MY LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP TO COMPETE
I have gotten asked why I want to compete and sometimes wonder the same thing. So, this will be quite therapeutic for me and I hope it can help someone understand a little more about what competing is about. It may or may not help you decide if you want to compete also.
I have competed in 5 competitions in the last 4 years. My husband and I traveled all over the Midwest. Sometimes we would be competing at the same time in the same shows. Other times, I was his support and He was mine.
MY FIRST TIME
I came very close to getting a pro-card at my very first competition. I must have done my quarter turns a million times with the competitor whom I was up against for the final run-through. Honestly, I thought I had won. I had much more muscle than she and I thought that was what it was about. My trainer told me that if it was close I would nail it with symmetry.
Unfortunately, four out of the five judges did not think the same thing. I may have the muscle mass but I was not as lean as I needed to be. In hindsight, I can see that now, but it still was devastating to me at the time.
It broke me inside. Honestly, it broke my spirit a lot. I tried to tell myself I could do better than that first prep so I continued to look into more competitions. But for four years following that first competition I always had more weight to lose than the last prep. I wanted to compete but the weight was harder each time to lose.
FOR THE MOST PART KINDA
The exercise part I have down, but the nutrition is where I fall short. Actually, I do not fall, I smack that floor hard. I ate clean for the most part, I stuck to my macro’s kinda but a Pro Card does not comprehend “for the most part” and “kinda”. Plus, I hate being told I cannot do something (especially eat). My rebellious behavior always gave me an excuse to do what I wanted and not what I should. Unfortunately, I cannot win being crowned the Best in Rebel.
ALL WAS NOT LOST
I have learned a ton. I have failed and I have succeeded and as the pendulum swung, I continued to learn. The following are just a few of the things that may help you on your journey to the stage. Of course, not all of you will agree or have these things happen to you, but if you know they are possibilities, it could help your carb-depleted reaction to it. Everybody’s reason to compete is different.
This is not a cheap sport. From the start of your diet to the feast after your competition (or the feasts following for days-NOT RECOMMENDED). You will compete for not only on stage but you will compete with your wallet.
Immediately, you will notice the amount of chicken or other protein you will go through. You will become the person who watches the ads or commercials for sales on chicken. Depending on how you ate before will determine how much of an impact on the amount of money you spend on food and/or supplements now will be. I have to say though, it is still cheaper to eat healthily and make your own meals than to buy fast food or processed. I am not going to get into all that here. If you want to learn more about nutrition all you have to do is Google it or stay right here and check out all the great articles, recipes & products right here for you on our HerSUPPZ site (not-so-shameless plug).
Add in a gym membership (optional but very helpful), a Personal Trainer (if you decide to hire one), your suit, your bling, your heels (if you are a Figure or Bikini), your entry fees, your tanning, your photos (or photoshoot if you decide to have one), lodging, gasoline/airfare, and the super fun part, new clothes because your old ones are falling off of you.
THE SUPPORT OF ALL YOUR FRIENDS & FAMILY
I hope you have this. This really helps TREMENDOUSLY. Some people really do understand and you will probably surround yourself with them even more. I was lucky enough to do most of my competition prep with my husband. He thought the best way to support me was to do it with me. I was very fortunate. We also have had a wonderful team of 3 to 6 people each competition to pose together, share recipes & ideas with, and talk about what we would do for a slice of pizza or piece of cake.
Unfortunately, I have also had some friends and/or family not really understand. They got tired of the constant fitness talk or food porn or some thought that a woman bodybuilder just isn’t “a very good look”. Be prepared to go to family functions and hear, “just one bite won’t hurt you” repeatedly. Sixteen or more weeks is a long time to revolve your life around the gym and food. For the competitor is it a way of life, but for the competitor’s friends or family who don’t ‘get it’ or ‘care’ …well, they don’t get it… or care.
I am not going to lie, it stings and I hope you don’t compromise your dream that someone else thinks you should or shouldn’t have. I have tried to explain to those less supportive why I love the sport and I usually get a forced nod or empty stare in return.
The people who do support you and even come to your competitions really make up for those who don’t support you though. Just one positive comment can be all you need to get you through to the next weigh-in.
“Well I don’t really love bodybuilding but…I do love you so…”-My Dad (The best thing that was said to me about competing)
PATIENCE AND MORE PATIENCE
There is going to come a time in your prep when you look at yourself after doing everything right for so many weeks and getting worried and frustrated because you are not seeing anything different. I think this usually comes somewhere between 8 and 12 weeks of prep. If you have done everything you’re supposed to DO NOT GIVE UP. If you give it just a little longer, all of a sudden you will wake up one day and see all sorts of veins and muscle definition like never before. At least that is how it happened for me.
You can not have discipline without forgiveness. Forgive yourself if you mess up and do the next right thing. Some competitors do not mess up, I was not one of those. I had to forgive myself less in some preps and more in others, but with every time I had to forgive, I had to discipline myself to do the next right thing.
FIND SOMEONE YOU TRUST TO TRAIN YOU
Ask around. If you are a gym member this is a great place to do just that. Go to competitions and stalk out the ones that know what they are doing. This behavior is totally acceptable. They work hard and love the sport and love to share their passion. The competition world loves to support one another because it is a wonderful feeling to have your work pay off and they want everyone to know how that feels.
They have a lot on their minds on comp day but if you find them after pre-judging or stay until the end of the show you could mention you are interested in competing. Then ask them if they wouldn’t mind if you emailed them next week.
I suggest with hesitation to look around on social media, but be careful!! Use your head and don’t believe everything you see and hear! Some ‘trainers’ think they can overcharge you for a fitness and nutrition plan that they have no business or knowledge of. Lawd knows you don’t have to scroll too far to find someone showin’ off their hard work.
STANDING ON STAGE NEARLY NAKED
Just like any competition whether on a stage, a field or on a court, no one chooses to compete for second place. Some consider the journey to the stage the reward, and that is great. As for me nothing matters after First. I win or I lose.
There’s something oddly satisfying standing up on that stage nearly naked. You are in the presence of a different kind of athlete. Who one day, like you, decided it was time to see what you are capable of. You will find out that you are capable of much more than you ever knew. We chose a stage instead of a court or field.
If you ask every competitor on competition day, one word to describe how they are feeling at that moment you would hear many answers. It is the day all your prep either pays off or leaves you feeling frustrated. You present on stage all the right choices you made in sixteen weeks or all the times you made the wrong choice.
I can tell you the underlying common word that you would hear among all competitors is…respect. Competitors know how much strength and consistency it takes to win a trophy or medal. The highest jump, the heaviest weight lifted off that rack, the hardest HIIT workout is not on that stage for all to judge like other competitions. All that work was done before we reached the stage.
I reached 200 pounds after having my children and several things have led me down my path of wanting to be healthier and better for myself and for my family; countless fitness DVDs, a gym membership, leading a weight management class at my church, and a personal trainer telling me I had good symmetry.
My husband and I have competed in several competitions from 2012 to 2015. Every competition brought more information on how to be better and stronger both mentally and physically.
I have learned many things on my fitness journey, but the one thing that I hear over and over no matter what size they are is the self-talk that many women tell themselves regarding the way they see themselves. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have the tools and wisdom of the people around me to help women of all shapes and dynamics to help them on their journey.
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Article updated March 2020