A massive tool that helped me too was visualisation. I'll cover this inmate depth in a separate blog another time. In my mind I had what I wanted my body to look like. Every workout I trained my body, I could 'see' the fibres contracting, the muscle growing. My body just had grow into what was in my mind. Every time I ate a meal, every gram of protein was building my body, every step of cardio pre contest was turning my body into a fat burning furnace. Visualisation really works!
One other thing that is really important, and something I learned later in my competitive career is a balance in life. Even though I was very intense with it all I learnt to switch off as well. Pre contest I still made time for others in my life, not early in my career, but the last few years I did. In the early years I thought everyone should understand what I was going through. I didn't make much time for others pre contest. It was when an ex of mine competed I found it really hard to be the partner who wasn't competing, not going out, the arguments. This was coming from someone like me who had competed several times! I thought if I found it hard then what must people think who aren't into the sport who's other half is competing, it must be hell! From then on when I competed I always made time to do things with my other half, no matter how tired I was, my cool bag can come with me and we can have days out. It helped and I then had more of a balance, certainly not perfect, I did have competitions coming up but I made the effort. Now when competitors tell me their husbands or wives don't understand, its causing problems in their relationship, I can help. Competing certainly isn't worth losing a great relationship over and no-one forces us to go through this, we can stop at anytime.
This sport isn't for everyone, I've seen many people diet for a show and they've suffered badly mentally, they just haven't got the right mindset, they're almost losing their mind, they get angry with everyone, ranting, its really not worth it. Competing should be fun, seriously hard, but fun seeing the changes your body can make with hard work. If its not fun then take another sport or activity up, life too short!
Anyway, I waffled on enough I think but I'll cover more on mindset, visualisation etc. in the future. If you have anything you'd like me to cover then just let me know!