4 Things I Learned from Competitive Bodybuilding

Last year, I embarked on a new challenge. I decided to give the sport of bodybuilding a try. I’d always had a muscular physique and the gym was like my second home, so why not give myself a goal and purpose for waking up at 4am? I knew it wouldn’t be easy and would be frustrating at times, but I needed a new challenge. Over the next few months, I learned all I could on diet, macros, lifting technique, and the most efficient cardio plans. In addition to all that knowledge, I also found myself unintentionally learning a few life lessons that I’ve also been able to use in other areas of my life:

1. Have a plan

One of the most critical pieces of preparing for a bodybuilding competition is to have a plan. I worked with a trainer to map out a lifting schedule, a plan for cardio, and of course, a meal plan to help me tone up. Having something written down that I could hang on the fridge and track kept me accountable for my actions gave me a feeling of control. The plan changed over time, based on how my body was responding, but I always knew what to expect. Now I don’t just use a plan for my diet and fitness. I’m mapping out my goals and plans to achieve them at work, in my volunteer activities, and even for planning chores for the weekend. Try it, and I’m sure you’ll feel more in control and organized!

2. Stay consistent

If you stay consistent with you plan, your actions will turn into habits. This makes sticking with your plan easier and more natural. Getting up a 5am to get to spin class becomes a normal part of your day and picking fresh fruit over some packaged, over processed food doesn’t become a measure of will power.

3. Progress is slow; be patient

So you’ve been religious about your diet for two weeks, and you can’t see your six-pack yet? You must be an utter failure, right? Progress in anything takes time. You don’t become a great musician overnight; an advanced degree doesn’t get earned in a weekend; and your fitness and health goals aren’t going to materialize after a week of healthy eating and cardio. Give yourself time to see the change. Believe me, something you work hard for over a long time is something that you are extremely proud of and the effort will be worth it!

4. Treat yourself

That is, with something other than food. So many of us have become accustomed to using food as a method of celebration and reward. It’s your birthday? Have some cake. You got a promotion? Let’s go out for dinner. Made it through a hard week? Let’s go out for happy hour. These food celebrations are not necessarily bad, but sometimes it’s better to celebrate in other ways that don’t ruin your progress. Instead of happy hour with the girls, go out for pedicures. Treat yourself to a massage instead of a mountain of fried food. There are so many other treats and indulgences in the world that aren’t food. You just need to get a little creative! So get out there and work towards that goal! I promise all of that hard work will be worth it. And who knows, you might learn a few things that will help you out in other areas of your life as well. By: Rachel Yarger, Vegan NPC & NFF Bikini Competitor

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