Kayla and I talked at length today about what to do next. We went over the feedback I received from the judges, we looked at the photos, we talked about goals and disappointments and things beyond our control. Then she went on to talk with her team, and I went home to talk to mine. And now, we have a plan.
I will not be doing the NPC show in a week and a half. I WILL be doing an NPC show in mid-November, followed (possibly) by an OCB show a week later. So what went into this decision? Well, my friends, pull up a chair and I'll tell you ;-)
First... I peaked about 2 weeks before the show. This was great, as I could mostly coast into peak week, but bad as my metabolism was on FIRE and just kept burning - burned through my muscle. The first week, I lost 3 lbs of muscle, and my body fat started to increase. Bummer.
Second... I'm short. No, really. I'm 5'2" and the Master's class is not divided into height groups - just age. I looked like a skinny midget standing up there with all those tall women. While the vast majority of them had (and I mean no disrespect) an abundance of cellulite on their bums and legs, because they were tall, they had long torsos and most had great shoulders. I'm short, short-torso'd, and though I've got good shoulders, the visual comparison didn't do me any favors.
Third... I fell down on my posing. Despite hours and hours of practicing, and the confidence I developed, when I stepped out on the stage, the nerves got me. Plus, right off the bat the first time out on stage the women were all crowding too close and before the judges had everyone spread out, I got jostled quite a bit which flustered me (remember, they were all a lot taller than me) and I instinctively drew in. My stance narrowed and my confidence wavered. Damn my inner shy girl.
Fourth... Judges feedback. There were two common themes in the feedback I got from the judges. A) I wasn't lean enough. One judge even suggested I needed to cut as much as 10 more pounds. From where?? Regardless, clearly they wanted a more lean & ripped look. I could have cut more water and maybe hit their mark, but it is what it is. B) My posing was too relaxed and not confident enough. Yep. Can't argue with that.
So... our thoughts are that regardless of how we feel I should have placed, we'll take their comments and work accordingly. To combat the early peak, I'm going back into build mode - more food, heavier weights (and more double workout days), less cardio. Our goal is to keep me at 16% body fat for 5-6 weeks while adding 8-10 lbs of lean muscle. Then we'll begin cutting to take me down to around 12% bf, while working to keep as much of that muscle as possible. One thing we're adding to my supplement routine is Creatine. I know a lot of women fear using it because it increases body water (it pulls water into the muscles), but what do I care about some water weight? We're just going to cut it later anyway.
Next up - addressing my height. The only way to make me look as muscular as the judges want, while standing next to amazons, is to build up my shoulders, quads and glutes. As Kayla said, "We're gonna make you bumpy". Lol. This is the aspect that kinda bothers both of us, as we really like my body where it is right now. If you stood me up next to other women my height, I'd look fantastic. Unfortunately, you can't pick your fellow competitors ;-) Building bigger shoulders and bigger glutes & quads will make my waist look smaller, my V-taper more pronounced, and hopefully make my torso look longer. I'm really petite, so in this instance, it worked against me.
Third... my posing. For whatever reason (refer to #3 above), I hunched in, instead of standing up and out. @#$# happens, and it happens on stage. I got jostled. Again, it happens. I wasn't mentally prepared for it, but next time I will be. My space. I will protect my space, stake out my territory, and own it. I cannot stand that I let myself be pushed back physically and mentally. Definitely more growing needed. So, I'll practice my posing - harder, tighter, and more "there". And I'll work on my confidence. Next time it won't matter how tall or big they are, I'll hold my own.
And finally... that "ripped" look. I had some issues with water, and my posing didn't help. I looked soft, and it was my own darn fault. My booty had no definition (and it does, it really does!) because I wasn't posing it right. My shoulders stayed low, instead of hiking up (which would have made my shoulders look as big as they are). I hunched in, and my legs were bent when they should have been straight and hard. One change we'll make to my next peak week is that I'll cut water for 5-6 days instead of 3. I think we'll also probably have me lifting weight right through peak week instead of taking so many days off (I still did tons of cardio and dry sauna, just no weights).
Nutritionally, my intake is higher now, and we'll bump up 200 calories again in a couple days, then again once or twice. I'm carb cycling on a 2-day a week pattern (so instead of one carb day, I have two). We're also reintroducing some foods, slowly and carefully, to see if I can broaden my diet a bit. First up is chicken. ;-)
Exercise... I'm training with Kayla weights 3 days, Pilates 1 day, then on my own. I have one rest day, and my cardio goes down to once a day-4 days a week, sauna 2 days. The days I lift with her, I'll do a mini lift session again in the evening before cardio. Legs, we'll kill twice a week. Bringing the boom! ;-)
That's the plan! NPC Western Regional November 15 & 16, then the OCB Valley of the Sun November 22. After that, I'll take the holidays OFF ;-) My off-season goal weight is around 130 lbs and 16-18% body fat. This will allow me to re-enter show prep in the spring (or any time) with about an 8 week prep, if I so desire. How long will I compete? I'm really not sure. I just know that I won't go down like this. When I finish competing, I want to go out strong and proud, which I don't feel after this last show. I feel like, in a lot of ways, I defeated myself. Whether I place or not, I want to finish knowing that I killed it! As subjective as the judging can be, I want to know that I brought it, I showed it, and I owned it. That's my goal.
Thankfully, I have an amazing husband and family who are 100% behind and beside me, encouraging me to continue; and I have an incredible, brilliant, dedicated coach working hard to help me travel this road and maintain my health. AND... I have you guys. Thank you for encouraging me, supporting me, motivating me. I appreciate you!
Now... I'm off to the gym for cardio ;-) then tonight I get to relax with my family. Ahhhhh! ;-)
Here's some pics from the show...