The topic of preparing to compete as a vegan bodybuilder has been weighing heavily on my heart in recent months because a lot of people ask me how I do it. As a five-time champion bodybuilder and vegan since 1998, I am honored to be a person others look to for answers. So, let's first consider ten very important concepts that will make your preparation more of an anticipated event than a chore.
- Decide why you want to compete: WHY is everything, and I do mean everything. Without it, your goal will not withstand the challenges and obstacles you will face along the way to the stage.
- Save a Date: Setting a date focuses on the target and compels you to commit. Saving the date has an effect on the body and mind (much like a wedding date), so be prepared.
- Phone a Friend: Tell your closest and most honest family/ friends of your date. This will solidify your commitment and hold you accountable. They will want to support you and come see your "finished product". Those who know will want to see you complete in something that most of the world finds unusual and/or difficult to do. Think about it, who gets on a stage to have 6-10 people judge whether your body looks best or not?!? Crazy when you think of it that way, but true nonetheless. You've just got to love it.
- Tell yourself, No excuses!!!: This should be your mantra for the duration of your training. If you accept excuses, you will live under them.
- Find a mentor or two: Watch and learn from those who are the best at what they do, even if you have to YouTube it. It is no secret that the best in the world (at whatever sport or job they have), learned from someone else who was at the top of their respective game.
- See for yourself: Attend competitions locally and, if possible, even some bigger events. Pay attention to what the judges may be looking for. Be a "backseat" judge of who you think will place 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. Then focus on first!!!
- Pinch your Pennies: Don't break the bank and "borrow from Peter to pay Paul" just to compete. Do it at a time when you can budget and not add to the stress of the event. Find out what it will cost to compete: your suit, tanning, registration, trainer, food, supplements, hair, nails, shoes, make-up, etc., and then make sure you won't be homeless as a result of competing.
- Something Borrowed: Do not be afraid to take on new things to help your journey (food, training styles, advice from reputable people and so on). However, limit how many people's advice and opinions you follow; do your own research and be responsible with information.
- Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe: Pick an organization with integrity, honesty and great people. The only way to do this is to talk to people who compete with various organizations, or trial and error. Some organizations have certain terms and conditions that may not align with how you want to represent yourself, so be sure to read the fine print.
- Relax and Enjoy: Last, but definitely not least, have FUN!!! This cannot be emphasized enough. Have fun in the gym, have fun in the park, enjoy your meals, and enjoy practicing poses. Let the haters hate, but this is your L.I.F.E (Living In Freedom Everyday), so focus and enjoy it.
Now that we have discussed the "10 Things to Consider Before a Competition", stay tuned for Part II of this series, in which we will discuss contest preparation as a vegan.