Taylor Miller - Figure Competitor

Ever since I was a young girl, a lot of my life was focused around how I looked, how well I could do something, or how fat or skinny I was, which unfortunately built the foundation for the development of some later severe medical and mental health issues. I have only been lifting for a few years, less than 3. Iím very young in the sport. Iíve always been athletic, growing up as a gymnast and playing 3 sports in high school. I received a scholarship to play soccer at college. But, I suffered a very unfortunate injury during my second year playing for the college and was forced to quit soccer. However, fitness was still a passion of mine. I was sort of lost in the world. I joined a local gym and began to attend some group fitness classes, learning more about functional training and strength training. I met a few friends at the gym who introduced me into lifting. I fell in love instantly. The thrill of getting stronger every single day, lifting heavier, watching my body change, pushing myself beyond limits was addicting.

In my past Iíve battled some serious health issues, including hospitalization for eating disorders. Lifting gave me the victory over those prisons that I needed because I focused on eating to fuel my lifts, to help my body get strong, and emphasized the weight on the bar, not so much the weight on the scale. This passion ignited a fire inside of me that drove me to compete. To love my body for all that it is and push myself mentally and physically in the most rewarding way possible: competition. It was scary at first, knowing I could possibly revert back to my old habits of obsessive restrictive dieting, but I kept myself focused on my goal of building muscle and getting stronger. This is now what drives me. I do this for me. Because I love the work I have put into myself and am excited to inspire and encourage others to reach their own fitness goals, competition or otherwise. Iím now a certified group fitness instructor, personal trainer, and strength and conditioning coach. This allows me to share my passion for fitness with the rest of the world and build personal relationships with my clients to inspire them to love their bodies for all that they are. Lifting is an escape for me. Itís my life. Itís my love. Itís my passion. I am determined to succeed.

Diet and Training

Most effective diet: Iíve only competed in one show, so this question is complicated to answer, especially considering my past eating habits. However, during my first prep, my boyfriend, who was my coach at the time, slowly reduced my calories, maintaining a high protein, moderate carb and moderate fat balance. We focused on fueling workouts with complex carbohydrates that would metabolize slowly to maintain fullness throughout the day. Each week, as I began to lose fat and build muscle, we would adjust my calories. I have found that my body personally responds really well to a higher fat, higher protein, low carb diet for prep. Halfway through my prep, I started training with a new coach, because my boyfriend was prepping for his own show and it was easier for us both, as far as nutrition, to seek outside opinions.

My new coach kept me on a similar regimen with a more aggressive approach to get me to lean out faster. Knowing how your body metabolizes food is an important part of the process, though frustrating through the trial and error of constantly changing numbers and assessing the changes. So for me personally, carbohydrates are the macronutrient most drastically reduced during contest prep, which is what Iíve heard is typical for most people. In the offseason, after a show, I reverse diet, in addition to some cheat meals and treats. I slowly begin to add calories each week, increasing the number of carbohydrates and fats I eat each day. This allows me to build muscle, because in a very lean state, your body physically cannot build muscle. Trust me, the process of gaining weight, is challenging if you are not in the right mindset. But, with support, I learned to accept that the offseason is the most important part of competition prep. So we eat to grow. My calories eventually double, plus, and I lift, hard, heavy and fast. Thatís my favorite part. I tell myself itís okay to eat more so that I can lift heavier. Then, when I start to cut down again, my muscles will be bigger and Iíll look even better than I did before, which is always the goal.

After only doing one show, I havenít experimented too much with different diet plans. For this prep, Iím working with a new nutrition coach and Iím sponsored by WTF Chef in Buffalo, NY, a meal prep service. This will make meal times so much easier for me because it eliminates the hassle of preparing the meals myself. Everything I need is pre-measured, portioned, and prepared. I throw it in the microwave for 2.5 minutes and enjoy! This gives me more time to focus on my lifts and my day-job of a special education teacher. Competition diets are not that much different than my normal diet. I eliminate my cheat meals and focus on including nutrient dense sources of complex carbohydrates, such as oatmeal and white rice, and cut out simple sugars, like fruits. This is effective for me, and for most people. I would say the only way a diet plan can fail a person is if they donít stick to it. Competition prep requires so much mental strength. We, as competitors, really push our mental will power to the test for the weeks we are in prep, constantly restricting calories, saying no to many desirable treats, often giving up so much of our social life.

Weight training during the offseason and prep are slightly different, but each workout I have a purpose. I balance my training with days where I do lower weights and high reps, focusing on volume and increasing the stamina of my muscles. I also do a lot of time under tension training where I try and emphasize a mind-muscle connection while training. I complete my reps slow and controlled so that I can really feel the muscles working. However, just like anyone, I LOVE lifting heavy. So one or two days a week I devote to pure strength. Iíve gotten my deadlift (my most favorite lift) up to 325lbs now. So that is super exciting and rewarding. On these days, I try to carb load before my lift so that I have the best opportunity to build my muscles. During prep, meal timing, especially balancing carbohydrates with your lift, is important. So, I try to eat a higher carb and high protein meal when I first wake up in the morning to get my metabolism rolling. Then, another higher carb meal with a serving of fat just prior to my lifts, so that I can maximize the benefit of the nutrients to fuel my workout rather than be converted for storage. After my workouts I refuel again with protein and lighter carbs.

On Stage

Self-confidence is something I am still working on building in myself, even when I am shredded standing on stage in my heels and bikini. This is a sport of perfection. Constantly, we as competitors, are striving to achieve the perfect ďlookĒ which is often different according to who is judging and what division you are competing in. But, for me, my first time on stage was about proving to myself that I wouldnít be held back by the struggles of my past. I love the sport of bodybuilding. I love lifting heavy. This drives and motivates me to work even harder to improve myself every single day. Mostly, I look up to a lot of competitors, even girls I train with at the gym. Competing is hard, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. My self-esteem is always lowest in prep. I feel that I am constantly being judged and will never reach that perfect look. But Iíve come to realize that itís so much more than that.

Self-confidence comes from within. Itís about being happy and proud of yourself. I was inspired by those before me, and I hope one day to inspire others as well. I know I have a lot to work on as I enter this next competition, but I encourage everyone to just try and be their best they can, every single day. I just go to the gym and give 100% every day. Thatís self-confidence. Trying your best every day no matter what. No matter what stands in your way, pushing through obstacles, triumphing over setbacks, and obtaining a goal. So to everyone out there, being skinny, or shredded, or in perfect shape, wonít give you self-confidence. You have to build it beforehand. It comes from within. Worth is not measured by your outward appearance. The accomplishment of stepping on stage is worth so much more than being ďhappyĒ with how you look; itís about the process, the journey, the struggle. Trusting your body, trusting your mind, and leaning on your friends and family for support.

The emotions of competition day are overwhelming! I love it. Since it was my first competition I had no idea what to expect. I was nervous, I was excited, I was confused, I was HUNGRY. It felt like a game of hurry up and wait. Hurry up to put my suit onÖ hurry up to get my make up and hair doneÖ hurry up and get to the competitors meetingÖ then waitÖ wait around for my class to be called; wait around for the competitors meeting; wait around for the finals; wait for the night show. It was absolutely exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. My favorite part was getting to meet with and talk to the other competitors, hearing their stories, getting to know them, learning more about different training methods and diet programs. Those first few steps on stage Iím pretty sure I looked like a new born baby deer, I was so nervous. But, knowing I accomplished my goal just by getting on stage made every fear go away and I just had so much fun. I genuinely love the stage. Iím hooked. After the show was over, I went out to eat, had a huge donut and some pizza, and then crashed. I was so tired from all of the emotions. Sleep and water were all I wanted. The competition life is hard, but worth it.

I am currently prepping for DFAC Worlds in Miami, October 29th. I train every day with my coach in addition to teaching group fitness classes 4 times a week and training personal clients. After this show, which will be a wonderful learning experience, I plan to take at least a year off from competing so that I can focus on gaining more muscle and building a better physique for future competitions. Even though Iím in love with the stage, I understand the importance of a long off season in order to grow and get better.

If you are interested in training, I train clients at WTF Gym in Cheektowaga. The gym phone number is 716-395-3685. Call there and ask for me, and we can together work on YOUR personal fitness goals. I always put my clientsí goals first, and will do everything to support them to get there. My email is taylorcmiller2@gmail.com.
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/taylor.miller.752

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Taylor Miller