Although this may start out as another gloomy post (seems to be a trend lately!), it will brighten up, I promise.
When I got home from this gym this morning, I cried. I consider myself to be mentally tough and able to handle a lot, and while I do get stressed, it’s rare that it ever reaches a level where I find myself in tears. I generally think I handle stress productively and effectively.
I have been dieting and training for this competition for almost 12 weeks now in the midst of working full-time and going to graduate school. I have sacrificed time, sleep, energy, relationships, happy hours, etc. all for the sake of being on stage and showing off the results of all of that hard work. I have less than 3 weeks left to go, and the pressure is on. I used to have the safety net of time to reassure me that everything would turn out the way I wanted/expected it to, but it is getting down to the wire, and I am full of doubt and uncertainty.
The reality is, I’m not where I expected I would be by now. Maybe I had unrealistic expectations to start with. Maybe I haven’t worked as hard as I should have or adhered to the program as much as I should have. Maybe it’s both. However, the discrepancy between where I wanted to be/expected to be/thought I should be and where I am is producing fear, doubt, frustration, guilt, and disappointment. Hence, the crying in my bathroom at 6:00 in the morning.
Instead of wallowing in my misery, I texted my trainer, Nicole. She is the 2009 and 2011 Figure Olympia champion, so if anyone knows about the ups and downs of figure competitions, it has to be her. Here is the text message pep talk she gave me this morning:
You are going to be fine. It is normal to have days and weeks like this. I have had many a breakdown. Don’t compare yourself to others. You are not them and they are not you. Focus on you and remember this is your first show. It is normal to be nervous. There is no doubt you are going to look back and think of things to do better. I still do that. If you didn’t, you would never make any improvements. Enjoy the process and journey. You are doing something only 5% of the world has done, so of course it is going to be hard.
I found a lot of comfort in that. I also realized I wasn’t appreciating all of the wonderful things that have come out of this so far, independent of the outcome of the competition (in no particular order):
- I am finally competing in figure after thinking about doing for years (accomplishing a long term goal – yay!)
- I am in best the shape that I can remember (I’ve also lost 10 lbs since I started this process)
- I am physically stronger
- My cardiovascular endurance has improved (speed intervals on the stairmill are no match for me!)
- Working out and eating healthy have become a way of life and part of my normal routine again
- I am FINALLY keeping a blog (another long-term goal of mine)
- I have learned effective time management skills
- I’ve realized that I’m capable of a lot more than I give myself credit for
- I’ve developed mental toughness and transformed my internal self talk
- I’ve been able to apply the concepts I’m learning in graduate school and reap the benefits
- I have (hopefully) inspired others to make similar positive changes in their lives
- I have met the most incredible people and made some amazing friends (special shout out to Kelly Kassen – love you girl!)
- I’ve been able to work with Nicole Wilkins (I am still starstruck when she text messages me)
I’m sure there are probably at least another dozen things I could think of. #12 is a biggie. There are so many people in my life who inspire me daily, push me to work hard and achieve more, and to pay forward the same support and encouragement they have given me to others. I am certainly a better person because of them and I feel like they are everywhere – old friends, new friends, and even friends I haven’t had a chance to meet in person yet. My life is richer because of them, and I am grateful for that.
So, after contemplating all of this, I realize that what place I get or what body fat percentage I have on show day doesn’t really matter – I feel like I’ve already won.