Autoimmune Diseases

How to identify, treat, and stay fit with an autoimmune disorder.

The United States is currently experiencing an autoimmune disease epidemic.

With over 60 million affected Americans today, the statistics show autoimmunity has increased threefold over the last half-century.

It’s ranked the third leading chronic illness in the US, behind heart disease and cancer, accounting for over $100 billion (with a b) in annual healthcare costs.

Autoimmune diseases aren’t a specific, labeled group of conditions that are easy to identify. More than 80 different autoimmune disorders exist. Their symptoms often overlap, making them hard to even diagnose.

Today, we’re taking a deep dive into what they are, how we can better our condition, and how we can make working out a beneficial and healthy part of our lifestyle, even with an autoimmune disease.

What Are Autoimmune Diseases?

First of all, no matter what type of autoimmune disease you have, they all start in one place – your immune system.

Your body’s immune system is a complex network of cells and organs which protect your body against foreign substances, bacteria, cancer cells, transplant tissue, and so on.

The primary purpose here is to keep your body healthy and to keep these foreign invaders out.

To do that, your immune system produces antibodies which, when released, attack these invaders until they’re good and gone.

An autoimmune disease is when that same immune system begins producing antibodies that attack your body’s own tissue, instead of fighting infections.

This often happens in response to certain triggers, which is why treatment for autoimmune diseases focuses on reducing the activity of your immune system.

As I said above, there are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases, and a lot of them have really similar symptoms.

This makes diagnosing them a long, frustrating, and stressful process, both for you, and your doctor.

Blood tests that search out autoantibodies in your body can help doctors diagnose these conditions with precision.

Often, the first symptoms are things such as fatigue, fevers, muscle aches, and inflammation which causes redness in specific body areas, heat, pain, and swelling.

These diseases often get worse in their so-called flare-up period, and in certain periods, the symptoms may get better or even disappear. That period is called a remission.

Of course, treatment depends on the type of disease you have, but in most cases, the primary goal is to help your body reduce inflammation.

Your doctor might even prescribe corticosteroids or other drugs that reduce your immune system’s response!

Here are some of the more common autoimmune diseases, and what they entail:

  • Type 1 diabetes – destroying cells in your pancreas
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – joint inflammation (and the surrounding tissue)
  • Celiac sprue disease – a gluten reaction that causes damage to the lining of the small intestine
  • Scleroderma – a connective tissue disease that causes changes in muscles, blood vessels, organs, and the skin
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus – affects skin, kidneys, brain, and other organs
  • Psoriasis – a condition that causes redness, irritation, and flaky, silver-white patches on the skin
  • Vitiligo – white patches on the skin caused by loss of pigment
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases – a group of inflammatory conditions of the colon and small intestine
  • Addison’s disease – insufficient adrenal hormone
  • Graves’ disease – overactive thyroid gland

If you suffer from any of these conditions, chances are you already know about it.

But for those in the early stages of development, it’s essential for you to know the symptoms that come along with autoimmune diseases, so you can start treating them immediately and make small changes to your daily and fitness routine that will help you ease your condition.

Symptoms and Treatments

When it comes to the early symptoms of autoimmune diseases, a lot of them are very similar, and they include:

  • Muscle pains
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Numbness in the hands and feet
  • Hair loss
  • Fevers
  • Swelling, redness, and skin irritations

Individual diseases can also have their own unique symptoms. For example, type 1 diabetes causes extreme thirst, weight loss, and fatigue. Inflammatory bowel syndrome causes bloating and nasty belly aches.

And with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis, the flare-up and remission periods in which the symptoms come and go are clear to identify.

So, when should you see a doctor?

Aside from your usual check-ups with your health provider, recognizing any of these symptoms that occur on a regular (or on-and-off) basis is a good reason to get yourself tested.

Different specialists treat different types of autoimmune diseases, but all of them should be able to identify your symptoms and point you in the right direction.

  • Endocrinologists treat conditions of the glands like Graves’ and Addison’s disease.
  • Rheumatologists treat diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, and any joint-related issues.
  • Gastroenterologists treat diseases such as celiac, Crohn’s disease, and problems with the GI tract.
  • Dermatologists can help you treat any skin condition (like psoriasis) related to autoimmune issues.

Treatments can’t cure autoimmune diseases, but bringing down inflammation and controlling your immune system’s response to your triggers is vital for your quality of life and well-being.

Of course, every condition will have different complications when it comes to changes in your lifestyle.

One thing we know for sure – fitness and working out are both crucial for the people who want to live and overall healthy lifestyle.

So now, let’s look at how we can help our bodies and use fitness as a powerful tool to help us stay fit despite our condition.

Using Fitness to Improve Lifestyle and Better our Condition

It’s a fact – 2 in 3 adults in America are considered overweight or obese. This pandemic results in a lot of health issues for the general population – such as autoimmune diseases, endocrine dysfunction, diabetes, cancer, stroke, dyspnea, disabilities, and the list goes on.

For the people who suffer from an autoimmune disease or any other chronic pain issue for that matter, exercise can be both a blessing and a curse.

We all know moving is essential to our well-being, but too much of it can cause a reaction in your body that will create a flare-up in your condition, and put you in harm’s way.

What people don’t tell you is that exercise WILL help you manage your symptoms and flare-ups.

Your body was designed to exercise! It can withstand heavy loads, aerobic work, and endurance training, and this results in incredibly beneficial physiological adaptations that increase your body’s efficiency on so many levels.

Autoimmune diseases and chronic pain conditions feed off of inflammation, and if you’re working out right, and eating right, this lifestyle will help you reduce the inflammation (and the pain it causes) in your body.

On top of all that, the right workout routine will essentially “teach” your body to adapt to a particular pain response, which can help you get through the sometimes painful daily activities. Your body needs to leave its comfort zone, and learn that being uncomfortable in an otherwise safe environment will teach you how to handle your symptoms appropriately.

In my practice as a coach, I’ve seen people transform regardless of their condition using the right method I’m about to share with you right now.

If you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, your workout should primarily focus on adapting your body and building a base of strength and flexibility.

A number of medical studies have found that exercising in that manner has positive effects on reducing the symptoms of such disorders, including the chronic pain and fatigue that they sometimes come with.

Both short-term and long-term exercise programs have shown remarkable results.

On the other side of the coin, research has also shown that physical and psychological stress can aggravate your symptoms. Exercise often increases cortisol levels, which causes stress to the body.

So, there’s only one challenge in front of us – finding a workout program that creases enough work to get you fit and healthy, without overworking your body and risking a flare-up.

As you can see, both the benefits and the potential risks of exercising are not to be ignored.

You have to find a way to balance both of them if you want to live a healthier lifestyle, look better, and go about your life worry-free.

To conclude…

I can say that symptoms of autoimmune disorders are NOT to be ignored, and they sometimes come and go over time.

In my practice, I’ve found that two schools of thought exist among people with such disorders.

For those who can (but don’t do it) exercise is viewed as a dull, tedious, pointless waste of time.

But for those that do take the time, exercise is therapy. For them, it’s a required part of their day, helping them develop emotional and physical strength, and helping them manage their symptoms, inflammation, and stress, so they can be insured they live a life of optimal health.

I hope this blog post was educational and gave you some perspective on the benefits of working out with such a disorder.

I want you to know I’m always looking for ways to help, and if you need an expert you can trust on this matter, feel free to book your free consultation call.

How To Stop Binge Eating

How we can identify the binge eating disorder, overpower it, and break free from it.

Now, don’t get me wrong – treating yourself is not a bad thing.

If you’re dedicated to your fitness goals, you’re working hard, and you’re (for the most part) on your diet, a little cheat meal or cheat day every so often works wonders to keep your motivation going strong.

But sometimes, we lose control.

And a huge problem for most people lies in not recognizing a little disorder called the Binge eating disorder (or BED).

It can turn your cheat meal into a cheat day, that cheat day into a cheat week, and next thing you know, the only thing considered cheating on your diet would be eating a salad.

That’s not what we’re going for.

Today, I want to take a look at this (extremely) common disorder, and show you what you can do to identify it, and stop it in its tracks, once and for all.

The binge eating disorder or BED is characterized as regularly and compulsively eating large amounts of food, rapidly at the point of pain or discomfort. Binge eating is the most common eating disorder in the USA as it affects 3-5% of the general population with 3,5% of women and 2% of men being affected.

Don’t get me wrong – we all have moments in which we eat a just a little more than necessary, but BED is much more severe than that.

People with this condition have the feeling that they are out of control while eating. They often overeat and do it too quickly, even when they aren’t feeling hungry. Because of this behavior, it’s likely that they eat alone and feel shame, guilt, and embarrassment about their condition.

There is a difference between BED and bulimia, as people with bulimia will try to “undo” the effects of binge eating by vomiting or using laxatives. People with BED may vow to stop their emotional eating, but the shame and stress make them binge again and again.

Millions of people suffer from BED. A large portion of them are obese, but that isn’t always an effective indicator when identifying the binge eater.

After all, BED can affect everyone no matter the age, race, gender or body type.

If left untreated and uncontrolled, this little overeating habit can even be life-threatening.

So… what exactly causes it?

What Are The Causes of B.E.D?

The unhealthy relationship between food and people with BED is part of a much larger and significant problem – mental and emotional issues.

The exact cause of this disorder is unknown but most likely can be attributed to a combination of psychological, behavioral, and environmental influences.

Statistics show that you’re more likely to develop BED if you have:

  • Family history – If you have parent or siblings with an eating disorder, the risk for you to develop one is much higher.
  • Psychological issues or negative self-worth – Certain thought patterns are closely associated with BED, including depression, anger, anxiety, and negative feelings about yourself, your body, and your accomplishments.
  • A history of restricting calories – people who have this disorder can differ in body types, but most of the times they have repeatedly tried dieting.
  • Traumatic experiences – people with post-traumatic stress disorder can often develop BED as a form of an escape from the pain.
  • Personal problems – having issues with your closest people can lead to binge-eating behavior.
  • Been fat shamed or bullied – many people diagnosed with BED report having a long personal history of dieting for those exact reasons.

As you’ve probably noticed, a lot of these causes have nothing to do with body type, workout history, or actual food preferences.

They’re psychological – certain bad experiences and associations that worsen the relationship between the binge eater and their favorite tasty foods, and make him or her develop continuous, uncontrolled cravings.

If you’re finding yourself in any of these causes, you might potentially be experiencing the symptoms of BED, without even knowing it!

Binge Eating Disorder Symptoms and Behaviors

Someone who has BED displays clear and specific signs and symptoms that easily help us indicate their condition. Some of them include:

  • Eating unusually large quantities of food when you are not hungry, or when you are full
  • Eating faster than normal
  • Eating until you feel uncomfortable
  • Feeling embarrassment, shame, depression, disgust, or guilt about binge eating
  • Eating alone or in secret so that others cannot see you binge eat
  • Feeling “out of control” when you are eating, like you cannot stop

You may also experience certain physical complications as symptoms of BED, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Type II diabetes
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Fatigue
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sleep apnea

And some of the psychological conditions linked with BED include:

  1. Feeling bad about yourself, your body, or your life
  2. Poor quality of life
  3. Problems functioning at work, in your personal life, or while socializing
  4. Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse disorder

Even though BED symptoms and behaviors are easy to spot, successfully addressing it will require a mix of therapeutic approaches.

It would be best if you had a team of mental health providers, medical providers, and nutritional experts which can help guide you toward a safe and effective treatment.

If left untreated…

BED comes with many health risks including physical, emotional and social. Up to 50% of people with this condition are obese.

This disorder is a high-risk factor for gaining weight and becoming overweight – the reason for this is obviously the increased calorie intake during these “binging episodes”.

Obesity on its own comes with an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

What’s worse is, studies show people with BED having a higher risk of developing these health problems compared to obese people of the same weight who don’t have BED.

Other problems associated with this condition are having difficulty sleeping, chronic pain, asthma, and irritable bowel syndrome.

In women, the condition leads to higher risk of fertility problems, pregnancy complications, and development of polycystic ovary syndrome.

People with BED also experience difficulty socializing as 13% of them say they can’t even function properly in social settings.

So as we can see, ignoring these binge eating episodes is NOT an option.

If the symptoms of this disorder are left untreated, complications are guaranteed.

And that’s not what I want for you.

So how do we take care of this harmful disorder, and make sure it doesn’t come back?

Simple… you fight it from within.

Treating, overcoming, and moving forward.

If you even suspect that you’ve recently experienced a BED episode, it’s best that you immediately seek medical attention. BED is a disorder which requires proper diagnoses and medical treatment.

If it’s left untreated, it can get worse, and in some extreme cases, it can become life-threatening.

It would be helpful before the doctor’s appointment, to make a list of symptoms which you are experiencing.

You can include personal information like your family’s history of eating disorders, stress, recent life changes, and a typical day of eating.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your emotions and thoughts even if they don’t seem related to binge eating – it’s essential to give your provider a clear picture.

Your doctor will ask you questions about your daily food intake, your mindset about it, how quickly you eat, and so on. If you want to stop BED, you have to be honest and open up about the emotions you have suppressed.

You may want to consider having a conversation with your doctor about if he had worked with similar patients before, how he approaches the treatment, and what he sees as the primary goal for your recovery.

An effective treatment plan may include assistance from a variety of medical specialist, health and wellness experts, and mental health practitioners. That’s because everybody has his unique signs and symptoms.

This “team” of specialists can help you stop binging by addressing the underlying influences and unhealthy habits.

Working with these kinds of people will motivate you to reduce your food intake, make healthy long-term changes, and ultimately overcome BED.

Aside from the obvious, the best way to treat this disorder is to think of it as something emotional rather than physical.

If you realize the underlying cause of your problem, you’re one step closer to solving it by yourself.

Different types of therapy can be incredibly beneficial for disorders such as this one.

And if you find it difficult to be honest with yourself, and you feel like you might need a little help, these are the therapy types that I recommend:

  • Psychotherapy – a trained therapist will work with you to figure out the root cause of your binge-eating episodes and help you overcome them.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – this is one-on-one therapeutic counseling which treats mental disorders, including depression. A cognitive behavioral therapist may allow you to express your thoughts and feeling, helping you rethink the way you think about yourself, your body, and your accomplishments.
  • Interpersonal Psychotherapy – this is a short-term treatment which focuses on the way people interact with others. An interpersonal psychotherapist can help you address any social or communication issues which encourage you to eat a.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy – this form of cognitive behavioral therapy helps patients remove self-harming behaviors and negative thinking. If you undergo this therapy, you can learn how to solve problems better, cope with stress and regulate anxiety.
  • Group or Family Therapy – social support is a crucial component of overcoming BED. It’s essential for your family to be able to talk about your condition and its effects on you, especially if you’re not the only person in the family experiencing these episodes.

As with every such disorder, it’s completely treatable!

If you suffer from B.E.D, it’s vital for you to realize that recovery is a journey of treatment, healing, and personal growth.

It’s not about buying what’s on the prescription.

It’s about being patient, taking care of yourself, and choosing the right way to treat yourself.

I want you to live your life healthier, and happier than you’ve ever been.

You shouldn’t think (not even for a second) that your disorder defines your future.

We all grow and experience changes, and sometimes a few bad experiences can leave us hurting for a long time, without even realizing it.

Remember – your journey of health, fitness, and balance starts when you decide it does. No disorder, doctor, or number on a scale can tell you otherwise.

As we learned, B.E.D is psychological – it’s a result of your past experiences, decisions, and environment.

But the good news is…

It ends exactly when you decide it does.

The Benefits of Lifting Heavy for Women

Many people like to think that heavy weightlifting and bodybuilding, in general, is a guy’s thing. The general advice is that women shouldn’t engage in it, because they will become “bulky”.

They can train gymnastics, swimming, and other sports but not weight training. There is still a negative stigma in society about women who engage in heavy weightlifting.

Shucks! We’re here to prove them wrong.

I’m happy to say more and more women start training with weights and competing in bodybuilding competitions. I adore that fact, and I’m here to give you eight reasons why weightlifting is a no longer man-exclusive sport.

I will be talking about what benefits can women get from weight lifting and why should every woman engage in some type of resistance training.

Let’s get right into it.

1. You’ll Burn More Fat

The Turfs University did a study which separated overweight women in two groups. One group engaged in weight training twice a week, resulting in lost an average of 14.6 pounds of fat and gained 1.4 pounds of muscle in the process. The other group, which only dieted without weight training, lost only 9.2 pounds of fat but gained no muscle in the process.

There is a simple fact which can explain these results – when you do an intense weight-training program, your metabolism is elevated, and you continue to burn fat for several hours after you have finished your workout.

If you do a regular cardio exercise, you’ll stop burning fat shortly after you have finished your session.

2. You’ll Build Your Ideal Shape

Whether you want to look great in a dress, rock a bathing suit on summer vacation, or to have shapely arms in a tank top, weight training is the best way you can do that. It’s not only the best but also the fastest way you can reach your aesthetic goals. To achieve these goals, you should train with progressively heavier weights.

Some of you may think “But my goal is to lose fat”. It doesn’t matter. If you commit to losing fat by doing a lot of cardio and bring your fat percentage down into the teens (which is very lean for a woman), you won’t like what you see. You’ll have little to no muscle to work with on this body fat level, and you’ll be a skinny girl with no curves to be seen.

It’s essential for you to understand that your muscles will give you your desired shape. So if you want to be lean and look great in whatever dress you rock, lifting weights is the way to go.

It would be best if you aim to do at least three sessions a week for better results.

3. You’ll Strengthen Your Bones

As we age, our estrogen levels drop and this lead to postmenopausal women to be prone to osteoporosis. Estrogen is the chemical which is responsible for bone building.

Numerous studies show a positive correlation between resistance training and bone density. When your bones feel your muscles pulling, bone growth is stimulated. Women who lift weights regularly can have an increase in bone density and offset the bone loss.

4. You’ll Be In a Better Mood!

Women are twice as likely to develop clinical depression as men, yet most of these women don’t do anything to combat these feelings. When training, your body releases norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin which will help you achieve a sense of well-being. Weight training also leads to an increase in energy, better and higher-quality sleep, and a feeling of accomplishment and control.

5. Higher Life Expectancy!

Women who spend time in the weight room are typically active for more extended periods. That’s because weight training strengthens your muscles and improves your bone density. The upper-body strength helps you combat postural issues which can lead to back and shoulder issues. An increased hip and leg strength aid in mobility and balance.

So if you want to look and feel better for the rest of your lives, you better start hitting the heavy weights!

6. You’ll Improve Your Posture

In our everyday lives, nothing is abused more than our posture. Sitting all day at work and having bad walking patterns lead to many problems with our posture and most importantly, injuries. Proper posture will prevent that and help you have better power transfer in athletics.

You can combat a bad posture by strengthening your body. Exercises such as rows and scapular retraction (a move where you squeeze your shoulder blades back and together) help you enhance your postural muscles. Core strengthening also helps with improved posture by strengthening the entire torso area. Resistance training will also help you improve weak muscles which affect your posture.

7. You’ll Speed Up Your Metabolism

The less muscle you have, the slower your metabolism will be. As we age, we lose muscle at increasing rates, especially after the age of 40. If you have never done resistance training and you die, up to 25% of the weight loss may be muscle loss. If you start training with weight and combine it with dieting, you can preserve and even rebuild your muscle fibres. The more lean mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories you’ll burn all day long.

8. You’ll Get Stronger And Be More Confident

If you have never lifted weights in your life, your everyday tasks such as carrying children, lifting grocery bags and picking up heavy suitcases must be challenging as hell. If you start hitting the gym, however, more frequently you’ll have an increase in functional fitness and will have no problem doing all of those things.

Researches show that regular weight training can make you 50% stronger in only six months. Being stronger and having more power is very empowering feeling. It will not only improve your physical activities but also will build emotional strength by boosting self-esteem and confidence. It also builds character as to build muscle long-term you have to be dedicated and disciplined.

Conclusion

As you can see, weight lifting has a tremendous amount of benefits for women! We feel and look better when we train with weights, and our overall quality of life improves. You should realise by now, that weightlifting is not exclusive to women or men, but it’s for everybody who wants to improve their lives!

Whether you want to look good, build muscle or even compete as a competitor, heavy weight training is one of the best things you can do not only for yourself but also for the people around you. Remember, if you improve yourself, you can help others grow, and that is all that matters.

Competition Prep Process

Do you want to get on stage as a competitor and be in the best shape of your life?

If you’re already competing or just aspiring to step on stage for the first time, you’re probably trying to reach that perfect balance of being in great shape, looking stunning on and off stage, and actually enjoying the process while staying healthy.

Let me first say, I have amazing respect for anyone who has the commitment to compete in a fitness competition, be it bikini or bodybuilding.

I know how tough the process is and that’s why today I want to share with you my tips and tactics so you can avoid all these mistakes other women in the industry make.

When you decide you’re going to be in a competition, the first and most essential thing is making a commitment that you’re going to go through with it to the end.

So, you want to compete as a female fitness or bikini competitor?

Sometimes you can already be in shape when you decide you’re going to do a competition.

The fact is this – knowing where you’re at now can help you manage your expectations and set clear goals.

We’ll talk about diet and training further, but for now we’ll emphasize how important it is to take your time with this and be patient.

Unless you stay lean year-round, what will work best for you is slow and steady dieting first, then the competition prep.

Always be aware of the competitions you want to do, but don’t lock anything in.

When you’re closer to the needed stage shape you can easily choose a date, make a plan, and work on the specific things you need in order to reach first place.

If you’re in shape and you’re just wondering about it, but you have a strong work ethic and like new experiences – definitely go for it.

After you decide what show you want to do, all you have to do is see what the requirements are. Every organization can have different ways of judging and criteria. Submit your form, take any drug tests, put together your posing routines and let’s do this!

Pre-competition Diet

Being 12 weeks out from a show is a wonderful feeling.

First things first, if you’re not an expert on diet and nutrition, this is the point where you can hire someone to help you with this. Most people assume you already know everything if you’re someone who competes in a lot of shows.

That simply not true! It’s okay to seek help from experts and trainers on whatever area you might be lacking.

So, the 12 week point is when you eliminate all junk food from your diet. Focus on drinking more water, and eating a lot of meals each consisting of some form of protein, carbs, and a little fat. Make sure to track every calorie you take in and tailor your daily plans around that. Limit all sugary foods, candy and desserts to a minimum.

A question I get asked a lot is… what about carbs? It’s different for everyone really!

Do you tend to store fat easily? Are you sensitive to carbohydrates? If you are, keep your carbs similar or equal to your protein.

Do you tend to stay skinny? If you have a fast metabolism and it’s hard for you to gain a lot of weight, add some carbs to your diet but keep the protein high.

Make a plan for yourself based on your characteristics, and if you follow the first week perfectly, you’ll have no problem going through to the end, I promise!

By being consistent with your intake, you can figure out what you need more (and less) of. Listen to your body. Not having enough energy means you need more calories.

Manage your macronutrient ratio. Even though low carb diets are popular among women, but it’s not a good strategy here. The contest prep is a lot easier and predictable when you’re taking in carbs. The only downside – your hunger and energy levels will vary, but you’ll still be leaner in the end.

For protein, don’t set it higher than 1.3g/lbs of bodyweight and start with 1g/lbs while carbs and calories are still high. Too much protein (1.5g/lbs+) leads to poorer digestion and more water retention/bloating.

For calories, the average is 14-17x your bodyweight depending on your frame and activity level.

We won’t go into food choices in detail, but this is what you should be eating for the most part: meat like fish and chicken, eggs, low-fat dairy, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice and oatmeal.

These foods will be the most convenient and delicious options when you’re prepping for a contest.

To get an idea of how to balance calories, you won’t really be dropping calories for more than 150-200kcals per week, more like 100kcals. It depends how much cardio you’re doing, but make sure you’re adding training instead of removing food next time you feel like you need an adjustment.

Pre-competition Training & Cardio

Okay, so your diet is on point now, you go in the gym and you’re ready to build that dream body!

See, a lot of new competitors get lied to. They’re being told that in order to get leaned out, you need to increase reps and decrease weight – for a fat-burning workout.

This will indeed increase your heart rate and get you to burn calories, but a lot of your hard-earned muscle will go away with it. When your goal is to lean out and keep your muscle, that’s not a good way to go.

Training should be the same. Continue using your routine, it doesn’t matter what split or range it is. Keep the weights as heavy as you can through your prep period. Keep in mind it can be difficult doing that when your energy levels and strength drop on a caloric deficit.

The proper route is increasing the intensity. Any type of workout can become a high-intensity workout. Decrease rest periods, negatives, do super-sets, drop-sets, and you’re good.

Your heart rate should really go up, you should be sweating, and your muscle will definitely be burning!

In terms of your overall training strategy, many factors come into the equation of the best training plan will be for you.

Too many of us would rather do more, in the effort of quicker results. This doesn’t work effectively and it will devastating long-term for you, as your body is a very intricate system of other smaller systems.

You rock up to the gym and know exactly how you have to train and what you need to eat and do to get the most out of your body.

Making it so much easier to just follow through and get the job done, especially when you know what your weak points are and you can work on them.

A big part of your will most likely be cardio.

Cardio… is only sometimes a must. It’s often time done WAY too early, and too often. This is something that you should avoid at all costs as it will give your body the stimulus it needs to change without overdoing it.

Also, you need to understand whether you respond better to High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or slow, long stretches of cardio for fat loss. The right adjustments will help you get better results.

Unless you have tried it out you won’t know.

If you are doing cardio, without knowing your training history, I can only give you points of reference you can test for yourself and see how you feel.

You can start with 3 30-minute sessions a week and move from there.

If you’re dropping your calories but not losing fat, or you feel like your cardio isn’t enough, feel free to add a few minutes every session! But if you’re maintaining a balanced progress while only doing those 3 30-minute sessions, you’re good to go!

Keep your cardio to sprint intervals, tempo intervals, and long duration moderate intensity sessions!

You can progress from 3 cardio sessions per week all the way up to a maximum of 4-6 if you feel like it’s necessary.

It’s really important to watch out for the intensity and overtraining – especially on a caloric deficit.

A word on hiring coaches…

It’s really a big help to have someone look from the outside in and give you honest feedback.

Here’s the thing, if you’re hiring a coach…

…Pick one coach, and listen ONLY to their advice.

Once you have the right training plan and you’re following through with your diet, you should have no problem going on that stage, being your best self, and rocking it!

Post Competition

It doesn’t matter if you won or not, it’s an amazing learning experience.

Let me just tell you first, post-competition diets are a thing.

You don’t want to look great on comp day, have an incredible time, and then happily binge cheat meals…

Rapid fat and weight gain post comp is something you must avoid.

Firstly, realize that the race isn’t over once you walk off stage.

Your body can very quickly gain fat, and this is especially true when you have prepped incorrectly and your bodies systems and the hormonal environment is screaming for help.

Post comp rebound is common, but it doesn’t have to happen for you. And this is where the term ‘reverse diet’ comes in.

Slowly adding back more food into your diet and taking away exercise will leave you with a highly functioning metabolism, happy hormone levels, and great look.

All of this information might be a little overwhelming.

And I know… competing for the first time can be scary, but it is well worth it.

Stick to the plan, stay motivated and don’t be afraid to lean on others when you are struggling.

You will make a lot of mistakes the first time but don’t beat yourself up, learn from them and be better the next time.

And most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself and be proud of all that you have accomplished.

Good luck and happy competing!

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