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 So... You’ve been thinking of becoming a Physique Athlete...
- Continued by Tamara Ribeiro-Bailey IFBB PRO
I would imagine that any competitive sport involves a fair amount of expense, and I can confirm that bodybuilding is no different. Gym membership, personal trainer fees, food and supplements/vitamins all add up to a pretty penny. And that’s for “off-season” (when you’re not actively preparing for a competition) and for the preparation leading up to a competition. For the competition itself, you need competition wear, spray tanning products/services and for us women, the full works – hairdo (check out the price of extensions these days!), makeup, nails, shoes. And unless you are at the top levels of the international professional league, prize money is but a dream.
Lack of support
Unfortunately, bodybuilding is not a well-respected sport in Trinidad and Tobago for various reasons and therefore corporate and government support is very hard to come by. Many promising local athletes do not get the opportunity to test their mettle at the regional or international levels like those in other sports due to the lack of finances. The TTBBF, as the body established to administer the sport, has had to work miracles to make these opportunities available and the results over the years have proven that with the right level of support, our local bodybuilders can measure up to international standards.
Body image issues and disordered eating
It is important to realize that the physique athlete’s diet is designed to maximize muscle size, shape and tone and minimize body fat levels. Many foods that are fine in moderation as part of a healthy diet for the “average” person are off the table (literally) for the former. Dieting for a competition usually involves eating a small group of foods every day for weeks without relief. Many competitors will tell you they drool over food porn – images of rich, carb-heavy, fatty and sugary foods. The Food Network becomes our Spice Channel. We know exactly what we want to eat the moment we step off the stage. This is where danger lurks – some will binge on the foods that were “forbidden” during contest prep for days, even weeks after the competition. This leads to significant weight gain in a short space of time, which in turn leads to a negative body image. It does not take much to cross the line from there into developing an eating disorder. As a physique athlete, your body is constantly under scrutiny. I know I speak for many athletes when I say that it is a struggle to love my “off-season” body. It took great courage for me to shoot the cover of the first issue of WeFitness magazine in off-season. Most of those outside the sport don’t understand that it is almost impossible and in fact, dangerous, to maintain the ripped, lean and streamlined competition look on a permanent basis and they take pleasure in pointing out that you’ve gained weight. When body fat levels
Trinidad & Tobago Body Builders Federation
National Junior Championhips 6th June 2015
From Left: Tonnia Ramsey, Sam Cassie Peters and Charlene Procope.

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