Off season fluffiness, mindf#ck and other things that can suck. (and how to manage it)
So here I am, looking at all the progress pics on IG and Facebook and all the guys and gals getting ready for the 2018 season and I'm a little jealous. I mean MAN!!! I have to give it to you guys, you're looking killer! It's tough, I'll be honest. Especially since I'm in off season fluffiness mode. But after a hard and long comp diet, this is the healthiest thing for me right now. Since choosing to focus on other things in my life; like my coaching business, working on transitioning to powerlifting and a little mind/body healing, I'm learning to let go of being on stage. And in a way, it is freeing!
I've competed for 10 years off and on and it did a number on me, physically and mentally. Physically, my body was shot. After doing 4 competition seasons back to back, I did finally learn to embrace a longer off season. I still didn't have the best metabolism and my last two seasons were long and grueling. In 2012, it took me 7 months to be stage ready and 2016 was 9 straight months of prep. My metabolism was shot after Worlds. With months of restricted dieting, workouts pushing me to the breaking point, I was physically and mentally exhausted. I had to take care of myself.... I started a reverse diet and did gain some healthy weight and my strength was returning. A few months into my reverse, I did change my priority to become a supporter to my husband while he battled cancer. I lifted when I could and eating was whatever was convenient. Was it optimal? No, but sometimes life changes your perspective and you have to change gears. Now he's in remission and I'm trying to get back into the routine of caring for myself. This isn't easy and it's been a bit depressing. I've put someone else 1st for so long and I became lazy when it came to myself. Now I need to reestablish those good habits and let go of the expectations I had of having the "perfect reverse". I gained 30# over stage weight when I was shooting for 15-20#. So, what do I do? Let it go..... It's just extra weight and it's not permanent. I know what to do and when I'm mentally ready to track food, I'll take care of it. But I refuse to beat myself up or even attempt a cut when I'm not ready for that stress. It's been a tough year and I need to just lift and learn to love the gym again.
Mentally, you want that stage lean look or some semblance of it all the time....and if you don't have it, you feel like a complete failure or worse, a fake. That's where the mindf#ck comes into play. So, after gaining more weight than what I wanted to, it really played games with my head. I've always struggled w/ body image issues and I have fought hard to overcome it. I am in a much better place than I was in my high school years, and even in my 20's and 30's, but competing and seeing progress pics on social media can be tough. What was ingrained into you since your youth about what defines "beauty" can be tough to ignore. It's sad that we put more value on what our bodies look like compared to what they can do. This is the mindf#ck that can suck about competing. But this doesn't have to be so. If we can learn to embrace who we are during our off season fluffiness, we can grow as a competitor. Before considering competing, learn to love who you are, not what you look like or how much you weigh. Let go of that mental mindf#ck that can happen when we lose muscle definition. Focus on the energy we have to actually ENJOY lifting again! Our sleep improves, along with our overall quality of life. Not to mention, we become happier people to be around....
So, I do look forward to powerlifting and seeing what this old body CAN do. I understand that we cannot look jaw-dropping lean all the time, but we can have a healthier view of eating and let that guide us to a healtheir weight that is maintainable. Finding that balance as a competitor is challengeing....but when you do, you'll prolong your career and you'll learn to enjoy the process more during the off season. Me....I'm a work in progress and I look forward to always growing.