Friday, May 17, 2019

My Journey to a NPC Bikini Competition: Part Two (The Emotional Journey)

When I decided I wanted to do a bikini competition, I really didn't know what was in store for me emotionally.  I knew it would be tough, but I didn't know how tough.  I have no idea what people think of me but I'm not an overly confident person when it comes to my body and my athleticism.  And when I say I'm not overly confident, I pretty much mean I lack confidence at all.  I'm a slow runner.  I'm an average (at best) CrossFitter.   So when I decided to do the show, I really wanted to keep it to myself.  I didn't share with anyone but a handful of friends/family and my coaches what I was doing.  Why?  Why did I want to keep it a secret?  Well because!  Putting myself out there made me feel so vulnerable.  I wasn't sure I could do it.  I wasn't confident my body would respond.  I was afraid people would think I was vain. There were a million or so reasons.  What it boils down to is I wasn't self-assured.  I didn't want to expose myself to criticism and potential hurt.

In March, I decided to share my journey with everyone as whispers started happening around the gym.  I decided to announce on social media that I was doing the show.  I'm so glad I did.  The outpouring of support was truly remarkable.  So many people made me feel so loved and supported and, if I'm being honest, I needed it.

The thing about doing something like this is that it makes you VERY in tune with your body.  You (or at least I) evaluate every single part of your body every single day.  Every time I walked by I mirror, I  would check things out.  It wasn't even a conscious decision, but it happened.  I was constantly taking pictures to track my progress. I needed to see more than just the scale, I needed to know my body was changing.  That type of scrutinization is exhausting.  I am glad, however, that I tracked my progress with pictures because it allowed me to SEE progress when the scale was inching it's way slowly down.

There are 6 pounds difference in these pictures 
My progress in the first 13 weeks was pretty consistent.  I was right on track losing just under my goal of 1.3 pounds per week.  However, from April 5th to April 23rd I lost a whopping .7 pounds.  It was so hard to be putting in the work every single day in both the gym and the kitchen and not seeing any results.  My body was being so stubborn.  I KNOW I was doing the work so I couldn't understand why my body wasn't responding.  It was a mind game every single day.  Jess was so calm about it.  Every day we'd talk at the gym and every day she'd shrug and tell me she wasn't worried.  If she was ever worried, she didn't let on to me and thank God because if she had faltered then I would have too.  

There were days were I felt like crying (literally) and there were days were I felt like I was on a high.  I didn't know which Susan I would wake up to every single day.  Would it be strong and confident Susan or the Susan who doubted every single thing that was going on and doubted that her body would get to where it needed to be?  I'm sure dealing with me on a daily basis was a chore.  Alex and Jess constantly reassured me.  Like I said, neither of them ever wavered in their faith in me.  The believed in me even when I didn't believe in myself. 

At one point Alex asked me to ask myself a tough question.  How do you define success?  I thought about this question a LOT.  Would hitting 115 pounds and 12% body fat be success?  Would just surviving prep be success?  Would getting up on stage be enough for me to feel successful?  I honestly didn't know and still, as I'm typing this, am uncertain of what defined my success.  More on this in Part 3 (the show).  I remember talking to Jess about the question too.  We talked about so many what ifs.  What if I didn't look like I belonged when I got there?  What if I came in last place?  What if... the possibilities of failure (in my mind) were endless. 

 The roller coaster of emotions that I felt EVERY SINGLE day is too much to really even put into words.  Those closest to me know how much it drained me.  It doesn't seem unreasonable to say that every waking moment my mind was occupied by prep.  Whether it was eating food, making food, thinking about food, working out or dreaming about the show... it was all consuming.  ALL THE TIME.  I remember thinking I couldn't wait til it was over so I could just stop thinking about it all the time.  Did I mention it was ALL THE TIME AND ALL CONSUMING?  I annoyed myself.  

I have so many people to thank for putting up with me.  First and foremost I have to thank George.  He is my constant and my everything.  He listened to every single hope and fear and looked at every new muscle.  He put up with me when I was hungry, scared, happy or sad.  His support was continuous throughout.  (I can't even imagine if that weren't the case.)  Except that one time during the last week of prep when he brought home pizza, wings and a calzone while I was eating egg whites.  I cried.  Literally.  Well I don't think I let the tears spill but they came to my eyes for sure.  That was mean George.  Other than that, he was my rock and just knowing he is always on my side is all I ever need. 

To my children.  They're the ones that put up with me everyday.  While I think the boys couldn't care less about what I was doing at least they didn't give me a hard time about it even when I was posting half naked pictures on the internet.  They didn't complain when I wouldn't eat out with them or when I was irritable for being just downright hungry.  They just let me live my life and never said they wished I hadn't done it.  Ella. Oh Ella!  That child.  She made me feel so amazing day in and day out.  Every day she supported and encouraged me and it meant so much to me to know she valued what I was doing and saw the hard work it took.  These children are my world and I'm so thankful they didn't give up on their mom when she was a little bit crazy!  

Of course I have to thank my coaches.  This includes Jess, Alex AND Tracey.  You hire people for a reason.  People that know what they're doing and know how to get you where you're going  Without their expertise I would not be where I am today.  Jess and Alex, I thank you both for always believing in me. Neither of you ever made me think for one minute that I couldn't do this.  Again, you both believed in me when I found it hard to believe in myself.  So thank you for your expertise and getting me there.  

Although Tracey wasn't my coach for this portion of the prep process she still played a huge role in getting me to where I am today.  I owe my healthy lifestyle to her.  I wouldn't have even dreamed any of this was possible if it weren't for her getting me to a starting place.  Not only that but she was by my side on show day and for the I'm eternally grateful.  This woman is a pillar of strength and support.  (More on Tracey in Part 3). 

There are two ladies that I have to thank for being my biggest cheerleaders and those ladies are Heidi and Tracey.  These two listened to me complain every single day.  The listened to my hopes and fears.  They were both a constant support in my life.  EVERY DAY!  I feel so lucky to have women in my life that lift me up and support me!  I've surrounded myself with some pretty amazing women and for both of them I'm incredibly thankful.  I don't know how I would have survived this without each of their friendships!  

Thank you Tracey!  

Thank you Heidi!  

Thank you Amy, Biggie, Gina, Jami, Jamie, January Jennifer B, Jen S., Kate, Kelli, Kortni, Melissa, Tammy, Toni, and Tricia.   Each of you took time out of your day at some point (or several) points and lifted my spirits when I needed it most.  When you supported me, I felt it and I often times REALLY NEEDED it.  I can't thank you enough.  It's not easy for some women to lift other women up but I definitely felt you ladies putting the wind in my sails.  For that, I thank each and every one of you!

I'm so thankful the emotional journey has ended (kind of) and can't wait to tell you Part 3. Show day!


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