Unfortunately, my good people, I was not blessed with the ability to eat shit and stay fit. I can gain 5lb just walking past Mcdonalds. So with a 7 week road trip across America coming up, including a wedding, reunions, concerts and Prides, I have more than accepted my weight gain fate. I’ll be trying to workout and hop into gyms along the way, but lezbehonest, I am not going on this epic trip to worry about gains and macros “IM HERE FOR A GOOD TIME NOT A LONG TIME” (ya boy Drake). With that being said, I am currently in preparation for this by becoming a little more lean and tracking my calories/ macros… again.
HOWEVER (and this is a big however) this time has been an extremely different process. Different mindset, different environment, different goals, different everything and it is feeling much more balanced and healthy.
Lets rewind to September 2016 – March 2017. When I think back to this time I think MISERY. Not only did I break up with my girlfriend and simultaneously find out I was being booted out of America and would have to say Ciao to all my friends, my job, car, cat, apartment, life (WINNING), I was also painfully tracking every single thing that went into my mouth, or technically, my stomach (there is a big difference). Everywhere I looked I saw bikinis. Every female I knew was either a bikini competitor or aiming to look like one. I felt like the soul drive of the gym was GET LEAN and without a 6 pack I wouldn’t be taken serious as a Personal Trainer. Everyone was tracking macros. Everyone was bodybuilding. Everyone was wearing “lets taco bout it” tank tops. So, inevitably, I joined them. Obviously I would NEVER compete… Can you imagine me in heels and one of those tiny bikinis? LOL I think not! But my goal was 6 pack abs and get so lean I would fit in with the rest of them. What a dick.
So with the help of bikini competitor friends I began to weigh my food and track EVERYTHING. I became obsessed. I wouldn’t go out for meals, I wouldn’t go on nights out with friends, if I started my day at 5am I would be at home starving my balls off by 7pm, and if I DID treat myself I absolutely hated myself. Extra gym session. Fasted cardio. Or some other kind of punishment for having that slice of pizza YOU FAT FUCK. I weighed myself every morning (WHICH IS FUCKING RIDICULOUS BY THE WAY AND IF YOU DO IT TOO STOP IT RIGHT NOW). And It honestly took over my life. I couldn’t think or focus on anything else but food and abs food and abs. There is a fine line between DEDICATION and OBSESSION.
It was spread all over my Instagram, all over my work place, my friends, it was literally everywhere. So many people around me had the same mentality that macros were life and we should be punished if we cheated. I knew girls who went on dates AND TOOK MEAL PREP WITH THEM! We couldn’t go anywhere without thinking “how will I fit in my macros” or “what if there’s nothing I can eat there”. Maybe it was just me, but it felt like there was a constant pressure to be like this, or, why else were you in the gym?
If I was hungry but had maxed out on my calories for the day I would put food in my mouth just to spit it back out. “It’s not an eating disorder because I am eating.” “There’s nothing wrong with spitting it back out because I’m not throwing it back up.” “I know other people who spit out their food as well, it’s literally fine”. This was normal. This was absolutely fine.
It’s hard to say what the exact problem was here. I have always had body image problems, I have always felt fat, I was also under extreme stress and anxiety about leaving, of which I had no control… But also, I think bikini competitions are FUCKED UP and being surrounded day in day out by an environment teetering on fucking eating disorders is going to break anyone! In my mind what I was doing was totally normal because everyone else was doing it too. And the few people who noticed I was not on a great path and commented on it got ignored and shunned out. Not to sound too dramatic here, but now I am out of that bodybuilding bubble my life really has changed. My entire perspective on “healthy” and “fit” and “balance” has changed drastically and I can see clearly now the rain has gone (ya boy Johnny Nash).
When I got back home to England my family could not get their heads around my eating habits. They worked SO hard to show me what an idiot I was being and I would get so frustrated because they just didn’t understand. They didn’t know what had to be done to get that lean. They didn’t know how NORMAL it was. But it is true, you do become those around you. So slowly my habits started to fade away. I also re-joined my old gym (HG3 Fitness) and it was here that I re-found my love for weight lifting, for training, for working out without it being a chore or punishment or routine. I found new goals, to become stronger, faster, improve my Olympic lifting with a nice bi-product of building muscle. Once your focus shifts from the end result to the process, it becomes much more enjoyable.
So how is this time different? I ate chocolate buttons yesterday. I had pizza last week. I get drunk with friends. And don’t give a fuck. Nobody around me gives a fuck. The guilt has finally gone! I might have a word with myself like “Cmon now Lauren, put the second pizza down”, but I no longer beat myself up for enjoying myself and just living! I’m not saying getting drunk and eating shit is “living the dream” and without it you’re not living. Not at all. But when you’re 25 years old and your friends want to go out, or have a birthday meal, or a night in watching H
igh School Musical movies with snacks, fucking just do it. I missed out on making so many memories my last few months in America because I was at home counting my fucking egg whites. There is SO much more to life and far better goals to have than getting that 6 pack. Nobody will love you any more or less. Your quality of life does not improve. You will not be any happier with chizzled abs. Probably less so actually because you haven’t had a fucking donut in months and possibly reaching a lifelong disorder of eating and body image issues… hmm…
So tracking now is literally just putting in my regular food, trying to get close to my goal the majority of the time with eating the foods that I want, and should I go over on my calories, I let. It. Go. I am leaning out purely because I know it will all come back (and then some) when I go traveling. And I am OKAY with that! But the fitness industry is ruined with the idea that our ultimate goal should be ultimate leanness. We never see fitness models without absolutely shredded abs. Bodybuilding has DOMINATED social media and warped the minds of everyone into believing we are our best selves when we look this way. We are not. And for most people it is unrealistic and unachievable without seriously changing their life and minds and not necessarily for the better!
I have Pete keeping me accountable and helping me stay on track, but when I tell him I ate something bad he doesn’t make me feel guilty for it or like the world is going to end, he will laugh and say mate you should try this Reeses peanut butter egg. Having that reassurance from a fitness professional that I will be fine, that I am still doing great, that my life will continue as normal has been the biggest help for me. My mum has spent a year saying all this, but it is just like the whole “You have to say I’m pretty you’re my mum” thing, it doesn’t get listened to.
I have so many friends who do bikini competitions and I have seen so many of them beat themselves up or spit out their food or other horrible behaviours it really breaks my heart. Seeing what all this looks like from an outsiders perspective has drastically opened my eyes to these competitions. I hope they all read this and that they don’t take offense, but instead, maybe take a step back and see if they can relate to what I am saying. Has it gone too far? Is it too obsessional now? Is it worth it? Many of the bikini show competitors are mums, and I just think, would you want your baby girl growing up weighing all her food and spitting out her food and feeling like a piece of shit every time she didn’t stick to her macros, calling herself fat and dropping to unhealthy body fat percentages? I don’t think so. “Prep” might only be for competition season, it might only be for a competition or 2, you might be sponsored by supplement companies and awarded with medals for it, but the lasting affects it has mentally can be lifelong and shitty. The people around you who love you don’t enjoy watching it either. I was only around this environment and counting macros for a few months and wasn’t anywhere near a competition level and its taken me a year to mentally get myself back together again. But, everyone is different. Everyone has their own journey, their own demons and challenges and things going on in life. I just hope y’all are ok over there 🙂
Finally finding that balance between gym and life is LIBERATING. And no the gym is NOT life. Maybe I am the worlds worst Personal Trainer and advocate for health and fitness by saying that, but it really fucking isn’t. Workout, train hard, smash some weights around. But have fun. Enjoy yourself. Go places, see things, do stuff WITHOUT the meal prep tubs and fear of eating too many calories. You will be fine. I promise.