Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The "Glory" that Is Not

Why do people glorify the neurosis that is the physique competitor mindset in so many cases, ad nauseam, but so often turn inward and clam up when they figure out what they've been doing to themselves is harmful, unhealthy, and possibly irreversable. Is it shame? Embarrassment? What? Why not speak out against this insanity and help people?

To me, it's more shameful to glorify the martyrdom and suffering (and, let's face it, sheer recklessness and irresponsibility) of absolute calories deprivation, mindless hours of cardio, foggy thinking and mental/emotional impairment, exhaustion, social withdrawal, alienation of loved ones, drug abuse, all on top of a blossoming eating disorder and unhealthy obsession with food. Yet that's what so often gets glorified in the name of support and sisterhood. And even when things aren't as extreme as all that, but the marks of the screwed up relationship to food are there post-competition, people still line up to say, "It's okay. I'm okay! You're okay! As long as we're damaging our wellbeing together, we're okay. It will all be fine when you start your next contest prep."

You know, I love competing. It's been an empowering, fun, challenging, rewarding experience for me. Probably for me what mountain climbing or triathlons are for other people. By choosing the experience from a place of curiousity with an attitude of "why not?" I've grown; mentally, emotionally, and physically. The experience has given back and made me stronger.

In the past when women would come up to me to ask about competing, I know my enthusiasm and excitement would come across to them. But now? Gawd. I have a really tough time recommending this pursuit to anyone who approaches me in person because I'm too fearful for them, especially since these are people that I maybe know casually at best. Usually all I say is don't even attempt to do this without a Coach who knows what the hell he/she is doing. Otherwise, it's too dangerous. Yes, I use the word dangerous. People don't seem to want to talk much after that!

The unhealthy mindset I see all over the place among competitors isn't, unfortunately, the exception. Rather, it seems to be the rule. It's the subculture, and people embrace it and validate themselves through membership within it. Those who exhibit a healthy approach to the lifestyle (NOT the subculture) are the exception.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


  • grandstandingpresent participle of grand·stand

    Verb: Seek to attract applause or favorable attention from spectators or the media.

  • It's true, there's nothing inherently wrong with grandstanding. But what if the only reason you reach out to help someone (a charity, someone who is ill, etc.) is to attract attention to your business and drum up more? True, I know this is "how it's done," in our society, but what happened to giving for its own sake, with no thunder and no applause?

    Whenever I see the words "anonymous donor," I send as much positive, grateful energy and love to that person or persons as I can. I know it is difficult to give completely altruistically, but at least if that is from where your energy and desire to give comes, the spirit behind your actions has integrity. Otherwise, your act of charity seems self-serving and not really about the person or persons in need at all. Especially when you announce that act of charity before the fact so that you can get all sorts of attention for your good deed before you've even done anything!

    But I guess that is the way of things when you live in a dog-eat-dog society built on capitalism. We capitalize, seizing every opportunity to benefit ourselves, even opportunities to be altruistic. Oh the hypocrisy! Everything is about the almighty dollar. Everything is a marketing opportunity. Everything... even giving.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Sacrifice and Work Ethic

    There's no denying the work ethic of those dieting/training to the point that they're "able" to compete; however, there's a huge difference between the character of those who "suffer" and those who "sacrifice."

    Among those in the physique world are those who don't seem to enjoy anything. Not dieting. Not training. All you hear is the endless complaining of how tired, hungry, bitchy, anti-social, blah blah they've become. They're imprisoned by what the pursuit is doing TO them. And you'll also witness the sour grapes of those who don't place well when they feel that because they "worked their asses off" the hardest and suffered the most, they should be getting the trophy.

    The mindset my Coach has dealt with among physique competitors (and yo-yo dieters, anorexics, bigorexics I'm assuming) is bizarre, and I'm guessing it's not as common among the general population or even among other athletes as it is in the bodybuilding/fitness world.

    The self-discipline you see among those who rise above matyr status is something I used to refer to as "having one foot in Heaven." I know that's a bit too religious for some, but this was an observation I made in childhood, and I didn't know any other way to describe what I could sense in these people. They just seemed above the pettiness and struggles in which so many of us spend our lives.

    I don't need to examine my work ethic. I need to examine my character. I am always watching, and I've too long been cheating myself, half-assing the self-discipline I've sought for so long.

    There's more to the equation than work. There's the whole notion of sacrifice. Sacrifice, willingly and joyfully made--not choosing to suffer--is where I need to change my attitude. For me it goes back to the infantile ego. Children need rules, boundaries, limitations to keep their infantile egos in check. Many adults never get beyond needing these external limitations.

    The sacrifice needs to be made for its own sake. Nothing more, nothing less. Why? Not to impress some panel of judges or win a trophy or get a contract, but because it is right and true to master the infantile ego and allow your true Self to transcend.

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    The Perils of Figure Competition

    Somtimes it's good to take stock of where we're going and where we've been. As I approach another contest season, I'm ready to avoid fixing what ain't broke and improve, improve, improve. Not only physically, but most importantly mentally and spiritually.

    Thank God I have a Coach who understands this game so well. Here's a quote from a forum thread I've been reviewing (these words are mine):

    You've got to KNOW, before you even weigh in or step on stage, that you are bringing your best, satisfied with the integrity of your journey THUS FAR.
    A show is not the END, it's just another stepping stone on the path.

    It's crucial if you want to grow from the experience to accept the judges' decisions for what they are, an external assessment of who has "the look" at a very precise moment in time. Judges decisions have NOTHING to do with who worked the hardest, who suffered the most, who is the most "together" on game day. It's just feedback and subjective opinion. Sometimes it's favorable to you, sometimes it's favorable to someone else. Put too much stock into it, and you risk horrible post-contest blues and depression, even if you win the damn trophy!

    Sure it's easier said than done. But life is so much better when it's about the journey, that everyday pounding of pavement like Paula says, rather than about some fleeting moment of victory on stage. Then there are no failures, only experiences.

    I've already won or lost the day before the show. I know what I've done to get there, and the rest is icing. I haven't been first place at every show I've competed at, but I've never lost.

    Read the complete thread here:

    I've been accused of making fun of the female subject of the above thread by some severely fearful competitors suffering from their own form of figurematyritis, as well as varying degrees of metabolic damage.

    Well, if you're a competitor (and you don't have to be a figure gal), read the thread and judge for yourself.

    And please accept my blessings for a safe, fun, and empowering competitive season!!