One year ago I decided to join the gym (for the tenth time). I only had one goal in mind; Stick with it for a year. I had no weight-loss or fitness goals, I simply wanted to see if I could commit for a whole year. In the past, I would join a gym, whether it be GoodLife, a boxing club or the YMCA with great intentions… however as soon as that two or three month mark came around, I seemed to lose my motivation and drive. I would stop going for 6-8 months and then get another wave of motivation and join up again only to fail a couple months later.
Understandably, my original goal to go to the gym for a year made me more than a little apprehensive with self-doubt. Maybe I set the bar too high for myself? I decided to reward myself with a tattoo I’ve been wanting for years but kept putting off because I wanted it on my thigh and I never liked how my legs looked. My thighs were in fact my least favourite body part. I figured a year at the gym might change that (fingers crossed).
I started going to the gym at the end of July 2012. I took progress photos and put pictures of fitness models on my bedroom wall as inspiration. At the beginning, those photos were something I considered idealistic and unattainable, however, great for motivation nonetheless. Only weeks after beginning my gym-going journey, I went through a very painful breakup. It would have been my typical self and very easy to just quit then and hole up in my apartment with ice cream and Doritos with my two cats. But for some reason unknown to me, I pushed myself to the gym six days a week and got on that elliptical whether I felt like it or not.
I transferred all the energy from my old relationship into the gym. It became my one social outlet other than my job. Within months I began to see results. Taking monthly progress pictures, it was easy to see my once “soft around the edges” body losing excess fat and becoming trimmer.
I was never a really overweight person but I was definitely unhealthy. I was very sedentary and on a regular basis I would have processed sugars and carbs for breakfast such as cookies, scones, even cheesecake, then go all day without eating and devour a whole pizza for dinner.
I used to sit on the couch watching Americas Next Top Model while eating a pan of nachos, hating myself for it and wishing I could miraculously look like the girls on the show.
Seeing results from exercising motivated me even more. After fumbling around the “circuit”, I developed a routine that used mainly machines around the gym. I was too self conscious to venture into the mirrored weight area because I was worried I would look stupid trying to figure out the proper form of a squat or I wasn’t strong enough, or I didn’t know what I was doing. Plain and simple, I was intimidated and didn’t want to be judged.
After about six months of a consistent routine, I knew I had to change things up. A trainer showed me proper form for some compound movements with free weights and barbells such as squats, deadlifts and bench press. He also showed me how to change my routine to maximize my workouts. I now spend most of my time in the free-weight area and am no longer intimidated or fear what others may or may not think of me. I grew to be confident and proud, especially on the days that I make new personal records.
I began to include healthier options in my diet without completely cutting out my favourites and there have been times, sometimes a whole week, where I’ll eat nothing but a stack of Pringles and ice cream for dinner.
Around the same time of me venturing into the free-weight section of the gym, my ex and I got back together. It felt great to show off what I had accomplished on my own and be supported and encouraged to keep it up. I really began to transform my body and those photos of fitness models didn’t seem so unattainable after all. I changed from wanting to look like a waifish model on Americas Next Top Model to wanting to look like the strong and sexy “Lindsay Messina”.
As my one year deadline became closer, I realized just what my body was capable of. I went from being embarrassed to wear those spandex shorts to wearing them all the time with pride. After training with a friend of mine a few times who will be competing in the WBFF Worlds, I became curious about the fitness competition scene. Lucky for me, a fitness model search competition was announced to be held exactly one week before my one year goal in the city I live in.
After deliberating and research, I decided to enter the bikini category as a level 1. It all set in after I registered; I was going to take this seriously. I quickly went from wanting to compete for the personal experience to wanting to win. I was just over four weeks out (quite late to start preparing for a show) and I completely changed and cleaned up my diet. It was hard at first, especially not knowing what my body required pre-workout vs. post-workout and why my body required certain things. My boyfriend (who was once a personal trainer, body builder and fitness model himself), helped me to formulate a diet that consisted of about six small meals a day. I was down to two portions of “good” carbs a day, one with breakfast and one post-workout. Also lots of high protein, veg and healthy fats such as avocado, salmon, almonds and natural peanut butter. I cut out all refined sugars and carbs and even kept natural sugars low such as fruit.
Within ten days of this new diet, I really began to notice a difference. I was leaning out! Muscles I wasn’t even aware I had began to appear defined and I felt amazing. I even began adding an hour of fasted cardio to my daily routine. I weighed 133 pounds and my body fat was 14.8% when I first started preparing for the show. I kept my diet super clean and I never cheated, not even once. The competition, FitnessStar Model Search is TOMORROW. I dropped a percentage of body fat and I am down to 125.5 pounds. I learned so much in the last few weeks, it has been mind blowing. I have a new found respect for the pros that compete in WBFF, NSABBA and CBBF and other big fitness competitions. The last five weeks have been anything but easy. I stressed my body out so much that my immune system crashed and I got a cold and sore throat only a week ago (I am feeling much better now). I have never gone so long without pizza, brownies or even bread for that matter. I surprised myself with how much determination and self control I actually have. One big thing I learned, is if you really want it, you CAN achieve it. You just need to have the right mind set and make it a priority.
I am one week out from my one year goal and I can say for the very first time in my life that I not only like my legs, but I love them! My tattoo appointment is booked for next weekend! I went from having a chronological goal, to gaining pride and confidence, a healthy and fit lifestyle, and a body I never thought I would have. I no longer sit on the couch for hours on end watching What Not to Wear while eating chips and garlic fingers. I have energy, happiness, sleep better and have such a positive outlook on life itself. I have inspired friends, family and co-workers to live a healthier and fit life through my experience and I am so happy I was able to do that.
I am very excited to compete in FitnessStar tomorrow. It will be a great experience and introduction to the fitness competition scene. I would like to work my way up to WBFF some day. Regardless of tomorrows outcome, I have gained so much knowledge and am very proud of my accomplishments. To top things off, I have an interview next week to become a personal trainer at my own gym! I don’t think life can get much better than this!