Week 13: The Grind of Prep

Managing exhaustion & staying sane

Monday…Wake up, workout, eat, eat, eat, workout, protein shake, eat, eat and sleep. Tuesday, repeat. Wednesday, repeat, etc. This is my schedule for the next four weeks. All of my focus is on May 3rd. Everything that I do from this day on is to prepare me for the day when I walk across the stage primed, poised and ready to present the best Rachael that the world has ever seen.


Having the time to really focus on my contest-prep is something that many competitors would love to have. Contest-prep is extremely stressful and limiting the amount of outside distractions can alleviate much of the mounting stress. However, having little to no other distractions can also amplify every up and down of preparation. That is where I sit now. Before I started my previous quarter of school, I quit my job in order to put all of my focus on my classes. The quarter is now over, and because of my upcoming move, I am not taking classes for the spring quarter. So, I pass the time with small chores to fill the time between meals and training sessions. I am searching for things to do and/or read. If this continues on, I may drive myself insane.

What can I do to fill my time? Because I will be moving within the next month and a half, trying to find a job is out of the question. I could volunteer, but where? I am hoping that I can spend my time working on preparing for the move and that will help to create some distraction from the upcoming competition. Anything would make a difference and help to keep me mentally calm during the next month. I am searching for something, anything—from a new novel to a great CD—to distract me from hitting low points mentally and physically.

Week 13: The Grind of Prep - Managing exhaustion & staying sane


I have been working very hard in and out of the gym, and I am so happy to see the results. At my four-week check in, my hard work was confirmed. I am down to 123.3lbs and 9.1% body fat. My coach, Kristi Tauti, was just as excited as I was. She bumped my confidence by telling me that I am right on track, and because of this, I am lucky enough to be able to add steak to my dinner every other day. At this point, being able to add a delicious protein to my meal plan is one of the most exciting things to happen. I guess it truly is the little things in life, right?


I am slowly getting more and more confident with my chances of doing well at the competition. While I am so happy to be progressing and getting closer to the figure competition body, I have transitioned from the body that I want to maintain to the body that is solely for the competition. By this, I mean that I feel as if I am actually getting “too skinny” for everyday life. I didn’t think that I would get to the point where I was excited to get back to a normal weight and body fat percentage after the show, but I have. Now I truly understand why so many IFBB Pros have a on and off season weight difference.

Week 13: The Grind of Prep - Managing exhaustion & staying sane


With the show getting closer and closer, the grind is starting to take a toll. I am starting to feel the effects of this intense process. The emotional ups and downs, the physical toll of two-a-days, and the strict nutritional discipline needed have all begun to wear me down. I had been told by fellow competitors that I would get to a point where I would start to feel constantly tired, but I wasn’t sure that I would get to that point. I am strong, energetic and always push forward. However, one’s body can only withstand so much. This journey is hard, exhausting and often a struggle. Watching others eat, while I consume the same basic meals has begun to get more and more difficult. My lifting regiment has also become harder, as I am not as strong as was earlier in prep. With less calories consumed, less energy is available to fuel my lifting. While it can be discouraging to feel “weaker,” I know that I need to continue to push and give all that I can, even if it is not up to my previous abilities.

Learning to fight through the days when my energy levels are low will be difficult. As the competition becomes closer, I will need to rely more and more on my support system to keep me going. Allowing myself to rely on the help of others is not a trait I am accustomed to, however, in order to truly succeed, I must shift my mentality and learn that it is ok to need help. This journey has not only helped to shape me physically, but it has helped me to improve myself internally. Forcing me to face my flaws and learn to change them in order to improve my overall being is one of the greatest gifts that this journey has given me. As always, please feel free to contact me on Twitter at @RachaelBruin or by leaving a comments directly on the blog below. Thank you all for your support and words of wisdom, 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

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