Jenna Laurendeau - NSABBA/CBBF Figure Competitor

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I have been in an out of gyms since the age of 16 for various reasons. In high school and university, I had a drastic increase in weight and it hindered my performance with competitive dancing and in Phys Ed class. At that time, I was doing the same full-body workout 2-3 times a week with minimal knowledge. At the tail-end of a very emotionally-tasking relationship, I was encouraged by a friend to join the newest gym in town. As an outsider looking in, I was very intimidated because I knew there were a lot of Bodybuilding / Figure / Fitness competitors training there. One day, I sucked up my pride, walked in that gym and never left. Ascendo Fitness (based in Sydney, Nova Scotia) became my second home. I had always toyed with the idea of competing. It wasn't until one of the trainers came up to me and suggested I talk to her contest prep coach that my thoughts could become a reality. From that moment on, I was hooked.

A photo posted by jenlaurendeau (@jenlaurendeau) on

Contest prep was a real eye-opener for me in terms of learning what I needed to fuel my body; I honestly did not know how to eat before I started this journey.
When I am pre-contest, I prefer to follow a strict diet. I enjoy eating the exact same 6-meal diet everyday. For example:

Meal 1: Egg white pancake + cucumber
Meal 2 & 3: Chicken, Veggies & Rice
Meal 4 (Pre-workout): Oatmeal + Egg White + Protein Powder mixture (cooked in a sauce pan, SO GOOD).
Meal 5 (Post-workout): Chicken, Veggies & Sweet Potato
Meal 6: Egg White Pancake & almonds or almond butter.

I do this not only for convenience, but also because I like the way my body feels when it is used to eating the same foods. The way I spice up my diet is experimenting with different flavours using condiments. Sriracha, No Sugar Added Ketchup, Walden's Farms Pancake & Blueberry syrups, and every variation of mustard humanly possible are regulars in my diet. I am also not afraid to use sweeteners and flavoured coffees; this keeps my sweet tooth under control. As contest gets closer, I start to pull out the higher calorie condiments (15 cal+ first) then eventually cut out all sweetener and move to regular mustard.

I switch it up in the off season and I definitely eat more. I still keep myself pretty regimented, but I track my macros daily to make sure my carb/fat/protein ratio is still in check. Recently I've switched out some of my daily fats so I can eat more steak and ground beef. I am also not afraid to go out and have some speciality coffee and sweets from time to time. I find my body runs very well with a higher fat intake; I am not as hungry as often and my strength is skyrocketing. However, on my heavy Bench / Squat / Deadlift days, I make sure to adjust my carb intake so it is a little higher.

So far, I have had 2 competitive seasons, both doing 2 shows back-to-back with, on average 12-16 weeks between show dates. It makes it very challenging to make changes in between shows and my metabolism definitely is not a fan. Throughout that time, I learned that a low carb-moderate fat diet definitely works best for me. I have had some success with carb-cycling, but I've only implemented it when my body was plateau-ing. During my 2016 CBBF Nationals prep, I did a 3-4 week stint trying Keto and I have mixed reviews. I felt amazing and loved the variety of fats I was eating, however my body changed very little. It wasn't until I reintroduced carbs, that my body started to respond again.

Bodybuilding/Figure/Fitness contests were a natural transition for me. I was a competitive dancer for 15 years doing upwards of 18 different routines in one competitive season. For me, the scariest part is waiting in line to go on. I get really antsy and impatient. However, the minute I take that first step, my mindset completely changes; I channel my inner Beyonce and do my best to show the judges how hard I've been working. It is always funny to talk to people afterwards because you can actually see the change in my eyes; I am motivated, confident and a little sassy.

A video posted by jenlaurendeau (@jenlaurendeau) on

My training program is a 6 day split:
Sunday: Legs (Quads)
Monday: Back
Tuesday: Shoulders
Wednesday: Chest, Biceps & Triceps
Thursday: Legs (Glutes & Hams)
Friday: Back & Shoulders

Because of my work schedule, I train in the evenings. It is beneficial for me because I get 3-4 meals in before I hit the gym. My chicken, veggie and rice meals I move to different times if need be, but I like to keep my pre/post-workout meal right before and after the gym no matter what. I do steady-state cardio before my training for two reasons: 1) I like being warmed up before training and 2) I don't like thinking about my future on the StairMaster while I am in the zone lifting. Over time I adjust time and speed to help with fat loss. More recently, I have adopted a strength-based program focusing on improving my Bench/Deadlift/Squat; I rotate light and heavy weeks and consistently work on my form.

This summer, I was very fortunate to represent the Nova Scotia Amateur Bodybuilding Association (NSABBA) at the 2016 Canadian Figure, Fitness and Physique Championships in British Colombia. It was my first time competing at the national level and I blew away any and all expectations I had for the show. It was very well run and I was so impressed with the caliber of athletes I saw at the Athlete Registration. When my number was called in the first call-out at pre-judging, I actually took a second to clue in they meant me; I don't think I have ever been so happy in my life. I remember leaving it all on the stage and jumping up and down when I was reunited with my boyfriend. Although I missed top 5 by one placing, I am beyond excited to earn my way back to the national stage in the future.

My hope is to take the next year off to move heavy weights, eat great food, and transform my body once again. I recently moved to Saskatchewan, so I will need to go through the Saskachewan Amateur Bodybuilding Association's Novice and Provincial tiers (SABBA) in order to re-qualify for CBBF Nationals.

You can follow me on Instagram if you want to follow my journey back to Nationals: @jenlaurendeau.

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