My competition season this year is best summed up by the phrase: 2nd Place. Regardless of my two 2nd Place rankings this year, the first one in my height class of 12 women at the Yorton Cup and the second from this past weekend in the Masters Over 35 division, I feel like I won as I enter the off season this time.
See the difference is that this year I cheated. I’ve been waiting to tell you this so that you didn’t judge me down when I got on stage, but it’s finally time I spilled the beans. I cheated, and I don’t regret it, AT ALL. I know that there would be some consequences to cheating and that my physique might not look as good this time, but to me, it was worth it. No I didn’t take HGH hormone or a performance enhancing drug. I didn’t befriend a judge on the panel. I ate some of my daughter’s peanut butter and jelly at times when she was done with it and it was about to hit the trash can. I had a cookie once a week or so when I really wanted it. I made my husband a new recipe for dinner and I had a couple of bites, even the lasagna (and damn that was good). I cheated on my diet. I made an intentional decision this year to cheat to protect my mental state and to attempt to achieve balance in a sport that demands extremes. There’s a quote that I read this year that stated, “You can’t be both elite and balanced.” We’ll this season, I wasn’t elite, but balance was of paramount importance to me.
See here’s what you don’t see when my competition season ends. The reverse dieting battle that I face post show is about a thousand times more difficult than prep. When you diet for 3-4 months and couple that with additional cardio sessions, your body gets stressed. I am not sure what my body fat is today, but my guess is around 14%, having started this season at 21%. When the show ends and I am “out of food prison” as I typically call it, I struggle with eating clean versus eating all the foods I’ve missed during my training season. Simple things like BREAD are a no-go when you’re trying to drop 20+ pounds in 12 weeks. I have failed at reverse dieting twice. As a former anorexic and bulimic in high school and a few years in college, sometimes my desire to control my food leaves me out of control. When I stepped off stage in May of 2017, I weighed 124 pounds. Two months later on my 5 year wedding anniversary trip to Vegas, I was up to 142 pounds. IN TWO MONTHS. I thought I learned my lesson. Went back into prep that August, won my pro card at 121 pounds, stepped off stage and was back up to 141 pounds by January, AGAIN. Another 20. I am not shaming myself or my body at that weight. Quite frankly, it didn’t bother me this off season at all. I was able to lift a lot and my energy was fantastic, but getting up to my top weight of 146 this year, I made a mental promise to myself not to let it happen again.
I’ve got very good at embracing the grey this past off season. It a phrase that I teach to the women I coach in my private groups. It’s about being okay with not being perfect, and that attempting perfectionism only backfires on us into a pattern of unhealthy eating and endless vows to “get back on track” by Monday. It took a lot of practice, but I now embrace this mentality. I can eat 1 cookie, even a half a cookie and get right back on track that same day without seeing that detour as that I “cheated” on my diet. It’s why I have been a macro counter for years. It works for me. My husband’s birthday cake, a week out from my last show? Yep, I ate some on Sunday and on Tuesday last week. Did it affect my physique? Not sure. Maybe I would have gotten first if I hadn’t but at the end of my show this past weekend, I wasn’t shoving donuts, candy and cake in my mouth like some of the other girls backstage. I drove to Cava in Alexandria for a big salad with lamb meatballs, and of course had some corn bread.
I started my reverse diet yesterday with a whole new outlook. I don’t have urges for any forbidden foods. I’ve already had them all this time around. It’s still going to be hard as hell as I slowly introduce calories and my metabolism revs up telling me to eat more. I have to slowly eat more and I cannot revert to my normal 2000+ calories a day right away. But I have set myself up for success with a new reverse dieting coach and a completely different mindset this time. Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to “embrace the grey” too. Practice moderation not perfection. Perfection is a defect, not an asset and life is too short to live without chocolate chip cookies once in a while. I cheated this competition season, and I don’t regret it one bit. Maybe you’ll allow yourself some cheats to as you heads forward into your goals. They may set you back a little, but life isn’t a race to the finish line of fitness, it’s enjoying the journey along the way.