I have the biggest sweet tooth. Before preparing for my competition, up until very recently, I had at least three pieces of candy a day. I always needed my chocolate fix—once I started eating chocolate it was like I couldn’t stop. If chocolate wasn’t available, I thoroughly enjoyed anything else sweet and sugary that I could find. But when is it time to draw the line? I always thought that everything in moderation was the best policy. To live a balanced and healthy lifestyle, we should be able to indulge every now and again, right? While I still believe this to be true, if you’re thinking about competing you should understand that certain foods just do not belong in the diet that will help you reach your ideal physique.
Personally, I do not follow the “if it fits your macros” diet because there are too many temptations that cause me to fall back and choose foods that aren’t necessarily the “healthiest.” Regardless of which diet strategy you choose to follow, certain foods are simply better for you. When some people think of a balanced diet, they may believe a healthy breakfast allows them to indulge in an unhealthy lunch. When I think of a well-balanced diet, however, I think of foods that I can eat that supply my body with the nutrients necessary to perform my best throughout the day. Our body is like a premium car. If you fill the tank with regular gas, it will not run as well and will eventually break the car down from inside out. It is so important to choose foods that fuel our bodies in the best possible way.
Allowing yourself those “treats” throughout the day is doing you more harm than good. Competition prep is a full-time job. One of the most important parts of that job is what we choose to eat. I’ve been told over the years that this sport is all or nothing, especially if you want to be successful. At first, I thought that was extreme. I thought the people who measured out every ounce of food and wouldn’t eat a bite of cake or have an occasional glass of wine were absolutely insane. I told myself I could live a balanced life with the occasional indulgence. But when it comes time to prep, this is just not possible.
It is a lot easier to avoid cravings if your diet is filled with nutrient rich, unprocessed, whole foods. Do you want to bring your best package to the stage? No more fooling around. Bodybuilding is all about self-discipline and how you handle adversity and stressful situations. Cravings can also gauge how mentally prepared you are to compete. If you find yourself constantly tempted by foods and give in to those cravings more often than not, you really have to question whether or not you are ready to compete.
I planned to enter my first competition two years ago. Although I was extremely disciplined in following my diet (to the point where I made myself sick), I was not in the right mental space to follow through with it. I knew I had to make sure that my personal life was in order before taking the plunge to commit to a competition-based lifestyle. It all starts in your head. How you view prep is one of the most important things. If you see it as restrictive, difficult, and feel as though you are missing out on life, then maybe you are not ready to compete. Just like any other job, what you put in is what you get out. This is a full-time job, a commitment, and a lifestyle. Do you have what it takes to be a part of the few?