My spray tan is fading and I’ve now spent two days on the “see food” diet. These last three months have been some of the most eye-opening, excruciating, joyful and transformative months of my life.
Beginning January 2nd, I started preparing for my first physique competition. On Saturday, April 8th, I walked across a stage in the Gopher State Classic at the Minneapolis Convention Center wearing an almost non-existent bikini covered in bling, wearing fake diamond jewelry and in three inch plastic heels only to be judged on the most superficial things like the appearance of my tan, the amount of bling, jiggle and muscle I have, my stage presence, my make-up and my hair.
You may think that this is so out of character for me. It’s not, really. The bling and bikini, yes. The challenge, no. I’ve competed in dozens of running races and triathlons in my adult life. When my body told me that long distances were no longer for me, I had to listen so I turned to weight lifting and was lucky enough to find my perfect trainer, Ronnie. Over the past two years he’d gently suggest that I compete in a physique show. Finally, I decided that it was something I could throw into the “I just turned 40 so why not?” bucket.
This challenge was nothing that I could have anticipated and everything that I needed. I’d never been able to stick to a diet long enough for it to make much of a lasting impact and had yo-yoed countless times in the past decade. I knew that if I wanted to finally lose my weight, I’d need a goal. Something that was so big and scary that I couldn’t cheat or procrastinate for. Walking across stage in an ity bity bikini in front of a crowd of people to be judged on my appearance was just the thing!
I won’t go into too many diet details, but I had to cut and cut hard. In order to be show ready, I had to lose about 2 lbs a week. This meant that on any given day I was eating between 1100 – 1400 calories and working out for about two hours (between weights and cardio). At the beginning, I was constantly hangry (hungry and angry). I felt like I was starving. I even put myself to bed early a few nights just so I wouldn’t eat any more. Then I started intermittent fasting. I’d eat a protein shake in the morning, at 140 calories, then not eat again until around 2-3pm. I’d eat a small lunch then, with a snack and dinner fit in before 8pm. If I lumped it all together like this I could at least feel somewhat satiated. I never felt full but always just barely under.
Odd things happened during this time. I developed a taste for spicy food. I continued reading food writers and started baking more fresh bread for my family. I picked up cookbooks and read them. I learned about Ayurvedic cooking and started creating new recipes. I started craving strong flavors like smoked salmon, herring and green olives. Before this, I’d been a most bland, uninventive cook and left most of the kitchen duties to my husband. I created a new relationship to dark, leafy greens and even figured out my favorite way to eat them. Now, a whole new world was opening up for me. And yes, most of it I would only have a taste of or not eat at all. But knowing that my kids had a delicious, satisfying meal was profoundly satisfying.
During my Hoffman Process two years ago, I had learned to make peace with all aspects of myself – ego, body, emotional self and spirit. I thought that I’d done a pretty good job at understanding and supporting all of these aspects of self. After going through this show prep, I experienced first hand how much I had missed. The outcome of these three months was to get my body to look a certain way, but in order to get there, my emotions and ego had to get on board. What I didn’t realize is how much my emotions and ego had opinions about my body.
Think of it. Your body is what it is. Then you get on the scale and it tells you a number. These are the facts. The way that it makes you think and feel about what you’re seeing – that’s all ego and emotions, junk that you put on your body. What I learned is a deep understanding and compassion for my body. It’s gone through three pregnancies, emotional eating, some car accidents, long distance running, years of competitive swimming, etc. And, for the most part, it’s done it all without much complaint. Then here’s me – going around wishing I had a different body, blaming my body for not losing enough weight after a few days of watching my intake, feeling like it’s just not doing it’s job.
Here’s what was really happening. I am really good at retaining water. When I diet, I’m actually losing weight but it doesn’t show on the scale unless I do things that help my body to release water. That’s just how I work. Gluten, sugar and carbs make me bloat. The end. That’s all there is. When I was able to stick to my diet even through those times when the scale would tell me I’d gained, sure enough within a few days, I’d get on the scale and be anywhere from 2-4lbs lighter.
This morning, after the two days I allowed myself to literally eat anything I felt like, I’d gained almost 10 lbs. On Friday morning, I weighed 127lbs. This morning I weighed 136.8lbs. But you know what my response was? I thought to myself, “Huh, I should drink more water.” I know things will balance out. And I know how my body works now, so we can be in harmony without blame.
So there was the peace that I made with my body. Then, there was something else incredible that happened. When I was not completely satiated all of the time, my mind was on fire. I had such a huge opening in the way that I looked at things, what things were possible for me and what steps I needed to take. I felt like I was in the Universal flow and I regularly had rushes of ideas of all kinds. I felt as though the Universe had been waiting for me to be clear and then just started downloading all sorts of things to me. That sense of clarity was amazing. I felt that I’d lost it in my last few days of gluttony, but am excited to get back there again.
Finally, a note for my feminist friends out there. I know who you are and I know what you’re thinking. I know because I thought all of those things when I went and watched my first show last year. Yes, there is so much about this whole industry that is wrong. I didn’t get lost in this so much that I couldn’t see it. I could absolutely see it and I did it anyway. And I won. I won because of all of the experiences over the previous three months, but there was something else, too.
In grade school and middle school, I never felt like I looked good enough. I was a competitive swimmer, was always muscular and always had hips. I never felt like the tall, skinny girls that I envied in my class and I never felt like I fit in. I’d carried that body image struggle around with me my entire life. I could never look the way I wanted and never felt confident in my shape. When I walked on that stage on Saturday, I felt like I was on top of the world. I knew that I looked incredible; that I’d made peace with my body and that I’d done everything in my power to be ready for that moment. I not only felt incredible, I had a knowing that I had done it and I could do it again. I’d taken care of every aspect of myself in a loving, caring way and it showed. I wasn’t there to be objectified. I was there because I’d gone through a transformation and I wanted to compete. It ended up to be a day of pure joy, love and accomplishment. (And I’m looking forward to doing it again next year!)
So what next? Next is to share with the world all of the new ideas and universal insights that I’ve gained. See my events page to learn more about what’s happening! I’m so excited about my upcoming classes, events and workshops. Conscious Parenting, Food Nostalgia and classes on homeopathy are listed for the summer and also watch for classes on Creating Your Vision and Manifesting the Life of Your Dreams this fall.
I’m so grateful to be able to share this amazing life journey with all of you and look forward to further exploring this gift called life with curiosity, joy and wonder!