I’m not who I used to be, and I’ve never been happier.
My former self would have never imagined I’d be where I am today in my fitness endeavors. How did I get to where I am now? I was tired of just being comfortable, and decided to change my goals. Whether it’s giving them a slight tweak, or completely veering off in a different direction altogether (the story of this article), take a risk and try something new.
We all say that time changes people. You aren’t the same person you were last week, let alone months or years ago. Yet, here we are, keeping the same overall goals. Too many times we get stuck and focus on one general outcome, but forget to challenge ourselves, try something different, and have fun along the way.
Don’t make goals for who you are now… make goals for who you want to be!
You Are In Charge of What You Become
I may be one of the most extreme cases of switching it up and making new goals, with most of this story taking place within the past year alone. I feel my crazy adventure of branching out and trying new sports will demonstrate how goals don’t always have to be a concrete idea. Set a goal, and if you change along the way, change your goal! It’s as simple as that. Don’t think of it as quitting on your original route, but that you found something else you’re striving to accomplish. There are so many ways to be active in the fitness world, so why stay merely content and do the same thing over and over again on repeat.
Don’t be afraid of big change.
How I Evolved
Quest for sport involvement: I wanted to be part of a team
Growing up a farmer’s daughter, without time or money for my little girl wish of joining gymnastics (and not having any real athletic skill in anything), lead me to running. After the purchase of running shoes I began my endless six mile loops out in the country, which turned into seven straight years of competing in both cross country and track. I was decent enough to be on varsity, and I loved the idea that it was basically a moving social hour with your friends after school. However, I always dreaded competitions, and did them only because I had to. Even as freshman in college, as a way back athlete in the long pack of much faster runners, I avoided racing at any cost (faked sick once). That was how I ended my running career, deciding my heart wasn’t really in it. I enjoyed running for the sake of running, and had fun with my coach, teammates, and the years I spent in those sports, but I had no ambition to push myself further. In that sport I went through the motions, but I didn’t see myself becoming more.
At that point I told myself I should be responsible and work more at my job, since college tuition wasn’t going to pay for itself. During that time I went sport-less for a few years.
Quest for aesthetics: I wanted to be in the spotlight
Since it was the first time I was not involved in a team sport for years, it’s easy to predict that I got bored and had to find a (replacement. I found the weight room. I loved the variety and options that weightlifting provided: I could lift alone, with friends, and there was always something new to learn and try. I was hooked, to the point that I went on to get my Master’s in Human Performance and became a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Around that time the “bodybuilding bug” was going through the town I was living in. It seemed that everyone wanted to do a bodybuilding competition, so of course that “bug” ended up wiggling its way into my head too. However, it took me over a year to finally make the official decision to compete (with lots of motivation and encouragement from my boyfriend who also competed with me). So, part way through last summer, the goal of becoming a glammed up, lean, tan, high-heeled, bikini class bodybuilder was in motion.
Since I had such a long history of only running, and not much previous lifting, I wasn’t sure of how lean I could get, or if I’d even have enough muscle mass to look the part. It required a complete change in my nutrition and training, but as with all goals, your effort effects your outcome. In the end, I was lucky that my body responded well to dieting and training, and that I surpassed all of my expectations. There were still things that needed work, but I was told by the judges I was “too muscular and too lean” for the bikini class at my first show. Therefore, I didn’t place well, and didn’t place at all at my second show a couple weeks later. In the end, I accomplished my goal of competing and was happy with my beautiful butterfly transformation that I put on stage, and gladly started my off season (with lots of cookies).
Quest for strength: I wanted to be strong
To kick off my off season from bodybuilding, I wanted to start lifting heavier to target musculature that needed more growth. At that time, my boyfriend was starting to train for a strongman competition at the end of January. I was at the gym watching him lift all of these fun and different pieces of equipment, so I started to join him. This included items such as using an axle instead of a barbell, deadlifting a frame, and loading atlas stones (big balls of cement), to name a few. Once again, I caught that “new sport bug”. My offseason from bodybuilding gradually turned into training for my first strongman competition. New goal: be strong!
I competed at the end of January, and ended up qualifying for nationals in June. Even though I held my own among the group of female competitors, I initially didn’t know if I’d try to compete again. However, as stressful as that competition was (being completely new and unfamiliar with a lot of techniques), I had fun and tried a backyard meet a couple months later. Eventually, I was talked into competing at United States Strongman Nationals, and the ultimate goal was set. At nationals, I was finally competing with girls in my own weight class for the first time, and it was a tough to say the least. I had a far from perfect performance, but I won enough events in my weight class that I squeaked by with a half point lead and became the 123lb national champion. Now this lady lifter sees room for growth, and more goals, in the world of strength.
I currently am back to less stressful lifting again, since I have no upcoming competitions planned as of yet. However, even though I have no one specific goal set, I do have a few options in mind for the future. As you can guess, they’re still big!
Should I switch it up again and try a powerlifting meet?
Should I qualify for strongman nationals again and try to defend my title?
Should I go back into bodybuilding and try my luck in the figure class division?
If you aren’t happy with your fitness path, try a different direction.
Don’t be afraid of big goals!
Onto the next goal
~ Karlee Simkowski
Bachelor’s Degree in Biology – Biomedical Concentration
Master’s Degree in Human Performance – Applied Sports Science
In the process of obtaining Doctorate Degree in Chiropractic
Bikini Bodybuilder and Strong(wo)man Competitor