Thursday, 1 September 2016

A whole new world...the bodybuilding world!

It’s 3 and a half months since my first bodybuilding competition and in some ways it seems like only yesterday that I was stepping up on that stage and yet in some ways it seems like forever ago. Little did I know that when I stepped up onto that stage I was also stepping into a whole new world.


Looking back now to the day of my first competition I realise that I was actually quite oblivious to many elements of bodybuilding; the ins and outs, the finer details. I’ve learnt so much more since the competition and I can honestly say the whole experience has completely changed me and my life in many ways.


Unlike many other competitors I never really set out to be ‘a bodybuilder’. I can’t say that for years and years I dreamt of being on that stage; sporting the most hideous tan, wearing next to nothing and flexing my muscles. Nor can I say that I had so many inspirations from the sport that just made me crave that success. Because if I said that it would be untrue and for that I do feel a little corrupt looking back now at sharing the stage with many girls who probably had dreamt of that moment for a long time.


For me I did it for the challenge. My PT sewed the seed two years ago before I set off on my travels and upon my return that seed just grew and grew. It was 100% the challenge that drove me; could I get my body in that good a shape? Did I have the mental strength to push through the intense diet and training programmes? Did I have the courage to go on stage and showcase my body to the world? It was all about getting through the preparations for me which is why when it came to the day of the competition I felt like a winner that morning before any tan was applied or before any poses. I genuinely wasn’t thinking about where I would place or how I would fare against the other girls. I did it for me and only me.


I had never even been to a live bodybuilding competition before the day I stepped on stage. I’d watched hours of videos online during my preparations but that was where my experience started and finished. Prior to beginning training with my PT in October 2015 I hadn’t done what I’d now class as proper weight training for bodybuilding. So I had 8 months to lose my post-travel chub (and there was a fair bit), build some form of muscle, learn to pose and get ready to be on stage. I find it quite phenomenal to look back now and realise how much I achieved in such a short space of time given that I now have a lot more knowledge of the sport and know how much time and effort is required, how strong the competition is and how much depth there is to the sport, both through the training element and the nutrition side of things. And especially to place in my class and pick up a trophy; I don’t think I will ever stop being proud of that achievement. As I said, on the day it was the last thing on my mind.
It was such a great day!
Well, I say that…and it is true. It’s true until the moment I stepped back on stage after pre-judging and performing my own routine, and was in the line-up of girls waiting for the placings to be announced. In that moment I suddenly thought about how I’d feel to walk away empty handed and as much as I was so proud of what I’d achieved, in true Rebecca style at that moment, my desire to achieve more kicked in. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so overjoyed as when I heard my name called out. I placed sixth in my class; a very tough class and I’m very honoured to have walked away with a trophy that day.


That day changed everything for me. I didn’t realise it at the time but looking back now it completely did. That moment; stood on stage waiting for the call-out was the game changer; I just didn’t know it at that point. I did suffer an element of post-competition blues afterwards as preparing for that competition had been my life for the 20 weeks prior. Don’t get me wrong when I say I knew very little about the sport and had little passion for it before; I 100% dedicated myself to it for those 20 weeks and it’s one of the hardest things I’d ever done. Yet after saying throughout that I would never do it again purely due to how intense I found it, especially juggling that with a full-time high-pressured job in the NHS, I found myself within days of the event saying I wanted to do it again.


I’d been told before the competition from my PT that the NPA (Natural Physique Association) which is the competition I took part in, was one of the friendliest competitions and that it was very much like a community and everyone would be so friendly backstage. I didn’t believe him when he told me this. Naturally my inner-competitor wandered how it could be so friendly when essentially you were all up against one another. And having been brought up watching rugby league where don’t get me wrong it is a friendly sport, there’s very much rivalry in the game and it’s all about winning and losing.


How wrong could I be? Despite the whole thing being new to me, I never once felt out of place backstage. I never once felt anxious or scared. Everyone was so lovely. All the competitors were friendly and there was so much support backstage from different people. Before the competition I made a conscious effort not to look at any of the other girls on Facebook or Instagram as I knew it would stress me out as naturally you do compare yourselves. I didn’t know who anyone was; from local competitors to those who were fairly well-known in the sport; I knew nothing. Since the competition I’m now friends with a lot of the girls on Facebook and Instagram and that ‘community’ feel has just grown and grown. I felt very isolated during my prep as none of my friends were into bodybuilding and I felt very cut off from the world. Now I feel like my eyes have been opened to a whole new world; a friendly, happy, positive, welcoming world and I’m very grateful and honoured to be a part of it.


In the three months since my competition that passion, ambition & knowledge for the sport that I perhaps lacked before has just grown and grown and I’ve never been more determined to get back up on that stage again next year. I’m training hard in my off-season to build more muscle as I know that’s where I need to improve. Consistency, hard work and dedication in the gym week-in, week-out is my priority. My diet is more relaxed which is very welcome for now and it’s allowing me to hit my goals of adding on some size whilst still remaining relatively lean.
Training at my local gym

 The girls I follow are such inspirations to me and one thing I have noticed is that they all seem to be very happy, focused and positive. That’s one thing that training has brought to my life which I absolutely love and it’s so lovely to be surrounded by like-minded people. I spend so much time online researching new workouts, good food options, different approaches to training and I know that knowledge will stand me in great stead for the coming years. That along with the excellent guidance of my PT as always.


It is my break from the world. When I’m stressed with work; I go and train. When I’m feeling a bit fed up for one reason or another I look at my photos from the day of competition; when I have my doubts I remember how much I fought through those tough 20 weeks to get me stage-ready and I know that I can achieve anything. My trophy still sits on my bedside table and not a day goes by where I don’t look at it and smile. It probably sounds odd to some people but the whole thing brings happiness to my life, sanity when I need it and I’m a better person for the experiences and for having that ‘thing’ in my life that keeps me on track.
Putting in the hours in off-season to perfect my posing
 If someone had said to me 2 years ago that I’d take part in a bodybuilding competition I would have laughed in their face; let alone believed that the sport would become such a big part of my life. It’s taught me the importance of always keeping an open mind, you never know what’s around the corner and sometimes you just have to grab opportunities with both hands and you never know, sometimes it might, just might change your life.