Figure Competition

Post Comp Part 1: Retro!

In a former life in one of my many alter ego’s I used to be a computer programmer. Yes, I know, you’re already skulling that extra scoop of white lightning pre workout to keep you awake at the thought, but bear with me, this will go somewhere!

Now that I’m not a computer programmer any more,but am a Business Analyst….

(Aaargh!!! it gets worse! More white lightning!!!)

Look, I’m in I.T. Ok and in I.T there is a methodology called ‘agile’, I have posted about this before and it’s a particular methodology that I really enjoy using….it’s quick, high turnover, small chunks of work, fast paced, just enough information to get the job done and deliver something usable to the customer in short rapid iterations, showcase (present) your Stuff to the customer, get approval, get them using it and move on to the next small chunk of work. You work on ‘stories’, you groom them, flesh them out and work out the details, the when your current collection (iteration) of stories are finished, you check in with yourself and the team to see how you did.

You hold a retro…

Retro as in ‘what we did yesterday is sooooooo 3 decades ago…’

As with anything retro, some things worked, some things didn’t, some things should never see the light of day EVER again (thinking stone washed patterned jeggings here….in fact jeggings,full stop…and neon coloured thong aerobics gear….and…ok that’s enough, get on with it!)


and there are always some things could be improved upon.

I know a very select few of you are still in comp mode, but for the vast majority of us, this ‘iteration’ is done. How did you do? Did you go as well as expected? Did it all suck? Did you do better than expected? How was your conditioning, your prep, your diet, your energy, your training?

Do you know what you need to do to get it right next time?

As your resident Victorian, Australian intermediate and Agile ‘champion’ I strongly suggest you hold a retro on yourself.

The format of a retro is totally…informal, you sit on your couch, the beach, plugged in to your favourite death metal album, in your favourite cafe with a full fat mocha-frappa-latte-chino with 2 and a side of mud cake (you’re in off season! Chill out!)

You need something to write with, lots of colours are good and something got write on – the wall, the floor, back of a fag packet, spray can on factory wall….I don’t care, just don’t get caught.

Ask yourself these 3 questions:

What went right?

What went wrong?

What could be improved?

Or another way of looking at it

The good, the bad and the ugly.

This is a legitimate exercise….do it, don’t just go through it in your head or go ‘yeah, whatever’, writing it down makes it real.

I can’t tell you the number of competitors I’ve been following and watching over the last 2 years, with all the shows, workshops I’ve been to, photographed and written about, but it’s a lot.

Yet I see some competitors who go round show after show and they don’t change. I’m seeing competitors with great physical potential not going anywhere or even going backwards. There are competitors who are serial offenders at not hitting their conditioning.

Don’t shoot the messenger, I’m telling you as it is.

None of these competitors is holding their own personal retro…or maybe they are, but they are clearly not learning, changing, adapting from their competitions and results. Maybe they don’t care…I don’t know.

To my way of thinking that’s strange….why put yourself through a comp prep time after time, get results that don’t change or get worse and then don’t do anything about it? Maybe that’s just me, I always strive to learn, grow, seek new goals and challenges and if something appears to be broke, I’ll shake it until it rattles to find out why and then I’ll bust my arse to fix it.

So do it.

Write it down.

Look at it

Learn from it

Come back next comp with the weakness fixed and smash it.

Ok, now that I’ve got off my soap box, here’s my own personal retro.

Starting Weight: 64.5kg

BF%: approx 23%

Stage Weight: 53.7kg

BF%: approx 5-6%?

Fat Loss: 10.3kg

BF % Loss: approx 18% in 20 weeks

Muscle Loss: Minimal

What We Did Right:

– The whole prep! It was text book and it worked.

– Due to off season over compensation, early start was necessary – 20 weeks was a good amount of time, no extreme measures were ever required.

– Diet: Small frequent changes and tweaks kept my body guessing.

– Diet: No drastic calorie cutting – Aiden wanted me eating as much as possible for as long as possible to ensure my metabolism stayed in top gear. It worked. Perfectly.

– Diet: Fat loss consistent rate of 0.5-0.7kg for majority of prep.

– Diet: Never got down to starvation levels, always managed a relatively substantial amount of effective food. People at work could not get their head around the fact that my plate was always full of food right to the end, yet I was disappearing in front of their eyes. They could see it, but they couldn’t believe it.

– Diet: Weekly cheat meal, until 4 weeks out

– Diet: going fully ketogenic – cutting out all carbs early, approx 8 weeks from main comp.  Totally works for my body, energy levels high all day, no peaks or dips.

– Diet: Carby cheat meal 2 days prior to comp to fill me out

– Diet: Big High Protein virtually no carb meal post comp gave me plenty of energy to back up in better condition the following day.

– Training: Increasing exercise intensity intra sessions rather than increasing number or duration of exercise did not deplete my energy levels or overtrain me and meant I recovered well, was always fresh, could take days off.

– Training: Max 2 HIITs/week and only for 2 weeks

– Training: Not overtrained so energy and strength good all the way through.

– Training: Not overtrained so recovery excellent.

– Training: Not overtrained so able to backup well – stamina excellent.

– Practice Comp: Allowed a trial run at the process – water loading, carb loading, tanning, hair/makeup, look, backstage routine, pump up process and timing.

– Practice Comp: Nailed process first time, allowed repeatability.

– Practice Comp – to get nerves out of the way, very much needed.

– My look – attention grabbing – best bikinis, crowd loved ‘Pink’.

– My Conditioning – perfect at each point in time (except the last show)

– Pumping Up Process – short intense bursts leaving it as close to stage time as possible, no pumping up constantly and for hours beforehand, wasting energy that will be needed on stage.

– Timing

– Backstage attitude – relaxed until game time, then purposeful and efficient

– Posing: when I nailed it was excellent

– Physique: Legs!

– Physique: Shoulders!

– Physique: Back!

– Physique: Glutes!

– Competing: Trying out all the federations to find out what I’m best suited to

– Competing: always putting myself in the strongest categories, brings out the best in me.


What We (I) did wrong:

– Over competing – backing up on consecutive days in different states, cost me conditioning for the 2nd show which was the more important of the two.

– Entering wrong category at IFBB Vics, having to change on the day – not a good idea to piss off event organisers!

– TAN! Feedback at most shows was about tan, rather than physique.

– TAN! Backing up using different top coats resulted in blotchiness and cost a placing.

– Entering too many categories in a show – turns out more pressure brings out the best in me not more categories

– Posing – being told I looked arrogant when I had finally managed to relax and really get some confidence at first show was a bit of a kick in the guts

– Posing – allowing previous negative feedback to undermine my confidence in every subsequent event. Affected my performance prevented me showing my physique to the best of my ability.

What Could Be Improved:

– Physique: Biceps

– Physique: Abs

– Physique: Chest can improve

– Posing: Flow

– Posing: Stage Presence

– Diet: Do not blow out so much off season

– Diet: No more crazy diet experiments, we know what works for my body so stick to it.

– Competing: Do not back up on consecutive days in different states

– Competing: Allow a full day recovery if flying interstate, 2 days if international

See, it’s easy to do.

Have a go, you might uncover something you hadn’t thought of and it might just be the difference that makes the difference next time…


My Competition Diet

Now that I’ve calmed down a bit, having said how easy I found it to get lean for comp, I thought it might be a good idea to put up my exact diet as a guideline  – I’ll add the big caveat here that this works for me. Body Composition wise I am almost a perfect mesomorph so the high protein approach works for me. It might not work for you, an I’m certainly not telling you that this is what you should do. If you want to follow it, thats your call..

I lost 3.2kg, 5% body fat and I even put on about 0.25kg muscle (I had 4 dexa scans in 10 weeks to check my progress). I hit the stage at 51.5kg 5.7% body fat at the Vic titles and 7 weeks later I was holding at 50.5kg, 5% body fat

This is the 10 weeks out version, at 7 weeks out the afternoon apple was removed, at 5 weeks out the lunch carbs were removed, at 3 weeks out the brekky carbs were reduced to 50g weight:

On comp day, I had the ‘normal brekky’ at 5:30am, at 9:30am I had the ‘normal’ mid morning snack. It was only at 12 that I switched to comp day carbs – rice cakes, honey, almond butter, blueberry jam and strawberries.

Oh I was drinking 7 litres of water right up to about 9pm on the day before comp. Then on comp day I drank 0.5l – 100ml at brekky, 100ml at mid morning meal, 150ml after pumping up for 1st category, 150ml after pumping up for 2nd category. Then I was allowed a bonus 100ml because I got to the overall final.

 1400 Cal / day Menu – P: 52% F:29% C: 19%

Meal 1 (approx 250cal):

100g chicken + 100g brown rice (cooked)/sweet potato


30g (dry) oats or Quinoa Flakes, 1 tablespoon LSA, 1 Scoop Protein powder, Stevia/Cinnamon to taste

Meal 2 (approx 300cal):

185g tin Tuna in oil (approx 140g tuna)

1 small green salad (approx 100g dark green leaves) +  uddo’s oil or flaxseed oil vinaigrette

Meal 3 (approx 330 cal) :

125g Lamb /beef or 150g Chicken/turkey or white fish

100g cooked sweet potato or brown rice

300g greek salad – dark green leaves, red capsicum, red onion, tomatoes, cucumber + uddo’s oil or flaxseed oil vinaigrette

Meal 4  (approx 175 cal):

100g Chicken

1 medium apple

Meal 5 (approx 250 cal):

175g white fish

300g mixed steamed veg – Broccoli, Zucchini, Snow Peas, Mushrooms, Asparagus

Late Night Snack (approx 150cal)

Tablespoon organic almond spread

1 PWO Shake /day – up to 125cal

Thats it – very simple and it works…for me.

Related Posts:

Lindy Lunch Lessons

Off Season Plan

Food Diary 7 – 10 Dec 2011

Pride Cometh Before…Rebound!

The Importance of the Third Eye

I across an article the other day written by Marc Lobliner, titled ‘The Importance of The Third Eye’. (Sorry Marc going to steal your title!) What does that mean? Well Mark was talking about how valuable it is at training to have someone else there watching your form or spotting you or checking your technique. He also pointed out that even if you’re a trainer yourself it never hurts to have someone check out your technique, someone to  bounce ideas off and maybe, when you know that you’re the hottest thing on the planet, someone to give you that friendly reality check :-p
And I got thinking – how important is your third eye, your trainer, to you? What does your trainer do for you?  Is your trainer your friend? Do you unload at your trainer? Do you complain about how hard your trainer is pushing you? Do you give your trainer grief when you’re having a bad day?  I’m sure you’ve all seen those youTube Vids going round at the moment ‘Sh*t women say to their trainers’ .
Do you have fun with your training sessions?  Does your trainer understand you and motivate you? Why are you working with this particular trainer? How did you get started with your trainer?
 I’m curious to know.
 As you know from my blurb, Aiden Baker is my trainer and we work over at Fitness First at Victoria Gardens in Richmond. I did say you’d get to meet Aiden…and you will…soon…he’s just a little bit shy (???!) .

2010 Tough Guy Challenge

I’ve been working with Aiden now for just over a year – in fact I think my 1st session with him was on his birthday last year – lucky man 🙂  he might have other words for it…but you’ll just have to ask him for yourselves!
This time last year I was in a mess, to put it mildly. Socially, professionally, financially and emotionally  – all over the place . However, whatever I was going through in private, I kept private – I didn’t even tell my family and in public, at least, I was functioning as any normal person would, so most people had no clue what I was going through. The one thing that kept me going (and probably sane) was my training, in the gym I could relax, switch off and forget about life for a short while, but I was struggling badly with my motivation and was beginning to let the excuses get the better of me. What I needed was someone to take the thinking out of training, I needed someone to guide me and provide me with a set programs that I could work with, I needed someone to push me, I needed someone to hold me accountable, so that I couldn’t make any excuses for not going to the gym, I also decided I’d simply worked too hard for too long to let it all go backwards now – so for the 1st time ever I decided I needed a trainer.
Not knowing anyone who was a PT, I wanted a recommendation from someone whose judgement I trusted. A friend of mine had been training with Aiden for 18 months and had always said such positive things, so I asked for his number and called him up to arrange an assessment.
Right from the word go I was impressed – I was early but Aiden was already waiting at the front desk, he came across as calm, confident,  curious…and tall! :-p
I felt at ease straight away. Then he led me over to a quiet space where we could talk. And talk I did! When I’m excited about something I can talk under water with a mouthful of sand – you have to speed listen to keep up…which Aiden did – he listened intently and only asked questions where pertinent. Next thing to do was to assess where I was at so he looked at my technique (very good) , posture and balance (excellent), worked out what I could or couldn’t do with my shoulders (they were quite screwed already).
Here again I was impressed by how he was focussed completely on me, watching every move I made and how I performed the exercise, making little adjustments or corrections here and there checking how it felt, whether the weight was too light or heavy – gauging where I was at. He knew what he was doing that was very clear. Perfect. Exactly what I wanted. So after that 1st session we agreed to one session a week and the brief I gave Aiden was ‘make it fun, make it challenging, make it varied and make it so I don’t have to think’.
And Aiden fulfilled that brief admirably – I think after the 3rd session I knew I wanted to work more than once a week with him, it was a revelation to me.  We’d started working with weights, lots of supersets, and giantsets and he was getting more out of me than I thought possible – and I know how to push hard! This was brilliant!
Now, in any new relationship working or otherwise, theres often a few events that define that relationship. We had one of those moments after about 4 weeks. We’d been doing a steps session – single, doubles, triples, bunny hopping – love the steps! After doing 7000 of the damn things every day for Kilimanjaro training I was pretty good at steps! 🙂
On the last set, Aiden told me I had to beat him to the top – after I’d stopped laughing (‘Daddy Long legs’ would be a good nickname for Aiden!) I decided I’d cheat a little and let him get to the bottom first and I’d turn straight around to get a head start on the way back up…
Doh! As I turned round, I fell off the step and twisted my ankle badly! Very OUCH! Nice theory…very poor execution – needless to say that was the end of the race and session 😦
Being a gentleman, Aiden offered to carry me back to the gym, and me being little miss independent, refused. So I hobbled back very slowly and said ‘see you next week’.
Now I guess if you’re too injured to train, most normal people would cancel their training session – not me. I turned up about 2 mins late and Aiden was waiting at the front desk for me, he was smiling…until he saw me dressed in my work suit, hopping up the steps leaning heavily on my hiking stick – he went white and hurried to get out the door to help me, but there was someone blocking the way. He looked at me in horror and started to apologise profusely for not calling to see if I was ok and then (I almost laughed), he asked me if I was ok!
‘Do I LOOK Ok?’ – I managed to snarl
He didn’t know what to say – 1st time I’ve seen him speechless!
‘Can you train?’ he asked
And then I couldn’t hold it any longer – I fell about laughing
‘Of course I can’ I laughed – ‘I was having you on’
Enlightenment dawned…
Bitch!’ he laughed ‘I can’t believe I fell for that – nobody EVER gets me like that!
I didn’t hear the end of that all session – I don’t know who was more incredulous – me, for actually having been able to pull it off, I’m the worlds most hopeless liar! Or Aiden because he’d been well and truly had…by a chick – he told all his mates! :-p
Needless to say that really put both of us much more at ease with each other and training became even better.
My body obviously is totally suited to this style of training and even though most weeks I could hardly walk for about 2 days after a leg session, I wanted more of this! I lost 1.5%body fat in the 1st 5 weeks and in the next 3 week another 2.5%! Almost every week a new bit of definition would appear or a vein would pop, I was leaning down nicely, and was thoroughly enjoying watching myself change – I was like a kid with a new toy!
And Aiden always had a laugh at my excitement as ‘Princess’ gradually turned into ‘Mad Dog’ – I was pushing Aiden to push me harder!
As I got results I started to set some goals, I had no trouble getting to the gym now – motivation was on overdrive! I decided to do a photoshoot for my 42nd birthday as a reward for losing the weight, climbing Mt Kilimanjaro and not quitting when everything went to hell.
Again Aiden adapted my training to this new focus – boxing, kicking, hill sprints, plyometrics (I’d never heard of that!) now became the norm to lean me down. I hit 10.7% body fat on the day of the shoot – and that’s when things turned really crazy! Mariya Mova my photographer thought I was competing in the All Female on July 2nd, but to that point I’d never even contemplated competing in a figure comp – in fact, when Aiden had suggested it back in March – I think I just laughed at such a ridiculous suggestion…
But then a few days before the All Female, about 3am, I woke up all of a sudden and decided to do it – by the time I got to training though I think the enormity of that decision had started to sink in and I must have looked like a ghost because Aiden straight away picked up on it and asked what was wrong and was I ill – when I told him I’d decided to compete he was thrilled! I’d never seen him so energised, he was bouncing around the gym rattling off all these things I would need to do and how we were going to train – I was still in shock so I don’t think I heard a word of it and I don’t think he paused for breath that whole session, he just wouldn’t shut up!
Then I announced we only had 10 weeks to prepare for the Vic Titles…he paused for breath then…and that’s when training got serious. For the 1st time I started lifting heavy weights – having gone from training for leanness, I now had 10 weeks to try and get some bulk onto me – not easy at the best of times and especially hard when I couldn’t train my upper body properly due to my shoulders and I was straight onto comp diet to cut body fat!
Aiden warned me that bodybuilding training would be completely different to anything else we’d done up to that point and he was right – after the high intensity, no rest, plyometric style training with supersets and giant sets, bodybuilding was too easy – I pushed a few weights then sat around resting for 2 minutes!!
What the…??
The concept of resting at training completely threw me – I wanted to work!
How many times did Aiden (very patiently!) have to explain to me exactly how bodybuilding works and why we needed the rest…after about 4 weeks I got it…when the carb depletion started kicking in, and I fell asleep on the leg press between sets…then I got why I needed the rest! !
That 10 weeks flew – and it was a roller coaster, physically and emotionally – I know about the ups and downs of preparing for comp now, but at this time it was all new and I was completely unprepared for it.  There were tears and frustrations and sessions where I’d almost fall asleep all brought on by carb depletion, loss of body fat, exhaustion and constant pain. There was the odd occasion when I was so smashed that Aiden would physically have to pick me off the floor…and put me back in the leg press to do another set!
Whatever state I showed up in though, if I needed someone to lean on, if I needed a quick pep talk, if I needed a kick up the arse, Aiden could provide it! I guess it was during the hot house bubble of comp prep that I learnt to absolutely trust and even depend upon his judgement.
About 5 weeks out from the Vic Titles, there was another event that really cemented that trust. I found out that I’d been picked as one of the Fitness First New You Transformation finalists, Aiden had suggested I enter as a laugh…so I did…and now I was a finalist…and this involved being filmed at a training session, interviewed telling ‘my story’ and then flown to Sydney for a gala dinner.
Boy did this open a can of worms!  I was pretty freaked out by the whole concept,  Aiden was not exactly looking forward to being interviewed either and the day they picked for the interview was only 3 days out from the Vic Titles – bad timing! On the day of the interview it started out badly and got worse. This was my last training session and I had spray tans to get done!
The training session was bad, usually we banter and bounce off each other, but this day neither of us could find a word to say, we just went through the motions of training in nervous silence wrapped up in our own thoughts.
 The film crew went to the wrong gym, so they were an hour and a half late, I had only brought enough food for 1 meal and by the time the film crew showed up I was due for my next meal so I was hungry, stressed, time pressed and anxious, Aiden was nervous as well and paced up and down the gym – everyone else was wondering what the hell was going on.
 All the time we’ve been training,  whatever Aiden has thrown at me I’ve always got on and done it and then asked ‘whats next?’, I’ve never once said at training –‘I can’t do it’. But just as the interview was about to start, I bottled it…‘I can’t do it’, I burst into tears and walked out. Again Aiden showed why he is so good, plenty of times I’ve been told to ‘suck it up princess’ if I even hinted at complaining, but not this time. This time Aiden took me to one side and gently calmed me down, talked me through it and got me back on track. I was glad when it was all over, I was exhausted. It was about all I could do to confirm the arrangements for the day we’d both been so focussed on for the previous 10 weeks – my first competition – the Vic Titles.
And what a day that was! Everything we’d been working towards came together beautifully. I won the novice category and came 2nd overall – Miss Figure Victoria (Novice), it has a nice ring to it!  🙂
As I said before, I‘ve been working with Aiden for just over a year, and what an eventful  and successful year it has been. Whatever goal I have had, Aiden has come up with the right style of training to get me there.  Whatever physical state I’ve been in Aiden has been able to adapt and come up with creative training ideas to work with and around injuries. Whatever emotional state I’ve been in Aiden has handled it all and knows just how to turn me around. During comp prep, Aiden became so much more than just my trainer – he was my rock.
So going back to my original questions
 Is my trainer my  friend?  Yes
Do I unload at my trainer? No, I don’t…well I don’t think I do..hmm…better not ask him THAT question ! 🙂
Do I complain about how hard my trainer is pushing me? No – I love being pushed to my limits and Aiden enjoys finding out what those are! An exciting prospect for both of us is looking forward to when I am physically 100% – if I can do what I have done with screwed shoulders, how much better am I going to be when I can train properly?  can’t wait!
Do I give my trainer grief when I’m having a bad day? No. I always train in the mornings and mornings are my favourite time of the day…the bad bit (if its going to happen) comes after training!
Do I have fun with my training sessions?  Always..yes there are little niggles every now and then but overridingly, yes – why would I want to get up at 5:30am unless I was going to do something I enjoyed?
Does my trainer understand me and motivate me? Yes
Why am I working with this trainer? Because he knows his stuff, inside out, upside down and back to front. I’ll fess up here that I used to check up on what Aiden told me – just to satisfy my own curiosity of course! :-p
But I don’t now. I don’t need to.
Why else am I working with Aiden? Because I totally trust his methods. Because we’ve got the results to back it up. Because we make a great team. Because we can only get better as I become physically more able.
Because I wouldn’t want to work with anybody else.
So how important is a trainer?
In my view, critical.
I certainly couldn’t have got this far without mine!