Why I Decided to Compete

Isolating the factors that lead me to become a physique competitor is challenging.  Many experiences, emotions and sleepless nights influenced my decision to compete.  But if I had to write a simple, succinct sentence explaining my decision it would be:  I wanted to be my authentic self. 

You may ask, “Who is your authentic self?”  She is the person I carry deep down in my soul.  She is a role model for her children.  She is determined.  She is confident.  She is happy.  She is capable.  She is proud of herself.   These qualities that define me have always been inherent, but competing let them shine in a way that gratified and fulfilled me.  Competing not only let my authentic self shine on stage, but most importantly, competing let me shine in my day-to-day actions.   It also helped me realize that my authentic self is fiercer than I had ever imagined.   

In 2006, I left a prosperous personal training career to support my husband’s decision to enlist in the Coast Guard.  I was proud to support my husband’s decision to serve his country and was happy to become a military wife.  But becoming a military wife also meant moving away from my family and raising my children by myself.  

The last six years of my life were completely devoted to raising my children while my husband trained or deployed overseas.  I am proud of the sacrifices my husband and I had to make in order for him to reach his goals. But it was a very challenging time for me. 

My last pregnancy was especially demanding.   Two weeks after my husband deployed to Guantanamo Bay, I found out I was pregnant.  For the seven months he was gone I took care of my two small children completely by myself.  I gave 100% of myself every single day to nurture my three beautiful babies.  100% of myself devoted to growing a little baby in my belly, sleepless nights, caring for sick toddlers, and teaching them how to take care of themselves.  I loved every second of being pregnant, having my son and then watching my kids grow from newborns to thriving children.  However, once my husband returned from GITMO and then transferred from his deployable team to a sector position I knew it was time to start focusing on my goals and passions again. 

Since college, I have envied the women who worked hard and had the confidence to compete.  And while I was intimidated of showcasing my figure on stage, I wanted the opportunity to physically train for a sport.  I wanted to prove to myself that I had what it takes to become a physique competitor.   But, most importantly, I wanted to show my children how determined and uncompromising you have to be when you have a goal. 

My kids were able to closely watch my determination unfold during competition prep because they are homeschooled.  Nine weeks before my first show, “competition prep” became a unique chapter in our homeschooling curriculum.  I taught my kids about personal goal setting.  Together we scheduled my eating, workouts, and posing.  My kids helped me check off my “to do” list.  I had mini-coaches keeping my training and diet on track every day!  My diet became a huge topic of discussion.  My prep diet facilitated homeschooling lessons on parts of a plant, digestion, macronutrients, vitamins and minerals, and where food come from.  We also talked a lot about anatomy since traveling to the gym with my kids was also a part of every day.  One of my favorite lessons compared the physiques of Phil Heath and Kia Greene.  My kids had to label different muscle groups on mommy and the Olympians.   It was inspiring to have my kids compare my body with famous bodybuilders. 

As competition prep proceeded, I felt as though my children started seeing me not only as a mommy, but as a woman filled with love and respect for herself.  Too often women talk negatively about their bodies.  Our family dinners started revolving around my growing biceps and how strong mommy is.  My kids would say, “Mommy your butt is getting big,” and I would graciously reply, “Thank you for the compliment!”  It felt so good to know my kids saw me as a woman who loved her strengths and viewed her weaknesses as something to work on, not something to hate. 

Once we actually made it to the Flex Lewis Classic my kids loved marveling at all the strong men and women.  My oldest daughter would exclaim, “Wow, she is so strong and beautiful” or “he must be a really hard worker.”  Competing introduced my three kids to a world full of people proud of their bodies and proud of their hard work. 

Competing started out as something I wanted to check off the bucket list.  I wanted to find myself and simply be a great role model for my kids.  But the end result was so much more.  The authentic person I found isn’t just a passionate role model….   she is fierce, she is strong, she is a competitor. 

Flex Lewis Classic, 2nd place Novice Bikini.

Flex Lewis Classic, 2nd place Novice Bikini.

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