Summer 2019 was a rollercoaster ride for sure! Having never competed in a bodybuilding show before, I did not know how my body or mind would be after it was all over. Well, I am now going to tell you exactly how it was!
The first 4 weeks were horrendous – I had no direction. For a year I had a clear goal, with months and weeks planned in advance and then nothing. It was like I was in a dark room alone with nowhere to go. I most definitely was not alone, as my friends and family were always supportive but I didn’t share how I was feeling with everyone – I was depressed.
In terms of food, I was on a reverse diet which I tried to stick to, however, a couple of days a week I would binge and then hate myself for losing control. Now, when I say binge, I mean BINGE! Non-stop eating for two hours: cereal, biscuits, chocolate, bread, etc. It was like I was on a ticking time bomb; as if I had to get it all in because I would not be allowed to eat those foods again once I had stopped. The physical effects of eating that much, after dieting like I did, caused me some terrible stomach pains, bloating and nausea. The mental effects were much worse.
There are two sides to our minds and my irrational side took over big time! I was beating myself up daily: about how I looked, that I was putting weight on and that everyone would judge me because I didn’t look like the girl on stage anymore. My rational side was saying: you need to be putting weight on as you are undernourished, who cares what people think and how can you physically work and train when you’re eating piss all calories? As with any form of mental health, the irrational side was winning. The final straw for me was when I looked in the mirror one morning, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and I cried – what I saw was different to what everyone else was seeing. At that moment I realised, I either reconnected with my inner strength and pulled myself out or I went down a dark road to a full-blown eating disorder.
As time went on, I slowly started to get back to a controlled diet, where I had 2 off-plan meals a week and milk in my coffee again. I know to some of you that may sound ridiculous but when you have to count calories like you do on a bodybuilding diet it is very hard to just stop. Each day, I was working towards my week off work in August, which signified the official end of my years prep! I took the week off training as my body was exhausted, I made myself not weigh any food and I ate ‘normally’. In that week off, I planned my next goal – which is a 4-month growing phase (building muscle). I also set myself non-fitness goals for the summer; to get away from body image! After my week off, I felt refreshed and ready to go!
With my new plan in place and a great week off, I began my bulk. I am now 5 weeks in, with the new challenge being eating a lot more food than in prep. You may ask, why are you still doing it if it fucked you up? My answer is, I like the bodybuilding lifestyle; the growing and the cutting, plus the cut will never be as extreme again. I want to see my body changing year on year.
So where is my head at now?
I am in a much better place now. I have a new goal and my life is back to what it was before. My family and friends are always amazing and without them even knowing, they help me. I wouldn’t say I am completely ok, but who is? Most importantly, I am in control and I am managing it. I have full respect and admiration for long term bodybuilders that do this year on year and I am in no way condemning the sport. I believe the sport has taught me many things and I do not regret taking part.
When I look back (and my doctor agreed) although controlled and safe with supplements, the diet itself is similar to that of anorexia: low calories, weight training and 3 lots of cardio a day. I have learnt so much from the whole experience, and as I previously mentioned, I do not regret taking part because it has opened my eyes to a new direction in my career.