So you want to compete?

All Things Fitness, Competition Prep

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The tan, the sparkle, the muscles, the photoshoots, the prizes, the trophies  … It all looks very glam doesn’t it…

Over the past year or so it seems to have become quite ‘trendy ‘ to enter bikini competitions and I’ve seen so many people go about it in great ways but also some very dangerous ways also.

First off the big question…. why do you want to compete?

• because the girls on Instagram are doing it?

• for the likes and follows on Instagram?

• for the free stuff you might get along the way?

• because you hate your body?

 

All of the above are the wrong reasons!

 

 

Competing isn’t something to be taken lightly. It isn’t easy. You have to love your body In your off season as well as when you’re on stage otherwise no improvements will be made. In order to build muscle effectively you need to be in quite a calorie surplus so 1500 calories in your off season just isn’t going to cut it. You have to trust the process that it isn’t going to happen over night,  it’s going to take time, it’s going to test your patience and it’s going to take everything you’ve got.

You HAVE to be strong willed and in a good place mentally. It is very much a psychological journey as much, if not more than a physical one. If you can’t fathom being near to a maintenance calorie level or a surplus at all, this is not the sport for you. It isn’t all about dieting and cutting.

You HAVE to do your research. Which federation do you want to compete with? Which coach can get you there? Which coach has good experience prepping people for that show? What category do you want to enter? What’s your budget?

There are some very dangerous coaches out there who have girls on 500-1000kcal per day with hours of cardio…. THAT IS NOT SAFE. I’m not even sure how these girls function. Do your research!

So you’ve found yourself a coach….

They know their shit. If they’re telling you to eat x amount of calories and do x amount of training, you do it and if you’re concerned talk to them and they’ll be able to tell you their reasonings. Otherwise you’re wasting your money, your time, their time and you’ll be moaning that you aren’t seeing progress but it’s actually really your own fault. If you’re straying from your plan, stay accountable, you are to blame. There’s a reason they’re your coach. Listen to them and TRUST THE PROCESS.

There probably will be mornings close to show day where you have to get up at 5am to sneak in the extra cardio, or night’s where you have to stay up just a little bit later to prep your food. It’s just part of it.

I LOVE the whole process, seeing my body build, learning more about myself and about training every single day, surrounding myself with other people just as passionate as I am. I have got the best and most supportive team behind me and I really feel part of something. I know my nutrition plans and trainings plans are made for me and aren’t a ‘one size fits all‘ job.

Sometimes the days I don’t feel like training actually turn out to be the best sessions and I just get in and get it done.

Sure, I have more opportunities now than ever before with brands/ photographers/ other athletes etc but that’s because you can see it’s something I’m truly passionate about. When I get in the gym I train HARD, I don’t just move things around. At the end of the day you’re only going to get out as much as you put in.

Have I won a trophy yet? no. Is that okay? YES! I’m working for bigger things and always bettering myself, you’ve not seen the best of me yet…

You are not in for an easy ride.

If you’re doing it for the Instagram likes. Don’t.

If you’re in it because it’s something you really truly honestly want to do. Then you’re in for the best time of your life.

 

But before you make any decisions just ask yourself…. why?

 

 

lots of love, Char xx

Here are some proud competing moments:

1.Me on stage

2. Zoe winning twice at the UKBFF at Fitcon

3. Curtis and Rico winning their categories at the Coleman Classic

MATT9973

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Cherry and Cinnamon Baked Oats

All Things Fitness, Recipes

Hi I’m Charlotte and I’m an oats addict!

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Sundays are my rest days and my high carb/refeed days so I always take my time over my precious oats. This Sunday I decided to try making baked oats. I’ve seen baked oats all over instagram but have never tried making them before so I thought why not today! I didn’t follow a recipe, I just tried it my own way and my god they were good! Now you can make them too!

 

Ingredients:

  • Cherries- fresh or frozen
  • 50g oats
  • 20g chia seeds
  • 400-500ml Unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 medium courgette grated
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or more depending on preference)
  • Optional- 1 tablespoon coconut flour

Method:

  1. To be completed the night before:
    1. Mix together the oats, milk, chia seeds, courgette and cinnamon
    2. chill in the fridge overnight
  2. Preheat oven to 180-200 degrees C
  3. Mix in protein powder, baking powder and optional coconut flour to the overnight oats- consistency should be thick
  4. Line your oven safe dish with cherries
  5. Pour oats mixture on top
  6. Press more cherries into the oats
  7. Top with a sprinkle of loose oats to toast on top
  8. Bake for approx 30mins (the longer you bake, the thicker and more ‘cake’ they will be)

 

Oh my goodness, these oats were incredible! Actually incredible! img_8304img_8308img_8327

Let me know how you get on making them!

Love Char xxx

Unplug || Wait || Reset || Go

All Things Fitness

That’s what we do with our electronics when they aren’t working properly right?! So why shouldn’t we do the same with ourselves? Sure we aren’t robots, we aren’t electronic BUT for those very reasons only it should mean that we do need rest and cannot go on forever at full speed.

Since I started my competition prep training I have been actively trying to pay close attention to making the most of my rest days and time off. Before, I was very ‘team no days off’ I would be working 15 hour days AND training and always doing something on my days off too. It didn’t take very long before I ended up really sick with two weeks off work and on a cocktail of different medications. Fortunately for me, that was a while ago now and I’ve learned my lesson.

I train 6 days a week and I also work on those 6 days. The great news here is that my rest day also falls on my day off from work so where possible I will take full advantage of this and either do nothing or make sure I plan something that makes me truly happy.

After accidentally walking 12 miles on my last rest day, I decided this week it was time to switch off, relax and reset.

I didn’t set an alarm and just let my body wake naturally. I then made myself the best big bowl of protein zoats which I look forward to so very much throughout the week! I took them back to bed and just relaxed to the entire showing of Sunday Brunch. Sheer bliss.


The only activity I took part in was a walk to Sainsbury’s to buy most of my food for the week. This day was for me to relax so for the first time in a LONG time I even did a face mask and nose strip.


Being in the gym, on the tube and constantly on the go means that my skin comes into contact with some awful stuff on a day to day basis. I am very low maintenance when it comes to my hair and skin so don’t normally put a lot of time into it, my skin didn’t quite know what was going on when I was paying it some attention Sunday but my goodness it loved me for it! I’ve never felt it so smooth!


After feeling like I was getting sick on Saturday I have awoken on Monday feeling fresh as a daisy and ready to attack another week.

Taking your rest day to do nothing but focus on you as a whole will not hinder any training, it will help you on the whole. The last thing we need is to shutdown involuntarily and if you’re not careful and keep ploughing through each day at full speed it will inevitably happen.

Look after yourself; mind, body and soul. YOU are the most important project you will ever work on. Allow yourself to press pause from time to time, your body will thank you for it.

(c) Rees Thompson

Love Char x

Why I shouldn’t be your #bodygoals

All Things Fitness

As a health and fitness blogger I try and keep to a rounded selection of content from food, to supplements, to training, to recipes, to my body…. At the moment it has been VERY competition prep based. Why? Well that’s my life right now I am 5 weeks out from my next competition, surrounded by others on prep and if I don’t make it my life and throw everything into it, there’s no real point in doing it. I’m very all or nothing and if I get relaxed about my prep, well it’s self explanatory, the results won’t come!

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So why shouldn’t you want your body to look like mine?

My body is sitting at around 10% body fat and I’m 55kg- that means that of my entire body only about 5.5kg of that is fat. It is recommended that women shouldn’t have a body fat percentage lower than 10% as that is the lowest necessary level for normal body function. But let’s take a moment to remember that I am in prep for a purely aesthetics based competition and to be a serious contender I need those lower levels of body fat. A normal healthy woman shouldn’t really be striving for this level of body fat.

It can happen at different levels of body fat for different girls BUT I have now stopped having my period. This is just one example of how my body is dealing with what is being thrown at it. At first when it happened for a couple of months I started taking pregnancy tests because of the paranoid person that I am even though I knew it was impossible for that to be the answer, given where my romantic status is right now… (You catch my drift- oh hey immaculate conception…)

After this competition I am looking to take a year until I compete again for a couple of reasons:

• my body needs a break and to work its way back to a healthy state of internal homeostasis

• I want to build more muscle and if I’m constantly cutting and in a calorie deficit then that cannot happen

So while I LOVE competing and competition prep, if I want to keep doing it for quite some time I need to be sensible and strategic about it.

I post progress pictures and flexed six pack pictures because I’m proud of myself. I am proud of what I am achieving, the progress I’m making and how I’m getting on in my competition prep. Whilst I am super proud of myself this doesn’t mean you should want my abs, or my new found back muscles and pecs.

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So if I don’t want to inspire you with my body, how do I want to be inspiring you?

I would love you to be inspired by my positive outlook on life, my attitude towards goal setting and smashing those goals, my ideals of uplifting people and supporting each other even if they are your competition and if I can have this attitude in life, you can too!

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After my competition I will be progressively gaining some more body fat to a healthy and maintainable level and maybe once I’m there, my body could inspire you to get that butt in the gym. But for now I shouldn’t be your body inspiration.

If I can inspire you to make healthy changes and life choices, encourage some more body confidence and self love then I will be one happy bunny.

Please just remember I am prepping for a bodybuilding bikini competition that is purely aesthetics based and only maintainable for a short period of time.

Big love Char xxx

Chocolate Orange Mocha Zoats with Little’s

Competition Prep, Recipes

This has to be one of my favourite oaty recipes to date!

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Currently on my competition prep, I get porridge/oats twice a week so I like to make the most of them and spend time over them.

Let’s cut to the chase, here is the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 50g oats- I used 30g Jordan’s Chunky Jumbo Oats and 20g Quaker rolled oats
  • 1 scoop Chocolate Protein- I used Sun Warrior
  • 1 medium Courgette grated  (optional)
  • 10g chia seeds
  • Alpro Unsweetened Almond Milk – I use around 300ml
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder- Game changer!!
  • 1 tsp Little’s Chocolate Orange Coffee
  • Optional Squeeze of a fresh orange
  • Topped with 40g Vanilla Coyo- optional

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Method:

  1. Pour oats, baking powder and milk into a saucepan
  2. Cook on medium until soft and fluffy
  3. Optional- add courgette
  4. Continue to cook and stir
  5. Add in protein powder, coffee and chia seeds
  6. May need to add more milk- I like might less thick
  7. Add orange juice and stir – if using
  8. Take off of the heat and leave to settle for two minutes
  9. Pour into your favourite bowl
  10. Top with yoghurt or anything your heart may desire!

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These are SO tasty!

Why courgette and baking powder?

They both work to make the bowl bigger…. I am ALL about volume. Like I said, I only get oats twice a week so I will do anything I can to make them last as long as possible!

What are your favourite go-to Sunday breakfasts?

 

Love Char x

Making Prep Creative 

All Things Fitness, Recipes

Gooooood afternoon you wonderful lot!

Now, if you aren’t IIFYM and you have a repetitive diet on competition prep, it can be very easy to get bored. This is especially the case for me when the sun comes out and all I want is a tub of Almond Dream or Booja Booja ice cream.

So I decided to find a couple of ways to make my prep a little more exciting when I get those pesky cravings.

My third meal of the day includes a shake, so rather than having it as a shake I decided to blend it up and then freeze it in a bowl and make protein Ice cream!

Protein Ice cream

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  • 1 scoop protein powder (Chocolate Sun Warrior Classic)
  • 1 scoop Phil Richards Performance Greens- Coco choc (optional)
  • 10 g chia seeds
  • Approx 150ml water or milk

Method:

  1. Blend together the protein, greens and water
  2. Stir in the chia seeds
  3. Freeze
  4. Depending on how long you have frozen it for you may need to leave out for 5mins or so before serving and/or blend again
  5. Top with your desired toppings. I chose blueberries

It’s so easy to make. Just like ice cream!

BCAA Slushies

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Another great way to cool down on these (occasional) summer days.

  • 2 scoops BCAA – I chose MyProtein BCAA 4:1:1 Berry Blast
  • Water
  • Ice

Method 1

  1. Mix together your BCAA and a little water and blend with ice
  2. Enjoy!

Method 2

  1. Blend your BCAA and water then freeze
  2. Once frozen leave to stand for 5-10 mins
  3. Blend and enjoy!

 

These are so perfect, refreshing and keep you on track towards your goals! You could even make up two flavours and layer them pretending it’s one of those Fanta ones at the cinema…. You all know the ones!

BCAA Ice Lollies


Like the slushies, these are another way to use bcaas to stay on track and cool down without reaching for a fab!

  • BCAA- I used MyProtein BCAA 4:1:1 in Tropical Storm
  • Water
  • Ice lolly moulds

Method:

  1. Make up your BCAAs and pour into your ice lolly moulds
  2. Freeze
  3. Enjoyyyyyyy!

 

These are just a few ways I’m keeping my set prep food exciting. I’d love to hear what you do to keep it interesting too!

Love Char x

The Importance of a Good Support Network

All Things Fitness, Competition Prep

I have to be honest and say that I am so lucky to have SUCH a great support network. But why is it so important?

Competition prep is hard at the best of times never mind if you haven’t got people to turn to for support. We have (for the most part) set food and set training so if you’re not careful it can be very easy to alienate anyone around you who isn’t part of either of those factors. What we should really be doing is making sure that exactly that doesn’t happen. Sure, not everyone understands when you’re saying about how hard it is because this is a lifestyle or a single comp choice you have actively made BUT having people around you to talk to and/or distract you and pick you up is so important

Bikini competitions from the outside look (in my opinion) very glam. You get super tanned, put on the most sparkly, embellished bikini you will ever wear, you do your hair and make up all sexy, pop on your heels and strut around on stage in what could be the best condition of your entire life.

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What people don’t see (unless they’re really close to you) is the hours, days, weeks and months of preparation it takes to get there. They don’t see the mind games that your prep brain plays on you when you’re 12% body fat but don’t feel Lean enough. Even I had meat cravings last week and I haven’t eaten meat for over two years! Madness!

Most people only share their good moments and progresses on their social media- so you see the ‘YESSSS look at these gains!’ Photos or the ‘check out my cheat meal I love my prep’ photos and statuses. People are less willing to let you in on when they’re having bad prep days, when calories are low but training is high and they’re struggling mentally. I mean that’s totally fine that they don’t want to share that! But what I’m saying is, it’s those days where you really need that support network, someone you can just text and be like ‘hey, really struggling today’ and they’ll chat with you and either distract you or talk it out.

I’ve been away at summer camp for one week of my prep and I managed to prep most of my food for 5 days so that I could stay on track rather than the surprises that awaited in the dining room. The structure to my day was different to how it would be in London so I had to work out how I would be spacing my meals. The first day was very tough but my body soon acclimatised and Unworked through it. It was on the final day where it’s tradition for the coaches/staff to have dominoes pizza delivered in and have a drink to celebrate the end of a great summer together, that I found the hardest. I saved my final meal to eat with everyone so I didn’t alienate myself and just remove myself from the celebrations. I also told myself as a treat I could have a Diet Coke from our tuck shop while everyone was tucking into pizza, wine, beer and cider. We had no Diet Coke….. You know when you’ve thought about something all day and you’ve told yourself you can have it so you’re looking forward to it… And then you can’t, it’s out of your control you can’t have it. I DON’T EVEN LIKE FIZZY DRINKS! I went and boiled the kettle and sat down with a Twinings Nutty Chocolate Assam tea. Whilst yes it was delicious, it just didn’t have the same satisfaction as that treat of a Diet Coke was going to be. After a little while, sat there quite hungry, everyone having a great time all of a sudden I felt oh so overwhelmed, I removed myself from the room and had a little cry. Now, this isn’t a pity party and now on reflection it does sound silly but at the time I found that whole scenario very hard. Luckily my friends at camp are some of the best people I have ever met. Abi followed me out of the room, gave me a hug and was like ‘Charlotte, you’re incredible and I completely admire what you’re doing. I don’t know how you’ve done it here but you’re doing so well’ I needed that. A few of my other friends shared kind words in support too and even though it seems like a silly thing to be getting upset over, they were so understanding and supportive of was wonderful!

It’s those kinds of people you need in your life. No matter how small the problem- because it will feel huge at the time- we need people we can turn to to talk to. Without that support network, it all brews inside your head and makes everything so much worse.

Now, I LOVE competition prep and have very little to complain about. I was actually very excited to get back on prep and everyone laughed at me and was like ‘you must be the only one!’ I don’t just love the body I get at the end of it, I actually do love the whole process, watching my body transform and the intricacies of all the training and food planning. It’s amazing. I have chosen this lifestyle and it isn’t for everyone that’s for sure but I completely love it. I’m just saying, at some point you’re going to need those people around you for support so even though they may not completely understand your training, diet, Lifestyle… Just don’t push them away.

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To Mum, Dad, Jessica and my wonderful friends, thank you so much for your support I couldn’t do it without you

Love Char xxx

But you’re a PT, why do you need a coach?

Competition Prep

Sorry for being a bit here and there lately but competition prep has well and truly begun again.

I have a new coach, Tom Ford and I am LOVING prep so far! It is already so different to last time, it works better for me for sure but by no means is that slating my prep last time at all. They’re just two very different experiences.

So, as you know I qualified as a level 2 fitness instructor and level 3 PT in June this year. Honestly the best course ever! BUT that’s not the point of this post, let’s not meander now. As I was saying I qualified as a PT, I often now get asked why I then choose to take on a competition prep coach for my competition. I have a couple of answers here for you!

I thought about doing it myself, I really did! I thought about it a lot and my tutor on my course told me that my case study for a competitor was good enough to implement on someone, so I have the capacity to atleast physically train someone to compete. I just didn’t like the idea of not having anyone else to check in with or was an outside eye.

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I decided that if I prepped myself I wouldn’t be able to view the experience subjectively so I went on the hunt for a coach!

I had been training bits in a big bodybuilding gym in North London and started my search in there. Here’s how it went:

(After some small talk and pleasantries)

Me: so yeah, I’m looking to compete in October and need a coach

Them: okay cool so tell me more about you and your training now, have you ever competed before?

Me: yep, I competed in April for the first time, loved it and want to do it again…. And I’m vegan….
(Awkward pause)

Them: okayyyyyyyy…..

Me: (talks about being a non ethical vegan blah blah blah)

Them: oh so if you’re a non ethical vegan, you won’t be on prep right?…

Me: erm no it doesn’t quite work like that I’ll be staying vegan …

Them: erm okay I’m going to have to think….

So that’s how one story went. I left feeling like as a vegan I wouldn’t be taken seriously in competing. I messaged friends and family asking for advice, do I go against everything I’ve done for the last two years and leave veganism behind whilst on prep? The messages I got back were so supportive and I decided that somewhere out there was a coach that would take me on confidently as a vegan and I wouldn’t compromise this part of my life.

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So I put out a call for a coach who would take on a vegan and the response was overwhelming. SO many people got back to me with recommendations and from there I contacted some coaches and made my decision.

Oh hey #TeamTomFord ! So far, two weeks in I am LOVING prep and honestly very happy with my decision. Pure Elite October I am coming for you. This girl is committed and determined and passionate, there’s no stopping me now!

Head over and follow my other channels to keep up more regularly with how prep is going and what I’m up to:

Insta- @charlotteclarkeuk

Twitter- @charljclarke

YouTube- search charlclarke

Snapchat- charclarke91

Love Char xx

Re-mapping my mind

All Things Fitness

If you follow me on my other channels you’ll have all seen my ‘before’ pictures. Underweight with no real muscle mass. Believe it or not but at the time I thought I was a vision of health and fitness. I had a flat stomach sure but no real definition, I had twig like arms and my legs were pretty normal but not built- even though I thought they were… And as for my bum…. What bum?!

Without delving too much and boring you, I had some troubles in my teenage years with eating disorders and put my parents, my sister and my friends through hell. At the time you’re so entrenched in it that you think the world is against you and anything they’re doing is to hurt you not help you. I honestly couldn’t thank my parents, sister and friends for intervening and pulling me out the other side. I was HARD WORK, I know that now and owe them my life!

I went to uni and I was alright I sat at a healthy weight and had the time of my life! Luckily enough for a long time I stayed like that until I had some stomach issues in 2014 that just made weight fall off of me. I was having all sorts of tests so see what the problems were but nothing came of it and luckily things sorted themselves out.


Not too long after this I was all set to move to London and as much as she never said it to me, I know Mum was super worried about me moving away and looking after myself. At this point I was back to a size 6 and while I hadn’t made a conscious effort to lose all the weight I had lost, I certainly didn’t want to put it on so I just maintained that body composition for some time.

It was around this time last year when I was working at summer camp that it all clicked. I was surrounded by sportsmen and women, people who trained lots and were at the top of their game and/or had already smashed a sporting career. It was at this point that I became very aware that what I was promoting as fit and healthy, was not in fact fit or healthy. So on my return to London in September I made it my mission to build lean muscle. Unbeknown to me would I two months later be heavy weight training to compete as a bikini model!


Now? Now I couldn’t love my body more. I don’t train because I hate my body. I train because I love it and love watching it grow. The more I train and grow, the more I learn about myself too! Those that knew me at 15years old would not recognise the person I am today.

It took until I was 24 for it all to fall in to place well inside this mind of mine but I am so happy it has. I am happier than ever and I look back at photos now and can’t believe I didn’t know anything was wrong; or rather, wouldn’t admit it.

I remember posting this picture in 2014 because I’d bought my first pair of white skinny jeans. I thought white jeans were only for ‘skinny’ people. Boy was I wrong, I put them back on today (thank goodness for stretchy jeans) and they look SO much better with some muscle inside them! There is so much I would go back and tell 14 year old Charlotte but I can’t do that so its time to keep moving forward on this healthy, happy and slightly muscly path haha

Summer 2014



Now Summer 2016



So one final time. Thank you mum and dad, thank you Jessica, thank you to the friends at school who helped me and everyone in my wonderfully large support network you are all superstars and I couldn’t thank you more for saving my life.

I recently passed my level 3 Personal Trainer course and will be competing again in October so watch out world I’m coming for you!


Lots of love

Char x

Off Season in Charlotte’s Head

All Things Fitness

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This right here is pretty much the thought process I go through on a minutely basis on my off season. Okay, slightly dramatic… daily for sure:

1: Okay let’s do this, cant stay stage lean

2: YES calorie increase. time for allllllllll of the food

3: Oh no! too much food. I feel sick

4: Well at least my body hates this bad food, time to be good again

5: Ooooh is that food?!

6: Oh hey booty! Look guys check out these booty gains

7: Where’s my tan gone. Must tan tonight so I look like I still have muscles

8: Thank goodness for my macro increase, I’m so strong now!

9: Oh, I dont like this whole softer look thing going on

10: Maybe I’ll do a mini cut….

11: Who am i kidding why would I put myself through that voluntarily, carbs are my best friend

12: Carbs are the devil I look so soft. gross

13. Ooooh is that porridge?!

14: Look at these new muscles this is great!

15: Maybe I should train some abs

16: Abs are you still there somewhere?

17: Guys have you seen my HUGE booty now?!

18: I should probably do a little bit of cardio again…

19: Nope bad idea I HATE cardio!

20: Oh did I mention I have a peachy bigger booty now?

True story. Who else can relate?

Char x

p.s Have you seen these booty gains?

p.p.s No really, have you?!