Lean Goggles

It is November, we are nearing the end of the bodybuilding competition season… a time that can prove to be a slippery slope for many competitive athletes.  There is an underlying feeling among many that they have to keep things under control, not lose their grip on the lean physique they just recently presented on stage (or presented earlier this season), and the psychosis sets in…

The inner voice may say… Take your weight measurement… Track your food intake… Pack your meals everywhere you go… No days off from the gym… Fasted cardio every morning…

The list goes on and on. Are these things inherently bad?… Some will argue “yes” and some will say “no”.  It truly depends on the individual, on his or her goals, and on the person’s resilience.

You see, for many women, myself included… we work so hard, for months, for years… to attain a certain look.  One that has our bodies at an incredibly low body fat percentage… This look that I love so much… Broad, rounded shoulders, thick veins running down both arms, visible abs, separation of the quadriceps muscles, a small waist, a thinned out face and chiseled jaw line were always the obvious indicators that I was on track during my competition preps in the past.

Many of us will be at the pinnacle point for a few mere days (some even less time than that)… and most lose it in a matter of hours after some yummy treats, salt, and a few liters of water.

It can be devastating… Even if it’s not your first show, even if  you have been fairly warned, even if you have read several posts online about what happens to most athletes and what to expect… There is no greater shock than when you see it first hand… as you look in the mirror and it feels like all of your hard work is out the window.

RELAX… It’s not! That shredded physique is not something you can sustain.  Of course there are some athletes out there with robust metabolisms.  They are genetically predisposed to stay lean, even after putting themselves through the hell of a severe physique cutting phase. BUT most… I REPEAT most athletes are not built that way.

So, why do you feel like you’re the only one that put on weight really fast post show?

Here are a few things to remember…

  1. You are not alone.  Everyone puts on weight post competition.  Some people are honest about it, some people never discuss it.
  2. We live in the Digital Age of people sharing their highlight reels. Many athletes take a stock pile of photos when their physiques are in tip-top shape.  The images are stored and posted throughout the course of the off-season.  So while it may appear that your favorite fitness model or athlete is ALWAYS shredded… chances are, he or she is NOT.  It just appears that way based on social media.
  3. Most professional athletes are contracted to maintain a certain look all year round… even if it is not the same as stage-ready, it is relatively close to that.  They are being PAID… it is part of the job requirements.  You are probably NOT one of these people and are NOT getting paid based on your physical appearance; therefore, CHILL OUT and stop the crazy self defecation because you don’t have abs anymore.
  4. For some competitors a weight fluctuation of anywhere from 10 up to 30 lbs post show is “normal” for them.  Now, if you are a 5’1″ woman like myself, no… 30 lbs post show is not normal at all and is certainly NOT good for your organs.  But if you are a Pro Male Bodybuilder, then yes, 30 lbs up is not a terrible place to be in the off season, especially if gains are to be made.

Please remember that while it is important not to fall off the deep end and let yourself go during the off season, it is recommended to chill out with training and give your body a chance to recover from a show prep.  It’s even more important if you want to put on some muscle size… which most likely will not happen successfully if you try to put on a decent amount of size in a few months (hate to break the news to you).

So, you may not love having some extra weight on your frame while you are in a building phase, but it is a necessity! The body cannot grow if you try to stay in a caloric deficit…. Translation… If you want to add some muscle size, you need to EAT!

You also need to accept that you probably will not have those veins running down your biceps while you are in your growing phase. Perhaps you can enjoy the process of sculpting your dream body and appreciate what your body is capable of.

Celebrate Personal Records of various lifts… Enjoy eating wholesome food and filling meals… Bask in the joy of pushing heavy weight around and appreciate the fact that your incredible body can do so much more than just look good naked.

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Honor Your Day

I am not a morning person. Seriously.

I workout at 6 am two to three days per week. Seriously.

Why? Let me explain.

My workouts are the most important part of my day. Sounds a bit selfish, I know. I am a firm believer that everyone should set aside time each day (or most days of the week) to do some type of physical activity. For me, that glorious time tends to be anywhere from 60 to 75 minutes of lifting weights, getting my heart rate elevated and most definitely breaking a sweat. On rest days, I may go swimming, take a yoga class or go for a walk.

While I am far from an introvert, I am typically very quiet in the early portion of the day.  My mornings start out with me being reflective and establishing my intentions for the day. Thoughts like, “What do I want to accomplish today?” and “How can I fit in all of the things I want to do today?” run through my mind while I sip on coffee and portion out my vitamins.

So why would I voluntarily wake up early and workout at 6 am?

For starters, you may hear many business owners say they have a hard time fitting in time for themselves.  Imagine that, a Trainer with no time to practice what she preaches (the horror)… although it happens way more than you think.  It’s normal for us to want to provide service to our clients and be available… but what good is a service provider to a client that is completely tapped out?  Not much good.  So part of my motivation for working out early is that I KNOW I am taking care of what I could, should and must… AND I’m doing it early in my day so it won’t be hanging over my head later on.

Second, as I mentioned above, I like to set my intention for the day.  Why not start things on a high note? My favorite time is when I’m training, so why not start the day there and keep that wonderful buzz going as long as possible?  In many Yoga classes that I have taken over the years, at the end of class, we put our hands in prayer, bow our heads and say “Namaste”.  We honor our practice.  I really love this concept.  My interpretation of it is that if the session on the mat was great and you felt like you made progress with a pose or flowing through poses, then that is amazing and you honor it. At the same time, you might have struggled with something and although you might not be particularly happy at the moment, you should still honor it because there is a lesson there.  Either way, something good always comes out of the experience.  When I finish my workout, I take a few moments to reflect and thank the Universe for allowing me the time, space and energy to do it.

Third, as a Trainer and Coach it is extremely important to set an example.  Not only should one make the effort to look the part, but remember, your clients are looking to you for guidance and motivation.  I know I have an obligation to set an example.  I suffer through various aspects of my training too, just like my clients.  There are plenty of things that challenge me, that make me want to puke, and that make me question why did I get out of bed that morning… but ultimately, the answer is always the same, “Because I love myself and I love this shit!”

I hate waking up super early…. but I do it.  Because my own training is important to me.  Do I expect everyone to do the same as me? Absolutely not… but a small amount of effort every single day will go a long way.

How will you honor your day?

Progress Not Perfection

One of the recurring undertones in my profession, both with my in-person clients at the gym as well as my contest prep clients, is the desire to see results faster.  People… please! If there is anyone that understands this, it is me.  A woman that has been on top of the mountain and had her dream physique, only to lose it in what seemed like an unfair pull of the rug from underneath her feet.  What feels like a never ending battle to find perfection can be so frustrating.

I say these things daily… “It takes time”, “Be patient”, “The things you want to get rid of didn’t get there overnight”, “Be realistic with yourself”, “Enjoy the process!”

What I will also tell you is this: There are things you can control and things you will have to learn to deal with.

What can you control?

  1. How you exercise – intensity, frequency, duration
  2. What you consume – quantity, frequency
  3. How you cope with life stress – we all have stress and we all must cope
  4. Prioritizing yourself – your workouts should be a priority, if they are just something you do when you “get a chance” you will struggle finding results.

What will you have to learn to deal with?

  1. Managing your time
  2. Juggling your priorities such as work and family responsibilities
  3. Sleep – or lack thereof and how to improve sleeping habits
  4. The process of reaching your goals

Although it can be frustrating, patience is something we all need in the pursuit of our goals.  Find comfort in things such as a better athletic performance, like lifting heavier weight, running faster, being able to climb a flight of stairs without losing your breathe… etc.  The final outcome is a culmination of many small, mundane and sometimes boring habits repeated over and over for an extended amount of time, perhaps much longer than  you care to recognize.  The time will pass regardless, so why not stick with the plan and charge forward?