White rice, tilapia, asparagus, repeat. That is what I consumed for 6 meals a day, every day, during a 12-week preparation for a bodybuilding show. Everything is cooked, weighed, and packaged in order to adhere to my daily macronutrient count of 200 grams of proteins, 50 grams of carbohydrates, and 60 grams of fat. Through bodybuilding I found contentment, gratification, and most importantly discovered how I can utilize scientific principles to mold my physical body into something that I never imagined it can achieve.
The Saturday of Peak week (7 days before competition day) is not only a test of physical will, but also, a challenge of my mental capacity to reach the finish line. This was especially true when my physique coach tells me, “Absolutely no carbs until Saturday but you can increase your protein by 20 grams.” This was also a water depletion phase as well. Starting with a gallon of water, my consumption slowly decreased by 20 ounces each day until competition day where I couldn’t drink even a sip. The purpose of this was to lose as much body fat I possibly could while shedding excess water from my skin and muscle bellies. The night before the competition, I would slowly introduce starchy carbs back into my diet and received one coat of spray tan. Prior to stepping on stage was the fun part of it all. By consuming strictly sugary food, it would rush directly into my depleted muscle glycogen stores and give the outside appearance a “full” and veiny look. Basically, I ate a huge piece carrot cake before pumping up to go on stage. As I was warming up with weights, I would eat handfuls of sour patch kids and skittles. After another coat of spray tan and oil, my body was ready to step on stage. I ended up placing 5th out of 25 men who were all older than me because it was my first time competing in the men’s division (20-35 y.o).
I have learned that: the fitness industry is not necessarily the health industry. What most companies desire is publicity and profit. I used to be sponsored by a supplement company called Revolution Laboratories. They would provide me with free protein powder, pre-workout, clothing apparel, etc. I even received my own discount code to sell to others. All I had to do was endorse their products and publicize them on social media. Sounds easy right? Well, as soon as I could not contribute toward the company's sales and make daily Instagram posts about their supplements, the luxury of receiving free products ceased.
I strongly believe that it is beyond imperative to exercise for general wellness, rather than, appearing physically fit. My role as a student takes precedent before anything else, thus, maintaining healthy body, sound mind, and spirit is more essential than looking “shredded”. Developing the habit of exercising 45-60 minutes a day, consuming adequate amounts of fiber, and drinking a proportional amount of water to your body weight will make all the difference in my quality of life in the future. As an aspiring physician, I desire to advocate to my patients that the greatest treatment to disease is Prevention.