Your self concept is a very fragile thing. I think I’ve always known this, but I guess I never realized just how fragile it was until I started bodybuilding. This is because there were times during this past year where I literally had no idea what my body looked like. I went from knowing myself pretty well, going through my first prep, completely changing my body, then going through a bulk and changing all over again, and now I’m in the middle of cutting again all in a year’s time. I have changed so much physically and mentally this past year that my ideas of myself have changed as well. We all have ideas about who we are, what we look like, what we’re capable of etcetera. But we actually have no idea how awesome, how beautiful, and how capable we really are. You can be the most confident person on earth, but there will be times where you underestimate yourself in some way. We’re only human after all…
I wasn’t always the most confident person, especially in those awkward years between elementary school and high school! God! I never want to go back to when I was 13/14 years old!!! So scary! LOL I think I only really started to get to know myself, and become more comfortable in my own skin in my last years of high school. My confidence only grew when I was in university. Especially after I found fitness in second year. In my first year of university I gained the “freshman 15,” I stopped cheerleading and I stopped dancing, and I went into second year literally not recognizing myself at all! That’s when I decided to get a Group Fitness Pass at my University gym. That’s where I found my passion for fitness, and I found myself all over again. Within a year I lost the “freshmen 15” and then some! I was much stronger and healthier than ever, and I became the health conscious person that I still am today! I loved fitness so much because it empowered me, and I wanted to share this feeling of empowerment with other women. So I became a fitness instructor and let’s just say the rest is history! Fitness became my passion and my career.
I graduated university, I became a personal trainer, and I still taught fitness classes. Because I’ve been in fitness for a while at this point I felt pretty confident in my own skin. I never thought I was fat, or ugly, or anything like that but I knew there was always room for improvement. I could always get stronger, tighter, more muscular. I always thought about getting that ripped “competition body,” but had so many excuses (mostly financial) as to why I couldn’t do it. Until finally, I met someone who pushed me enough to commit to doing a show and I never looked back. Now, you might be wondering, why she is rambling on about this shit? I thought we were talking about body image? Don’t worry it’s coming!
It was in this past year of bodybuilding that I went through many transformations, and self-realizations. Never have I grown so much as a person, and never before this year, have I felt like I literally had no idea what I actually looked like. When I did my first show I just did a 3 month cut. Before I started my prep I never thought I was fat, and I didn’t realize that I could lose 30 lbs for my show. Like I didn’t know I could lose that much weight and be that lean. I went from being around to around 130 lbs for my show.
In your mind you think you are much bigger than you actually are. At the time I knew I shrank a lot, and I was a lot tighter etcetera, but I never thought I was that small. I had no idea how small I got for my show. And people would inform me all the time of my weight loss during my prep as if I didn’t realize what I was doing… It would get super annoying! At one point, a lady at the old gym I used to work at was like, “You’ve lost a lot of weight you know…” I was like “I know.” And she grabbed my arm all concerned “No, like a lot.” I was so annoyed by this because I knew she didn’t understand that I was doing this for a show. I was so focused on doing well for my first show that I did whatever I needed to do, and in my mind losing weight was part of the process. Again, let me make it very clear that I never thought I was fat before, and I wasn’t doing this because I wasn’t confident. I was doing it because I thought I could excel in this sport and because I was determined to win! And I cannot lie I felt amazing! My confidence at this point during my peak week was huge! Never have I worked so hard for something in my life! In those 3 months I pushed my physical, mental, and emotional limits to the max! I didn’t enjoy bodybuilding only for how it made me look but for how it made me feel! I felt like bodybuilding pushed me to be a better version of myself, where I had to take the time to plan and prepare all my meals ahead of time, get all my workouts in, and stay on top of my business. I became more organized, and a much more determined individual. It is through bodybuilding where I found my passion and myself again. I was reborn.
Now I didn’t win my first show, I got 8th place. I knew that the girls in my category who made the top 5 completely deserved it, and I was extremely disappointed at first. This is because I had very high expectations for myself, and I wanted to win so badly! But before the show day was over, I got over it, realized this wasn’t the end for me, and that I should still enjoy my day because I earned it! I never worked so hard in my life and I was so proud of what I accomplished in 3 months. Yay! Everything is rainbows and roses… NOT! Life post show was so challenging!
I was warned about the post show blues, and the challenges that followed. I knew I was going to gain back some weight, and I told myself that I wasn’t going to let myself rebound that badly. I refused to blow up like a balloon! However, I also really wanted to do another show, and I knew that I wanted to do Figure. I did a transition diet in November and then I started bulking in December so that I could put on some muscle and some size, especially in my upper body. At first bulking was so hard!! Not just the eating part, which actually came easier than expected LOL especially because I started my bulk phase around Christmas! No, it was how hard it was mentally! Especially as a female! I have never intentionally tried to put on weight and size before in my life! In fact, I’ve grown up most of my life trying to do the exact opposite! You can imagine how hard this is for your self-concept, and self-confidence!
By the time New Years Eve arrived I felt like a hippopotamus! A lot of my dresses weren’t fitting the same, and I turned into this whiny girl asking everyone around her if she was fat! I hated this version of myself! I didn’t feel so cute anymore 😦 Which now that look back on it, I was still lighter and leaner than I was when I first started bodybuilding at all… It’s so funny how easily we forget these things! It really messes with your head when you go from being super tiny (and not realizing how tiny you are) to starting a bulk phase.
As you can see, I was by no means fat! I was growing, getting stronger, but I was also going through the growing pains as well. My identity was changing, I was in transition and that sort of limbo can be super tough! Especially when you have a bunch of people, even your mom weighing in on your body. There was one occasion at work (I worked at a women’s only gym) where a lady who I didn’t really know interrupted my session with my client to inform me that I was gaining weight… This pissed me off so much! I gave her a death stare and said, “I know, I’m doing it on purpose… I’m doing a bulk phase.” She then said, “Oh, ok,” and walked away. WTF?!?! I ranted about this to anyone who would listen at the time… If I was fat getting fatter, there was no way this woman would have the balls to interrupt my session to tell me about my body. However, because I was tiny getting bigger she felt like it was her duty to tell me about it? And we wonder why women have body issues? I even had a client at one point ask me if I missed being that skinny (referring to my show weight). I was like, “NO!!!” I wasn’t getting my period at that point, and not only that, it is very difficult to stay that lean. It’s not healthy! There is so many issues in our society in general surrounding women and their bodies.
I’ve realized over the years, especially growing up as a female, is that everyone, literally everyone is going to have an opinion about your body and at the end of the day none of that really matters, because no one can tell you how to feel about your body other than yourself. You could be called beautiful all day, all the time, but if you truly don’t see yourself as beautiful then you will never believe it when you hear it from someone else. It also doesn’t matter if you’re fat, skinny, or athletic, someone will always have something negative to say about your body. This may sound ironic coming from a bodybuilder LOL someone who literally is in a sport all about aesthetics. But if I was doing this sport to try to feel better about myself or to win trophies then I would be doing it for all the wrong reasons, and I would be heading down a very dangerous path! No, I love this sport because of the personal challenge. Never have I been in such good physical shape. Never have I been so strong, and felt so good. Bodybuilding is a very subjective sport, no matter how hard you work, or how good you think you look, you may not place like you had hoped. Like I said, everyone is going to have their own opinion of your body, but if you’re happy with yourself and your hard work, that’s all that really matters (as hard as that is sometimes).
However, if you do like yourself, and you do think you’re beautiful it is a very fragile thing. Especially because of the world we live in. Social media are so heavily prevalent that even if you feel fairly secure with yourself, you may catch yourself comparing yourself to others. Many people, like myself have been victims of this! Especially when you’re going through a transitional phase in your life. How I got through it, and learned to love and accept the “bulk phase,” was when I started to realize how strong I was, and how much I was really improving in the gym. I learned to find confidence and empowerment in what my body was capable of, rather than just what it looked like. I will admit that I bulked pretty hard! I probably won’t grow so big in my next off-season, but I became so determined to be ready for Figure within the year that I did whatever it took to grow!
Me at the beginning on this prep that I’m on. This was me at 180 lbs on June 20th, 2015.
Now I’m about 5.5 weeks out from my next show and I feel great! I’ve worked so hard for this show, and I am so proud of what I have been able to do so far! I am so excited for these next few weeks and I cannot wait to hit the stage. No matter what happens on October 10th, 2015, I know that I put my heart and soul into this sport over this past year and I have earned the right to be on that stage! So I will enjoy every second of it! No one can’t tell me anything about my body. No one has the right to unless they are of course a healthcare professional….
Picture on the left is a really bad selfie I took today at 5.5 weeks out! LOL I think this picture shows how hard I’ve worked during this prep and I can’t wait to rock the rest of these 5 weeks, chip away the rest of the fluff to showcase what I’ve worked so hard for over the past year!
4 thoughts on “Body Image, Confidence, and Self-Esteem… You are more than what you look like!”
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