Less than 48 hours til the NPA Final. In fact, in 48 hours, I predict I’ll be all done and sitting in the audience cheering on the rest of the competitors. Whilst eating —insert current craving here— (today: corned beef sandwiches. Yes, really.)
As I mentioned earlier in the week, Friday of peak week is usually my favourite day. Of peak week. Perhaps of prep as a whole? Why? It’s restful, relaxing, time to reflect.
I don’t train. Carbs are back in my world. I usually take the day off work and, after walking the dog and prepping vast amounts of sweet potatoes and fish for the following 48 hours (I don’t fancy firing up the oven every time I need a serving of potato…), I just chill.
I wander into town. I buy the things I’ve been drooling over for months, knowing I’ll be eating them in 48 hours. I sit in a squishy chair in a coffee shop and read, or journal, or watch the world go by.
What have I done?!
Whatever the result on Sunday, I have already achieved far more than I set out to and far more than I expected to. More, too, than I thought I was capable of in my first year of competing. I thought I’d only do one comp. Then I realised there were two associations, so I thought I’d do two. Never in a million years did I think I’d reach one let alone two Finals. As it turns out, all these months later, being a British Finalist twice over in my first year is what I’ve achieved.
Progress… step by step, rep by rep
Every competition I do means I’ve taken myself to a new level. Even if I come dead last on Sunday, it’s not dead last to me. It’s further than I was before. Any placing in a Final is a step onwards, because it’s a reflection of more hard work, more training, more dieting, more prep.
A year-long experiment (ongoing!)
This entire year has been an experiment. A guessing-game much of the time. A collection of research, ideas, plans and fine-tunings. It’s been absolutely fascinating and I’ve learned so much, about nutrition and training, about my body and my mind, about the limits I can take myself to and how much I can achieve. The competitions – those brief moments on stage – are really a very small part of it all. The most exciting part, for sure, and the part involving the sparkliest bikini! But just the tip of the iceberg. Most of it is stuff only I really know, and most of it is stuff I can’t even articulate or reflect upon yet.
“That’ll do, Pig”
I am proud. Not prideful, but extremely proud of myself. There, I’ve said it. I don’t often (if ever!) give myself credit or simply say “well done. You did great.” But I did. We’re not even there yet, but I hereby pat myself on the back and say “well done, you did great.” Don’t misunderstand me, my prep has been far from perfect. But I’m proud of how far I’ve come, what I’ve learned and how I’ve applied it.
I’m proud, too, of the fact that I’ve gone through almost a year of prep without letting it send me insane. Those of you out there who have competed, you know how hard it is. The rest of you have some idea. It’s very easy to let prep – particularly the diet side of things – mess with your mind. I promised myself very early on I would not let this happen. Life’s too short, health is too precious. The moment it stopped becoming fun, I’d stop (believe me I came very close, on more than one occasion!)
So, for that reason, I’m proud of the fact that I’ve slipped up on my diet, given into cravings and eaten well outside my plan on some days. I’ve always been honest with myself and with my coach. I’ve never been ashamed, guilty, or dashed out to do extra cardio. I’m proud that I think I know myself and my body well enough to know when to say “shut up and eat the broccoli” and when to say “you’re right. Let’s have a bowl of that.” I’d rather get on stage 90% in shape physically and 100% in shape mentally, than 100% “shredded” if that means shredding my mind as well as my body. After all, time on stage is very short. Time at home, at work and being happy in my own self represents a far bigger portion of my life. In short, I’m proud of the fact that I’ve got through a long and tough prep, being strict enough to get great results without sending myself mad. I’m happy. That’s the main thing, and the thing which will still matter on Monday, trophy or no trophy.
I’m sure there was more I had to say, but that’s probably enough. To end on a lighter note, I must now go and scrub myself all over and get busy with a disposable razor. Tanning starts soon!
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.