Campfire alarm


Last night I went to a campfire at a friend’s house. This was kind of a big deal, as I haven’t done much of anything one would consider “fun” or social over the past few months – I’ve been busy writing a book, selling a house and moving, and then, of course, working.

So I went to the friend’s house and then … suddenly I left. Just like that. One minute I was there, and the next I was in my car, driving home. And then I felt like crap about leaving, because it’s fun to be around the gang of people who were there, and I started badgering myself about how I should be this way or that way or do this or that, and how I was a weirdo for just leaving the way I did.

And then I started in on myself about how maybe my priorities are all screwed up (one of our gym members scolded me this week about how I needed to “have fun” and get out more – maybe that person was right. Were they? Had I let my world get too small?).

But the thing is, theoretically I am preparing to compete in a figure show in 7 weeks. People ask me all the time if I am “training” for a show. I am kind of always training for a show, because my training (aka my workouts) pretty much remains consistent, except the week or two before a competition. What I do to prepare for a show is change my diet. So yes, I am dieting for show.

What do people generally do when they sit around a campfire? That’s right: they eat and, often, drink adult beverages. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that (except the adult beverages, if you’re driving. Then, that’s wrong).

Last night at the campfire I was hungry, so I had a few chips, and I was kind of miffed at myself for caving. And then the pizza arrived, and my friends were having some cold beverages to go along with it, and the pizza – I think it was bacon, mushroom, and something else –smelled really good. I mean, reallyreallyreally good.

I almost had a slice.

And so I left.

I can hear the voices (not of my friends, but of people in general): Oh, come on, lighten up. Live a little. You deserve it. Life’s too short. Have some pizza. Have a cookie. You’re teaching two exercise classes in a row tomorrow morning, you’ll burn it off. Relax!

I do eat pizza, and cookies, and popcorn, chips, and ice cream too, in moderation. Just not when I am preparing for a show. When I am preparing to compete, the level of leanness one must attain requires strict attention to not only how much I eat, but also what I eat. I’m already a little bit behind schedule in my contest preparation this time around, so I need to be especially vigilant.

There’s a great deal of satisfaction in completing a challenging goal like competing in a physique show – it’s kind of like running a marathon, only it lasts for a few months and takes over many aspects of your life. That ultimate satisfaction (which is generally accompanied by a realization you can do almost anything if you set your mind to it) requires sacrificing pizza and cookies for a while.

Does that sacrifice make my world small? I am not sure. Maybe it does. It certainly becomes focused. And in some ways it makes my world feel bigger, as I have learned the boundaries of what I can accomplish are far wider than I ever believed (yours are too, trust me!).

I do know that there’s more to life than cookies and pizza. And even more than peanut butter and chocolate – two great tastes that taste great together (yeah, I am soooo going to be eating a slice of Governor’s chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting after this next competition).

Once I got over myself last night, I felt better. I know there’s more to life than figure competitions. In fact, friends are a big part of life, and I wish could find a way to socialize and not feel like the odd one out because I don’t drink and am (temporarily) not indulging in less-than-helpful food choices. Last night I couldn’t do both. That happens – some days I’m better than others.  And that’s OK.

Wendy Watkins

About Wendy Watkins

Wendy Watkins is a Bangor-based personal trainer, fitness coach, studio owner, and writer/editor. She is the author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Losing 20 Pounds in 2 Months. Visit her website at