The meat of the matter
After a solid four years of following a predominately plant-based diet, pre-comp meals came as a major shock to multiple systems - my body, mind, morals and bank account.
The amount of meat (kangaroo, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb) I eat in ONE meal TWICE a day equates to the volume that I used to eat in one month. Before my life of weighing food to the gram, I was eating 6-8 "meals" a day - for the most part, calorie-dense, high fat snacks at regular intervals. Now, I have three large meals, two small snacks. Apparently, changing the timing of food consumption can have benefits on the metabolism... Timing around workouts makes sense. As for this anal attention to portioning, that's all fresh to me.
As the lab rat in this experiment, I can report definite changes. After what feels like a slaughter (lunch or dinner), my body temperature rises dramatically and I literally begin to sweat beads and beads. That never used to happen. Clearly, something's different.
Training to compete in sports modelling has been first and foremost a major training of discipline, patience, self-control and open-mindedness. I love spending time at the gym, so committing time and energy to working out hasn't been an obstacle; it's been a privilege to have such purpose added to my fitness pursuits.
What has been a challenge is eating less regularly. Consuming food is legit my #1 favourite hobby. Yes, I'm a foodie. A pretentious brunch wanker. The fact that my diet is now comprised of unseasoned meat and flavourless vegetables - well, that's the real torture.
Having said that, it's not as bad as I envisaged. I haven't caved, had unfathomable cravings or refused to eat a tasteless meal. I even turned down the opportunity of a green-light cheat meal.
What's kept me mentally afloat is the trust and open mind I've kept in my coach who has a successful track record. One time, however, he challenged me to participate in an all-you-can-eat chicken buffet... Surely this wasn't a case of "you can never eat too much", like with spinach. Nevertheless, I ate a whole chicken. I think he was joking and hoping I'd stop far sooner than I did... Jokes on him?
Also, I'm a bit of a geek, and by profession I am a journalist who stylistically prefers immersive reporting (diving into the depths of a "story"). Directly testing the science and trusting the process by putting myself right in the middle of an experiment - that's what drives me.
The reason I limited my meat intake for years is for environmental reasons. Cows are one of the top polluters - they produce methane. More demand for beef, more cow farming. I tend not to choose beef for my meal prep, however, and gravitate towards ethically sourced kangaroo. That retains my sanity at least a little, but I assure myself - after these comps, I'm going straight back to plant-based living.
#4: Bank account
This one hurts the most. My arteries may and well be clotting with animal fat, but I'm more so guaranteed a heart attack from the shock of how much food alone is costing me. When people say vegan is expensive - man, they're wrong. Legumes, vegetables, tofu, etc - it's so so cheap. That's motivation in itself to go back to veganism. More pennies for brunch!
While it's a natural human trait to sound the alarm bells at the first sign of foreignness, this temporary challenge on my body, mind, belief system and finances is testing my limits, but even bigger - it's making me objectively reflect on my life. In what ways will I have changed when I go back to "regular life" post comps?