IFBB Pro, Kiki McClellan, is a prime example of what it means to go into “tunnel” vision. She’s elevated her game to the pro level and has done nine shows to date.
The pro level is a demanding place to be. It’s one day after another… dieting, traveling, training, managing your emotions, and managing your relationships are just a few factors to consider, among many others.
Hobby - Passion
It went from a “hobby” to “this is what I do.” This can be tricky from the outside looking in because a lot of people view fitness as a hobby. So, when you take it to a serious level such as becoming an IFBB Pro, people start taking it more seriously. In order to go to this level, you have to be willing to dive in headfirst.
What does that look like for you?
Gradual or Hard Shift?
Is it a gradual or hard shift? It’s dependent on the individual. For Kiki, it was a gradual process starting in 2017. That being said, as she got further into the weeds, the shift became more aggressive.
It all started with doing one show for fun. That turned into wanting to take it to the next level for her next show. The volume continued to turn up and up, and success followed. Eventually, she made the decision to go after her pro card. Once that decision was made, her mind was 100% made up. It was a matter of time.
Everyone’s bodybuilding journey is different. It’s unlikely that’ll you’ll go pro after your first or second national show. It takes people years. It took Kiki’s boss over 20 national shows to turn pro. That’s when going into “tunnel vision” can prove highly valuable.
With me, I shot for multiple covers that never reached the stands. I was super hyped about them, and I was telling my family that they were about to see me on the cover. And then they decided to go with a different guy. I’d look him up and he’d be 12 pounds heavier and even leaner. The D-1 caliber type.
This was extremely frustrating early in the process. I shot my first cover in 2008, but it didn’t come out until 2010. It took me about 10 whole years to bust through. What happened when I finally smashed through the ceiling? I was getting on covers left and right. I ended up being on 13 covers in a period of three or four years. I finally cracked the code.
The Mental Push
Most people get discouraged very quickly. They don’t have the courage and mental strength to go back to the well to try again. But guess what? You must be willing to try again and again and again.
Sometimes you just have to go through the fire. The trials, the tribulations, and the setbacks. All to see what you’re made of. Are you going to keep coming back? If you keep coming back, if you keep showing up, then it just becomes a matter of time.
Where’s My Spot?
I had to find my spot in an industry full of guys 20-30 pounds bigger than me. Fortunately, the evolution of the bodybuilding industry played to my favor with things such as CrossFit coming onto the scene. I began to find my angle.
I started to visualize myself picking up the magazine off the news stand at Barnes and Noble. This was ingrained so deep that when I went and actually did it, it felt like I had already done it.
It can be a bit underwhelming when you final realize a goal that you’ve been after for so long. For Kiki it was "Oh, I turned pro. All right, what's next? Okay, 2024 Arnold Classic.”
So, what about victory laps? Do you ever take them, or do you just move onto the next thing? Do you celebrate anything?
For Kiki, at this stage in her career, she instantly shifted into coach mode the moment she stepped off stage from getting her pro card. She instantly shifted her focus to being a full-time coach… to conquering a new goal.
The reward was validated. The work she put for years and years prior finally came to fruition. This put her in the perfect position to assume a full-time coaching role in the industry. She gained the credibility needed, and now she can help other girls achieve their dreams.
Being on the cover of a magazine today isn’t the same as being on a magazine cover 10 years ago. There are hardly any magazines left. How do you stand out? For me, it was going between the worlds of bodybuilding and powerlifting. I wasn’t breaking any wild records, but I was competing and putting myself out there.
And people are going to take shortcuts. It’s just the way of the world. I’ve fought this demon the whole time. I’ve had many friends go down that road and get dramatically different results. It’s hard to not be a hater sometimes.
But I chose the path that I’m on. It is what it is, I know the variables I can control, and I believe it pushes me even harder.
Appreciate the Journey
Take the person that’s lost 10-12 pounds, but they really need to lose 30 pounds. Most people, myself included, focus on the end result. We see that the journey is so long, and we don’t take time to appreciate what you’ve done up to that point.
Most people are like, "I still have 20 pounds to lose,” rather than “I already lost 12. I’m doing good.”
Think about the habits that they are instilling into their daily lives to get them where they want to go. It’s easy to think that the little things aren’t making a difference. But the little things do matter. They all play a part with achieving your goal(s). It's hard to want to keep going, but you have to keep putting gas in the tank and never let it run empty.
The mountain is not as big as it seems. You’ve already climbed a portion of it. And you should give yourself a little clap to that point. No, you're not all the way there yet, but at least acknowledge that you've come this far.
It’s important to have a little craziness and a little reason in your household. For me, my wife Rachel is my voice of reason. That voice of reason is unquestionably needed in order to not burn out.
I used to be the worst person to go on vacation with. I’d be a grouch from the time we left, all the way to three days in. I’d finally get to day four and start to loosen up and want to stay even longer.
I’ve started to embrace and look forward to trips. I know that I don’t have to be grouchy those first three days. It took me quite some time to figure that out, but now I’m reaping the benefits of recharging on vacation.
Striving For Greatness
In order to be great, I believe that you have to go to the extreme. It’s just the way it is. You don't become a pro-level of anything if you're not 100% locked in.
That’s where tunnel vision comes in. Growing up, I was so focused on pulling my family out of economic hardship that I would lose sight of everything else. I just never wanted to go back to that trailer ever again. That’s where it came from.