May 26, 2013 by mybattlebuddyfitness
Where did I leave off…ahhh yes. Friday morning—the big day had arrived. I was ready, feeling like a million bucks. In retrospect, the day seemed to fly by…Perhaps it was because I fueled myself on sugar and fat, which I hadn’t been able to consume for 12 long weeks. Throughout most of the day, I nibbled on those amazing salted chocolate covered almonds and chocolate covered acai berries from Trader Joe’s. If you haven’t tasted these little treasures before, don’t do it now. You WILL become addicted.
The scene backstage in the “pump room,” was quite a site to behold. Women everywhere. Hair being primped and teased and hairspray flying everywhere. Rice cakes, almond butter, and honey being shoveled into muscle-bound bodies. Make-up and curling irons…mini Butterfinger bars and Reese’s cups scattered on long tables in front of the mirrors. Bikini Bite. Don’t forget the Bikini Bite. This is the life-saving stuff that the muscle-princesses use to glue the suits to their butt. It would be tragic to rely on luck to keep that small swatch of fabric in place while you pose on stage. As it turns out, I used Bikini Bite in several places just to be sure I wasn’t going to have ANYthing fall out.
The overall vibe backstage was really fun. Most women were super-friendly as we all helped one another with the finishing touches. It reminded me of those early college days in the dorms. When large groups of girls would cram in front of the mirror and help one another prepare for a night out. To keep my nerves calm, I just pumped away with those rubberbands and listened to some tunes (see photos below). I had a lot of nervous energy and really just wanted to get on stage. I was so grateful to have my friend Melissa back there with me. I would have probably just paced around frenetically had she not been there to distract me. After being greased up by the backstage helpers, we were brought downstairs where we waited for another group to finish with their pre-judging.
All I remember about being on stage is the bright lights that were REALLY warm on my cold body. I distinctly remember thinking, “Hmmmm… Feels good.” I flexed so hard that I got a cramp in my lower back, but I remained still. The pre-judging for my group went by super fast. I think we were only on stage for maybe 3 minutes. I didn’t get a first callout, which was really crushing. I walked off stage feeling really deflated and sad, but tried to remind myself that anything could happen. After a nap and some food at the house, we returned for the evening show. This portion flew by even faster. I decided to just strut my stuff and have fun. At that point, I had done everything I could do to present my best package. I enjoyed prancing across the stage much more than I thought I would (I think this is in large part due to the two shots of Fireball that I had before leaving the house, but whatever). I mean seriously, you put on that suit and walk across a brightly lit stage in front of hundreds of people without booze! Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Immediately upon exiting the stage, a dude appeared with a sheet of paper and said that he was going to announce the top 5. My number was not called. He then said, “Top five ladies, come with me. The rest of you—have a good night.” That was it. It was over. I ran upstairs and threw on my Hello Kitty sweatsuit, found my friends and family in the crowd, and rushed home for pizza and champagne. It was magnificent to eat without measuring anything and to drink…ahhh, to drink that delicious champagne. Simply marvelous. The stomach ache I had in the morning was less magnificent…more on that topic later. But for the moment, it was amazing.
All in all, was it worth it? Absolutely. I have obviously spent a good deal of time reflecting on my journey, and several things happened over the course of these last 12 weeks that I wasn’t at all expecting.
First and foremost, I proved something to myself. I proved that I could endure a lot more than I thought I could. I knew I was physically strong, but I don’t think I ever gave myself much credit for being mentally strong. I have often floated “pie-in-the-sky” goals for myself, but dismissed them for one reason or another. Most importantly, this journey showed me that I CAN DO ANYTHING I PUT MY MIND TO. The only one that can stop me is ME. Coming to this realization made the sacrifice all worth it.
As it turns out, I am very good at self-soothing. I never realized how much I use food and alcohol as a crutch for whatever in my life is bothering me. There’s a good chance that there are many of you out there who do the same without even realizing it. When you are living on a diet that consists ONLY of fresh foods, NO sugar, very little carbs, you are kind of stripped of those security blankets. It’s you and your thoughts and your emotions. No Friday night beer to “take the edge off;” no Saturday night pizza and cookies to “reward yourself for a hard week.” Food and fat are comforting, and when you don’t have them, you have to find other ways to self-soothe. It means that you have lots of time to think with a totally unclouded head, which can be productive, and it can be dangerous.
It was interesting to me that so many people were willing to tell me how “unhealthy” it seemed that I was taking on this challenge. In truth, I think I was truly the healthiest I’ve ever been (*up until about 3 weeks before the competition, at which point I think I just needed a little break…and maybe some fruit). It is alarming to me that the same people who didn’t support or attempt to understand this endeavor, are the same people who sat by and watched me gain 50 pounds. Where were the words of admonishment then? For a very short time, I let the words of the unsupportive people bother me. I quickly realized that they didn’t know what they were talking about and moved on.
Now that it’s long over and my tan has disappeared and the sharply defined muscles have faded away behind a comfy layer of fat, I can see how totally self-consumed I was for 12 weeks. I knew it when I was going through it, but now I can see that I let a lot of things fall to the wayside for a while. Relationships with family and friends were neglected and that makes me feel bad. I have vowed to take the time this summer to re-nurture these relationships.
My thoughts completely revolved around fitness and food for 3 months, and it’s been hard to restore balance. I am burnt out right now. I no longer feel like I HAVE to be at that 6 am spin class…I pat myself on the back for getting up and getting a run in each day. My eating has been bad and I am paying for it. I know that I will eventually return to a state of homeostasis, but right now, I’m in a weird place. I did so much research on how I could cut my body fat before the competition, and I did NO research on what to do AFTER the competition. Let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, I broke every golden rule of post-competition nutrition, and I gained 15 pounds in 3 days. Yep, it happened. Five of those pounds turned out to be water weight, so I dropped those pounds. But as it stands, I am currently 10 pounds heavier than I was on competition day. Mentally, this has been REALLY hard for me to wrap my head around. When I stand in front of the mirror, the body that I worked so hard for is gone. I promised myself that I would give myself a little time of not obsessing and just enjoying life, but it’s hard to go from weighing every morsel and thinking about food and exercise 24/7 to just being a normal human being. This has probably been the most negative side-effect from competing for me. I have worked really hard over the last few years to live a balanced lifestyle, but right now I seem to be tipped in the opposite direction. So, that’s my personal struggle right now. Just trying to re-gain the motivation to get back on track.
If you are toying with the idea of doing a figure or fitness competition, DO IT. Don’t think too hard about it. Just do it. You will learn an infinite amount about nutrition, fitness, and most importantly, yourself.
In closing, I can’t thank all of enough for the outpouring of kind words and support that I received from you. There were many days that your words were the only thing that kept me going. I had no idea that I would ever receive so much support from the virtual community—it was astounding. Thank you, thank you, thank you.