Being long, lean, ample-bootied, and X-Men-level muscular is the calling card of a fitness challenger. See them on stage and you might gues: What does one have to do to get eight-pack abs? And how come these people have NO cellulite?
Reality check: Though some develop responsibly, many bikini competitors got their rent bods the unhealthy way, often under the guidance of coach-and-fours that push them to dangerous extremes.
We talked to Molly Galbraith, 31, who competed in figure competitions from 2006 to 2008, to find out what really goes on behind the scenes. Now a certified strength and conditionist specialist( C.S.C.S .) and the cofounder and owner of Girls Gone Strong, Galbraith reveals what sheand other competitorswere doing to stand out in those sparkly bikinis 😛 TAGEND
Eating fewer than 1,000 calories a day
At one point, Galbraith limited herself to eating only 900 calories a day for 16 weeks. At 5 11, she says she should really be feeing 2,400 to 2,500 calories a day to maintain her current, healthy weight of 167 pounds.
Eating such a low number of calories a day, irrespective if youre get adequate protein or not, will cause weight loss, muscle mass loss, and a likely drop in metabolic rate, says Lauren Antonucci, R.D.N ., a certified athletics dietitian and owned of Nutrition Energy in New York City. That may explain why after her competition, Galbraith says she ate all the things. Her body rebounded and she packed on 10 to 15 pounds in a couple of weeks.
Limiting to a few safe foods
How would you like to live on only five foods: tilapia, asparagus, egg whites, sweet potato, and oatmeal? That’s what coaches promoted her to do, Galbraith says.[ Coaches] want to control their clients intake as much as possible, says Galbraith.
As you can imagine, putting a moral label on your feeds can lead to an effed up relationship with food. I remember being done with rivalry and running grocery shopping. I was so confused about whether or not I could eat chicken with marinade, she says. Thats right: marinade. Its also worth mentioning that some women who are prone to disordered eating might be attracted to the idea of bikini competitors because of the extreme limited they require, says Antonucci.
Galbraith did cardio twice a day and lifted weights once a day, for a total of two to three hours in the gym. While many professional athletes work out two or three times a day, when paired with a 900 -calorie-a-day diet, Galbraith was dangerously under-fueled.
While Galbraith admits that sometimes she felt really good in the gym because of the excitement surrounding rivalry, she also recollects being very run down. Six weeks before my first rivalry, I remember my extremities felt like they weighed a million pounds, she says. So theres a mentality of Oh, I dont feel good, Ill take caffeine, set headphones in and push myself anyway.’ You cease listening to your bodys signals.
When high levels of exercise are paired with a low calorie uptake, it can lead to overtraining, which can cause a weakened immune system, rapid heart rate, sleeplessness, irritability, lessened ability to recover, and traumata, says exercise physiologist Laura Miranda, C.S.C.S ., a doctor of physical therapy. Whats more, excessive tirednes or feeling under the weather are the bodys warning signs that if you dont rest, you can get sick or injured, she says.
Heres the idea: You want to be dry for competition to better show off muscle tone. So Galbraith explains that competitors might drink two to three gallons of water a day in the weeks leading up to rivalry. When you drink more water, your body up-regulates hormones that build you pee more, she says. Then, 24 hours before the competition, you stop drinking water. It takes those hormones 12 to 24 hours to catch up and realise youre not get water. Your body continues to flush out, she says. I lost almost 15 pounds overnight, she says. Yikes.
That can mess with the balance of electroyltes in your body, build you dizzy, and start to affect your mental function and strength, says Antonucci.
Exercising to the extreme
Think: exert in a sauna wearing a sweat purse for hours. Less educated coach-and-fours might have clients do this in the belief that the more you sweat, the more fat youre burning, says Galbraith. Reality couldnt be further from the truth, adds Miranda. Even if you sweat up a cyclone in the sauna and lose weight, its only water weight. Youll gain it back as soon as you drink water again, she says. Old school tactics like these do not work. Run away from any coach-and-four that has you do this, says Miranda.
Galbraith says fellow competitors told her stories about wearing a corset for hours a dayeven while sleepingin an effort to slim down their waists. This does not place reduce. If your waist gets smaller, its because your rib are moving and your organs are displaced, she says.( Um, ouch !)
Waist trainers build me furious, says Miranda. The consensus in the medical community is pretty clear: They are not safe to use during exert. Dangers include restricting lung function, weakening your core, and long-term problems like GI issues. So not worth the price of admission.
After Galbraith’s last competition in October of 2008, her body rebounded poorly. Despite slowly upping her calorie uptake, her weight increased rapidly. “A few months later, my body was so depleted that, at 24 years old, I could hardly get up off the lounge to get a glass of water, ” she says. “…My weight had climbed, I was depleted, and I felt wholly out of control of my body. I knew I had to quit competing so I could focus on getting healthy.” She hasn’t appeared back since.
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