From Bookworm to Bikini: The Grand Finale

By Caroline Gick

Since we’ve been away, Caroline Gick has competed in her figure contest, capping off her three month preparation process. To let you know how it turned out, here are her last two posts, presented in two parts:

Peak Week

I’ve entered “Peak Week”—the final days leading up to my contest. This competition is local, so I enjoy the luxuries of sleeping in my own bed, training at my own gym, preparing food in my own kitchen, and relaxing in my own home for the entirety of the week.

I know some competitors enjoy traveling, along with all the new experiences and places that come along with shows, but that whole process makes me anxious. Home and familiarity work to my benefit.

This week is somewhat different from the twelve weeks that have taken me to this point. Until now, I’ve worked through many sessions of hardcore training, and I’ve paid close attention to my diet. This week, I’ll hone everything to a fine point in order to look and feel as perfect as possible on Saturday.

The Experiment

As I mentioned in my last post, my goal for competing again has been less about placing and qualifying for the next step, and more about getting motivated to get into the best shape possible—and sharing this experience with everyone. Because of this goal, I feel okay about taking something of a chance with my diet this week.

This is all about the idea of failure leading to success. I had a crazy, all-out carb nite a couple of weeks ago. This wasn’t planned at all, and it’s not something I thought was good at the time. I had to hang my head and admit what happened the next day, thinking I’d seriously screwed up.

I followed this up with a so-so training session on Sunday. To rectify the situation and blow out all the glycogen in my system, Kiefer had me do a full-body Shockwave workout as fast as possible, followed by a 30 minute HIIT session on Monday morning—two days after my carb nite.

This did the trick. I was toast for the rest of the day, and completely depleted. This was my goal, but I was still pretty surprised at how effective it was. To my surprise, I woke up on Tuesday looking and feeling better than I have for my entire preparation period. I was tight and lean with super full muscles and loads of energy.

CGPCN

I replicated the all-out carb nite/rest day/blowout workout experience again in the middle of last week, and the same thing happened. So, while my original plan was to do what I’ve done for my previous competitions—a regular carb nite on Saturday night—a week before the show—followed by water loading at the end of the week for dehydration, and fatty meat and carbs the night before (and the day of) the show, the plan has now changed.

I’m going to have an all-out carb nite on Wednesday, a minimal workout on Thursday, and blow out everything with the full-body Shockwave and HIIT session on Friday. This should time me nicely to hit that perfect look—lean but full—for Saturday’s show.

I’m going to assist this with a bit of dehydration on show day to tighten up my legs, but with the fullness I’ve been experiencing, this shouldn’t affect my upper body very much—and I shouldn’t come in too hard and vascular.

Here’s what the full week looks like:

Diet

  • Monday/Tuesday: Standard ultra-low carb (ULC) days.
  • Wednesday: Standard ULC day, then all-out carb nite.
  • Thursday: Standard ULC day with 1-2 gallons of distilled water (in addition to regular intake).
  • Friday: Standard ULC day with 1-2 gallons of distilled water (in addition to regular intake) until 5 PM.
  • Friday PM: No liquid after 5 PM. Dinner of fatty meat and dry carbs. This would be a flank steak and graham crackers, and a shot of alcohol (vodka) before bed. This combination is what has worked to get rid of any excess water my body is holding.
  • Saturday: Minimal liquid, sipping water only as necessary. I’ll eat only protein and dry carbs—beef jerky and graham crackers—until pre-judging is complete. Between pre-judging and finals, I’ll eat a hamburger and French fries.

Training

To make the best use of the time I have left to train, I’m doing alternating days of full-body push/pull routines, rather than focusing on one or two body parts each day—which is what I’ve been doing throughout this preparation. I also won’t be going heavy over the last couple of days.

  • Sunday/Tuesday: Push: Squats, presses, lunges (upper and lower body).CGsquat
  • Monday/Wednesday: Pull: Deadlifts, curls, rows (upper and lower body).
  • Thursday (day after carb nite): Light overall workout. I’ll walk, and possibly focus on light quads. I’ll have to see what the week brings, and how I look and feel. I have Thursday off from work, and I think a long walk would be perfect, both mentally and physically.
  • Friday: Full-body Shockwave workout done as fast as possible, and a 30 minute HIIT session.
  • Saturday: Show it all off on stage.

In looking at my training/diet journal from my last competition prep, I’ve noticed two other major differences. In my last prep, I was so focused on my legs that I did two things:

  • I cut my calories to about 1000-1100 in the final week. For this show, I’m maintaining my caloric intake (about 1700) all the way through.
  • I was doing several HIIT sessions per week in the final weeks leading up to the competition, with the intensity part longer than the rest intervals.

This time around, I’m more concerned with balance and fullness—along with an overall healthy look. My legs are in a pretty good state—albeit not as lean as last time—and the rest of my physique, as well as my face and skin, looks much better. I’m keeping my caloric intake consistent with the rest of my prep (around 1700), and I’m only doing HIIT during my post-carb nite blowout plan. The plan is to use dehydration on the last day and show day—and pump-up exercises to bring out my legs when I get to the stage.

I’m a little bit nervous. I think this is normal and necessary—and in actuality, I’m more excited than anxious, which is good. I’ve got all my appointments booked, and all my details in order—and I just need to follow all the steps, stick to my plan for a few more days, and think positively.

I’m in the best shape of my life right now, regardless of whether I’m doing a competition or not. I feel better about how I look than I ever have, and I have no doubt that I’ll feel a lot better this weekend than I did the last time I competed. Thanks to everyone for all the love, support, and inspiring comments here—and on Facebook and Twitter. I’m inspired, motivated, and you’ve helped me more than you’ll ever know.

Now, on to the show.

Part Two

The results are in. I placed 4th in my height class in Figure (Open), and 5th in my height class in Figure (Masters 35+). Before you congratulate me, know that these classes were quite small. I finished fourth out of five competitors in the open division, and fifth out of seven in my masters class. So, eh.

I was, however—and continue to be—okay with these results, even a few days after the fact. Sure, I’m a little disappointed—I definitely wanted to win on some level—but as I’ve said, my goal with this endeavor was always twofold:

  1. To get myself into the best possible shape.
  2. To use this experience as a way to communicate and connect with others.

Done and done—and I’m planning to keep both of these facets going strong. Whatever the judges thought, I’m so happy with how I look and feel that placing doesn’t matter all that much—and trust me, that’s a strange thing for me to say.

As I said before, I experimented with my diet a little bit going into the show, doing a carb nite two days before the competition, and using a Shockwave/HIIT training session the day before the show to blow out my glycogen stores. I did this in combination with dehydration on pre-show night/show day, and I was happy with the results. I wasn’t quite as full in my upper body or as tight in my midsection as I’d hoped I’d be, but it wasn’t bad, and I certainly wasn’t embarrassed to get on stage.

I didn’t place high, but I did feel more competitive with the girls there than my placements might indicate. In the end, I came in about ten pounds heavier than I did for my last competition, in part because I now have more lean muscle mass, and also because I intentionally didn’t get as lean as I had previously.

I don’t have any official stage photos yet, but here are a few shots I took when I woke up on show day—hence the deer-in-headlights look.

CGcomp

Now, before my tan even wears off, it’s time to talk about what happens next with diet and training. I read a random Facebook post yesterday that said, “Post-competition planning is as important as your pre-competition plan.” I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I put my post-show diet and training plan together before my show—and I’ve mentally and physically prepared for it so I don’t fall into a post-show haze of indulgence. A little bit is fine, but I don’t want to go crazy.

I’ve gone through the post-competition rebound in the past, and it’s made me very unhappy, both mentally and physically. After my first show, I think this was a matter of it being the first time I’d ever followed such a strict plan. Once I took the reins off, I went a little nuts because I felt like I deserved it. During and following my second competition, I was in a pretty low, vulnerable emotional state. Couple that with the fact that Thanksgiving fell a few days after the show, and I barely stood a chance.

I’m smarter this time around. This is the best and healthiest I’ve ever looked in my life. I understand that I can’t maintain a stage-ready physique on a regular basis, but it’s not off-base to think I can stay fairly close to that at this point.

I managed to take home a couple of trophies to add to my collection, but I’ve decided that my favorite “trophy” is this living, breathing one: The physique I’ve created and get to live with now, provided I take proper care of it (photo is from the day after the show, with a belly full of pancakes):

CG3

The Goal

My aim now is to maintain the look of an in-season figure competitor, despite the fact that I don’t plan to compete again. By this, I’m referring to an “almost stage-ready” version of me. What does this mean?

  • I want to maintain the size I’ve built in my upper body.
  • I want to continue to improve my legs and glutes.
  • I plan to maintain leanness at a reasonable body fat percentage. I never tested this during my prep period, so I don’t have an actual number for it, but using look and feel over the next couple of weeks, I’ll determine when I feel like I’m in my prime—then get it tested so I actually know what my ideal percentage is. The idea here is to stay as lean as possible while maintaining my health.

Diet

I gave myself a little leeway the day after the show (Sunday), and didn’t worry too much about my diet. I didn’t, however, let myself go gangbusters and get sick. Believe it or not, I didn’t feel like stuffing my face. Those all-out carb nites I did over the past few weeks obviously gave me enough of a taste for indulgent things that I didn’t feel the need. There were three things I’d been craving that I didn’t have during prep: Pancakes, Mexican food, and my special mix of movie popcorn and M&M’s. On Sunday, I enjoyed all of the above.

I thought of Sunday as a big, fat carb nite, and went right back to a ULC day on Monday. I could have given myself a little more time, but my experience with not having a plan in place immediately has been devastating. I may not need anything strict in the months to follow, but these first few weeks are critical.

The First Week (or so): Right back to The Carb Nite Solution, following my pre-competition menu for ULC days and having a carb nite every four days instead of every seven—since my body fat is low. I’ll have more standard carb nites than I’ve experienced over the past few months—not super clean ones, and not totally all-out, but somewhere in the middle. I can say for sure that I won’t be having chicken, sweet potatoes, and peas as my main meal. I try to stay away from too much gluten or lactose, but I’m looking for variety now—and no two meals will be the same for a while.

The First Month (or so): I’ll evaluate my conditioning after the second carb nite (eight days in) to determine whether I need to change my ULC day menu. I don’t want to stick with this specific menu long-term, because it’s very strict with the type of food I consume, and I need variety. It’s also important that I ease back into a regular menu for physical and psychological reasons. I’ll likely do carb nites every four days or so for the first few weeks—but, again, I’ll evaluate this every few cycles to see how I look and feel.

Training

I took a nice, long walk the day after the show, and hit the gym again on Monday. For the next few weeks, I’ll be using the following split, which I used for several weeks toward the end of my prep:

Monday: Back/shoulders
Tuesday: Hamstrings/triceps
Thursday: Quads
Friday: Glutes/abs/core
Saturday: Chest/biceps

I’m going for maintenance in my upper body, and continued improvement in my lower body. As I’m doing with my diet, I’ll assess this after every few rounds and make adjustments as I go.

The Future

Post-show is such a critical time that I’m going to continue my Bookworm to Bikini series for a few more weeks to give some insight as to how—or if—my post-show plan is working, along with any other challenges I encounter.

I can’t express just how fantastic this experience has been for me. I’m grateful for all your support, and I’m also grateful to have had the chance to motivate and inspire others.

Thanks, everyone!

  • GH

    Congrats on your show! You should be proud of the amazing job you did!

  • Demetrius

    Caroline, you look great! Congratulations on meeting your goals. You mentioned holding calories constant at 1700. If I remember correctly, you’ve been holding this constant throughout prep. I have 2 questions around that number:
    1) What is your maintainance calorie level?
    2) Is that 1700 calories a daily average? In other words, are you taking in more on training days and less on off days so that it averages out to 1700 cals/day on a weekly basis?

  • http://om1kron.blogspot.com/ om1kron

    very proud of you Caroline!

  • proplanner

    Good job re planning post show, I compete tomorrow and have all my supps, trainng and eating planned for starting CBL (density bulking) from Monday.

  • Gl;itch.e

    day after show photo = beautiful

  • OBARmuscle

    Great job, and outlook!
    What did your Carb Nite consist of on the Wednesday before the show?

  • gorana

    I have a question bout fat intake on the day of CN before starting to eat carbs. So I start my CN around 5 p.m because I tend to stay awake until 1 am – and I want to eat carbs until bedtime. I also keep my fat intake very low when I start eating carbs so the fat that I have on the day of CN comes mostly from my morning meals. My question is how much fat should I have before I start eating carbs, what time should my last fatty meal be and what kind of fat is ok (I have read CN but couldn t find the answer to that question)? Usually I have MCT before and after my workout which is in the morning – and today I also had ~ 30g of flax seeds areound 1 pm ( I know they are not recommended but I like having them because of the fiber) And now my question is – is it ok to have flax seeds about 5h before starting to eat carbs or was that a bad choice? So I do not have any fat from 1 pm until 5 pm when I intend to start eating carbs (or should I start even later today and skip the flax in future :))?

    Thanx in advance!

    BTW loved the article and you look great :)!

  • stelbel

    BEEF JERKEY?!!!! Before pre judging has finished?! You can’t be serious, the salt in it would be devastating.