My Thoughts on Figure Competitions

Disclaimer: I have never personally been involved in a figure competition. All opinions stated are my own, based on research I’ve done.

I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of bloggers talking about figure competitions, especially lately with the focus on “Strong not skinny”. For the record, I don’t necessarily agree with the previous statement…after all, you can be strong and skinny, and for some, it is extremely hard for them to not be skinny, and we should all embrace our natural body shape to a certain extent. The point is, figure competition is becoming extremely popular and though I have never competed in it myself, I’ve become quite fascinated with the sport.

Let’s be clear, though. The main reason I like figure competitions is because you get to show off your leanness in some crazy, blingy, fun bikini. If I’m being totally honest, I love the idea of being uber-lean, fit and tanned. But for me, I know figure competition could become an issue for me, simply because of my past (and somewhat current) history with disordered eating and body image.

So sexy!

So sexy!

I don’t think every figure competitor has an eating disorder, or even disordered eating. There are plenty of bloggers out their with normal relationships with food and their body, and I commend them for that. But I have a couple issues with the other ones, the ones who are clearly disordered, or who are becoming restrictive, or have changed their eating styles drastically in order to get into competition shape.

I’m not here to call out any bloggers in particular, just to voice my concern about some alarming trends in general. First, the restrictive habits. I get that figure competitions require a LOT of dedication and self-control, and I really admire those who have both. But there’s a difference between self-control and restriction. One example of this is shunning most carbs, especially close to competition day. The science behind it makes sense, but it certainly isn’t healthy in the long run. Carbs are our primary source of fuel, and whether you choose to consume them through whole grains or through fruits and starchy veggies is up to you, but the obsession with protein at the expense of healthy carbs is NOT okay. Even if you’re eating more paleo, you can still carb up with fruit and squashes. So many people fear carbs today, and it makes me so sad. I know I’m being a bit of a hypocrite here because I still fear carbs somewhat (particularly grains) but I know that carbs are important and beneficial and healthy in the right amounts. Basically, if I had to skip all fruit for weeks to be in a figure competition, I would die. There’s a carb source out there for everyone–don’t skip out or skimp on them, especially if you workout!

Apples are NOT "bad" carbs!

Apples are NOT “bad” carbs!

The second thing that bothers me is that a lot of bloggers drastically switch up their eating habits to fit with a competition diet. What I’m referring to is a formerly plant-based (or mostly plant-based) eater suddenly adding in animal foods (usually whey protein, fish and eggs) so they can eat more protein. I think by now we all know that you can easily consume enough protein on a vegan diet, as long as you’re mindful of what you’re eating. Plenty of whole, plant-based foods are absolutely packed with protein, and if you feel like you aren’t getting enough, there are lots of clean protein powders and supplements out there to help you out. I want to be clear, though–I don’t think veganism is necessarily for everyone, but it makes me mad when a formerly-vegan blogger suddenly adds animal products into their diet all in the name of protein. I understand that protein is vital in fueling growing muscles, but you can get plenty of protein to do this on a vegan diet. I firmly believe that vegan figure competitors can perform just as well as those eating animals–just check out these amazing women! However, so many people turn to animal sources of protein, and forget the health benefits they may have seen while eating vegan or vegetarian. I’m not saying it’s bad or wrong to be an omnivore, just that those who are currently eating plant-based and considering going into figure competition should at least try to keep up their current eating habits. If anything, you can prove to others that you can be a fit vegan!

Amanda Rister, a gorgeous and super-fit vegan figure competitor.

Amanda Riester, a gorgeous and super-fit vegan figure competitor.

I think that figure competitions can be a fun way to challenge yourself, test your limits and try something new, but it can be an unhealthy thing that can make your body and mind quite disordered. As with all things, you should really consider if figure competitions are right for you at this time in your life and if so, what steps you’ll take to ensure you can maintain a healthy lifestyle while training for a competition and post-comp. As for me, figure competitions are something I may want to do in the future, once I have a healthier mindset surrounding food and my body, and I’d love nothing more than to enter as a vegan competitor to show that it is possible to be fit and healthy and beautiful on a plant-based diet!

How do you feel about figure competitions? 

This or That

By now you probably all know that I’m a sucker for surveys. Anytime I see one on someone’s blog, I just have to do it. It makes for an easy post idea (lazy alert!) and it’s just plain fun. This latest survey is health and fitness related, which is perfect!

Run/work out in the heat and humidity or freezing temps and snow?

Well, considering I’ve only ever lived in Arizona and Colorado, I basically have no experience with extreme humidity. The rare few days that it gets up to 50% humidity after a thunderstorm are pure torture for me 😛 However, I hate the cold and specifically snow even more, so I have to go with heat. When I play tennis, I’d much rather be sweating like crazy because it’s 90+ degrees instead of bundled up trying to ignore the crazy winds and blowing snow. I once played tennis outside in November and it wasn’t the best idea…

Have washboard abs or flat abs?

I kind of already have flat-ish abs, depending on if I’ve eaten recently or not, but I would kinda like them to be flat all the time no matter what. Washboard abs take a lot of work and discipline and while I’d be willing to work for them, there’s just some things I don’t want to give up to get them, like dark chocolate and coconut milk ice cream!

Dr. Oz or The Doctors?

I actually kinda hate Dr. Oz because he tries to make people scared of certain things, like one episode he said taking a shower is unsanitary, and stuff like that. I just started watching The Doctors last year from time to time and I actually like the show. It’s cool how they all have different areas of expertise and they cover so many topics in one episode.

Cardio or Strength?

This is so bad, but I basically do no strength training, aside from things like planks and ab workouts. I’m a cardio girl all the way!

Do water balloon fights count as cardio?!

Cravings: protein or carbs?

Let’s be real…I almost never crave protein. Don’t get me wrong, I do have some protein sources I love, like Plant Fusion protein powder, tempeh and edamame, but I don’t exactly crave them. I do, however, crave carbs often–what can I say, I’m a carbavore! But I do stick with the healthier carbs, like whole grains and fruits/veggies and it seems to work for me.

Jillian Michaels or Bob Harper?

Jillian! She’s so bad ass and I love her no-nonsense approach to fitness. I wish I could be as tough as she is!

Frozen yogurt or ice cream?

I used to be such a huge fan of froyo, but since I’ve been more devoted to veganism, I rarely get it because the places I go to only ever have one or two nondairy flavors. When I get froyo, I only ever top it with fresh fruit but I’m not as obsessed with it as I used to be. Now I’m in love with high quality, coconut or almond milk based vegan ice creams. They cost about $5 for a pint but they’re worth the splurge a couple times per month, plus they last me so long because they’re so much more filling than froyo.

I really love the Nadamoo! brand of vegan ice cream!

To train: upper body or lower body?

Since I don’t do much strength training, I can’t really answer this. But I do know that I feel awesome after a yoga or plank session when my arms feel all weak!

Protein powder or food with protein?

Let me preface this by saying I only use protein powders that are totally plant-based, with as few ingredients as possible and no soy. With that said, I prefer protein powder. I love that I can be eating a sweet treat while still getting in quality protein. I use it in so many things, from smoothies to protein frosting to baked goods. I like some sources of whole foods protein, but protein powder is a lifesaver for me!

I’m in love with protein waffles (and protein powder frosting-topped waffles!)

Lunges or squats?

Lunges! I don’t know why, they’re just fun.

Sweet or salty?

I really love the two together. Lately I’ve been loving the combo of almond peanut cashew butter, real maple syrup and chocolate chips! I usually go for just sweet though.

Workout attire: cute or comfy?

Cute for sure. Of course I want to be comfortable, but I don’t feel comfortable if I’m wearing something I don’t love. So cuteness always has to come first for me.

My typical cute-ish and comfy workout outfit.

Body Pump or Heavy Lifting?

I haven’t done either, but I’ll go with heavy lifting because I know so many people have good results with it.

Yoga or Pilates?

Are you kidding me? Yoga! I still really need to go to a hot yoga class though…

Nike or Adidas?

Nike!

Running on the treadmill or outdoors?

I’m not big into running, but I have to say treadmill. That way, I can read a magazine or whatever and I probably won’t end up tripping!

Whole Foods or Trader Joes?

I wish I could actually choose between them, but TJs is nowhere near me, like literally none within 200 miles of where I live! However, Whole Foods is really awesome and I don’t even mind the high prices most of the time. They have so many of my fave products!

Who can pass up the delicious salads at the Whole Foods hot and cold bars? Not this girl!

Summer or winter Olympics?

Summer, definitely. A lot of years they happen during my birthday (this year they started on my birthday), which is awesome and I love so many of the summer Olympics sports.

Exercise classes or exercise videos?

Classes. I love working out alone sometimes but with other people it’s ten times more fun.

Steamed veggies or roasted veggies?

Roasted, but I actually prefer grilled over either of those!

 

 

Answer any of the questions above!