So I’m going to try and not make this too much of a rant, and try and not be all biased and “I love my coach and I love my training”. Because I know everyone is different and responds to different ways of training and dieting. But something that is becoming increasingly apparent as I make my way further on this journey is the dangerous levels that some people go to purely to present themselves on stage for one day, ironically as a ‘fitness model’.
When I decided way back in January that I wanted to compete, my main reason was for a healthy goal. Something that was far removed from my academic life of trying to finish my PhD, and something to give me a healthy focus. I’d been following various fitness industry coaches and models for a long time and was aware of different coaching styles (if it fits your macros, clean eating etc.), but only as aware as a girl can be from social media. Now I like to think of myself as relatively clued up. I’m an academic, so my background is sports science and sports nutrition and I know my stuff that the textbooks and research tell me. This doesn’t mean I know anything about the world of body building and fitness, I most certainly didn’t then. That’s one thing a lot of my friends didn’t understand (amongst a lot of other stuff but that’s for a whole different post), why did I need someone telling me what to do when I know the science and what should work and what’s a load of rubbish (for want of a better word)? I can’t begin to explain the benefits of a coach here, but safe to say I wouldn’t have got this far alone. So I researched, dug deeper in to specific coaches and decided to entrust Sam (Zeus Fitness) with my new found challenge. I had followed his partner and client Emma Howie for a while and loved her look. Not only that, they both seemed clued up. She had a blog way back then and everything she explained about how she felt and how she trained matched me down to a tee. Turns out we’re a lot more alike than I would have imagined now, and the two of them have become a great support network for me. Anyway, this isn’t about me bigging up Team Zeus Fitness so I’ll stop there. What I will say is that Sam is a coach who loves being questioned. He loves constantly learning, challenging and most importantly, practises evidence based coaching. At no point has he ever asked me to do something and not been able to explain why, even if sometimes he just has to tell me ‘stop being so science about this one’. I need that. So yeah, I know my health is 100% safe with him. I also know that I’m smart enough to question everything, because at the end of the day, we all want to be our best. For me, my health and mental wellbeing is the most important part of this journey. Knowing I have a coach who is supportive of that makes everything a lot easier.
So now comes the not so nice part. I am in no way criticising other methods of coaching, at all. I am simply saying what I see, and using this blog as an outlet for some stuff that really gets under my nutritionist skin. I’m also saying it so that anyone that may want to get in to the industry becomes aware of what’s out there and understands the importance of searching for the right team to support you. I see a lot of girls who are hungry. I don’t mean tummy grumbles that we all get when we’re dieting, because let’s be honest, a fitness girls stomach is never full. I mean, emotionally unstable, can’t workout anymore hungry. I also see people doing cardio every day, and not just during prep. I cannot imagine being able to sustain daily cardio, low calories then a heavy lifting session that night, day in, day out, over and over. I’ve heard stories of girls ending up in hospital, following their coaches advice perfectly but for whatever reason, whether it’s because their coach isn’t clued up or isn’t providing personalised coaching, they end up really sick. All because they want to be stage ready.
Some of these coaches and ‘nutritionists’ are those who may have stepped on stage once, or are personal trainers and think they can guide people on to the stage because they have trained some people in the gym. Please, if you’re looking for a coach, research them. They might have abs or delts, but is their nutrition qualification from an online source that you could do yourself in a day? Qualifications are not the be all and end all, but jeez they make a difference. Added with some hefty experience and yeah, some clients you’d aspire to and I’m sure you’ve found a keeper. But just because someone looks great in that instagram shot, does not mean they’re safe to provide you with nutrition advice and certainly does not mean they lead a healthy way of living. ASK QUESTIONS! I’ve heard some crazy things that coaches have told their clients to do and when I question it they have no idea why they’re doing it. Think about your health, not just your bikinis.
I follow a lot of fitness girls and likewise, a lot of acadmics. I see girls moaning for 10-15 weeks about how miserable their life is. I see the measly food they eat and the hours of training they do and just how unhappy they are. This journey is supposed to be a healthy one. One that promotes ‘fit not skinny’ and ‘strong is the new sexy’, but surely miserable, starving and tired is not sexy (I write this from my bed, unshowered and in the ugliest PJ’s you ever saw, but I’m single and that’s allowed according to Bridget Jones).
When did having abs become better than being happy and healthy? I know this journey is going to get tougher, but I have 6 weeks left and I am ready for the challenge. More importantly, I know my health is always top priority, both for me and my coach. If you can’t say the same, maybe step back and look at what’s important. Because long-term, what would you rather have? Abs and an unhappy mind? Or a healthy physique and strength of mind and body?
PS This post covers all the pyramid schemes too. If you can find a rep who can tell you the science behind why a shake of 40kcal is better for you than a balanced meal then go for it, until then, maybe start questioning things a little more. After all, it’s your health and your bank balance!