If you are like me, you are inspired by all the beautiful, athletic and supremely conditioned fitness athletes gracing the competitive stage. I am in my seventh year of dieting and training for competitions but it took me over ten years to actually take the plunge and start a fitness journey. Do not be like me and wait for that someday. I have learned and am still learning so much about myself. This really is a journey into oneself and the more I keep doing it, the more I keep growing from the inside out.
I first learned about bodybuilding shows when I was in high school when I was flipping through channels on cable television. The fitness competitions immediately caught my eye. I was mesmerized by the athletic routines and couldn’t believe women could be so lean and muscular. What stopped me from actually jumping in and making major lifestyle changes? Fear! I listened to all the voices of doubt in my head. They told me how hard the diet would be. They said I would “lose” anyway, embarrass myself or never “make it.” After lots of back and forth conversations, I would usually come to same conclusions as the voices and give up before I even started.
Turning thirty was motivation enough for me to finally set a bold goal and stick to it. What I discovered beyond my negativity was that I was also pretty impatient. I wanted to see results immediately and would get frustrated when things weren’t happening fast enough. It took a few years for it to sink in, but I discovered that the changes I make to my physique do not come overnight. Now I am enjoying the process of making improvements in the off season by training hard and staying on a relatively clean diet year round.
Going into my current contest prep, I am about fourteen weeks out. I remind myself that I need to mentally make the switch. The added weight that I put on is not all muscle! It is time to get leaner, pose between sets and keep my heart rate elevated to burn a few more calories.
When I am hungry, I try to delight in the fact that my body is dropping body fat, instead of giving into the urges and temptations for more food. When my tummy growls at the wrong time, I drink more water or make a BCAA drink as a way of acknowledging what I am sensing. Sneaking something, binging or cheating only leads to feelings of guilt and frustration later. I also like to distract myself by reading, going for a walk or watching an inspiring YouTube video instead of obsessing about what I can’t be eating at the moment.
The voices all those years were simply a trick, a trick to give up on myself. Instead of focusing on me, they wanted me to look at everyone around me, to compare and make me feel bad about myself. They wanted me to think everyone was accomplishing their dream bodies with less effort and less deprivation. They whispered that everyone was more talented, genetically blessed and still unaffected by past injuries or health concerns. Those voices wanted me to stay the same, unchallenged, unfulfilled and unremarkable.
Without competing, I know I would not be the person I am today. I would never set so many goals for myself and I certainly would not push myself past my comfort zone. It truly is fun meeting so many like-minded, positive people who are also competing to better themselves. I am grateful that I have my health to compete, travel and make so many new memories. At the end of every show, no matter the outcome, I am a winner because I overcame the biggest enemy, myself.