Sunday, April 10, 2011

Stage Ready

For 21 months my life was all about competing. I started training for my first competition, the Washington Ironman, upon return of my last trip to Negril in July 2008. It was something I had been longing to do but was meeting resistance from my husband. After I told him that June that I wanted a divorce, he pretty much agreed to let me do just about anything I wanted. So, a figure competition it would be! It was perfect, really. I couldn't drink and nobody in their right mind was going to eat the foods that were on my nutrition plan. I was consumed and as I've said many times before, distracted. Kind of the point of the whole thing.

Turned out my marriage wasn't so bad when I was competing. After the contest was over reality set in. What to do? Divorce was daunting. Ah yes, compete again! After my first two competitions (2 weeks apart in October 2008) I decided I should gear up for Vancouver '09 and Emerald Cup. I now had a "free" trainer in my friend Jon and he was going to give me the "hook up" to Dave Patterson aka "The Guru." Oh I suffered my way to the Emerald Cup stage, but I had never been so lean and felt so good. I placed poorly, just a skinny girl at 5'7, 128lbs and single digit body fat. I didn't stand a chance up there with those figure "rock stars." But the journey was amazing and well worth it.

After the show was over I became very depressed and sad. My husband took a trip with our son to Florida for a week and it was wonderful for me to have the space. I'm sure some of my friends will recall how depressed I got before my husband was due home. I didn't want him to come back. I secretly hoped he had found another woman in Florida. It was during this week that I decided once and for all, I was done. It was time to make a difficult life change and start the process of moving on.

That summer, after I'd filed for divorce, keeping the weight ON was the challenge. Forget dieting. I was having to force myself to eat. I was still doing morning cardio and lifting hard and heavy. The gym saved me, no doubt about it. I cried my way through many-a-workout that summer. My plan was to do the 2009 Ironman, but I had just gotten hired at the new David Barton Gym in Bellevue and just didn't have the time. However, I managed to get on stage in November for my 5th competition. Best look I've ever had on stage. Wasn't happy with my placing, but very happy with my physique. It was another good distraction. I had just placed my babies in daycare (which at that time wasn't going well), my son had just started kindergarten, I was transitioning jobs and still dealing with many unwanted phone calls, emails and texts. "In the thick of it", if you will.

After competition #5, Vancouver and Emerald Cup 2010 were next on the list. After all, this is what I had become..."a competitor." It's what I did. It defined me. But I didn't want to do it again. Not then. I wasn't ready. I remember it clear as day when Butch came over that Friday night in February and we sat in my kitchen and he granted me "permission" (really, it wasn't like that, but I respect his opinion and the fact that he thought I could bag out and not be a "quitter" was an opinion that I held in high regard) to opt out. I was going to bail and I didn't. The next afternoon I was helping Elaine with a posing seminar at Gold's and decided to do it anyway. I sucked. Both shows were my worst appearances ever. I can't even stand to look at pictures. I'm leaner now than I was then and I'm far from being "stage ready." What have I learned about myself? I should never do anything I don't really want to do...I won't do it well. I won't do it all the way. And then I'll end up pissed off at myself for being off my "A game."

Once I found myself in post-contest hell, I figured the next thing on my agenda should be "fixing" myself so I could compete again in the fall at the 2010 Ironman. My body made it crystal clear that competition was not going to happen. It wasn't going to drop body fat for anything, no matter what I ate or how much cardio I did. Ain't happenin' sister! I surrendered and found something else to focus on, which ultimately led me to making one of my life's dreams a reality. I've been hearing it a lot lately..."You're really leaning out. Are you doing 'The Cup'?" Nope, no I'm not, but thanks for noticing. "When are you going to compete again?" is another one I've been asked a lot. And the answer to the million dollar question...not sure. I don't really feel like it right now or anytime soon. I'd love to work with a mom who wants to set her sights on the stage, but as for me, personally, I don't have the competition bug.

I truly believe that competing saved me and helped me find the strength within myself to do something I otherwise may not have thought I was capable of doing. It gave me something positive to focus on. It gave me a confidence boost and the positive attention from other people that my bruised and battered self-esteem so desperately needed. It brought some really amazing people into my life and it is ultimately what led me to "working my passion."

I no longer need other people to give me validation. I've licked my wounds and have worked really hard on healing those parts of me that I allowed someone else to break down. I don't have anyone telling me day in and day out that my body is "repulsive" and that "no red blooded man would ever want me." I'm over it. I can fill myself up again, I don't need to be a "body" to feel worthy...of anything.

I'm ready to live. Don't get me wrong. I am and hope to forever more be a body BUILDER. I live the life, I eat the diet and I train hard and I LOVE it! For me, competing was a way to isolate myself and to keep myself protected from really living, from spending time with friends and family. It gave me a very convenient excuse to not do a lot of things. I love being able to go out with friends and not have to hit the stepmill at 3:30am. I love to drink red wine and enjoy and Appleton and diet. I really love blueberries and strawberries. I love not being so carb depleted that I can't chase my kids up the stairs to bed!

I'm not sure if I'll step on stage again...ever. I rather think I will because, after all, I do love the spotlight. But it will have to be at a time when I really feel like I want to do it and know that I am doing it for all the right reasons...because I need a new challenge, because I want to see what my glutes look like totally leaned out, because I just want to...that's when I'll do it again. Until that time, I'll just have to settle for being Elaine's "Trophy Girl" - a perfect opportunity to wear my hooker heels and sport a tiara! (and the best part: I don't have a nasty tan to scrub off at the end of the night!!)

I love to compete. Right now, I'm ready to live a little!

1 comment:

  1. I love this post as I can totally relate to it. It is so similar to my story. I am not sure I will compete again as well. I followed a dream that I had in my 20s and when my marriage was coming to an end, competing was a distraction to the pain I was experiencing at home. I love the process and extreme focus competing entails. I'm still very competitive in the gym and love pushing myself. I live the bb life with my diet and in the gym. I'm still on the fence with competing in my future. I too, no longer need that validation that I didn't get in my marriage, but I still have the flame in me that wants to push myself to the limit.

    Thank you Julie for your refreshing honesty. I love reading your posts!! You rock!