One of the best parts of my bodybuilding journey was making some wonderful new friends along the way! Meeting other competitors is like meeting your soulmate. This person gets your exact struggle, and you finally feel like you’re truly understood because they have been living in similar shoes: grinding out those early morning cardio sessions and staying up late to fit in each of their workouts. They’ve also been eating a steady diet of white fish and greens and can fully empathize with you on how tired you are of this monotony! I met up with Tania and neither of us batted an eyelash when we had to make modifications on our sushi orders and we watched each other’s bag when we constantly had to use the ladies’ room during the movies!
I met two other first time competitors, Frances and Stephanie, (through my coach Jen’s posing sessions) and it was so fun to talk to them about our challenges and share in the foods we missed and were excited to eat again!
I’ve been collecting my thoughts as I went along this, and in early 2017, I interviewed Frances and Stephanie to share their lessons with the world.
- 14 Weeks Out – My Journey to my First Bodybuilding Competition!
- Peak Week – Final Days
- Bodybuilding: the whole series
1) What was your favourite part of show day?
Frances: This is a hard one. Without exaggeration, every moment of show day was a happy and exciting one. But if I really had to choose a favourite it would have to be seeing my friends and family who came out to support me. Right after I stepped off stage I went out to the venue lobby and there were a bunch of my loved ones waiting for me with hugs, congratulatory flowers, and…you know it…TREATS! I might have cried a little. To be able to share such an amazing accomplishment with people who are dear to my heart brought the purest feelings of love and joy. I will never forget it.
Stephanie: All of it! The way you finally get to see all 16 weeks come together for the final moment. Also getting pampered is a plus you get hair and makeup done and you feel so incredible. Then you put on a bedazzled bikini and get to strut on stage. The stage part is what sold me that adrenaline rush just like I felt with dance.Plus finally eating carbs again, it was like I can’t believe I don’t have to eat an entire cucumber to fill me up aha.
2) What would you do differently?
Frances: If I were to prep for a competition again I would definitely work towards not missing out on as many social gatherings. Time management is difficult because it takes a lot of focus to truly dedicate yourself to that prep life. Fasted cardio, meal prepping, weight training, posing practice, eating at the right times and making sure you are well rested is not easy to juggle on top of having a social life. Now that I have an idea of what works for me and what doesn’t, I would love to work towards having more of a balanced lifestyle while on prep.
Stephanie: Stress out less on the actual day, being my first time and not knowing what to expect I was on high alert all day 4 am- 12:45 pm. I wish I had enjoyed it more, but that’s how you learn.
3) One piece of advice ?
Frances: I would highly recommend hiring an experienced coach to help you throughout the process. There are countless technicalities to diet and exercise for competition prep, not to mention the benefits of having someone to be accountable to. Do your research and hire a coach who has similar values and beliefs about health and fitness. My main concern going into prep was to stay healthy. Mind you, going through competition prep is not the healthiest thing to do to your body, since your goal is to achieve a super low body fat percentage. However, I can’t thank my coach enough (I love you Jen!) for helping me push past my limits while also focusing on maintaining, and even increasing, my health. Oh and one more thing: whatever your experience is, acknowledge that you are doing your best. Not everything will be perfect and not every day will be great, and that’s okay.
Stephanie: Relax, enjoy and know that you worked your butt off to get on stage. It’s hard when your in the moment, I remember saying oh I look bloated and not lean enough aha. Mental games are tough during and especially after. If you don’t know much about fitness competitions you have to realize it’s a science especially the last few days with water loading/cutting, carb depletion, dehydration and carb loading. I dropped 10lbs over night and it was all water. It’s a very hard mental game as your body comes back to normal healthy weight.
4) Any funny stories along the way?
Frances: I can’t think of any funny stories at the moment, but one thing is for sure: you will laugh at yourself once you come out of that spray tan booth. #oompaloompa
Stephanie: Lots!! My favourite was meeting Po On and Frances because we could share our problems and thoughts, and talk about food constantly. I was also so relieved to meet them to know we could be together backstage. It’s scary when you don’t know anyone I know this from dance so it made everything so relaxing.
My second would be where I met my new friends. The first time I got to meet people was when we where getting our tans done. Butt naked(boobs in all) and freezing having casual conversation and introducing ourselves. This was the day before the competition so we were all pretty much dead and hadn’t started to carb up a lot, so we were all freezing. I then met another girl Kat in the washroom as we were trying to get our tans to dry and it was the warmest place, lots of omg it’s warm in here.
5) What did you eat afterwards?
Frances: What did I not eat afterwards? In all seriousness though, I went to go eat vietnamese food with Po On, Eric, and my boyfriend. We would have gone to eat something fancier, but we got out of the venue at 1:30am and all kitchens were closed. It was the best chicken vermicelli bowl (with a spring roll of course) i’ve ever had in my entire life. You may be thinking that that’s a bold statement. Trust me, no matter what meal you have the show will be glorious.
Stephanie: Cactus!!! Bellini, lettuce wraps and the fennie burger and cheesecake!! I took most of it home and spent my Sunday very sick. I was dehydrated I couldn’t digest my food and my stomach just wanted to kill me. It took my about a week to feel somewhat normal again. But I don’t regret it
6) Would you do this again?
Frances: People would ask me during prep if I would do it again. And my answer at the time was “I don’t know”, every single time. It’s mentally and physically taxing with a lot of hard work and dedication that goes into it. Months and months of effort is put in for that one day that you get to step on stage. But it’s totally worth it in my eyes. I not only looked good, but it felt amazing to accomplish my goal of reaching my personal best. Also, show day was one of the best days of my life. I was on a high for about a week afterwards. So the answer is yes, I would do it again. I will most likely begin prep for provincials in 2018.
Stephanie: Yes!!! No question
7) Final comments, thoughts, reflections ?
Frances: I could write a book on all of this. To keep it short though, I would say that the most important thing when prepping for a my competition was my mindset. You hear a lot of horror stories about prep and how it’s going to be gruelling and terrible once you start really leaning out. However, I can confidently say that I had a great experience. All I did was I decided, before I started prep, that I would prove everyone wrong that prep had to be a pain. Yes, it can be difficult at times and yes, there are days when I doubted myself. However, I simply chose to be the happiest that I can be and to appreciate what was in front of me…even if that was boiled chicken and rice.
Stephanie: I have never been happier, due to the people I have met and pushing my boundaries to absolute max. Changes to my mental and physical state was just so liberating. If you want it, know it’s possible just day by day making each step count.
Ohh and make sure you book a photoshoot 😉 Stay tune for some behind the scenes posts! There’s Frances looking stunning below.