[Side Note: I’m writing this post on Jan. 29, 2018, about 6 months after my debut at Jr. Nationals in June of 2017. I had a very scary and unhealthy experience leading up to Jr. Nationals and I’ve been meaning to write about it, its only taken me 6 months to do it.]
In my last post, I talked about how my prep had been going 6 weeks out prior to show- if you don’t remember, it was not going very well. I was training my ass off 5-6 hours a day on very low calories and not seeing the results I wanted to see… in fact, I was actually seeing the opposite. Instead of a linear progress of leaning out, my body was going through some extreme fluctuations that I hadn’t experienced during my first bodybuilding show.
I usually looked my best at the beginning of the week following a rest day, but as the week went on my body would transform for the worst. I would accumulate a lot of “loose” fat deposits in my belly known as “squishy fat”- thats the most scientific term I could find on the internet. It would accumulate right below my bellybutton, it would jiggle when I walked or moved and it would hold an indentation from the waistband on my pants. It was so weird and none of my fellow seasoned, female bodybuilders had experienced it before.
After doing some thorough research online, I learned that it was a common reaction when a person would starve (extreme caloric deficit) themselves for a period of time and then have a huge refeed celebration, meaning eat a large amount of carbhohydrates (3x the normal amount) in a given day. Apparently, the squishy fat accrued because my body was trying to hold onto the body fat as a way to protect myself from starving to death. The fat cells would swell up with water, making it squishy, and then once my body got an influx of food (from carbs) it released the squishy fat within 24-48 hours. It was the oddest thing, but as long as the fat was coming off I didn’t really care. The constant yo-yo, however, did make it difficult to see visual progress and stay motivated because I only looked good 48 hours after a refeed.
My coach insisted that this was the way to do it and told me to not freak out.
Weekly Episodes of Edema
Thing is, it got worse over time. Pretty soon the refeeds stopped having the beneficial effect re-stabilizing my body. 3-4 weeks out from the show, my body was starting to go through episodes of edema from all the stress I putting my body through. It became normal for me to wake up in the mornings with my entire face swollen, eyes sunk in, eyebrows rounded down, and bags under my eyes.
My fellow bodybuilder friends encouraged me to keep on going, that I had made it this far and not to pull out now. Although I had my doubts, I continued to do so. Around 2-3 weeks out, I was also starting to have some binge episodes, usually once/week, on chocolate chips and trail mix. Once I did it once, and it just happened again and again and again. It became a drug, a fix, a subconscious habit that Im still battling with today.
Can’t Quit Now
One week out from the show and I was disappointed with how I looked- my body looked nothing like it did the first show. I honestly didn’t want to do the show but I had put SO much time and money into it and I told everyone that I was going to win my pro card, etc that it was hard to pull out and let everyone down.
I ended up flying to to Chicago, checked in, got my tan done and the next morning woke up looking like this.
Needless to say, I pulled out the morning of the show. Eight months of focused and disciplined eating and training, thousands of dollars invested, all to quit the morning of the big show. Talk about a disappointment.
Nobody could give me a definitive answer of what I was going through. I didn’t know or understand it back then, but all I know is that my body was literally shutting down on me. I was training too hard and eating too little. The more I fought it (by training harder and harder), the more it fought me back and in the end, it won. It nearly put me in the hospital and it was a huge health scare. To make matters worse, my so-called coach bailed on me as soon as I pulled out of the competition. Once again, I was left all alone, with extreme health risks and disordered eating, this time with no coach or guidance on how to recover.
Although this was one of the scariest and lowest times of my life, I learned a ton and have the desire to share what I’ve learned with others. This is just another chapter in my book and I don’t regret. Despite all the challenges I have faced in bodybuilding, I do see myself doing another show at some point in my future- I mean, after all, I did buy the suit but never got to wear it.