The Mental Diet
I have been going back and forth about whether to publish this or not. As I type this, I am still not sure if I will.
When 2014 began I knew that I was going to compete in multiple competitions. I began preparing in January for the March show by kicking up my cardio and locking down my nutrition. I was focused on trying to maintain balance mentally and physically for this show. I knew what I wanted my body to look like. When the show actually came my body was not even close to that picture in my head. I ended up taking 5th place in the 35+ masters class because I was determined to not walk out of St. Louis with my head down. It was pure passion that got me that placing.
After this show I was picked up by Liporidex as their first Sponsored Athlete. This new responsibility also came with a photo shoot in San Diego for their promotional materials. I worked hard to stay tight on my diet but I allowed the stress to overtake my progress. I ended up gaining weight and my body totally took a turn for the worse. I was working hard in the gym and my nutrition was about 80% on however I blew up! Mentally I was frustrated and confused. My weight just continued to climb and I forced a depletion week to try to tighten my body up for the shoot. This was proof that stress is our enemy.
For those that are not familiar with what a depletion week means, it is to manipulate your water, sodium and nutrition intake with the goal to have your body tighten up and “peak”. Basically restricting your macronutrients, caloric intake and pulling out all sweeteners, both artificial and natural. Typically a diet of raw asparagus and a few ounces of boneless/skinless chicken breasts 6 times a day.
After this shoot in June, I knew I needed to figure some things out. My family flew out to California and we enjoyed a week in Disney and San Diego. I was still trying to maintain balance with being a Mother, a competitor and now a sponsored athlete. However, I stayed focused on my diet and did not partake in any vacation eating. Mentally, I was less stressed and totally focused on the July shows.
I decided to do the July Colorado State show the week before Pittsburgh Masters National because I knew I needed to really get my body as tight as possible. I used a double depletion week to accomplish this. I had won the Colorado State Master’s Overall in 2013 and used this as my motivation to do it again. I had so much fun doing this local show because my friends and family were there. I did end up winning both my Open class (all ages, height class) and the Master’s Overall for a second year.
The following week I flew to Pittsburgh to compete for a chance to get my Pro card. I went into this show so pumped after rolling off a win the week before. I knew I had my body as good as I could get it and worked all year for this moment! Mentally I was starting to be drained and my body was fatigued. I ended up leaving Pittsburgh in 12th place. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, I was just completely confused.
After this show, I flew back to Denver and met with my doctor. We ran a complete blood hormone panel. We found that my thyroid had stalled. The low caloric intake for the long period of time actually slowed down my thyroid (practically stopping it) and in turn it was no longer working “for” me. We started meds and I immediately saw my body begin to “work” again. This was time for me to take a step back and re-evaluate everything I was doing. I had one more show left to try for that infamous pro card and it was in 5 weeks! I knew I either had to be ALL IN or completely done.
Taking a step back I knew that if I did not go all in for this show I would regret it forever. So I hired a trainer to assist me in the gym, I tightened down my nutrition harder than ever, increased my fat burner and just drove hard.
The very next week I was laid off of my job after 2 years. Talk about getting knocked down. My first thought was the need for comfort food and a beer. My balance was now thrown completely off.
I was also now dealing with a ton of negativity from industry people whom I thought were in my corner. So there I am, unemployed, totally isolated and feeling signs of deprivation from dieting all year. This is now the hardest thing I have ever had to do…and I just want it to end.
Something amazing happened at this point, a few people started to surface who actually wanted to help me get through these next few weeks so I was my best. These people are the reason that I was able to stay focused. Previously everyone I had met was interested in making a profit off of me. I had invested over $12,000 just this year because I was trying to align myself with the best in hopes of being my best. What I found was that these people could care less about my personal best and more about marketing themselves.
As I approach depletion #5 in only 6 months. My mental state is now just as depleted as my physical state. I am completely fatigued and mentally all I want to do is to find balance again. I am miserable.
Ironically, my body had never looked better! It was exactly the picture I had in my head all year long! But now, feeling like hell, I could not enjoy this body. To say that I brought my best to this North American show would be an understatement. I ended up taking 6th place and I was so happy that it was over. I was not upset that I placed lower then bodies that looked worse than mine. At this point, I knew there was nothing I could have done better, harder, stricter. And I was so done!
As expected after the show I could not satisfy the mental deprivation that I experienced from extreme dieting for 8 months. My brain is no longer getting the signals that my belly is full. I kept on lifting and doing my cardio because those are actually the things I enjoy. But now I needed to relearn how to eat again. Things as small as adding carrots to my salad were forgotten. It is going to take me months to balance my body and mental state back out to where I can be energetic and comfortable again.
Looking back on this year I have learned many things. I learned how my body responds to stress and particular foods. I also learned a lot about the competition industry, both good and bad. I do not recommend anyone to do an extreme diet program for a long period of time…which is why most only do a maximum of 2 shows a year. The highs and lows I experienced have definitely made me a stronger individual.
Now it is time to recover.