Training for a competition is not easy. Point blank. But then again, I believe that anything we do in life is only as hard as we make it. Having competed in 6 competitions prior to this past weekend, I decided to take a different approach to competition #7. This was been due to the following variables:
1. As a coach of nearly 40-60 clients on any given week, it is extremely difficult to find any remaining emotional energy to plan for and monitor my own body and its progress for competition purposes. For this reason, I have tried hiring coaches over the past six months, but never resonated with any of them as I know too much, and did not agree with their approach nor tactics. I respectfully stopped working with each coach after merely a week or two.
2. With a business that is growing rapidly, my travel requirements, obligations, and stress have been at an all-time high. In the past three months, I have spent a total of 3 weeks at home, slept in more than 10 different hotels and worked out in more than 20 different gyms.
After a disappointing outcome to my May competition in Surprise, Arizona with the ABA (taking 7th), I took the summer off to build and regroup mentally. I decided I would not step onstage for another year until Spring 2015 so I could build even more. The growth of my upper body has been a long time in coming due to genetics, as well as my scoliosis. I have put in the work day-in and day-out with extreme attention to my nutrient fueling and supplementation. Knowing just how much it would take for me to overcome my own physical limitations, I took that, and the bruised ego into consideration to say I would not step onstage again this year.
I am still a fledgling in this industry, and never once have pretended to know or be it all. I am not a pro. I am still competingin amateur shows. I am working hard to get my pro card. My clients all know this. I am often told that that sets me apart from other coaches—that I don’t profess to know it all. I’m learning right along with my clients, and together, we are all able to progress. Healthily. Happily. For the right reasons.
And so, after the urging and quiet encouragement of a dear friend that made me look deep inside, I decided to stop being weak-minded and try again. I began my competition prep for the Fitness America weekend—the biggest worldwide competition in the Musclemania organization in 2014.
After all of my studies and experience in teaching people about the principles of the Power Foods Lifestyle, I knew that I could utilize these principles to facilitate a competition prep without ever having a solid meal plan. A “typical” competition diet has a competitor following the same basic meal plan with small tweaks by the coach or trainer along the way for anywhere from 6-12+ weeks. I personally train my competitors in a way that has me change their meal plan every week so they benefit from variety and yummy foods while still meeting my macronutrient manipulation strategy for them and their body, blood type, and competitor category. Without a solid meal plan, refusal to step on the scale, and no time for progress photos more than once every 3-4 weeks, I would have no way of knowing if I had “arrived.” I would truly have to trust my approach, my body, and my compliance in behavior. It would be the greatest emotional and mental journey of the year.
Throughout this journey, I wasn’t sure if I would come in lean enough. I wasn’t sure if my theories would test true. I had no guarantee, just hope. Even the day of my competition, I kept telling people that this competition was a “wash.” In other words, I did not think I was competitive enough to place. As I think back over my emotions, this was 100% in part to not feeling like I did competition prep “correctly,” as everyone else does it. It wasn’t until I was backstage and had a few of the competitors come up to me asking if I was in the Figure Tall category and catching glances of what I like to call "physique respect" did I even begin to think that maybe, just maybe, I had succeeded in my efforts.
It was such an amazing privilege to have one of my clients, Lynette of Las Vegas, walk on the stage right after me and share that special time with her. She looked radiant and it was so sweet to see all of her MONTHS and MONTHS of hard work culminate at this moment for her! My eyes filled with tears as I stood on the side of the stage, having just exited, and watched her pose so beautifully under the lights, her muscles shining with all their tanned and slicked-up slendor. Ahhhhhh I was so proud of her! That moment, as well as watching my two other clients in this competition do SO well, were worth it for me.
So upon re-entering the stage and hearing my number and name called for second place was simply a shock. I was a little brain-numb after that. After exiting the stage, it finally hit me, and I allowed a few tears of happiness to leak backstage where no one could see me.
- No one knew the extent to which I had gone to make this competition happen.
- No one knew the incredible stress it had been on me to train two-a-days while traveling and sleeping 4-5 hours per night.
- No one could ever see into the other sacrifices I made in my life each day to make not only this competition, but my business, a possibility.
But that doesn’t matter. Because I do all I do not for public recognition, but for the joy of doing it.
That is what I got out of this entire experience. Each of us have the opportunity to do much behind the scenes, without honor, applause, or fame. So we must look inside and ask ourselves WHY we do what we do. When we do things for US and our own personal journey, we will always feel that our efforts were worth it.
Was this style of training difficult? Absolutely. Not having any meals prepared required me to have my willpower and desire for change at an all-time high with each mealtime that came, regardless of my state of fatigue, stress, or emotions. I had to make a strategic choice, instead of having a meal already prepped, which takes the mental processing out of the equation. This is a reason that I encourage people following the Power Foods Lifestyle to prep their foods for the most part.
I did my best to keep real food in the foods I ate more than relying on protein powder or Quest bars (my favorite!). I try to keep a maximum of two shakes in my day, and have the other remaining meals come from whole foods. I did find I went to the grocery store a lot more often than usual. I found that I ate at restaurants a lot more than usual. I found strategic foods to order at such well-known food places as Carl’s Junior, Wendy’s, Denny’s, Bajios, Café Rio, Applebees, and 5-star hotel buffets. I ate restaurant foods even through “Peak Week,” the week of competition.
As Power Foods Lifestyle principles state, a veggie must accompany every meal. I definitely had to get creative as I was often traveling. Baby carrots, bell peppers, cucumbers, and Ziploc bags of spinach were regular items in my pink little cooler I take with me everywhere. I learned to pack plastic bowls, plates, and utensils with me in my luggage, and keep some in my car when I was in Utah in my own car, not a rental. This allowed me to run into a grocery store and create an easy PVC or PVF (protein-veggie-carb) or (protein-veggie-fat) meal on the fly. I found that one of the easiest salads to create was with a can of tuna (you better believe I carry a can opener in my purse), spinach, and almonds with a little bit of cottage cheese and Ranch powder mix sprinkled on top.
I must give credit where credit is due: I had an incredible support system who kept me going and checked in on me often. Huge thanks to Geoff, who was there at the gym with less than a 24-hour text notice to train with me when I was in town. He is one of the only people I will train with because he pushes me hard with no requirement for small talk or wasting time. We go to lift, and we lift hard. I appreciate him and his attention to helping me train around my scoliosis very much! Then there is Frank, a natural pro bodybuilder friend of mine who lives back East. He checked in on me often, was there to help me keep my emotions and mind in check, and keep me focused on the small tasks ahead instead of the big picture. And then there is Julian, my hulkish friend in Salt Lake who sent me inspiring messages that lit me up each and every day and got me pumped to be my best. These three people truly were a big part of what helped me to keep going, and reconfirmed to me the need for an accountability and support system in ANY endeavor toward a goal. Thank you, my friends!
My own personal bodybuilding journey continues. I have found so much personal development through this hobby, but more than that, I have found my life. The Power Foods Lifestyle is the result of my dipping my toes in the bodybuilding world. Body Buddies resulted from my wanting to share the simplicity of what I was learning and observing. I love the science of shaping the body naturally using food as fuel and weights as sculpting agents. I love what this hobby does for me mentally in being an optimist, an achiever, and pushing the limits. I am excited for what 2015 will bring for me personally, as well as the entire Body Buddies family. There are some very big things happening in the near future, and it’s just a privilege to be the Momma Body Bud.