Don’t downplay the importance of diet. from Secrets You Can Steal from Fitness Competitors

Secrets You Can Steal from Fitness Competitors

Don’t downplay the importance of diet.

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“The hardest part of prep [for the competition] was sticking 100 percent to the diet,” Anderer said. “When I am not in prep I eat healthy as it is, but in prep there are certain foods you must avoid and you must be strict with portions and grams. It takes a lot more focus and discipline to eat when you are supposed to and not when you want to.” Of course, your eating habits won’t have to be as extreme, but the lesson to be learned here is that if you’re serious about getting in shape, instead of looking for short cuts or quick fixes, you’ll have to hold nutrition in high regard. Go in knowing that your success will rely on developing routine healthy eating habits and increased self-discipline.

You are your biggest motivator.

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It doesn’t hurt to seek motivation from outside sources, but Anderer says she found that most of the inspiration and courage she needed to keep going came from within. “I talked myself out of things I knew would ruin my end result,” she said. “I learned to talk to myself and keep myself calm at the times I wanted to give up or wondered why I was doing it in the first place. The mind is an extremely powerful instrument and only you can control it.”

Nutrients are necessary.

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As Anderer mentioned earlier, during prep for fitness competitions certain foods, like fruit, aren’t allowed. But with their intense daily workouts competitors still need essential nutrients to keep their bodies performing optimally. “Doing this prep showed me how important vitamins and supplements really are,” Anderer said. Applied in real life, this lesson highlights the importance of eating to fuel your goals. Getting your fittest body yet will require increasing the intensity of your workouts, but while on your quest for a fit physique make sure to avoid developing a mentality of deprivation. Skipping meals or completely avoiding a certain type of food might leave you feeling sluggish and un-energized, which will cause your performance in the gym to suffer and as result, hold you back from reaching your goals.

You are what you eat.

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Anderer mentioned that while prepping for competition she learned how things like water and carb intake can have a significant effect on your overall body composition. “You can control how your body looks just by tweaking these things for a few weeks,” she said. This lesson goes to show just how much what you put into your body will affect the way you look and feel; another reason to hold a high regard for your nutrition.

Treat your taste buds.

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During her 15-week prep period, both fruit and chocolate were off limits to Anderer. “That was the hardest part for me,” she said. “One trick I used to stick to the diet was coffee. There are so many different flavors that really taste sweet when you haven’t had sugar for a while.” Lucky for you, getting in really great shape doesn’t mean you’ll have to say goodbye to fruit and chocolate forever. However, it does mean that you might have to cut back on some of your favorite foods and replace them with more nutritious options instead. For example, swapping sugary fruit juices for water flavored with fresh fruit or satisfying your late-night sweet tooth with a piece of heart-healthy dark chocolate instead of a bowl of ice cream.

Never think negatively.

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This one is easier said than done, but positive thinking (especially paired with the self-talk techniques Anderer mentioned earlier) is essential to maintaining the mentality you’ll need to see your goals all the way through. Anderer noted that there were plenty of times where she felt like skipping workouts, but she quickly learned to silence those negative thoughts and she believes that’s one of the biggest factors that led to her success. “Your mind is the most powerful instrument you own and if you can control it, you can talk yourself in or out of anything,” she said. “That’s how I got through most of my workouts.”

Pay attention to portions.

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Regarding your diet as highly important not only means choosing more nutritious foods, but eating them in the appropriate amounts as well. Anderer says that her experience with prepping for  competition has taught her a lot about the importance of paying attention to your portion sizes at meal time, as well as nutrient timing and when to eat certain types of foods “The best time to eat protein and carbs is always around your workout because of the importance of energy for your muscles and for muscle repair as well,” she said. “During prep I always kept my carb and protein meals early in the day and fat and protein meals later in the day. Protein was included at every meal to maintain muscle and constant repair.”

Don’t become a slave to the scale.

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“At the beginning of my prep I was obsessed with the scale and would weigh myself four or more times a day, which I know was unhealthy but it would always show me a different number and make me upset and frustrated,” Anderer said. “Now I learned to only use the scale when I need to and to go mostly by how I look and feel. You can look and feel amazing and the scale could change your mind instantly. The amount of water your body holds on to is actually hard to believe. Your body is about 70 percent water as it is, and things like water and sodium will make the scale show different numbers.” Anderer says that you should never let a number on the scale upset you. “Trust what you see in the mirror, not the number,” she said.