In 2014, I embarked on a journey to lose weight (again). Our gym had been open for almost a year; I had put on some weight. Fun fact: it’s surprisingly harder to work out when you own a gym. If you’re interested in more about my journey with food, check out my book.
I decided to hire a coach. My vision was that a coach would help keep me accountable and motivate me. I’m big on accountability. After working with this coach for a few months, I also decided I wanted to train like a bodybuilder and do a figure show that fall.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, there are several tiers, if you will, of competitors in a bodybuilding show: bikini (think boobs and booty, toned and sexy); figure (fuller, more defined and muscular, and conditioned), fitness (think figure competitor with gymnastics skills and athletic ability who must perform as part of her package), physique (very defined muscularity and bigger in size than a figure competitor) and bodybuilding (huge and jacked, the biggest bodies on stage).
I participated in my first figure competition in the NPC (National Physique Committee), the 2014 Eastern USA Championships in TriBeCa. You can see my (hilarious) stage shots here.
I learned so much during this journey. For one, it blew the dust off an unhealthy relationship with food that I thought I had remedied since starting CrossFit and a paleo diet in 2011. It also made me realize how much of me is truly an athlete – I enjoy athletic performance and functional fitness far more than I enjoy training for aesthetics. Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely satisfaction in bodybuilding. I enjoyed it very much while I was training. It’s a lot of fun to see your muscles change and grow in a way you choose based on what exercises you do (building and sculpting a body), and it’s fun to have a “pump.” But I’m an athlete. I love performing tasks; it gives me incredible satisfaction.
I also learned a most important lesson: happiness is not a number on the scale, a certain “look” or trophies on the shelf. Happiness comes from within. I was not truly happy during my 8-month forray into bodybuilding.
But I was happy to see that journey through (and eat my EC Protein Cookie Dough after I got off stage). It gave me a glimpse into a world I had never known, and I know I’ll return some day – but on my terms, with a healthy process and prep.
These are a few shots of me during pre-judging.