Self care can take on many forms. Sometimes we're not even conscious of how shitty we're treating ourselves until someone shows us differently. That's what happened to me when I went in to get my very first facial.
Our thoughts become the actions of our everyday lives. If we tell ourselves we are fat it makes it easier to sit and eat an entire pint of ice cream.. why? If we truly believe we are fat in order for us to keep believing it we have to keep taking the actions that cement our own definition of FATTY. So, we finish the entire pint and confirm our fat ass.
I am going to be completely honest here. You want to know what it takes to compete and actually be successful with it?
- You need to be consistent and accurate with your training and nutrition for an extended period of time
- Having a good looking face and posing helps too
- You must have confidence
- You must be able to be honest with yourself (are you really hitting your macros and training goals) and be able to take criticism
Things I have noticed going through prep:
(I say you but I am talking about me and what I have seen from others and clients)
- You will begin to limit yourself from going out.
- You feel guilty if you go off track.
- You are more likely to body shame.
- You spend way too much time figuring out what to eat. IIFYM has lots of options (both a positive and negative)
- You can’t have many fuck it moments
- The scale can and often does ruin your day
I have had the hardest time lately finding joy in this whole process. I honestly liked my body just as much when I weighed 4-5lbs more and was maintaining that while traveling and eating mindfully. Enjoying live and being spontaneous. I was actually super proud of myself for maintaining my weight during all that traveling. Plain and simple…show prep is not the way I want to live my life.
I originally competed because I was never overweight I wanted to be able to relate to the clients I was training and put myself through a fitness goal. It then turned into me wanting to be my ex-boyfriends golden client. I wanted to be the best to make him proud and I loved the attention, I fought for the attention. After the breakup all I had left was a confusing idea of who I was. I then wanted to compete in January to prove to myself I could do it without him. Then he ended up coming to Vegas and I felt like I did not get to really do a show on my own. Not to say I did not appreciate his help with posing and the confidence his words gave me.
Being completely honest I am doing this show because I said I would. I am doing it to inspire others. To show people that even when your life goes to complete shit you stick to your goals. I won’t lie though.. this is not the show to do that. These are the best of the best girls all on one stage. And realistically if I want to compete with them I need to drop 4-5 lbs in the next 2 weeks. This has sent me on a train wreck of emotions.
Practicing posing the other night I just burst out crying. My mind kept saying “You’re going to be the fat girl on stage”. Now please do not take that the wrong way. I am not saying I am fat nor am I calling anyone who competes overweight. But imagine being the overweight one of your group of girlfriends… well that is what I would be… on stage..in a bikini and stripper heels. This all started because some girl who is competing liked one of my photos. She looks amazing and I began to compare myself.
From that point I continued to step on the scale each morning and watch my weight go from 104 to almost 107…. Again I burst out in tears.
Then somewhere out of punishment and following the plan, I laced up my tennis shoes and headed outside to do cardio. I pushed myself so hard I was dry heaving on the side of the road.
When does pushing yourself and giving it your all turn into punishment? When does competing turn unhealthy?
I come from a background of
- body image issues
- binge eating
- and emotional eating.
Show prep creates a space where you suddenly become a lot more vulnerable to bringing these issues back.
My relationship with food has me on handcuffs right now. Calories dropped to a whopping 782 calories. This is the hardest “diet” I have ever been on. This is not healthy. My coach and I do not recommend it.
You feel guilty if you go off track:
The other day I was making spaghetti squash. There was another 5-10 g in the container after I measured out how much I needed. A normal person thought would be “I’ll just use the rest”. My dieters mind went like this:
- Pause…. ok its not that much and it is a vegetable.. a normal person would just eat this. It’s almost unhealthy if I don’t… its a vegetable Megan.
- Ok, let me just log it.. oh shit then my carbs are over…
- Ok, I am just going to eat it
- Eats it
Then I started to weigh all my other food a couple grams less to “make up” for the non logged macros.
You will begin to limit yourself from going out:
I was in Seattle the other day listening to Jesse Elder. Afterwards wanted to hang out and go get food. I politely declined and said I did not bring a scale. What about whole foods? ugh this would be a great thing to not miss out on and trying to find alternatives is super thoughtful. I decided whole foods would be ok. I had a pretty plain salad with some chicken and balsamic. I enjoyed it until I stepped on the scale this morning.
I then started to feel guilty.
Same thing when someone is eating something and asks if you want a bite. At this point I would not be able to enjoy that. I would be thinking every chew… I wonder how many carbs are in this. Or maybe you’re a nibbler….sneaking a bite here and there as you cook for the rest of your family… well at this point I would feel beyond guilty and shameful doing that.
You spend way too much time figuring out what to eat. IIFYM has lots of options (both a positive and negative):
Sometimes I spend 30 minutes logging possible meals for the day, just to delete them and change them another 2-3 times. I hate eating out of tupperware but shit I do not need all these “iffym” options right now. It is a waste of time.
Sometimes, you can not fit what you are really craving in and sometimes your body is craving things for a reason. All I wanted the other day was some fruit. Fruit… filled with vitamins and micronutrients. But I could not justify eating it based off its carb content. It is hard at this point to actually be eating a healthy well balanced micronutrient dense diet.
All I want is to eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full. I know enough about food and its macronutrient content now.. Hell I am a walking myfitnesspal. All I want is to live my life day by day. Enjoy moments with friends and traveling all while being mindful. Listening to my body and not starving it from what it is craving.
Although it might not seem like it. I am so thankful for this show prep. It has really provided me with the clarity of what my optimal diet plan is. And this is not the same for everyone and I will have periods of logging more exact and periods where I do not log at all. These will be based on my goals and where I am at mentally.
Show prep is hard. It is not for everyone and show prep should be executed with caution.
For those that do compete:
Competing does not have to be a negative thing. Just be aware of the thoughts, emotions and eating behaviors you are experiencing. Most of all be honest to your coach about them. They are normal but they are not to be kept secret. Remember you got into this sport to increase your confidence and take your body to a new level. If that is only happening aesthetically and not physically or mentally, maybe you should think twice about competing.
What does it mean to love yourself?
I have thought about this for years. What it would take to bring me joy and self-confidence . I remember the days after the arguments where I would stand in front of the bathroom mirror. I would stare desperately into my eyes, searching for my soul and bellow out. "You are a strong confident beautiful women, who can do anything she wants with her life. This hardship is only making you a stronger person. You are beautiful. I love you".
I looked into my eyes and prayed that you had the strength to see your potential. To never doubt your abilities. Mostly to allow yourself non-judgment to follow what brings you joy. It was hard to feel alive when you felt so dead inside.
To me loving yourself is a balance of progressing toward a long term goal but being present in the moment. It is understanding yourself enough to know what brings you joy. It is total acceptance and awareness. With a drive and promise to reaching and living at your full potential.
I love me some cheesecake. Lately I would crave a slice from a Vegas spot called Russo’s! They have some of the best cheesecake! It is rich and creamy and they pour this chocolate ganache and raspberry puree over the top. So, anyways love this place right? But the days I pick myself up a slice I am either deciding not to log it or suffering the rest of the day on straight protein. My solution make my own macro friendly cheesecake! Still is delicious and I do not have to feel guilty when I want to eat half a cheesecake.
Establishes a long term goal. Long term goals make the short term goals worth it. Suddenly, it becomes easier to go to the gym and you get more satisfaction out of it because you know it all leads to that stage. There is a personal pride with sticking to your training and controlling the outcome of your body. You also over the years get to see progress and change from growing a booty to insane amounts of muscle-mind connection. This aspect is probably why I still choose to compete. I love getting that lean to be able to see my hard work and dedication. I love knowing how long it took to reach and how it is a never ending quest. I also really enjoy showing people what a body can look like by utilizing more of a flexible dieting/mindful approach rather than strict diets.
Another great thing about this sport is the people you meet. I have met some of the most amazing inspiring men and women through competing. You bond with these people. You motivate each other and support each other. It is so amazing to watch others journeys over the years and see their bodies change. It is like a family and I am blessed to be a part of it.
You have to stick with your short term goals. You can no longer give into excuses. It consumes your thoughts as every passion should. But be aware of that. You're in a caloric deficit which can mean a decrease in overall energy levels. Depending on your prep style you can really alter your hormone levels leaving you with straight will power to follow the diet. When will power fails and you eat an entire pizza you can be left feeling worthless while wearing your fat pair of sweat pants.
It also becomes a mind fuck at a certain point….. I know stay positive. You start to be really technical about your body. Judging it and your work ethic. A lot of the times, you start to think you're not lean enough, that you will not be ready in time.
Remember to compete for you. Compete because its fun to see all your gains. Compete because it's the goal you chose to help keep you motivated to become a healthier person. Compete because it gave you the drive to not give into going out drinking every weekend. Compete because you want to treat your body with respect and having periods of motivation and a goal are a requirement to success.
I personally think competing can create a loo of disordered eating behavior and a lowered self-esteem. If you don't walk into a good coach, environment, or self love you will likely just create more disordered thinking. For example if your don't love your body already. Well when you step off stage and start to put the body fat back on it can leave you feeling like you look like a beached whale. This happened to me my first couple shows. I did not walk into them with any self-love. I had a hard time putting the body fat back on mentally. I asked my coach at the time to take my body fat almost every other day. I would feel guilty and binge frequently post show. When in reality I looked great. My image of myself and what I felt "hard work" should look like were totally off. On season and off season have completely different goals and it was hard for me to realize that those physically do not look the same. Now, I find joy in both but still find the off season the most challenging to accept and nurture.
You will not be able to go and do everything your friends do. I know it is social to go eat out and party. When your competing though you have to have these moments in moderation. It can be a struggle and it does not make it easier when your friends tease you about it. My advice….find better friends. Ones that support your goals will help find alternatives. From finding healthier places to eat out, not pressuring you to drink, and not telling you to watch them as they stuff their face with thousands of calories. This is hard. You have to find a balance.
Another thing….do your research and know what you are willing to do and not willing to do. Find a coach that matches with these goals. Will they ask you to take any legal or illegal substances? Water deplete? Sodium load? Diuretic? Cutting steroids? There is a time and place for chemistry experimenting. But are you willing to? Is your coach qualified? What are the health effects short and long term? What are your goals? Is it needed? My personal opinion is that drastic things or supplements are not needed for bikini girls. I personally got into this sport to become a healthier happier person and all those intense strategies personally do not fit my goals. Plus, I think I can look just as good if not better than some of these girls that take anavar and all this other crap. Seriously, think about why you are competing. And do your research!
Hi my name is Megan Anderson. I am a young woman on the journey to discovering who she is and helping others do that same. Let me tell you a bit about myself. I grew up in a small town in Wyoming. In high school I started to realize I had body image issues.
- When I felt “fat”, I stopped eating.
- When someone made fun of my body, I would go days without eating.
- When I broke my leg, I would go days without eating.
- When I was depressed, I would go days without eating.
- When I did indulge in large amounts of food, I would go days without eating to make up for it.
I remember going to dance class and having conversations with a fellow dancer about how we skipped meals. I remember going from dance class to the gym because I had to workout. Once I started college similar traits seemed to follow me. I would skip meals. I would go from ballet class to the gym to get my cardio in. Spending 3-4 hours a day between the two.
In college I learned about my passion for the human body. I then became a certified personal trainer through (Insert NASM) and got a job. I soon realized I had never fought my own struggle. So, I decided to compete in a bodybuilding show in the bikini division. It was the typical “bro” diet. High amounts of protein and low carbohydrates. I had a “cheat meal” every now and then. My body fat was melting away. But my hormone levels were all over the place. My body lacked energy. I hated going to the gym because I was always so tired. Worst of all my my insecurities were only being fed. It went from one drastic habit to another. Yes, the cheat meal kept me focused for the week but I would binge so hard. I would justify an entire pizza or pint of ice cream. I would not just binge on it but I would proceed by feeling guilty and that I had to make up for it the rest of the week. I would talk down to myself. Never once in this process did I stop to love myself.
From that show on I knew this could not be a maintainable lifestyle. My mentor at the time started to introduce me to his role models in the fitness industry. Between earning my BA in Health Science at Boise State University and prepping for more bodybuilding shows I was reading articles. Lots of them. Peer reviewed journals. My mentor and I would spend the weekends locked in the library researching, learning, creating, and becoming the lifestyle.
My following show preps were still mentally and physically challenging but now they were maintainable. With the use of flexible dieting I had the knowledge. The knowledge of what food is, what it breaks down into, and how our bodies utilize nutrients. I no longer looked at food as “good” or “bad”. I could now look at food for what it was macro and micronutrient wise. My insecurities I realized would never be fixed by simply not eating. I continued to place well in shows but something still was not right.
I realized I had changed my eating behaviors to healthier routes by learning about food. This knowledge still did not change the fact that I never took time to deal with my body image issues. My beauty was dependent on what the judges had to say about me. I left my confidence in the hands of everyone else’s but my own.
I was getting myself into unhealthy relationships. I was talking negative to myself about myself. I was feeding this identity of who I thought I was. My insecurities started to manifest themselves into other relationships and current reality. The cycle fed itself.
Until one day I was laying on the bed contemplating about taking a razor blade to my wrist simply to feel something other than self hate and worthlessness. Taking a long look at the silver lining, I set the blade down on the night stand and started to cry and laugh. I was doing all of this to get attention from the person I left my confidence with. It was at the moment I realized how pathetic I was acting.
I was searching for solutions to my insecurities through others. When in reality the only person capable of making a lasting change was myself. I had to experience these lows in order to look at myself in an open and honest light. I had to reach rock bottom in order to discover and embrace my passion in life… I believe whole lasting health begins with self-love.
” As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.
As I began to love myself the foods I enjoy naturally became the foods my body craves. As I began to love myself I learned confidence comes through my actions. I learned that my actions stem from my beliefs. I learned to look at myself and accept myself and my current situation. I learned to let go of my unhealthy identity, and embrace the act of forgiveness. Most of all I learned that true happiness and health starts with self-love.