After writing my prep-update post the other day, I started thinking about the differences between my prep these days and how it was in my first year. Not training or diet, but mindset and generally how prep affects my life (or perhaps rather how life responds to prep?) It really is quite different, and all in a good way.
What’s different in my fourth year?
I used to have a box.. no, not a box, The Box. It was such a significant part of my prep that I used title case when referring to it (and anyone who knows me as a copywriter will realise how it pains me to do that!) The Box was a cardboard box (a large one) full of foods I’d bought during prep in order to eat afterwards. All sorts of shit. Over-priced imported American cereal. Pop Tarts. Peanut butter anything. American candy. Oh… all sorts of stuff. I don’t even know. By the time prep was over, I didn’t even remember buying most of it. And, of course, I ended up breaking into The Box more than once during prep.
Funny story about The Box v2 (2012 prep). I struggled so hard to stay away from it that, during my divorce, whilst my ex and I were separated and I was still in the house, I actually locked The Box in the shed and asked him to come to the house and take the key away. Whilst we were getting divorced. Yeah… priorities…
I do not have The Box this year. Or even a box. I just… don’t.
Post-comp eats lists
I also used to keep a list (2011: a Word doc, 2012: a page in my journal) where I’d write down meals, recipes, food combinations that I’d eat after my final comp. The reasoning was that if I wrote it down, it would be out of my head (and that I’d remember it – because, obviously, eating a toasted cheese sandwich with crisps inside is information of paramount importance which simply must be recalled at a later date). I… don’t have a list this year.
No cravings this year. Hand on heart. I don’t know if this is because I’ve finally found a way of dieting which satisfies my taste buds (and my micro nutrient requirements!) so my body isn’t trying to tell me anything. Or whether it’s because I’m so damn focused on my actual goals in this sport that psychological cravings mean nothing to me. I don’t know. I haven’t tried not to have any. I haven’t done anything to stop having any. I just don’t have any. Maybe it’s because, finally, I realise that 99% of foods on this planet will still be in shops, cafes and restaurants when I can relax my diet. Look, ma, I’m all grown up! 😉
Obsessive thoughts about food, eating out, meals I’ll make, things I’ll buy/eat
Similar to the list I guess. I used to just think so much about foods I’d eat, cakes I’d have at coffee shops, even things I’d buy from service stations (I know… what?!) I don’t do that now. About the only thing I am doing is really looking forward to going out for nice meals with family (Sissie – I’d love to go for a burger at The Nutmeg with you and brosephine!), going on dates where I don’t have to act like a saddo and ask for modified versions of things on the menu, and lingering over home-cooked meals with my Dad and my Mum.
Similar to The Box. I used to stockpile foods, not even stuff you’d call “bad” foods, but things I still couldn’t really eat at the sharp end of a prep diet. Why? It’s not like Tesco is going to run out of muesli any time soon. My cupboards/fridge/freezer now just feature the food I eat at the moment. I haven’t even got anything stashed away in the freezer. I just can’t be arsed. If the apocalypse comes and all the food in the world gets blown up, I guess I won’t be here to worry about it anyway.
Focus and goal setting
I’m more focused this year. I was always focused (those who know me from a certain squeaky-clean, bubbly online forum 😉 will recall that I had a forum journal back in 2011 called “Operation Pro Card”… haha!) But my focus is different this year. It’s more… focusy. It’s narrower, yet calmer somehow. Perhaps because I understand the structure of the sport a little better, and I know what I actually want.
I’m sleeping soooo much better. I used to wake most nights during prep (not the whole thing, the final 6 weeks onwards I guess) at exactly the same time every night. I never knew if it was down to hunger, cravings, wonky hormones, or my dreadful habit of reading food blogs (!!!) on my iPhone in bed at night (I no longer do that, either). But I sleep all night through now, 99% of the time anyway. My personal life is very different now to how it was during my first two preps, which certainly helps. Anyway – I’m not going to question it. Just be thankful for it. I love sleeping! 😀
On that note, I read a lot of blogs and online articles (occupational hazard!) Back during my first prep, almost all of the blogs I read were foodie ones. Recipe blogs, food blogs, “healthy living” blogs which frankly were anything but. I don’t read any of those any more. I read competitors’ blogs, yes, but not the ones which are mostly about terrible low-calorie “recipes” and borderline eating disorders. And not the ones full of cheat meals and other things which would often just trigger me into The Box or the post-comp eats list activity. I read loads of mindset blogs, strongwoman blogs, feminism blogs (hollah), writing blogs, funny/comedy blogs, blogs of my friends… lots of stuff. But not food.
Oh lord. Pinterest. I used to spend hours on damn Pinterest, pinning things I’d make (I never did), places I’d eat (I never went) and things I’d buy (I often did… they went into The Box). The boards are still there… peanut butter, cinnamon, banana bread, cereal (yes I had individual boards for those niche topics). I haven’t been on for ages, to pin or to browse. Partly because I CBA, and partly because I am aware that gazing upon pictures of peanut butter muffins with cinnamon buttercream and pretzel crumb topping is just a mental temptation I can do without.
I’ve always journalled (have kept a personal diary since I was eight years old) and have always kept a training/food/mindset type journal during my bodybuilding preps. But these days I also keep a “me” type journal. I write a page every single morning before I get out of bed. I love this practice. I swear it’s helping, or perhaps I’m doing it because other things have changed. I’m not sure which came first.
To those of you in your second (or more!) year of competitive bodybuilding, what differences have you noticed since your very first diet/competition? Until I wrote this post, I hadn’t realised how far I’ve come and how much my mindset has changed. I can’t wait for my fifth (sixth… tenth… ?) year competing! 🙂
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.