I have to admit: I have had some doubts during the past few weeks of prep.
I felt sure that I was getting leaner but the scale was not moving progressively downward, which played some tricks with my head. I could see my abs coming out in the right light, my butt was tightening up, but as far as the scale was concerned…
One day I would be at 152, the next day: 151, the next day 153. It was like that for about 2 – 3 weeks. I thought for sure I was doing something wrong. I was probably eating too much, I was stagnating – what was going on?
In my head my thoughts were: I’m not making enough progress.
So yesterday I emailed the photo below to my trainer and my coach. This was the photo from last Sunday. I was checking my email every 5 minutes to see what they would say and when I did receive their responses, they were both incredibly positive.
I told them that I wasn’t losing weight and they both said that it was very possible I was still gaining muscle but that I definitely looked leaner.
Thank you, Figure Gods!
My coach said that I could up my cardio to 45 minutes a session from 30 for the next week before we have our in-person check in. I am also being extremely careful to keep my macros and calories in check. I never deviated far, but there were a few days where I was a little over.
Last night I did the full 45 minutes after my “resting day lift” of bis and tris. I followed macros to a T. This morning what did I find when I stepped on the scale? 150.6!
I have not seen that number since my weight was on the way up during the bulking phase. Although I know not to live by the scale, this means that my body is changing.
Last night, my boyfriend told me that my legs were definitely looking tighter and the other night in the gym someone who I hadn’t seen in a while came up to me and said, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but you look good! I remember when you first came in here and you look great! You’re consistent, making progress.”
I needed that.
Here we go! Finishing out the 5th week of cutting on Sunday. I am out of town this weekend, going home to visit my Grandmama for her 96th birthday! I will post a new photo early next week – looking forward to seeing what’s happening.
What’s going on with your prep?
Who would of thought that part of getting ripped first meant getting a little plump?
When I first signed up for this bodybuilding journey I was expecting to dial up the exercise, dial down the food intake and then see my amazing muscles grow and bulge all the way to the stage.
I, of course, did not understand the science of muscle building at that time.
Cutting and muscle growth are not something you can do in tandem. You can cut and spare muscle, but you cannot cut and gain muscle.
That was news to me.
Muscles need plenty of energy from food to fuel their growth which happens with caloric excess and cannot happen with a caloric deficit. You shouldn’t be packing in a thousand more calories a day, but 200-300 over your daily expenditure should do the trick. And those calories should be good ones, mainly from complex carbohydrates which will increase your glycogen levels to create a favorable environment for muscle growth.
The more I travel down this road to competition, the more I realize how many unfounded beliefs and strange ideas I carry with me about my body and muscle building in general.
I am now travelling down the road to enlightenment
Like many women, I have been hung up on being slender – if not skinny – my whole life. I have worked endlessly with no real finish line in sight to change my body to look like something I don’t even know if it could.
When I started working with my coach I was 5’10”, 145lbs. His goal for me was 155. I couldn’t believe that I was signing up to getting heavier, but I did sign up.
This is me before.
Having suffered through eating disorders in the past, my mind was going a mile a minute trying to be at peace with what I was doing. I could see glimmers of my 6-pack disappearing due to water retention. My thighs started to touch.
I was sincerely uncomfortable with what I was doing, and my brain was unable to find the rationale behind gaining weight. I was allowing my body to morph right before my eyes away from what I wanted it to be.
What was I doing?
I did a lot of self-coaching over the next few weeks. I told myself that although this was uncomfortable, I had never tried to gain muscle by eating more ever before. I read more online. I talked more with my trainer. I found rationale behind his advice.
I needed to gain muscle, so I needed to fuel myself more. I had to give this method a try, so I pushed on.
I reassured myself that my body is malleable, that my body will be okay and that I can return my body to whatever state I so desire – if I choose – after this is competition is over.
I couldn’t deny my brain that I was seeing my muscles grow, even if they were covered by an extra puffy little layer of body fat. I now knew that I couldn’t cut back my calories and expect the results I desired.
So I decided to charge on.
It was a Tuesday night. I was in the gym. I was doing squats and looking at myself in the mirror as I worked through my last set. I was staring hard at my legs as I raised up from a deep squat, clenching my butt cheeks. Are my legs fatter? Do I look fatter?
And suddenly a switch flipped. I finished out the set and put the bar on the ground.
No. I’m stronger and want to be strong and I will continue moving forward and I will not look back.
And I was suddenly over the skinny thing.
I wasn’t going to beat myself up over the fact that my pants were a little tighter. I wasn’t out of control. I wasn’t doing anything ridiculous. I was adding some calories and adding some muscle and this was purposeful.
I want to achieve my goal and so I will do what needs to be done to get there, even if it is slightly uncomfortable for a while. Even if my pants do feel like sausage casings.
I decided that I was going to let my body do this and then finally my brain decided it was going to do this, too.
And so I am continuing to allow myself to get stronger in every sense.
What have you learned on your journey?