Stepping off stage after winning my first figure competition in 2006 was an amazing feeling.
Months of hard work, sacrifice, tighter nutrition than I ever thought possible and more miles logged on the treadmill than ever. Ahh, sweet accomplishment: leanest body ever, killer photos to commemorate the experience and the knowledge that I had done something that not many people — those with less discipline and drive than me — would ever be able to do.
I admit it, the ugly truth was that I had a lot of self-righteousness about the whole thing. It empowered me, and I felt “better than” because I sacrificed, I stayed strong, in control and I wasn’t weak and lazy like most people.
It’s embarrassing to even write that out, and like I said, ugly. But at 24, I had an ego, very little empathy and a lot of insecurities that could only be momentarily squashed by believing I was better than others.
Anyway, the contentment and relief I felt was very short-lived.
Because within 2 weeks of my competition, I gained back 15 lbs and was almost back to my starting weight. Only this time, at that weight, I was devastated. I stuffed my face with sweets and treats for a week straight and lost all my gains because my willpower was completely gone after months of depriving myself – so much so that my only option was to binge.
Contrasted with 2 weeks prior, I now felt completely out of control, with zero handle on my eating. I felt ashamed, felt stuffed into my clothes and desperately wanted to get back in control. I remember feeling like I just didn’t know how to eat or even live anymore. I didn’t know how to go grocery shopping – something I’d been doing my entire life! What did I buy now? I had no compass.
So what did I do? Sign up for another show, of course.
And for the next 5 years, having shows on my calendar became the only way I could motivate myself to eat well because it was a goal and “having a plan” was the only way I managed any type of compliance.
Besides, “eating healthy for life” felt like the least motivating thing ever. There was nothing to look forward to, no goal, no threat of getting on stage in a bikini to “keep me in line” and therefore, it seemed impossible to stick with.
So when I get email after email from women saying they “need a goal” in order to be motivated to exercise regularly and eat right, I get it. Without something up ahead they think, “Meh, why bother?”
Some might prep for a fitness competition or lose inches for a vacation or have a specific amount of weight they need to lose by a specific date or event.
I totally get it. I remember eating everything in sight until it was time to “start my competition diet” again – I always needed a show up ahead to aim for. For years, I thought the only way to “get back in shape” was to do another competition.