I am now 11 weeks out. I’m not going to lie, this week I have felt hungry! I even woke up at 3am one morning dreaming of food because I was so hungry. I debated trying to ignore it but realised that this would just disrupt my sleep and cause more harm than good so I grabbed a protein shake and headed back to bed…
Whilst it has been hard even in these early stages (these tend to be the hardest for me until my metabolism decides to wake up), I am happy because it feels like the diet is kicking in after a few weeks and I’m starting to feel ‘tighter’ each morning.
So where does health fit in? Undoubtedly, there can be unhealthy elements to bodybuilding whether it’s excessive use of steroid and/or fat-burners, excessive carb-depletion, low calories, problems with low blood sugar and dehydration. However, I think keeping health in mind is becoming more and more noticeable in bodybuilding. We are becoming more health conscious even through the later stages of prep. There are more examples of competitors and fitness models eating for health, supplementing for health and trying to achieve a ‘healthy’ commercial look. We are proving that it doesn’t have to be deemed an unhealthy sport. For me, this is crucial.
However, outsiders are quick to judge the sport and its followers. People are afraid of the unknown and even more afraid to be faced with something that they couldn’t achieve themselves. Being hungry doesn’t equate to starving yourself. In my opinion, many people don’t even experience real hunger these days. Similarly, being physically active every day is not ‘too much’ – this is how the body was designed to be, we are designed to exert ourselves physically – and controlling what you put into your body to fuel and recover adequately from this is certainly not a bad thing so why is it considered so?
Working with a professional bodybuilder who is also a nurse is fantastic. He prioritises my health and I feel safe under his guidance. He encourages me to communicate with him to let him know how I’m feeling both physically and mentally. When I texted him to say I had woken up hungry, he wrote back ‘I’ll call you’. This is typical Ed and the reason I rate him so highly – because he cares about my health. This is so important to consider during contest prep- yes it is difficult, yes, it will be a struggle through those final weeks, yes, for a short time, you will feel tired, hungry and generally in a bad mood. But, that’s the sport of bodybuilding – it’s supposed to be difficult, if it was easy, everybody would be doing it! To be under the best possible care and supervision during this time is vital to be safe and stay healthy so consider getting a decent coach to see you through your prep.
On this note, health is something that shouldn’t be compromised in an attempt to ‘get shredded’ or ‘dry out’ – certainly not for the bikini and bodyfitness category anyhow. I have heard some truly frightening stories of girls absolutely killing themselves to get in stage shape – zero carbs for long periods of time, numerous gruelling, intense cardio sessions and very few calories to support all their physical activity. This issue could be avoided if prep was started further out from the show and progressed at a slower, steadier, healthier pace. I have been guilty of this in the past – I get impatient from time to time and want to get leaner, faster so Ed has to put me back in my place. This is a prime example as to why I (and most people) should have a coach who can look at them objectively and take things steady. The main thing is that come show day, I look healthy, feel great physically and have the energy to give my best on stage.
Please, don’t overlook your health!