By Laura Moore-Shay | Instagram @chicinsneakers
It was October 2017, almost time for Halloween, as I watched my co-workers consume pizza and pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies at a catered lunch to celebrate the holiday. I was on prep, and so I sat watching; quietly consuming tilapia, rice, and asparagus with a voracious appetite. At the time, I was unphased by the smells wafting through the breakroom, I was excited to get back on stage again, to see the results of a 5 month off season. But, I also knew deep down I was too skinny to get the placings I wanted.
I stand just under six feet tall, and during that competition season, my weight fluctuated between 128-130 lbs before starting a water cut the day before a show. It was pointed out to me more recently that this probably meant I was actually competing around 125 lbs on stage, at six feet tall!
You can look at my pictures from that time, and admire some nice conditioning, notice a glute-ham tie-in, but what was truly missing was some serious fullness in my physique. I wrapped up that 2017 competition season placing second in Class F in Muscle Contest’s Titan’s Grand Prix, and 3rd in my class at the Ferrigno Legacy show a month later. I had qualified for Nationals, and while my placing at a larger show like the Ferrigno did make me feel good, I knew in my heart I had some tremendous improvements to make if I wanted to be a more competitive bikini athlete.
I made the decision to switch from being coached by a friend of mine; who, while a great trainer and support system, didn’t have much experience with coaching bikini competitors. I instead decided to Kim Oddo to start an off-season prep. I saw how amazing his amateur and pro level competitors looked, so I thought there had to be a formula for success there!
What I found out, unsurprisingly, was that there was no secret to success. Kim’s meal plan and workouts were more regimented than I initially expected for the off season, but once I started to see the results, I was hooked on my own progress. Kim was supportive and responsive from day one, and when I had questions about my meal plan or exercise programming he always explained the reasoning behind it. When I had questions or concerns outside of our normal bi-weekly check ins, he got back to me right away, and I always felt like I was in good hands working with Kim, who was so knowledgeable and supportive.
As competitors, I think we can easily get hooked on seeing ourselves being stage lean, and therefore we don’t want to devote the same time and attention to our off season. We may stray from our normally healthy eating habits, and do less and less cardio, and watch the scale climb, and as soon as we feel a little uncomfortable with how we look, we decide to prep again! Great, we tell ourselves, “I can’t wait to be shredded again!”, but does that approach really mean we get any better treating our off seasons as an afterthought?
My off season with Kim started the week after I completed at the Ferrigno in late 2017, and perhaps the biggest change from my first offseason, was the emphasis on eating real foods, and avoiding all processed junk. What I didn’t realize until I saw the results show up on my body, is that not all calories are created equal. Eating clean through off season meant I was gaining more muscle and less body fat. There were times when I struggled with this, but Kim was supportive, and always listened. He then helped incorporate more foods I enjoyed into my meal plan, so it was easier for me to stick to it when I was struggling.
I had to shift my mindset from thinking of competing as either a prep diet or free for all. My off season meal plan had me eating plenty of real, nutrient dense foods and the weight I gained was almost all muscle! I did my first three months with Kim, and in that short period of time put on what looked like 3-4 lbs of lean muscle by reverse dieting smartly, training hard, and eating clean foods. I was shocked, and amazed, but knew I still needed to continue to build. Kim agreed, and he was always honest about what my strengths and weaknesses were, his input was kind and constructive. Every 3 months we would talk about where I was at, what parts of my physique needed more attention (I am lower body dominant, and have had to focus a lot of attention to try to add size to my back, arms, and shoulders), and what the best game plan was for me. I truly appreciated that Kim was honest with his feedback, and only after I finished nine months of off season did we both agree that I had added enough size to start a contest prep. it felt great, and I jumped into prep in September of 2018.
Just a few weeks ago, I won my classes at Muscle Contest’s Tournament of Champions and Excalibur, and am now looking at selecting National Shows to compete in this year. If you had talked to me prior to starting with Kim and Body by O, I would have guessed I’d be doing a National show in 2020. I’m amazed with my own journey over this past year, but bodybuilding has truly become my lifestyle by spending my time in a long off season focused on improvement. The best advice I could give is to be objective with yourself, and understand that without a real plan, real improvements are not guaranteed. Taking time away from the stage is important for bikini athletes to not only get a mental and physical reset, but it’s also your best chance to come back better. Working with Kim was a wonderful, positive experience, and left me feeling like I had truly done my off season the right way.
Even better, during the nine months I ended up spending in off season, I did multiple photo shoots and picked up sponsorships with supplement and fitness related companies. I think in part, I got offered these opportunities because I stayed within about 15-18 lbs above my stage weight. I looked like a fit strong bikini athlete whether I was in athletic wear at the gym or in my normal clothes, and confidence radiated from me. I felt great about how I looked, even with a little extra thickness (in the right spots of course), and it showed in how I presented myself.
Not every bikini girl shares the struggle of having a naturally lanky body type like I do, but we all have areas to improve on. By holding yourself accountable and working with a coach like Kim in the off season, you’re setting yourself up to make genuine improvements on where you may be lacking, rather than just going with the flow and showing up on stage with little to show for the time spent away from that stage. Accountability is hard, discipline is hard, but being a little uncomfortable is where the growth happens. Don’t be afraid to take time away from the stage, that’s where the improvements are made. The stage will be right there waiting when you’re ready and Body By O will help you get there. Thanks Kim!