5 Things I learned from a Contest Prep

  1. I became (or I’d like to think so) very knowledgable in every division available when it comes to women’s bodybuilding, aka physique  building, aka body sculpting, aka aesthetics training.  Yup, confused yet?




2. I never knew I could think about food in so many ways.  You think about food when your alarm goes off, when you work, when you train, when you’re on the toilet, when you’re having sex, when you go to bed….



3. I transformed into a culinary veggie chef that would be fired from any Michelin starred restaurant and became a highly knowledgable veggie whiz…after all, we need to know which veggies make us drop fart bombs, so I’m actually saving the world.

(Left) Fish soup with spinach & peppers

(Center) White fish with green beans, fresh spinach and garlic stuffed baked peppers

(Right) Tuna with green beans – easiest travel food ever


4. You got to know the people around you better, some turn out to be more judgmental than expected while some turn out to be incredibly supportive and surprisingly intrigued.  Keep them around.



5. Though it is in fact a challenge, it FELT EASY being disciplined – it didn’t FEEL difficult waking up between 5-6am to fit in training sessions, it didn’t FEEL difficult saying no to cupcakes at a cupcake party and meal prepping got easier as options reduced.  It just FELT easier to stay on track when you have a very clear deadline and I had never felt more focused.  I FREAKIN’ LOVED IT.


What surprised me the most on my FIRST contest prep, was that it wasn’t HELL.

I learned a lot more from this prepping process but I guess FOOD should only take up two points out of five.   It wasn’t that I felt starved or dangerously wavering through my hectic schedule but it was more of an appreciation for every calorie I got to consume.  Every calorie became fuel to my Aston Martin (Yeah yeah I know the common reference to your body might be a Ferrari but I’m an Aston Martin girl so beat it), every bite was like me savouring the moment when you tap on that pedal and hear that sexy sound of your engine revving (I also realise I miss driving).

Age might matter, it might not but I sure as hell didn’t give a shit anymore when I bust out my travel scale at restaurants to weigh my food.  It felt AWESOME to not care!  Being 30 and only just started doing this have its pros and cons.  Naturally when you’re in your early 20s, your Aston Martin responds better to every tweak of tuning, your friends are equally as vain so you probably have a bigger support group, you have less commitments in life and more time to focus on recovery…I could go on with the list of excuses.


Letting age define your mindset can hinder your prep psychologically, so be aware and approach wisely.

The turf on the 12th floor at Odinson (Sheung Wan)

I recognised what COULD be different if I had done this in my early 20s as opposed to now, I took on feeling whatever feelings it came with, and then I let those thoughts go along with the feelings.  They never came back.

Analyzing the experience, I think being wiser now enabled me to have a healthier prep, as we know ourselves best, and I know I would have gone to extreme measures if I were younger.  So it was a healthier prep in comparison to an extreme crash diet method, not that being on a calorie deficit for a long time is in any healthy.  Being more capable of rational thinking largely contributes to a positive learning experience…also, you care less of what people think of you, which happens when you’re driving an Aston Martin 😉

So there – how was my contest prep?

It was GREAT! I learned lots about myself, I learned lots about nutrition and training and I learned more about the sport my dad took part in (BODYBUILDING…not Bikini…just clarifying…).  I also got to know my partner Alix James better, who was even more patient and supportive during the process.  Supportive beyond just saying “baby you can do it just stick with it” – supportive being helpful with my meal preps when I have super long days, helpful with groceries, helpful by eating clean himself so my home environment becomes less daunting, helpful by going on walks with me when I’m too tired to do other types of cardio – he was just everything you could have asked for as a significant other.  The community of Hong Kong Nutrition Guide is lucky to have his guidance 😉

Things can be as tough as you want it to feel like but it doesn’t have to be.  (though it might be cooler to say YES I WENT THROUGH HELL AND BACK SO I’M TOUGHER THAN NAILS SUCK IT )

Thank you to Nick from Odinson for the nutrition and training guidance while enduring my endless questions.  BTW, Odinson’s juice bar partner Mr Green Juice also started using my favorite protein brand Island Supplements in their smoothies!  Awesome strength coach, delicious protein drinks, sexy equipment, conveniently in Sheung Wan – brilliant space.

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As for – what’s next?

There are still tons to learn, a lot more progress to be made, a lot more improvement to be made, a lot more GAINS to achieve… and my journey in this sport has only just begun – STOKED!


Published by Emily Lola Tan

I've been told that I'm tiny but tough, so I must have gotten SOME things right. On the inside, I feel like a mushy marshmellow who's a hopeless romantic and find corny cute. Writing "About Me" sections had evolved in the past x years of online profiles, currently, it sits at me still hungry for enlightening experiences and insightful traveling, particularly with human connections. My story at full length on the "About" page :) Thank you for poking around!

4 thoughts on “5 Things I learned from a Contest Prep

  1. hi!!! i really admire you. You are beautiful and aspirational!!!!!! I found that u have closer-tighten your rib case, did u do something specifically aim it or it just happened after sculpting process?? I have a rib cage bumping out like you had(seems like) in before pic.. and this is my biggest problem area.

    1. Hi HyeJin, wow, I should have done a better job in keeping tabs on my wordpress notifications. Happy new year to you!
      About the rib cage, I noticed it was actually more from posture and reduction of food inflammation. I had neglected targeting back muscles and when they go weak, other body parts will come in to compensate, my lifted rib cage was one of them. Also when I went through monitored elimination of certain foods. I’m happy to take this conversation privately if it is more comfortable for you. Email emily@nutritionallysimple.com

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