This blog was written by Bulk ambassador Lara Gya 13 weeks out from her last competition.

Training has always been the easy part of achieving my goals. I love to train and love the feeling of satisfaction that follows a good work out.

In terms of food, I have been meeting my macro nutrient targets (carbs, fats and protein) each day so I am feeling proud and more importantly full!

I can’t believe this time last year I was eating half the amount of calories I am eating now. Crazy, I know!

Many people have asked me how I have managed to do this and the logistics are quite simple.

How to eat more food and lose more weight

After my last competition in October 2016, I followed a structured reverse diet where my coach helped me to increase my carbohydrate intake every few weeks.

I kept the increase slow to avoid that ‘post-comp-blow-out’ every competitor dreads. I did get a tad carried away initially and enjoyed a little too much food, but I was back on the food-prep bandwagon pretty quickly.

My metabolism was high and I was enjoying eating ample amounts of food. I was staying accountable by measuring my weight and body fat percentage and adjusted accordingly. Even if I had to cut out a doughnut or two.

When my macros increased, I was eating close to 350 grams of carbohydrates on a double training day. Now that’s a lot of food! I also enjoyed 2-3 meals a week that were not calorie-tracked.

Increasing my carbohydrate intake so significantly during off-season is what placed me in a better position for competition prep this time around.

It’s okay to be in a calorie surplus in off season.

It’s all crazy talk right? But it actually worked.

Using SMART choices in my off season

In the off-season I was careful and made SMART decisions. I still ate according to my meal plan, weighed my meals and ate out of containers, however I was eating in a calorie surplus.

This meant that I was eating more calories than I was burning off during the day. There was no need to remain in a calorie deficit (like during comp prep) as my goal had shifted to building muscle (and maintaining a healthy body composition) rather than dropping size.

It is impossible and unrealistic to imagine maintaining my competition weight long term!

Post comp body perception

I must admit, once comp season was over, I struggled with a negative perception of my weight gain and began to over train.

I was so scared of ending up back where I started that I mostly trained twice a day, with no rest day. I was so consumed in the fast pace of competition prep that I could not and would not switch off. It was hard for me to snap out of that mentality,\ and took months to overcome my fear.

To help cope with the mental battle of off-season, I set myself a new goal: To stay within five kilograms of my stage weight, keep my body fat below 18% and put on some muscle.

Don’t get me wrong, my competition body was amazing and I loved it! But it was not a body shape I wanted to maintain. I wanted to put on some size and feel healthy and full.

Lara enjoying her holiday in Bali with the help of Bulk Nutrients.

My current off seasons

I enjoyed my off-season and will keep on doing so each year. It’s a much needed mental and physical break and a reminder that there is no need to be so serious all year round!

I even managed to have three overseas holidays in the space of my off season – to Bali, America and back to Bali (yes I love Bali).

On these trips I didn’t count macro nutrients, I enjoyed my food and everything my travel has to offer! I still trained hard and had fun writing my own programs and utilising different training methods.

For me, my off-season will and always will be about making SMART decisions that will benefit me in the long term. I love competing and this lifestyle is here to stay. Meal prep life all the way!

Remember to make sensible decisions, stay humble and be accountable.

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Lara Gya

Lara Gya

Lara Gya is a Monash University Biomedical Sciences graduate, and is currently undertaking a Masters Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, as well as a Personal Training certificate.

Lara lost 20kg on her own weight loss journey, and is never going back. A huge promoter of healthy living, Lara loves to inspire and motivate others on their own fitness quests, through social media and her personal blog.

Now, Lara is a fitness competitor with two ICN Victoria Overall Champion titles under her belt, in just two years of competing. She has competed at National and Worldwide levels, and placed in both.