It's the 16th week of training, and I am starting to freak out.
I recently received a fitness magazine showcasing the top contenders in a fitness competition, and I devoured it like a refugee who had stumbled upon a chocolate-chip muffin. But when I sat and looked at the pictures of figure competitors who looked unlike anything I thought my body could do, and began calculating the numbers of hours I would have to workout, grams of protein I would have to eat, and dollars I would have to spend on plastic surgery to achieve that type of body, my husband looked over my shoulder and said, "those women look gross."
They did look kind of gross. They looked like some kind of nightmare freak Barbies. I know a lot of it is tanner and oil and posing, and they don't look like that when they're pushing the buggy at Target with the rest of us mere mortals. I looked at those women and thought, ew. And then immediately, can I even get there?
I have my doubts. Sure, I can get my body fat down and workout really hard and eat the perfect diet, and be in really good shape as a result. But these women have a genetic makeup that lends itself to this line of work. I don't know if I have that. I'm not sure how far hard work, drive, and determination can get me in this game. At some point I'll need to alter my DNA, and I don't have the skill set for that.
I spent the weekend reuniting with my college girlfriends, fully engaged in a diet of homemade cookies, mexican food, and ice cream. I enjoyed the diversion from my usual regimen of egg whites and protein shakes, but I also craved a workout and looked forward to going back to my clean eating ways. I realized that my splurge days are becoming more rare and less enjoyable. I'm glad for that, because it signals a permanent change that I am ready for.
As I sat in the airport during my four-hour layover, I contemplated whether I was setting myself up to be a laughing stock, and if I should quietly fade into the background, letting this project become a memory and hoping no one would notice my absence. But as I walked down the aisle of the plane and searched for my seat, I felt the fire build inside of me, enraged at the thought of quitting. And as I looked through the window at the shrinking landscape and let the clouds envelop me in white space, I closed my eyes and tried to visualize myself at the finish line, imagining what that would look like and how that would feel. I had a hard time seeing it, and it was then that I realized that the finish line would never be there.
I opened my eyes and looked back through the window of the plane. By now we were above the clouds and the sun was shining on us. I opened my magazine and looked at the unreal statue-like bodies of the professional figure competitors and thought about the vast differences between their hamstrings and mine. And then the fire returned, this time cheering me on. I might never look like a tanned, shiny, frekaziod Barbie on steroids, and to be honest, that's okay. But I do want to reach what I have been calling my MGP - my Maximum Genetic Potential.
Will my MGP cut the mustard next to elite gymnasts, professional figure models, and genetic lottery winners? We'll find out. Either way, I have stopped looking for the finish line and started training for the long haul.
Fitness magazines, websites, and television shows can be great motivators for anyone working on a healthier lifestyle. But at the end of the day (or in my case, in the wee hours before daybreak) it all comes down to you, your nutrition, and your weights. When those planets are aligned, it's go time.
So let's go.