Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pitfalls, Breaking Points, and Focus

There's a very solitary aspect to being a Figure Competitor. While I share my journey with all of you, while my family shares my journey, while my Coach shares my journey... the vast majority of the path is walked alone. Sometimes that's empowering. Sometimes it's lonely. I often feel eyes on me - virtually, and literally - as I do my workouts, my cardio, my dry sauna time, food prep, eating...

and yet still, there are times I feel very invisible.

This has been a tough prep for me, and I fell to an old foe - body dysmporphia. This is a pitfall for many of us, and I've addressed it before on this blog - and one on one with many of you who've emailed me (read posts here and here). It's not something that I believe can be "cured" - particularly for those of us who've experienced significant weight loss. That mirror is always ready and waiting to throw back a warped image - it's what we do with it that matters most.

This battle, this day, I broke.

I had a weigh in yesterday morning. It didn't go well. My bodyfat is up, my lean muscle mass is down, and I am less than 5 weeks from show. My joints are acting up, I hate fish, I'm tired of missing time with my family and friends, I'm tired and not feeling especially well, exhausted but still 'putting out'... wah-wah-wah. The weigh in was a brutal jab in the eye and I wondered, seriously and heart-searchingly, if this was it - time to throw in the towel.

For all of my "can do", I had to ask myself if it was time to finally admit that I can't.

I hate the thought of giving up. I hate the thought of giving in, admitting that I've taken on more than I can handle. I hate the thought of disappointing anyone. The journey to the stage is tough for anyone, in any given circumstance, but I've always been tougher - I've competed twice, but maybe this was it for me. Maybe I've finally hit a wall I can't find my way around, over, under or through. I've been struggling - so much more than I've shared, with anyone. I'm feeling my age, my disease, my injuries, my utter exhaustion. I'm feeling sorry for myself - and that's more destructive than any auto-immune disease in existence.

After a phone call to Bill, more soul-searching, and several text messages back and forth with my Coach, I was facing an incredibly difficult choice. Do I walk away now, or do I push through knowing it might not be good enough?

Good enough. 

Good enough for who?
The judges.
Not me, my coach, my family, you guys... the judges.

And here's where the body dysmporphia reared its ugly head. While I don't look in the mirror and see the old fat me... what I see, is a woman who is "too fat" to be a figure competitor; "not lean enough", "carrying too much water", with "poor posing and confidence", but a "great tan". Damning words that I allowed to root and flourish in my head.

I think Kayla realized, despite my attempt to be nonchalant, that I was standing on a high, windy ledge. She stopped texting and called me. Which was difficult because I was crying so hard I could barely speak. Man, I hate crying. Seriously hate crying, plus... with all the things in this world, I'm crying over this like the world is ending. WTF is wrong with me?

Well, she started there... "quit being so hard on yourself".

We talked through it all, how I was feeling - all of it, what I wanted, why I started, and she shared her insights - into the "game" of competing, and her insights into me. Damn, she's good.

One of the things she said, well, I'll paraphrase because her way was a lot nicer and more words... basically I've gotten lost focusing on the results, when I need to be focused on the process. That's when she talked about my dysmorphia. I hadn't even realized I was seeing myself that way. As we worked the problem, I felt the darkness, discouragement and fear start to ease back - bit by bit. Hearing what she sees in me, what she thinks I can accomplish, rekindled my hope.

The outset is that I'm taking my head out of my butt. I'm going to focus for the next 3 weeks on the process. Each bite, sip, step, and rep... each drop of sweat. At the end of that time, we will reevaluate my progress and status, and Kayla will determine if I am moving forward to step onto that stage, or if I'm going to step back from that, and simply enjoy the holidays with a killer body. That last part really got to me... she pointed out, "what's the worst that can happen? you don't compete but you've got a killer body." Huh.  [remember that my health is never in question - Kayla's primary concern is to keep me healthy inside and out]

So... I'm banned from the scale. I'm not allowed to see the bodyfat/musclemass readings. She's my new mirror. And I'm ok with that. My job is to do the work, eat the food, drink the water... and keep my head out of my posterior. ;-) My job is to NOT worry about being good enough for the judges. My job is to reclaim my joy and spirit of fun.

A friend posted this on Facebook last night...

A true champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion when no one else is even looking.

I am a champion. And that's good enough for me.

Thank you for sharing my journey - for all the emails, posts, encouragement and support. I am so grateful!


  1. Chelle, first off let me say "thank you". Thank you for sharing your journey. You have it all figured out, I know you do. I love the fact that if you compete or not you have a rock'n body in your 40's. I also know thats not enough. Man, girl!!!! You push yourself hard. I whine about my weenie workout at 4:30 am and here you are working like a dog towards a goal. Believe in yourself. I believe in you.
    A little pick me up from my own blog :)

    1. Thank you, Helen! And I loved the post! Thank you!!!!

  2. And that's why every competitor should have a good Coach! You can do this Chelle! I feel like crying and self doubt is just part of it. You are an athlete training for an extreme sport. If you aren't crying toward the end, you aren't working hard enough. I remember my husband saying very similar words to matter what, you are coming home with that body. At the end of the day, that is why we compete. Winning would be icing on the cake, but pushing ourselves to the limit, finding our new edge each time, feeling that rush of stepping on stage and knowing the fight it took to get there and then going home with a killer body is why we do it. YOU CAN DO IT CHELLE!! Keep pushing! Melt down, cry it out and then move on. No pity parties! ;)

    1. Thank you!!!! No more pity parties!! Damn straight! I love that - about at the end of the day, bringing home that body! YES! Thank you!!!!!!

  3. I wanted to wait and write something when I have more time, but as I read this today, I am feeling (and yes, this is another movie analogy) like I'm watching the Chelle version of "Neverending Story" at the point when everyone is holding their breath and waiting for Sebastian to say what he needs to say to save the kingdom from the "Nothing". It's hard to read the immense frustration, because we know you can do it. Self-doubt is the worst, and pretty much everyone has it. Seriously Chelle, you could compete or not compete, but it is true - the worst that could happen if you don't....the holidays with a bangin' body. Who wouldn't enjoy that?? You don't need a panel of judges to say you look great or that you need to work on this or that. This fight IS with yourself and that is pretty clear at this point. Nobody will fault you on your decision - it's just YOU who will have to come to term with whatever you end up doing. Keri Strug (gymnast) vaulted on a busted ankle and came out on top. Even if she didn't come out on top, she will be remembered for doing her second vault when she was in pain and doing it for the love of the sport and her drive to finish. Either way, she would have been a champ - what probably matters to her, and goes for anyone who is an athlete- is that she finished strong, put in her all and got it done. How much you want to bet that if she had decided to not do that second vault it would have plagued her until the end? I know you aren't competing for the Olympics, but the premise is the same. When you get through this (either way you decide), you will know you kicked butt.

    You are not letting anybody down - PERIOD.

    ~Jen ;-)

    1. Jen, where's the big giant heart button??? Thank you!!!! I'm no Olympic athlete, but I'll be damned if I stop now! Thank you for your encouragement!!!! :-) I'll give Keri Strug a run for her money ;-)