FINALLY announcement 1 (of 3) is that I’m prepping for a bikini competition (some of you guessed this one). It made sense to post this article after my final holiday off track, and what better time to focus on motivation than a Monday. I’ll be competing in Ireland and the UK near the end of this year leaving me 6 months to get into the best shape of my life, coached by Body By Control, who has competed himself, and who I trust implicitly in terms of guidance. After a year of weight training and maintaining my initial weightloss, establishing a lifestyle where I workout 5 times per week bar holidays, and maintaining a curvy, but fit size 10 shape I wanted a new challenge. I’ve always considered competing and admired the dedication required, but worried the decision would affect my family and following; those who aren’t into fitness or prefer a less muscular frame. Initially my family worried the training and diet required during prep would affect my fertility and mind frame, wreak havoc on my body and they expressed general concern. After time and educating them on how you can prep naturally (something that is HUGELY important to me – no short cuts or help here), in a healthy way without sacrificing the aforementioned, they came to terms with the idea.
I have no intentions of staying stage lean year round (it’s impossible anyway) or becoming bulky, however I’ve come to terms with the fact my body will change as it changes and I’ll be saying goodbye to my boobs (my favourite body fat). I’ve never suffered from an eating disorder, have no issues around food, adore training, love a challenge, work well under pressure, and the competitive side in me decided this is the year I want to compete and add another accomplishment to my belt. My background in modeling should help with the likes of posing practise and now just feels like the perfect time to explore a new area. This decision also ties in nicely to some fitness related plans I have at the end of this year and the next two announcements I’ll be sharing with you all soon. For those of you who follow me for fitness, I hope this series will shed some light on the challenges I may will throughout prep, breakdown my diet and training changes in an informative way and add a new facet to my social media. For those of you uninterested, don’t worry – my updates won’t be any more frequent than they are at present, my regular gym updates and selfies will simply contain prep related progress or captions so this way everyone is happy. I’m nervous, I’m excited and now that I’ve clicked publish on this there’s no turning back. For this series intro I’ve included a piece from Paul, boyfriend and coach, breaking down his approach to my prep.
Joanne’s Prep Approach
As Joanne’s Coach, there are three things that I have in mind when we make any decision regarding training and/or dietary choices:
- Lose as much fat as possible
- Maintain/develop as much lean body mass (the sexy stuff plus your organs) as possible
- Don’t do anything that will mess her up for the future, either psychologically or physiologically
All that means we can start to answer certain questions like why we don’t do lots of cardio straight out the gate. My approach, is that you should be doing the least amount possible while still making genuine progress during prep. You do not get bonus points from the judges for suffering more. Doing crazy amounts of cardio leaves us nowhere to go when we plateau later on, increases the likelihood of binge behaviour and can involve unrealistic amounts of time (20+ hours per week) for people just to get into bikini shape. This is not necessary. By its very nature, prep is quite extreme, certainly relative to normal life. By extreme I mean the following things become essential:
- Tracking and weighing all food intake. That means 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If it goes in your mouth, it must be accounted for. This doesn’t mean we eat the same thing every day.
- Ensuring training sessions are never missed. By the end of prep this can mean 10-12 hours plus of exercise per week – including cardio, walking and weight training.
- Having strategies for friends birthdays, weddings and celebrations of any kind that don’t take you off track – this means that we need to be able to account for what we are going to eat at these events.
- Not drinking alcohol for quite a long period of time
- Making sure that all of this is high on your priorities list. So if something comes us that conflicts with your ability to do all of this, it comes second to prep. This doesn’t mean you can’t do it, but that you have things to consider that you normally wouldn’t in day to day life
Now that list, as you can imagine, can lead to some issues for people during and certainly after prep that if we’re not smart about, can be hugely problematic. It’s not really spoken about, but the sheer number of people who balloon after their first show is astronomical, or people who never get in great shape again, or who ruin their relationships, or end up with an eating disorder, or simply end up taking an obscene amount of steroids simply to get into bikini shape (it’s far more than you realise). The reason I mention all of this, which may sound quite negative, is because these are pitfalls that exist for someone entering prep. To ignore them, is to do you guys and Joanne a disservice as a Professional Coach. Most importantly, these things DO NOT have to happen to you or her, but they can if we don’t approach our choices for training and nutrition through an intelligent lens, which I have defined as the 3 things above.
So what are the rules we follow to get Joanne into phenomenal shape:
- Eats to her individual calorie and macronutrient needs per day – she may eat whatever she likes provided it fits these targets, makes her feel as full as possible, doesn’t choose foods she struggles to control herself around and doesn’t eat things she has a genuine intolerance to.
- Records the amount of steps she hits and aims at a set target per day.
- Lifts weights five times per week, records her workouts and tries to get progressively stronger.
- She follows a Push, Pull, Legs, Upper, Lower split.
- She hits between 40-70 reps per body part, 2-3 x week.
- When she hits all of her reps on a move at a given weight, she increases the weight next time.
- She tests her training improvements every 6 weeks.
- We have a rate of loss we expect to see per week.
- Between 0.5-1% of her bodyweight.
- This is on average and may be masked by water fluctuation on the scale because of menstrual cycle, carbohydrate intake, fluid intake, stress, sodium/potassium intake and time of day.
- As a result, we do not give her more to do or adjust her plan unless we see a plateau of 2-3 weeks without change.
- We take progress pictures each week.
- When we plateau we have three options that we can make to continue progress –
- Reduce calories further.
- Increase steps.
- Add cardio.
- That’s it folks – no more, nor less complicated than that.
There are a few more little steps and considerations within that, but fundamentally that is all it comes down to. The only other ingredient we are missing from here; time. You must allow for enough time. At least 14 weeks is advisable for almost everyone – ideally a little longer if you’re looking at bringing the best physique you can to the stage or the photo shoot.