Right now I’m a few weeks into my contest prep for the February/March 2015 competition season. I’ll probably be competing in three Figure shows again this season, as I did in 2013. Things are going fine so far, but as I’ve found is quite normal, there are also the inevitable unexpected challenges to deal with as well.
Before I became deeply involved in fitness and I was just trying to lose weight, like many people I would look at fitness competitors and models and believe that everything went perfectly smoothly for them. I thought that they were women who had no difficulty losing weight whenever they needed to, who put on muscle quicker than everyone else, and basically that they had everything together all of the time, fitness wise.
I had that “Oh it’s easy for them” mentality that I know so many other women have.
Of course, now I know very different.
The fact is, fitness competitors are human too. And we face all the same physical, mental and emotional ups and downs, challenges and hurdles that ever other woman who’s trying to get into shape faces.
The only difference is, we find a way to work through them all. We know what we’re striving for and why, and we have a razor sharp focus driving us to get there. And we don’t let setbacks and disappointments divert us from our path.
Too many women make the mistake of giving up on their weight loss program because of one or two slip-ups. As soon as something isn’t perfect they throw their arms up in the air and convince themselves that all is lost. Well, if everyone did that, no one would achieve anything in life.
Perfection doesn’t exist. Even when you see the top-level pros up on stage at the Olympia – the grand final of bodybuilding, none of them are perfect. They will all have had their issues and problems in getting to the stage.
And even though I’m sure they will pretty much all be happy with the way they look on the day, I can guarantee that most, if not all, will be wishing that some part of their physique would have looked better or that some aspect of their preparation had gone better.
I know that’s the case with me.
Each off-season starts with a lot of excitement and high expectations for what I’m going to achieve for next season, plans are laid out for all the development that I’ll achieve before then, and so on. This is part of the whole process of course, and an important one.
But what I don’t plan for is the unexpected setbacks and problems. When they come along, I have to just deal with them and keep moving forward as best I can. I can’t just give up because everything isn’t going perfectly according to plan.
The last time I competed was in October of 2013. That was my fifth Figure show. Even though I was very happy with my results at that point, I still wanted to do my very best to develop my physique more. Competing in Figure in the IFBB, I know I’m at a disadvantage as a natural athlete and also because of my size – I’m only 4’10” tall. So I get to compete against some pretty big women.
I decided, therefore, to take some time off from competing and have an extended off-season, to try to put on as much muscle size as I could. That meant missing the March 2014 and October 2014 seasons, which is what I did.
One of the big areas of development that I wanted to focus on was building my shoulders. Unfortunately, earlier this year I suffered a full-thickness tear of the supraspinatus tendon of my right arm rotator cuff. That meant quite a few weeks in pain and not really being able to work my shoulders.
I got my shoulder scanned and I consulted with a sports physician who specialized in rotator cuff injuries. He recommended against surgery. So I started back with rehabilitation exercises, and now I’m pretty much back to being able to train my shoulders fully.
I still need to train around the injury though. There are a few exercises where I have slightly limited range of movement so I use modified exercises and some alternative ones now, and I just keep going. We also recently discovered a special treatment called PRP Therapy that may be able to help, so we’ll be looking more into that as a possibility as well if necessary.
I also have a few other smaller issues that I need to work around as well, but my shoulder is the main one.
I know that my story isn’t unique though. In fact, I believe it’s very rare to find any fitness competitor that doesn’t have some problem that they’re working with, whether it’s physical, mental or emotional.
Four-time IFBB Figure Olympia champion Nicole Wilkins, for example, has had surgery on both her knees. Ava Cowan suffered a concussion and a herniated disc in her neck in a non-training accident last year. I recently read an article by Amanda Latona where she mentioned that being in pain was a normal part of her life. I also recall reading about another Figure competitor who is a type 1 diabetic.
The list goes on.
It’s not the absence of challenges and setbacks that brings success, it’s how we deal with them and whether or not we keep going. Because they’re part of life and they’ll always be there.
Even the very best also have their failures along the way. In 2012, Nicole Wilkins lost her Figure Olympia title when she came to the stage looking, in my opinion, noticeably inferior to her previous year. But she didn’t let that deter her and she didn’t quit. In fact, she came back and won the title in both 2013 and 2014.
I think that people have this false illusion of success being something where everything goes just right and all the pieces fall perfectly into place.
But success doesn’t come from perfection. There’s no such thing as perfection.
Success is a battle of attrition.
It’s just a process of doing the best you can, day after day, in less-than-perfect circumstances. It happens when you just keep going no matter what. No matter what set-backs and failures you experience.
At the end of the day, the winner is the person who never gave up and managed her setbacks and problems better than everyone else.
So don’t look at fitness personalities like I did and assume it’s easy for them. It isn’t. It’s hard for everyone.
And don’t let the hurdles that get in your way and your failures discourage you or stop your progress.
So you slipped up . . . so you have something working against you.
So what? Welcome to the club.
Just keep going!