Every week i sit down and try to figure out what i want to blog about next… Well this week, as i was browsing various social medias, i noticed one topic that kept coming up over and over again… Bikini competitions and health. So i thought i would share with you my perspective on this topic and what i think about it.
Outsiders, those that do not compete, may look at the world of bodybuilding and see shredded abs and lean physiques and think “wow, they are so fit and healthy”. What they do not see is the sacrifices and the sometimes, extremes, that it takes to get there.. and why competing is by no means the epitome of health.
When i started competing, i was under no illusion that competing is “healthy”. Bodybuilding is a sport that is all about aesthetics…it’s about looking a certain way. That “certain way ” requires a low body fat and a much more shredded than typical physique. The majority of the individuals who compete are not naturally “lean” or “shredded”. Being stage lean requires a lot of hard work- i.e. dieting, training, cardio. The majority of competitors are eating low(er) calories and doing a lot of cardio. Why are they doing this? Competitors sacrifice their comfort and health, in the short term, to step on stage. Competing has a deadline and the deadline is show day. To be stage ready… requires lower calories, higher cardio, and pushing yourself harder than the “average” individual.
Yes, there may be some exceptions to this… there are always exceptions to the rule. Some people may be able to eat a lot of calories, barely have to do any cardio, and can step on stage and compete with the best of them. But i am going to go out on a limb and say that these people are the minority. The majority of competitors cannot achieve the extreme, stage conditioning necessary, to do well at a show, without making certain sacrifices.
These sacrifices can leave competitors feeling constantly cold (from the low body fat), tired (from high cardio/low carbs), and hungry (obviously). “Diet face” is another side effect of prep I’m sure most of you have heard of. For females, a low body fat often results in a loss of their period due to hormones being all wonky on prep. Prepping for a show requires a more structured, even rigid, schedule with training, eating, and sleep. Even if you are using a “flexible dieting” approach, prep requires an “all about me” attitude to a degree. There isn’t an option to skip the gym or eat off the plan just “because”… on prep, that is not an option.
So why do people compete if they are putting themselves in all of these “unhealthy-unbalanced” circumstances? As i said, competing is a short term goal. It is not something sustainable for the long term. This is why you see competitors reverse dieting- upping calories and decreasing cardio- after their competition season is over. This is also why the majority of competitors do not stay “stage lean” all year round…because it is not maintainable for the long term. You will also see them chasing this thing called “balance” which was so hard for them to find on prep.
This post is by no means to discourage any one from competing. I love competing. I love the push, the hard work, and the dedication that it requires. I was under no illusion that bikini competitions were healthy. I KNOW that eating low carb and doing more cardio than i would like puts a lot of stress onto my body… But for me, it is worth it. It is worth it for the short term goal of stepping on stage. Yes, i could have my coach keep my calories super high and do very minimal cardio… But what good would that do me in the aesthetics of my bikini competition? (It wouldn’t). Bikini competitions, require sacrifices, and for me, the sacrifices are well worth the hunger and exhaustion.
**Oh, and i should probably include in this that it is important to have a knowledgeable coach who knows what they are doing in regards to training and nutrition. You should not start say- a 16 week prep- doing an hour of cardio a day and eating less than 1200 calories during the first week. There is a difference between a “coach” giving you a cookie cutter plan and a real coach who knows your body and has your health in mind at all times.**
**And LAST BUT NOT LEAST, i also want to clarify that just because you have to push yourself sometimes, during prep, does not mean that you need to be a miserable human being for X amount of weeks. Competing is a CHOICE. If you don’t want to be super strict and hungry, you do not have to prep. No one is forcing you to do anything. Attitude is everything-be positive. No one wants to be around someone who is miserable every day and complains about how hungry/tired they are ALL THE TIME. It is possible to be happy and have a positive attitude while dieting for a show– just saying**
Okay…. i think I’m done now haha.
What are your thoughts on competing and overall health? I would love to hear your opinions on this topic as it something a lot of people are talking about right now. Please hit the “like” button if you like this post and “subscribe” if you aren’t already.