Do you like a challenge? Do you need to set goals and deadlines to motivate yourself? I definitely get this way. I like to have an upcoming competition to prep for or even something as trivial as a get together that I want to look hot for. These types of situations give me a reason to stick to my diet and fitness routine, because let’s be honest, at times you stop and think to yourself, “why bother?” or “is it worth it?”
I was definitely having the thoughts above run through my head as summer approached, but unfortunately, I didn’t have any competitions/events coming up. That’s when I got an email from Bodybuilding.com in my inbox. Among their typical fitness articles and recipes was the announcement for their next transformation challenge, the 8 week Still In It Challenge. Sponsored by Bodybuilding.com and Muscle Pharm, the grand prize package included $20,000 and an “Elite Athlete Experience” trip. One male and one female would be selected by a panel of judges, based on their “transformation” between the before and after pictures. Weekly challenges could also earn you some prizes.
The challenge began April 25, and I have to say, my body was pretty killer at the beginning, so I wasn’t sure if it made sense to join. My transformation could never be as drastic as those who manage to lose 50+ pounds in these competitions. However, some past challenge winners included people who went from fit to flawless, so I set my goals there.
I uploaded my before pics and joined the challenge. My goal was not to lose weight, but to get ripped. I wanted more biceps, better abs, and the defined quads that seemed to be alluding me. I also wanted to gain some exposure through this challenge. It’s a goal of mine to be an ambassador/ endorsed athlete for a supplement company or apparel line. Really, I just want someone to tell me I’m pretty and give me free stuff.
Week one of this challenge was amazing. They provided a workout program, so I went to the gym twice everyday: crossfit in the morning and the lifting program in the afternoons. I ate completely clean, cooking every meal myself. The fact that they didn’t provide a meal plan with the challenge seemed strange and disappointing, but luckily I already had a stable meal plan. I was most proud of myself for making it through the first weekend without slipping, which I have a bad tendency to do. I felt empowered and exhilarated and my body was already showing improvements. The first few weeks went seamlessly like this.
Then came the first bump in the road, a trip to Washington, D.C. My dad and I traveled to DC for five days, for some sight-seeing. The trip made me extremely apprehensive. It meant I would be away from my gym and my kitchen. I researched local boxes in the area where I could drop in and stashed oatmeal, almonds, fruit, and turkey muffins in my bag. Although I planned ahead, nothing ever goes as planned. First, half of my healthy snacks were confiscated as I entered the Capitol building. They foiled my plans of taking out a senator with my deadly orange. Then, since the cost to drop in at any box was $15-30 and getting to most of them was a huge pain in the ass in DC traffic, I decided to only check out one, and use the hotel gym for my lifting workouts. I did a few workouts there, but the gym didn’t have much equipment and I couldn’t get very motivated. I had intended to run, but ended up with shin splints from walking in the wrong shoes on day two. It felt like my only savior on the trip was a chain restaurant called Cosi. I went every morning for breakfast and had an egg white cup and bowl of oatmeal. Starting my day off with a nourishing breakfast and walking all across the entire city managed to keep me at a good place during the trip.
I’m in that stage of my life where all of my friends are getting hitched, so weddings are now a common occurrence. I went to two during this eight week challenge. The first, I actually played the wedding coordinator. Not only was I doing this challenge, but I had a crossfit competition in the morning, so I was very incentivized to stay clean. I avoided the open bar and left before the cake cutting. I did have a couple of pieces of steak, but I had to fuel up for the next day! The second wedding, I was far less inclined to behave. I ate and drank the night away. I even had a slice of chocolate pie, which was the first dessert I had the entire duration of the challenge. Not too bad for being six weeks in. I felt I deserved a splurge.
I made it so far in the challenge. My arms and back started to look amazing, and my abs were out far more consistently than usual. But when the last week came around, I didn’t feel lie I was “still in it”. I made a few bad food choices on the weekend, and my morning workouts weren’t feeling great. Mother nature also decided to bring my little friend by for the week. So when it came time to take the after shots, I was tired, defeated, and bloated. I compared the before and after and lost myself in tears, because not only was there no transformation, but I actually looked larger.
The invigorated feeling I experienced at the beginning of the challenge certainly did not permeate through the eight weeks. I had terrible anxiety on my trip. I missed out on both a beer festival and wine festival. I denied several invites to dine out. I agonized and stressed a lot throughout the entire process. And for what? A few followers on Instagram and some more buddies on my Bodyspace account? Challenges like this can be a good source of motivation, but don’t allow them to overtake your life. If you need the extra incentive to get yourself going, then go ahead and join the next challenge, but just be sure you are doing it for the right reasons and in a healthy way, both physically and mentally.
If despite my regret, you still feel like your up for your own challenge, Bodybuilding.com is sponsoring another eight week program. Check it out.