As the upcoming season approaches, I’m starting to think in ‘competitors-mode’ again. Suddenly the local paper and its plethora of grocery store flyers are that much more exciting. “Who’s got the best deal on chicken this week? Gotta go to Costco and buy 50 cans of tuna and 10 cases of water...ooh, Fortinos has red peppers on sale!” Oddly enough, a fully stocked kitchen of sweet potatoes, brown rice, tuna, chicken, veggies, oatmeal, etc., is motivation for me to get my butt into gear for the next show because I thoroughly enjoy my competition diet. But, if chicken and sweet potatoes doesn’t float your boat, I thought I’d come up with a few more suggestions to help and keep you motivated to train for a show. Whether you’re new to the game, or you’re a seasoned competitor, we can all use a little inspiration every now and then.
Change it up! Shocking your body with new training routines will not only benefit your physique, but your mind too. Change your resistance training every 4-6 weeks, or whatever works for you.
Let cardio be your friend! I know, I know... what kind of friend wakes you up at those ungodly hours from your comfy bed only to make you expend a bunch of energy—without even making you breakfast? Cardio! I have this love-hate relationship with it. I love the feeling I get after a good run, but I hate getting up so early to do it. Not to mention those lovely carb-depleted days, working on your second bit of cardio for the day...I know how brutal it can be! But, try to keep in your mind how lean you’ll be and how (in combination with every other aspect) it’ll pay off in the end. Just like you do with resistance training, change up your cardio too. Find things that are interesting to you like boxing, martial arts, biking, or anything that can make things more interesting. You’ll look great and feel amazing at the same time.
Hire a personal trainer. If its financially feasible, and most trainers are affordable (ok, its usually not the price of a cup of coffee a day, but if you think about it, with the amount of money you’ll be saving on events and dinners that you would have gone to had you not had to be the little anti-social fitness enthusiast that you are—doesn’t it seem like everywhere you go its cheese and fried stuff?!) you’ll probably have some extra cash to get a trainer who is SO worth it. A good personal trainer can motivate and inspire you. They help take your body to levels even you didn’t know you could reach. Make sure you know the trainer is knowledgeable and educated, and it’s also a plus if they’ve had experience in competition training. Another plus with having a trainer is if they are knowledgeable with nutrition, they can advise you on a training diet. The great thing about personal trainers is they work with you even when they’re not around because you always feel accountable when you have someone monitoring your weekly progress. They’re like moms—they know everything, like when you’re cheating on you diet. Which leads me to my next point.
Don’t cheat on your diet! Of course, depending on your body, you can enjoy a cheat meal once a week when you’re far out from the day of the competition. But, as the day comes closer, stick to your diet! When you’re up on stage and you’re strutting your near-perfected lean, strong body, you’ll only be proud of what you’ve accomplished; you won’t be thinking, ‘if only I’d eaten that big slab of cake...' Although a competition diet can get boring, you can find many ways to spice it up. Literally.
Raid your spice rack! The options are endless. Ever watch the show the “Iron Chef” on the food network? Do you SEE what they come up with? O.k., so I know that we’re not working with the same crazy secret ingredients as Iron Chefs do, but you can come up with your own secret ingredients to give your bland meals the flavor that they need. Try things like lemon, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, Mrs. Dash (no salt added!), hot sauce; even things like fresh cilantro can make a world of a difference to a dish and satisfy your palate...for at least 3 hours.
Love M&M’s. Not those ones, but Mirrors & Music. Check yourself out! It sounds silly, but come on admit it, how many times have you passed by a mirror and lifted up your shirt to check out your abs? Sounds vain, but we all do it! Why? Because it’s motivational! It’s amazing how your body can change from week to week. Mirrors are especially important when you’re training because you can see the muscle work, and of course, make sure your form is bang-on. Its all about motivation my friends, and if it takes the reflection of a pristine body staring back at you with striations left, right and center, and veins you didn’t even know you had to help pump out that last set, then let it be! This, combined with your favorite music playing on your iPod can definitely help you kick it up that extra notch.
Be “the little engine that could”. Remember that story about the little train who repeated positive words to himself to prevail? Well, he had the right idea. Embrace yourself with positivity! It’s nearly impossible to keep your focus when you’re surrounded by negativity. The people around you play a big influence on your mindset. Try to only be around people who support and respect you and what you’re doing. For those who refuse to understand and who bring you down, kick ‘em to the curb! You deserve better than that. Think positive, especially when you’re working out, whether it is with thoughts of what you’ll look like on stage or quotes that can uplift your spirit. I remember a sign that hung on the wall of a boxing gym that said, “Train hard, because someone is training harder—to kick your ass!”. It was certainly a motivation for that last 30 seconds of hitting the bag, which can otherwise seem like an eternity. Even watching a movie can get you pumped. Remember Arnold in Pumping Iron? He said, “Put your mind in the muscle!” I tell myself that a million times when I’m training and it works. The sheer competition in the movie between Arnold and Lou is gripping enough to make me want to have an awesome workout.
There are so many things we can do to keep ourselves motivated and it’s just a matter of finding what works for you and doing it! I hope my suggestions helped and as we all get ready for the upcoming season, I wish you all the best of HARD WORK, because there’s no luck involved. Remember, only you have the power to take your body to the next level. Stay happy and healthy & I’ll see you on stage!