The last two days have been a struggle. My trainer removed some more food from my daily meal plan at the end of last week, and I’m starting to feel the effects – periods of low blood sugar, fatigue, headaches. Yesterday, I was miserable. I thought that carbing up was the answer, so I had one piece of Ezekiel bread with some natural peanut butter, which turned into two slices, which ultimately became four slices. I immediately recognized I had fallen into an old pattern of thought and behavior. In the grand scheme of things, is Ezekiel bread and natural peanut butter the worst thing to eat? No, but it still constitutes “cheating” on my meal plan and deviating from what my trainer has instructed me to do in order to ensure I look my best when I step on stage in close to 8 weeks. Carb depletion is a standard part of bringing my body down to the level of leanness required to compete, and yesterday, I took a step backward in that process. For a reality check, my current stats are 115 lbs and about 17.5% body fat. My projected competition weight is about 105 and most competitors step on stage around 9% bodyfat – I have a lot of work left to do in the next 8.5 weeks!
Was I disappointed in myself? Absolutely. Did I try to justify what I did? No. I did try to understand why it happened though. I have a plan in place, and I had been doing so well, what facilitated this bad choice? I had shut off my mind and refused to acknowledge what was happening in the moment. I had foods around that are now temptations because of my food restrictions. I threw away the rest of the Ezekiel bread and peanut butter. I can substitute them with other things that are much more difficult to eat more than one serving size of. If I’m have a carb craving, it’s easy to slather some peanut butter on a slice of bread and wolf it down; I think I’m far less likely to eat some plain avocado or spend the time cooking and eating plain oatmeal in the same situation.
I went to sleep after my guilty meal and woke up feeling a lot better. I still hadn’t done my cardio yet for the day (I do 45 mins of cardio 6 days per week and weight train for 45-60 mins 5 days per week). In past times, my inner voice would have said something like, “You already screwed up for today, so what’s the point? Just start over fresh tomorrow.” That same little voice might have also suggested I eat something else I know that I shouldn’t because, after all, didn’t I already go off track for that day? Might as well take advantage, right? And, for a brief moment, my inner voice did start to say things like that – but instead, I changed my inner dialogue to, “Well, you ate stuff you weren’t supposed to eat. That means cardio is even more crucial today so you can minimize the damage. Plus, you are nice and carbed up now, so cardio should be a cake walk. You haven’t missed a single workout during this entire prep and you have nothing better to do tonight – stay on track and go get it done.” And I did. I refused to let one slip-up turn into a snowball rolling downhill. I recognized the mistake and then promptly got myself back on track.
There’s a pro bikini competitor who is famous for saying, “win the day.” That is how I feel. Today is not yesterday, it is a new day. And when it comes to achieving your goals, yesterday doesn’t matter and neither does tomorrow. Only today matters. With large and difficult goals, looking too far ahead can be overwhelming and discouraging. I met today with the program director of my graduate program, and we discussed my course selection over the next two years. He also asked me about what sport I would like to do my practicum in (not for another year) and what I ultimately want to do after graduating. I do not have the answer to either of those questions right now. Change is uncomfortable for me today – I’ve thought several times, “What am I doing? What was I thinking taking on graduate school and competition training on top of a full-time, demanding job? There’s no way I can do all of this! It would be so much easier to just have my job and none of these other commitments.”
Then I took a breath and changed my perspective. Yes, I CAN do this. One day at a time. I got up early this morning and got my shoulder workout and cardio in at 5 AM; I met with my program director to discuss my graduate education and clarify expectations for tomorrow’s first class; I did my homework that is due today; I checked my work calendar and reminded myself of my priorities when I return from vacation. When I think about school, work, and competition in the long-term, it does seem unmanageable; but on a day to day basis, it is completely within my ability to handle. Working toward all of these goals may not be easy, but I believe they will be worth it. There is no shortcut to any place worth going, and I need to accept that I will have good days and I will have bad days. But, if I strive to “win each day” then I will inevitably achieve the things I have set out to accomplish.