Ooookee! So you’ve started prep; whether it be your first go around, or your 9th, here you are. It’s no secret that prep is an all or nothing process. You CANNOT half ass this shit and be successful, you just can’t. And if you think it gets easier the longer you compete, wrong again! This shit just gets harder and more competitive every single year.
Prepping for a show, one that you intend to win I might add, will take A LOT out of you. A lot of strength and endurance, a lot of discipline and patience, a lot of sweat and tears, and a whole lot of time. You may not think you have time to get shit done at times, but just know that you will have to MAKE time, or don’t even start [just being honest].
IF you want to be successful in this sport, there will be sacrifices no doubt. BUT that doesn’t mean you have to be a hermit with no friends either! Here are some tips to stay sane and still live your life while on prep.
- PLAN AHEAD: This is NUMERO UNO MUY IMPORTANTE! Go into everything with a plan. If your friends are asking you to go out somewhere, get the deets! You don’t need to be a ride or die. Ask questions. Where are we going? What time? How long are we going to be there? Will there be food/drinks there? Is this a place you can bring your own food to? Once you get some answers, decide 1. if you’re going, and 2. if you’re going to eat there. If you’re going to eat, look up the menu (most restaurants should have an online menu of some sort). If you can find something on there that can fit your macros, go for it (most nicer places can accommodate if you ask for no butter or oil cooked with your meal, or have plain proteins as well). If it’s a pizza place, or a sports bar, you’re better off just bringing your own food. [be aware that most nice, or higher end restaurants DO NOT allow you to bring your own food for consumption inside their establishment.]
- TIME MANAGEMENT: Like I said above, you’re going to have to MAKE time where you think there’s none sometimes. This not only goes for the gym, meal prep, cardio, and posing practice, but for your social life as well. If you want to do something, do it. Manage your time properly so that you can get your social fix in. If you have a friend’s birthday you want to go to at 6pm, and have work from 9-5, here’s one option: Meal prep the night before for both work meals and meals/snacks you’re going to bring to the party. Get up early and go to the gym before work, go to work, then go to your party. No big deal right? Ok, now add in the fact that you have a pet at home that also needs to be fed and walked, you haven’t showered, the party is an all night thing and an hour away, you have to run to the post office, and you have a posing session at 7pm. 100% still doable, just gotta make it work, girl. If you want a social life, get a panner; time management will need to be your best friend.
- COMPROMISE vs SACRIFICE? Here’s the deal. Not everyone in your life is going to be supportive of what you’re doing. Some people will be bad influences who don’t really care about your goals, while others will be right there with you helping you prep your meals and hitting the gym with you. People who would compromise for you, are keepers. They might ask you before hand what food places are easiest for you to fit, or what your schedule is like ahead of time. These are YES friends. These friends want you to succeed. Then other friends might drop plans on you super last minute, pressure you to go out drinking with them even after you’ve passed, continuously offer you food they know you can’t have, and even make you feel bad for not being able to do or eat certain things. These are NO friends. These people would rather you sacrifice for them, so that they don’t have to watch you succeed. Decide who’s willing to support and compromise, and who’s not. Adjust accordingly.
- Speaking of ADJUSTMENTS: whether you realize it or not, choosing to prep for a bodybuilding show is a lifestyle change. This is going to be a huge adjustment for you. Not only will you have to adjust your choices on food and how you spend your time in the gym, but you’ll also need to adjust your mentality and who you choose to surround yourself with. Like I mentioned in #3, not everyone wants to see you succeed. This will become very apparent soon enough into your prep. Whether it be because of jealousy, spite, or just plain misunderstanding or misinformation, odds are, someone close to you won’t be as supportive as you once thought. Keep in mind that people can still be supportive and not understand why you do what you do. This is the difference between a friend and a leech. Leeches want to “see you do good, just not better than them.” I’m not telling you to cut off ties with your grandma because she thinks all bodybuilders have eating disorders, or break up with your best friend because she asks you to go drinking with her every weekend, I’m simply saying you don’t need to talk about prep with you’re grandma, and maybe distance yourself from certain friends who keep pressuring you or adding unnecessary stress to your life. Keep in mind that your new lifestyle choice is an adjustment for your friends and family as well. BONUS TIP THAT SOME OF YOU MAY NOT LIKE: you can have a couple drinks while in prep, just make sure you are substituting the alcohol calories for either carbs or fats. (Take the number of calories in your drink, divided by 4 if replacing for carbs, or 9 if replacing for fats.) Simple enough, but here’s my tip. Don’t drink in prep. It has absolutely zero nutritional value, its empty calories, it’s not helping you whatsoever, and IN FACT it is hurting you. Alcohol will slow your recovery, does nothing for your muscles, and even causes inflammation. I suggest a fully sober prep if you are trying to maximize your full potential.
- REALITY CHECKS: yup, you’re going to have a few of these over the span of your prep. This can come in a few forms. Stalled progress is the first gut check you’re probably going to see. The reality of the situation is most likely because you are slacking in one or more areas, thus cheating yourself out of the progress you’re ultimately wanting to make. Are you skipping your cardio? Are you really just taking “one bite” of your boyfriend/girlfriend’s bacon avocado burger? Are you even drinking the all holiest of waters? Are you really giving your workouts the intensity they need, or are you just going though the motions? Bottom line, pick it the fuck up, and work harder. (In the instance that you are doing everything exactly on point and to the tee, then most likely you are in need of either a refeed, or altered macros of some kind. Always talk to your coach). The second reality check can come in the form of mood swings. Yup, heeeeeere’s your sign. You’re being a bitch; stop it. The low calories, the high intensity workouts, the exhaustion, it can get to you. We all get it, but your family and friends won’t. Don’t start taking shit out on them just because they ask you to go out to eat with them, or if a family vacation is coming up and you’re panicking and throwing a fit because you don’t know what to do. If you want a social life, have one. But you have to use the steps above. PLAN THAT SHIT OUT! If you still want to spend time with your friends, or go on vacation with your family, go and have fun! Plan ahead, pack your meals, look up menus, look up gyms in the area, bring water everywhere, do whatever it is that you need to do. But don’t start snapping on your loved ones because you’re hungry. You CHOSE this shit. No one is making you do this. Check yourself OFTEN, and adjust.
- You Can’t Do It All: yup, you heard me. You may say you wan’t a social life, and that it’ll be easy to still go on with your life like nothing has changed, but that will change. You may think that you are the Queen of Balance, but you’re wrong. There will come a time when you will literally be too tired to want to even entertain the idea of being out with other humans. There will come a time where your progress is being affected by your “social life,” instead of the other way around. There will come a time when you will have to choose. Do you want to be successful in this bodybuilding venture you’ve embarked on? Or do you want to go drinking with your friends again? Do you want to see what you can accomplish in this sport? Or do you want to throw away the last 12-20 weeks to continue to live the same life you were living before you decided to go after a larger goal? At the end of the day, you’re the one making the sacrifices; You’re the one making the decisions, and you’re the one wasting your own time and the time of your coaches. This is your third reality check. Do you want to win? Because if you do, you’re going to have to say “no” more often than you think. If you know that you most likely won’t be able to control yourself if you go out to a bar, a party, or a certain restaurant, then don’t go. You don’t have to be a people pleaser if it means sacrificing your own goals. You can’t do it all.