Olympia Weekend is coming up, and I found myself thinking about what it means to compete. When I moved to America in 2006, my dream was to become a figure competitor. I remember looking at old Oxygen and Muscle&Fitness magazines and picturing myself on the cover, competing in shows and contests, strutting the best shape of my life. So I started my journey, I was training almost everyday and after about 10 months I attended my first Fitness Model competition in Hollywood, CA. Little I knew at that time... I remember seeing Maggie Diubaldo there, and I couldn't help it but staring at her abs, ahah. I felt "out of shape" compared to the other girls, who were tight, tan, shiny, groomed, in a perfectly fitting bikini, flawless makeup and hair. I think I had some blush and eyeliner on lol. Surprisingly I got 3rd place, and that got me really excited and motivated to do better next time.
I never had a coach teaching me about training and nutrition, I was a self-taught athlete. I never trusted enough someone to just do anything he/she said (beside one time in 2009 with Rosemary Jennings, my Miami mommy). I was so curious to research, learn and try by myself. So each competition that followed the first one, I was a little more prepared. If I remember correctly, I did 6 Competitions total, 3 with Fitness Universe, 1 with FAME, 1 with Joe Wheatley for Muscle Beach International, 1 in Italy. I never got first place, I was either too skinny, not enough boobs (...), not wearing a fancy bikini, not full and ripped (I was natural!), but I had always a great time, fun and memorable experience. I liked to compete because was a way to show how capable you were with your training and discipline, how far you could take it. Competing gives you that "extra motivation", having a set date makes you concentrate and focus more.
Competing (if done often and repeatedly) has bad sides to it. Those are the major ones, in my opinion:
1. Feed a body-image obsession: you can't spend a day without checking your weight, fat, muscle size, tone etc. All you care is looking tight, muscular with little fat. If you look the way you want, it's a "good day".
2. Control freak (OCD): You weight your food, prepare everything in advance, size-portion it, bring it with you, avoid carbs like poison, can't touch anything that is not prepared by you only.
3. Food obsession: you find yourself dreaming about food several times a day, fight cravings with the most weird, disgusting methods (I was eating carrots with stevia...), google pictures of food etc.
4. Eating disorders: If you didn't have them before, you'll likely to develop them now. Or keep that anorexia mindset ready to pop out again.
5. Your worth is estimated by look: success is achieved thru your body appearance only. It's not so!
6. Post competition blues: after competing, you'll desperately try to maintain the same shape you worked hard for, thru diet and training. You'll realize is a utopia, your body needs rest, hydration and more nutrients. The slow, steady weight gain will make you depressed, you might binge with junk (not my case) or crave a large amount of food you denied yourself for long (it happened to me with carbs).
What I wanna say with this post is, competing is fun and definitely an experience worth to do if you like to train, eat clean and show off you hard work. It's not something I'd encourage to do as a profession or more times in a row. It's a big stress on your body AND your mind. I'm more happy now that I don't compete anymore, I train harder than when I was deprived (thanks carbs), I eat clean, nutritious food in the right amount for my height and body composition, I can focus on a lot more things beside diet and training, I'm not panicking if I'm eating out, my brain and body are in harmony. Oh and I've been told I look better NOW! Funny :)
My last competition in 2010