by Matt Weik
Let’s be honest, you have no desire to ever be on stage. That’s fine, it’s your choice. So why are you going through life as if you’re training to be the next Mr. Olympia? You pull yourself away from social gatherings with friends to go hit the gym. You find yourself eating chicken breast or tilapia while everyone around you is having a slice of pizza or ice cream. Why? Live your life!
If you do the things mentioned above and love your life, then you can stop reading this article and move onto something else. But if the above is you and you do it because you feel it’s something you HAVE to do rather than WANT to do, then read on. The life of a competitor isn’t as glorious as the body they walk around with. The slabs of muscle and abs that seem to show 365 days out of the year for most are pipe dreams. While having them is great, it’s not the end all be all. That’s their life and for most of them, their livelihood. Again, not having those things are ok. If you’re not in the fitness industry as a competitor, model, etc. then you really have no need to train and diet like them year round. There’s a difference between living a healthy lifestyle and making smart choices with your nutrition and then going to the complete other side of the spectrum which would be the competing lifestyle. You can still have an extremely impressive physique while “living a little”.
The diet, workouts, sleep schedules, and dedication to get on stage is pretty extreme. Many find they have mood swings, are constantly exhausted, and for the most part aren’t happy with their life. Some even resort to using prescription drugs for depression. It’s not an easy lifestyle by any means. If you have a full-time job outside of competing, a family, hobbies, and/or a social life then the competition world is going to be very taxing. If you’re trying to fit in 5-7 meals a day (if you’re following such a meal plan for example) I wish you the best of luck. There are many companies and businesses out there who won’t allow you to take so many breaks during the day in order to eat. Not only because they really don’t understand what you’re doing but they don’t want to lose productivity—it’s a business and they are paying your to do your job so they can make money, not for you to sit and eat tuna fish in your office constantly. A bodybuilder lifestyle breaks many competitors—it’s simply not a normal life. Mentally, you will break down. If competing isn’t paying your bills then why would you put yourself through that? Tupperware meals at family gatherings because you “don’t want to get off diet” or pulling yourself away from your family to go to the gym after work so you can “get those gains bro”? Why?
Let’s talk about the financial side of competing. Without going into detail there are many competitors out there who have decided they can’t enhance their physique any further without the use of drugs. I’m staying neutral on this topic as I can see both sides of the pros and cons. For those who decide using some enhancements is for them, more power to them, that’s their decision and I respect that. In terms organizations to compete in, there are “natural” and then there are “untested”. Generally, if you go to a tested/natural show you will find competitors with amazing physiques, but they don’t hold a candle to the physiques that you see at places like the Arnold Classic or the Olympia. Either direction that you decide to take your competitive career, you still have the above lifestyle that encompasses your whole life. With the cost of supplements or drugs, food, deep tissue massage, etc. the bills stack up (especially if you have no other source of income). For most, it’s tough to stay in the competition circuit and compete regularly and make a career out of it due to the high costs in attaining such a physique and continue making progress. Competition is fierce and always evolving and morphing into something bigger and better. If you can’t keep up with the other competitors, you fade away on stage and you’ll find your placings falling back in the lineup as a result.
Now don’t take some of the above as me saying don’t follow your dreams to be a bodybuilder, eat pizza and ice cream every day and become a fat slob. If you want to be a competitive bodybuilder, then don’t let anyone stop you. What I’m trying to do is encourage you to continue to make wise nutrition choices and eat a healthy well-balanced diet as well as adhering to an exercise program no matter what you want in life. Health and fitness isn’t something you can simply go out and buy at the store in a bottle. Don’t make the lifestyle encompass your entire life. Don’t let it control your every decision. Enjoy yourself. As they say, “everything in moderation”. If you want to go have a scotch and a cigar with your boys every once in a while, then do it. In fact, you’ll benefit from doing so. You’ll recharge your batteries by getting out and enjoying life. It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s outside of the norm and gets you out of the daily grind of your normal day to day life. Or if your family wants to go out for pizza and a movie on a Friday night but you were supposed to have legs that night after work then just skip leg day that week or make it up over the weekend if you had an off day on Saturday or Sunday. You’ll be happier in the long run by having a life while still focusing on your health.
In closing, whether you compete for a living or you’re a fitness enthusiast who loves getting in shape and living a healthier lifestyle, it’s all about choices. You and only you can make those decisions on how you want to live your life. In the end you only get one life to live, so make the best of it while you’re here.