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: one of the last things you have time to do when you own a gym is work out. 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 of competitors in a bodybuilding show: bikini (think boobs and booty, “toned” and sexy); figure (fuller, more defined and muscular, and conditioned but still sexy); 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) at 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 the approach when I was training. It’s a lot of fun to see your muscles change and grow in a way that you dictate based on what exercises you do (essentially 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 and sense of purpose. It’s functional and allows me to feel like a capable human who is harder to kill.
I also learned a very 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 foray into bodybuilding.
These are a few shots of me during pre-judging.