Lauren Lee - Figure Competitor, Off-season Powerlifter
I started competing three years ago as a powerlifter. I was always very performance based with a strength focus but I decided to shift towards bodybuilding when I was injured last year. I couldnít lift as heavy because of a knee injury (says everyone on leg day) but Iím beyond thankful for that unexpected disruption that God allowed because it lead me to a deep love for this new sport. Iíll be competing in my first NPC figure competition June 10th in the Southern California Championship in San Diego. I always valued training and fitness before this as I studied applied exercise science. Growing up, my dad was my personal trainer. He pushed me in every possible way and I wouldn't at all be in a place where I was prepared to compete without him.
My diet has changed dramatically. Iím still learning and discovering what works best for my body because it will be different for everyone. I think itís important for people to know that there is no magical macro ratio that will instantly make you lose fat and gain lean muscle mass simultaneously (the American dream). In the off season, I perma-bulked. Thatís it. Pop-tarts and peanut butter made up 100% of my diet. Now that Iím in full prep mode, I carefully track everything. Right now Iím at 1,400kcal per day with 175C/105P/31F. This has changed since my last mesocycle and will change again. Something really cool though is that you do not have to cut calories to create a deficit. You can simply (not so simply) add cardio instead! Iím looking forward to trying my first clean bulk after my show.
Iíve tried going paleo but thereís no science to back the effectiveness of cutting out entire food groups so fad diets havenít worked for me. Thatís why I love iifym. Itís not a generalized, cookie cutter, one size fits all diet. I get to exercise creativity in every meal.
Training: My program changes a lot. Right now Iím in a phase of undulating periodization which is a fancy way of saying Iím training strength, power, and hypertrophy at the same time. So it alternates throughout the week but my focus has always been maintaining heavy lifts. I wanted to maintain as much muscle mass as possible during this cut and Iíve been successful thus far. My cardio started out modest: 20 minutes every 3 or 4 days but approaching the show date itís increased to 40 minutes of steady state per day alternating with 20 minute sprints. This isnít true HIIT even though it feels like Iím giving 1000% every round. Iíll be adding wingate testing to my cardio for true HIIT moving forward. Balancing training with diet is so much fun because they complement each other so well. My pre and post meals are my everything! I will never ever miss them. And this is my window for simple sugars which is always nice.
Self-confidence: Iím still working on the confidence every day. Last year I was in a place where I had let the opinions of others shape my self-image but Iíve since been blessed enough to step back and see myself for who I am: a daughter of the most high God. Iím made in his image and heís given me this gift of using my body in a beautiful way that represents my inner strength. To me, walking on stage will just be boasting in him and the ability of Christ to transform.
My last experience competing was in powerlifting. I just did it through my school so we had weigh-ins and everything but it was very very small. I still prepared myself accordingly because I always strive to give my all but I look forward to competing more seriously through USAPL in the off-season. It will be an entirely different experience compared to the show I have coming up but I fully anticipate butterflies, nervous laughter, and binge eating to be key components in both.
Future plans. That is as anxiety-inducing as it is redundant. My plans are to eat meal #5. Anything after that and your guess is as good as mine. I just became an ambassador for 1Up Nutrition so Iím looking forward to all that will come with working with such an awesome company as well as working with ieatprotein and the opportunities stemming from that. I plan to pursue fitness modeling and dive head first into this industry. I absolutely love that we created an entire culture so impossibly obsessed with bettering themselves by lifting heavy shit.