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I am grieving as I write this, because a very dear friend whose end of life care I was assisting in just passed away less than 24 hours ago. Though I am very rattled by this, I made sure to hit the gym first thing this morning, and I ate clean all day, packing and carrying my meals, with only one transgression which was a bottle of cold sake I had promised to myself and my friend once he had passed on. No matter how rough life is, I will not jeopardize all the hard work I put into building muscle and sculpting a physique that I could proudly display on the IFBB Pro stage this year.
A similar situation occurred with one of my clients whose father had suddenly died. Instead of making a plethora of excuses, avoiding training and abandoning her meal plan, she told me she wanted to channel her grief into her contest prep program, and so she did. She honored her father, continued to plug away at work, and took care of two small children while still honoring her commitment to herself and her fitness goals, and for that she is a true warrior.
Illness and death of a loved one are difficult to handle when one is in full contest prep mode or adopting a full blown fitness overhaul, but thankfully rather rare. The more common culprit in fitness plans falling by the wayside is the day to day life craziness that always threatens to pull us off our path. If we are not diligent and consistent about sticking to a regimen regardless of how hectic things get, a journey to ultimate fitness can dissolve into a jumble of self-doubt, fear and excuses. The most common pattern I see in competitors is one in which effective time management is lacking, resulting in missed workouts and meal prep that never happens. Let’s face it: we are ALL busy, but when one is determined and consistent, it is possible to adhere to a fitness plan or contest prep regimen.
I caution ladies (and guys too) to avoid slipping into occasional rationalizations like, “Oh, I’m too tired to lift tonight…I’ll do a double lift tomorrow”, or, “a couple of quick meals through Taco Bell isn’t really going to throw me off my prep”, because such rationalizations can develop into a regular pattern which will sabotage one’s fitness efforts. Please do NOT turn into one of those ladies who pushes a contest date back repeatedly because you don’t feel ready. Is it that you don’t feel ready, or that you are constantly throwing roadblocks in your own way by caving into peer pressure and eating unhealthy foods, drinking alcohol, getting insufficient sleep and going through the motions when you train? You need to ask yourself if your lack of discipline, whether expressed by putting yourself in certain social situations, binging on unhealthy foods at home because you are frustrated with your slow progress, or not making the time to prep and pack your meals regularly, is getting you the results you really want.
A repatterning must occur when excuses begin to creep across your mind. Instead of thinking that a binge could count as one admittedly huge cheat meal, think of how you will end up feeling after binging. Your belly will be distended, you will physically feel sluggish and weak, and I am willing to bet your self-esteem will sink. So why do it in the first place? Keep tempting foods out of your kitchen, and remind yourself of your fitness goals. If you go to events or dinners, consider packing your food and bringing it with you. People have grown so accustomed to me bringing my own food that they don’t even blink when they see me with my food cooler bag. I have attended medical dinners with my food bag in tow, consuming clean food while my colleagues dove into meat selections with sauces, heavy starch dishes, and decadent desserts. To be honest, when I see how my colleagues look, I am thankful that I practice such clean eating.
If you tend to make excuses about getting to the gym for workouts, remember your GOAL. If you need to refer to images of people whom you aspire to be like, then do it. Pack your workout gear in a bag and keep it in your car if you have trouble motivating yourself to get to the gym once you get home from work. Take the energy you would put into making excuses and get to the gym right after work! Also be sure to schedule your workouts so that they become a priority in your life.
Be consistent, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, and you will ultimately attain the fitness goals you seek.