Reason No.1…..You develop a warped sense of what’s ‘normal’

This picture taken back in 2012 stands out in my head for me, I posted it on my competing page and I remember writing the caption ‘Abs are disappearing after the America trip, loving my off season though!’

At that time I was still happy with the way I looked but being in that competition head space and being closely surrounded by certain people, and in the bodybuilding world – I now look at this picture and realise how much at that time my perception of a healthy body was completely flipped on its head.

Rewind a further 2 years back to 2010 and this picture would have been my goal - and at the time this picture was taken, after being drummed into me for so long that anything over 15% was a high-ish bodyfat - this look was me ‘going backwards’ and ‘not at my best or leanest’.
I see this alot on Facebook with female athletes now and they look AMAZING in their pictures but to them 'they have a lot of work to do'.

Before I started bodybuilding I was sitting at around 20ish% bodyfat, happy, healthy and starting to find myself – 8% was the lowest I ever got to and believe me there is a lot of sh*t that came with it! I was drowning, scared of judgement if I gained bodyfat and most certainly wasn't at my happiest! (will go into this further at a later date..)

left Stacy in 2011 and right in 2014 with fuller rounder healthier delts

When you get stuck in that world its only when you look in from the outside that you start to regain what your sense of 'normal' is for your body - and my gosh its freeing!

Don’t strive to get to a certain bodyfat % because you think your life will be better or happier. Your life will be better by loving who you are no matter what, by being surrounded by people who love you for you, and by placing happiness above external looks.

Yes it is a sport, and yes that’s the name of the game with having to get to a low bodyfat to do well – but you do have to weigh it all up, because sometimes the mental mind games that comes with it is just not worth it. Believe me I've seen what it does to people and you don’t want to spend your life worrying about bodyfat!! My god there is so many far more important things in life.

Reason No.2.  You can lose your period from intense dieting

Another reason that I needed to stop doing shows is because of how it was affecting my body. Getting to a low bodyfat will (not always), but normally make your period stop.
Generally it will just go back to normal after you start to put back on bodyfat and eat a decent variety of good foods, cut back on the intense exercise, slip back into a balanced life and have a good long break (easier said than done….)

I can only speak for myself and my experience, my period has never been completely 100% consistent and on time every month, but generally (before bodybuilding) I would get it frequently.
During the 4 years of bodybuilding, I probably got my period maybe 8-10 times. (If normal, should have been around 45 times)

Now when I look back at it I wish I had listened to my intuition more (story of my life looking back! TRUST YOUR INTUITION FOLKS) – because my fertility was and is something I would NEVER EVER sacrifice for a show and becoming a Mum one day is something that is so incredibly important to me. I did feel a bit uneasy about it but I was assured by someone close to me that it was normal.

I thought I was in good hands, and I just trusted the guidance never questioning it. There is more to this but again, that is a story for a later date. Nobody ever told me ‘you should probably stop dieting if you haven’t had your period for a while, that’s NOT normal’. Like I said I should have listened to my body and trusted myself at that time – females needs to be aware that you could be messing with your long term health and fertility.

Sorry if this is abit too much info But I got my period last month at the beginning of August. Before then, I had not had my period since end of November last year…..that’s 8 months. That’s not normal.

I can’t even explain how happy I was when I got my period (not something that a female generally celebrates, but I sure did haha!)
If you aren't getting your period regularly (especially when its not for 8 months), obviously something isn't right, and infertility is a possibility Not exactly something you should EVER risk for a god dam show.

Even if you are young and totally not even thinking about having children until later on in life, don’t ever think you are invincible. Extreme dieting WILL catch up on you, don't do something that your future self might regret.

I was freaking out that I had messed up my body and fertility, THANKFULLY I have had regular cycles since then, and I have NO intention of EVER getting back into extreme dieting.

Reason No.3.  You need to be a tough cookie

Competing can be a really fun, exciting and rewarding experience – if you can block out the judgement. However, the name of the bodybuilding game is to get up on stage and have every inch of you judged, so it’s pretty hard to avoid.

Females have enough complexes about their bodies these days just in everyday life, and being put on the bodybuilding stage is a whole other level.

Absolutely, that is what bodybuilding is about, that’s the sport - but I think females coming into it now are not prepared for the judgement that comes with it and it can hit them like a tonne of bricks, bringing their self confidence to an all time low.

FitX March 2014

You need to be prepared for negative comments, feedback, comparing, and that’s even before you step on stage…… That can be soul destroying.
Disapproving looks when you step on the scales, instructed that you have to work harder to lose more body fat, head spinning comments such as ‘your ass was so big’, blame that you haven’t been sticking to your plan – it can all be part of it, and it can wreak havoc with your self esteem.

When in the real world, actually, our bodies are dam beautiful things at any healthy size.

At the end of the day, if you aren't competing just for yourself and you are solely competing just to beat other people or look better than someone else – you’ll never be happy.
Someone will always point out something that you need to work on with your physique, so where does it end? It doesn't. You’ll constantly be striving for a perfect body that doesn't exist.

You are always going to run up against criticism in life – judgement is everywhere, not just in bodybuilding. I think that females new into the scene do just need to be aware of just how much you put yourself in the firing line of the very harsh criticism that can come with this unforgiving image driven industry.

If you are competing in one of your first shows girls, just keep it REAL and keep it FUN!
It can be such a confidence boosting experience if you take it all in your stride and kick the judgement to the curb.

Stacy Sadler
Personal Trainer

Facebook: Fit Bella Women

Read Part 2 which talks about Food Obsession and how some athletes feel the need for Pills and Potions here

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