Fitness, lifestyle

The Pros & Cons of Competing in Bodybuilding

Competing in bodybuilding, whichever category it is, has it’s positives and negatives.

Of course the further up the ranks you go, the harder it gets but the rewards get bigger too!

For those of you not familiar with the world of bodybuilding, here’s an example of the categories you usually find in competitions (yes it’s not all about the big boys!):

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As you can see there are varying degrees of muscle mass in each category. Yet each one has to work extremely hard both in the gym and in the kitchen! Growing muscle, no matter how big or small requires a strict diet and consistent training.

So let’s take a look at what you stand to gain, should you choose to enter a bodybuilding competition:

  • You will learn a lot about your body, how it reacts to certain foods and styles of training. This knowledge can easily be transferred to a lifelong healthy lifestyle, minus the extremities of competing. You will know which foods affect you negatively and how to manipulate your training to maintain your shape and still enjoy a few treats.
  • You will push¬†yourself mentally and physically. Following a strenuous training routine for 3-6 months before a competition will challenge you a lot. You will discover¬†your limits and try to push past them. You will learn what your strengths and weaknesses are and you will work on them.
  • Your confidence will get a major boost. Who knows, you may even start liking what you see in the mirror!
  • You will meet new people, go to new places and have new experiences. All of these will help you grow as a person and develop a different perspective in life.
  • And finally a bit of a controversial one: you may discover who your true friends are. Committing to a competition means committing a significant chunk of your life towards achieving a fitness goal. Your new lifestyle may no longer fit with that of your current social circle. Will your friends understand and accommodate your needs (and may be even try new things together with you!) or will they avoid you and mock you?

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But all these good things¬†don’t come without a price… literally:

  • It is an expensive sport. Every competition comes with a hefty bill and your new-found fitness lifestyle can significantly bump up your monthly expenses. Also, you can easily get sucked into the false need for new things: you’ll think you need more / new supplements, clothes, protein shakers, etc… The only way to manage this is to reallocate money from other parts of your life (e.g. eat more homemade meals instead of eating out, travel less, and by reconsidering other unnecessary expenses).
  • It can be damaging to your physical health. Ironically, the sport that should showcase the ultimate health & fitness can have detrimental effects to your health if not done properly or if done for a very long period of time. Staying at a very low body fat is unnatural and can unlock a chain of health problems, especially when it comes to hormones. Ignoring cravings and following a cheat meal protocol encourages binge eating a lot of junk food (which you would normally not do if you allow yourself treats on a regular basis). The “muscle building diet” is an acidic diet high in animal products and artificial sweeteners (protein powders & bars) which can cause damage to the digestive system if not balanced out with healthy greens.
  • Your mental health can suffer too. Constantly restricting what foods go into your mouth can trigger many mental health problems such as depression, lethargy, eating disorders, self-hate ¬†and guilt, food phobia (or rather should I say fear of gaining weight and fat from eating), and so on. On the other hand, not everyone is good at being disciplined and committed. If that is not your cup of tea, then the journey to a competition will stir up some negative emotions in you. Self-blame and not feeling good enough are just a few examples. It can get boring at times or you may develop a fear of missing out on your social life… yep the issues are many!
  • The bodybuilding lifestyle is not a sustainable lifestyle. You can’t train and lift heavy weights forever. You can’t deprive your body of carbs forever. You can’t deny your mind delicious treats. An injury or a health problem can easily put you out of the gym and may be even leave you unable to eat the necessary proteins to sustain your muscles. Therefore, it is important to follow a lifestyle and diet that you can sustain as you progress through life. A wide variety of healthy foods and moderate, enjoyable exercise will keep you going for a long time.

So is it good or bad? It depends on every individual. The way I see it is that competing once or twice is a good way to kickstart your journey into health and fitness. After that, it’s upto you to find your true fitness passion!

Fitness, Motivation

What to Pack When Travelling to a Competition

It’s time! I’m flying tomorrow, but had already started packing¬†my bags last weekend ūüôā

Further to my last post on 3 things to think about when travelling to a competition, here is a list of important bits you’ll need to take with you for your next comp ūüėČ

1. Important documents

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Of course, you need your passport, but also your competition entry documents and information – having it printed is always easier to access when you need it!

2. The travel outfit

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Choose comfy, loose clothes for your trip and the day before the competition. Even if the weather may seem ok, you are likely to feel colder than usual due to fatigue and low body fat so make sure to take something to keep you warm if needed.

3. The tanning outfit

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A loose, long dress is ideal for tanning, just make sure it is either old or cheap as it will get stained. Flip flops and hair bands are also a must during the tanning process.

4. The backstage kit

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Once you are tanned and in your bikini, it is easier to put on a robe backstage. Also don’t forget to take something with you to help you pump your muscles and warm up before stepping on stage.

5. The stage outfit

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This is probably the first thing you will need to pack and the most important! Your bikini, jewellery and stage shoes should not be forgotten. If possible, bring spares for each as anything can happen at the last minute!

6. And a few beauty items

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Just a few extras that can save you money – body scrub (instead of doing a scrub treatment) and eyelashes if you fancy those (instead of buying fromt he make up artist).
Motivation

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!

Motivation

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.

Training

I have now fully embraced the stairmaster ūüėÄ 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!

Nutrition

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!

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

Lifestyle

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!

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

Forget Crunches, This is How You Get a Thinner Waist

By Adrianna McDonald

A small, thin waistline is every girl’s dream. We are all born with different genetics and some are blessed more than others. What most women don‚Äôt realize is that traditional crunches and common abdominal exercises can widen your waist instead of slimming it.

But there is a way to get a stronger core and a slimmer waistline. Although slightly controversial in the fitness community, stomach vacuuming or hollowing and abdominal bracing techniques can help you achieve your perfect midsection. 

So, what exactly is “stomach vacuuming” and how do you do it? No, it does not involve going to the hospital to get your insides cleaned up! Popularized by physique, fitness & bikini competitors, this¬†technique¬†focuses on strengthening/tightening your core muscles through simple breathing exercises ūüôā

There are 6 abdominal muscles and I’m not talking about the famous 6-pack here.

The stomach vacuum exercise targets the deep muscle Transversus abdominis (TVA), which is situated underneath your ‚Äúsix pack‚ÄĚ- rectus abdominis. ¬†

Both muscles are part of the “corset” that keeps your waist tight. When the TVA is strengthened the inner corset gets tighter.

The stomach vacuum is a gentle breathing exercise which involves isometric contraction targeting the TVA. The benefit goes further than a slim waistline – it will also stabilize the spine, preventing lower back pain and improving your posture.

It’s best to perform this exercise upon awaking while your stomach is still empty and your mid section is flatter. Doing this first thing in the morning will help you make it a habit.

It also can be done few times a day anywhere. So let’s see how it’s done…

There are 5 levels of progression:

1.Supine

This is the easiest version. Here is what to do:

  • Lay down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat.
  • Exhale all the ¬†air from your lungs (and stomach).
  • Now pull your navel (belly button) as close to your spine as possible.
  • Start with 10-15 seconds on each repetition, aiming for 3 and building up to 5 reps. You can also work it up to 60 seconds over time.

2.Quadruped

This is bit more difficult than the supine version as gravity comes into play.

  • Get¬†on your hands and knees with shoulders in line with your wrists, hips over the knees and neck in line with your spine.
  • Start with exhaling and pulling the navel in the same way as in the supine version.
  • Begin with 30 seconds per rep and work up to 60 seconds. Again aim for 3-5 reps.

 

3.Seated

With this version other spinal stabilizing muscles come into play.

  • Take a seat, keeping your back straight.
  • Exhale and pull in the navel.
  • Start with 3-5 reps of 60 seconds.
  • As you progress move on to unstable surfaces like a swiss ball.

4.Functional 

This version is your everyday concern. Pay attention to pulling your navel in , every time you sit down, throughout the entire day.

Difference is that  you’re holding your belly in (slightly contracting the TVA muscle) indefinitely, and breathing throughout the movement (with your chest, not your stomach). Be conscious not to allow the abdominal muscle to relax when seated or standing. Practicing it this way will become a second nature for you.

5. TVA & Rectus Abdominis co-contraction exercise: pull down crunch

This is to add in the intensity and functional carryover of vacuum exercises. To do this exercise you need to contract both the TVA and Rectus muscles at the same time. You will first exhale and tighten the navel (the vacuum exercise) and then you will do a crunch-like maneuver.

  • Set yourself in cable pull down position with a bar or rope high over your head.
  • Inhale and suck in tummy in and push your abs against your spine.
  • Exhale as you crunch down.

This version is perfect for those with a distended abdominal wall.

In a simpler version, you can just contract TVA by drawing in the navel and then crunch while exhaling.

The Bracing Technique

Finally, and arguably the best version of all of these is the bracing technique:

Think about what you would do if you were to prepare yourself for someone to punch you in the gut. You would immediately tense and stiffen your core to brace for the impact. This is exactly what abdominal bracing is, a term first coined by Dr. Stuart McGill of Canada, a leading expert in spine mechanics. – Breakingmuscle.com

Basically, with abdominal bracing you activate all of your core muscles from all sides & layers (deep, superficial, etc.) along with other connecting muscles in your back. Now, that should really make you sweat!

This technique is slightly harder and may not be applicable during posing on stage, however by making all of your core muscles stronger it will help improve your balance and flexibility.

All that said, make sure your diet is on point as without it no exercise will help.

Fitness

Workout of the Week: Legs

Ah, the joy of training legs! Big muscles, big effort, big pain – yet big satisfaction! No other workout makes me feel better then getting through a leg session.

  1. Superset:
    1. Single leg lying hamstring curl – 4 sets x12 reps each leg; temp: 3secs down, 1sec pause, explode up, 2secs pause (squeeze); rest 10 secs
    2. Lying hamstring curl – 4 sets x12 reps; tempo: 3secs down, 1sec pause, explode up, 2secs pause (squeeze); rest 60 secs
  2. 45 degree leg press (low and close foot placement) –¬†4 sets x15 reps; tempo: 4secs down, 2secs pause (bottom position), 4secs up; rest 60
  3. Superset:
    1. Glute kickback machine –¬†3 sets x15 reps; tempo: 3secs up, 2 secs pause (squeeze), 3secs down, 1sec pause; rest 10 secs
    2. Back Extension (Glute/ Hamstring focus) –¬†3 sets x10 reps; 3secs down, 1sec pause, explode up, 2secs pause (squeeze); rest 60; last¬†set triple drop set till failure
Nutrition

Beginner’s Guide Part 4: The Supplements You Shouldn’t be Taking

By Laura Smith

Supplements are a multi-billion-dollar industry, and unless you have been living in a cave for the past twenty years, you probably have numerous supplements that you have bought over the years after being advised to do so by friends or family, or possibly reading some information on the internet.

However, there’s a smarter way to go about this and to get the biggest bang for your buck. How? By skipping certain supplements that are not necessary in the beginning of your fitness journey, or even at any point on your journey!

Calcium
Let me make myself clear Рcalcium is an important mineral for bone health. Osteoporosis and osteopenia are two debilitating conditions, so taking care of your bones is vital. Sure, there are studies out there that suggest taking calcium increases bone density, however the problem with those studies is that they always include other variables such as exercise and vitamin D. An osteoporotic bone isn’t just lacking adequate calcium, it also lacks magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, and collagen.

So, why is supplementing with calcium usually a waste of money? Calcium is found naturally in dairy products, dark leafy greens and sardines. In addition, supplementing calcium by itself doesn’t actually help bone density significantly, even though that’s why most people take it.

Calcium works best with other nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin K2, and magnesium. The combination of all these forms a stack, which is when supplements work together towards a common goal.

So, in my opinion, the bottom line is, calcium deficiencies are rare, and can be easily fixed by slightly modifying your diet.

Fat Burning Supplements
You may have heard of fat burners – the magic pills that can make fat melt off your body, like ice in the Dubai heat, right? Not exactly.

Fat burners are supplements that are designed with ingredients that MAY give you an extra boost to help burn fat, but they can’t replace a solid diet and exercise plan.

Fat burners work in a variety of ways. They can boost energy, help curb appetite, promote fat to be used for energy, and even increase your metabolism and core temperature so you burn more calories throughout the day. But, if you take a fat burner and then feast on burgers, pizza, and bagels, you won’t be seeing fat loss any time soon.

Even the mildly effective fat burners (e.g. caffeine) don’t make THAT big of a difference. Fat burners are also likely to cause side effects like sleep disruption (since most of them are stimulants). That can backfire, since poor sleep can cause overeating the next day, high cortisol levels and reduced recovery, all of which can result in lack of motivation to head to the gym.

All of the these side effects negate any small benefit that fat burners may have. Bottom line: most fat burners don’t have a great cost to benefit ratio.

Testosterone Boosters
Having low testosterone is not fun – it can cause issues such as mental fog, irritability, lower libido, lack of body composition changes. So taking a testosterone booster may sound like a great idea. But unfortunately they simply do not work.

Supplement companies may tout studies showing their supplements increase testosterone. However, keep in mind – too many people think that libido and testosterone are the same. Some supplements marketed as testosterone boosters can actually help increase your libido, yet make no difference in your actual testosterone levels.

Glutamine
Glutamine is an essential amino acid that has many roles in your body. It’s found in muscle tissue, so meat products naturally have high levels of glutamine. Adding glutamine to muscle cells causes them to grow.

Unfortunately, supplementing glutamine does not work for muscle building, because little of the glutamine ingested makes it over to the muscles. The intestines absorb much of it for themselves, so supplementing glutamine is actually really good for your digestive tract, but it’s not going to drive your muscles to grow more.

It should be noted that whey protein is also high in glutamine, so if you eat meat products and drink whey, then you are good to go and can save your money.

Bottom line: supplementing glutamine for muscle building does not work, however it does work for improving gut health along with probiotics and digestive enzymes.

Whey Protein
The benefits if whey protein are in no way being questioned. Whey protein is a superior protein source that provides many health and body composition benefits. This is a true statement that I am not going to argue with. There’s loads of research supporting the benefits of whey protein and it would be crazy for me to try and deny that it improves insulin sensitivity, suppresses appetite, has a high thermic effect, builds muscle, reduces oxidative stress, etc.

So you may be asking the question, why have I included whey protein on my list of supplements that are not needed? Whey protein is often used as a substitute for whole foods, which can prevent optimal nutrition being achieved. This can result in a lack of macronutrients, micronutrients, inflammation, poor gut health, and decreased physical performance.

One of the most common issues we face is bad digestion. By this I mean for one reason or another your digestive system is not able to make the most of the foods you eat. One of the most common food groups that we are unable to optimally absorb is dairy and whey products.

Too often whey protein is used as a meal replacement, not as a supplement. Additionally, some brands contain cheap fillers, artificial flavors and added sugars, which again can cause absorption issues, poorly functioning gut and inflammation.

So, bottom line regarding whey protein is that despite the countless benefits, it should not be used as a replacement for whole foods. Until gut health is functioning effectively, absorption is a major issue and whey protein can make things worse. My advice is to start with whole foods and progress to protein shakes and drinks.

Good luck!

Motivation

My Weekly Update ‚Äď 2 Weeks Out!

Here we are – 2 weeks to go! After a busy week at work and a few late nights, I’m glad to say the end is near.


Training

This week was full of long sets. Although still following the same weekly split, we changed a few exercises and added some drop sets and giant sets. This has really left me sore! And finally, after switching most of my steady cardio to the stair master machine this week, my has dropped to 10%. I was about 8% for my last comp, so still a bit to go.

Nutrition

Surprise! I’m still having rice & sweet potatoes ūüôā This is definitely a huge bonus as anyone who’s done comp prep knows. I think starting this comp prep at a fairly low body fat has helped ease the pressure on my diet and training. So far no extreme measures have been taken.

With only 15 days left, my motivation is renewed and I am much better able to deal with cravings. Of course, the occasional fresh salad always helps ūüėČ

September 24th – let the countdown begin!

Motivation

Q&A: How Can I Compete Without Breaking the Bank?

In the last part of our Q&A series we look at the cost of participating in bodybuilding and fitness model competitions through federations, such as the IFBB and WBFF.

Our question comes from my friend & instagram follower @leanlioness : how do you do it without breaking the bank!?

What I have to say:

Competing is indeed costly, and unfortunately unlike other recognised sports (e.g. national & Olympic sports) getting financial support is extremely difficult. Most of the sponsorships offered by fitness & supplement companies are limited to free products and barely scratch the mountain of competition expenses.

Personally, I would recommend looking at competing as an investment in something you like, in your personal goal or or even in improving yourself! Just like you would save money for a dream holiday or education course, so you would need to plan & save money for a competition.

Of course, there are several ways you can reduce these costs, but you can’t eliminate them completely. Another thing to consider is the compromise between saving money & getting the results you want.

Most of the costly things (e.g. training, food & event beauty services) you can do yourself with the help of internet resources, however the experience may be much more stressful. Also having a mentor / coach with relevant experience who can guide you through the whole process is invaluable.

Your question is a good starting point and will helpfully hope anyone who is doing their research on competing. Below you will see a detailed breakdown on all the costs involved in competing and where you can save some money.

Answer from our expert, Lisa Maas,¬†M.S. Nutrition, B.S. Exercise Science and US Women’s Figure¬†competitor:

When I competed for the first time a few months ago, it was not until it got closer to the show that I realized how several little things added up. I already had a gym membership and was used to buying high quality foods, so these expenses were not new to me.

However, once I got further into the prep, I realized that costs added up for things like manicure, travel costs, solarium sessions to get a base tan, jewelry, make up… the list goes on and on.

In hindsight, I know I could have saved much more money had I planned everything more thoroughly right from the beginning.

Now let me help you to get the most out of your prep and look amazing on stage without spending a fortune. Below is a breakdown on what you will have to spend money on and how to spend your money wisely to make everything as affordable as possible.

Some things are optional while others are not.

1.Coach

Even if you have a good training background or are working in the fitness industry yourself, having a coach is worth the investment.

Although you may be able to do this yourself, having someone that holds you accountable, pushes you, and guides you through the program makes the whole process much more effective and enjoyable. Most prep coaches offer 12-week programs and will design your training and nutrition plan.

You may find a coach that can help you with everything (nutrition, training, and posing) or you may need to find two or three individuals to help you.

Approx. cost: $100-$600 /month depending on which services are included

2.Posing

If you are new to competing you should invest in a few posing sessions and having a coach who helps you with this is worth the investment. You could also teach yourself with YouTube videos but this is not as easy as it sounds.

At the end it all comes down to how you present yourself on stage and if you are able to show your hard work. You can save money by signing up for group sessions or session packages.

Approx. cost: Private sessions: $60-$150 /hour; Group sessions: $25-$35 /hour

3.Food

If you are already eating pretty healthy and do your weekly meal prep you already have an estimate about the expenses for food. However, you will probably be eating more protein and more frequently throughout the day.

Food costs for you may go up or down depending on how you ate before. Consider looking into food companies that offer customized nutrition plans and weekly delivery. Pura, for instance, is one of the best companies, preparing meals exactly according to your macros. This may be a little more expensive but saves you a lot of time and energy.

Approx. cost: Doing your own meals: $320 /month; Using a meal prep company: $680 /month (*food costs vary depending on the country you live in)

4.Supplements

You don’t have to go crazy on supplements. If you don’t have any health issues or compromised gut function that would need extra support, sticking to the essentials such as protein powder and BCAAs may be sufficient.

Approx. cost: $50+

5.Gym Membership

You can skip the membership and get by with a squat rack, barbell and bench, dumbbells and a pull-up bar at home. Otherwise, gym memberships can range from

$45-$140 /month

6.Federation Membership Card

Different federations will have different membership fees. Most shows require you to be a member of their federation before you can register for a contest.

Approx. cost: $60-$120

7.Competition Suit

A new custom suit can start at $150 and can get up as high as you would like. If you could see yourself competing in several shows, investing in a custom suit is a great idea. You can use that suit for several shows and eventually resell it for 50-75% of your purchase price.

If you want to save, you can look for a used suit. You can get a beautiful used one for $120 and up. There are also a few sites where you can rent a suit instead of buying one. Another option is to buy an affordable plain suit and add the stones and bling yourself to offset the costs.

Approx. cost: $120+

8.Competition heels and jewelry

Clear competition heels can range from $40-$60 and jewelry comes down to about $50. You can also add rhinestones to your shoes yourself.

As for jewelry, you will need rhinestone bracelets on one or both wrists. If you compete in figure or bikini you will also need earrings.

Approx. cost: $30-$80

9.Show day makeup

Your makeup must be very dark and should also match your tan. If you buy your own, it will last for multiple shows.

Having a professional do it is a little more expensive but may be helpful at the first show.

Approx. cost: Professionally done: $50-$90; DIY: $80 (multiple shows)

10.Hair

You can definitely do this yourself or have a friend do your hair for you. When it comes to hair, having a professional do it at your first show may be less stressful, but also more expensive.

Approx. cost: $30-$80

11.Competition tan

Using the event tanner is definitely recommended as they will make sure you look amazing on stage (win-win situation). This is more expensive but recommended for the first show. DIY competition tanning products will last about three shows.

Approx. cost: DIY: $50-$80 (for three shows); event tanning service: $100+ (per show)

12.Hotel and Travel costs

This varies depending on how far you have to travel for your show. Competing in local shows keeps these costs affordable.

13.Competition Entry Fees

Costs are about $30-$50 per category entered. This varies from show to show.

Approx. cost: $50-$200, depending on how many categories you want to compete in

14.Manicure

You will have to make sure that your nails are in good shape. You can do it yourself or get a manicure. French manicures look good on stage but in general, color and length are up to you.

Approx. cost: $15-$80

15.Photography

The event photographer will usually offer packages for $60-$75 for all of the pictures they take of you during the show. If you enter more than one category, the photography package may be more expensive.

In addition most competitors schedule a 1 to 2-hour photo shoot the week of the show, which may cost $150+. This is totally worth it though!

Approx. cost: $60+

As you can see, there are ways to keep the competition expenses to a minimum. How much you ultimately decide to spend on each thing is up to you.

I recommend making a list before you start your contest prep in order to prioritize expenses. Hiring a coach and signing up for posing sessions should definitely be at the top of your list.

Don’t let money be the reason not to compete! There is always a way to make it work.

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Nutrition

Recipe: Banana Protein Pancakes

By Adrianna McDonald

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Simple, quick and easy to make. With just 3 ingredients, these pancakes are healthy and sweet with no sugar added.

They come together in a few minutes and make the perfect breakfast or sweet – tooth satisfying dessert.

The flavour will vary, depending on the flavour of your protein powder. I used organic chocolate powder (made with with cacao and stevia). The banana itself gives enough sweetness so no need for any extras.

If you like your pancakes fluffy add in some¬†baking powder, however I prefer it simple and go by the “less is more” approach.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 scoop of protein powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white

Toppings (optional) as in picture:

  • Splash of dark chocolate sauce
  • Handful of blueberries
  • Handful of pistachios

Instructions:

  1. Place all the ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth and creamy
  2. Heat a pan over medium heat and melt a about ¬ľ teaspoon of butter or coconut oil into the pan.
  3. Pour the batter in the pan: Drop roughly 2 tablespoons of batter onto the hot griddle.
  4. Cook for 1 minute or until the bottom looks browned and golden when you lift a corner.
  5. Gently flip the pancakes and cook for another minute on the other side.
  6. Transfer the cooked pancakes to a serving plate and continue cooking the rest of the batter.

I managed to get 9 pancakes out of this recipe and it was perfectly satisfying. Talking about toppings, feel free to add whatever toppings you wish. Get creative ūüėČ