9 weeks to go! This competition prep has honestly been flying by for me. I don't know if it's because I am so busy or because I am much less stressed this time around, but I feel like weeks are going by without me realizing.
This past week has actually been a bit of a struggle physically. This is the first time in this prep I have felt run-down and physically exhausted. Larry had really switched gears completely last check-in to get me over my plateau (which worked wonderfully) but it's already catching up with me. I don't think my workouts/cardio/diet are too much for me because it's very comparable to my last preps in which I did fine. I just think maybe with how busy I am on a regular basis, along with my intense workouts and cardio, it's too much for my body at this time. I'm sore, tired and a bit zoned out during the day. I am making sure to get plenty of sleep these past few nights and that has already helped tons.
On that note, let's talk a bit about sleep. I am a person to ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS (yes, 3 were necessary to get my point across) prioritize sleep. Our society is so fixated on performance and "grinding" that sleep is the first thing we cut out to be able to work towards our goals. This is actually one of the worst things you could do and is completely counter intuitive. We really underestimate the importance of sleep and often view it as a "waste of time". Although scientists still don't fully understand sleep, it is clear that it plays a crucial role in our survival (obviously). There are so many studies that show how sleep deprivation negatively affects literally every system in our body. Other than the clear, short-term side effects of a sleepless night like grogginess, moodiness and bad memory it can have much more health consequences than we might think. Sleep deprivation leads to tons of conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and depression. Another extremely important aspect to consider, especially for those in prep, is the effect on the metabolism. Yes, sleep deprivation hinders fat loss! It causes a shift in metabolism that preserves fat at the expense of muscle mass. Oh, and it's proven that your sleepy-brain has much less self-control and has more cravings. It's no surprise that in competition prep, we are pushing our bodies to the limit. The mix of restricted calories, intense workouts and hours of cardio a week is more than enough to lead to exhaustion. I'll be the first one to say that feeling tired and sore is a part of prep, but exhaustion is another thing. If you are starting to feel groggy and not thinking straight, it's time to take a breather. No competition is worth risking your physical or mental health. Take an extra day off from the gym, go to bed extra early and take care of yourself. Mentally, I have a really hard time taking a day off from working out. On these days I like to go to the gym and spend a good 30-45 minutes foam rolling and stretching to put my mind at ease. Recovery is key in prep and more is not always better. Coffee can temporarily fix a loss of sleep, but don't make it a habit. Sleep is incredibly important and we need to start prioritizing it.
Here is the shape 9 weeks out!
Diet-wise everything has been going really well. I haven't been hungry, I have had virtually no cravings and I haven't cheated on my diet at all. My body has changed drastically in the past two weeks and I'm starting to get really excited! My check-in this week went very well and I have progressed tons in the past two weeks, maybe even a bit too quickly. Larry even allowed me to take a cheat meal, which will be the first one so far. I am definitely going to treat myself to some sushi and ice cream! I always have a bit of a mental struggle when I take a cheat meal, but it almost always actually benefits me. The leaner I am getting, the more I am seeing the progress I have made in this past offseason. I started this prep 10lbs heavier than my first prep a year before and at first I wasn't sure how to feel about it.. I assumed I just "let myself go" too much and that I gained too much weight. I clearly proved myself wrong, because I have made really great gains this year, especially in my lower body. The further you get into prep, the harder it gets physically and mentally, but the more motivated you become. Once you start to see what you're truly capable of and the changes in your body, it pushes you to keep going. I absolutely love the process and I don't see prep as a sacrifice at all. A lot of people seem to have pity for me when I talk about my diet, training and overall lifestyle. They seem to think I'm depriving myself of life's pleasures and that prep is the negative part of competing. The thing is, to get to where I want to go I need to be completely dedicated. I love competing, I want to go very far and because of that I don't see it as a sacrifice - I see it as part of the process. Waking up in the morning and feeling a bit leaner than the day before, seeing a bit more definition than the week before drives me. Are there days where I'd like to be "normal"? Yes! Would I change anything to be "normal"? No. Like I talked about in a previous post, there are good days and there are bad days. Again, it's all part of the PROCESS. We all choose what we do with our lives and we choose the goals we put our energy towards, and this is what I choose. I don't see my strict diet and training regimen as a negative thing because that's what will bring me to my goal.
Love what you do and do what you love, everything else will fall into place.