Facebook kindly (lol) reminded me this morning that three years ago today I arrived in Fort Lauderdale to compete in my first figure competition. The show is called Southern States. It’s an NPC (National Physique Committee) show for amateur bodybuilding. It was seriously an incredible experience!
Not to say it wasn’t a hard road to get there. Everyone has their journey in whatever their passion might be. Mine became fitness and weight loss only a month after my wedding. I quickly became obsessed with the lifestyle. And that’s what it is–a lifestyle.
You eat, sleep, breathe what your coach tells you and the gym. An hour of fasted steady state fasted cardio at 5am six days a week. That’s a 4:15am wake up time. I did the treadmill, working up the incline almost every single day for 14 months to get to Southern States. An hour of weight lifting, as heavy as I could, six days a week (that was my favorite part!). I lost 45 pounds. I was in the best shape of my life, no question. And my confidence was at an all time high.
There are so many things you don’t know going into this though. My poor husband had to deal with a hungry newlywed wife, who had a very strict meal plan of 6 meals a day and no cheat meals for the first three months. NO ALCOHOL. Toward the end, weeks out from the stage, we’re talking 3 hours in the gym every day. EVERY DAY. It was brutal! I’m not gonna lie. But so worth it getting in that suit and up on that stage.
I cried. I can vividly recall one morning, walking on the treadmill, crying because I was so tired. I was easily agitated because I was taking copious amounts of caffeine in the form of preworkouts and fat burning pills. And I was hungry. HANGRY is more like it.
Why do this, you ask. Why torture yourself like this? Well, to be honest, I CRAVED it after a while. And the drive to succeed, the terrifying knowledge you’re going to put on a suit that covers very little along with learning exactly how much your body can take and how far you can push yourself…it’s motivating! There were days I wanted to quit. But I kept going because I knew this would change my life. And it did.
A lot has changed in three years. I did a second competition in October 2014, took the holidays off to eat and build muscle, and decided to do another local show in August 2015. Well, as life would have it, I got pregnant in April 2015. I haven’t seen those abs since, LOL.
The girls I met in Florida at that show were incredible. I still keep up with one of them. They were so genuine, so nice, so helpful. I was lost in a sea of people I didn’t know (I did compete with one friend there, but she was in a different division) and I really had no idea what I was doing. The tan is intense, dark and very easily messed up. You literally pee through a dixie cup with the bottom cut out so you don’t mess up your tan. I had to cut my water leading up to the show, meaning you taper off your water intake leading up to the day of the show when you have none. This dries out your skin and makes it very thin, which shows your muscles best. The morning of I had only a small cup of coffee. That’s it. I cried that day in between prejudging and the night show when we went to lunch because I was so hungry and the one restaurant we chose only served already marinated chicken. I needed plain because I couldn’t have ANY salt. My amazing husband (who dealt with my moods and my tears like a champ) went across the street to Publix and bought me plain grilled chicken and green beans. Crisis averted and I didn’t mess myself up. It’s quite a balance when you’re that lean and right there. And even though I didn’t win, and knew I wouldn’t going into it because my posing needed work and I wasn’t nearly as muscular as those other girls, I still took this very seriously because I was that passionate about it! I still am! It pushed me to places I didn’t know I had. It’s not as hard for some, and probably harder for others. But for me, it was the hardest thing I’d ever done.
Would I recommend this? Absolutely. But you have to be serious about it. It’s a BIG goal to set out when weight loss is what you want. It’s daunting. And very, VERY hard on your self esteem. I am still struggling with self-acceptance because one can’t help but look at pictures when they were in the best shape of their life when they no longer look that way and wish for that body. I do. I want it. I WISH for it. But the thing is…you have to WORK for it. And right now, with a toddler, three hours in the gym is not possible. And she is my main focus. But maybe someday I’ll get back on that stage. I’d love to. We’ll see. Who knows what the future holds!
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Would you do it again? Have you ever considered competing?