Many of you are probably getting ready for a night out celebrating the end of 2011. Partying on New Year’s Eve has never really been my style. For me, the end of the year is usually reserved for reflection on the triumphs, failures, and milestones of the past year and thinking ahead to what I want the next year of my life to be like.
Although I can’t claim to have eaten clean and worked out as consistently as I would have liked to this year, I did accomplish several long-term dreams – running a half marathon, competing in figure, and starting graduate school. I’ve realized that those three accomplishments are all intertwined, and without having accomplished one, it is doubtful I would have accomplished the others.
Running the half marathon really set the stage for the year. It was the first challenging goal I set for myself and actually followed through to the end in years. It gave me confidence, and once I got a taste of the pride and satisfaction that comes from working hard and achieving a difficult goal, I wanted to find a way to feel it again. Had I not run the half marathon, I don’t think I would have been confident enough or strong enough to pursue my other two goals.
It’s pretty incredible how significant an impact competing in figure had on my life this year. I underwent both a physical and mental transformation. I learned that most of my perceived limitations exist only in my head. I learned that discipline is a choice, not something you are inherently born with or without. I realized how often I succumbed to bullshit excuses as a reason not to do something difficult and that I wasn’t living up to my potential in many arenas of my life. I also finally understand that there are no shortcuts to greatness and that falling down, making a mistake, and getting off track do not represent failure. You only fail if you refuse to get up, continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over, or abandon the road less traveled just because it isn’t easy.
I have formed some incredible friendships through competing, and the amazing thing is, some of them are with people I’ve never even met in person. I owe much of my success to Kelly Kassen and David DeLorenzo (neither of whom I would have met without having competed this year) and their unwavering support and guidance. I am also thankful for my online fitness friendships with Heather Morrow (hopefully we can finally meet in 2012!) and Electra Liontis (of the awesome Vanilla Bean Lean blog) who inspire me and keep me motivated. There are literally countless others I have met who have enriched my life in one way or another, and I’m so thankful for all of the wonderful people I have met through competing. I also learned to appreciate all of the people I already had around me who were more than willing to offer their support if I simply asked for it. I was particularly touched by the support I received from the people I work with, many of whom came to my competition, which I thought was awesome (thank you). Although you expect support from family, I am also so thankful to my mom and my sister. It felt really good to make them proud.
The competition process also inspired me to start (and continue!) this blog, another goal I thought I had abandoned for good long ago. I have been pleasantly shocked by how many people actually are interested in what I have to say! But on a more sincere note, it has helped me connect with people I might not have otherwise. I do hope that in some way, it has been helpful or inspirational to others. While I don’t claim to be an expert, I love sharing what I have learned from my own experiences with others to help them find their own way and achieve their goals. This blog has given me a platform to do that more frequently.
I also realized that there is more to life and more to me than my job. 2010 was pretty much me pouring 100% of my time and energy into excelling in my new management job. This year, I finally found some kind of balance between doing well at work and pursuing personal goals and interests. It has made me a better person, and I think in some ways a better manager. Who I am is not about what I do for a living.
There are probably a hundred other ways that competing has influenced me in a profound and positive way, but since this is a blog and not a book, I won’t list them all. I’m certain that I never anticipated that all of these things would have come out of competing. It goes to show you that you never know where chasing a dream will lead you!
I have considered many goals for 2012, but have really narrowed it down to two. The first is to make health and fitness a lifestyle, not just something I do when it’s convenient, but abandon when I’m sick, stressed/depressed, on vacation, busy, not close to a competition, etc. Consistency is something that I have always struggled with, and at the end of 2012, I want to know that I consistently trained and ate clean the entire year (with a few exceptions on special occasions of course). The second goal is to join a Crossfit gym. I think it would be amazing to someday be a competitive Crossfit athlete. I admire the strength of Crossfit women especially and that Crossfit athletes come in all shapes and sizes. It is almost the opposite of figure competitions – 100% about pure athleticism and not at all about aesthetic appearance. I love that, and it is something I feel is missing from my competitive life in figure.
Whether you are staying in (like me) tonight or going out to celebrate, I wish everyone a safe and happy new year! You are starting a new chapter in the book of your existence – you decide what kind of story it will be.
P.S. The 2011 Crossfit Games will be broadcast on ESPN2 tomorrow. If you are looking for some fitness motivation or are curious about Crossfit, I encourage you to check it out!