I have been an athlete for most of my life. Since about the 8th grade I have been involved with "sports" on way or another. It has become a part of my life in almost everyway. However, bodybuilding is a completely different animal. This is the one sport that never made it into mainstream media and probably never will. Simply put, bodybuilding is a sub-culture. That alone makes being a bodybuilder all than much harder.
How many of you get strange looks when you tell people that you are a bodybuilder? You know exactly what they are thinking, "STEROIDS." It doesn't matter if you are 150 pounds or 250 pounds. It is an automatic reaction. The comes all of the typical questions like, "How many hours a day do you work out?" "You're on one of those "Protein Diets" aren't you?" and let's not forget the greatest of them all, "how do I get abs like yours?"
To make matters worse, being a bodybuilder isn't good enough. We have to be the best, the biggest and the most dedicated. We have to be perfect in everyway or we will never amount any level of success.
Pursuit Of Perfection
After about a year the strange looks, questions and constant pursuit of perfection, I came to realize that I was running up an icy hill. These two things clash with a vengeance. I knew I was supposed to eat every 2-3 hours, but how what about work, school, and those places where it just isn't the mannerly thing to do.
I also knew that if I truly wanted to be the best I could, I would have to develop a comprehensive supplement program to go with my diet. And again, it clashed with the "normal" people I had to be around all day. I hated the strange looks I got when I would have a protein shake, or swallow some pills. In a class of mine there were two girls that would always giggle when I would have a MRP in the middle of class. Like I was some kind of wacko or something.
And what made things even harder is the fact that it is now a custom in America to eat junk food all day. Being in college doesn't make this any easier. Pizza, burgers, subs, you name it, and we've got it. It's funny, but if I were to walk into class with a piping hot pizza, I'd have people I've never even met wanting to be my friend just so they could get a piece. On the other hand, when I would break out a chicken salad and protein shake for lunch, every one just stared. "What is that stuff?" they would ask me.
Almost as if they had never seen what food looks like when it isn't dipped, battered and fried. Then let's not forget how much water we have to drink to ensure our bodies function properly. Everyone is drinking bottled water now. BUT I don't have just a bottle, no. I walk around with a full gallon of water wherever I go. It used to be to the point where I was so strict that I would drink water, only water and NOTHING but water.
Live A Little
Recently, I have come to realize that if I want to continue in bodybuilding for a long period of time, I am going to have learn to "live a little" as they say. I needed to get past what others think of me and just do what I need to do. It isn't hard to eat healthy everyday, it isn't hard too eat healthy foods every 2-3 hours. What is hard is to do that in front of people who don't. Having to put up with the weird looks and down right dumb questions.
I have begun to realize that perfection is something that is un-obtainable. This does not mean that I have stopped trying to achieve it, but I now allow myself to enjoy life more. I don't force myself to live in a nutshell jus so I can be around my food and supplements all the time. I started to drink a couple diet sodas just to keep myself from going insane. I started to use Sweet & Low in some of my meals to kill cravings. Basically, I had an epiphany.
If I, or any bodybuilder is going to strive for perfection in a long-term sense, then it is going to have to be in a manner that is livable. This is especially for those who compete. I know that those few months before a show, every other thought that enters your mind is about the upcoming contest. Everything you do, one way or another is geared to put you in a better position for that show. And consequently, we end up living like hermits.
I don't know about you, but that is not the kind of lifestyle I want to go through life with. I used to avoid social gatherings, because I knew that food would be involved and that it would be food that I would consider a step backwards in my bodybuilding efforts. Now I choose to go to the gatherings, but refrain from indulging in the forbidden things that may hinder my progress. When I know I'm going to be away from home for a long time, or go out with friends, I have to make sure that I have everything I need.
Whether it be food, supplements or both. I have to be ready because there isn't anyone out there who is going to do it for me. I am the one and only person responsible for my progress as a bodybuilder. I can't let what anyone else thinks stop me from getting what I want.
I think that you can see what I am saying. Bodybuilders can still have a somewhat "normal" life and reach for perfection at the same time. We don't need to live on the extreme end of the spectrum to get extreme results. It takes time and a lot of work to make it happen but with time, it is all a possibility. Learn to ignore those around you who don't agree with or support you choice to be a bodybuilder. Learn to find a medium between the extremes and for God's sake ease up once in a while. You have to remember, we are in this for the long haul.
We have to learn to Live with Perfection.