What does it feel like to be a 53 year old Figure Competitor?

The best part for me was showing John this picture and his reaction was "Holy smokes! Ro you look fabulous!" That means more to me than any trophy!

The best part for me was showing John this picture and his reaction “Holy smokes! Ro you look fabulous!” That means more to me than any trophy!

 

Today we are exactly 3 weeks out from the Venus Transformation VT13 deadline. The last day of this contest will be April 13th.

Many Venus ladies have been asking about my recent experience with a fitness competition so I figured this would be a good time to write about that. It’s a good time to discuss how to prepare for your final photographs for the current contest as you will need to plan ahead.

 

What made me decide to do a fitness competition?

I found Coach Miles though my friend Lauren Monday. Lauren is the model who helped me with a photo shoot for the final pictures I submitted for Venus Transformation contest #4.

Lauren is a bikini model and now a bikini competitor with several shows under her belt.

I saw Lauren’s posts with Miles on Facebook. I decided it would be fun to try something new so I gave Miles a call. I had no intention of competing in a fitness show but I found myself surrounded by other fitness competitors who had a lot of energy. I quickly made friends and was easily accepted into the group. It didn’t take long for my friends and Miles to convince me to join in the fun and try to compete as a masters figure competitor.

We decided on the Sacramento Pro Show in November 2014. I’m 54 now, but I was still 53 back in November last year.

I increased my workout sessions with Miles and got started with some posing practice.

I found posing practice to be harder than working out. As Miles knows I LOVE to workout, and I love to work hard. I quickly learned that posing was going to require many hours of practice at home, which I did.

 

Here's a picture of me with coach Miles just last week. Even though I don't plan to compete again, I still train with Miles once a week to "keep my head in the game".

Here’s a picture of me with coach Miles just last week. Even though I don’t plan to compete again, I still train with Miles once a week to “keep my head in the game”.

 

What changed with my diet?

Diet was really fun because I already knew what to do. Miles taught me to get a little more protein in with egg whites and protein powder. I already knew how to diet with Venus by using lean meat, vegetables, and just enough healthy carbs for energy. I taught Miles about Eat Stop Eat and working out fasted and we quickly became a dynamic team. Those principles helped Miles tweak his own plan and keep his fitness goals.

Miles began helping his other clients with the Eat Stop Eat principles and it was pretty exciting to watch others achieve better success by using what I had learned from Brad Pilon and John Barban. It’s great to see others ditching the fitness myths regarding when to eat and how often.

Miles taught me to get more protein in with the same amount of calories. I hadn’t thought of using egg whites and it for some reason it was a hard concept for me. What, you mean throw away the yolks!? So I got the liquid egg whites in a carton.

I have never had much use for protein powder. I prefer to eat solid protein as opposed to protein drinks. I don’t get much satisfaction out of drinking my calories.

Miles teaching me to include egg whites and protein powder along with the lean meat and fish I already consumed was a real eye opener. You can really pack in a lot of protein in a small calorie budget! I didn’t really like egg whites or protein drinks so worked to come up with various protein custard recipes and that suited me fine.

As far as the calorie deficit I took it nice and slow. I didn’t do anything drastic. I just set my own schedule and did a nice slight deficit for about two months. Even then it’s pretty hard to do when you are already pretty lean. I started out at about 12% body fat and got down to something below 10%. Even with a slight calorie deficit there is nothing easy about doing it.

 

What changed with my workouts?

I learned from Miles how to do some very precise weight lifting splits to develop the specific muscles for a figure competitor. My having done the Venus workouts were a perfect base to start with. I mainly needed a spotter to help me push just a little harder and add in the splits. For me I needed to work the the muscles harder in all areas but specifically needed the most work on my shoulders and upper back for the Figure physique.

I still did the Venus workouts on the days I didn’t work with Miles.

I learned those last 2-3 reps with a spotter were crucial for developing more muscle definition.

 

The competition mindset

I knew going into the show that I would need a strong mindset. I knew I needed to be happy with how I’d built my own body and not let the judges decide upon my own happiness.

Even going into it with that strong and positive mindset, the competition day was a hard day for me. It really threw me for a loop emotionally.

I have absolutely no regrets, but I can not say the day itself was fun. It wasn’t.

The Lauren Jacobson interview with John was helpful for knowing that even a few years ago when the Bikini and Figure classes were just starting that it was unclear as to what the judges were looking for. It seemed like bikini class is not quite as lean and muscular compared to the figure class, but it turns out that is not always the case. Every show is different and with every set of judges; it’s a constant moving target for each show and it has not gotten any better.

 

Here I am in the open class lineup with much younger women.

Here I am in the open class lineup with much younger women.

 

What about “prep week”?

It was a difficult week because I decide to experiment with the traditional old school “prep week” or “peak week”. It’s a much more hard core version of our Venus “Slim in Seven”.

I ate fairly normal all week except I cut out foods that make me bloated. For me that is dairy, wheat, and foods with a lot of long ingredient names (which I typically avoid anyway). I ate more nuts, dried fruit, salmon, turkey, banana, and gluten free crackers. I ate a little more low carb and higher protein at the beginning of the week and increased the carbs later in the week.

I limited my water all week which was a disaster. I was miserable and probably ate a little too much fruit/nut mix the last few days. It’s hard to keep track when you have containers of it and are staying in a hotel (and miserable, thirsty, stressed, and sleep deprived.)

This is what Kristen Shaffer has to say about water intake for prep week:

—DO NOT DECREASE WATER INTAKE—

You’ve heard it a thousands times – deplete your water the last week. DO NOT DO THIS. You will step on stage looking stringy and flat.

Why?

Because studies have shown that water is mostly stored within our muscles. So if you decrease your water intake, your body will adjust by actually retaining more water outside the muscles, making you look bloated. Additionally, your total water retained will decrease, but since most of it is stored in your muscles you will lose precious muscle mass.

The only time you want to limit your water intake is the day of your competition, and the only reason is to not have a full-looking tummy. So only sip water that day when you are thirsty.

 

Coach Trish Wood IFBB Pro not only thinks the same, but she also thinks you just drink the normal amount of water on competition day. Trish has been at this game a very long time and knows what she is talking about, in fact her client (Rachelle Mittelstet) just got first place in both Figure class A and 1st place figure Masters’s 40+ this past weekend and the Governors Cup competition in Sacramento.

If I had competed again I would have been in those same classes with Rachelle. I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready for that again.  But it’s okay, I don’t have to compete to be happy with what I’ve achieved.

I have a comparison picture from approximately 5:30 pm the night before the competition and approximately 5:30 am the day of the competition. I’d spent a miserable night in the hotel room tossing and turning, I was thirsty, hungry, stressed, and the tanning solution painted on me was absolutely atrocious.

 

With the difference in angles and the tan it’s hard to say if there is much of a difference or not. Both Miles and I thought I was a little flat on competition day, but I'm not sure it matters much. The work was done and there wasn't much fat left.

A 10 hour overnight comparison. With the difference in angles and the tan it’s hard to say if there is much of a difference or not. Both Miles and I thought I was a little flat on competition day, but I’m not sure it matters much. The work was done and there wasn’t much fat left.

 

With the difference in angles and the tan it’s hard to say if there is much of a difference or not. Both Miles and I thought it seemed like I looked the best a couple days prior to the show and then got slightly flatter and less defined each day.

Regardless, everyone agrees – even John and Brad – that the real difference is in the work during the weeks and months prior to the event. It’s best not to torture yourself too much this final week if you don’t need to.

The process affects everyone differently. I’ve heard a couple of people say the Slim in Seven process is no big deal, but others have reported that it was hard. It’s a good process to follow but keep in mind it’s a guideline that can be adjusted to your own needs, just like everything in the Venus program.

 

How did the competition day go?

Participating in a competition is a pretty big investment. You need a good coach for your workouts and posing practice. You need an expensive competition suit, shoes, tan, hair, makeup, nails, hotel, entry fees, and a membership to the fitness organization you are competing under.

 

Several of my friends met up and got our hair done in the hotel room. Even though I was nervous this was kind of fun!

Several of my friends met up and got our hair done in the hotel room. Even though I was nervous this was kind of fun!

 

I’d only seen a couple of fitness shows, so I really didn’t know enough. I had misconceptions about the judging “callouts” as you shall see in the following story.

The first time on stage in the morning is when all the real judging happens. The audience is small. The “entertainment” part of the show happens in the evening. In some ways the evening is more fun because they have fun music and a master of ceremonies.

Being up on stage was totally different compared to practice at home. There are bright lights in your eyes and you are crowded up on stage with not much time to move from one pose to the next. They rush you though everything like cattle in a line. It didn’t seem like there was enough time to get the figure poses correctly set.

The venue for the show I was in wasn’t comfortable for the competitors. We had long staging hallways and the stage floor was uneven with a lot of metal hinges and screws sticking up.  It’s hard enough to walk around in 5 inch heels, let alone trying to balance on an uneven floor.  I was deathly afraid of tripping on the metal pieces. It made it really hard to balance.  I’m sure each of us felt we were in the worst spot ever.

When they do the judging they move you around in the lineup for comparison. You aren’t supposed to compare yourself to others right? But it’s hard when you are in an environment where they are doing just that. I didn’t find that at all fun, especially at my age around young women with pretty skin. Man it was hard.

In every class I ended up out at the end of the lineup, which I assumed was “last place” in the call out. I was literally in tears up on the stage wondering what the heck I did wrong. I’d entered five different competition classes so it was a lot of work to keep getting up on stage. Every time I went up I got more discouraged. My coach and all my friends were not with me. I felt alone and lost. It was nothing like all the weeks and hours I’d spent practicing and having fun with my friends at the gym.

After the morning judging session I ran to my room and cried for hours. I finally mustered up the strength to go find Miles and some of my friends and I know they felt bad because there was nothing they could do to make me feel better.

I didn’t want to go back up on stage for the final evening show. I knew I was in last place and I was just filling the gap for the show. But I was determined to go and do my best out of sheer principle.

 

I took a nap and finally mustered up the strength to go face Miles and my friends downstairs.

I took a nap and finally mustered up the strength to go face Miles and my friends downstairs.

 

When evening came I cleaned up my tear smeared makeup best I could. I hadn’t brought any makeup and the makeup artists were gone. I didn’t really care. I just wanted to get it over with.  I was driven with sheer principle that I wouldn’t quit or pack up and go home, although I desperately wanted to.

Then we lined up to get on stage again. In the evening the schedule was a little different because they had NPC novice competitors (of which I was a part of) mixed with the IFBB pros. When the show got behind schedule they held up the NPC women’s masters groups I was in so that the IFBB pro men could be on schedule. That meant two of the groups I competed with had to wait in the hallway in high heels for nearly an hour. It was pretty darn miserable for us because we couldn’t sit down without messing up the glue that held our suits in place. We couldn’t get our “pump” on with the little weights there because we were waiting too long.

Even though all of us girls were so miserable being held hostage in the hallway, ironically it was the best part of the day for me regarding social interaction with others. We had a chance to really talk about real fitness life nitty gritty. I told the ladies there in the line that it was the best part of the day for me.

 

Here I am with the top 5 winners in the Masters Figure 35+ class. I'm actually the oldest one there at age 53. I'm in 5th place.

Here I am with the top 5 winners in the Masters Figure 35+ class. I’m actually the oldest one there at age 53. The others are all under 40. I’m in 5th place.

 

I got a lot of compliments from some of the other girls. They told me my whole package, suit, hair, physique, etc were put together nicely. It made me feel good because I was pretty darn insecure about the whole thing. It sounded like they were genuine and that’s what felt good to me.

That’s where I learned from the others that each show is different regarding the judges. Whether it’s figure or bikini class it’s hit or miss if they want a softer smoother look, or a ripped shredded look. You have to decide what you like best for yourself and know that you’ll do well in some shows and not others.

It’s a pretty big investment for a hit or miss like that.

I was in absolute shock when I got a fifth place trophy for Masters Figure 35+, it made me realize I was wrong about the callouts. Only the judges know what’s really going on. It really was hit or miss like the girls said when we stood in the hallway.

 

I was in shock that I got a trophy! I took a quick selfie before I stepped into the elevator to head up for a shower I couldn't wait for.

I was in shock that I got a trophy! I took a quick selfie before I stepped into the elevator to head up for a shower I couldn’t wait for.

 

As I walked back through the maze of hallways with my trophy I passed the huge lineups of other girls going up toward the stage. I got a lot of congratulations and high fives. But I realize how few actually get to go home with any hardware. I barely got the one I got. I didn’t feel like it meant much. Don’t get me wrong, I was darn happy to have it, but at the same time I realize that each and every woman that showed up to compete that day deserved a trophy.

Every single woman there worked hard and put in the same effort I did. They were all beautiful in my eyes.

 

Even though I didn't get a trophy picture with Miles, I was just so happy to shower and be done with it. We waited for the other competitors so we could all go have a yummy dinner.

Even though I didn’t get a trophy picture with Miles, I was just so happy to shower and be done with it. We waited for the other competitors so we could all go have a yummy dinner.

 

I was so happy once I was done with the ordeal, got my shower, and could sit in comfort with my dear friend Miles.  I was happy to get the trophy.  I was happy to get John’s response because I still like it when John is proud of me.

 

What about the Venus contest?

It’s totally up to you if you want to do any version of “prep week” before your final photo’s or not. It’s not a requirement and it’s completely personal preference. The Venus Factor “Slim in Seven” is a good program and not as drastic as the old school fitness competitor prep week.

If you decide to follow the Venus Factor “Slim in Seven” there is a daily diet protocol designed by John Barban. A lot of people ask how do they know what percentage their protein, carbs, and fat are? The best way to do this is to use a tool like Myfitnesspal to set your macro percentages. In the MyFitnessPal menu you can do this by going into your Home menu, then Goals, then the green “Change Goals” button, then select “custom”, then Continue.

 

To set your macro percentages in In the MyFitnessPal menu; go into your Home menu, then Goals, then the green “Change Goals” button, then select “custom”, then Continue.

To set your macro percentages in In the MyFitnessPal menu; go into your Home menu, then Goals, then the green “Change Goals” button, then select “custom”, then Continue.

 

Keep in mind it doesn’t have to be exact.  You can change things up depending on how you feel or how much stress you are under.  As you can see from the experiments of many of us what matters most is all the work in the weeks and months ahead of time.

Whether you are finishing the contest as a transformation, cover, or calendar girl you are not required to have a professional photographer.  Be proud and make your best presentation ever!  Celebrate your hard work and success by giving it your best effort and having pictures that you will cherish for the rest of your life.  It’s a record and a reminder for you on what you have accomplished.

Preparing For Your Contest Photo Shoot – Part 1: Posing Practice

Preparing For Your Contest Photo Shoot – Part 2: Photography And Lighting

Preparing For Your Contest Photo Shoot – Part 3: The Final Week

 

What to do with your final Venus contest photos?

When you submit your final photos the bikini type outfit will be used primarily for judging purposes only. Please feel free to submit other final pictures in nice clothes of your choice that still show off your new shape; for example a dress, skirt, jeans and tops, sports outfits, hobbies outfits like tennis, golf, yoga, etc.

We would also love to have a before picture that tells your full weight loss story so others can see that there is more to the story then just the 12 week contest window.

Get ready for AMAZING!

Will you be next?

Get your final entries in by midnight Eastern time April 13th.

Use the contest entry form (the same that you used to enter the contest).

We’ll need from you:

  • front pose
  • back pose
  • side pose
  • newspaper pose
  • up to 15 cover pictures of your choice
  • your 250 word or more essay (please include your age in the essay)

and your measurements:

  • height
  • weight
  • shoulders
  • waist
  • hips

We are looking forward to the amazing results of your hard work.

Coach Roberta

If you have any questions or problems with uploading your pictures email me: roberta.saum@gmail.com

Contest rules and regulations

Contest schedule for 2015

 

About Jessie T

Roberta is a 56 year young Elite Trainer at 1st Phorm. She achieved her fitness dream at age 50 here at The Venus Factor. She is a Fitness Consultant/Motivator for Hopelessly Romantic Media Productions, Venus Factor Coach, Product Developer, Brand Ambassador, Contest Administrator, Author, Editor in Chief for the Venus Factor, and 1st Phorm Ambassador.

More about Coach Roberta

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