Friday, February 12, 2010

The Body in the Mirror

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see beauty? Do you see strength? Do you see flaws? Do you see fat? Do you see intelligence? Do you see disappointment? Do you see happiness? Do you see sadness?

We all see something different every time we look at ourselves in the mirror. And what you see may not be what others see when they look at you. You've heard the saying "Perception is reality." It's so true - what we perceive to be the truth is our own reality. And your reality may be different than my reality.

When I look at myself in the mirror, I see any and maybe even all of the things I mentioned above at one time. We are our own worst critics. Always judging, always comparing ourselves to others or ourselves in a previous time period.

That's the part I want to focus on - comparing ourselves to ... ourselves. Have you ever looked in the mirror and wished you looked like you did in high school? Or when you were 30? Or when you were on stage? Or when you finished that marathon?

As we grow older and our body matures, it naturally changes. Things we go through in life - stress, pregnancy, sports, depression - all affect how our bodies look throughout the years. Not to mention the natural changes we experience by just growing older.

If we're aware of all these changes, why do we keep comparing ourselves to an image we had of ourselves years ago when life and age were different? How realistic is it to focus on a past time period? Instead, we should be focusing on the future. How we want to look based on our starting point at this time.

As I'm prepping for the Arnold, I keep thinking back to my prep last year. I think about what, when, and how much I ate, how I trained, which exercises I did. The structure and duration of my cardio, and how my training program was planned are all things that keep running through my head. Questions swirl all day. "When were my meals?" ... "How long did I do cardio in the morning and in the evening?" ... "How many days a week did I train and do cardio?" ... "Did I have any Treat Meals at this point in prep?" ... "Did my bicep vein show this soon or was it closer to the show?" ... "Was I leaner at this point last year?"

As I'm asking myself these questions, I'm also trying to answer them for myself and for my trainer. This is the first time I've worked solely with Jerry, and as well as he knows how my body works, we're both still learning. We're constantly making adjustments, tweaking diet, training, and cardio. I have to admit, it's frustrating for me at times, because I like things to be more planned out. But it's tough to plan exactly how a body will respond without trying a technique first.

Although I wrote many things down in my training notebook last year, I didn't keep track of some small details that would be helpful at this point. Plus, I can't find my notebook from the last 6 weeks of my prep, which is very frustrating. So we're playing it by ear, trying new things, changing things, and documenting everything along the way.

One thing I have been good about is taking progress pictures ever since I started competing. The pictures are a true representation of the changes I've made to my physique. I not only look at pictures of me on stage, I look at pictures 3, 4, 5 weeks out to see how I compare. But is it really a true comparison?

As much as I'd like it to be, it's not a true comparison. Why? Because of some of the changes I mentioned above. As I get older, my body is aging. Plus, I've continued to train hard and have added muscle and changed my structure. While I realized this on one level, apparently it didn't really sink in until last night when I pulled up pictures from my first contest prep and showed them to Jerry. We both looked at them with a very critical eye, and as he explained the changes I've made the past couple years, I realized that I've been in denial for several years, because I keep comparing myself to the previous year and try to attain the conditioning I had at my first show. But it's NOT POSSIBLE.

My muscles have grown, developed, and changed shape, so I will never look like I did at my first show. Or at my second show. Or even last year! When I looked at progress pictures from last year's prep, I saw exactly where and how I've changed my body in just a year. It blows my mind to think I could've changed my structure in such a short amount of time, but the proof is in front of me.

I'm also realizing that I'll never be the same size I was 4 years ago. And that's ok. I'm learning to accept that. I'll never be that small as long as I continue to compete. I have to remind myself that I made those changes. I alone was responsible for changing my body, and I changed it in a GOOD way. I now have a more flowing shape. I have curves. And that's ok.

It may still take me some time to come to terms with this new discovery, and I'll probably mourn the loss of some of my smaller clothes that I was still futility hanging on to. I'll just look at it as an opportunity to provide some cute clothes for someone less fortunate, and an opportunity for me to do some shopping and buy more cute clothes. :)

Just for fun ... the first picture is of me 1 week before my first show in 2006. I weighed about 100 lbs. The second photo is of me last week, about 3 weeks out from the Arnold and about 109 lbs.
I was definitely the leanest I've ever been at my first show ... almost too hard for Figure, especially by today's judging standards.

When I look at this picture, I know my legs will never look like this again. And I don't want them to. My legs are bigger and stronger now, with a slightly different shape. I also know my delts will always look fuller and bigger than this. And now I actually HAVE lats. :)

So what do you see when you look in the mirror? Are you still comparing yourself to the you of 5, 10, 15 years ago? Take a second look at yourself and start to love who you are NOW. You're a different person. More knowledgeable, more well-rounded, and even more beautiful today than you were yesterday. Look to your future and know that you are in complete control of how you look. You can change your body if you want to. You'll never look like you did several years ago ... you'll be better!

1 comment:

  1. this is the best entry so far. from last year to this year you look more like a pro than an amature and are way more complete. it was amazing to sit down and actually look at the pictures. your doing great and im very proud of you.