You must be thinking, it’s too early to be talking about New Year’s resolutions…we haven’t even stuffed our faces with Thanksgiving turkey or holiday sweets. You are exactly right…there is still one more month of this year to enjoy, and the same month to achieve, or just make forward progress, on those resolutions set at the beginning of this year.
It is not uncommon for our flame to dwindle months after the new year, sometimes completely burning out. Because we have come to expect instant results, we tend to dismiss the full 12 months of the calendar year when we do not achieve our desired result in the first few months. No matter where you find yourself with this year’s resolution, I am here to remind you that time is on your side. This year I witnessed firsthand the power of a new year’s resolution, coupled with hard work, perseverance and a little bit of patience, that I hope helps fuel your flame to the end of this year and lights your 2018 on fire.
Someone I deeply admire put the words of his resolution to action by turning it into a goal and taking the first step past the point of no return. It was early January when he first told me he wanted to sign up for a Physique competition, and then on Monday, August 7, 2017, he texted me a screenshot of his email confirmation saying:
From sharing his resolution with me to getting up on stage, I feel as if I was a part of the journey, all of which left me inspired and compelled to write about it. But to really serve this experience justice, I knew I couldn’t write from my vantage point because that would only tell half the story. So a few days after the competition, we sat down on the couch and we talked. We talked about why he signed up, what challenges he faced and what he learned along the way.
As part of our conversation, he told me “Inspiration is comparing yourself to other people and knowing that it is possible to push yourself even more.”. Perfectly said, I realized my inspiration stemmed from me comparing myself to him and his experience and I think you might catch the inspiration bug too if you keep reading.
Here is what he had to say when I asked what it took to get there…
1. So…what is a physique competition?
A physique competition is a competition with the goal of obtaining the most proportional and lean physique and presenting overall fitness. The presentation of your physique is focused on showing the aesthetic composition of your body while expressing your personality through four primary poses in a side-by-side group comparison, along with an individual 60 second routine. It is primarily focused on the upper body. Since you wear board shorts, your quads are covered and the only visible part of your legs are from the knee down. This is different from body building where the focus is on muscle mass, specifically within your legs and glutes, which is why bodybuilders wear speedos. The similarities is what I think creates a lot of confusion or misconception, but physique competitions are about the upper body being on point at all times.
2. Why did you decide to sign up for this competition?
Initially, I thought it would be cool to be ripped. But as I got more and more into it, it all of a sudden became psychological and mental to push myself to see how strong and lean I could get. I signed up for this competition primarily because for any of my interests and hobbies I am active in, I want to challenge myself to be the best that I can be in each of them. So for this, it basically meant putting myself out there by setting a date and having a tangible goal in place that was a constant reminder and created accountability to push me.
There are a lot of times you can come up with an excuse and every time those excuses came up, I now had an excuse of why I should. Setting the competition day turned a switch in my mind where the way I saw my behavior and performance was less biased. Prior to that, I thought I was doing my best simply because I was putting forth the effort. You feel you deserve a lot because you are expending energy, but your potential isn’t harnessed in on one particular goal. Until an exact goal is set, I don’t believe you will know what your full potential is.
3. How did you train and prepare?
The day after signing up made it real to the point I knew how many days I had left to train and thought of using each day to better myself. It gave me that extra push in the back of my mind where I couldn’t let it go. Throughout the day, I thought about how I could align myself with achieving my goals. And throughout my workouts, it gave me an extra push, almost an electric shock of “I want to keep going, I have to keep going.”.
My diet changed drastically and my workouts got more intense. I began reevaluating a lot of the decisions and methodologies of my diet and fitness routines. You don’t realize the monotony of your daily routine and the small tweaks you can make. I had thought I was going about things the right way, but being on a program made me more accountable and hone in on what I had to do so I could ask myself ‘Am I doing it?’. When you stick to a program, I think that is when you truly see results so you don’t question yourself.
4. What was the most challenging part of this experience?
The biggest challenge was consistency, day in and day out, minute by minute. Specifically, the focus and determination it took because you do not have one second to let up off of the pedal. Otherwise, I think it is a very slippery slope and you will get thrown off your target right away. When those moments came about, I would focus on who I want to be. I want to be the best that I can be in every aspect of life. So speaking specifically to this goal, for me it was about having a great physique not only for the aesthetic appeal, but because of what it takes to get there. It was more about the climb and not just about the views when I got there.
Signing myself up for the competition created more focus, so I knew I was hitting each of my goals. The goal of fitness is to be the best you. This competition allowed me to see how I stack up, how hard I am truly pushing myself and how far I can go. For me, putting myself out there helped motivate me.
5. What kept you going?
A few things…watching like-minded people through videos on YouTube and seeing how they made it through prepping and competitions. It helped me think if they can do it, I can do it. Also, monitoring and documenting my progress, like weighing myself and taking pictures, to get immediate feedback. And ultimately, the inspiration from seeing and acknowledging the progress I was making.
6. What was your favorite part of the experience?
Out of everything, it was getting up on stage and feeling the sense of belonging…the feeling that I had accomplished something and worked really hard to earn a spot up there. It was like being in the spotlight when you feel like you are ready to shine. From the moment I set my goal to sign up until that moment on stage, I knew I had tried my hardest, so I enjoyed it and had fun, but it was also one of the most difficult challenges I have done.
7. What surprised you the most?
The mental ware of dieting. I think the ironic thing about this competition and prepping for it is it’s all about physique and aesthetics, yet to get there, the strongest part of your body has to be your mind because in order to get there, you have to have a strong mind. I view fitness as the body, meaning what you see aesthetically on the outside. Health however, is both the body and mind and together, the body and mind lead to accomplishments.
8. What did you learn?
I learned you have to step out of your comfort zone in order to know your potential. It is eye opening prepping for weeks and months and to only be focused on yourself. The competition itself allowed me to see a benchmark comparison, but even then, I was still biased in my own mind. It is all about perspective…you always see yourself, but never from anyone else’s eyes, so it takes seeing yourself through a different lens. When I saw myself from the audience’s point of view [from pictures and videos], I saw how I stacked up, which I found to be the most motivating by seeing areas I can further improve upon.
9. What advice do you have for others on how to achieve their goals?
Surround yourself with a strong support group that bleeds positivity because I think the strength of others is compounded when you are surrounded by others that align with your goals.
10. What is next?
I want to do stand-up comedy because I think it goes along the same theme of putting myself out there and expanding upon different areas I have interest in…and you never know how good you are going to be unless you just do it.
Fulfilling a new year’s resolution, or achieving any goal for that matter, is not always an easy feat, but I think the steps that help us get there can be. After watching someone do it and listening to their story, I took away five simple (yet loaded) steps to achieving your next goal.
- Make a goal and tell someone.
- Take one simple action that commits you to your goal.
- Measure your progress along the way.
- Surround yourself with support.
- Remind yourself why you’re doing it and have fun!