I successfully stayed on plan during my overnight trip to Columbus for work this week. It involved bringing 15 oz of grilled chicken, 3.5 cups of steamed broccoli, and 2 packets of almond butter (which made it through airport security, yay!) with me in my carry-on. It also meant that at the gate and on the plane, I had to take out my baggies of chicken and broccoli, put them into tupperware, and then eat them cold or lukewarm at best while everyone around me was downing their Starbucks frappucinos, fast food, and Cinnabons. Did I feel a little weird? Yep! But I brushed that feeling aside and did what I needed to do. If I wanted to look like the average American, then I would eat like an average American. However, I want to reach an elite level of fitness, so I’ve accepted that at times I am going to have to do things others find strange. I realize that might draw some criticism or mockery, but no one is going to deter me from what I want to accomplish.
Every morning, I wake up and walk to the bathroom and look in the mirror to check my progress, looking for changes, for indications that I am slowly moving toward the bad ass body of a competitor. Some days, I just take a minute to appreciate where I am now. Although I’ve been through the competitive cycle before and have been leaner than where I am today, I really feel that I am in the best shape of my life right now. I have more muscle than I think I’ve ever had and I am also stronger than I have ever been before. Other days, the changes are apparent and I bask in the glow of pride that comes from knowing I’m following my program and marching steadily toward achieving my goals.
Occasionally, I feel I am making no progress. On those days, I remind myself that even if I don’t see any changes, every day of training hard and eating clean is making me stronger, improving my conditioning, and also strengthening my mind and discipline. It also means I am treating my body with love and respect by fueling it with healthy food and nutrients, not processed crap, empty calories, sugar, chemicals, and saturated fat. Although competitions are ultimately judged on your appearance, there are countless benefits that come from getting your body in that kind of shape, both physical and mental.
I realized this week that one of the trainers at my gym is also competing in bikini in April. We exchanged numbers and have plans to practice posing together, so that’s great! It also lit a fire under me. I am extremely competitive, and while it’s great to have a partner in crime, ultimately she is my competition. So naturally, I want to beat her. Not just her, but everyone! Last time I competed, I just wanted to survive and look like I belonged on stage. This time, I want to place. Actually, I want to win. THAT is why I’m starting prep 20 weeks out and will faithfully follow my diet during Christmas. THAT is why I put up with the low carb headaches and fatigue. THAT is why I eat chicken and broccoli in tupperware at the airport. To be the best. Let’s hope it pays off!