The bodybuilding and body shaping experience is a meticulous and sometimes difficult one. Often this process is experienced alone. It is an inevitable and unavoidable by-product of the process itself. With the majority of Americans failing to achieve the minimum amount of daily exercise is the reason for this isolation. This isolation leaves us in a state of confusion as we attempt to absorb the plethora of information related to exercise, nutrition and training.
This can be overwhelming to say the least. Furthermore, many times the information uncovered is written to the general public and does not address our individual goals or needs. Failing to succeed is usually due to the incorrect application of the information acquired. With sacrifice, commitment, dedication and, most of all, eagerness to LEARN, you will realize success that you have not yet realized.
As you realize those successes, you will build a foundation of knowledge that will last a lifetime. Even more, you will learn more about "yourself" than you possibly could have in any other form or fashion. I implore you to open your mind, ask questions, listen to your body, research and STAY POSITIVE.
2. Self Expectations
First of all, I want to make certain that you understand I take the sport of bodybuilding seriously and have committed myself to a lifestyle that allows me to be competitive. I continually define achievable and realistic goals that I work to achieve. With that and as an expression of your commitment, you should have a well-defined and achievable goal or goals. In bodybuilding, you must constantly strive to improve yourself.
You must have the mental and physical strength to continually improve your weaknesses and set new and higher goals for yourself. You are only limited by what you limit for yourself. Life is a constant learning process and you can decide along the way how and what you want to learn. Although, what is life without learning about ones own self?
Over the past 2 1/2 years, I have competed in 13 amateur bodybuilding contests before earning my World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF) pro status. I only mention this fact so that you realize that I am a natural bodybuilder and I understand what you are and will feel in your pursuit.
I further understand the importance of having a reliable source to ask advice of and pose questions to. To ask advice or questions of those more knowledgeable in the sport, you should maintain a diary of your daily regimen. Make sure you log your feelings (i.e. Day 1 - Drank protein shake before training at 5 a.m; felt sluggish and was unable to maintain intensity.).
Continue to be TRUE TO YOURSELF. I strongly believe that being true to ones self is a necessary and important requirement. This means, your honest divulgence of necessary information is paramount. Necessary information such as, you cheated on your diet for a full day yet was back in control the next.
Whether you are the receiver of this information or someone assisting you with your diet, it is impossible to define useful dietary manipulations or develop a sound strategy without honesty and accuracy (Even if to yourself!). You must be TRUE TO YOURSELF!
Preparation! This should be straight forward and obvious. You must constantly prepare yourself. Always anticipate any deviations from your normal daily schedule. Always have available at least 2-3 portable meals (i.e. protein powder in a 2-3 baggies with bottled water and a shaker in you desk at work, in your car, or in your gym bag).
This will afford you the ability to maintain your strict diet in the event you are required to work later than normal. Keep a portable food cooler with ice packs, in which to carry your meals (up to 3-4). This will ease the difficulty with your meal preparation. Last, make time each Sunday to prepare an entire week worth of meals. I personally will prep 10 Chicken Breasts, 4-5 pounds Eye of Round Beef, and 4 pounds of Fish on Sunday.
Once cooked, I weigh 6-8 ounce portions and place into Tupperware containers. If anything remains, I place in larger Tupperware containers and will use it over the next weekend.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of maintaining a positive attitude during any program. You will have moments of self doubt and negative thoughts will thrive. You must learn to suppress this self doubt and negativity to succeed. You will encounter detractors who attempt to derail your confidence. They are everywhere. At these times, you must look to those who support you and believe in you.
That may even mean looking to your own self for positive reassurance. As you approach the final stages of your program, you will leverage the strength you have gained while maintaining your positive attitude. You will surely need this strength. Start each day by saying the following upon waking and after your morning prayer, "Today I will be my best and accept no less." Repeat it 3 times before officially beginning your day. This may sound a bit odd. However, we fail to recognize the power of positive re-enforcement. It WORKS.
I could write for days on this topic. Consistency will be the factor that will determine success or failure in any human endeavor. Your program is no different. You must remain consistent with your nutrition, training, rest and preparation if you hope to achieve your goal. It is so easy to grab a hamburger at McDonalds on the way home or skip the gym today and sleep in a little later.
In the end you will find that these inconsistencies, although small in the larger scheme of life, impacted you in ways you did not expect. I strongly feel that my view of consistency has worked well for me. I ask one simple question that enables me to remain consistent. I ask myself, "Are the competitors that I will encounter that day doing what I'm doing every day?" The answer is usually a resounding, "No!" Consistency is the most difficult factor in any program or life pursuit.
There are just too many easy ways out. As you drive home today, count the number of fast food restaurants that you see. This is a perfect example of consistency killers that are looking for their next prey. Consistency has an important role in your nutrition. As discussed previously, consistent preparation of your meals will allow you to maintain your diet.
You should never allow yourself to look back and say, "I wish I had." You will surely regret it. How many times have you hesitated to pursue a goal you defined for yourself? You spent so much time debating whether it was worth the effort that you waited until it was too late to begin to do what was necessary to realize your goal. It will haunt you for the rest of your life. There is a time when you must follow-thru to completion and make "it" happen.
Whatever "it" might be, you must see to it that you have given your all to achieve "it." You will be glad you did and the reward you will receive, even if not reaching the goal itself, will be the self confidence and self satisfaction you feel inside. You will feel confidence from the simple fact that you gave your all and know that, if needed, you can do it again. You will also feel a profound level of self satisfaction knowing that you fully completed what you set forth to accomplish. You may not realize how many things you just never complete until you finally complete something. This sense of self satisfaction is magnified when that "something" holds some significance in your life.
To sum it all up, it's not an easy road to travel by any means. Even when you have traveled the road and it becomes familiar, there are still many instances when you notice, curves, pot-holes, ridges and road-blocks that you never noticed before. I can only say from experience that, if you ever hope to succeed, you must expect to do and be your best at all times, keep a positive attitude, maintain consistency, and follow-thru to the end. I guarantee that, no matter what the end result maybe, you will feel the best you have ever felt.
"You cannot tell your heart what it wants. Your heart will tell you."
- Barbara Sher