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.