npc bikini

Post Competition Binge/Depression

Anyway, today I wanted to do a little post on post-competition blues/binging.

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How to Get Rid of Stubborn Fat — No Gimmicks!

Hey guys!

Do you have stubborn fat? You know what I am talking about– your body just favors one place to store fat over another place. For women its usually but and thighs for guys its usually the gut.

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One roadblock I had been coming up against is losing the fat right around my belly button. I am thin– 120lb and 5’7″– and I stay around that weight even when I am not competing but the fat right at my belly button does not want to go anywhere!

I started noticing this after I had my son, I know that it is not just loose skin. At first I thought it was due to a hormonal change, and some people said that when they stopped breast feeding they lost weight in there belly, but unfortunately for me this did not happen.

If you are a competitor, you know that a small waist is one of the key points that they look for and my body was just not cooperating.

So you know what I did, I decreased my calories a little bit and increased my cardio a little bit and my waist has come down an inch!

I believe that our body stores fat in preferred zones for many reasons including genetics and hormones. Although it may be the last fat to come off, it will come off if you continue dieting and exercising properly. While that body part may never look as good as someone who is more genetically gifted in that area, trust that by continuing to lose weight that fat will come off. Losing weight is a game of calories in vs. calories out.

I have heard several different theories on how to spot reduce, but I do not believe anything has ever been clinically proven to reduce fat in a targeted region.

That’s the beauty of body building– you can’t choose where you burn fat but you can choose wear you build muscle, its all about building muscle to create the illusion of  the figure you want and then losing the fat to reveal that frame.

Although it can be hard to trust the process and you may feel like you will never lose that last little bit of stubborn fat. I promise that it will come off if you stick with you diet and track your progress. Hope that helps!

Where do you store fat? Do you believe you can spot reduce?

 

Is the Fitness Industry Broken?

Hi Guys!

Hope you are having a great week! I know I have! I went to New York this past weekend to visit a friends and take some fitness classes. They have some really kick @$$ fitness classes in New York. Anyway, I came back feeling refreshed rejuvenated and re-motivated.

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The thing is, when you start to get into the competition scene you see a lot of the broken aspects of the fitness industry. It can be very depressing and disheartening.

First of all, you realize that the skinny fit girls that inspire you (ahem Oxygen models) are not all that healthy. Many of them are on starvation diets doing hours of cardio a day, taking banned substances, and wearing waist binders and/or getting plastic surgery. Not that I think that there is anything wrong with any of those things, however I think that it can be really misleading to present these images to people implying that diet and exercise did it all.

Secondly, I have been re-evaluating my goal to “get sponsored.” While it would be great to get some extra money to help with competitions, I see a lot of competitors promoting products they don’t even use or care about. Additionally, the relationships between competitor, coach, sponsor and judges who also can coach and work with sponsors make me wonder what is genuine and what is not.

Finally I have been very disgusted by the attitudes and egos I have seen. Shouldn’t we be trying to help others on their journey to getting fit? The selfish egomaniacal personalities I have seen out there are simply not what the fitness industry should be about. Let’s help each other get fit and look great rather than being jealous and holding secrets.

Like any industry, there will be people doing good and people doing bad. Let’s make the good overshadow the bad. Let’s make this industry about caring about others and helping them get healthy and reach their goals.

Just my two cents.

What do you think?

XOXO

Fitval

Skin prep for the Perfect Spray Tan

I have had the curse of a horrible spray tan every time I  have competed up until my last competition. Although, ultimately, I don’t feel that my bad spray tan really made that big of a difference in my placing, if you get the spray tan right, that is one less thing you have to worry about. Today I wanted to tell you what I did differently that made the difference between great spray tan and horrible spray tan.

Bad Spray Tan!

Bad Spray Tan! (That’s my stomach in case you were wondering…)

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Good spray tan! (didn’t have a close up)

Here’s what you will need:

  • Moisturizing Sugar Scrub (or make your own)
  • Non-moisturizing sugar scrub (or make your own)
  • Non-moisturizing gel soap
  • Baking Soda

 

First, the week before the competition I went to whole foods and bought one of the sugar scrubs they sell in bulk. The one I got was coconut/sugar but I am sure you could use another one as long as it has both essential oils and sugar. The oils are important because they will really moisturize your skin. You could also make your own by combining sugar with coconut oil. The point is that you want to exfoliate and moisturize.

Liquid Sun Rayz has a competition prep pack that has a sugar scrub and body butter that you could also use.

Use the scrub in the shower everyday the week before the competition up until the day before the spray tan. Because the scrub has the coconut oil already in it you save a step because you don’t have to cake on extra moisturizer. However, if you have really dry skin you might want to moisturize again either in the morning or at night depending on when you use the scrub.

Shave your whole body Monday, Tuesday and Thursday the week of the competition. This is to ensure that you get everything as smooth as possible. DO NOT wax because waxing can leave residue on your skin. Do NOT shave the day of my tan because it opens your pores which can leave little black dots on your skin if you get sprayed too soon after shaving.

The day of the competition, moisturize in the morning and then before you go to get your spray tan take a shower using a non-moisturizing scrub. I used THIS black sugar and charcoal scrub by freeman, but you could use the Liquid Sun Rayz scrub. Make a paste with baking soda and scrub that all over your body to neutralize your skin Ph. Then rinse with a gel, non-moisturizing soap to get all the residue off.

That’s it! Simple. Follow these steps and you will get a great even spray tan. Also don’t forget to wear very baggy clothing to protect your tan.

How does your spray tan take? Good? Not so good? Any tips or tricks?

Reflection

Hey guys! I have not posted in a while. I had planned on doing two competitions in the past few weeks but I ended up just doing one. I placed disappointingly at a local show and decided that it was not worth the extra expense to do the national show I had planned on doing if I didn’t think I had a chance at winning.

The good news is that I definitely see improvement since last year.

Front pose east coast 2014

2014 Front

Back pose east coast 2014

2014 Back

val npc nationals front pose

2013 Front

Looking good from behind ;)

2013 Back

Check out the huge difference in my rear view!

The bad news is my feed back– I need to work on my conditioning!

I really want to be honest with you all. I have been competing under the premise that you can be healthy and still win, but now I am not so sure.

I have been healthy so far in my preps– eating whole foods, watching my calories and macros without cutting them to extremes, doing reasonable albeit challenging workouts (no two a day cardio).

Maybe that is not enough to win. Maybe you have to cut calories to extremes and workout like crazy and maybe even take banned substances. I have made huge gains this year but is it enough? Will it ever be enough? Can I go pro without sacrificing everything else in my life?

I SURE HOPE SO!

I am going to keep trying. I have been a little stricter with my diet and kicked up the intensity on my workouts and I am seeing results. I have a competition planned for August 16th so I will see how my new strategy works.

I love this sport because of the challenge to improve yourself and your body. I am constantly motivated to learn more about diet and exercise. Until I lose that love I will keep going and keep trying to prove that a healthy-looking body should be a healthy body.

What are your thoughts? Do you compete? Do you think competing requires extremes?

PS I’ll post a competition re-cap soon!

XOXO

FitVal

To Plyo or not to Plyo

Plyometrics.

Love them? Hate them?

I have to be honest, for me plyometrics are a total mind f*ck. I mean, by then end of a good plyo sequence, I feel like I am going to die. So in order to do a plyometric workout again I have to trick my mind into believing that I’m not going to die.

For bikini competitors, plyometrics are pretty standard as part of the training program. However, I was really, really tempted to skip them each week because they take a lot of energy, and are pretty hard on my body. That’s when I started to do research to see if they are really worth the torture that I feel they are.

For those of you who don’t know, plyometrics are, plyometrics can be traced to Dr. Yuri Verkhoshansky, a Russian scientist who developed the method after observing that Olympians. He called this training “shock method” which incorporated both depth jumps and depth drops. Yuri developed his method in the 60’s and 70’s. Today Plyometrics has come to mean almost any type of training that involves jumps or explosive movements.

I started doing my research to find out how plyometrics impact physique hypertrophy and muscle building. Specifically, I wanted to know if plyometrics would help me in my pursuit to improve my physique.

What I found was this small study showing that plyometrics increases the area of type I & II muscle fibers. I also found this study comparing the effects of resistance training and plyometrics. It found that plyometrics were the best at increasing power, and both resistance training and power were similar in increasing strength and gross muscle size. Finally I found this study comparing a program of only strength training to a program of only plyometrics to a program that incorporated both. What they found was that the program incorporating both strength training and plyometrics worked best at increasing both strength and power.

So in conclusion, it looks like the data supports that plyometrics help build muscle and that the best program is one incorporating both strength training and plyometrics.

Even though I am not a huge fan of doing plyometrics I will continue to incorporate them into my workouts. I find that plyometrics are easier to take if I superset them with a traditional strength training exercise. For example, supersetting squats with high jumps. I also think plyometrics are great for mixing things up or getting an intense workout when you don’t have a lot of time or equipment.

Here is a simple plyometric plan. I usually repeat it circuit style 4-5 time:

  • 15 pop squats
  • 15 switch lunges
  • 15 wide stance jumps holding for 5 seconds at the bottom of each jump.
  • 15 narrow stance jumps
  • 15 frog jumps

Do you do plyometrics? Love them or hate them?

Choosing Your Competition Bikini

Hey guys Hope you are having a nice weekend and Happy Father’s day.

I really wanted to post about choosing a competition bikini because it is something that felt really confusing to me when I first started. The chooses can be overwhelming and it is hard to know what the judges are looking for if you are unfamiliar with bikini competitions.

First, let’s start with wear to buy your suit. I got my bikini from Waterbabies but here is a list of some popular suit makers:

 

COLOR

Next let’s talk about color. You want to choose a bold, dark color that will not be washed out on stage. Primary colors tend to pop so start by looking at blues, reds, yellows. Besides primary colors bold purple and green can look great too. Orange and pink tend to blend in with the spray tan and pink can come off as cliche. Do not choose pastels or white. These colors tend to wash out under the bright lights and it is easy for the spray tan to rub off on lighter colors making the suit look dirty. I wouldn’t go crazy with patterns or lace that could distract from your physique.

FIT

There will be lots of options for fit. For smaller busted girls, definitely go with a molded cup and ask for pockets so that you can stuff your top. Usually you can choose between the size and shape of the top and bottoms. It is best to stick with the traditional triangle top rather than selecting something different or asymmetrical- choose skinny or regular triangle based on your bust size. For bottoms make sure the back is a scrunch to enhance that shape of your rear. For NPC 1/3 of your glutes should be covered, but I think keeping this guideline in mind less coverage shows off more of your hard work! If you have any questions about fit and sizing reach out to the suit company and ask before you buy.

CONNECTORS

source:alibaba.com

Connectors are the sparkly bits that connect the parts of your suit together. You can have connectors on the straps at your neckline, between your cups and on the sides of your bottoms. Some companies also offer an option to have sparkly back connectors. My advice for you is to look at what the pros are wearing and try to mimic that within your budget. Right now the dangly connectors on the hip are popular. If you are on a tight budget this is one of the areas you can save on by choosing less expensive connectors. One other tip is to avoid choosing connectors that have small details. These have a tendency to break.

EMBELLISHMENTS

Sequin vs. Bling? I say if you have the budget for it, go with bling, crystals pick up the light a little better. However, if you are only doing a local show and looking to save money sequins can look great too. One of my favorite suits that I own is a sequined one. Crystals vs. Rhinestones? Make sure you get good quality crystals. Crystals are finely cut pieces of glass or stone that catch light and really sparkle. If your suit maker says that they will put “rhinestones” that can mean anything including bits of dried glue. Trust me, the first suit I ever bought had rhinestones and it looked cheap and tacky. If you are going to spend the money on bling make sure they are quality crystals (Swarovski is one renowned brand of crystal).

BUDGET

Your competition bikini can be very expensive. If you are just getting started, no need to break the bank– You can find great suits for around $100 at some of the sites I listed. Set yourself a budget and work from there. Also if you have a budget in mind and see a suit that you really like, you can let the designer know about your budget and see if they can make something similar in your price range.

FINAL ADVICE

The competition bikini is a very important part of your competition package. Make sure you are presenting your best self. Even thought I have given several guidelines, the choice is ultimately up to you so choose something that makes you feel amazing on your big day!

Have you bought a suit yet? Any tips or warnings for newbs?

XOXOX
Fitval

IIFYM vs. Eating Clean for competition diet

Hi guys! Hope you are having a great weekend!

I wanted to contribute to the great debate on competition diets.

If you have been involved in the fitness industry, you are probably familiar with two of the main meal plan styles when it comes to body building and competition prep: IIFYM and Eating clean (aka traditional body building diet). IIFYM stands for “If it fits your mouth macros.” Meaning that you calculate how many grams of protein, carbohydrates and fat you should have in a day and can eat whatever you want as long as the numbers add up at the end of the day. “Eating clean” can mean many different things but for the purpose of this post I will use it to mean a “traditional body building diet” of whole, unprocessed foods with an emphasis on high protein.

For my last few competitions, I did more of an IIFYM style of eating. I tried to eat healthy, unprocessed foods whenever possible but I would often turn to protein bars and other processed foods when I was in a time crunch.

This time around I have actually been sticking pretty closely to my meal plan and ONLY eating whole, unprocessed food.

Since I cut out the processed food I noticed huge changes in  my body. First of all, I feel better. I have more energy and feel like my body is just running better if that makes sense. Secondly, I feel like it is easier to lean out this time around. I have always been pretty lean, but I noticed that in my last prep, I was looking a lot softer than in my first competition. This time I am looking more cut and defined. Although the numbers on the scale have been going up, my body fat has stayed the same, which means I have gained muscle. With IIFYM my weight and body fat were slowly creeping up.

Check out these two progress pics:

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Today (June 1) Back Pose on “Traditional Eat Clean” diet

Back pose April 2014 IFFYM

Back pose April 2014 IFFYM

Check out the definition in my glutes and hamstrings in my recent “eat clean” photo. I think that my skin tone even looks better now. Even though I have been training hard, I am positive that my diet has made a huge difference.

Its interesting because when I started this journey I wanted to believe IIFYM. IIFYM makes dieting a little easier because you can be more flexible about your food choices. And, after all, 20 grams of protein from a chicken should be the same thing as 20 grams of protein from a protein bar, right?

Well, now I don’t think so. I think that this may be the result of many factors including the thermogenic effect of food (how many calories it takes your body to process your meal), producers not being entirely accurate on their nutrition labels and the possible the effect of food additives and/or lack of nutrients on metabolism.

IIFYM may work for some, and it may help you reach your goals if you are not worried about minor physique details (i.e. fitness competition). There are also many ways to do IIFYM and I think taking and “eat clean” approach to IIFYM would be great (like eating all whole, unprocessed food to meet your macro requirements.) However, I now know that a liberal IIFYM diet does not give me my best results. I need to be a little more strict about my eating to look my best.

I am excited to see how my body will transform in these next few weeks as I prep for my 4th contest.

Have you all experimented with your diet? What did you find worked best for you?

 

 

Meal Prep: Breakfast ideas

Hi guys!

Its a beautiful weekend, but I’m inside meal preppin’. For those of you in the bodybuilding/fitness world, most of you are familiar with “meal prep” that is, making your meals in advance since you have to eat 5-6 times a day.

Meal prep is a great way to make sure you have healthy eats readily available throughout the week, but I haven’t always been such a big meal prep fan. I made a post not too long ago about “prep-less meal prep.” Basically buying as much pre-prepared healthy food as possible to cut down on my preparation time. That worked well for me for the last two preps because l am always short on time, and the little free time I do have, I don’t want to spend in the kitchen. I wish I liked cooking but I just don’t.

The problem with buying things mostly pre-made is that it gets expensive really quickly. For example, at whole foods, I would buy a 4 pack of plain, pre-cooked chicken breasts for $14.99, while a package of chicken breasts un-cooked costs about $6.00. I also noticed that I have been leaning on convenience foods a lot more lately. Unless I have the foresight to pack myself a few salads for my day I rarely eat the amount of vegetables I should.

I am starting slowly into my competition prep plan this time, and although I did the work-outs last week I did not really follow my meal plan. This week I am trying to start things right by prepping my breakfasts.

Many of my days start at 5:00 am so in the interest of sleep I try to push my wake-up time back as much as possible. Having a healthy breakfast ready to go will help me get some more sleep in and prevent my from relying on less healthy convenience foods.

Since oatmeal and egg whites are on my meal plan for breakfasts here is how I made them more convenient:

Mini Egg White Omlettes:

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1.5 cups of egg whites

1.5 cups Cut up veggies (I used peppers, onions, and tomatoes)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 & spray muffin tin with oil

2. Put cut up veggies into muffin tin

3. Beat egg whites until fluffy (I cheated and used a food processor)

4. Pour eggs over veggies in muffin tins

5. Bake for 20 min.

 

 

Baked Oatmeal “Muffins”

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2 cups Old fashioned oats

1/2 cup flavored flax oil (I used Barleans blackberry)

1/2 cup Truvia or other sweetener

2/3 cup of milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

2/3 cup of blueberries

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1.Pre-heat oven to 350 and put cupcake papers in muffin pan

2. Mix dry ingredients

3. Add wet ingredients (including blueberries)

4. Spoon into cupcake papers

5. Bake for 30 min.

 

Now that I am done meal prepping I am excited to eat healthy this week. I have a couple questions for you, though:

1. Any ideas on how to make you grilled chicken breasts taste better/ be less dry?

2. Do you think the Iso bag/ 6 pack bags are worth the money? I currently have a cheap-o cooler and am considering an upgrade.

 

Have a great week!

 

NPC Bikini Posing Clinic

Hi Guys!

Sorry I haven’t posted in such a long time… Tax season got the better of me. Anyway, I hope my post today will make up for it. Last weekend I went to a posing Clinic hosted by some of the leading judges in the Northeast as Reaction Nutrition. Basically the clinic went like this: We were broken into groups where judges gave us tips on what to do and what NOT to do. Our poses were critiqued and improved. At the end there was a raffle for some really great prizes including a gift certificate to CJ’s Elite competition wear. Too bad I didn’t when anything.

The theme of the clinic seemed to be “help us pick you.” There were a lot of details on what they are looking for and your goal when you are on stage is to show the best version of yourself at all times. Here are some of the most useful tips that I took away.

What NOT to do:

1. DON’T move too much- they have to judge you against the other girls and if you are moving all over the place they can’t judge you so they will move on to the next girl.

2. DON’T look back in the back pose- again when you look back you add movement an lose symmetry which makes it harder to judge.

3. DON’T do the legs crossed back pose- Legs spread shows off glutes better.

Source: Fitnessrx.com

4. DON’T lose posture when you are on the side of the stage- Even when you are not front and center, you are being compared to the other girls on stage make sure you look your best at all times

5. DON’T copy figure poses

What to Do:

1. Back pose- Toes point slightly out, legs spread not too far but not too narrow, arch back as much as possible hair should be down.

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2. Front pose- Legs spread, weight on one hip with torso twisted. Try twisting to different sides, staggering feet and twisting to different angles to find a pose that shows off your figure the best.

3. Transitions- Should be smooth with good posture, confidence and sex appeal.

4. Use the competition tanner– Rookie mistake is showing up too light.

5. Use good taste when it comes to your suit- Remember it is a family event.

6. Leave hair down

Have you guys ever been to a posing clinic? Any tips you learned about?