I’ve been on Facebook a couple years now, and a few months back I jumped on the Instagram bandwagon. Most of my friends on FB and the people I follow on IG and Twitter are physique competitors in bodybuilding, Figure, Men’s Physique, Women’s Physique, and Bikini. Now that the contest season is drawing to an end for this year, I had to say my piece about one common type of post I must have seen literally thousands of: complaining about your contest prep. These are typical of many of them:
“Starving right now.”
“Fourth day of low carbs, I feel like death.”
“Up at 5 AM today for fasted cardio, barely made it through.”
“Feeling so flat and weak.”
“Slept like crap, so exhausted right now. No idea how I will train legs later on.”
“If I eat one more chicken breast, I swear I will start growing feathers.”
“I think I would sell my soul to be able to have a few slices of pizza right now.”
And on and on. Over the years, I used to do my fair share of complaining and whining too. But since there was no social media yet, the whole world didn’t have to hear me bitch and moan. Only my wife was lucky enough for that. Of course, she eventually reached her boiling point and let me have it.
“Nobody is making you compete. You chose to do this, so shut up with your complaining already. Enough!”
My wife is always right by default, but this time she actually was dead on with her assessment of the situation. Here I was, healthy enough and with enough financial resources to be able to weight train and do cardio, not to mention eat plenty of high-quality, nutritious food six times a day. I had managed to build enough muscle to get up on a bodybuilding stage and look like I belonged, in and of itself an achievement most garden variety gym rats never reach. And what was I doing? Complaining about how I had to eat diet foods instead of junk, and had to do cardio in a nice, clean gym! What an ungrateful brat I was. In so many of these posts from competitors, I see that same lack of gratitude.
They paint themselves as martyrs or victims, forced to endure grueling diets and cardio sessions, and deal with things like hunger and fatigue. You think those are real problems? Maybe you would like to switch places with someone in Africa infected with Ebola, or a Christian in Iraq terrified of their entire family being executed by ISIS soldiers?
Competing is a privilege. Be grateful that you have the time, the health and the resources to compete. For every man or woman that makes it to the stage, there are a hundred others who wish they could but have serious illnesses, or need to work two full-time jobs to support their family.
The bottom line is that unless you are a pro and this is how you make a living, you don’t ‘have to’ compete. You are competing because you want to! So why would you cry and lament about the struggles and deprivations you intentionally choose to go through on the way to the stage? Nobody wants to hear about it, and it doesn’t do you any good to get sympathy and consolation from others who feel sorry for you. Self-pity never helped anybody improve themselves or their live in any way, and neither did being pitied by others. And be advised, most people don’t look at those posts and feel sympathy. They might be empathetic to your plight if they too have competed, but their opinion of you isn’t going to be any higher if they read post after post that essentially translates to “Wah, poor me!”
If you can’t handle contest prep with all it entails, don’t compete. Period. Prep should be an exciting time as you challenge yourself to exceed your previous best. Do I enjoy dieting and extra cardio? Not exactly. What I do enjoy is the process of being in control and watching my physique change week by week until the finished product is the closest to perfection I can reach. I love to know I worked as hard as I could to look the absolute best I could, win or lose. Of course I train to win! And once I’m on that stage, I am proud to show off what I worked so damn hard for.
That’s my rant. If you recognized yourself in anything I’ve said, I hope I gave you something to think about.