I am going to do something I really never have done before. I’m going to talk about the phases of my weight fluctuations and my most honest feelings about competing.
I have never considered myself overweight in my life. As a kid I was extremely active. I did cross-country, soccer, softball; you name it. I was a very finicky eater, and hated vegetables. I had 1% milk with dinner every night and frequently drank Coke. I loved McDonalds and tacos and ice cream. However, I also loved fruit and was naturally smaller.
I remember always being called small growing up. I never felt that I would ever have to worry about my weight. However, with slightly overweight parents I wondered if one day I would have to watch what I ate. I always thought that would be when I was a mom, or something.
I remember my freshman year of high school beginning to feel uncomfortable in my own skin. I had just finished cross-country season and was not doing a spring sport. I enjoyed drinking every weekend. I would have English muffins with butter, scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese and orange juice for breakfast. I would have either a bagel with cream cheese or chicken nuggets with tator tots for lunch every day in the cafeteria. I would come home and have a grilled cheese or tacos and lay in bed and watch Netflix and do homework.I ate power bars as snacks. I remember getting to the point where I felt uncomfortable in my own skin, but I never remember feeling fat
(Above pictures are age 15 versus age 22)
By my junior year of high school, I began watching what I ate more. I felt uncomfortable in bathing suits and made healthy switches. I made smoothies, and ate vegetarian chicken patties or veggie burgers. I would eat salads, and began taking classes at the gym such as Zumba or Power classes.
(Above picture gym obsessed, mostly healthy eating but lacked protein and cheated weekends)
Then, when I was a freshman in college, I was gym obsessed. My diet wasn’t great. I usually ate healthy Monday through Thursdays and fell off the wagon on weekends. But I spent hours at the gym doing cardio. I consider this my skinny fat phase.
I struggled with disliking the shape of my body and admiring Fitness girls I followed on instagram. I began attempting to lift weights but didn’t know what I was doing so much. I ate a lot of fruit, spinach, and salads and drank lots of water. I cut out sodas and milk and white bread.
As time went on, I met people who liked to lift and tried cross fit and learned a lot about efficient workouts. I loved feeling sore, and when I saw girls compete in fitness competitions at my gym, I decided to give it a try.
(First competition versus second)
I had a horribly rocky prep my first time around and thought I would never compete again. All grilled chicken, fish, and asparagus felt miserable. I didn’t do it the healthy way because I switched coaches mid way and almost quit a few times. My stage weight was 102 lbs.
(Below is post prep weight gain, lack of muscle tone from not going to gym)
After my show was over, I decided I needed a mental break. I was tired of planning and eating and living at the gym. But a mental break turned into a gluttony lifestyle. I felt like my mind worked differently and that I always needed to eat everything in sight. I found myself waking up and eating pancakes with tons of butter and syrup and not letting myself get hungry before planning my next meal. I would snack in between meals, and literally every meal I would eat beyond stomach- ache. I would buy ice cream bars and eat them in my car alone so that no one would see and then throw out the wrappers. In two weeks I put on twenty pounds. I slowed down after that but consistently put on about two pounds a month after that. Finally, I felt uncomfortable and miserable again. I went from my dream body to the worst body of my life in two weeks. I felt embarrassed in even a sweatshirt and sweatpants. My face was so full and puffy. I had no energy to workout. I decided that the only way I could lose the weight was to train for another show.
So January 5th, I picked three dates for competitions and started cold turkey with a coach I trusted more than anything. My prep was much more livable. I was never hungry, had six cheat meals along the way, and had carbs almost every day. My workouts were strenuous, but I wanted to be successful more than anything so I found myself pushing harder than ever.
My first show was last Saturday and I placed 6th. I was so happy with my improvements from my last show, however disappointed not to get a trophy or be nationally qualified. (Top 5). I have two more shows to go, and find myself mentally struggling through these last peak weeks.
I ask myself now, is having a perfect body worth the mental strain and sadness you feel through the process? Is this a shallow sport? Am I a soul or a body? Has this been worth all of the holiday sacrifices and time spent in the gym? Will I be able to maintain this?
This is my honest opinion. Competing has its place. It has been an amazing experience for me. It has let me push my body to an extreme and see myself reach a level of fit that I never would have achieved without it. It has given me confidence, pride, and purpose. It has taught me patience, endurance, and that hard work brings success. However, competing has its dark sides. It is extreme and not everlasting. You will find yourself in your best shape of your life, and still criticizing your body instead of appreciating your success. You will find yourself at times miserable, tired, sad, and lonely. You will find that people appreciate you for something as shallow as the shape of your body, and you will feel like you are missing something in your life. You will not be spending your holidays and your nights drinking and getting dinner with friends. You will not be baking cookies and laughing and eating ben and jerrys on movie nights with the girls. You will be waking up early to do endless cardio, pushing yourself through workouts, and going to bed early. Your days will revolve around work not pleasure. However, it will be worth it.
I see myself competing but not forever. I hope to become nationally qualified one day, and maybe go for my pro card. Maybe I will help other girls train for shows or reach their goal weight. But ultimately this is a hobby for me. A passion, yes. But a hobby. This will not be my career. I hope to find balance in my life after this. I hope to find that I can eat well for my body, and workout every day. But I will not miss weddings and holidays forever. I want to be able to celebrate my life, and taste good food! And not constantly worry about prepping and cooking and cardio and sleep. I want to get married and have a family and be successful. I will not go back to blind eating, gluttony, or obsession. I will prep when I feel like prepping for shows and go for my goals as hobby. But maintaining a stage ready body is not realistic, and there is a very dark, lonely side to competing. I do not regret it, it has taught me so much. It has been the best experience of my life. However, there is more to life.