“So tell me why you want to compete?”
I remember my coach asking me that question like it was yesterday. I also remember the answer I gave in that meeting over a year ago.
“I want to win, I am very competitive. I have no other priorities and I am willing to dedicate myself 100% to this. I love training and am addicted to seeing the results of my body changing.” Good answer I thought to myself at the time, you sound confident and sure of yourself. You know what you want and you have made it clear you are solely focused on this goal. Winning.
To this day my answer still makes me cringe.
My obsession began when I accidentally stumbled upon one of the competition teams training in my first week at the gym. I arrived slightly early for a class and I could hear a man yelling at the top of his lungs, “Instagram selfies and motivational quotes aren’t going to get you results! You need to do the WORK! MOOOOOVEEE!” His voice was like a freight train bellowing down the room. I stood there in awe watching the most intense class I had seen in my life full of incredibly strong and fit looking bodies – the buzzer went off and they all fell in a heap on the floor, most curled up in the fetal position struggling to catch their breath.
I could tell this was something different. This was an elite team of people. I could smell fear and passion in the room. The pain on each and every persons face told an immediate story of hunger, desperation, strength and determination.
“This is exactly what I need” I said to myself.
It wasn’t long until I told Chris that I wanted to compete, his response was not what I was expected nor what I wanted to hear – “don’t get ahead of yourself Kat.” That stung a little but I knew Chris was use to my mind running rampant with wanting to achieve things that were big but I was determined to change his mind and have his support so I decided to bring him along to the gym and see what all the fuss was about.
What happened next was unexpected and only now can I actually look back at the events that occurred over the year and truly appreciate them and all they have taught me. Going through everything at the time however felt almost mentally traumatic as dramatic as that sounds but I pride myself on being honest and providing people insight to the reality of thoughts and feelings that a lot of times seem irrational and just down right crazy. Things people normally don’t like the world to know because censoring ourselves and portraying an image of what we think is ‘normal’ seems so important.
We have all been there right? Feeling like you are the person that is always over looked, that you are never good enough, that nothing ever works out easily for you, other people are genetically blessed and you are not and so on… you get the idea. It’s so easy, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, to get so caught up in what everyone else is doing, everyone’s successes and the things they have and compare them to the things you don’t.
So you can imagine my total shock when Chris told me he thinks he wants to compete. I was surprised but also excited as the idea of me competing now seemed more achievable and even better, we would be able to do this together. We could train and do our food prep together and our priorities would both be the same. Prep and compete in our first body building competition together. Unfortunately it didn’t play out the way I had pre-planned our future lives in my head.
To say that I was disappointed when I found out Chris made the next team and I did not is an understatement. Cue: Britney Spears style meltdown, I didn’t shave my head but I may as well have because I was not myself for a while. I felt rejected and truly at the time did not understand why I was not good enough to be put into the team. Not only that, but I now had to watch my husband live out my dream that I so badly wanted whilst also doing my best to be happy for him and supportive. I have to admit it was not easy and some days I am downright ashamed of the way I behaved. I would have sounded like a broken record to poor Chris posing questions to him that he was unable to answer:
“Is there something wrong with me? Am I ugly? Why am I not good enough? Do I really look that different from everyone else? What if I never make it? What if after you compete you are over it and my time will be ruined?”
It took me a while to realise his answer to those questions didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if he thought I was good enough. It didn’t matter if other people and friends believed I was good enough. The only thing that mattered was if I believed I was good enough, and if I believed I was good enough then I knew I would do everything I possibly could to get to where I wanted to be. It doesn’t matter how many supporters you have, you are the only one that can actually get you there.
So that’s exactly what I did. I set to work. I spent Chris’s entire prep and competition season ensuring I was setting goals, working with my coach and achieving them. I had my eye on the next season and making that team and I knew it would be tough but I knew it would be worth it. I was so fixated on my end goal of making the team, getting my team shirt, stepping on that stage and winning – nothing else mattered. I had tunnel vision.
As much as I absolutely loathed the fact that I didn’t get what I wanted immediately, I can’t help but feel so incredibly thankful that I was denied being put into the team with the mindset I had going originally going into this. Now let me just clear something up, there were factual, logical reasons as to why I was not put into the team at that time. I was physically not ready. My physical body composition was not in a condition to start a comp prep and nor was my metabolism. My coach was willing to put A LOT of time and effort into me to get me where I needed to be. But who likes to deal with logic right? It’s far easier to fly off the spectrum and be irrational, cry poor me and give up and walk away. Maybe even find another coach that would take me on so I could compete sooner rather that later.
“Go ahead and tell me I can’t do something – watch me go ahead and do it”
I wasn’t a quitter though. I never have been and if there is something I want to achieve I will relentlessly work towards it and attack those goals with everything I have. “I’ll show you I” I thought to myself. I set out to prove that I could do this, that I was worthy of being on the team, that I deserved to be on that stage – I just needed to work for it and now I didn’t care how long it would take. One way or another I knew I would eventually make it.
I spent a solid 34 weeks doing an “off season” under the critical eye of my coach. Each week we assessed my body and how it was responding and we worked tirelessly to build the muscle I didn’t have and the metabolism that didn’t exist. Each week I knew I was one step closer to achieving my goal and I recorded everything in a note book I titled “Off season”. During this time I watched and supported my husband going through the intense process with the team. I aligned my training and food prep to his and his needs were my priority while ensuring I was still achieving my own goals.
As I closely followed Chris and his team mates’ journey, I started to understand the process more. Everyone had a story as to why they were there, everyone started at different points of physical readiness– there were no two people the same. I was learning more about my body and nutrition as well as becoming more and more aware of my own self-image and how far I actually had to go still. Even though I was seeing results they were so incredibly slow there were many times I truly believed my body was actually not capable of looking ‘stage ready’.
During my serious periods of doubt I started reassessing what I was doing. Why am I doing this? Maybe I will be forever in ‘off season’ and I will never make the team and to me, at the time, making the team and winning was everything to me. Being denied initially turned out to be a blessing in disguise because going through a long off season process not only got my body in the right condition to start a prep but my mentality as well. I am forever thankful for the decisions my coach made, even if at the time it felt like he was putting me through hell.
I checked in with my coach again one day – I think it must have been about 15 weeks into my training with him. “I have changed my goals” I said sternly. “Oh yeah what are they then?” he says all intrigued. “I don’t want to win any more, I want to look like I belong. I want to get my body in the best condition I possibly can, get up on that stage and look like I deserve to be there. I don’t want to be that girl that gets discarded to the side.”
“Ahhhh – So we are having our first meeting all over again now” – he said with a grin on his face.
Fast forward to now and I have made it through my prep and am merely a day away from competing in my first ever bodybuilding completion. Just over 1 year later from setting my original goal. It is an overwhelming feeling making it to this point and looking back at the time that has passed it almost feels surreal.
I have no idea how tomorrow will turn out, I am excited but also incredibly nervous. Hours and hours of hard work, dedication and preparation have lead me to this one single moment. A point in time to showcase all my hard work and what I have managed to achieve.
Regardless of how I go though I know one thing for certain – I have already won.