Suzanne Michele Costello - Physique Competitor
The desire to compete started after my boyfriend did his first comp, going through the prep and being so excited to see him onstage looking amazing and placing started me thinking that I could do a competition. It was almost a year later that I officially decided to do my first competition and start to prep for it. Before that I just lifted because I liked it and loved seeing my body change and put on muscle, now it is fun to have a goal as well. I really enjoy the structure of contest prep and knowing what and when I am eating and training, I like having something to look forward to and train for, it pushes me to strive for more.
My diet pre-contest and off-season stays pretty much the same, I eat 6 meals a day, every three hours. Off-season I have carbs with every meal, keeping the protein and fat the same as pre-contest. Pre-contest we slowly reduce the amount of carbs I consume, keeping the protein and fat the same. As we get closer to the competition, carbs will be eliminated on rest days and we may cycle low/medium/high carb days on training days if my body isnít responding the way it should. I have one ďcheat mealĒ a week which is either a huge breakfast or a burger and fries (not fast food). I know that cheat meals are an important part especially if I have plateaued, however I really do not enjoy them, after eating structed healthy meals, sometimes the overload of carbs or fat makes me feel horrible. I do structure my cheat meals around my heavy lift day, which for me is Chest Day. I have a little bit of powerlifter in me and I am constantly striving to break my bench press PRís, currently I am at 255 lb bench and would love to be able to push 300 lb up eventually. With the way my diet is structured and doing low/high carb days it allows me to maintain lifting very heavy up until peak week.
The only diet plan I have followed is the one my coach outlines for me and it has worked very well.
Building self-confidence to compete: This was the one aspect of the doing a competition that freaked me out, I knew I was preparing for a competition that I was going to be standing in front of judges and strangers performing, yet I was so afraid to actually do it. My prep lasted much longer than it should of because my original competition was cancelled 8 days out. Instead of switching to another comp, I decided to extend my prep another 8 weeks, which was good and bad, good because it gave me more time to train bad because my body was just shot after almost 7 months of prepping and peaking already for a comp that never took place. I didnít come in anywhere near as hard and ripped as I needed to be. BUT it did mentally get me prepared because at that point I was so ready to get up onstage just to get it over with.
The day of the competition I kept waiting for the ďnervesĒ to kick in but they never did. I had an absolutely amazing time and loved every second of it. My division, physique went on first which was great, no time to get the jitters. I wasnít ever nervous about the mandatory poses but rather performing a routine was the part I always was nervous about, but when it came time for the Final show I was feeling great and had a blast, I joke because my boyfriend was more nervous about me performing than I was ( I love him to pieces).
I train 6 days a week, often times tho I will train 7 days a week. Mentally it is very hard for me to take a day off, if I do train 7 days, it is usually a high rep/low weight day just to get the blood flowing. As for lifting my training is split up Chest/Tri, Back/Biís, Shoulders, Legs and I do Arms on the 5th day because even tho I do triís with chest and biís with back, I feel that they are so fatigued after lifting heavy that they arenít getting a full workout so I added a 5th day specifically so I could focus on Biís and Triís. Off-season I only do cardio one day a week for 15 minutes.
Early in prep, I will do cardio 3 days a week, I actually miss doing cardio in the off-season. My cardio sessions getting closer to the comp are am / pm. I lift first then do cardio and since I train at 5 am I only do fasted cardio on my off day. Morning cardio is steady state and afternoon cardio is HIIT. Towards the end tho it gets to be a lot and I am spending close to an hour am / pm doing cardio in addition to 1 1.2 hour of lifting. I do my cardio either on the stairmaster or the bike, sometimes if I am doing an hour I will split the cardio between both machines because it gets so boring.
Like I previously mentioned, I loved my first show, I couldnít have asked for a better experience. Even tho I had a very very long prep and my body just had enough, I still was very proud of how I looked onstage, I loved the tan, the makeup and felt totally comfortable in my suit. Everyone I spoke with who had competed before shared with me to go into my first show as a learning experience and that is exactly what I did. I think that helped me, because it took the pressure off me and just allowed me to have fun and really enjoy the experience. I learned so much and used what I learned to tailor my training. I loved seeing the other competitors and learning from them, listening to their stories. Even tho it is a competition, everyone is so kind and helpful. I went into the competition competing against ME. I learned so much about myself during the prep. I was happy to place 4th.
I am currently in prep for my 2nd show, which will be in April and I am so very excited. I would like to also compete again in the fall and do the same show that I did as my 1st show. Prep this time is on point, during the off-season I really busted my butt to add muscle. I am excited to see the end result. My ultimate goal and dream would be to compete in an IFBB competition and earn a Pro card. If someone would have told me 10 years ago that I would be a bodybuilder at 47 I would have laughed in their face BUT I am and I LOVE it. I do not feel 47 and even if I never get my Pro Card, I know I will continue to lift heavy weight, bust my butt in the gym and compete for ME.