Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Compassionate Competitor

Im posting this, hoping we all remember to be compassionate to others who may be risking their health in their quest to achieve and succeed in bodybuilding. I completely trust Layne's coaching. When I first hired Dr. Layne Norton, I had no clue how much I would learn about myself that would help me in other aspects of my life.

Layne's coaching style is one that is direct, firm, and honest while also being understanding, tender, and encouraging. Without a doubt, he would rather not take on a paying client than help them win a trophy if it means they would damage their metabolisms. That makes him a rare breed in the world of competitive bodybuilding. That being said, I'm often tempted to take drastic measures to lose weight instead of doing what I know is best. Thankfully, I fight that temptation and let good sense win. I haven't re-hired Layne yet for this off-season, but I printed every email he's ever sent me and have followed what I think he'd recommend.

I competed in November quite a bit softer/less lean than it takes to win (looking back, I wonder why I didn't do the bikini division). I'm glad I did not quit, but I knew I would not be lean enough. Inconsistencies did me in. To make matters worse, the second show I did this past competition season, I stepped on stage with the flu and stayed sick for a bit. Determined to stay on track-I told Layne I really (for the first time ever) did not even crave the celebratory post-competition binge meal. I just wanted to be healthy.

Two weeks later my ex-husband and his wife (she's become a beloved friend and she's an amazing step mom) separated. The very same day, my best friend's husband went missing and was found dead days later in the trunk of his car. Before I knew it, all of my focus was on helping my children who were falling apart, comforting/praying for my two best friends, and helping plan a funeral. I ate whatever was at my friend's home, ordered pizza since I didn't have time to cook, and grabbed food on the run. Then came Christmas... My weight skyrocketed and my desire to workout nearly disappeared. Life can throw you for a loop sometimes; that is okay. The important thing is that you don't lose focus of the things that truly matter like family and friends. I learned that in this process.

After things calmed down and normalcy returned, I reluctantly stepped on the scale. Knowing my weight had gone up, I knew it was time to address it before it got out of hand. Sure enough, I packed on the pounds. Fifteen pounds up and uncertain if I could regain my discipline, I was tempted to start doing hours of cardio and virtually drop carbs completely. I knew this was not healthy, but it was still tempting. Here I am, a personal trainer who wears spandex for work; surely my coworkers must be thinking negative things about me. And I didn't want my clients to think I don't know what I'm talking about when it comes to diet and exercise... I'd list focus of what mattered; i struggled to give myself room to be human. See, that disordered thinking can plague so many people (especially competitors who have seen themselves in elite physical conditioning); it's only a problem if you give into the foolishness of dangerous extremes. On the other hand, it can help you learn to be compassionate toward others who walk in your shoes. I can't tell you how many women have encouraged me with their stories about working through body image issues, slow metabolism struggles, or worrying about what others think of them. Having come to the other side of this, I am certain that I am a better trainer/coach because of these experiences.

Now, some months have passed. My ex-husband and his wife are working on their marriage beautifully, and my kids are doing so much better. My best friend is mourning and I've learned to balance being a friend while taking care of myself too. My weight is still up a bit more, but I'm actually dropping weight with a lot more carbs than I'd have imagined. For example, I'm nearly at 300 carbs daily and dropped 2lbs this past week with only a minuscule amount of cardio. Slow and steady truly does win the race!

Now, we competitors often come across other competitors who frankly do not handle their post-competition rebounds well. Instead of remembering the difficulty of our own journey, we may be tempted to lecture or judge them. Some competitors do not rebound-ever; then they make sure the rest of us know it. We do not know the journey or circumstances of others. Just as many did not know what I was going through this past November and December, we may not know what they are going through. Let's learn to be supportive in a way which is void of condescension or judgment. You never know when one of those people may reach out to you when you are at a low or cheer you on when you are standing on stage holding your trophies.

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