It’s Showtime

Final week preparation & post-show eating

It's Showtime - Final week preparation & post-show eating
Cue “Eye of the Tiger.” It’s here…the final countdown. Just a few days to go and then everything that I have worked so hard for over the past 3 months will be over. Well, for now. To be honest, for the first time in a while, I am so excited and feeling great. My confidence is back, and I am ready to dominate. When thinking about the show, a smile instantly comes to my face. The butterflies in my stomach have been growing each day, but I am ready.


JOURNEY-TO-THE-STAGE-15INS2My coach and I scheduled an extra check-in one-week before the show to see where I stand and to determine how to prep for the final week. I put on my competition suit for the first time in front of my coach and stepped on the scale—I weighed in at a slim 117.8lbs and my body fat measured out to 8.5%. Yes, I dropped another pound and .2% body fat. This is after I was told to add more oats and fats. I guess the extra calories helped me. I had no doubt that my coach knows her stuff and I completely trust her, but I had to get over the mental part of “eating more to lose more.” That said, the proof is in the pudding and I am getting stronger each day.


The next time that I speak with you, I will have completed the competition and will be beginning to evaluate where I want to go with my figure competitor career. But, that moment is still a week away, and there is still so much to do to get prepared. So, let’s break down the final week…

Starting Sunday, I began cutting back on my cardio each day. I started with 90 minutes on Sunday. Then, I went down to 75 minutes on Monday, 45 minutes on Tuesday, 30 minutes on Wednesday, and no cardio on Thursday or the day of the show, Friday. With regards to lifting, I will be doing higher repetitions with fewer sets. My last lifting session will be on Tuesday. Wednesday, the team will be meeting for a “pump up” session of light circuit training—this will also help us to get into the competition spirit.

The most vital part of the final week of prep is the nutrition. Because this is my first competition, I was very nervous about this last week, because I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I had heard of depletion and cutting sodium and could only imagine how crazy and “not fun” this last week would be leading up to the show. However, after my check-in and once I received my depletion plan from my coach, I can confidently say that it actually isn’t too terrible.

Since I have worked very hard over the last 11 weeks, I am right on track with my physique. Because of this, I do not have to start officially depleting until Wednesday. I have begun to cut things out of my diet, but the major changes won’t come until then. Starting Monday, I will be eating steak at every dinner, and I also have cut out all powdered supplements, including protein powder.

It's Showtime - Final week preparation & post-show eatingI am allotted a certain amount of water, distilled only, each day (1 gallon on Monday and Tuesday, 3/4 gallon on Wednesday, 1/2 gallon on Thursday and sips when needed on Friday). In order to make the muscles pop, sodium needs to be minimized, and by the day of the show, completely eliminated. Because of this, all of my proteins, lean meats (i.e. chicken breast, ground turkey and tilapia) and steak must be fresh and not frozen. (Some frozen proteins have sodium added to help with the preservation process.)

Besides these minor changes, Monday and Tuesday, I will be consuming my normal diet. Beginning Wednesday, all sodium possible will be eliminated. My meals will be consisting solely of various combinations of lean meats or steak, green beans or asparagus, sweet potatoes and roasted unsalted mixed nuts. So, that’s not too terrible, eh? This type of diet will continue on Thursday, with the only difference being the amount of water I will be drinking. My coach will make adjustments to my program after she takes a look at me on Thursday.


The day of the show, the diet must be spot on and very specific. Upon waking, I will consume my first meal of lean meats and sweet potato. My second meal of steak and sweet potato will be eaten roughly 2-3 hours after that first meal. Once I get backstage, the food changes a little bit. I will snack on steak, rice cakes, dried fruit and mixed unsalted nuts.

Right before walking to the stage, while rocking out to my killer playlist, I will “pump up” with my pre-workout powder and get some reps in on the resistance band to make sure my muscles are full. Between the afternoon pre-judging and night show, I’ll have the same meals of lean meat or steak with sweet potato and some asparagus or green beans, if I want. Then, it’s back to the stage with the same backstage snacks and pre-workout powders. Then, it’s all done. The show will be over, and this journey will be complete.


By Saturday, I will be free of a nutrition plan and a competition training regiment. Being in Seattle, I plan to treat the rest of the weekend as vacation. I love food. I’ll research all the best restaurants, where the locals eat, and search for any funky food I can find in the area. Seattle is a great place for this kind of adventure, and I can’t wait to experience it.

I only have one major fear. Throughout this journey, I have been trying to learn everything I can about how to properly come off show diet. I have learned that, if not careful, a competitor can gain 5-15lbs within days of finishing a competition. I do not want that to happen. To prevent this, I must focus on moderation, which is where I am afraid.

I am not afraid of Monday or the weeks following this show, as I know that I will be able to slowly reintegrate foods into my diet and maintain a steady cardio and lifting routine without feeling drained. What scares me the most is those two days in Seattle. Balance has always been my greatest challenge in both fitness and food. How do I celebrate this completion of my journey and enjoy the foods I have craved for so long without completely destroying my metabolism in the process? Through my research, I’ve learned that for the 24 hours following a show, a splurge meal is more than okay to have, but after that, moderation and careful eating become vital in order to allow your metabolism to adjust back to your prior eating habits.

So, a splurge Friday night, right? Not sure yet. The show is going to end late, I am going to be exhausted and I am pretty sure I’ll be in no mood to go out to eat. Second, I want to hit numerous venues, like Pike’s Place Market and local eateries, and that means more than 24 hours of eating. So, how do I eat all the yummy foods I want and not blow up like a balloon? I have no idea, I guess we are just going to have to wait and see how it goes.

So here we go—appointments made, bags packed, meals prepped and I’m ready to rock that stage! Emerald Cup 2013, here I come!!! And, as always #trainhard.

Rachael Olkin

Rachael graduated from UCLA in December 2010 with a degree in International Development Studies. She is currently working towards admission to nursing school, where she hopes to obtain both a Bachelors of Science in Nursing as well as a Masters of Science in Nursing.

Rachael is also preparing for her first Figure competition and will share her journey along the way, including her goals, aspirations and struggles.

Find more of Rachael on:

Muscular Development