My wonderful boyfriend and bestie!
I had a great experience, don't get me wrong. I felt great being on stage and showing off my hard work. But in all honestly, I feel much better returning to a state of good health. I am not putting down competitors - in fact, I applaud them for working so hard and dedicating so many aspects of their life to prep. I just realized it is definitely not for me.
Throughout the last two months of prep, I was in very poor health. I felt so weak and tired, had brain fog, no energy, my left wrist had a cyst reappear, I woke up tired every day, my muscles were constantly tight and painful (beyond normal soreness from workouts), my digestion was poor, and my left elbow had a small tear so that made lifting heavy weight very difficult for any exercise involving elbow flexion.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I had started taking a supplement for my adrenals and doing other things to improve my overall health. I felt much better for a long time. Once my calories got low, and I was doing two workouts a day (seven hours of total cardio a week), working early am to late pm, and juggling school, no supplementation could help. I was simply burnt out.
I was eating a load of tofu, and loads of protein in general. As a student of holistic nutrition, I believe that the overconsumption of soy lead to me developing a sensitivity. With the constant exposure to soy, my immune system was attacking its own tissues and wreaked havoc on my digestion and therefore overall health. With being in the middle of prep, I felt I couldn't take soy out entirely. Looking back, I realize how much I disagree with the bodybuilding idea of nutrition, for vegans and omnivores. Too much protein is acidic, and will cause free radical damage, whether from soy or meat.
Here are my reasons for not competing in shows in the near future. Again, I speak for myself personally.
There is nothing holistic about it
Eat this many calories, this many grams of protein, do these workouts at these days and times, eat at exactly these times, and you will have exactly these results.
That's how I feel competing is. Yes, there are differences in individual workout plans and diets in doing shows. But still, competitiors eat the same thing day in and day out. This also prevents you from really knowing when you're truly hungry. This is why I won't make meal plans for clients, I just send them lists of foods to include in their diet.
Nuff said! I don't have regrets. But it's a major factor in not doing another show in a while... I'd rather go on a vacation.
Takes the fun out of working out
I can't tell you how good it feels to wake up and think "I want to go sweat and feel good!" and not "UGH here goes workout 2, and another change of clothes to wash..."
I hated carrying a million changes of clothes and knowing I'd have to push my weak body twice that day. It feels so good knowing I can wake up and snooze occasionally without guilt, because I feel that's what my body needs.
Too much oxidative stress
Working out is amazing. I'm a trainer, and I love getting active obviously! But too much stress on the body will not help you lose fat.
Near the end when I had my health issues, my body had a hard time shedding fat. It's because my cortisol was through the roof. School, work, and sooo many hours at the gym. GAH.
Of course this is a sacrifice I knew I had to make... but it doesn't make it easy.
I can't tell you how much better I feel being able to go to a patio or my fave veg place and go get food. I think it's worth a million times more than pushing myself to exhaustion and deprivation.
These are all MY own stuggles I had. Of course many awesome people win shows and maintain a much better state of health. I am not discouraging anyone. I just want to be vocal about my own experience.
As of now, I plan on doing a lot of restoration. The only workouts I've done are mobility, cardio, and some core work. I am trying to rest a lot. I've eliminated soy, gluten and nuts (I don't think they're the culprit, but just in case) for 2 weeks to see if these caused my sensitivities. I will reintroduce them one by one in a couple weeks time and see if I feel crappy again. I just went away for the weekend and drank and ate a ton, so I am starting that now. (You gotta live a little!)
I had my moments where I felt like a failure...like "why me? why can everyone else do it?" I will not let myself feel like that. I know I deserve to love my body, not make it feel worn out. I have lots on my plate, and doing a show was probably just ill timed. Who knows what the future holds!
I hope you have a wonderful experience if you decide to do it. Just remember to put your health first!