Friday, April 22, 2011

Seeing Changes... Competition Prep Update

This is the end of my 19th week pre-competition, and I am finally seeing changes. I know it's early, but with the fears I have regarding my belly and lower body, I'm thrilled to see a difference. I  began my leaning out phase April 1st... dropped from 1800/1900 calories a day down to 1600. I kept my ratios at 40% protein, 35% carb and 25% fat. I cut again a week later to 1400 cal/day, same ratios and began taking Lean Out (a Beverly product that is not a fat burner, but assists the body in processing fat more rapidly and efficiently).

Another week later, calories stayed the same but the ratios changed to 50% protein, 30% carb and 20% fat. This was done to protect the lean muscle I've built while we lean me out. I've been two weeks now on the competition diet and while I'm fine with the diet itself (food is fuel so I'm ok with eating the same stuff over and over again, but thank the gods for sriracha!), I do feel hungry. A lot. I'm really not a "shake" person, I prefer whole foods to liquid meals, but I have become very grateful for my protein shakes. I've also done well with my water intake, increasing it to a gallon a day, consistently. That's a huge victory for me, as drinking enough water has always been a challenge.

Through this, my upper body began to lean out. Almost daily, I can see subtle changes... more definition. I'm pleased with my arms, back and chest, and while we have to watch out that I don't lean out too fast, it's looking good so far. Tab is my mirror, since I have a hard time seeing myself objectively, and she can be critical in the right way. I've been worried because I haven't been seeing any changes (at all!) in my belly and lower body. We didn't have time for a full-on bulking phase, so the muscle I have is all I've got to work with. We can refine it, sculpt it, and strip away body fat, but we don't have time to build any more. So I worry. Tab tells me that she's seeing changes, my butt is a little higher and firmer, so I trust her. But I worry.

This morning, I spent a bit of time in the sunshine. I'm starting to build my base-tan, so I put on a bikini (gulp) and enjoyed some sun (I use coconut oil as my sunscreen, yes it really works. No tanning beds for me, I'll choose real sun every time - I think it's like butter - fine in moderation, LOL!). After, I wrapped up tight in my towel the size of Montana (yeah, even in my own backyard), and went inside to clean up. I took off the towel, turned and caught sight of myself in the mirror.... and saw change. My butt is higher, my thighs are tighter, and my belly is flatter, with some abs showing on the sides. It's going to sound goofy, but I look taller. And I feel like the weight of the world was just lifted off my shoulders. There's change.

I know I have plenty of time, I'm entering my 18th week on Sunday, and while I've got a lot of work ahead of me, seeing these changes is such a relief. It boosted my confidence in a big way. I actually walked around the house for about a half an hour just in my bikini, lol! For me, that's huge.   We take pictures and measurements again on May 6th, and all the fear I had at the thought has greatly diminished. All because I saw some changes in the mirror.  Kinda odd, but there ya have it.

Speaking of changes... this 18th week brings one. I'll be increasing the number of sets I do in my workouts. Doubling them, actually. My cardio stays the same, and the workouts stay the same, other than increasing the number of sets. The next week, I will focus on increasing my weights.  My diet remains the same. 1400 cal/day; 50% protein, 30% carb, 20% fat. Really, apart from never feeling like I'm getting enough food, the only thing I miss is variety and quantity of my produce. Yeah, I'm a little weird.

IN THE KITCHEN... I may do more salads next week for lunch, just because I can have more and it might help me feel more "full". I won't, however, be using my beloved Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar on said salads. I've been using it, because vinegar is "free" on my diet and it's so full of flavor, a little goes a looooong way. I put it on salads, on veggies, on my meats... but this last week, I was putting the bottle away after dinner and saw the label... 14g of carbs per Tablespoon! OMG! I about had a heart attack! For some reason, the Pomegranate part of the Vinegar didn't sink into my head, so I didn't even realize I was adding all those sugar/carbs to my competition diet! Yikes! My bad! So that's out! I'll be switching to straight balsamic, or rice vinegar with sesame oil, or just plain lemon juice as my dressings of choice.

Other things I do to liven up my food... I am still, as always, the Mrs Dash queen :-) I use it on everything. I have a southwestern mustard that I love on my chicken. I use Sriracha on my veggies & brown rice (spicy, and the capsaicin is a natural fat burner - woohoo! I use a LOT of sriracha!). I put diced green chilies or salsa on my baked sweet potatoes.  Lemon juice on my steamed asparagus.

IN THE GYM... As to my workouts... especially with having only been doing limited numbers of sets, I've pushed myself with my ever-changing playlists ;-) and by reducing or eliminating rest periods between exercises. I work harder, not longer. I do supersets (combining exercises like doing chest presses followed by flyes, followed by reverse crunches then repeat). I take rest periods between supersets, not between sets or individual exercises. So I'll do 15 low rows, 15 cable curls, 15 low rows, 15 cable curls, then rest on my way to the next station. I'll do 15 lat pulldowns, 30 medicine ball twists, 8 assisted pullups, 15 lat pulldowns, 30 medicine ball twists, 8 assisted pullups then rest on my way to the next...  This allows me (haha, forces me) to blow through more energy (calories), keeps my heart rate up and requires my body to dip into stored energy (hopefully fat!) to keep going. By the end of my workout, even if it only took 30 minutes, I've made my body work harder, and smarter.

IN MY HEAD... The kitchen and the gym aren't the only places I'm prepping for the show. I've also been playing around with posing music. Listening, analyzing. It's one of the more fun ways I'm getting my head in the right place. Playing tunes while imagining myself doing the T-walk and poses, getting up and actually walking with the music... it's helping me visualize myself on the stage. I've been watching a lot of video - DVD, YouTube, etc, of figure competitions, paying close attention to where I see strengths and weaknesses in competitors. I've seen amazing bodies place poorly simply because of a lack of proper posing. I've seen incredible physiques ruined by frowns and stiffness. I know I'll make mistakes, that's inevitable... but if I can avoid some of them, I'd really like to :-)

Anyway... there's my prep update. Kinda long, lol, but I'm trying to do the full-disclosure deal here, sharing my journey. :-)

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