If you train at a gym or follow ‘fit’ people on Facebook or Instagram, you have probably been inundated more so than usual with comments, posts, photos, progress shots, excited/scared musings of people who have competed, are still competing, or are ‘going to’ compete in 2015. Enough indeed to make a lot of people who haven’t previously considered competing to contemplate doing so, and enough for those who have thought about it before, to make the decision that they will finally do it, and for many others to worry that they are missing out or being left out of the latest fad.
Before you decide whether or not it is really for you, please consider the following points:
1. What is your ‘why’?
Your ‘why’ should be a deep and personal motivation. Training and dieting for competitions is incredibly difficult both mentally and physically. Without a strong enough ‘why’ you will not have enough motivation to endure it or make the sacrifices required.
2. Do you already have a bad relationship with your body and with food?
If you already have a bad relationship with your body and with food be assured that dieting for a competition will NOT improve it and will in fact deteriorate it further and to extremes. If you are competing because you admire the bodies of girls on stage and want that for yourself, then you will never be happy because those bodies on stage are TEMPORARY. They are the result of highly specialized diets and training programs, followed with complete dedication for many, many weeks or months, mostly to unhealthy and unsustainable levels of calorie depletion, and then the competitors religiously stick to a further deplete week where their calories and macros are precisely manipulated and water is loaded and depleted to ensure a diuretic effect on THAT ONE DAY. Competitors are also darkly tanned, beautifully made up, with lovely hair and gorgeous bikinis and heels. They do not look like that every day and neither will you.
3. On stage you are judged wholly and solely on your physical appearance
Yes, that physical appearance is the outward manifestation of non-physical character traits like mental strength, self sacrifice, dedication, focus, the ability to push yourself to the limit with training, endurance, strength and consistency, but in the end you are judged purely on your physical appearance. Is that something you can accept? The judges do not know your personal story, what you have overcome to get on stage, how much weight you have lost or who you have positively influenced along the way. Those are things that might make you a winner in life, but if you do not meet the physical standard on stage then you will not win at that competition and you may well be judged harshly by others. Are you mentally strong enough to accept this?
4. Are you good enough?
Have you spent years working your butt off in the gym and the kitchen? Have you dieted down sufficiently? Do you have the right genetics? Are you in a position whereby you could realistically win the category you have entered? I am against people who have never trained or have no idea about healthy eating thinking they should compete. Really, they are wasting everyone’s time and showing little respect for the competitors who have trained for years, who have dieted to extremes, who have sacrificed and suffered and endured to breaking point. Bodybuilding, physique, figure, fitness– this is not a trivial, fun hobby, it is a serious undertaking by athletes and involves a level of professionalism that should not be lowered just because some people are doing it for some ego-serving purpose. Make the standard or set your sights on a later competition. There is no shame in recognizing that you aren’t ready for a particular date you may have set your sights on; you aren’t quitting on your dream if you just postpone it to a later date. Competitions are being held all year round now, so just wait until you are ready to smoke it. Aim high for yourself! Don’t just ‘make up the numbers’.
5. Do you have an exit strategy?
The time period following your comp day is just as important, if not more so, than your comp prep. Without an intelligent reverse diet and plan for how to mentally adjust after the competition you can expect severe depression, physical discomfort, a feeling of being lost, a loss of identity and thinking that your physical appearance is the major factor in how others perceive you. These feelings can last for a VERY LONG TIME and can be extremely debilitating. For some, the time on stage isn’t worth the price paid for weeks, months or years afterwards. You need to be forewarned and fore-armed, with lots of support and a plan in place to get through this period.
But if you are ready to compete and want to experience the great excitement and the myriad of good things that come with it, then go for it! It can be life changing and hugely positive if you approach it with the right mindset! Plus the opportunities for travel and connecting with wonderful people who share your lifestyle is awesome! And how else do you justify those gorgeous bikinis?