With less than 24 hours to go til I’m on stage at my my first bodybuilding competition of the year, I thought I’d share some thoughts. Except, I’m not sure what they are. I’ll start writing and see where this goes… Bear with!
“How are you feeling?” This is what I’ve been asked by friends and family on text and via Twitter etc all day. My answer… apart from a bit bored and twitchy (like on Christmas-Eve-Eve when you’re excited, but it’s too early to cook the canapes, and you’ve got a lot to do, but can’t start some of it yet, and you just want to get on with it cos it’s Christmas, dammit!)… I feel “OK”.
This might sound boring. It’s not. OK is great. OK is calm, balanced, peaceful. Of course, I’m very excited, and quite nervous, and fending off a bit of self-doubt. But I’m not experiencing (or entertaining) any wild swings of emotion, and that’s… OK!
I was talking to former-coach-turned-wonderful-friend Kat Millar on Skype this morning and decided that this is all part of our inner competitors “growing up”. Gone are the tantrums, cravings and wild toddler-terrors of the first year competitor. Gone is the bolshy, crafty teenage competitor whose emotions seek to “try it on” at any given opportunity. That was year one and year two for me.
Here we are in year three of prepping/competing and maybe my inner competitor has reached her early 20s (it’s a bit like “dog years”).
It’s not just the “feeling… OK” which got me thinking about this. It’s everything about this prep. I haven’t hoarded any food (don’t laugh – if you’ve dieted for a show or a shoot, chances are you know what I’m talking about). I don’t have a “treat box” (you should have seen it in previous years!) I don’t think I’ve even dreamed about food!
Cravings? Honestly – none. My fellow competitors will know how significant this is. If you’ve experienced wicked cravings on a prep diet (whether or not you find yourself falling head first into a binge as a result), you’ll know how strong they are.
This time? None. I honestly mean it. Coach Vicky Bradley and I discussed my post-comp eats the other day (yes, I have a plan for what I’ll eat after the comp – my choice, my decision, and I like it). I could really have had anything. What I chose might make you laugh but it really is what I want and I know it’ll hit the spot in terms of tastes and textures I’ve been missing.
Once I get off stage: cottage cheese with some granola and frozen berries mixed in (OK, some dark chocolate or nut butter might find its way in there too) When I get home: a hearty but quality meal (I’ve chosen one from Kezie’s Wild Gatherings meals) with some mash or something like that.
You’d have to come backstage at a comp to put this into context against the muffins, cookies, Pop Tarts, doughnuts and signature-cravings (most of which will have been built up in the competitor’s mind for weeks if not months) you’d see being treated with reverence. And I’m not in any way saying I haven’t been part of that in the past. Good grief, have I. But… I don’t feel the need this year. And it’s really quite freeing to know that I don’t have to. Just because the post-comp eatathon is a traditional and time-honoured part of competing, it doesn’t mean I have to indulge if I don’t want to.
It’s very strange, I can’t explain it, but I’ll definitely take it. Prep just feels like “what I do”. It’s fine! It’s a challenge, and gets difficult, but it’s not horrible or awful.
Isn’t that how it should be? After all, this is a hobby. A tough one, but a hobby. Challenging can still be enjoyable.
Here are a couple of small, but significant “victories” from this past week which I help me thihnk perhaps my inner competitor is growing up
1) The grocery shop
I went to Tesco this week to get the bits I needed for carb up and comp day and, of course, for my post-comp treats and meals. Normally, a supermarket shop for me is a very quick dash around the outside: veg, some fruit, some frozen stuff, the fish counter. I honestly haven’t been down the cereals, biscuits, packaged goodies aisles for months (no point testing my will power during prep!) This time, I did let myself wander those aisles, partly as I needed some things from there, and partly because I felt different, I knew I honestly wouldn’t want to get anything, and I was fascinated to see my reaction. Apart from being amazed by the new products on offer since I last paid attention, I noted… nothing. Sure, I was tempted by some stuff (I am human, and food packaging and marketing is clever stuff!) But I knew that honestly and deep down, I did not want anything. I don’t want to eat it, I don’t want it in the house. I don’t need it. It doesn’t serve me in any way. I’ve been there and done that and not one thing you can crave honestly tastes as good as you think it will. So I bought the stuff I’d planned, knowing that will taste as good as I think it will, and went home. I hope some of you out there can appreciate how meaningful this experience was!
2) The online window shopping
I’m sure I’m not alone in “window shopping” on the web shops of various health food stores, low carb food stores etc (those American import sweetshops are a common one). The other day, I found myself idly loading up an online shopping cart with all sorts of sugar-free products, some treats, a load of protein bars etc. All sorts of stuff I really don’t need, but I guess my mind was starting to wander. The difference between this year and previous years? This year… I logged out, closed the window, didn’t buy the stuff. Previous years I would have (and did) buy it, then it would arrive and I wouldn’t even remember half the stuff I’d bought, and then of course I’d eat it. Stuff full of rubbish and not anything I need – or want, honestly.
Tomorrow is one hell of a line-up. Eight women in my class. There has been one (yes one) in my category at every qualifier so far this year. Normal numbers are three or four. But what will be will be, and – to my mind anyway – if I’m good enough, I’m good enough, whether there are two others women or 200.
My goal is to qualify for the BNBF British Finals in September. Anything else will be the stuff of dreams!
Right, I’m off. Tanning to do, steak to eat. I’ll try my best to Tweet updates tomorrow from thefitwriter Twitter and/or pop some pics on thefitwriter instagram. My Facebook is private but if you’re a friend on there, you’ll no doubt see some updates too. And I’ll blog about it just as soon as I can.
Thanks for reading.
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.