The human body-

It’s truly jaw-dropping what it can sustain, overcome and accomplish.

The body is absolutely fascinating. It has an

impeccable and unforgiving memory.

I urge a strong sense of caution to those who attempt to trick it, however, the body is a highly trainable machine and if you show it some love, it will work well for you and unconditionally love you back.

Five years ago when I quit drinking cold turkey, I also decided to jump straight into a bootcamp-style program to compete in a bodybuilding competition.

Growing up I had always played competitive sports and was a decent athlete. As years went by and the things of life came and went, I found myself overweight, depressed, not giving myself as much attention as I should to be the best me, I lacked goals for myself, was mad at what breast cancer had taken from me, that my body was a mess and I was angry that I had ‘let myself go’.

I had witnessed a girlfriend go through an amazing transformation and it prompted me to check out the same five day-a-week, 16 week long schedule which included training to compete.

Increased endurance, increased strength and proving to myself that I could push myself physically again as an athlete were three things I took away from those four months. I learned and re-learned a lot about myself and my body.

There were a few variables why I didn’t make it to stage that go round and I continued my journey with a different coach.

Anyone who has trained for bodybuilding knows that having a coach who thoroughly understands their nutrition stuff specific to competing and being able to customize it to each individual is key.

That said, coach #2 didn’t work either and I was basically given a one-size-fits-all program which was a total disaster.

So after learning more hard lessons, experiencing awful metabolic and hormone issues, losing of a lot of hair, energy and brain cells, I decided to learn the information for myself and immediately enrolled in a certified nutrition program.

My instructor was very knowledgeable and actually had a team of men and women who he trained for many categories. I hired him almost on the spot.

The program was just food, minimal natural supplements, no protein powder and no bars. We were all competing in an all-natural organization and I was told my body fit the composition for the figure category so on with it I went.

If you’ve worked out but haven’t trained for that particular stage, I can tell you it’s an entirely different ball game than anything I have ever experienced.

It’s not just ‘eating healthy’ and ‘going to the gym’. I won’t get into the technical parts of it but the physical, mental and emotional parts, not to mention the intentional eating component…down to the calorie count of whether you eat six or seven almonds for example, is something I had never encountered and have yet to since then.

Another addition to the adventure was that I was simultaneously training for a 1/2 Iron Man triathlon while training for my bodybuilding show. The triathlon date was just a few weeks after the figure comp. and for those who are familiar with either or both sports, you know the programs for these couldn’t be more opposite. It was interesting to say the least.

One more thing that happened in those months was that Luke underwent his open heart surgery to scrape out the stenosis that is now growing back again (as we knew it would). Along came my food scale, my containers, my unseasoned chicken and broccoli and my giant water bottle with me to the hospital because I had to stay with him while he was admitted.

I had decided to make those hospital days my cardio days and forewent the weights for that time. While Luke was sleeping and the nurses would be watching him anyway in ICU, sticking to my goal, I would get out for a run before he would wake up.

Those were a few of the craziest and hardest-in-their-own-way few months ever. I loved and hated them equally.

Both the Masters and Figure Tall classes were huge that year which meant the judges had us switching, posing and standing up there for a solid 45 minutes each class. Thanks to ‘Lose Yourself’ blasting in my headphones and popping a handful of REALFRUIT gummies before walking out on stage, I managed to stick it out with a smile on my face. It was a big day.

Hearing my name get called twice to accept two trophies for a second and third place finish in both categories I entered was a bit of a shock.

I was grateful and dang proud of myself.

When that was over, a few weeks later I picked up the bike a friend had so generously lent me to use for the second portion of the triathlon. I rode around the block and got about 20 minutes in total before using it for the 90km race the next day. That wasn’t one of my smartest moves ever but it had to be done. ‘Rip it and grip it’ a buddy once told me.

Although a fluke storm came up and they had to call off the race for those still remaining on the course, my only goal was to complete the 2km swimming portion in under an hour. I did it with one minute to spare. Completing most of the 90k bike ride, I had made it past the time cutoff so I would have finished had the hail and lightening not been hitting on the course.

I was pretty darn proud of myself…again.

Although I clearly can’t fit into the rhinestone figure suit anymore, I still wear my T-shirt I earned on race day.

Cliche aside…if there is one thing I’ve learned in life (the hard way of course) it is to really take in the small and big moments. Embrace the feelings of accomplishment. Enjoy them.

Be proud of yourself and be your biggest cheerleader,


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