Monday, January 4, 2010

Tara Ballard Contest Prep Journal

For just this first installment, I wanted to introduce you all to Tara Ballard. Tara is a Figure competitor I have gotten to know and have so much respect for. She will be writing a journal to let you all know about herself and her prep as she prepares for her first competition of the year.

Tara Ballard

1st Competition goal:
NC State Championship (NPC)
April 10, 2010
High Point, North Carolina


Hi everyone! My name is Tara Ballard, and I am an amateur Figure competitor. Over the next months, I'll be journaling all about the process of training and dieting for a competition. The day-to-day ups and downs, working around obstacles, how to stay clean while travelling, the exhilaration of training hard (and the exhaustion that comes with it), etc! Yes, it is hard work, but for me, it is one of the most rewarding accomplishments, and is worth every single bit of blood, sweat, and tears!

A little about me....

I recently turned the big 4-0, so I guess you could say that I started competing a little later in life. My first competition was in June, 2009, and then I competed in three more competitions in October and November, 2009 (you can read about this on my blog: Jason's recent interview describes what got me interested in competing, but it basically boiled down to fulfilling dreams and achieving goals that I had had for a long time, but had always been too scared or intimidated to pursue. A little over a year ago, I met my current trainer, Jill Coleman, and she is the one who encouraged me to compete. I though to myself "I CAN do this! And I want to do this before I turn 40". With Jill's help, I achieved that goal and then some... It has been an incredible journey so far; one that will continue on this year!

I live in beautiful Clemmons, NC with my boyfriend of 7 years. We are very active in animal rescue and have 4 dogs and 6 cats-yes, it is Animal Planer at our house, but they are our family! I work as an IT Consultant and Manager for a law firm in Florida, which causes me to travel every 6 weeks or so. I am also a Personal Trainer- my true passion. I love helping people meet their health and fitness goals. It keeps ME motivated to keep on doing what I do when I see my clients do such wonderful things for their health. I also teach group fitness classes, another fun hobby! I sued to run quite a bit, mainly long distances, but between injuries and the fact that long distances are not conducive to building muscle, I have put the long distance runs on hold.

On to the good stuff- week one of the journey to the NC State Championship Figure Competition! I will post some pics later of where I am now, but I do a pretty decent job of staying lean in the off season, so luckily, I don't have a lot of fat to lose. After the last competition of the season (November 7th), I took three weeks completely off from weight training to let my muscles repair and recover, and also to get them ready to respond to the building phase. Now, I am full-steam ahead into hypertrophy training and diet, meaning I am eating A LOT (good, clean stuff!!) and heavy lifting. Being a former long-distance runner, it is hard for me to gain luscle and hold on to it when the cutting phase begins; also my musculature tends to be more long and lean- so the focus right now will be getting nice full muscle bellies. We'll hopefull achieve that by restricting cardio (hard for this former cardio queen and runner), lifting heavy and FOOD!

Looking ahead to this first week, I dont forsee any huge obstacles, but it's good to be prepared for anything life throws your way! So, Sundays are typically food prep days. We'll be grilling up chicken, bison, turkey, etc. I also like to steam broccoli, asparagus, and sweet potatoes to ahve available.

It will be a busy week- work, training, clients, getting my training in...It's a challenge, but when you're 100% committed to a goal, you make it work!

In my next post, I will be giving a run down of what happened this week- what kinds of challenged I faced with training and diet, and how I dealt with them. I am hoping to give some insight into this crazy world of comepting. It was such a stange palce for me when I first started, so my goal is to make these entries as informative as possible!

The pics I'm attaching to this post are from my last competition of the year on November 7th- Hopefully as we go on, you will see much fuller shoulder caps and nice definition and fullenss everywhere!

Also attached, are some pics from my refrigerator :-) - just a few staples I always ahve on hand!

Last but not least, I would lvoe to hear from you- please email me any time at !!. Whether you ahve questions about competing, diet, etc., or you are training for a competition and want to commiserate, I am here!!!

Untill next week, happy training!