Posts tagged ‘health’
It has been a while. I think I have not posted here for years. Maybe because I was discouraged from the last competition and maybe because I don’t feel that drive that I once did that kept me enthralled in a healthier lifestyle. But two weeks ago, I attended the Red Clay Writing Institute in Athens, Georgia and the workshop reminded me that I am a writer. I think that I forget! Not only do I want to write again, I am more willing to share some of the stories that have not been shared in the past. I have written a very short story about my first bodybuilding competition and those who have competed will relate. Here it is. My first post since October 2014.
She stood behind the curtain backstage. As the MC called her name, she found herself shaking and thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?” Her hand moved across the back of her suit as she made sure it was still in place. She looked down at her chest to see if anything was sticking out. The last thing she wanted to do was flash the audience. The MC ended his introduction and she stepped with one foot in front of the other until she was fully past the curtain. Good thing she had a little sip of wine because she was about two seconds away from passing out. The music was turned up loud and she looked out at the crowd but the only thing visible were the bright lights, the row of judges in the front of the auditorium and her boyfriend. Making her way across the stage in those five inch heels started to become easier with each step.
The first pose was one that she practiced over and over again with her coach. Left hand on her hip, right leg out to the side and a big grin with eyes on the judges. Her muscles flexed as she held the pose for a few seconds, but her face still looked relaxed. If only the audience knew how painful it was to hold those poses. She walked to the right of the stage and turned, showing her well-earned striations. Then she moved to the middle again with her eyes on the crowd. This was no time to be nervous. She had suffered through grueling workouts and walked a very fine line between fat loss and starvation for twelve long weeks. As she walked to the left, she thought about all of the food she was going to eat after the night was over. She turned around and showed off the v-taper on her lean back, and back around to display her six-pack abs. None of the women were as lean as her. After the T-walk on stage she went behind the curtain and her coach congratulated her. Never in a million years did she think that she would compete in such an event!
All the women went out together and followed the instructions of the judges. “Quarter turn to the right, quarter turn to the left, face the back, face the front.” They were up there for what seemed like forever. One by one, the award winners were called out on the stage and she heard her name. Fourth place! Not bad for a first timer. She was inspired beyond measure and she was inspiring others. Just a few years ago she was overweight, unhealthy and unhappy. The next day she talked to the head judge and asked for feedback. “You were just too lean. That was extreme. Nobody wants to see that.” Did he not realize how hard she had worked for her body? His words cut her like a knife. In her mind, her muscles showed her hard work and dedication that none of the other women had. But in his opinion, she should have been softer. Forget that! If she was going to do this, she was going to go all out. She could be “soft” by just not working out, but this was bodybuilding for God’s sake. When she was obese no one told her to lose weight so she could be healthy, but here she was talking to a man who promoted a healthy lifestyle telling her that she went too far. A Black man who should have been supportive of his Black sisters.
It was in that moment that she realized no matter what you do to your body there will be people who don’t like it. Too muscular? You look like a man. Too soft? You are fat. Small ass? Get some butt injections. Breasts small? Get some implants? Hair nappy and too Black looking? Get a relaxer to look Whiter. Bodybuilding taught her discipline and pride and she learned to love herself for who she was no matter what the judges thought or anyone else who decided to judge her body.
Gluten-Free, IIFYM, Flexible Eating, Keto, Low Fat, Low Carb, Atkins, South Beach, Zone, Non-Fat, Diet, Free Range, Organic, Natural, Raw, Whole Wheat, Sugar Free, Vegan, Paleo, Vegetarian and more! What are you? Do you classify yourself as a devout follower of a specific style of eating? Do you shun those who like to indulge in a nice juicy burger on two fat slices of white bread? Do you turn your nose up on those who eat only plant sources of food? Are you a food shamer?
Since when did the way people eat become a fad? When did we turn into a society that is totally obsessed with the way people eat? Why do we call some food bad and some food good? We have all turned into a bunch of food shaming lunatics. I started thinking about this the other day when I was offered a piece of homemade pound cake. In the past, I would have felt guilty for eating it, and if I did eat it, I would immediately get on the treadmill to “burn it off.” But you know what? I ate the cake, and it was good….and then I went about my business. I didn’t care if it had 200 or 500 calories because I know I don’t eat cake every single day. I eat in a way that allows me to consume a lot of whole fruits, vegetables, meats and grains and snack foods such as cakes, cookies and so on. But, I don’t obsess over every single thing.
I used to be horrible; especially after my first figure competition! I ate like a cow, and then felt guilty. It was pretty much a daily process. I gained weight and then had to work twice as hard to get it off. Competing had my mind screwed up when it came to food. I was so used to being super restrictive that I had a hard time making the transition back to everyday life. Before I competed, I did not have this issue. I am much better now. I used to judge people who ate a certain way and shame myself if I ate a cookie or a burger.
I’m done with that. There is no black and white when it comes to nutrition. It is a gray area. You have to learn to look at the macronutrients in your food and not just the name of the food. Burger does not equal bad and “Clean Food” does not equal good. If you eat too many “clean” foods, you can gain fat just as you would from “bad” foods. The best way to avoid becoming a food shamer is to do your own research. Learn about nutrition so that you can make smart choices. Don’t judge people by the way they eat. Learn how to eat a variety of foods. You might find that there is something you’ve never tried that you like. Unless you are an athlete or preparing for a bodybuilding competition, you can be a little flexible with your diet. You will be happier for this in the end, and you will learn how to control your food impulses.
I heard a message this morning that really made me think. We get so caught up in our daily lives and trying to get the dream job, dream house, dream car, and even the dream body, that we don’t enjoy the process. I have thought about this in regards to my prep for this next show and also my career. Of course, I have big goals and positions that I would like to see myself in. Ultimately, I want to make a career of teaching others how to make healthy lifestyle changes, not just temporary changes for a show or an event. But, I realized that I am getting so caught up in reaching the end or dreading the beginning, that I am not truly enjoying the journey.
For the next 10 weeks until my next competition, I have a plan to enjoy the journey more. Here it is outlined step-by-step.
- Share my experience in more details by writing in this blog
- Record training sessions of myself and my clients
- Implement a new training style for the first six weeks (German Volume Training…more on this in a separate post)
- Read more literature on nutrition and competition training
- Take my cardio outside on nice days, walking outside, or running at the lake
- Include yoga back into my routine once a week
- Include meditation
- Pray for more patience and strength to enjoy each day
Don’t ever get so consumed with the FINAL result that you forget to enjoy what it takes to get there. If you enjoy the process, the task will be less arduous and stressful in your everyday life. If you want to lose 20 lbs in 3 months, don’t just think about that last day of the 3rd month, think about what you are doing to get there. What will your workout plan involve? What new and creative exercises can you add to your regimen, and what types of creative meals can you plan. How will you be a positive influence to those around you while you are pursuing your goal? Yes, it will be hard and yes, you may slip and fall….but just keep going and please enjoy the ride!!!
“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.”-Greg Anderson
3rd day in and I’m hanging tough! I still have plenty of energy but cravings come every now and then. My strategies to combat the sugar cravings include drinking tea, chewing gum, and drinking water. After about 2 weeks, they get better and the body adjusts. The human body adapts very well to many environments and you can control much more than you think you can. I always get offered food when I can’t have it. Lol…it seems to be inevitable. I think the universe is testing me to make sure I am committed to my goal. Yesterday I came home to a sweet potato pie sitting on the stove, today I was offered a chocolate cupcake, and I even won Staff of the Month at work! Guess what the reward was? A free meal!!! Go figure! Just when I can’t have it, the goodies rear their ugly heads. Thankfully this is my 4th prep so I have A LOT of self-control.
You know the old Murphy’s law rule. If anything can go wrong it will. Now I am not saying that anything is going wrong, but whenever you are faced with a challenge, you will have to withstand obstacles. These obstacles are not going to be ordinary. If you are reaching for an extraordinary goal, you will face extraordinary obstacles. I was asked today if I could just eat the frosting off of the cupcake…just a little! Of course I declined, and eating frosting is certainly such a simple thing to people who do not compete. However; for me, it makes a huge difference. Little things become big things and one taste of sweet can turn into a whole bunch of sweets! I will stick with my tea and gum for now. But I did request a whole cake to be made for me to eat on March 24th! And yes, I might eat the whole thing. 🙂
If being a natural bodybuilder was an easy task then I am sure more people would do it. But, it is not easy, it is a lifestyle that requires discipline and commitment for a specific amount of time. As with any goal, the good news is that if you just stick with it, fight through the obstacles and continue to find strategies to finish the task, you will be just fine. Being comfortable is not they way to live. You need to get uncomfortable sometimes if you ever want to accomplish great things!