Posted in Health and Fitness, Life Advice

Snap Back To Reality

As I stood there at the front of the stage looking out into the crowd, I could see my husband, friends, team mates and my coach all smiling and cheering. It was like everything suddenly was in slow motion, I was breathing heavily as it was my last division for the day and the comparison line ups had been long. I was exhausted but still full of adrenaline – the lights were beaming down and the music was loud. “Everyone please give a big round of applause for our Open Class 4 winners! Thank you ladies you may exit the stage!” Jason the president and MC for the day yelled into the microphone. I gave a wave and one last booty pop and made my way down the stage stairs.

And just like that my first season of competing was over. I honestly cannot believe how fast it went by, the year and a half of work I put in to make it to that stage seemed to be over in a blink of an eye. For me, there were no more competitions coming up, no more team HIITS that I needed to attend on Saturday mornings, no more weekly weigh-ins and skin fold checks carefully assessing my body readiness for stage and no more posing practice sessions. It was all suddenly gone from my weekly schedule in what felt like an instant, a time that I knew was coming but I didn’t totally feel ready for.

Throughout my prep I had people constantly telling me (warning me) “you think prep is hard – wait till you get to off-season.” I also had a lot of people trying to give me advice, telling me their own experiences and I had read of a few other girls on social media having some horror stories of their epic food binges and mass rapid weight gain post comp.

So I found myself the very next day after comp, Monday morning, staring at my computer screen and feeling an overwhelming sense of anxiety looking at my calendar – there were events coming up… life events, social events, every day events that suddenly made me feel scared. It was like I had been released back into the wilderness and my comp goggles had fallen off. Was this really how it was meant to be? That my season finishes and then I just go back to my normal everyday life so suddenly as if nothing had happened? It almost felt surreal, I didn’t want to believe it was over.

I was now starting to understand what everyone had been telling me during my prep and the advice my coach had given me at the very start of my training with him. When he held our first team meeting way back at the start of prep, he was quite clear on a number of things about his services and his responsibilities as a coach. He spoke about the process of prep and that he will be there for us when we finish our competitions to also help us reverse diet appropriately. Hearing the warnings (which absolutely scared the shit out of me – thank you everyone) and remembering his advice and offer of support post comp, triggered me to put some things in motion. I would be crazy to not take him up on his offer, I knew just like prepping for a competition, I knew nothing about the process of reverse dieting either.

I wasn’t even half way through my prep when I decided I needed to make some off-season goals. I quickly sent a dot pointed list of my initial goals to my coach. I had a couple of different goals I wanted to achieve once I finished competing. Some were strength goals, some were acceptable weight and skin-fold targets and some were maintenance calorie targets that I hoped would become my every day food intake. A quick exchange with him enabled me to adjust them accordingly to be realistic even knowing he laughed at my calorie target and told me to “keep dreaming, but it’s good to aim high!” *eye roll*

We continued our conversation in our next PT session where he was pretty straight up with me. He told me “Yes it will be hard, yes it will be mentally challenging, and from a health point of view (mentally and physically) you are better off putting on a couple of kilos sooner rather than later instead of trying to hold onto the stage ‘leaness’. Put some acceptable weight on and then let it balance out and grow into your bigger macros (food).” He elaborated a bit more to me about women’s hormones and what the body needs to function correctly.

I had never had any actual health issues during the entirety of training with my coach. Even at my lightest weight and lowest body fat percentage, I still felt I had a healthy functioning body. Yes there were things I saw in my body that I knew were extreme, I eventually saw striations coming through my back and veins even coming out of my pecs. I remember the first time I saw the knot in my belly button and it scared the crap out of me as it caught my eye in the mirror as it was so blindingly white because it had never seen day light before.  My belly button had turned from an ‘inny’ to an ‘outy’. Throughout my prep I always filled my day with as much natural and nutrient dense food as I possibly could. I avoided as much ‘sugar free’ and overly processed foods as I knew everything I was putting into my body was crucial to my results and ultimately my overall health. So when my prep was over I knew I needed to treat my off-season as critically as I treated my prep – my body and health was important to me and after putting my body through such an extreme process I knew it was important to apply the same care to myself as I progressed into my off-season.

So the plan was set! I found myself as I inched closer to the end of my competition season actually getting excited about getting stuck into my next chapter. I had created something that I was looking forward too and I had a coach who was going to continue to help me achieve those goals. Excellent I thought. Maybe my off-season won’t be as hard as people made it out to be…

I wanted to ensure I had a decent amount of time behind me before I shared what off-season has been like. Since finishing competing I have continued to train 6 times a week with no cardio (aside from walking the dog here and there for no more than 30 mins). One of those is a PT session with my coach where I weigh myself each session and we only do skin-folds and measurements approximately every 3 – 4 weeks. I am now 3 months post my last competition and while I have been navigating this new challenge in my life called ‘off-season’ I documented my blow by blow mental challenges and experiences as the weeks progressed:

Post comp weeks 1 – 3

During the first 1 week I carried on with my same routine. A routine that was so ingrained into my life that it was as if I was still prepping for a competition. This is fine. Nothing changes, I thought to myself. I just carried on. I remember Chris asking me excitedly, “you can have ANYTHING you want for dinner this week, what would you like to have?” I paused and thought about it for a minute and then a slow stuttered response came out of my mouth, “Steak….salad…and potatoes….?” *facepalm*

Week 2 hit and I checked in with the coach. “How are you going are you finding you are losing or lacking motivation with training?” he asked. I responded with a confused look on my face “no of course not I love training! And now I am not totally starving which makes the sessions even better.” He seemed surprised and responded with how well I am handling my off-season to which I quickly reminded him it’s early days so let’s not claim victory just yet! I knew this was only going to get harder. My weight was already inching up by a couple hundred grams each week. But each weigh in was celebrated with my coach as an acceptable weight gain. The process began of me trying to get my head around the fact that gaining weight is a positive thing after trying to make the numbers go down for so long. *Mindfuck to the MAX*

Then my mind started to wander. It was around 3 weeks deep that I was at the grocery store and I suddenly noticed all the other aisles that existed. You know…the ones that are in the middle of the store, all the aisles that have all the packaged, processed and long shelf life food. In prep I would go into a grocery store with a clear plan and list of items. I was on a mission and would quickly be in and out with my essentials and would stick to mainly the outside aisles of the store….but not this time. This time I discovered the other aisles and I wasn’t in a rush and I didn’t come prepared with a list.

I found myself aimlessly wandering up and down ALL the aisles, re-discovering all the foods that I knew I didn’t need. I started picking up random things I thought I wanted like a packet of Oreros, some type of pre-packaged chocolate sponge cakes and some cookies. I wandered around the store with them for ages….until I suddenly changed my mind and I ditched them in another aisle of the store and quickly left.

That was close… and strange.

Post comp weeks 3  – 6

I used each session with my coach to discuss exactly how my off-season was going and even my strange grocery store antics. I felt incredibly stupid confessing to these things but it helped me understand why it was also happening. Each day I felt I was just getting hungrier and hungrier and my will power to say no to things was slowly diminishing with each day as I started to become more and more relaxed without a competition deadline looming over my head.

Around week 4 I was still obsessively checking how lean I was because I felt like I was rapidly getting bigger, I just didn’t want all my hard work to just disappear. I felt that if I wasn’t in comp prep that I will end up looking like I used to…the way I looked before I even started training.  We all have that one item of clothing that you use to gauge how ‘fit’ you are looking. Mine is a pair of ¾ length Nike pro’s tights, extra small. They make those things so damn small, I used to think their sizing was ridiculous and no ‘real sized woman’ would ever fit them. I had been looking at them for a while in the draw and thought stuff it, I will try them on. As I was sliding them up all I kept thinking was *please fit, please fit, please fit*. I pulled them all the way up and looked in the mirror. They still fit… this helped my mind adjust a little bit.

“It’s just one bite”, “one piece won’t hurt”, “just have some you’re in off-season!”, “now is the time to be a bit more relaxed” – I started to hear these thoughts start creeping back into my mind (as well as people saying them to me). I soon realised the mentality and habits I used to have were slowly coming back… the habits and mentality that had previously made me unhappy with myself and my weight. My coach had told me in our discussions that you can relax more in your offseason and don’t need to be so anal, to give myself a mental break and to find balance. Which resulted in my trying to understand what that actually meant:

“WHAT IS OFF-SEASON?!?!?!? I DON’T KNOW WHAT I AM MEANT TO LOOK LIKE. TELL ME EXACTLY WHAT BALANCE IS. AM I MEANT TO HIT MY MACROS OR NOT?!”

By this stage I was starting to go into full panic mode with my coach. I was really struggling to comprehend what off-season was meant to be… or how I was meant to be. My weight had been progressively going up every week but I had also been getting considerably stronger in the gym. I was at the point that I could see I was starting to look softer and fuller and it was getting slightly uncomfortable.  Even knowing I had been absolutely enjoying my off-season it still was a constant mental battle every day to keep a positive frame of mind around the changes that were happening with my body.

“OK – let me put it this way” he said “In your off-season we can be more reactive instead of proactive. If you go a little too far we can always wind it back. You WILL get bigger, that is what is meant to happen. If you want to grow you have to put on some weight and with that comes some fat”

*Relief*

Those constant reality checks are what helped keep me motivated. Even knowing I was gaining weight, my coach was right there to positively reinforce the direction I was heading in. I also actively had been keeping in close touch with a couple of girls who I met through competing. We would discuss our progress with each other, talk about gym PB’s, meet up for sessions still and celebrate the acceptable weight gains we had made.

OK I thought, I can do something with this.

Post comp weeks 6 – 8

It wasn’t until I reached this mark that I really felt like I was starting to get the hang of this so called off-season, which I might like to add is not a bloody walk in the park or any time ‘off’ really at all. Not if you want to do it properly I realised. Up until this point I had still been consistently training 6 times a week and tracking majority of my food. I would say about 95% of my weekly food was pre-planned and tracked. The other 5% where I ate something in excess of what I had planned were all those damn office morning teas or the chips at Grill’d tempted me and I ordered a regular size instead of a snack chips.

I began to start slowly not weighing certain foods and just doing a ‘close enough’ approach but still plugging it all into my food tracker program to make sure I wasn’t excessively over eating, but if I was slightly over my day I wasn’t going to stress about it *balance* I kept whispering to myself. I realised that up until this point I had been putting the responsibility of my off-season on my coach and pushing him to tell me exactly what to do, when what really needed to happen was for me to take ownership of my actions and begin to shape what I wanted my off-season to look like. I needed to come up with something that was manageable for myself, fit in with my lifestyle but also still was going to help me achieve the goals I wanted to. I had a huge brain snap and realised there was no magic formula, no single answer from my coach and no one else responsible for my body except…myself. I could come up with all the excuses and justifications I wanted to make myself feel better about certain choices I was making, but at the end of the day my body will end up being a reflection of my decisions and how much I actually care, and no one else.

I checked in with my coach again and discussed what I believed my balance to be.

“Monday to Friday I still pre-prep all my meals and weigh them because during the working week it’s easy. On the weekend though I track but eat what I feel like and allow myself 1 un-tracked meal (which is basically a guessed meal) where I can go out to breakfast/lunch/dinner and not stress or feel guilty about it. I give myself about a 100 calorie buffer in the day as I am not weighing everything to the GRAM so I am not stressing if I am over my target but if it exceeds over 100 calories in excess then I know I have gone too far. I am still training 6 times a week and tracking my strength improvements to ensure I keep pushing myself. I know that if my calories are high I can’t back off my training”

His response was simple “Yep that sounds good. As long as you aren’t going and eating entire bags of chips and packets of donuts… then you will be fine. Pretty simply, just don’t eat like a fat person”

OK I finally feel like I am getting the hang of this. I have managed to create something that works for me and my lifestyle with the coach’s assistance to ensure it will help me achieve the goals I set out. Excellent I thought. Now just too consistently stick to it.

Post comp weeks 8 – 12

Even knowing I have been literally loving the shit out of off-season, my training felt awesome, I had enough energy to do things, I was being more flexible with my food, it didn’t mean that I still didn’t have difficult days and mental battles to overcome.

Even with immense amount of positive support from friends and my coach, I still couldn’t shake the fact that I was struggling to comprehend what an acceptable off-season body is meant to look like. I remember even pointing to random girls in the gym and asking Chris, “what about her?, or her? does she look too big? Or does she look good?” I was constantly looking for a visual reference to give me something to aim for. Poor Chris ending up having deal with this mental adjustment unfolding. “Do you think I look too fat? Do you think I am getting bigger? Do you think I still look good?” I would ask him, until one day he pulled me up. “Kat, do you realise you ask me these questions every single day… “ *fuck*

Note to self: try be more chill and less crazy.

I had managed to make my way so far through off-season without binging on anything. However, the more people complimented me on how well I was doing the more comfortable and relaxed I started to get. Around about week 9 there was a day I went to work and totally wasn’t prepared, I was at a different location and didn’t bring enough snacks. No worries I thought, I will just pop over to the Coles and grab some snacks. I somehow ended up in the chocolate aisle and walked out with a big block of dark chocolate with the plan that I would have 2 squares. I guess you can tell where I am going with this…I had the 2 squares and then progressed to have another 2…. Then I checked the nutritional value and made a conscious decision right then and there to treat myself and proceeded to eat the whole damn block. I regret nothing! *I immediately regretted it*

It happened. It finally happened. I ate an entire block of dark chocolate and immediately hated myself for it afterwards. What happened to my self-control? What happened to my ability to say no? This is how it starts I thought, I was getting too comfortable and even knowing it was only one block of chocolate I knew if I didn’t keep actively on top of what I wanted to achieve, these decisions I was making would become more frequent. It would inevitably start the process of slowly becoming what I was before I started my health and fitness journey. An unhappy, unhealthy, overweight girl with a number of health issues and who cried whenever she tried on clothes in a change room. I promised myself I wouldn’t do that to myself again.

Over the next week I started to think back to what my body used to be, and what my lifestyle and daily eating habits were that contributed to creating the body I previously had. I was terrified that eating that one block of chocolate could easily turn me back to the way I used to look, like some magical process overnight I would suddenly wake up and be the girl I used to be. It also didn’t help that my weight was still inching up higher majority of the weeks and I associated those weights with how I used to look. This prompted another discussion with my coach (I always wonder if he needs to mentally prepare for my sessions, that’s why I always bring him a coffee to ensure I get the full capacity of his brain power so early in the morning) where I stated that I was terrified that if I worked my way back up to the weight I started at, that it meant I must look like what I did when I started.

Of course that wasn’t true and as soon as I was able to wrap my head around it, the scales really didn’t mean too much and my overall body composition meant everything. There was a reason why my body had as much fat as it did when I started and as long as I didn’t eat and live the way I used to then it was near impossible to create that same body. *Mind blown* Which helped me understand even more the importance of carefully reverse dieting and not just going back to eating he way I used to. So as I start to climb back to scale weights I haven’t been for sometime, my body looks completely different. These conversations with my coach helped me conclude my final off-season goals – I want to look good, fit and healthy all year round. I want to FEEL good about myself and my body all year round and not just for 20 weeks of the year during a prep.

SexyAF scales

I really do feel that just like prep, the first 3 months of my off-season have flown by. I can honestly say I gave it my best shot and like everyone else, I am human and some things can always be done better. I rocked up to my check-in with my coach and we proceeded through the measurements and skin folds. For those interested in numbers I have gained a total of about 5kgs from my stage weight and have gained approx. 7 – 8mm of fat on my skin-folds. I have managed to work my daily calorie intake up to around 2300/2400 calories per day.

“OK what’s the damage?” I asked nervously. “Have I gone full potato?” (I use the term potato for my off-season shape, as it’s a slightly odd shape with bulges here and there)

“Well it really isn’t that bad at all!” he said. OK cool I thought… maybe let’s wait and see what he thinks when he has to see me in a comp bikini.

We then progressed to take some progress photos for reference and I managed to squeeze into my comp bikini without exploding the connectors.

“WOW – this is a really good looking off-season body. You win off-season!” he exclaimed.

*sigh of relief*

“…but there is still time to fuck it up.” He added.

I know I thought to myself.

I’m not done yet…

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Posted in Health and Fitness, Life Advice

Through sickness and health, till death do us part – I do.

As I think back to our wedding last year and the vows we spoke to each other, the promises we pledged to each other and the commitment we made, I don’t think either of us anticipated the kind of support we would be soon providing to each other so early in our marriage.

I write this as I sit here at the dining table while Chris is in the kitchen preparing his own meals for the week. He knows now it is safe to be in the kitchen as I have finished my meal prep. “Is it ok for me to be in the kitchen now?” he asks as I am cleaning up. “Yep, it’s all yours” I respond as I waltz out of the kitchen with my 5th coffee for the day at 4pm in the afternoon.

This is our new normal. It has taken us some time, but during my preparation for my first body building competition we slowly worked out how to best manage my new priorities into our lives. Yes you read that right, MY priorities, that’s exactly what is was. You will hear quite often people refer to body building as a selfish – self-absorbed sport. You are of course ultimately being judged on your appearance at the end of the day and the preparation to get to that stage is grueling and intense if followed properly.

Your life ends up revolving around your training and your nutrition and the activities that support the success of those. For most people this is a strong shift in their daily routine and lifestyle and ultimately ends up impacting those around you. Your partner, your family, your friends even your work colleagues will all notice changes in you – both positive and not so positive aspects of it from their point of view.

As I am nearing the end of my first competition season – I have a mere 6 weeks in total left and then it’s all over, and I am starting to reflect on the past 18 weeks of official prep I have completed. I remembered what it was like for myself when I was supporting Chris through his prep and all the emotions and changes that came with that, and I started to wonder what it was like for Chris supporting me. Was it the same? Has he gone through the same struggles as I went through trying to support him? Have I been as crazy as he was at times or was I even worse? I figured for the sake of a healthy relationship that I should ask him and start to talk through how HE was actually feeling and how was HE coping given for the past many months I had for the first time – made myself my absolute priority. I was also very intrigued to see what it looked like from his point of view, as I don’t think I was ever THAT bad…. But I wanted to find out to be sure.

So here it is – for everyone’s reading pleasure, I interviewed Chris and have documented his honest un-censored responses. He has not been able to preview the questions, they have been asked point blank and I requested he answer immediately and honestly.

It’s worth noting that Chris refused to be interviewed until I agreed to play him in “Words with Friends” the online scrabble game…

Questions for Chris:

What’s the hardest thing you have found so far about supporting me while I have gone through this process?

“Trying not to eat a heap of shit in front of you because I know how hard it is when people do that. That is seriously probably the hardest part. I think also because you were heavily tracking during your offseason while I was in prep, once I finished I couldn’t just let loose you know – I still had to be mindful and keep myself on track for your sake. There were plenty of times that I just didn’t wanna hear about comp prep but sometimes you just have to pretend you are interested you know?, I didn’t want to bring your mood down and ruin it for you. You can still be supportive without being a blatant ass hole about things. Just because you are not interested doesn’t mean you can’t support someone, so I made every effort to still listen even when I didn’t want to.Chris interview

Was there ever a point in time you wished I wasn’t doing this?

“Yeah – when we looked at the bank one day and there was literally $50 bucks in there – that was literally the only time. Knowing the cost of comps, bikinis and traveling was still ahead of us was scary knowing that at the time we had just finished renovating our house and put it on the market and had little to no money to our name. The stress of worrying we would run out of money and the thought that you wouldn’t be able to compete when I was able to go through this when we had money and didn’t have to worry – that was a bit fucked up. This was your dream before it was mine and the thought that after all this time you wouldn’t be able to compete because of money upset me.”

Given you have competed yourself – do you think that helped you prepare for the type of support you needed to provide me?

“Yep – 100%. Knowing what training and depletion you would be going through at some point in time and knowing that once you are closer to comp how you’re mental and physical state would be. Knowing that there would be days that you would literally be too fucked to do anything and you just can’t think either. Knowing that dealing with stress would be even harder for you during this, it made me more aware of the threshold sort of thing.”

From your perspective how do you think my moods have been through this prep?

“Roller coaster ride *Lots of laughter* But reasonably good. You were good to laugh at… you know the cheese grater incident and the many times you would just stand in the kitchen lost. It’s hard to be prepared for ..those types of mood swings but you just have to expect it and pick it up and run with it”

I know it might be hard to recall…but what are some of the craziest moments you have witnessed during my prep?

The cheese grater was definitely a big one! (Chris then continues to mock me pretending to play out the whole cheese grater incident) *Imitating me* “THIS is a TRIANGLE grate and I want the RECTANGULAR one! WHERE IS IT!?? – THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING”

And the night you had a meltdown when you had to start being reversed (reversing is when you start slowly adding food back into your daily total calorie intake) with your food and just seeing you trying to deal with mentally eating more food when it feels like you should be eating less was hard. It was a big mental shift you had to overcome and it was hard to watch that.”

What are you looking forward to the most with me finishing up my prep and transitioning into my off season?

“Seeing how much you can grow in your off-season and being able to actually celebrate our anniversary and more SEX! And just a bit more of a relaxed vibe like we can just get up on a weekend and go out for breakfast or go to a movie and get a drink without having to worrying about what you are eating.

Do you have any tips for anyone who is playing a supporting role to an aspiring competitor?

“Well –  it’s like we were talking about the other day, it’s a two way role. The partner has to remember the competitor… they don’t just want your support they NEED it. This isn’t something you can get through on your own easily. You should do your best to support the person you love doing what they love whether you compete or not. You have to remember for some people it may be the only time they compete or some it may not be but you have to remember it’s not permanent. Treat others the way you want to be treated. You never know when you are going to need their support.

And finally – after all I have put you through, do you still love me?

Of course! I wouldn’t have married you if I didn’t love you. We got through this together.

End interview *queue soppy hugs and laughter*

Chris vowed to me he would be there – he inevitably signed up for this and he was forced to navigate his way through the highs and lows of the goals I had set out to achieve. It’s worth sparing a moment for those who didn’t sign up to this, the friends the family members the work colleagues, those who may not necessarily completely understand nor have they pledged their undying love for you but continued to support you the best way they knew how throughout.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Health and Fitness, Life Advice

It only takes one person to believe you can…and that’s YOU

“So tell me why you want to compete?”

I remember my coach asking me that question like it was yesterday. I also remember the answer I gave in that meeting over a year ago.

“I want to win, I am very competitive. I have no other priorities and I am willing to dedicate myself 100% to this. I love training and am addicted to seeing the results of my body changing.” Good answer I thought to myself at the time, you sound confident and sure of yourself. You know what you want and you have made it clear you are solely focused on this goal. Winning.

To this day my answer still makes me cringe.

My obsession began when I accidentally stumbled upon one of the competition teams training in my first week at the gym. I arrived slightly early for a class and I could hear a man yelling at the top of his lungs, “Instagram selfies and motivational quotes aren’t going to get you results! You need to do the WORK! MOOOOOVEEE!” His voice was like a freight train bellowing down the room. I stood there in awe watching the most intense class I had seen in my life full of incredibly strong and fit looking bodies – the buzzer went off and they all fell in a heap on the floor, most curled up in the fetal position struggling to catch their breath.

I could tell this was something different. This was an elite team of people. I could smell fear and passion in the room. The pain on each and every persons face told an immediate story of hunger, desperation, strength and determination.

“This is exactly what I need” I said to myself.

It wasn’t long until I told Chris that I wanted to compete, his response was not what I was expected nor what I wanted to hear – “don’t get ahead of yourself Kat.” That stung a little but I knew Chris was use to my mind running rampant with wanting to achieve things that were big but I was determined to change his mind and have his support so I decided to bring him along to the gym and see what all the fuss was about.

What happened next was unexpected and only now can I actually look back at the events that occurred over the year and truly appreciate them and all they have taught me. Going through everything at the time however felt almost mentally traumatic as dramatic as that sounds but I pride myself on being honest and providing people insight to the reality of thoughts and feelings that a lot of times seem irrational and just down right crazy. Things people normally don’t like the world to know because censoring ourselves and portraying an image of what we think is ‘normal’ seems so important.

offseason bod
My body at it’s fullest in off season

We have all been there right? Feeling like you are the person that is always over looked, that you are never good enough, that nothing ever works out easily for you, other people are genetically blessed and you are not and so on… you get the idea. It’s so easy, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, to get so caught up in what everyone else is doing, everyone’s successes and the things they have and compare them to the things you don’t.

So you can imagine my total shock when Chris told me he thinks he wants to compete. I was surprised but also excited as the idea of me competing now seemed more achievable and even better, we would be able to do this together. We could train and do our food prep together and our priorities would both be the same. Prep and compete in our first body building competition together. Unfortunately it didn’t play out the way I had pre-planned our future lives in my head.

off season book
The last page in my book of “off season”

To say that I was disappointed when I found out Chris made the next team and I did not is an understatement. Cue: Britney Spears style meltdown, I didn’t shave my head but I may as well have because I was not myself for a while. I felt rejected and truly at the time did not understand why I was not good enough to be put into the team. Not only that, but I now had to watch my husband live out my dream that I so badly wanted whilst also doing my best to be happy for him and supportive. I have to admit it was not easy and some days I am downright ashamed of the way I behaved. I would have sounded like a broken record to poor Chris posing questions to him that he was unable to answer:

“Is there something wrong with me? Am I ugly? Why am I not good enough? Do I really look that different from everyone else? What if I never make it? What if after you compete you are over it and my time will be ruined?”

It took me a while to realise his answer to those questions didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if he thought I was good enough. It didn’t matter if other people and friends believed I was good enough.  The only thing that mattered was if I believed I was good enough, and if I believed I was good enough then I knew I would do everything I possibly could to get to where I wanted to be. It doesn’t matter how many supporters you have, you are the only one that can actually get you there.

So that’s exactly what I did. I set to work. I spent Chris’s entire prep and competition season ensuring I was setting goals, working with my coach and achieving them. I had my eye on the next season and making that team and I knew it would be tough but I knew it would be worth it. I was so fixated on my end goal of making the team, getting my team shirt, stepping on that stage and winning – nothing else mattered. I had tunnel vision.

As much as I absolutely loathed the fact that I didn’t get what I wanted immediately, I can’t help but feel so incredibly thankful that I was denied being put into the team with the mindset I had going originally going into this. Now let me just clear something up, there were factual, logical reasons as to why I was not put into the team at that time. I was physically not ready. My physical body composition was not in a condition to start a comp prep and nor was my metabolism. My coach was willing to put A LOT of time and effort into me to get me where I needed to be. But who likes to deal with logic right?  It’s far easier to fly off the spectrum and be irrational, cry poor me and give up and walk away. Maybe even find another coach that would take me on so I could compete sooner rather that later.

“Go ahead and tell me I can’t do something – watch me go ahead and do it”

I wasn’t a quitter though. I never have been and if there is something I want to achieve I will relentlessly work towards it and attack those goals with everything I have. “I’ll show you I” I thought to myself. I set out to prove that I could do this, that I was worthy of being on the team, that I deserved to be on that stage – I just needed to work for it and now I didn’t care how long it would take. One way or another I knew I would eventually make it.

I spent a solid 34 weeks doing an “off season” under the critical eye of my coach. Each week we assessed my body and how it was responding and we worked tirelessly to build the muscle I didn’t have and the metabolism that didn’t exist. Each week I knew I was one step closer to achieving my goal and I recorded everything in a note book I titled “Off season”. During this time I watched and supported my husband going through the intense process with the team. I aligned my training and food prep to his and his needs were my priority while ensuring I was still achieving my own goals.

kat-and-chris
Chris winning both his divisions in his very first comp.

As I closely followed Chris and his team mates’ journey, I started to understand the process more. Everyone had a story as to why they were there, everyone started at different points of physical readiness– there were no two people the same. I was learning more about my body and nutrition as well as becoming more and more aware of my own self-image and how far I actually had to go still. Even though I was seeing results they were so incredibly slow there were many times I truly believed my body was actually not capable of looking ‘stage ready’.

During my serious periods of doubt I started reassessing what I was doing. Why am I doing this? Maybe I will be forever in ‘off season’ and I will never make the team and to me, at the time, making the team and winning was everything to me. Being denied initially turned out to be a blessing in disguise because going through a long off season process not only got my body in the right condition to start a prep but my mentality as well. I am forever thankful for the decisions my coach made, even if at the time it felt like he was putting me through hell.

I checked in with my coach again one day – I think it must have been about 15 weeks into my training with him. “I have changed my goals” I said sternly. “Oh yeah what are they then?” he says all intrigued. “I don’t want to win any more, I want to look like I belong. I want to get my body in the best condition I possibly can, get up on that stage and look like I deserve to be there. I don’t want to be that girl that gets discarded to the side.”

“Ahhhh – So we are having our first meeting all over again now” – he said with a grin on his face.

Fast forward to now and I have made it through my prep and am merely a day away from competing in my first ever bodybuilding completion. Just over 1 year later from setting my original goal. It is an overwhelming feeling making it to this point and looking back at the time that has passed it almost feels surreal.

I have no idea how tomorrow will turn out, I am excited but also incredibly nervous. Hours and hours of hard work, dedication and preparation have lead me to this one single moment. A point in time to showcase all my hard work and what I have managed to achieve.

Regardless of how I go though I know one thing for certain – I have already won.

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Posted in Health and Fitness, Life Advice

Where did my MOJO go?

“Just get out of the car Kat. Stop being a sook. You have come this far, you can’t give up now. After everything you have been through, every session you have already done and you choose NOW to give up. Do it, open the door and get out of the fucking car.”

It was 7pm on a Tuesday night and I was sitting in my car in the car park of the gym. I was mentally trying to talk myself into getting out of the car. I was exhausted, I was hungry, and my whole body ached. There wasn’t a muscle in my entire body that wasn’t sore. I wanted to be anywhere else but here – at the gym again. Even worse was that I had to train legs and I had zero motivation to get me through this work out.

I looked down at my phone to scroll through Instagram for the billionth time and realised it was now 7:20pm. I had been sitting in the car for 20 minutes, I realised I could have been part way through my work out by now if I had of gotten out of the car immediately when I had gotten there.

I screamed. I screamed so loud my face and throat hurt. I could feel the veins in the side of my head and neck straining. My ears popped and then I took a couple of deep long breaths. I looked back up and checked myself in the mirror. My face was red and my eyes were bloodshot. But it felt good. It felt good to let out that scream. A scream of sheer frustration, tiredness and mental and physical pain. I wiped my eyes and got out of the car.

Leading up to this moment I had completed well over 40 weeks of consistent training and tracking my food. Up until this moment I had never considered not training – I had a 100% attendance record. I had never missed a work out. It didn’t matter how sick I was, or what I had on. I have completed every single session every week. Now whether that shows my level of sheer dedication or utter stupidity I do not know…. Most likely a combination of both. I prided myself on my level of commitment and enthusiasm, I had goals to achieve and nothing was getting in the way of that.

Every day I would look forward to gym and be itching to finish work so I could go and train. All day I would run through my mind the exercises I was going to do and what muscle groups I would be focusing on. Now all of a sudden I dreaded the thought of training. It wasn’t exciting me anymore and it felt like a chore. Now I loathed that I HAD to go to the gym. Everything was irritating me. This wasn’t fun anymore and I was uncomfortable. I had reached a new level in my journey and it had gotten hard.

And just like that I had lost my Mojo.

Once I realised how I was feeling it made me feel even worse. What the hell is going on? Why do I feel like this NOW? Where did my motivation go? And how on earth do I get it back? Will it ever come back? My mind was in over drive, my body was numb and I was at breaking point. The honeymoon period was over and the shiny rose coloured glasses had come off. The reality of everything was setting in as I got deeper and deeper into levels of being uncomfortable.

The next couple of weeks were a blur. I felt like a zombie, everything I needed to do felt ten times more difficult than usual. I had a permanent ‘dead’ look on my face and the smallest things were annoying me. I remember one night my husband had plans where he was going out and wouldn’t be home all night till the next day. Great I thought – I will have the house to myself, I can watch TV eat my food and go to bed. When I had arrived home after gym he was home and he told me his plans had been cancelled. All of a sudden I was angry and annoyed. “You weren’t meant to be home!” I said to him in a stern voice. He then explained again that his plans had been cancelled and then asked me if it was a problem. I responded with “yes it is! I wasn’t expecting you home and I just want to sit on the couch and watch TV”. I knew as soon as I said it out loud it sounded dumb. I was being an idiot. He pointed out that I could in fact still do that, but I wasn’t being rational at this point. I wanted to sit in silence with no one around and enjoy my shows.

Incidents like this kept happening as I got progressively more miserable. My outburst when we were in the Bunnings car park because we had been out longer than I anticipated and I was hungry. My hissy fit at the gym because someone was on the machine I needed – and they weren’t even using it correctly. The meltdown I had in the kitchen when we had run out of zucchinis. The deathly looks I was giving people when they were just interrupting me or disrupting my routine in the slightest way. I didn’t want to talk to anyone and I was withdrawing heavily from the people around me. I wasn’t myself and I felt alone and disconnected from everything and everyone. The fact that other people around me including my husband could freely eat what they want and train when they felt like it was making me angry to the point that if someone complained about something in their life I would get right up on my high horse and have the attitude of “You don’t even know what hard is. You have no right to complain about anything.” I was getting so caught up in everyone else and what they were doing it had in turn messed me up mentally. I had fucked myself and I now needed to somehow un-fuck myself.

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Tired, sick and a sad looking face.

When friends started checking on me that’s when I knew I had to do something. “Just dropping a line to see if you are OK? You seem a bit off,” “Is everything OK? You have been a bit quiet,” and my personal favourite “I remember the days when Kat used to smile” my coach announced in front of the team while we were warming up for our team HIIT. He used to refer to me as “Captain Keen Bean” and now I just felt like a mung bean, just there for the sake of being there but no real substance to it, not very tasty and not something anyone is excited to see when it comes out on your plate. I didn’t want to be a mung bean.

You know what’s hard? Being 100% real with yourself. I had to start by acknowledging why I was feeling the way I was feeling. What led me down this destructive path? I had to start looking at the things that were bothering me and do a massive reality check on myself. I was choosing to feel this way. I was blaming other people’s actions and other things going on in my life for my lack of motivation and used them as excuses to justify not training as hard. Not preparing my day properly. Not doing everything I possibly could to get the best results I could. It was easier that way you know? It’s always easier to blame others, to find an excuse to make you feel better as to why you are at the point you are at in your life with anything you are trying to achieve really. Cause god forbid it’s not MY fault is it….

Life is always going to happen around you, people and priorities are always going to be changing and when a number of those collide and you run out of hands and mental capacity to jungle everything it’s only natural to try and take the easy road. Especially when what you are working towards has become incredibly hard. I imagine this happens to a lot of people and it has happened to me before when working towards things I have previously wanted. It’s that feeling of being uncomfortable and the effort you are having to exert to achieve it seems like a mountain – especially when it’s a goal that may take a while to achieve. Like saving for a house, changing careers, studying for a degree, starting your own business, working on a stale relationship or in my case prepping for a bodybuilding competition. You tend to hit a point when it’s so damn hard, you start questioning why the hell you are even doing this. Does it really matter? There are so many other things going on in my life that I am either missing out on or not being able to enjoy – is this really worth it? What if I don’t succeed? Was it all for nothing? Maybe I could just stop now, I am pretty happy with my body and what I have achieved so far, what’s the point of even competing?

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Looking at myself thinking I am not lean enough…

It wasn’t easy but I knew I needed to give myself the biggest slap in the face with my own advice. You know how in the back of your mind you generally know what you should do – you have just been choosing to ignore it, and even when someone gives you the advice you need to hear, you still ignore it? Because you want to hang on to your excuses and not actually put the hard work in? That’s what I needed to come to terms with first. Get ready to WORK Kat – I started operation “get myself back on track” and spent a good couple of days addressing a few key issues that were killing my motivation.

I reached out to a few key people, I had a big chat with my husband and discussed some of my expectations and support I really felt I needed, I got my comp prep book out and pre-wrote out a couple of weeks’ worth of training plans so they were ready to go, I looked back at old pictures of myself and reminded myself how far I had come, I re-read my own advice on my own Instagram posts and my previous blog posts and I also sat down and set some goals for my health and fitness to work on straight after I finish competing. Those were key to keeping me focused and to have something to look forward to after comp. One of the biggest issues I addressed though was re-focusing on myself and stopping myself from comparing my body and level of fitness to others. I was getting too caught up on other people’s progress and achievements and letting my insecurities get the better of me.

I went back to gym and completely smashed my work out, there was a fire in my belly and the adrenaline was all coming back to me. I felt good and strong and like nothing else mattered. I had my plan in hand, I had my partner and friends by my side and clear goals I had set out to achieve. I was on a mission.

It was 7:45pm on a Tuesday night, I had just finished my last set on the leg curl. I stood up and could see myself in the reflection of the huge windows of the gym “Who’s my biggest competition I said to myself – you’re staring at her sweetie.”

Posted in Dinner

Chicken Korma Super Salad

I feel as though there are no rules with salad. You can make anything a salad – add lettuce or some leafy mix and HEY-PRESTO you have a volume filled bowl of goodness that can be deceivingly filling and tasty.

Until I started body building I rarely ate salads. “That is rabbit food!” I would protest at the sight of anyone tucking into their salad and making out as if they enjoyed it. “You don’t really enjoy the salad Susan – we all know you are lying”

However, I had to eat my own words – now in salad form. I was getting hungrier every day, my training intensity was increasing and my food was getting lower. I was forced to start getting creative with my food but I refused to resort to bland tasteless meals and pretend I liked them. I knew the only way I would survive sticking to this lifestyle long term is if I actually enjoyed the food.

And so then – Super Salads were born.

Chicken Korma Super Salad

What you will need:

  • Chicken breast  diced- I used 130g
  • Pataks Korma Paste – 6g (about a teaspoon)
  • Chobani Plain Yogurt less than 0.5% fat – 20g
  • Zucchini diced – 100g
  • Broccoli chopped – 100g
  • Brown Onion diced – 50g
  • Red Capsicum diced – 50g
  • Red Onion diced – 30g
  • Cucumber – 50g
  • 1 baby Cos Lettuce chopped
  • Shallots chopped – 20g
  • Water – 100ml

korma-prep

Method:

Use a non-stick deep pan preferably with a lid and set to a low heat. Place chicken, zucchini, brown onion, capsicum, broccoli and 100ml of water all in the cooking dish place lid on and let simmer on low heat until chicken is cooked through. Stir occasionally.uncooked-korma

Meanwhile add your whole chopped baby cos, red onion and cucumber to a large dinner bowl.

Once chicken is cooked through and veges are soft, add the teaspoon of Korma paste and stir through.

cooked-korma

Pour entire cooked dish over your salad bowl and top with the Chobani and sprinkle of shallots.

It is a HUGE bowl of food and the Korma paste is just enough to add a big punch of flavor to the dish.

Macros:

Approx 266 calories

4.3Fat  40Protein  11.5Carb

 

 

Posted in Health and Fitness, Life Advice

It’s You vs You

Since I have started bodybuilding my entire mindset about my body image has been flipped upside down – or maybe I should say it has been flipped the right way up? 

For many years I have been guilty of comparing myself to other people. Women in social media, friends, women in magazines, every woman that has walked in the Victoria Secret Show (Facebook kindly reminded me that a couple of years ago I posted a picture of Miranda Kerr on the VS catwalk with a caption stating: Using this picture as motivation!”), and even just random women that you encounter throughout your daily activities. 

“She is so thin, she is so pretty, wow look how amazing her butt is, I wish I had (insert every feature known to woman) like her”

I was constantly comparing myself to everyone else and in turn making myself absolutely miserable. It would leave me feeling inadequate and that I was so far away from resembling any of those things that I desired, I would mentally convince myself those things were unattainable. Then came the justification and excuses – “She is genetically blessed, she is naturally thin, she must have had work done, she doesn’t have a real job of course she has time to exercise and eat well – she probably has a bloody personal chef!” and then the excuses for myself  “I have hormone issues, my birth control makes me hold and gain weight, I am naturally bigger, I have asthma, I have a slow metabolism, I have tried everything  – this is just the way I am meant to look.”

These allowed me to feel better about myself so I could slip back into my little comfortable bubble and gave the justification I needed to just continue on as I was – “Those women are completely unrealistic and freaks of nature” I said to myself as I watched another year of the Victoria Secret Show hung over with my packet of Mars Pods and can of Pepsi.

There is a great motivational quote that has been around for a while stating: “When I lost all my excuses, I found all my results.”

It wasn’t until I started to be completely and utterly truthful with myself that I managed to start getting my butt into gear (literally). I made a conscious effort to actually do everything I possibly could in my power to get healthier and ultimately change my body shape. 

But how do you get yourself mentally there? How do you manage to stay consistent and grind daily towards what you want? Especially when it feels like the body I want is so far out of reach.

It’s no secret that I take a lot of photos of myself at the gym or at home or anywhere really. I have done this for a long time and I am really glad I did and still do this. I was scrolling through the photo folder I have in my phone titled “Gym” the other day and I had a huge “AH -HA” moment and I wanted to share with you as to what that was. 

Over the past year and half I have collected many photos of myself, at all different angles, different weights, different levels of body fat, different amounts of food consumption. However there is one thing in common with every single photo which surprised me. I am happy. In every single photo I am smiling or have a huge ridiculous grin on my face. I looked back at these and wondered why? Why was I so happy? I can clearly see looking back at these photos that I was still overweight then, I didn’t have any real muscle definition, I didn’t look ANYTHING like the women I aspired to look like. So why was I so happy? Why had I not given up when I was still in those pudgy out of shape stages? Did I really think I looked good in those pictures on those days? My instant thought was to think how blind I must have been. 

early-comparison
One of my very first comparison photos I did. Over 2 years ago.

And then I realised what it was…..I had stopped comparing myself to others. Taking photos of myself finally gave me something to compare myself too, so I was constantly comparing my own photos from week to week. Then working on myself more and comparing a months worth of progress. Then 1 month turned into 3 and then half a year and, well you get the idea. I was addicted. I was addicted to seeing myself change. I was addicted to knowing that the work I was putting in was progressing me to where I ultimately wanted to be. Now I have photos that are even years apart and the transformations are literally breath taking – I literally have surprised and shocked myself in some cases. 

Your mindset around your body image can be an incredibly complicated thing – So don’t forget that you are the only person that ultimately controls how you are feeling and what you do with those feelings. 

It’s YOU vs YOU and nothing else

back-progress
Jan 2016 to Jan 2017

 

Posted in Health and Fitness, Life Advice

A day in the life of my stomach

I used to have such an unhealthy mindset towards food.

Food was my comfort but also my worst enemy. I had your typical love/hate relationship with food. I would eat when I was bored, I would eat when I was sad, I would eat when I was stressed, I would eat for the sake of eating. I would go through phases of starving myself as much as I could during the week and then getting to the weekend and being like – TREAT Yo’SELF. You have earned it by depriving yourself of basic foods throughout the week and going to gym 2 times a day everyday. The weekends were then epic food binges and they left me feeling miserable and hating my body, so naturally come Monday guess what mindset I started with? I needed to starve myself to try and be ‘good’ and eat less food because of how guilty and crappy I felt. Then the weekend came again ….. well you can already see the cycle happening can’t you?

My daily food intake during the week consisted of cans of Pepsi, toasted ham and cheese sandwiches, cupcakes, chocolate bars and takeaway.

I have mentally gone through a complete overhaul of my ‘relationship’ with food. Food is no longer a crutch, or used as a reward. Food is fuel. Food is important for my health and well being. Food enables me to function correctly and train well to improve my overall health and change my physique. This has taken an incredibly LONG time to do and I could harp on about this topic forever – maybe it’s something people would like me to cover more in depth or about how I have mentally over come this. But for now given it’s a new year and people are setting new goals and probably feel a bit sluggish and out of sorts after Christmas and New Years celebrations, I am going to share with you a typical day of what I eat.

Welcome to a tour of my stomach

Over time and by listening to my body, I have worked out what foods work best for me. This also includes when the best time for me to eat is to achieve the results that I want. I disperse my food throughout the day for when I need energy the most and to curb any cravings or feeling painfully hungry.

Breakfast – 5:30am
I used to bloody hate eggs – no joke they used to make me gag, but after slowly working it and incorporating them into my breakfast I now love them and wake up looking forward to breakfast every morning. I have 1 whole egg and about 60grams of egg whites scrambled in a pan with a chopped mix of shallots, capsicum, onion, zucchini and potato. I then drizzle a little reduced salt tomato  sauce. I accompany this with a big glass of water.

breakfast
Breakfast – each meal is always maximum volume

Morning Snack – approx 9:30am
My first snack of the day consists of approximately 6 – 8 plain thin rice cakes topped with smooth peanut butter, honey and chopped up banana. This is also accompanied with a side of strawberries and a black coffee. This  is a big carb hit to get me through a busy morning at work usually running around to meetings.

Lunch  – approx 11:30/12
Lunch lately has been the chicken taco salad that I posted the recipe of a few posts back. It is incredibly filling and everyone in the office is always jealous of my meal because is smells AMAZING.

Afternoon Snack – approx 2:30pm
Another dose of rice cakes, about 6 – 8 again topped with peanut butter and honey. Why? cause I bloody love them that’s why! They taste amazing and they curb that sweet craving I usually get in the afternoon. This keeps me going at work for the rest of the afternoon until I make it home for……

snack
I am definitely addicted to this meal

Afternoon Snack #2 – approx 5:30pm
Who said you can’t have 2 afternoon snacks? This snack has a very important purpose for me – it’s my energy to go to gym. Snack number 2 is a bowl of chocolate protein ‘zoats’ (shredded zucchini cooked into the oats) chopped strawberries and a drizzle of Walden Farms calorie free chocolate sauce. I noticed a huge difference in my training when I ensured I ate before going to lift weights.

Dinner – approx 6:30/7pm
A sirloin steak with salad, avocado and roasted potatoes.

 

 

One full day of eating – a boat load of food. I mostly stick to as many whole foods as I can as it means I get to eat a lot of food as you can see. Everything in this day I actually enjoy eating and I look forward to every meal. If I get bored of something I change it, it is as simple as that.

Until next time….

Kat