This past weekend I competed in the INBF/WNBF Bodybuilding Competition. I’ll just cut right to the chase … I won 1st Place in the Best Body Tall Division and 2nd Place in the Open Figure Tall Division.
What does that mean?
I got two shiny medals and a life changing experience so truthfully, the results are irrelevant.
What? How can you say that? You’re a perfectionist. A straight A student!
True. But to be completely honest, this experience has taught me more than any medal or award could possibly represent … to the point that when it came time to announce the results, I wanted to leave so that the judges’ opinions wouldn’t tarnish the joy I got out of all the preparation that came before I even stepped foot on stage. This experience has given me a whole new perspective on the world and more importantly on MYSELF.
Here’s what I learned…
Spray tans are really gross
The kind of spray tan you get for a bodybuilding competition takes spray tanning to a whole ‘nother level and trust me when I say I put Snooki’s complexion to shame this weekend. I was so dark I was unrecognizable and if I hadn’t sent my mother a photo of me all bronzed up, she would not have recognized me.
There’s a weeks worth of preparation prior to even GETTING the tan (exfoliating, moisturizing, specific products have to be used, O.M.G. there was a two page document of instructions).
Then there’s the tanning process itself. If you’re uncomfortable naked, don’t waste your time. The tanning lady and I got real close real quick. We reached a certain level of intimacy when she said, “Ok turn around, bend over… a little more… now spread your legs…” I got tanned the night before the competition so that I had time to let it dry and plenty of time for touch ups the next day. The tanning solution itself smells horrible, but you smell horrible too because you can’t wear deodorant or perfume (you will actually turn green… I’ve seen it!) and you can’t shower because you’ll wash some of the color off. By Saturday night, I smelled like a combination of like onions and movie theater popcorn. It was revolting. Even if you can get past how awful you smell (which you might not), there’s also the logistics of having this tan. Simple everyday tasks are a struggle because you can’t get wet – WTF, are we’re Gremlins? Just going to the bathroom is a process. You can’t sit on the toilet seat because you’ll smudge the tan but if you stand up and hover, you have to make sure you don’t splash because you’ll end up with something that resembles cheetah spots on your thighs. Covering the surface of the water with toilet paper helps minimize the splashing, just be careful you don’t pee on your leg.
Once you’re tanned, an added shine will help define your muscles. Some competitors used cooking spray like PAM or “lusterizer” that is actually used on horses to make their coats shine like the top of the Chrysler building. It smells like peaches.
I LOVE food and have very little self control
I forgot how much I loved stuffing my face until I’m uncomfortably full and since the competition ended, I’ve been in a feeding frenzy. Not because I’m hungry but because now the possibilities are ENDLESS! I can eat whatever I want. There’s no pressure. There are no rules. Nutritionally speaking, I’m a free woman and can take a trip through the Arby’s drive-thru whenever I want or order two entrees at dinner… just because I can.
The problem with continuing to do that is I will quickly undo all the hard work that I put in over the last three months to find my kneecaps and that’s the last thing I want to do. I really need the structure of planned meals. I need to have breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks all prepped and ready to go ahead of time because I think I may have forgotten how to eat without counting macros. In fact, last night I did some late night meal prepping for the rest of this week. At the very least, for the sake of my kneecaps.
There’s no such thing as “perfection”
I spent this past Saturday surrounded by the most beautiful conditioned bodies I’ve ever seen in my life. And every person I looked at was in better shape than the next. It was crazy. Yet none of them were completely perfect. Skinny girls had stretch marks and used heavy duty concealer to cover them up. Buff guys complained about “problem areas” and practiced posing to compensate. I was floored when some people admitted to being really self concious about certain body parts. One girl with the most amazing legs confessed she was really self conscious about showing them off. Another girl who’s butt was the envy of every girl at the competition – we all agreed it should get a medal of its own for being that amazing – admitted that she wished it were smaller and she always tried to hide it! So even people who look “perfect” have insecurities.
Everyone has a journey
No matter who I talked to, everyone had a story. There were moms who’d struggled to lose the baby weight and couldn’t wait to show off their rockin’ bikini bods. There were men in their 60’s who were proof positive that age is nothing but a number. There were young women taking to the stage for the first time to overcome their insecurities. There were seasoned competitors who’d taken 2nd or 3rd place in previous competitions and had spent months prepping for this show in hopes of finally coming in 1st and getting their pro card. The best part was, most of the people I met were incredibly nice and surprisingly supportive. It would have been all too easy to sabotage each other backstage – steal someone’s sparkly bikini, spill your water on her to ruin her tan (you are judged on your tan), say something hurtful in hopes of shattering her confidence seconds before she goes on stage. I didn’t experience any of that, in fact it was quite the opposite! One competitor offered to help me tape my suit in place (how else do you think it stays put?) and I witnessed a more experienced competitor give a pep talk to a newbie to help calm her nerves. It was inspiring to see such camaraderie and sportsmanship in a highly competitive environment.
The journey matters most
Rankings, placements, awards are nice. But that’s about it. What’s really important is what you as an individual learn from an experience. It’s all about your journey. Your transformation. What you learned along the way. As someone who grew up obsessed with grades, titles, and rankings, I learned a really important lesson. Once the judging portion was over and we were waiting to get the results and announce the awards, I wanted to leave. I didn’t want to know where I placed. I didn’t want the judges’ opinions to ruin anything. Before I even got on stage, I had an epiphany: I did it. I set a goal. I stuck to the plan. I struggled along the way but I came out the other side with kneecaps and the realization that I am the only thing standing in my way. Which is bad and good. Bad because I have been holding myself back my entire life. Fear of “what if’s,” worry about what other people will think, and concern that whatever I do isn’t good enough has kept me from accomplishing so many things. It made me angry thinking; just imagine what more I could have done!! But this realization is also good because I’m the only thing standing in my way. The ONLY thing. There is literally nothing preventing me from doing or being anything I’ve ever wanted. All I need to do is shut the F up and step aside. Sure there are challenges. There are always challenges. But the challenge is what forces you to be creative.
and last but certainly not least…
I am unstoppable.
“The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness” is written by the irrepressible Kate Richlin-Zack and runs every other Tues at 10:30AM on Kate-book.com. She is a former plus-sized model turned fitness enthusiast who lost about 50lbs in the process. She loves food and views exercise as a necessary evil in her quest for looking good and feeling confident in hot pants. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.