Beyond The Prep Podcast

Nourishing Your Growth Through Reverse Dieting with Sharly Graham

September 11, 2023 Sherrie Kapach Episode 17
Beyond The Prep Podcast
Nourishing Your Growth Through Reverse Dieting with Sharly Graham
Show Notes Transcript

“Think of reverse diet as your prep.” —Sharly Graham

Reverse dieting is a post-diet process where one gradually increases his/her calorie intake to avoid sudden weight gain while also optimizing metabolic health. But how does this fit into the bodybuilding journey? 

Consistent control of calorie intake and expenditure facilitates muscle growth and efficient fat loss— two key objectives in bodybuilding. Reverse dieting plays a vital role in both of these processes. 

In this episode, Sharly Graham teaches us a valuable lesson on determination, not rushing your growth, and sustaining your transformation. When Sharly noticed her weight gain, it was more than just the physical aspect that bothered her. Determined to make a change, she took the first steps toward her weight loss journey. As she saw the first visible signs of progress in her journey, Sharly decided to reward herself by taking part in her first-ever bodybuilding show. Eventually, her love for the sport went beyond simple participation. Six years into the sport, the sweat and strain of gym life and the thrill of competition completely enthralled her. 

Listen in as Sherrie and Sharly discuss the challenges and benefits of reverse dieting, finding the right bodybuilding category for you, balancing stress levels, understanding what your body truly needs, the pros and cons of prepping together with your significant other, and more!

Connect with Sherrie: 





Episode Highlights:

01:58 From Weight Loss to Body Building

03:30 Switching Categories

06:38 Find the Right Coach

08:10 Your Real Competition 

10:18 Prep Together 

Sherrie Kapach: Welcome to Beyond The Prep. I'm your host, Sherrie Kapach. I would like to welcome today, Sharly Graham. You're competing today, so thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule.

Sharly Graham: Thank you for having me.

Sherrie Kapach: So what got you into bodybuilding?

Sharly Graham: I started my journey, I was turning 30 pounds, so I started a weight loss journey. I had no idea about competing. I started working out doing Beachbody programs on my computer at home, or home gym, and I got that way. When I lost over 100 pounds, I decided to do a bodybuilding show as a reward to myself.

Sherrie Kapach: Congratulations on that.

Sharly Graham: Thank you. So that was a journey. It was a long journey. It was six years, I took it really slow. I wanted to keep the weight off. And then once I did that first show, I fell in love with it. I was like, what can I do more? Because I've watched my body change so much that I was like, I want to see it change. I want to be able to be in control of how I look. And it just became like a love for it, and I don't see myself ever doing anything.

Sherrie Kapach: That's wonderful. So did you know about all of bodybuilding when you decided to go into it? Or was it just some idea?

Sharly Graham: Okay, I had a friend who I launched one show with, and I was telling that it was interesting. I'm gonna do one. So it was just like throwing myself into it. I was far from ready for my first show. Not that I looked bad. But it was like, I knew I wasn't there to win. I was there for myself, and it's just from there. It's just wrong. I've done a lot of research. I've been through a few coaches and just kind of figured out what that means, and what the sport is all about. I just kind of found such a love for it, and I just love to share that to people.

Sherrie Kapach: Nice. So how long have you been into this sport?

Sharly Graham: I've been competing now for six years, but changing because I went to (inaudible) first when I have really big glutes and legs, which now is great for wellness. We didn't have wellness. I didn't fit in a bikini. I did one show there and tried to run my legs off, but that didn't go over well. Lots a lot of muscle. So I did two shows and bigger ones, and then they climbed into wellness. And so this is only my second show on wellness, finally being able to build a body that my body has met me. So I'm super excited for that, and to just keep going and finally have some more feel like I fit.

Sherrie Kapach: So how hard was it to make a switch from one to the other?

Sharly Graham: A lot. It's really hard because they're totally different. Switching from the Bikini to Figure wasn't as bad because I put on muscle easier than I lost weight. So it was easier to put on some muscle for Figure. Switching from Figure down to Wellness was like taking yourself, I love bigger poses. So going into the wellness pose, you got to be a little more twisty in your waist. I have a really small waist, which is great, but I really got to work. So it was a hard switch. I wasn't sure that I wanted to go along. And it was new. And now as you're watching the girls develop. I love that body. It's so feminine, it was so muscular, and that's what I'm now. I never want to switch again. I love it. I want to go pro eventually in wellness. And finally, this is the first year I feel direction. So I kind of put away the last six years of competing. I'm like starting from scratch here, and that's kind of how I'm looking at it.

Sherrie Kapach: Oh, that's wonderful. Congratulations. It is nice when you say you found your category per se. What have you found the struggles? Have you encountered any? Let's hear your struggles.

Sharly Graham: From day one, the first time I even decided, you know what? I'm not working out in my basement anymore. The first day I went to the gym, I cried because I was still overweight. You felt extremely uncomfortable in that situation. It felt overwhelming. You didn't know what you're doing, you didn't know what all this equipment was. There's people there that look amazing, you're very insecure. Something I do now is make sure I smile at everyone, make it nice to see my looks. They've just stepped in the gym, I made sure to smile. It wasn't like you need to feel like you belong here. And then just from there, I think there's been a lot of struggles, my body works very differently. It stresses out really quickly. So if you cut my diet really quickly, my body will just hold on to everything. So it just goes into stress mode. I also operate a hobby firm. I work full time. I have two businesses, want to go for myself. So it's very busy. I do run into fight or flight mode all the time, so I have to balance that stress, which I think is pretty common for women. A lot of moms do too. So balancing that in the sport is one of the most difficult things, I think, because they want to take care of everything. And we've got to remember to take care of ourselves, for sure. So I think that's the biggest struggle. It is harder for me to lose the weight to lean out, so that's a fate. And every prep, I go through it. And then it's just like, okay, we'll work harder. We'll get it. And finally now, I'm so happy with my coach because we're nice. My body is starting to work for me. My metabolism is great, and hormones are balanced. It's amazing.

Sherrie Kapach: Yeah, it takes a little while, I guess, to figure out what your body needs.

Sharly Graham: I think one of the things in the sport, a lot of people really like condemning you. That's from coach to coach a little bit. And you're not bouncing just because you're blaming them. It's okay to switch. It's okay to find somebody. Right now, it's my fourth coach. But I finally found someone that fit with me, that worked with me. Now, if you're somebody who's not following your plan, not doing yourself and you're just bouncing around, that's a totally different story. If you're doing everything you're told and it still just isn't jiving for you, find someone that works for you. It's not a bad thing, but it is a good thing. So you need to be strong. You need to be like, no, I'm doing this because I need to find the right fit.

Sherrie Kapach: We do it with everything else. You keep going to hairdressers, so you learn a lot, so why not find a coach that's good? It's a costly sport so you definitely want to be able to connect with your coach. You learn a lot to go through.

Sharly Graham: A lot. And they're with you mentally, physically, emotionally. You cried on the shoulder. You have to turn to your psychologist because you need to have that connection with that. I feel uncomfortable. And honestly, learn something from every coach you've been with. You can take that with you whether you're competing or not. Just try to help you balance.

Sherrie Kapach: So what do you wish you knew then that you know now?

Sharly Graham: Everything. I honestly knew nothing of it. I do know that what I loved about it is that I took it slow. Everything else was a learning curve. I knew nothing. I had been overweight for so many years. I'd literally have learned everything along the way. The biggest thing I can just say is stay humble to it. The more humble you are, (inaudible) you against you, which is hard in the world of social media. So I guess that'd be my best thing. I wish I knew it's just me. Look at me, look at my pictures and compare me to me, and that's taken years to figure out. Still hard. Still very hard.

Sherrie Kapach: Especially when you have social media in your face.

Sharly Graham: 90% of our lives.

Sherrie Kapach: So if someone comes to you and just wants to start out or is thinking of starting out in bodybuilding, what's the best advice you could give them?

Sharly Graham: What is their goal? Are they looking to do it one time just because they want a trophy? Or are you looking to do it because you want to challenge yourself? It's not easy. The one thing I would ask is, how important is your reverse diet? Nobody talked to me about that in the beginning. I see that a lot that your reverse diet is more important than your trend. And if you're not aware of that, they come offstage and they bench. I think that's the one thing I would give people advice for. If you're going to do this, you need to be prepared. The purpose actually doubled. Got to think of reverse dieting as we prep. It's as simple as that, or you're not going to be happy because you don't get to this place where you're feeling really good, and you're at the best place you've ever been to just lose it all. It's an emotional injury, but we need to talk more about it.

Sherrie Kapach: True. Absolutely. Because you can't keep that stage presence. You can't.

Sharly Graham: You also have to just go back to your normal diet, which people think you can. It takes time to increase it. You're basically doing everything backwards. And if you put too much right back in, go enjoy your night. Absolutely. We're not gonna like hard work, but I think a lot of people don't realize how hard reverse dieting is.

Sherrie Kapach: It's great advice. And you're in prep, as well with your fiance. So how is that?

Sharly Graham: It's difficult, and it's great. I love doing it together. We don't have junk food in the house. We don't have anything we can't eat. And we live that to ourselves. We both understand each other. Mood swings. tempers are very hard. You have to be strong. You have to understand that your relationship needs to be extremely solid before you go into it because it is very tempting.  And it's always better, and it's good to have that support. Right. I think it's a love hate thing. I wouldn't do it without him because he gets it. We can support each other.

Sherrie Kapach: Nice. That's fun. Keeps you on your toes. And it's nice to have that support.

Sharly Graham: Absolutely. Because I get it. They know you're tired. You're hungry. You've felt it, you've been there.

Sherrie Kapach: With two of you doing it together, you each know at least why? If you're miserable, well, at least you understand why. You'll be doing it in about 15 minutes too, so we're okay. That's wonderful. Well, I ended that, I want to wish you best luck today. I'm hoping to get down there to watch the ladies. Good luck, and thank you for joining me.