The judgment that comes with the stereotype of being in the female body-building arena as a bikini competitor has followed me for the last six years.
As a 5’1” petite woman who competes at just above 100 pounds, after hearing about my passion for fitness competitions, women I meet outside the gym judge me as either being vain and in need of validation or deprived.
My decision to enter my first fitness competition in 2012 was for all the wrong reasons. I was searching for perfection, assuming once I had the leanest, skinniest, “perfect” body I would experience a deeper sense of worth. I was seeking external validation from others, including the judges. I needed to know, I was enough.
The training I put myself through in 2012 was extreme. I was always pushing, performing and perfecting without much rest and my mind and body were not aligned. Even though I ‘perfected’ the meal plan, I felt empty; it wasn’t enough. I pushed myself harder and further each day and strived for perfection. My goal was to end the day burning an extreme amount of calories and wearing myself to complete exhaustion, only to repeat the cycle the next day with a new goal, be better today than yesterday. My beliefs and mindset were toxic, as was the relationship I had with myself.
As a result, my mindset was weak, and when my first competition took place, all I could do was compare my flaws to everyone else’s perfection.
I walked the stage in the smallest, flashiest bikini in the highest heels I’d ever worn. My make-up, hair, and spray tan were all professionally done, and all I could do was compare my flaws to everyone else’s perfection. I plastered a smile on my face and competed as confidently as possible. Before finishing the competition, I knew I failed. In fact, I did because I believed it so.
I understand the judgment of being a vain bikini competitor because that’s where my story in the fitness industry started. That is not who I am now or why I continue to compete. I see the lesson in all I had to go through. The pain and struggle of competing for all the reasons was the catalyst to finding my true self.
Now, I compete for the love of the sport and the respect and love I have for myself; mind and body. I embrace the challenges and weaknesses; it’s an opportunity to grow, build character and strength. Now, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, and I can confidently say, I bring my best package to the stage. My mind is strong. My soul is strong. And as a result, my body is strong.
No longer do I allow the outside noise or naysayers affect me. I’m confident, and I trust myself on this journey to make the best decisions for my every aspect of life. I no longer seek perfection or validation because of the practice of self-awareness. I have the power to fill my desire for love, acceptance, and self-worth and make conscious and aligned choices to be the strongest, healthiest, and best version of myself.
What started out as a means-to-an-end, to achieve a lifetime goal of body image perfection streamlined by the media and its image of beauty, has blossomed into a lifestyle with a healthy balance of mind, body, and soul.
My fitness journey now includes a coaching and teaching component so that I can help other women struggling with self-worth and self-love. Having experienced extremes in my own quest for acceptance, I know first hand what it feels like to give that power away.
My love for the fitness industry goes behind my own mind, body, and soul. I’m driven and determined to support other women as they seek a healthier connection to themselves and create conscious decisions that better their mind and body relationship.
I love the sport of bodybuilding. I feel empowered by the strength and confidence I’ve created for myself through physically changing my body and creating a positive mindset.
As far as the bikini competitions go, I’m competing against myself, who I was the last time I took the stage. I can’t control the judges’ decision or my placement. However, I can control my mindset and what I bring to the stage. And each time, I get better because it’s on my own terms now, I compete for me.