Today I got to practice my first rule: If you can’t be nice on my profile, I’m going to delete your comments and block you. That was liberating.
So the comment was about how the person felt that “body shows” were degrading and didn’t understand how I could feel empowered by participating especially when the poses are suggestive and I have to wear “stripper” heels.
Well. Here’s my take.
The level of competing I participate in is bikini, this is the lowest level of bodybuilding and is the most attainable. For women, the next levels of bodybuilding are: fitness, figure, physique and bodybuilding. Each one requires more muscle than the last and bikini, fitness, figure/physique/bodybuilding require different suits. Bikini and figure require heels to be worn while the upper levels don’t. Wearing heels help accentuate the muscular definition in the lower body without flexing. In my opinion, from what I’ve read the judges are looking for symmetry or balance, fullness and some curves for bikini competitors. As the levels become more muscular they continue to look for balance and fullness, but more about the definition of the muscles over curves. This also is why the poses for bikini to figure to physique and bodybuilding are so different.
Now, for the men because the comment doesn’t mention much about if it’s degrading to men. Men’s physique is essentially the most attainable for their gender. They wear board shorts and go barefoot – personally I would love to see a man walk in heels, but the point of this level is upper body. How do their latissimus dorsi look? Oo that’s a sexy word. How full are their biceps and how defined are their abs. Their poses are to help accentuate these features. If you look at higher levels such as bodybuilding you’ll see men in speedo-esq suits that barely cover their glutes and they equally do a back pose to flex and show off the definition of these muscles.
Now, do I think it’s degrading or empowering?
Below is the definition of degrading, in case you wanted to know.
It definitely seems very subjective and very personal. I don’t think this is degrading, if it was I wouldn’t be participating. What I think makes it appear degrading is the lack of understanding and knowledge of the sport – why women AND men do various poses for the different levels. Why each has a different suit or costume – whatever you want to call it. Similar to a beauty contest, which I personally have no interest in – long dresses and heels are asking for disaster when combined – presentation of yourself is important. If you look miserable, why would you place well or win? So yes, I may bounce slightly as I turn, but I make sure that my poses are helping me show of the hard work I’ve put in. I’ve worked hard for this booty and I purposely want the world to see it.
Now here’s the definition of empower.
I believe this sport is empowering, not necessarily for the 15 seconds I get on stage, but for the 12 weeks, 17 weeks, 22 weeks that have lead up to those 15 seconds. Don’t get me wrong, I emailed three friends, texted JP and asked a coworker before I ordered my suit on Monday because nothing is more exciting and nerve racking than getting the colors right. That suit color can make you feel good especially when you have your hair and make up done up in a way that you never believed possible, but it’s the discipline for proper nutrition (for this sport) and training that makes you feel on Cloud 9.
In my first prep, I not only taught myself how to lift, macro count and design workouts, but I went from lifting 25 pounds in a back squat to 125 pounds. I lost 24 pounds over 22 weeks, went from a size 8 to a 6 and never hit below 1500 calories daily during prep. I didn’t feel like I was overworking or under-eating. I learned everything I could about the sport. It gave me a new appreciate for what my body was capable of and I had a new perspective of exercise. I had broken all the myths I believed about lifting and women in one summer.
In my second prep I hit a new personal record of 165 for a back squat at my lowest weight at the time of 130 pounds – 35 pounds over body weight for 3 full sets of 5. My sprint was the fastest it had been at the time of 7:50/mile. I learned how to fuel my body and push my macronutrients through volume foods. I learned new recipes and gained even more confidence by openly talking and showing off my loose skin. I lost 20 pounds over 17 weeks and was the lowest weight I had been in almost eight years. I also set myself up for a successful tummy tuck, which lead to a successful recovery.
In between my second prep, surgery and surgical recovery I have learned how to maintain my weight without large amount of cardio a week, but by eating enough for my body and varying my lifting. Today I am nine weeks post surgery and my back squat is comfortably at 145 for full sets, pushing it at 150 and I hope over the next few months to get back to 165 and then break that PR.
Through my second prep for the Cutler Classic I learned how to trust someone else. I had coached myself through my first prep and was hesitant to have a coach for my second, but having had worked with Alaina Sanders for three months prior to the start of prep, I felt like she would have the best of intentions. I have trust issues and she helped me see that there are people out there willing to work with you, not against you. There are people who will support you and help you figure out the next step.
Since having surgery, I am now at my lowest weight on this journey and I have been maintaining it for 7 weeks (since being cleared to go back to the gym). At 127.6 pounds and a size 0, I’m getting ready for my third prep (starts Sunday!). I can’t wait to see what my body can handle as far as weight because a new PR sounds fantastic. I also can’t wait to see the science experiment that is refeeds. I’m maintaining at a higher caloric rate, which means I’ll be able to cut at a higher caloric rate. It’ll be new to me to eat this much and lose weight without over doing it in the gym.
The weeks leading up to the show remind you that you can do anything if you work hard and put your mind to it. They also show you that as long as you’re willing to learn you will be successful even if you don’t walk away with a piece of metal.
I have a better question – why does society still believe that they need to protect women from what they believe to be sexual objectification, but they don’t believe the need to protect men? Does the sport not objectify their bodies in any way? Just because they don’t wear heels doesn’t mean that there aren’t certain things being looked for in order for them to win, but they aren’t being questioned about their desire to compete. While the sport does have a sexy component to it, why does that mean it must be bad or degrading? There are women who are proud of being porn stars and see themselves as artists, they see it as a job. There are women who feel empowered by being strippers or exotic dancers – whatever you want to label them as. They acknowledge it’s a job and they feel sexy doing it. Obviously this isn’t the thought of everyone in those industries, but why is it okay for someone who thinks negatively about these jobs or roles or athletes to push and/or assume that everyone else should?
Go find a hobby that involves turtlenecks and rock yourself in the corner. I’ll be in the spotlight with my hip popped to the side and a smile on my face.
To celebrate the ending of prep, I went to brunch on Sunday with my boyfriend and got the most amazing pancakes ever – Blueberry Pecan and Mascarpone. I went with a large stack because YOLO and I ate the whole stack – no regrets!
I did get egg whites on the side because protein is necessary. Since we had brunch a little later than we normally brunch, we didn’t eat a late lunch or an afternoon snack. We actually took a nap when we got back home from Boston, woke up and went to the gym and then came home to make dinner. We had a pretty lean dinner – chicken and veggies, this is pretty standard for us. It balanced out the carbs from the morning, but we also like chicken and veggies. We did try a new gelato. Full fat and all. But we stuck to the serving size and enjoyed it. I was mindful of what I was eating and logged/estimated to the best of my ability. I had asked Alaina to give me some loose macros so I would have a guide and I didn’t really go over them. I used this day kind of as a refeed day, and then jumped right into my new macros on Monday to start my reverse diet.
For those of you who don’t know, a reverse diet is when you intentionally add nutrition back into your daily eating plan slowly. Many competitors do this after a show or full season of shows. It’s important that you increase slowly so that you don’t gain fat or gain weight back too fast. Everyone’s body is different and can handle different amount of nutrition at a time. This is an important step after season because stage weight isn’t always the healthiest to maintain year-round. Even those who are naturally lean shouldn’t be at stage weight all the time. Reverse dieting helps you get back to maintenance, which in some cases may be higher than where you were when you started your cut. Many think this is bro-science, but it actually makes a lot of sense scientifically if implemented correctly. There’s a number of reasons to conduct a reverse diet; while my macros never hit below 1,400 calories during prep, they were low for me. So this is something to help bring me back up to a sustainable number of macro nutrients.
This is the first time I’ve ever done a reverse diet. As you know, I’ve been losing weight for over four years so this concept is completely foreign to me. But unlike my refeeds, I’m really excited about the process of reversing and eventually maintaining my weight. This is a huge change for me and another opportunity to learning and research so I can take on the next part of my journey.
Alaina has been pretty amazing with designing my macro nutrition goals so that I was never hungry; always content, but so that I was at a point where my progress was going to be steady through prep. I knew that I would be in good hands working with her for my reverse. For the first week, we decreased my protein by 5g to keep our numbers with 1g of protein per pound I weight. We hadn’t decreased my macros for the last few weeks of prep and my protein was a little higher. This kept me full, but it’s now appropriate to adjust it. We also increased my carbohydrates by 13g. I know for some this doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you think in terms of food, this is caramel rice cake or half a banana.
When I weighed in yesterday, I was still at my show weight even with the increased in macros. This was exciting for me because it means I’m adjusting to the increase in food and my body should be able to handle more nutrition than when I started my cut.
I shared on my instagram a lot of the foods that I was consuming this week. Similar to my prep, I was able to eat out as well as eat meals I prepped at home. Throughout the week my boyfriend and I managed to cross off a few restaurants we’ve been wanting to try. We live long distance and it’s a pain in the butt because the list is forever growing, but we were able to make some good choices and have fun while he was home.
On Wednesday, we checked out Wahlburgers in Hingham. It’s the original location and it’s a burger joint, which only makes sense for them. They have a few sides that aren’t fried, but not many. As I was looking at the menu I noticed that the burgers they offer are pretty large, mostly 1/3 and 1/2 pound burgers. However, the kids menu offers a 3 ounce burger. I called to see if adults could order off the kids menu and to ask what the lean to fat ratio was for the meat they use. I was told “yes, anyone can order off the kids menu.” I was also told they use the standard 80/20 lean to fat ratio for ground beef. A quick google search told me that for 3 ounces there is 15F 0C and 22P in a serving.
Knowing what my macros are it was a no brainer to get a kids burger. This way I could eat it in true form with a bun and all. Instead of fries I got an entree mixed greens salad, which was high in volume and helped keep me full. Taking all parts of the meal into consideration I could estimate the macros and still accomplish my eating goals for the day.
On Friday, we went out to breakfast for bagels at a locally owned place that my boyfriend used to frequent in his college days. I had never been there before even though I live down the road and have lived here for four years. I know I’m ashamed too. Just like with Wahlburgers, I checked out the menu and found that they had cinnamon raisin bagels – my favorite. They also make the cream cheese there. They had a maple raisin cream cheese and I won’t lie I was sold when I saw it. I didn’t even consider another cream cheese. To find the nutritional value estimates I looked at a few chain places like Dunkin Donuts as well as brands you find in the store like Thomas’s Bagels. I took an average of what I had found and determined the macros I would use for the bagel. I did the same with the cream cheese. I usually get dressings on the side and I figured I could do the same with the cream cheese so I could portion it out myself. They actually serve it in a 2 ounce cup with is 4 tablespoons or 2 servings of cream cheese. So this was a lot easier to figure out than I thought it would be.
Alaina and I agreed that my reverse for the first week was extremely successful. I enjoyed everything I was eating. I never felt like I was having to choose one food over another. It’s the same philosophy I had during prep – it’s not never, it’s just not right now. We were able to have a lot of fun and going out for date night meant a lot. Since I’m not on prep, I was able to bring alcohol back into my daily diet. I had decided to do a dry prep because I wanted to make sure I was eating enough and not wasting my nutrition on liquids. I count alcohol and I believe that anyone serious about tracking should. For macro counting, there are a few ways to track alcohol. I deduct carbohydrates when the nutritional value isn’t provided.
For beer, many will scan into My Fitness Pal or you can easily search the number of carbs in a Pale Ale. However, for liquor, carbohydrates are converted during the distilling process. They still have “energy” or calories, so to find the macros I take the calories and divide by 4 – 1g of carbs is 4 calories. Some people deduct from fat. I prefer not to do that because peanut butter. Something like bourbon doesn’t reflect carbs because of the distilling process, however, Bulleit Bourbon has 109 calories for 1.5 ounces so for this I can determine that I need to keep 21g of carbohydrates aside for this.
Determining the carbohydrates in liquor helps me decide how I want to have a drink; is it something I want to mix or have neat. Bourbon is something I drink neat, so I don’t need to be concerned with added carbohydrates than what is determined from a serving. During a reverse it’ll be easier to fit alcohol in, but it’s not something I usually splurge on anyway. We like to do more pairings and had actually set a aside a few bottles of beer we really wanted to try post-prep.
Since this first week was so successful we’re increasing my fat by 5g and my carbohydrates again by 10g. My protein is at an appropriate level for my body weight so that will not be increasing anymore. I’m interested to see how my body handles the food this week.
As far as my workouts go, I’m still lifting six days a week. I have three days of cardio and it doesn’t exceed an hour and 20 minutes. This week my cardio is staying the same as last week. My lifts are relatively the same. We did change a few exercise sets to alternate with high and low rep weeks because I found myself exhausted after an upper body day this week and that’s not the point of my workouts, especially now. I think being a little tired is fine, but not exhausted. I’m also not cutting anymore so I want to make sure that my workouts are appropriate.
I know for some people being in the gym that many days is tough. It’s not realistic for everyone, but for me it’s my alone time. It’s the time of the day when I know my only focus is me. So this schedule works for me.
I have a few work lunches this week; one where I don’t have any control over what’s provided and another where I do. Throughout my prep I handled work events very well so I have no concerns about these during my reverse. It might be a little easier with the increase!
Below are some other photos from the week. It’s weird to see how the body adapts and changes, but I don’t mind being a walking science experiment.
Talk to you soon!
I can’t remember the last time that I actively bought a box of pasta and had an Italian night in. Even when I go out, I stay away from pasta. It’s not that I eat low carb or don’t like pasta, but I don’t feel satisfied when I eat it. I do feel full when I eat it, but within 30 minutes I’m staving again; this could be because a serving size isn’t very big or that there isn’t much nutritional value in pasta. Regardless, I’ve sought out alternatives that are lower carb and higher volume so I can stay fuller longer. Spaghetti squash is a vegetable that I’ve used multiple times with a variety of ingredients to keep it interesting and provide a similar taste to my favorite pasta dishes.
Basic how-do cook spaghetti squash
What You’ll Need:
- large pot
- spaghetti squash
- ice cream scoop
- Fill a large pot about 75% of the way with water and set to get it boiling.
- Wash the outer skin of your spaghetti squash and pat dry with a towel.
- With a large and sharp knife cut the squash down the middle, length wise.
- With an ice cream scoop or spoon, scoop out the seeds.
- Place the squash in the pot and cook until tender. Depending on the size of the squash this could take 20-30 minutes.
- Once it’s full cooked, drain the squash and with a fork scrap out the meat of the squash. it’ll cook out in strains, which is where it gets its name from.
Buffalo Chicken Bake
What You’ll Need:
- cooked spaghetti squash
- Frank’s Red Hot
- cream cheese
- shredded Mexican cheese blend
- cooked chicken
- casserole dish
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray casserole dish with a little bit of cooking spray. I used a mini bread loaf pan because I was making this for one serving, but you can use any size that you believe will fit all of your ingredients.
- Cut chicken into bite size pieces. I used left over chicken that I had already baked. *Make sure your chicken is already cooked.
- In a bowl weigh out your spaghetti squash. Since this was one serving, I used 100 grams of squash.
- Mix in each ingredient one at a time so they are all fully mixed.
- Add in Frank’s Red Hot to taste. I used 3 tablespoons because I like the kick.
- Add cream cheese. I used 1 table spoon of fat free cream cheese just a store brand.
- Add shredded cheese. I used Mexican cheese blend, but you could use cheddar or Monterrey Jack.
- Pour mixed into casserole pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 350.
Italian Style Spaghetti Squash
What You’ll Need:
- cooked spaghetti squash
- Newman’s Own pasta sauce
- cooked ground turkey
- shredded Mexican cheese blend
- small pot
This recipe is for one serving so adjust the ingredients as you feel is necessary to make a larger quantity.
- In a medium pot heat up 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of pasta sauce. I used Newman’s Own because it has less sugar than a lot of other brands and therefore less carbohydrates.
- Add 150g of cooked spaghetti squash to the sauce and mix. Make sure that the squash is completely covered.
- Add in 4 ounces of cooked ground turkey. I cook my ground turkey like I do for Sloppy Joes, nice and crumbly. Also, make sure to drain the grease.
- Lastly, add in shredded cheese and mix so the it melts and is stringy.
I add spices to this recipes like basil or oregano. I also will add cooked onions, peppers and mushrooms too if I want more volume. Obviously, it doesn’t fully replace spaghetti, but the flavor is pretty darn close.
I’ve also tried Alfredo sauce and spinach with spaghetti squash, but I wasn’t that big of a fan. These are definitely my top two ways to cook it. It’s also good plain with a little bit of salt as a side too.
I love playing with alternatives and veggies. I hope you get inspired by these two combinations and get creative in the kitchen to think of your own!
Being on prep you need to be creative with your ,even if you follow flexible dieting because it can’t be all Oreos and ice cream all the time. I eat a lot of yogurt, specifically Greek yogurt, even outside of prep because it’s a great source of protein and it’s one of the few dairy products that agrees with my stomach. It’s also flexible enough and can work as a dessert.
In college, I developed a sensitivity to dairy – I was tested and it wasn’t a full blown intolerance, but I’ve identified things that make my stomach very upset such as soft serve ice cream, milk and cheesecake. The last one kills me because if you’ve ever been to Cheesecake Factory you know that those are so hard to resist. There are so many possibilities of flavors and styles and now I miss out, but not quite.
A lot of people make protein yogurt or a protein pudding because it has a taste and texture like dessert. This is something I do often and depending on my macros I’ll add granola or fruit to it to round it out and make it more filling.
A few weeks ago, I found mini graham cracker pie crusts at the store and I thought it would be interesting to see how a pro-yo pie would be. My favorite pro-yo to make has cinnamon swirl whey in it and when made with a few other ingredients, it tastes just like cheesecake.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- vanilla extract
- plain Greek yogurt: 5.3 ounce container or 150g
- 1/2 scoop flavored whey – the kind and brand will change your macros
- mini graham cracker pie crust
- Optional items: sprinkles, oreos, whip cream
- In a bowl, scoop your yogurt out of the container. I buy the individual yogurt cups when I make this so it’s easy to measure. I also use fat free yogurt, but you can also use 2% if you need the fat macros.
- Add 3 tablespoons of water to the yogurt and mix slowly. This will thin it out and make it easier to add the whey later.
- Once the yogurt and water are mixed out completely, add a teaspoon or two of vanilla extra. This is more to your own taste. You don’t need a lot, but I like a little more vanilla than most.
- Add in whey. This is completely up to you on the flavor and the amount. When I made this a few weeks ago I used 7g of chocolate chip cookie dough whey because it was the last of the container – I added a little more vanilla. Tonight when I made this recipe, I used half a scoop of cinnamon swirl. So if you want more protein then add a little more whey, but remember to add a little more water because it’ll be really thick otherwise.
- This is the part I usually taste the mixture and decide if and how much Splenda I need to add. Half to one teaspoon is usually enough.
- You can either choose to mix in other things like sprinkles or a crushed up Oreo if you want to, but if you don’t, just scoop some of the mix into the pie crust. Not all of the mixture will fit, but that’s why you have a spoon.
- Set in the fridge for about 30 minutes to an hour. I usually make this the afternoon I know I want it for dessert.
The macros for the basic recipe are: 5.3F/20.5C/28.5.
For my refeed I planned some things that I don’t typically get to eat in the same day or get a chance to eat often. I had mentioned before that I’ve been adding oats into my diet as a way to change up my breakfast and this morning I made Mexican hot chocolate overnight oats, but I added peanut butter because peanut butter makes everything better.
I used my basic overnight oats recipe that I shared a few weeks ago, but here’s what I added.
2 tablespoons of chocolate PB2
When the oats were still dry, I added the PB2 so I could mix it in thoroughly.
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
I add cinnamon to my basic recipe as well, but it’s more of a dash. For this recipe I added an exact amount to get the spice that I wanted.
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Mexican hot chocolate is hot cocoa with a kick and aside from cinnamon, the kick comes from peppers. Historically, cocoa wasn’t eaten and to drink it herbs and spices need to be added so it wouldn’t taste so bitter. I added cayenne pepper on top of my oats for this kick. Some recipes I’ve seen for from scratch Mexican hot chocolate call for chile pepper.
Mixed in, the oats are spicy without making your mouth burn up. I know some people say they can’t handle spicy foods, but this is just enough and with Trader Joe’s PB cups this was a perfect way to start my refeed day.