competing what's the rush?

In the wake of the Olympia, Victoria D’Ariano reflects on competing and explains why she doesn’t think you should be in a rush to do so:

As competing is becoming more and more popular, the demand is increasing. Everyone is eager to hit the stage and compete in his or her first show. This blog will be about competing and why you SHOULD NOT rush to the stage. Coming from personal experience, rushing to compete is my biggest regret.

I have been an athlete my entire life, with competitive swimming as my main sport. I swam from the age of 5 to the age of 20. I would train 4-5 hours a day, six days a week. When I retired from varsity level swimming, I had a lot of time and I needed something else to channel my time and energy into. As I have always been active, I found myself in the gym – a lot. I started weight training and shortly became hooked. I would read articles off and purchase all of the Women’s fitness and health magazines to learn more. I also started following multiple fitness competitors on Instagram and soon I was introduced to the world of competing.

At first I didn’t understand competitions: the fake tan, the dolled up makeup, the suits. The whole thing seemed strange to me. Since I had trained my entire life to race against a clock, training to display something on stage was a concept I needed to get used to, and fully take in. The more I followed, the more I was intrigued. I made a couple of friends at the gym and they were both preparing for shows of their own. My competitive instincts began to grow and I decided I was going to compete, and in 14 weeks time.

Without fully understanding what goes into preparation for a show, and what it can do to your body, I looked for a coach. I did no research at all, and ended up choosing the one my friend was working with at the time. If you know me on a personal level, you know I am a bit crazy – describing myself as dedicated would be an understatement. I was given the plan, and I did exactly what I was told. I followed everything to a T and never thought twice or questioned what I was doing.

At the time I was enrolled in the Bio Medical program at Western University and was studying mainly sciences. I knew nothing about nutrition, nothing. Following the program, and a strict diet I had never followed before, I got lean, and very quickly. I fell in love with the process because I was seeing my body change and looking so different, something I had never experienced before. My show quickly approached and I ended up winning. I still remember the thrill and adrenaline rush of being on stage for the very first time. I loved it, and knew this was something I would be doing for a long time coming.

So why would I regret getting into competing so soon when I won?

Let me point out a few things I did wrong (very wrong) prior to competing in my first competition. The first being, I knew NOTHING about what competing was and what it does to your body. The second, I knew NOTHING about nutrition and what is healthy and not healthy regarding a diet during contest prep. The third, I rushed into getting a coach, when I knew NOTHING about the person, or their credentials. But I won right? So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that this sport is about LONGEVITY, not about doing just one show and then never being able to compete again due to the severe damage you may have caused to your body by not knowing the top three points.

Let me mention these points again to make them very, very clear:

  1. I knew NOTHING about what competing was and what it does to your body.
  2. I knew NOTHING about nutrition and what is healthy and not healthy regarding a diet during contest prep.
  3. I rushed into getting a coach, when I knew NOTHING about the person, or their credentials.

If you are about to compete in your very first show and you’re missing any of those points, please take a step back. Let me get one thing across to you: competitions are always there. There is no rush to compete, especially if you are going to harm yourself while getting there. Looking amazing and winning a trophy for one day and one day only is not worth the repercussions you might be dealing with after the show when you realized you rushed things.

I rushed things. I acknowledge that now, and due to rushing it, I actually set myself back. Instead of progressing after competing, I regressed. And in order for myself to compete again, I had to take two full years off competing to allow my body to regulate again and get back to “normal.”

I am not telling you this to scare you, but to inform you. Competitions are always there, but after going into a show unprepared and uneducated, your health may not be.

Please, before you compete, EDUCATE YOURSELF not only on what goes into contest prep (the dieting, the mental aspect), but also on who you are going to work with. Do they have credentials? Do they have a good track history with their athletes? Have their athletes done more than one show, or is their body impaired due to poor dieting?

There is NEVER A RUSH in competing. Always put yourself and your health before the stage and a first place trophy. I wish I were told this before I started because I would have done a lot of things differently.

Please, before you compete, read these three points; understand them and have answers for them before you hit the stage. You might not compete as soon as you like, but you will thank yourself later for taking the time to answer these questions before competing.


Want to hear more from Victoria? Check out this clip from the interview she did with her fiance, Regan Grimes, on our podcast, The Scoop.