Earlier in January of this year, I had the privilege of being one of the official Bodybuilding.com employees to participate in the $200,000 Bodybuilding.com Transformation Challenge. Basically, I was to commit to changing my body through healthier eating and workouts for 12 weeks. I felt like I was already doing this anyway, so naturally I was honored to represent the company!
The challenge proved to be a great experience internally (among the company and employees) and with the wider community and everyone else transforming alongside us.
First, the goal of "changing your body" is all relative, and admittedly, a bit vague (although most of the emphasis is placed upon visual appearance since that can be more easily compared!). This what I've achieved in 12 weeks:
Note that the before pictures with the newspapers were taken in January 2015, after pics just a couple days ago (April 5). I should note that the after pictures were taken (at home) way butt crack early in the morning after an unrestful night of sleep...sooo I promise I'm not an angry person.
As for the progress itself: slow and steady! I now look like I actually lift and am stronger in the gym. Physical changes are there, albeit less dramatic than most would expect, but that was the whole intention when I went into this challenge. Still, throughout this process, I learned that there's more to any body transformation than commitment and dedication; it's a giant-ass mind game.
At first, 12 weeks can seem like a reasonable time frame for dramatic changes. Plenty of people have certainly proven this to be possible and any successful weight loss is a remarkable feat, but there's no magic behind 12 weeks; it was completely arbitrary, the brainchild of Bill Phillips, who authored Body For Life.
There's no denying that, on the surface, many 12-week transformations can seem amazing, but here comes the zinger: The reality is that lasting changes cannot happen in 12 weeks. I know this full well from talking to co-workers -- both experienced and new transformers. There are things that can be done and sacrificed to speed up the process, including highly restricted food intake and excess activity, both of which I avoided. As I said, I want to do this for the long haul and be able to enjoy the process.
Yet despite having prepared myself mentally for slow and steady results, I consistently ate my own words and battled frustration and disappointment on a frequent basis.
Lesson #1: I cannot measure up to others.
As much as it's more awesome and comforting for me to simply smirk and say that I am my own person and shouldn't compare myself to anybody, the environment at Bodybuilding.com made it simply next to impossible to not measure yourself against everyone else. Aside from everyone looking like a cover model, it was extremely difficult to reel in my expectations of my own progress and resist the temptation to get to my coworkers' level.
My coworkers are incredibly inspiring for their tenacity and steadfast commitment to a certain goal no matter what the cost. For me, I wanted to take it slow (shhhh, it's my first time). It turned into a Catch 22 sort of scenario: stick closely to my guns-in-the-making or start to question myself, like "Am I just making excuses to shirk really hard work?"
Eventually, I had to forcibly accept that what works for some people shouldn't automatically apply to me. Why not? Because different lifestyles, circumstances, eating habits, dieting history, genetics, metabolism, attitude, and I can really go on.
What's more is that I was willing to put in the time-consuming effort to make adjustments one variable at a time and figure out how my body responds (and I did). It was more important to me that I kept as healthy as possible (ergo, not losing my period because that shit can happen to a lot of girls).
Lesson #2: time wasted?
Is it a waste of time if I'm not physically progressing all the time? I don't think so.
It took me 6 weeks to find out the negative manifestations of a calorie deficit. My energy and mood were not ideal for the office environment and my workload. So I had to make adjustments. Around 8 weeks in, I'd realized that my expectations were still unrealistic.
At 10 weeks, I discovered that my food tracking on MyFitnessPal was off, which greatly contributed to my stalled weight loss progress. I'd since switched to another app Cron-O-meter, and my weight and measurements have begun to actually move in a more encouraging direction and pace.
By the 11th week, I feel like I'd finally begun to grasp a sort of peace within myself; that even though I'm not near where I thought I'd be by now I still had come a long way. It would seem that I'd wasted 11 weeks to figure these things out, but I don't see it that way.
Sometimes periods of trial and error can be seen as wasted time, but I now believe that the lessons taken from these periods can be significant and have carry-over to many aspects of life. More importantly, I can believe that I'm doing everything "right" for myself, but things don't always go the way I want. I almost lost sight of my own values and what was best for myself in favor of "keeping up."
Lesson #3: There's no "Just World"
What I mean by a "just world" is one that can fairly dispense reward or punishment on the basis of someone's good or bad deeds, respectively. For example, just because I put in a ton of effort, I should not feel entitled to a proportionate gratification. This realization was a definite buzzkill, but that's just reality...
Overall, "success" can come in different forms. There are many ways success can be perceived and many more paths to get "there." For me, I feel like I'm right smack dab in the middle of that journey -- maybe even a quarter of the way. In some way, I've already attained it -- I know, this is some hippie Zen-like crap, huh?
This Transformation Challenge was a good push, and I will continue to keep going. I hope y'all will continue to join me! Your support has been amazing thus far; to say that you are my motivation to keep going is an understatement. So here, have some hearts.
<3 <3 <3 <3