I'm at that magical point in contest prep where I feel like a pimp. My strength hasn't been affected by slightly (and I do mean only slightly) decreased calories, my output in the gym and on the track, energy-wise, is still fantastic, and I'm not crawling up the walls (yet) with hunger........I'm coasting. My calories dropped a teeny bit last week to save myself from adding a 3rd day of interval sprints. This is where a bomb trainer comes in handy, y'all. As opposed to adding in cardio, which would thus not allow me to have an off day because of my shitty schedule, LA manipulated my calories. At this point in the game, dietary modification makes more sense, metabolically-speaking, than adding cardio. This will keep my metabolism from taking a dump, and it will also allow me to have a full rest day, which is essential in contest prep. It will also ensure that if, in the future, we need to add in another day of HIIT, my body will respond without difficulty. More is not better - smarter is better. Coax, don't force. This is why I love LA. She'll make tiny tweaks that don't seem like they'll make a huge difference, then she'll let your body do the work for a bit, and POOF! Sexy time!
I saw pretty bangin' progress this week, too. My waist looks teeeeeny in my progress pics, especially from the back - the ones I took 2 weeks ago I was still looking like a pretty thick sack of potatoes. These slight physique changes help to keep me motivated, and they let me know my hard work is finally manifesting itself in physical changes. BP likey.
I think this coasting period is where a lot of competitors freak out and think they're not doing enough. They may not see HUGE changes on the scale, which causes them to question the process. The knee-jerk reaction is to either add in more stimulus (ie, cardio), or decrease caloric intake in order to create a greater deficit. Afterall, calories in < calories out = fat loss, right?. But any idiot can starve the fat off of someone. Having a competitor eat 800 cals a day isn't brilliant, by any means; in fact, it's reckless. Playing with metabolism like that is a slippery slope. And I should know - this time last year I was prepping for Jr. USAs. I was eating 800-900 cals/day, doing 2hrs of daily cardio 6x/wk. I could barely lift a 10lb DB. Now? I'm still rocking heavy weights, I can sprint like Flo Jo, and I feel like I did at 18 weeks out. Major, major difference.
Coasting.........it's the shit; I highly recommend it. Call me in 3 weeks when I'm STARVING and I'm sure I'll be singing a different tune. :) Until then, train hard, y'all!