850. 850. 850....
That's the number that has been filling my head for the past couple of days. Last year, I competed in a bikini competition. For 8 weeks, I dieted according to a plan my trainer gave me, lifted 3 times per week, and did cardio at least once per day for an hour each session, 6 days per week, until the last 2 weeks where I doubled up on cardio.
What is 850? It's the amount of calories I was eating on a daily basis. Why did I do that to myself? You'd think I would have known better, being a personal trainer and all. I guess I was blinded by ambition. I wanted to do a competition just to say I did it. I totally trusted my trainer who is very good at what he does. He trains people for bodybuilding competitions all the time, and his competitors always do very well. I don't know squat about competitions, and all that goes along with it such as posing, specificity of muscular striation goals and what not.
I've learned so much in the time since I did that competition. Not only was I only eating 850 calories, which is awful even without the consideration of the amount of physical activity I was involved in, but about 600 of those calories were from protein alone... animal protein at that. What happens when you eat that much animal protein and not enough carbohydrates from green vegetables to alkalize your system? Your body suffers from uric acid, and you can ultimately end up with kidney failure after awhile. Right after the competition, I went to the doctor because my kidneys were killing me, not really thinking about my major idiot move in following the diet, and my kidneys were in fact, in the beginning stages of failure.
I am going on 5 months postpartum, and I keep pushing myself to lose the weight like I did last time so that by the time I hit 8 months postpartum, I am at the same level I was at 8 months postpartum last year. Then I remember my 850 calorie diet that put me where I was last year, and I remember how exhausted, scatter-brained, and overall spread-thin I was last year. I may not, or will most likely not hit the 114 lbs I was at 8 months postpartum last year, but I will be stronger and much more physically fit. I am already moving way more weight than I was while training for that competition, and that excites me. I have two kids, am still breastfeeding, and eating a minimum of 1500 calories per day- on most days I hit around 2200 calories, and I feel great and am at my pre pregnancy weight.
The other day, I was discussing bodybuilding with a friend of mine. We were going over reasons why one would want to go through with competing. I think competing is a great thing, as long as you have a great coach who cares about your health, who can diet you properly, allowing for a great deal of vegetables and enough calories to sustain your physical activity. There is no reason to starve yourself for any goal. You may reach your goal more slowly, but you will be able to maintain and enjoy the end result much more.
I went over and over in my head whether or not to publish this. I didn't and don't want to offend anyone who I competed with, who dieted similarly, and still have the same coach. However, I think it is more important for people who don't compete to realize what some people do to reach that "goal body" in such a short amount of time, and that they shouldn't beat themselves up for not matching that so quickly. It's also important for people who would like to compete, to know that there are many competitors out there who eat a great diet (some eat way more than they would like to) and get incredible results. There are more than a couple ways to get results, go with what works for you. But 850 calories? That shouldn't work for anyone.
Feed your muscles, brain, and heart.