After a battle with diuretics, figure competitor Julie Michaelson is back and better than ever. Follow Julie as she makes her comeback to the stage.

Julie MichaelsonAfter having 7 competitions under my belt in less than 3 year’s time, I can tell you that what I know for sure about competing is that it’s not about the stage, it’s not about how you place: it’s all about the journey. I am now making my 8th journey to the stage and I am honored to be able to share it with you as I’m coming into this with a whole new perspective after having learned some big lessons the hard way.

A little background about me: I’m a 36 year old single mom of 4 amazing kids (5 year old twins girls, a 7 year old son and a 15 year old daughter) and proud owner of my own gym, home of MILF (Mothers In Love w/Fitness) Bootcamp. I began preparing for my first contest in July of 2008 – I was setting out to do the NPC Washington Ironman Bodybuilding Fitness & Figure Competition in October. I was a skinny girl that loved to lift but really didn’t have much muscle to show for it. I was in a very unhappy marriage and found a positive outlet in competition.

I did 2 shows that October, then connected with my present coach who is now also my mentor and dear friend that December. He coached me through two shows in the spring of 2009. After those shows I filed for divorce and set out on single motherhood and put myself back into the work force as a personal trainer.

I did competition #5 in November 2009. I was working early hours and trying to cope with single parenting, financial stresses and the emotional turmoil that naturally occurs during the divorce process. When it came time to prepare for the 2010 springs shows I had nothing left to give to contest prep and I didn’t have the heart to do it. But I did it anyway and it was a huge disaster, which I’ve shared in my article about my experience with HCTZ and the horrible rebound that ensued.

I’ve spent the last year and a half healing my mind and body, knowing that I could not compete again until I felt the burning desire to do so. This Father’s Day weekend I felt that burning desire and after a candid discussion with my 15 year old daughter, I decided to go for it! 100% commitment, bringing my absolute best physique to the stage!

And so here I am…5 weeks into contest prep…9 weeks out from the 2011 NPC Washington Ironman. So, what does contest prep look like for a busy, working, single mom? Well, it’s a little bit crazy, but totally possible if you want it bad enough – just like anything else in life!

A typical day for me starts at 4am. I down my two scoops of Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey before hitting the cardio for an hour. I actually enjoy early morning cardio because it’s pretty much the only “me time” I get all day. I can plan and sort out my day while getting my sweat on.

After that it gets a little insane as I feed my foursome and get all five of us out the door for the day. Most days I spend in my gym training clients from 9am-5pm and then it’s off to pick up my kids. If I didn’t have time to get my lift on during the day, I’ll train in the evening and do round 2 of cardio, which right now is 40 minutes.

I follow a pretty traditional 5 day bodybuilding training split:

  • MondayChest
  • Tuesday – Legs
  • WednesdayBack
  • ThursdayShoulders
  • Friday - Arms

Julie Michaelson

I follow a high calorie nutrition plan with moderate carbs/low fats and have great fat loss results. I am currently eating about 6 meals a day, sometimes 7 depending on my hunger level. Some days it’s all I can do to make it 2 hours between meals. I do most of my cooking on Sunday afternoons because my weekdays are crazy and I’m on the go nonstop from morning until the time I go to sleep at night.

I’ve found that preparing my chicken, turkey and veggies and portioning them out in advance makes it so much easier for me to stay compliant to my plan and minimizes my stress during the week. Planning and preparation are the keys to successful contest prep – again, kinda like with everything in life.

In the last 4 weeks I have dropped 11 pounds and have been in perfect compliance with my training and nutrition plan. When I did my last two shows I failed to have a plan which is a big part of why those shows were my worst stage appearances yet. I have an outstanding coach, who is very knowledgeable and who I completely trust. I let him map out the plan and I just follow it. That makes it easy for me – I don’t have to think, just DO!

After having taken over a year off from competing I feel like I have a much better “package” to bring to the stage. The unwrapping process is really like Christmas every morning when I look in the mirror. It is really rewarding to see the results of my hard work. While I may not take first place, I will for sure bring the very best physique to the stage that I am capable of.

I will stand on stage knowing that I did not take short cuts, I did not make excuses and that I did not “beat myself.” Those are the only things we can control in this sport and I will be completely in control of the physique I bring to the Ironman stage on September 24th!

I hope you will follow my journey! I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with an update on how my contest prep is going as well as new progress pictures. Thank you to Steve Shaw for giving me the honor of sharing my Ironman contest prep journey with Muscle & Strength readers.

Posted on: Mon, 01/13/2014 - 19:06

Thanks for sharing. It has been 6 weeks off of diuretics and I haven't lost the rebound edema of 15 lbs. I put on once I stopped the diureitcs. Did you lose all of the rebound edema and if so how long did it take? I am not sure what else to to, I cut back sodium drastically. I thought after 6 weeks things would have gotten better. My doc. is of no help and says take diuretic again, but I don;t want to as I think they made the little edema I had worse. Now, I'm a mess. Any info, you can give would be most appreciated!

Posted on: Mon, 02/13/2012 - 22:40

i am so glad to hear your story... i am just like you accept that i have three kids not four.... and just starting out in the fitness world as a CPT making small change as a start... Competed in my first show in 11/11. I'm out to go for another one in June 2012.