Curious about what it’s like to train for a bodybuilding competition? Well read on, because it’s time for the next installment of Same Show/Different Trainer. (If you missed the first two installments, feel free to catch up now: Weeks 12-10, 9 1/2 Weeks.)
Last year I was training for the same competition (Adela Garcia Classic) but with a different trainer and different goals. Last year was my first show that I entered on a whim as a way to force myself to lose weight. (It worked – fear is a great motivator.) My trainer was Daniel Rufini.
This year it’s my third show. I’m trying the Figure Division and my goal is to gain muscle. This time around I’m not training one-on-one, but on an all women’s bodybuilding team called Mel’s Machines, named after our trainer Melissa Merritt Coker. (Please note, these progress pictures are from my first and second shows when I was training with Daniel. Mel has a rule that we can’t post progress pics until after the competition, so you’ll see those pics in June.)
- Your significant other begins to question this lifestyle. Mr. I-Love-This-Sport! from week 9 is replaced by Mr. Why-Are-You-Doing-This? in week 8. In all honesty, the bodybuilding diet is a real drag on your social life. You don’t want to hang out with your friends at bars because you can’t drink any alcohol or eat nachos and don’t want the pressure of hearing them say “just one bite” constantly, so you stay home.
- Life interrupts. Up until now your entire world revolves around show prep. It only takes an instant to put everything into perspective. This can obviously happen at anytime, but for me it happened Week 8. My first show I fell asleep behind the wheel while I was driving my kids home. Someone honked and no one got hurt, but I was shaken by what could have happened. From that point on I decided to ask for more help from my husband. If I felt it was unsafe for me to drive I would call him and he would pick up our daughter that day. I forced myself to go to bed earlier. Daniel reduced my cardio a little and added in B12 supplements into my meal plan. This show my week 8 was crazy stressful with work and my husband being out of town and it was capped off by my mom having to get additional tests for breast cancer. She was alright (thank God) but my willpower cracked. I ate a PB&J sandwich and had a glass of wine. Not my finest moment.
- You begin to question this lifestyle. Why am I training for this show so hard? Maybe I should quit? But you’ve come so far and don’t want to give up on yourself now. This is where the team dynamic is really beneficial. Everyone is going through the same stuff you are. What starts off as venting to your teammate turns into a series of funny stories of things they went through and eventually leads into suggestions to help handle your current difficulties. “It’s only 8 more weeks. You got this.”
- Strike a pose! Bust out the bikini and 5″ stripper heels it’s time for posing class. Bikini poses are sexy and sassy and almost like a dance. “Dance for me, baby,” is something no man has ever said to me (unless he wanted a heartfelt rendition of the Macarena) ’cause I got no game. This show I’m in the Figure division. It’s just four 1/4 turns. What could be easier, right? WRONG! You feel absolutely ridiculous standing like a football player with your shoulders spread wide as possible while arching your back as hard as you can and hoping your muscles flex in a pleasingly symmetrical manner. While wearing heels. And did I mention you are supposed to smile?
- Climate Change. Men and women bodybuilders alike take fat burners. Know what happens when you don’t have much fat on your bones? YOU’RE COLD! You sleep with extra sweatshirts on and wear jeans even though it’s 90 degrees outside. Unless, of course, you are taking a thermo fat burner, in which case…YOU’RE HOT! I’m talking menopause hot flashes hot. Night sweats hot. Put your head in the freezer hot. The first time I took a thermo fat burner my skin flushed bright red in patches and I thought I was having an allergic reaction and took an antihistamine. Then Daniel informed me that I was flushing due to the Niacin. Oops.
- I’m So Hungry I Can’t Eat Another Bite. You’re so hungry you want to eat the next meal immediately after eating the first meal instead of spacing it out like you are supposed to. But then after you heat up your second meal you look at it and want to gag. The smell is awful. The texture is awful. Sometimes you go to bed early just so you can skip the tilapia.
- Shiny New Diet! Shiny New Diet! Carbs are cut slightly, even vegetables. On the plus side protein pudding is back in your meal plan, so you get at least one meal of chocolaty joy.
- You’re full of it. High protein diets can cause constipation as they essentially dehydrate you. This is because protein metabolism produces more urea waste, requiring more water to get rid of it. Also, fiber is found in carbohydrates, so when your carbs are cut it makes it more difficult to go to the bathroom. If you were slacking in the past with drinking your nearly a gallon of water a day, it’s time to really focus on getting it down so you are not uncomfortable.
- If You Can’t Tone It, Tan It. If you are a pasty pale person, like me, you need to start getting a base tan, so the spray on tan will stick to your skin and not turn blotchy. (Have I mentioned that bodybuilding is a very weird sport?) Here is a tanning tip: turn midway through like you are a rotisserie chicken, otherwise your sides will stay white while your front and back get tan. Now, I want you to close your eyes and imagine every possible embarrassing place you could possibly burn yourself. Add armpits to that list and that’s where I burned myself the first time I used a tanning bed. Just because you can stay in the bed for 20 minutes doesn’t mean you should stay in there that long. Five to ten minutes is more than enough time when you are getting a base tan.
If you are new to bodybuilding, stay tuned for the next installment of Same Show/Different Trainer: Weeks 5-4-3…If you have trained for a bodybuilding show, did you have similar experiences?
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