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  • Jen Graffice

Entering a Fitness Show....Are they really healthy? My personal journey :)


For a few years now, I have been reading and digesting all the articles that surround the topic of what it takes to train for and actually enter a Fitness Competition.  And with so much controversy surrounding this subject, I feel the need to weigh in from my perspective.  With a degree in Sports Medicine, a Fitness Professional and now the experience of competing myself, I have a pretty well rounded view of this continued rising craze of women and men getting on stage and being judged on their physical physiques. Many Fitness professionals particularly woman professionals feel it is damaging to our industry. With the rise of publicity on the subject, articles and social media showcasing women in blinged out bikini's and guys with 6 packs in board shorts all glamorizing this new SPORT, some professionals feel it to also be damaging to our clients body image and the average person with a more general goal of just wanting to lose a few pounds, feel better and get healthy. Couple this with the obesity rate being at an all time high in our country, experts also believe this other end of the spectrum can cause one to feel helpless thinking that this is the new norm and their desire to lose weight and look better is an unrealistic and uphill never ending and unattainable battle.   All this being said....the real question is...is this type of training and stage presense really even healthy for anyone? Using the wonders of GOOGLE, You can of course find articles from both sides telling you whatever you want to hear or believe. Some say it is unhealthy, too extreme, the diet is unrealistic, while others toute the 8 week shred program and tell you exactly how you can get super lean, have a 6 pack and be shredded in 90-120 days, build your self esteem and confidence and so on... There are even full on companies that will walk you through the process from begining to end. Complete with hair, make up, posing lessons, spray on tans, motivational coaches and bling suits all included.  

So where do I stand on this debate???? I say that all of these statements are true for whoever wants to believe them to be.... we all turn to something for motivation to help us reach our health and fitness goals. There are weight loss shows, tons of before and after pictures, products and articles showing that anyone of any size can accomplish losing weight and being healthier and then for the somewhat fit population it has now become popular to take it to the next level and enter a contest and compete on a crossfit course or get on stage to show off your physique. To each is own and what motivates and inspires one may not the other, that's the beauty of having different outlets and avenues to help you... The trouble is, you can't always believe the media and they hype because most are in it for a profit and they will tell you exactly what you want to hear, so you have to be careful and do plenty of research for yourself before you make a decision.  For me personally.....I have been a fitness professional my whole life, I love what I do and I love to change lives, motivate teams and educate the world to live a healthy lifestyle. So whatever your fitness goal may be, I believe you can do it and accomplish it so long as you know what you are getting yourself into!!!  You want to run a marathon? why not? is it healthy?  Depends on who you ask...some might say no, it's not healthy for your  joints and knees, others will tell you there is nothing like the open road and what it does for your mental state and it's a great form of exercise. And oh what you might see along the way!



 This is the Big SUR Marathon route I ran in 2010

The number one question I was always asked as a trainer was "You are fit, you must only eat chicken and broccolli, right?" And my answer would always surprise them... because I would say NO, not at all. I like food just as much as you do, and my motto has always been" work hard, play hard', so if I want those chicken wings and fries, I'll be climbing a mountain before I eat them.  It's a simple math equation- calories in, calories out. So for the most part I have always believed in moderation of foods    ( that is until I was diagnosed with Hashimotos 3 years ago- Hashimotos is an auto immune disease that effects your Thyroid and you need to eliminate all gluten and other foods to stay balanced ), but thats a topic for another day....  I was never an extremist on anything.  I taught people to eat a balanced diet and to make good choices, exercise and to really decide if the calories or cookie or french fries or glass of wine were worth it.  And even for me sometimes that answer is still a definate YES:)  I have always loved to work out, but I also really enjoy setting fitness goals and trying to accomplish them. From a half marathon, to a marathon, to Hiking Havasupi to entering a Fitness Competition. For me, it is about having an end goal and date that I would have to perform something, therefore prepare for and usually pay money to do....HA!! paying for something is always a good motivator:)




After I hiked Havasupai April of 2013, I started thinking about what my next venture might be. And I knew I was in good shape but, I wanted to see if I could take my body to the ultimate extreme and enter a fitness contest.  And for me, i knew this would be a huge challenge, considering I knew I would have to be super disciplined and super strict with both my eating and my workouts, which i had NEVER done before. I have always been a Qlife girl - Quality life( hence the name of my business, nothing extreme, I believe in balance).   I met with a few friends and industry collegues that had done contests, both Bikini and Figure (bikini is less musculature and Figure is a more musculature and more definition). I did Figure. I asked questions, and picked their brains and wanted to know all I could... I went to a show to really see what I was getting myself into (WOW! was that an experience).... I read articles, talked to a company that trains you through the process from begining to end and finally i decided to hire my own coach at first. I had done alot of reading about women trying to do it too fast and crash dieting, taking stimulants, cutting water, taking diuretics and then of course adding "enhancement suppliments". to speed up the results. All of which, I was NOT about!  i also talked to women who had competed and got ready for a show in 8-16 weeks and they did great, loved it, but then immediately gained weight after the show was over and couldn't get it back off, I'm talking a year later. They claimed their hormones got messed up during the process and really screwed them up. Most of which, where coached to do so by someone they trusted. Understanding all of these things to be true.... I set goals and boundries for myself as I was going to be an example for all of those watching what i was doing....I had 2 main goals. The first one was to do it slow and take 7 months to prepare properly, the second one was to be at my pre contest weight and body fat months after my contest and be able to maintain that for one year. My other boundries were that there would be no enhancement drugs other than amino acids, no diruetics and no water restriction.  All of which, I did.  Now, I will tell you that my first competition in CA was a Natural Body building show where they drug tested every participant and that is the show I won and was actually issued a Figure Fitness PRO card. Then when I competed in the Phoenix show a month later, which there was no drug testing for, there were 16 girls in my division and as I stood back stage behind the girl who eventually won-she was HUGE, there was no way I would stack up next to that and honestly, nor did I want to. That was simply not my thing nor my preferred look.  I ended up middle of the pack and since it was a contest, of course, my competative side was disappointed, but knowing what additional sacrafices to my health I would have to do to get there, it simply wasn't worth it!!!  Also, you have to realize the judging for a fitness physique show is simply subjective! and the show that I did in Phoenix went from 6pm to 1am. with the bikini division being the absolute largest and most popular part of the show. The judges are sitting there for hours on end looking at bodies and comparing what all ends up looking the same to them over time.  And by the time I competed at 10pm, I'm sure there were probably some judges that didn't even look up and see me. This was a bucket list item to see if I could reach a particular outlandish goal!!!  and I did it.  I didn't do it for the judges, I did it for myself! And to be honest, it was by far the hardest thing I have EVER done in my life. Trying to balance, being a single mom, a full time career, preparing all my food and packing it daily, going to the Gym every day sometimes twice, posing, learning to walk in heels and be comfortable in very expensive itty bitty suit and then still caring for and running my kids around...YEP that was a pretty insane year!! But also one of the most amazing years that I will cherish and remember FOREVER!!  So just like anything in life, you have to weigh the PROs and CONs to what you want to do and wether or not it fits for YOU.  Is Running unhealthy? If you have bad knees, maybe...And In my opinion, when it comes to all different kinds of exercise programs you can label most of them unhealthy if you want to focus on the CON's. Crossfit has both Pro's and Cons but does that mean everyone that does Crossfit Pee's while they are squatting or has tremendously large legs, NO!!  Just because you enter a Bodybuilding or fitness show does that mean you are vane, do steroids or dehydrate yourself, NO!  Is Water Aerobics only for Senior citizens. NO! At the end of the day, I don't care what you do....if you have a fitness goal or dream...You can achieve it!!!  and wether it's a small goal or a BIG dream it doesn't matter, Because really it isn't about the end result, it's about what you discover and learn about yourself along the journey that becomes so healthy and if you really take the time to DREAM and be true to yourself and discover what YOU want to do with your life or who you want to be. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish and how rewarding and healthy that truly is!!!! And if your DREAM isnt BIG and SCARY and seem to be UNATTAINABLE then it simply isn't BIG enough!  DON'T BE AFRAID TO DREAM BIG!!!! The key is to break down the Big DREAM to smaller more manageable bites.

....and if you need help dreaming or being held accountable to goals you have set for yourself, or you want to learn how to set some goals and reach them, I CAN HELP YOU! and it doesn't have to be an earth shattering thing, you can start small, you want to lose a few pounds, start getting regular exercise, eating healthier, you can do it!! I have clients all over the country that I help each and every day with their health, fitness and life goals.  Just contact me....here or private message me to get you started NOW!

AND....... as an added bonus, if you read this all the way to the end, I will offer you one FREE goal setting phone or skype consultation! Simply contact me thru my contact page on my website for an appointment time! 

And if this subject really interests you and you want to watch the journey of my  2013 competition, the video is attached below....what a crazy ride to look back on:)

But I firmly beleve everyone has the potential and derserves to be living their Qlife! 

Contact me NOW! I can help!

XOXO-

Jen



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© 2020 QLife by Jen Graffice.