Wednesday, 15 February 2017

A typical day in the life (and mind) of a bodybuilder on prep.

Now I’ve been bodybuilding for a year or so, I often get asked by people what it involves and often they’re pretty surprised at everything that comes with the sport, especially during prep. I watch with amusement their reaction to certain things as I remember the same horror that appeared on my face on a weekly basis (possibly even daily) as I went through my first prep last year and learned just how f**ked up it can be at times.
It’s also interesting to learn how glamorous people imagine the sport to be. How wrong can they be? It’s quite ironic really that in actual fact the glamour of the whole thing probably last 60 minutes, if that, on show day and the rest of the time you’re worn out from training, grumpy from not having pizza or cake for months on end, putting on make-up seems to take all the effort in the world…in fact, putting on anything other than gym attire takes all the effort in the world and hunger strikes so much at the end that you look like some sort of junkie as you sit there desperately sniffing anything containing sugar in an attempt to get your latest fix. Okay, maybe that’s just me then. But regardless, it’s anything but glamorous for most of the time.
Here I’ve documented what a typical day in my life looks like (and the weird and wonderful thoughts that I have along the way – in fact I’m hoping these are pretty tame really considering I’m only 6.5 weeks into prep and it’s actually not been that bad so far).
05:15 – Daily wake-up call.
Wow DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). DOMS everywhere. It’s just a daily pain you learn to live with when training heavy but never-the-less you can guarantee you will always feel pain in muscles you didn’t even know existed, from one week to the next. Okay, quick browse through social media as I slowly wake-up. Fitness inspiration throughout my Instagram feed (yes, feeling very motivated). Food porn then takes over the rest of the Instagram feed (wow, new found hate for life as I drool over the ice-cream filled cookies covered in melted chocolate that I’ll not be getting near for a long time yet). I wonder if I’ve lost weight today? Really desperate for a wee this morning so hopefully plenty of fluid to come out which should help the loss, right? (I did warn the thoughts were weird and wonderful – okay maybe just weird). Get out of bed, nip to the toilet, strip off down to my knickers (don’t want any extra weight from the pyjamas of course) and jump on the scales. Not before having a quick check in the mirror to see if I have abs yet though. So no weight drop today. Clearly the scales must be wrong as I even did CARDIO yesterday. WTF. I never do cardio. I expect half a stone to have immediately dropped off in 24 hours. Okay, so maybe not half a stone, but at least something, come on. Try the scales in a different corner of the bathroom…and again…nope! Time to accept it is what it is for today, I’ve got the rest of the week to go (mentally trying to re-assure myself as I balance a mix of emotions of anxiety and pure anger at this discovery). Anyway, no time to dwell, on with the rest of my day.
Always up before the sun
06:15 – Breakfast
That balance between eating early enough so I can get to work on time and then thinking wow, eating this early means a long day to space out meals through the day. Eat slowly to extend the last mouthful to 06:30 perhaps? Seems fair enough. I enjoy every mouthful of my breakfast as it’s one of my favourite meals of the day and I enjoy that bit of peace and quiet on the morning before the rest of the world (okay my immediate friends and family) wake-up as it gives me time to clear my head for the day and organise myself and my thoughts.
07:15 – Work, Work, Work
Off I go to work, loadened up like I’m moving in for the week (although it pretty much feels like that would be a better option at the moment with the hours I spend there) with my abundance of meals for the day. These have all been prepped and calculated days in advance so I know exactly what I’m having, how much of it and at what times. In off-season it’s a little more relaxed which helps when I’m in and out of meetings as I can feed up before if I know I’ve got an afternoon of meetings. On prep it doesn’t quite work like that so if a meeting gets planned, I will be bringing food. I’m not sure how great this looked yesterday when I turned up for a meeting with my Executive Director and Deputy Director armed with my peanut butter and rice cakes (word of advice do not try and rush a bite of this down as peanut butter is not the easiest thing in the world to rush down when it’s sticking to the roof of your mouth as you try and explain complaints handling). They actually didn’t bat an eyelid at me bringing in my supplies; standard acceptance of it these days, they know when the girl needs to eat, the girl needs to eat.
Now I can’t say there’s so much a standard acceptance of my ‘tank’ of water I carry around with me EVERYWHERE. Without fail my 2 litre bottle comes to every meeting with me and it’s got to a point where I feel like labelling it up with a sticker that says ‘Yes it is a big bottle, I will go through approximately 2 of these per day, yes it is actually healthy for me to drink such a large quantity but thanks for your concern and yes I am at the toilet all the time’.
Standard meeting set up: the 'tank' comes everywhere!
Okay so it’s 09:00 I’ve not been at work 2 hours yet and I’m hungry already. Three hours until it’s lunchtime. I’m never going to last that long. Two snacks for the day as well as lunch. Is it too early to have one of them? No, it’s almost 3 hours since breakfast. But then that’s another 120 calories gone and then I’ll have to wait another 3 hours until lunchtime. The struggle is real. For any fellow bodybuilders out there, you will understand the importance of timing your meals throughout the day. It’s a rookie mistake if you get it wrong and you’ll no doubt end up painfully hangry by the end of the day – a state I’m conscious not to get into when I’m at work as that is one dangerous state to be in and I don’t fancy picking up my P45 anytime soon.
The work canteen is a place to avoid on prep. It’s bad enough on normal days but then they decide to have the themed days as well, you know just to rub it in a little. Indian day, wow what I would do for a full-fat curry and naan bread. Or Italian day (crying a little over the thought of pizza right now) and it goes on. Not to mention the stacks of Haribo on offer and even the mini Nutella in the fridge (yes I probably can name every item of food in that canteen). Sometimes it’s not enough avoiding the canteen however as people often bring food back-up to the office. I’m not sure I’m always mentally prepared for this; in fact I’m definitely not given I completely paused mid-conversation on the telephone yesterday for a good 10 seconds as I got distracted by someone walking past with a bag of Hula-Hoops. Damn you!
17:00 – Home Time!
Well it’s not home time really is it? Because now it’s time to go train. Generally I finish work between 16:30 and 18:00 depending on my diary for the day and how busy I am. As prep progresses, I have to be strict with myself in terms of what time I finish work as towards the end when I’m running on empty, working 9-10 hour days and then having to go train just does not work. I learnt that the hard way last year so it’s something I’ll be mindful of this year. I love training though. This is the easiest and often most enjoyable part of my day. When I say easy I don’t actually mean easy as hip thrusting 90kg after squats and lunges is never easy, but mentally it’s the easy bit for me. Being in an office all day I love to get up and move my body and let off some steam. I spend around an hour in the gym each night and I train 6 days per week. Weights done, should I do some abs? There’s no need really, remember abs are made in the kitchen. No, Rebecca, do some abs, you’ve got to tighten that core. Guilt-tripped by myself I finish off with 10 minutes of abs. I then have the same mental battle about posing. I don’t do it every night at the moment, but I’m trying to spend at least 30 minutes, 3 times a week working to improve it. Again, not as glamorous as people might think as often it involves me stood in my front room at home, with my Primark bikini on, looking pale AF, half my make-up sweated off and with these big stripper shoes on trying to pull-off the perfect front-double-bicep. Not quite the same look as when you’re on stage all bronzed, looking ridiculously lean, immaculate make-up, with nice jewellery on and your hair all done.
Not quite so glamorous as they look here when they're teamed up with an unmatching Primark bikini for posing practice.
19:00 – Dinner, bath & bed
Time to eat and savour the last meal of the day. I don’t want to eat too late as maybe I’ll end up heavier in the morning. I’ll eat now as soon as I get in and then maybe a hot bath will help dehydrate me a bit (seriously, the things that go through my mind!). Comfies on and I like to be in bed by 21:00. Often I collapse into bed at this time, catch up on some of my favourite YouTube videos, catch up on social media and then doze off not long after. I’m very strict with myself about getting to bed at a reasonable time. Rest and recovery is a huge part of bodybuilding and often a part that gets forgotten about. As I get up around 5am I like to make sure I get at least 7 hours sleep every night so that means early bed times, often. Through the week I don’t really have much of a social life. My life revolves around working, training and resting through the week which is perfectly fine with me as I need to do that in order to keep my life on track. I save all my wild antics for the weekend…and when I say wild I mean more sleep, more training, the occasional coffee and even sometimes venturing out into the realms of the general public (although I avoid this where possible haha). In all seriousness, bodybuilding prep does dictate most of your life and I’m okay with that for now. It isn’t what I’ll always want and I’ve made more effort this year to still go out and do things and socialise even if I can’t eat or drink what I would normally. So far I’m almost 7 weeks into prep and it’s been SO much easier than last year. I don’t know whether I’m just more prepared mentally or whether my body has just adjusted better, but either way I feel in a much happier place with it.
So anyway, that’s me for another post (it’s fast-approaching 21:00 which means it’s almost my bed time) but hopefully this gives people a bit of an insight into the daily life of a bodybuilder on prep. It’s not glamorous, it’s not exciting but do you know what, I wouldn’t have it any other way right now.
Thanks for reading. Goodnight.