NORMAL THINGS IN AN ABNORMAL SPORT
by SCOTT GOBLE
I have a lot of clients preparing for shows this year. In many cases it is their first show, it has come to my attention that my role as a contest prep coach is as much about training and nutrition as it is reassuring them that what they are going through is completely normal, even though it may seem totally abnormal. I have put together a short list of things experienced bodybuilders take for granted, that would seem totally bizarre to the rest of society.
- Dreams: When getting ready for a show it is normal to have dreams. During the waking hours your mind will be consumed with everything you have to do, what you need to eat, how you look, what should you look like etc, it’s totally normal for some of this to leak into the subconscious. The most common dreams include the, cheating on your diet dream, where you wake up in a cold sweat wondering if you did in fact eat that cheesecake. There is the rocking up to the show with no tan on dream. There is the I’m at the show and I’m still fat dream and my personal favorite the I can’t find the venue, I have a wetsuit instead of posing trunks, I am not tanned, I am fat and I’m running really late dream…..yes I have had this dream
- I’m shrinking: Whenever anyone starts a diet, especially the guys, the initial weight loss often results in the clothes becoming baggier and an overall appearance of shrinkage (not the Seinfeld kind). This is normal, you have to eat into a little glycogen and drop a little excess bodyfat before the real cool details and muscle separation start to show. If you have just commenced your diet, relax it’s normal for it to appear like you are shrinking for no reason to begin with.
- You’ve put on some size: After six weeks of dieting the puffy layer of fat you should never have put on has been removed. All of a sudden veins are appearing where normal people don’t have veins and muscles are becoming more clearly defined. It’s a glorious phase of the diet because you still have enough carbs in your diet to retain some fullness and you still have the ability to interact with people in a pleasant manner (more on that later). This is when you will start hearing feedback along the lines of, “You’ve really put some size on lately.” Even though you have lost eight kilos. Enjoy it, you’re about to shrink again.
- Check out that guys arms: Bodybuilding is a sport based purely on appearance. It is totally natural for you to compare yourself to those of the same gender, after all that is exactly what the judges do at a competition. Sure if you’re 15 years old your parents will think your strange having posters of muscular men on your wall but don’t worry your totally normal. If however you suddenly find yourself being more impressed with ‘his’ chest than ‘hers’ perhaps it’s time for a blood test to check out the hormone levels. Either that or just run with it, just keep those thoughts quiet when you’re at church.
- Why is everyone so stupid. When you are deep into your diet, almost all bodyfat is gone, your high carb day is a cup of rice and a teaspoon of vitargo, suddenly people become very irritating. I have no explanation for why those around you are far less amusing and far more stupid when you reach this phase of the diet, but I assure you it’s normal. Some people like to lash out and point out the faults of those around them, I advise against this as they will probably return to normal a week or two after the diet so there is no need to create friction that could last until they become smarter and funnier again. Personally I prefer to just avoid the humans at this time, especially when I am eating, they are particularly annoying when I am eating with all their stupid interruptions. So yeah suck it up, it’s normal for other people to lose IQ points when you diet.
I’m sure I will be confronted with many more questions from my clients over the next ten to fourteen weeks as their diets really take hold. I anticipate things like tears because they ate a tic tac, abnormal anxiety levels because they dropped a piece of chicken on the floor and the dog ate it and now they think the lack of protein has caused muscle atrophy. The pressure of competing gets to us all, but relax, it’s totally normal in this abnormal sport.