Another one of the major factors that will decide whether or not you will be able to win eating challenges is your ability to maintain laser-like focus throughout your entire challenge until you have successfully finished. “By prevailing over all obstacles and distractions, one may unfailingly arrive at his chosen goal or destination.” That is a quote from Christoper Columbus that surely applies to the world of food challenges and competitive eating. You have to focus during your challenge and eliminate the distractions that may cause you to doubt yourself or throw off your original eating strategy. During most food challenges, especially ones where hardly anyone else is in the restaurant to watch you, avoiding distractions will be easy and you won’t have any issues maintaining focus. In some situations though, there are many possible distractions that may come at you, and you need to avoid them so you can stick to your strategy and dominate the challenge. Here are some possible distractions, obstacles that could be created, and what you need to do to prevent them from becoming a very serious issue:

Possible Distractions That You May Experience During A Challenge

A crowd watching may provoke you to get started too quickly – If you are attempting a challenge at a crowded restaurant, some of the people around you may become intrigued by you taking the challenge. They will want to watch and they will be excited to cheer for you, but they don’t want to wait forever to see you begin eating. When the food is brought out to your table, there will be many people staring and wanting to take pictures. After a few minutes, they will expect you to begin eating. At some restaurants when there is a crowd to watch, the owner or manager, or even just a server will announce that you are taking the challenge, and he or she may even then try to start the countdown and get the timer started. If you let the crowd and excitement distract you from sticking to your game plan, you may end up starting the challenge on their time rather than your time. While focusing on beginning when everyone wanted you to, you forgot that your food is still steaming HOT and not able to be eaten yet. Since you took your first bite already and the clock is running, it’s too late to start over. You now have to completely rearrange your eating order and start by eating whatever will not burn your mouth, and you will probably need to drink a lot more liquid too. No matter how antsy the crowd is, only start when you are completely ready. You are the performer, and they are NOT paying spectators, so begin your performance ONLY after you have done your pre-challenge ritual and made sure that the food has cooled down enough. Don’t even let the owner begin the clock before you are ready. Start when YOU are ready and stick to your strategy.

People may try to ask you questions while you are eating – This has happened to me many times, and it is really hard to totally disregard people and continue eating because it seems really rude. You just need to remember and have the understanding that 99% of people have basically no knowledge about competitive eating and food challenges, which is why the public opinion is so extremely low. While you are attempting a food challenge, especially if you are not wearing any headphones, a random stranger will probably ask you simple questions like “Where are you from?” and “How many of these have you done before?” He or she may even start talking about “that big steak down in Texas” or “that Japanese guy that eats all those hot dogs,” like you have never heard of them already. What you do is up to you, but the best solution would probably be to just answer the question briefly when you are able to and then get back to eating your meal. More than likely, somebody else around you will explain to him or her that you are eating and can be asked questions afterwards. Another factor that may effect your decision on what to do is the time limit. If you are rushing and trying to beat a very difficult time limit or previous time record, you focus on you and your challenge and nothing else. Those questions can be answered later. If you are just enjoying your meal though and know you have extra time to spare, it won’t be a big deal to just answer the questions real quickly and move on without seeming rude. The other solution would be to have a friend answer any questions that are received. Then just speak to spectators when you are done.

The owner or manager may talk smack to you while you are eating – As you continue eating food challenges, you will realize that every single challenge you attempt is a unique experience and every restaurant operates very differently, especially when it comes to hosting their challenge. Some restaurants are really into their challenge and some really don’t care if you order it or not. Another variable that you will find is that each restaurant owner is unique too. Some will be happy when you win, and you will have others that will smile when you lose. There are even some owners that go above and beyond, and they will actually heckle you and talk smack to you about you failing while you are still eating. There is no real way to prepare for this or tell which owners will be like that, so you just have to adjust if it ever does happen. You can react in three different ways. You can get mad and let him or her throw you off your game, which is exactly what he or she was trying to do in the first place. You can also just disregard what he or she is saying, ignore the person (especially if you have your headphones on), and keep eating per your strategy. The third response is to let that smack talk motivate you to eat even faster with more determination so that you crush the challenge and get to smile victoriously afterwards. What you choose to do is up to you, but know that I always choose option #3!! Also remember that you are in his or her establishment, so please be respectful if you decide that you want to talk smack right back, even though you can’t focus on eating if you are focused on other things. The owner is probably just joking & having fun, so just keep eating!!

Your server may not be available when you need something – 97% of the time, a server is available to get you something if you need it, and most of the time you won’t need anything anyway if you ordered your challenge correctly beforehand. There may come a time though, near the end of your challenge when time is running low, where you need something quickly so that you can finish before time expires. The first thing that comes to mind is liquids, because there have been times where I was running out of soda towards the end of a long challenge and I needed a refill, but there was nobody around to ask. I just had to keep sipping on the warm one that I had until somebody came by. To prevent anything like this from happening, just think ahead earlier in the challenge when somebody is available. If you think you are going to need another drink, ask for one twenty minutes before your time expires, rather than expecting one right away with only three or four minutes left. Your servers have other people to take care of too, so be proactive and ask for things you may need well before you actually will need them. If you do run out of something though and nobody is around, you just have to adjust and conquer!!

There may be many other conversations going on around you – You are in a restaurant that is most likely filled with other people, and therefore there will be a ton of noise going on around you. There will be many other fun conversations going on around you at the tables nearby. Don’t focus on anything but your challenge and getting the victory. To help you stay focused, I recommend listening to music through your own personal headphones. For more information about why you should do that, read Why Eaters Listen To Music During Competitions. As mentioned at the beginning, serious distractions are very rare, especially when you are doing challenges while not many people are at the restaurant. There may come a time though, such as people trying to get you to start before you are ready, where you just have to put your foot down and make sure that you stick to YOUR game plan and listen to nobody else, and not even the owner. Do whatever you need to do so that you can maintain laser-like focus and carry out your pre-planned eating strategy and get the win that you trained all week for!!

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