Before we get into all that, I was just want to state that this these are my opinions based on my experiences in the bodybuilding world. I am sure this is not the case for everyone. Everyone is different and all trainers have unique expectations of their clients.
About a year ago I started my food plan that I would be on for the past year. I was eating way more than I was used to. I felt good, I wasn't starving myself ever, and I ate 5 meals a day. It was the first time in my life I ever used a food scale. I never measured out portions before or weighed meat. So it was all new and exciting to have so much control of your exact caloric intake. I was still having cheat meals here or there because I was trying to bulk up. I started out with no muscle at all. I gained around 5 lbs of muscle over about six months.
After being on that food plan for about 8 months, my body started to lean out on its on. Nothing crazy, but I lost 2-3 lbs by my body fat decreasing while adding more muscle. During all those times I spent at the gym, I talked to many bodybuilders to get advice. Many bodybuilders are obsessed with perfection. No body part is ever cut enough, they need to get more lean or drop more body fat, or improve for their next show. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get better, but there comes a point where it gets obsessive. My trainer continued to warn me do not fall in that trap since it so easy to do. I told him that would never happen with me.
Flash forward another couple of months and my leaning out diet had begun. Not super restrictive, but about 300 calories less than what I had been eating. At that point I finally saw what my trainer meant. It was not just the physical effort of working out, but it plays a tole on your mentality. I saw myself getting obsessive with weighing everything. If a potato was 2.6 oz instead of 2.5, I had to cut that .1 of an ounce off to hit my macros right.
(what my freezer was typically filled with)
Chicken, 99% lean ground turkey, tuna, salmon, brown rice, oatmeal, potatoes, green vegetables, and peanut butter were pretty much the only things I was allowed to have. Even fruit and greek yogurt was off limits. It was so hard eating ground turkey at 9 o'clock at night before bed. Ugh, it grosses me out just thinking about it. I'm not complaining about it since it was my decision to go on this diet and compete, but it really does play a role on your mental state.
You don't realize how much it will affect your life. I skipped hanging out with friends at night so I would have enough energy to get up in the morning to workout before school or work. I felt guilty when I would get sick and felt like I was going to lose pace with my workouts. The boyfriend and I hardly ever went out to dinner on real dates the past year because I couldn't control or figure out the calories in my food.
So the point of all this rambling is what you see of a bodybuilder's life isn't always the full picture. There are many sacrifices and ugly things that come with the territory. I finally understand what my trainer meant that it can become too obsessive. Perfection doesn't exist, which is something I constantly remind myself. People that chase perfection are chasing happiness. If you are happy in your life, you don't need to be perfect. Bodybuilding takes a greater tole on your mentality way more than the physical.
Doing a figure competition is still something I want to do one day. Sometimes things in life just happen that is out of your control and you have to go with it. I wasn't meant to do the competitions in September. I don't want to view this as a failure even though I've worked so hard over the past year for it. There will always be more shows.
Do you ever struggle with perfection or failure?