Shocking right?!? This was taken in 2004 when I was at a NPC Bodybuilding show competing in figure bodybuilding. I was 35-36 year old. I had always worked out, ran and lifted weights. I’d also heard from folks at the gym for years “why don’t you compete?” Well, it clicked and I started training hard for putting on muscle. At the time I also broke my ankle/tore some tendons, so I couldn’t run, making it really easy to put on muscle. I was dating a nice younger guy at the time and our life consisted of lifting and eating protein! HAHA, seriously though..I was putting myself through Cal Poly my son was about 5-7 year old during the three years I did it, and I loved it. I believe it continued to strengthen my resiliency, perseverance and work ethic.
You have to be very disciplined both with workouts and with your eating. Luckily I thrived on it. I would wake up early and do cardio in the garage, then work, school, gym for weights and cardio again (if it was contest prep time), then finally home with my son for food and homework. There were many nights I fell asleep without changing clothes or brushing teeth! And all his friends at daycare would ask “how come your mom is always in workout clothes?” His answer drolly, “cause she’s always working out.” Duh!
I still remember all the ways to increase muscle and vascularity and also what ratio of food to eat. Everything was weighed and I ate by gram. You ate for fuel and not for taste. I didn’t eat gluten anyway (celiac) but there were no grains, carbs only in veggie form (very little fruit), lots of lean protein and no dairy or fat. That’s another reason now I won’t eliminate whole food groups from my diet.
I will also say that being a sociology major and then psychology for my masters, I started to question the whole diet thing and also the actual contests. The judges were all older, balding, over-weight men, telling us to change the way we look. So yes, many papers were written about body image, objectification of women, etc. As a feminist it started to bother me. I loved the training but started to hate the contests. Also I craved my original hair color.
I was also working as a personal trainer (well as one of my many jobs) and I loved helping other women add muscle and get over the fear of being bulky. The diet was really my thing and I enjoyed writing up plans for people. As life would have it, my ego got in the way (showing off how much I could squat; four plates each side!) and I tore my pelvic wall to shreds internally. Talk about painful! Ugh, and I still have lingering effects and struggle with re-building core. So my career, such as it was, came to a halt and I haven’t lifted heavy or consistently since that time.
I can look back now with fond memories and I enjoy seeing what I was able to manipulate my body into being, but I am not hung up with being 10 plus years older, much much softer and way way less muscle! My core will never be the six pack I once had and that is A OK. I believe I got “out” before any harm was done to my body image. And I love my healthy natural hair; staying blonde for a very dark haired lady was tons of work.
Thanks for going down memory lane with me.