Are you in a building phase? Feeling fluffy? Losing some of your muscle definition? Are your abs a distant memory? Maybe you’re even sporting a “muffin top” on the rare occasion that you actually wear jeans instead of leggings?
Welcome to the club. Think you’re the only one? You’re not.
I wanted to write a really honest post about how it truly feels to go through a building phase. Since I just did one for 16 months, I thought I would share my experience, my body image struggles and my thought process that got me through it.
Was it a struggle at times? Sure. But in the words of Frank Lloyd Wright, “You have to go whole heartedly into anything…in order to achieve anything worth having”.
You cannot expect to stay ripped up lean AND build muscle at the same time.
Since I started competing in 2011, I have done a few building phases, but never before did I commit to an extended period of time to grow – nothing that yielded results that I was totally happy with and were measurable anyway. In my early years as a competitor, before I knew better, as soon as I hit that moment when I was uncomfortable in my clothes, I felt anxious and wanted to get lean again so I immediately started dieting. Obviously not a good plan…I never looked much different honestly – the building periods were too short.
Now, I’m not saying that you need to spend 16 months in a build like I did – or maybe you do – if depends on how much muscle you want to build. I wanted to build a lot. Either way, it’s your choice and that’s fine – BUT, don’t short change yourself just because you feel a little self conscious and you’re gaining some weights. Trust me, when you lean back down and see that you pretty much weight the same and look the same, you will regret not spending more time growing.
I will not ever deny that watching the changes in your body (gaining weight) is just tough sometimes – male or female, it is tough. I don’t care who you are, at times, the extra weight and change in your body (especially if you’re coming out of a show where you were really lean) is difficult to watch. There have been countless nights when I went to dinner with friends and half my closet ended up being thrown across the room, I’ve had multiple fits in dressing rooms and maybe even shed a few tears. You may feel fat (even though you’re not if you’re building correctly), unattractive, too big to get dressed up and way too squishy for a bikini on vacation.
IF that is all you’re focused on – soooo, redirect your thoughts and change your mindset.
Here’s how I cope and get through those days when I just feel yucky: I focus on the amazing process that my body is going through…I am building something! I think about the strength that I’m gaining, and the empowerment that comes along with it – it is such a proud feeling for me. I focus on how confident I look and feel when I can lift more weight than the guy next to me at the gym (very, very happy lol), I remember how it feels when someone watches me lift and then applauds my strength, and when I can bring all 20 bags of my groceries in the house, on one arm, in one trip :)
But mostly, I focus on my end goal and what the result will be. While that sometimes that takes daily reminders, I never lose faith in my coach, Erik, and his plan for me – and I know that I am building the right way, for the right amount of time for my body and goals, and THAT gives me motivation to hang in there as long as I need to.
Remember, if you want to achieve what most people don’t, you have to do what most people won’t.