When I first started competing 4 years ago I had no idea how much I would like this sport. Winning most of the events I’ve entered and making consistent improvements has made this even more rewarding. This past July I won the overall title at the Masters Nationals (after placing 2nd in my weight group last year). Not bad for an older gal with a busy life!
But as exciting as competing (and winning!) is to me, the preparation can be very challenging. I figure I’m not alone. I’ll bet that there’s more than one or two of you reading this that share some frustrations with goal reaching, food / diet preparation, training, and rest when mixed in a hectic life with work, kids, medical or physical setbacks (I had to take 2 months off training after surgery – during my bulking phase!!!)...You get the idea. I hear quite a few people use this as a reason not to progress with their physical development. I want to set that straight in this article. No excuses. Just solutions.
GET IT ON:
Preparing for the next competition is something that starts the moment a present competition ends. What are my strengths and weaknesses (development, conditioning, presentation, etc.)? Where do I need to focus on making improvements and how will I go about doing it? I had to get my goals together. The sooner the goals and expectations are made, the sooner the results happen.
ENTER THE SNAFU
I had surgery in Sept. and had to take 8 weeks off. I should have followed a diet during that time but didn’t. I ate fairly well but had a disappointing 10# weight loss. Unfortunately, it wasn’t fat loss. It took a couple of additional months to recoup my strength. My trainer, Jeff Storch, was concerned that I’d fallen too far behind to be ready for a national level competition in 6 months. I said, no way!
Even though I now work at the Beverly Nutrition Center, the first thing I do is get input from Roger and Sandy. I need an objective professional’s advice to get me started in the right direction. The focus this year was to improve symmetry and come in harder than in previous competitions. How? ⇒ Keep body fat at, or under, 12% during the off season. That way I don’t have to diet so hard that I lose lean mass. Also, because I keep my conditioning all year I’ve found that I can now eat pretty much what I want (within reason) and not gain fat. That is a great perk of following a Beverly conditioning program long term!
⇒ Start dieting sooner to maximize gains in lean. That, too, makes cutting easier
I started phasing, into a clean diet in January. The Master’s Nationals were in July. 6 ½ months to prepare. I wasn’t real strict for the first month. I started out at 122#, 12.4% body fat, 15# total fat, 107# lean. For me, this was in the hole! Supplements were mandatory. I began regular use of Ultra 40, Mass Aminos, Ultra Size, and Super Pak.
By March I was following the diet completely. See insert for the exact diet I used to gain lean mass while minimizing fat gain (actually, I started losing fat from the beginning of this diet and never had to change my diet throughout the preparation cycle!).
Roger was concerned that I might look too hard or too cut (new NPC ruling female judging...that will be another article!) so he said, You’ve got to stop right there! The diet and supplements were working so well that my cutting was like a runaway train! Now, getting concerned about coming in in too good of condition is a new dilemma! What a weird situation to be in! I said, So, do you want me to start eating cheeseburgers or something? The answer, of course, was NO! So, we sweated bullets that week and hoped I wouldn’t improve too much more.
A word about the Muscle Mass BCAAs and Energy Reserve: This approach (mentioned above) made all the difference in my conditioning! It took me from good condition to my very best possible condition. I also kept a bottle of Muscle Mass close by and took a handful when I felt hungry or had a meal delay. The BCAA’s kept me from losing lean mass and the Energy Reserve enhanced the fat burning mode that the diet put me in. This is one supplement stack that I won’t do without even during the off season!!!
What about cardio? I didn’t do any. I followed my diet and used a special Anti-Cellulite Gel (that’s right, Anti-Cellulite Gel) to bring in my glutes and legs. Striations for the first time! I felt ready and confident. Supplment with cardio Energy Reserve contains L-Carnitine which increases the utilization of fats for energy, sparing glycogen and amino acids. In essence, L-Carnitine shifts your fuel source utilization toward fats, leaving your amino acids and glycogen free to build muscle.
Bringing home the overall title to Roger and Sandy was my greatest pleasure. I couldn’t have done it without their superior expertise and products!
SO, WHAT ABOUT THE SOLUTIONS?
I was getting to that..
⇒ CHALLENGE: I hate to cook. I don’t have time for it, anyway. ⇒SOLUTION: Make quantities. Portion it ahead of time. Have food ready to grab and go. This can all be done in 2 hours or less, including clean up time: Meats: I took several bowls and dumped in different marinades and seasonings. I dumped in enough meat to last the week. I grilled it up all at the same time. Grilling is quick, easy, and tasty. It takes just as long to grill 1 piece as it does 10. Portion it, wrap it, refrigerate or freeze it. Done.
Starches: Bake a bunch of fresh sweet potatoes and boil up a pot of brown rice. Done. Breakfast/Eggs: Make a Frittata. Get all your eggs and cooked meat together (for as many days as you want to prepare for), add some seasoning (try Mexican seasoning for beef and herb seasoning for chicken...) and a few veggies, dump it in a huge skillet (or bake as a casserole) cover, and cook on low until done. Portion it and refrigerate or freeze it. Done.
⇒ CHALLENGE: I travel all over the place between different jobs, clients, business, and kids. I don’t have time to eat 5 or 6 meals!
⇒ SOLUTION: Plan ahead! Organization is not my greater skill (understatement). But just a couple of simple tricks helped greatly (and coolers are such a cool invention): Supplements: I bought a bunch of plastic beverage containers. Filled them up with Ultra Size as indicated on my diet. Kept them in a box in my trunk with lots of bottled water and portioned out pills. (I kept extra bottles of supplements so that some could be stored in my gym bag, work bag, and home).
Meals: I pre-cut meats, pre-cut veggies that I like raw (colored peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers), even pre-cut the sweet potatoes. Finger foods. Car foods. Run-in-the-back-room in between-patients-and-take-a-few-bites food. Not glamorous but gets the job done!
⇒ CHALLENGE: I’m spoiled. I like good tasting food.
⇒ SOLUTION: Prepared right, the food on this diet is great! The biggest problem I had with my diet food was keeping my kids and their friends from eating it all. I gave up and just started preparing everyone1s food like mine. Here are some simple ideas for making the diet part of our physical conditioning a lot easier to swallow1:
⇒CHALLENGE: I travel all over the place between different jobs, clients, business, and kids. I don’t have time to eat 5 or 6 meals!
⇒SOLUTION: Plan ahead! Organization is not my greater skill (understatement). But just a couple of simple tricks helped greatly (and coolers are such a cool invention):
Supplements: I bought a bunch of plastic beverage containers. Filled them up with Ultra Size as indicated on my diet. Kept them in a box in my trunk with lots of bottled water and portioned out pills. (I kept extra bottles of supplements so that some could be stored in my gym bag, work bag, and home). Meals: I pre-cut meats, pre-cut veggies that I like raw (colored peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers), even pre-cut the sweet potatoes. Finger foods. Car foods. Run-in-the-back-room in between-patients-and-take-a-few-bites food. Not glamorous but gets the job done! ⇒ CHALLENGE: I’m spoiled. I like good tasting food.
⇒ SOLUTION: Prepared right, the food on this diet is great! The biggest problem I had with my diet food was keeping my kids and their friends from eating it all. I gave up and just started preparing everyone1s food like mine. Here are some simple ideas for making the diet part of our physical conditioning a lot easier to swallow1: Sweet Potatoes: Butter Buds, cinnamon, sugar substitutes. Brown Rice: Cook with some soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil. Or cook in defatted chicken bouillon. This really rounds out the taste. Oatmeal: Butter Buds, cinnamon, sugar substitute, and a little coffee creamer (if OK on your diet).
So, get committed, get focused, get started (the hardest part for many), and get results!
(For more information on cellulite, skin tightening, skin rejuvenation you are welcome to contact me at (513) 253-7203 or (800) 971-4456 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
An e-mail that I sent to Roger and Sandy just a week out from the show. It includes my diet and additional comments regarding my condition, etc..
To Roger or Sandy,
Oh yeah! Could probably use your input here.... How do you want me to do this final week? Overview: My cuts have come in better than I expected. I (FINALLY) have glute striations! I’ve kept my lean mass up pretty well but I’ve been losing weight pretty fast this past week (115 -117# on Rainer’s scale today). Quad readings are around 5 to 6 at the fattest place. Subscapula has been stuck at 5 for weeks but everything else came down nicely.
Here’s my diet as I’ve been doing it exactly:
½ cup oats
1 cup cottage cheese curd (washed thoroughly)
6 oz. lean meat (I’ve been alternating chicken breast with very lean beef)
1 – 2 cups raw veggies (1 pepper and 10 baby grape tomatoes, usually. I hold back about half of this as a ’cheat’ snack)
1 whole grapefruit or equivalent of other fresh fruit (usually the grapefruit, though)
2 scoops Ultra Size
6 oz. lean meat (yeah, I added an ounce)
1 to 2 cups cooked veggies
2 tsp. flax oil
1 whole egg + 3 egg whites
1/4 cup salsa
1 cup diet Jell-O
1 scoop Muscle Provider + ½ cup washed cottage cheese
1 cup diet Jell-O
Water: 3 to 4 liters a day.
I’m not going to change anything until I hear back from you.