In June of 2015 I went into this new journey with excitement and fear. I had noticed that this fitness competition thing was becoming quite the new popular thing to do and that mostly anybody could do it. All the stories I read were success stories on how amazing this experience was and how it changed peoples’ lives forever. For me all I wanted to do was get on stage. That was my initial goal. I have to admit though that I also wanted abs. Yep, I said it. I wanted to look smoking hot and have that body that most women dream about. Then as I researched it a bit more I became interested in the nutrition aspect of it and how it affects your body. I decided this would be my year to challenge myself to do something so out of my comfort zone that I had butterflies just thinking about it. I found THE BEST coach around and sat down with her to discuss my goals and see if I would be a good fit for this competition. Not everybody is able to do these competitions. You have to be doing it for the right reasons. I for one wanted to improve my self-confidence and prove to myself that I could do something that seemed almost impossible to me at that moment. I soon learned that most women that enter these competitions have some issue they want to resolve, some kind of insecurity or trying to regain control of their lives somehow by taking control of their body. I am a very dedicated person when I want to do something and I couldn’t get it out of my head so I was determined to go through with it to the end. My goal was to get on that stage. It wasn’t to come first, second or 10th…no it was just to step on that stage and show my family, friends and myself that I had done it.
After speaking with my coach I now had a better idea of what I was getting myself into. I thought at first that I would be deprived of a lot of foods and be starving all the time. Well, let me tell you that was not the case at all. I had to eat so much friggin food I had a hard time finishing my meals for the first two weeks! I ate a copious amount of veggies, rice, potatoes, chicken, turkey and fish. That was the extent of my diet for the first couple weeks just to gauge my base line. I was shocked but I was happy to have all that food. The next couple months my diet changed with my body slowly but surely. I couldn’t really notice the changes to my body but my partner and my coach would tell me that I was definitely changing. It was depressing for me because I was working so hard and eating so clean all the time but not really seeing the difference in my body.
The “before and after” pics as well as progress pics came and went but I was still self conscious of my body and worried that I wouldn't be ready for the competition.
During the whole process I was very focused, determined and dedicated. I hardly cheated on my diet (maybe a few times with crackers or a piece of dark chocolate). I did have cheat meals which was a life saver and I always looked forward and planned them carefully. I was tested many times and it was very difficult. It can be a very lonely time especially when it comes to food. You feel as though people are judging you, you feel like you are missing out at times. It's also hard when your 8 year old wants burger and fries and you have to watch him eat it while you have rice and fish. It was challenging to say the least but I did it. People constantly asking you what you are eating, why you are eating that, thinking you should eat more not knowing that was my 4th meal of the day while they only had breakfast. It was a constant obsession with food. Let's not forget the constant looking in the mirror, measuring, weighing and pictures. I was becoming obsessed with myself that is not in my nature. I only really noticed changes in the week before my competition and the day before, when I had my tan done, then I could really see my hard work. I was also deprived, dehydrated and tanned to the extreme. The next day I stepped on stage. I had accomplished what I had set to do and I loved it. It was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life and I felt I was on top of the world until it all came crashing down the week after the competition. That's what they don't tell you when you start this process. These are the hidden demons of competition life. The fact that you can't look stage-ready forever as it's not healthy or realistic.
Now I am aware of all this but even now, 4 months after my competition I still struggle with my body image and insecurities. I would say that I've been more obsessed with my body in the last 4 months than before my comp or even ever for that matter. I was warned about the post comp depression and it is a real thing. I didn't realize however that it would last so long. I thought I’d get over it after a couple weeks of going back to the gym and eating "normally" but no, it has not. Every day I compare myself to others I see on some kind of social media. I say to myself..."why does she have abs all year round, why can't I? Why can't I look cut like her all the time? Why does my butt look like this and not like that? Why can't I have her arms, her shoulders, her.....etc etc etc. Now I do realize that I am not out of shape, obese or flabby. I have always been active and in shape. Then why am I thinking these thoughts on a regular basis? Why am I so consumed with how I should look? I've always been one to compare myself to others but it was never this bad. I feel like this comp made me see a side of me that was beyond the reach of most people and I lived it and now I’m back down to earth and I have to accept that I can't and shouldn't look like that all the time. I am relentlessly working on trying to avoid social media (easier said than done) and talking to myself. I am still very active at the gym, going 4 times a week and eating clean 95% of the time. I am never happy with my results and I’m impatient, wanting to see more results faster. My goal is to gain muscle and that is not an easy task. For me it would probably take at least 1 year to grow 5-10lbs of muscle to be able to compete in nationals naturally.
Now I could continue this journey and always follow that same path but I think I’ve come to realize that it's not necessarily what I want. I want to be fit and healthy, yes, but I don't think I want to go through the ups and downs of competition just because of the aftermath and what's it’s done to me. Maybe one day I’ll learn to accept my body the way it is and be ok with not having abs 365 days a year but for now, I’m still dealing with the post comp blues and it's going to take a while for me to get out of it. I'm not saying NO to more competition but I’m saying NO for right now, at least until I get back to being me and being ok with it.
Blogging thoughts from OCRA Team