“A year ago, everything was different. And now that I look back, I realize a year can do a lot to a person.” -Anonymous
I will say that the past few years have been the most informative, happiest, hurtful, thoughtful, altering, molding, powerful and accepting years of my life. I’m growing. I’m learning. I’m improving. I’m making a difference.
So many of my moments have required a lot of strength which led to a lot of transformation. Most recently, I decided to train for NPC bikini competitions within the sport of bodybuilding and I can 100% attest that the experience molded me into a new Kayla, beyond the physique.
Of course this one will always need work, but through the past year I really learned how to wait for magical moments and victories. There are times that we want to rush everything, from the cardio minutes to the days until we get that carb refeed, or the moment we get to the hotel to the moment we know our placing. We just want to be leeeeeean NOW and it takes time.
I learned how to really be invested in each moment and enjoy the process day in and day out because the time really goes fast and then poof… it’s over and you just want to go back. #PostShowBluesAreReal #CanIJustGoBack
Learn To Sacrifice
Just when you think you are tapped out and tired, guess what? You gotta sacrifice a little more. Prep is hard for anyone, but adding the elements of being a mom, wife and working a full time job on part time hours made me sacrifice a lot. Some nights I just wanted to crawl in bed but my little girl needed me. I sacrificed time with my friends because 5 am cardio meant I couldn’t stay out late. I sacrificed date nights at restaurants for tupperware dinner in the living room.
And I’m here to say, it has all been worth it. When it’s something or someone you truly love, you will make those sacrifices.
Stronger Than I Realized
If I had a penny for every time I underestimated myself along the way, I could afford a home gym. I never in a million years would have thought that I could eat so flawlessly without any cheat meals for 20+ weeks straight. I never thought I could train as hard as I did. I never thought I had that amount of dedication and fight in me.
I still sit here, shaking my head, in awe that Keith saw this in me before I ever even tried. And here I am now, stronger than ever (mentally and physically) inspiring other women to do things that they don’t realize they can do yet. POW-ER-FUL
Move out of your comfort zone! You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. I was scared shitless to be on stage in front of so many people. I was terrified to prep because I had no idea what to expect and heard horror stories. I almost quit prep for North Americans because I was fearful I would fail somehow.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s fear.”
The truth is, you will never do anything exciting with your life if you live in fear. I’m not saying that my fears went away… they sure as hell did not, but I continued on despite them and relied on my God and my support system to give me that push when needed. You gotta just go for it.
Circle of Friends Altered
I still have my very close friends, but while competing, I was able to add an entirely new batch of people to my squad. I met girls who I truly adore and would be best friends with if we lived closer. I made new friends at the gym who are supportive of my goals and I respect theirs as well.
I’ve connected with so many new people in this industry and each of them add a special component to my day. Filling my circle up with people who are invested in fitness and nutrition and have a healthy, positive mindset helps to keep me on the same track. I can’t imagine my life without these people now.
Closer to God
Things were touch-and-go a few times during my journey. On days that I felt weak, tired, anxious, stressed, negative, etc I couldn’t master it on my own. I would spend my mornings on my spin bike listening to Cedar Creek podcasts and praying. I never prayed for strength. I never prayed for energy. I prayed that if this was the way that He wanted me to use my talents, that he would make it happen. There was always something that got me through so I knew that I was being guided and just had to quit trying to control everything.
Self Talk Changed
This is ongoing for me because at times, negative words creep in. It’s human nature to be very critical of ourselves and it’s always the first route we seem to take.
Check yoself before you wreck yoself.
It became extremely necessary for me to be mindful of what I was saying to myself when I was struggling because the mind is the most powerful tool in our body. I went from saying things like, “I don’t feel like doing cardio today,” to “I will feel better after I get my cardio done.” Practicing positive self talk has helped me transition into off-season, too! I sometimes would be critical of my not-so-lean body and change my thoughts to something like “you are so strong and finally have curves!”
Body Image Changed
I’m not going to lie. Competing definitely plays a factor in people developing body dysmorphia and I will admit that I have it. I don’t always see myself as other people see me, partially because we are our own worst critics and partially because for so long I saw a really lean body that is not the “norm.” That shredded body started to become my baseline when in all actuality, it was extreme. My perspective is still adjusting to that and I’m really not sure if that will be a forever thing or not.
On the flip side, my body image is better than it’s ever been. I am more confident than I have ever been. I feel strong. I feel sexy. I love this body. So while I reminisce about my lean stage body, I also can appreciate this phase. I think happiness is being able to love yourself at any stage and knowing that both can/should have a place in your life.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.”
There were many times that I would be
scrolling trolling on Instagram and come across another competitor who looked phenomenal. I would second guess my own progress, pick out my flaws, fear that she might beat me if we ended up at the same show, stress about how I would place, etc. “What if….?” came across my mind a lot.
I needed a lot of guidance and reassurance from Keith and friends in the beginning, but I learned how to be more confident and just focus on myself, since that is ultimately the only person I can truly compete with. Now, I am never insecure or jealous of other girls. I hold tight to my journey and focus on where I want to go next.
I have always been a worker, but once I decided to compete, I was able to narrow my focus on exactly what I wanted to be working on. There are only 24 hours in a day and my priorities became very clear once I realized I had to fit in work, family, cooking, friends, training, etc. I found myself changing my habits (less tv, more meal prep / more cardio, less night’s out with girlfriends) and now it’s easier for me to say no to things that steer me away from my goals. I’ve learned how to manage my time better and make sure my priorities are truly at the top of my list.
Understand the sport
Before competing, I thought the sport of bodybuilding (especially bikini) was sleezy and attention seeking. I didn’t understand why the poses and stage presence standards were the way they were. I thought the competitors were superficial and obsessive.
Once I allowed myself to try it, I got to experience the REAL parts of the sport and see what actually goes on behind the scenes. I fell in love with it. The myths I believed were busted. I now use my experience to help shed light on the industry and make people aware of the work, dedication, judging criteria, etc that makes up the sport and why I’m proud to be a competitor.
Expanded Knowledge: Nutrition & Training
I have learned more than I ever could imagine about shaping the body, correcting muscle imbalance, speeding up metabolism, and everything in between from Keith as I went through the process myself. It’s true that in order to learn, we usually have to experience something.
I’m sure I drove Keith crazy, but I always asked “why” he did things the way he did. I loved learning and picking his brain. The more I learned, the easier it was to do what I was supposed to do; I understood the effects my choices would have. I love that I get to teach our Impakt Fitness clients and can speak from my own experience.
My Everyday Nutrition Changed
Now that I am not getting ready for another show, I still choose to eat more clean “strict” than I ever have. I was always mindful of choosing healthy foods, but I am even more aware of what my body needs now that I have been through a very strict nutrition plan. I enjoy eating a bro diet with some flexibility. I just overall feel the healthiest I have ever been.
Learned How To Deal with Critical People
Along the way, I had many moments of feeling attacked or misunderstood for my choice to compete. Sometimes the comments were said right to my face, “I can’t believe you’re going to stick your butt out in that tiny bikini.” “Muscles like that on girls are gross.” Sometimes comments would trickle down to me from people close to me. Other times, I noticed that family or friends just didn’t even ask, comment, etc and avoided talking about it altogether. At first, it hurt, but then I learned how to respond or how to handle it internally. I no longer feel upset, discouraged or self conscious when people are critical. Here’s how I learned to handle it.
As you can see, competing didn’t just change the way I appear in the mirror; transformation happened inside, too! I can honestly say I am a different person because I experienced the road to stage. I’m thankful for the opportunity and platform I was given to learn so much about the sport and myself.
I hope that this post could give you some insight about competing if you have been on the fence. If you have competed, how have you been transformed? Share this post on social media and tell us your story!