Let’s make being ‘the best’ healthy again…

In all honesty I didn’t want my first ever blog to be a negative one!

After all, we thrive on positivity and I want to be very clear on
that! However, I have for some time now wanted to write this blog. I want to reach out to all the people that in my eyes have got lost in
the cruel and cut throat competition world and also to those who are
dubious about whether to get involved or not. Firstly as a little
introduction, in the fitness world ‘competing’ often refers to
physique competitions. To cut a long story short, participants spend
anywhere from 16 weeks to years ‘prepping’ for a show or shows in
which they perform a catwalk type appearance in very ‘glamourous’
swimwear attire, females sometimes wear feathers (its literally
like peacocks spreading their feathers to attract attention!) They perform a ‘T’ Walk on stage and then line up at the back
eagerly awaiting to be called forward for judging by the panel of
experts. Participants are being judged on a combination of their
overall marketability as a model, their physique, muscular definition
and their stage performance.

Firstly, hats off to the founders of the ‘federations’. Supposedly only about 6/7 years ago these kind of competitions where unheard of
and now thousands of fitness fanatics enter every year.

Most competitors live on a very strict training and diet programme, training as much as three times a day and eat up to 7 pre prepared meals, in aim to achieve the best physique they can bring to the stage. In the days leading up to the competition date some competitors will severely dehydrate their body to achieve an even leaner look for show day.

Experiencing it myself and more importantly, seeing others live ‘the competition life’ has made me think, that it is of upmost importance
that we don’t get lost in our thoughts for what our exact reasons for
wanting to be ‘the best’ are. Why do we have a desperate need to be
the best? And why do we feel the best version of our selves is the
most aesthetically pleasing version? Is it to do with our perception
on what other people think of us? If we look at other types of
competitions for example sporting competitions, you will find the
reasons for competing will be completely different.

During my research for this blog I spoke to many friends who also felt
the same way about the topic, one friend sent me an article that caught my attention, it named ‘Bigorexia’ as an
actual mental disorder, muscle dysmorphia is a preoccupation with the
idea that one is not lean enough or isn’t muscular enough. Resulting
in prioritising working out over life, family and friends, excessively
looking and posing in the mirror, anxiety and abusing many different
drugs including anabolic steroids, human growth hormone and stimulants. In
the competition world this is a standard. Competitors are told they
wont have a chance without doing these things. Common stimulants used
for fat loss are Ephedrine, which is a medication used
to prevent low blood pressure during spinal anesthesia. And
Clenbuterol which is a sympathomimetic amine used by sufferers of
breathing disorders. Studies suggest that clenbuterol increases the
size of heart muscle cells after as little as 4 weeks due to
increasing the amount of an inelastic substance known as collagen.
This reduces the hearts effectiveness at pumping
blood, thus reducing its output. Collagen also interferes with the
electric signals sent through the heart muscle cells to keep it
pumping regularly and may produce arrhythmias (irregular heart beat).
This in turn increases the risk of strokes. Further studies also found
that clenbuterol induced heart cell degeneration. Clenbuterol
adversely affects the hearts structural dimensions and may cause
aortic enlargement after exercise, which increases the risk of aortic
rupture and sudden death. Anabolics on the other hand don’t just cause
enlargement of your skeletal muscles – they cause the walls of the
heart to grow and thicken. This is a form of heart disease with no
symptoms but causes arrhythmia, obstructed blood flow and eventually
heart failure. Im not going to even start on the effects they have
hormonally. This just clearly is not the perfect picture of health and
fitness personified.

All these thoughts of life sacrifices and drug guzzling got me to
thinking about peace and happiness. I’ve seen too much pain to not
point out that this kind of lifestyle is a recipe for disaster.
Firstly I realised from working as a personal trainer and fitness
instructor that helping other people and the positive reinforcement I
got from that is a great feeling! I realised, I wasn’t ok with
sacrificing my time to do what I love for the strict programme that
would make me the ‘most aesthetically pleasing version of myself’.
I’ve heard a million times ‘I want to be the best…” and “I will not
stop until I am the best, i’ve seen the determination in people eyes,
I’ve seen the pain they are going through, chasing what they deem to
be perfection.
Im a hippie at heart, I get my kicks from yoga (my form of meditation) and galloping through Windsor Park on Gulliver the ex army horse! I am
defiantly not ok with sacrificing any of these things or spending time
with loved ones for a ritual back and biceps workout. Life is a
compromise and to achieve anything in life, yes you must work hard at
it and make some sacrifices but their are levels and when your
happiness is compromised I think you have to ask yourself what it is you are
really trying to achieve.

Life is supposed to be fun! When you’re having fun, you feel great and
you receive great things! Having fun brings the life you want, and
taking things too seriously brings a life you have to take seriously.
What does it mean to be healthy? Being healthy is feeling the same way
as little children feel. Little children are bursting with energy
every day. Their minds are clear, they’re happy and
free of worry or stress. They sleep deeply and peacefully every night
and they feel passionate and excited about every new day. Look at little children and you will see what being healthy really means. It is the way you used to feel, and it is the way you should still feel.
Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for
happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling onto anything like resentment,
anxiety or possessions, we cannot be free.
People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear
of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar. Many people
think excitement is happiness. But when you are excited you are not
peaceful. True happiness is based on peace. It is my belief then, that
there is no path to peace , the path is peace.”

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