“So when are you competing again?”
When I am asked that question my heart sinks. The voice inside sighs and quietly whispers “never” while my lips automatically form the words they have been conditioned to deliver and say “not sure, this year has been about recovering from some injuries.” As I speak those words I wonder if they could see the shame.
You see this journey began for me mid 2018 as I approached my 42nd birthday. I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone for the 42nd year of life to honor my Mom who died when she was 42 and I was 6years old. I wondered how many dreams she may have held on to while raising my twin and I. I wondered how many goals she never attained as she waited for “the right moment”. I didn’t want to keep waiting…I was at the peak of my fitness journey and wanted to push it to the next level.
The first challenge I proposed to myself was running my first half-marathon! Up until that moment, the most I had ever run was one 5k almost a year prior…oh boy!! Signed up and started training without a clue of how to even start, what shoes to wear, what was the right form…nothing! But I started and just 4 days before my 42nd birthday I completed my first half-marathon! I remember as I ran that last mile I imagined my Mom cheering for me at the end of that mile…this was for you Mom.
Still wanting more, I decided to participate in a physique competition that Beachbody offered during their conference for their coaches. I signed up! I had about 3 months to prepare. I found a coach and I started preparing. I had NO clue what I was getting into. Workouts were intense…started my day at 3:30AM with a home workout followed by a gym workout that was carefully orchestrated by my incredible trainer Lilith. True to everyone’s description of the diet, the food choices were limited but I had sprinkled moments of cheat days (that turned into cheat meals) along the way. From April 2019 to July 11, 2019 I focused on this goal. I stepped on stage at 114lbs (started at 127) and with 13% bodyfat (started at 27%). Excited about being a part of this fitness focused community, I felt like I had found my happy place! Didn’t think I would even place but I did!! I placed 3rd in my age group and celebrated the win with a juicy burger and my family and fellow bikini competitors!!
Now if you recall…I started this “live out loud’ challenge the year I turned 42 in a way of honoring my mom who died at age 42. Granted I don’t believe she would have stepped on a stage or run a half-marathon BUT it was my way of not “waiting for the right time” to do things. So if that was my goal, I should have been done…but I wasn’t. That journey made me want MORE. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that what I was chasing after, what I wanted to keep alive was something that was being fed ONLY by the external accolades others kept serving me. People I had never met before were coming up to me and telling me how I motivated them. I would receive messages from women I had admired that would tell me how amazing I looked and how they enjoyed following my journey. How could I give that up? I didn’t, much to my husband’s dismay. In January 2020, I started to prep again for a new competition year. Honestly, that focus on prep is what helped me survive the first year of COVID. I trained for 10m and competed in September and October of 2020, placing 3rd and 5th in the October NPC competition. However, as 2020 came to a close, I also ended up with double tennis elbow, a fragile relationship with my husband, and an unhealthy mental state of mind.
As 2021 comes to a close I recognize that although I did LOVE the journey of prepping for competition, I should have addressed my mental health PRIOR to starting. I enjoyed the challenge, I overcame so many obstacles, it allowed me to motivate others to start their health journey…BUT it was all done on a faulty foundation. I was fueled by how OTHERS reacted to my accomplishments. So when the scale started to go up, the bodyfat started to rise…I felt like a fraud. How would all these people that had praised me and started following me react to my failure to maintain that incredible physique? How can I motivate anyone, when I can’t even stick to my own health journey?
2021 has been a year of overcoming injuries but it has also become a year where I am starting to address my mental health and body image issues. So, when will I compete again? I don’t believe I ever will. It was an incredible experience and I loved all the people I met BUT it’s a journey that requires more than just grit. What I hope to do again is another half-marathon and then a full marathon! Bring on 2022.