If you told me 3 years ago that I’d compete and actually like it, I wouldn’t have believed you. I loathed the thought of competing. I didn’t just others for doing it, I just had no desire to do it myself.
Steve always told me I should do it, but I honestly didn’t think I could take being judged and putting myself out there like that. The thought of standing on stage half naked was the last thing I ever wanted to do. However, Steve finally talked me into doing it with him – not for the trophy, not for the walk on stage, but for the experience.
If you have ever thought about competing or going through the training, here are my top 10 reasons why I compete.
You should never compete to win a trophy, in my opinion. I compete simply to have something to train for. Competing gives me more purpose in both my dieting and training. When you have a reason to train, your diet and entire workouts change, You quit working what you want to train, and you start working what you need to train.
2. Clear Goals
Competing helps me set goals. As I track my body fat and muscle weight, I’m able to set clear goals to reach by the time I hit the stage. Setting goals motivates me to improve and to avoid complacency.
Anyone can set goals, but competitions force you to reach your goal by a specific deadline. This helps prevent procrastination and staying in that continual vicious cycle of starting your diet over every week and not getting anywhere. Once you register for a show, you are committed and have a set date to reach that goal. No more procrastinating.
Each time you compete you learn something new. This is particularly valuable for people in the industry, whether you work at a gym behind the front desk or you are a personal trainer. You learn something new about dieting, about training, about posing, about others and about yourself. This experience makes you better and helps you help others get better.
5. The Ultimate Test
Competing gives me a chance to see what I’m made of. Before my first show, I had never gotten below 14% body fat. I remember wondering if my 45 year old skin in my stomach could ever tighten up. I had no idea what my potential was. Could I stick to my diet? Could I lose the fat? Would my skin tighten up? These were all unknowns before competing. I learned my body was capable of much much more than I ever imagined. I got down to 10% body fat and my stomach lost that “old lady” skin. I didn’t expect to place much less win. I took the test, and I passed.
6. Personal Growth
You may think competing is a prideful sport. I guess it can be to some people, but for me it’s a very humbling experience. It’s very embarrassing to be on stage like that. Every flaw shows. You can’t hide a poor diet. You can’t hide your imperfections. Even when you are incredibly lean, you can still look fat on stage. You just have to do your best and that must be OK with that.
On top of it, posing practices remind you of how much work you still need to do. Everyone feels awkward when posing, especially me. There is no room for egos. You quickly realize you are all in this together. No one is better than the other, we are just all different.
As you watch others train, you realize everyone is working just as hard – and maybe even harder than you. Then add a freaky Oompa Lumpa tan and walk around with a gallon of water and you realize how ridiculous you really look to others. LOL It’s not a sport for everyone – and the more you do it, the more you realize people think you are kind of weird.
Every time I compete or prepare for a big shoot, I learn something new about myself. With hunger and fatigue comes a quick temper and grouchiness I typically can hide. The good, the bad and the ugly come out and I quickly realize just how much more work I need to do – both inside and out!
The thing I love most about competing is your body turns into one big science project. You learn how foods affect your body, your performance and your mood. You get more in tune with your body than ever before. With each show, you can try something new. It’s all trial and error. Sometimes you get it wrong, sometimes you get it right.
One of the things I love (and hate) the most is putting myself in a position where I have to learn to say NO to what my body wants, and say YES to what my body needs. Denying your flesh is one of the best practices you can do for your health. We shouldn’t give our body everything it wants to eat or do. That is unhealthy. Competing has exposed areas of weakness, taught me more discipline and helped me take control of food instead of letting it control me.
Everyone does competitions for different reasons, but I think one of the best things about competing is it can be used to reel things back if you’ve gotten too slack in the office season. I think many people believe that competing is for the fit and disciplined. To me, it’s the opposite. I’m not disciplined and I don’t have that great of a body. I do it because I lack discipline and I desire to improve my physique and health. I’m lazy and I like food. Without competing or doing something to break my big vicious lazy cycles, I would probably stay about 10-15lbs heavier all year around. That’s not horrible, but I am not happy at that weight. Competing reminds me of how good it feels to be leaner because we quickly forget and it’s very easy to get complacent and comfortable.
The biggest benefit to competing is the accountability. Whether it’s the weekly weigh-ins, the posing practices, team meetings or just being seen in the gym when everyone knows you are training for a show, the added accountability takes everything up 10 notches. I think everyone performs better when you make your goals public – and it doesn’t get more public than stepping on stage in a a 2-piece bikini.
I’m not suggesting competing is for everyone, but I am saying there are a ton of benefits from competing. Only you can decide if it’s beneficial for you – but you can’t decide without trying it just once.