Comp Prep

Peak Week Part 2

OK here we go (again!) 6 more sleeps until I’m back on stage and this time I really am looking forward to it!

Having had time to process last week, the ups and downs, the comments and feedback, an interesting potential avenue that I hadn’t previously contemplated and those all important photos (thanks Steve!) its been an interesting week.

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I’m so  glad I did a small show to start with – several people questioned my reasoning and whether it was a waste of time to do a trial run, after all it takes a lot of effort to get on stage with the peak week planning, the tanning, hair, makeup. On the day itself there is so much to do and get right, it requires a lot of input from your whole team.

But it was worth it. It meant we had a practice run at peak week and what we wanted to do – how to water load, when to have treat meal, when to cut water, when to carb up, what sort of pump up to do for each category – if we had got it wrong it would have provided valuable lessons for next time, as it turns out we got it bang on – I really could not have looked any better on the day in any of my categories.

Could you imagine if my first show had been a big show, where federation staff, judges and audience alike knew me and we got it wrong? I’d have been mortified! There would have been all that ‘great physique…shame about the conditioning’ type talk going round.

And what about the nerves? I was a picture of confidence walking out onto stage in my first category, but once I got to the line and looked out into the crowd, the sheer enormity of the situation hit me – the weight of expectation – my own, Aiden’s, people in the industry who have been following my journey – and I had a massive case of stage fright, my legs turned to jelly and I could barely stand upright. It didn’t help that the poses were called in a totally unfamiliar order and I didn’t know when to do the front or back symmetry pose – I don’t even think I did! Each pose took me ages to get into – I had to steady my legs before I could even contemplate doing whatever the rest of the pose was – it must have looked horrible and I certainly didn’t present myself as well as I should have done, its only because I’ve practised and practised and practised my posing that I was able to hold it together.

It was a relief to get through it.

Another thing that I needed was to see for myself just how my physique compared to others. People have been telling me for weeks that I look amazing, and huge, but because I’ve been away from stage for so long, had so much injury trouble and only in the last few months has my training not been (badly) compromised, that  in my head, everyone has 2 years of additional muscle advantage over me and I’ve totally been lacking in any self belief. I physically needed to stand next to another competitor so I could see for myself how I compare. I definitely have the answer to that now, and it has given me the confidence I need for my next competitions.

It was interesting that the federation president (a pro bodybuilder) who is from a different state and had flown up just to watch the show, specifically came and found us afterwards and congratulated Aiden on my conditioning and my physique – particularly my glutes! We were chuffed at that, as only a year ago I had no butt at all – surfboard! I was the ‘no glutes’ model in a glutes activation seminar at Filex!

Can’t say that about me now, I literally have worked my butt ON 🙂

So whats in store for peak week?

Same as round 1.

I’ve still been gradually coming in so I’ll be leaner again by another 0.5-1kg which means we’ve maintained the same rate of progress that we have for the last 11 weeks. We’ve upped the intensity of my training intra-session without extending the amount of training – only 1 HIIT last week and 1 this weekend. I’ve even taken today off (except posing), so my energy levels are excellent and I can’t wait to get stuck into training this week.

I’ll water load again but not to the level of last time – we tried to get to 8 litres, but it was clear that my limit is about 7 as I was starting to get dizzy and nauseous by the 8th litre. At some point I’ll have a treat meal and then it’s tan, tan , tan, hair, tan, nails, tan, makeup and…

showtime!

The difference this time is that I’ll be backing up – 2 shows in 2 days which will be interesting  so we’re going to have to be careful day 1 that I don’t overload with junk and blow out for the next day. Having said that, I really don’t think that will be an issue – I struggle eating junk at the best of times, so after snacking on 2 rice cakes with jam or honey and I’d be so overwhelmed by the sweetness of it, that would be it for a while. Must take green stuff/savoury items with me this time. By the end of the day when Aiden asked what I wanted to eat to celebrate, the answer was very definitely ‘chicken and green stuff!’

Jim’s Greek tavern did the job perfectly…char grilled calamari, baked snapper, greek salad and chargrilled chicken skewers. I may have gone a bit nuts with the saganaki, but it was worth it…and no preggy belly the next day!

I think we have a winner…

so game head is firmly on, I’ve been avidly watching results and photos coming in from other states and it looks like there’s going to be some big fields with some quality physiques. I wouldn’t want to be a judge, I think they’re going to be in for some long tough days!

6 more sleeps and this time it will be much more familiar- we have our process worked out, I’ll know the venues, I’ll know a lot of people, it’ll be good to see everyone looking their best and there’ll be some good competition.

Good luck to everyone – I can’t wait to be standing there right next to you 🙂

Comeback Comedown?

Well, I did it.

I got on stage after 2 years off and by all accounts it was a success. I won the masters category and the open category – by default since I was the only one in the category. I looked fantastic, my conditioning was perfect, we got our timings right and pumped up in time – helped by the smooth running of the show and being told when to get ready, I got through my routine relatively unscathed and after conquering some seriously jelly legs in the first category (I could barely stand in my relaxed pose), I managed to relax and start to enjoy it. There was an awkward moment in one posedown where I managed to smack the competitor either side of me in the face when I went for a big front double bicep pose – but everyone took it in good grace and laughed about it – at the next posedown I played up to it and made sure I gave myself plenty of room.

And now I want to cry.

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Why? I don’t know, is it just post competition comedown? Is it just sheer relief that its over and done with? Every moment has been dissected and discussed, what worked, what didn’t work, what could be done better. Could I have posed better? Why did I do a small competition to start with – was it worth it?  So many people have written congratulating me, for which I thank you all, so why is it that right at this moment I feel hollow, empty, emotionally drained. I want to see the photos, yet I’m dreading it as well.

I have been writing about this moment for 2 years, and although on the surface I’ve been projecting calm rationality throughout the whole process, inside I haven’t felt the confidence and belief that I’ve wanted, needed to feel. I stand on my heels in front of the mirrors at the gym and I’m uncertain and hesitant, thinking through each pose, critical of every perceived flaw.

Where has my confidence and self belief gone? Why am I not feeling inside what I’m showing on the outside?  Why can’t I just snap into my poses? Why do I go to pieces as soon as someone watches me – it happened again this morning, Aiden walked into the studio where I was practicing and I instantly got the shakes. Have I made this into something it’s not? Why have I been so driven to do this and why did I get such bad stage fright?

Am I crippling myself under the weight of my own expectation? What are my expectations? Do I really want to do this or is it just the process that I enjoy?

What am I trying to prove and to whom?

It doesn’t help that the feedback I’ve got so far has been very conflicting – on one hand my legs were ‘too soft’ (!!!) yet they were clearly the best on stage. I could barely stand upright in my first category, yet I ‘posed like a pro’ and even came across as arrogant and over confident in the overall! the other girl looked like she wanted it more…no way, I was intent on nailing it by the end. I looked better earlier on in the day…yet I had the best pump at the end, even my tan apparently got paler throughout the day…really? By the end I had at least 3 coats of dream tan on top of the base of 5 coats of contest colour!

As I always do when I’m experiencing internal conflict and doubt, I question myself to see if I can find an answer or solution that allows me to find solid ground from which I can move forward.

Why did I do a small show first?

Because I’ve been writing about and telling myself it’s what I want to do for 2 years – I needed to see if it really was. I needed to get back on stage and see how I went. I needed to see if it really was something that I enjoyed.  I needed to know if my physique really was as good as people have been telling me it is, by physically standing next to another competitor.

In short, because it terrified me and I needed to rid myself of this crippling self doubt.

Did I achieve all of that, I think I did. And the fact that the head of the federation made a point of coming up to me after the show to compliment me on my physique (especially my butt – last year I was the ‘surfboard butt’ model at a fitness seminar on inactive glutes), and ask if I was going to the Nationals, spoke volumes.

Was it worth it?

Yes. This show wasn’t about trophies or titles. It was about getting the monkey off my back and I did that. Sure I was a bag of nerves and looked like a total novice to start with – you could see my legs shaking from the back of the auditorium, but I somehow held it together and got through it. The second category was better, still a little shaky on my feet, but I was smoother in my transitions, I understood the order of the poses better (its different from every other federation) and hit my poses better. By the end I had relaxed into it and was beginning to get some confidence happening. Game head was on, I knew I looked the best I had all day and I was intent on posing everyone off stage.

Somehow I’ve got to turn that intent from the appearance of over confidence to the appearance of ‘wanting it’. Ok that gives me something to work with.

This show was also about testing our process, finding out what worked to get my condition just right on the day.

We nailed that.

So now I’ve got 12 days to regroup, refocus, find my feet and make sure my legs really are as rock solid on stage as they actually look.

Advice, Schmadvice

What is it about a competitor on comp prep that suddenly makes them ‘public property’ and means that anyone and everyone with an opinion is suddenly entitled to provide that opinion without being asked for it?

Its like pregnant women whose belly is suddenly available for everyone to touch or rub.

18 weeks ago when I started my prep, no one looked at me twice. I was fat – you could hardly see the muscle that was hiding under a bit too much off season, other trainers in the gym although having seen me work by butt on for the last year didn’t get why. Fair enough, many of them are new and didn’t know that I’ve competed before or that I was aiming to compete again, but there are trainers there who saw me last time, have seen me work my way back and yet it seemed to come as a complete surprise when after about 8 weeks of dieting they suddenly noticed that I’d changed and started to wonder why. One trainer (who knows I did figure last time) pulled Aiden aside and told him he thought I was too big for bikini!

Riiight. Thanks for the tip.

Once people knew why I was starting to change, of course there comes the advice…

oh, all of sudden now you’re interested…

This is what messes with competitors heads – conflicting advice from every man and his dog who has picked up a weight once.

As I’ve got leaner the questions come – what am I doing with my diet? How many carbs am I on? Should I be cutting them so soon? Should I have cut them out altogether 6 weeks out? What are you thinking! You have to have carbs for energy!! What am I going to do with my training, how am I going to change my training, have I considered doing this or that, shouldn’t I be doing high reps and lower weights? What about cardio? How much am I doing….and when I say I’m only doing HIIT they react in horror…what no cardio???!!! How can I possibly expect to get shredded if I’m not doing low intensity/hours of cardio??? Have I considered doing walking, that’s great for bringing you in…

Pipe down all of you.

If I want your opinion I will ask for it, otherwise butt out of my comp prep. Go back to your own little dream world where in your head you think you’ve got what it takes to get a competitor on to stage. If you’ve never got yourself on stage, your opinion doesn’t count for anything. If you’ve never put a competitor on stage, your opinion doesn’t count for anything.

If you have got on stage or put competitors on stage YOUR opinion about MY prep DOES NOT COUNT FOR ANYTHING.

Take your ego elsewhere and let those who know what they’re doing get on with it.

Aiden has got it totally sorted. He’s been working with me for 2 1/2 years, he’s seen what effects all my crazy diet experiments have had on my body, he knows my body better than anybody,he knows just what it responds to.

He can tell at a glance what’s working and what’s not and even if I’m not on a scheduled training session with him, he’ll come over and just tell me to drop 5g off my afternoon carbs, or add 5g protein to each meal or take out 3 almonds from morning snack or don’t have the teaspoon of nut butter at night. This is why we’ve been able to maintain a constant 0.6-0.7kg loss/week for the last 9 weeks, with no plateaus, no stuck points and no having to shock my body to kick start the fat loss, because Aiden is right onto it and the constant little tweaks mean my body is always guessing and appears to want to lose the fat.

Because he knows my body so well, this is also why we haven’t had to change my training – hard and heavy has worked all year, it’s working now. It’s not broken, so we’re not going to fix it. We’ve only added a maximum of 2 HIIT sessions (cut down to 1 now) – Aiden’s even had to STOP me from training because I have energy to spare and sometimes think I’m not doing enough – despite all the evidence to the contrary.

After all comp prep is supposed to be hard right?

Actually I had a bit of a disagreement with an extremely well known person in this industry on Friday as they were expounding the notion that by now all competitors should be exhausted, miserable, fantasising about food and wanting to skip their cardio.

Really?

I’m not, and if you are, maybe you want to question your process. The definition of stupidity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.

If your comp prep method is making you miserable and an unpleasant person to be around, change it, try something different – you never know it might just work, and you might get a better result…

I could stick the boot into generic, one size fits all programs here, but I won’t.

I have to say that overall I’m really enjoying this prep, I’m enjoying how fully involved and hands on Aiden is…its making it very easy.

That not to say it hasn’t all been plain sailing – I have my bad days, I’ve had my doubts (not for the last few weeks mind), fears and insecurities have surfaced – but that’s all my own doing. In general I haven’t got impatient with people at work which I did last time, I haven’t needed to resort to nanna naps and coffee to keep me upright during the day like last time, I haven’t had any teary meltdowns which I did last time, I haven’t had to work as hard as last time, my diet seems easier than last time and I’m certainly not starving or fantasising about food – but then I didn’t last time either.

We’re 4 weeks out and we are exactly where we want to be – probably even a bit ahead. I’ve been on no carbs for the last 3 weeks, yet I still have energy to spare, my training is not suffering, I’m not getting snappy, bad tempered, exhausted or cranky – I know I might sound cranky at the moment, but I’m not, I’m in my calm space where I do my writing! Having only 1 HIIT to do a week means I get a day off every week or if I time my training right, a full 48 hours off – which means I’m usually itching to train again.

I know there’ll be plenty of you out there, wondering at the wisdom of being on no carbs so far out, but you have to remember this is MY prep not yours, this is what works for MY body not yours…its all part of Aidens plan – he knows exactly what result he wants to achieve and how he’s going to achieve it, so go tell someone else who might care what you think.

The best bit of Advice I got during my novice season?

Pick who you listen to and only listen to them.

It’s fantastic advice, I’m very glad I heeded it then, and I’m certainly following it now. There is a trainer at my gym who earlier this year competed in bikini. My advice to her was exactly the advice I was given – pick your advisor and only listen to them, but she didn’t. She made the mistake of asking every man and his dog what to do and consequently, got herself completely confused, stressed and anxious about the whole process. She also didn’t get her conditioning right.

So for all you ‘guru’s’ out there, when you see someone in comp prep mode who you are not prepping, kindly keep your opinions to yourself unless they are actually asked for. Competitors are not public property, and they usually have their own precise plan to follow which will (hopefully) get them the result they want, so let them focus on it and do it…without interruptions.