Prep Journal : 10weeks out : Empathy

I think about empathy alot lately. Having empathy is being able to understand and share the feelings of the other, regardless of whether you share the same experience or not. The more I think about it, the more I feel skeptical, can we truly feel empathetic for someone without having to deal with similar circumstances ? Likely not.

Empathy is a virtue, but it’s existence is as rare as unicorn. I often think of myself as a empathetic person, but I think I am just a hypocrite.

The other day, my husband and I had a discussion on empathy, I was telling him it doesn’t really matter whether he understand the difficulty I am going through, but I need his empathy. Anya overheard our conversation, obviously, she doesn’t understand the meaning of “empathy”, but she chimed in and said : ” Yea dad, why you gotta be so rude? ”  (cue : The song RUDE by Magic) I got a good laugh out of it, she often has a way to soften the tension between us, and I am very grateful for that.

By requesting him to be more understanding, I am already being unreasonable, where is my empathy for him? Having a partner who has a peculiar hobby sure isn’t easy to deal with, and he didn’t sign up for this. I should be more empathetic towards him, instead of the other way around.

Phew ! I got the heavy stuffs out of the sack..let’s move on to the brighter side of things.

My prep started off rather slow, untill I started tracking food, then it finally picked up it’s pace. I am just a little over 10weeks out now, what I want to achieve with this prep is to do better than my previous prep. I definitely feel more mentally prepared this time around, I have much less anxiety, and I’ve built up a really good routine to mitigate all my other stressors, the only stressor I have now, is the deficit itself.

April VS June

Starting weight : 63kg

Current weight : 59.3kg

Pardon the different lighting, I eventually had to move posing practice as part of my morning routine because I get way too exhausted and demotivated to do it after a long day. Had to get it out of the way first thing in the morning (after meditation) (before the sun even rises)

I look forward to building up my upper body after this prep, given that I barely had time to recuperate after my last prep, as I really wanted to bag another prep and stage experience before I take time off. I’ll have time, as with natural bodybuilding, time will be your ally.

 

 

 

Prep Journal : 12 Weeks out : Prep brain

I may have experienced my multiple episodes of “prep brain” today. I usually let my thoughts ruminate for a few days, but today I felt compelled to sit down and pen down my thoughts.

I am currently at about 12 weeks out of #WNBF Singapore , up untill last week, I was still feeling alright. As things weren’t moving at the rate that we liked, we dropped 200kcals last week. Stress and fatigue accumulates, and it didn’t hit me untill today, I was thinking to myself, what a difference a day made, because up untill yesterday, I was still feeling alright. (not best, but today is just absolute poop)

Incident No 1

As I reversed my car out of my house for grocery earlier, I knocked my car into our neighbour’s car, as they were just turning in at the same time. Both of our cars are scratched and dented, and it was hard to pin point whose fault it was (they were coming in too fast, and I was going out too fast). We were both nice and civil about it, thou. I told them to get it fixed and send me the bill (truth to be told, I was too exhausted and I wanted to avoid conflict). I was shocked to learn from my husband that it might cost about 800-1000 to fix the car, I guess I will need to input that into my “bikini comp budget”

Incident No 2 

I actually mistaken another car as my car, and I stood there trying to get the car opened for a long time, I was thinking the key lock of my car must have ran out of battery. It was only after a few minutes, that I realize, that’s not my car, my car is all the way on the other side.

Incident No 3

My body is absolutely fried today but I still decided to take a dive at the pool for my swim practice. The public pool is 5 minutes walk from my house, and Andrew and Anya went there first by motorbike, and I follow suit by walking there later. I left earlier as Anya wanted to stay longer, I took my husband’s motorbike’s key and proceeded to walk home, as I thought I took our house key. Anya didn’t even have her slippers on and she walked all the way home, needless to say, I felt very bad. (She was awfully nice about it, kept saying how it was only a mistake and she was fine with walking home barefeet)

I understand things will get harder as I get closer to comp date, and drawing experience from my previous prep, the deficit seems to be effecting my cognitive thinking, as well as my emotional intelligence. It is precisely because of this reason that I’ve made many arrangements in relation to the competition well in advance, such as sorting out my flights/accommodation, as I remembered I made some booking mistakes my last prep (messing up the dates)

I have been extremely aware of how I carry myself and how I treat others, esp towards my husband this prep. It isn’t fair that he has to be the punching bag, as I chose to do this myself willingly. He has been supportive even thou he don’t understand the sport. And I need to be cautious of not taking him for granted.

It’s been a long day, and I am grateful to have this space for some self reflection as always. I cannot describe the relief I feel upon typing out these words, I often feel calmer and more collected when I reflect upon myself this way.

 

 

Prep Journal : 13 weeks out : Me and my canned tunas

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I have put off with writing my prep journal as I’ve been on a “struggle” bus lately. After a brief communication with Twain (my coach) this morning, it was decided that I need to start tracking food right away.

I want this journal to be a very honest account on my journey, by writing down my thoughts and struggles, I am able to self reflect and it brings a sense of mental clarity to me.

I am certainly no stranger to tracking food, with a macro based approach, I relied heavily on tracking to lose weight repetitively in the past. Since it has worked so well, why was I against using it this time around? I assumed I had enough experience to not use it this time around, turns out, it’s harder than I thought.

Fat loss is stressful, mentally and physically. Initially, I thought of tracking as an additional stressor, and the novelty of it, not tracking and still being able to lose weight, that’ll be a great achievement. Kind of idiotic if you think about it, what I hadn’t take into factor is the deadlines of a competition. As days goes by and weight is not moving on the trajectory that we had in mind (0.5kg per week, currently, it’s at 0.3) , it was causing me even more anxiety and stress.

So today’s the day, and I need to pick up my pace.

Aside from that, things have been pretty stagnant, I try to take it meal by meal, day by day, then reflect back on my week. If I have a particularly good day, I try to replicate it the next day. Days are harder during menstruation, thou taking progesterone has eased some of my PMS symptoms ; mood, appetite and cravings seems to fluctuate alot in the days leading up to my cycle. I have instructions to take a “deload” on those days, trainings remains the same with less weight to mitigate some of the fatigue I feel during the period, still, I’ve had some sub-optimal training session.

The other day, I was having a discussion with my husband, we were talking about how others always want to discuss nutrition with me, most of the time, I feel there is simply no way to simplify the topic. My husband then said to me :”You should tell them you bring canned tuna and squid with you when you travel, that’ll amuse them.”

Perhaps I took it the wrong way, maybe he didn’t mean what he said, but I took it as a mockery. I refrained from saying anything, because I knew it would blow up into a huge fight, which often leads to me dragging other topics into the “discussion”.  I let it slip, but my feelings were hurt.

I cannot expect him to understand since he isn’t in the realm of bodybuilding, I cannot take it personally, but I did take a mental note on my heightened sensitivity level, I noted that I am usually not this easily provoked.

I had this written in my notebook, dated 6th of May, 2019

If you are pained by an external thing, It is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgement about it, and it is your power to wipe out this judgement now.

If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation. Which is why it is essential that we do not respond impulsively to impression ; take a moment before reacting, and you will find it easier to maintain control. 

To end my blog post,  I do admit I am a protein snob and I don’t agree with most forms of protein powders, in true meathead fashion, I personally prefer to bring canned tuna and canned squid with me, as I find it easier to hit my protein macros with them, and not to mention, they’re cheap and more satiating than powders.

I know meatheads would agree with me.

 

 

Prep Journal : 16 weeks out : Patience is a virtue

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished – Lao Tzu

I thought alot about patience on my morning walk this morning.

Too many times I’ve been tempted to change things in my prep, whether it’s dropping food, upping training, adding cardio, although I do have a coach who provides a objective feedback, I still can’t help but feeling anxious and rushed at times.

Ironically, nothing teaches me patience more than a contest prep does. Aside from hard work and discipline, patience and consistency, the two qualities that will keep my sanity in check and carry me through this entire prep. Despite knowing the importance of patience and consistency, I still find myself having to remind myself almost daily, mostly in my morning walks. Without any forms of distraction, it was a good time for self reflection and reaffirmation.

In the context of this bikini prep, the decision to take social media off has proved to be beneficial. In the past, It was easy to get distracted by other people and their progress, I was constantly comparing myself with others, social media toyed with my emotions relentlessly. My relationship with social media is much better now, I follow great contents and updates, I use it to for business purpose, I limit my usage to a rigid timeframe, I am no longer addicted to it.

I do miss certain aspects of it, such as connecting with other people who shares the same interests. But after weighing out the pros and cons, it’s not worth it for me. Needless to say, most bodybuilders I personally admire aren’t on social media, and I can understand why.

Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.

This is definitely not a pursuit of pleasure, but I want to savour the learning experience of each prep I put myself through, since I don’t intend to compete again in atleast 2 year’s time. In the realm of a contest prep, I get to detach myself from my body, and access it from a more objective point of view. I get to experience how caloric deficit correlates with fat loss, sensitivity to food and fatigue level heightened, and I get to see how libido/mood/general well being fluctuates along with fat loss. I do understand how health deteriorates without a surplus environment, but quite frankly, it’s hard to quantify the mental strides I’ve made in my previous prep, which applies to other areas of my life. That is the particular reason I am drawn to a bodybuilding contest. I do genuinely enjoy training and eating well in my bodybuilding journey, whether it’s surplus/deficit, or just maintenance. Infact, I didn’t toy with the idea of competing untill few years into my journey (where I was way too flexible and relax with my nutrition)

When it comes to any pursuit in our lives, it’s very important to ask yourself why not, instead of why. 

My goal is to bring a better physique on stage, at the same time, exert as much grace and patience as I can with this prep.

I realised my documentation of my previous prep was scattered…well needless to say, instagram is not a place for proper journaling purpose. Here I want to share a few photos from my previous competition trip to Singapore, (The Show of Strength 2018) which brings me good memories. It was a great experience for me.

I am coached by Twain Teo from https://atp.sg/

 

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For this meal I had, usual suspect of Coffee with condensed milk (mixed in gelatin powder), fruits (cantaloupe) beef liver and raw carrat salad. (#raypeat)

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I especially looking forward to see more details in my lower body. Appreciate the great quality photos provided by the show organiser. (Showofstrengthlive.com)

 

Mara : Feeding your demon

Illustrations by Carole Hénaff.

I’ve began to take more walks without my phone these days, just me and my thoughts, no distraction. And I thought alot about my struggles with my inner Mara on my morning walk this morning.

What is Mara?

Mara is the demon that tempted Prince Siddhartha (Gautama Buddha) by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be Mara’s daughters. In Buddhist cosmology, Mara is associated with death, rebirth and desire. Nyanaponika Thera has described Mara as “the personification of the forces antagonistic to enlightenment.” 

“the personification of the forces antagonistic to enlightenment.” 

We all have them, Mara, morph into different forms, trying to distract us from what we want to accomplish. I have been working on fighting one particular Mara that is draining my mental energy, my efforts seem futile, there are times I thought I’ve made good progress, then I relapsed, then I feel so guilty and bad about myself. The more frequent my determination is threatened by the Mara, the weaker I become to resist the temptation.

I feel sick.

Then I came across this article, and I thought, perhaps I’ve got it all wrong.

Feeding our demons rather than fighting them contradicts the conventional approach of fighting against whatever assails us. But it turns out to be a remarkably effective path to inner integration.

Demons (maras in Sanskrit) are not bloodthirsty ghouls waiting for us in dark corners. Demons are within us. They are energies we experience every day, such as fear, illness, depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship difficulties, and addiction.

Anything that drains our energy and blocks us from being completely awake is a demon. The approach of giving form to these inner forces and feeding them, rather than struggling against them, was originally articulated by an eleventh-century female Tibetan Buddhist teacher named Machig Labdrön (1055–1145). The spiritual practice she developed was called Chöd, and it generated such amazing results that it became very popular, spreading widely throughout Tibet and beyond.

The article entails methods to use meditation to “feed our demons” instead of fighting them. Which I found highly enlightening. Since I practice meditation every morning, I will give this a go and see how it goes.

Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. Bruce Lee

Prep journal : Training without the phone

No music, no videos, no selfies 

I have started enjoy going to the gym without the phone more and more these days

I used to be the gym chick (I feel good calling myself a chick) who has her headphones on  all the time, I train with very loud and angry music, often contains very colourful language, which explains why I curse alot. But I am reformed now, I try to restraint myself these days.

David Goggins says training with music is cheating. I didn’t understand it at first, but once I took my headphones off, I immediately understand why. I was able to focus better, I was able to listen to my own cues, I was able to motivate myself instead of relying on music. The quality of my session improved tremendously.

There was also the selfies and the videos…obviously I had a rather severe attention deficit symptom, with all the half naked selfies and workout videos posted to my instagram (which I’ve just deleted) The only way I could describe it, is that I felt like a cocaine addict, refraining from taking gym selfies was honestly a challenge for me, I do admit by saying that I am aware that I live a very good life. I am honestly ashamed of my pathetic addiction, and it’s not completely eradicated yet, but I am definitely on the right track.

Each time I whip out my phone and about to take another selfie, I’d think to myself :”Really, Simmy, do you need another selfie? ” No more reasons for selfies since instagram is gone now, problem solved. To completely minimize the distraction, I leave my phone at home.

There are some videos here and there, especially with the main lifts just for the sake of form checks. I used to joke that I didn’t really care about my form, all I cared about was how good I look in the videos. I wasn’t really joking. Was there natty lighting ? Did the angle make my butt look bigger? If I didn’t look good in the video, I wouldn’t post it no matter how good my form looks.

One step at a time, one day at a time

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Prep Journal : Prep before the prep

Summary of the past 2-3 weeks of slowly easing into a deficit again, without tracking food.

I was hesitant to start prep without tracking food, if there is one mistake I’ve learnt from my previous prep, is that I didn’t give myself enough time and I was probably a little too relaxed in the beginning. Given that it was my first prep, I was clueless. I started my prep at 72kg, and I stepped on stage at 58kg, judging by how I looked, I easily had extra 5kg on me that needed to go. Nonetheless, I learnt alot about myself and it was still a great experience for me.

I soon learnt if I stick to the same eating pattern, rotating between the same meals, at this point, tracking is unnecessary. I do use weight and measurement as a guidance at this point, if weight loss stall, I will not waste time and start tracking again. The crazy thing is, I find that without tracking actively, I have to be even more aware of my intake. If I make more progress in the beginning, then I don’t have to play catch up in later stages of my prep.

Below is an entry I wrote in my notebook the other day :

“Pay attention to the appropriate level of hunger and desire for food, instead of giving into intuition completely.”

Contest prep fatloss is tricky, without actively tracking food, it doesn’t mean I am eating intuitively. I find that intuitive eating is mostly for people who wants to maintain weight, or maybe lose a little, without having a rigid deadline to meet. Quite frankly, if I were to give into my intuition completely, I wouldn’t be able put myself in a deficit state. Our body just doesn’t like it if we knock it out of homeostasis : hunger and cravings eventually occurs. Dieting will always feel unnatural, no matter how efficient you try to be.

I will keep this update short and sweet, ending this post with some data update and some food photos, just to make this less boring

Start of prep

April 1st, 2019 : AVG BW 63.2kg

April 15th, 2019 : AVG BW 62.2kg

Starting point 2019 :

 

This was me at the start of my prep last year…I know..I had guts definitely