This life style isn't cheap.
As my fitness competition season draws to a close for me, I sit back and reflect on life as a figure competitor.
I reminisce on all the challenges I’ve endured during this season including the physical activity, diet, mental stamina, having an adequate money/time management and support system just to make it to the end.
My family and friends think I’m crazy for doing this but I know I inspire others to live their dreams just by being an example. I want others to know they can make it too!
No matter what your goals are, you have the strength to achieve them. I want to take a minute to share my journey and provide some tidbits of advice for those just beginning this process.
First, let’s begin with an adequate diet and nutritional plan. Did you know that over 50% of your desired weight loss comes from what you eat? Most people believe that if they exercise enough, they will lose weight instantly.
This is simply not true. You also have to incorporate healthy fruits, veggies, and quality lean meats into your diet as well. In the fitness competition world, we call this “eating clean” or without any added salts, sugars, processed foods and/or preservatives used to store and keep food beyond its natural life cycle.
Most bodybuilders eat lots of healthy clean food to build muscle mass. You, of course, won’t need to eat quite as much as they do as you probably just want to be slim and toned.
But you could take a page from their book by eating 4-6 times per day to maintain your metabolism which seems to slow down a few hours after breakfast, lunch and dinner. For example, you may want to incorporate a protein shake a few hours after breakfast but before lunch and a few hours after lunch before dinner.
This will also help you to stop having the munchies and grabbing the first thing you see in your refrigerator which is normally not the healthiest food to eat.
Secondly, of course, the amount of physical activity you take in is directly proportionate to your desired weight loss goals. Just going to the gym for a quick 30 minute cardio session is simply not enough to achieve weight loss.
It’s a start, but it won’t take you over the edge. I recommend not only doing a 30 minute cardio session but also incorporating a circuit routine which in most commercial gyms are the exercise machines you see lined up together in order to provide people with an easy reference for performing the routines.
You may see a set of machines that incorporate exercises for the upper body and then exercises for the lower body or vice versa. This is a great way to learn how to structure your routine for when you become more advanced and want to add other workouts and routines to the mix of your physical activities.
Third, you also have to deal with the mental challenges you’ll face on this journey! The dedication and discipline it takes to achieve your goals is quite huge. There is an emotional toll placed on you and your family.
You won’t be able to eat out every day. When everyone else is having barbeque, you may have to settle for a salad. You have to commit to your goals daily. You see, for a fitness competitor, it’s not just about losing weight, it’s about a lifestyle!
I recommend anyone using this theme because if you know the journey never ends, then you’ll have a more positive mindset about your weight loss goals.
Next, this type of lifestyle is not cheap! You’ll have to think about managing your money and time wisely. The cost of your food supply will increase because you’re adding healthier ingredients into your diet.
You’re not just grabbing a burger from the McDonald’s 99 cents menu anymore. You’re eating fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, healthy carbs, etc and they cost more money.
Unfortunately, the healthier the nutrient, the costlier they get. But just think about the rewards of ridding your body of the toxic chemicals and ingredients in those processed burgers, French fries, etc., from some of your favorite fast food restaurants.
Not to mention, you will look and feel better about yourself. There’s just something about a fresh homemade burger and freshly cut potatoes that makes my mouth water with hunger.
Time management is quite another issue. Bodybuilders know that this journey takes time and a LOT of patience. You have to schedule times to eat.
When you have to eat 4-6 times per day, those scheduled times must be incorporated into your daily routine whether you have a 9 to 5 job or not have one. Having been disciplined in this philosophy, I think this is a great way to ensure you get in enough calories per day to avoid being hungry and inevitably, overeating or eating the wrong types of food.
Last, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the support system you’ll need to help you to succeed. You do have to walk this path alone but you can always find support along the way. Your family and friends will be key for you on days when you feel like giving up (and you’ll have these days often!).
If not your family and friends, find a mentor that can help you to stay on track. Most bodybuilders and fitness competitors have support systems, especially when they first start out because you will need all the help you can get to achieve your goals.
Well, it’s almost gym time for me again. This is the last one of the day. But as I sit and reflect on my experiences as a fitness competitor, I get even more inspired to help others achieve their goals. I know what you’re going through because I’ve been there too! It’s certainly not an easy journey. In fact, it’s quite challenging.
But when you see the results you achieve (you know, rock hard abs!), you’ll know it was all worth it in the end.
This article was originally published at http://blog.ideafit.com/blogs/liveloveaspire/top-5-things-i-ve-learned-as-a-fitness-competitor. Reprinted with permission from the author.