My best friend’s hen do: contest-prep style

June 18, 2011

My best friend is getting married!

Contest prep: meal planning, low carb, strict diet, no alcohol.
Hen do: (bachelorette- hi, American readers!) treats, indulgences, cakes, celebrations and plenty to drink.

Sounds like a match made in hell, right? Wrong.

Pouring booze for other people was the closest I got to it all day!


And posing with a Love Heart sweetie was the nearest I got to any sugar.

So how on earth did I go to my best friend’s hen do last weekend (which was an all-day, all-night, stay-overnight affair) and
a) stay 100% compliant to my bodybuilding contest prep plan
b) not impact on anyone else’s celebrations
c) have a great time myself?

I shall tell you. And then I shall pat myself on the back because quite frankly I am immensely proud of myself for achieving “a” and very pleased I managed to do “b” and “c” as well!

Plan
I knew that, with 20 days to go til my first physique comp, I couldn’t afford to eat outside of my plan. Sorry if that sounds terribly dreary. But it’s a fact. And I am fun, I promise! I was dancing with the rest of them and stayed up til 3:30am.

Anyway, so I looked ahead at the weekend and what we were doing (as bridesmaid, I’d helped plan the whole do, so knew exactly what we were up to). I then planned my meals.

Prepare
Just like when I went to that conference a few weeks ago, I spent an hour or so the evening before the hen do preparing food. Nothing fancy, just oat/whey pancakes for two mornings’ breakfasts, lots of portable veg and some cooked chicken. And I made one of my super-easy big egg bakes (bit like a massive omelette or crustless quiche) and cut it into portions. I then selected a handbag partly by style (it was a vintage-themed hen do) and partly by capacity 😉

Explain
I rang the restaurant beforehand to explain my needs (such as they are – it really isn’t very difficult to eat out contest-prep style). I told all the other hens, if they asked. And, of course, I cleared it all with my best friend the bride-to-be. There’s really no reason that someone not drinking alcohol and not eating cupcakes should be a problem, but I talked it all through with her anyway, just to check that it wouldn’t have any sort of negative impact on her special day.

Clear it with the bride-to-be first
Number one rule! My best friend is wonderful (obviously, she wouldn’t be my best friend if she wasn’t) and I knew she wouldn’t see it as a problem. I’m not sure what I would have done if she’d suddenly gone all Bridezilla on my ass, insisting “you simply must drinks shots and eat cupcakes or the entire day will be ruined!” But she didn’t.

Offer to help
As one of the bridesmaids, I was part of the hen-do organising party. So I offered to do all the food-related bits. I knew I was going to be the one who would need to make and request modifications, so I offered to be the one in charge of contacting the restaurant and ordering/booking/prepping the day time food. That way, I didn’t have to bother anyone else with my requests – just straight from me to the restaurant.

Adopt a “don’t give a damn” attitude
I honestly don’t see why a no-fuss, polite and unbeat attitude to eating and drinking differently to others should have any impact – let alone a negative one – on anybody’s else’s enjoyment. So I said please, and thank you, and explained myself when asked. Aside from that I adopted a “don’t give a damn” approach. I was totally fine with eating my way and not drinking booze. So was my friend. And that’s all that matters!

I like that I look drunk in this picture – probably drunker than the ladies who were drunk!

I’d like to say thank you to my fellow hens, bridesmaids and of course to my wonderful friend Wendy for understanding, being interested and not giving me a hard time. I really do appreciate it. See you all at the wedding – when I will be toasting the bride and groom with real, actual booze, and I will be eating all the yummy things they’ve chosen for us! 🙂

Have you been on a stag, hen, bachelor, bachelorette party whilst eating to a specific diet and/or not drinking? How did that go?

My best friend’s hen do: contest-prep style is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


28 days later…

June 5, 2011

…not zombie apocalpyse (not as far as I know, anyway), but my first bodybuilding comp.

Yes, it’s just 28 days away. Or less, actually. This time in 28 days I’ll quite possibly actually be on stage.

The count-down is well and truly on and I, for one, am freaking out. I don’t know why today, I think it just hit me that it’s four short weeks away, and I’ve no idea if I’ll be ready, I’ve no idea if I’m where I need to be at four weeks out and… I’ve no idea about anything really!


Yes, I have become that person who takes random photos in the gym. I didn’t realise it was quite so blurry! Me just now at the end of my “push” session about to do some skull-crushers.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a sport that’s brand-new to me. It’s terrifying, exciting, challenging, disorientating and freeing all at the same time. It’s certainly given me an appreciation for how newbies to exercise and sport might feel, and I can now see why the people who come along to our “open-water swimming for newbies” sessions seem overwhelmed with gratitude at bits of information, guidance and encouragement which I think are obvious or standard!

Anyway, back to freaking out. So I texted coach Kat and she said:

“You will be ready, you’re right on track, please trust me. The last month is where all the magic happens but you’ll need to diet hard and stay clean clean clean*… Once you get your tan on you’ll look so different. No stressing!”

(*food. No drugs here!)

Then I posted on Facebook and, amongst the replies, came one from my Mum in all her NLP Master Practitioner wisdom:

“How about creating an alter-ego for yourself? The successful competitor, full of confidence, loads of experience, everytime she goes on stage everyone gasps in awe… Then that’s the character you can be “on the night” 🙂 xx”

I like it! So what shall we call her? Suggestions, please!

In other news, my bikinis are ordered, my posing music is chosen (and hacked down to the required length by me using Garageband for the first time in my life) and I’ve started to make up my routine. Speaking of which, I must go and practise!

What do you think I should call my stage alter-ego? What would yours be called? Tee hee!

28 days later is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Physique prep in numbers

June 1, 2011

Fewer than five weeks to go! *gulp*! This time in five weeks I’ll have done a bodybuilding show and will be fine-tuning things for my second… It’s all coming round very quickly!

Here’s an update on training, posing, bikinis and all that important stuff. Physique prep-by-numbers, if you like.

Body composition
Going up
Lean mass. Hooray! My friend Heidi came and “zapped” me (bioimpedance test) yesterday (thank you, HSC!) and, whilst I recognise there is a degree of error either way, one thing’s for certain – my lean mass has gone up, whilst my weight and body fat have gone down. So I’ve lost weight, but it’s fat not muscle. Which is all I care about!

Going down
See above – body fat. We’re not sure of the exact % since there is a degree of error with any method of measurement, but it’s definitely gone down (and hasn’t taken any of my precioussss muscle with it).

Diet
Going up
Vegetables. Specifically, broccoli. If only because I placed an online supermarket order a week or so ago and must have hit the wrong button because the guy delivered TWO CARRIER BAGS full of broccoli. I think it was about 12 heads of the stuff. Still, it’s good for me! And I’ve come up with a few cracking new recipes.

Going down
Dairy. Goodbye, my darling! See you on the other side! Also, soy. Farewell, Costa/Starbucks soy lattes and mistos!

Training
Going up
My weights! Still! I am delighted by this. Despite bringing my calories down slowly to lose body fat, I am stronger than ever, adding weights to the bar and feeling great.

Going down
Energy levels after about 3pm. Seriously, want to book a meeting with me, or need me to work on something new? Book me in the morning. In general, I’m feeling fine, but as my body has less and less body fat to run on and starts zipping through glycogen faster than ever, I am crashing earlier in the day.

Supplements
Going up
Caffeine consumption. I know, I know. I try to limit it but… I fail. Plus I have discovered a lovely new mid-afternoon treat: Starbucks Via, ice cubes, non-dairy millk and a bit of Xantham gum, all blended up in my blender. Milkshakey caffeiney iced deliciousness.

Going down
Erm, nothing really but I have an unopened box of pre-workout stimulant stuff which I bought ages ago, assuming I’d be needing it at this stage in prep as I’d be so tired. I haven’t even opened it and I’m really pleased that I’m still feeling strong and full of energy and don’t need the stuff even at this stage in the game.

Hydration
Going up
Water. I’m trying to chug down 4-5 litres a day and finding it pretty easy which is amazing for me as I’m usually rubbish at drinking any water at all.

Going down
Our stash of loo roll.

Cardio
Going up
Walks with The Fit Dog, and interval training sessions.

Going down
Longer cardio sessions. Not that I really did those anyway during prep. But I don’t have a lot of energy or enthusiasm for really really long dog walks anymore. An hour or so is our limit.

Measurements
Going up
Sometimes arm and leg measurements (around, not length! that would be weird) although I think this is partly user-error and partly because we measure on different days, so sometimes we’ll measure just after I’ve done a leg or upper body session so I’ll still be pumped.

Going down
Waist, hips, all the important bits.

Clothing
Going up
The amount of velvet bikinis I own 😉 Also, input on Facebook from kind-hearted souls who have been humouring my endless “what colour bikini should I order? vote now! vote now!” updates.

Going down
Or falling down – my jeans. Seriously, still think lifting very heavy weights makes women bulk up? I am the smallest I’ve ever been. Which reminds me of another thing…

Other people’s observations
Going up
The amount of people who say variations of “…but how can you enter a bodybuilding competition? You’re small!” Also, people coming up to me in the gym and asking what I’m training for.

Going down
The amount of men in the gym who use any equipment I’ve just used without asking if I am still using it. Also, the amount of men in the gym who offer to help me lift stuff back into the racks, etc.

Mindset
Going up
Motivation, excitement, focus, drive. The belief that I can actually do this, and that I might do well.

Going down
Nerves about posing. I thought I’d be terrified but I’m not. Mind you, ask me again when I’m about to step onstage!

Rest
Going up
Massages.

Going down
Sleep quality. I sleep horribly at the best of times but, really, it’s getting beyond a joke. Wake up times for the past few days (including weekend days): 6:27, 6:27, 6:14, 3:00….! If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, please please leave them in the comments. I am getting desperate.

Body temperature
Going up
Our heating.

Going down
My body temperature. It has been colder this week though, hasn’t it? But…brrrr!

Thoughts about whether or not I can really do this thing
Going up… and down… and up… and down 😉

Is there anything you’d like to know about prep? Please ask and I’ll do my best to answer.

Physique prep in numbers is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Surprising similarities: Channel swimming and bodybuilding

May 29, 2011

Those of you reading who’ve known me for a few years *hi Mum!* already know that my sporting background isn’t in bodybuilding (my current challenge). New readers might be surprised to hear that I’m probably best-known for a very different type of sport: I’m a Channel swimmer. I’ve swum the English Channel twice (as a solo swim), once (as a relay swim, both there and back) and I’ve done similar swims like around the Channel Island of Jersey (USA readers: the Channel Islands are between us and France. They’re nice. Go and visit some time!)

So, when I decided to give bodybuilding/figure/physique* competition a go, I felt as if I’d taken a sudden and rather odd turn off my normal sporty track. Channel swimming had always been the big one for me, and I was also passionate about triathlon (and its component sports, swimming, road biking and running). (*back when I made the decision, I didn’t know which category I’d end up in).

Bodybuilding felt completely alien, brand-new and so far outside my comfort zone that I could just about see my comfort zone on the horizon if I looked behind me through binoculars.

However, here I am several months later and it’s dawned on me that Channel swimming and bodybuilding aren’t so different after all. Externally, yes, they’re worlds apart. But what goes on inside isn’t so different.

I’m not sure how many people out there have both swum the Channel and competed in bodybuilding but, if there are any reading, I’d love to hear your take on this in the comments.

Common themes in Channel swimming and bodybuilding

Get used to wearing swimwear
This is the theme which got me thinking about all the others. When I was training for my swims, it wasn’t unusual to spend 8… 10… 12 hours a day in a swimsuit. I thought nothing of it, it was just my kit, my uniform. OK, so the “swimsuit” I wear for bodybuilding is a little different (I’m not sure the velvet would cope for long in salt water!), but it definitely helps that I have no problem wandering around in swimwear. As a nice aside, I always used to choose to wear a two-piece swimsuit for Channel swim training (quicker to get off and therefore quicker to get warm clothes on). But they were a little bit bigger than my competition bikini!

Tweak your body fat

To swim the Channel, I had to get fat(ter). I consciously had to pack on bodyfat – and keep it there throughout all the training, in order to keep me a bit warmer. We don’t use wetsuits, so I had to grow my own under my skin.

To compete in bodybuilding, I’m having to lose bodyfat. There’s no point building all these muscles if I step on stage with them all covered up. That would be a bit like building a kit car, taking it to a show but forgetting to take the dust-sheet off.

Body temperature
This goes hand-in-hand with purposefully changing your bodyfat levels, but get used to changes in body temperature. In Channel swimming, I got so hot so easily. I gave up wearing shoes unless I had to, lived my life in shorts and t-shirts, and slept without a sheet. Partly because of the extra body fat and partly because I spent so long swimming in cold water that my body adapted and acclimatised.

During bodybuilding prep, I’m often chilly and it doesn’t take much for me to be sitting on the sofa dressed in hoodie, jeans and slippers with a rug around my shoulders. LOL!

Accept that external influences are bigger than you

In Channel swimming, you can be the fastest, strongest swimmer who’s trained better than anyone else. But if the weather’s against you, or you get sea sick and can’t hold your feeds down, you’re out. You have to accept that this thing is bigger than you. Bring your best and try your hardest, but there is always a chance you won’t make it, no matter how hard you try. That’s not defeatest. It’s realistic.

In bodybuilding, people are telling me to take the same kind of mental approach. Train hard, be as good as you can be and bring your best on the day. That’s all you can do. Then accept that external factors over which you have no control – the other competitors, the judges’ opinions, the subjectivity of judging – will play a large part in how you place on the day.

Consistency is key
Both Channel swimming and bodybuilding demand and reward consistency and compliance. In Channel swimming, you must swim regularly in cold water, or your mind and body won’t build up the physical and mental stamina they need to get you across. In bodybuilding, you must be compliant 24/7, particularly in the latter stages of prep: training, nutrition, sleep (ha!), rest, stretching, posing… there’s a lot to do and you have to be consistent. Every little decision counts. Each one can take you towards or away from your goal.

No cheating: it’s all up to you
Neither Channel swimming nor bodybuilding give you anywhere to hide. You can’t style it out. If you’re not ready, you’re not ready, and no-one can help. It is all down to you. That can be a pro or a con, depending on who you are how you take it. It totally works for me: I like relying on myself. I know what I can do (I also know what I can’t do!) and I like to get on with it. When you’re out there in the middle of the English Channel in the dark, you’re the only one who can keep your arms turning and your mind focused on how the sand will feel beneath your feet when you get to the other side. In bodybuilding, you’re the only one who can decide whether or not it’s worth eating that bit of cake, or whether it will matter if you put your weights down a kg because you’re tired.

Of course, you have people who care about you and support you in both sports: in swimming, your boat crew, the boat skipper, your personal crew, and the people back on land who are thinking of you. In bodybuilding, you probably have a coach and if you’re lucky a partner, family and friends who support you. But when it comes to the crunch, you’re the only one who can decide whether to push on or give up.

Public interest
My husband told me to put this one in: he says both sports mean you need to get used to the fact that members of the public will stare at you, come up to you and ask about training, or ask random questions, either during training or just generally. I suppose this is true but I hadn’t really thought of it!

Misconceptions
I guess both Channel swimming and bodybuilding are unusual sports, odd even. Certainly niche. That’s probably why I come across a lot of misconceptions with both past-times. Misconceptions which naturally lead to…

The top three questions…
Channel swimming:
“Do you cover yourself in goose fat?”
“How far is it?”
“Do you swim it all in one go?”

Bodybuilding:
“Will you dehydrate yourself/not drink any water in the week before your show?”
“Aren’t you worried that you’ll get all bulky/look like a man/muscle will turn to fat after you stop?”
“So you have to cut all the fat out of your diet, right, because you need to lose bodyfat?”

(And, as a bonus, my least favourite “Why do you want to do that to yourself?!” <— this from a close friend…!)

Your grocery budget will skyrocket

True story: I found a receipt the other day from a supermarket shop I did one Saturday with two Channel swimming buddies. This was just for the 48hours we were spending down in Kent. It included a big packet of dried pasta, doughnuts, bread rolls, cheese, deli meat, chocolate, milkshakes, bananas… etc. It really made me laugh, because it so instantly transported me back to that Summer, when we’d swim from 9am-4pm and then have 4:05pm-8am in which to refuel, get ready for the next day’s swim and try to pack on a little more body fat. Of course, we could have made better choices and probably should have done, but it’s damn hard to meet a Channel swimmer’s calories needs in vegetables. So we indulged at weekends. And that amount of food costs!

Now of course my diet is markedly different, but I’m still eating a lot, and the amount I spend on vegetables, egg whites and other protein sources is noticeable! (Not to mention the supplements!)

You need a mentor
I know I just said that, in both sports, it’s all down to you, but of course you can’t go it alone. You need a support system, a team, a system of accountability, expert guidance. In both sports I’ve been fortunate enough to find the perfect coach and mentor. The legend that is Freda Streeter for Channel swimming, and my coach Kat for bodybuilding. There are many, many others who have helped along the way of course (in both sports). Too many to list!

You have to like your own company
Self-explanatory!

The exhaustion

Both Channel swim training and bodybuilding training leave me exhausted right down to the marrow of my bones. I guess it’s tiredness on a metabolic level. I only realised that a lot of people don’t know what I mean, when I tried to explain it to a non-sporty friend and she genuinely could not understand what I meant.

Running and road biking never made me feel this way, even training for marathons and long sportive rides. They made me very tired, but in an achy, sleepy way. Swimming in cold water, and lifting very heavy weights, both shatter me. I might not even be sore or achy, but I am drained of energy, to the extent that even the idea of leaning down and picking something up off the floor seems too much of a challenge. I can often be found standing in one spot, staring down at a bit of mud the dog’s brought into the house. I am OK. I’m just wondering whether I can be bothered leaning down, focusing on it, picking it up and straightening back up again. Then of course I’d have to walk out of my way to the bin. It’s all a bit much, you understand? 😉

Have you done sports which seemed totally different but, actually, had similarities? What were they? Aaaand which would you rather do, swim the English Channel or enter a bodybuilding competition?

Surprising similarities: Channel swimming and bodybuilding is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


A matter of vital importance (help me choose a bikini colour)

May 23, 2011

Global unrest. Depletion of natural resources. Freak weather crises.

And one more topic of earth-shattering importance…

What colour bikini should I wear for pre-judging?

Humour me, people. The bikini I was going to wear for prejudging (ie the day time show where I do the mandatory poses) no longer fits very well and a few people who know about such things have advised I don’t wear it. So I’m hurriedly ordering my own. But what colour! Oh, decisions!

Do I go with a greeny-blue aqua colour as a nod to my swimming background? A rich blue or purple to make me feel like royalty as I rock the stage? Or some sort of red/purple, because people always say I’d look great in red because of my colouring (even though I don’t like it)?

You see the kinds of decisions I have to live with every day. Life is very tough. Please, help me out here folks. Vote in the poll below…

Here are the swatches from Harlequin. I can have any of these colours (the purple and all the others)

If you don’t know what I look like, here I am. Dark brown hair, brown eyes, and skin which will be prrrrretty dark once the bodybuilding tan is slapped on.


A matter of vital importance (help me choose a bikini colour) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


The Fit Writer talks to Kelly Rennie about bodybuilding prep

May 22, 2011

Ever since she burst onto the bodybuilding and fitness scene last year, I’ve wanted to meet athlete Kelly Rennie. Her story is remarkable: in just one year, she went from office-worker to national-level figure competitor and winner of the World Sports Model Agency competition. In April 2010, she sat in a cafe and wrote a detailed list of life goals. Nine weeks later, she was on stage. And within a season, she was taking 3rd place at the national final. Impressive stuff. I admire her physique, sure, but mostly I admire her drive, her determination and her ability to set goals and reach them. From what I’ve heard, she’s a lovely lady, too.

Do you believe in the Law of Attraction? I do.

I sat down at the Fitness Entrepreneur Bootcamp and got talking about bodybuilding to the chap sitting next to me. “Do you know Kelly Rennie?” he said. “She’s my girlfriend – she’s here upstairs, I’ll get her to come down and meet you.”

So that’s how I got to interview Kelly this weekend.

The Fit Writer: Kelly, you’ve had a busy year – going from office job to national-level figure comp and fitness modelling. Talk us through it.

Kelly Rennie: I was working as a PA and office manager when I decided to compete. I’ve always been involved in sport and fitness, and my twin sister competed a few years ago. But, this time last year, I wrote out a list of detailed goals, and competing was amongst them. I didn’t know how to start – I just googled “bodybuilding” and the BNBF website came up. They put me in touch with a trainer local to me (John Clark) and I started working with him. I came 2nd at my regional BNBF competition in the figure category, and 3rd at the national final. I then won the World Sports Model Agency competition, both for my category and for the overall women’s category. So, yes, it’s been quite a year!

TFW: What do you like about competing?
KR: I enjoy taking my body to the next level. I like challenging myself every day and reaching what I see at the next level of fitness. It’s the opportunity to create the body you’ve always wanted.

TFW: What are your next goals and plans?
KR:
I plan to compete in Figure again in 2011 and have been looking at competing overseas.

TFW: A lot of people will look at what you’ve achieved and want to follow in your footsteps. What advice do you have for them?
KR:
Find a trainer who knows more than you do, who knows the sport and has a lot of experience. You need someone who can guide you and support you when it all gets a bit emotional. Someone who can be there behind the scenes. That’s invaluable.

TFW: I know bodybuilding prep has already taught me a lot (like being organised!). What has bodybuilding taught you?
KR:
Well, it’s not an easy sport that’s for sure. It’s taught me the value of consistency; if you’re not consistent in your training and nutrition, you won’t get the results. It’s helped me become a lot more structured and this has filtered down into other areas of my life, too. I love having that structure. It helps me meet other goals in life and be successful (with my gym, for instance, and my website). Oh, and bodybuilding teaches you to be happy eating a lot of protein!

TFW: OK, imagine you and I are off to the gym. We’ve only got time for one exercise: what shall we do?
KR:
The leg press! It’s the only exercise which has ever had me curled up in the recovery position on the floor. I once pressed 220kgs – I was seeing stars!

TFW: You recently brought out a cookbook and one of your recipes is going to be in Oxygen magazine in September. What’s your favourite thing to cook?
KR:
I love my spinach loaf – it’s a great grain-free alternative to bread. Do check out my website for lots of recipes and, if you’re in the States, grab Oxygen in September to see my recipe of the month.

TFW: You compete in Figure and I’m going to be doing Physique. What do you see as the differences?
KR:
Physique is a lot of a harder look, a lot more defined. Figure, I think, is more of a feminine look with more flowing presentation.

TFW: I’ve only got six weeks of prep left. What advice do you have for me and what do I have to look forward to? 😉
KR:
Your diet will get stricter, as you know. But you’ll be fine. Just focus on that end result, imagine that trophy in your hand. All your hard work will pay off. And, when you’re on stage, it’s the best feeling in the world! What you’re about to do – what you’re about to achieve – feels amazing. Good luck!

Kelly’s sponsors are myprotein.com, Global Fitness Music and Designer Physique Australia.

We talked a lot about competing and competition prep. Kelly sweetly wished me luck with my final few weeks of prep (excuse the hilarious face I’m pulling in the still ha ha!):

Thanks Kelly, it was lovely to meet you and I’ve got a feeling we’ll be in touch with each other again!

The Fit Writer talks to Kelly Rennie about bodybuilding prep is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Bodybuilding teaches me to be… organised

May 20, 2011

Bodybuilding prep has taught me a lot of things so far. Goal setting. Focus. Determination. Consistency. Compliance. The fact that A+B will = C.

It has also taught me that, to be successful, you need to plan and prepare. Organisation is key, as evidenced by this:

The bag on the left? My clothes, laptop, toiletries, PJs, paperwork etc. The white bag on the right? My food.

I’m at FEB (the annual Fitness Entrepreneur Bootcamp event) this weekend. I’m here today, tomorrow and Sunday. And, whilst it’s a fitness event, so big bottles of water and bags of veggies are de rigeur, I decided to prep all my food for the weekend and bring it with me. At 6 weeks out from my comp, I am in the mood for complete and utter compliance. If I can’t test my organisational skills and willpower now, when can I? (Er…apart from over the coming weeks 😉 )


So, here we have:
– chopped veg (cauliflower, broccoli, pepper, courgette, cucumber and lettuce, spinach, asparagus, cherry tomatoes – fridge needed clearing out!)
– 4 homemade breakfast protein pancakes
– a homemade apple-y protein cake
– 12 homemade egg ‘muffins’ (not sure what else to call them)
– grilled chicken
– hard boiled eggs
– some pre-cooked chicken
– 4 non-dairy yoghurts (I got sent them for review – will blog it soon)
– some casein powder for a late-night puddingy snack

All mixed, chopped, baked, prepared and pre-frozen by me yesterday. And, yes, I did work yesterday! (And train. Twice.)

I do think it’s hilarious that my food bag is almost the same size as my weekend bag. But you know what’s nice? The fact that no-one here thinks it’s weird (or, if they do, they haven’t said so!), they all understand, and even my roomie (the lovely Zita of Z-Trainer fame) completely understands why I’m eating all my meals out of a cool bag.

I feel quite accomplished having made that lot to bring with me, and know it will all bring me that little bit closer to my goal.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to the evening seminar here at FEB for a roundtable with Jon le Tocq, Paul Mort, Alwyn Cosgrove, Rachel Cosgrove, Steve Jack, Nick Nanton and Charlotte Ord.

I’ll blog about the talks here at FEB – we’ve already heard some great advice and inspiring presentations.

Bodybuilding teaches me to be… organised is a post from The Fit Writer blog.


Coaching, cold water and the BBC

May 14, 2011

(I’ll wait to see if anyone Googles that exact combination of words!)

Phew, what a day. Lying in bed with my laptop on my knees and typing this is about all I can manage right now.

(Shortly after this was taken, clouds rolled in and wind picked up – brrrr!)

As long-time readers of the blog will remember, a few weekends a year I coach open-water swimming (I do this for triathlon coaching company thetrilife.com in partnership with event organisers Human Race). Time rolls around quickly, and here we are at the start of the triathlon season again, so it was time for me to zip up my wetsuit, put on my coaching hat (it looks just like a swimming hat but contains top tips and handy hints) and step into that cold water.

And, maaan, was it cold. I mean, it actually was cold, but it felt even colder. Not surprising really since I’m probably sitting at anywhere between 5-10% less body fat now than I was last year. And, as any Channel swimmer knows, subcutaneous fat makes a big (gooood!) difference when it comes to feeling at home in cold water.

I was in a wetsuit, of course. A wetsuit which was so baggy the other coaches were laughing at me. Yes folks, heavy weight training will not make a woman bulky. The baggy wetsuit didn’t do much to protect me from the cold water. Brrr!

Despite the cold, it was a great day. I truly love coaching and feel it’s a real honour to take people through what is often their very first time in open-water. And I got to see my coaching buddies again, and chat with Bill Black, perhaps one of my favourite people in triathlon. (He always seems to find new ways to introduce us to our coachees: this year I was “that little fish…”)

Last year, I finished off my days coaching at Dorney with a 20+mile bike ride home, having also ridden there. Not this year (no such long cardio for me, certainly not with 7 weeks to go til my comp). Today had a rather unusual ending: being interviewed by the BBC! This is not something which happens to me frequently. Or, ever. But on Thursday I had a call from a nice young woman called Charlotte, a BBC news reporter who works for Radio 4. It seems the BBC are putting together a feature or series of features about the explosion in popularity of triathlon in this country. They found me online via this very blog, decided I’d be able to be vaguely useful to the feature and came along to interview me. Happily, I was decked out in triathlon kit, soaking wet from lake water and set against a backdrop of a supersprint race.

I don’t know where the clip will be used (Charlotte said it could be on Radio4, on TV and/or online) but as soon as I find out, I’ll let you know. I just hope I was useful to them – I was seriously so cold that I was having trouble speaking (you know when you want to say a word but your mouth won’t form the correct shape?!)

A few people have challenged me with the idea that bodybuilding is a vain sport, and others have suggested I’m vain for working towards a bodybuilding show. I can’t answer for the sport in its entirety, but I’m hoping my willingness to be filmed whilst wearing a wetsuit and woolly hat and without a scrap of makeup on my face (which is tinged blue and chapped from the wind) answers the second challenge. (And remember when I wrote that piece for the Observer book? My portrait photo for that one… yep, me in a swimming costume (!) standing in a lake. In April). Or perhaps bodybuilding allows me to indulge the small scrap of vanity I have left after Channel swimming and open-water triathlons have taken their toll?

Right, I must go. Richard of Richards TransRockies is here because he and my husband are doing some mega-long off road sportive tomorrow. And there’s Eurovision to watch. I hope you had a good Saturday. 🙂

Do you think bodybuilding is a vain pursuit? Do you think it’s possible to engage in a vain sport without being a vain person? Do you find that once you’ve typed “vain” several times you start to doubt that you’ve spelled it correctly?

Coaching, cold water and the BBC is a post from The Fit Writer blog.


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