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Competing…in 4 weeks?!!

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By Tara Ballard

I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but there I was, totally enjoying my hiatus from competing when….BOOM!  The urge started building!  I suppose it began as a response to the ramp-up of the 2011 season and seeing my girls Emily and Jillian getting rev’d  and ready for their respective shows.  So, last week, I finally decided, “what the heck?” I crave structure, routine and discipline, and always love a goal to shoot for, so here we are! Fellow JillFit Coach, Emily Saunders is doing Model Universe in Miami in June, and I have always said that I would love to go back there and do Figure Universe a second time.  I did that one as my first show, and to put it mildly, I was a mess!  To say that I was nervous would be an understatement…scared s**tless is more appropriate!  Now that I have eight shows under my belt, I have decided to go back there and (hopefully) have a ton more confidence and stage presence than I did the first time. It’s definitely not about winning or placing; it’s more about being comfortable and polished, two words that would definitely NOT be used to describe me the first time! But, while I felt completely out of my element the first go-round, I was happy I did it, as it helped me break out of my comfort zone and conquer my fear of getting on-stage.

Miami is about ten weeks away…plenty of time to prep for a show.  But wait!! I want to be UBER-comfortable up there, right?  Hence, the notion of a “warm-up” show was born!  I was already planning to go to Richmond on May 7th to support fellow JillFit Coach Jillian Teta in her IFPA Pro Debut, but that’s only 4 weeks away.  Do I dare even contemplate that? Holy crap…FOUR WEEKS!  Am I crazy?  As I relayed this stream of consciousness to Jill, Jillian and Emily, they all told me that I should go for it. So, I guess I’m four weeks out from my first show of the season!

After the decision was made, Jill and I set out to determine how my diet and workout plans should work over the next few weeks. Where to begin? Well, I can assure you this: there will be NO starvation dieting or hours-upon-hours of cardio going on! One of the many benefits of  living the Fat Loss Lifestyle is that it enables me to stay pretty lean year-round.  I don’t ever feel deprived, but knowing my own unique fat loss formula helps me stay on track all the time. The key will be hanging on to muscle as much as possible, while ensuring I achieve the appropriate leanness for a natural show.

On stage last October

Keeping all of this in mind, Jill and I have come up with what we think will be best for me over the next few weeks in terms diet and exercise.  My diet actually won’t change too much.  The key changes are the addition of a little more whey protein to help me maintain muscle and fill them out a bit, and the elimination of things like coffee creamer and alcohol.  My once-weekly cheat meal will change to a carb-up meal consisting of lean steak, plain white potato and asparagus. I can handle that!

As far as workouts go, again, not too many changes. My lifting split is as follows:

  • Back/Chest
  • Light legs/Core
  • Biceps/Triceps/Shoulders
  • Heavy legs/Core
  • Shoulders/Core

For cardio, I had been doing 5 to 6 days of short duration cardio, mixing it up between flat and incline sprints, jump-rope intervals, ME-style treadmill workouts, stepmill HIIT, etc.  My new cardio plan will ensure that I hang on to as much upper body muscle as possible (which is where I tend to lose it first), as well as optimize fat burning.  Here’s what it looks like:

  • 2 days 45 min steady-state incline walking @ 15% incline, 3.0mph to 3.6mph – admittedly, my LEAST favorite workout, but it does wonders for the booty!
  • 2 days 30 min stepmill HIIT
  • 1 day 20 min 15% incline sprints
  • 1 day 30 to 45 minute stadium/track workout

Not bad, and not too terribly different than what I was doing anyway, with the exception of those horrid incline walks!  Just kidding…sort of.  :)

4 Weeks out! Here we go!

With a plan of action in place, I’m excited to see how things progress over the new few weeks.  One thing is for sure: without the encouragement from Jill, Jillian and Emily, and the support of my sweet Nick, I wouldn’t even think of doing this. I’m very grateful for all of you!!  I can’t wait to be with Emily and Jillian as they rock the stage in Miami and Richmond!  :)  Let the season begin!!!!!

Wanna know more about contest prep? DIY here!

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