Lauren Hess - Bikini Competitor

I began weight lifting regularly in November of 2013. I had been previously running long distance races and not really been enjoying my training. I switched to resistance training, significantly reduced my cardio and saw some immediate changes in my body. I was also going through a break up of a long-term relationship with a lot of ups and downs and I was able to take out my frustrations in the gym. After about a year of lifting as heavy as I could 5-6 days a week I decided to take the next step and learn about nutrition. I started tracking macros and began to see changes in my body that I never thought were possible. I was happy training and experimenting for a long time but eventually I wanted to take my physique to the next level. In December of 2015 I started my first prep for a bodybuilding show in the bikini division. I knew I loved the training and even the grind of the diet, but I wasnít sure I would actually like being on stage. Turns out I loved every aspect of the process and I havenít stopped yet.

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Contest Prep

Because I follow a flexible dieting approach, the only thing that really changes is the amount of food Iím taking in. Even in improvement season, food is still tracked and weighed out. Personally, I keep carbs and protein high in both off-season and on and fat stays moderate to low. One thing that Iíve really enjoyed in the last year is seeing how much higher I was able to keep my macros and calories for this prep because of all the hard work I did in the off-season. It truly is possible to build up your metabolism.

Since I was so far along in my journey by the time I decided to compete, I never really had any failed competition diet plans. By the time I embarked on my first prep I was a die hard flexible dieter, and no coach couldíve really changed my mind on that. Before I began to compete I tried clean eating. I spent a lot of time feeling hungry and restricted so that protocol didnít work for me.

I lift 5 times per week with 2 leg days, 1 arm day, 1 back day, and 1 shoulder day. In addition to lifting, I do HIIT cardio for 20 minutes 3 times per week. I usually save almost all of my carbs for the evening when I will be doing my training. Before my lift I have a meal thatís got a good balance of protein/fat and some extra carbs. After training I have a meal thatís high in carbs and protein. I make sure to get those meals in as close as I can to the workout so that my body can use the fuel.

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On Stage

The biggest advice I can give for having self confidence is to stay in your own lane. Itís so easy to compare yourself and your body against others, especially in this sport, but thatís not going to give you the positive thoughts you need to shine. You wonít be happy if you donít measure up to those youíre comparing yourself to, and you wonít stay humble if you actually think youíre better. Itís a lose-lose. Compare yourself to your previous personal best and itíll bring you a lot more joy in this journey.

Every single day that Iím in the gym working I actually visualize myself on stage and think about that moment where I can show off all the hard work that Iíve put in. When show day comes, I know Iíve given 110% effort and that absolutely comes across in my confidence on stage.

Last weekend I did my first show of the season (NPC Kentucky Derby Festival, April 29, 2017). I had taken about 8 months in a surplus and then dieted for 4 months to get to that show. I think when youíve had that long to work on a goal and visualize the end result it can get really emotional. I knew going into that show that it was perhaps the most competitive show Iíd ever done, with very large classes. Instead of letting that get to me I decided to think of the stage as an end goal in itself. If my goal was to just get on stage, anything that came after that goal was just ďbonusĒ.
Last season I was very unfamiliar with how all the judging, call outs, and scoring actually worked. I went on stage for prejudging and got first call outs in both of my classes. This was the first time that I was on stage and knew exactly what that meant in the moment. With how hard and long Iíd been working, it felt amazing to get to experience that joy.

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Being a bikini athlete has made me feel like I can do anything. Transforming your physique and seeing physical changes that come as a direct result of your own actions is a very empowering feeling. You canít cheat the hard work that goes into a competitive physique and no one can do it for you. Once I did that for myself, I had such a mental shift and became a much more ambitious person. Fitness has totally changed me and honestly all I want is to help others to feel as good as I do.

Currently I am finishing my ISSA Personal Training certificate and starting an online training business. May 1st I started a 100% free summer challenge to help others begin to live a healthier lifestyle. I also maintain a weekly blog on my website,
As far as competing goes, I will compete again May 13th in Columbus, Ohio at the Mike Francois Classic. After that, I will start a longer off season with my focus on another show in late 2018.

Instagram: @prepdiaries

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