This Saturday marks 15 weeks until I hit the stage for my first fitness competition this season. I have been excited about this prep frankly because I was tired of overindulging during the holidays and I was craving some clean, natural and non processed foods. So, as I have discovered after 3 years of preparing for fitness competitions, there are ebbs and flows in the training. For example, just when you think, you’ve got the whole process figured out, you get a curveball thrown at you.
It happened to me last year in my third year going through fitness competition training. I was finally “free” of the time constraints of a full time job. I had “more time" to devote to prep and “less stress” from a demanding career. Or so I thought.
The red flags? While prepping for the two competitions I had in 2018, my body wasn’t responding the way I expected. I mean, in my mind, I had figured out how to manipulate macros to help me lose weight and build muscle the year before, but I just wasn’t seeing the progress as quickly as the other competitors on my team and I couldn’t explain why. My body seemed to be at a standstill for almost 2 months with very little progress in my physique development. My body fat was barely creeping down as the weeks went by. I started my prep in May and, still, at the end of June, I felt stagnant. I couldn’t see the progress in the mirror, the scale or my body measurements.
Should I quit? Well, that wasn’t an option, but I was preparing myself to face failure if my body couldn’t get its act together. I tried everything I could to figure out what was hindering me and couldn’t pinpoint it. I took extra digestive enzymes, probiotics, special teas to help with digestion, but nothing worked. It was so strange because everything I had done the year before to get stage ready, didn’t seem to be working this time around.
How zany is fitness competition prep? I am the first to admit, being stage ready for a competition, can be extreme. It’s wild to think a woman will diet down to 8-9%t body fat and in the process lose about 10-15 pounds to get there. Some competitors may lose more, if they start out heavier. But what I enjoy about competing is, not only the challenge of getting “stage ready”, but everything I have learned about eating clean. Learning to meal prep has made all the difference in my knowledge about weight loss and maintenance. Plus, even after I am done competing for good, there are so many things I can take with me as I transition into a less restrictive lifestyle so I don’t spiral into the weight gain trap.
What did I learn? Well, I learned that when you make major life changes, as in your work schedule, changes careers, or leaving a career, it will affect your mental state and ability to reach weight loss goals. At least it did in my case. But my body is like that — I’ve heard others are like this, too, But, seriously, any change in routine, even traveling, throws my body out of whack.
What else changed? Not just the lack of a structured day where I had every moment figured out, but I started a new business as a fitness & nutrition coach, and that was taking a lot of my time, cutting into my sleep and generally adding a physical workload that I wasn’t figuring in to my prep. When I finally started counting the calories I was burning during the boot camp classes I was holding, it turns out I was burning as many as 300 to 400 calories per class, just setting up weights, and teaching it!! So maybe I wasn’t eating enough or eating too many protein bars because I didn’t have the time to stop and breathe and get in regular foods. Maybe, as my nutrition, aka, life coach, told me I was building up cortisol which was interfering with my physique goals. (Check out what too much cortisol does here: www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037 )
What am doing differently now? I have realized I have to remove some of the stressors in my life if I want to reach a new, bigger and better personal goal. So, just as I have preached to my clients, I have had to apply the advice to my own life. I have to slow down. We all have to slow down, to be able to focus on priorities and reach your goals. If you are a notorious multitasker with a little bit of ADD in your personality, like me, that is really hard.
So, moving forward, the goal in 2019 is to declutter physically, emotionally, and digitally! Focus, take your time, be patient and work hard! Now, get after those goals! Hope all your aspirations for this year and beyond come true!
Sarah's Training Blog
From running to bodybuilding to Ironman, how she makes it all work - and you can, too!