Flying With The Phoenix - Part 1, Motivation For Contest Prep!

Jaime Filer is 16 weeks out from competition and she is aiming for the stars: her pro card! Discover how Jaime found the motivation to compete and how you can too in part 1 of her contest prep series - Flying With The Phoenix!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Article Summary:
  • The Phoenix Theory is Chris Shugart's brain child and can be applied to transformations.
  • Excuses will only lead you to failure and stagnation, so think about your goals.
  • Motivation can only come from within you, and it will only continue when you want it to.


Flying With The Phoenix - Motivation For Contest Prep


I remember reading an article by Chris Shugart where he described "The Phoenix Theory". I'll try my best to do it justice and paraphrase. Essentially, he says that, like the Phoenix, we must burn and crumble and turn to ash before we subsequently rise again. You have to "be consumed into the fire and reborn." According to Mr. Shugart, the rise of the Phoenix and the Phoenix Theory of body transformation involves four key stages:

  1. A traumatic event leading to a sudden realization and awakening
  2. Anger and a firm decision to change
  3. The physical transformation itself
  4. Continued progress fueled by fear of regression

Stage 1. Trauma And Awakening

To explain the four stages a little further, the first thing that needs to happen is that we need to have something traumatic or painful happen to us in order to cause our mood and outlook to change. In my case, I had a bloody nose. To others, this might not be significant, but different events can mean different things to different people, it's all subjective. I was literally just sitting in a car minding my own business, and was hit like a lightning bolt; I got scared.

We Need To Have Something Traumatic Or Painful Happen To Us In Order To Cause Our Mood And Outlook To Change
+ Click To Enlarge.
We Need To Have Something Traumatic Or Painful Happen To Us
In Order To Cause Our Mood And Outlook To Change.

Stage 2. Will To Change

In the second stage, this traumatic event must either scare us into change, or get us angry enough that we vow to change. We have to jump in with both feet, no half-a$$ed anything. If this event was traumatic enough, then the motivation will be there. Believe me, I was scared, and angry. Angry that I'd let it get to the point where my body was literally falling apart on me because of stress and inability to take care of myself.

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Stage 3. Experience The Transformation

In the third stage, the resulting anger from the event causes us to actually undergo the change. Right after the event happened, I came home, e-mailed my coach and said, "16 weeks out now. No screwing around. This needs to get done. Now." I have the diet plan, the cardio protocol, the training and the supplements to do what I need to do, and now, at 16 weeks out (an appropriate place to start), I am ready to make this happen. The physical transformation is about to begin.

In The Third Stage, The Resuliting Anger From The Event Causes Us To Actually Undergo The Change
+ Click To Enlarge.
In The Third Stage, The Resuliting Anger From The Event
Causes Us To Actually Undergo The Change.

Stage 4. Maintenance

Lastly, in the fourth stage (which will officially start the second I step off-stage (hopefully with a pro-card and/or a trophy), the fear/continued anger will makes us want to maintain the changes we just made to ourselves. We never want to go back to that stage that caused the event to happen in the first place.

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Why am I talking about this? I want this to be motivation for all you aspiring competitors out there, or the people who want to make changes to their physiques but don't know where or how to begin. Here's my personal motivation story.

The Phoenix Theory In Action

On the eve of being 16 weeks out, I had my Phoenix Theory moment. I was coming home from dinner with my boyfriend and his family, and I was feeling sorry for myself. I'd created alibis and excuses which enabled me to not follow my diet 100%, not train as hard or as frequently as I knew I should have been, and this allowed me to justify to myself why I wasn't updating my coach on my progress. None of those things are acceptable.

But I was 16 weeks out now! What was it going to take to get me to make progress?! What did I have to show for it? And then it hit me: a nosebleed. Not an answer, but a not so subtle, straight up, bloody nose...for no reason (well, stress most likely). And that was it. My body and mind were SO sick and tired and stressed and exhausted of trying so hard to give myself what I "needed" that I neglected what I "wanted" - a lean physique, a chance to get onstage an get my Pro-Card, time off of work, and time off during to the day to train myself (not at 5am - which is the only time I had to train).

Have You Ever Had A "Phoenix Theory" Moment?

Yes - and it inspired me to change.

I neglected what made me the happier than anything else in the world: training and getting lean. And the nose was my body's way of telling me to slow down and take care of myself. It was traumatic. Trust me.

So what'd I do? I got angry! I got extremely angry that I'd let 4 weeks of working with my coach go to waste and slip out of my fingers! I made my firm decision to change at 11:30pm on the eve of being 16 weeks out. I'm ready for "The Physical Transformation Itself" part. Believe me, when you have your Phoenix Theory, it's an eye-opening, liberating, and one of the most enlightening things you'll ever experience.

Alright, now that I hopefully have most of you riled up or at least contemplating what it's going to take to get you to change whatever rut you're currently in, and you've decided to undergo the physical tranformation part, we're going to start talking about long term arrangements.

The Long Term

You need to not only think about what you're currently doing (because right now, you're probably hyped up on adrenaline and caffeine and endorphins) because that is just a short term plan. We need to think and plan for what's going to happen after the competition, after the cruise wedding or birthday party, or just after the transformation in general.

The maintenance of the transformation is just as important if not more important than the transformation itself. Because when the dust has settled and the fan-fare surrounding having a 6-pack is gone, all that's left is you.

We somehow have to come up with a strategy to maintain the progress and not regress. This will be more effortless than having to go through a Phoenix moment every couple of months/weeks. But how do you do that?

You're Probably Hyped Up On Adrenaline And Caffeine
+ Click To Enlarge.
You're Probably Hyped Up On Adrenaline And Caffeine.

The best advice I can give you is to find the motivation within. Internally. I realize this is difficult, especially for a competitor, as we tend to fight for specific reasons.

But if you want to maintain superb condition year round, avoid junk food year round and do your cardio year round, you need to do this for YOU and only you. Not your show, not your significant other, not your photo shoot; because those things are fleeting.

You'll always have to find "the next..," motivation. However, when your motivation is the Internet (BodySpace anyone?), you never need something or someone else egging you on. When you succeed, you get to take full credit. So that's the short and sweet answer to how you become motivated, make the change, and then maintain that change.

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