In 2014, after much observation and research into competing, and inspiration from a close friend who competed in her first show, I decided to commit again to preparing for a fitness competition. If you haven’t read about my first attempt at preparing for a competition, check out My Journey to the Stage Part 1. I felt like I had found an enjoyable, balanced and healthy approach to getting lean. I decided to be my own coach and to try have a relaxed approach, viewing this experience as a bit of an ‘experiment’.
I started off by writing a list of the reasons why I wanted to attempt this goal and what my approach would be. That way, when it got hard or I started doubting if I wanted to continue, I could look at this list for encouragement and motivation. This was my list of why I wanted to do a fitness competition, and my approach to it:
· To get into my best shape ever, and to achieve a challenging fitness goal, whilst strictly not compromising on the more important things in life – my faith, husband and health (mental and physical). I don’t aim to be the leanest on stage. I aim to be MY best and be proud that I did not sacrifice anything of greater value.
· To motivate and inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle, work hard towards their goals and follow their dreams.
· To grow in character as a person. Doing something that is so challenging and out of my comfort zone will help me to become more confident, disciplined and dedicated.
· To prove a ‘bikini body’ can be achieved in a maintainable, healthy and balanced way.
· I commit to not viewing my nutritional preparation as a ‘diet’, because the more you restrict your diet, the more you obsess about food. Also, dieting can lead to psychological struggles around food like worrying excessively about what to eat and binge eating. Instead, I will follow the IIFYM approach. This approach gives me the ability to reach my goals without being restricted.
· I will not use the word ‘diet’ or ‘cheat meal’. I associate these words with negative emotions and feelings. I will substitute them with ‘nutritional approach’ and a ‘re-feed meal’.
My training consisted of three to five weights session per week, a walk most days with my training partner ‘Happy’ and for the last few weeks 1-2 HIIT sessions.
I even went on a nine day holiday to New Zealand with my husband during week four and five of prep.
After a twelve week preparation, I competed in the INBA show on the 6th of September. It was one of the biggest adrenalin rushes of my life!
I was so proud of looking comparable to other girls in my division despite not having done anything extreme or unhealthy. That was one of my continual doubts throughout prep: Will I look like I fit in and belong up there? I was also proud of having got the hang of two new skills – walking in heels and posing! I have never done anything like dance or modelling so these were quite out of my comfort zone. I placed 6 out of 20 which was a lovely surprise.
Reflecting back on the whole experience I can only think of two negatives.
1. Having to log EVERYTHING I ate or drank into My Fitness Pal (an app). However, for the freedom and flexibility it gave me, as well as the positive relationship with food, I still think it is the best approach out there for me. If I compete again I will definitely use this flexible dieting approach again.
2. The worry, anxiety and self-doubt I experienced at times. Because I didn’t have a coach, I would often be thinking thoughts such as, ‘Am I lean enough?’ and, ‘Should I change my current macros or training schedule at all?’ or ‘How do I ensure I don’t get bloated on competition day?’ I would counteract these thoughts with telling myself ‘It’s no big deal, really. These competitions happen several times a year. If things don’t go to plan, you can just do it again’.
I believe that just because something is hard and challenging, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If you always did what was easy and stress-free, you wouldn’t have a very exciting and full life, would you?!
I hope you enjoyed my brief insight into my journey to the stage. Please feel free to comment below or contact me if you have any other questions!