Friday, February 5, 2010

The Mental Game

Figure is undisputedly a physical sport. But as with any other sport or athletic event, there's a mental aspect that can by more trying than the physical nature of the activity. I wrote about the mental aspect a couple days ago when I talked about crying in the gym. That entry was more focused on the struggle of getting through a tough workout when I have no energy left. But what about the other 90% of the day? I'm faced with temptations in the form of food and laziness.

I just started a new job, and thus far, I haven't had to deal with breakroom donuts or other scrumptious treats (which is highly unusual in a tech company, but I'm not complaining!). Yesterday morning one lady made cinnamon raisin toast, though, and I felt like tackling her and shoving the toast into my mouth as fast as I could. But I didn't. I just smiled at her (ok, it was more like baring my teeth), and reached into the fridge for my breakfast of ground turkey.

I find myself drooling over commercials on TV for Red Lobster, TGIFriday's, and even Wendy's . I swear, they make that food look extra delicious just to torture me! I remind myself that it almost always looks way better on TV than it does in reality, and it prolly doesn't taste that good anyway. Then I crank up the treadmill and keep chugging away.

What did I mean about the temptation of laziness? Imagine a time when you felt absolutely terrible. No energy, everything felt like a chose. Moving your head felt like an effort. Getting up out of your chair required a mental pep talk. Just looking at pictures of people doing active things made you feel tired and worn out.

Got that image in your head? Good. Now multiply those feelings by 2. That's how I feel at various times throughout the day. Not all the time, not every day, but often enough for me to have to constantly remind myself WHY I'm doing this and to encourage myself to keep going.

The temptation to not work as hard in the gym is always in the back of my mind. When my arms start to fatigue, instead of stopping (like my body is screaming at me to do), I push out 2 more reps (and subsequently start the flow of tears, of course). When I'm desperately hanging onto the treadmill, stumbling over my own feet, I'm so tempted to decrease the incline or the speed.

But why would I do that? All I'd be doing is cheating myself out of the opportunity of a lifetime to stand on the Arnold stage. On stage, I'd know in the back of my mind that I hadn't done absolutely everything I could've done. I hadn't pushed as hard as I could've or should've. All I would've done is try to make myself comfortable. But this sport isn't about being comfortable. In fact, everything about it is UNCOMFORTABLE.

It's uncomfortable to feel hungry the majority of the day. It's uncomfortable to drag my tired, sore body onto the treadmill before the sun rises, and then do it all over again in the evening. It's uncomfortable to make food mid-week in order to make sure I have the right amounts for the next couple days. It's uncomfortable to maintain a positive, upbeat attitude when my body just wants to go to sleep.

So why do I put myself through these challenges and all the feelings of being uncomfortable? Because it's ALL WORTH IT.

When I'm standing on stage wearing my obscenely expensive, beautiful suit ... my hair all done up ... my makeup flawless ... my body shining from the paint and oil ... my heels clacking on the hardwood stage ... my body held tense and tight while I smile at the judges and pretend my muscles aren't screaming at me ... I know with 100% of my being that every single second of my prep was worth it.

I've never felt more beautiful, inside and outside, when I was standing on stage, proudly displaying my work ethic, my determination, my drive to succeed, and hearing my name called out amongst the cheers and applause from the audience. That's MY moment in the sun. The moment when I know I've accomplished my goal. Because whether or not I place, just standing on that stage is a victory, and a culmination of months of challenges, deprivation, and sheer will power.

So yes, this sport is physical by nature. But the mental aspect is just as important and vital to success. I'm going to keep working hard, pushing myself, and give myself 100% to achieving my dreams. And when I'm standing on that Arnold stage, I'll know that I deserve to be there.


  1. I loved this post. It's all so true. :) xo

  2. I. have. goosebumps. !!!!

    what a beautiful description of your passion. Congratulations to you, and thank you for the motivation ( as a first timer). This is truly inspirational!