Food. When you are seeking a diet to help you achieve a physical goal, FOOD is ALL you can think about.
Many of you know, I’ve had the innate desire for a number years to train and compete in a fitness competition. The idea of figuring out how to build the most outstanding, fit, in-shape body I can build is beyond intriguing- until I face my diet. I’ve made numerous attempts over the years to train and compete on stage in the Bikini category. I’m not even sure why I want to do this so badly, but there is something in me that keeps pushing me in that direction, yet I haven’t quite managed to make it there. My hesitations take over and I have a history of bailing or pushing back until I no longer feel that pang of hunger to be up on the stage. I see the photos on Instagram, the dedicated people who, day in, and day out, commit their life to a healthy lifestyle. They compromise nothing, and everything at the same time, in hopes to take home a trophy, and if they are lucky and work harder than the others… a Pro Card.
A Pro Card. This gets the person who earns it recognition, credibility, validity if they ever try to begin writing diets and workout plans for others who gawk and awe over the competitor’s achievements, and of course, bragging rights. I think my thirst for the Pro Card lies in that I can say that I pushed myself beyond what I thought I ever could and that I was rightfully rewarded for it. I supposed that’s credibility. It’s like that trainer who ate McDonald’s and gained 150 extra pounds, or however much, just so he could show his clients that he could lose it and get back in shape no matter where he was at in his fitness journey… Drew Manning is his name. I want to be like him, but do the opposite. I think if I manage to eventually get on stage, that may end up being an accomplishment in itself after all I’ve been through to get to that place already.
The thing about competing is that you absolutely will not get in the shape you need to be in unless you narrow down your diet to something close to what our prehistoric ancestors ate back when they were bashing each other over the heads with handcrafted mallets. Unless your last name is Flintstone, this diet is no longer something typical expected of humans today. I’m talking chicken, steak, fish, vegetables, and sometimes you can include some quinoa and macadamia nut oil here and there. No condiments aside from a smidgin of sea salt, and when your coach (I absolutely recommend hiring a coach) says you can have a cheat “meal”, what he or she really means is that you are allowed maybe 2 slices of pizza- and not a pepperoni more! The gym twice a day, once in the morning for an hour of regimented fasted cardio, and again in the evening for lifting and sometimes more cardio, is the easy part. Staying on your diet is what is the biggest challenge for any athlete I know.
So, when your goals are overruled by your desire for Stanley’s Donuts across the street, what happens when you cave? Do you double-double down on cardio (see what I did there… Only West Coast readers will get that one)? Do you purge? This is a common practice of many fitness athletes as well. I think that is a topic for an entirely different day though, so we’ll stick to the subject at hand. I have found that when I screw up, simply taking things meal by meal and jumping right back in where I left off is most beneficial. It’s definitely taking me longer than anticipated to get “show-ready”, but this journey is teaching me so much! Like, I can barely process that underlying feeling of transgression when I give in to that Oreo (or the entire sleeve of Oreos), and I’m thankful that I can later apply that technique to when I have to tell my son that he no longer gets to have Oreos for dessert… Oops. I just have to keep encouraging myself, reminding myself of how far I’ve come already and that if I want it badly enough, I can commit. Just like the people who have competed before me.