Insights into competing in a Natural Body Building Competition
By: Alice Rothbauer (Mission Accomplished Client & Friend)
In May I competed in my first natural body building show. Pictures and stories of those who had journeyed to the stage, like a shiny object in the sand, always caught my eye and intrigued me. What does it take to get both strong and lean? How much time? Could I do it? Am I too old? Some people run marathons, some ski the same distance, others crawl through the mud and under electric fences, all in the quest to compete and challenge themselves. As the summer of 2014 came to a close, my oldest daughter recently married and my other two moving away to college, I used the newly found mental space that came with having a quiet house to contemplate this goal. I struggled with belief, I was afraid to change, could I do it? Then, in the magical way the universe can work, I started to repeatedly meet other competitors. I did more research and shared my goal with my tight inner circle. Those who told me I could do it, I hugged; those who told me I was crazy, made me mad and ignited a fire in me to prove them wrong.
Despite the challenge of the doubters, it’s not the trophy or t-shirt that’s most remembered on a new adventure, it’s the lessons along the way. Maybe you’re like me and have always wondered about this sport or maybe you just want to be the best version of yourself. Here are my standout insights that changed my limiting beliefs and made this goal into a journey of wonderment and self-discovery.
When I was brave enough to start sharing my goal with those outside my inner circle, the most common response was “I could never do that.” This I interpreted to mean, being in the gym hours a day, eliminating sugar and alcohol, and meal prepping each day were outside of their human capabilities. Really? I have three children and during my pregnancies with each of them, I made very specific choices about how I treated my body and what I put into it. When your purpose is clear, the price is easy. Aren’t you worth it? Often we take care of everyone and everything else at the expense of taking care of ourselves. Here’s permission to choose taking care of you in a way that supports you, first.
Do you own a car? How do you maintain and treat that car? Change the oil every 3000 to 5000 miles? Rotate the tires? Put the right kind of gas and oil in it? Wash and vacuum? If you want your car to roll down the road the average 12 years that a person owns a car, then you probably answered yes. How does the process of keeping our cars running smoothly not translate into the practice of keeping our bodies at their best? At 43 I had a few complaints about how my body was feeling. Make exercise and nutrition a top priority every day and guess what happens? Your body runs like a well-oiled machine. It’s designed to be powerful, we just have to put the right gas in and rotate our tires.
One IS 100 times harder than none.
Now I know that choosing the right gas is hard. Ok really, really hard. As my diet became even more focused on the specific nutrients to prepare my body to compete, I felt like everywhere I turned there was temptation. Commercials, billboards, cooking and restaurant shows, even Facebook had pictures of chocolate, peanut butter, better than sex desserts. The message is clear. EAT, eat often, and of course as Lays potato chips have taught us, you cannot each just one. The food industry is like any other for-profit industry, the goal is to sell and the more the better because that increases their profits. It’s been six months since I’ve had processed sugar. Could I have had a little bite occasionally? Of course, I’m not training for the Olympics. But here’s my confession. I’m not strong enough. If I ate just one bite, I think I would eat the whole pan, bag or bottle. So I concede my weakness to the food industry and instead of even trying to eat just one, I’ll just say no, thank you.
The Will Power Muscle
When I started out my training I told my husband I wanted to be fierce and strong and then would strike a gun show pose for emphasis. I thought I’d be building big biceps and gluts to compete. That was definitely true, but the muscle I most learned to build was will power. I’ve come to define will power as the repeated choice to take the right action for a goal. Most days started out good, it was the last hours of the day that were hardest. Sometimes it was just easier to crawl in bed. I could watch my husband eat French fries one meal, push it to more than that and I wanted to cry. Then something cool happened, what originally started out needing to be a constant choice became a habit and in that leap it became easier. So if the thought of having to do something forever stops you, just know you need to focus on it long enough for it to become a new muscle for you. Then it becomes like brushing your teeth. You don’t want to leave your house without doing it.
Instant is for Coffee and Jell-O
Once I had made the decision to compete I jumped in. Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. Starting in November I worked at getting back to the gym every day. It wasn’t always pretty, but my goal was just to show up. Next I focused on doing the right combination of weight training, stretching and cardio. At the same time I downloaded an app and started to track the food that I put into my body. Two months later, the scale and tape measure had hardly moved. Ok, cut out sugar and alcohol, 30 days later I could celebrate a few pounds and inches, but seriously it had already been three months! After 90 days of my almost 15,000 here on earth and I had no instant results to show? Perhaps my expectation of immediate, short term success was misplaced. This is where it’s so easy to quit and there were days that I wanted to, except for I had shared my goal with too many people to fade quietly into the night.
Have your own cheer leading squad.
I’d forgotten the power of the words “You can do it.” I’d forgotten that a woman with her significant other behind her is as powerful as a woman and a half. Life happens. It comes in the form of slight irritations, injuries, all the way to major life crisis. Even for the highly self-motivated, a text, call, email, voice message could be the difference between going back to the gym at 8:30 at night or not. While I started this article claiming you were stronger than you thought, I would also add, choose to surround yourself with strong people so that they can be strong for you when you need them.
Strength in numbers, one person drops a pebble in the water and it creates ripples. Make excuses and find yourself interrupted by a person using that excuse as their reason. Whatever your goals’, bucket list, calling in life or to do list tomorrow, here’s what I know for sure! Go get it!