Thursday, June 20, 2013

Single Digits

Today is so surreal for me--I have finally reached single digits in my countdown to the bikini stage. Am I excited? YES!! Am I nervous?? Heck yes! But all the while, this is a bittersweet time for me. I've gone through one heck of a rollercoaster ride in getting this far, and this is really only the beginning for me. I know the type of person I am, and I know that one competition is not going to be enough.

Yesterday, I was chatting with one of my biggest long-distance (okay, well an hour and a half distance) supporters and prior roommates, and she asked me in so many words, "What's next?" I know a lot of you are thinking, "This girl must be crazy--she's not even through her first competition and she's already thinking about what comes after? Why not just get through the first one first??" And yes, while those are valid questions, I think this is the exact right time to think about where I'm going from here. At this point, while competition prep is a fleeting (yet long, when-can-I-eat-cupcakes-again) endeavor, fitness is part of my everyday life. Yes, I'm looking forward to not having to wake up at 5am to start fasted cardio, but I'm sure there will be days where I want that. And even if I do choose not to go to the gym at the butt crack of dawn, I will still be there at some point each and every day (except rest days--but let's be real, I rarely take those).

So yes, what IS next? Another competition. Plain and simple. I'm not ready to stop competing. Hell, I just started! I know there are those people who see something through to say they did it, to have that experience. I'm not one of those people. I do something (especially something requiring being fit) to compete. June 29th just sets the baseline for me--if I do well, that's excellent and all the more reason to continue being a bikini athlete. If I do not do well, I work to improve my trouble areas, my weak spots, and gain greater stage confidence. No matter the outcome, there is ALWAYS room to improve. Look at some of these pro bikini competitors--many have been doing this for years, and yet if you ask the winners of these competitions, for instance the Olympia, what they strive for between now and the next competition, it's more than just, "I want to win." More often than not, they want to further develop and become a better athlete. So I strive to do the same.

I have not chosen my next show, but I have done a bit of light browsing. I want another hopefully before my birthday at the end of the summer, so I can have a little fun celebrating another year of being alive. But regardless of which date I choose, I know that I will be taking the week following the competition very easy. I have vacation plans that involve mini cupcakes, a proper celebration of Sister Kurland's 21st birthday (which was yesterday, so let's wish her a very happy birthday, folks!), and a Fourth of July and Bestie birthday celebration in Philly.

So that's what's in store for the future, but what about NOW?? What are my thoughts with 9 days left of contest prep? Honestly, this prep has been filled with a lot of losses...and a lot of gains, but let's start with the losses first, shall we?

The Losses
  • Weight: It's probably best to start with the most obvious things first, and primarily when you think of prepping for a fitness competition, you think of dropping weight. This is the question that I get asked most frequently, and honestly, I have not really dropped a ton of weight. I've lost maybe a total of 8 pounds so far, and that's being generous. That being said, during peak week starting on Saturday, I should lose another 5 or so pounds of water weight, bringing me down to around 112-114. Yes, I just publicly admitted how much I weigh. Want to know my height too? 5'5" on a good day. You do the math (because I know you now want to).
Once I hit 120, I stayed there for a while, fluctuating between 120-122. While I do not have exact answers behind this, I can safely assume that it was due to time differences in my weigh-ins and daily ebbs such as water retention and travel. Also, I lost a good bit of muscle mass between last summer at the height of my Crossfit days and the beginning of this year--it really took me that long to get acclimated with the schedule of my job, and unfortunately I had a hard time adjusting the workout schedule to fit the work schedule. So maybe I'm not at the number I was hoping for, but in this sport, percentages matter more.
  • Body fat: Another one of the obvious losses. One of the main ideas behind competition prep dieting is not only feeding your muscles, but leaning out (and doing so with lean proteins--genius!). Over the course of my competition prep, which started around mid-April, I have lost approximately 5% body fat, if not more. The last time I measured this (and keep in mind all these tools used to measure this err a little more or less on the side of inaccurate), I was at 17% body fat. That was two weeks ago. Things have tightened up since then. I feel and look leaner. I feel and look taller (ha!). Hopefully I will get a more recent measurement of this later this week, but it still falls under the category of losses.
  • Mental capabilities: It's a little hard to remember things more than just a couple hours out lately. I also feel like I'm working at a slower pace. Ironic, since the brain is comprised mostly of water, and I'm drinking upwards of a gallon a day. But I think the lack of sleep and the early mornings really negate that. I've said it once, and I'll say it again, but I'm probably only working at 75% of my brain's normal rate. And for that I apologize.
  • Bladder control: You should have seen this one coming, since I just mentioned drinking so much water. But yes, I frequently find myself running--literally running--to the bathroom to relieve myself. I tend to get SUPER fidgety before I do so, and some of you may have noticed that. Or if you haven't, now you have something to look for. In fact, I've already made like 4 trips to the restroom just while writing this post. Bikini competitor problems. Sigh.
The Gains

  • Lean muscle mass: I do not currently have a way of measuring this, although I'm sure there are numerous tools out there to do so, but I am POSITIVE that I have gained a lot of lean muscle mass. Really, it goes hand-in-hand with losing body fat, and it is one of the reasons my weight has stayed pretty stagnant throughout the majority of this prep. I mentioned earlier, but I did have go through a period of time where fitness and working out was not one of my top priorities, and it showed. It was a gradual loss of muscle mass during that time, but lucky for me, my muscle memory stayed pretty high.
  • In the gym: When I say this, I'm referring to the weight that I'm able to put up during various exercises. No, I have not hit any PRs, and I have not had any intention to. However, I have come a long way, especially training on my own, sans spotter. I've come a long way from that one fateful day when I accidentally put 25lb plates on the barbell and went on to do chest press only to get one (and a half) rep(s) and momentarily get trapped under the bar. Don't remember that? Search it on my blog--it's late and I'm too lazy to link.
  • Confidence: This sport is no joke and is completely out of my normal comfort zone. Sure, I wear just a sports bra on top when I run sometimes, but only because the heat and humidity dictates that choice. I went into this proud that I have strength, but lacking in body confidence. I've learned so much about what my body can handle, how my body adapts to clean clean eating, and everything in between. Heck--I'm stepping on stage just shy of nude in 9 days, and I'm not one bit scared or shy about strutting my stuff in public. More worried that I will trip over my own feet!
I am 9 days out and I couldn't be anymore of a mix of emotions than I am now. Stay tuned!

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get some rest to fight off this stupid head cold that fought its way into my system today. GO AWAY GERMS!!!

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