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 three installments, feel free to catch up now: Weeks 12-11-10, 9 1/2 Weeks, Weeks 8-7-6.)
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 lean muscle mass. 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.)
You Get In Touch with your Inner Child. I’m not referring to the sweet one who giggles and draws rainbows. You become a full-fledged irrational preschooler prone to unexpected temper tantrums and it would not be surprising if someone said, “She’s a little cranky; she just needs a nap.”
Food Rebellion. By midweek you have moved beyond bratty preschooler into the moody teenager phase. Meal 4 says, “Tilapia, brown rice and green beans” and you are angry at the paper the diet is written on. You can’t make me eat that! You’re not the boss of me. Ima have my asparagus now instead of meal 5 ’cause I don’t want green beans. So there!
Sharing is Not an Option. My children have a much more active social life than I do. They get invited to birthday parties all the time…during weeks 5-4-3 that is. Are there any birthdays during the off season when I can sample a slice of cake or two? Nope. All the children in God’s green earth had to be born in the final weeks of show prep. My kids have just gorged themselves for hours on chips, cupcakes and pizza and then have the nerve to reach for the last piece of my sugar free gum, and my whole being goes Ah, hell no! “DON’T. TOUCH. MOMMY’S. GUM!”
Shiny New Diet! Shiny New Diet! My first show my carbs and calories were cut. My second show my diet stayed exactly the same until week 2. For this show my trainer actually added calories. Mel sent me a text saying, “It’s funny to me you keep saying your calories are cut. I added calories. I added steak.” But none of that really matters because you’ve been dieting for 8 weeks now and calories just seem like semantics. To explain this, please refer to Week 5, paragraph 1, beginning “Inner Child” and focus specifically on “irrational preschooler”. Oh you want me to be accurate in my online blog gripes about calorie counts? You’re gonna call me out on that? When is anything EVER accurate on the internet?
Hunger Games. You create weird little food rituals with your meals. You mix the tilapia with the green beans and pour mustard on it so you only have to taste the mustard, because fish and vegetables are the red-headed bastard of your meal plan. Your more traditional carbs like rice and sweet potatoes are treated like the love child from a former politician. They get put in their own special bowl and sprayed tenderly with butter spray and are now eaten with a spoon instead of a fork because GOD FORBID you miss even one grain of your brown rice.
Food Dreams. During my first competition they started around week 8. I had a dream about eating a giant chocolate chip cookie. It was warm out of the oven and the chips were all gooey-melty. It was the best dream ever. By week 3, I was dreaming about 1/2 cup brown rice and week 1 I just dreamed about drinking water. (See how even my dream expectations got lowered?)
Have you ever had Hostess apple pies? Well two nights ago I had a dream that I was at the Wawa in New Jersey (of course a dream involving forbidden fruit pie is set in Jersey…) and I bought one of those pies; only instead of it being about 4 inches it was 24 inches and after I bit into it I read the calorie count that said it was 500 calories per bite and I didn’t know how I would ever fit into my bikini in time for the show. I sat up in bed thoroughly confused and not sure if I had eaten a pie or not. Oddly, I don’t even like pie. Ah, stress dreams.
Meltdown. It happens to the best of us. I know two bodybuilders who dropped out of the competition during the final weeks of show prep because the diet, exercise and posing schedule just made them nuts and they wanted their sanity back. Another friend of mine had what she calls, “The Cap’n Crunch Situation.” After not eating cereal for almost a year she began planning her first cheat meal after the show. She bought a box of Cap’n Crunch and lovingly set it aside for her first cheat. (Refer to Week 4 – Hunger Games/weird food rituals.) Anyway, her husband came home from work one day and poured himself a bowl of her cereal.
And 3, 2, 1
“YOU DID WHAT!?!?!?!?!”
During my second show prep I had my 20th high school reunion. To say I binged is putting it ever so mildly.
Earlier today, I had a meltdown because, “I wanted to have a meltdown all day but didn’t feel like I could have a meltdown because there is nothing bad going on in my life and how could I possibly have a meltdown when other people are doing show prep while dealing with significant challenges in their life and are so positive! BAAAAAHHHH!”
(Refer back to Week 5 “irrational preschooler”)
Your Trainer Talks You Down. After my binge weekend I felt horrible in every sense you could possibly feel bad. Physically, I felt ill because when you’ve been eating clean for the better part of a year and then go crazy, your stomach is really miffed. Mentally, I felt like some sort of addict and completely out of control. Emotionally, I felt like I let myself down and let my trainer down. Daniel found out pretty quick I cheated on my diet. “Was it one meal? A few?” “You don’t want to know,” I mumbled. “I was afraid that might happen…I see you feel bad. What’s done is done. At least it happened a month out and not a week out.” Then he told me about a time when he messed up and I didn’t feel so bad anymore.
Today Mel told me it was ok to get emotional for no reason. “You don’t have to be dying or pregnant. Life can get hard! And it’s ok to vent. We all have our good days and and bad days, so don’t feel bad. Being emotional is very normal. It happens to all of us so don’t freak out.” I told her some of my most vulnerable thoughts and body issues. She understood where I was coming from and moved my thoughts to a better place.
New Excitement. The end is near and you get excited. Everything seems more real now. You start telling people about your show date and where they can get their tickets. You practice posing in front of your spouse after the kids go to bed. (He decides he likes this sport again.) You are counting down the days now until it’s show time.
If you are new to bodybuilding, stay tuned for the next installment of Same Show/Different Trainer: The Final Countdown…If you have trained for a bodybuilding show, did you have similar experiences?
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