Less Cardio, Better body: More Lessons from My Life as a Fitness Competitor

FOUR MORE DAYS until I prance across the stage at the Fitness New England show on Saturday. I'm excited to get there, but I'm also looking forward to it being over.  Competition prep can be very difficult, but it gets easier. This is my 4th year competing (6th show) and I'm way more calm, prepared and sane than in first or second year. So, last week I shared four important lessons from my life as a fitness competitor that you can use in your own fitness journey . As I get closer to show time, there are three more lessons that I think will help you out:

Lesson #5 There is NO one-size-fits-all approach. We're all different, so it just makes sense that the way we eat, exercise, and take care of ourselves might differ too, right? This is WHY traditional cookie-cutter diets, meal plans, and exercise routines have failed to give you the lasting results you've been looking for. I'm grateful I have a coach who adjusts my nutrition and workout plan according to MY body, life, and preferences.

As you can imagine, this drastically cuts down on the misery that comes with regular ol' dieting and hours of cardio on the elliptical. One of MY biggest discoveries: the less cardio I do, the better my body looks and the better I feel. You know how much I hate cardio, so this works out well for me.

What this means for you: Explore and discover what works for YOU! If you're like I was, you've been skipping this very important step because it takes so freakin' long and you want to see results NOW. Yeah, I get it, but signing up for the latest one-size-fits-all weight loss plan may get you results NOW, but disappointment LATER when you can't maintain it. Bottom line: take the time to connect with what your body, mind, and spirit needs so that you're always at your best.

Lesson #6: Comparing yourself to others is TOXIC. Fitness competitions invite direct comparisons with others...plain and simple. You stand on stage in a line-up of beautiful, buff bodies in front of a panel of judges who know nothing about you as a person...all they know is how your body looks in a sparkly, no-swim swimsuit and stripper heels. It's SO tempting to look at the woman next to you and compare her abs/legs/shoulders to yours, and then get depressed when you decide she looks better than you do. Take it from me: DON'T DO IT TO YOURSELF.

I've been guilty of this more than a few times...I've wanted my legs to look like Shannon's, my back to look like Stephanie's, and I would've DIED to have abs like Michelle. All the time I was plotting on someone else's body, I was ignoring the beauty of my own. After all the work I put in, I still wasn't satisfied. I probably don't have to tell you what a horrible feeling THAT is, do I?

What this means for you: They say that comparison is the thief of joy, but it's also POISON to your mind, body, and spirit. Gratitude and appreciation for what your body can do and what you've accomplished in your own journey trump comparison any day. Focus on your personal path...who cares what everyone else is doing??

Lesson #7: Transforming your body takes time and requires a mindset shift. This might be the hardest lesson to fully grasp and practice in real life. In our world of "eat this, don't eat that, and lose 20 pounds in 10 days", it can be a challenge to reprogram yourself to THINK differently.

Even though I teach people how to shift their mindset, I'm still evolving. I used to think that all I had to do to transform my body was eat a few more servings of veggies, cut carbs, and do 30 minutes of cardio 4 times a week. Oh, and by the way, I expected this transformation to happen overnight. So, when that didn't happen, I said "screw it" and went on a cookie binge, which proved to be ineffective as well.

Once I became aware of the quick-fix, I-want-it-now mindset that kept me in a weight loss purgatory, I was able to change my thinking...gradually, with help and lots of practice.

This picture illustrates how long it took me to get to a certain point with my body (2 years!)...I didn't expect it to take that long, but I'm happy that I hung in there. DISCLAIMER: The pictures from 2012 and 2013 are right before a competition and are NOT consistent with real life.


What this means for you:   Take the time to become aware of the type of thinking that is holding you back. Be patient, loving, and compassionate with yourself through the process. Trying to force a quick fix, then beating yourself up when it doesn't happen has never worked in the past...and it will keep NOT WORKING in the future.

I hope you enjoyed this post and that you found a nugget or two that you can use in your own life. If so, SHARE it with someone else who needs to hear it.

Until next week!

Melissa signature