Deanna walked into my personal training studio about 8 years ago and insisted she was a trainer we had to hire. I remember interviewing her. She was eager, excited and passionate. It was hard trying to get a word into the conversation. I found this a bit annoying but I never seen someone so pumped up about their career. I knew we had to have her energy. Deanna really understands the pressures and difficulties women have to go through to develop the bodies they want. She has dealt with her own eating disorders and conquered them. Deanna has a great body. She has entered a few figure competitions. I asked her to write about her experience and what her mind and body had to go through to get to the final look she wanted.
I thought I wouldn’t do this again... But here I am, looking through all my old Oxygen magazines, desiring to be on stage again — big-capped shoulders; six-pack abs; high, tight, round glutes...
That's what all Figure girls want, and that's what I'm planning on getting. I know it will require me to gain some muscle and with muscle comes fat. It's inevitable that one will put some fat weight on with any hypertrophy program.
So what, who cares? I know that I will be dieting down and losing it anyway. So why does this scare me so bad? It's called negative body image and eating-disorder hell!
I would rather have a serious illness than get “fat”! I know that through a serious weight-training and eating plan, I won't get fat, but I'm having anxiety anyway. I have to commit to putting on at least 10-15 pounds in the next four to six months, so that will give me three months to diet and look amazing. I have never done this on purpose — put on weight, cut back my cardio, and hardest of all increase my food intake without purging.
I have had issues with eating disorders and body image since the age of 14. I received a lot of support and love from my family, went to counseling in college, and then was able to have a somewhat normal relationship with food since about 25. But, the demons have stayed with me. I'm constantly counting calories, fat grams, cardio minutes, etc.
I always think about how I look and I'm always struggling with being thin, ripped and accepted. I want to be above-average. I need to be, I am expected to be. I am, after all, the fitness girl! I am the role-model of health. I need to look the part. I need to be stronger than my cravings, and above all, I need to sell my energy to make a living!
So with all this history of eating/body image trouble, why do I want to stand on stage in my bikini and have my body parts judged by strangers? Because I love this stuff!
I love the discipline.
I love the training intensity.
I love the structure — it keeps me focused.
I love watching my body change — abs starting to show, cuts in my arms, back and shoulders appearing.
I love the control I have when I follow my plan!
I need to have a goal or I have trouble with regressing back to my old ways. I will either over-train, or eat too little/too much and become depressed. I need a plan. I work better in life this way. I will sacrifice alcohol, sugar, relaxed social dinners, and dessert coffees all for the best body I can have. I no longer want food to control me. I want to control it.
Food should not be my sole source of happiness. There are many other things in life bring me joy. I feel strongly that these competitions are what brought me into this new relationship with food: I use it as fuel, nourishment. I use natural whole foods that are so lovely, untouched by preservatives, sauces, chemicals. I love to look up recipes that I can make with herbs and spices without sugar, salt, or saturated fats.
Food does not have to be boring on a contest diet. I focus on what I can eat, not what I can’t. But try telling that to someone who eats fast food, packaged food, protein bars, and fancy coffees. They think I'm crazy!
What is normal anyway? I think eating five to six small, balanced meals prepared fresh at home is much better than someone who drinks coffee all day, has a donut for lunch, a huge pasta dinner at night, then more snacks until bedtime. Why is that acceptable behavior while a athlete's diet is not?
I know I have to make sacrifices to do a Figure competition, but I'm ready to give up these things:
- A social life: Sure, I could go out and just refuse to eat and drink anything not on my diet. Or I can stay away and not get pressured. I find people are less inclined to include me in any activities because they think if I can’t drink, I wont have fun.
- Money: it's not cheap to compete! Suits: $400.00. Shoes, $100.00. Hair, make-up, tanning, skin care supplements, food, chicken, fresh veggies, trainer fees, gym membership fees, time off work to compete... It adds up.
- Time: I have to get my cardio in, starting at 45 minutes a day, up to 90 minutes a day. Weights 4 days on,1 day off, and repeat the whole cycle.
Still, these "costs" aren't a huge deal. I tend to stick to my gym friends and not get into it with anyone who isn’t into the sport so I feel accepted. My family understands my issues, so when I go visit, they never pressure me to eat stuff that isn’t in my plan. I love my family. They get me. Thanks ma!
I've hired a trainer. I showed him pictures of my last contest physique, and we decided I would put on some more muscle and start the contest diet 20 weeks out in order to put the mass on properly.
Here's my plan:
- Cardio: 40 minutes two days a week, and 30 minutes of interval cardio one day a week.
- Weights: four-day split: Chest and Triceps; Legs, Back and Biceps; Shoulders; Calves and Abs.
- Meals: five meals a day that combine 25-30 grams of protein, 25-30 grams of carbs, 20 grams of fats (like that found in nuts), fibrous veggies at the last four meals. I don't count macros from veggies.
No problem, that's lots of food. I can handle this!
I'll keep you posted on my progress up to the competition. Check the blog here at PaulPlakas.com for my updates.