Originally posted on June 16, 2015 at www.theconfidentcanuck.com
PART 7 – MAINTAINING BALANCE
I’ve been employed full-time since I was 18 years old. Thrust into the working force initially at 16 years old, I then decided out of high school to take a year (or two) off and jump into full-time employment until I figured out what to do. It’s a classic case of making too much money to want to go back into school without the guarantee of a career on the other end.
So for the last decade now, I have worked predominantly in sales (media and medical) which can be a tough industry to cut your teeth. I love it. I'm good at it. I thrive in a fast-paced environment, where I am challenged constantly and I can hone in on my interpersonal skills while continually learning.
Moreover, I am very active socially with my external hobbies on the peripheral. Various writing gigs and projects, socializing with friends and hosting events, running my non-profit chapter, and participating in organized sports are some of my ongoing undertakings. What's more, I was married in September, 2014 so by all intents and purposes – I’m still a newlywed.
Pair this heavy “life” load with 1-2 workouts per day lasting an hour a piece at minimum, constant meal prep and grocery shopping, sacrificing social gatherings to avoid food temptations and alcohol, and meticulously counting everything going in (and out) of my body and it’s hard not to become overwhelmed.
I became encapsulated in my own little fitness bubble and found it hard, at times, to relate to those who did not understand what I was going through. I felt guilty for not being able to join my husband for a nice dinner, or saying no to a treat made by a friend. These restrictions combined with my incessant calculating of macros became consuming.
A few times – I had to step back and re-evaluate my surroundings and the way I was coming across. Bodybuilding is to a great extent a solo sport whereby your direct actions affect the outcome. To the same token, your actions in life equally can be controlled by you and you alone.
Balance is crucial to consider before you start this process and imperative to maintain throughout. I managed to alienate some of my friends and family through this process and coming out the other end, only now do I see the detriment my lack of perspective could have caused had I not been more self-aware.
Thankfully, I have an incredible support system who believes in me and encourages me to pursue my goals. That balance came over time, but in retrospect, it would be something to consider as an important factor from the get-go.
PART 8 – PEAK WEEK
I had heard rumours about “peak week” before I commenced my training.
“Am I going to stop eating?! How much water will I consume?” were amongst the questions that I asked my trainer.
“Don’t get ahead of yourself,” he would retort. “Focus on your regime now and we will worry about peak week when it arrives.”
Solid advice from a seasoned pro. There is no need to worry about the final tweaking leading right into the show when you are 3, 4, 5 months out. By pushing that out of my mind temporarily, I managed to focus on each individual workout to give it my 100% and chip away at the block (literally) to get closer to my ideal physique for show day. No amount of water restriction or food deprivation will allow you to cut off pounds of fat unless you put in the work from the beginning.
My peak week experience will differ from everyone else’s – as it should. There is no cookie cutter recipe for success during this time as it will depend on the progress you’ve made, your age, gender, height, physique type, health status, and other factors. It is important to recognize that while a fellow competitor is carb loading, you may be carb depleting. Another may still have a cheat meal week of the show, while others have stopped cheats two months out.
On a personal level, my trainer and I decided on a plan about a month out and moderated/modified it every day leading into it and during. We adjusted after morning dry pictures to achieve peak form and ensured that I was healthy, took the rest that I needed, and still maintained all my meals on schedule.
What I noticed the most from peak week is how water is such an incredible part of our bodies. I was consuming up to 8 litres of water daily leading into peak week and as we slowly took it out of my regime, my body shrink wrapped! My thirst was insatiable and the first thing I wanted when the show was over (other than donuts), was water.
Peak week is a trying experience, where you will experience highs (like waking up super dry and feeling on top of the world) to extreme lows, mood swings, hunger and feeling defeated. Remember – it’s only one week then you can go back to healthy lifestyle and feel accomplished in achieving your set out goal!
PART 9 – HEALTHY MIND FIRST
At the start of the monthly meetings I hosted for I Am That Girl: NCR, a question was posed.
“Why Are YOU a Badass?” The powerpoint presentation would project on the screen in front of a women filled room. For the new faces in the audience, chuckles would ring out and heads would bow down in embarrassment.
“Who wants to go first?” I would ask, looking out to the girls inquisitively. Each woman is invited to the front of the stage and sharing “I am a badass because ______”. From doing a random act of kindness to being a single mother, the women would share something empowering about themselves that they deem to be pretty badass.
After revealing my journey and why I started I Am That Girl: NCR (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAp_eCz_JK8), the women felt more comfortable breaking down the invisible barrier that holds us back from disclosing our intimate thoughts and secrets. The layers of insecurity, lack of confidence and shame pealed back to reveal these women in their vulnerable, raw, and uninhibited states. What a liberating feeling to shed the burden of past experiences, guilt, weakness and stand tall and proud with who you are – flaws and all – and recognize why you are amazing.
It was in this light that I decided that I would be able to compete. I struggled for many years with crippling self-doubt, self-worth and negative body image issues. I was an awkward child and did not meet the conventional beauty standards, nor did I know how to dress or do my hair when I was young. I would hunch my shoulders because I would tall, not try to speak out or say anything that would make me a social outcast, and essentially attempt to blend in.
As I got older, I gradually began to break away from these insecurities. I wore heels and reveled in my height. I learned that not all beauty is external and confidence really does come from within. I had moments of weakness though and unfortunately, I allowed an ex-boyfriend to demean my self-worth to the point that I sought professional help.
When I finally realized that seeking constant validation from others would not lead to a positive mind or self-worth, I felt enlightened. It took a lot of time and I still battle with the desire to be liked or be friends with everyone, but knowingly problem is half the battle.
When going into this show – I knew that I would essentially be putting myself out there for criticism and judgement. Criticism and judgement not only from others, but from myself. I had to remind myself that it’s about the journey and the path to better health and a better body versus looking like a Victoria Secret model at all times – which, by the way, is not attainable without Photoshop.
As the months progressed and my new way of life became the norm, I became slightly obsessive. I like control and when anything did not go as planned, I panicked and felt derailed. I’m fairly level headed and have a good support system, however, and I managed to push out all the negative self-talk and focus day-by-day.
Any negative comments soon fell off my back and only the positive feedback remained. My passion for what I was doing intensified and I felt increasingly encouraged that not only was I doing something wicked for myself, but many friends reached out to say that I was helping inspire them get on track and asked for advice on how to achieve their goals. Like ‘I Am That Girl’, it was a renewed sense of purpose for OTHERS that really kept me grounded and not lose my way by the end.