To Compete or Not to Compete… That is the Question

A bunch of fitness goals have been swimming around in my head lately. Should I go back to school to become a registered dietitian? Where should I start training after I get my personal training certification?  Should I compete in a body competition?

Before I go into further detail, I’d like to point out that there are different types of female body competitions, ranging from bodybuilding to fitness, physique to figure and the “lowest” level — bikini. Here’s some insight into the bikini competition, which interests me the most:

Today, bikini competitions are growing faster in popularity than any other format. While bodybuilders are typically blessed with the ability to bulk up more than the average person, bikini competitors have a look that’s attainable for a wider range of women. In essence, judges look for the girl who can rock a two-piece swimsuit better than anyone else on stage. These women typically aren’t very muscular, and the winners aren’t necessarily the skinniest competitors. As a matter of fact, it’s important to have a bit of body fat so muscles aren’t too defined.

I’d also like to start out by saying that the aesthetic and cosmetic aspects of this have always made me think, “How self-centered do you have to be to get in a bikini, strut yourself on stage and flaunt your goodies for the world to see?” (OK, it’s not that dramatic but still). I wasn’t into the whole,”HEY EVERYONE! LOOK AT ME AND TELL ME HOW GOOD I LOOK!” aspect of it. And I’m still not.

Hear me out for a second here.

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the gym — what else is new? — surrounded by a lot of men who compete. Fitness competitors are a whole other breed, I tell ya. They eat out of Tupperware containers (every three hours on the dot, mind you), drink protein shakes like it’s their job, can spout any realm of bro-science off the top of their heads and spend more time creating a social life beneath an iron bar than at an actual bar.

I already eat healthy on a consistent basis and work out almost every day during the week.  So, what would change?

I would have to go through a 12-week preparation process, where I’d slowly reduce my body fat down to 8-13%. Obviously this stage weight isn’t maintainable and it typically isn’t healthy for a female to stay in this body fat range (women athletes are generally between 14-21% body fat and the average American is 25-31% according to the American Council on Exercise.) I’m at 19.1% right now, just to give you an idea.

Why I’d want to do it:

  • To prove that you don’t need to resort to extreme measure to achieve great results
  • To prove to myself that I’m able to achieve something that’s very challenging, both mentally and physically
  • To see what my body is capable of and see the fruits of my consistency and hard work
  • To show that it’s possible to prep in a healthy way, and not become one of the horror stories (restricting too much, avoiding social interaction or developing disordered thoughts)
  • I’m becoming a personal trainer soon, so I want to show my clients that it’s possible to achieve what we each believe to be impossible — that there are certain mental and physical barriers that we must push through in order to showcase our best selves. Not everyone will want to compete. In fact, most of my clients won’t. But if they’re my client, it’s probably because they want to feel their best and I want to show them that I was able to achieve that and get results for myself, so I can for them, too.
  • To rebound in a healthy way after my competition, and not rapidly gain all the weight back by binging on everything that I wasn’t “allowed” to have in the 12 weeks
  • Those would be great pictures to show my kids some day! (Look — mommy was a hottie! hahahaha kidding… mostly)
  • And most importantly, to honor the body that God has given me by treating it with the utmost respect and supplying it with whole foods, adequate fuel and lots of self-love

My hesitations:

  • #1-99: No pizza or ice cream. 😛
  • Contest prep can be lonely. Since it’s very strict, there will be times where I’ll have to eat designated meals while all my friends are going to dinner. I’d have to ensure my family and friends are also on board and supportive so I’m not tempted to go off plan. To be honest, I don’t mind bringing my own food to a restaurant. (I’m talking Chipotle or something, here… not a real restaurant haha) I actually do this for lunch quite often at work, or I’ll eat before and then just go to lunch for the social interaction. And to be honest once more, it’s not like my social life is totally RAGING at the moment anyway so what better time than now? haha
  • Since I’ve had body image issues and disordered eating tendencies in the past, I don’t want to become SUPER obsessed with the way my body looks or go into a deep dark depression when I can’t maintain my 8-13% body fat forever.
  • If I’m going to be 100% honest here, perhaps my biggest hesitation is the voice inside my head that doubts my abilities and says, “You can’t do it. You don’t have what it takes to look like those models. Who do you think you are stepping onto the stage next to those women who have been training for this for YEARS? Do you really think you can stand there with the same confidence after all you’ve been through?” — But the good thing is, I recognize these negative voices. And wouldn’t it be that much sweeter to silence them by competing and maybe even placing?

Ultimately, I have to ask myself — does competing align with my core values? Can I muster up the confidence and FULLY commit myself to living a “fit girl’s” life? I’ve been torn between fully committing to becoming part of the fitness industry (meaning working in the fitness industry as a trainer, competing, etc.) and trying to just live “under the radar” when it comes to fitness, although deep down in my heart I know that’s where I belong. It’s almost like I’ve been living two separate lives — one saying, “I just do this for fun. It’s just a hobby” and the other saying, “You can really make a life out of this, Julie. Do it.”

So for now, I’m going to pray about it… see what the Good Lord thinks I should do. It’s my plan to do what’s pleasing to Him and to showcase his glory. Who knows, maybe this will become a platform for me to voice the truth and build up the self confidence in other women? That’s what I’d really love to happen — for anyone, not just those who want to compete, see a girl who’s struggled with disordered eating, body image issues and self-doubt, rise above the negative voices that we all hear and make her dreams come true.

Life isn’t meant to be spent in our comfort zones, after all.

Of Possible Interest:

Bikini Competitor Success Secret The attitude of a champion (LOVE THIS): The event is not the sport.  The sport is the the hundreds of hours spent at practice and training.  I challenge you to look up any PRO athlete in any sport of interest and I can guarantee you that they struggled and worked hard to get to where they are today.  And it didn’t happen overnight.  They’ve lost and they’ve won but what remains is their constant patience and discipline to keep coming back and improving.  That is why the highest level athletes are not always the most naturally gifted in their particular sport.  They are the ones who understand hard work and patience will always persevere over natural or genetic talent.

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6 thoughts on “To Compete or Not to Compete… That is the Question

  1. Pingback: We’re Going on a Fat Loss Journey | Health Nut Julie

  2. love this post! I could literally write it word for word……….I’ve flirted with the idea of a bikini competition for almost a year and have yet to bite the bullet. My drawbacks are pretty much exactly the same as yours!!
    so far I’ve decided not to train for a competition, but 2014 might hold a comp for me, who knows!

    • I’m glad we’re facing similar decisions! I’m not sure if I’m going to yet either… but I’m doing a 12-week “mini prep” type thing now to see where I can take my body without actually committing to anything!

  3. First, if your kids saw pictures of you right now they would say, mommy was a hottie! Please don’t reach through your computer and slap me, but you got it goin on!!!!

    I am curious if you have made a decision on this, and I see where you mention a “mini prep”. How is that going?

    You seem like the person who thinks things through, and relying on God will help you. I know it would take guts to get on that stage and let myself be judged, but I know you’d work your tail off. I am sure in the end it would be empowering!!

    I know you’ve had your demons in the past, and I would say try to find people who have done bikini contest. I am sure some had had the same exact issues you’ve had. I’m just a guy, so I know I don’t understand the way a women thinks about this sort of stuff.

    • Aww thank you! hahaha. And no, I decided not to do it for the time being. I’m just learning balance and to be happy and healthy with where I am. I’m at a really good place right now mentally and physically and I want to just enjoy life without trying to control my food/diet so much! Maybe I’ll reconsider in the future.

      Hope you’re doing well! It’s been a while 🙂

      • HAHA, Welcome! You know I’m right!

        I think that is a good decision. I think we all at times have this mind set that if I have this or do this certain that we will be happy. Rather than simply being happy with where we are currently.

        I am doing well and it always good to hear from you. It has been a long time since we last spoke, and I hope that changes. I always enjoy chatting with you!

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