This past weekend was the most amazing weekends of my life! For those of you who don’t know, I competed in my first fitness competition at Foxwoods Resort and Casino. There are so many preconceptions out there about fitness competitions but I am here to tell you that, at least when it comes to Fitness America and the Fitness New England show this weekend, all those preconceptions are untrue! To explain this to you, I really need to start from the beginning!
I signed up with Cathy Savage Fitness at the beginning of February. I had so many reasons for starting this journey but I certainly didn’t know where it would take me! I started off as a cardio junkie and a calorie counter with pretty poor body image and self esteem. I imagined that having a goal of competing in a fitness competition would change my views on fitness and healthy living. Counting calories, excessive amounts of cardio, and some pretty severe body dysmorphia were exhausting. I knew that the life I was living was no longer sustainable and I needed to make a change. I had no idea just how much my whole person would change from this experience!
I started off by filling out a questionnaire about my eating and exercise habits as well as about myself as a person. I then received a tentative meal and exercise plan and I got to work while I waited for a response. A few days later I got an email from Naomi, my new coach. Her email was peppy and got me excited and she got right into the nitty gritty with a meal plan and exercise plan specifically made for me! Needless to say, I was pumped. My exercise plan had me lifting more and doing much less cardio. It was very new and scary to me but I decided to do as Mama Savage always says and “Trust the process”. My meal plan was based on six meals a day and portion sizes, not calories, which was like this whole new world to me. I could eat food and not obsess over the calories? I’d never known a life without calorie counting. I had a hard time with it at first. I ate according to the portion sizes I was given but I counted every calorie that passed through my lips. I remember the first time I asked Naomi how many calories I should be eating each day. Her immediate response was to tell me to stop. Could it really be that simple? Just to stop? I can’t speak for anyone else but, for me, yes it was just that simple. I haven’t counted a calorie since that day! And it’s been so freeing!
Throughout the weeks I started to notice that I was getting stronger and my body was changing. Eating six meals a day slowly became a habit and meal planning/prep became a part of my weekly schedule. I started noticing more energy which translated into killer workouts! My idea of HIIT (high intensity interval training) went from jogging at a 5.0 and sprinting at a 6.2 all the way to sprinting at a 10.0 on an incline! My arms felt stronger, my butt started to lift, I started seeing new definition all over my body. I even started to see abs! All of these were the changes I had been chasing through years of overexercising and undereating. Who knew that what I really needed to achieve this was more food and less cardio?
Every week I checked in with Naomi and every week she gave me words of encouragement and made me feel so good about myself. My mindset slowly started changing and I stopped caring what other people thought of what I looked like and started loving my own body. I stopped looking in the mirror and critiquing everything I hated about myself. Instead I started looking in the mirror and noticing all the things I loved. Even things that hadn’t even changed – my eyes are this pretty shade of ocean blue, my hair is shiny and silky, my skin is smooth and clear. I say all these things not to sound conceited, but to show just how much my mindset changed. I was noticing things about myself that I liked that hadn’t even changed throughout this process! “I am beautiful” – That is something I’ve never been able to truthfully tell myself…until now.
I was definitely progressing but, in my mind, I was certainly no where near ready to compete. In early March I went to the Cathy Savage Fitness studio for one of the famous “Savage Sunday Sessions” where I was asked by Cathy why I wasn’t doing Foxwoods, which was a mere eight weeks away! I was floored. “Can I really do this?” “Am I really on track to be ready for this?” “Do I have the confidence and the guts to do this for real?” These were all the questions running through my mind on my way home that day. I knew that this was exactly what I had signed up with Cathy Savage Fitness for, but could I actually do it? With the encouragement of my friends and all the amazing women at the studio that day, my answer was basically handed to me on a silver platter. YES! I could absolutely, 100% do this. And I would do this!
Now started the hardest part! Getting ready for the show! At the time that I signed up for Foxwoods I had just begun my very last semester of nursing school. I was a full-time student, working 20-30 hours per week as a nurses aide, and doing 12-36 hours per week of clinical. I must have been crazy, right? Probably! But I wouldn’t change the experience I had for anything in the world. It showed me just what I was made of and exactly how far I can push myself before I break. And for the record, I never broke! (My boyfriend may tell you I came close, but I never actually broke!)
I got to work figuring out my theme wear, finding a suit, buying crystals to stone said suit, buying tanning products and competition shoes, booking hair and makeup appointments, going beast mode on my workouts, and changing my diet as appropriate for show prep (aided greatly by Naomi!). It was a lot but I was excited.
In late March I ended up finding out about some posing clinics being hosted in my area and I was pumped to get to them because I knew I had no idea what I was going to do on stage. The sessions were coached by the lovely Figure Pro Michele Welcome. I showed up for my first session with a pair of heels I bought at Payless, in a pair of spandex shorts and a tank top. Two hours later, I realized I had a lot of work to do! Stage walking and posing is so much harder than it looks!! I’ll admit, I was initially intimidated by Michele! She has this larger than life personality and she was so honest with everyone. I wasn’t sure how to react but she certainly had lots of good information to give regarding stage presentation so I listened! I practiced all week with her voice playing on repeat in the back of my head. I went back the next week with my Payless shoes and found that, sadly, I had not improved any more. However, my confidence had grown and I completed the entire session with my spandex and a sports bra, just like the other girls! And I also found that Michele seemed so much less intimidating to me…she was personable and her honesty was just there to make me better! She cheered me on even when I totally flopped at something and she gave individual attention to everyone. FINALLY one week later, my competition shoes arrived and I practiced practiced practiced. Then I showed up at Michele’s session and showed off my hard work. I can’t even describe the feeling when Michele watched me walk across the room correctly the first time and she started jumping up and down clapping and yelling with this huge goofy grin on her face! She ran across the room and high-fived me and said, “Now THAT’S what I’m talking about! You got it girl!” I was beaming! From that moment on, Sunday posing became the best part of my week! All the girls were so supportive and Michele just made it so much fun! I mean, seriously, how many of you can say that you have had fun walking around for two straight hours in heels? Nothing else, just walking? Well, I can!
My lovely posing ladies. That’s Michele in the black Savage tank. She’s pretty awesome 🙂
These sessions, undoubtedly, increased my self confidence 100-fold. Two weeks before the show I started walking around at class in my competition bikini and heels while people went about their workouts around us. Who were they to care or judge me for that? I was going to be on stage in two weeks in front of hundreds of people and I was ready for it! So why should I care about two people on treadmills 25 feet away? For the first time in my life, I didn’t! And that’s the moment I knew things were different for me. I haven’t counted a calorie in three months. I eat to nourish my body, I work out to make myself stronger, I love my body for everything it has accomplished. I love me.
Well I think I’ve rambled on long enough for one post about my love of being a Savage Girl! So maybe next week I’ll tell you about the show 😉