Pictures Don't Tell the Whole Story
I've been wanting to write about this for awhile, but I haven't really known where to start. I actually did start a blog entry the other day only to scrap it. It was too all over the place. Didn't really make sense. I think I was trying to include too much in one entry, and it felt confusing. I'm hoping today's attempt will be more successful.
First things first...
I want to thank everyone for all the sweet comments you've made with regard to my contest pictures. I am so proud of them. Obviously some of them are better than others. And, I recognize for every good picture I post of me there are a gazillion pictures of absolutely phenomenal women with amazing bodies out there. I am not trying to compete with them, nor do I even feel that I compare. My pictures represent the best me so far - my own personal work in progress. The pictures represent what I look like after weeks and weeks of preparation, clean eating, dieting, carb-depleting, carb-loading, drinking gallon after gallon of water, intense exercise, hours of cardio, etc. After working so hard for so long, it feels only right to capture the "final product" even with just a snapshot so that I don't forget. There will come a day when I'm older that I look back and treasure those images.
However, MORE IMPORTANTLY, I want you all to know THOSE PICTURES are not the norm. At least not for me. Though I love the way I look when I'm dieting so strictly, I don't love the way I feel. When I'm dieting that extreme I get to the point where I have very little energy. Everything takes more energy than what I have. I remember a very specific example when I was sitting in the gym at the church, and I watched one of my closest friends carry her baby across the gym floor. She and I both have babies around the same age. Watching her walk with baby in tote literally exhausted me, and I wasn't even the one doing it. When I'm dieting like that I also get very cold. When my bodyfat is that low, I literally hunch up in a ball on the couch at night under layers of blankets just to keep warm.
Being that lean doesn't last long. And it doesn't represent me NOW.
Being that lean also doesn't equate to "healthy". I would much rather have energy and my sanity for 8-9 months of the year at a higher bodyfat than have no energy and feel like I'm losing it just to be 8-9% bodyfat. I find that I feel healthiest when I'm around 13-15% bodyfat.
I look forward to the off-season because I know I can eat more normally. I can have my sanity back. I can be less focused on me and more focused on what's important. In my honest opinion figure can be a very selfish sport. I'm speaking from my own experience. When I'm in pure contest-mode, everything revolves around figure. My diet, my training, what I'm eating, when I'm eating, how much I'm eating, constantly counting calories, 1st cardio, 2nd cardio, getting enough sleep...the list goes on. My mind never stops.
When I'm not competing, I'm back to my old self. I re-focus. I try to ground myself. I relax, and that includes my diet. If I want a cheat, I'll have it. I eat more. I'm less structured. I don't throw all caution to the wind. I still try to make wise choices, but I don't let my diet control my life.
That being said, during the off season I tend to soften-up, and that stinks. We all wish we could have our cake and eat it too, but sadly that's not the reality. In order to feel healthier, I must let a little of that "cut" look I love...go. It's not easy though, and it's something I struggle with.
There are some who can pull it off. They are "cut" all the time. Some of them do it smartly; others do not. I won't pass judgment.
I know for me it's not an option. I need my sanity. I need to eat. I need to satisfy those cravings I had when I was in contest-prep. I need to have lunches with my girls. I need to have nights out with my hubby. I need to have little indulgences (including ColdStone) to feel normal. My motto during the off-season is to eat clean 80-90% of the time.
One thing I want to do this year is put on more muscle. There's no way I can put on the amount of muscle I want (to fill out my back, my shoulders, and my glutes) with a skinny body. I need some good healthy fat to feed those muscles.
So when you look at those pictures, remember that that's just a snapshot of a moment in time. They don't tell the whole story. I've probably gained 5 pounds within the last month, have softened up a little, and I can honestly say I feel so much healthier NOW than I did THEN.
Leanness doesn't always equate to being healthy. Feeling healthy is being healthy.