“Be Careful — Competing is addicting”
“You’re going to want to try to maintain that ‘stage lean’ feeling all the time.”
“You’ll be signing up for you next competition before you know it.”
I received a bunch of advice in this vein and almost every blog that I read said the same thing: you’re going to want to do this –bikini competition thing– again.
My thoughts: Meh. Probably not.
I actually knew this before I stepped on stage. Standing for 3 hours in the registration line the night before gave me plenty of time for self-reflection.
The ballroom of the local Sheraton was like a scene out of the original Karate Kid with all of the teams standing around in their matching, colorful gis checking each other out. Team names like Team Hardbody, Team 6-pack, Team Muscle Bodied proudly emblazoned on t-shirts, dresses, and robes.
I heard the words “leaning out, dialing it in, peak week. coming in stringy” over and over again. There was a moment while observing the scene around me with the improbably tanned women and the impossibly beautiful men where I thought: what am I doing here?
I’m 12 days post competition and mostly I think that I probably could have achieved my goals better without the bikini competition. My ultimate goal was to become healthier and I think somewhere in the process, I confused losing weight with becoming healthier. Those two things aren’t always synonymous.
Did I look great? Yup.
Was I happy with the “Package” that I brought to the stage? Short answer: Yes. Long answer: I was not as lean as most of the women and I didn’t win anything, but I was completely satisfied with my own body. When my friend showed me the below pictures, I checked this goal as complete (after all: thick thighs save lives) And I didn’t bother walking in the final judging in the evening because I did not care in the least about the competition.
So here’s the ultimate dilemma, I got this great-looking body but there’s no way that I can maintain it — not with my current diet and workout routine. I can have this body or I can be a sane, functioning member of society, but I can’t be/have both. Because this lifestyle isn’t maintainable.
For approximately 9 months of this year (I started this journey back in January and interrupted it in May when I moved across country –gaining back about 13 pounds in the process — and then restarted at the end of July), I have been on a pretty rigid diet of chicken, turkey, asparagus, green beans, sometimes oatmeal and sweet potatoes. My workouts were pretty intense (especially near the end) and it literally got to the point where I had no energy for anything (not writing, or learning Spanish, or talking to my friends) other than working out and sleeping.
And now, I can eat WHATEVER I WANT. And so my brain and body want to eat ALL. THE. THINGS. My brain tastes a sugary treat and says: that was yummy, let’s eat SIX of them right NOW. It’s like a dam has burst. Only my digestive system literally can’t handle it. Yesterday, I had a pretty hellacious case of gastroenteritis after eating too much pizza. I spent most of my day in the emergency room in order to get an IV for all of the fluids that I lost.
The struggle is real. And maybe this isn’t the struggle of everyone who competes, but this is what I have experienced. I can honestly say that I’ve never had an eating disorder before or any serious body image issues, but I definitely feel that I am toeing a very thin line. This is the aftermath.
Don’t get me wrong, I learned and gained much from this experience. Namely, I learned how to cook (this was huge). I also mastered my emotions and didn’t allow them to dictate what/when I ate. I dug deep in the end and I completed this goal that I set for myself. Most importantly, I did it for myself. I didn’t keep my blog up to date on my progress or post FB statuses with my #FridaysweFlex poses (there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this btw). My coach lives in VA and I didn’t have a work out partner. It was just me, every morning at 5 am in the gym, getting it done. I stopped talking (you know I’m a talker, right) and I just did it. And that’s a pretty amazing feeling.
Do you know how satisfying it was to cross off the final day on my countdown?
But what I originally wanted was a lifestyle that I could maintain and, ultimately, this ain’t it. So what I’m looking for now is regaining my equilibrium with regards to my diet. I am in Puerto Rico for the next month and my goal is to establish some balance in my life with regard to my health and also reincorporating all of my other favorite activities like writing this blog and my long form projects.
So, here’s to balance. There’s much more to follow.