Have you ever seen a girl on the cover of a magazine, and think wow I would do anything to look like her? I used to think the same thing. When I was in high school, I got my first Oxygen magazine and was inspired to become more fit, and to have that six pack. I would work out, eat clean (what I used to think was clean) and thought I was trying my hardest and nothing worked. As I got older, I learnt more, and hired a coach to help me achieve this “cover model” goal.
Fast forward today.
Often times wants to look a certain way, picture perfect all the time. Especially women, we have this “ideal” body type that we can NEVER reach- no matter how lean we are, no matter how great are arms or legs look, we always want MORE. I’m not sure if it’s a case that we are not happy yet because we know we could do better, or if we are trying to live up to society’s expectations. Whatever the reason, chances are, if you ask any woman, there is something she is not happy about. Heck, I was doing measurements on several new clients this week, and I heard nothing less than 4-5 complaints from each of them about their body. “There’s lot of fat there”, “does your scale tell you I’m fat?”, “I know I’m fat”… constant negative self-images, and why? Because society had lead up to believe we need to be skinny to be accepted.
Even myself. Recently, I opened gym. While I was in the process of building/set up, I didn’t have time to cook food. Sure I could have made time, but that was not my priority. My priority was the gym and everything else got put on the back burner. As expected, I gained some weight, and I was completely okay with this because my focus was the gym. So, I decided I hadn’t competed in a while, so I would do a show, because it would help hold me accountable to eat properly, and not skip my workouts.
I want to be completely honest and tell everyone, I learnt a valuable lesson trying
to start a gym and prep for a show. My sanity is not worth it. Let’s get this straight, I f#$%ing LOVE my job. All day I get to hang out with amazing people all day, help them reach their goals, share recipes, see them reach personal bests. What is not to absolutely love? It’s incredible and I am very grateful. Let’s also get something else straight, I f#$%ing working out! I LOVE lifting heavy, and getting personal bests, and feeling STRONG! That is what motivates me EVERY time I go to the gym- how much more can I lift? How much stronger can I get? I love it- I would hang out there all day if I could. Another thing I LOVE to do is cook- I love coming up with recipes and making food that tastes amazing, while being healthy. I love sharing recipes and I love teaching my clients how to cook. Do you see a pattern here? I love what I do, and I love my life.
Now enter competition prep. Scheduled meals, scheduled workouts. Meaning, more dishes (for me, usually about 40 minutes per night), workouts (1 hour), cooking prep (anywhere from 30 mins3 hours depending on how many meals I cook). Don’t forget all the times you are going to have to say sorry-I need to go workout, or sorry I need to prep my meals. Coming closer, you could add in sprints a few times a week, so there’s another few hours gone there.
Did I mention I just opened a gym? I see on average 50 clients per week, between personal and group training. It’s not a 9-5 job, your hours are dependent on when people are available. Don’t forget program writing, paperwork, social media, cleaning the gym, outreach, and the list never ends.
But wait a second, I’m out of meals but I have a few hours of paperwork? What do you choose? Well the urgent issue is the food. So, off I go to prep my food. Sorry paperwork you will have to wait until tomorrow. Up goes the cortisol because you really wanted to get that done and now you’re stressed. At least your meals are prepped though, you say to yourself. This continues for weeks and as your meal portions fluctuate, your mood and energy does the same.
Lately, I haven’t been my bubbly self. My workouts have suffered (I am constantly exhausted at the gym and go because I have to, not because I want to), I am grumpy about my food, because everything is machine-mode now. Cook the food, eats it. All my excitement from cooking is gone. I’ve even been low energy at work (the gym). Throughout the prep I have I have gone from a positive person, to a negative resentful person, and that is not who I am.
Today, I spent a lot of time thinking today and asked myself what is my PURPOSE in life? I’ll tell you one thing, winning a trophy for a bikini competition was nowhere on that list. Helping others and making myself proud was. Then I asked, what do I really LOVE? What makes ME happy? The answer for me was easy. I love working out, I love cooking and I love seeing clients progress. Prepping has made me tired, agitated, grumpy, depressed, sad and unmotivated. Women say they would kill to look like that. You know what I say? Some women do. Some women do hours of cardio and mess their bodies up so bad that once they step offstage, they gain more weight than they originally lost, or in extreme cases, have ended up in the hospital. It not only takes a toll on your body, but competing effects your mental state as well. You look amazing for one day, then your body goes back to a healthy body fat, then your body goes back to a healthy body fat, and you may feel as you never look good unless you are stage ready. I have heard it often- girls who compete want to look stage ready round. For me, that’s not realistic- it’s insane. I would rather look healthy and strong year round, and be able to go out with friends, or have a treat here or there without feeling guilty. I had to ask myself, how much am I willing to lose to get on stage to look good on the outside while being sad and miserable on the inside? Relationships, family, friends, and work all come second to prep. It is a selfish sport. Now, I must add, I am sure not everyone’s prep is like this, but for me, running a business and trying to prep, I had to decide, what do I really want more?
I want to see my clients become healthier, stronger, and happier. I want them to feel as confident in their bodies as I do. I want to teach them healthy food can taste good with a little prep. I want to teach them you don’t need to give up everything, and that if you want a cookie or a slice of pizza (gluten free of course) sometimes, well that’s life and we can’t criticize ourselves too much, and we need to stay positive and be proud of ourselves and stop talking down to ourselves. I always tell my clients if you had a friend who talked as negatively about you to you, would you say friends with them for very long? Absolutely not- so why do we beat ourselves up? I want to help people so much and I have so many amazing ideas, and to me, if I was to focus on prepping for a show, I would be being selfish and wouldn’t be able to give 120% to either, and I love my clients more.
So no, I’m not competing in June. I will however be doing exactly what I want, what makes me happy- lifting heavy objects while grunting, pushing cars, making some tasty foods (and posting recipes) and helping my clients succeed. What does this give me? A body I am proud to maintain year round, and my happiness, and to me, I’m proud of that.