Professional bodybuilding, competition and cheatday - how to achieve balance?

Professional bodybuilding, competition and cheatday - how to achieve balance?

22.10.2019 8 minutes


Nowadays it is becoming increasingly popular to live a “fitness lifestyle”. Be fit, look fit and present yourself as fit. But what I miss in so many people is the simple 'I feel fit'. I wasn't different neither. However, it is more than necessary for everyone, whether recreational athletes or active contestants, to realize that sport, whatever it is, should be a pleasure for us. For our joy, not to please others. Feeling fit should be number one priority.

The reason why it doesn't work that way for many fitness people has much to do with the impact of social networks. Likes and followers have become a valuable commodity for which we all naturally chase, and how else to achieve more likes and new followers, if not by presenting beautiful photos, beautiful body, beautiful life? Even more beautiful than in reality.



Paradoxically, it is we, fitness people, who pay the most for this pretense on social networks. In this article, I want to talk about my own experience. I don't want to play the psychologist or that I see in everyone´s head, but I believe many of you will find yourself at least in part of it.

I loved working out with dumbbells since I was 13. Then it was just fun. As a teenager, I trained only breasts, biceps and abdomen. I just wanted to be liked by girls. Gradually, I fell for this sport more and more and it became a hobby that filled my days. I didn't have to go to the gym, but I wanted to. For years, I didn't need a day off from the gym, I just enjoyed it. But then I started to compete at the age of 21, and the hobby turned completely into an obsession. Every competition meant a huge success for me and few miles forward. Over time, however, I began to perceive that it was no longer what it meant for me before. I didn't train more or harder. The difference was that I had to. The hobby has become a job, a commitment. I couldn't tell myself that I won't go to the gym today because I don't want to. The term of competition is approaching, people are expecting great shape, sponsors are expecting great shape, and of course my ego was not going to come to terms with the idea that I would go unprepared for the competition, risking second place. I went to the gym just as often, but for million other reasons than the only one that I really wanted. And that was not right. But I still believed that if I fight, it will come back, it will push me again, it will be fine again. Anyway, the year 2018 came, which was filled with failures, I stopped moving forward, and I lost the "patch" for all the unpleasantness that the preparation brings with it. I became unhappy. It would take quite a long time and a lot of frustration before I admitted that I was really not happy.

Why? It is simple. Fitness life is a carousel of two periods.

Season 1: Getting Ready (I look great, I am in a fantastic shape, I have the attention I love, I post perfect photos of me and my amazing life on Instagram, I'm a role model for many people. But in fact I'm on a diet, I can't eat what I like , I can't have fun, I'm tired - I don't live an amazing life.)



Season 2: Offseason (I enjoy great food again, I can walk among people and enjoy life as much as I like it. Because the long-term dieting has ruined my mental health, I “eat like a pig” after the contest and now I am depressed about how I look like, so I just post old or very neat / dressed photos. Going out in a swimsuit is out of the question. If I totally ducked out of social networks, I still try to present an amazing life, but in reality I can´t even look at myself - I'm not happy with myself - I don't live an amazing life).

And these two periods alternated the whole time I compete until I came to the conclusion that I didn't want to do it like this anymore.

The first and most important step is to admit it all. This happened to me in the spring of 2019 when I started my infamous preparation. Party, alcohol and good food was my new style of preparation. Why? In short, what I needed to achieve was not to give up on this sport with total disgust. I needed to try if the two periods mentioned above could be combined with taking only the good of each. But the most important thing was to avoid season 2.

I am precisely the case that ducks out of social networks, and before next prep begins no one knows anything about me. Of course, this is not good, because it is during this period that one should move forward in marketing, enjoy the results and build something more. What is also important is that sponsors support me throughout the year and it is fair to work throughout the year. And I wasn´t doing that.

Goal number 1 is: Stay active even in offseason.

What is the condition? Stay satisfied with yourself – don’t overeat.

How to achieve it? Stay away from diet.

And here we are, why this year I took preparation the way I took it. Keep a strict diet, weigh everything per gram, renounce what you can – food, fun, for two months, and I guarantee you count down the days, and then the hours when the fucking contest is over and you can finally eat what will come your way. And as we know, this is a train that stops very hard when it starts. But! If you don't admit that you are on a diet, nothing like that comes.

I have been on a strict and truly responsible diet this year for only three weeks, and now that the competition is over, I really look forward to making peanut butter flakes for breakfast.

Previously, my competitive menu looked like this without exaggeration:

Breakfast: I ate the cake that remained from yesterday´s dinner.

Breakfast 2: I need to sallow that sweetened mouth: Sausages

Snack: Damn, I feel hot from all the sugars: Ice cream

Snack 2: One more ice cream will fit in.

Between meals: Some of the sweets my closest bought because they like me and wanted to treat me after the contest.

Lunch: KFC (Churito with mayonnaise instead of BBC sauce + 2 strips and 3 hotwings)

On the way from KFC there is McDonalds: McFlurry

Between meals: Some of the sweets my closest bought because they like me and wanted to treat me after the contest.

Snack: Time for a coffee

Dinner: Finally, I could have some normal meal: Steak / Sushi + Dessert

Dinner 2: McDonalds (Big tasty + McFlurry)

Yes, I agree that this is extreme and I have to say that I kept a relatively slim line, but as I wrote above, I was not happy with myself. Achieving my goal is my biggest victory this year.



Certainly I don't want it to look like partying, slacking or drinking alcohol is the way to get it right. I just wanted to express how very extreme fluctuations were in my life and show what really matters. To be happy, and I am now. Doing the things we love, even during preparation. My preparation was not that I was still "eating." Responsibly, I can say that I was in a calorie deficit for a month and a half. This can also be achieved with a small everyday cheat. Every day a small piece of something was enough to keep my head from believing that I was on a diet. As long as I was convinced that there was no diet, there were no physical feelings for the diet. I wasn't tired, my strength was still growing, and I felt great. Like never before. By default, a month and a half before the contest I whine exhausted, all the time saying I hate a diet and I want to eat ... You know what is amazing? As soon as I said to myself 3 weeks before the Olympia, "Buddy, from now on you are on a strict diet." All these "symptoms" came like in a snap of a finger. I was so tired.

I guess you know where I'm going... Head. Everything is in the head, and unless it's well-set, you won't do anything properly.

To get back to the top, we often pay for what fitness standards we set for ourselves on social networks. We show a beautiful figure, we basically set the trend of “what a beautiful female / male body looks like”, and yet we are not good enough for ourselves, and we end up unhappy with depression and, in extreme cases, bulimia.

Of course, this trend also affects people who just watch fitness. I was once at a party where I met a girl – gorgeous eyes, a perfect smile, and a beautiful normal figure, but you could see that she has already been in the gym. When our mutual affection became apparent, she was quite shocked that I liked a girl like her. "I don't have six pack, I'm not a fitness girl," she said. WTF? So nice ladies, whether you are off-gym or just normal women…. It is not true that the six packs are the ideal and that without them you cannot be sexy and attractive.

So like I said. To answer the question of how to look great, not to take yourself so seriously and still be a professional athlete, there is not a clear answer. It is important to acknowledge the problem first (I was not happy). Then discover the cause (in the offseason, I shrugged off by hiding from the world in depression) and then look for a solution (I couldn't admit that I was on a diet). We could find hundreds of examples like me. My only advice is that we have only one life, and it is too short not to enjoy it for any reason. If you are not satisfied, you can always find another way. Whatever people say. You do it for yourself. We can be deceiving what a great life we have on social networks, but we cannot lie to ourselves.