Embrace your individuality

Embrace your individuality

Some people are naturally thin, some naturally curvy. Others will lose fat extremely slowly despite their best efforts, while others will quickly gain muscle with very little fat on the side. You should never assume that what works for one person will work for you, especially if it’s someone who has been training for a number of years.

A few weeks ago I read an article from a female competitor who argued that traditional competition diets are a bad idea as they only cause your body to feel deprivation. She says that it’s unhealthy to place that much pressure on yourself mentally in terms of restricting yourself. Um, yeah, competing is supposed to be mentally challenging – that’s why it’s so tough!

In the lead up to a competition, this woman eats “whatever her body craves” including alcohol, burgers and dessert – literally in the days before a contest. While I do give her credit for emphasising that treats should be had in moderation (but like I’ve said before – who defines moderation?!), to say that anyone who is about to step on stage can get away with having extra junk in their diet is a bit ridiculous.

As someone who works really hard at sticking to my diet, no matter what temptations are placed in front of me, I certainly took offence to her claims. No matter what anyone else might think, I know my body. Every little bite of cheesecake or sip of a milkshake shows. To say that I – or anyone else for that matter – would be able to obtain a desired level of leanness while eating whatever I wanted is ignorant, and just continues to promote this lazy attitude regarding getting fit which most of the population holds.

As much as I would love to have this right now, I'd rather have abs!

But do I think there are some people out there who can in fact win competitions while incorporating cheats into their diet here and there? Absolutely. I would classify myself as someone who can lose fat pretty fast when following my diet to the letter, but it’s the last little bits of fat around my hips and butt that I struggle with. Deviating from my diet might be fine on occasion in the off-season, but there is no way I’m going to stall myself by doing so in the midst of contest prep.

The same goes for training. Some people will have to train six days a week, while others will only train maybe twice a week. Some will do full body splits while others will target specific body parts daily. The nature of your training really all comes down to how much muscle your body has. Set clear goals but give yourself a realistic amount of time to reach them. Be honest with yourself about how many times you can train per week and how many interruptions may come up.

Tomorrow I’m going to miss my first weight training session in more than six months because I have yet another all-day work conference. I usually make up missed sessions on the weekend but with everything going on at the moment it’s just too difficult and I’m not too devastated. I know I’m lucky in that this is the first session in a while I’ve had to skip, but I appreciate that not everyone will be able to take the same approach to training. Again, it’s about discovering what works for you.

What people sometimes forget is that no two individuals are going to respond the same way to a diet – what works for me might not work for you. When you are recommended to see a personal trainer to obtain a nutrition plan, it’s not a money-making scam. You really need to have a tailor-made program. Even if you just have a couple of programs created, you can hopefully learn a little bit more about how your body works and how it responds to food.

Your body’s shape is predetermined. Because of my underlying bone structure, I could become as thin as a runway model but I would never look the same. Similarly, your body’s ability to lose fat and gain muscle is also largely determined by genetics.

Give a diet program at least 3-4 weeks before giving up to allow your body to adjust to the new amount of food. If you’re trying to build muscle, monitor the amount of fat you are gaining with it – if it’s too much, then drop your carbohydrates slightly. If you’re trying to lose fat, you shouldn’t be losing more than 0.5-1 kilogram a week, or you’ll simply be waving bye-bye to the muscles you worked so hard to get.

It takes time to see the results you want. They are not going to come overnight or even within a month. If you are truly trying to “sculpt” a perfect physique it will take years of patience and experimentation. Learn to listen to your body, and don’t fall for others’ gimmicks – if it looks too good to be true then it probably is!

How sensitive is your body to “bad” foods? Do you have to stick to your diet exactly to see the results you want, or can you get away with treats every so often?

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