Somewhere, secluded on a tropical island with three little ones running around, is a lady reliving the memories of her first Figure competition.
This is her journey from mom to Figure competitor.
Many of you’ll be able to relate to her highs and lows, so settle in for an inspiring read.
Twyla happened to live in the Virgin Islands with no access to a fitness coach, so she was looking for someone who could travel to get her competition ready.
She’d heard about me through reading my articles for Figure Athlete (now T-Nation), Women’s Health, and Muscle and Fitness Hers.
She told me she had a baby six months ago and her muscle tone was soft.
She’s roughly 5’8″, 135 to 140 pounds, and wears a size 6 to 8.
Her workouts consisted of 30 to 40 minutes of cardio, four to five days per week. She did lift, but it was generally low weights with high reps.
From her initial pictures, she needed to put on some muscle and lose a little bit of fat — nothing I don’t know how to do. And she needed a tan. Did I mention she lives in the Virgin Islands… with no tan!
I used to do online coaching, but I felt the programs I was writing became too generic without meeting the person.
So, I currently only work with people who I can at least meet once, so I can evaluate them and connect with them before I start to design their program.
In her case, she flew me out to her. No complaints here, since it meant a trip to the Virgin Islands.
It’s amazing to travel to places like this as part of my job, but I still take what I do very seriously, if not more so, in a place like this. I didn’t want her to think I came for a vacation — I came to get her ready for her first Figure show. But, I have to say the scenery sure made it a nice place to work. paradise
It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!
Step Right Up and Pick a Show
Upon arriving in St. Thomas, we got right to work. We started with an evaluation from Gray Cook’s functional movement screen (explained in part here), which is the same one we use at our gym.
I also did her body fat, which was 19.9% at 140 pounds.
Then we discussed her goals, her reasons why, and picked a Figure competition.
You can set a goal of doing a Figure show, but if you don’t have a powerful reason why, it’ll be hard to get through those days where you just don’t want to go on. Her reason was, “This is the time. I have the resources, the time, and no excuse not to, so if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it.”
I wrote it down because I’d remind her of this when she wanted to give up.
The show she picked out was in Colorado on November 10th, which gave us about 32 weeks to get ready for it. Plenty of time! We’d spend half the time putting on muscle, and then 16 weeks out from the show, slowly start losing fat to show off that muscle.
She was already in pretty good shape, but needed to put on some muscle, especially on her upper body, before we started losing any fat.
So, during this hypertrophy phase, Twyla did an upper and lower body split routine.
9 Nutrition Habits
Her diet during this time was six meals a day, about 2,500 calories, and one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight.
It boiled down to sticking to nine nutrition principles:
1. Eat every three hours.
2. Eat at least 20 to 25 grams of protein at each meal (chicken, turkey, steak, cottage cheese, nuts, protein shake, protein bar, etc.).
3. With each meal, eat a fruit, vegetable, or other whole grain carbohydrate, such as brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potato, and whole wheat bread or tortillas, as long as you don’t have a sensitivity to wheat. If you’re sensitive, stick to potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, oatmeal, etc. You can get wheat-free rice bread, too.
4. Eat healthy fats daily. No more fat-free creamer! Instead, get olive oil, avocados, nuts, fish, olives, or various nut butters.
5. No caloric beverages. Drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water every day.
6. Eat whole foods instead of supplements whenever possible. Save the protein bars for emergencies.
7. Take a multivitamin, fish oil, and branched chain amino acids (BCAA‘s).
8. Finish every weight training workout with Surge. You can start to drink it during the workout and finish it at the end.
9. Plan to break the rules 10% of the time.
You must be 90% compliant, and yes, missing a meal is just as bad as eating the wrong thing, so you may as well eat something and enjoy it! Eating something will at least get your metabolism up and give your body the fuel it needs to build muscle.
Twyla stuck to that 90%, and after 16 weeks, she gained ten pounds of muscle and was starting to look more like a Figure competitor.
When you get to the last few weeks of a competition diet, it’s very tough physically and psychologically because your body plays tricks on you.
After 32 weeks, Twyla had gained ten pounds of muscle and lost 15 pounds of fat. She was so ready to step on stage for her first time.
She looked great on stage, came in 4th, and had an amazing time. I was so proud of her! figure model
Twyla set a goal and took action to make it come true. She did what she had to do day after day to accomplish it.
There’s nothing better than the feeling of setting a goal, working hard to accomplish it, and seeing all of your efforts come to fruition.