TheFitDog’s review of his Dog Buff from Kit Shack

February 27, 2015

*This is a blog post from Frankie the office dog*

Hey guys and bitches! How have you all been?

Sorry I haven’t blogged for you in ages (which in Dog Years is Really Ages!)

I’ve got a sweet product review for you all today: ideal for you outdoors-y type dogs who still like to look smart even when you’re muddy.

dog buff

My friends at Kit Shack (online shop which sells mainly outdoor gear, hats and buffs for humans) send me a smart DOG BUFF and asked me to use my handsome good looks and incredible writing skills to review it.

You guys already know that I have a Woof Coat, but what you might not know is that I love my old neckerchief (Nic’s sister had it made for me one Christmas). But the annoying thing about that thing is that it has to be knotted on, and then the knot slips round and flaps in my face, and if I have a drink you can bet your life the flappy bits of the knot will go in the puddle or in my food bowl.

My new dog buff solves all those problems.

It’s thin and stretchy, not at all restrictive, and totally comfy. I really like wearing it and push my head right through it when I see Nic get it ready. I dunno why… it feels comforting and I guess I know I look extra-handsome with it on.

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The one I got sent is blue and yellow as you can see, with cool pictures of bones and balls all over it. But you can get other ones in different sizes too – take a look at the Dog Buff range.

Here are my fashion recommendations if you want my advice (you do):
= black dogs like my cousins LOTTIE and DORA – red buff
= brown dogs like me and my cousin NALA – blue/yellow buff
= white dogs with spots all over like my friend PONGO – yellow buff

dog buff uk

It’s the perfect buff for this Winter/Spring transition time, giving just the right amount of warmth without being hot. The bright print means Nic can see me better even when I try to camoflague in the mud and sticks. And it has two thick reflective strips on it which are really bright when we are walking along the road in the evening.

Those ducks are totally jealous of my dog buff!

Those ducks are totally jealous of my dog buff!

The Dog Buffs from Kit Shack would get two thumbs up if I had any thumbs, but I don’t. So I give them a massive wag of the tail and a big smile instead!

You can check out Kit Shack online</a.

Thanks KitShack for my dog buff!
I really loved reviewing it! Frankie xoxox

TheFitDog’s review of his Dog Buff from Kitshack is a post from the Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


4 Healthier Pancake Day recipes from top fitpros

February 17, 2015

Today I turn the blog over to the capable hands of four fab fitpros. They’ve whipped up a pancake recipe each – which will you use tonight for Pancake Day?

The truth is, pancakes can be enjoyed all year round so if you find this blog post at a later date, go ahead and take your pick from these healthy, delicious protein pancake recipes!

Thanks to Fitcetera, The Fit Mum Formula, Benjamin Tormey and Vikki Ede.

fitcetera pancake day recipe
Fitcetera’s Fuss-Free Protein Pancakes

Fitcetera is a health and fitness blog run by Georgina Spenceley, a full time business analyst, part time sports massage therapist and blogger. Running, CrossFit and Yoga are her weapons of choice, but she also enjoys trying new fitness concepts. She has a passion for stylish apparel, and sometimes geeks out with science and gadgets. Georgina believes in a balanced approach to nutrition – no fads, no elimination – just moderation and learning to give your body what it needs, when it needs it. Look out for her “Anti-Diet Approach” book and course in the near future.

“I love these protein pancakes as a weekend treat that also helps me get my protein intake up. I sometimes struggle to get in enough protein to fulfill my needs as a very active person, but I also have a real sweet tooth, so protein powder helps me supplement my food. This recipe is so easy to make, and feels indulgent every time.”

Ingredients
– 1 medium banana
– 2 whole eggs (or 1 egg and 3 tbsp egg whites)
– 1 scoop (70ml or 25g) of whey protein (I use MyProtein Impact Whey, or Impact Whey Deluxe – vanilla or chocolate are nice)
– 1/2 tsp coconut oil (not because it’s “metabolism-boosting” or a “superfood”; just because it stops the pancakes sticking!)

Method
– Mash the banana with a fork. Add to a jug with the egg and protein powder and mix well.
– Heat a small pan (for American style pancakes) or a large pan (for traditional thin) on a medium heat and add 1/3 of the oil until melted.
– Add 1/3 of the batter mixture and tilt the pan to coat. Cook until small bubbles appear on the surface then flip with a spatula (or, if feeling nifty, by flicking the pan), and cook until browned.
– Repeat for the remaining mixture.
– Serve stacked on a plate with toppings of your choice (berries, peanut butter, hazelnut spread, maple syrup, etc.) or for traditional thin pancakes, roll them up with lemon and a sprinkle of sugar (or substitute).

ben tormey pancakes recipe
Ben Tormey’s Coconut Flour Protein Pancakes

Benjamin Tormey is an international fitness coach and trainer with a background in pure mathematics. He applies those mathematical skills to the science of training and nutrition: this allows him to get results quickly and efficiently, while fitting training and nutrition comfortably into clients’ lifestyles. Ben has previously coached clients for and written articles for PropaneFitness and Fitocracy, and contributed recipes to Anna Sward’s Protein Pow. Ben teaches people how to fit training and nutrition into their lifestyle in a sustainable way, and build good habits, to ensure long-term progress. He helps them understand why they should do things, not just how.

“These pancakes are perfect if you’re keeping carbohydrates low, but they aren’t terribly high in fat either, which means you can almost certainly fit them into your macros with room for extras.

I have experimented with loads of different protein pancake recipes and I always come back to this one. It’s simple, quick, and doesn’t require loads of esoteric ingredients. It actually tastes like you’re eating a real pancake, which is the most important thing!

You can play around with the ingredients, because the recipe is quite robust. You can use egg whites instead of a whole egg, or coconut milk instead of cow’s milk, for example, and it’ll still work.

I like to serve them with dark chocolate pieces placed between each pancake in the stack. Or take an additional scoop of whey, mixed with a little water to form a sauce and drizzle that on top.”

Ingredients
– 1 scoop/25g whey protein (white chocolate and vanilla whey are excellent choices for this recipe, but pretty much any flavour will work)
– 4tbsp coconut flour
– 1 whole egg
– 2tbsp semi-skimmed milk
– Raspberries, blueberries, dark chocolate, nut butter to serve (optional)

Method
– Mix all the ingredients or blend until smooth
– Coat a non-stick pan with cooking spray (butter and coconut oil are fine too)
– Place the pan over a medium heat
– Form small pancakes using 2-3tbsp of the batter
– Cook until bubbles form on top and then flip, cooking for another minute, or more until golden.

vikki ede gluten free pancake recipe
Vikki Ede’s Gluten and Wheat Free Banana Pancakes

Vikki Ede is Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach at MenopauseSurvivalPlan.com. As well as running MenopauseSurvivalPlan.com, she holds workshops for a charity teaching schoolchildren about healthy eating. She runs cookery classes for the school kids and for the parents looking to learn the basics of feeding children healthier options. After going through peri-menopause in her 40s, Vikki set about learning how best to help this special-population. She understands the feelings and pain that can be associated with this stage of life and wants to help women get more from life, lose weight, increase energy levels and enjoy relationships more. MenopauseSurvivalPlan.com shows women how to prevent, minimise or cope naturally with the many varied symptoms.

“All my recipes (including this one!) are created around tasty ingredients which benefit and nurture the hormones and reduce the impact of menopausal symptoms.

This pancake recipe is gluten free and wheat free and includes soya which is known to help during the menopause. It’s super quick, easy and stress-free for busy women juggling a million things.”

Ingredients (for 2 pancakes)
– 1 large ripe banana
– 1 large organic egg
– 2 tbsp gluten & wheat free or almond flour
– 1 tbsp protein powder (I use Synerprotein but you could use organic soya instead)
– 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp baking powder (GF)
– Coconut oil
– Maple syrup (optional)
– Fresh fruit of your choice

Method
– Put the first 7 ingredients into a Nutri-Bullet or blender and mix for 30 seconds.
– Heat a large frying pan over a medium-low heat and add 1 tbsp of oil.
– Once melted add about 2 tablespoons of the batter at a time to the pan for each pancake and cook until the bottom is set (1-3 minutes).
– Gently flip with a spatula and cook for a further minute.
– They need to be small and will be ‘floppier’ than pancakes which contain more flour.
– Serve immediately, topped with fresh fruit and maple syrup (optional).

the fit mum formula pancake day recipe
The Fit Mum Formula’s Flourless Ricotta Pancakes

Polly Hale is founder of The Fit Mum Formula, an online Fitness & Nutrition programme with all the resources you need to get in shape from the comfort of your own home. As a qualified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Advisor, and full-time Mum to six year old Aurora two year old Bella, Polly understands the need to feel healthy and energetic as well as confident about your body, but knows getting to the gym or following complicated regimes is just not an option for busy parents. Included in the BodyBack programme is an online cookbook with easy recipes that are all tried, tested and approved by her family.

“Avoiding gluten, whether by choice or for allergy reasons, doesn’t have to mean missing out, as this pancake recipe shows. Choose a protein powder that’s gluten free if you have an allergy or intolerance to it. Use whatever flavour powder takes your fancy – you could even skip the cinnamon and vanilla and use an unflavoured powder to make savoury pancakes; a little parmesan added to the mix would be delicious.”

Ingredients (makes 2 pancakes)
– 2 eggs
– 100g ricotta cheese
– 1 scoop (25-30g) protein powder
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract
– 1 tsp. cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp. baking powder
– Pinch of salt
– Coconut oil, to grease the pan

Method
– Whisk all the ingredients together except the oil to make a smooth batter.
– Grease a frying pan lightly with coconut oil and heat to a high heat.
– In two batches, pour the pancake batter into the pan then turn the heat to low.
– After a couple of minutes (when the pancake starts to come loose and bubbles appear), flip it over.
– Fry for a further 2-3 minutes before turning out onto a plate and serving with fruit.

I’d love to know if you make any of these recipes! Let me know here or on FB or Twitter and I’ll pass your comments on to the fitpro behind the recipe :D I’m sure they’d love to know that their recipes are being enjoyed.

4 Healthier Pancake Day recipes from top fitpros is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Tested this week: Supplemented.co.uk and 10% discount code

February 16, 2015

Today’s fitness kit I’ve reviewed this week is a new UK company with a very useful service.

Meet Supplemented, a no-frills, honest supplements and vitamins company that makes ordering health supplements really easy.
logo

Matt from Supplemented got in touch with me via the naturalmuscle forums, where the company are a sponsor. That immediately suggested good things to me: if the admins at naturalmuscle trust and rate a company, chances are I will too.

Supplemented are a small food supplements company based in London. Their focus is on providing top quality supplements, vits and minerals (they actually use exactly the same UK manufacturers as some big-brand suppliers and popular High Street chains) at very cost-effective prices.

Take a look at the prices, you’ll see what I mean. What I really liked about the Supplemented business model is that delivery is so hassle-free. It’s all sent directly from London, foil packed and letterbox friendly. So you won’t need to take time off work to sign for a parcel, or “discover” it behind your bin or with a random neighbour.

And the products are safe for tested athletes, too (a big selling point for me). Supplemented.co.uk’s suppliers are Informed Sport registered and audited, which means their products are all produced at a facility that has full compliance for both ingredients and the manufacturing process.

The guys at Supplemented sent me:

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)- 1000mg per capsule
Green tea extract – one of my must-have supplements all year round
BCAA tablets – I’m not sure of the ratio but I’d guess 2:1:1, at £7.99 for 90!
Creatine mono tablets – 750mg per capsule. Something I’m adding to my stack this off-season!

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As you can see (dog for scale) the packets are small and slimline, ideal for popping through the letter box with your normal post. The products are all top quality, and I really rate this new company and hope they do well.

Their range goes well beyond the sports supplement and bodybuilder type stuff – there are vitamins, minerals, joint care products, omegas, probiotics… etc.

10% discount code

Supplemented.co.uk have a discount code for thefitwriter readers – add MEMBERSDISCOUNT at checkout for 10% discount on your already very cost-effective order! Delivery is free regardless of order size.

Thanks for the supplements, Supplemented guys!

You can find Supplemented on Facebook and on Twitter.

Tested this week: Supplemented.co.uk and 10% discount code is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Valentine’s Day advice for lifters (client copywriting example)

February 13, 2015

I’ve left it far too late to write my own V-Day themed blog post. So I’ll share a couple of articles I wrote for my copywriting client Bulkpowders

The jolly good fellows at Bulkpowders asked for a romantic duo of slightly tongue-in-cheek and light-hearted blog posts this month. One for the fellas, about how to (or perhaps how not to!) go about attracting the attention of women in the gym, and one for the ladies.

I was happy to oblige – and had a lot of fun writing these two blog posts.

Why not give them a read? If you think I’m way off the mark, or if you have some better advice, let me know – leave a comment ;)

Screen shot 2015-02-13 at 14.30.15

For the ladies

….how should a gym-going girl go about attracting the attention of the right guy in the gym, without catching the eye of “that guy” (you know, the weird one who stares at you when you’re on the leg press and tries to talk to you when you’re between sets)? We’ve got you covered…

Screen shot 2015-02-13 at 14.31.24
For the fellas

Want to know how to make the most of your physique to get the attention of the lifting ladies? Be warned… there’s a fine line. Here’s how to get it right…

Valentine’s Day advice for lifters (client copywriting example) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


First-time bodybuilding competitor questions (and my answers)

February 2, 2015

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a friend of mine who is doing her first bodybuilding comp. She’s got support at home, but is certainly not surrounded by other competitors in daily life. So she often pings me questions on whatsapp or email. Now I’m not a coach or a PT, nor do I have one single qualification in training, nutrition, programming or coaching. But as a female competitor I am always happy to help out where I can (even if it’s just to give options or signpost to other/better resources!)

first-time bodybuilder competition prep questions

Here are some of the questions she’s asked me (and the answers I’ve given).

(Her questions in bold, my replies underneath).

Our chit chats cover all sorts of things that a first-time competitor feels, thinks, wonders about and worries about. Everything from cardio, to unwelcome gym comments, to what to do when you want to throw every tool in the box at prep all at once…

They might be helpful to you, too, if you’re just embarking on your first prep.

Feel free to add your own answers in the comments section (and don’t flame me if I’ve given really bad advice – I do always remind her that I’m not a coach, just a pal…)

On the topic of a stranger saying something pretty hurtful at the gym

Being a female bodybuilder means strong mind as well as muscles. You will come up against comments like that (also “don’t get too muscly”, “don’t overdo it”, “why do you want to do that to yourself” etc). What other people think of you is none of your business ;) And don’t forget he knows nothing of the criteria of your competition and category.

Frankly the only people’s opinions who matter are
-yours
-your loved ones
-the people sat at the judging table

Head down and focus on what you’ve set as your goal. Everything else is just chatter in the larger scheme of it all

Do you use MyFitnessPal or any kind of app to track your macros/calories?

Yes I use MFP. I also wear an activity monitor bracelet thing (Jawbone UP) which tracks output and syncs with MFP.

Had a deep tissue massage before the gym – OMG it hurt!

Ooh ouch! Try to have them on rest days if possible, not ideal before training. After training is an option too.


I’ve still got a fair amount of cellulite and naturally hold a lot of fat in this area…[legs]

Do you dry body brush? I swear by it for improving skin texture esp when prepping skin for show tan. Massage helps with blood flow; can’t hurt. Dry body brushing might not actually help the fat loss but will improve skin texture. I love it!


I don’t know enough about supplements! I only go buy what I read on the internet. I’m thinking because I’ve got a lot of leaning out to do, I should give everything a go? I can’t stand casein though… I’d rather eat cottage cheese.

I’d say the opposite: do the least, because then you’ll know what works. In terms of supplements I don’t think anyone “needs” anything but here’s what I take:

Whey, whey isolate, beef protein isolate (only after training)
Vit C, Vit D
Green tea capsules
Prebiotic and probiotic
ZMA (zinc and magnesium) at night (but I sleep like sh!t and you don’t)
Sometimes a BCAA drink/powder but don’t think I actually need it.

I’m never sure CLA does much for me but I know people who absolutely swear by it. Same as Creatine…never sure it does much but others wouldn’t be without it!

I’m on a downer… looked at where I was this time last year compared to now and feel my physique has barely changed… I feel like my dream is impossible

Your goal is NOT impossible. I promise. First up welcome to the head f**k of being one of the few to ever address a physique goal and actually do the hard work involved in changing health, fitness, body and mind. It is tough which is why we have these wibbles. But don’t let them overwhelm you. And “don’t believe everything you think” ;)

Secondly, changes will always be less visible at the start or anytime you’re less lean. But they are there and to discount them just because you can’t see them clearly is doing yourself a massive disservice. Think of it like the tip of an iceberg. That’s what you can see but you’d better believe there’s a lot more going on.

And finally don’t forget the stuff you can never “see”. How has your knowledge, passion, focus changed? Your education about training and nutrition? Your ability to walk into any gym and know what to do? Your ability to make good food choices, to prep food? What impact has it had on your health, confidence, performance at work?

You’re looking far ahead and the body needs to catch up with the mind that’s all. Body is always a slow coach but it’ll catch up in the end! Promise.

(Evidently I was in some kind of Yoda-mood that day LOL)

Majorly craving chocolate Nic… I’m so addicted!

Me too if it helps! Here’s what I’d try: Options (or similar) hot choc, or proper cocoa powder and coffee together. Or would that set off cravings? If so then try a fatty but savoury snacks: bit of steak, eggs, salmon, even a burger (just the burger) yes it’s unplanned cals but maybe better to eat as a strategy than potentially give in to cravings and ending up eating much more that way! Or use the distraction/change of scene tactic….bath and go to bed!

Think how different you’ll feel in the morning if you do have choc now vs if you don’t. Your brain and body are battling….. it’s up to you who wins

(This was sent late at night by the way, I wasn’t suggesting go to bed during the day just because you fancy a bit of choc).

I’ve barely eaten all day. Back to back meetings then jumped in the car straight after to try get home at a reasonable time! Nearly 9hrs with nothing. Debating what to have for dinner (aka trying to resist every naughty thing in the cupboards) That 3hr car journey has taken it out of me!

My response to this was on an email but it involved thinking about planning ahead, always having your meals with you (if you’re actually prepping for a show – which this person is – so you can stick to your plan, not get over hungry, and not run the risk of overeating because you’ve lost touch with your hunger cues).

I need to start doing cardio before work…

I’d say give current diet time for now…keep back morning cardio as a tool up your sleeve so you have somewhere to go. Don’t throw everything at it at once.

I go at it hammer and tongs rather than a tactical approach

Get the most results from the least…otherwise 1) you won’t know what thing worked and 2) you’ll have nowhere left to go when things slow

Do you think it sounds like I’m on the right track with my prep so far? 0.75kg loss per week?

0.75kgs off a week is perfect. Any more than that won’t be fat and you don’t want to lose muscle or be dehydrated. We can’t know what you’ll look like at [target]kgs of course but the rate of fat loss is perfect.

Should I just use spin as an occasional tool if the weight loss slows down? I did wonder how often to do it.

I think stuff like spin can be good for prep from time to time, just not often/regularly. Don’t agree with those who say avoid it. Good intervals, but really it’s too long (45 mins?) to be real HIIT. It’s more like longer cardio, but pretty stressful. Better to REALLY blast HIIT and really make the steady stuff steady, if you see what I mean.

OK so I’m think my new routine will be…[new plan follows with lots of changes and lots of cardio]

Every day? No chick, too much. Either/or am plyos/intervals or PWO cardio. And just do abs like any other muscle group, they need time between sessions.

You think doing cardio/plyo in the AM and weights in the PM works better than doing them combined?

Yes but only if it doesn’t compromise sleep, or happy family relationships! And 2x cardio definitely too much. And too much hiit/plyos too much. And throwing everything at it at the same time not a good idea. Needs to be gradual and measurable. So long to go yet, don’t think too far ahead. Stick to the plan, be CONSISTENT (always most important of all).

Should I up the cardio this week?

No don’t change anything. You’ve already changed some things this week. Fat loss may be right back on track! Just sit calm and wait and see. Plenty of time to tweak again if needed. Take measurements as well as weighing.

I’m sat at work hungry and grumpy and tempted to eat something naughty…

Maybe develop some snack ideas you can have on hungry days (especially when is such cold weather) so you don’t push the hunger to cravings but also don’t wreck progress. But for now I’d say it’s a good sign that the morning HIIT is doing its thing.

My team at work are doing a ‘Fat Friday’ today – cakes, fish and chips, pizza. I’m sticking to my chicken and rice

Fat Friday lol is that what they really call it? I have Fats Friday as its a rest day so low carb. Whole eggs, chicken thighs and steak ;)

Can you do a high fat day on comp prep?

If you carb cycle then yes of course, when carbs go down fats go up. Not too many changes all at once – you need to be able to measure and track.

First-time bodybuilding competitor questions (and my answers) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Tested this week: Emergen-C vitamin drink launched in the UK

January 24, 2015

Hands up who’s had that tiresome virus this Winter? Yeah, me too. Hands down if it lasted a week. Two weeks? Yep my hand is still in the air… I was more or less wiped out for three weeks by the dull visitation that was This Winter’s Super-virus. SO BORING.

However, the folk at Emergen-C vitamin drink sent me a bumper pack of EMC samples and the timing couldn’t have been better.

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I can’t claim that the Emergen-C cured my cold (I refuse to call it flu because, let’s face it, it wasn’t. It was just a bad cold virus). But I definitely felt better after a few days of drinking it. And I handed out sachets of EMC to friends and family who were also ill and they said the same.

What is Emergen-C? I’m sure I recognise the name…?

If you’ve been to the USA you’ll probably have seen it. It’s been an American favourite/favorite for years, but we haven’t been able to get it here in the UK. Til now! EMC launched over here at the end of last year and is now widely available (Boots and other major retailers).

It’s essentially a slightly fizzy Vitamin-C drink, available as flavoured powder, with added B-Vitamins and other nutrients.

It’s a great thing to have on hand for a drink in the morning or throughout the day, or you could add it to any smoothie or protein shake concoction.

Each serving Emergen-C has 1000mg (that’s 1g to you and me) Vitamin C as well as Vitamin D, six B-Vitamins (B1 – thiamine, B2 – riboflavin, B3 – niacin, B5 – pantothenic acid, B6, B12) and potassium, calcium, magnesium and zinc, manganese, and chromium.

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The ingredients list is pretty lengthy, so super-clean eaters might want to put their specs on and scrutinise: fructose is the first ingredient, and cane sugar, gelatine and soy bean oil are all on the list.

The little sachets are ideal for stashing in your handbag, gym bag or desk drawer for daily use or when you feel you need a pick-me-up. I’m glad I’ve still got some left – although I’m happy to say I’ve now banished the bug this time round!

Head over to the Emergen-C UK website for recipe ideas and your free sample. You can also find EMC UK on Facebook.

Thanks for the EMC samples, Emergen-C people!

Tested this week: Emergen-C vitamin drink launched in the UK is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Should YOU compete in bodybuilding competitions or not?

January 23, 2015

A few weeks ago, this article from T-Nation was doing the rounds. John Romano on Why You Should Never Compete It’s a pretty harsh (but also true) set of statements about why some people should accept the fact that bodybuilding isn’t the sport for them. Genetics, structure, psychological inability to diet hard enough, that kind of thing.

Whether you think Romano is correct or cruel, whether you think it’s the taking part that matters or only the best should be up there, it got me thinking.

Should you compete? Should we – as current or former bodybuilding competitors – encourage people to compete? What are the questions we should encourage people to answer honestly to themselves before they embark?

Or is there no need for over-thinking at all – should anyone who expresses an interest in physique sports be encouraged to get on stage, and see how the feel afterwards?

I’ve asked around, and here are what my fellow “existing competitors” have to say.

“I sometimes think ignorance was bliss! In some ways I’m so grateful and proud that I know what I know and have had some achievements, but I half wish I’d never seen myself stage lean – anything less feels like a bit of a fail now!”

“It depends very much on their motivation to want to do so. If someone asks me for advice because they want to compete my first question is always “why do you want to?”…

“I recommend competing to everyone who trains: set yourself a goal and go for it. Signing up for any comp will motivate you better!”

“I have given first-timers my advice in the past and my honesty has been misunderstood. Some people have unrealistic expectations and are in denial.”

“For first timers I’d say “why not!” Go for it see if it makes you happy, miserable or somewhere in between. Is how you feel worth making all the effort? You can’t really know know unless you try.”

“You never know until you try and it could change your life in a positive way, be the perfect fit for you and give you a lot. Or it may turn out to be something you find does not suit you, but you will have lost nothing by trying except a few weeks of your life on a strict diet. The worse than happens is you answer an internal question.”

“After my first comp, the eating demons were hard to control. I have a background of “issues” around eating. Now I’m off-season, and I know you have to eat more to gain size… but I’m really struggling. Mainly mentally, as I just question how I think I look now!”

“More of us should openly share the real struggles nobody wants to admit.”

“I would ask them a lot of questions. I think competing is risky for anyone with self esteem or self confidence issues, and also anyone who’s experienced any sort of disordered eating. I would certainly encourage first timers to weigh up the pros and the cons and then decide for themselves. But you never really know if you’re going to enjoy the experience until you do it.”

“Their “why” is important. Weigh it up in terms of risk:reward ratio, and think about the potential benefits. Having said that, I did none of that! I just knew I wanted to do it and find out what I was made of. I learned loads I can apply in other areas of my life and work. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but also one of the most rewarding. 10 comps later don’t regret a single one.”

Interesting variety of responses, huh! I can tell you that it was mostly male friends who were of the “go for it, you won’t know til you try, and what have you got to lose…” school of thought. Females were the ones who suggested you need to identify your “why”, and it was 100% females who gave any response to do with disordered eating, body-image struggles and struggling to know what’s normal after you’ve experienced a comp prep.

My view? Somewhere in between. I’ve often wondered what life would be like having never done a prep diet, not knowing about macros, how to crunch the various numbers in a meal, or how to design a meal plan. Would I be better off without the knowledge, or worse? And by that do I mean physically, mentally, in body composition, emotionally, or what?

But then again you could say that for anything!

It’s certainly true that you can’t “unknow” any of the things competition prep teaches you. But the extent to which you let them affect or control your life after the stage (or between competitions) is down to your personality, the rest of your life, your non-bodybuilding support network, and many other things.

Competition prep is a harsh mistress. So go into it with your eyes open, with full support of both bodybuilding and fitness folk, and those in other areas of your life. Ask questions – of coaches, of bodybuilding friends, and of yourself. Be very honest, and realistic. And remember that the challenges of contest prep don’t end when you step off stage. In fact, many people would say that’s when they’re just beginning.

I’d love to know your thoughts. Are you a competitor who’s been asked “do you think I should compete?” by a newbie? Have you ever felt it was your obligation to advise anyone against it? Or are you a first-time competitor who wished someone had told you what it would really be like… or shut up and let you get on with it?

Should YOU compete in bodybuilding competitions or not? is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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