What Are You Willing to Sacrifice For Your Ideal Body?

You see the toned, sleek bodies glistening with sweat at the gym, and in a selfie posted to Instagram or Facebook you wonder why you can’t look like that….and you ask over and over, “how do I look like that”.

I haven’t written a post in awhile. I guess I have just been trying to find the right words to put all these feelings and thoughts I’ve been having into a somewhat legible post. I started with the above, but then I decided that it’s just not what I want this post to be about. But everytime I try to put it into the right words, I get scared. I get scared that someone will just point out that I’m trying to defend my stance on fitness competitions and will scream “hater” or “she didn’t make it, that’s why she’s saying all of this…” but then I can’t help but feel defensive. Maybe because I made the choice to give other people power by watching their videos and reading their posts on social media sites and allowing them to make me feel like my struggle with a competition prep was merely a matter of being too weak and I couldn’t help. It was getting to me. It was becoming toxic. As a matter of fact, it was beginning to feel like everything that was once discussed between us was being used to help them “seem more real”. And I hate fake people. Ah, there I go again, letting them have power over me….

All in all, it could just be me overanalyzing and being paranoid again. So I’ll leave it alone and try to formulate a somewhat comprehendible blog post….

There seems to be this thought process that contest prep for a fitness competition is a nightmare; you are going to suffer, and it’ll break you down and force you to back down and almost quit, and if you actually do throw in the towel, then you are not strong enough. Breathe Megan, Breathee That is….mentally.

Again, deep breath …

There’s the mentality that if just striving to be fit and healthy, that’s simply not good enough. It’s just not enough if you don’t compete. You must compete to be completely relevant. But a majority of this particular “fitness culture” has become an obsession. (It’s literally can swallow you whole and spit you back out)

We spend time taking selfies that we save on our phone, filter the shit out of them a majority of the time, post them to social media that there becomes a fine line between obsession or just plain vain or desperate for attention.

Or just as easily as “all of the above”.

Then there’s this word, “sacrifice” that keeps being thrown out. What are you willing to sacrifice to get the body you want? I’ve heard it, and I’ve seen the captions along with the posts. I believe in making sacrifices to keep you from falling on your face; to achieving what you need. But when that sacrifice is just that; for what you want rather than what you need, than you have to decide what’s more important; what you want or the sacrifice you have to make, be careful what you choose….

When deciding to endure competition prep, how you fit your cardio in so it doesn’t rob time with your kids, but means you only get 4 hours versus 6 hours of sleep doesn’t really come close to being much of a sacrifice. Once you made the decision to compete, you need to be prepared to sacrifice candid moments with your kids. Yes, because you can’t turn off competition prep ; even when you’re with your kids, you’re still thinking and breathing contest prep; thinking about food, wishing you can have a bite of your kids ice cream cone, or hell just a little more oatmeal, getting anxious about getting your gym time in, your workout in, spending hours upon hours at the gym running on the same cardio machine, complaining about how “hard” contest prep is and making that the sole focus of your posts and videos on social media sites just so you can say your “just being real”.

No. The sacrifice is, trading one disorder for another one in, or just simply adding to it. The sacrifice is, giving up candid moments, living in the moment because you are now on a “schedule” that revolves around your body. And by the way, anyone who says it’s for health, is full of shit.

Oh. And apparently peanut butter. You must sacrifice peanut butter. That’s your ultimate ticket into earning the right to even use the hashtag #fitness. That hashtag alone will generate more attention than Kim Kardashian’s latest wardrobe.

Sacrifices need to be made to keep food on the table, a roof over our heads, time with our children, not to achieve this insane belief that if we want whatever is considered an ideal body for this decade or screw it- month, that we need to ask ourselves what we need to sacrifice in order to achieve it. Yea, because that’s important. A ripped set of abs, with a nice ass, always hold much more weight over my sanity, my family, me, my life any day. And I’m sure if I don’t make those sacrifices and I just keep walking into restaurants or cooking up recipes that grandmother’s used to make, making memories with my children by actually being in the here and now rather than a walking space er cardio er fitness competitor cadet, I can seriously start hashtagging “nof—clue”, “eatclean” “iifymgirls” because I’m confused as to what term is acceptable in the current fitness culture that has formed. Or worse the, “do you even lift” or “do you even flexible diet” Seriously. Because lifting and counting macros are much more superior to….look at me, projecting…Damn it…it looks like I take this shit too seriously.

But I did warn you, you could never ever go back. You can never turn it off. There is no fucking switch.

Look, bottom line is,

I love lifting heavy ass shit (weights) and maybe a kid or two if I have to, and no I won’t hesitate to pick my 17 year old daughter up like a baby), finding healthier options, eating healthy, I love fitness, I love spending hours upon hours researching it, but I couldn’t find a balance. Sorry. There was no such thing as balance in my future. I had-like many do- a distorted sense of what balance actually meant.

I mean come on, we post photos and caption them with “my favorite shirt” but with the most awkward pose in an obvious attempt to draw attention on your glutes followed by the hashtag, #squats. And we’ll caption a more provocative one with a deep quote stolen from another author or just some deep thought to say what really is going on (but no one will really outright admit it): I’ll sum it up…as a woman, we hate that we have to constantly struggle to look a certain way, that the ideal image is forever evolving and we will never, can never be happy just being in our own skin regardless of what Dove’s commercial or magazine article has to say. Mirrors and pictures on social media do not lie. We are women. We must compete with one another albeit secretly and at the same time, pretend that we are ecstatic when another woman gets more attention or you think looks better than you…and you actually hate her for it…or just simply hate yourself MORE for not being her. I should know..I’m guilty of that.

We all want to be the inspiration, yet we truly can’t even remember what exactly the real meaning of “inspiration is. We create posts that don’t let in on the pain we feel deep within, we can’t let on that it all sucks and really you just want to be able to go to the gym and remember what is was to just feel proud that you made it to the gym, and you didn’t feel at odds with food or your reflection all the time. That you can just go back to the time where you were able to actually feel yourself, feel a moment aside from what is going to make or break you on this journey to a stage designed to take what’s going on in social media, live and up close.

We pretend to be positive but it shows with all our obsessive posts of plates upon plates of food or a picture showing you taking a bite of something that you may not have thought twice about since you stumbled upon the hashtag #fitness. Subconsciously it’s our attempt to detail our struggle with food or our attempt to remind those who aren’t in the game or are thinking about walking away and hanging up the shoes and competition tan, that this is the norm and it requires a great deal of mental strength. And sadly, our own mental pain is what got us here in the first place and will also be what will walk us off the path completely or just down the wrong way continuously. I should know. I did all that.

We’ll post so much to show how strong we are, when we’re probably falling apart.

We’ll have said, “I can’t do this anymore” or “I give up” s or “what am I doing this for anyway” many times At this point, you don’t even see yourself as anything more than just developed muscles and attaining an aesthetic appearance. Your self worth can become extremely jaded.

It’ll cause anxiety or stress to just go longer than a few hours without tracking our caloric intake, or if we didn’t make it to the gym to get your workout in.

But we’ll have the “Whatever it takes” attitude because we are at least feeling something. I should know. I was that person. Kinda/Sorta still am. And while I hesitantly admit to that, I will not deny the steps I had to climb just to get to that point. Hey, just keepin’ it real (wink wink)

A competition does not define me. I said before that I’m not going to allow anything to define me, but I take that back. My role of being a mother, a wife, and a woman define who I am. We are so determined to achieve this supposed ideal image that some of us overlook the entire picture.

Deciding to compete in a fitness competition has the potential to destroy relationships. Once you start losing friends and break ups begin to follow suit, you start isolating yourself away from them. After all, no one, and I mean no one understands your new life, and everyone just wants to be unhealthy anyway…

All we think about is eating. When are we going to eat next, what are we going to eat. Even when we’re eating, we’re still thinking about the next time we have to eat. It turns into an obsession.

**Side note: I hear girls all the time as they’re putting in hours on the elliptical or treadmill complain and say things like, “I just can’t wait to go back to ‘normal’; I can’t wait to just eat ___” AND that’s all they talk about.

It becomes life. 24/7. Eat, breathe, sleep. You don’t remember anything else. Well, except for #transformationtuesdays or #Throwbackthursdays when we have to demonstrate how clueless, miserable and unhealthy we were “back then” even though we’re holding a beer, a big cheesy ass smile, and some friends…everybody needs friends…sigh..

We will say we’re “taking a break” or we’re in an “off season” because after the show, we’ll struggle even more with our body image. And no matter what, it never fails, when we finally made the conscious effort to not at least prep your meals, we’ll make a mental note that we don’t look so lean, and the lines and definition from all the extra food you choked down have faded, there will always be someone who is prepping for a show and regardless if we know that it’s not possible to stay that way all the time, we can’t help but compare ourselves to her and feel guilty that we no longer look as hard and lean as we once did. And alas, continues our love/hate relationship with food…and the scale.

From personal experience, I know this. And, yes, I know not everyone out there is like me. We’re all different and motivated by different factors, but one thing is for certain, stop right away if you find yourself becoming too obsessive.

It doesn’t make us weak person if you’re miserable doing it. If you set out to do a competition, you should love it. And love/passion and obsession is NOT the same thing.

That was me. And it could be you. Could be…(just saying)

If you have anxiety or panic attacks, this isn’t going to cure you. It’s not going to fix you or reverse an eating disorder. It’s not going to fix you mentally. It just won’t. It’ll give you control, but not power. If you’re looking for help, exercise will help to some extent, but not the obsessive kind. I should know, I tried it. Exercise will release endorphins that’ll give you a boost in mood, but if you exercise too much, it will impact you negatively.

Besides, it’s not so much mental strength, it’s our hormones that screw us up and our body’s way of telling us that something is imbalanced. But we’re supposed to ignore it and just keep going…fight through it. We might just become more mentally fit for it.

Bottom line: Listen to your body before you listen to your mind or some post on social media.

At least try to. I know I am.

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:


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.


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.


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.

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.


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!
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!)
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?