The cut for my competition started around Easter time, with the intention to compete in July. It began a few weeks before my lacrosse season ended, which in a way, made it a difficult prep to begin with. As I was doing so much cardio in preparation for Lacrosse BUCS Finals, I was going into a prep where normally cardio would slowly be added in week by week to encourage weight/fat loss, having already been doing cardio 5/6 times a week. In an ideal world- I would definitely not have entered into my first competition like this!
Once lacrosse season had ended I could finally focus solely on my prep. I was also completing my final year at uni, so I turned my focus to my final year dissertation and gym, and used this routine to keep on track.
I had to maintain a similar amount of cardio through LISS (low intensity steady state) and HIIT training so that I didn’t put weight on when I was trying to do the opposite! Jono warned me that because my calories were so little to begin with and my cardio had already started quite high, I was going to be in for a lot of cardio… the fun times then begun…
I don’t think I realised how difficult I would find restricting my diet for prep. And when someone on contest prep says that you don’t understand how hard it is until you do it yourself, they’re not lying!! Because of lacrosse season going on for longer than anticipated, my prep ended up being 25 weeks long, about 6 months. I can honestly say it was the hardest 6 months of my life!
Luckily, Jono’s method of coaching is one that uses flexible dieting (IIFYM), meaning that as long as I was hitting my correct macros each day, I could eat what I liked. That meant that for most of prep, I could have the foods that I enjoy most each day. But from around weeks 15-6 (most of prep lol) I found the diet so so difficult. Not only did I struggle on the little amount of calories per day, my social and family life suffered occasionally. I struggled going to social events and over eating, and my willpower was too weak at times to turn down cake and chocolate… There were times in prep that I binged, and felt horrible after for doing so. But i’m only human, and who has a completely binge free prep first time round anyway…. But it was the bad days that also motivated me to have even better weeks. Despite there being tears, a LOT of over reactions to the smallest things (I cried when my brother had a go at me for not giving him some carb-free noodles) and a fair amount of mood swings, seeing changes to my body every single day was one of the best feelings. I finally got the 6 pack that I had wanted for ages, and was motivated by the positive changes I saw each day.
Towards the end of prep, my calories were coming down further, and trying to maintain the same amount of intensity when training on top of doing a lot of cardio was definitely mentally and physically draining. I graduated towards the end of July and started a 9-5 job straight away, so having to commit to going to the gym after work for about 2 hours every day was extremely exhausting, but soon became normal routine- luckily I buzz off the gym so only occasionally found it a chore.
The last few weeks of prep were what I thought would be the most challenging, but I actually found the most enjoyable. After panicking about not being ready in time, I was finally seeing all the tiny changes that made me feel like I wouldn’t look out of place on stage (this was a massive worry of mine). 3 weeks before competition day, I started a rapid fat loss diet which was based on Lyle Mcdonald’s Ultimate Survival Diet- basically designed to give your body what it needs to survive and that’s it. For 16 days straight I depleted my body from carbs, having under 20g fat and 25g carbs (from only fibrous veg and excess carbs from protein/protein shakes) per day. My stomach had shrunk so much during prep that this little amount of food wasn’t that difficult… I looked forward to my protein mug cake every night which tricked my mind into thinking I was eating a treat (30g protein, 50ml of Almond Milk, bang in the microwave for 40 seconds and thank me later). But as show day came closer, all I could think about was what I was going to eat after!