I am sure you have all heard it before, Train>Eat>Sleep-Repeat. I would imagine as a normal person, who maintains balance in their lives, this saying is probably one of those things you don’t think too much about.
To you this may mean:
–Get a solid nights rest
-Eat clean and healthy
-Get some exercise.
However, to a competitor, this actually means something else entirely. This saying becomes our entire day, repeated every 4-5 hours.
Let me first say that I am not an expert in the fields of fitness or nutrition. I hold no certifications in these areas, nor do I wish to in the future. However, I do happen to be the guinea pig. 2014 will be my 3rd year competing. I have successfully pushed through 5 of these prep’s so far, this being my 6th. So take it for what it is worth.
Now, what I can tell you is what I am feeling. I am 13 days out from catching a flight for my first show in 2014. I began preparation after Christmas for this show: eliminating sugars, desserts, rotating my carbs, scheduling my meals, kicking my cardio and training up a notch, yada yada yada.
The process is interesting because like anything new, when you start out there is so much excitement and anticipation! You cannot wait to watch the weight come off and your body transform. It feels good to eat clean and get moving toward a goal. Your energy level is off the charts and you keep wishing for the weeks to pass until you feel and look great! AND that time does come! And it is a huge milestone!
Until the realization that this look is not your end state. You made the commitment of competing and now you have to push harder, continue to prep your food and, lock down your nutrition even tighter. Now you find yourself declining happy hours and dreading parties. Things become mentally challenging and those closest to you will say how great you look AND if they have never seen you through a prep before, they will not understand!
That initial excitement is gone at this point and you have to remind yourself of why you decided to do this. It process becomes a job now. This is when having a strong support system will come into play!
What I can tell you is that once you establish the routine and allow your mind time to mentally settle in, this will become a lifestyle (meaning you eat and workout like this automatically without thinking) and it does get easier!
Now, as you progress through the weeks, your metabolism speeds up and your body will begin to tighten up and lean out. (A process I have been trying to share with you because it is amazing to capture.) However, as you lean out, your body fat is also decreasing. Since you are still pushing as hard as you can with your workouts AND eating exactly what your body requires to “function” you begin to feel fatigue faster.
*Your workout intensities drop (according to the stats on the monitors-or the number on your weights) but you feel like you are still pushing as hard as you can!
*If you are late for a meal you quickly learn that you will go from Hungry to Famished to Lethargic minutes! Crashing becomes inevitable! Learning to function through this crash is a hard lesson to learn.
The other thing you will notice is that you will be able to gather energy from 2 main sources:
1. From your meal. This becomes crazy interesting because you can feel the food go through your body! Everything will literally brighten, I always use the term the “Lights just came on!” Anyone talking to me during this time of “black out” to “lights on” will see it happening!
2. From sleep or rest. This does not mean you need to take a 3 hour nap (although it will sound good). It just means you need time to recover because you will not have the energy to get through an entire day without tapping into all of your reserves.
As your body fat decreases, your energy level will follow suit. I like to look at this time as when my body is making the largest improvements! It is also a great sign of when my body is locking into prep when I notice I am more tired and drained than usual, resulting in the Train>Eat>Sleep mode.
Something else I also learned over the years is to admit to myself that I am going to have to work harder at maintaining mental focus and concentration by:
-Forcing myself to think before answering someone (and don’t make any large purchases or life changing decisions during this time! Although you will want to).
-Pay attention better (to where you parked and common things you normally would just know and take for granted. Write things down for a reminder).
FORCE yourself to maintain balance with all of the other aspects of your life, the world is still revolving, people will keep depending on you!
So the next time you hear the saying TRAIN>EAT>SLEEP understand that it is to be taken literally. This is not a figurative statement. This is the real life of a competitor.
**Now I need a nap**