Logical thinking takes over, focused ambition replaces defeating negative thought patterns. Some people say that the sport of figure competition is selfish and unhealthy. Well, I don't believe this has to be the case. As a matter of fact, I believe that it can be therapeutic IF we are willing to look at things logically, if we are willing to be held accountable not just physically but also spiritually and in our interpersonal relationships.
I've learned that there are many parallels and life lessons that the sport of bodybuilding--particularly figure competition-offers. As a life coach, I have learned that it is important to not just set goals, but to also be willing to state those goals to others who can hold our feet to the fire in reaching those goals. This is true in everything from achieving financial freedom to developing enduring spiritual disciplines. When I was willing to apply this truth to my pursuit of a figure competitor's physique, I called on the best coach I could think of, Dr. Layne Norton. Boy was it humbling to send those first "progress pictures". Talk about laying it all bare. He was able to better guide me with that in hand. At first, the goal was to walk on the bodybuilding stage with a figure competitor's physique. AND I DID IT!!! I did very well three times in a row. But then what?
Well, within weeks, I'd lost sight of the elite physique. A combination of sporadic binges and depressing, self-defeating thoughts began to take over as I gained at least 20 pounds in what felt like days. That's when I knew that I had to contact my coach again. That expert guidance, consistent accountability, and honest coaching were just what I needed to regain a sense of determined focus. I believe the same sort of thing happens to people in other areas of life. For example, a friend once spent two years digging out of debt. How did she reward herself? She made huge purchases, including a luxury vehicle. Eventually, she was in debt again. I'm sure if she'd had someone to keep her accountable (a life coach, a pastor, a friend...) for just a little longer, she'd have developed the disciplines and knowledge she needed to maintain that financial security and independence.
Other life lessons I took from my experience as a figure competitor are just as important. Early in the game, I realized my need for a figure coach. Tina Peratino of Center Stage Figures was absolutely amazing. She showed me how to present my curvy physique in the best way possible. I didn't realize how little confidence I had until I had to stand in a room alone with this little power house of a woman, alone in nothing more than my swimsuit and competition heals. The shaking, the tendency to not stand erect... Tina helped me through those things with the kind of experienced direction someone who'd never done a competition (and some who have) needed. In life, sometimes, we may need someone who can help us see not just our flaws, but also our strengths. Do you know what your personal strengths are? What makes you tick? Sometimes realizing our purpose involves some soul-searching to see what others see in us. I'll bet there's something about you that makes others want to be with you. What is that? Tina helped me see that about my figure, but there are others (especially my husband) who I often count on to tell me what they see in me as a person. This encourages me to ask myself how those strengths of character or personality are being used to be a blessing to others. I can see where my efforts may be misdirected and where I could be more of a benefit to myself or others in my life. Just as Tina helped me put my best foot forward on the competition stage, other loved ones help me put my best foot forward where it matters in my day-to-day living. Sometimes, this may mean saying "No" a little more often, or taking scary risks professionally.
The final lesson I learned in my experience as a figure competitor, or shall I say I realized more fully, is that there will always be someone who wants to do what you do better than you. Sometimes, these people are worthy of that and often times they aren't. Sure, we see this in the work-place and kids see this in school. But do you recognize it in every-day life? If you do, how do you respond to it? Do you take it personally? Do you embrace it? See, at my first competition, there was one competitor who beat me. Stacey Ellsbury. Boy was she amazingly beautiful! Her stage-presence was phenomenal. From her walk, to her well-sculpted shoulders, she had the whole package. If I was going to place second to anyone, she was the person to place second to. There were other competitors who were not nearly as, dare I say, lovely as Stacey. See, backstage, Stacey quietly kept to herself for the most part, but she was so sweet to all competitors at all times. For example, I'd lost my bracelet (turned out it was inside the sleeve of my sweatshirt) and she'd offered hers to me. This young woman didn't know who I was and had no reason to want to help me; after all, I was her competition. But you know what, she did want to help. It was obviously genuine. There were other competitors who would hardly even make eye contact with me, even if I said "Hello" as I passed. They were catty or cold, stand-offish at best. I could either let this intimidate me or I could stand tall and keep my eyes on my goal. You learn a lot about yourself and others in an environment like this. I learned some good things about myself that day. I learned that even when I am beyond scared and overwhelmed, I can stand tall with a smile on my face. I learned that I'm more gracious than I often give myself credit for. I learned that I can follow through with something that is difficult and overwhelming. I also learned that if I wanted to compete again, I needed to bring in a stronger and slightly more conditioned physique. When I return to the stage, I'll bring fuller shoulders and a teensy weensy leaner overall package. I'll keep my stage presence though.
These were things I needed to realize about me. My loved ones may have seen these qualities in me, but it was necessary to do something for me so that I could come to that self-realization on my own. What are you doing to see your full potential? Are you settling for mediocrity in your life? Are you selling yourself short because you're scared? Is there something that you're holding off for "when you get around to it" because you're concerned that you may fail? Whatever your answers are to these questions, I hope that you will be somehow motivated to put one proverbial foot in front of the other and move toward your full potential.