Every show changes me, whether I’m walking the stage myself or I’m on the cheering squad in the audience. After almost a decade of being in this industry, last weekend’s NPAA show is one of the most positive and soulful experiences ever for me! You see, I retired from competitive fitness and bodybuilding a year and a half ago. I didn’t know I retired at the time, but life has a way of letting you know when it’s time to carve out a new path, and as I’ve slowly discovered over the last year or so, my last show was the last. Although I’ve chosen this, I can’t deny sometimes it’s felt like a loss. Loss of focus, identity and self-esteem. But last weekend was a big step in healing and filling what I thought was a gap.
As I watched, I had so much respect and admiration for all the athletes. I know the work and dedication that goes into training, and the courage to walk the stage and put yourself out there. Watching them, I suddenly realized the extent of my own achievements over the years and instead of feeling sad that I don’t do that anymore, I was overcome with pride that I used to do that!
Often in life when you’re on the ride, you don’t realize the power of it. It’s after the trip has ended or you’ve changed direction that you become more aware of and appreciative of all the gifts you gained during the journey. And competing gave me so many life-changing gifts! The gift of discipline and work ethic. Self-worth, confidence and belief in one’s own abilities changes who you are, and competing gave me that. The gift of community and sportsmanship. There are core people in the NPAA fitness family (you know who you are!) who model sportsmanship in everyday life and are true champions and mentors to me. Health and vitality is the biggest gift of all. Aside from building a winning physique, optimally fuelling my body consistently with an abundance of whole foods created vibrancy that I couldn’t have imagined. I learned and experienced the profound power of food as fuel and food as medicine. It ignited my passion for and interest in natural nutrition, and lead to finding my calling to help others achieve their optimal wellness.
Any sadness about not being a competitive athlete anymore was replaced last weekend with pure pride and appreciation that I did that. It was and always will be a part of who I am. This sport and these people have changed my life, and will forever have a big piece of my heart. There is no loss. The gifts and strengths I found through competing with the NPAA will always be with me.