Pre comps: raw and real

Reflecting on this moment from last week, I now find it funny that even at my lowest, I still feel the urge to take a token selfie, even in public.


While, of course, the emotions I endured at the time weren’t funny (though perhaps the reason for the tears were), I nevertheless wanted to record this occasion to show how training for sports modeling competitions isn’t all fun and games as I have so far depicted it. While I may function and feel a 10/10 most the time, it’s certainly not 24/7.


When I embarked on this very weird yet exciting challenge I promised myself that I’d be honest with both myself and the story that I shared with the people around me. This is why I have chosen to write this very raw and real blog post.


Everyone copes with things in different ways. However, I was told that the most common pre-comp struggles included cravings, crankiness, fatigue, hangriness and FOMO. As for the symptoms post comps – I’d been told to brace myself for rapid weight gain, depression, body image issues and problems returning to “regular” life.


After years of experimenting with different foods and fitness regimes, I’d finally learnt the exact lifestyle that worked wonders for me. Two to three years ago I’d gone through a dangerous phase where I watched what I ate so obsessively it sent me to hospital. Through jolting myself out of that headspace, surrounding myself in supportive and positive people, and finding the foundation of optimum nutrition, I escaped that terrible chapter a year ago. Not once have I gotten sick or suffered those same anxieties since.


Up until last Tuesday, I hadn’t yet during this training season experienced self-doubt, dark thoughts and nervousness at all. I felt on top of the world, and I was true in representing this on social media, in face-to-face conversations and when being quizzed by people online.


It was only mid last week (2.5 weeks before comps) that I began to feel the pressures. Maybe it was my Virgo coming out; what tipped me off edge was my momentary forgetfulness. Maybe it was because I hadn’t cleansed my usual Monday and the change in routine threw me out. Quite simply, it was likely a combination of lack of sleep and my heightened sensitivity that spun me out. I can see clearer than ever now how extreme diet and fitness regimes can reap all kinds of havoc on the body, which ultimately links with the mind.


What happened? I’d just done a PT sesh whereby I hit three PBs (personal bests) and enjoyed my usual boxing class. I was on a high. Then, I realised, I’d forgotten to pack my breakfast. Just like that, I switched. It may seem trivial, but when nutrient timing and the inflexibility of a 9-5 job come into play, it’s a little bit troublesome trekking all the way back home on the tram after a 5:30am workout and with a grumbling stomach.

This mini mental breakdown proved how the same breakfast I’d been having for exactly one year was a key factor in keeping me sane and happy these last few foreign weeks. It reinforced the importance of starting a day on the right note. Then, after cleansing Wednesday—another part of routine that lifts my spirits—I felt a lot better, like all had been restored.


When life is filled with weighing flavourless food to the gram, eating at specific times, exercising frequently and ensuring sufficient sleep, it doesn’t leave much room for anything else. However, while I’ve heard a lot of competitors struggle with this limitation (the fear of missing out), it hasn’t affected me at all. In fact, these circumstances have made me more disciplined with my writing and work, I’ve actually become grateful for this so-called obstacle.


The hardest part for me? Navigating the “usual” aspects of life: my job, domestics, errands and building a business. Suddenly time management and having my head in one place (I’m now always thinking about multiple things at once) became a struggle, when it used to be my forte.

That teary Tuesday was a valuable day. It made me realise what matters most to me, and I’m discovering more and more how this journey is teaching me more mindset lessons (over fitness ones) than I ever could have bargained for.

Mim Kempson