Today is Sunday, my rest day. 26 days until the NPC Natural Western USA Figure competition. My body—my nervous system—is very tired. I am spending the day studying for school …. in bed. Ha. I am so sore, and my bed is the most comfortable place. But I am also at peace. Admittedly, I woke up this morning in a state of anxiety (like I do pretty much every morning) thinking, “Maybe I should go do extra cardio?!” But then I stopped and recognized that the idea of doing extra cardio did not feel good in my body. In the past, I might have forced myself to go do it anyway. And then it would have been a pathetic cardio session with me feeling frustrated the whole time. But I told myself at the beginning of this competition prep that I would not force things to happen—I would let them happen. Let me explain using an analogy:
One of my life role models is named Martha Beck (she’s a Harvard-educated sociologist, life coach and best-selling author). One of her methods of teaching people to be happier and calmer is to have them work with horses: usually when a horse is behaving badly and violently, humans will attempt to “break” them using physical means—ropes, whips, etc… basically forms of torture. Sometimes that will work. But in her seminars, Martha teaches people that if you stand in a pen with the horse—just stand there—and offer the horse kindness and compassion, and show it that you’re not going to hurt it, it will eventually calm down and “join up” with you. (Here’s a video of Martha Beck’s friend, Koelle Simpson, explaining this in more detail in a TED Talk).
So here’s where the analogy comes in: the horse is like your own human body. You can certainly torture it via starvation diets and excessive exercise, and you can get some results. This is what I had done for a long time, and it sort of worked—and I also suffered miserably internally (one time in high school I actually ended up in the hospital with severe dehydration because I kept exercising when I was sick with the flu… brilliant, huh?).
There is, I believe, a better way. I have adopted the approach of being kind and compassionate to my body, and recognizing its limits. At my gym, the people who work there are so sweet—they call me “The Machine”… but in reality our human bodies are not machines. They are animals that require sufficient food and physical movement and rest. All of my ideas in this blog may sound a little strange to many Figure & Bikini competitors who enjoy the (so-called) inspirational/motivational “Fitspo” posts on Facebook and Instagram (e.g. “push yourself to the limit!” and my least favorite of all time: “do it for the thigh gap!” etc.) Those concepts no longer resonate with me. I started training to become a Figure competitor because I love it, and it’s that love that will carry me through these next 26 days until showtime. Let’s see how it goes … :)
Thank you for reading!