If you have been following along, you may remember that for my last update at 6 weeks out I mentioned that I was slowly reversing and increasing my calories into my show. Apparently, the increase was a bit too subtle as I continued to get smaller and smaller for the next 1-1.5 weeks. After a certain point, I noticed my waist line was actually not decreasing any further, yet my extremities were getting thinner. This resulted in a less 'shapely' and overall less aesthetic (in my opinion) physique, despite my weight going down and me continuing to get leaner. Yes, I was seeing more striations, veins and a lot of fine lines in my muscles, but my overall appearance was not what I wanted. I train hard year-round (not just during prep) to create a physique with a nice overall shape and I don't want to lose or take away from that shape during prep. Continue reading to see where I am at and what I plan to do for the next few weeks to bring in a physique to the stage that I am happy with and proud of.
Here is where my physique is sitting at 4 weeks out:
Weight: 114.4 weekly average (5 weeks out), 114.7 weekly average (4 weeks out)
Waist: 23 in
Hips: 35.25 in
These photos were taken the day after the biggest refeed of my prep (40F/425C/150P). I wanted to see how my body would respond to a very large refeed so that I can start to plan what my diet should look like going into my show. On the plus side, I did fill out in my legs, shoulders and glutes a bit and was much happier with that look vs how small I have been looking as of late. On the other hand, my waist line is slightly less defined and my midsection looks a bit more "watery". Based on this feedback I probably won't be doing another refeed to this extent, but will slightly increase my calories on a consistent basis to maintain more fullness at this point (if I need to pull back slightly 1-2 weeks before the show, I will do so).
Diet (for the past 2 weeks)
Upper Body Days (3x/wk): 40F/285C/160P
Lower Body Days (3x/wk): 40F/375C/160P
Rest Days (1x/wk): 40F/225C/160P
Re-feed (1x/wk on a lower body day): 40F/400C/160P
Since the 6 week out mark, I increased carbs slightly on lower body days. This increase was too subtle to cause very much of a change in appearance, though my weight did slightly come up.
Mon: Full Leg Day
Tues: Full Upper Body Day
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: Full Leg Day
Fri: Full Upper Body Day
Sat: Leg Day (Glute Focus)
Sun: Full Upper Body Day
Cardio: 12-15k steps/day. I don't remember the last time I stepped on a piece of cardio equipment. I don't do any formal cardio (i.e. on machines) other than outdoor walks with my dog, and boxing on Wednesdays. I am trying not to be too excessive about going over my step count, but am not preventing myself from living my life in order to do so.
I still don't seem to be losing much strength in the gym (with the exception of 1-2 off days in the last two weeks), which is reassuring to me that most of the size I am losing is likely just due to a lack of fullness and not an actual loss of strength/muscle. Fullness is relatively easy to manipulate via dietary measures (and avoiding excessive cardio) so I am optimistic about being able to bring myself back a bit to a fuller, fit physique that I am happier with.
(I apologize for the poor photo quality. The lighting was not agreeing with me this morning).
I want to continue to keep my reverse dieting gradual as to avoid getting too much softer or gaining too fast. However, I do think that I started decreasing calorie too far out given my starting point. I know that I will never have the tiniest waist on stage (my broad ribs and narrow hips create a 'box' like waist that is somewhat out of my control via training or dieting, though it is certainly smaller and tighter than it used to be). My waist size is the main thing that I wanted to bring down before stage, which is why I initially lowered calories. I feel that I looked better before I did this as I was fuller everywhere else, creating the illusion of a smaller waist (proportions are key!).
Thus, I may have wasted a bit of time dieting down when I didn't really need to. This sucks, but at least I am catching on now while I still have some time to fill back out with care not to go overboard.
3-5 grams creatine/day
Pre-workout: (most) lower body days only
Energy is still great, though I did have a week or so of feeling discouraged by my shrinking physique. This is when I realized the importance of creating a physique that I am happy with, regardless of how strangers are going to judge me. As long as I step on that stage with a physique that I feel good in, I will walk off a winner, even if I place dead last.
I still aim to pose at least 15 minutes a day, but there have been a few days where I haven't in the past 2 weeks (I won't even go into excuses because it's on me to get it in).
My knee pain is actually subsiding a bit, even on heavy leg days with movements such as heavy box squats, lunges, etc. so that is a huge plus!
I still continuously wish for more hours in the day but am grateful to be living a life that is so full of purpose that I actually wish for MORE time as opposed to wishing for time to pass.
Although it seems counter intuitive, I actually plan to ease off the gas pedal a bit in terms of 'prepping' for the next 4 weeks. This is because, as I mentioned, my physique actually looked a bit better before I started aggressively prepping. I live a healthy and fit lifestyle year-round which means that when I want to prep for something such as a show, photo-shoot, etc. I don't really have to kill myself anymore than I already do in my average day to day life. I know that not everyone has the time or desire to workout as often or as hard as I do on a year round basis, and many people don't wish to count macros and be diligent about nutrition all the time. I definitely have my off days and I am not perfect, but I have been doing this for so long and established such strong habits doing this on a daily basis, regardless of whether or not I am on prep, that it's normal for me. Consistency breeds habits which makes staying in shape and maintaining results year-round a possibility as opposed to going through major ups and downs of 'on' and 'off' seasons.
It is a bit of a mental challenge to wrap my brain around the idea that I am on prep but won't be aggressively dieting or 'suffering' or getting shredded to the bone like many coaches or influencers in the industry push. However, I have to remember that MY physique and my goals are irrelevant to anyone else. My perfect routine is different than anyone else's and I am inching closer and closer to finding that 'perfect' routine everyday, every week and every month, on or off prep.