Since I started blogging, several people have asked me why I'm taking a brief break from competing in 2011. So, I think giving some background on myself and my competitive history/ideals might help to put my blog into perspective. There's a reason that I think enjoying your food is a must. And there's a reason that I think people should try to remain as "normal" as possible when competing. I'm very passionate about health and nutrition, particularly in how they relate to competing. But my overall health and wellness will always, ALWAYS trump my ability to get to the stage; if I ever feel like I'm compromising my health to compete, I will NOT compete. End of story.
I placed Top 5 at Jr. USAs last year which means I'm qualified to compete at the National level until the end of 2011. My initial plan was to compete at Team U in July and then possibly Figure Nationals in Nov, but I decided to hold off on those shows. My next show will likely be back at the state level, in either Sept or Oct. A disclaimer: for those of you who may not know me well: I'm a tell it like it is girl. I never mean to offend or make fun (well, maybe a little), so please don't take anything personally if you feel like it somehow applies to you, or if you partake in any of the things I mention below. These are my personal reasons, and my personal opinions. Don't read between the lines, as there will be NO shades of grey in this article.
I absolutely loved my 1st show, and not because I won my class. I loved my first show because of my prep, my trainer, and the girls with whom I trained. I had an 8 week prep - yep - just 8 weeks. During that time, I was well-fed: I ate lots of carbs and lots of calories, and never really had a "dry out" week. I was drinking up to a full gallon of water up through show day, and didn't even see a diuretic. I also didn't see a treadmill until about 3 weeks out from my show, and even then it was 20-30 mins of HIIT. No steady-state, muscle-wasting cardio for this girl. Most competitors have 12-16 week preps, sometimes MORE, which amazes me. I've heard of some people prepping for 6 months. Really?? If it takes you 1/2 a year, you're in the wrong damn sport. I also know of some girls who do 2-3, sometimes MORE, hours of cardio a day. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY? Do you have any idea what you're doing to your body and to your metabolism when you do that crap??? I do realize that I have good genes and great conditioning due to my 18+ years of playing competitive sports. I realize that I may not have to work as hard as others, but that's part of my point. Why fight your body every step of the way? I just don't understand............ANYWAY, back to why I love competing, and less on why people are batshit crazy. I trained with 3 other girls, and the experience was so much fun. Every Sunday we'd meet with Leigh Ann for an hour long ass-whoopin.' Even though it hurt, it was fun. We laughed, we joked, we swore, we summoned the lord a few times, and we busted our asses - TOGETHER. I think because I played team sports for so many years, group training is perfect for me. I thrive off of healthy competition (I'd always try to go faster than Melanie - she pushed me so freaking hard), and I thrive off of someone else telling me to suck it up and to push through it. When I'd hear Christina say, "Cmon, BP, 1 more rep, CMON!!!!!!!" it would push me to squeeze out just 1 more. Juuuuuuuuuuuust one. And at the show itself, I roomed with Melanie, and I had all my girls backstage with me. We ran around with our dirty Jan Tana feet, threw rice cakes at each other, calmed each other down backstage, and pointed and laughed at the girls who thought it was a good idea to pump legs before hitting the stage. My triumph was their triumph, and vice versa. Watching Melanie win overall in Fitness was the highlight of my day - in fact, it trumped placing first in my class. It was such a positive experience, and looking back, I probably should have just started a long off season with LA, for a few reasons. 1) If it ain't broke, don't fix it, 2) I like food (hello, cheat days), 3) I would have had the opportunity to train with other girls.
For my 2nd show, I was flyin' solo. I had no Christina, no Melanie, and no Rachel to cheer me on and to tell me to push. I also had a 12 week prep (totally, totally unnecessary), which absolutely destroyed my will to live. It was filled with hours of steady state cardio, minimal cals, and almost no carbs towards the end. It started with 45 mins of daily cardio, 6 days/wk, which was barely tolerable. Week after week after hellish week, cardio was added and calories/carbs were cut until I found myself at 2 hrs/day, 800 cals/day, carbs only at breakfast and PWO. I would get dizzy when I'd stand up at work - I'd have to actually hold onto my desk to keep from passing out every time I got up to go to the bathroom. I realize this is "industry standard," but I don't really give a damn about what most people do, because most people are frigging crazy and will do ANYTHING to get to the stage: fat burners, steroids, hours of cardio, minimal calories. I find it hilarious that so many people claim they're so "healthy," yet they completely compromise their health when getting ready for a show. Have we really lost sight of what's important that much? Does the end justify the means? I have some friends who'd say yes to that question and THAT is the logic that I find terrifying. "Don't eat that white potato! It has too much sugar in it!! But inject this Lasix into your ass before you go onstage." Really???? In training for my 1st show, there were only a couple of days that I said, "I don't think I can do this." For my 2nd show, starting at 6 weeks out, I said it every day. EVERY DAY.
In retrospect, perhaps show # 2 WAS the reality check that I needed. I am lucky that I had a normal show prep for my 1st show, otherwise, I would have thought the standard 0 cals/0 carbs/85438340583490 hrs of daily cardio was NORMAL. People wear their endless cardio like a badge of honor. It's almost as if people think if you're not miserable, you're not prepping correctly. Ugh. ENOUGH! I am not trying to be self-righteous or holier-than-thou, or condescending here. I'm merely stating facts. There IS another way. Just because you haven't tried it and just because it's not industry standard does not mean it doesn't work. I'm not calling your coach an idiot, or you (well, maybe you) - I'm just letting you know that there is another way to approach prep that doesn't completely compromise your health. I care about my life AFTER I stop competing: I want to look like a woman (hello facial hair and bacne!), to be able to bear children, and not to have my metabolism come to a dead stop (do you like 40lb rebounds?). Do others think about this? Sometimes, I really question it based on their actions. If you want to shave your face and your nipple hair for the rest of your life and be mistaken for a man when you answer the phone, go right ahead. I prefer to remain smooth as a baby's butt with a flowery voice.
So let's bring this full circle and discuss where I am currently. After placing at Jr. USAs, I was so excited to enter an off season. I didn't want to look at another treadmill or sweet potato for a long time. I slowly gained weight (no rebound - I didn't use diuretics OR fat burners like my coach had wanted me to - at least I wasn't THAT dumb), and I switched trainers. My new trainer and I worked really hard at adding lean, quality mass, and we did just that. I'm up to close to 150 and I'm pretty lean, considering I'm 15lbs heavier than I was at this time last year. Those are big improvements (no 'roids, HGH, or testosterone, thankyouverymuch), and I'm VERY pleased with my progress. And I have no doubt that had I decided to compete at Team U that I would have done well. I'm just not ready, mentally. And that has nothing to do with my interactions and instruction from my trainer, either. He's a cool guy: great personality, funny, personable, tell it like it is. I'm just not ready upstairs. And you can't coach that. That needs to be something that comes from within each athlete. So my trainer and I decided it would be best if I put things on hold until I'm ready. A wise decision by both parties, me thinks. I was tired of measuring literally every gram of food that I put into my mouth, and I was tired of not being able to cook myself dinner (see blog post #1 for more info on why I love this). So, I've been eating "off plan" (hence the concept for this blog) and doing my own thing in the gym for the last 3 weeks, and I've been loving it. I've been sprinting, doing MET workouts, lifting heavy on shoulders/back, teaching spin, eating turkey sandwiches and Bob Evans french toast, and I couldn't be any freaking happier. My entire persona has changed - I have more energy, more pep in my step, and more purpose both for my PT clients and for my own workouts. It's like a weight has been lifted, no pun intended.
So, will she? Won't she? I will be competing again, never fear. But I'll be going back "home" as I call it: I'll be training with LA, working out and competing at the state level with my gal pal Lauren, and I'll be competing in a few different federations, as well. I need to go back to what was fun for me. Would I like a pro card? Sure, who wouldn't? Am I willing to compromise my health and potentially my morals (that's a whole OTHER blog post) to get it? Nah. I'd rather have fun. It's all about perspective; luckily, I have it.