Time really is flying; I can hardly believe I am only 8 weeks out from stepping on stage again!
Since my last update at 10 weeks out, I have kept my macros similar, with some slight changes (below). I have been feeling pretty good and not too hungry (some days are better than others).
I touched previously on my struggle to bring in a small waist line without shrinking too much elsewhere and looking 'flat'. As I continued to gradually lose weight over the past two weeks and maintain the lower weight, this has still been my greatest struggle.
I also mentioned before that I actually didn't want to lose too much scale weight for this prep in an effort to avoid looking too 'toothpick' like. It is very hard for me to create shape with my physique and I don't want to lose that shape going into this show. At this far out, my weight actually started to drop a bit more than I would like (the lowest morning weight I saw was 113.4lbs) so I did step on the breaks a little bit with my calories by incorporating a small weekly re-feed. I also wasn't feeling too much leaner at this lower weight and did notice myself feeling weaker in the gym which could be indications of slight muscle loss.
Although my strength in higher rep ranges seems to be holding on pretty tight, I will be putting more emphasis on lower rep ranges (8-10) in the coming weeks as this is where my strength seemed to take a bit of a recent hit. It's important for me to notice these things so that I can be more strategic and methodical about my training in order to avoid strength/muscle loss as I attempt to lean out a bit more (particularly in the mid-section). I plan to be more systematic with my training and really focus on maintaining and gaining strength in my weak areas in the coming weeks.
Unfortunately, I just received my monthly reminder that I am not pregnant and my uterus is currently screaming at me, causing some bloating which is slightly evident for these photos. Ideally, I would take photos on a we without my period, but I am taking them this week anyways to hold myself accountable.
Here is what my daily routine has looked like for the past two weeks, as well as some visuals of my physique at 8 weeks out.
Current Stats: 115 lbs weekly average 9 weeks out
114.6 weekly average 8 weeks out
Waist: 23.25 in
Hips: 35.25 in
I only take waist and hip measurements and assess progress via the scale and photos/my reflection in the mirror. Most mechanisms to measure body-fat are vastly inaccurate, and nobody really needs to know your body-fat percentage when you step on stage as long as you look the part so I will be focusing more on how I look this time around and make changes accordingly. This is difficult to do as it requires being objective with my own physique, but I believe these bi-monthly check ins and photo/video documentation are helping me to keep an eye on where I am realistically at.
Mon: Full Lower Body
Tues: Full Upper Body (vertical push/horizontal pull + accessories as needed)
Weds: Full Upper Body (horizontal push/vertical pull + accessories as needed)
Thurs: Full Lower Body
Fri: Full Upper Body
Cardio: I don't perform any formal cardio. I recently tried to lower by daily step count from 12-15k to 10-12k in hopes to improve overall recovery. I didn't feel very much more recovered and actually found myself feeling a bit worse. From this and past experiences, I have seemed to notice a trend with myself particularly where I do better with a higher energy flux, meaning eating a bit more and keeping activity a bit higher even if it yields the same net calorie balance.
Going forth, my training schedule will resume with 2 full lower body days per week, 2-3 full upper body days per week and 1 glute focused lower body day per week. I don't plan to add any formal cardio, but I will be increasing my step count back to my typical 12-15k. I don't perform any high intensity cardio (or even moderate intensity) so I don't think keeping my activity a bit higher should interfere with my workouts to a very large degree, but I will update on this for my next update (at 6 weeks out).
I track macros and my diet differs slightly as far as food choices on a daily basis, but I have lowered macros by less than 200 calories total since beginning this prep and am still losing. That puts me at the following macro intake:
Lower Body Training Day: 40F/325C/150P
Upper Body Training Day: 40F/275C/150P
Rest Day: 40F/225C/150P
I did incorporate a weekly refeed on my Saturday leg day (because it's right in between my three lower body, and most intense, training days) where my fat and protein intake remained the same, but my carb intake was 370.
Again, I don't think that carb cycling or changing calorie intakes on different days will necessarily yield any more fat loss or muscle gain than a consistent intake would. I cycle my intake simply because I enjoy having some higher days and find that my scale weight drops pretty significantly the day following an intense (lower body) training day if I don't increase my intake, which can skew my perception of my progress. Alternately, I am not as hungry and am okay with lowering my intake on less intense training days and rest days so that my average stays the same.
I did notice a pretty quick drop in weight and a bit of a drop in strength at this intake, so I won't be lowering any further at this point. In fact, I am going to increase my protein by 10 grams to where it was at the beginning of this prep. I know this is a minute change, but my hope is that it may slightly slow down my rate of loss. I am choosing to increase protein as opposed to carbs/fat because I believe it is the least risky nutrient to start with from a thermogenic standpoint, and because I previously felt good at this amount of protein.
3 grams of creatine/day
Pre-workout on some days (whatever brand I have on hand. I always make sure the pre I take does NOT include a proprietary blend and has beta alanine and citrulline malate as primary ingredients.)
2 grams fish oil
I stopped taking the DIIM mentioned in my last two updates. DIIM is most effective when incorporated in cycles, and I had been taking it for about 10 weeks so I will probably not be taking it for at LEAST the next for weeks, if not for the entire remainder of this prep.
Additional notes for the past week:
I started to get more in the 'groove' of prep and adhere to some of the extreme structure required for prep. I am proud to say that I have been practicing my posing almost everyday, tracking and measuring macros down to the gram, and working as hard as I possibly can in the gym.
My constant reminder to myself is that everyone who steps on stage goes through the motions of prep. Everyone adheres to some type of diet. Everyone trains in the gym. Everyone practices posing. What allows me to be my best won't be whether or not I do these things, but how much of my effort I put into these things. Am I working as hard as I possibly can in the gym, as opposed to just 'getting it in'? Am I quitting my posing sessions at 'good enough' or am I going until I feel confident with the current focus for that day... and then practicing a bit more? Am I being as accurate as I can with nutrition and tracking everything? Am I just going through the motions, or am I actually putting my passion and effort into every action?
I actually think this helps me to enjoy prep more. There is an odd satisfaction to me with knowing that I am giving everything that I possibly can. It makes me feel a sense of purpose in prep, rather than just turning into a zombie who goes through the motions. I truly enjoy working hard and being fully present and engaged with my current goals.
I got the chance to watch the WBFF Worlds (for those that are unfamiliar, this is the biggest WBFF show of the year where all of the highest level pros compete for the world title) live stream online over the weekend. Seeing some of the physiques that took top placings (particularly in bikini) not only helped motivate me, but also reassured me that I might have been getting a bit TOO small and reinforced my increase in protein and weekly re-feeds. The WBFF bikini division doesn't seem to require the level of conditioning that is needed in other federations and promotes an overall fuller, healthier but still athletic look. By these standards, I will need to get leaner from here, but I do think I will have to be careful to not come in too small. I enjoy my physique more this way which is part of the reason I chose to compete in this federation this time around. I no longer have the desire to shrink my physique to be as small as other federations require, which is also the point where I don't feel comfortable with my physique in everyday life just for the sake of getting on stage and 'proving' something to a panel of strangers.
For now, the goal will continue to be gaining as much strength as possible (in lifts that work well for me and feel relatively good on my body), get a bit leaner without losing shape and staying consistent with enjoying the process!