3 Things to Think About When Going Abroad to Compete

Travelling to a competition can be a daunting task, especially if it’s your first time or you’re going alone. The days before the comp you will be tired, hungry and nervous, so it’s important to make sure you have as much comfort as you can afford!

Here are three very important things to think about in the weeks before you travel:

1. What you’ll eat

Travelling is usually a time of exploring new or different cuisines and having fun. But if you’re travelling to compete, you can’t really enjoy local food until after the competition. That’s why it is important to plan ahead your meals for the last few days before your comp. Research the area and your hotel – are there any big supermarkets around? Does your hotel have a microwave, kitchen facilities (forks anyone?) or a restaurant where you can measure, warm up or cook your food (or order for it to be cooked as per your requirements)?

These are key questions you need answered before you leave – you don’t want to be stranded in a new place hungry and having to make poor food choices right before your comp. During my last comp we encountered a few blunders along the road, like not being able to find forks or a place to cook my rice or even a place that sells simple grilled chicken! So think twice before you book your hotel.

2. Where you’ll stay

Once you have a budget set for accommodation, make a list of all the hotels / apartments which fit the bill. Out of that list you need to pick a place which is relatively close to your competition venue and ideally one with facilities for your meals (e.g. fridge & microwave).

Why is location important? If like most people you are using the official beauty partners you will have to walk to and fro your accommodation on the day of the event. Of course you can always find a spot on the floor within the venue itself, but why suffer if you are paying for accommodation? Tanning usually requires 2 trips, and for the ladies there are also hair and makeup appointments to go to. And if the weather is cold you wouldn’t want to have to walk too far out, right?

3. What you’ll wear

I kind of missed this point last time. You need to be comfortable in the day or two prior to the competition, however you also need a separate outfit for show day.

Tanning stains, so it’s important to come prepared with old loose clothes (e.g. strapless beach dresses, large tee shirts, shorts or pants) which will keep you comfy  until it’s time to put on your stage outfit. Flip flops are ideal pre-stage. And remember to keep warm! Even if you are not traveling in the winter months or to a cold country you are likely to feel cold as you will be tired, depleted, hungry, thirsty and nervous!

So remember: plan ahead, research well, check you have everything and pack early!


My Weekly Update – 1 week out!

Almost there! This time next week I will already be in Barcelona watching the other categories compete on stage. We are entering the last 7 days before the week, peak week as it is called, there is no turning back? What will the next few days hold in store for me? That even I don’t know… yet! I guess I shall enjoy the benefit of the doubt.


I have now fully embraced the stairmaster 😀 Good for post-workout cardio (15 mins), good for fasted cardio (40 mins), good for everything! I’m finally seeing progress in my hamstrings, which were the toughest part to  work on. Nothing much has changed in my programme from last week – still focusing on supersets, drop sets & other long sets. Only 5 more workouts left!


Since my weight is slightly lower this time,  I didn’t have to sacrifice carbs so much. Really, nothing exciting here – just the usual chicken, beef mince, fish & salmon with veggies meals. I do get to enjoy an omelette on Saturdays though, usually that’s in a nice cafe with a strong coffee. Yep, I can’t wait to have some treats in exactly 8 days!

No, that’s not soda – it’s iced coffee! Like they say, where there’s a will there’s a way 😉


This week we had 3 days of public holiday which was a nice break from the hustle & bustle of the office. TV, cinema, online courses, naps – and of course plenty of gym time! Perfect timing (for 2 weeks out). Now I head into the last week, I cross fingers that things at work will not be too hectic, as I juggle packing & pre-stage beauty treatments with the last few workouts (and meals!) Yay!

Doing my course on uncertainty, complexity & decision making… and waiting for my next meal!
Fitness, Motivation

My Comp Prep – 5 weeks out!

As the clock ticks, here’s my weekly update on my preparation for the Arnold Classic Europe – one of the biggest IFBB events!


With only 5 weeks to the show, my training programme now has a bit of steady cardio after every workout (as opposed to pretty much no cardio during the maintenance phase). As with most competitors the weapon of choice is the stepper or stairmaster. This cardio machine has the magical ability to burn more fat than the stationary bike or threadmill and also to make time pass slower…. yup slow boring torture 😊 but you do walkaway with a firmed butt and tighter calves!
I still do weight training 6 days a week, focusing more on the back and legs (twice a week). And on the 7th day I have 40 mins of steady cardio. For my last competition I did do strongman circuits once a week which is basically HIIT with weights 🙂 This time however we are taking a more steady cardio approach.


Up until now my diet has been fairly high in carbs (bless those sweet potatoes 😍), however things are about to change as we get closer to show date. I have 6 meals a day + 1 protein shake (post workout), mainly consisting of fish, chicken or beef with a mix of vegetables. Over the past few weeks (8-6 weeks out) my macros have been: 170g of protein, 100g of fat and 30-100g of carbs depending on the day (high carb day vs low carb day).

Depending on how my body responds my diet will change more often now in the last few weeks, in fact waiting to receive my new meal plan this weekend 😅

Cravings? I’ve learned to ignore them… But there is one thing keeping me going: all the bread and churro a I’ll eat when I am done!

As much as I love food, eating salmon or steak at 6am is proving to be a difficult task!

Lifestyle & the mind game

Unfortunately for my, as with my last comp, this one coincides with a fairly busy period at work. That means getting out of the office on time can be a bit of a challenge. I still do get home around 7.30pm, but spend more time winding down in front of the TV  (and getting ready for the next day) than I can afford too. In the end something has to give, and this time it is sleep. I’m currently getting on 5-6 hours of sleep (on a good night) compared to 7 hours during my last comp prep. However, I do get to spend more time with friends & family (and the TV of course!). So far, I’m getting by just fine but I do aim to increase my sleep in the coming weeks… Fingers crossed!


Since this is my second competition, I do feel much more relaxed about it. I know exactly how things are going to go down on the day. I have less posing work to do, as I am no longer a complete beginner. I’m looking forward to it, both with excitement to be part of such an even (hello Arnie!) and with the anticipation of what I’m going to do with my free time after the competition (read: planning my next fitness challenge!).

Yes, I can’t wait!


Exercise of the week: Dumbbell Pullover

The pullover is a great and almost forgotten exercise. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about it – does it work the chest or the lats? This is because the pullover is a compound movement that targets both the chest and the back and is one of the only exercises that works opposing muscle groups at the same time. 

You can tweak pullovers to target certain bodyparts depending on what you do before or after the unique exercise.

The “common wisdom” is that the pullover “expands your ribcage” to make your chest bigger… But properly performed the pullover is also the only way to isolate the lat muscle without significant assistance from the rhomboids, teres, traps, or any of the back muscles. It appears to be best as the first exercise on back day. It can pre-fatigue the lats and improve muscle activation and mind-muscle connection. You can use variation by going declined, flat or inclined.


How to do dumbbell pullovers:

* Lay down on a bench with feet firmly on the ground and back flat

* Hold the dumbbell in both hands with your elbows slightly bent

* Squeeze your lats and stretch the dumbbell over your head as far as you can maintaining the tension and keeping your ribs on the bench

* Bring dumbbell to the starting position squeezing your elbows towards each other and pulling with your lats


Inside the Mind of an Athlete

Taking your hobby or passion to a professional level is not easy. Apart from the increased demands on your time, energy and money, there’s also increased pressure on your grey matter.

Doing a competition of any sort is stressful. Just the demands of training and meticulous nutrition planning are enough to bring a generally sane person to tears. Of course having a full-time job doesn’t make it any easier!

And that is why it is important to not only train your body but your mind as well. Being a mental ninja is essential for anyone considering to compete. There will be ups and downs. There will be obstacles and challenges. There will be struggle and days where you feel the whole world is against you. But you need to be able to face your fears and insecurities full on.

Many elite athletes are thought how to to build mental toughness because no matter how skilled and experienced you may be a speck of self-doubt can be the difference between winning and losing.

There are several elements to mental toughness – confidence, focus, composure/control and commitment are just a few. Your confidence levels should remain more or less consistent regardless of outside influences. You need to trust your skills and believe in your ability to perform well – this will help you build and keep your confidence (yup, time to have some internal conversations – convince yourself that you are capable of achieving your goal!)

Focus is necessary not only during your competition but also during training. Focus on your end goal, perform during practice as if you were to perform during your competition. And then, on the big day itself, focus in the moment to perform at your best and avoid distractions (whether from the audience, other competitors or that little voice in your head!).

A good way to help you focus during a competition is to remind yourself what your role (during the competition) is and to predict the possible distractions, then choose a refocusing statement to help you overcome these distractions. For instance, it could be a question such as “What should I be focusing on right now?” Or “What would the best athlete do in this situation?” It could also be a single word, such as “tough” or “confident”. Remember, no one is perfect when it comes to staying focused, yet everyone has the ability to refocus.

Staying composed in times of errors and adversities is also an important aspect for competitors. Everybody makes mistakes, but not everyone will notice your mistakes. Learn to anticipate challenges and think how you can cope with them. Prepare yourself for adversity – don’t plan out the competition to go according to your perfect scenario, but think of all the ways things could turn out. This will help you be mentally prepared to face unexpected challenges and to handle setbacks (believe me, there will be some… And then some more!). However, having some sort of a plan B will ease your mental stress and allow you to remain cool and in control.

Finally, as an athlete you need to be committed. You must refuse to give up. You must also know why you are competing – is your reason a strong enough motivating force to pull you through all the challenges ahead? Learn to see adversities as challenges rather that threats. Consistency is key – aim to maintain a consistent level of effort and remember your end goal is to win!

What does this all mean? To win any competition your mental game has to be strong. You have to have a lot of positive qualities (focus, persistence, self-belief) to your mindset. This will help you perform at your best, despite the high amount of internal & external stress.

As they say, the darkest hour is before dawn.
Good luck!



How and What to Eat Pre-Intra-Post Workout

By Adrianna McDonald

As I stated before in the article about Nutrition Timing what and when you eat depends on your health and fitness goals. You are unique and what will be right for you, may not be right for someone else.

An endurance athlete will eat differently to a bodybuilder who wants to put on size or a bodybuilder getting ready for a competition and finally, very different to an average gym goer or non exerciser.

As an endurance athlete, your carbohydrate intake and calorie needs will be much higher because of the long distance and duration of your training.

As a bodybuilder protein and calorie needs would be higher to promote the muscle growth.

Pre & Post Workout Quote

If you are getting ready for a fitness competition like Miranda, where dropping the body fat percentage is required, your protein and fat intake can be higher but carbohydrates should be lower.

Here nutrition is essential if you want to change your body composition. Depending on the person (remember you are unique), training intensity, and the stage at which they are prior to a competition I will use different approach.

Mostly, the pre-workout meal will stay high protein and fats. For intra-workout nutrition (during exercise) I like to use BCAAs (Branched-chain Amino Acids). These are very important as lifting weights puts enormous amount of stress on the body and the BCAAs will support the immune system, help to cope with this stress and prevent muscle loss. Your body cannot produce BCAAs so they must be consumed.

And for post-workout I would use Vitargo which is a fast-absorbing carbohydrate and
protein isolate which is also the type of protein that is absorbed the fastest by the body. Repairing and refuelling the depleted muscles immediately after training is crucial for muscle repair so protein itself or a combination of both, protein and carbs, would be required.

As to post-workout meals, in my opinion these should be eaten an hour after training and should consist of foods high in protein and starchy carbohydrates.

Pre & Post Workout Quote 2