Had a great conversation with my coach this week. It’s similar to one we’ve had before. I think I need to share it with people who are following my journey so you will have some context to apply to some things I say or do.
There is a difference between who I am in the the world and who I am as a competitor.
My top priorities about things are about who I am in the world. That is who I am with respect to my health, self-care, my marriage, teaching, and being a friend. Some things I share – like my health transformation story and how I practice self-care through nutrition and exercise. Those are things that most people who follow my posts on social media are interested in, which is how you probably found me. Like most people who have pages or blogs, I separate who I am in person from who I am online. I’m more transparent about things than some, but that is only because I remember how isolating it felt when I started my transformation. No one in my real life had done this. It’s hard to know that what you are feeling is “normal” without something to compare it to.
I am also a competitive bodybuilder. There aren’t many women doing that, so I suspect most of the people who follow my journey don’t compete. Most of the time, it does not matter. And the massive amount of support and encouragement is humbling. When I want to quit, I think about that. When I think it’s “hard”, I remember the stories from people who are really doing something “hard” who, for some reason, find what I’m doing inspirational. I’m accountable – which was the point of starting this blog in 2010 and the Facebook page in 2012.
Coach’s advice to me was to make sure I keep “Tammy in the World” separate from “Tammy the Competitive Bodybuilder” in my mind. But the competitive side of me is why I’m driven. It’s what gets me up at 3:30 in the morning to go train before work. It’s how I handle the crazy OCDness of weighing a handful of almonds and then putting some back.
Lessons learned from my journey to transform my health…
- the skill to track food (which took about 6 months, by the way)
- how to set a realistic, measurable, attainable short term goal
- discipline required to reach that goal and set another one
- patience when results aren’t predictable – because they usually aren’t
- dedication to the promises you make yourself
- be MORE patient
- determination to stay consistent and do the work even when you don’t want to
- learned that no matter how crappy you feel, you’re going to feel better afterwards
- learned that nutrition is science and what the body does with the food is also science
- learned to be more objective and less emotional about what I eat or what happens in the gym
… and a bunch of other lessons if I were to continue
These lessons prepared me to follow my dream to be a competitive bodybuilder. Please realize that my goals for my sport are specific to that part of my life. When I talk about my disappointments in not reaching a bodybuilding goal, it does not diminish what I’ve done as “Tammy in the Real World”. But there will be times when I share my thoughts, successes, and failures from the perspective as a competitor.
As a competitive bodybuilder, I have improved a lot. I am pleased and proud of that. However, I’ve done three competitions and I have yet to actually earn a placement. I am lucky to have two trophies and a medal because there were just enough to go around for the number of women who registered for my division. Again – as “Tammy in the Real World”, I am proud of my progress. But I’m not done. I have not reached a goal that I have as a competitor – to earn a placement in an open division as a 50+ female bodybuilder. It is because I’m competitive that I train harder, I diet precisely, and I practice posing. If my goal was to participate as a woman in her 50’s, I did that in 2012. To keep training diligently, I need a new goal. I hoped that this time I had done enough, but I knew the day before I had not. Improved, but not there yet. I need more time. It wasn’t a matter of work or coaching – I presented the best package I have ever presented. Especially for someone who has only been lifting for 5 years. At the show, I was moved to the end of the line during prejudging after the first round of posing. There were three rounds, I think. Went by quickly.
A few days have gone by, I’ve reflected, talked with Coach, and I know what I want to work on. Because I’m competitive, I was discouraged at first, but have since become fueled by it. I like being an underdog. I like being in a position of having something to prove. Just like when I started – there were people in my life then who didn’t think I’d lose the weight, much less compete. And now I’ve done three competitions. (Yes, that’s empowering.) I got back into the gym right away this week because I needed to. I’m having a little harder time dialing in my recovery macros, but each day I’m getting a bit closer. I’m determined to have a successful recovery from show prep and transition into another long improvement season.
So just because I’m disappointed with my performance last weekend, that’s only “Tammy the Competitor”. “Tammy in the Real World” sees things differently – I am grateful, proud, and joyful that I’ve been blessed with the capacity to do it. I also have a secret weapon that no one I’ve competed against has had – the people who follow my journey. When I needed a pep talk the day before, they were there for me in a way that was overwhelming! I swear, I had almost made the decision to drive home, but it was the interactions we had on the page that gave me the courage to follow through.
And these pictures comparing my first show to my third reassure me that I’m on the right track.