Tuesday, 31 May 2016

8 months & 10kg...from fat to fit!

(Disclaimer before I get started; I’m not saying that if you’re 53kg or above that you’re fat; it’s purely a title for the blog and at only 5’0” and weighing in at 53kg with zero exercise and eating rubbish, I was overweight for my body type)
 
It’s hard to think having just competed in a bodybuilding competition that just 8 months ago I looked how I did on the photo below and I have a range of emotions when I look back at it. It was taken in Fiji after 9 months of travelling. I’ve spoken before about how my year progressed whilst travelling so I’ll not spend too much time talking about that here other than to say in the last 5 months of being away any muscle tone, shape, definition, fitness or form of abs that I did have, certainly wasn’t there anymore.
 
 
Fiji (8 Sept 2015)
 
 
My biggest emotion when I look back is sadness. Whilst I accepted that whilst travelling my fitness would have to take a back seat, I never imagined I would end up so out of condition by the end of it. And to be honest I never felt myself really getting to this point. My friend who I travelled with often says to me she didn’t realise I looked that way at the end of our travels and I didn’t either. It was a slow gradual build up over a matter of months as a result of poor diet and no exercise.
 
Likewise with the photo below which was taken back in Australia in September just a couple of weeks before I flew home, my PT often says he doesn’t remember me being so out of shape when I returned home.
 
 
Australia (12 Sept 2015)
 
 
It saddens me that I did end up like that and it also upsets me as I remember those feelings very well. Having got in brilliant shape the year before it genuinely upset me to find myself overweight and unfit less than a year later. I’d had an incredible year exploring but it still didn’t stop me feeling disappointed with my body. Being so small in height I really can’t afford to carry extra weight and I definitely felt it; in my clothes, physically on certain parts of my body and definitely in any form of training I did occasionally do.
 
By the end of my travels I was just desperate to get back training and clean eating. I didn’t stress too much about the shape I was in as I had my PT on hand when I returned home ready to beast my workouts and I knew I would clean my diet right up. It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get from the above to a body that was fit for stage so I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts, insights and feelings during those 8 months as I battled back to full strength and fitness and into the best shape of my life.
 


Back to it...
 
 
I still remember my first PT session back in October. I met Michael in the cafĂ© at Total Fitness and we had a chat about my goals and where I was currently and where I wanted to get to. I remember feeling embarrassed as Michael knew me before I went away; from training at the gym and doing his classes and I remember thinking that he must think ‘wow she’s let herself go’. If he did, he never said anything and everything was very much forward focused at where we were going and not where I’d been. My goal at the start was pretty simple; I just wanted to drop a bit of weight and get back to a good level of fitness and build up my strength again. I just wanted training and clean eating to be part of my daily life as it used to be and I knew I would see the benefits from those changes.
 
Looking a sweaty mess after Bootcamp!
 
 
Training during those first few weeks was tough. Very tough. I felt heavy; carrying 5kg extra than when I left for Australia and knowing this was absolutely pure fat and not muscle that I’d put on (as well as losing some of my previous muscle mass as well). I started out at 53kg and those first dozen PT sessions I was a sweaty mess by the end of them. The DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) was bad every single time which was a battle in itself as previously I didn’t suffer much from DOMS and now I found myself with DOMS pretty much every day for the first 8 weeks.
 
I had x2 PT sessions per week and then I used to train an additional 4 times on my own. At this stage it was mainly weights based and I didn’t do much cardio. My legs had remained quite strong after a few years of heavy training but my upper body was very much the opposite after neglecting it during previous years. We were starting from scratch with my upper body and I hated those sessions for the first couple of months as they were so difficult and painful.
 
Regular training started from 1 November and I made big progress over the next 7 weeks leading up to Christmas. My diet was clean 80% of the time, supplements were introduced to my diet and I noticed the benefit from them and slowly but surely I felt my strength and fitness starting to return. It was a great feeling and I was so glad to be back.
 
The diet didn’t take too much adjusting to as I was actually sick of rubbish food after indulging on my travels so I was happy to be back eating healthy and cooking fresh meals. I found it a little difficult resisting treats as I hadn’t restricted anything over the previous 4 months so your body gets used to the sugar and fat so it still craved it for a while. I had a good balance though and allowed myself the occasional treat without it impacting on my improved diet too much.
 
After Christmas my diet stepped up a gear as I was put on a comp-style diet even though at this stage I hadn’t committed to competing. I did book a photo-shoot for March so we thought this would be a good test for me to do the diet and see how I got on. Those next 8 weeks I found incredibly tough. My training was going well at this point and I felt a massive difference in my fitness and strength, but it was the diet that killed me. I got sick twice during those 8 weeks which made it so tough to stay on track with healthy food and I was now calorie and macro counting, something I’d never done before. I found myself frustrated at the diet during that point and I did slip up a few times I don’t mind admitting but I stuck with it. The diet overall looking back wasn’t that strict in comparison to what was to come; I was allowed variety in my diet as long as I avoided certain bad foods and stuck within my calorie and macro range.
 
Food got very miserable on diet life...
 
 
8 weeks down and my photo shoot was soon up. I made the decision to move this back to the end of April as I didn’t feel like my body would be in a place I was happy with. It was also starting to creep into my mind the prospect of a competition. My PT and I had discussed it but I had never wanted to commit. I think because for so long my body felt so far away from being competition ready that I just couldn’t allow myself to think of me being at that stage. I knew I had to focus on the process. And also because it was a daunting prospect. But deep down if I’m honest I knew I’d do it. It was a challenge, one of the biggest challenges I could take on and I was ready for it mid-February with 3 months of preparation to go.
 
I had 12 weeks at this point to comp having completed 8 weeks of dieting already. And at that point something flipped in my mind and I was absolutely on-point from then on, in. The diet remained strong, the commitment to training could not be faltered and I well and truly had my eyes on the prize. I used to remind myself often of where I’d started back in October and I was so proud of my progress. Those first few months were tough and looking back it would have been the easiest thing in the world to throw the towel in as I had so much work to do. But that was never an option as I never thought of how much more work I had to do, I focused on how far I’d come and literally took it day by day and week by week and just enjoyed feeling better in myself, even if I was still a fair bit away from my previously toned self.
 
As you’ll all know through my blog posts during competition prep, I found the diet incredibly hard. The training was tough and I got tired with extra cardio and such an intense programme but it was the diet that almost killed me. It was boring and monotonous and I craved good food so much. It made me moody and impacted on my life so much; I had no life – bodybuilding was my entire life. But I knew I had to do it and just dig deep. When you have a goal to work towards it’s so much easier. I’m going to do a vlog (video-blog) soon where I answer some of the questions I often get asked including those about willpower etc. so I’ll cover this in more detail there but having that goal made it much easier for me to stay on track.
 
Over the 6 weeks before prep I loved watching my body become so lean. Probably more so because I knew where I’d started out back in October. I knew it wasn’t sustainable that I would stay that lean but I was certainly enjoying every second of it. And I did when I stepped on stage too. I loved the fact I had some form of abs, which I’d never previously been able to achieve properly. I loved that I had obliques and that my muscles stood out as I had very little body fat. My body felt good; despite the tiredness from training and my body enjoyed digesting clean, simple foods.
 
Enjoying seeing some abs come through
 
Feeling very lean in April
 
The competition itself I absolutely loved (see my other blog post for details of the day) and since then I’ve been very aware of not putting the weight back on. My PT and I talked often about reverse dieting and for me that starts properly this week. I allowed myself a week of indulgence (and boy have I done that!) but now I have to be sensible and build things back up slowly. A poor post-comp diet can leave you in worse shape than before and with the photos from Fiji and Australia firmly etched in my mind I’ll be honest I’m absolutely terrified of putting the weight back on.
 
One of the best days of my life!
 
 
Having got down to 44.1kg on the day of comp I knew I would probably put a few kg on afterwards as that wasn’t a sustainable weight given the diet and to be honest wasn’t really that healthy so I always feel at my best physically and for strong training at around 48kg. During the last week I’ve put on a bit of weight (I haven’t weighed myself as I don’t want to be too focused on the scales post-comp) and that has been through indulgence so I need to calm down with that. It’s likely I’ll put on some weight as I look to build more muscle and get stronger over the coming months so I won’t be worrying too much about the scales as I never did before and I’ll work more so off how I feel and look.
 
It’s pretty surprising to look at the before and after photos now as even I can’t believe the transformation some days. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but by far one of the best things I’ve ever done and I have more confidence in my body than I ever before. When I think back to October now and those first few sessions and how hard they were; I sometimes wonder how I stuck it out especially because of how fit I’d been previously, it was soul-destroying in some ways. But I am so, so thankful that I did because I’d have carried on being unhappy and unhealthy and it would have no doubt impacted on other elements of my life. I find I’m the best possible version of me when I’m healthy and training and it makes me better at work and socially too. Training and being healthy gives me confidence and lifts my mood.
 
Before and after (8 months difference)
 
So the biggest piece of advice I would give to someone who is unhappy with how they currently look; make a start. Just do something to get you going, as small as it may seem. Little changes will make a big difference and I can guarantee you that once you start seeing results you will become addicted to it. It is one of the best feelings in the world watching your body change for the better and feeling better in your body and the positive benefits that come with that. Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can. It’s not going to happen overnight but it can happen; with some willpower, dedication and commitment. And I promise you that it will all be worth it in the end.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

One of the best days of my life!

Sunday was absolutely one of the best days of my life. I had the best time from the minute I got up that morning to the minute I went to bed and to come away with a trophy was just a phenomenal feeling.
 
I didn’t really know what to expect from the day other than the obvious that I would be getting up on stage and posing and doing my routine, but everything else was a bit unknown.
 
I woke up at 05:30 on Sunday morning having slept pretty well surprisingly and I was just so excited. I didn’t have that many nerves as I was just so ready for the day and having worked so hard during preparations I was just determined to get out there, have fun, enjoy myself and make the most of the day. And I certainly did that.
 
Lucy stayed with me on Saturday night so come 7am on Sunday morning the apartment was a converted dressing room with make-up and hair spray everywhere. By 9am we were at my PT’s house and I was having my first layer of Dream Tan applied. Now I knew that it was going to be dark but it was a whole other level once that started setting on my skin haha. Such a strange texture too that it seemed to take ages to dry and even then it still marked if it got knocked so I spent the whole day walking around like a statue trying not to mess it up.
 
We arrived at the venue at 11am for registration and I think it was only about that time that it started to feel very real. It was great to see so many other competitors in the check-in room and everyone being in the same situation. It was really lovely too to have Louise alongside me who was also competing in Trained Figure but in a different class to me. Louise trains at Total Fitness with my PT and has helped me a lot throughout preparations as she competed last year so to have someone with me during the day who had done it all before, put me at ease.
 
With Lucy...all checked in and waiting!
 
 After check-in it was a case of waiting it out and thankfully it didn’t drag as much as I thought. The show started at 1pm but with the line-up it was unlikely I’d be on before 3pm so we had a few hours to kill. I got chance to watch some of the classes before me which was good as it gave me an idea as to what was going to happen and to become familiar with the venue. The show was held at Unity Works in Wakefield and what a great venue it was. I had a fair few people come to support me so it was nice to be able to go out and sit with them for half an hour during the build-up.
 
Before I knew it, it was time to head backstage for the second layer of tan to be applied and to do final preparations. This included drinking a couple of glasses of red wine to dry me out and munching on wine gums to get my muscles and my veins pumped with sugar. A few push ups and exercises back stage before I went on and then it was time to get in line after putting on my figure suit and heels.
 
More tan...and more wine!
 
It was only really at that point that I felt nervous as I lined up with the other 8 girls. It was such a strong class and lots of people backstage such as coaches and experienced competitors were commenting how strong the class was. Naturally, it makes you nervous as you start looking at some of the other girls’ figures and comparing yourself. But I knew I’d done everything I could do and I just had to get up on that stage and do what I could for this final part.
 
Rounds 1 and 2 are mandatory poses so we started to work through them and then the judges call out girls for comparisons. I wasn’t called out in the first 2 comparisons so I was getting a bit worried but then I got called out in the next 2 comparisons and really gave it my all then. I came off stage after those rounds feeling like I hadn’t done brilliantly. I don’t know what it was I just felt like it didn’t go that great although from watching it back afterwards I actually did do fine.
 
'Quarter turn to the right'
 
Next up was my individual routine so I had 75 seconds to perform a routine that I had been practising where you show off your figure as much as possible but you can also add whatever else you want in there too. I’d worked very hard on my routine to do something a bit different as after watching ones from previous years, some of the ones I had watched looked a little boring and very much the same. Knowing I was in a big class this year I knew I had to do something a little different.
 
I got one of my friends to help with arranging 2 music tracks so I could do a mix of both and then another friend helped me with the choreography for the second part of the track. I knew before I went on stage that my routine was good and I felt confident so feeling like I hadn’t done that great in rounds 1 and 2 I was determined to go and smash this out. It was so great to hear my family and friends cheering me on as I entered the stage and I was so pleased with how my routine went. The one thing you worry about is whether you’ll forget some of it. But I knew I’d practiced so much that it was engraved in my head that I didn’t worry too much about that. I gave it my absolute all and I came off stage feeling more confident.
 
After everyone had completed their routines we then got called back on stage. We then had to ‘pose down’ where you basically do your own thing for however long the judges need you to in order for them to make a decision on the placements. After the first pose down there was a tie with the judges so we had to go again. I was feeling more confident after my routine and felt much more at ease during the pose downs so again I just gave it my best shot, kept smiling throughout and held my poses as strong as I could.
 
Then was the announcement of the final placements. I felt nervous at this point as even though I went into the competition feeling like I’d already achieved massively what I set out to, by dieting and training for so long, suddenly when I was on stage I started to imagine how I would feel if I had to walk away empty handed. Only 6 girls place and in a strong class of 9 there were definitely no guarantees. In my head I was telling myself it didn’t matter if I didn’t place, it’s still a massive achievement but I also know deep down what I’m like as a person and I knew I’d feel disappointed to walk away with nothing to show for it.
 
When they called my name out in 6th place I was so relieved and happy. I couldn’t believe I’d actually won a trophy. Me. In a bodybuilding competition. And walking away with a trophy. It still doesn’t feel real now as I’m typing this.
 
The final 6 girls!
 
 I came off stage to my family and friends and I just burst into tears. I felt such a huge sense of pride, relief, satisfaction, happiness, excitement…everything. I was completely overwhelmed and I’ll remember those moments for the rest of my life. Lucy was the first to come and grab me and she was in tears. My mum was crying. It was such an emotional moment. I’d trained and prepared so intensely for 20 weeks for that competition and it literally meant the world to me. My life was bodybuilding for 5 months; it was the first thing I thought about on a morning and the last thing I thought about on an evening. Everything revolved around it and to walk away with that piece of silverware in my hand just made it all worthwhile. No it wasn’t first, or second or whatever but that didn’t matter to me; just the fact I placed in the line-up and got something for it.
 
My incredible PT Michael Barrett
 
I had the biggest smile on my face all of Sunday evening and I’m still sporting it now and I think I will be for a very long time. What’s been so lovely since the competition too is networking on social media with other competitors. I’ve become friends with quite a few who took part on Sunday not just in my class but other classes on Facebook and on Instagram and had some lovely comments from people. It made me realise how much of a society bodybuilding is and in particular the Natural Physique Association (NPA) and I think that’s really great.
 
Before the show I vowed this would be my first and last competition as I just couldn’t stand the diet again for such a long period of time. I got told that I might feel different once I got the buzz of being on stage. It’s too early to say for definite either way to be honest as the hard work and sacrifice is still very much raw in my memory but so too are the fantastic memories from Sunday. All I’ll say at this stage is I’ve gone from ‘absolutely never again’ to ‘never say never and let’s see what happens’ so I’ll let you make your own minds up from that whether I will compete again in the future haha.
 
It’s been a remarkable journey; an unforgettable, life-changing experience and I am so, so glad that I did it. The support I’ve received from everyone has been fantastic and I am so thankful to each and every one of you who has offered me support over the last 20 weeks no matter how big or small; it has spurred me on and helped me to achieve one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. So thank you.
 
NPA YORKSHIRE CHAMPIONSHIPS 2016. MISS TRAINED FIGURE CLASS 2 6TH
 

Saturday, 21 May 2016

1 sleep to wait...what have I learnt?

20 weeks ago, Mikey my PT said to me;
 
“Throughout this process, if nothing else, you’ll learn something about yourself”
 
Now and again that thought has popped back into my head and I’ve asked myself on a number of occasions; ‘what have you learnt?’, ‘what has this taught you?’ and this week especially I’ve reflected upon this often.
 
For me learning is a huge part of my life. And I don’t mean burying my head in a text book (although I have done a fair bit of that over recent years too!) but I mean learning as a person, taking lessons from each situation in life and using experiences to become a better person.
 
It’s one part of my life that I have a love/hate relationship with as because of my constant desire to want to learn and improve there are certain things that I don’t really partake in because I don’t see the benefit they add to my life. I’m trying to learn (ironically!) that it’s ok to do certain things purely for the enjoyment and there doesn’t always have to be a productive element to everything I do but that’s something I struggle with.
 
Take for example reading. I don’t get much chance to read for enjoyment but when I do like if I’m going on holiday and fancy a book to relax by the pool with, you will never see me with a fiction book. I just don’t see the point in reading something that is completely made up. Why would I want to do that? I’d much rather pick up an autobiography and gain an insight into someone’s real life and learn about some of the things they might have accomplished or endured. Or read a book on something factual that I can apply to my life such as health & nutrition. My friends often read fiction books and say ‘but it’s a chance to escape from day to day life and just transport your mind for an hour into a different world’. And I do get that and think that would be quite a nice way to relax sometimes. So it is something I’m trying and this week I’ve tried to get my head into a recommended fiction book. I struggle to maintain concentration with it but I am actually quite enjoying it.
 
Anyway I digress slightly with that but essentially what I’m trying to say is that I always want to take something from every situation and constantly strive to improve myself as a person.
 
So here are a few things that I’ve learnt whilst prepping for this bodybuilding competition over the last 20 weeks. And a few things that I probably knew already but it’s made me more aware of or more appreciative of…
 
You can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it

Despite the physical aspect of training which is obviously vital, bodybuilding is 100% a mental sport. It’s all about the mind. How disciplined you are. How much you’re willing to sacrifice. How strong your willpower is. How bad you want to succeed. I soon realised early in the process that in order to achieve this goal I was going to have to get my mind switched on first. The first 8 weeks my mind just wasn’t engaged for whatever reason. I struggled massively and hated it all. I had a word with myself after a couple of reality checks and from then on in, my mind was fully focused on the end goal. And even I’m amazed at the willpower and mental strength I’ve shown to push through it. When I look back now I don’t quite know how I’ve stuck it out but I have and I’m so proud of that. If you want something bad enough, you’ll do whatever it takes to get it.
 
I’ve learnt who my true friends are
 
Bodybuilding is a selfish, isolating sport and one that not many people understand. And I can fully appreciate why. But you look at those around you to support you on journeys in life regardless of what that journey is or whether they understand it. I have a good network around me and I’ve learnt how important that is over the last 20 weeks as if it wasn’t for certain individuals I wouldn’t have got through it, especially on those tough days. It’s fair to say as well that some people have disappointed me with their lack of support but I’m not going to dwell too much on that other than to say you remember that and it also makes you appreciate those around you who do stand by your side through everything and support you on ANY journey you choose to take.
 
My appreciation for food is so much higher
 
Living on such a boring, repetitive diet, you think of all those times that you’ve taken for granted having whatever meal you fancy or doing ‘normal’ things like having a BBQ when it’s sunny or going out and grabbing a Nandos with the girls. Not being able to do that for so long has been the hardest part of this and I can’t wait to be able to enjoy normal meals again and have variety in my life. I’ll live a healthy lifestyle of course but everything in moderation. I’ll certainly appreciate the occasional bar of chocolate or piece of cake much more than I ever did before.
 
And with that my appreciation of a social life
 
This goes hand in hand with the food element but this is something I’ve found really tough. I work very hard all week and you look forward to your weekends so to then not actually be able to do much or join in with things, is tough. Previously I would be out grabbing coffee and a cake with a friend or heading out occasionally for the odd cocktail or just having a day out shopping with a stop off for lunch. I lead a healthy lifestyle still before when I did all of the above but it was in moderation and I had balance in my life. Bodybuilding doesn’t accommodate for a balanced lifestyle so I soon learnt that all of these things had to stop as they just weren’t compatible. I would either be out frustrated and hungry because I couldn’t eat anything on a menu and couldn’t take my lunch bag with me on a shopping trip let alone have access to any facilities. Or I was just tortured by all the temptations around me so it was just easier not to bother going. I’m so much more appreciate now of a social life and have got some lovely plans lined up over the next few weeks which I know I will enjoy every second of now and not take one bit of it for granted.
 
The world of bodybuilding is a crazy one
 
I have to admit I knew very little about bodybuilding before I started comp prep and to be honest it’s probably a good job as I might not have got involved in it had I known all the ins and outs haha. The bizarre things you have to do to get your body stage ready, especially in the last couple of weeks of prep is unreal and I’d have never imagined before that the few days before comp I would spend laid up on the sofa, not training and knocking back glasses of wine. The complete opposite to what the other 19 weeks of prep has entailed. I have learnt so much though throughout this whole process; about my body, what it reacts well to and what not so well to. I’ve learnt about the importance of supplements and which ones to take in order for me to perform at my best and look after my body. I’ve learnt so much in the gym in terms of training programmes and exercises…and I’ve learnt how to do pull-ups after never having any upper body strength before. Bodybuilding is a crazy world but there’s a part of it I absolutely love and I’ve certainly enjoyed being part of it for this period of time; I can see why it gets addictive. Whether I’ll continue to be a part of it is a question for another day.
 
This has been a daily ritual...
 
 
Each and every day I’ve learnt something new and all of the above lessons have helped me to become a better person. I have more patience overall (although at times it probably hasn’t seemed like that to people when I’ve been snapping at everyone), my mental strength has developed further as has my resilience which I know will help me in so many walks of life. I’ve always had a good work ethic but it’s made that grow too as you literally cannot achieve in this sport without a solid work ethic. And I feel more rounded as an individual for the whole experience. The highs and the lows, it’s been a phenomenal journey and one I’m going to be so proud of completing when I step on stage tomorrow and I’m a better person for doing this.
 
The sense of achievement too; one ticked off the bucket list that’s for sure and certainly one to tell the grandkids about one day. It’s one of those things that no one can ever take away from me and I will always have that sense of pride and satisfaction for smashing it. It has genuinely been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life and that’s no exaggeration. Weighing out every meal, getting up at a silly hour to go train, eating the same day in and day out, missing out on social events, spending weekends sat in on my own sometimes, learning the art of posing, picking myself up after a set-back, training relentlessly day in day out, not having a weekly cheat meal, having to avoid any treat going and not even being able to have a ‘normal’ meal because it will throw out your plan. The guilt if you have an extra scoop of protein one day or lying in bed hungry not being able to sleep, because you’ve eaten all your calorie allowance so can’t have anything else. Becoming a social recluse and dealing with the moody days far too often, as well as everyone else around you dealing with them.
 
It’s the little things that make a big difference. And it’s the little things that people don’t see or appreciate. Those who have done this before will know exactly what I mean and there’s no room for slip ups in this game. It’s absolutely a science.
 
Friday's abs...
 
In 24 hours I will be ready to head to the venue for registration. My nails are done, eyebrows are fresh, I’m heading to be tanned up this afternoon and I couldn’t be more excited for tomorrow. This is the last post I’ll do before I step out on that stage so I just wanted to say a huge thank you for all the support you’ve all given me over the last 20 weeks; it has meant the world to me. And I can’t wait to get out there and smash this final part. Thanks for reading…and I’ll see you on the other side…in the biggest food coma you can ever imagine no doubt.
 
Enjoy the weekend…

Thursday, 19 May 2016

3 days to go...

Almost at the weekend now and I’m all set for Sunday. This week has gone fast thankfully as I worried that a bit like last week it would drag and I’d just be sat waiting with each day feeling like an age. But I’ve had an awesome week so far this one and I’m very much enjoying being in peak week and getting ready for Sunday.
 
Each night I’ve been enjoying a glass of white wine and a small bowl of melon and it’s been so nice to have something different in my diet for a change and the wine has certainly been putting me in a deep sleep after not drinking a drop of alcohol in 5 months. Surprisingly I’ve probably enjoyed the melon more than I have the wine as I’m actually not too fussed about alcohol, give me some good food every time. But I’m taking advantage and making sure I have my full allowance each night.
 
It has certainly started to dry me out a lot too which is the whole point of it. I noticed a big difference from Sunday to Wednesday and I’m excited to see what happens over the next few days as I also reduce my water as the week goes on. Bizarrely as someone who is always on their feet I’m finding it pretty frustrating just lounging on the sofa on an evening with my legs elevated and not being able to do much else. But I’m trying to make the most of that too as before I know it life will be back to 100mph.
 
Wednesday's abs
 
It’s also felt very strange today not training at all; I had my last training session yesterday and then for the rest of the week I just have to relax as much as possible. Mentally it screws with the mind a little as you feel like you’re losing your muscle tone or putting on weight when you’re just sat doing nothing, which is stupid as that’s not going to happen that quickly especially when I’m still dieting but it’s all psychological.
 
Today and tomorrow I’m working from home so that’s been easier for me to be able to raise my feet in the air as much as possible to let the water drain and it’s just a little less taxing on the body not having to get out of the house and get to work and rushing around the office.
 
People keep asking me if I’m nervous about Sunday and I am a little of course but actually not that much. I feel in some ways like I’ve already achieved what I set out to at the start. I’ve pushed myself so hard, in ways I wasn’t sure I even had the strength to do. My willpower has been on point and I’ve dedicated myself 100% to this for the last 20 weeks. For me that’s the achievement; having the mental strength to get through that. On the days where you can’t be bothered training, when you’re friends are all going out, when the cravings kick in badly; all of those days provide mini challenges in themselves and being able to fight through each and every one of them along the way is such a satisfying feeling now I’m almost at the end.
 
It still doesn’t feel like I am almost at the end as for so long I just couldn’t imagine getting here. It has genuinely been one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life; I had no idea how hard it would be and there have been some low days when I have just hated it all so much. Looking back now I’m not sure how I pushed through it all but I certainly know why I did because the feeling I have about being on stage on Sunday is like no other.
 
I’m more excited than anything else for the competition now. Because I feel like I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve, I almost feel like on Sunday I can just go and showcase all my hard work and enjoy the day. Normally I am a very competitive person but I don’t feel that competitive at this stage about it (although that might change on the day!). This while process has never been about anyone else; I wrote the post a couple of months ago about the reasons why I don’t do comparison and I really haven’t when it’s come to this. Yes you look at other girls that have competed and can appreciate their figures but I’m just so proud at having come this far by myself and for myself and for what I’m about to do on Sunday. I don’t really think too much about the competition with other girls.
 
I’m excited to get tanned, get my nails done, put on my figure suit and heels and really make the most of Sunday and enjoy the day. I’m ready to get on that stage and be proud of the body that I’ve worked so hard to get and I’m ready to have fun and smash out my poses and my routine.
 
And I’m not just saying it but I’m not that fixated either on how I do on the day. Of course I want to do well, absolutely, but I’m just proud to be doing it even if I don’t place that highly. I can enjoy the event, take comfort from the fact that I’ve done it and no one can ever take that away from me.
 
I can’t believe too that in just a few days I can also eat exactly what I want. After months without pizza, chips, chocolate, sweets, crisps, doughnuts, biscuits and whatever else fatty, sugary foods you can think of, I’m actually allowed to indulge in these foods on Sunday. And Monday. Then it’s back to being healthy from Tuesday. Don’t get me wrong treats will be allowed in there and my diet certainly won’t look anything like what it does now but I’ll be eating clean 80% of the time and training hard still to maintain my figure as much as possible and to not undo all of the hard work that I’ve put in over the last 7 months.
 
But I cannot tell you how excited I am for that evening of indulgence on Sunday. The amount of things now lining my cupboard (and my mum’s cupboard) there’s enough to feed the 5000 but I stand by the fact that whatever I want on the night of the competition, I will have.
 
For now it’s back to the cod and peas for dinner though so off I go to cook and I’m so thankful that after tonight I only have one more dinner of it to endure and I swear a piece of fish or greens will not be going near my mouth anytime soon.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Entering into peak week!

8 days out. It’s insane that the competition is that close. I’ve been a ball of emotions this week going from the ice woman who was probably the moodiest I have been in a long time on Tuesday and Wednesday to the child-on-Christmas-Eve levels of happiness and excitement towards the end of the week.
 
Last weekend when it got to 2 weeks to go I thought ‘oh this is gonna be easy now’ as after all how hard can the last 2 weeks be when I’ve been dieting and prepping for 18 weeks? It turns out very at times. Almost like when you’re waiting to go on holiday, the weeks overall seem to fly by but then when it gets to those last few days before you go it seems to drag as you wait eagerly in desperation to get away to that sun, sea and sand. There’s no sun, sea or sand where I’m going but a plethora of tan, sparkles and muscles and the principle remains the same.
 
Cardio ready on Tuesday morning...
 
I’ve been hormonal this week which hasn’t helped matters so Tuesday and Wednesday, wow, I feel sorry for anyone that came into contact with me on those days. To say I was in a mood would be an understatement. I was horrible. Patience levels at about minus 56, every little thing just angered me, and I had to bite my tongue once too often (although probably not often enough looking back as a few people were on the end of my sharp tongue - apologies). I was hungry and craving treats and despite taking myself off to bed early on both Monday and Tuesday I was more tired than ever and just struggled massively to come round during the day. Typical symptoms when it’s that time of the month but multiply that by about 1000 when you’re dieting this strict and after such a long time of it, and I knew I just had to give it a couple of days for me to break out of it.
 
Luckily Thursday came and with it a sense of calm and a brighter mood. I had a PT session on Thursday evening which helped massively as I’ve not seen my PT in a few weeks as he’s had some personal things to deal with so it was a relief to catch up with him, check on progress, show him my routine and find out what the plan was for the final week.
 
Posing session after Thursday's PT session...back double biceps!
 
With a plan firmly in place now I’m just absolutely buzzing to head into peak week, I’m mentally focused and started to think more now about being on stage and what I need to do and I’m just so excited for all of this to come together. When you’re prepping for such a long period of time whilst you do keep your eyes on the prize and know you’re doing it for that one competition, you do have to put that to one side sometimes and just focus on the everyday and on the process. Now it’s got to the point where I’m actually less focused on the process as that’s just second nature now and I’m more focused on the event which is nerve wracking, exciting and scary all at the same time.
 
So what will happen next week? I’ll stop my cardio from Monday which was music to my ears haha. No more 5am wake up calls to go and do 40 minutes on the stair master before work every morning. And no more cardio after my evening weight sessions too. This is so that I’m not really using my legs that much. We had our last legs session on Thursday when I had my PT session so for the last 10 days you don’t train legs. The legs hold water when you’re training them so over the next week it’s about getting that water out of them and to do that I also have to try and spend time with my legs elevated too. So that’s forcing me to actually rest as anyone who knows me knows that I’m always on the go and find it difficult to just sit down and relax. Currently writing this with my legs propped up on some cushions with a cuppa in hand – I think I could get used to this.
 
I train Monday to Wednesday next week with 3 heavy upper body sessions and then I stop training until after the event which is next Sunday. It will feel weird not training for those last few days and it will feel weird letting my training gradually drop off over the coming days as mentally I’ll feel like I’m losing my muscle definition or putting on weight which I know I’m not but I know I’m going to feel like that.
 
My diet will remain the same up until the competition so I’m allowed my refeed tonight which is a steak and a jacket potato and then I’ll be back to the usual foods tomorrow. I am sick of cod and broccoli now so it’s a bit of a struggle to get that down but the end is in sight. From Monday I also introduce a glass of white wine and a small bowl of honeydew melon into my diet on an evening before bed. I don’t even like wine but I’m actually so excited to have that after over 130 days without one drop of alcohol. And just because it will actually be some different flavour in my mouth haha. The purpose of the wine and the melon is to start dehydrating my body a bit.
 
In terms of water we won’t be water loading me at the start of the week which is what some people do in their peak week. I’m already drinking a lot of water for my size (5 litres per day) so I don’t need to add more in and we will just look to reduce this from Friday. It’s important not to dehydrate too much during peak week as your muscles need the water in order to still look pumped on the day.
 
I’m booked in for my spray tan next Saturday and then my Dream Tan arrived this week which we will apply on the Sunday morning. I picked up my figure suit earlier in the week which is simply stunning and I’ve got all my hair and make-up essentials ready to go. I’m allowed to refeed next Saturday as normal and then we will change things a little bit with the diet on the day of the competition to make sure I’m stage ready. This will include very little water consumption, snacking on wine gums before heading onto stage and carbing up to get my muscles pumped for the show.
 
I feel a range of emotions as I head into the final week and quite emotional towards it all if I’m honest. It’s been an incredible journey; I can’t even begin to explain how crazy it’s been. From starting the diet in January I’ve come so far since then and experienced so many highs and lows along the way and to think it’s now just 8 days away is quite surreal.
 
I got up yesterday for my last morning of fasted cardio and powered through my 40 minutes on the stair master and bizarrely part of me will miss that. Over the last few months I’ve been in the gym most mornings doing cardio and whilst it has been tiring and a bit of pain at times I’ve enjoyed it in some ways. It’s given me a chance to get my head together on a morning when the gym is quiet, I put my music on and just zone out. It’s started my days in a positive way, it’s given me focus and it’s given me time to think about things. There’s also the same people there every morning so you become familiar with those people and they’ve watched my progress and been so supportive; always checking in with how I’m doing and offering words of encouragement. And the satisfaction from getting your ass out of bed at 5am and going to do that every day is nice. But I have to admit it’s going to be nice to get up at a more reasonable hour and to get my sleep pattern back in order as even on weekends now I struggle to sleep past 6am as my body clock is wired for early, active starts.
 
My happy Friday face after finishing my last morning of fasted cardio
 
And the fact that the whole process is almost over leaves me with a range of emotions too. I am ready for it to be over and to get back some normality but it’s been an incredible few months and as much as I’ve hated certain parts I’ve also loved certain parts. I’ve loved watching my body change so much and be at its leanest. I’ve loved strengthening areas of my body I’d never really paid that much attention to and actually getting an upper body and muscle definition in there. I’ve loved having a goal to work towards and as bizarre as it sounds I’ve loved having something so hard and challenging to battle through as I know that will only make me a better person in all aspects of life. It truly is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and in the grand scheme of things there are not many people that actually do it. And that’s because if it was easy, everyone would do it. It’s not easy at all and it takes a certain type of person to actually see it through from start to finish and I’m incredibly proud of myself for that.
 
I’ve become my own best friend throughout this process. Whilst I’ve had incredible support that has genuinely got me through it, ultimately it comes down to you and only you. You’re the one who has to get up and go do fasted cardio; you’re the one who has to control what goes on your plate 24 hours a day 7 days a week; you’re the one who has to sacrifice social plans; you’re the one who has to push through those dark days when you struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve given myself the pep talks, I’ve reasoned with myself when I’ve needed it, I’ve tried to look after myself as much as possible when my body and mind has been struggling. It is a selfish sport and you have to be selfish in order to get through it. But throughout it all I’ve always said to myself ‘you’ve got this’ and I’ve known that I have. No matter how many times I faltered or had doubts I knew I’d do what I had to do to get me on that stage in the condition I needed to be in. And I’ve further developed a good relationship with my mind and my body.
 
So 8 days to go. One week tomorrow. I’m ridiculously excited. I’m ridiculously nervous. But I’m ready. My mind is focused. My game face is on and I’m ready to smash out this last week. I’m going to try and do a few more posts this week as it gets closer to the day so I’ll keep you up to date with how my peak week progresses and how I’m feeling as I get ready for that stage.
 
Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekends J