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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Bodybuilding Competition Considerations - Advice from Fitness Model & NPC Bikini Competitor Candy Brenn

Are you thinking about competing in a bodybuilding, fitness, figure, or bikini competition?  Find out from NPC Bikini Competitor Candy Brenn exactly what it takes to prepare for your competition!

Besides healthy eating and fitness tips, some of the most frequently asked questions I receive are in regards to competing.  With competition season just beginning, I thought it would be a great idea to share with you some of my personal thoughts on things you should consider before committing to a bodybuilding competition.

First off, let me explain to you that there are various categories for men and women when it comes to competing.  There’s traditional bodybuilding in which female bodybuilders try to add lean muscle mass much like male bodybuilders, with very little body fat.  Then there is the fitness category where competitors perform an athletic routine set to music to showcase their strength, flexibility and any gymnastics training.  Next we have figure competitors who have the same type of physique as fitness competitors, but there is no fitness routine. Competitors wear a two-piece swimsuit and heels, and are judged from all angles.  While bearing a close resemblance to female bodybuilding, they emphasizes muscle tone over muscle size.

Lastly, we have the bikini division; this is the newest category and the one which I chose to compete in.  Bikini competitors are still very lean, but do not carry the same muscle definition that bodybuilders, fitness, and figure competitors aim for.  It is a softer look, and competitors are judged in a smaller two-piece swimsuit and high heels. I believe that there is an emphasis on having a well developed “bikini booty” with strong shoulders and a small waist.  Judges compare based on balance and poise, as well as overall physical appearance.

Photo from my first NPC Bikini Competition - The 2012 Diamond Classic

So now that we got the categories covered, that may help you decide which one is best for you and your body!

Now, I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you or deter you from competing, what I am going to do is be real with you.  Many people begin contest prep with absolutely NO IDEA how much hard work it really is.  A bodybuilding or bikini body does not simply just happen over night.  There is no pill or “quick fix” to achieving a ripped and rock hard body.  Truth is, it takes months of dedication to a strict diet and training regimen that is going to test you not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. 

That being said, let me explain to you more in depth what to expect when preparing for a competition.

Positive Mindset
As I said before, competition prep is no walk in the park.  Regardless of what category you choose to compete in, all require consistent clean eating and taxing training in order to yield a stage worthy physique.  This can and will take a toll on you physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Some days you will feel stronger than an ox and others you may feel weaker than a tiny twig.  You’ll get grumpy, angry, frustrated, sad, annoyed, tired, and heck you’ll feel like giving up once, twice, maybe more.  But then, there are days you are full of joy because you see just what you want, PROGRESS.  You get in what you put out and those results make you feel amazing!  You will feel crazy at times because you’re experiencing a roller coaster of emotions.  These feelings will not only affect you, but the people around you.

Support System
Through out your show prep, you will need to surround yourself with people who are going to support and encourage you.  A crucial aspect of competing is finding the right trainer to help you prepare.  It’s extremely difficult to do it all on your own.  Without proper guidance from a certified trainer who is experienced in competition preparation, you most likely fall short in achieving an award-winning physique.

Me with my trophy and my trainers, Elena Ramos & Dennis Sheppard!

Furthermore, you will have to associate only with those who are going to lift you up!  You may find that your co-workers, friends, even family members cannot comprehend your choices and could quite possible be negative influences because they are unable to relate to your competition lifestyle.

Time Management
FACT: The majority of your time will be spent focusing on your diet and training.  We all have the same 24 hours in a day and must use them wisely.  Most of us work and/or go to school full time, so there goes 40+ hours a week already.  But if you are serious about competing and have your sights set on a goal, you will have to figure out how to make it work.  You will have to plan your life around your training and eating schedule.  It is not impossible, and it can certainly be done, you just have to find out what works best for you.

During your prep you may find that you begin distancing yourself from family and friends.  This detachment may cause your loved ones to feel hurt or rejected because you’re unable to spend as much time with them.  You will have to give up late night partying, drinking, dinners, and possibly forgo certain social events due to your diet and training regimen.

Competition Costs
Have you considered the costs of competing?  Here is a list of just some of the things you will have to purchase:
-         Posing Coach
-         Clean FOOD
-         Supplements
-         Gym Gear
-         Competition Swimsuit
-         Competition Shoes
-         Competition Jewelry
-         Tanning Products
-         Hair & Makeup
-         Registration & Show Entry Fees
-         More FOOD (lol!)

Now, I don’t want all this to discourage you!  I want you to be aware of the various expenses and informing you that these things can add up quickly.  Be prepared and start saving your money now.  You can have a yard sale, bake sale, or even set up a fundraiser to raise money for your journey! 

Also, you can look into sponsorships to cut costs.  I am blessed to work for the number one sports nutrition and supplement company, VPX Sports / Redline Energy!  And, I am sponsored by ProTan Competition Tanning!  It may not be feasible to obtain sponsorships for your first competition because companies generally want to represent someone with more experience.  As for me, I have competed in two shows and placed first in my class in both.  Currently, I'm preparing for my third show!

Placing first in my class at The 2012 Diamond Classic

So why do I do it?  I do it because I love the sport!  It takes dedication, determination, and consistency to showcase the best YOU that you can possibly be.  

Keep in mind that it isn't all about winning!  You have no control over the judges opinions or who shows up to compete against you (WARNING: This sport can be very political).  Regardless of your scoring or placing you should be extremely proud of yourself for committing to months of preparation, stepping on that stage, and giving it all you got.  Your body is your trophy!

I welcome the challenge on my body and mind although it can be grueling.  Realize that success requires sacrifice.  I like to push myself and I love seeing my body progress from week to week.  Are you ready to test yourself?  Make sure your physically and mentally prepared (I recommend consulting with a licensed doctor prior to any contest prep) and if you are, I say GO FOR IT!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Protein Pudding

Protein pudding is quite possibly the easiest healthy treat you can make.  All it takes is mixing together all natural non-fat Greek yogurt and some protein powder and BOOM!

You got yourself a basic protein pudding :)

So why Greek yogurt?  Well, according to a recent article I read on a study published by the International Journal of Obesity showed that low-fat, high-protein dairy products can accelerate abdominal fat burning.  Researchers noted both higher fat loss from the trunk region and higher lean muscle mass retention in the group that ate yogurt!

In addition, Greek yogurt has double the protein of most regular yogurts.  A typical 6-ounce serving contains 15-20 grams of protein which is comparative to 2-3 ounces of lean meat!  Also, it is a great source of calcium, which we all know helps build strong teeth and bones.  Furthermore, the probiotics found in Greek yogurt help regulate digestion and keep the bacteria in your gut healthy.

Personally, I think it is the perfect pudding base due to it's smooth and creamy consistency.  I always purchase plain Greek yogurt because the flavored varieties contain high amounts of sodium and sugar which is just not necessary when you can add your own all natural ingredients and toppings!

Here's what I made for my mid-morning snack!

Fruit & Nut Protein Pudding

- 1/2 cup All Natural Non-Fat Greek Yogurt (I used Fage)
- 1/2 scoop Protein Powder (I used VPX Sports SRO Zero Carb - Chocolate)
- 1 tbsp (10g) Fruit & Nut Trail Mix (I used Kirkland Signature)
- 1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- Splash of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (I used Blue Diamond)

- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and place in the refrigerator until you're ready to enjoy!

The great thing about Protein Pudding is that there is literally an endless list of ingredient options you can choose from.  Here are some of my suggestions:
- All natural nut butters
- All natural, unsalted nuts
- All natural, unsalted seeds (Chia, Flax, Hemp, Poppy, Pumpkin, Sunflower)
- Dark chocolate
- Fresh organic fruit
- PB2
- Unsweetened coconut flakes

Nutritional Information:
Serves 1
155 calories, 3g fat, 73mg sodium, 65mg potassium,
9g carbohydrates (1g fiber, 8g sugar) 23g PROTEIN

Someone pass me a bowl of protein pudding... please :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spinach & Zucchini St. Patty's Day Protein Pancakes

Most people celebrate St. Patrick's Day by drinking green beer... 
I'd rather eat pancakes!  Lol!  
So, in honor of the Irish holiday I made some delicious and nutritious protein pancakes :)

Spinach & Zucchini St. Patty's Day Protein Pancakes

- 1 scoop VPX SRO Whey Protein (I used chocolate)
- 1/2 small Zucchini (cut into slices)
- 1 cup Organic Spinach
- 1/4 cup Oats
- 3 tbsp Egg Whites
- 1 tbsp Organic Ground Golden Flax Seed
- 1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp Baking Soda

- Coat pan with non-stick cooking spray or coconut oil.
- Mix all ingredients in food processor (or blender, or Magic Bullet, etc.) until smooth.
- Pour 1/3 of the batter onto pan and cook on Low heat until golden brown
(this should take about 2 minutes on each side).
*Tip* When the pancake begins to bubble that is a good indicator that you should flip!

This recipe makes 3 medium sized protein pancakes which equals 1 serving.
As a topping, I added 1/2 tbsp of Sunbutter (all natural sunflower spread) and 1/2 tbsp of Walden Farms Pancake Syrup.  You can choose to add whatever you like or whatever fits your macros.

Topping Suggestions:
- All Natural Unsalted Nuts or Seeds
- All Natural Nut Butter (Almond, Peanut, Sunflower)
- All Natural Organic Jam (Apple, Blueberry, Peach, etc.)
- Cottage Cheese
- Greek Yogurt
- Organic Fruit (Apples, Blueberries, Cranberries, Peaches, Pears, Strawberries, etc.)
- PB2

Nutritional Information:
(without topping)
238 calories, 4g fat, 308mg sodium, 193mg potassium,
21g carbohydrates (5g fiber, 1g sugar) 30g PROTEIN



Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cookies & Cream Proats

I'd love to share this super simple proatmeal recipe with you guys!  I make some form of oats almost every morning and this is one of my favorites :)  It takes only 3 ingredients and 3 minutes to make this delicious dish so there really is no excuse for you not to eat a healthy and hearty breakfast!

Cookies & Cream Proats

- 1/3 cup Quick Oats
- 1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 2 ounces VPX Cookies & Cream Protein Rush

- Pour quick oats into a microwave safe bowl.
- Add ground cinnamon.
- Mix with as much water as you please to reach your desired consistency.
- Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds.
- Carefully remove dish from microwave (Caution: It's hot!)
- Stir in VPX Cookies & Cream Protein Rush.

If you'd like to add any additional ingredients be my guest, the sky is the limit!

If it fits your macros...

My Recommendations:
- Organic Fruit
- All Natural, Unsalted Nuts
- All Natural Nut Butter
- PB2
- Ground Flax
- Chia Seeds
- Protein Powder
- All Natural Cocoa
- Coconut Flakes

I made my Cookies & Cream Proats to compliment my 
scrambled spinach and tomato basil egg whites!

Nutritional Information:
1 serving of Cookies & Cream Proats
130 calories, 2g fat, 26mg sodium, 3mg potassium, 
20g carbohydrates (3g fiber, 1g sugar) 8g protein