Sunday, 10 July 2016

Trying to rebuild a healthy relationship with food

Firstly, apologies for my lack of activity on my blog lately. What with my American holiday and moving house amongst the usual daily grind, there hasn’t been much time for blogging. I have however started up my video blog too which I filmed my first post for a few weeks ago (the link is in the Contact Me section of my blog) so I’ll switch between that and this when I post updates.
Anyway, onto today’s post…
Guilt. Anxiety. Regret. Paranoia.
Four of the words that spring into my mind when I think about my relationship with food post-comp. Today is 7 weeks since I took part in my first bodybuilding competition and it’s only really around now that I’m beginning to get a bit of a healthy relationship back with my diet. This part of bodybuilding life I underestimated and it’s given me more of an awareness and appreciation of how others can struggle to have that healthy relationship with food; something I’ve never really had before if I’m honest having always had a good approach to my diet.
To try and put it into context for anyone reading; this week my routine has been a bit thrown out. I had a 2 day business trip to Manchester and I’ve moved house so with that comes unprepared meals, snacks and eating on the go. Normally this wouldn’t have been a problem for me as a one-off but I found myself feeling guilty for having a couple of biscuits on a morning coffee break at the conference. And yesterday worrying because I had a tuna salad baguette for lunch – I mean come on; a TUNA, SALAD, BAGUETTE. Why did this make me feel uneasy? Bread. I rarely have any bread these days and so even though it’s not the worst thing in the world all I could think about was the carbs and them not being that great for my body in this form.
Now this isn’t the approach I want to have to my diet. I train hard every week at least 6 times and generally my diet is good. I’m also not prepping for any competition right now and I’m trying to build muscle so my diet can be relaxed. And yet I’m still not totally comfortable with having the occasional treat. It’s something I’m working hard to overcome and I’m sure there will be plenty of people reading this who are on a completely different fitness journey to me but can relate to these feelings.
Perhaps as someone who has suffered from anorexia or someone who has been overweight before; when you transform your diet (and your body) it’s not as easy as just adapting to a ‘balanced diet’ when you finally hit the goals you want to.
Since my competition it’s been a battle of its own and one I never really anticipated. I found it hard to properly reverse diet; and to be honest I didn’t do it as well as what I planned to and I put on a little extra weight than I was happy with during the first 4 weeks. Especially with a trip to America thrown into the mix I started to become unhappy with where my body was at. After gaining weight last year travelling it’s become a genuine fear of mine to go back to that and it’s been difficult post-comp to watch my body become less lean and to feel ‘fat’ when I know I’m nowhere near fat at the weight I’m at now.
Since America I’ve got myself back on track and taken the 80-20 approach where the majority of the time (80%) my diet is clean but that other 20% I enjoy some treats. With hard training I’ve been able to get to a weight I’m relatively happy with and I’m enjoying having more energy to train, being able to lift heavier and gaining muscle which is my goal during the off-season.
So over the last couple of weeks I’ve tried to re-train my mind when I have a negative thought or feelings of guilt and anxiety and I hope some of these pointers can help people who may be suffering the same. It’s helped me massively to flip each thought and find the positive in it.
Goals, goals, goals
With health & fitness it’s all about channelling your diet and training to your goals. When my goal was to be in shape for a competition I had to get lean. And in order to get lean I had to eat reduced calories and no treats. But that’s not my goal now; my goal is to build muscle and get bigger for next season. And in order to do that I need to have more calories in my body. And for my muscles to grow my body cannot physically stay as lean as it was for comp. So I might not be super lean anymore and my abs might not be popping but my shoulders are getting bigger and my quads and ass are growing – win! And if you’re on a weight loss journey for example, slow progress is the best progress as it’s more sustainable so as long as you’re moving in that direction that’s all that matters.
You have to enjoy yourself!
Competition prep is for a period of time to get in shape for stage. For that period of time I sacrificed so much including any form of a social life. That itself wasn’t sustainable so I now have an approximate 8 month off-season and I want to enjoy my life during that time too. So that means going out for dinner with the girls, enjoying a takeaway on a weekend or if I fancy a mid-week trip to Krispy Kreme, having it. That doesn’t mean that it’s ok to have treats every day as it’s not for how I want to look but I have to have a life too. To me it’s all about balance and I need to be able to eat clean most of the time but enjoy myself too.
More important than either of the above is my health. Dieting for a bodybuilding competition isn’t very healthy for your body. During the last 8 weeks of my prep, my periods stopped as my body wasn’t getting what it needed for every function to continue working as normal. And that’s not good – women’s bodies are designed to carry a bit more fat and that’s what we need in order to keep them in working order. So as long as your body is in a healthy state; not too underweight or overweight then that’s the most important thing.
These are the three things I keep reminding myself. It’s not been easy and it still isn’t and I hope that soon I can get that healthy balance back in my life. It’s one part of bodybuilding that I don’t enjoy; I want to be at a stage where I can indulge and enjoy it because I know I’ve earned it and I know my body needs a bit of rubbish every now and again just as much as it needs all the goodness – even if it’s more for the soul than anything else haha!
I hope anyone who might be struggling with getting that healthy balance can take some pointers from this post and I hope we can all get to a point where we have a happy, positive relationship with food where we nourish our bodies with lots of goodness but also enjoy ourselves.