I’ve recently started training full time, a decision I couldn’t be happier about! It’s always fun to try new old things in a new old town and see if you can stay on your feet long enough to have an impact on some lives and the economy (aka my bank account). Quitting the old job that involved 50 hours a week or 6-7 days a week feels like freedom. To top it off, I’m off season, baby! Time to eat big, get big and see all those gains.
However, doing shows does something to your brain. It ruins you. You spend your whole life grabbing different body parts in the mirror, and sucking in or sticking something out to try to create that photo-shopped look we just all HAVE to have. You’ve spent your whole life staring at other girls and measuring yourself up to them while applauding or condemning your own body and it’s small belly chub or weird thigh extensions flapping on the edges. And then on show day, you wake up, look in the mirror, think, I’ve never looked this good (all while still deciding that you could have lost a couple more….) and then literally going on a stage in front of judges who look at you and decide which one of your group has the best body. Every woman’s nightmare is a sport. To make it worse, they rank you even if you don’t win. So, for the rest of your life, you know that you can achieve that top 1% body that most people, even photoshopped models, won’t ever be at. You know why they can’t do that? You can’t live like that. Bodybuilding shows are rough, and you’re the weakest you’ve ever been. Tired, hungry, cranky, dehydrated, moody. Your relationships are all on the fritz because you’ve either unreasonably lashed out at them or haven’t seen them unless they, too, attend the gym like it hands out free pizza every time you go (Eat it, Planet Fitness.) It’s not like an eating disorder that allows you to disappear and work out and not eat. You have MUSCLE MASS that you have to maintain like it’s the spoiled baby you always dreamed of. You have to feed it every 3 hours and you have to take it to the gym for 3 hours a day. And you can’t overfeed it or underfeed it and you think about nothing else 24/7. When you’re doing something other than working out, it’s constantly running through your mind that you want to work out. It’s your LIFE. All of these memes try to make all the non-crazies feel bad saying “‘Obsession’ is a word lazy people use to describe ‘dedication'”. False. It’s an obsession. It’s a controlled eating disorder that will plague you the rest of your life. You can no longer look at food and think This is a delicious piece of watermelon. All you see after a show is “14 grams of sugar, 20 carbs, 0 fat, fast burning sugar, high water content.” Your brain is addicted.
Now I’m not saying doing body building competitions are a bad thing. I’ve never been healthier (off season, when the raging carb-starved jerk has gone into relapse and the brown rice overfloweth). I overcame an eating disorder by living in this structured lifestyle. It forces you to take care of yourself. I have accomplished things I never thought I could, lifted heavier weight than I ever thought possible, and pushed through times that make other hard things, like college, or even a marathon, pale in comparison. And somehow it’s all worth it. But my thoughts today are on the off season. Bikini competitors and all body builders alike know what I mean when I say we’re ruined. Once you’ve seen your body at 13% or 10% or hell, 2% body fat, everything else is “fat”. I watch countless posts on facebook of insecure, normal looking fit people criticizing themselves or justifying a selfie by calling their normal body fatted bodies “fluffy”, usually in an attempt to attain some sort of affirmation that they’re still insanely hot. “Fluffy?” as if fat is made of cotton candy and whipped cream and it just floats around us like extra fur. No.
So this is a message to myself, and all the others who constantly criticize their “fluffy” bodies in off season: YOU ARE DOING IT RIGHT. Someone who stays at 10%(women) all year round is a) doing steroids, b) not getting gains, and c) miserable. Now I’m not saying that you have to gain 30 pounds (I’ve seen others put on 50 or more), after a show like I did after my first. As a representative of the fitness community, especially if you are a personal trainer (because for some reason I can’t train you while eating cupcakes, but that sounds fun and I’ll put it on the bucket list), you should stay decently lean because you’ll have to lose it again, and people can’t see those awesome muscles you bust ass for every day otherwise. But we have to stop criticizing ourselves for being in the average range! Or even people who criticize themselves who are still in the athletic range for body fat! You must do this to put on muscle! You must live your life! And you probably still look amazing! No one else is walking around dissecting watermelon like we are and no one else noticed that your delt vein went away. Enjoy your cheat meals. Enjoy your clean eating too. But most importantly, enjoy your boobs that finally came back.