It doesn’t seem like it’s been four years since I underwent my personal health journey which included preparing for and competing in a bodybuilding competition.
Once I lost most of my weight, I wanted to do something that would push and challenge me even further. I honestly can’t remember the moment a competition is what would fit that bill, but once I decided, I was 100% in.
For several months, I would work out 2-3 times a day. I would do strength training and almost two hours of cardio a day. I would get up at 4am everyday, throw back a protein shake, and hit the gym by 5am. I’d go to my 8-5pm job and workout on my lunch break. When I left my main job at 5pm, I’d go to my second job and work til 10:30 or 11pm, then go back to the gym for a second cardio session.
I was absolutely committed. I was single, I didn’t have any major commitments other than my jobs, and I had a great support group. But, it was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. I was weighing every ounce of food, counting macros, and practicing posing. Aside from the physical challenges, the mental part of prep was the most difficult. There are so many days where you are absolutely exhausted, hungry, dehydrated, and wondering why you decided to do this. Towards the end, I was pep talking myself every day just to get my workout in. Tilapia and broccoli was looking pretty yucky, and all I wanted to eat was pizza (which I had shipped in from Chicago to enjoy after the competition was over ha!)
Finally, all those months of hard work came to fruition. I drove with some friends to Memphis and things got real... starting with two heavy spray tans (mind you - in a room full of other competitors. You’re naked, cold, and have someone spraying your private areas - NOT glamorous!) I had to bring my own black sheets so I wouldn’t ruin the ones at the hotel.
The next morning was a blur - we had to get to the arena super early. Guess why? Another spray tan! We got glammed up and waited. And, waited. Aaaand waited. Bikini is last so it was after lunch before we finally came out on stage. You get about 15 seconds to hit your poses and get off the stage. All that hard work boils down to 15 seconds!! I remember shaking so hard I could barely get myself to smile.
We spent the next several hours waiting until the evening presentation when awards would be presented. I placed 4th in my division, but honestly the experience alone was the reward. I had proven to myself what hard work and grit could accomplish.
My support team and I went out for dinner afterwards where I proceeded to eat about five rolls and drink two pitchers of water. Ha! What a time to be alive. It was over and time to celebrate.
That season of life taught me many things. Some of them were hard lessons - the preparation of the competition really messed with my head. Once I gained some weight, it was hard not being as lean as I had before. I struggled with weighing food, not weighing food. Did I still need to count macros? What about the three hours of working out I had done? It was a hard transition and it took me almost 3 years to settle into a pattern where that strict, stringent mindset didn’t rule my choices or cause me to feel guilty.
I still have that sparkly, hot pink bikini, heels, and jewelry in a box but it’s seen it’s last moment in the spotlight. I’m in a completely difference season of life, but I will cherish and appreciate the ways I grew and challenged myself during that time.
I can still give a killer bikini pose - some things will never change!