REAL, FRUGAL, HEALTHY, and FUN!!!
There’s a strong desire for perfection in our society. The perfect this, that, and everything in between. Let’s talk about what is often perceived as the “perfect body.” Magazines, Hollywood, and social media for the most part portray extremely lean bodies as the perfect body. When given the chance to see how images are photo-shopped to be even more perfect, we see that they take already beautiful models and remove inches off their thighs, stomachs, and sometimes other places. They add to the booty, perhaps the groin on men, and the chest on women.
We see these “perfect” images and we feel the need to become those images. I know I’ve done this many times. When I would see a beautiful woman in a picture, I thought my life would be perfect if I looked like her. I’ve mentioned that 3 years ago, I did a bikini competition. I was the leanest I’ve ever been in my life. I had long hair extensions. There was a makeup team that did my makeup. I looked really nice. Some people might say I looked my best, ever. However, I like my body now a little better. I’m in my happy body. Sure, I’m proud of what I accomplished by doing that show, but I feel good in my “lifestyle” body. Better than I did in my hardcore, show time body. It was fun, but I can’t imagine living so hardcore forever.
When I did my bikini competition I ate and trained differently than I do now. I ate very strictly. I had to pay attention to not only my calories, but to the macro-nutrients from which they came. All of my food was very carefully planned out. If at some point I wanted something that wasn’t on my food plan, I just had to deal with the cravings. I was not permitted (so to speak) to give in to the cravings. Likewise, if what was on my meal plan didn’t sound good, there weren’t always options. This is particularly true as the show got closer. Eating wasn’t pleasurable, it was part of my to-do list.
Similarly, the training also became more difficult. As the show got closer, I became depleted. The idea in show preparation is to burn more calories than you’re taking in. Particularly calories from fat. You have to eat and workout in a way that you’re burning fat, rather than muscle. This is done very methodically, and it’s stressful for your mind and your body. Lifting gets harder. When you deplete, you lose strength and stamina. Cardio gets harder. I remember getting tired faster and sometimes feeling a little nauseous. The week before the show was the worst. I was doing cardio two to three times each day.
Training for my show was not living a healthy “lifestyle.” I was training for a competitive event. I was doing things that were not necessarily sustainable as a lifestyle. I was stressing my mind and body. It was hard, but it was temporary. Once the event was over, I got back to a more sustainable, healthy lifestyle. As I got away from the hardcore show prep, my body also changed. Living more of a lifestyle, my body got a little softer.
I love my healthy body. Sure, everyone dreams of perfection, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. Show prep is hard. Some people might say that being that lean is more of an accomplishment. To me, lifestyle is forever, that’s a lot longer than the typical 12-week show preparation competitors often follow. It’s a bigger commitment. I don’t have an “end” to what I’m doing. But guess what?! I don’t want an “end.” My body feels good. I’m strong and I have endurance. My belly feels good because I feed it real food. I can eat chocolate cake! During show preparation I couldn’t have treats. I’ve learned to make just about anything with whole foods. It’s become my hobby. I’m even able to bake without grains and other things that my stomach doesn’t agree with.
My body isn’t perfect. My stomach is softer. I have cellulite. That’s fine with me. I know what my body has accomplished. I like the balance of working out and relaxing. Similarly, I like the balance of eating my veggies and eating my clean-eating baked treats. I am me. I know where I’ve been, and I’ve come so far, and I keep improving.