Body Fat, Ice Baths, and My First Fitness Competition – Oh My!

I’ve agreed to compete in my first fitness competition in the bikini division. I’ve also started taking regular ice baths. No, I’m not trying to torture myself, it’s all part of a bigger plan.


I’ve committed to doing my first fitness competition in December. Apparently, I agreed to whittle down my body fat percentage to an acceptable level for the bikini division. My coach tells me I have to pose, wear stripper shoes, and stick my ass out. I’m going to feel so naked out there and historically speaking, I haven’t been so confident just prior to scantily clad strutting. The last time I had to do anything like this was on the Bravo show WORKOUT where I was asked to model clothes and rip off my shirt. Wanna see?

My philosophy has always been to break out of comfort zones to experience a new level of excitement and fulfillment. Walking around with other women in bikinis and high heels on a stage in front of hundreds (or thousands?) of people makes me very nervous. I think this competition, however, is just the kick I need to take my fitness to another level.

I think I’ve always prided myself on having a “normal” or attainable body type that’s strong and healthy. I’ve gone through periods where I’ve roller-coastered from a lean 18% body fat to a more post-holiday, celebratory 25% body fat (which is where I am now thanks to a very happy first year of marriage.)

Can I get down to 18% body fat or lower in ten weeks? That’s the question I ask myself every day. I feel like I’m working so hard at building up my shoulder muscles and quads (areas my coach says I need more muscle), but it’s leaving me very sore and tired.

The one thing that has greatly helped my soreness and turned up my calorie burn is an ice bath. Usually I would go screaming in the other direction, but according to Tim Ferriss’s The 4 Hour Body, I could potentially increase the fat burn by four times as much with cold exposure, as well as increase the uptake of glucose by muscle tissue. I can burn four times more fat and get stronger? Okay, for that I’ll suffer through the Guantanamo Bay bath for twenty minutes.

If that sounds incredible to you, just remember that Michael Phelps eats 12,000 calories per day and he couldn’t possibly burn all that through exercise. As we all know, he doesn’t spend ten hours swimming competitive butterfly daily. There has to be an additional explanation to his calorie burn and the cold water is it.

ice bath, cold shower, icing, ice pack, tim ferriss, brown fatSo far I’ve taken three ice baths and they’re really not as bad as I thought they would be. I zone out for twenty minutes listening to Tony Robbins’ motivational speeches and my knees always feel better afterwards. My body recovers and my mind gets pumped.

Another option for about sixty percent of the benefit of an ice bath, is to put ice packs on my upper back and shoulders for thirty minutes. Icing that area potentially turns on the brown adipose tissue or “fat-burning fat.” And who doesn’t sit back on the couch for at least thirty minutes? I figure that’s a pretty non-painful way to get a large portion of the benefit of ice baths without the convulsing.

I’ll keep you posted on my body fat loss as I get closer to the competition. (And how well I do avoiding Halloween candy and a ridiculous Thanksgiving Day meal.)

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.