What My Trophy Helped Me To Realize
On October 10th, 2015, I competed at the San Francisco Championships as a figure athlete in the B Class Category, at the Chabot College Performing Arts Center. The road to this show was not easy. In fact, it was very challenging. All preps are challenging, so this is not a "poor me" victim piece. My intention is to articulate what really happened for me behind all smiling pictures and Instagram posts. What made this journey to the stage rough were the outside influences. I combated many personal obstacles from loosing a job to gaining a new job. I started a new school year, as a middle school teacher, where I had to pack up my old room and unpack into my new room in another city. I found myself working through my lunches, so that I could get home to train. I commuted two to three hours a day for work, until I moved to a new city to be closer to my career. I packed up my coastal apartment and unpacked into an urban apartment. I was even dealing with the ups-and-downs of relationship drama. I was lifting heavy around the clock, literally and figuratively speaking.
My emotional state was under a great amount a stress, too. In fact, I had been dealing with so much stress that I acquired a stress induced ulcer, heart palpitations and adrenal fatigue. All the while, I was getting up at 4 a.m. for fasted cardio, living on high amounts of caffeine, and pushing heavy weights with more cardio in the afternoon. I was living on little to no carbs, and my digestion was a mess. Yet, I was determined to be a champion. I was determined to prove to everyone, including myself, that I could out suffer. I was determined to show that my mental capacity was greater than any obstacle or physical calling. I did all of this voluntarily. I followed this quest in search of a lesson.
My desire to show off my discipline and tenacity left me, at times, socially disconnected. Yet, my loved ones kept by my side. My close friends and family would check-in on me and make sure I was doing well. I'm so grateful they were checking in on me because I was slowly falling apart. Leading up to the show, I had become confused. I started to question what I was doing it all for, and who I was competing for this time. It wasn't until I walked on stage that I understood what this journey was really all about
The last few weeks before a show, a competitor is trying to pull off as much fat and weight as possible while maintaining muscle. I was having a bitch of a time doing that despite all my cardio, and my low calorie diet. Part of my inability to get "shredded" was stress. I believe that to be true. Instead of being overly hard on myself, I decided to not focus on the scale and to focus on my presentation. I decided that I was going to carry myself on stage in a way that would be captivating. I decided that I was going to "own the stage."
I never fully understood what it meant to own the stage until it happened. When I saw myself in the mirror, the night before and day of the show, I did not see the package I wanted to bring physically. I wanted to look ripped. Instead, I looked soft. My coach took a different approach with me for the SF Show. He had decided not to carb load me, which would bulk me out; rather, we fat loaded me. The fat load gave me an overall smooth look. I trusted the process and I just went for it. I decided, no matter my look or weight, I was going to walk with confidence and shine from the inside out. In my eyes, that's how I won my class.
I just had this knowing that I was going to win. It was this deep intuitive calling. I practiced mindful breathing the morning of the show. I continued to practice breathing as I was tanned, glued and glazed. When I got in line, I breathed into my manta: "You are enough. You are worthy. You are beautiful. You are victorious." Based on our numbers, I was the first in line to go out on stage. This means all the other 7 competitors were behind me. Before going on stage, I turned around, made eye contact with the women and said, "Just have fun. You are all amazing." I said that because it was true. Each woman was amazing. Each woman was my mantra. Each woman was a reflection of me and I of them.
By telling those women to have fun washed away the need to see faults, which is what this sport is based upon: finding your imperfections to encourage an athlete to work toward improvement. I decided that I was going to step on stage despite all my faults. I decided I was going on stage for all women going against body-image issues, eating disorders, and self-doubt. In that moment, I decided that I was going to strut for the greatness that I am, faults and all. I feel that's exactly what I did.
As I entered the stage at Chabot College, I felt a breeze hit upon me. I felt a calmness wash over me. I was so lost in the element that everything became clear to me. What became clear was my reflection. My life's work of overcoming the obstacles of abuse, betrayal, loss, and an eating disorder washed away. I finally saw myself as worthy. I finally saw myself as enough. I finally thought to myself: you are a miracle. you can let go now. That's what I felt shinning through. I felt all my phases and transformations shinning. I think the judges saw it, too.
As we stood in our quarter turn stance, I knew I nailed it. I felt like a bronze, Greek statue.The judges had us go through the quarter turns three times, and I did not fatigue. I just kept breathing, smiling, and showing that I am enough. I am worthy. I am beautiful. I am victorious. With that belief, I faced the judges and got the first-call-out. I was in position for first place.
I was full of so much adrenaline when I walked off stage. I was buzzing. I wanted to talk to everyone and hug everyone. My energy was high in my crown chakra. Everything was a blur. I was so high that once I came off my high I hit a wall. I retired to my room and just lounged. I couldn't sleep though. I had not been able to sleep well for weeks. My energy was constantly pulsing. That afternoon, I had to continue my high fat diet with no water. I was so exhausted, yet so full of pride. I knew I had done what I had set out to do.Yet, a price was also going to be extracted.
At the evening show, I had finally slowed down. I slowed down enough to see the other people. I saw all the different bodies for what they were. I began to compare myself and question: why me? In my eyes, all the girls looked amazing. In my eyes, any one of us could have been number one. In my eyes, we all were. Going back on stage, I tried to bring that energy with me. I tried to show that we are all worthy. When my number was called out for first place, I was not even surprised. I was not surprised because I knew. I knew I was representing confidence, and confidence is what shines and wins. Trust me, I was beyond elated and jumping for joy inside, but I was also mentally certain about the outcome before hand.
Back stage, I stood with confidence holding my first place trophy. I socialized and connected with the other first place winners, as we waited for call-outs for the overall placement. I looked at the other girls and I saw so much confidence in them. I also recognized how much tighter they were than me. I was not as lean or as tight, but I was still just as radiant. I was still just as worthy. I knew that I was not going to be the overall winner, but I knew that I was a winner. I had set out to tackle a miraculous goal.
As we made our way on stage, I could feel the energy of the lively evening crowd pulsing through me. I was loving the excitement. The three girls and I did our quarter turns for the judges, and the crowd went mad. I posed with as much shine as I could, but I was moved to the outside. I placed fourth overall. I was disappointed, not because I didn't win, but because I knew criticism was waiting for me.
After my show, there was no celebration. There was no victory dance or dinner party. There was conflict and let down. The turn of events, after my show, pushed me to remove a toxic influence from my life. My family probably thinks that was the best trophy I could have walked away with, but it was painful. I decided to remove a partner and friend of two years from my life. I did this because I expected to be celebrated with banners and roses, or at least a plan of celebration. Yet, I was greeted with no shaking pom-poms or an intention to celebrate. There was no victory lap. Instead, a quarrel happened. Yet, in that fight, I realized I deserve a partner who will lift me up, be there for me, and let me have my little moments of glory. I decided I am worthy of celebration and I need to move in that direction.
I also lost a sense of purpose for what I had done over the past several months when I heard that I should have weighed less. Could I have looked better? Yes, I could have looked better, but I was enduring heartache, so hearing that pushed me over the edge. After hearing that, I broke down and cried, and my stomach turned in knots and my heart raced. Majority of my life, I have been obsessed with weight, and hearing that hit a deep chord within me. Currently, I don't know when I will compete again. I'm enjoying being in the off season. I need the off season, because after the show I also recognized that I had lost my health as I experienced the post competition realities of digestion pain, adrenal fatigue's insomnia, and just utter confusion or the "blues." I kept thinking: Why had I done it? What did this competition teach me?
In retrospection, the feelings of failure or loss from my show have also been great winnings. I leaned from this show that I do anything. I can tackle any goal. I learned that I don't have to be so imbalanced to do it next time. I learned that I want more harmony in my life. I learned that I want to be my mantra more and more everyday. I want to continue to be enough. I want to continue to see myself as worthy. I want to continue to see myself as beautiful. I want to continue shining like I'm in first place regardless of my weight or size. I want to be a new face for fitness. I want to shine for my merits and no longer for my faults. My trophy offered me both pain and pride. My trophy represents a whole new journey that I'm about to ride.
Today's gloomy weather has me in reflection. Look at how we judge. We judge each other for our body shape and size, our faith or lack there of, and our level of income and education. We even judge each other for political preferences and music. I know I judge a lot. I try my best to be open minded, but I too get caught up in judgement. Why? I really don't know.
I know that when I'm judging another it's because I'm afraid of being hurt again; of being lied to or abused. I justify my thought process, especially in the dating world, with the hopes of finding myself in other. The irony is that everyone I bring into my circle is just a reflection of me.
Each person I bring into my life has something of value to offer-whether the lesson is painful or blissful. A negative plus a positive leaves us with zero. Zero is the absence of value. The great Mayans wanted us to contemplate what zero means in a world full of infinite value and possibility. Starting today, I'm going to work on taking everyone at a zero value and let my experiences with them build into something positive or negative, in order to guide me closer to my destiny. I recommend letting your heart shatter, so that there is more space for love.
I am a new mother who has her hands full! I juggle not just my coaching business, but I am also a full time educator. I also teach yoga in the Bay Area, and I mentor first generation college students.