10 years ago this week marks the first time I stepped on stage as a Figure Athlete. It was quite the ride. I had two young kiddos (4 and 3 years), I loved health and fitness, and wanted to see how I could “sculpt” my body, so I signed up for a show and threw myself into the preparation. I had a lot to learn, from how to use food and water to preserve muscle (I had a hard time building muscle to be fair!) and reduce body fat, to learning how to pose and walk in high heels comfortably…. on stage…in a bikini (OMG). It was an awesome experience but wasn’t plain sailing, I definitely experienced a couple of road bumps along the way…
First off, I was HUNGRY, like, ALL THE TIME! It took every ounce of discipline not to cheat on my meal plan (huge warning sign btw, I should not have been that hungry…and a big reason I wasn’t very good at gaining muscle, I wasn’t eating enough!). Everyone in the bodybuilding world that I knew told me I would be hungry, tired, depleted…and it was normal to feel like that….in hindsight I would like to say; no, it is not normal.
I had been told that it was normal for your periods to stop (amenorrhea)when getting that lean…so when mine stopped, I wasn’t worried, it actually made me feel successful…I’m doing this right, I’m lean, my period has stopped because I am so lean (#idiot). I should have been worried, it is not right for your period to stop, I wasn’t getting that message.
What did feel great, was the satisfaction that it was working, my body was changing, I went from 18% bodyfat down to 9%. It didn’t matter that on the inside I was totally messing up my body, what mattered was I could get up on stage and not feel out of place compared to the other ladies up there with me.
The first show I competed in was huge and it attracted a lot of competitors (and spectators – eek). I placed in the middle of the pack somewhere, a good first attempt in my book, I was incredibly grateful to not come last, and to not fall over on stage in my heelsJ. I left the stage feeling high that I had managed to achieve my goal, and my sights were set on another show in July.
After the July show my body was wreaked, I was going to hang up my heels. My period took 6 months to return, and I developed iron deficiency anaemia (culmination of low calories, excessive exercise, and lack of nutrients). But I couldn’t help but feel I wasn’t done yet, I was not one to quit and I was convinced I could do it “healthy”. I found an awesome coach with tons of experience and got my bikini and heels out again! I competed another 5 times over a few seasons, had the best experiences, remained healthy and strong throughout, my bodyfat was always low at comp time (8.1% in 2014!!) and never experienced any of the negative symptoms I had in my first year competing.
Those years taught me a lot about nutrition and how it is the cornerstone of all that we do, I saw how much my body changed, externally and internally. I got the warning messages that things were not right on the inside and I thankfully listened! I got educated and learned the best way to look after myself from a nutrition perspective. As far as being active goes, one day I found myself in a CrossFit gym and I loved it! The community was amazing and I enjoyed focusing on performance rather than what I looked like (a bit of a change from Bodybuilding). CrossFit caters for everyone, it covers all bases and makes you feel amazing, it gives you confidence, it is empowering and prepares you for life…for an active life. It also prioritizes nutrition as part of their methodology, nutrition for health and performance, CrossFit is the whole package!
My goals; be happy, healthy, strong, and fast, and mostly be stronger and faster than my kids for AS LONG as possible! What are yours???
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