Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Breaking Point

"We all have great inner power. The power is self-faith. There's really an attitude to winning. You have to see yourself winning before you win. And you have to be hungry. You have to want to conquer."
~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

There comes a point in every prep that I find myself teetering precariously on the edge of sanity. One word, one look, one touch has the ability to send me straight over the edge into the dark abyss of self-doubt, despair, anguish, and intense frustration. I reached that point last night.

I am 2 weeks out from the Arnold, and I've really been struggling the past couple weeks. I am completely reliant on stimulants to get me through the day, and have steadily increased the dosage and am now stacking stims on top of stims just to get my body to function at a "normal" level. Before the stims kick in and after they wear off, my body is completely drained. I'm sluggish, fatigued, and every little moment feels like a monumental effort. Many times I find myself just standing in one spot, perfectly still, eyes staring blankly into space. I've done this in the middle of conversations, which I'm told is quite interesting for the person I was talking to.

Somehow, I've managed to get through every workout and cardio session using the planned weights, reps, and interval duration. I have no idea how I've done it, because at times I've felt like it wasn't possible. I continue to surprise myself, and in that way, I'm proud of myself. I know I'm continuing to push out of sheer willpower and determination. It's amazing what our bodies are capable of when they're pushed to the extreme. We're a lot stronger than we think we are!

Last night my schedule was different than usual, because I had to feed the landlady's dog in the evening. Normally, I'd go straight from work to the gym and train and do cardio. I'm usually home around 8 pm. Last night I needed to be home earlier than that, so I just did my training session and planned to do cardio at Jerry's house a bit later. I was panicked, because I knew. I just KNEW that I wasn't going to be able to get to bed early. I haven't gotten much sleep all week, and I'm progressively more tired and drained each day, so I'd been looking forward to going to bed early. When I realized it wasn't going to happen, I felt devastated. Mind you, since I'm tired and depleted, my emotions run a bit closer to the surface, so what may normally seem like not a big deal suddenly becomes a catastrophic event in my world lately.

I made it through my workout, and by the time I was finished, I was glassy-eyed and stumbling over the carpet in the gym. Just thinking about everything I needed to do yet brought tears to my eyes. Jerry was very sweet and tried to help me come up with a plan that would get me into bed by 9 pm. What we didn't factor in was the extra time it now takes me to do or go anywhere, since my body just resists every movement. I had planned on starting cardio at 8 pm ... but by 9 pm, I still hadn't made it over to Jerry's house.

I had 45 minutes of cardio to do, plus do a couple loads of laundry, eat a meal, let his dogs out, and take a shower before I could crawl into bed. Again, this doesn't seem like a huge deal, but it was enough to leave me sitting in my car, sobbing on the phone to Jerry.

I began to wonder why I'm doing this to myself. Why am I putting myself through such deprivation? Why am I putting up with feeling like crap all the time? I'm not very much fun to be around because I'm either tired, spacey, or irritable. Who wants to hang out with someone who acts like that all the time?! I sure wouldn't! I try very hard to remain positive and sociable around others. After all, they're not choosing to compete; this is my own deal and it's not fair to let my struggles affect others in a negative way. Poor Jerry has been so patient with me. I honestly don't know what I'd do without him.

I found myself questioning whether I'm really cut out for this "sport." And if it affects my life in a negative way, how beneficial is it that I continue competing?

I have to admit, these thoughts scared me! I can't remember ever questioning whether I'm meant to compete or not. As I voiced these concerns to Jerry, I found myself hoping they weren't true. I love competing. And while I don't always love how I feel, I love knowing that I'm in complete control of my body and how it looks. I love being an inspiration to others. I love working hard and seeing the results of my hard work, and then being rewarded for it on stage. I love standing on stage, knowing I did everything I possibly could to bring my best physique to the stage. I love being able to wear form-fitting clothes and know that I look good in them. I love feeling happy with how my body looks. I love the pre-contest jitters and butterflies I get moments before I step on stage. And I love hearing my name announced while I strut on stage under the bright lights.

So why would I suddenly start to doubt myself? Why would the thought of not competing even cross my mind?

And then I realized it. I was at the Breaking Point. My Breaking Point. It's at this point that I have a decision to make: continue pushing hard and suffering or give up and quit. The latter is not even an option. I have no intention of quitting this prep, of tossing away 14 weeks of hard work, suffering, and pushing my body. I've been invited to one of the most prestigious shows in the U.S., and I intend to bring my BEST to that stage.

After I got off the phone with Jerry, I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and repeated to myself, "Suck it up and get your butt on that treadmill. You can DO this!" And I did. My cardio session actually went very well! I increased the intensity a notch and imagined myself standing on stage next to Arnold.

When the going gets rough, champions find it in themselves to not just keep pushing, but to INCREASE their intensity. To push past their limits, to break the barriers they set in their minds. The true mark of a champion is not how much weight they pushed; it's how they faced challenges along the way.

Arnold says it best: "Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength."


  1. wow! Thank you for this post! Your posts are so inspirational and im so glad i came across it! You are going to be great up there on that stage!

  2. What a great post! I could feel your emotion! I wish I would have read this a week ago! I am, well actually WAS, prepping for my first competition and cracked. I am still 10 weeks out and the pressure of the diet and body fat percentages and training and cardio and, well, YOU KNOW, got the best of me. It was during my time of the month and I questioned why I was doing this to myself and then my emotions got the best of me and I couldn't get out of my head....and I ended up binging and quitting! Now, of course, with a clear head, I regret that! You can do it! You are almost there! Keep pushin! Cry it out, be cranky, but like you said never quit! I wish now that I would have done just that! I haven't given up on competing, there are other competitions this year, but this was a huge lesson for me! Good luck! Thanks for the post!

  3. Reading your posts helps me get through my walls! Thank you so much for such frankness because it sometimes feel like I am the only one feeling this way(and that I am completely crazy)! You will conquer the Arnold - no doubt about that!

  4. Thanks for all the support! It sounds like we all go through similar emotions during prep.

    @karatenurse - Is it too late to get back on track?? You've still got 10 weeks. :)

  5. I am so glad to know that I am not alone. I have also found myself just staring and blinking, wondering how I will get everything done. It's amazing that a messy kitchen, 3 loads of laundry, and grocery shopping can become an epic task when you're training! Thanks for sharing, it dispels the loneliness and despair!