Taking the stage, take twoBy Oxygen's Staff Blog|Oxygen Staff|2012-10-10 | Comments: 0
– Rachel Crocker, Fitness Editor
How was my demeanor in the days leading up to my second fitness competition? In two words: stress-filled.
I first forayed into the fitness competition world earlier this year with the UFE Spring Bash. With my family and friends cheering me on in the audience, and the rush of adrenaline pushing me to smile, flex and ignore the fact that 90 percent of my skin was exposed, I had a marvelous time.
That sense of empowerment is addictive, as many competitors will tell you, and I wanted more. So as soon as the dust had settled (only a few short months after I hung up my plastic heels), I decided to set my sights on another show, this time with the Ontario Physique Association (OPA).
I somehow managed to maneuver through the standard onslaught of summer gatherings with the agility of a gazelle. I brought clean eats with me everywhere. I gradually dialed back my carbs. I even did an early morning resistance-band circuit on the beach when my husband and I canoed out to a secluded spot for a night of camping. (It wasn’t, unfortunately, as secluded as I had envisioned – several backpackers stumbled upon our campsite in the middle of a set of burpees. Surprisingly, they were more embarrassed than I.)
But the weeks and hours leading up to the big event were filled with dread, which I attribute to the fact that I consciously decided not to tell many people about this endeavor. The rush of support I had experienced with the first competition was no longer there, leaving me constantly wondering, “Is this a good idea? Am I good enough?” It was a misstep that I can blame on no one but myself.
I’m in no way saying that I was unprepared – I was proud of what I accomplished, and throughout this experience, I learned a lot more about competition prep. But there are certainly a few things I will do differently next time around, should I choose to take the stage again.
1) “More” doesn’t always equal “better.” The day before the show, I was exhausted from excessive training and a restrictive diet. I believe that it lead to me looking flat (muscle-wise – though the same thing could be said for my boobs) and with less definition than I had hoped.
2) Don’t get caught up in the head games. I had actually practiced saying, “I belong here!” over and over in my head the night prior to the show. However, my built-up confidence disintegrated when I noticed that many of the other competitors had trainers, coaches and a professional tanning staff backstage. I watched with envy as one girl’s coach (or masseuse, or something) massaged her heel-weary feet, and peered over the cover of my InTouch Weekly at others who were getting a pep talk from people they were most likely paying for their motivational services. Had I simply ignored the hubbub going on around me, I probably wouldn’t have been so nervous.
3) No matter what, flex like your life depends on it. I was so wrought with worry as I strutted (or, from certain angles, stumbled) onto the stage that I couldn’t even tell you what muscles I did or did not contract.
4) Support is a wonderful thing. I don’t know if my attitude would have changed had I talked up the event prior to the big day – and I did get support from my coworkers, family and friends, don’t get me wrong – but remember that people want to celebrate your victories with you. Don’t rob them – or yourself – of that opportunity.
5) What I did come away with was a new appreciation for the girls who hit up numerous shows a year, often without a cheering section in tow. One competitor in particular, Michelle, was an amazing help to me backstage, and her biggest supporter and fan, her husband, was back at the hotel watching their kids. I admired her gusto.
All in all, I’m glad I did it again. My competition toolbox is better equipped now than it was before, and I did meet (and re-meet) some great people.
Competitions can be scary – but only if you let them be. Above all, take pride in the process and the results that you worked so hard to achieve – no one can take that away from you but you.
Follow me on Twitter @Rachel_Crocker
Photo courtesy of Mark Bradfield
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