By Kate Horney
In case you missed it, Patrick and I recently competed in our first fitness competition. We had a BLAST and were really pleased with the results we got from a healthy, happy and balanced approach to contest prep.
The world of fitness competitions- whether it be bikini, figure, or physique is unfamiliar to most women. Even women who understand what the sport is about (no, we don’t take steroids or train to become a hulk) tend to shy away from what could be a fun, healthy goal full of accomplishment and personal satisfaction simply because of the industry’s norm.
And honestly, I don’t blame them! I hate the fitness industry!
Yes, I said it… I hate the fitness industry for what they have accepted as a “normal” way to train to be in the best shape of your life for a fitness competition or otherwise….
- Suffering through weeks of extreme dieting
- Hours (sometimes twice/day!) of cardio
- Sacrificing endless amounts of time with family & friends
For most women, and especially for busy ones like ourselves- this is neither practical nor normal. The idea of getting your best body ever through the fitness industry’s “norm” is a physically, mentally and emotionally draining process that does much more harm than good.
My friend Wendy, a fellow competitor, has joined me in my mission to promote HEALTHY, HAPPY & BALANCED competition prep among women and has graciously agreed to share her story….
For those reading the blog who might not know you, or your background, can you give us a little background on yourself—how did you get into the fitness industry, where did you begin? I am 42 years old and live in Wernersville PA. I’m married to my best friend Gary for over 12 years, no children. For the past 7 years, I have worked for a large telecommunications company managing the recruitment function. It was not until I met Gary that I actually found my passion for fitness. I was the couch potato and he was the fitness nut!
That all changed once I got a taste of weight lifting and what it did to transform my body. Fast forward a few years later, I came across Tosca Reno’s Clean Eating books and have not turned back since. I focused on getting into the gym 5-6 days a week and eating a much cleaner diet. I saw immediate results with my training and there was no turning back. The training in combination with clean eating really helped me fine-tune my body. I was not always totally focused on weight training. I fell in love with running and ran a few half marathons in 2009 and 2010.
Where do your priorities lie now? Family? Training? Both? Other? Etc. How has your focused changed over time? Right now my priorities lie in a few areas. I’ve been focusing on a better balance with my workouts and spending more time with my husband. My workouts are now more dedicated to adding some size and muscle. Its’ been a challenge but after a few months of tweaking the process, I’m finally seeing some results. My true passion lies in eventually pursuing a career in health coaching. I’m also looking to create an eRecipe book featuring some of my favorite healthy recipes.
What about fitness competitions interested you initially? Why did you decide to compete? I became injured from running in the latter part of 2010 being diagnosed with two stress fractures. I am very competitive by nature and needed a new goal to focus on. One of the trainers at my gym approached me about trying a figure competition. With some careful thought, I made my decision to compete. My training began in February 2011 in preparation for a May 7th show in Richmond VA. I placed 5th in my first contest, which I am pretty darn proud of considering I knew absolutely nothing about competing! I moved onto doing a second competition in July of that year in Sacramento CA. I did not place in that show but it was such a wonderful learning experience for me. I was able to receive some feedback from the judges at a post show event. The information I was able to obtain from these professionals was invaluable. If you have the opportunity to gain this information, I highly recommend it.
Do you feel that your contest prep allowed you to maintain a healthy, happy and balanced life? Why or why not? Unfortunately no. I spent a great deal of time prepping, weighing, cooking and shopping. This allowed very little time for me with my husband, family and friends. Working fulltime, I had to prepare all of my meals in advance since I was eating 6-7 times per day. My sleep often suffered. I was quite exhausted at times due to not getting enough rest during the work week.
How would you advise a woman who wants to compete? Would you tell her to do what you did? Deciding to compete is exciting but can be an overwhelming decision. The path to success starts with quality nutrition and training. Research your options. Find a qualified coach who not only has your best interest in mind but also has certifications in training and nutrition. Most importantly have fun with it. It should not be all about winning. The reward for me was getting up on the stage, being proud of my commitment and dedication that is required to compete in figure.
If you can do ONE thing differently during your prep, what would it be? It would have to be my meal plan. It was not unique or customized to what my body needed. Seriously, who wants to eat tilapia, chicken, and asparagus all of the time!! As I mentioned previously, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have professional nutritional guidance.
What is ONE THING these women can start on today that will help them prepare the RIGHT way for a fitness competition? Mindset. Having the right mindset is just as important as having an effective training and nutrition plan. Also, have a post-show plan in place to transition from pre-competition to post- competition eating. Many women struggle with that piece and a good coach can certainly help with that.
What is ONE of your favorite contest prep recipes? One of my favorites was protein pancakes. 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce, 1 scoop whey protein and 3 egg whites. It was super easy and you get prepare them in advance!
Personally, what is most important to your well-being? My physical health is very important to me. To elaborate, ensuring I have a proper balance of healthy sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Something I had not focused on while competing.
What 1 piece of advice would you give to women who want to take their fitness to the next level? If you decide to compete, never ever compare yourself to someone else! I know it can be easy to fall into that trap in which we start comparing ourselves to others. Your only competition is you!
What are your top 3 daily practices to stay focused, perform at a high level and get stuff done? Exercise first thing in the morning! It helps me get a great start to my workday. It’s my “me time.” I thrive on to do lists! They are my lifesaver whether it comes to work or my personal life. I also set aside 5-10 minutes during the workday to just sit quietly and focus on breathing.
Anything else you would like to add? Thank you giving me the opportunity to share my story with others. One last piece of advice, Do not take a backseat to your own life, get out there and live your dreams! 🙂