Where it all began…
About a year and a half into my health and fitness journey, I discovered the sport of bodybuilding through some amazing fitness inspirations on Instagram, and it really interested me. I had just gotten all of the weight off that I gained after high school, plus some, I was lifting weights in the gym and loving it, and I was ready for a new challenge to take my physique to the next level. The thought of having abs was seriously intriguing to me and I wanted to see if I could do it! So, I hired the best coach I could find and I did it.
I competed in my first figure competition in September 2014 after preparing for 6 months to get on stage, and I loved it so much that I signed up for the next local competition in 3 weeks in October. I was officially hooked!
After placing third in both shows I went into an off-season “bulking” period and gained back all the weight I lost plus some. This was a very dark period for me, and I hated it. My relationship with food was NOT the same as it once was, and I was bingeing a few times a week and hating myself for it, wondering what the hell was wrong with me all of the sudden. After about 6 months of this off season, I decided to fix it the only way I knew how to and hopped right back into prep for the 2015 season.
I wanted to work toward earning my professional status in the IFBB, so my coach at the time and I cooked up a game plan and I started preparing for national level shows in January of 2015. It took about 3 months to work out the kinks and really get into “prep mode”, but I ended up competing in my first IFBB qualifier in June 2015 in Chicago at the NPC Jr. Nationals, where I placed nearly dead last. I just was not ready! But, I was still hooked and excited to progress, so I continued to prep for the next one. I then competed in Las Vegas in July at the NPC Jr. USA’s, coming in much more conditioned and placing 8th. Relentless, I continued to prepare for the next in September in Pittsburgh at the IFBB North Americans, where I believe I brought the best conditioning that year, bringing home 7th place. Not ready to stop yet, I continued prepping for another 10 weeks for my last show of the year, and little did I know, my last show ever, in Miami in November 2015 at the NPC Nationals. This was by far my hardest prep as my body was telling me it was done in many ways, I just decided to ignore it. I was SO tired, SO hungry, SO grumpy, my digestion was barely working, my skin was broken out… basically I felt like shit. I got some blood work done that was frighteningly off, but, I ignored it and I pushed through it. At this competition, I brought home 10th place and my leanest physique. The best part of it all was that my now husband asked me to be his wife the night of that show! 😉
Throughout all of the shows I competed at in 2015, I had little moments where the disordered eating would come back and remind me it was there. I would take my cheat meals too far or eat a ton more food when I got home from a cheat meal, or just completely lose it in the middle of the night and eat loads of food barely awake. I knew this wasn’t right and hated it… but I loved the sport and continued to do it as I had my heart on earning my pro card.
Through the holidays in 2015 until February 2016, I reversed my diet and decreased my cardio, gearing up to prep again in 2016 on the national stage. It was at this point my body stopped responding to all of the things I was doing to get leaner and did the complete opposite. I was super puffy from water retention, I still felt exhausted, my digestion was worse than ever, and the most frightening part was that I still hadn’t gotten my cycle back after not having it for 2.5 years. I was starting to binge regularly again, I hated my body (which was in awesome shape!!) and I felt defeated and confused… so I made a doctor’s appointment and that’s when it all changed. (This story is for a different post, which I will do later!)
Although the road of competing took me to a place of darkness & the worst health I’ve ever been in, I am grateful for the experiences. I have gained the best friends from the sport, which is #1. #2 is that competing taught me many things that I will carry with me for a lifetime. I had to learn how to be self motivated, disciplined, precise, persistent, driven, and strong.
If I had to tell my 20 year old self anything looking back, it’d be to really think about how I was doing things, and by things I mean how I was preparing for competition. I would say “don’t go so hard for so long, you might wreck your physical and mental health!” and most importantly I’d say “don’t be afraid to rest”.