• Michael Mclaren

Why Stepping On Stage Was The Best, & Worst, Thing I’ve Ever Done.

The Best Day..

It’s 2 years to the day, at the time of posting, since I boxed off my first, and more than likely last, effort of stepping on to a bodybuilding stage.

19 weeks of daily weigh ins, 60+ minute sessions on the treadmill and weighing out every gram of food that made it onto my plate.

Before I go any further, it was genuinely one of the best days I’ve ever experienced.

When taken in isolation, of course. Everything about the day itself, was great!

I was in the best shape I’d ever been in, had the best tan I’d ever had, and was even enjoying the aftermath of a full body wax a few days before.

(Not even embarrassed, it was pretty good! Painful…. But good..)

Even my parents, siblings and uncle had decided to make the 9 hour round trip in one day, just to see me in my “15 minutes of fame”.

When looked at as a single one off day, I can’t argue that I absolutely loved it.

Whether this sounds over dramatic or not, I was nodding off to sleep that night, after my second box of pop tarts of course, having felt as though I’d just experienced one of the best days of my life.

But, of course, it can be hard to take these things on their own standing, especially when the following months and years were so hard hitting.

I wrote about this not too long ago in my 3 Biggest Fat Loss Mistakes.

Yet, despite being the absolute best day I’d experienced to that point, it was only a few months later I was cursing it as the worst thing I’ve ever done..

The Worst Year

As the months passed, I slowly began to realise that my very reasoning for chasing such a goal, had absolutely no substance.

I should have arrived to the comfort of unbreakable self confidence, from the depths of, at times, crippling insecurity.

The scary truth is not only did I miss, I soon began to rapidly fall through the gap separating the two.

It wasn’t just a swing and a miss.

It was a swing, a miss and a gigantic face plant.

Only a few months after being on stage, I somehow found myself going through all the exact same insecurities and lack of self belief that had been consuming me since my early teens.

The confusion as to why this was the case was adding that extra bit of sting.

It all seemed to just get a bit too much.

I’ve never been comfortable discussing my issues with mental health.

Truth is I genuinely felt silly to even have those issues.

Life was actually pretty good. I’d certainly not suffered from any major traumas.

Instead, it seemed that the massive expectations I’d placed on what improving my physical shape would do for my mental wellbeing, were just too much.

By the end of that year, I was well and truly just taking things one day at a time to manage this depression.

Some days I was good.

Others, I’d spend sitting on my couch staring blankly into a white wall for hours on end.

This wasn’t sadness. It was nothing.

I would have killed to feel upset about something. At least then it would be some kind of measurable feeling.

Instead of this emptiness that seemed to occupy that space.

As the months wore on, things were only getting worse. I’d spent way too long trying to convince myself that this couldn’t be depression.

I honestly thought I was just being over dramatic, and needed to just suck it up. So there was no way I was going to let anyone else know about it, as I could only imagine what other people would think of it..

Whilst it may seem a bit over the top to some people, to put so much effort into something you’ve always wanted, and get relatively very little in return compared to what you expected and hoped it would provide, became a lot more devastating than I had ever thought was possible.

I’d actually began to realise that even when at my most overweight and troubled, there was always this quite comforting feeling where I believed that yeah, I’m not so good right now, but I could be.

All I’d need to do is diet hard and exercise for a few months and I’ll be sweet. Everything will be sorted.

The trouble now was that comforting feeling, that safety net I’d always had, had been evaporated.

I couldn’t now fall back onto that idea, as I’d realised first hand, that it doesn’t work like that.

From a personal perspective, that 12 months post Bodypower had rapidly become the worst of my life.

I find it kinda fitting in a way that in the space of that 12 months, my biggest achievement in the months of May, were stepping on stage in 2017, and taking the leap and calling on the help of one to one counselling in May 2018.

In a way I feel it really bookended that awful 12 month period.

At least, to some extent. I now had help in joining all the dots together and trying to figure out what, if anything, went wrong.

The bad days were still there. The really, really, really bad days were still there too.

But over time, they simply became less frequent.

As mentioned, I recently touched on this as part of my 3 Biggest Fat Loss Mistakes.

Turns out, that from the 3 written about in that blog, this was by far the most costly.

I’d always thought that failure to reach a goal was the worst thing that could happen. By now I was starting to realise that reaching a goal, only for it not to deliver in the aftermath, had the potential to be way worse.

What I soon realised, was that we just can’t expect physical changes to fix all of our insecurities and that for us to truly be able to embrace the rewards that such physical changes can bring, we need to have clarity on our reasoning for doing so.

We need to do our best to ensure our expectations and what lies on the other side of that goal, are as close to being on the same wavelength as possible.

Because, when we expect too much, we might find ourselves a lot worse off, than simply returning to square one.

I unfortunately, or fortunately I guess, learned the hard way.

I recently came across a quote from Tony Robbins that resonated with me massively.

Success without fulfilment, is the ultimate failure.

I had the success, but without the any real purpose or clarity, missed out on the fulfilment.

My advice would never be to not work towards a goal. Absolutely never.

It would simply be to keep on working for them, but take a moment to really think about your purpose for doing so.

Explore the potential reasons for why you want it so badly? Try and describe what it’s going to do for you with as much detail as you can.

Ensure you have that purpose, and ensure you never make the same mistake that I did.

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