Power of Contest Prep

 

To my anxiety-ridden mind:

I know that if I set up something far in advance, I become overwhelmed with you and just unwillingly, sabotage myself ahead of time…

I was doing fine, I set my own diet and followed it, didn’t have cravings, didn’t have the need to constantly go out to eat for greasy food or sugary treats. I was cutting my own weight and doing fine. Once a week, on the weekend, I’d go out to dinner with my husband and that was the extent of it. I felt better, I didn’t have the feeling of being hungry, I was committed and I felt strong. Everyday I woke up with determination and set out to become even better and stronger than the day before; to get that much closer to my goals. Whatever that was. No. I mean it. I didn’t have a goal to drive towards. I was just kind of idling day by day, conflicted and tortured by my own anxiety. I wanted to compete in a figure competition again, but I didn’t want to say “Ok I’m doing it”. Just like that. No, that made me feel too much. Besides, I felt like I was just setting myself up for failure once I spoke about it out loud. If I just kept it quiet and shifted it back into my own head, no one would know, and I wouldn’t feel pressured or anxious. It was my way of maintaining control; or at least I like to think so.

Once I made a commitment, I felt like I lost control and relinquished to some unknown bleak hole that would rupture my very existence; my little bubble that I often contained myself in for fear of treading on anything that might make my mind explode and reel with anxiety; send me into a panic attack because of the secrets I would have to keep so no one would or could judge me or criticize me, or even just sabotage my goal because they didn’t want to see me succeed. Oh but that was me. Right now. All the time. That’s me. So I guess in a way if I don’t speak about my goals, then it’s not really there. But if I take it day by day, than I can better control it all.

The other day, I relinquished control to an online coach for contest prep. Twelve weeks in advance of a figure competition. It started out with a simple email and erupted into a full blown commitment. Right away, I went into panic mode, trying to find a way to make adjustments already; adjustments so that I could maintain some kind of control. But since Saturday, when I submitted the final information and payment, I cannot stop eating. It takes him a couple days to get my custom plan together, so until then I have been thinking of ways to sabotage myself. Apprarently.

I’ve been on a non-stop binge fest. I’m having cravings and urges to go out to eat all the time now. For every meal.

I look in the refrigerator and see food and just want to devour it. I rationalize my behavior; try to soothe my mind. I’ve literally been fighting the urge to just keep bingeing. Part of me says it doesn’t matter, it’s just food, and it’s not going to hinder my goals. But the other part of me reminds me that success doesn’t come from excuses or rationalizations. But, I just want to have control.

Not only that, but I automatically have become consumed with so many antagonizing thoughts and worries that it literally feels like they are taking the very breath from deep within my heart and the lack of oxygen is so undeniably debilitating. I freeze at the thought of being asked to go to lunch with a friend or to go anywhere. And subconsciously, I isolate myself and place limitations in front of me that might otherwise be a challenge or a test of true worth or true strength. Maybe I’m afraid of the answer… I’m almost afraid to question it or to go up against it. It’s fear. I know that. It’s a lack of control. I know that there are options but it doesn’t matter in those moments when I set out to achieve something. It’s like getting in the car and purposely taking the wrong turns or inadvertently making sure that you just keep going in one big circle as long as you know you’ll end up where you started. But I want so much more. I feel it. I mean I can really feel it. It’s like a bleeding wound that burns with even the slightest amount of pressure. It feels like an attack. If you try to cover it up or dress it in bandages, it’ll just seep through or either that it’ll just dissolve the bandage making it as nonexistent as my confidence or self worth. That’s the problem I have very little self worth. I think everyone else deserves much, much more than me, and if I could I’d  be willing to give it all to them. Whether I knew them or not. And then I see these people who didn’t really notice me before or probably more likely I didn’t notice, asking me to do things, go to lunch and I look at them as challenges and obstacles that are trying to block me in my attempt from going any further when even I know deep down inside that’s the biggest lie; the biggest flaw of them all.

When I feel a loss of control; I freeze up. My body won’t move. There’s an external force that cannot be reckoned with. Over and over my mind tries to bludgeon the anxiety from my mind, and to tell you the truth, it works for a little while. Just a little while. And if you understand, then you know that you just have to keep fighting; have to keep yourself guarded, not against the world, but from your own mind. You’d understand that you cannot just walk out on your own skin; your own mind. Your body will scream like it’s beckoning anxiety and pain, but we have to remember that we’re so much larger than that. Than any of it.

We are strong enough to rise and succeed. We’ll always find a way to reach another step; another goal. And I know. I know because I did it. I seem to always find my way to the center of my goal; the center of my fear that is engulfed with the belief that I can overcome anything. And so can you. Because if u don’t do it, someone else is going to. Someone else is going to be living your dream; your life. And that control that we may so desperately cling to and think we have is going to turn into feeling of hopelessness, regret, and instead of living you’re just going to be dying. Your just going to fall into darkness and that will transfer into anger. So don’t let fear stop you; the unknown prevent you from living. And not because we have to; not because you think you don’t need to or that you have to give up control. And not because you don’t consider yourself as worthy or deserving.
Besides, I guess we’re not really controlling much when we are losing and surrendering to our anxieties; our fears and doubts. No, I guess we don’t have control if were being suffocated by fear. Fear controls us. And we need to stop it.

So here I go again. Round three to the stage.

Sweaty Problems

You know when you cry so much, your face turns beet red? Well, over the past few days, my body has been crying so much (with sweat of course) that it’s turning red. Rash red.

And itchy.

Like claw-my-skin-layer-by-layer-itchy.

WTF…so I use free and clear for my hair because a while back, I developed an allergy to certain dyes/scents; I use All’s “Free and Clear”, laundry soap for same reason, I use differin gel and benzaclin for the treatment of acne that I’ve had to control since I was 16, and I’ve had to change my contact lens brand multiple times (basically went from year-round lenses to monthly to the daily wear because my eyes were suddenly, “not okay” with the contact lenses I’ve always worn…

And today? Well today, I found out that I’m allergic to excessive sweating. Go figure. So now I have this horrific heat rash all over my arms, neck and armpits…

TMI? Sorry but…

Yes, I take a shower IMMEDIATELY after my cardio workout,

Yes, I change my clothes right after…and it still just worsens faster than the day goes by.  Sucks. I guess I’ll have to move to Antartica…I exaggerate. I know this already. 

  So…I remember, last year; last show, the same thing happened, I sweated profusely for that last show and got a rash. I’m allergic to heat. Seriously? How can this be? I know that there are worse things in the world, but really? An allergy to heat? Excessive sweating? The older I get the more allergies develop….

And I don’t get it. I’m frustrated. Why?! Because I eat healthy, exercise, love the entire aspect of living a “fitness lifestyle”, I mean, I’m so passionate about it, it gives me a (insert expletive here) rash. My body temperature rises, therefore, a rash ensues. Really?!

What sucks?! Well, I’ve worked my ass of literally for the past 8 months, focusing on building more muscle, started figure competition prep earlier, felt more dedicated and committed to this upcoming figure competition, (don’t get me wrong, it didn’t go without the usual hemming and hawing), posed harder, dieted harder, trainer harder, and now it’s Tuesday.

It’s Tuesday and I’m sitting here, freezing from the air conditioner (you know my body fat is a tad low and therefore, I’m not so impressed with the box in the wall that blows out huge gusts of wind. And I’m doing it all well, how do I say this? well, to put it “mildly”, naked. 

Yup, I am freezing and I have a rash. And right now, I want to wrap myself in a cocoon made up of a blanket paradise, close my eyes and fall asleep. But I’m itchy. And cranky. And #Hungrysickofeatingvegetablesalldaylong…

Hmm. Hashtags are useful when you feel so frustrated….it’s conducive with saying as many swear words in one thought as fast as possible. Random thought. Sorry.

Meanwhile, tonight, I will hopefully fall asleep amidst the cold-air-conditioned darkness and maybe catch a couple hours of sleep, and in the morning, this rash will have disappeared. If not, well then, well…do I just proceed with the figure competition, all the cardio-infused sweat sessions, add chemicals from the spray tan that is mandatory to get to achieve desired “stage appearance” for better muscle presentation, or do I back off, let this rash heal, and pick a different show so that I can approach the prep differently?

Gotta admit. The latter option leaves me shaken.

Don’t Just Stand There Smiling….Laugh

Two weeks left..

Until figure competition….

I like to spice things up every now and again. Today, instead of chicken, I had fish. I went to the gym in the afternoon rather than going tonight. I’m going back to my old roots by getting a little wild and crazy, but instead of bottles versus shots, it’s chicken versus fish. And fish wins.  All kidding aside, I feel pretty damn fabulous. I don’t know if it’s the coffee, the workout, or just the excitement that is mounting inside of me for the show in two weeks, or maybe it’s just that I haven’t given myself a whole lot of time to dwell on anything. And that’s kind of a big deal for me right now. I feel like I should have a cape draped over my shoulders and maybe a sword too. Yea. I’d like that. I’d like that a lot.  Also, I’m not as nervous or anxious as I was last year leading up to the show.  It’s weird.  Extremely weird. But I’ll take it.

 I’ve also taken notice of how Dunkin Donuts has been good to me these past couple of days. Usually, I get all twisted inside from too much caffeine, but so far I’m feeling pretty good. No crazy bug-eyed, heart racing caffeine; just enough to make shit happen. 

 Yesterday I was reminded once again to just stay away from people who want to stifle your growth and smother you with shit loads of negativity; their negativity. And I gotta say; it can be extremely draining. It’s like take my cape off, leave me stark naked, kind of draining. I’m like all happy and scaling the walls and someone just comes along and piles heaps and heaps of shit on me. Um…thanks? Being around negative people can be like realizing during a mud run that you have your head and hands covered in dog shit not mud.  Major buzzkill. Major.

 Some days, I feel like I’m ready to go find a cape and twirl around or something like that. I’m all like, la lala la la…Mary fricken Poppins, wishing to share my happiness and excitement, but not really having anyone who is on call for me to share it with, which may or may have not been a good thing, after all, not everyone is picking up flowers, twirling around in an unusually happy-go-lucky kind of mood.  I mean, I have days like that too; days where I feel like an old dirty sock rescued from the next load of laundry, and people are jolly and cheerful, it can be sickening. So, you see, I completely understand. However, it’s different when it’s you. And yesterday, that’s what happened. I was beside myself with excitement, and ultimately found myself mingling with a bit of negativity. Just like that. Boom. Someone turned the damn lights out. I was like the moles in the whack-a-mole game. Hit pretty hard.

 Next thing you know, I was sitting at home with my cape crumpled into a tight little ball.

 A few shots of flaxseed oil and some good ol’ home cooked chicken and brown rice, I was back at it.  I’m pretty sure my mood was also influenced by the stripper shoes that I had to put on my feet to practice posing for the umpteenth time. 

Stripper shoes can make you feel amazing. Even if they don’t come with a pole. They almost make me want to just lift weights or do cardio in them. They’re just that incredible. Don’t judge me. Those are the only shoes that I’ve had on my feet that don’t require me to break a sweat. Scratch that. Posing makes me sweat. That shit is the hardest part. Some may say the diet, but no, it’s definitely the posing for me. When you practice, you should get in the habit of smiling, but I’m sorry, I feel that if I were to smile while posing, I would just be mocking myself. The poses are awkward for me, and I’m not really that graceful. I’ve improved since the last show, but I’m just not quite ready to smile and say cheese just yet. Trust me, when there’s not a mirror in front of me, and my teeth are slickened with Vaseline, I’ll smile. I’ll become someone else and let her do all the smiling.  Again. Don’t judge me. Besides, I think my fake smile looks unnatural; like I should have a crown and a pageant contest wave. It’s not really that convincing. Hmmm…maybe that’s the part I should be working on. Last year, my lips were so dry, I felt like I was scraping them off my teeth every time I smiled. I didn’t know about the Vaseline trick until later. That and to laugh.

When I did the photo shoot in Las Vegas, I was told to laugh;

 1. It would bring out my abs more AND

2. It would make me look super happy…?

 So, I did what any normal person would do. I drank a bottle of red wine and I laughed. A lot.

 Blow out all of the air through your mouth, laugh, and BAM!  

 I use that trick, minus the red wine, in all of my photos too; but mainly to just look super happy.  The person standing next to me in the picture or taking the picture probably thinks I’m a weirdo, but it works. And you do what works. I think a fake smile gives the appearance that you may have had some botox done; the expression is all in the smile, but the eyes are empty. Not to mention, a fake smile and little water just dries out your mouth, which makes you feel like you need to call for the Jaws of Life just to pry your lips off of your teeth. So Vaseline it’ll be. I can live with that. I could put the Vaseline on now and practice posing, but I’m not that into Vaseline as a daily supplement.

 So coffee, stripper shoes, figure competition suits, fish, and chicken..…yep that’s what gets me through my day. Besides all of that, I guess if you invest your heart into something as much as you do your head, you can pretty much expect to ride off into the sunset on your black stallion; cape and all.

Swarovski Crystals and Stiletto Heels: The Journey to My First Figure Competition

It was my first figure competition, my first time going out on a stage in front of people who were going to judge me based on my overall appearance, symmetry, muscle, etc. I had to attain a much lower body fat than I had ever imagined being. In fact, I’ve never given my body fat a first thought, and merely went based on the size of my clothes.  Not to mention, I was never athletic, never competed in any sport unless you consider jumping over hurdles during track and field in 7th grade. Then, okay fine, I was athletic.  Nope. I was just skinny-bony. Skinny to the point where people used to question whether I ate or not. And I ate a TON. I don’t know where it ever went, but it got me to never be concerned with body fat that’s for sure. People used to warn me when I was younger, that one day all of that crap eating was going to “catch up” to me. Of course, I didn’t believe them. Fast forward to 32 years old, and I had 2 kids, partied hard, attended school full time, worked at a customer call center for 11  years, and turns out,  that shit does really creep up on you out of nowhere.  I guess that’s when I decided that I should probably join a gym.

So there I was, full time student, unemployed, and I was just beginning to discover this newly found passion for fitness and health, when one day, I stumbled upon the idea of competing in a fitness competition! A what? Yea, that’s what I said at first too. But hey, it seemed like a challenge, and I like challenges, so what the hell!? I hired a trainer, and then the days went on pretty much the same; eat, gym, eat, gym. Yep. Minus the tanning and minus the laundry…I picked out the color, ordered my suit, tried it on and sent it back for the finishing touches here is a picture of the first suit pre-bedazzled:

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Unfortunately, I didn’t have much support, felt kind of depleted and started to look like I was that scrawny girl back in middle school. Plus, I was craving serious food. I’m talking fried, sugar, greasy…It. Did. Not. Matter. Ultimately, I threw in the towel, or “the suit” shall I say, and fortunately, I was lucky enough that a girl who went to the same gym, wanted to buy the suit from me right on the spot. Phew!  I dodged that bullet. I wasn’t ready, and I knew it.

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Clearly, the way you feel on the inside really does reflect on the outside. Don’t I look so happy? I might have been hungry here, who knows!? (pale as a ghost too)

Afterwards, I relaxed on my strict eating approach, still eating 6 small meals, but just having a cheat meal once or twice a week. And I ate more. So it went on, and on.  Fast forward a year later, and I felt that I was ready for round 2: Operation Figure Competition.  I didn’t tell anyone. I worked my ass off in the gym, ate and dieted until about 4 weeks out from the show when I hired a different personal trainer than the one I had the first time. It was a 2 hour drive out to meet her, but it was well worth it. She gave me a workout plan and nutrition plan to steer me towards the next couple of weeks leading up to the show as well as the day of the show. AND LET ME TELL YOU, I was hungry, eating the same boring food, irritated, whiny, bitchy, moody, you name it. I felt weak and I dropped to such a low body fat, I didn’t get my period, and that made me feel like I was heading out on the next bus to looneytoon town. Plus, it was summer, I swear I felt like I was a pregnant lady about to pop in the heat. NOT HAPPY.  I took my kids to a zoo and felt so bad because I had very little energy, and all my little boy wanted to do was play on the jungle gym. But I had no energy left in me to sit and wait because there were so many hills at this zoo. I was super hungry and I wanted to cry.

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I’m pretty sure the look on this bear’s face is exactly the way I feel. Coincidence?

Needless to say, I went to Red Lobster and then went to get ice cream. In my mind I was done. But…that was the hormones and crazy talking….

I remember laying out by the pool-not even thinking about it- oh lets get a tan duh!? I sprayed Clarins progressive tanning oil all over me to prevent a sunburn, as it had successfully done for the past 2 years, but nooooo! Not this year! Not this time!  So not only was I low on carbs, eating little calories, my hormones were raging, brain seemed as though it was on a very long pause, it was hotter than Hell,  and 3 weeks prior to the show, I had a major sunburn.  Awesome. I read on the trusty ol’ Internet that Hydrocortisone cream would help speed up the healing process of a sunburn. Nope. Didn’t happen. Instead a rash happened. Yep! My sunburn slowly turned  into a rash.

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My Awesome rash

With the support of my husband, I made it through to the weekend of the show, and we began our 5 hour drive to Newburyport, MA. Stressed and nervous. I had to get the spray tan, go to the hotel, check in, and then go to the HOST hotel to take a Polygraph test. FUN. We were staying at a hotel approximately 15 miles from the Host hotel, but it was not at all what we expected. 15 miles was more like a 45 minute drive with all the traffic. We decided to just go to my spray tan appointment first and then go to the hotel to check in.

I was quite surprised at how fast I was ready to just take my clothes off to get a spray tan; I’m usually quite modest. Seriously.  I had to turn, and bend and turn and bend. It felt like a power washer grazing my backside and that shit was freezing.   After that room, I was led to a different room to stand in front of a tiny floor fan to dry with 2 other girls…Naked. All of us naked in a room; “drying”. And the room was the size of a room in a tanning bed salon. After waiting impatiently for two hours while generating casual yet awkward conversation, I was pretty much unrecognizable having my skin turned into a color I had never seen before! I was ready to leave. I walked outside and I was freezing!  Next was the polygraph test. Since it was getting late, and there was a cutoff time for the polygraph test, we had to head over to the host hotel to get that in. Holy shit! That line was soooooo long. I waited 3 hours to take the test, and by the time I got to the hotel, I was exhausted and tired of eating cold food out of plastic containers and bags. I was ready for bed. I brought brown sheets and a blanket so that I didn’t ruin the hotel sheets. I couldn’t sit on the toilet, but I also had to be careful not to let the water splash. I know, TMI, but there were some pretty strict rules to follow as regards to this spray tan. Even at the host hotel, we weren’t allowed to lean on any of the walls or sit on the toilet there either!

5 a.m. Alarm goes off, and it’s time to eat more cold food, brown rice with some salt and steak. I could only drink a certain amount of water, and only do a light warm up on the treadmill or go for a walk. It was freezing in the hotel’s fitness room, but I sucked it up and hopped on the treadmill. Once that was over, I had to do my hair, and then head over to get my makeup done and my false eyelashes applied, and then it was over to the show venue.

When we arrived at the show venue, I realized that I should have brought a long mirror and I felt that I didn’t do enough to get my hair ready, but hey, I suck at doing hair. Oh well. Once I got into the venue, I had to have an umpteenth coat of spray tan applied. Apparently, my skin is super sensitive around my neck and the spray tan wasn’t going on evenly. No nudity this time though! Hehe. I was lucky that the competition spray tan was dark enough to cover the portion of left over rash or whatever the hell it was. Not only that, the tan lines on the bottom portion lightened up enough and the bottoms of my suit along with the number I was given covered it up anyway. After the spray tanning was finished, there was a photographer there to take pictures of all of the people who were competing. I felt very awkward and nervous posing in front of other people. Plus, once I got my pictures in the mail, I couldn’t help but laugh at how I was revealing a little underboob. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.

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A little underboob never hurt no one! (Suit by Saleyla)

Once all of that was out of the way, I was extremely relieved at how relaxed and comfortable I started to feel; just being around people who were there for the same reason. Not to mention, we were all hungry and probably all just ready to let our stomachs hang out from lots of sodium in the form of carbohydrates or some really yummy sugary dessert. I still was extremely nervous about getting on stage, but it felt incredible just being there. All of the girls were super nice, and the promoters and everyone involved in the show also made it a very relaxing place to be. The best part was when they got everyone together before the show and announced that they discourage any type of negativity; just have fun! Of course, that still didn’t shake my nerves about walking on a stage in front of everyone. It turned out to be an extremely long day, but nonetheless, everyone was real encouraging to one another; it was inspiring and welcoming.

While there were many different classes to enter, I only entered Figure Debut, which meant I would only have to get on stage one time! Once I found out that I could still crossover to another class, my husband tried to get me to enter into the others, but my nerves weren’t ready for all that. I know, looking back, I should have done it; after all, I did work really hard to get to that point. There were 10 girls in the debut class and I placed 8th, but I didn’t care. I was just so elated that I did it. I completed my figure walk, and it was over.  I received feedback from the judges and they told me that for future shows I needed to work on posing because I appeared too stiff and robotic!

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I agree with the judges! I was sooooo stiff and nervous!!!
Needless to say, it was a long, fun, and memorable day. And I met some really cool people!
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Once the show was over, the promoters for the show invited everyone out to celebrate, but I was craving food big time and I wanted something that I was familiar with so my husband and I headed to Chili’s instead. I splurged on a chicken sandwich, french fries, ( I ate my husband’s fries too!) and a Blondie for dessert. YUM! After dinner, we just went back to the hotel.  Even though I was so exhausted, I still couldn’t sleep because my mind was on instant replay of the entire day’s events. I had such an awesome time. The promoters, Joel and Justin Napolitano were so relaxed and fun throughout the entire day that it was impossible to regret having picked that particular show, The OCB Natural Yankee Classic as my first!
The next day we woke up early to head to NYC to get the kiddos from my mother in law. Before leaving though, I wanted to check out the beach, and I think I found my next vacation spot!!
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As for right now though, I’m ready to do another show! This time I know what to expect and what I’m getting myself into so I cannot wait! As for my supportive husband pictured below (maybe not so much!)
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My husband was so supportive that day; helping me and making sure that I had everything I needed! Sadly, however, we didn’t get a picture of us together. I have no idea how that happened?