(this post was written on June 17, 2015 before my first competition and was originally posted on my tumblr account at lilybirdlifts.tumblr.com)
I used to think that motivated, successful people were just special. They woke-up everyday ready to achieve their goals and I would never be like them.
Don’t get me wrong- I’ve achieved a lot and I don’t want to sell myself short. However, in spite of these successes I still didn’t consider myself ‘motivated’ because my mindset was all wrong. I was halfway there but I didn’t have the confidence or self awareness to celebrate what I’d achieved and continue working towards my life goals.
As I train for my first bikini competition I find that I’m learning a lot about how I view the world and myself. This isn’t just about changing my body or walking on stage in a fancy bikini (though that is a part of it!) this is about setting a goal and working tirelessly towards it each and everyday. Doing something that will improve my life forever and allow me to have a more balanced perspective on life. As I’ve been training I’ve learned a few things about motivation that I wanted to share. Like I said, I am not perfect and just started my journey but I think that reflection is a key to success so here we go!
1. No one is as dedicated as they appear
That pro bodybuilder on instagram that you follow, that YouTuber with the perfect body and that girl in the gym who kills it every time- they all have bad days. They might not look like yours but self doubt and less than stellar results and execution happen to everyone, regardless of how successful you appear. I would encourage you to form relationships with your role models so you can witness and experience just how many setbacks they face each day. Just because they have your dream job, body or life does not mean they’ve got it easy. Remember that success and motivation are based off of hard work and practice, not luck.
2. Champions don’t quit
Champions aren’t just naturally winners. I thought for a long time that if I wasn’t born to do something that it was a waste of my time. False. I encountered this at work and in life, so this wasn’t just a fitness or gym mindset. I counted myself out before even trying and that’s a surefire way to fail. If you never start how can you be a success? Whether you’re trying to lose 5 pounds, get promoted, or just live a happier, healthier life you must keep going even if you have a bad day, week or month. How is quitting going to help you reach your goals? It isn’t. It will just become another excuse to give up on yourself, and you should never, ever do that, no matter how low you feel.
3. Just. Keep. Going
Last year I was finishing up graduate school and I was taking a class on linguistics. It was the most challenging class I’d taken and I wanted to quit so badly. In fact, I contacted just about everyone I knew desperately trying to get out of it. The syllabus was huge, the course load demanding and the subject matter was foreign and overwhelming. I couldn’t do this! It was too hard! Turns out that I had to take the class, and once I knew that I got angry. How dare this happen to me! I was so close to graduating and this class was going to ruin everything.
Instead of completely freaking out, I begrudgingly took out that monster syllabus and started reading. I didn’t like it but I knew that without doing the work I was truly doomed. As I started to study class got a little easier and I started to understand more of what we discussed in class. Much to my surprise I was actually interested in some of what I was learning and that encouraged me to go further. I started participating and engaging with my classmates and professor and this newfound interest translated into a deeper understanding of the topics we were learning about and in turn improved my grades. After a difficult semester of long nights completing essays and journal entries I finally took our last exam and earned an A. I was so shocked because I thought that I was for sure going to fail. Was it easy? No. But could I do it? Yes.It just took changing my attitude and putting the work in.
4. Don’t be a victim
Taking on a victim stance happens to us all. There are so many instances in life beyond our control. Our boss can be in a bad mood, a loved one can fall ill or a relationship can crumble. I’m not saying that these life situations shouldn’t make us sad or call for self reflection. Instead I’m encouraging you to think about what you do control and try to work on that. With competing, it’s my diet. I hit my workouts with absolutely no problem and while I don’t binge eat anymore I’ve been known to be indulgent with my serving sizes from time to time. I blame it on a craving or a whim but guess what? Those excuses aren’t going to bring me closer to my goals, so why am I making them?
If I weren’t competing I could be a bit more flexible, but I’ve chosen to do this because it is challenging. I need to be meticulous and accountable because that’s part of the sport. I’m not punishing myself, but instead I’m investing in my success by following through. Try thinking about what you can do to help yourself without being negative. Reflect in a journal, talk to a friend or join a group of like minded individuals. For me I write and have a group of ‘fitness friends’ who raise me up when I’m struggling. Create a net of support for yourself and use it!
About the Author
Lily lives in the Bay Area of California with her husband. She loves to lift heavy, watch vintage movies and cheer on her fellow warrior queens!