Just like any other venture, I think this is literally THE most important thing you need to do before embarking on your fitness journey. No matter what your goals are – whether it’s to lose weight, to add muscle, to put on weight (gasp!), to tone up , whatever it is- you HAVE to be willing to invest the time and patience needed to get there and this journey starts in your mind. This becomes painfully true if you want to enter the world of competitive fitness but really its true for any fitness goal. You also have to be mentally prepared to face the truth. Call it like it is and all that:)
I hope my story will inspire you to start on your journey for change, and I will continue these tips , sometimes going into more detail as I go along!
Phase 1 : SKINNY/PUNY ( looked skinny and was skinny)
I was always told I was skinny. Growing up in India where there is almost a stigma associated with being thin, I was pretty much picked on all the time for being “too thin”. I was a fussy eater,wasn’t very into sports, was quite a nerd and genetically small made so you can quite imagine the fun times I had growing up. I also always wondered why everyone knows that its rude to call a fat person fat, but calling a thin person skinny is somehow not considered offensive. I have to say..I disagree:)
Phase 2: SKINNY FAT (looked skinny but wasn’t really skinny)
Come early twenties I was eating more ( not necessarily better) ..didn’t look AS skinny as I looked in my teens and I thought I looked pretty darn good!!
It was at this time that I met my now husband who was a competitive body building athlete then and one of the best in the world (known for his brutal honesty among other things ) and he told me that my bodyfat was actually pretty high (because he knew that it could lead to health concerns down the road). Now of course I didn’t believe him because I had no clue about these things , was quite offended and promptly bought a pair of bodyfat calipers to test if this was true.
Turned out that I was at around 30% bodyfat which is actually very high for a female in that age group. Don’t believe me? Here’s the chart and there are tons of other articles that can be found online and elsewhere that talk about body fat %’s for men and women and what they should be for healthy individuals in different age groups ( my numbers were in the “orange/red” zone of the chart):
I still looked pretty skinny and everyone all my life had told me I was skinny and yet….numbers don’t lie!…I was SKINNY FAT!! I was already exercising at this time ( thanks in part to my sweet roomie who still comments on my posts as Mungey:) ) but I was eating pretty much whatever I wanted and was really quite ignorant about this very important piece of the puzzle.
PHASE3: LIFESTYLE CHANGE (structured exercise and healthy eating)
Once the shock of being skinny fat had passed, I was determined to make a change. I always wanted to be “bigger” and I thought this meant putting on weight ,packing on fat orwhatever it took to not look skinny. My husband started to teach me about eating healthy, eating at regular intervals, helped me out with my exercise regimen and I tried hard to stick to the plan. I found I actually loved the exercise aspect of it and once I got used to eating healthier meals in smaller portions at much more reular intervals I started noticing big changes. My bodyfat dropped very fast initially and I was getting much more toned and was down to around 24% (first as I recall and then to 21% a few months later) – all this took around 1.5 to probably 2 years for me..sometimes falling off the bandwagon). Of course to everyone else I likely still looked small but the fact is I was building muscle and I was MUCH HEALTHIER.
PHASE 4: Why just exercise when you can exercise and compete!
By now I had spent enough time watching my husband compete, watching the people he trains compete,going to fitness expos and was pretty entrenched in all things fitness, that I decided I want to enter some competitions myself. So last January ( 2013) I decided I wanted to compete in the Quebec Opens , a provincial level show that qualifies you to take part in the Quebec provincials ( around sept the same year). I figured I was already eating very clean and exercising 5 days a week so it would be a walk in the park. I was so wrong – it was so hard ( mainly because I had to juggle prep with work and other things) and yet it was the best thing I ever did! I’ll be posting more on that in another post. My transformation shots for my first ever fitness competition however are below (Body fat % in the first pic was around 19 %, and in the last pic I was at around 10%)
The difference in time between the first and last pics is around 8 weeks. I dieted for a total of 13 weeks ( easing into it a bit at first) for that competition and happy to report I placed 2nd out of 15 competitors at that one.
While that’s not attainable as a year round bodyfat % (not for me anyway), I learnt so much from that experience that it just completely changed my perspective on things – discipline, staying mentally focussed, not cheating on your diet and just proving to myself that I can do it if I try.