I’ve been mentioning it for awhile now….the “my thoughts on competition prep” post. Well, I figured what better place to include it, than for a Flashback Friday post. I did my first flashback last week about my pregnancy and enjoyed it so the flashbacks begin again. Time to enter the time machine!
What did it take to get me here???
A lot of blood (literally & still have a scar from that mishap), sweat, tears, frustration, and mental issues. The day of competition is a glory day. Of beauty, displaying your hard work, fun bonding with the other competitors, and after parties. But the path there is not pretty. Not by any means. This journey all started about 6years ago when I was in my junior year of college. It was when I first started getting more serious about workouts and nutrition. It was when I picked up my first Oxygen magazine, read Tom Venuto’s Burn the Fat & Feed the Muscle book, and began soaking up every bit of information I could.
Fast forward a few years to just after my wedding. Peter and I were on a hike and I mentioned how I had always wanted to try a competition. He told me to go for it, and I did. Only to have to pull out two weeks before the show from some blood sugar issues thanks to a too restrictive coach.
After stopping the prep, I felt like a failure. And I wanted to prove to myself, and yes to others as well, that I could do it. So, when I got in the best shape of my life by 9 months post partum, I decided I needed to finally fulfill this goal.
I searched for local, natural shows and there was one exactly 14 weeks away and a short 30 minute drive down the road. It was in the cards and I signed up. I planned to do my own prep, so I could listen to my body and not have to follow someone else. I thought this would be perfect because I could do what works for me, have fun with it, and make it to the stage. I didn’t care about winning and I just wanted to say I had competed.
Sounds perfect, huh? Well, even if I am the one making up the plan, there is a plan involved. And the levels of bodyfat you have to reach for competition (around 12-15% for women) are very lean. An average, fit woman will have bodyfat levels in the 18-24% range and that is still looking dang good! Mine was about 18% in the above picture. Although that is all relative since tracking that is so inaccurate and I don’t worry about it a rat’s ass anymore. But anyways – to get to competition levels your plan has to be restrictive. It is the only way to lean down enough.
I started off pretty well, working out about 1 hr 15 min to 1 hr 30 min 5-6 days per week. I still ate 1500-1700 calories and had two refeeds a week (eating more to keep hormone levels and metabolism function healthy). I was making progress and tightening up. Towards the end, to break plateaus and lean out my bottom half I was putting in 2 or more hours almost every day between long, heavy weight training sessions and double cardio. I would go to the gym in the morning for a long cardio and then back at night for weights and some higher intensity cardio bursts/plyo moves. I still ate the same because I was not going to sacrifice my refeeds and carbs because it backfired on me the last time, but needed the extra activity to lean down enough.
Between that and planning meals, my life was consumed. Anyone who tells you different is lying. Sure, it may get easier to manage with more practice. But the focus it takes to be sure to get in your training to be ready by a specific date, and the details to tend to with your meals and all the other stuff to prepare before a show take lots of time. It even got so bad, that I lost my focus on my faith because I was too busy thinking about the competition to pray. The shifted focus was one of my biggest issues I had withe prep. Along with losing my positive and balanced approach to health and the money.
I managed the workouts fine. I could stick to the meals and go through the motions. But I hated, hated, HATED losing time with my friends and family. So much energy went into prep that I was not showing as much love to Peter and Makenzie. Who can be happy, patient, and loving when running on fumes? I was beginning to not be able to enjoy social situations. Thoughts like what food to bring everywhere I went, can I eat a frickin’ piece of bday cake that my daughter tries to feed me at her birthday party, and should I go to this dinner get together and be rude by not eating what is prepared ruled my life. This was not me!
As I have mentioned before, I got into the best shape ever even before comp prep simply by doing what I enjoyed. I ate healthy foods I love most of the time and indulged when I really wanted to. I never felt deprived and didn’t have to focus on numbers, plans, and doing things “right”. I hated having that mindset creep back in. And there was no way around it for me while prepping for a show. I had reached the best relationship I had ever had with food, only to start feeling reverting desires of binging and the “good/bad” mentality coming back through and directly after prep.
Another issue was how expensive it was!
Suit = 300$, sportswear = $70, tanning = $50+, waxing = $50+, entry and registration fees = $200 supplements, stage makeup, stage shoes, and the list goes on. Now, I am not opposed to spending money on a hobby or spending money on yourself. But this was still something I didn’t feel comfortable with because I realize I would have rather used that money for a family vacation or something else more enjoyable.
So to the gist. I do not regret doing the competition, because I don’t have to wonder “what if” anymore and I fulfilled a goal. And I would encourage anyone who feels it is a goal to pursue to do so. However, I am sure this is something that I will NEVER do again. Not because I am weak and couldn’t handle it. Not because I don’t have the drive. I could definitely carry through on a comp prep plan again in the future. I love to push and challenge myself. But the benefits of doing a show don’t outweigh the negatives for me and that is where I draw the line in anything I pursue. Nothing is always positive, but the positive should still be the majority in anything you pursue. It isn’t worth sacrificing my family, my mental happiness, and my whole approach to life. For some, the whole process is their passion and more power to them. If it is a passion, I can see how it would be worth it. It was just not my passion. My passion is healthy living, my faith, and my faimly and loved ones. So that is the path I pursue with avidity.
you know, i used to think that a fitness competition would be fun…but when I was a personal trainer i worked with 2 women who were constantly competing in them, and watching everything they had to do made me change my mind. that’s awesome that you did it, but i think life is much better spent with the ones you love rather than carefully calculating every workout and meal 🙂 way to go Tina!
This was great, thanks for sharing. I don’t know if you read my blog during my 12-week bootcamp, but it followed a similar diet structure (even lower though since it was all about fat loss) and I was totally miserable for most of the time…and I wasn’t even doing it for a competition! I thought I was the only one who had those feelings of deprivation and inability to enjoy life with my friends during that time, so reading this helps me know it wasn’t just me. I’m not happy that I’ve gained most of the weight back, but I know I just can’t live off protein powder and 1400 calories a day.
Great post Tina, definitely an interesting insight into these competitions.
I love your priorities, as you said, it’s not about whether you can or can not compete, it’s about what is important to you.
Have a wonderful Easter break with your loved ones!
Loved hearing about your experience with competing!! I totally get what you mean when you say it was time consuming. Not so much the time spent working out, but the mental energy that goes into everything is astounding. I did PT classes with a guy who’s currently trying to bulk up for a bodybuilding competition this fall. Said he works out for 3 hours a day. Crazy!
I have similar feelings coming from my triathlon. I’m really happy I did it, and it’s one of my proudest moments. But I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again. I’m happy you were able to cross it off the bucket list and are in a balanced spot now 🙂
you look amazing 9 months after birth! x
love this flashback. you are the epitome of milf! so in shape!
Wow, thanks for sharing all the details! I always wondered what was involved in the whole process. Good for you! It is so cool that you put your mind to something and accomplished it!
OH GIRL…I can so relate. I am almost 100% sure I will never do one again either. The diet was difficult, but like you, I HATED losing the time with friends and family, too. I can relate to this on so many levels.
BTW, you looked fantastic 12 wks out!
I think it’s great that you went for it so you’d never have that “what if” moment – to me, regret is the worst feeling ever so its awesome that you did it just to DO it since you’d always wanted to and were intrigued by it. I have to say, though, amazing at how you managed to get it done! So inspiring – though I am pretty sure I will never be competing, I enjoy being balanced way too much to be so restricted! Good for you for recognizing that it was worth doing but definitely out of character for you given all the sacrifices you had to make as a result. I think you look fab the way you are now, personally. 🙂
This was so fun to read! I often wonder what goes into (women) who compete. Like you said, now you don’t have to wonder “What if?” – I think that is the worst. I’d much rather try something out and even hate it, than to never do it and always wonder.
You are definitely living your life in a way that makes you the most happy right now. And you look AMAZING! 🙂
It is so good to see someone who listens to their bodies and follows their heart! It sounds like the competitions take a lot of dedication and you are so strong both inside and out! I never knew what went into those competitions but I loved reading this post!
Thanks for all of this information! I would never personally want to do figure competitions, but I’ve been an NCAA athlete so I know all about working out 2 hours a day and not having time for friends and family. It wears on you!
I can’t believe how amazing you looked just 9 months after giving birth, holy cow!
Pingback: flashback friday: EASTER! « meals & moves
I’ve always wanted to know this story about you! Thanks for sharing. Very interesting. I never thought about how expensive it would be. Sounds like a great, albeit grueling, experience:)
thanks for sharing your story. I admire the dedication and love that you always take the opportunity to learn from everything.
Hey Tina, thanks so much for sharing your story!! I was very curious about your competition and all that goes into it. I really don’t know much about competitions at all. I’m glad you’re happy and healthy the way you’re living your life!! 🙂
Hey Tina, i’ve followed your journal during the oxygen days, and now your blog too. I am still competing and am looking for a new suit this year, i was wondering what you are doing or have done with your suit? are you keeping it, interested in selling it? I think it’s a beautiful suit and would be interested in purchasing it if it’s for sale. If you get the chance please send me an email and let me know email@example.com
I’m so glad you did this post because I was curious about the process and how you felt about it. It really does seem like such an exhausting, life-consuming process!
I wish I looked like you did 9 months after Maya was born. Or even now for that matter. Or ever? I’m not picky!
Seriously though, this is a great post. I’m glad you don’t regret what you did because it seems like an amazing experience!
Oh my goodness, you are such a positive role model, Tina! I just loved reading about your journey. Your perspective and honesty are so appreciated and refreshing. I was captivated. But I must say, it seems like you really get that the life of competition was not a life you were happy with. It must have been so hard to have to juggle family and competition prep. I so admire your healthy attitude and level of balance!
And gosh, you are just so so beautiful!
Thank you so much for sharing this! I want to compete in the future but I’m going to wait until I’m fully ready.. as you mentioned, it’s so time consuming!
And I can’t believe how good you looked post-partum! That is amazing! Your a role model to mothers everywhere!
That was really interesting to read about. I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about what goes into a figure competition.
“Between that and planning meals, my life was consumed. Anyone who tells you different is lying.”
Wow that’s quite a blanket statement. 😦 I’m sorry you didn’t have a good experience. Mine was pretty much the opposite of yours. I LOVED LOVED LOVED the prep and DID NOT like competition day at all. It was not glamorous or fun. I think the tans and suits are goofy. However I did another show b/c I enjoyed the prep so much. I felt like I was using my time better and like I actually had more time for family and friends. How? Because I was being really efficient to get what I needed done DONE instead of messing around with things that were not important b/c extra time. I was following the “first things first” logic. I did talk more about the prep for the first one than I would have liked b/c it was so new. The second one I didn’t talk as much about it b/c it was just a part of my routine. I also felt like my faith and trust in God GREW in a big way. My confidence grew by leaps and bounds b/c I knew I could have discipline something I had always struggled with.
Competing is NOT my passion however I very much enjoyed prepping for the shows. I could see myself doing another one in the future just not sure when.
I hope this doesn’t come across rude or disagreeable I just wanted to offer another perspective and it’s an honest one. 😉
You’re right about it being expensive!!! However I didn’t hire a trainer, I made my own suit, and borrowed makeup, tanner, and shoes which saved $$$. I also didn’t spend much on supplements. Took creatine and glutamine for a very short amount of time but didn’t feel comfortable with those so I stopped and stuck with my apple cider vinegar and fish oil.
That all makes perfect sense. I agree that for quite a few people the process is exciting and it works well for them. When I said “if they tell you different, they are lying” I was only talking about it being a big time commitment. Some can definitely make that still work with their lives, but it still is a big time commitment no matter what. I always hated people who made it seem so easy and didn’t acknowledge that its tough and takes time. I think you would still say it’s tough and takes work, even with enjoying it. 🙂 I can’t wait to hear when you decide on another show, because I for sure would love to cheer you on!
FOR SURE it definitely took work. The first one was more time consuming. The second one not as much. I guess my everyday lifestyle just isn’t super different. I never made separate meals I would just measure out my rice instead of spoon it out or if we had tacos I would have a taco salad. I was NOT one of those 4oz dry chicken breast and 6 spears of asparagus type of gals. I was already working out 5x a week so aside from the last two weeks it’s really not that much more time in the gym. I think a HUGE difference between me and other competitors is that I wasn’t very competitive. I got fairly lean but not super lean. Truthfully I never cared about winning. I was just so excited to have finally lost the weight I had battled for years.
I was thinking about doing another show and if I had a friend close by who would do one then I would for sure. But none of my friends in my town are slightest bit interested. My husband thinks they are sooooo looooong and boooooring so he doesn’t like to come. I just don’t really want to do one alone.
BTW I wanted to add you look AMAZING.
Well said 🙂
Great post! I feel the same way! Even though I quit half way through prep, I dont’ think i’ll ever do it again….I was such a zombie! I just felt like I was going through the motions of my life but not really taking the time to experience anything….
Amazingly put. I loved reading about what it actually took to compete and how it effected your life. Being happy, mentally and physically, and being with those you love does, for most, out weigh most things. Thank you for sharing.
Great post, and one of the many reasons I have never had the desire to compete! I have always been curious how much things cost though, so that was an interesting read. And also how much time you spent at the gym during prep. I would have to quit my job, LOL!
Case in point why I will never do a competition. I know I have the dedication it would take but at the end of the day I am not willing to make the sacrifices…time with my hubby, a drink with friends after work, etc. Not for me! Besides I just know it would lead to even more body issues than I battle now!
Another fantastic well-written post…if I were ever to do a competition (can’t see that happening right now) I would probably feel the same way: glad I’d done it so that I’d no longer have to wonder “what if?” but wouldn’t ever do it again….
Thank you for such awesome insight!!
Pingback: FAITH, FITNESS, FUN » Blog Archive » Do What You Don’t