1. Keeping the carbs in
If you didn't know, I'm prepping with a different coach for this 2018 season. My last coach Nash Jocic was a strong advocate for low carb diet during preps and it worked wonders for me in 2016 & 2017. I got in a great condition and did well in my shows. I still have a fantastic relationship with my old coach, but I wanted to try a different approach this year. I've signed up with Kim Oddo and been following his plans for 8 weeks now. I was terrified of eating triple the amount of carbs than on the last preps, I was worried I'd get very hungry - but I feel fine and my fat loss still works! It's a big relief to know that I can still eat carbs (from clean sources like sweet potatoes, fruit, rice and other grains) and still get results. Hunger levels are similar to very low carb preps I've done before - I get cravings and hunger rarely. My main struggle is low energy! And it's proving the same no matter what diet I follow. Yes it is still hard, but prep always is and you simply have to get through the hard days. Overall I'm feeling healthy and with less mood swings and better energy! So yes to carbs, yes to fats - it's all about what works for YOU. Every experienced coach knows what they're doing and you will get results no matter the diet, as long as you're sticking to the plan.
2. Consistently using supplements
Getting my new nutrition program and seeing a long list of supplements was overwhelming. In the past, I've hardly used BCAAs during prep and the main supplement was Whey Protein Powder. This time, I've been regularly using L-Glutamine, BCAAs, occasional thermogenic, L-Carnitine and all essential fatty acids. Being on a clean diet and having no cheat days, taking all the supplements is proving to keep me going daily! Quality of sleep is much better than before and my nails, hair and hormones are in check. 99% of my supplements are by Optimum Nutrition. It's a brand I really trust, that has been in the fitness industry for a very long time and has excellent quality and reputation. I will share my exact list of supplements in the future posts!
3. No cheating
Very low carb prep diet in the last 2 years included regular cheat meals, which I do miss! Because I ate very low carb on a regular basis, usually I'd cheat every 1-2 weeks. My go-to cheats would consist of 1 burger + sweet potato fries + Oreo milkshake. I'd usually order in or get it from Byron or Gourmet Burger. That 'cheat meal' combination always left me very satisfied and something to look forward to. However, I have to admit that the 'cheat' reward didn't help to keep a healthy relationship with food. It is something I've done without my coach's approval, as his cheat recommendation was steak + peanut butter. I still progressed with my fat loss with the cheat meals and felt that I could get away with it, which I did as I kept the rest of my weekly diet 100%. But I just don't think it's a way to go.
This time, I'm doing zero cheat meals or refeeds. The only things my new coach has allowed me to having during Christmas/New Year's holidays was a 'cheat meal' with fatty steak or fatty salmon. What did I end up having? A big fat steak with eggs for breakfast on January 1st and also a bowl of homemade curry I've cooked for my family - which is fattier chicken thighs, coconut milk and slightly more rice. Plus a few chocolates. That's it for the whole 8 weeks!
I'm not planning on having a cheat meal anymore, especially behind my coach's back. And if I'm told to have a refeed, I'll happily do it of course. Having zero cheats is keeping my healthy relationship with food, without the 'reward' factor and probably is the big reason for no cravings during this prep! My body knows exactly what's coming every day and this consistency is keeping my digestive and hormonal systems happy!
4. More cardio
Oh, the most dreaded thing from my new program... CARDIO. My last coach isn't a fan of cardio for bikini preps and I always felt happy about that! I much prefer training with weights twice a day than doing cardio... BUT I simply had to obey the new program and challenge myself. Yes, I do not like on some days and I've been trying to find cardio that works for me. Usually I do it straight after a weight training session or in a fun studio environment. Lately, I've been a huge fan of 1Rebel's RIDE classes. Which are pretty much a British version of SoulCycle, where you spin to the awesome music in the dark with flashing lights and a motivational instructor. Each instructor is different with their music taste but every class does consist of bike sprints and different resistance. I always leave the studios red, sweaty AND full of endorphins! Doing regular cardio in the gym is also fine as long as I blast my favourite tunes or watch YouTube videos.
5. Keeping my zen
3rd time lucky they say? 3rd time more patient I say! This is my 3rd prep, my 3rd year of competing. It does really give me a more mature approach to the prep. I don't worry if I don't see the scale numbers moving, or being all over the place. I don't obsess about squeezing in more volume or naughty food that fits my macros. I don't stalk all future competitors on Instagram and constantly compare my condition to theirs. I don't freak out if my energy is super low. I just breath in and out and know that it will all come together in the end. Trust your coach, do the work and try to get a good night sleep every day. It's that simple. Fat loss is a mind game sometimes, but your mind can do nothing but harm worrying about your progress every day. I don't even look in the mirror every day at my body. I look twice a week and if I see some changes - I smile. If I don't, I know they will come eventually as I know I'm putting in the work.
Every prep you do is a fantastic experience. Listen closely to your body, write down how you feel after certain foods. Note your calories and macros, how they change and what happens after - it will be very helpful for the future! No prep is the same and no prep is better than the other. Just follow the plan and stick to it. You can't do it with many approaches at once. I'd love to hear what is your prep diet like and what you've learnt after competing a few times! Feel free to comment below or say hi on my Instagram! Stay tuned with YouTube channel too, as it's the place where I share the most updates and recipes/training on a regular basis - https://youtube.com/c/anastasiaova