"Peak week": the final seven days leading up to competitions
Today, my to-do list contains only one task: “prevent tan from streaking”, which entails standing in the middle of a mildly cool space for as long as my legs can hack it. So, with so much free time, why not write something?
Well, big killjoy: this will probably be the most difficult piece of writing I’ve ever had to write. Why? One: it’s midday and I’ve had zero calories – news flash, food phenomenally fuels the brain (currently I consider ANY food to be “brain food”). For those of you who are familiar with my weekly cleansing practice and are thinking, “you already don’t “eat” one day per week, what’s the big deal?” – NOT THE SAME, but I’ll get to that later.
Two, I’m not allowed to SIT because my fake tan will likely mark. Note: this is one coat of two tans - tomorrow's I apparently have to be more cautious with. So, I’m just standing here at my kitchen bench typing away, accepting that this blog post will be a load of bollox compared to those written by my former articulate self who I’m looking forward to being reunited with after my competition Sunday.
That's the sad thing - I have so much time on my hands yet my brain departed about a week ago. Putting words to a page (or just using them generally in conversation) is proving to be a struggle. The annoying part is that the moments when I’m most inspired happens to be when I hardly have time to breathe I’m so busy. If time were a currency I’d be a millionaire today - I’ve got too much to kill before Sunday.
This last week has reinforced how integral it is to maintain a balanced and broad intake of nutrients whether it be to gain muscle, get fit, improve concentration or gain a greater glow in your complexion. Receiving those quality vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins, antioxidants, etc. down to a T makes for a far richer life.
This became even more apparent to me when analyzing the results of my weekly fat test (BioPrint/BioSignature) with my coach. These hinted at how much sleep I was having and the quality; which hormones were imbalanced; whether I was overeating carbs; and how toxic my body was as influenced by pesticides, pollution and plastics. For example, the individual measurements of millimeters fat on your knee and calf can indicate quality and adequacy of sleep.
I want to make clear, the diet and lifestyle of a bodybuilding/sports modeling competitor is RADICALLY different to a “regular” human being. To have a stage-ready body, some things have got to be sacrificed (just as someone who loves regular Friday nights “out” may sacrifice having abs or quite simply, their Saturday mornings). What I personally missed most was clarity of mind.
These past few days I’ve been quite the incompetent human being. Give me a task and I’ll ask you to repeat the question 5 times. The upside is, my body is well on its way to burning unsustainable amounts of fat in order to achieve that dehydrated, vacuum-packed physique for Sunday.
Aside from feeling like a stone-still mannequin right this second (with an equal amount of intellect), I’ve genuinely never felt stronger in my mindset ever in my life.
To my disappointment, throughout this journey I was met with the ever-present pressures of the “norm” surrounding body image; but not once did I give into them. I was bombarded with “you SHOULD experience negative self reflection”, “you SHOULD feel depleted and low in life”.
This alone was the most valuable lesson I learnt over these last few months: how important it is to ONLY listen and take advice from HAPPY people. Indeed, I lapped up guidance only from those who thrived – both in life and competitions (pre, during AND post).
In order to practice such selectiveness, however, you have to be simultaneously open-minded and discerning. Blocking out the negative voices can be hard; I was fortunate to have built my resilience long ago, thanks to some previously challenging people (the biggest one - myself).
I’m proud to say that I possess many of the necessary qualities to have made this experience more than bearable – enjoyable, in fact. I love a challenge; I’m highly disciplined and coachable; I’m motivated by science and by the reward of physically seeing results; and every day I get better and better at mindfulness.
These qualities have gotten stronger. Body building stereotyping would bring us to believe that I would have:
- experienced debilitating self-doubt and crippling body image issues
- compared myself to others in unproductive ways
- gotten sick or fainted (though I did get food poisoning once because Miss Previously Partially Vegetarian here was not accustomed to cooking meat)
- stressed out due to the pressure
The latter is half true, but not for the “pressure” you may think (sculpting a stage-ready body by crunch time). I seriously struggled with keeping my worklife together. Social life was fine because naturally most of my friends are at the gym or overseas/interstate (I’m often on Skype). My office job was what exhausted me, not my weights training. I literally had zero time for myself. Any spare time I got was allocated to meal prep or sleep (of which I got very little).
Without a doubt, the sheer lack of time freedom has been the single part I haven’t enjoyed about this training season. If I didn’t have a 9-5 job in the equation and was a professional sports model that received sponsorships and spent my days lifting weights, eating food and napping – then I could definitely pull this off long-term.
Training for competitions would undoubtedly also be made easier if I worked 100% in the health and fitness industry, which I am making a reality slowly but surely. Transitioning back and forth from one headspace to another was mentally exhausting and stressful, especially with work demands and the responsibility to pay rent. If I spent 7 days a week researching, talking about or even coaching in nutrition and exercise, I’d never tire.
Alas it’s 5pm and it appears I’ve managed to put a decent amount of words on a page – as for their quality, that I’m not so sure of. I will note that halfway through writing this I couldn’t fathom life anymore and lay down for 2 hours. I also paused at 1pm to have my meager 150g of kangaroo steak. I’ll have the same for dinner. That’s my entire intake for the day, and tomorrow – roughly SIX TIMES LESS the energy I was consuming in the “muscle building” weeks prior to the last few “fat (and brain cell) burning” days.
Part of what’s kept me so disciplined and motivated throughout this entire journey is the reassurance that I found my “fit” in the mind-body-lifestyle equation exactly a year ago. This month is in fact the anniversary of having made that change from living a “passable” life to loving life.
After comps I most certainly won’t be sacrificing spontaneity and eating to-the-gram flavourless food out of tupperware JUST to look like the women on the front of sports magazines. There is definitely a balance to be struck, and I’m grateful to have found it before these competitions so that the transition back to “regular” life will be a smooth and exciting one.