Hard truths

What Does it Take to Prep?

My week long journey to prepping and dehydrating my body for my personal photoshoot.

I made a conscious decision to prep my body prior to my photoshoot for frecklefit. I made this decision as I find my body fluctuates a lot day to day. So does everybody else’s it is just the science of human physiology. I wanted to see if I could manipulate my body to be as lean as possible with little water retention. The process is quite scientific and is very specific.

What I already knew prior to doing research on prep is: that sodium causes the body to retain water. I also knew high fibre foods may cause you to bloat. Both are equally important to consume on a day to day basis but are not ideal for looking extra lean or getting your muscles to pop out. What I learned a few years ago as well that I was surprised about is water actually flushes the body and does NOT cause you to bloat. I also knew from past experience carb cycling that I always looked really skinny on low carb days.

With this information I had an idea of what I had to do in order to look super lean and muscley but I didn’t know the details. I found an article from Jim Stoppani who has a phD in exercise physiology, on how to prep and decided to go with his professional advice which aligned with the information I already had. So I will go through this process with you all.

Before getting into it I will admit it was difficult and I got super fatigued. What I learned from the week process is to ALWAYS look like a bodybuilder would not be ideal or even healthy for that matter. Our bodies fluctuate for a reason and our bodies are not meant to look like something from a magazine all the time. Therefore this is definitely not a way to live your life. But if you’re ever competing or want to emphasis your physique for photos or a special event for that matter this is just one of the natural ways to do it and full disclosure… it won’t be easy. 

Before picture: one week out from my photoshoot

Two weeks prior to the shoot the process had me increase my sodium intake for one week. So adding extra salt to dishes and eating high sodium foods. I really embraced this and enjoyed it while it lasted because I knew what was coming. I exercised like I normally do which is splitting leg workouts and arm workouts from day to day with light and short cardio about every second day.

One week before the shoot was the real grunt work. First of all I took the whole process and wrote down day by day what I would be eating, how much sodium I could have, and how much water I needed to consume. Day seven to day three out from the shoot I had to go low carb. Then day two to the last day prior to the shoot I had to carb load. I also had to drink 1 ½ to 2 gallons of water per day from day seven out to day three out. I also had to start doing full body workouts with some cardio added in. This was all a lot to take in so I wrote everything out day by day and planned a lot before hand.

My meal plan for the week

DAY 7 OUT: First day of prep I had to start cutting sodium so I had to be under 2000mg of sodium plus low carb. I was allowed a quick releasing carb after the gym with a protein shake for day seven, six, and five days out. I found the under 2000mg of sodium very doable. I also found low carb easy peezy as I’ve done this before and know that I always felt so full all the time eating low carb. The water was no problem because I realized on a normal day to day basis I probably get about two gallons in anyway with all the coffee and tea that I drink on top of just water. 

How I tracked my sodium

DAY 6 OUT: Day six out from prep was essentially the same as day seven out except I had to cut the sodium to under 1000mg. This was also very doable and had no problems with day six out.

DAY 5 OUT: Sodium now has to be under 600mg. This is the same for day four, three, and two days out. It started to get tricky finding things I could eat that were low carb and low sodium. I could still have my banana post gym on this day so it was my saving grace for the day. I had to eat a lot of dry meat and veggies without the dressing type meals. I never realized how much flavour salt brings… I substituted salt with Mrs.dash seasoning, lemon, olive oil, and vinegars. My energy was okay and had no severe cravings.

DAY 4 OUT: Were now under 600mg of sodium and 100% low carb. No banana, such a sad day haha. It’s crazy how much not having that banana made me feel! I was so tired this day. I was so sore from the full body workouts. I felt very fatigued. But I pushed through it and made it to the gym did my workout and my cardio! I did discover a couple great ways to get sweet flavour with some new recipes. One being plain greek yogurt, vanilla extract, and stevia. Another one being a coconut milk chia seed pudding which included – hemp protein, chia seed, coconut milk, vanilla extract and stevia. The low carb was no problem but it was the sodium that I missed so badly!

Easy low carb sweet treat

DAY 3 OUT: This was the same as day four and I knew these days were going to be the hardest. It was again a very long day as I felt quite fatigued. Running on extremely low carbs I managed to make it for my last workout and cardio session. I felt very proud afterwards of pushing through being so tired and doing night shifts to boot. I just thought about all the great carbs I’m going to be eating in the next few days. The carb cravings were definitely kicking in. I did a little more research and prep for my carb loading days and felt ready and confident in the process. I will note an update with my body at this point. I felt very skinny which if you know me, I do not like haha. My muscles felt very flat and I’ve noticed significant changes with ridding my body of sodium. My biggest worry moving forward from this day was that the carbs were going to cause me to bloat up. But according to the process the carbs should fill my muscles with water and pump them up.

Top Photos before low carb. Bottom photos low carb for four days with low sodium

DAY 2 OUT: Let the carb loading begin and the soul sucking dehydration process start! I thoroughly enjoyed my dry mini wheats with dry protein powder on top in the morning. But shortly as the day went on I missed water… So much! The thirst was real. I missed water more than I missed the carbs and maybe it was more in my head. I was allowed 48 ounces which is more than most people drink in a day but this includes all coffee, tea, zevias, that I normally drink. Also includes water in foods! So everything was so dry and sodium free. I was very careful all day trying my best to spread the water out throughout the day. Tomorrow was only half the amount of today so I was anticipating quite a tough day for my last prep day. But I came this far so I wasn’t quitting now! On another note I didn’t bloat like I thought I would. I did feel as though my muscles were filling out a bit but not drastically.

DAY BEFORE THE SHOOT: It was definitely the toughest day! I wavered back and forth between what the hell am I doing? and this photoshoot is going to rock! Bad Celine got on the internet and was looking again at this process and maybe I’m not going about it the right way. I started reading articles that were saying DON’T cut sodium and water and do this method instead. But in my head I had come this far all week, I have one more night, don’t stop. I kept carb loading to make sure I could get my muscles as full as possible. It was hard without fluids. I started to get some muscle cramping in different muscles in my legs and even a moment of panic shot through me. But I kept my cool. Because I was so lethargic from the lack of water I went to bed early and slept in getting almost 12 hours of sleep. Still no bloat but my muscles weren’t filling anymore.

One week before shoot
Morning of the shoot

DAY OF THE SHOOT: My photos weren’t until four o clock so I had another long day ahead. I had a big carb filled breakfast with a sufficient amount of protein. I got the dogs out for a walk just barely because I was still lethargic! I then mustered up the energy to pump. I started lifting with a barbell I had at home to pump up my muscles for the shoot. I pumped off and on all morning and finished a second carb filled meal about an hour before the shoot. Throughout the day I found myself getting nervous! I usually consider myself an awkward person so I was nervous I wouldn’t get the poses that I wanted or would look awkward in the pictures. I felt like my muscles didn’t fill quite the way I imagined. I do note some differences within the week in the pictures above though.

My photographer was great! It took me a little while to loosen up but we worked together and she definitely made me feel less awkward haha.


I know I shouldn’t say never because the quote “never say never” but at this moment in time I would not want to ever compete or body build… I only prepped for a week and couldn’t imagine doing it for longer. The things professional body builders put themselves through is incredible. Along with manipulating there macronutrients they also cut calories as well. I can’t imagine the mental toughness needed for that process. It really takes a lot of mental strength and discipline. I do have both of those things but I don’t think I would want it bad enough. To put yourself and your body through the things you need to to compete you would have to want it REALLY bad and I just don’t. Not at this time anyways.

What I enjoy the most is staying consistent with my healthy habits. Because I’m consistent I have a healthy physique and a great mindset. To compete you would have to almost teeter to the opposite end of the spectrum of health. Not drinking water for over two days with the low sodium felt really unhealthy to me. I felt so tired and weak. I know this is only for two days but looking into more of the research there may be ways to prep where you don’t have to cut the water and sodium to that degree. You also would have to have a slight obsession with how your appearance is going to look. This can be quite mentally taxing. There’s nothing wrong with having great willpower and disipline but the real challenge is in keeping a healthy mindset while in the process. 

Overall I know the changes are very minimal for me from one week of prepping. I do notice small differences but not to the degree I had imagined there would be. I’m happy I tried this out and feel such gratitude for the amount of fluids I drink on a normal basis as I know that’s partially what contributes to my energy!

From this process I have a new appreciation for finding balance in life. Working hard is important but enjoying little things out of life (like water lol) is important too. I also have a new appreciation for focusing on how I feel rather than how I look. I wanted to look the best I could for these pictures but at the same time I would not be willing to put myself through that degree of fatigue and dehydration again. If I were to prep for something else in the future I would try a new professional strategy where I wouldn’t have to cut the sodium and water because there are other science based strategies out there.

I had always wanted to look like those girls from the fitness magazines but am definitely realizing now they probably feel like absolute shit during those photoshoots and it is not natural or sane even to look that amazing all the time. Focusing on how we feel about ourselves and our body and having a positive outlook on health is so much more important! Remember it’s not just about body. It’s mind, body, and soul.

Hope you enjoyed the follow along!


By frecklefit

Health and fitness enthusiast. Believer in seeing all things as energy. Mission to inspire and transfer positive energy to elevate peoples lives. Actively practicing autosuggestion and manifestation.

One reply on “What Does it Take to Prep?”

Good read, Celine. It’s interesting what we will do to our bodies sometimes to achieve our goals. Whether it be professional boxers preparing for fights, others getting their beach bodies ready for a hot vacation, or like yourself, for a photo shoot. My funny story dates back to living in Snow Lake. I belonged to a weight loss group called TOPS (take off pounds sensibly), only for me at times, was not so sensible. It requires that you weigh in each week. If I knew I had gained, and wanted to tip the scale in my favor, I would fast (absolutely nothing to eat or drink starting the night before) and if things were really bad, go for a cross country ski! You want to talk about weakness! Then for the weigh in, I would wear my lightest sun dress, 40 below, didn’t matter! Believe it or not, I was able to drop 5 or 6 lbs a week doing that! And what followed that was the big gorge which usually consisted of fries and gravy at the north wood restaurant, and the sick feeling following this. But hey, I dropped the weight. So just as your photo shoot prep achieved a short term goal, thanks goodness, as you say, we know what we have to do to maintain a healthy lifestyle!

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