This story has taken 4 years to write, but don’t worry, it won’t take that long to tell.
It all started in July 2014, two months before my 50th birthday. Ray and I were visiting his brother’s cottage, along with other family members. We were enjoying the sun and the water, and I was feeling proud of how I looked as an almost 50-year-old. So proud in fact, that I took a picture of me rocking a bikini. (that’s Ray’s brother in the background).
A couple of weeks later, a local promoter of body building shows announced that she was thinking of adding a Grandmaster Division (ages 45 and up) to the show to be held April 2015. Ray and I had been working out at the YMCA for several years, and we had friends who were in to body building, so I thought it would be a great way to celebrate turning 50. I kept this thought to myself for a couple of weeks, and then talked to Ray about it, and we decided to give it a go.
Ray has a background in cooking and I had a friend who was a trainer at the Y, but none of us really knew what was involved in doing a contest prep. I Googled information on meal plans, my friend created workout plans, and I attended seminars to get as much information as I could. In April I graced the stage with no expectations, just enjoying the process, and the “glamour”. It was so wonderful to have people tell me how good I looked and how amazed they were when they found out how old I was. It was a huge boost to my ego. Here is a picture of me on that day.
As soon as the show was over, I knew that I wanted to do another one, this time with a coach who would guide me through the process, but first Ray and I were going to focus on his journey to better health. He had watched as I prepared for the show, and how my body had changed, and he wanted to make changes himself. Over the course of the next year, we worked out together, and followed meal plans, and celebrated by having a photo shoot. This is one of my favorite pictures from that shoot, but at the time I remember feeling disappointed in how I looked, and vowing that I would be better on stage.
After the photo shoot, I started working towards the shows that were being held that fall, one in October where I would compete in Grandmaster Bikini as well as in the open class. In a meeting I had with my coach he asked what I would be willing to do to be “competitive” and I answered, “whatever it takes”. That’s what I did for the next 6 months. I was so thrilled with the results, but it was a hellish ride, not only for myself, but for my loved ones as well. Nevertheless, when I finished with a second-place trophy in Grandmaster (granted there were only three of us) and a 7th out of 14 placing in the open division (all ages) I was proud and showed off those pictures everywhere I could. In fact, this one is featured on the website heading.
After the competitions came Christmas, and with it all the food and drink that I ever wanted! I didn’t have to measure my food, or restrict myself, and I took advantage of it. 2017 began in chaos for myself and some loved ones, and there was the ongoing stress of trying to build a business. For both Ray and I working out and eating properly became things of the past as stress of all kinds continued to build. I have no idea what I weighed on stage in October, but it was certainly less than 100 pounds, and in 2017, my weight continued to climb. I knew that “the stage look” is not sustainable or healthy, and at first it felt good to have curves again. As the year progressed and the number on the scale continued to climb, I became unhappy with how I looked, and how my clothes were fitting. I didn’t believe people when they told me that I looked good, and I could only see flaws when I looked in the mirror.
In December 2017 Ray and I gave up the business and started to move forward again. In January I started working out 3 days a week with trainer Scott Wright at United Performance Gym and my friend Ruth Ann. Not going to lie, it has been a challenging few months as I slowly rebuild my strength and conditioning and readjust my concept of what my body should look like. It has been a slower process than what I did to get to the stage, but it is 100 times healthier.
The first week of March I got a phone call from a friend of mine who teaches an art class at the Universite de Moncton. She asked me if I would model for her class in my stage bikini. I agreed, and then started to freak out. My body was nowhere near want I wanted it to be, and I tried some things that would increase fat burning. After a few days of feeling awful, I realized that it wasn’t worth it, and I stopped, and continued my workouts. When I met with Barb to sign the contracts, she mentioned that the class typically has models pose nude but thought that I would be uncomfortable doing that. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that posing nude would be easier than wearing a suit that didn’t fit. The only challenge now would be in my head as I grappled with my body image.
I am happy to say that I faced that challenge and after a few minutes of feeling uncomfortable, it went amazingly well. The students were very professional, and as I moved through different poses, I relaxed and began to enjoy the process. During the break, I looked at the pictures they had drawn, and it was interesting to see the differences in each one based on the position they were in the room and the angle at which they were observing me. What I found by looking at myself through their eyes was a renewed appreciation for my body and what it does for me, and the strength and beauty that I have. I remember how happy I was with myself way back in 2014, and I am returning to that feeling of contentment.
As always, I am so grateful for the lessons that I learn as I go through this life, and for the people that are on the journey with me. This experience has helped me to grow, and I hope that it touches the lives of those of you who are reading this story. Everything that is worth doing takes time, enjoy the process.