“Why would you compete?” “Why have you never competed before?” “When are you going to compete?”
These three questions I have been asked countless times over the past 2 years from a whole host of people; friends, family, fellow gym-goers, personal trainers, colleagues…the list goes on, so I thought I would write a blog post in my last couple of days of my off season to answer these!
People compete for a number of reasons, I don’t think there is a perfectly ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ motivation to competing, I just think you should only consider it if you are truly prepared for what it entails. Some people seem to want to compete as soon as they have lost a few pounds from going to the gym and being more mindful of their calorie consumption. While I don’t think this is a bad goal to have in mind, I would argue that both mentally and physically, prep may be a dramatic shock. I have never dieted for a show before, but I have done a prep before. You may think you know what it feels like to be eating in a calorie deficit, but you really don’t. To consistently eat in a calorie deficit leaves you with a multitude of feelings. Getting used to feeling hungry is the easy part, but lacking energy, being moody and behaving irrationally can also happen, and these often feel out of your control. Unless you are familiar with these feelings, the hormonal changes can be very difficult to comprehend. I am aiming, throughout this prep, to recognize these behaviors in myself before they manifest. Needless to say, being hungry, tired and grumpy are not my motivations, but I am mentally prepared to encounter them.
I have never competed before because I haven’t felt like I have the physique to look like I belong on the stage until now. I am still doubtful, but as with all these things, I am going to trust the process, follow instructions and have fun! Some people seem to view prep as an obligatory chore, and, if you do view it like that, I would question why you are competing at all. It is completely voluntary, so endless complaining is both unproductive and irritating. Sure, not all of it is going to be fun, but if the bad outweighs the good, then why bother? In some ways, I think social media expects people to complain about prep, search ‘foodporn’ hashtags and talk about all the food they cannot eat. I am going to try and go against this, by documenting how I truly feel each week. Furthermore, I am going to try and dispel myths that competing is nothing but cardio and broccoli and show that you can still live your life and prep to stage conditioning.
So why am I competing?
1. I love working out. I love everything about it – lifting weights; seeing my body change in strength and appearance; the people I meet (and the extra calories I can eat). Lifting weights has given me so much more confidence and, to me, stepping on stage seems like the natural next step. I may love it, I may hate it, but I will never know until I try.
2. To get out my comfort zone. I firmly believe you learn and grow the most outside of your comfort zone. Until I emigrated, I very much lived within my comfort zone. Since then, I have made some very big life changes and I have learnt so much about myself and other people too. Walking on stage in stripper heels and a glittery bikini is a far cry from my preferred outfit of pajamas and frog slippers, but I love a challenge.
3. To gain confidence and highlight passion. Confidence and passion are two qualities I admire in everyone. I don’t mind what someone’s passion is, but being passionate is inspiring. People who are passionate really embody being ‘alive’, from their mannerisms to their demeanor to their choices. Confidence, I have learnt, gets you everywhere. Again, it is an infectious personality trait (not to be confused with arrogance), that makes you come across as competent and successful. I am passionate about exercising, but confident, I am less so. As you may know from previous blog posts, I am consistently working on becoming more confident. I am incredibly career driven and know that confidence will only help me succeed at work as well as in the gym.
So, no, my motivations are not to have shredded abs for the beach or to hold a trophy (both of those would be excellent by-products), I am competing for reasons far beyond that. And, you know what? I bet if you asked other competitors, most of their motivations wouldn’t be anything aesthetic either. The lean physique showcases the motivations, but I am in this prep for far more than for a very orange selfie.