Bikini Prep: Top 4 Things You Should Do After Your Show

Just one week after my competition and I have been feeling anxious. Going from 6 days of workouts, early morning cardio, meal prep, and every thing that involved ‘Comp Prep’ has come to a stop. So what now?

For me, I continue living the basics of a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. I won’t stop working out or eating clean, I modify my plan. I continue eating my meal plan with modifications. For example, I recalculated my calorie intake to a maintenance amount and from there I fill in the blanks for my macro nutrients. I use this as a guide for when I prepare my daily meals. It’s important to understand after a bodybuilding show you have to slowly increase your calories to re feed yourself and not rebound.  It’s also important to give yourself some time off. Some competitors continue if they have multiple shows in their schedule but when you have finished your last show of the season taking a week or more from the gym is ideal for your body to get much needed rest and recovery. Here are a few tips to consider after competition season.

Rest and Recovery

After putting your body through months of vigorous training, disciplined eating, and the depletion leading up to your show it’s time to take a breather. This means not working out and allowing your body to rest. Trust me, this is an important part of the post show process. My first few years of competing I didn’t listen and was back at it a day later doing an hour of cardio and weight training. The results kept me tired and my workouts suffered. I learned getting enough rest and sleep (not just post season) is beneficial to your recovery from competing. For more information on this topic click here.

 

 

Calculate maintenance calories and eat

 

A lot of competitors have a hard time post show because they stop meal prepping and start eating whatever they want but this can send them down a spiral of bad eating and quick weight gain. When you have depleted your body with low calories and restricted macros it’s vital to plan for post show nutrition. Believe me, my first show I gained 20 lbs in three weeks and I never let that happen again. Unfortunately I did not have the proper guidance but learned it was the route to take. Get with your coach and ask about a maintenance plan before moving towards a building phase.  If you are looking for a coach please  contact me directly.

Get back on a regular workout routine

This is not a hard thing to do for most competitors. We find the gym to be our happy place and spend hours upon hours there weekly to get the results we want. After talking to your coach about the next steps you should also make short and long term goals to keep you motivated and planning for your next show if it’s the direction you want to take. Also, a regular routine will keep you mentally fit. I have seen a lot of competitors go through post show blues and even reported feeling a void. It’s normal after coming off a natural high of adrenaline from the show and not having a plan or direction.

Get feedback and work on building or growing for next show

Feedback from the judges and your coach will prepare you for what to work on next. If you are an amateur looking to go Pro then you want to get as much feedback from every show and train to create the look and symmetry required to take it to the next level. I competed in four national shows before earning my pro card as an IFBB and some of the feedback I received was my quads were too big, my lateral delts too small, and my back not wide enough (this helps create a smaller waist in bikini).  With this information I focused on these specific things as I continued to work on everything else.

 

At the end of the day a post show plan can have a large impact on your next steps. Spiraling into bad eating can negatively affect the way you feel and lower motivation. Then trying to recover and lose the weight you gained can be a challenge if you do not have a plan. Bottom line…listen to your coach. We know a thing or two about this and believe me it’s not fun to watch someone throw away all of their hard work.

Juliana Halloran

CPT, Nutritionist BSc.

One Habit at a Time

When we think of habits they aren’t always thought of in the best light.  Bad habits have always been the spotlight when deciding to make a change but what about the good ones?  When we decide to become healthier , fitter, it’s never an easy task, especially if we want to take a healthy route that allows us to sustain it longterm.

An approach I take with my clients has been one that allows you to go at your own pace and develop new good habits over time.  We have all gone full speed ahead with extreme diets and crazy high intensity workouts that I’m sure most of us have crashed and burned. The problem is we are all creatures of habit and at the end of the year we make claims to the “New Me”, start the regimen along with the other crazies that have the same aspirations and before January ends the regular gym goers no longer have to share their favorite cardio equipment with the new year traffic.

One way to remove yourself from this cycle is start developing good habits that lead to a sustainable fit and healthy lifestyle.  Obviously eating right and exercising are on the top of the list but there are a number of changes that need to take place for these two to stay consistent.  For example, if you intend on going to the gym to do cardio after work then start by packing your gym bag and putting it in your car every night before you go to bed.  I’m sure you have a pre bedtime ritual and this can be added to it.  Even if Wednesday you know you can’t go because you have carpool that night you still need to pack your gym bag Tuesday night.  Preparation is key if you want to succeed at anything.

 

The bottom line is small changes practiced daily create long term habits. It’s up to you to be consistent. Here are a few steps you can start today to create healthier habits.

1. Decide on 1 new behavior/habit and schedule in daily calendar

2. Plan ahead. Get the materials you need to start and have ready for use. If your new behavior is drinking more water get one that holds at least 24 oz and can take anywhere.

3. Execute. Do it and be great at it. If your new habit is taking your lunch to work find delicious recipes and prepare ones you enjoy.

4. Stay consistent. Easier said than done.

Starting something new can be tough but you are stronger than you realize.

 

Juliana Halloran CPT, Nutritionist BSc.

Muscle Recovery

There is nothing more fulfilling than when you’re in the zone and your workouts make you feel like Thor fighting through the ancient dead before fighting his crazy sister Hela in Ragnarok, you feel unstoppable. In fact, taking a day off seems absurd and you definitely don’t want to stop progress, right? Not exactly, taking a day off really does your body good and you need it.

Muscle recovery is vital to your progress. I know I know, I also said your nutrition is vital to your progress, well guess what? So is your muscle recovery. As a competitive bodybuilder, I understand the importance of rest and recovery and there is more to it than just sleep. Fueling your body, engaging in active recovery, and your nutrition all play vital roles in muscle recovery.

In the following article Muscle Recovery: Essential to Your Next Workout  was originally published on HVMN and dives into consuming, resting, and techniques for recovery. It also highlights the importance of foam rolling and stretching to help reduce the risk of injury. Overall, we have to take care of our bodies in and out of the gym and it starts by empowering yourself with the right knowledge.

Juliana Halloran

Training on an Empty Stomach..Yay or Nay?

I am often asked if it is alright to train on an empty stomach. I think this is a common issue for anyone who needs to get to the gym early in the morning and eating a breakfast of solid foods such as eggs, veggies, and maybe some fruit before a 6am workout can be difficult, if not impossible, for many people. You’ll have to be up early to prepare breakfast, eat, allow adequate time for digestion and get to the gym for your training session. Even if you prepare food ahead of time, many people don’t have much of an appetite upon waking.

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to people who train early in the morning. If you are coming to one of the evening workout sessions, it’s likely the last meal you had was lunch. 4 to 6 hours without food is enough to leave you in a partially fasted state which can negatively impact your ability to perform your best in the gym. Nonetheless, skipping meals isn’t a good idea and today I’ll discuss a few reasons why you should reconsider training on an empty tank.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that individuals who skipped breakfast before training had diminished insulin sensitivity as well as increased LDL cholesterol. Insulin sensitivity is important for proper nutrient uptake and long-term health as severely impaired insulin sensitivity can result in insulin resistance which is a risk factor for coronary artery disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. High LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, is a risk factor for arteriosclerosis, hypertension, stroke, as well as other cardiovascular health issues.

In addition to improving your long-term health, your athletic performance and body composition can be greatly improved with proper pre- and post-workout nutrition. In a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers found that subjects who consumed a protein shake before and after resistance exercise experienced greater gains in lean body mass and increased 1RM strength over those who did not.

Another recently published study found that consumption of whey or vegan protein before heavy resistance training actually resulted in an increase in resting energy expenditure the day after training. One group consumed protein only before their training sessions and the other group consumed an equivalent amount of only carbohydrates, the protein only group had significantly higher resting energy expenditures 24 hours after their training session.

Furthermore, the American College of Sports Medicine has presented research that suggests pre-workout protein intake can be even more effective for recovery than a post-workout protein shake alone. In other words, consuming a proper pre-workout meal can help increase your strength, improve recovery, as well as boost the amount of calories you burn at rest for up to a day after training which can help facilitate reduced body fat and improved body composition.

Another study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a placebo group had significantly higher levels of cortisol, myoglobin, and creatine phosphokinase (CPK) after exercise compared to those who consumed a protein and carbohydrate mixture. High blood levels of myoglobin and CPK are most commonly indicative of muscle damage. Once myoglobin is in the bloodstream, it needs to be filtered by the kidneys. In severe cases, this can result in a condition known as rhabdomyolysis which can lead to acute kidney failure. This suggests that consuming some protein and carbohydrate prior to your training session can reduce the amount of muscle damage caused by intense exercise. As a result, this will allow for more intense training sessions and less recovery time needed between training days.

An easy way to get pre- and post-workout meals is to simply drink half a protein shake before you train and the remainder immediately after. Keep in mind, pre-workout supplementation can be highly variable between people so I recommend experimenting to see what works best for you. Combined with a good nutritional plan, you’ll recover faster, get stronger, and be leaner. 

If you need a high quality protein I recommend the following:

Vegan Protein Powder

  • Vegan All in One formula that’s dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free & non-GMO
  • Flavored & sweetened using only naturally derived ingredients
  • 20 servings per container

 

Collagen Peptides Protein Chocolate

  • Collagen Peptides from grass-fed cows
  • Supports healthy skin, joints, hair & digestive system
  • Flavored & sweetened using only naturally derived ingredients
  • Per serving: 80 Calories, 19g Protein, 1g Carbs (Vanilla) / 2g Carbs (Chocolate), 0g Fat
  • 30 servings per container

 

Whey Isolate Protein

  • Ultra-filtered, low-lactose, non-GMO Whey Isolate Protein
  • Supports muscle repair, lean body mass & antioxidant capacity
  • Flavored & sweetened using only naturally derived ingredients
  • Per serving: 110 Calories, 25g Protein, 1g Carbs (Vanilla) / 2g Carbs (Chocolate), =1g Fat
  • 30 servings per container

 

Juliana Halloran

Supplements…Who to Trust

The supplement industry has grown in the last twenty years.  With new products being introduced in the market no one can keep count.  When someone asks me what I would recommend for a multivitamin I only talk about what I have personally taken and what has worked for me. Currently, I am taking a high-performance vitamin that has made a positive impact on my daily performance.

Dietary supplements are required to have a Supplements Facts panel and I generally trust what is on that panel.  Then looking towards the bottom of that label it clearly states, ‘These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration’.  Should I be worried?  To be honest with you, I would feel a lot better if the FDA approved it.  I know that if everything were to stop and a new law implemented the FDA to approve all vitamins, herbs, and supplements to be tested for validity, quality, and compliance, we would see a lot of companies go out of business and larger companies take over the industry.  This would be followed with the larger companies trying to gain control of people in Congress that make the laws behind these regulations and it will start mirroring the meat and poultry industry. 

Currently, the FDA does have regulations that monitor the supplement industry like the labels.  “FDA regulations require that certain information appears on dietary supplement labels” (FDA, 2009).  Claims about the product must be accurate and truthful, “This statement or “disclaimer” is required by law (DSHEA) when a manufacturer makes a structure/function claim on a dietary supplement label (FDA, 2009).  For the most part, the FDA does play a role in the supplement industry, but it isn’t until a product harms enough people that the FDA takes action to remove the ingredient or the product. 

Overall, I would like to see supplements that have stimulants be approved while vitamins and herbs that work alone or together to meet deficiencies for optimal health continue being produced and marketed as is. 

If a product is meant to treat you then the pharmacies already have a hold on it and they can go through protocol necessary for a drug.  Besides, we find vitamins like A and C in our foods and I definitely don’t want to get a prescription for that.

If you are looking to improve your nutrition please contact Juliana at feistyfitness@gmail.com

 References:

No author, FDA U.S Food and Drug Administration (Oct 14 2009)“Overview of Dietary Supplements”. Retrieved on April 1, 2011 from website:

http://www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/ConsumerInformation/ucm110417.htm#regulate