Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Endless Rut

This past weekend, on the way home from the Arnold (look for the post on that soon!), J and I were talking about my goals for this year and for the future. I was complaining that I miss doing many activities that I used to do, and feel frustrated that I can't start new activities that I've been wanting to do.

What do I mean by all this?

In order to be an elite level athlete, you must "give up" some activities in order to focus on the one main goal, whatever that may be. I put "give up" in quotes because technically, you're not really giving up an activity; you're just postponing the time when you can actually do it. But it can be frustrating as well, not being able to feel well-rounded all the time. To some people, that's not a big deal. To others (like me), it can feel confining and frustrating at times.

I'm so much more than just a figure competitor. I'm an athlete. I'm a bookworm, a crazy cat lady, a girlfriend, a sister, a daughter, a friend, an instructional designer, a writer. But when I'm in prep, most of the other things in my life fall to the wayside so I can focus exclusively on bringing the best physique possible to the stage. I realize I need to do this in order to be at the top of my game, but honestly? I really miss things like yoga, skiing, hiking, and krav maga. I really miss going out to eat with J. I miss having a surplus of energy to spend the day playing tourist in our nation's capital. I live in this beautiful city that has so much to offer, and all I do is go to work, go to the gym, and then go home and sleep. I feel like I'm missing out on so many experiences.

Is it worth it? Usually I answer "Yes, of course! You can't beat that moment on stage!" Sometimes I answer, "I hope so." And other times I answer, "I don't know. Is it?" Lately, I've found myself answering, "Yes, but I really miss doing other activities." Greatness is found in routine, but sometimes it just feels like an endless cyclical rut.

I'm not complaining, nor am I hinting that I'm going to quit prep. Not at all! But I am being honest about feelings I have during prep. It's not all sunshine and roses, "everything is going great!", glitter and ponies. Sometimes (most of the time), it's doing what I have to do in order to reach the ultimate goal of looking fabulous on stage. And I do want to look fabulous! It's just that sometimes ... there are sucky parts of the journey, there are whiny moments, there are tears, and there are feelings that life is passing me by.

I genuinely love standing on stage. I love getting all dolled up and feeling like the most beautiful woman in the world. I love knowing that I have the knowledge and the power to transform my body.

In times like this, when I start to feel smothered by routine, I give myself a pep talk. I remind myself that I'm not meant to be "normal" and prep isn't meant to be easy. It's for a short period of time that has the potential to bring great rewards.

In the words of the Greatest Bodybuilder of All Time, Arnold Schwarzenegger,
"Bodybuilding is much like any other sport. To be successful, you must dedicate yourself 100% to your training, diet and mental approach."
I guess skiing can wait until next year.

Do you feel confined and frustrated during prep? Or do you thrive on the structure and routine?


  1. Why not go skiing?? No energy?

    1. Skiing is an extra energy expenditure that we can't account for. Plus, there's always the possibility that I could get injured and that would put me out of the competition.

  2. Yes! I have definitely felt this way. Especially when you start missing out on big occasions, or at least, not being able to participate in them fully (ex. leaving a wedding early because you're too hungry to stay and dance!). Funny story though: when I got pregnant, I told myself I would totally relax on the diet and working out - "do whatever feels good" I said. And you know what? I still ate clean and dragged my butt to the gym every day! And what's more, the ENTIRE 9 months and 6 months after baby's birth, I wouldn't stop whining about how much I wanted to get lean and compete again! Haha oi vay. What it comes down to, for me, is having the freedom to choose. I like my freedom, and I like having options. Prep feels so confining sometimes. So I always have to keep reminding myself that this was MY choice.

    1. SO TRUE!! I totally get frustrated because I feel like I don't have a choice (even though I KNOW it's my choice). Glad I'm not the only one who feels this way!

  3. So, reading your post and analysing it with my "psychology background" my question to you is: what is your goal with all this competition stuff? Is it a one time "happy moment" on stage or do you want to became a pro?
    Because YES life IS passing by. And the times you are missing will never come back BUT they should not matter if you are 100% on what you are doing...
    Like for you bf that is his life, right? Isn't his profession to be a personal trainer? So that is what he does. But you have a profession in another area, so is lifting for you a hobby?
    I know it is frustrating but as we say in psychology: BE IN THE MOMENT! And you will be able to enjoy what is currently going on with you and not think about the IFs...