The cat is out of the bag that I’ve been prepping for my first body building show, coming up on Saturday, March 18th! I kept relatively quiet about my prep simply because a lot of people “don’t understand” bodybuilding. It’s just “too much” for them, too weird, too obsessive, or they just don’t “get it”. And that’s okay! Honestly, bodybuilding ISN’T normal... I get that. But it’s something I fell in love with, something I’m extremely proud of, and something I'm excited to share with anyone who may be interested in reading about it (which is actually surprisingly more people than I thought!)
Prep has been an AMAZING experience for me – I really can’t say that enough. I’ll get to more details in some later blog posts, but for now I wanted to talk about my experience prepping over the holidays. I started my prep after Camron and I returned from a trip to San Francisco in November to visit our friends Julia and Carter, and their baby Charlie. We had a wonderful time on the trip and used it as my “final hoorah” before prep began. We enjoyed delicious food (including donuts and the BEST ice cream I’ve ever had in my life) drinks, friends, and good conversation. Then when we returned on November 16th it was time to get serious. I had decided to compete in two shows, the first in Evansville, IN on March 18th and the second in Oshkosh, WI on April 8th (so my family could attend and see all of my hard work). This meant I would be doing a 17 week prep for my first show and a 20 week prep for my second show. Contest prep can range anywhere from 12-20+ weeks. I decided to do a longer prep simply because it was my first experience and my body has never really been lean in my entire life, so I wanted to be sure to give myself enough time to be stage ready.
Starting my prep on November 16th meant that I would be prepping over some major holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Camron’s birthday, and Valentine’s Day. Heck, even my birthday next week!
Let me tell ya, it could be kinda tough. The holidays are hard enough just trying to maintain your weight, and I was trying to lose it. Now I will say I have pretty good self-control normally, and I’m a big fan of moderation in most aspects of my life. Even if I were not prepping for a bikini contest through the holidays, I still wouldn’t go hog wild and eat every possible treat I laid my eyes on. But I WOULD participate in my weekly cheat meals with my husband, and if I saw another treat at work that looked absolutely worth it to eat, I would eat it and move on with life. And even though I would normally bring my lunch to work 99% of the time when I’m not in contest prep, if there were a special event going on at work, I would try to participate in the healthiest way possible (ie make a salad when pizza and salad is offered, have a sandwich when Jimmy John’s gets catered but skip the chips and cookie, etc). Prep was completely different. There’s no halfway, no wiggle room, no time for treats.
December was the absolute worst month and after I got through the month of December I knew I could get through the rest of prep. Long term care during the holidays has a CRAZY amount of stuff going on. We had a Thanksgiving pitch in we put on for our staff, Christmas party we threw for our floor staff, Christmas parties for the residents, the management team Christmas party, and the corporate operations team Christmas party just to name a few. I think I counted NINE events in December that I had to plan around. This is not even taking into consideration all of the donuts, cookies, and candies our vendors would bring in to thank us for our business, or the baked goods resident family members would drop off to thank us for caring for their loved ones. Plus you have fellow staff bringing in cookies and candies to share with the team, in addition to all of the other things ongoing things that happen every month (monthly cake and ice cream to celebrate resident birthdays, monthly cake to celebrate staff birthdays, weekly baking club which happens right outside my office, weekly ice cream socials…the list goes on and on).
On top of work, we had at least 4 family Christmases to celebrate, 4 days of traveling to and from Wisconsin, and 2 nights spent in a hotel. I had to be on top of my game making sure I had all my meals packed and rearranging my schedule so no workouts were missed. There were Sunday nights we’d get home at 7pm after 7 hours on the road and it was off to the gym. There were cold Tupperware meals I ate in the car while Cam stopped for fast food. There were 4am alarm clocks to get cardio in before we hit the road to travel (actually the 4am alarm clocks still happen frequently, more on that in a later post). There were hotel gym sessions where I just had to do the best I could. There were lotssss of questions about why I was bringing my own meals to get togethers. On top of family events there were holiday celebrations with friends, where snacks are always plentiful; a wedding on New Years Eve; a Packer game on Christmas Eve, etc.
Now it wasn’t always perfect. There was one day I remember specifically that stands out during my prep when, despite my best planning, my day still did not go the way I anticipated. It was Christmas eve and I was about to get a quick leg day in before playing cards with my family; about 3 weeks before I had signed up for a membership at a new Anytime Fitness in town. This ended up being a LIFESAVER during my prep, because my regular gyms hours just weren’t sufficient enough. Luckily this gym opened about a week into my prep, when I had no idea it was even being built! Anyway I was back in Appleton and was confident I could get my workouts in because they had an Anytime Fitness in town as well. I ate my cream of rice and two rice krispie treats (my preworkout meal) and headed to the gym. When I went to use my key fob, the door would not unlock. There was one bro in the gym and he wouldn’t even come to the door to hear me plead my case. In hindsight I figured out that it takes a month for your key fob to get activated at locations other than the home location where you signed up. So I ate all of those carbs for absolutely nothing!
Even so, looking back with everything I had going on in December, I have to say – I freaking killed it, but there were a few things that helped me out with that. The first is that my coach is awesome (more on how to pick a prep coach in a later blog post!), and believes in enjoying a Thanksgiving and Christmas meal with your family, so technically I got two cheat meals there. On Thanksgiving I baked an apple pie, simply because I was craving apple pie and was gonna make damn sure I got a piece. Oh, and also because I wanted to do something nice for my in laws J. I also really enjoyed being home in Wisconsin and having a great meal with my extended family on Christmas day. The other thing that made the experience easier was my attitude and mindset toward prep. Nobody is MAKING me compete in a bodybuilding competition, so why would I spend 16-20 weeks sulking around feeling sorry for myself about all the things I can’t eat? Oh poor me, not being able to eat the ABUNDANCE of food around me. I am absolutely BLESSED to live in a world where I have food all around and me and I can choose to say no because I have goals that are bigger than the food. And here’s the other thing.. that food will always be there. Sure, there are some things I missed out that are considered seasonal. But if I really wanted to, what would stop me from making buckeyes, peanut butter cookies with the hershey’s kiss in the middle, or sugar cookies with homemade frosting on top this spring if I really wanted to?? Nothing! In fact, while I was passing on those items in December I often found myself saying “I’m going to make _____ in April as soon as I’m finished with this prep”, and now – I’m like pfffft. Those will be there next Christmas, no biggie!
The other thing I realized - and this goes for ALL goals, whether your goal is to be a bikini competitor or your goal is to lose 20 pounds - if you always look for a reason to wait, you will always find a reason to wait. There's ALWAYS going to be a weekend coming up, a special event, a birthday, a work function, a holiday. If you continue to look for excuses to push your goal off, you will continue to find them. You will find yourself saying "I'll start next week" for MONTHS. You HAVE to be willing to start. There's always going to be an obstacle and you HAVE to be willing to push through it.
So I made it through the holidays and as of now I am 1.5 weeks out from my first show and 4.5 weeks out from my second and I couldn't be more excited. I have a few more blog ideas relating to prep, but I really want to start bringing you guys some content that is valuable to you. If you have any ideas of things you’d like to see on my blog or topics you’d like to know more about, please feel free to leave a comment!