Competition prep: the 12-24 weeks prior to a bodybuilding competition, where calories are slowly and carefully cut and cardio and workouts are increased, in order to lean out and prepare for the big day on stage.
Some of you have been around for a while and you've seen me go through a couple of my competitions. For those who don't know, I'm both the founder of Whiskey, Ink, & Lace (used to make these products all by myself, in the back room of my house!) and also a competitive bodybuilder.
That's not a hobby or something I do on the side. Being a bodybuilder of any kind is definitely a lifestyle, making me both an entrepreneur and a bodybuilder, simultaneously.
Specifically, I'm a figure competitor. That's a specific category of bodybuilding that requires me to maintain a good amount of muscle as a woman, but still show off a feminine figure.
What competing entails is a crazy amount of discipline and hard work.
During prep, there's very little room for error. So every meal is measured out by the gram (my coach is Canadian, so we do things in metric measurements).
I meal prep every meal. If you run into me during comp prep, chances are there will be empty tupperware containers laying around or I'll have a massive lunchbox with me.
I eat every 3 hours, no matter what I'm up to, so I'm often in weird places, looking strange, but there are absolutely 0 f---s given, because no one understands how good that food is right at that moment...
I count everything during prep, right down to how many spears of asparagus I eat.
I can use seasonings, as long as they're sugar-free. I often opt for liquid aminos and Tamari.
People seem to mistake my comp prep diet for just "eating healthy". It's not just that. It's a science. My first meal is typically 1 1/4 cups of egg whites, 38g of oats, and 1 tsp flax seed oil, all measured out on my scale.
I have a list of ~30 foods I'm allowed to eat from. That's it. And as I get closer to competition day, that list gets smaller and smaller until I'm left with leafy greens, chicken breast, cod, oats, and sweet potatoes with flax seed oil every once in a while.
Early on in the prep, between 8 and 20 weeks out, I'll get "treat meals". That means one meal a week, I get to have a little more freedom with what I eat. Coach knows I love my burgers, so that's what I typically get. I'm human, not a robot, so of course I need a little freedom now and then to keep my sanity.
And to be honest, I'm a BIG foodie. You guys don't even know. So yeah, the diet can get me a little crazy sometimes, but I find myself happiest when I find a balance between setting clear rules and boundaries for myself, then sometimes breaking those rules. (Yeah, I'm a clear Enneagram Type 8, if anyone was wondering).
Oh yeah, and I'm sober the whole time. Yeah. No whiskey. It's very sad. I'll occasionally go out to bars with friends and ask to just smell the whiskey in their glasses, just to remind myself of its amazingness.
But you better believe that as soon as I step off stage for the last time of the season, I hurry up and reintroduce my liver to the sweet poison, and it takes no time at all to have my tolerance back. Plus, I'm ripped, so my body just quickly metabolizes the alcohol, making me someone you don't want to go toe to toe with in a drinking competition, post-bodybuilding competition.
I wouldn't say I live at the gym... but other people would probably argue that I do. Every day, I spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours at the gym. My typical day looks like this:
4am: Wake up. Meal prep a bit. Take my vitamins and supplements. Walk to the gym.
5am: Fasted cardio. That means no food before my first work out of the day to get the most fat burning potential out of the cardio.
Cardio is typically 30 minutes to 45 minutes during prep. It's a carefully measured amount based on how quickly I'm leaning out.
How do I survive such torture, you may ask? I watch Top Chef. Religiously.
There's something supremely satisfying about watching Tom Colicchio yell at chefs for f-ing up a bouillabaisse when I'm starving and unable to eat much food. It's masochistic, I know.
After fasted cardio, I'll find a spot somewhere at the gym, sometimes awkwardly in the locker room, and finally eat my first meal.
If you run into me at the gym, this is not the time to talk to me. You have no idea how good that first meal of egg whites and oats is for me. I just want to live in my moment of bliss in silence for a minute.
After my first meal, if it's a strength training day, I'll go train. That can be anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour and a half. I'll detail out what a typical training day looks like for me later, because I get a lot of people who ask.
Then I walk home, have my 2nd meal of the day to get that protein intake post-workout, then I'll get ready and head off to work, typically about 4 hours later.
And yeah, I get up at 4am, even on most weekends. The secret to that insanity? I go to bed at like 8pm. During prep, I have almost no choice. By the end of the day, my carbs have all burned off and I feel sluggish and exhausted. I can't go out to bars or restaurants, so I end up reading books at home a lot, then passing out early.
The end product is what I'm after, anyways. I'm still relatively new to bodybuilding, as I'm only 3 years in and I've only stepped on stage twice so far. But I've come home with 3 trophies, having placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in my classes in my competitions.
And I have abs during prep. I mean, isn't that what most people dream about having, after all?
I'll be sharing more about what it's like as a figure competitor and bodybuilder throughout my comp prep this time around, for those who are interested. It's a fun journey, and I'm excited to share it with you guys.
Just wait until I tell you about the spray tans and the other craziness that happens on the day of competition!
In the meantime, you can follow my journey on my personal instagram, @andi.whiskey, full of shameless gym selfies and pictures of food and my occasional travels. And lots of inspirational quotes, because Lord knows this shit ain't easy, and sometimes we all need a little kick in the butt.