Hello out there!!!
I have not been blogging for ages. Long story short- I’ve been super busy and have had other priorities. I’m currently in a very intensive Teacher Education program which has been very challenging, very fun and mentally quite rewarding! I’m really enjoying being back in student mode again- however the past 13 weeks I’ve actually been doing two separate Teaching Practicums, so am not really feeling like a student as much right now. Throughout all this I’ve been keeping up with my training very religiously. My life is pretty much school, training and food of course :D. The last blog post I made was around the time I started my very first prolonged “bulking” session, so to give a quick speed through of this:
- I worked with my online trainer Noel Clark from the period up to and after my show until August 2013. I followed her dieting and training protocols, reverse dieted out of the show diet and focused on building strength. I followed a 4-day heavy weight training split.
- In August, I took time off from the gym to travel in Southeast Asia with my mom, who came to visit me in South Korea. We were very active cardio wise- tons of walking, hiking, sightseeing etc, and enjoyed ALL the delicious foods we came across (lots of coconut rice, curries, naan, mmmmmmm).
- In September, I was offered coaching from Lean Bodies Consulting, who I’d been interested in working with before, and had actually been wait-listed for almost a year. I felt torn between “betraying” my old coach and excited to learn a different approach, so I decided to accept the offer. There are so many qualified people out there that I think we should vary our coaches. As a teacher, I am constantly learning from multiple mentor teachers, so why shouldn’t my coaching experience be the same? I worked with Coach Mark from September-December. I had mixed feelings about the LBC approach. On the one hand, I enjoyed the weight program (very heavy and again a 4-day split) and all the food on the plan, however at about 2000 calories a day (which should be below maintenance for someone as active as me) I did not really maintain- my bodyweight kept going up. Sure I can say it was muscle- and yes I have put on substantially more muscle than I’ve had previously- but as we know, females cannot put on more than 1 pound of lean muscle per month (without “help”), therefore a lot of the weight I put on was definitely fat. To be honest I felt just wretched- I could not stand to see pictures of myself, and felt so uncomfortable that I don’t even know if it was worth it. My weight climbed to my heaviest ever- 140 pounds.
- In January, 2014, I began my “cut”. I let my coach go- at $340/4 weeks, this was not something I could afford as a full time student with no income and increasing expenses (rent in Vancouver is crazy high- I pay $890/mth for my studio) and decided it was time to use the knowledge I’ve gained from the 3 coaches I’ve worked under, all the online research I’ve done, and what I’ve learned from speaking to other competitors to come up with my own program. This has been an incredibly scary process- learning to trust myself has been very hard. Also, trying to gauge myself objectively has been challenging- especially now when I’m only 3 days away from my competition. Am I lean enough? Do I need to do more cardio? How should I carb up? Or should I at all? I’ve been full of anxiety and questions, with no one really to turn to. I’m part of a Facebook group for Current and Aspiring Bikini Competitors, and that has been a resource that I’ve used as my main go-to for support through this process.
- My dieting approach has been very flexible. I definitely do not follow a specific meal plan, nor do I follow a set amount of meals per day. I’ve been really investigating what I like to eat, what works for me, what causes cravings, what satisfies me and how it makes me look, as well as the timing of my eating. It’s been an interesting learning process, and very informative. I feel like I’ve figured out a way to eat that I can maintain and enjoy for the rest of my life- which is most important. If I had to put a label on my dieting philosophy I would say its more of an “IIFYM” (If It Fits Your Macros)/ Flexible Dieting/ Intermittent Fasting approach. Not complicated at all!!! Okay I know that makes me sound like a crazy person- but that is only if you have the desire to put a label on it. If not, it’s simply me eating what I want (that supports my muscle preserving/fat loss physique goals) when I want. I’ve found that my results were very slow to start- in January, I barely lost any weight, and began cutting my calories very slowly. In February, I started adding short Tabata or HIIT (High intensity interval training) sessions to my week. I continued to progress, changing my calories and macros, gauging my body’s response, and going from there. I also started extending my fasting window- I typically followed a Leangains protocol of skipping breakfast each day, and after reading alot of Sara Solomon’s posts, decided to try out longer fasting windows- so shortening my eating window to the evenings. I will fully admit this has been interesting to me- and still feels rather strange, but good in a way. If you’ve ever tried fasting all day, you’ll understand this- I find my body gets these sudden adrenaline surges and they feel quite good actually. Sometimes I get very very cold though- and in those times I might eat just because I feel so uncomfortable.
- In the past 2 months, this approach has been pivotal in helping me as my calories have dropped considerably. Now before anyone gets upset about low calorie eating remember that contest prep is an extreme sport, and no, it’s not healthy. This is my choice, I’m not an anorexic (anymore) and I am trying to provide my body with the healthiest calories and nutrients that I do give it. So I supplement with a liquid fish oil, take collagen, and vitamins (I buy these through iherb.com- if you make your parcel weigh less than 4lbs, shipping is only $4 to Canada- and you don’t pay duties! AJO567 is my code if you want to save $$) and literally pounds of vegetables. Yes, I said I follow a flexible dieting approach, however I prefer to choose food that is more natural, has more volume per calories and has a range of micronutrients- remember I write a healthy food blog for a reason- I actually like eating that way :). Anyways- my calories have been pretty low, but on the plus side I’ve been able to keep my cardio very minimal. I was doing pretty intense 30 minute HIIT sessions (usually 1 min of: burpees, lunge jumps, jumping jacks, sit ups, back to back, 1 min rest, repeated 6 times) 3 days a week, and changed my weight routine to a 5 day split with more isolation focus. This meant getting up at 5:30am to do HIIT, going out to my Practicum school, which was an hour and a half away, teaching all day, coming back, and often doing weights when I got home. That was pretty hard sometimes, especially as my calories were dropping and I was feeling especially exhausted. Lately, because I’ve leaned down considerably, I’ve taken out my cardio sessions, and have only been doing 1 a week. This morning, I was planning to do one, but when I weighed myself, I was at a new low- 123.4 pounds, so I went back to bed instead 🙂 ).
- Right now, I’m only 3 days out from the BCABBA Western Classic in Kelowna. As I mentioned at the beginning- it’s been scary trusting myself. I’ve been having days where I feel not lean enough, stressed out and unsure of myself. And I have days where I feel great, right on track, and leaning out nicely. Now, 3 days out, I feel good. Obviously, the judges might have a completely different opinion, but I feel like I’m going to be bringing my best physique yet. I’m leaner now than my previous show, and have more muscle definition. This show is going to be huge- over 300 competitors, so I don’t have any expectations to place, however I know that I’ve done an awesome job bringing myself in on my own. I still don’t know what changes my body will continue to make up until show day, so I’m not confidant about tomorrow, but today, I’m feeling confidant about today (if that makes any sense).
Here is a photo of me from April 17th- just to give you an idea of where my physique was 3 weeks ago.
All in all- its been quite a journey- and I’m excited to see how it continues to unfold.