A COMPETITIVE bodybuilder has lifted the curtain on what it's really like to prep for competition — and she admits getting in that kind of shape "sucks."
Fitness fanatic Yanari Raines, 20, loves bodybuilding but refuses to sugarcoat it, telling The U.S. Sun that she feels so cold, tired and sluggish ahead of big events that she has no intention of maintaining that physique year-round.
In December, Yanari of Houston, Texas, competed in the 2022 Amateur Olympia, placing third in her class just two years after first taking up bodybuilding.
On stage, she rocked a hot pink sequined bikini which showed off her incredibly muscular physique.
She'd spent months documenting her fitness journey on TikTok, spotlighting long hours at the gym where she did hours of cardio and lifted unfathomable amounts of weight.
But just in case anyone got the wrong idea — that this was easy, that anyone could do it, that everyone should do it — Yanari paused for some real talk in November.
"How hard is maintaining that physique?" a fan asked on TikTok.
Yanari — who's also a college student in the ROTC — responded with the no-holds-barred truth.
"This physique is not maintainable," she said plainly, standing in her kitchen in a sports bra that showed off her six-pack abs.
"And even if it was, I wouldn't maintain this," she added.
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"Number one, because I feel like I have no size now," she said, noting that she was 20 pounds below her usual weight of about 150.
"I also feel like dog s**t. I have no energy. I want to pass out throughout the day. And I want to be able to eat carbs.
"So it's not maintainable, and I'm not gonna be maintaining this for very long."
Yanari's message was met with enthusiasm by viewers, who loved her honesty and called her clip "refreshing."
"Thank you for being transparent. You’re unf***ing the body dysmorphia of a whole generation," wrote one.
In an interview with The U.S. Sun, the fitness pro broke down how tough it really is to be in "prep," the time before a competition when the workouts are plentiful but the calories are not.
Every day, she says, she wakes up and does cardio for 40 to 60 minutes, often on a Stairmaster — then follows that up with another 40 to 60 minutes in the evening.
"Which is a lot of cardio — but in the evening, you also have to lift," she says.
For the last five weeks before a bodybuilding competition, in addition to doing that cardio every single day, she also hits the gym four days a week for several hours of lifting.
A lifelong athlete who ran track in high school and is on her way to becoming a Marine, Yanari loves being at the gym — and "doesn't find anything else quite as fulfilling" — but during prep, that's basically all she does.
"When you get to the end days of prep, you do really choose not to do anything but go to the gym and follow your meal plan," she says.
Her diet is also pretty restrictive. Operating on a calorie deficit, she sticks to chicken, beef, rice, lean fish like tilapia, rice cakes, protein pancakes, oatmeal and egg whites.
There's no candy or fried food and carbs are a big no-no — leaving her missing bread more than anything else.
"I’m such a bread head. Because I’m Italian, bread is woven into my soul," she says.
"Once I get toward the end, I am like, man I would eat a whole baguette right now… Bananas, bread, brownies, blueberry muffins — those are things that I miss."
She has to be extra thoughtful if she wants to go out to eat socially, picking restaurants where she can get chicken or seafood with vegetables.
Though Yanari says the payoff is worth it for her, she won't lie about how much she has to sacrifice and can't stand when some fitness competitors glamorize their training.
"I was definitely cold all the time," she admits.
"I was sluggish, and daily tasks like walking up and down stairs in my house definitely drained me."
Sometimes simply getting dressed and getting to the gym is the hardest part, and though she's not usually a coffee drinker, she needs it to get her going until the exercise endorphins kicked in.
She also drinks about two gallons of water a day, so her sleep is interrupted by frequent trips to the bathroom.
And of course, there are cravings.
"Your stomach is full, but you’re deprived of that freedom to make choices like getting tacos with friends. And your brain just sits on that," she explains. "And you just end up thinking about tacos for the entire week."
She thinks it's important that people know how difficult and uncomfortable it is to bodybuild — especially with others out there glamorizing the physiques: "without knowing the reality of it all."
"When I was going into this prep, I was already at a place in my life where I went through that self-love journey," she says. "Whether I’m at my smallest or my heaviest, I love my body throughout.
"But a lot of people use bodybuilding to give them that push to get the physique they’ve been looking for.
"And then when they step off that stage and have that first meal, and they wake up the next day, and they're probably five pounds over and look completely different, it shocks them and they get into body dysmorphia.
"A lot of competitors save all of their content from during prep where they look really lean or shredded, and then they put that out for weeks after the show is finished. And they glamorize those posts, and I feel like that’s very toxic to the average person."
That's why she's so honest about how her body changes — and also why she won't share her exact meal plan or fitness routine with followers.
"I can’t stand people that sell meal plans [where] everyone has the same meal plan. That quite literally does not work, because everybody’s body isn’t going to react the same," she says.
"I’ve had people ask me to train them and give them my meal plan, and I’m like, 'No.'
"We will not look the same, and you may not get all the same results.
"A lot of competitors just put out the content that people like to see. But I haven’t seen a single Olympian come out and say something like I have," she adds, stressing the importance of "genuineness and transparency."
She says she'd hate if someone followed her plan and grew to hate themselves or developed health problems.
"I don’t want people to think, because she’s doing that, I have to be that size, and I want to look like her."
And in fact, she doesn't even look like her — that is, the "her" on stage competing — all the time.
"I probably will be 150lbs, easy, again," she says. "And I like myself in that heavy form.
"Because one, my clothes fit finally, and two, I don’t feel tired all the time, I don’t feel cold, I don’t feel really low energy, and those are some things you deal with in prep, and it sucks. That short period of time feels very, very long.
"I think I ended this prep at 11 or 12 percent body fat. I do not want to stay there. Typically I’m at 14 to 18 percent on average, because I’m in general an extreme athlete because of the military. That is my healthy range."
She's already started eating carbs again, sinking her teeth into a "heavenly" doughnut as soon as December's competition was over.
"I’m really not even a doughnut girl," she said. "But biting into that glazed one, my entire mouth just watered. My eyes got big. I was like, this was worth it."
In the days following, she ate sweet potato fries, mozzarella sticks, chips, guacamole, queso, beef Wellington, risotto, short rib, macaroni and cheese, and cookies.
"Real competitors who take care of themselves and are pros, they take those off seasons and just rest. Because that is the best way to put your best package on stage the next time you step on," she says
"You don’t want to be in a constant state of that type of stress. That’s not healthy for your body."
That doesn't mean she'll never get in that kind of shape again — and she plans to compete more in the future, with aspirations of reaching the Olympic level.
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"People have this view of bodybuilding and I’m like, yes, a lot of what we do is extreme, but when I look at it, a lot of the stuff we do in the military is extreme. But I still go out and do it every day," she says.
"Everything has downsides to it. You just have to choose your suck and do it."
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