If you want to know the dang dirty truths, this is the blog to read. I’m going to tell you everything and some of you won’t like it. Some of you will be haters and think you know more than me. You might. This blog is my journey and if you get anything good out of it.. that’s a bonus.
I have done two preps in the last 52 weeks. Each prep was 24 weeks long. I am 51 years old. You think that doesn’t matter.. it does. My body is tired of prep. That’s the honest truth. I’m tired of prep. I’m pretty much hit the wall on this and if you ask me to my face.. I’m probably going to spout off.
Personally, I would never do two preps back to back but the federation I compete in suddenly removed the pro qualifer in October so there was only 1 chance to try for my pro card in 2017. My husband and I discussed it and we made the decision to do this show even though I had not yet recovered from my last show. I went in fully understanding what had to be done and I did my best. We worked hard and I did a great job. I am 100 percent confident in the package I brought to the stage!
As it turns out..
I actually had a great prep. Our whole team started January 1 and we did an entirely flexible prep. OMG OMG OMG
Basically what that means is each day I hit
my protein goals,
my fat minimums,
my fiber goals,
my fruits veggie goals,
my micro nutrition goals,
and I ate over 35 different foods weekly.
The flexible part came in the fact that I was able to be flexible with my carbs and additional fats to suit what I needed to fuel but also to accommodate what I wanted to eat.
My workouts never suffered. I never “did fasted cardio” unless I wanted to. I never did anything that wasn’t fueled properly to give me the most effective workout.
Our whole team has found success prepping this way. It is truly based on each of us .
We teach our new competitors to pay attention and learn this process so their preps will become more and more flexible the longer they compete with us.
This prep we were able to perfect our food so I never felt deprived
Frankly, doing prep.. I can do this stuff with my eyes close. The diet is easy. It’s easy for me because i am not suffering like I did on my bro preps! We had some gorgeous food!!
Things I liked about this prep:
Front loading my tracker with dinner early in the morning. Hubs and I would decide on dinner and I would be excited! I would fuel my workouts, then fill in the rest of the day so I had plenty of macros for dinner. Here’s a few of our dinners.
That Monte Cristo Sam had jelly on it.
Our team has Taco Tuesday and Waffle Wednesday each week!! Yummo. We ate Shrimp and Grits a lot as well as Halo top ice cream! I had a cookie almost every day. Near the end, I did not because it would not fit.. but that is the way the ‘cookie crumbles’.
What I did not do:
Binge: I had one day when a refeed went out of control. I was about 14 weeks out and my Cinnamon Toast cruch measurement turned into something crazy. I modified my other macros for the rest of the day but I had to remove CTC from my food roster because I felt it was triggering me. I’m not bragging. I’m stating progress. In 2013 and 2014 on my Bro preps I found myself having full on binges. I began purging again after both shows. Getting a handle on prep with IIFYM was a life saver because I don’t feel deprived. There’s no ‘poor me” here. I need progress not perfection. I planned my days so they felt fun and I did not have the urge to dip into food that was not on my plan.
Eat Out: . I did not eat out at all in my prep. I only ate what was prepared in our house. Even early on in prep, I won’t do it. I just stayed out of restaurants or I brought my food. I’m fine with that. Traditional training
I have had plenty of injuries this year. A few of our team mates really suffered with some bad injuries. We were all able to train in such a a way that we still got our work done and hit the stage having met our goals.
I cannot have a bar on my back anymore. I cannot run stairs nor can I do plyo. I probably did 3 plyo sessions this whole year. I had to modify my training to keep my back pain free. My pole workouts kept me strong and flexible and I added the chiropractor weekly. I need longevity over PRs. I will never try to beat my 185 pound dead lift PR because it took several chiropractor visits to get me out of pain. I’m totally ok with this.
My workouts were focused on muscle activation and not based in ego or how much I was supposed to suffer for my sport. I wanted to focus on form and creating balance in my physique. I incorporated Fascia Blasting and while I have so far to go there.. I saw amazing changes in my abs and lower body.
Blasting those abs!! Holla
Results: I took 3 trophies in my show. I loved my physique this year. I feel like this was my favorite package I brought to the stage. My team took two pro cards. We took a total of 7 trophies in this show. Our current trophy count for 2017 is 31 and we are all IIFYM and using our own unique plans.
Part of this journey is to share what works and what didn’t. I’m in no way saying my way is perfect or I couldn’t have come in better or whatever. I’m saying that the bigger picture shows that
1. I have never been given a trophy for suffering, nor has anyone else to my knowledge.
2. Everything has variables and you have to work with what you have and are able to do.
3. Cookie cutter plans would have been the death of me for prep.
4. Being happy and making progress in my journey is paramount to someone handing me a plastic trophy.
5. I can always strive to improve and use what I learned to better serve my clients and my future preps.
6. Science is indeed a thing.
Here are some of my pics.
We received 7 trophies for this show. IIFYM. Yes.. and two pro cards for our ladies.
Bikini portion of the Glamour category as well as the themewear.
I’m 51 and I’m fucking proud of this. Yeah I said it.
This body was built on IIFYM, truly enjoying what I do. I have put the time in to slowly learn to trust my body. I will always work incredibly hard but never suffer for a sport that does not reward you for how much you suffer. It’s useless. Working smart is much better! Strategies!!
There is something powerful about learning how your body works and building on this concept. As athletes to it seems beyond ridiculous for us to continually tear down our bodies and offer it poor nutrition yet ask for it to improve.
Believe me.. I have room to improve but my first priority is recovery. I will not take the stage again until I Worlds Championships in Nov 2018 so I can have a solid building season .
I am very proud of my athletes and their placings are important but what is most important to me is not what someone else thinks of them, it’s the improvements and knowledge they are gaining in their journey. Having a team with ongoing dialog of our experiences has been a game changer as we navigate our competition endeavors.
If you like my blog.. be sure to follow Caitlin on her blog. She is very honest and truthful about her journey!!
We all made it through the holidays. Some of us are fluffier and some no worse for the wear. The beginning of a fresh new year, signals SHOW SEASON. Everyone is baking chicken and veggies (not me) and buying up the gallon jugs of water!
I have 16 ladies competing this spring and we are fired up and ready!!
We are super excited to bring UFE Rampage to St. Louis in just 16 weeks! This will be a great opportunity for athletes to have a truly amazing competition experience! This show is going to be something St. Louis has never seen with the categories of Fitness Model and Glamour. If you are competing in NPC Midwest or NANBF Liberty, you can do UFE! We are the week in between!!
Right now, you can register for UFE shows for just $75! Here’s the link to Rampage
I’m starting my show prep a bit early. I’m competing this year in UFE Fury in Chicago, June 3. This show is a Pro Qualifier which means if I win, I can earn my pro card. It was a tough decision to turn around and start a prep again, but I’m ready to do it. I have several pole and fitness photo shoots this spring so it’s a good time. I will finish my year with UFE Worlds in Toronto, November 2017.
Andreia Brazier in her show season and off season.
Let me start this post by saying this Stage Lean is addicting. To me.. it’s like in the movies when you see a vampire taste blood for the first time. You are on a never ending path to chase it down, own it and keep it.
Every single time I prep, I swear I’m going to stay stage lean but I don’t. It’s not real and it’s really just a moment in time for most of us.
What is stage lean, really? If you don’t know what stage lean is, it’s extreme.Personally, I love my physique at 5 weeks out. As I get closer to stage, I look drawn , tired, frail, tiny, quite bobble headish. On stage, under the lights, in my bikini I look huge. But in reality, it’s the smallest I’ve been since I was 11 years old. As a women, it’s the ultimate high even though I know how I look in real life.
Stage lean is the extreme phase of body building where you are at your very best, displaying all your hard work and feeling like you own the world. It’s important to be extremely lean so that your muscle show and you can be judged on them!! I’m not thin. I’m not naturally athletic. I’m not an outlier. I’m not someone any of this comes easy to.
Those few moments in time are everything. I will take on everything about prep, dieting, training to own those moments. Seeing your hard work makes it all worth it!
What is off season?
Off season or improvement season is for building muscle and getting gains! It’s important as competitive athletes to work to improve our package each year. To do so, we must eat and lift. In a caloric deficit, we are fighting to keep the muscle we have. That means for most of us, in our prep, we are working hard to save the muscle we have! No muscle is growing!
To achieve gains, we must be in a surplus of calories and that’s how we grow!
A solid off season weight would be 8-10 pounds over stage weight.
We are hopeful that post show, we can do our reverse diet properly and move into a lean bulk. For many, it’s simple. For some..not so much.
The internet provides us some pretty intense fitness inspiration. My Instagram feed is all about body building competitions so I have a steady diet of lean, ripped , physiques to keep me motivated. When you finish your show season and begin your lean bulk, it’s very easy to get discouraged and feel like you are failing because you don’t look shredded like the InstaStars .
So many of our fellow competitors find that post show, they experience the blues and they feel fluffy because now they now comparing their physique to their stage weight.
This certainly has the potential create body body dysmorphia!
“Look at her.. If she can stay ripped all year, why can’t I? Why am I failing?”
Someone I admire very much made a post that really brought it home for me..
What if, post competition you were normal? What if you gained a little weight back, you don’t look stage lean and you just ate at your maintenance macros. Because we are looking at the InstaStars who appear to stay stage lean all year round, we have a skewed view of what is actually normal. His point was, the majority do gain in off season and don’t stay stage lean. So while feeling like we are the ones who aren’t normal.. we actually are. Most of us do, eat, lift and build!!
Chasing the dragon: As body builders we laugh and say
Welcome to the world where you are
1. never lean enough
2. never big enough
3. your abs are never good enough
There are athletes out there who never take the time for their bodies to recover. They don’t take grow seasons and they don’t improve. But, recovery is important. As athletes we should take at least the same amount of weeks we dieted to recover. I have a full year between my shows. My body could not take less. One year I did an 18 month off season.
Recovery and improvement are good things. They just don’t look very glamorous!
Judgement: I see posts from athletes who are feeling so strong as they compete then their feed in off season becomes apologetic. #offseason #fluffy #bulking
Off season doesn’t and shouldn’t look like stage lean! Why are we judging our fellow athletes when they are doing what they are supposed to do ? EAT and lift heavy weights!
Growing a booty means feeding that booty. Gains come from surplus! What we can do:
Be kind to ourselves. Stop listening to the noise of what the InstaStars present. They are not directing it at us. They are selling sups, menus, workout pants. Of course they are going to present their ultimate package all year. They have sponsors!
Also..We do not know these people and their feed could be posts from their prep, or their photo shoot time frame. We do not know if they are lean naturally. We do not know if they are enhanced. We do not know if their pics are enhanced. Comparison is the thief of joy!
Change the channel: One of my bikini athletes had a great idea. She scaled back her Insta feed to reflect only natural athletes she knew. This is a protection of her spirit! She is committed to bring the best HER possible and the unknown variables of InstaStars are distracting!!
Plans: We can focus on the goals of our next competition. Eating with purpose to support the gains we need to help us come in stronger. This is when I feel like I’m most challenged as an athlete. Keeping my focus when my body image is low.
Support: I love having a team. We support each other because we know how this feels. We can keep each other grounded as we navigate this part of the journey! There are facebook groups that are very good support systems for competitors. Not all of them are, but if you find like minded friends it can help you feel less like an island!
I wish you luck in your competition journey. I know you are working so hard!
When I look at my stage pics, I’m always feeling a little crummy about how my skin looks so muddy with that spray tan. I feel like it never looks like ME on stage. This year, I did not hire hair and makeup because I need to commit to creating my own look.
I went to You tube and watched the same videos everyone watched. I bought every product on those videos too.
She spent 4 hours with me to construct a look that will be perfect through all my costume changes. She taught me how to hold the brushes and how to contour, MY face so my photography looks great.
I feel like a lot of girls have skills in makeup and while I’m a total cosmetic junkie, I never progressed at all in doing it well. So it’s going to be a real challenge to commit to this aspect of competition.
My skin looks really pale here but we already have put a formula together to mix shades once I know how my spray tan comes out. This will allow me to get the right amount of color without being fully chocotaco tan on my face.
Rachael put a lot of emphasis on my eyes and we are using glitter and we will use fluffy lashes too.
So now, the ball is in my corner. I have 4 hours worth of instructional video ready to conquer this.
Oh man.. who doesn’t love TACO’S!
I am 12 weeks out from my show and I am nailing my IIFYM prep. This one has been the most fun yet. Taco prep is going to be my new thing!
Look what I found! LaTiara Low Carb Taco Shells. I got these at my local Schnucks store in the Taco section.They are also available on Amazon and other Low carb sites. Check Google!
Each taco shell has just 4g carbs where as other shells or tortillas are around 18g carbs each.
La Tiara registers a B on MyNetDiary’s food score so that works for me.
It’s a small taco shell but it’s so good.
The macros for two tacos are
2. oz grilled tilapia
25 g light sour cream
20g fat free cheese
2 table spoon of salsa
Total for two tacos
That’s just 118 calories per taco!
Bro prep swaps: If by chance your coach has you on the “no fat ever” bro plan, you could drop down to fat free greek yogurt and only take 4g fat for the whole recipe.
I bought 72 taco shells on my last trip to the store!
Everything in my recipe has an A or B rating and would be considered “healthy”!!
What about doing Shrimp tacos? Yesss! I mixed shrimp with light sour cream, avocado and
filled the shell! mmmmm..
Try grilling Corn on the Cob if you have the carbs!
You could also use those taco shells for some nachos if you do it right!
Pro-tip: create your recipe and load it into your tracker early in the day. Just eat around the recipe so you hit all your macros/fiber/veggies/fruit requirements.
I am 21 weeks out from UFE Halloween Mayhem. I’m doing a slow cut and I’m 100 percent IIFYM. We are using the grill for prep this year!!
Costco: The mister hit Costco yesterday. He literally walked the food from the car to the grill.
The above pic is our charred chicken breasts. I like them so much better on the grill. They were juicy!
This is the seasoning he used.
Jennie-O turkey Sausage
This is crumbled Jennie O lean turkey sausage, onions, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms. This was really good. The macros on this are 6g fat per 56g of sausage so I only had a little but it fit my macros!
Grilled Cali flower!! The mister cut it and laid it on the grill. Done.
Other things that we could have added to this were BBQ sauces! These are at Walmart.
I love having choices and not living on 6 meals of turkey, chicken and fish.
The grill makes things taste better and it’s fairly easy.
I wish you luck with your show!
I drink Starbucks every day. Close to my show, I’ll do 2x a day. That’s my thing. These are the things I love to order when I’m cutting. You can make your own at home too. I have an espresso machine so often I will do my own.
Iced coffee plus 1 scoop vanilla whey in the blender!
I love this. It’s fantastic!
Or Icy Donut (my hubs created this one for me)
Add your own protein powder to this. I use Quest Salted Caramel! It’s amazing.
I don’t know what the macros are for Starbucks protein but I know my own!!
So this week a competitor was on a board talking about how she was going back to her Bro plan because she tried that “iifym thing” and it didn’t work. I asked her what was it that didn’t work and really had no answer. She said she ” just needed to eat clean.”
Some people get overwhelmed by too many choices. I can understand that, especially when you are used to being a strict meal plan kind of girl. It’s all you know, right?
IIFYM is not a diet. You count macro nutrients :Protein, Carbs and Fats.
You must eat at least 20 g of fiber each day.
You must hit your numbers +5/-5 grams daily.
You can eat any way you want but in a fat loss plan, your ratios are 95 percent nutrient dense foods and 5 percent discretionary.
You could eat paleo, diabetic, vegan, bro, whatever you like. You just have to hit those numbers!
This girl was confused. She missed an opportunity to eat well and have choices which is exactly what IIFYM is about. Choices!!
My prep is starting up and we decided that this summer is going to be about the grill.
I want to show you some things we did for my prep.
Protein: I get about 190 g protein per day. Rob grilled bison burgers, Shark Steaks, Cajun shrimp and turkey. So the turkey.. he took a Butterball breast and thawed it. He cut it into steaks and grilled it, 20 min per side. It was insane. There is no added fat in anything here.
I added avocado to my turkey for my fats and fiber and it was amazing.
All our food came from the farmer’s market next door to my studio.
There is no additional fats on these at all. The squash is my favorite. The flavors burst. We used poblanos and yellow peppers. I hate regular green peppers but you could try. The yellow ones are so sweet when you grill them.
Roasted cabbage is very good. We have made that into a salad for lunch tomorrow. With this grilling, Rob really just chopped and grilled. He likes to use seasonings so you can too.
I’m sure you have your own flavors you dig.
You can do it
If you are a person who thinks you have to choose the restricted non scientific BRO plan because IIFYM means all you eat is crap.. I am so sorry that you have misunderstood.
I want you to learn so you can have peace in your plan. If you are happy with ‘clean’ food then by all means, enjoy the food you eat. Dousing things with mustard because you don’t believe you can sub out anything for egg whites is just foolish. It doesn’t make you a better athlete. It doesn’t make you more HAM or beast mode. Here’s what makes you a better athlete. Listening to your body. Eating well for your gains. Choosing things that YOU like for consistency and to not feel restricted.
Remember as athletes we need 300-500g of fruits and veggies per day. All my clients, in fact eat this. That’s about 300 calories and 40g carbs or so. We need 35 different foods per week and we need to focus on our micro nutrients too. Different foods provide micros! Don’t be stuck with the same 6 food items! Investigate!! Let me know if you have questions!!
Are you moving from a Bro prep/ coaching experience to IIFYM/Flexible Dieting and feeling panic in the core of your soul? I am going to talk you down today and gently help you find your way to success and meal time peace.
What is the difference? Bro-diets are legendary for only ALLOWING foods like these.
Egg whites, turkey, chicken, fish, beef (super lean 1x per week) asparagus, sweet potatoes, brown rice, olive oil (maybe) and the super duper magical oatmeal.
IIFYM /Flexible dieting, Macro counting is NOT a diet, you eat according to your fitness goals by hitting your macro nutrients of Protein, Carbs, Fats and the micro-nutrient fiber.
Bro-Flex is when coaches tell you you are eating IIFYM but give you a restricted list of items that you can swap with. If you have a swap list, you are not IIFYM.
Let me first of all reassure you. Look at this quote from Mr. Olympia Frank Zane who utilized Flexible Dieting in his show prep, 1979.
Remember this: IIFYM was born out of Bro-fatigue. It came about organically when competitors discovered they could swap foods as long as they achieved their macro nutrient goals. The goal of IIFYM was never to eat crap all day, but to offer options.
You must hit your macros but you must hit your fiber goals too. The food you eat will by nature be ‘healthful* to hit that fiber!
You should know this
In a cut (active fat loss) the amount of discretionary food is very low, about 5 percent of your day.
In off season, the percentage can be up to 80% wholesome*/20% discretionary.
This is where the ‘poptart divas’ of Instagram confuse and infuriates the Bro dieters. Everyone has different macros.
So… If your carbs are low, you can’t eat much in the way of sweet treats however if you have lots to work with, you could potentially have more. Everyone is different.
My macros wouldn’t allow me to eat 18 pancakes ever but the Rock did. His macros are totally different than mine! Of course they are.. Look at him! He needs more food than me! That’s why YOU need macros based on YOU and not a cookie cutter diet your whole bikini team followed.
How I prep with IIFYM.
As an IIFYM coach, I believe quality of food matters.Myself, I eat 5 different sources of protein each day. I do use greek yogurt and dairy as protein. I use whey, bars and of course animal protein. Chicken 5x per day disgusts me and my stomach can’t handle beef so I need options. I eat wonderful food that looks gorgeous, tastes delish and hits my macros perfectly. I have over 35 different foods each week- not the same 11 foods for 16 weeks that I used in my bro-preps. Our team eats 300-500g fruits and veggies daily minimum. We have a veggie minimum for athletes.
This is the actual food our athletes at in prep for our last show.
I enjoy a diet soda when I want one, but I get down a gallon of water every day. I use sugar free syrup and stevia too. I eat what I want!
Story time:One of my competitors calls herself the pancake queen. I love this. I also find pancakes amazing and delish and they can be made to taste like whatever you want. My first coach would not allow me to eat pancakes. It had to be 6 egg whites and 1/2 cup oatmeal cooked. NO pancakes because “I wouldn’t look right”. I buried egg whites in mustard, hated breakfast so hard.
Quality of food
I also use my food score ratings from MyNetDiary. I only eat A and B foods. If you don’t know about food scores Click here
This would typically NOT be on the Bro diet but the macros fit my prep. I use it.
It has fiber and protein! I mix it with Sugar free syrup and get a lovely bowl of icing. Look here
Do I have to get my carbs from sweet potatoes, brown rice, Ezekiel bread? I don’t. I use things like Flat out wraps, fruit, veggies greek yogurt (has both protein and carbs-I use Light and Fit). I use Light Smart red sauce from Prego. Basically I eat what I like. Dude, I haven’t had Ezekial in 2 years!
WAIT.. aren’t foods like brown rice, sweet potatoes and Ezekial magic? My bro coaches told me they were but I can’t find any science that backs that up.
I hate brown rice. My first coach made me eat 8 cups of brown rice a day for a carb up.
I buried it in salsa and mustard to choke it down. I could have had something else. There was no reason I couldn’t have except her lack of knowledge. I refuse to be miserable in prep or any other time. GROSS. I carb up now on SF Fro yo. Even in prep. I refeed with purpose and I eat things that I like.
English muffins, eggs, turkey and ff cheese. I put SF syrup on it. It fit my macros. Those english muffins are fiber city.
Oh.. prepped with Margarita Shrimp salad
pancakes 100 ways too.
How to not go crazy when you start. When I began I might have flown a little too close to the sun. I can fit a lot of things into my plan but I sort of lost sight of my goal to eat for my health. I was crabby because broccoli took up so many carbs when I really wanted goldfish cookies. Now, I am very solid in my conviction eat well and I don’t feel well when I eat lots of sugar treats even if they do fit. I prefer in off season to use foods like Poptarts to fuel my leg day. But that’s my journey. The beauty of IIFYM is that it is YOUR journey.
For my team in PREP we follow the guideline of 95% nutrient dense food 5% discretionary.
Yes, I know that all food has macros and nutrients , you can read more on this here.
Off season is 80/20.
Start by tracking what you normally eat then tweak where you like.
Input your coaches plan into your tracker and see what the macros are.
If you are not enjoying asparagus (gross) and want to swap it out.. look here.
I simply added the asparagus into MyNetDiary in the amount that was on the menu.
I thought about the veggies I’d like to eat and began to add them in to see how much I would have to eat to get close to those macros.
I like pumpkin a lot and can mix that with some brown sugar stevia (adds 2g carbs)
but It’s fantastic. The thing to notice with the pumpkin is the fiber. I don’t have the 3g fiber that the asparagus has but I hit my fiber goals daily anyway. If you don’t have a fiber goal.. this should be a red flag!
Some athletes can eat cabbage into their last week. Green beans are pretty easy peasy to sub up. I add Reduced fat Parm to my green beans and take the fats (3g ) for my serving.
Look how close Zuchinni is! I personally do zuchinni chips in my last week. I love them!!
I use sites like rippedrecipes.com to create healthful concoctions that feed my body and soul. I like sweets. I will put something like this in my tracker early in the day so I can enjoy it at couch time. The base of this is garbanzo beans. Every ingredient is rated A,
including the dark cacao chips that I count out and weigh.
But, I can’t seem to stop eating my Bro foods I’m too afraid.
I hear ya. The thing is, bro foods aren’t bad choices. They are solid choices especially the further into prep you get. Typically you will have to taper macros to continue to get stage lean. I am very good at ‘stretching’ my food out by using volume foods like miracle noodles and zucchini. Things like Quest bars aren’t good choices for me late in prep because it uses a lot of macros in a small meal. I need more volume!! However, you simply don’t have to live in a world where you have NO options. If you make pancakes out of your egg whites and oatmeal you can do it. I use Sugar Free syrups too but I weigh and account for everything I put in my mouth. If I find ways to eat foods that make me happy, and provide me with my P:C:F: and fiber I am very happy.
Give me an example:
I do this late in prep. Oh Lort, I had a some banana, that’s not bro at all. But look at those macros. My low carb days are happier than when M1-M6 was chicken breast only.
Again, to fulfill your macros +5/-5g each day you must eat well, but you have options.
Using sites like Pinterest, IG, blogs, with the #IIFYM #Flexible dieting you will find many amazing ideas that you can modify to fit your prep!
I wish you luck in your competition training!
*I know food terms like nutritious, wholesome or healthy etc are just terms I’m using to
give you a visual. All food has macros. I also know the difference between Apples and Hostess Twinkies and you do too. So bear with me. Use your food scanner and make the best choices for yourself..The overall snapshot of your day should be healthful food with room to improvise. Choices! Just as eating healthy one day of your life doesn’t make you ‘healthy’ eating discretionary foods doesn’t make you unhealthy. Its what you follow consistently matters.