As most of you at Results Fitness know…I did it! I worked my a$$ off since May (literally and figuratively), counted macros, weighed all my food, and completed my goal of competing in the NPC Bikini Division on October 8th.
But now what?
Soon after the competition, Coach Josh approached me about writing a blog discussing how to make your fitness goals come true. An inspirational and motivational piece so to speak. How anybody can do whatever they put their mind to and give everyone out there some tips that worked for me. I do believe that, but post competition I couldn’t bring myself to write such a piece when I was going through my very own struggle with motivation.
My diet was so restricted for over 20 weeks that I subconsciously developed a strange relationship with food. After the competition when my diet could be a lot more flexible I discovered that in my mind I had started labeling food as “good” and “bad.” Even if I was still eating clean but it wasn’t on my meal plan I would consider it a “cheat” and feel guilty. Then if I cheated I developed this “What the hell I already screwed up my diet today” attitude and let the entire day spiral out of control. I also didn’t want people to see me eating things “I shouldn’t be.” It didn’t help that co-workers and friends would comment over everything I put past my lips so I would follow the meal plan in public and take my “cheats” behind closed doors. I felt like I had this image to keep up of the healthy, bodybuilding, fitness enthusiast. I was watching the scale climb, panicking, and allowing the stress to cause me to emotionally eat more. It was a vicious cycle that I knew I desperately needed to break or I would end up right back where I started in May.
During the competition prep, sticking to the plan was somewhat easy. I had a set goal: a date that I knew I was getting onstage in a bikini that was 98% rhinestones and 2% fabric in front of a lot of people. I had my mind made up about what I wanted, with a detailed plan about how to get there and a great support network. Then the day after the competition rolled around where my meal plan was flexible, I had no future competition planned, and no direct goal. As I look back, I realize I was setting myself up for this post-show crash.
So I cried…I cried to Chris, my parents, Kendra my nutrition coach and they all said the same thing. “You need to stop, breathe, step back and start fresh.” They were right. I stepped back, figured out what motivated me during the competition prep, and then attempted to apply those techniques to my current situation. These are just a few techniques that I used throughout the prep, and some new ones I’m putting into practice that are helping me stick to my plan and stay motivated.
- WRITE DOWN YOUR BIG GOAL, BREAK IT UP INTO SMALLER BITE SIZE GOALS, AND BE SPECIFIC! “I want to lose weight” is not specific enough. You need to get a number and a time-line on paper. This will keep you accountable. You also need to break that big number into smaller weekly goals to make it less intimidating. Leave yourself reminders of your goals. There are days when I write them on a post-it and put them in my lunch. I currently also have a journal that I write my goals, struggles and motivational phrases in.
- PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. When it comes to nutrition you need to write out your meal plan, write out your grocery list, take it shopping with you, and then prepare all your meals. This will significantly decrease the amount of times you eat out, snack or go off plan. Who wants to spend more money on take-out when you’ve already got a meal prepared? When it comes to working out you need to look at your schedule for the week and write down on the calendar the 3-4 times a week that you are going to the gym. If you know you’ve got an event Tuesday night, then you can plan to get up early Tuesday morning to get your workout in.
- WEIGH YOURSELF FREQUENTLY AND GET AN ASSESSMENT WITH BODY FAT PERCENTAGE AND MEASUREMENTS MONTHLY. Again, it keeps you accountable and helps you learn more about your body. Be careful here. You don’t want to get too hung up emotionally on the numbers on the scale every morning. From my experience the scale can be incredibly motivating because when you’re losing weight and seeing that progress in digital form in front of you it feels great and keeps you going! But if your progress plateaus (which happens to everybody) or you put on some water weight from your first dinner out in 3 weeks and that number goes up, it can be completely demoralizing too. The scale is a very useful tool, you’ll learn how your body handles different foods if you know exactly what you’re eating and watching your weight closely, but it can also be your worst enemy.
- TAKE PROGRESS PHOTOS. The scale may not budge as you gain muscle and lose body fat, and the changes that you see every day in the mirror are too subtle to make you feel like you’re making progress which can be discouraging. However when you take a progress photo weekly or monthly you’ll be amazed at the transformation to keep you motivated!
- REWARD YOURSELF…BUT NOT WITH FOOD. I have a strong emotional connection to food. I will eat when I’m bored, when I’m sad, when I’m stressed, when I’m happy. Therefore, I cannot use food as a reward system. The mentality of “I worked out 3 times this week so now I can eat pizza and drink beer all weekend” is what got me at a place where I was unhappy with my body. Throughout the prep process, and even now I continue to use things like a pedicure, a massage, or a new pair of jeans as a reward. It is important to acknowledge your accomplishments and be proud of them!
- SURROUND YOURSELF WITH A STRONG SUPPORT SYSTEM AND ACKNOWLEDGE THE FOOD TERRORISTS IN YOUR LIFE. You are all already halfway there with this step because you’ve got your entire RF family behind you! You will find there are people in your life that don’t understand your goals and although they claim to be supportive may try to sabotage you. Trust me, your girlfriends that you get martinis with every Friday night are not going to be happy when you order a water at the bar. Be polite, discuss your reasoning, and accept the fact that they may never understand. There are times that my nutritional restrictions feel very isolating but it forces me to get creative and find ways to spend time with friends and family that don’t revolve around food and drinks.
- PUBLICIZE YOUR GOALS AND PROGRESS! Tell your family, friends and post it all over social media! People tell me all the time that they loved watching what I was doing, eating, and seeing my progress pics. Again, this will help to keep you accountable. You may even motivate someone else to start down the path of their own fitness journey.
- REST. Rest your mind and your body. You cannot go hard 100% of the time. You need recovery days physically and mentally. Binge watch your favorite TV series in your pajamas on the couch for a day, eat some chocolate occasionally, and most importantly don’t beat yourself up over it! Relish in the rest, use it to feed your body and soul, then start back up on the grind tomorrow.
The competition prep was hard but the maintenance phase has proven to be even harder. I feel like I’ve had to re-enter the real world. Like I was in this “competition prep bubble” for 20+ weeks where people understood why I was eating a restrictive diet and spending hours at the gym. Now that it is over to them, they don’t get it any more. I hear, “Aren’t you ever going to eat normal food again?” when I’m eating grilled chicken on a salad at a restaurant. Is this abnormal? What they don’t understand is that this wasn’t just about one single competition. Yes, there will be more competitions in my near future but this was about a lifestyle. This was about a choice to get healthy and get the body that I’ve always desired. The competition was just a means to an end.
I know most my RF readers will never be getting onstage in the most expensive blinged out bikini of their lives, but you are all going to go through the same mental struggles and adversity that I have faced on your own fitness journeys. I’m just an everyday Results Fitness gym rat like the rest of you. If I can reach my goals, then I know that all of you can as well! I hope that this article helped everyone reading to realize that the struggle is real and that my advice proves useful. Again, please feel free to contact me with any of your own questions, concerns or just to commiserate with me about your own journeys. Josh, Matt, me and the rest of your Results Fitness family are here for you!
Want to put Kelly’s 8 techniques into practice but need some support and accountability to follow through? Our 8-week RISE UP program is just what you need! It runs from January 6th through March 3rd and includes everything you need to get your fitness and nutrition game on point. Learn more and register HERE.