Competing - The good, the bad and the ugly - Michelle G. Post 6
Under 50 days to go! 7 short weeks til I get to wear my gorgeous suit on a national stage.
Seriously, it is the most beautiful thing I have seen! I have still been feeling good and have not felt particularly tired or run-down. I am sleeping well, other than the nights I die of heat in my air conditioning-less apartment! Window wide open, birthday suit with a fan blowing right on me and I'm still sweating. Not so comfortable. Anyway, my gym's hours change during the summer and on weekends it only opens at 11am. For those who have been following me up until now, you'll know that I'm an early bird and I like to train around 7am. I started a new routine to still wake up at my usual time on these days, but instead of just waiting to hit the gym I head out for fasted cardio. I have the Oratoire St-Joseph close to my place so I have been walking there and walking up to the top first thing in the morning. I can't even tell you how good I feel starting my day with a peaceful walk and a beautiful view from the top of the Oratoire. There's something about the calmness in the morning that I absolutely love, even in the middle of Montreal. It gives me 45 minutes to myself to really just be inside my head and nothing else. Not to mention, I can knock out 45 minutes of cardio by 8am and it's done for the day!
This is the view I get to take in on these mornings.
I had my 7 week check-in with Larry and everything is still right on track. Last check in I had actually lost weight too quickly (what?!) so we had upped my calories to slow things down a bit. It sucked a bit to see my progress slow down but I know it's what's best because I'm still quite a little ways out from the competition. I still lost fat according to plan and everything is coming in perfectly. We made mild diet changes this time and I am so calm about it all. I see lots of people struggle mentally with their check-ins and even have anxiety to see their coaches. I completely understand the nervousness about progress, I get that too. I always stress that I'm not progressing as I should be. That's where you need to trust your coach and ultimately yourself that you followed your plan and did what you had to do. But the part that bothers me is when people get anxiety when it comes to changes in their diet or cardio. It's inevitable that your carbs will gradually be cut and your cardio will increase. You choose to compete and that's what you sign up for! Instead of seeing it as something negative and that you'll suffer more - look at the big picture. The changes your coach is making is what will be necessary for you to reach the next level. It's what's necessary to get you to the stage, to get you to the shape you're chasing. Take the plan and think to yourself "Ok, it's different and I'll do what needs to be done" and that's it! Don't overthink it and sulk about it; it won't do you any good. Take the changes and roll with it. After all, if you don't follow it you're the only one who will suffer the consequences. It's important to have a positive mindset in prep so you don't drive yourself insane or even into a depression. Mental health is extremely important and it's something we don't talk about often enough. We paint a picture about competing that is often so false.
7 weeks out shape
But seriously, how glamorous does competing look? All those beautiful, tanned and sculpted bodies wearing bedazzled suits that can cost as much a used car. Long hair and perfect makeup to complete the flawless look. I agree, we walk the stage gracefully in 5 inch heels and make it look so easy. It's no wonder bodybuilding competitions, and more specifically the newer classes like bikini/figure/men's physique, have grown in popularity these past few years! It seems that everyone and their brother who steps into a gym for the first time sets their end goal to step on stage. With social media bombarding us with #fitspo, low-carb recipes and ridiculous fads like waist trainers, it's hard not to be tempted to compete. Especially when you see those insta-famous bikini girls with abs all year-round posting their meals and deserts drowning in calorie-free additives. All I can say about that is that there is more than meets the eye and it is so important to be critical and think a bit further than what you're reading. We may give the impression that it's all sunshine and rainbows and that it's so easy dieting for 18 weeks, or getting up to do fasted cardio every morning, or dragging our depleted bodies through a painful workout.. On social media we often want to show nothing but the positive, but that can lead people to have false expectations. Competing isn't glamorous. It's an extremely long process full of physical and mental struggles up until we step on stage, and even after we get off it.
It's lots of fun to get all done up for the stage but there are weeks and weeks of dieting and struggling behind that. Not to mention the years of work in the gym before even considering a competition!
Competing is a huge commitment. It's a commitment to many weeks of strict dieting, training and cardio. You will invest so much of your time, energy and money into this one competition and it's not something to be taken lightly. If you take it seriously, everything in your life will revolve around your prep during those weeks. You will need to prioritize your meals and training before anything else. Some people may think you are extremely selfish and narcissistic, but let's face it: bodybuilding is an individual sport. It's you, and only you who controls the outcome, assuming you have a good coach and follow your coach's plan. It takes tons of organization and it's not always fun. It sucks when just to go out for a day you need to prep 4 meals and make sure you got your training/cardio done before going out to make sure it's not missed. Then, you need to carry your tupperware around all day somehow and make sure you have the time throughout the day to eat those meals. The best quote I have for this is: "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail". I absolutely love competing and I actually enjoy the prep, but I know some aspects of my life suffer during those weeks. To me, it's totally worth it and I have learnt to manage it quite well. It depends on the person and like everything else in the world, it depends a lot on your mindset and approach.
To most, we are the picture of health. I will be the first to say that the condition we bring to the stage is definitely not healthy. On stage we are at an extremely low percentage of body fat and yes, we dehydrate ourselves. Not to mention the obvious use and unfortunately in many cases, abuse of performance enhancing drugs. There are many ways to approach competition day, but no matter how you look at it, we do crazy things to bring our best package to the stage. We deplete ourselves for weeks then manipulate water/sodium/carbs and everything else under the sun to attain our "peak" physique. Diuretics are used and it can be pretty dangerous. Personally, I don't get my period at all throughout my prep. This might be TMI for some people but it's the reality of things. Women require a minimum of body fat to be able to menstruate and keep all the systems running properly. In prep, I train 7 days a week, I am extremely active and I'm constantly losing body fat, which takes the upper hand on some of my systems. It's just one of the many tolls our bodies take when we are prepping for a competition. Moral of the story, we aren't always setting the best example. Don't get me wrong I am a very healthy person; I eat extremely well all year round, I train 5-7 days a week, I don't drink or party.. I am just trying to get the point across that on show day we are not presenting a healthy or maintainable physique. It's not rare for people to gain 10-20 pounds in the weeks following a competition and that's actually a good thing. Your body needs to replenish itself and get back to a fully functioning state. Before deciding to do a competition on a whim, make sure you do your research and know what you're getting yourself into. It can be an extremely validating experience but it can also turn negative. Be smart!