Disclaimer: This blog post applies to EVERYONE. Anyone who has looked at a magazine and felt the need to do a detox. Anyone who has put hours of running in an attempt to get 'bikini ready'. Anyone who has used exercise as a method of altering their appearance. This is not just bodybuilding related.
About a year ago I decided to wave my white flag.
I was calling it quits.
I was no longer going to fight.
You might read that and think "where the hell are you going with this…??". (I know it was getting a little deep).
I'm talking about the thing that consumed my thoughts and ate up all of my time.
For many years it was fun. I was part of a community that was doing the same thing as me and lived a similar lifestyle as me. There is a perception of being in it together. There is an understanding among this group of the effort that it takes to commit yourself to this lifestyle. We all work hard in our off seasons and look forward to meeting up again for competition season. I was motivated by this. I worked hard and I saw results. I got out of it what I put into it and that was fulfilling.
I spent hours every week...every day even in the gym. I ate 3500-4500 calories every day in an effort to maintain my muscle and add more size. My year was divided into 'off seasons' and 'competition seasons'. I was short on sleep (every day). My workouts revolved around 'building-up' my weak spots and maintaining my physique. The purpose of food was to give my muscles what they needed to grow.
But, that wasn't all that was required of me...
Along with this lifestyle, comes a certain frame of mind. A 'no excuses' frame of mind:
...Push. Don't stop. Leg day. Back day. Chest day. Leg day (again). Don't miss one or you'll fall behind. Your competition is working harder than you. Push. Don't stop. Don't let up. I HAVE to go the gym. I will NOT skip the gym. I will NOT miss a meal. Behind on meals? Stay up until they're finished. All of this is for that one day on stage. No regrets...
There is no room for error. There is no patience for weakness.
This level of commitment requires that a certain degree of "blinders" be worn. You can't afford any distractions. You dig deep and find a way to motivate yourself.
One day something changed.
This lifestyle was fulfilling until one day it wasn't anymore.
It was motivating until one day I started to doubt it.
It was exhilarating until one day it didn't sit well with me anymore.
I'm not sure when that day was, but somehow my beloved routine was unsatisfying. I was getting antsy and disinterested in this lifestyle. It no longer felt like I was making the most out of my life.
And so, the blinders came off.
I realized I was in a constant battle with myself. I was constantly fighting my body.
Breaking it down. Forcing it. Pushing it. Exhausting it. Trying to re-create it. All for what? My appearance? The size of my muscles? The way I looked? ...SERIOUSLY?!
I decided to stop.
It has taken me about a year to come to terms with that decision. I've struggled with it. I've shied away from change repeatedly and wanted so badly to go back to what was comfortable. I've wanted to return to what was easy.
I've introduced myself to a new way of life, a "community" in a sense. I use 'community' lightly because I'm not part of an actual club, but there is an increasing number of people who are supportive of this message. There is no longer an emphasis on how I look. Instead, there is only an emphasis on how hard I work, how healthy I am and how I live my life.
Here Is That Message:
Food is fuel.
It provides the energy for your workout and the nutrients for your body's health. It is not meant to be weighed or measured in hopes of a smaller waist. Instead, food is meant to give you health from the inside out. You should learn what your body needs. Commit to learning about nutrition and your body. Your body's needs will fluctuate over time.
Sleep is important.
Without adequate rest your workout will suffer and your recovery will be slow. Add to that list; your cortisol levels will rise and your immune system will be weakened. Lack of sleep is not a badge of honour. The research is heavy on this one so don't wait for your body to struggle before your try to correct this.
Your training should revolve around your goals. Perhaps you want to run an obstacle course, perhaps you want to take on a weightlifting program or perhaps you simply want to be able to run after your kids. That is the big picture of what your training should be working towards. Your training should improve you, not your appearance. Work to be committed to your training and you will uncover new skills and abilities as well as mental strength and grit.
Forgiveness. Patience. Self-love.
It is impossible to be perfect in your journey. Monitor your self-talk for negativity and commit yourself to improving on this. There will be days that life takes over and a training session won't happen. There will be days where a particular lift seems out of your reach. There will be days where your feet will feel like they're dead weight during a run. There will be days where you need to rest. Allow for these days. They are all part of your journey.
I hope to motivate others to MOVE. JUMP. LIFT. RUN. BEND. STRETCH. FUEL. RECOVER. LEARN. LIVE.
I hope that instead of you wanting to look a certain way that you'll work at improving what you're capable of...even if that means just getting up off the couch (for starters!). I hope you choose nutrients over deprivation. I hope you choose to rest when needed.
I hope you give yourself room to breathe.
I hope you live.
Thank you for reading! Feedback always appreciated.