What to Expect
Your partner has decided to compete in their very first bodybuilding competition. You are fairly newly introduced to fitness as a whole and have no idea what you will get into. My name is Michelle and we are a busy family with two young children about to experience all the ups and downs, the struggles and triumphs of what it can take to support someone dedicated to this type of journey – the beginning, the hardships, and the end result.
At the Beginning
We made a pact, discussed possible scenarios, and outlined a preliminary routine of what to expect. I was to be in charge of our children – their school routine, preparing meals, providing activities, taking care of the house and pets etc. My partner outlined his day – cardio in the morning, work, strength training, meal prep and sleep. This was our life and every day was a repeat of the last.
Identifying your role with one another during this process was KEY – and going into fully understanding the difficulties that may come along. I honestly was on cloud nine thinking I was doing my finest and everything was flowing so smoothly. Everyone was happy and it felt easy. Then the weeks passed and sticking to our routines became challenging; balancing life in general almost felt impossible.
As the weeks progress you grew to see how everything affects the body physically and mentally. There would be days when my partner would come home from work and sleep on the couch. I would cook the meals he needed so he would start the next day prepared and not behind. Pure mental and physical exhaustion became a regular thing and days would go by without us having a conversation. You could feel loneliness and a cloud of stress hanging over the house. The mood swings would make an appearance here and there.
This phase of prep was most definitely the most difficult – it challenged every ounce of you mentally… Here is when you need to just know this is how it is and it will not last the entire time. You have to try your absolute best to not take anything personally and remember what role you took on at the very beginning. Every person reacts differently when their entire body is put under so much stress. The best advice I can give during this part of the prep is to communicate openly and honestly – but at the same time to just smile and give your partner the space they need.
Only a week away from standing on the stage, we were hit with another obstacle. When you have young children, they are bound to bring some sort of virus home. The one they brought happened to be one of THE worst you could get. It felt like the world was just trying to test my partner with everything and anything! He could not catch a break and for the first time, he wanted to give up. At this moment looking into his eyes, I could see how absolutely defeated he felt, and it was crushing to see.
I decided to ditch my “role” and be his wife and I convinced him to keep pushing and fill him with encouragement and love. My advice here: SUPPORT. Not the kind of support where you pat someone on the back and say “Good job man” or send a message over text or social media saying “Good luck, you got this”. I’m talking about the support where you give your entire self to someone unconditionally. When someone receives that kind of true support they do not give up.
The prep is almost over for their first bodybuilding competition, and all that time-consuming work comes together. You look back at where you came from and appreciate every little thing that you did. The emotional roller coaster wasn’t so bad, exhaustion was a breeze, and the food deficit was “easy peasy lemon squeezy”. It’s stage day and all the bits and pieces come together, the spray tan, the suit, the number badge etc.
Nerves roll too. I’m nervous for my partner because he has never done anything like this. I can tell he is feeling nervous too which of course doesn’t calm any nerves. The competitors go backstage and I sit in the audience waiting for his turn to come. Waiting and hoping everything will be okay because let’s be real here – everyone is sensitive about how they look one way or another and stepping on a stage for everyone to see you takes extreme courage.
Now it is time for him to go on stage… my partner stepped out in a complete “glow” of confidence and pride. It was UNBELIEVABLE to witness. He was a different person on stage! He nailed his routine and walked off proud. To be able to witness someone you care about look and feel the way he did is truly inspiring. Every single challenge we walked through together felt non-existent. The only real thing we felt after the entire experience was joy.
So, what can you expect? Well, everyone is different and everyone has different life factors – personal and work – that they work around. But you can count on complete exhaustion and mood swings being common. The most helpful advice I can give is to support wholeheartedly and not expect anything back from yourself
You support because you TRULY want the highest results for your partner and want to help them succeed. When you go through an experience like this, let me just say that it is all worth it. Being able to witness someone you love hit such a high level of self-confidence and pride is truly inspiring. You will also understand how challenging competition is for someone – the most difficult part is breaking through the mental barriers.
In conclusion, how do you survive? You survive by investing in everything you have. You put yourself in with love, and a bit of stubbornness, but most importantly you do it together.