and other green vegetables in it, so its a total nutrient packed super soup. And for some reason I hadn’t been making it.
Right. Soup it is.
I also went back to the naturopath and got the same vile concoction that I’d had earlier in the year to see if there was still an inflammation issue.
2kgs in a week!
Ok so at least I’m now where I think I should be with 8 weeks to go. I’ve got some nice definition in my legs, my upper body is looking good – I could step on stage and I’d be one of the best conditioned people there.
But my legs were still not quite where they should be. They just didn’t seem to be responding like they usually do…I’ve never had trouble getting my legs lean.
Now what? More questions for Aiden – can I work harder? what else do I need to do?
And for the first time he suggested that dreaded word….CARDIO!
What?? I don’t DO cardio.
or do I?
Actually I do – all the time, every day, twice a day, all year round. I just don’t view it as cardio, to me it’s ‘going to the gym’, ‘going to work’, ‘going home’.
It’s just that my every day, admin journeys happen to be on my bike. About 12km a day. But this year my ‘going to work from the gym’ journey is only about 5 mins down the road – last year I had a 20 min mostly uphill cycle to the city.
15 mins of uphill cycling that I’ve been missing out on.
clearly enough to cause my legs to lag. Who’d have thought?
So we added 10mins of uphill walking onto the end of my resistance sessions.
Now it all seemed to be heading in the right direction, I started to relax a bit. Gradually the admin was starting to come together – I got flights booked, hotels booked, I found super cheap accommodation and HMUA’s. I was getting on top of all my posing and coaching commitments,
I was sleeping better.
I started to give myself some leeway in my diet again (4 brekkys at a cafe/week!), my energy levels picked up, my training has picked up, I’m more focused. I still haven’t hit that serene bubble of ultra focused purposefulness that I usually get into…but I’m close.
And with the lower stress, I’m now progressing like clockwork – the last 3 weeks I’ve dropped 0.3, 0.4, 0.3 – I’ve come in everywhere, am looking sharp and with what I saw today I am happy that I am there. Now I can relax and enjoy the next 3 weeks and simply hold where I’m at. Perfect.
Although there’s still something else that’s very different about this year – and I’m finding it fascinating.
Again it has to do with diet.
I’m on about 100 cals less than my lowest point last year and I’ve stayed at that point for the last 12 weeks – I will not drop below 1750. It seems clear that last year I also had inflammation, because this year I’m looking so much leaner in the torso, my abs are actually flat in my side pose.
I’m also handling carbs much, much better than last year and have even started carb back-loading again (remember that disastrous experiment!), and my body is soaking it up. The next morning I’m coming up hard as a rock in my abs. Last year if I had any sort of carbs I would instantly look soft and puffy.
With my refeed meal I’m often having a chocolate bar before AND after my meal, AND I’m having a starter as well – tempura calamari is my thing this year.
And I’m pulling up hard as a rock the next morning – last year we had to make sure I had my refeed 2 or even 3 days before a show to ensure the softness had gone.
This year I’m also noticing that I’m doing something I’ve never done before on comp prep.
Yep, occasional sweet cravings. That’s right – me, who has always said, I never get sweet cravings on comp prep…
I was telling Aiden how strange I was finding it, but also curious at the same time – why now? Why this year? Why not last year, when if anything I was more strict with my diet?
I’ve planned every single cake I’m going to eat, in every single cafe near where I work…one of my favourite brekky places (School of 7 Bells, chapel st) sells one of my favourite cakes – a gluten free hazelnut meringue cake with a crisp of salted caramel on top (also at Friends of Mine, swan st) …that’s going to be the first one….in fact I’m going to have the green brekky bowl (kale, quinoa, asparagus, poached eggs, avocado, abcon, hummus) followed by the cake. YEAH!
A couple of times when I’ve popped down the road to the Panna Chocolate place to get my post refeed bar…and have come out with an almond coconut lemon slice to have with my buttery coffee for pre – afternoon snack.
And this week I had a flat out binge.
It started with the lemon almond slice for pre-snack, snack. Then I had a coaching call at 5:30 and was hungry so I ate the post meal chocolate bar.
I’d found a pub down the road that did gluten free salt and pepper calamari so I had that with a glass of wine before my steak and chips. The steak was also 100g bigger than my usual place.
On the way back from the pub I popped into coles to get some salad…and came out with a packet of shortbread biscuits and a raw superfoodie bar – both of which I ate before I got to Gelati Messina 5 doors away from Coles! Whats odd is that when choosing the biscuits, it wasn’t the sweetness I was after, it was the texture. For some reason I really, really wanted to eat something dry and crumbly…a meat pie probably would have done just as well, as long as it had crumbly pastry. Very odd.
3 scoops of Gelati Messina didn’t touch the sides either, and by the time I got home about 30mins later I was even debating whether I should have my usual nut butter bedtime snack.
That would just have been greedy. :-p
Oops! I’d just eaten about 3 days worth of food in one go.
But here’s the thing, that’s fascinating me…I pulled up hard as a rock the day after! Blimey.
No softness, no puffiness, no bloating…no guilt trip!
And that’s important – no guilt trip.
My body was telling me it needed something in all of that crap, and it must have got it, because it soaked it all up. I’m sure there’s an underlying hormonal reason for it, probably because I’ve been eating less all the way through than last year. It could be because I’ve been so disciplined with my diet in general for over 3 years that it’s telling me I need to take a break. I’ve never really denied myself anything if I felt like it, but 3 years of constant push, push, push always to my absolute limits has to have some lasting effect. Who know’s, but that’s why I’m not guilting myself about it.
no point – I own my actions, I take responsibility for them, its done and it hasn’t done any damage and may even have done me the world of good, because I totally smashed my HIIT yesterday – strongest I’ve felt all prep!
And better still, this last week I’ve found my super focus. I’m finally ready mentally for the next 4 weeks leading up to the PNBA Universe Pro Figure and Pro Physique
Lets bring this baby home 🙂