Today’s guest blog comes from Amy Fitschen. Take it away Amy …
Tracking, training, posing, cardio, meal planning…all things that take up a good portion of time during a contest prep. These things are all added to the usual runaround of everyday life.
I’d just finished my second contest prep, and I found myself thinking back on the process. How did I do it all? I am only one person. And I don’t have anyone else I am responsible for; no pets, no kids, just a husband who can mostly care for himself.
How do others with families, pets, or high level jobs manage?
If you are familiar with the bodybuilding industry, you are aware that there are many top level competitors, both men and women, who are able to achieve high success in the sport as well as in their personal lives. I wanted to share my story (not overly impressive) and tips and stories from three other high level female competitors. I do not want to discredit the male competitors, however let’s be honest….it’s the women that run the show.
For me, I started lifting with purpose in 2012, as I was becoming bored with the cardio circuit. I am lucky that my husband, Peter is also strongly involved in fitness as a bodybuilder.
We don’t generally lift together, but he understands the time I spend in the gym is important. I am pretty flexible with my workouts but tend to work out in the evenings unless we have other plans.
Although I was always conscious of my activity levels, I never really paid much attention to my nutrition. When I decided to compete, I started tracking my nutrition. I follow an IIFYM approach which was different as I only ever really tracked calories. As with training, Peter also tracks his nutrition, which makes it easier for me. I often say that I would never be able to do it without his support and understanding.
Since we both track, we are able to prepare meals together or eat our own individual items depending on our numbers. We will generally prepare one to two meals each week that we have tracked and portioned using MyFitnessPal. Other times, we will eat from our bulk prepped items like chicken and veggies.
My story is not too complicated. I am thankful I have someone in my life that can relate to these goals and can support the time it takes from our relationship. My family doesn’t always understand the goals, but they do support me. I think these things all contribute to the level of success I have in both my personal life and in the sport.
I have talked with three women in the bodybuilding community; Carolyn, Delight, and Chris. All three have careers, families and success in the sport. I have met all three while competing over the last 4-5 years. As with me, they were involved in fitness throughout their lives, but all started competing within the last 10 years.
Delight became a figure pro in 2013 and has since won professional shows. Not only is Delight a professional figure competitor, she also trains and competes in powerlifting.
Carolyn took time away from the gym when starting her family, but as they grew up she got back to the gym as she is very passionate about it. She has won competitive open and master’s classes during her figure career.
Chris, like me, was always active in the cardio realm, but she didn’t find her niche in the lifting community right away. Even though she started out as a cardio bunny, she has achieved professional status as a bikini competitor.
Here are some of the things they had to say about managing their family lives, professional lives, and continuing to strive towards their physique goals.
One common theme for all of these women is the support of their spouses. For both Carolyn and Chris, their husbands are active, however they do not compete. They are there every step of the way, though, helping with training, tracking, or show day.
Delight’s husband is a powerlifter, so he also stays active in the gym. They are “a team” by helping one another out with kids’ activities, so both can take their time in the gym. With their kids, it’s a little different story. Their children may not understand it as well as their spouses; however that doesn’t mean they aren’t supportive.
For Carolyn, her kids are especially supportive, and even curious about how she manages her diet. They will often ask why she “can’t” eat something. She uses terms such as “I choose not to eat” certain items. She is good at explaining to them that there are times when she will have a “treat” and times when she won’t.
As with my family, and many extended families of competitors, their families don’t always get the goals we strive for, but they tend be as supportive as they can.
All three women use an IIFYM approach to dieting. Delight’s husband also tracks, so the two often compare amounts left at the end of the day. Even though Carolyn and Chris’ husband don’t track, they are easy going. They will at times share meals with their wives and other times eat with the kids. For each family though, separate meals are usually prepared (depending on their nutritional needs).
Bulk cooking seems to be the best route for all these women. They will prepare larger amounts of meat which can be used for multiple meals. For Delight, a crock pot is her best friend, as she, her kids, and her husband often are extremely busy and preparing and eating a meal all together is difficult. Chris mentioned that grocery shopping gets tough for her.
She has different allergies and intolerances to work around in her family. Also, she has staple foods (almond milk, artic zero, walden farms) that her family just won’t go near. She tends to buy “her” foods, and “their” foods. Her family and kids are flexible though, and she finds it all works.
With the demands of training, all three women have to have flexibility. Delight and Carolyn tend to perform workouts during the days while their kids are at school if their work schedules allow. On the weekends, Carolyn does early morning workouts, before the kids are even out of bed.
Chris works long days and has a long commute, so she took the plunge and outfitted a home gym in her garage. She still needs to get to the gym for specific equipment, so she often clusters her workouts to accommodate what she needs each day.
She mentions that even her commute time is utilized to answer emails or log training. When you are as busy as a working mother/competitor, you don’t waste anything!!
For all three women, I am sure if you ask them they would say they had to make sacrifices for their goals (just like any competitor). Chris mentioned that with work, her family, and her training, she doesn’t get to socialize as much as she once did.
They all noted throughout their stories how important it was to have the support of their husbands and kids. None of them regretted the time and hard work it required to do it all, they simply did it.
These three women inspire me because they are able to do it all. They have found a balance between family, work, and play (even though they may not play as much as they’d like). It proves wives, mothers, and caregivers, can achieve high level goals in career, fitness, or family.
There are ways to take care of ourselves as well as those in our lives. It may mean putting our dreams/goals off for a bit, but it doesn’t mean throwing them out the window. It seems helpful to have a support system as well. I hope someday to achieve the levels of greatness that these women have both in the sport and in my personal life.
I have a Bachelors in Exercise and Sports Science and a Masters degree in Clinical Exercise Physiology. I am a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist (RCEP) and currently work mostly with cardiac and pulmonary populations in a clinical setting, as well as helping with FITbody and Physique LLC. I competed in Figure in 2013 and am prepping for this fall. I have top five finishes in beginners, novice, and open.
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