Official Blog of Allison Ethier

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Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada
Official blog of Allison Ethier NSCA Personal Trainer, ISSN Sport Nutrition, Educator & Mom

19 August 2008

To Eat or Not to Eat?

After the Nationals event was over, I headed back to the hotel to shower, change, and went out to a Boston Pizza to eat with a few competitors. This was the only restaurant relatively close and open at that time of night in downtown Vancouver.

After any show, I can eat and have absolutely no guilt about what or how much I am eating. However, the next day I find even more difficult, than when you are dieting. When you are in diet mode, you know what comes next, how much, when, and what to eat. A plan needs to be in place post show, to lead you back into a regular eating lifestyle without having the urge to binge eat.

Post show if you don't have a plan, many will fall completely off the wagon. Many competitors don't know how to stop themselves from eating, or having the urge to want to eat. Nancy Georges did post a YouTube video about this - post show eating - and how to get back on the wagon once you have opened your mouth to those sinful treats you have been denying yourself for so long.

Nancy Georges - Post Show Eating

Post Show Planning

I do feel that your diet leading up to the show, does play a role in how much you are going to binge after the show. I have noticed, and discussed with many girls that the more restrictive you view your diet, the more you are going to have post show uncontrolled binge eating.

For the first timer, this is really hard to grasp. As you compete more, you learn that the food will be there tomorrow. But, it takes a while even for the seasoned competitor to learn how to control your eating post show. There are many girls who slip up, and I have to admit even this year after the Arnold Amateur I found myself eating a bit more chocolate than normal. I hear a lot of "this time I am going to try to keep the weight off", but yet, somehow old habits die hard, and you end up gaining all the weight you lost and sometimes a bit more. So how do you control it; how do you manage to get back into real life food situations without stuffing your face every time you have a social event? Or going to the store, and wanting to buy everything in sight just to taste it because you can?

You need to have a plan post show, as you would pre-show. Post show should be considered part of your training - for at least 3 weeks after the event. Your body needs time to readjust to the 'extras' you are giving it. It took to time to cut these things out of your diet, so you need time to put them back in.

My plan post is simple: not to make every meal a cheat meal. I still maintain my pre-show diet meals, but add a few treats in order to feel satisfied. Nothing is more depressing than seeing your contest shape disappear in 7 days, when it took you 8-10 weeks to lose the weight.

I do allow myself a treat immediately after the show. Like I mentioned before, whatever I want, no matter how much. But, the next morning I would get back into diet mode. Then later in the day, I allow myself another treat. I have found that this allows me not to completely fall off the wagon. What I really dislike is how I feel when I am completely full, bloated, and feeling sick to my stomach with the volume of food that I have just eaten. This feeling is my deterrent to overeating all day long. I am just too full to eat more.

After having an all out binge, eating clean is welcomed. I enjoy how I feel when I eat clean. It is the return to this feeling that is troublesome for most. How do I get back to this point?

My Diet Since the Show

It has been 10 days since the Nationals. What have I eaten since then?

Saturday night after the show, I had salad - (did she say salad??) Yes, salad. I love salad. But I had a lot of dressing and all the fixings. I finished the meal off with bread, and then had peanut m&m's. I was completely full!

The next morning I was back into diet mode. I knew I was having supper (Sunday) with my family the next night so I ate clean during the day.

On Monday, I was meeting a friend for lunch. So in anticipation of this next treat, I ate clean for the morning, and had prepped ahead of time what I have going to eat on the way home on the plane. I had estimated how much I was going to cheat post show, and brought plenty of clean foods for myself during the days after the show and my trip home on Monday.

During this time, I drank plenty of water to help re-calibrate my system. In the past I would feel so bloated and swollen from eating more processed carbs, that overloading on water helped in reducing that feeling during the transition back to normal eating.

After getting home, I returned to the gym. For me training is part of who I am and to take a week off (as some trainers recommend) is not me. I like going to the gym, and it helps relieve bloating from eating too much. I am not lifting heavy, but am there to help transition my body back to normal. I do my cardio - maybe 20-30 mins per day, and some weights.

I also cooked my meals for the week, and ate at regular times as not to be caught feeling hungry if I was away from home. I added dairy, fruits, and some extra carbs. I have had more peanut m&ms this week, and one meal out with friends, but I am not feeling the urge to binge eat every time I sit down to eat.

The goal for me now is to transition back into what I would do normally. To me that means clean eating, and a few treats 1-2 times per week.

Off Season Vs On Season

What do I do different on season vs off season? Off season I tend to eat more of those hidden calorie foods - like salad dressings, and sauces, breads, dairy, cheese, and all fruits.

I do watch what I eat, 5 out of 7 days per week. I try to see how many calories I am consuming and don't 'waste' calories on unnecessary foods. Do I eat cookie, cakes, candies, and the like? Rarely, if ever. I don't want to waste the calories. I spend so much time working out in the gym, that those items are reserved for truly special occasions. If something does not taste absolutely delicious -- I don't finish it. If I know an event is coming up with great food, I will eat clean leading up to that event. Special events should be considered just that - 'special'.

I am sure that I have gained a few pounds since the show. This is to be expected. But you will not catch me weighing myself every time I eat something. This is just insanity.

I will let you in on a secret - "You will gain weight post show". This is not a bad thing. You are not getting 'fat' as some would say, you are just returning to 'normal'. Your perception might be slightly off post show, and returning to your regular body is not a bad thing. You are still healthier than many other people out there. Many of whom would trade bodies with you in a minute.

I read, and hear many girls say, "Oh, I only gain 5-8lbs post season". Funny, no one ever want to fess up to gaining 10-15lbs. Or there are girls who completely fall off the wagon, and gain 40+lbs. This, in my opinion is excess. They obviously did not have an exit strategy post show.

For me, I do gain probably 10lbs or so, but it takes me a good 3 months to put it back on, not 7-10 days post show. Or if I am finding my clothes getting a bit tight I know that it is time to cut back on the processed foods, and watch my macros, and calorie intake.

Competing = Future Food Issues?

Do I have food issues? Sometimes, I think I do. Competition surrounds food intake. Prior to me getting involved with fitness, I never watched what I ate. I was also in my 20s, and could also drink all night, party and get up and go to class the next time. Time passes, and now I am in my 30s, so my body does not respond the same way anymore.

Eating is such an emotional thing. I can remember spending so much time with my girlfriends, either partying or watching movies, and what accompanied that - eating. Good food. Fun food.

Clean eating is your maintenance plan; your goal 80% of the time. While letting loose
can happen during those 'special occasions'.

I have had some binge eating moments post show. I remember back to my first show and immediately afterwards I had about 10 cookies, and then was so tired, that I crashed from the sugar rush. Even now after a show, I can feel a 'high' from eating those treats that I have been avoiding for so long. Basically I was in a food coma.

There have been times after a show where I eat a box of cereal in a sitting and wonder why am I doing this to myself? I have learned how to control my eating post show, but it took a long time to learn this. I have been doing this for 10 years. So, why did it take so long? Maybe my food issues where there but only manifested themselves when I starting to compete.

It the newbies that I worry about, and sometimes even the seasoned competitor has issues. After days and days of all out binge eating; you have to know that this is not good for you. Not physically, not emotionally. Even when you feel sick to your stomach somehow you manage to keep stuffing your face. I know I have been there.

What I have found is that you do have to look inward to find out why you are doing this to yourself. Each time I do a show, I always look inward to reflect on why I want to eat in excess.
From my experience, I know that when I overeat I feel:
1. feel physically ill,
2. completely guilty for doing so, and,
3. vow to work it off more in the gym the next day.

I have found that it is the physical bloating, and full feeling I dislike, so to avoid that I keep myself in control.

Remember, the food will be there tomorrow, so you don't have to eat it all today.

When deciding on a trainer/nutritionist make sure they include an 'exit strategy' from your competition - your digestive system, and your emotions will thank you for it.

11 August 2008

Thank you.

The CBBF Nationals would not have been possible without the support and guidance of the following people:

Erik Ledin of - thank you for your guidance, and patience. I can sense that this is the start of a wonderful fitness relationship. I know you will bring me to a new level of athleticism in order to win the one and only fitness pro card.

My husband who has continually supported me over my past 10 years of fitness. Without your strength, unwavering belief in me, and your small push now and again, I would not be able to focus as clearly. You are my rock.

Nancy Georges - thank you for your spiritual guidance, skilled eye, wisdom, and experience. You help keep what is important in perspective.

Barry Horpestead - my chiropractor - thank you for keeping my body able to do what it needs to do, even in times of pain.

Slimquick Extreme and the WellNx Family
- thank you for consistently supporting me over the past 4 years. Without your help I would not be able to focus on my training, and preparations.

Sandra and Ross Wickham - thank you for putting on an amazing well run show. I am not exaggerating when I say this is a great show, and I do hope that you promote it again next year. Traveling to Vancouver is fun as well.

Sylvia Tremblay - Thank you for continuing to provide me with beautiful costumes, and suits, that add that finishing touch to a physique on stage. Your help and guidance in the sport continues to push me further as an athlete and fitness competitor.

To all my family and friends, and fan, thank you for your continued support and encouragement. Although the Pro card did not happen this year, I am not disappointed, and did all that I could perfectly for this show. With a few changes, and a new routine I will be blowing up the stage once again. Thank you for all your wonderful comments on Facebook - they are very inspiring and motivating.


10 August 2008

The end is here. Or it is another beginning....

Well, the 2008 Fitness & Figure Championships have come and gone. I placed 3rd. Sylvia Tremblay came 2nd and Tamara Vahn was 1st. Tamara and Chantal Dicaire also won their pro cards.

Sure I wanted a Pro card too, but it was just not my time--yet. Surprisingly, they did award another one in fitness, which is a step in the right direction. The competition was fierce, with everyone bringing their A game. I was so proud to compete with these other athletes, most of whom I have competed with for a number of years.

I do have a few things I can work on. But then again, there are always things you can work on. With each show I get a better sense of what I am capable of as an athlete, my shape, how to tweek my diet, and posing.

Is there anything that I would change for this show - no. I did everything that I could and presented a physique and routine that I was proud of. I could not ask for anything more. Some would ask - are you ok? are you upset? No. Not at all. The outcome is what it is - (there is that saying again).

Am I going to ask for feedback from the judges? Sure, but in a few days. I would like to spend some time with my family and relax, and have a clear mind before I ask questions of this nature. I know what I do need to work on, but to have a second and sometimes a 3rd set of eyes is ok, but you have to listen with a critical ear. Perhaps they will just say the same thing they did to me last year as feedback, "keep doing what you are doing". Now that statement is open to huge interpretation eh?

I really had a great time at this show. The routine portion is always my favorite, and I had a lot of fun performing it. I am very motivated to do another routine for next year, and just pack it full of tricks and flips. I love trying to fit as much as I can into a 2 mins routine (US rules) or 1 min 30 second routine (CAN rules).

Sandra Wickham and Ross did an amazing job putting on this show. It was well organized, well run, volunteers who knew what they were doing at all times, great stage, goodie bags, shopping with everything you need nearby, the hotel is amazing, great staff, attentive and all on time.

I hope this show is out here again next year - but the only time I would change is the time of year. For me I would prefer to have it in late spring/early summer so at least one can have their summer to do those favorite summer activities such as drinking beer, BBQ, family and friends.

If you have any feedback of the weekend would love to hear from you. More to write later.

I do have a few pics for you all to see.

Myself, Rachel, Martine

Top 5 - Fitness Short

Myself, Allison, Jodi

08 August 2008

Friday - the day before.

Wow. I cannot believe that it is almost here. It has been a really long journey to this point.

I left home yesterday around noon to make my way here to Vancouver. The flight left around supper time and landed at midnight my time. There is a 3 hour difference, and I am really hoping the transition won't be too hard. Going west is OK for me, but coming back home east is the tough part. But I will deal with later. Even if I do have jet lag I am going to have to suck it up for the next 24-48 hours.

The flight was uneventful. This is a good thing considering how stressful flying can be, and probably is for most people. I did start coming down with a sore throat on Tuesday, and then it turned into the sniffles. You really know if you are sick when you take a plane. My ears have that 'hollow' feeling, and everyone sounds muffled, and it feels like I have ear plugs in. Maybe this could be a good thing too. It is annoying, but manageable.

A good friend of mine, Sherry-Ann Boudreau was so kind in picking me up at the airport. We stopped at the grocery store on the way to the hotel. The hotel is quite nice, near a farmer's market, and right on the water. I will be going down later to check it out and see if they have cheesecake for tonight. I cannot wait to eat my fat loading meal...bring it on!

I did see a few fellow fitness/figure types last night, and this morning. You always tend to look around and see who is here, but really most don't come out of the woodwork until the general meeting with everyone tonight. They have the 'look' that you just know that they are here for the show.

Later on this afternoon I have to start tanning and getting prepped. The stress, excitement, maybe a bit of 'sizing' will start.


05 August 2008

2 days till I leave.

Here are some quick pics I took last night.
Sorry they are so poorly done, but I have not resolved my issues with my computer.
This thing (the computer) is quite frustrating. We have wireless, and it is not working, so I cannot use my laptop.
I think I am looking ok. I am feeling very depleted. I am watching everything I am eating, counting calories, and macros. I leave on Thursday to arrive in Vancouver later that night. Tomorrow I will do a routine practice, posing practice, and make sure everything stays in place when I move.
While I am there I am to do a few shoots with various photographers. I always love taking shots when you are in shape, as you never really know when you will be in shape like this again.
I have noticed a trend with photographers lately - they are all charging for photoshoots. I have only one question--why? Everything is digital, so their cost to take the pictures is virtually nothing. Sure they have to pay for their equipment, expenses to get to the show, etc, but, I 'the model' have expenses of my own. I think this issue was brought up on various message boards that I frequent. Questions like: does the model have a fee? Or, does the photographer charge for their time?
I have to say that I have never paid for a photoshoot and am very reluctant to do so. I hope that if not too 'diva' of me. Perhaps I could justify it and make it a gift to myself for all my hard work. But then again, the whole competition experience is one VERY big gift to myself.
Who has paid for their own photoshoots? Did you get the results you wanted?
What did the photographer do with all the other photos he did not give you?
I will update before I leave on Wed/Thursday to let you know how I am feeling, and what my goals are for the weekend.
It is so close now.....

03 August 2008

Not cranky, and 5 days till I leave.

The last few days I have been feeling very tired. I tried practicing my routine a few days ago, and well it did not go so well. I felt as though I had run out of gas. I did take 2 days off, and had a cheat meal this past Friday. My 'cheat' meals are not what others would consider to be cheat meals. I have a sandwich and some peanuts. Just enough to take the edge off, and give myself a bit of a break. It did help on Friday. I rested all day on Saturday, and got my hair done. I can sense today that I am in much better shape emotionally, and physically and will practice my routine again today.

Erik reassures me that to feel 'crappy' right now is normal. I know I can get through my routine and do all the moves properly and 'sell' them, but when you have an off day this close to the show, you wonder - 'Am I really ready?' I practice the posing quite often. It is really hard to flex your muscle like that under the hot lights, and make it look effortless. This is a mistake I made last year. I did not really know what I was doing and just went into last year's Nationals with no expectation for myself, so did not really prepare that part. It is worth 66% of the score, so hindsight is 20/20 and this year I made sure to practice.

I have been dieting for 10 weeks, since around the end of May. I had a few things lined up in June, so that is why I started my diet a bit earlier. For the Arnold I only dieted for around 46 days. This time, it is upwards of 75 days. Each week I do make changes to my diet to keep my body changing.

I wanted to update pics here, but I am having issues with my internet. I have a PC but it takes forever to download my photos there, and I usually upload from my Mac.

I will see what I can do.