The First Time I Dieted for a Contest

My First “Shred” – around 1998 or so

I was asked what a ‘shred’ looks like. The above shows my before pic( purple dress) in 1997 when i was actually modeling but had a curvier figure, then 2 progress pics as i “bulked up” and finally the day of the contest. I did this shred after only 9 months of training though because it was my first time and i was consider this a mini shred.The contest was only a local bikini one. Figured i’d start small:)

I have other pics ,of further progress over the next 10-15 years- just have to find them.They are on an old hard drive.

But for anyone interested , let me explain the process.

Typically a full shred is after about 1 1/2- 2 years of building muscle ( also called “bulking”) . During the bulking phase you start out with the compound exercises and are lifting progressively heavier , focusing on hypertrophy/mass. After a certain point ( maybe 3-6 months depending on your body’s response time) you begin to sculpt as well, meaning that you add more specific exercises to balance, define, striate, and add vascularity.The basic compound exercises include squats, dead lifts, lunges, chin ups, benches, rows, and dips.Almost all other exercises are more specific to draw out the smaller muscles of the body.During this phase your exercises will be heavy weight/ lower rep workouts.

During the bulking phase you will eat a very high calorie/ high protein diet with less carbs overall. Most pro builders have a very boring, day to day diet which includes salmon/chicken/ beef/eggs with rice , sweet potatoes, and low glycemic index vegetables ( in moderation). the suggested protien is 1-2 grams per pound of body weight.Healthy fats are added in with flax or other oils. Supplements are used as needed or desired – usually in the form of protein shakes, bars , etc. which will be high calorie /high protein. This is a “clean” bulk. During my bulk i used MetRX shakes with milk, Creatine, and DHEA. A dirty bulk will include more junk foods like processed stuff, fatty foods , and sweets. It is possible to do either one and still shred down( i am still dirty bulking some days)- but a clean diet will naturally make you feel better , and cause less damage to your body. It will also take less time to lose the fat when you shred.You will do almost no cardio during this phase unless you are looking to stay lean year round – and that is not what a typical builder type lifter does.I did cardio once a week for 30 minutes during this phase.

During the shred ( also called dieting down) you will switch over to almost all protein, lower calories and almost no fats. No sugar, no added salt. Your proteins will come mostly from lean fish and lean chicken. Your carbs are very rationed- usually lots of spinache and asparagus- no rice, potatoes, pasta or bread.. Absolutely no alcohol and black coffee only. You will drink 1 gallon or more of water per day and your supplements will change from high calorie to low calorie .During this phase i stopped using creatine, used water in my shakes instead of milk and continued with the DHEA. You will also increase you cardio, and go with higher reps/lower weights in your workouts. I was doing 20 -30 minutes before and after each lifting workout at this time ( about 8 weeks out).No cheating.Pure commitment.

I had a trainer, and i highly recommend one for anyone considering this lifestyle.At the very least have one during your shred phase or contest prep.I had one for 9 months /5 days a week . However, back in those days, there was no internet like we have today. What we had was but a skeleton of todays choices. My trainer was there in the gym with me everyday, one on one. Now you can hire online coaches. All are expensive, but the right ones are worth it when the time comes. Without one, you will make mistakes, suffer more injuries and get less results.Though i have a lot of experience I will be getting one in about 1 1/2 years myself. Even professionals have coaches and trainers.

This is a very basic watered down version of what i did , and what to do in general. It isn’t for the weak. You will be sore, gassy, nauseous, and exhausted- A LOT. Sleep and hydration will be your only friends.

My personal suggestion is to try this out for one year and do a mini shred like i did. It opened my eyes to just how tough the lifestyle is. After doing the above contest, i decided to stick to maintaining my results and getting somewhat back to normal eating and exercising for awhile. I decided i could not maintain the lifestyle indefinitely . I did continue to focus on growth, and healthier eating but in a much more moderate way. I did not use a trainer after that point, as the one i had was prepping for his own contest and unable to train others.

I hope this helps and please feel free to ask any questions. There is a lot more info online these days , but that being said, there are is a lot more contradiction among pros and trainers.It is best to use discernment and do a good amount of research before starting any exercise program or diet, as well as talking your doctor.



nurse, mother, artist, and chameleon ...

13 thoughts on “The First Time I Dieted for a Contest

  1. My god … you are frickin amazing!!! That’s a huge amount of work to make happen for sure. Thank you so much for explaining all that in more detail, appreciate it. And by the way I give you a perfect score for those poses – 10s all around…just beautiful 😮👍


      1. seriously thinking about it..although it will take at least 2-3 years to be as stage ready as i want. Fortunately i belong to a private womens bodybuilding group on FB and some of them are entering their first contests at my age and up..the categories usually say 40 and older …just saw one doing 1st bikini at age 63 today..she looks amazing- she actually could pass for 35-40 years old!!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow I knew it was likely very restrictive and takes a lot of dedication, but now I’m seeing I only knew a fraction of what goes into it all! I truly admire your dedication to this all and I think it’s pretty cool you are thinking of competing again! You definitely keep inspiring me!!! 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s really interesting, I’ve done Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling and it was interesting the way we cut down for weight classes differently in both sports, but it’s a completely different animal. If you have time and don’t mind answering, what is a rough maintenance diet for when you have the right weight, but don’t want to bulk much more and do want to do mild to medium strength training? Like a feel-good healthy diet that isn’t for the bulking nor shredding phase… Like hypothetically, you already hit weight, have enough bulk, but are not quite going to enter shredding yet as you maintain 3-6 workout sessions a week? 🍲


    1. thats pretty easy to answer- i spent about 10 years in just maintenance mode. Pretty much avoided as much “white” stuff as possible- rice, potato, pasta, breads. I stuck with whole grain bread or wraps, small amounts of sweet potatoes, not a fan of rice or pasta so no issues avoiding them. In addition to those things i ate mostly frozen or fresh vegetables daily, mostly chicken or ground beef ( i know- not a great choice but inexpensive and versatile).I’ve always disliked fruits but tried to eat some a few times a week- cherries, watermelon, or white grapes in moderation. Now here’s the bad part. I still ate cookies, cupcakes and occasionally chocolate bars. I beleive that because i was still working out and rarely ever sedentary, the muscle i had built up helped with burning calories. i was lifting for 1 1/2 hrs 4 times per week but with moderate weights, i did cardio on one of my off days, but it was basically out of boredom and only 45 minutes of barely getting my HR up, plus Yoga twice a week.My daily calorie count was probably an average of around 1500. My weight stayed around 112-116 lbs at the time:)


    2. if i were to suggest a diet for this now that i know better i would say eat what ,makes you feel healthy but avoid as much processed food as possible.Trust me, you wont bulk up without extreme effort- it;’s actually harder to do than losing weight without adding a bunch of fat & cellulite. Women can, at best, gain 1-1.5 lbs of actual muscle a month-( men about 2-2.5) but thats more or less if you are trying to gain it ( hypertrophy). Runners and athletes who are in it for health reasons rarely see any bulk:)


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