Getting small to look big

Time has a funny way of passing when you’re anticipating a certain date. Days seem to creep by slowly, but weeks fly by. Weekdays can drag, and the weekend barely seems to exist. Competition prep exaggerates this.

Twelve weeks seems like forever when you start – think of how much can change in three months. Now, suddenly, two months have passed and the countdown can be done in days, not just weeks. Yikes.


Last week was a rough one, the toughest so far – but overall it was still pretty good, as far as prep goes. With four weeks to go, the doubts have started to kick in. Match that with a decrease in calories and an increase in training, and it’s hard (impossible) to deal with doubts in a rational manner. But, at this point, I’ve only had two really bad moments, one frustrated, and one sad, both over in 20 minutes.

One of the things we hear a lot when people hear that we’re getting ready to compete is, “So, you’re training now, to build muscle?”. The truth about prep is that we slowly get smaller in order to look bigger. We don’t actually get bigger at this point. We need to lose the body fat in order for the muscle definition to be more obvious, which means we operate in a very calculated calorie deficit (just like any weight loss client). Provided you had a successful off-season and built some muscle while you had the calories needed, you now get to see that hard work.

Prep is a careful balance of losing fat while maintaining as much muscle mass as possible. The result is that we look bigger because our muscles are more defined – it’s one of the many illusions of bodybuilding. We feel small and usually have to transition to a different wardrobe of smaller sized clothing. Some days you can feel great about progress, and other days you wonder if you even worked out all off-season, as you start to shrink. To say it’s mentally challenging is an understatement!

I’m sure the next four weeks will fly by, even faster than the last four did. Here’s where I am with a mere 28 days left to work (compared to my first set of progress pictures)….

May 8 - 4 weeks out

May 9 – 4 weeks out


March 14 – 12 weeks out

I’m down about 10 lbs at this point, with no idea how much more I’ll lose. My starchy carbs are pretty low now, the lowest they’ve been so far but protein is still high with plenty of vegetables. I know the meal plan will be tough and I’ll start to feel more tired throughout the days, but it’s exciting at the same time as everything comes together and changes happen faster.

Have a wonderful day!

About Ashleigh

I'm passionate about health and fitness. I work as a Health Promotion Specialist, a group fitness instructor, and also a coach for physique competitors / weight loss clients. I grew up as a competitive athlete, and have continued with this passion as a Women's Physique competitor. Research and writing is another interest of mine, which I use to share my knowledge with the general public.
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