You can have abs or you can have a life, but you can't have both

As I  mentioned a few months ago, I’ve been following a specific weight lifting plan and diet that has, overall, changed my body in ways that I like.

Then, recently I read a blog post recently from a writer who wrote:

You will become who you surround yourself with. If you hang around people who are preoccupied with food + exercise, you will become preoccupied with food + exercise. That includes social media accounts and people online too.

Rather unintentionally I’ve found that the word “prep” has seeped into my internal vocabulary. What in the world does “prep” mean? Well, it doesn’t mean preppy. In in the context I’m using it it means prepping for a bikini competition. You know, one where you work your tail off (almost literally) to get into great shape and then stand in front of a crowd getting judged.

No, not a bodybuilding competition, which even I think is scary. A bikini competition. (Here are the differences)

At least two people I follow on Instagram are talking about this. I’ve seen #prep used by several others.

And, just like that quotation above, I find myself wondering….could I do a bikini competition?

And then I remember that on Wednesday night last week Jason and I had to run a last minute errand so we went to our standby restaurant for dinner. On Thursday I  joined a friend for drinks and dinner. Friday was happy hour with my Live Grit team. Saturday was lunch at a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try and then my favorite pizza place for dinner with my mom.

Apparently when you’re prepping for competition you have very little leeway in what you can eat. I know. It’s basically a diet similar to what how I’ve been trying to eat 80% of the time. And when I eat that way 90% of the time? Abs.

Yes, I started this whole process just to see what I could do. And if I stuck to the diet 100% I bet I could get into a competition worthy shape. And I fully admit there’s a part of my brain that is intrigued by the idea.

But the other part of me wants to enjoy trying new restaurants. Getting drinks with friends. Eating pizza. Those should not be bad things and I feel like if I was to go full-on abs-are-the-only-goal that my life would be really, really dull.

So, for me, I love the way I feel right now. I love that I can now do a chin-up (proof!) I don’t want to feel guilty if I eat pretzels one day. I don’t want to have to say “no” to going out with a friend .

Again, going back to that blog post,

Whether you’re paleo or vegan or whatever, if your way of eating hinders your social life you should probably reevaluate the “healthiness” of that healthy lifestyle. Food isn’t black and white or legalistic. One meal is not going to derail your healthy efforts or cause chronic disease, but the stress or avoiding particular foods might. Most importantly, food is meant to be shared with others and celebrated.

I 100% agree. I worked just as hard for my social life as I work for my strength gains. I don’t want to give up either but I definitely still need to learn to balance that little voice in my head that says if I just work harder I could “prep”, too, with the fact that life is about a lot of things. Not just abs.

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    Erin Vandenberg

    I'm a 30-something who decided to get off the elliptical and expand my fitness horizons. Since moving to Chicago in 2008 I've run marathons and biked miles. I've done group fitness classes and lifted weights on my own. And now I want to share my fitness finds with you!

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