Jennifer Chambers - Bikini Competitor

My first competition was October of 2014. I had no idea what I was getting myself into or that 4 years later I would be competing at a National level and would have a massive passion for it! There were a couple of reasons why I started competing. First off, I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. When I got sober back in 2009 I weighed 98 lbs soaking wet. I was malnutritioned, weakened and completely unhealthy. Growing up I was always pretty athletic and active until I started drinking and using drugs, so after I got sober I was re-introduced to the fitness lifestyle in a completely different way. Competing for me in that aspect has helped me take care of my body and make up for the damage I did to it for many years in my addiction. It's been my way of making living amends to myself, physically. Secondly, at the time I started competing I was in a pretty toxic relationship. I didn't feel good enough and felt unappreciated so part of why I started competing was to prove to HIM that I was worth it, in the end I proved to MYSELF that I was worth it and ended up absolutely loving competing. So I just kept doing it. In this aspect it has helped me really show myself what I am capable of, physically, mentally and emotionally.

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* Off-season to pre-contest.
During both, I stick to the IIFYM. Yes, I'm a macro counter but it works! The difference for me between off season and prepping for a show is usually just the amount of carbs. Off season, I have a pretty high intake of calories and my carb macros usually match my proteins. During prep, we've found that my body responds really well and quickly to carb cycling. I rotate with 5 low days out of the week, with a medium and high day thrown in there. That's been the most effective for my body to help maintain the most amount of muscle (sometimes gaining muscle) and while dropping fat pretty quickly. During prep as well, even tho I use macro counting which adds a ton of flexibility, I will stay extremely clean because my body responds a whole lot quicker and better the cleaner my diet. Off season tho, I will definitely use donuts for my carb macros as often as possible LOL

* Diet plans that have failed
I had one coach in one of my earlier preps that had me on 700-800 calories a day for a few weeks.... That was before I learned a lot more about dieting and nutrition. There is NEVER a point in time that ANYONE should ever be on that low of a caloric intake. If that's what it takes to get you on stage you should probably wait till a later show that way you don't have to make such drastic changes that are unhealthy. I was so exhausted and my body was getting hardly any nutrition to keep my going. Another failed diet plan was from the same coach, she completely took me off all carbs for about a month. Again, same thing applies, when you push your body as hard as you do when you are in competition prep, "keto" or no carbs is never a good idea. I was losing too much muscle, I was exhausted and tired, and I'd get light headed often to the point I almost passed out a few times.

* Build self confidence.
To be honest, I'm not quite sure! haha especially with the first show, I'd never done it before and it was terrifying!! But something just happens once you step on stage, the adrenaline kicks in and you realize the months of hard work you just put in and you want to show it off!! I think a lot of it is just prior to actually getting to the stage appreciating where you started to where you are now and knowing everything it took to get there. How could you not be confident when you personally appreciate yourself and all the hard work you put in!

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* Training
I am all about HIIT for cardio (sprint intervals are my jam) and heavy lifting!! A few reason I love interval training... To start it makes the time go by so much faster because you're only focused on 30-60 seconds at a time and secondly, even tho you are done with cardio after your 20-60 mins or however long you have your body will burn almost double the amount of calories through out the rest of the day because of HIIT cardio. So it's not only extremely effective during the time you are on the treadmill or other cardio equipment but even after when you are going about the rest of your day. And the last reason I love interval training is it's just another great way to maintain the most amount of muscle while also burning the most amount of fat. With lifting, i've tried the basic 3 sets with 12 reps technique and too be honest it didnt do all that much for me. So my current coach now when we had first started recommended that I lift as heavy as I can go with a 6-8 rep max (with correct form) That changed everything for me. I put on quite a bit of lean muscle mass and it also made lifting a whole lot more enjoyable!

Proper training tho is never complete without being accountable and on point with your diet. Diet is honestly the most important key to success with competing and body building. It's been said 100 times, you can NOT out work a bad diet. and it's 100% true. ESPECIALLY when it comes to this sport. Those who win and succeed on stage are the ones who were 110% in AND out of the gym.

* Feelings during competing.
One of my biggest struggles is comparing myself to the other girls competing. You can make yourself feel pretty defeated before even stepping on stage. During my last prep for a brief period of time I knew another girl that was also competing in my class and I'd see her social media posts and would start getting down on myself. I finally had to just unfollow her temporarily for my sanity and to stay focused. Turns out people can make themselves look a whole lot better on social media than in real life! Remember that!
On show day over the period of a few years and a couple shows, I've learned to just relax on show day. All the hard work is done, Show day is the day you get to show off all your hard work! So just be proud of yourself and relax!
My favorite feeling thru all 4 years of competing was during my last show, during finals. They had just called out the top 5 in my class, me being one of them and I was already so excited! Top 5 in my class is a big deal especially since it's usually flooded with girls! But it wasn't just that... they were going thru the placings, 5th, then 4th, then 3rd and I still hadn't heard my name... and then they called out 2nd place and still hadn't heard my name and at that point you obviously know your placement. It took everything in me not to cry on stage as I was getting the 1st place medal placed around my neck. Only I knew everything it took to get to that spot. I will never forget that feeling...

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* Being an athlete affect your whole life.
To start, there are times you have to isolate. Not intentionally, necessarily. But because you are exhausted, or have to meal prep, or hit another session of cardio. Being on prep makes the gym, diet, and rest come as your number one priority. I've missed a lot of trips, campouts, bbq's, movies, nights out, due to the fact that I was on prep. It's a complete commitment. There are also times I chose not to go out because I was exhausted and emotional. You definitely just have to be willing to make sacrifices during your prep.

* Future plans
I have my first national show Team Universe, June 29th, 2018! So that's up next! I will most likely be going right in to the national show USA's at the end of July. But to be honest after that unless I go pro with one of these upcoming shows I will definitely be taking some time off. I've been competing for the last 4 years and as mentioned above, it comes with a lot of sacrifice. After this year, it's time for me to find balance. I will be going to school for real estate and nutrition to get more of an upper hand to help existing and future clients and friends.

Jenn Chambers

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