I can look back on bodybuilding and how much fun it was in the beginning. I was gaining so quick and learning so much, and I was also gaining a new self respect and confidence too.
I think cheat meals were a little more frequent too. It was typically 2 cheat meals a week and usually spaced out. 2 cheats a week was manageable to me, usually on Saturdays and Tuesdays, or Monday and Thursday, something like that anyways.
Of course gaining muscle stopped getting easy and I was hitting wall after wall. There were times when I was so disciplined with bodybuilding that it didn't seem fun anymore. Yes, in a sense it still felt rewarding, but there were probably times when I took myself too seriously and skipped out on something in life.
Last night, I went to the movies with my son and got him a small popcorn. I was trying so hard not to eat it, but after an hour I caved in and had some. He looked at me and asked me if I wanted some, and I said sure. It had been 6 days since my last cheat meal.
I didn't eat that popcorn because I didn't have the discipline to avoid it. I ate it because when I really thought about it, big fucking deal. I started thinking back on how things were in the beginning, I used to focus on my gains and what was getting better, not what was wrong with me. I wouldn't look at myself and think “My abs absolutely suck!” No sir, I'd look at myself and think “Dude, look at your chest starting to pop out, you're kicking ass!”
Sometimes it can be easy to get sucked into this black hole where all you can focus on is what isn't right with you, not what is. I already have my abs in, I'm vascular, I'm big, is a small popcorn with my son REALLY going to kill me? I don't ever want him to despise bodybuilding because of what it did to his father or how it made him act. I've seen this happen first hand. I've seen kids grow up to hate this lifestyle because of what it made someone.
I look at a lot of old pictures of bodybuilders, and I read about the guys lives. It's just sort of a hobby of mine. I enjoy reading about how these guys lived and what they went through for a good physique. One thing I've gathered from looking at a lot of photos and reading a lot of stories is that they enjoyed it and had fun with it! These guys looked happy. They didn't look like this shit ruined their life. I'm highly doubting they were driving themselves nuts over what cycle to run or what supplement to buy.
I had to seriously stop myself from this not too long ago. I was racking my brain trying to figure out what I wanted to use. Ideally I wanted Primobolan and Anavar, but all I had was Deca and EQ. Of course I started worrying about water retention and all that bullshit, and started thinking that I couldn't be as good without certain things. Then I started thinking to myself that this isn't the same guy that I used to be. That guy looked great no matter what he used, and he would have busted ass even harder on the Deca and EQ. How fucking stupid is it to spend money you don't have to, when you already have quality compounds?
Nothing is ever going to be just perfect, that's life. There is never going to be this point with bodybuilding when you look at yourself and say “Yep, there it is. I made it.” It never ends. It's chasing the horizon. Don't forget to have fun for God's sake! Don't be a total slave to yourself, but still have some discipline. Instead of spending money on more supplements, take a trip to the water park or go camping. Make it your goal to maintain a great physique on nothing that month besides food.
There is so much you can do in life besides dump money into training. Maybe you have a girlfriend you could take on a cruise instead of spending money on supplements. A nice body is great, but pretty soon for a guy who doesn't allow himself to have any fun because he's a slave to the gym, it's going to get old.
Remember to have fun in life. Focus on the positive this has done for you, not what you don't have. You shouldn't be self-conscious about taking your shirt off. It's fucking ridiculous. I've seen more guys in great shape who are self-conscious than fat motherfuckers. Don't let this shit become some mental fuck that runs your life. You have to control it.
My advice is to go as long as you can without a cheat meal, but do what you can manage. For myself this could be a period of 3 weeks, or 5 or 6 days, it just depends. I'm usually having a cheat meal for the social aspect of things, not because I'm not disciplined enough. But sometimes a cheat meal isn't enough mentally. Sometimes you need a day where you totally go off the map! 6 meals a day? 3 meals a day? 2 meals a day? Fuck it, who cares! Go away for the day, take a trip someplace and have a good time.
Remember to ask yourself every once in awhile, why am I doing this if I cannot have fun with it anymore?