My Decision to Compete in Bodybuilding

You read that right, I, Leoni Smith, have committed to competing in a bodybuilding competition. For those that know me well, would understand how much this is outside my realm of comfort. The competition itself will not be till february 2018, which ideally allows 6 months to prep. This will enable the methods utilised to reach 10% bodyfat will be from eating the most amount of calories possible, whilst doing the least amount of training necessary to create the stimulus needed for this transformation.

This blog will cover my initial four week block of my comp prep thus far, and I will share how the decision to compete in bodybuilding developed.

The decision to do bodybuilding was not something I would have entertained prior to 4 weeks ago. Let me paint you a picture, to give you some context of why this was so….

The past 6 months have been very inconsistent for me in regards to training and nutrition. You could say I had become very unconditioned. This occurred due to my decision to adjust my priorities to enable me to meet my deadline for my studies by the end of May 2017. This meant I needed to put my training on the backseat (for the first time in many years) and allocate more time to study in accordance with its importance to complete my diploma of counselling. As a consequence meal prep became minimal to non existant, my food plan was very loosely followed to non existant, and training was minimised to a very basic 3 days a week and executed “whenever I felt I could”.

The results of such a choice was;

  • I completed my diploma in time
  • I altered my goal for my training in the interim while I chose to make study my primary focus
  • I did not make any progress in my body recomposition and/or my strength in this period
  • I had many moments of frustration at myself due to this
  • I caught myself trying to start to look for quick fixes in regards to my lack of progress, particularly in the body recomposition department
  • I had to remind myself that the lack of progress I was experiencing was in accordance with the lack of time and priority I was giving my training and nutrition program
  • Despite my frustration and lack of progress, I, at the very least, relatively maintained with managable fluctuations in body composition, ate normally and without guilt, which in my experience prior, would not have happened.

Prior to this, the leanest I had been since working with my coach, Gus, was around 21% bodyfat which was when I competed at States 2016 at 71kgs.  If I am being completely honest, in the last 2 years working with my coach, I was never compliant long enough to achieve a lower bodyfat percent. I always ate extra on top of my prescibed nutrition plan. Despite this sounding like a negative result in this timeframe, I did gain substantial increases in my strength and muscle mass, and my associations with food and my body image improved significantly to the extent that it no longer has the control on my life like it did prior.

Before this and ranging back to my teens, I had tried all the fads, hype and quick fixes, to achieve the body composition I desired and failed miserably. I tried,

  • low carb
  • organic foods, paleo approach, gluten free, dairy free etc
  • high frequency of training, fasted cardio, low calories etc
  • intermittent fasting, IIFYM etc

In this time I experienced a range of the following in varying degrees:

  • I yo-yo’ed in bodyweight and bodyfat percentages which in turn negatively effected how I viewed and felt about myself
  • If I achieved a certain bodyweight I had desired, I could not maintain it for long and rebounded pretty quick and generally got worse/fatter each time
  • I associated foods into bad and good, and banned macronutrients and particular foods like potato, bread, rice, milk etc out of my diet
  • I gorged one day to deprive the next. I felt guilty, ashamed and like a failure when I could not maintain the extreme outlook I had created for myself.

Essentially food and my body image controlled a large aspect of my life before coming to work with Gus. This time of my life had huge negative ramifications both physiologically and psychologically which has taken a few years to correct.

Hopefully sharing this view of some of my past, has enabled you to understand some of the beliefs I had constructed about myself and my world and the associated thoughts and behaviours I adopted as a result. This is why me competing in bodybuilding was never entertained as a possibility by me.

Back to 4 weeks prior, no more study at present, and I found myself looking for a goal. I spoke with Gus on a couple of occasions and he mentioned competing in bodybuilding. He recalled my initial long term goal I desired when I first started working with him.

This was the image I desired when I first started with Gus. I wanted to be lean and strong.

My immediate response was to dismiss the idea. Later that day, I actually started to explore why I did this. What I found was I had limited myself based off the constructs of my view on myself to present.

I acknowledged I had the capabilities to pursue this goal, if I committed myself, and accept my current behaviours would need to change if I wanted to see a change. Nothing arose that stood as a valid reason that this would be an unachievable goal for me. The last step to ensure it was something I could achieve, was to approach Gus again and discuss the logistics of what he would expect from me, worst case scenario, so to speak, to achieve this goal. Again, nothing that was discussed was something I could not do if I applied myself.

So the decision was made! This was the pinnacle point in the change to my mindset. I acknowledged my lack of commitment to my compliancy in the past, I empowered myself to believe I have the ability to change if I was willing to adopt the behaviours to do so,  I decided to trust in the process and the guidance of my coach and I committed to prioritising and planning to execute the daily requirements necessary to create new habits.

For me this decision was exciting! I was excited,

  • at the challenge of testing my capabilities
  • at the prospect of stepping into the unknown
  • to learn more about myself in a differing environment and context
  • to learn about the sport of bodybuilding
  • to learn firsthand how Gus applies the principles of strength training and sports nutrition and manipulates the variables to create the necessary changes week to week
  • to develop empathy for the bodybuilding athlete

Starting stats to 4 week check in:

18/05/17   BW: 76.1kgs  BF:27%     LMM: 55.6kgs

20/06/17   BW: 72.9kgs  BF:20.5%  LMM: 58kgs

Calories: 2400-2500 per day 

Training frequency: 4 days a week, strength training

Compliancy: 100%

Interesting realisations:

  • In the initial start I had some big losses in bodyfat and I realised I needed to mentally prepare myself for this to slow down. Expecting to lose 3% bodyfat each check in is not realistic nor managing my expectations very well.
  • Many people asked me about what types of foods I was eating, possibly assuming I had different foods now because I was comp prepping for bodybuilding. I am happy to report I still eat steak, rice, bread, potato, whole eggs etc on a daily basis.
  • Many people asked me when I get my cheat meal/s. I have found I have not even contemplated the idea of if and when I get cheat meals. This mindset I believe would not be productive in my endeavour to be 100% compliant. If I am already thinking about cheat meals 4 weeks in, or a way to push the boundaries, so to speak, then maybe I should be asking myself if I am really serious about this goal.
  • The instantaneous change in my mindset which has enabled me to be 100% compliant now for the last month.
  • How easy this change has been.
  • I have been told how this process can become obsessive, and I have experienced other clients and their idiosyncrasy that have developed from comp prep experiences with other coaches, and I am finding myself highly aware of changes ect, that I experience in my thinking and behaviour to be aware of the changes that might occur in me.
  • Not thinking too far ahead in the process is enabling me to keep focused on what is most important at present without getting overwhelmed at what is in store for me in months to come such as posing, heels, suits, which class I am competing etc.
  • The need to measure all things that are consumed, as even my dash of milk in my morning coffee has a way very easily turning into much more!

Stay tuned for my second four week block of comp prep!

Original Blog Series 1 to 5  from Leoni can be found here. 

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