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I woke up in a panic. Did the room just shake? That couldn’t have been an earthquake, I thought. It happened again. I looked down and realized the culprit of this intense shaking and rumbling was nothing but my stomach. Prep had me feeling so hungry that I couldn’t fall back asleep. It was 2 am—I knew my next meal wasn’t until 7 am, but my stomach was literally eating itself. I stepped out of bed and, with an already guilty pep in my step, I made my way down the carpeted stairs.
As soon as my eyes came across the package of double stuffed Oreos, it was game over. Time froze. My mind was in a fog. It’s like I blacked out for the next 7 minutes in food heaven. When I came to, I found myself staring down at an empty sleeve of cookies, an open jar of peanut butter, 20 mini Kit Kat wrappers, and a newly opened bag of M&Ms. What have I done? I thought, as I began to realize the consequences of this temporary high. “Diet is everything.” I heard my coach’s voice saying this over and over again as tremendous remorse took over my entire body. There was only one thing left to do—throw it up. I got my taste. It was my own fault for consuming the calories, now I had to deal with the consequences and try to get rid of them as fast as possible.
This is how I used to think. This is what I used to do. This is what led to a pattern of insecurity, complete uncertainty, and lack of direction. Two years ago when I was preparing for my first bodybuilding competition, I began to feel unhappy with myself and reverted back to old habits. Many people, including me at one point, blame the sport for developing or bringing back unhealthy food habits. I challenge you to really think about this scenario. Who really is to blame? We truly are our own worst enemy. If we do not feel secure enough with ourselves, it is nearly impossible to bring our best package on stage or be our best selves in general.
After several difficult years, I started to lift as an escape. I was running away from my problems and turned to anything that would help me forget my current situation or past experiences. I always wanted to compete, but mentally I was not prepared. The sport was not to blame for any negative habits I developed. Those issues had always been my issues. Because I did not work on them before I started to lift, they were never truly “fixed.” I simply pushed them aside to distract myself with something else. Using this sport as a distraction to escape the negative situations in life may work temporarily, but at the end of the day, it is a simple band-aid that will eventually peel off. This sport will not fix you, but it can enhance your overall self if you understand what it truly is about and how to apply it to your life in a positive way.
Feed off of positivity, weed out negativity, and focus on your goals. Before doing any of that, you must first and foremost love yourself. If you aren’t comfortable with who you are, this sport will be nothing but a crutch. Bodybuilding is not a 9-5 job. It is a lifestyle. It is a 24 hour, 7 days a week commitment. If you make a mistake at your day job, do you give up and call it quits? Do you blame the job for your mistakes? Or do you take a step back, evaluate the situation, plan on how to fix it, and move forward? No one is forcing you to go into the gym and lift the weights. No one is forcing you to follow the diet. It takes work. It takes discipline. It takes falling 1000 times and getting back up 1001. It means leaving your ego at the door and giving each and every day everything you’ve got to reach your goals.
Once my perspective changed—very recently to be honest—I have never loved or wanted something more in my life. Bodybuilding brings nothing but positivity to my life from every angle, especially through the “negatives”—the failed reps, the diet mess ups, the haters, the doubters, my own mind games, and so on. This sport has made me not only physically strong, but mentally stronger. I have learned not to run from negative situations like I did before in life and with bodybuilding. Placing blame on anyone or anything for your decisions will only lead to a downward spiral. Be open minded, embrace change, learn from the past, live in the present, and most importantly, enjoy the ride.