A while ago, I told you all about figure competitions, and that I was planning on doing one. When I brought this subject up, I was still in the bulking phase, which basically equates to the awesome phase where you workout most days and eat whatever you want all the time – as long as whatever you want includes massive amounts of protein. This part was pretty great. I definitely had trouble eating as much protein as my coach wanted me to, but in my prior life I felt great about myself if I ate 40 grams a day, so I was definitely doing better than that.
During the bulking phase, I kept hearing about the contest prep/dieting phase that was to come. This meant I needed to do some contest prep prep, to make sure I was really ready to dive in. First of all, I wanted to be so sick of delicious foods that I would be excited to eat as clean as the contest prep requires. Secondly, I’m a relatively thin person, and I wanted to get my money/time/effort’s worth, and see as big of a transformation as possible. If I was going to spend all this time and energy eating nothing fun and leaning out, I was going to be as fat as possible to start so I could see a Biggest Loser style change. I didn’t have enough time to get quite that fat, but I did what I could.
The actual contest prep started in February. My coach said we would start 20 weeks out, but when I showed up on my start day he had decided that “20 weeks is for fat girls, you’ll start prep at 19 weeks out” (he has a beautiful way with words). This was disappointing because my fatness* wasn’t being acknowledged, but it was also great because I had another week to eat everything. I was also pleased to know that should I ever become truly fat, it would only mean a one week difference in contest prep time.
Now it’s been nine weeks since I started prepping. This has definitely been the least amount of cookies/cakes/brownies I’ve ever eaten in any nine weeks of my life. It’s kind of terrible, and kind of awesome. Here’s some of my experiences and things I’ve learned so far:
End of Week 1 (18 weeks out): My plan worked – stuffing my face constantly with cheese and chocolate and pasta made me feel not that great, and switching to clean eating made me feel better. Except when I tried to follow a diet plan too specifically and felt like I was going to throw up from eating so much chicken breast. I was embarrassed that I had to be told to stop eating if I felt like taking another bite was going to make me vomit. Embarrassed and relieved.
Week 2 (17 weeks out): The diet was already getting super difficult. The first week I immediately lost 1.5 pounds, because easing off on the carbs can make you lose a lot of water weight pretty quickly. That slowed down, and I started to miss all of my delicious foods.
Week 3 (16 weeks out): At this point I started messing up some, which I figured was okay because I was still so far out from the contest. Also, I ate absolutely all the chocolate I could find in the house, and felt confident that the problem was taken care of since there was none left for me to mess up with.
Week 4 (15 weeks out): This is when I was really starting to realize how socially awkward contest prep is. Basically every social thing ever involves eating, and most people aren’t worrying about wearing a bikini on stage in four months, so nobody else is terribly concerned with where/what we’re eating. I don’t want to be anti-social or cause inconveniences for other people because of the way that I’m choosing to eat, but this makes daily life just a little bit harder.
Week 5 (14 weeks out): Going pretty strong – I love having a regular schedule for meals and the way this diet is forcing me to pre-plan and prepare what I’m going to eat. Usually my eating habits consist of me waiting until I’m starving to think about what to eat, complaining to my mom, turning down every suggestion of food she gives me, and then eating something terrible like a reject can of soup from the back of the drawer because I’m so hungry there’s no time to buy/make anything, and then I get really angry about what a terrible meal I just ate. So contest prep is a nice break from that.
Week 6 (13 weeks out): My abs look like they’re thinking about looking as though they exist. I took an ab selfie and put it on the highest contrast filters on Instagram so I could very vaguely see my abs and then didn’t post it because my Instagram is primarily puppy-focused and I don’t want to lose followers (one time I posted a picture of my bicep because I was proud of how much bigger it’s gotten and one person commented “hahahahahaha” and tagged his friend – I deleted the comment and blocked both of them and that made me feel better but still wonder if he meant “hahahahaha” as in wow it’s hilarious how awesome that bicep looks or “hahahahaha” as in I was getting made fun of).
Week 7 (12 weeks out): I finally felt like I’d made some significant changes in my body. It started getting warmer so I wore shorts to the gym, to discover that when I’m lifting I can actually kind of see the different muscles in my legs, instead of just having one big section of leg. This makes dieting feel worthwhile.
Week 8 (11 weeks out): Dieting is getting hard again. Birthdays and things like Easter make it especially hard. It’s easy to cut yourself off from things like bad restaurants or entire categories like candy, but when you’re at the dinner table and people are passing around slices of delicious cake, it’s basically impossible not to eat.
Week 9 (10 weeks out): At this point I’ve been doing this for over two months, so I’m getting kind of tired of it. I also have almost three months left, and so it feels like I’m not even close. Basically, I need somebody to give me brilliant ideas as to how to not want cake all the time. It also continues to feel weird thinking about food and my weight all the time. Especially being a thin person, talking about losing weight or how much I weigh has always been very taboo – it makes people angry or get all weird like I’m doing something super unhealthy. It’s different in the world of fitness competition, but this doesn’t always translate back to other people very easily. So I’m also getting used to people looking super judge-y and saying things like, “well I eat whatever I want all the time and I love it,” and I don’t know if they really are being judge-y and think I’m an idiot, or if they’re justifying their own eating habits, or if they’re just talking about how much they love eating and I take it the wrong way because I miss cake so much and it’s making my brain confused. Either way, I should probably get used to being judged considering the whole point of this is to enter a competition where my body gets judged (and my awesome posing skills! but more on that later).
I’ve had a lot more thoughts on dieting and contest-prep than just these, but I impose those on anyone who walks by while I happen to be thinking about cake, and won’t put every single one on the internet. The nice thing is that it at least distracts me from running/not-running. After I saw the doctor a while ago I successfully started running for a few weeks, and then things started hurting again. My next option is to get an MRI, but I’m not convinced that will help anything so I’m stalling. I’ll keep you updated though, and in the meantime I apologize if you’re offended that this blog has shifted from running to fitness competitions. And if you were sick of reading about my running but fascinated by my writing skills and therefore couldn’t help but keep reading although you desperately hoped for a new fitness-related subject matter – you’re welcome.
Like I mentioned, I’ll tell you about my adventures in learning to pose soon, but in the meantime here’s a comparison picture of my progress at posing practice so far:
* I know I’m not fat fat. What I really mean in these cases is that I’m slightly heavier than usual and I’m confident that it’s from adipose tissue and not muscle, and I know that it’s just relative fatness and not schedule-a-gastric-bypass fat, but that takes too long to say and I’m lazy so I just say “fat.”
I think the best part about your new fitness competition lifestyle is how you’ve learned to stand up straight.
It’s true – everything changes when you stop doing everything from a reclined position (you would be extra-impressed if you could see that I was typing this from my stand-up desk right now)
Especially being a thin person, talking about losing weight or how much I weigh has always been very taboo – it makes people angry or get all weird like I’m doing something super unhealthy. It’s different in the world of fitness competition, but this doesn’t always translate back to other people very easily. diet food delivery services