I thought that this week this would be a good subject to touch upon given that the majority of us have had a massive change in our daily routines as of late. Gyms have been taken away. The process that we were used to putting our bodies through has changed quite a bit. And for some of us we have struggled with the change in our daily activity and the change to our bodies.
This is something I can relate to massively and have struggled with mentally for the past year or so. So we can delve in and have a good chat about it given my experience.
*I’m gonna throw a disclaimer in right now for those that are already saying ‘what’s she on about…prep life?! She’s never completed a proper prep!’
And no…you are completely correct, I’ve never completed a proper prep for a competition, I’ve never stood on a stage, I’ve never had a 6 month run at a transformation, or had an on/off season.
I did however go through a 12 week prep for a photoshoot a few years ago, I have played around with my physique over the years and I do like to read. May that be from a book, an article online, or even a series on you tube. I know a bit…so here we go 👌🏼.
This can be anything from 12 weeks to 6 months of the year. It’s a process that you are going through to change your physique. It’s following a strict nutrition plan. Calorie counting. Macro watching. Training daily, sometimes twice daily. Preparing every meal you are going to eat either a few days in advance or before you are about to eat…so that you know everything that has gone into your meal. Bulking. Cutting. Resistance training. Cardio. Going it solo. Working with a coach. Putting your body through it’s absolute everything. Giving EVERYTHING you have inside of you. Having your composition checked regularly. Manipulating your body. Sacrificing foods. Sacrificing sleep. Sacrificing a social life. It can be very very rewarding. It can also be very grim. The end result however would be totally worth all of the above.
Can you keep it up forever? No. Not healthily anyway.
In short. Enjoying yourself and your body. Taking care of your physique in the healthiest way possible, but also enjoying the little treats and fun times in your life. Going to the gym to take care of the way you look. Going home and not worrying about how much food you have to weigh out. (Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with tracking your macros daily…it’s keeps your weight where it’s at and you are in control of what goes into your body, but you aren’t necessarily restricting anything). If you want a doughnut. You have a doughnut. You just track it. You have 8 hours sleep, you gym once a day. You have a roast and a dessert with your family or your kids. You go to the gym and burn it off the day after.
Can you keep it up? Yes…it’s day to day life.
So. Why would one person put themselves through the process at the top if the latter is much more fun and realistic?
Well because it’s an achievement. And not everyone is capable of doing it.
It’s so rewarding and the sense of pride for something that you have worked your arse off for is literally the best feeling in the world. I get it. I’ve done it .
This time 2 years ago my physique was at the leanest it had ever been at. I felt great. I was just preparing to stand in my wedding dress in 8 weeks time. I was happy with what I saw in the mirror, my clothes fit well, I had compliments from friends and people around the gym. I felt super confident in my skin.
I had not long before this point completed the photo shoot prep I mentioned above. This had gotten me into a really good lean physique and I carried on the process to stay lean for our wedding day. BUT aside of all that…I was also knackered, absolutely drained, sore and tired from training twice a day some days, 7 days a week. Hungry, I was so bloody hungry. I was watching what I ate, not really treating myself, tracking my macros and not long before that I had even taken my own prepped food to my best friends baby shower in fear of going over on my calories! But honestly none of that mattered because I wanted it. So much. Mentally it was the toughest thing I’ve ever done. And I was so proud that I had pushed myself to my limits because I knew that that was what was required to look the way I wanted to look.
I remember on last week of my prep I stood in front of the camera with the biggest smile I had and I felt confident and happy. A few months down the line I stood in front of the camera man at our wedding day and felt wonderful in my dress, I look back at those photos and I’m happy. Proud that I worked hard to feel that good in my own skin.
Since then I’ve battled a long term injury putting me out of exercise for almost a year, and we’ve all recently been been put into lockdown with no access to the gym.
So here is the REALNESS.
I’ve softened. My physique has changed and I’ve gained a bit of body fat. And that is completely normal given the circumstances. It would also be completely normal had those challenges not been thrown my way because that is REAL life.
Do I like it? Some days no. Some days yes.
Do I feel comfortable in my body? No. Not 100% all the time.
I’m sure some of you can relate to these feelings?
But am I going back to the kind of process and the physique I had before. Again…no. Because I need to be realistic. I need a life and my body can’t do what it used to.
And this is what I mean by struggling mentally. Where do you find a balance?
You can be super super prep lean. Or you can have a normal everyday healthy body and a life.
Do you know what…nobody would even think there was anything wrong with the normal everyday body would they. It’s a healthy body. But it’s what you are looking at in the mirror. It’s comparing yourself in two different bodies. It’s feeling comfortable in one, and learning to love the other. It’s having one lifestyle and adjusting to a different one.
And then it’s about finding a balance. What we that may be.
During lockdown I have exercised most days. I think I’ve picked up weights once, maybe twice at the most, the rest of my workouts have been bodyweight based or running. Not my usual routine…but I loved it. It’s been different than what I’ve been used to and it’s been something I can actually do. I’ve enjoyed walks out with my family, we’ve enjoyed ice creams on the way home. We’ve had treats, we’ve baked. We had Mcdonald’s and chippy tea. We’ve enjoyed ourselves. We’ve also had really healthy meals, healthy snacks and not overeaten. We just balanced.
What I have learned over these past 15 weeks is that for all of us…looking different isn’t a bad thing, just like looking differently before wasn’t a bad thing either. It’s actually a balance within your body. My clothes are the same size…it’s just that maybe my biceps aren’t anymore. But that’s ok. Because I’m happy and comfortable living the life I live with a few adjustments.
Looking back I remember prep life being hard but amazing. It really was. To this day I still watch athletes on you tube prep for competitions, i follow the process, i watch them compete, I read about it all. I love it. I take it all in. Those that do it love it too. It’s a way of life for however long is needed. It’s a prep life…but it’s also that persons REAL LIFE…for that required time frame.
Real life is also amazing. It’s real life after all. It’s living the healthiest life you can live, in a body you are comfortable in without any sacrifice. It’s a daily habit that we are all capable of. Just because we don’t get a medal or a photo handed to us at the end of it or we don’t get to stand in our wedding dress every week…doesn’t mean our bodies aren’t amazing.
Both processes are completely different and both as fun as you want to make them. Both rewarding in their own way.
So to conclude…can you balance it…a prep life and a real life?
The balance is somewhere in-between…I used to think I would never find it because of comparing my body in one process to the next, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realised that being comfortable in your own body (at whatever stage it is at) simply is your balance. The lockdown has made me realise that we can adjust and adapt to any situation that we are put into. We can endure a process and feel amazing. We can also feel amazing without a process. Our bodies and minds are built to adapt.
It’s where you feel most comfortable consistently that counts. And that’s your happy medium. That’s the balance.
Happy Sunday guys ❤️