It was a year ago, July 1st, 2013, that I decided to quit drinking and help one of my students and friend Gina, to prepare to compete in a bikini competition. Gina had asked me some time in March that year if I would coach her to compete in a NPC bikini competition. I had never personally competed so I advised her that I would be happy to go through the process with her and coach her along the way but I would be soliciting my own coaching for both of us from a longtime friend who had been preparing competitors, as well as competing himself, for about 15 years or more.
For the record, I have been involved in some sort of physical fitness and personal training for the last 15+ years. I have never been obese or close to it. I just want to be clear in that I was starting this process in a conditioned body, which had extra fat on it due to my love and appreciation of Tequilas, Mezcals and all the amazing restaurants that San Francisco has to offer. So moving along…
There are millions of diets out there. There are hundreds of paths to get you to your goal. The trick is finding out which one is the right one for you. This discovery may not come easily.
Starting July 1st I began what most would call a ketogenic diet.The Paleo diet is very similar to this depending on how far you take the “good fat” and protein quantities.This diet includes a high ratio of good fats and protein with a very low ratio of complex carbohydrates and has been extremely popular in the bodybuilding world. I decided to track all meals, time of meals, as well as workouts, so that I would have an understanding of exactly what it takes to build a competition body. I was prepared to run into some hurdles and this was my way of going back to trouble shoot if necessary. I expected that extreme results would require an extreme diet.My daily meals from August through mid October looked something like this.
- 6:30 AM – (Pre Workout) Protein Pancakes with almond flour, hazelnut flour, whole eggs and coconut oil. Half of a grapefruit and coffee with sugarfree creamer. Protein :25g Fat: 35g Carbohydrates: 19g Total Calories: 483
- 8:30 AM – (Post Workout) Combat Protein Powder and serving of shot blocks. Protein: 25g Fat: 2g Carbohydrates: 29g Total Calories: 240
- 10:00 AM – Quest Bar Protein: 21g Fat: 7g Carbohydrate; 22g Total Calories: 180
- 12:45 PM – Kale and beet salad. Olive oil for dressing. 5oz Chicken Breast. 4 Tbsp Guacamole. Protein:39g Fat:22g Carbohydrates:25g Total Calories: 344
- 3:30 PM – Egg whites and a packet of almond butter. Protein: 19g Fat: 16g Carbohydrates: 7g Total Calories: 241
- 6:30 PM – Same meal as lunch. Kale and Beet salad. Olive oil for dressing. 5oz Chicken Breast. 4 Tbsp Guacamole. Protein: 39g Fat: 22g Carbohydrates: 25g Total Calories: 344
Totals for the day. Protein: 200g (32.21%) Fat: 126 (45.65%) Carbohydrates: 145g (23.35%) Total Calories: 2,484My workout and weight training routine looked something like this:
- Monday: Legs
- Tuesday: Shoulder, Bi’s and Tri’s (10minutes stair climber HIIT)
- Wednesday: AM Fasted Cardio 30-45min. 1 hour yoga class
- Thursday: Full Body strength circuit with emphasis on legs and glutes (10minutes stair climber HIIT)
- Friday: Back
- Saturday: HIIT Training (10 round stair sprints, 15-20 seconds per sprint)
- Sunday: Off
Set and rep ranges were typically 4 sets of 8-12 repetitions for approximately 4 exercises per muscle group.
August, month one, started out as more of a detox than anything. I was working out 6 days a week, but I had been doing that prior as well. How I had accomplished this, before August, while maintaining a mild hangover on the weekends is beyond me. I went to my Doctor friend who specializes in hormone regulation as well as overall wellbeing. He suggested that I assist my body while I was sober with a full one month cleanse program which included extremely high quality medical supplements to help my body rid itself of toxins.
I should now point out that when Gina first told me she wanted to do this, we started planning what show we would be entering and what was the predicted start date for the prep. We decided on a show on November 2nd. This gave us just over 3 months to prep. I had recently started dating someone at that time who had an equal, if not greater enjoyment of tequila, so I notified him ahead of time of my impending sobriety.To my surprise he wanted to go through the process with me.Two words.Thank you. I think the process would have been impossible to do if he wasn’t on board with me.
After the detox of August had subsided, I continued with the workout programs, tracking with weight, strength, energy levels and progress photos. During the first two weeks of August I went from 142lbs to 136lbs. It’s nearly impossible to drop that much pure fat in two weeks, so the weight loss was mainly from water.The remainder of August into the first weeks of September my weight did not shift.This seemed unbelievable to me considering my workout intensities and strict diet regimen. My boyfriend Daniel, on the other hand, was making insane losses and was becoming a lean, shredded machine.The one thing we both shared in common was the fatigue and lack of strength improvements on a regular basis. Yes, our schedule was crazy. Not only were we waking up at 5:00 am every morning to get our workouts in. We were both then continuing the day until 6 or 7 pm at night with a full day of work.
Towards the end of September something pivotal happened. We both got really sick. Almost as if we had food poisoning. Diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, fever, cold sweats. Daniel experienced the symptoms 3 days before me. It also did not limit itself to 24hours. Oh no, this gift lasted until I said “Enough!” I feel like my body needs carbohydrates. The moment I gave my body carbs, it felt better. After a day of introducing carbs back into the diet just one extra meal a day. I felt back on track, we both did.
This was a huge turning point in the game. We then started to seek additional coaching advise to help us to better understand what the right prep would be for the competition which at this point was about a month away.
Daniel found a woman based out of Elk Grove named Michelle Sheppard. She had been a long time competitor and champion in the figure category for the NPC. She invited us to a Perfect Peaking seminar. Daniel and I went with the hope that we would get some more insight as to what we were experiencing and possibly doing wrong. Well we definitely learned something.The Perfect Peaking seminar was run by Dr. Joe Klemzowski and Kori Probst. Otherwise known as the Diet Doc.These two had coached hundreds to their pro cards over the last 20 years or so. Over the next 8 hours Daniel and I sat and listened as Dr. Joe broke down what the ketogenic diet does to the body and the metabolism. He listed one point after the other of what we had been experiencing. He didn’t know at the time that we had been on a ketogenic diet for the last two months.Talk about fate taking a hand. He continued to educate the group on the importance of carbohydrates and the metabolic wave that every body is capable of achieving through proper ratio and nutrient timing.
I am sure you can imagine how we felt. We were dumbfounded and discouraged. We had been climbing up the wrong ladder for the last two months with our show only 1 month away. Well, that night we went back, had ourselves our first glass of wine in 2 months and began to rethink the whole thing.
The process of preparing for a competition of any sort is extremely mental. Your social dynamic changes with friends, your daily patterns are regimented, you are thinking about staying on track every minute of every day. Or at least I was. This is extremely taxing both mentally and emotionally. For all involved, finding out that we had put so much time, effort, preparation and energy into the wrong method was a bit of a blow. It wasn’t wrong actually, it just wasn’t right for me.
We decided to postpone the show until we felt that we had the right program in place.The next week I devoured the Diet Doc’s Metabolic Manual and set to implement his ratios and nutrient timing program to see what happened to my body. The day of the Diet Doc seminar was October 2nd. Implementation started on October 5th. By November 30th I had hit 125lbs.This is what the new eating program looked like.
- 7:30 AM – 1/2 Cup Oatmeal. 6 Tbsp Egg whites. 1/2 cup blueberries. 1/2 cup almond milk. Coffee. Protein: 17g Fat: 4g Carbohydrates: 42g Total Calories: 278
- 10:00 AM – 2x Brown Rice Cake. 1 Tbsp Peanut butter. Protein: 4g Fat: 10g Carbohydrates: 21g Total Calories: 165
- 12:30 PM – 4oz Lean Turkey Patty. 1.5 cups Roasted Vegetables. Quinoa Pasta 2oz dry. Protein: 28g Fat: 10g Carbohydrates: 67g Total Calories: 450
- 3:00 PM – 112g Herb Roasted Turkey Breast. Hand Made Corn Tortilla. Protein: 30g Fat:2g Carbohydrates: 36g Total Calories: 272
- 6:00 PM – 2 Slice Paleo Almond Bread. 8 Asparagus Spears. 3 Fried Egg Whites. Protein:28g Fat:9g Carbohydrates:17g Total Calories: 212
Totals for the day. Protein: 107g (31.08%) Fat: 35 (22.8%) Carbohydrates: 183g (53.16%) Total Calories: 1,377
With the alteration in diet there were a few key things that I experienced. I felt like I was eating more in quantity than I had before, even though I was consuming less calories. I was able to have foods I love in moderation; a glass of wine with steak on the weekend or my prized kettle corn during the weekdays on nights I had allotted a little extra in my carb ratio. My strength in the gym was increasing rapidly. My body fat was dropping just as quickly. My mood was better, I slept better and my stress levels decreased as a result of possibly not prepping to stand on stage in a bikini. Also because now, it was ok to enjoy the foods that I loved. My body was thanking me in so many ways.
My workouts evolved. I had reached my goal weight and it was clear that I could keep dropping weight if I wanted to. I chose to start focusing on performance instead of aesthetics.My workouts going into January looked something like this.
- Monday: 1.5hrs Aerial Conditioning
- Tuesday: Chest
- Wednesday: Legs – Squat Emphasis (Volume)
- Thursday: Aerial Conditioning
- Friday: Rest:
- Saturday: Legs Deadlift Emphasis (Strength)
- Sunday: Rest
I began taking Aerial Conditioning for performance and fun. I had started taking classes to learn trapeze and rope. The classes consisted of stretching, core, and an insane amount of back conditioning and strength work.
The lifting days were now separated into performance for squats, deadlifts and dumbbell bench press. Workouts usually consisted of 4 exercises per body part and ranged from 5-10 in reps, depending on the lift. My focus here was to become extremely comfortable with the main lifts. I was already doing so much back work during aerial class that I didn’t need a back lifting day put into my routine. As you can also see here, cardio or HIIT training was no longer needed in my workouts. My diet was in check and I was letting my body focus now on building muscle and performance capacity.
Over the next 6 months I continued to evolve. As my metabolism increased due to hitting what the Diet Doc calls the “Metabolic Wave”, I started increasing my calories every week.To my amazement, as I continued to do this, my body fat continued to drop as muscle mass continued to increase. In April I consulted one of my colleagues on training so that I could go a bit heavier on my lifts with his coaching and techniques. It was important to have someone who was more experienced at Power lifts to correct my form and spot me when it was needed. Our goal, was to build the elusive glutes. It seems that now, it is every females goal. Ah how trends occur. Anyways, the glutes are one of the strongest muscles in the body. Weak glutes promote poor posture and a slew of incorrect movement patterns. So I wanted some good ones so that I could dominate the activities that I was into present and future.
I believe that if you want to know what certain stimulus does to your body, you need to be precise and consistent for 3 months at a minimum. 3 months will give your body the time it needs to adapt and respond to your eating and workout regime.From April through to July 1st this is what my diet had turned into:
- 7:30 AM- 1/2 Cup Oatmeal, 1 Small Gala Apple, 6.75 tbsp Egg Whites, 1/2 cup Vanilla Almond Milk. Protein:17g Fat:4g Carbs:38g Calories: 264g
- 10:00 AM – 2 Caramel Rice Cakes, 1 tbsp. Coconut and Peanut Butter Spread. Protien: 5g Fat: 9g Carbs: 38g Calories: 235
- 12:30 PM – 1.5oz Dry Quinoa Pasta Shells, 10 Stalks Asparagus, 4oz Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast. Protein:35g Fat: 7g Carbs: 42g Calories: 346
- 2:30 PM – Post workout – 3 Shot Blocks, 1 Scoop Cookies and Cream Combat Protein Powder Protein: 25g Fat: 2g Carbs: 17g Calories: 190
- 3:30 PM – 1 Slice Rye Toast. 2 Slices Herb Roasted Turkey Breast, Protein: 16g Fat: 2g Carbs:27g Calories: 180g
- 7:00 PM – Umami Manly Burger (burger bun, 5oz ground beef, 2 slices bacon, onions, lettuce, tomato) Protein: 45g Fat:45g Carbs:47g Calories: 780
- 9:00 PM – 4 Cups Boom Chicka Pop Kettle Corn. Protein: 3g Fat: 7g Carbs:17g Calories: 120g
Totals for the day. Protein: 146g (27%) Fat: 77 (31%) Carbohydrates: 226g (42%) Total Calories: 2,115
I would have preferred for the macro percentages to be 15-20% Fat, 30-35% Protein and 50% Carbohydrates. On non burger days this ratio is what I personally would strive for.
Now I put this specific sample day in to show that I am far beyond perfect and life should be enjoyed. Sometimes a burger is what I crave. I don’t eat one every day. When I choose to eat one, I plan mentally that I will be recovering from a workout or that I will be putting that burger to work the next day during my workout. I plan accordingly for any so called “indulgences”.This is what a normal day would look like sans burger.
- 7:30 AM- 1/2 Cup Oatmeal, 1 Small Gala Apple, 12 tbsp Egg Whites, 1 cup Vanilla Almond Milk, 8oz Coffee. Protein:26g Fat:5g Carbs:41g Calories: 320g
- 10:00 AM – 2 Caramel Rice Cakes, 1 tbsp. Coconut and Peanut Butter Spread. Protien: 5g Fat: 9g Carbs: 38g Calories: 235
- 12:30 PM – 1 Cup Quinoa & Kale Blend, 1/2 Cup Zucchini Sautéed in Olive Oil, 4oz Chicken Breast. Protein: 31g Fat:9g Carbs:24g Calories: 320
- 3:30 PM – 1 Slice Mestmacher Rye Bread. 112g Turkey Sliced. 1 tsp Dijon Mustard. Protein:29g Fat: 2g Carbs: 28g Calories: 240
- 7:00 PM – 2oz Dry Weighted Organic Quinoa Pasta. 4oz Chicken Breast. 2 Cups Rainbow chard & zucchini. 1/4 Pumpkin pasta sauce. Protein: 35g Fat: 4g Carbs: 63g Calories: 426
Totals for the day. Protein: 151g (34%) Fat: 31g (15%) Carbs: 230g (51%) Total Calories: 1,904My workout with my coach JJ now looked like this
- Monday: Aerial Conditioning
- Tuesday: Legs/Core (Leg Emphasis Strength with added auxiliary work to speed up motor unit recruitment)
- Wednesday: Trapeze
- Thursday: Legs/Chest (Hip Emphasis Strength with added auxiliary work to speed up motor unit recruitment)
- Friday: Rest
- Saturday: Legs (Volume)
- Sunday: Rest