Journey to my First Bodybuilding Competition

I never thought I’d say this, but I am doing a Bodybuilding Competition! The photo above is of Jennifer Weintz, my Trainer and Coach – one of my biggest sources of inspiration and huge supporter 🙂

This will be a mini-series on how my weeks are progressing, what I’m eating, how I’m feeling about the whole thing and interesting tips I’m learning along the way. I hope this can help others in their fitness journey!

Some background

I’ve been seeing my personal trainer Jennifer for a year (on and off) and during this time she has helped develop training programs and meal plans for me, while also providing one on one training at the gym every week. Although I was previously happy with the functional strength I had built through my hobbies and activities like rock climbing, ultimate frisbee and running, I started personal training because I was curious to reach my potential and see what my body was capable of when following the guidance of an experienced trainer.

(She is so kind and such a fun-loving personality as evident by her social media post above!!)

I also owe it to one of my best friends Jen, for being a huge inspiration to me when I saw *her* amazing results after hiring a personal trainer!

As someone who has a Kinesiology background (Biochem Major, Kin Minor in University) and learned the technique and benefits of weight-training, I was skeptical about spending the money for a trainer. BUT, having a dedicated coach who can observe you and support you in real life is worth the investment! So, huge props to Jen for sharing her experience with me and being a positive influence!!


Big thanks also to Katelyn, a friend who I used to work with, and had competed in bodybuilding competitions before. She was someone who’s input on fitness I respected and trusted. She recommended I reach out to a competitor she knew – Jennifer! From the get-go I felt extremely comfortable with Jennifer and was amazed by her holistic approach to fitness and her long list of credentials: Certified Trainer, Nutritionist, Black Belt Brazilian Jiu-Jistu Martial Artist, Multiple Bikini Bodybuilding Champion. She knew the ins and outs of fitness and her passion and approach strongly reflected my own values.


After learning how to follow a meal program for the past year and seeing progress in the gym, I decided it was the right time to take my fitness goals to the next level and challenge myself in a completely new way! Jennifer competed in Kelowna this past Spring taking top prizes in all categories including overall Champion – that’s three trophies in one show! It was so inspiring and eye-opening to witness her journey of prep in a thoughtfully planned manner. She’s done this many times before and gave herself a good 20 weeks to slowly cut out sugars (even from fruit) and ease into the cardio. I’m so lucky that I’ve been able to ask her a ton of questions about her prep to really get a sense of what it would take.

August – 14 Weeks Out

I decided to go for it and begin my 14 week prep in August. I had just returned from Amazing Race adventure in Europe , the exotic Seychelles and decadent Dubai where I fully indulged in food (although I will say I’m proud I kept up my healthy habits of morning cardio and sprinted several times on both vacations, in addition to my typical hikes while traveling!) and was ready to hit a new dedicated program. I would be traveling for work to St. Louis and then a quick stopover to Las Vegas to see my sister in the first week, and it was so hard to say no to all the treats! But, I reminded myself that the hardest part of any journey is the first step.

(My panel on University-Industry Partnerships at the Washington University)

(Conference food – could only eat a few things there as the theme was “Fair Food”!)

The workouts – 5x/week

My workouts at this stage were just over an hour of heavy weights and lower reps. I was able to keep hitting the gym in between the work conference because of a 24 hour gym at the hotel.

image image
(Start of my prep!)

Thankfully there were always vegetables at the conference breaks!


Staying on plan while on Vacation


Once I got to Las Vegas there was so much good food! My sister and I, and her friends, are all huge foodies in that we love to cook and create in the kitchen and also treat ourselves to nice meals out. But I reminded myself that I WILL return to Las Vegas so the food isn’t going anywhere! I would tell myself that I can have this again in the future, however, if I keep pushing my goal of competing back another week, I’ll never start. So it was now or never!

We went to Jaleo, an award-winning restaurant lead by culinary mastermind José Andrés and brings the authentic flavor of Spanish tapas and paellas to Las Vegas.

I couldn’t eat all the delicious food, but at least I could take photos!


Pollo al ajillo y ajo negro
Grilled chicken breast ajillo sauce and black garlic

(I had some of this chicken!)

Dátiles con tocino ‘como hace todo el mundo
Fried bacon-wraped dates served with an apple-mustard sauce

(I was really tempted to have this, but no deep-fried food on plan!)

Pan con chocolate
Chocolate custard with caramelized bread, olive oil and brioche ice cream

(Definitely no dessert, my biggest weakness)


There wasn’t too much cardio in the early days, but luckily in the Summer, I typically do a lot of sprinting anyways through Ultimate Frisbee, join several running races and I had a weekly Grouse Grind hiking date with Winnie!


Being Social

August was tough when it came to the food at events! All the Summer BBQs, Ice Cream Socials and birthdays! Again, I had to adopt the mind set that there is no better time than now.

I met up with my friend Laura and told her I could still eat some sushi for now, so we worked out and then had sashimi. It was our first time working out together and was yet another positive benefit of this prep – doing new activities with friends!


For Eric’s birthday, I bought mini donuts from my favourite Donuterie Cartem’s, and just ate vegetables myself. Then I organized Archery Tag, which was a fun activity that didn’t involved food!



Fun Social Races in the Summer

Speaking of donuts, I signed up for an August Run called the 5K Donut Dash! The premise is that you run around the local fairgrounds and get free junk food like mini donuts along the way!

By this point, I had turned down dessert for 4 straight weeks, so the temptation was getting less and less.

(This is how I looked 4 weeks into the program)

This was the only donut I got that day – a donut medal!! Susan, an experienced and talented Marathon Runner joked that she would proudly display this among her multiple marathon medals.


Susan and I then went on the colourful Ferris Wheel as a fun way to cap off our active Summer morning.


Every year at the fair there is something ridiculously unhealthy and hopefully delicious that draws crowds in. Deep-fried butter was a hit one year and really deep-fried anything will entice people! This year, was the pickle-stuffed corn dog.

I wasn’t too sad to miss out on this. I’m more of a sweets than savoury person anyways. And now that I had been going strong on no sweets for 4 weeks, I was craving sugar so much less. It’s really true that the first part of the competition is the toughest! (I say that now…)


Progress Photos

From Las Vegas at 14 weeks out and where I was surrounded by fit bodies at the pool party …


To 6 weeks later, at 8 weeks out.


The most motivating thing is starting to see results! The first 4 weeks seemed really slow to me, as in, I didn’t notice much progress. But once I compared photos from July to now, I could really see the difference! Lesson – don’t want the scale, look at YOUR photos.


2 thoughts on “Journey to my First Bodybuilding Competition

  1. Love your blog! You’re such an inspiration Po-On! Its neat to hear that despite being a fan of sweets over savoury, you were still disciplined enough to stay on course – especially on vacation! Can’t wait to read about the rest of your journey!

  2. Thanks Jane for always being so supportive of my blog and my latest new hobby, recipe or adventure! I love that you are the same – always going to fun new places or making amazing home made ice cream 🙂 The no eating on vacation was SO hard but I knew I would be back to Vegas again! Latest post is now up – would love to answer any other questions you have!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *