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April 27, 2011

Figure Competitor Tara Ballard: A Day in the Life–2 weeks out!

By Tara Ballard

Well, here I am two weeks out from my first of three nearly back-to-back figure competitions! On 5/7, Jill, Jillian and I will be in Richmond, VA, where Jillian will compete in the Pro division, and I will be competing in the Amateur division of the OCB Atlantic Supershow. We are pretty fired up, not only about the competition, but also for a fun girl’s weekend :)

Tara at 2 weeks out

I thought I’d give you guys an inside look into what I’m eating at this stage of the game, as well as the thoughts and feelings that go along with prepping for a show.  Here is what I ate yesterday:

8am: ¼ cup dry oat bran, made with water, cinnamon and 1 scoop whey protein (I love BSN Lean Dessert Banana Nut flavor!). This is definitely the highlight of my day!

11am: ¼ cup dry oat bran, made with water; 2 to 3 cups slightly steamed spinach; 6 oz chopped cooked chicken breast – mixed all together

2pm: 1 can Starkist “very low sodium” tuna, 12 asparagus spears, ½ grapefruit

5pm: 1 can Starkist “very low sodium” tuna, drained; 12 asparagus spears

8pm: Post-lift shake: 8oz unsweetened almond milk, 1 scoop Lean Dessert whey, ½ banana, 5g glutamine, 5g BCAA’s, cinnamon and ice to taste

SUPPLEMENTS – I keep it pretty simple:

  • 5-10 grams BCAA’s pre and post-workout, sometimes more throughout the day if I’m having cravings
  • 2 grams fish oil, twice daily
  • 10 grams L-Glutamine twice daily

Exciting stuff, huh? :) As boring as it may seem, I actually prefer having fewer choices and even when I’m not preparing for a competition, I will eat the same things every day.  It just works for me! That said, what works for me may not work for others, so please don’t consider this a one-size-fits-all contest prep diet. Take a look at our DIY and individualized contest prep plans if you need help with a customized plan.

Some things to note about the above:

  • You can see that I’m eating every 2.5 to 3 hours. This keeps my blood sugar levels stable and energy high.
  • I am eating starchy carbs with the first three meals and a simple carb in my post-workout shake (1/2 banana)…this helps me keep my muscles from going “flat” too soon. The goal is to maintain as much muscle over the new few weeks as possible.  I will not deplete carbs as much as some folks do.
  • Finally, I’m eating a TON of veggies!! If I get hungry between meals, I will Vitamix up a bunch of spinach and/or kale, asparagus, arugula, etc. and drink it.  I am fortunate in that I love my veggies!! It’s a good thing because they also help to keep my energy up and hunger at bay.

Now to the touchy-feely stuff :)

As I was completing the registration form for one of the upcoming competitions, a question on the form struck me as strange: “Why do you deserve to win?” I sat there for a few moments, trying to come up with an answer. All I kept thinking was that I don’t deserve to win any more or less than anyone else. Every single person who steps on stage has worked her tail off and has made huge sacrifices to get there. What’s so special about me?

That brings me to the topic of managing expectations.  I’m going to tell you right now that I have ZERO expectations for these upcoming shows. Do I have goals? Yes, of course. But expectations on placing or winning? Absolutely not. Even if I bring my best package yet, there will be 20 other girls bringing theirs as well. I choose not to get caught up in expectations, but rather focus on my goals:

  • My first and foremost goal with every show is to not trip and fall in my 5” stripper shoes :)
  • All kidding aside, I am determined to be more confident, poised and graceful with each competition
  • Probably most important – to be happy with ME and the package that I am able to bring. It can be such a head game sometimes, especially when you are surrounded by so many beautiful, fit women. But this season has been more about feeling good about myself and MY look, as opposed to trying to achieve a “look” that the judges may or may not reward.

If I can accomplish the above, and maybe inspire a few people along that way that age holds no boundaries, then I have “won”. If some hardware should come along with that, that’s ok too!

For you girls who have shows coming up…how are you feeling? What are your hopes and goals for stepping on-stage? I would love to hear!!  Email me or hit me up on Facebook!

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