Thursday, January 4, 2018

Preparing for a Fitness Competition

I have watched some of my friends enter into bikini and physique competitions; some placed well, two even won their pro cards, and overall first place. I found they are all brave, and inspiring, and driven women.

I've wanted compete to but definitely never could. Nope not me! I did however do the "bikini exercises" and "bikini diet" with some of them for a while - eating like this 5 times a day:

1 Herbalife shake, 2 sugar free Herbalife protein drinks called Bev Mix with almonds, and 2 meals consisting of chicken or turkey, 1/3 cup green veggie, and 1/3 cup brown rice.

The exercises on that challenge are a variation of 300 crunches, and 400 legs lift variations. Abs and bootie, baby!

I definitely saw results, but did not stick to the diet, as I was not ready to commit to a competition.

When you know there is an end goal with a specific date to get there, it is easier to not have treats staring you in the face! 80% of the results seen are from diet.  Have you ever heard abs are made in the kitchen? So true!

Doing that challenge changed my mind about what I could do.  Just a few months ago, I discussed the idea with my husband, and decided I was ready to train for a competition.

Kari, Missy and I, getting ready to take over the gym at Jon Andersen's Training Performance Complex.

Kari, a friend of mine, had decided to compete, and asked me to join her. I talked to her about my cousin Missy, who had also mentioned an interest.

Misery loves company. Just kidding! Surrounding yourself with like minded, determined women is definitely the way to go!

We met with Kari's personal trainer, Strongman Jon Andersen, at his training facility, Jon Andersen's Training Performance Complex.

He explained that he would create a personalized meal plan, based on our individual needs, an exercise plan that changes weekly, and provide us daily accountability.

The training facility is really the foundation of knowledge for this journey.

My awesome trainers, coaches and mentors: Jon Andersen and his wife Terri Smethers.
We were asked to send in a scale picture every morning. Based on the scale, and our description of how well we stick to our meal plan and water consumption, Jon will tweak the meal plan.

He answers every question we have in person or via text, and is incredibly mediating - every morning he tells me that I am doing a great job, and helps me get over my self doubt with encouraging words, and actions to take.

This started the beginning of April, 2017!

I started this specific journey to train for a competition feeling terrified and excited.

Jon had me eating this 5 times a day:

Meal 1- egg whites, Greek yogurt, almond butter
Meal 2-  Herbalife protein shake
Meal 3- Steak, chicken breast, or turkey, green veggies - specifically broccoli, asparagus or Brussels sprouts.
Meal 4- Herbalife protein shake
Meal -5 chicken breast, green veggie

Getting off of sugar was something I had only ever done for a two week span and just a few times - there were withdrawals (yeah, sugar is a drug!).  At this point, I don’t even miss it!

Foreign Gym Language!
Seriously, stevia, Splenda, and especially sugar free maple syrup are by besties.

The exercises were a foreign language to me at first. The white board that they are written on looked like Greek, mixed with trigonometry.

5 exercises are created each week, each focusing on different muscle groups, and can take up to two hours to complete.

Rigorous, strenuous, and incredibly effective.

The exercises started out with moves that I was familiar with, even if I had not done them prior to training. Exercises such as dead lifts, bench presses, lunges, bicep curls, pull ups, etc.

All of these exercises are still part of the routine, but some crazy moves have been added in. I swear, once I learned to decipher the language of exercise though, it has changed! 

All new exercises that hurt my brain to figure out (just until I get it!) and hurt my body (in a good way).

They are so much more intense, thank you Terri! Terri is Jon's wife, also a personal trainer and a physique competitor.

Some of the more intense and interesting exercises are:

Superman Angels - lying on floor, lift legs using glutes to hold, and raise arms off ground hands raised above head, like flying in the sky as Superman does, this is the starting position. Then do the motion of a jumping jack, or like making a snow angel, just on your belly. Keep arms and legs raised high the whole time - 50 reps, 5 times.

Superman Angels with added organic weight.
Belly band row - while lying on your belly, grasp a band with handle, arm extended above head. Pull band down horizontally along floor as far down as you can go. keep tension on the band all the way down, and up, going slow to feel every bit of it. 15 rows per arm, 5 times. So good, so hard!

Belly Band Row

I have been going to Jon's training facility one day a week, working out at Kari's or at home the rest of the time, and sticking to the strict meal plan.

Many days I miss carbs, and when I am stressed I miss sugar.

I have learned to figure out eating out - that was a really hard one to navigate at first.

If I keep it to a plain salad with chicken (basically lettuce, or if I'm lucky, spinach and chicken), or steamed veggies and a lean protein, I am good to go.

Thai Chicken Salad from Extreme Pizza. No wontons, orange slices, sliced carrots or onion. Add spinach, broccoli and mushrooms. Oh and no dressing, of course!

I have learned I need to be very specific though with the server. Steamed veggies, or grilled with no oil, and NO sauce on my bison burger at BJ's Brewhouse!

My meal plan has evolved two more times in the past few months.

Now I eat 6 times a day, depending on my scale reading and what Jon tells me. I eat every 2.5 to 3 hours, and have to add in fiber for digestive regularity. I have learned to love sugar free orange flavored store brand Metamucil!

This is how my meals look now:

Meal 1: (my favorite meal EVER!!)
non-fat plain Greek yogurt, egg whites. If I get a serving of fat I add almond butter.
Meal 2: chicken*, green veggie
Meal 3: protein shake
Meal 4: chicken, green veggie
Meal 4: egg whites
Meal 5: chicken, green veggie
Meal 6: chicken, green veggie

*The chicken is interchangeable with turkey, or white fish.

Amount of each food is specific to individuals needs, so I am not adding that in.

Tilapia with Green Beans in Soy Sauce

When I get fancy, I will make a protein fiber cake - and use the other half serving I get of fat in the form of almond butter as "frosting":

Protein Fiber Cake with Almond Butter "Frosting"

1/2 cup water, more or less to make cake batter consistency
1 serving protein powder
2 rounded tbsp fiber
1 tbps unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder

Mix well, microwave in very large mug  for 30 seconds (baking powder makes it expand). This creates a very moist, soft fudge like consistency, and is ridiculously delicious - depending on the protein powder. They are not all created equally!

(As a side note Walden Farms makes 0 calorie, sugar free, fat free caramel and chocolate syrups that are fantastic, and definitely fit into my meal plan!)

I have found that I prefer to drink my egg whites, rather than cook them most of the time. It is quicker, and easier, and I can make it taste like dessert.

If you had asked me when I started this if I would drink egg whites, I would have looked at you with a stink eye. But, the liquid egg whites are pasteurized, so safe to drink, and are just about tasteless. 

I add 2 packets of Splenda, and maybe 1/2 tsp of sugar free, fat free pudding mix - cheesecake and butterscotch are my faves right now.

I am super lazy, so I just pour the egg whites in a mason jar (it has measurements on the side - again, lazy), pour the Splenda and pudding mix in, and whisk. If the same ingredients are blended with some ice it is awesome… but then you have to clean the blender, and….well, I'm lazy.

(Another way to eat egg whites is by making my delicious Cinnamon Clouds!)

I find it is important to meal prep whenever possible.

I love to grill everything - throw it on and forget about it until it's time to remove from the grill. Pink sea salt, pepper, and garlic go on everything, and I am good!

I grill up extra chicken, or an extra turkey burger (the premade Kirkland Signature from Costco are amazing, and more cost effective than the ground turkey). The turkey burger is by far the easiest as you can grill from frozen.

When the hubby is cooking, I just have to remind him sometimes to not put BBQ sauce, or cheese on my burger. He is getting much better about remembering not to!

Meal planning is not just making several meals and having them ready to go in Tupperwere in the fridge, but planning out your day. You have to know when you need to eat by, and if you will have access to a refrigerator or a microwave.

If the answer is no to the fridge, I will freeze my protein shake. Then it acts as the ice I need to keep meals cold, and by the end of the work day it is thawed and still cold.

I rarely microwave anything anymore. I eat chicken or turkey cold with a plastic fork, or fingers. I really don’t care. I am all about the ease of eating when I need to.

If I do have access to a fridge, I will reuse my shaker cup to have a serving of fiber mid day. Again, easy and less dishes make me a happy girl.

The last thing I want to write briefly about as it comes to preparing for a competition is the emotion that goes into it all. 

There are days I do not want to work out, because I am tired, or I just am not motivated to do it.

I don’t get to all 5 workouts every week. After all, I do still work full time, managing in retail, which means full time can often be 50 hours a week.

And there still needs to be time to see my family and sleep!

And there are days I REALLY WANT POPCORN!! Or lasagna, or ice cream.

But then I think about the goal I have, and know this is not forever. I have to remind myself "abs are made in the kitchen", and I am better.

But there are days that I am not sure this is all worth it. 

There are times when going out I have not planned properly and have had to skip a meal, or purchase a protein bar or protein shake on the road, having to pay very close attention to the nutrition info - making most readily available foods unacceptable.

And there have also been arguments about the lifestyle changes, and the time commitment this has taken.

Talking about doing a competition and kind of eating a meal plan or sometimes working out, and truly preparing for a competition are two very different animals.  This has understandably been very hard for my husband and me to see eye to eye on.

Pull ups to fail.

There is still so much more that go into preparing for the competition that I have not done yet, like getting the bikini, shoes and accessories.

Like getting orange, I mean tan, and then finding a foundation to match. (yes, this matters!)

Like taking posing classes, to learn how to stand on stage and platform myself on stage.

I will have to do a follow up blog to let you know about my experience with these, and anything else that comes up!

In the mean time, wish me luck, and wish me a six pack. That sucker is alluding me! Heck, even a two pack would be cool! Its coming, just hiding still - only a few more weeks!

I have been logging my workouts and progress on Instagram, noting all the changes I am now seeing weekly. feel free to follow!

To learn more about Jon Andersen's training visit


  1. Good luck with your competition! I have a lot of dietary restrictions due to food sensitivities so I can relate to your food plan! Thanks for sharing on The Blogger's Pit stop! Roseann from

  2. Wow, what a commitment. You go girl! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  3. Nice! I have been going higher protein but you have inspired me to push harder! Thanks for sharing at Party in Your Pjs!

  4. Sorry, but please could you reupload your pictures? Then I will also be able to call your post amazing. I guess they are really motivated, especially if you are going to compete. I think of methandienone as I will be competing in a local bodybuilding champ and I need some extra muscles. Let's see if the docs let me do it.