My prep will be 275 days long, but I changed my life 2750 days ago. Started – didn’t stop. I’ve had to make a lot of adjustments. Things that worked for a while stopped working. Other things that were hard at first, like logging food, have become second nature. Sure, some things have been disappointing and frustrating. But this sport challenges me in unexpected ways. It has made me a better wife. It has made me a better teacher. Training calms me and helps me handle life. I’m careful and train safely. I’m proud of what I’ve done and grateful that I’ve been able to do it.
I need to apologize for my long absence from this blog. It’s true that I’ve been busy – I’ve retooled my geometry class to be one where all students move through curriculum at their own pace. I have about 170 students who needed to master 38 skills before Christmas break. During this break, I’m organizing the activities for them to do during second semester. Yeah, I’m busy.
That’s not the only reason I haven’t been writing. I spent most of 2016 learning how to disengage my ego from what I’m doing as a bodybuilder. The problem isn’t that I think I’m so awesome. It’s the opposite of that. I don’t think I’ve accomplished much at all and have been battling the urge to give in and “be realistic” about competing. I haven’t had a healthy perspective on this thing. I’ve worked hard, so part of me feels like I “deserve” to have some tangible success, but based on some things I cannot control, it’s possible that I will always place poorly. Hard work doesn’t matter. That’s a given. Everyone up there worked hard. Do I keep going anyway? Others have quit. If this isn’t going to be about being competitive, what is it about for me?? The initial excitement is gone, I got knocked on my ass, and I’ve spent a long time finding a way to get back up.
It’s been a hard year and a half of self-reflection about what I can control, what I can’t control, and what is it about this sport that keeps me engaged. The July 2015 show really rocked my confidence. I am afraid to compete again. I’m not getting younger – 55 next time I’m up there. Genetics aren’t going to change. How do I justify continuing when I’ve had so little success? I have a full plate. I have people who depend on me. I have responsibilities. Why am I spending time and money on this bodybuilding thing at my age?
Why? Because I love training. And it keeps me from sliding back into my old, unhealthy habits. Based on what the doctors told me back in 2009, it’s critical that I do self-maintenance if I want to have a normal life-expectancy. I’m goal-driven and the scarier the goal, the better. In my mind, it feels more like an individual quest for excellence. If my measure of success becomes improving form, increasing strength, being consistent, grinding on days I need to grind, learning when to push and when to hold back, controlling all the variables that are mine to manage – can I do all of that? And can I make myself stand there for another stinky spray tan, get back up under the lights, and be vulnerable again? I think I can. I think I can keep doing this for a long time, too. I also think there is something more I’m supposed to learn. There is something more going on here – I just don’t know what it is yet. So I’m “all-in” with this thing, I guess.
Ok, so how do I prepare for the next show when I have so much anxiety wrapped around the idea of it? I’ve been working with the same online coach for three years, so he’s handling the nuts-and-bolts of the prep. It’s on me to handle the mental game. If you’ve been following the few posts I’ve made, you know I’ve been on it. Lots of audio books. Lots. After some frustrating experiences, I’ve chosen to limit my exposure to almost everything online that relates to bodybuilding. That alone has cut down on a lot of stress because my value system is a little different. I never feel so old as I do when I look at what people post. If I avoid it, it is easier to focus on what’s important to me and what I need to do.
Most people who compete talk about prep in terms of a countdown. “I’m 20 weeks out”, etc. I’ve done it that way before because I was excited about the destination. Thing is, I’m not now. Counting down to something that scares me increases my anxiety about it. Plus, it’s too ‘future-focused’ for me. I prefer to focus on what I need to do TODAY. So let’s flip that around. The project is now the prep itself. It is not a “means to an end”. It is the goal. Can I do this?
The day I started prep on October 14th was Day #1 and there will be 275 days in this project. The overall goal is to push fat-loss farther than before. This is NOT something a non-competitor should attempt. If you’re not going to compete as a bodybuilder – literally in a division called “bodybuilding” – don’t do what I’m going to do. Can I, a formerly obese 55-year-old woman, get “shredded”? I’m sure it’s been done before, but I haven’t done it. And can I do it safely so that I won’t have issues later? I have a smart, protective coach and we have worked our way through a plan over the last three years to be in a position to make this attempt now. But I can already tell we are way ahead of our 2015 prep. Months ahead. I don’t think July 2017 will be my ‘final form’, either.
The result of the 275 day project will be an accumulation of what I do each day. That makes each day a separate challenge and the goal is to do that day as well as I can. Did I make every rep of each set count? Did I do what I needed to do with food? Did I get enough sleep? Did I have enough energy to take care of life? AND… am I not getting my undies bunched up about how I do that day? Yes, it’s true. “Not caring that much” is really a daily goal. I refuse to up-end my life just to get a little leaner. Sure, there are some sacrifices to be made, but gosh, this is just for fun, right? It’s just my version of climbing Mt. Everest.
I hope to find time to write every so often and update this blog on where I’m at inside this prep, my 275 Day Project.
Today is Day 76. This phase of the cut has been aggressive, but calories were increased a couple weeks ago and will be increased again soon. So far, I’ve lost about 10 lbs. I am also about 10 pounds over my previous stage weight, but the plan is to come in lighter. There is more muscle, so coming in even a couple pounds lighter will look a lot leaner. My personal goals are more about things that have been issues for me on stage. There are certain poses that have always been hard for me because I wasn’t lean enough to perform them properly. I don’t want to deal with that issue this time around.
I will do today as well as I can. And I will do that 199 more times. And my undies will remain as unbunched as possible.
Here is part of my video report to my coach last week showing my workouts for days 65 through 71.