Thursday, 15 December 2016

2016...muscles, figure suits and stripper shoes. What's in store for 2017?

So, it normally gets to this time of year and I think my Mum and Dad begin to suffer from mini anxiety attacks. Nothing to do with the hustle and bustle of the Christmas shopping, the trials and tribulations of Secret Santa or the thought of bringing out the emergency chairs for the social gatherings, but because this time of year I’m normally pondering over what my goals will be for the upcoming 12 months.
You might be thinking that’s a good thing, right? Wrong. When it’s me thinking up my goals for the next year you can guarantee it’s going way beyond the usual New Year resolutions of shedding a few extra pounds, tripping off on more adventures or gaining a little more independence in life.
Well, I guess that’s not exactly true. I do often have resolutions along similar notions however with my inability to be able to do ‘average’ those resolutions over the years have translated in Rebecca World to shedding a few extra pounds i.e. stripping every last bit of fat and becoming a bodybuilder; tripping off on more adventures i.e. leave your job on a career break and go to the other side of the world for 12 months jumping out of planes and swinging in bungees; and gaining a little more independence in life i.e. buying a house and taking on your first mortgage on your own.
You see, in Rebecca World I don’t do grey, I never have, I’m black and white and it’s either happening big and bold or it isn’t happening at all.
For once this year, my parents don’t have to worry about what big surprise might be coming next in my action-packed story (although disclaimer right here to say never say never because…well…you just never know what might be around the corner, do you? Sorry Mum). They don’t have to worry about what the next thing might be because for months now it’s been certain it will only be one thing. Bodybuilding. Bodybuilding. Bodybuilding (again, sorry Mum).
Pic: Fivos Averkiou
 It’s fair to say 2016 turned into the game-changer in many ways. My first year as a bodybuilder and I’ve never looked back (well, apart from in the midst of prep when I was gipping on cod looking back to a time when pizza was permitted in my life, but other than that) – all joking aside though and I actually haven’t looked back in that respect; I wouldn’t undo any of it for the world.
This year has been a fantastic year in many ways and I’m very thankful for all I’ve done and achieved both on and off stage. Stepping on that stage at the NPA Yorkshire’s in May was one of my happiest moments of 2016. It followed one of THE toughest challenges of my life; getting through prep was like nothing I’d ever done before in my life and it really was a rollercoaster for me.
Another day of posing practice
6 weeks out from comp
After vowing to never do it again, that soon changed and within months (in fact, let’s not lie, it was weeks, probably even days) I was already planning for the 2017 season. I guess it must be similar to childbirth in that once I was on stage and had the elation of picking up a trophy (similar of course to a baby haha) the pain of the prep just didn’t seem to matter anymore. I won’t say I’ve forgotten about it like they say you do with childbirth, because I haven’t, I very much remember the torturous days of being hungry constantly and trying to drown myself in green tea (don’t worry, not actually), but I guess it all seemed worth it on stage. (Apologies to the Mums out there reading this probably cursing me at comparing bodybuilding to giving birth…I’m sure it’s a breeze in comparison…or not)
Since May I have focused on building muscles and getting stronger. I’ve enjoyed my off-season and everything that comes with it and over the last few weeks in particular, as the year draws to an end I’ve spent more time thinking about what’s to come and what my priorities are for 2017.
For me 2017 is focused on getting back up on that stage and being the best I can be to put it simply. 2016 has been a whirlwind with many things happening in my life; buying my own house, trip to America, jetting off to Australia, starting back at uni, being back at work after a year off and in a new job with more responsibility. I’m not planning on any big changes in the other aspects of my life next year (she says) so my focus can 100% be on the stage.
Living it up in Vegas (June, 2016)
I placed sixth at the Yorkshires this year and I have set some more specific goals in terms of how well I aim to do next year but that’s something I’ve only shared with a few people and that’s how it will stay. I’ve got a couple of other fitness events thrown into the mix along the way with a 3 Peaks Challenge currently in the planning and it would appear I’ve been roped into doing Tough Mudder over summer but hopefully they will tie in nicely with my bodybuilding goals too.
Winter Warrior 2016...Tough Mudder 2017
So, I would like to say my Mum and Dad can sit peacefully as we enter into 2017 knowing there’s no real ‘wildcards’ on the line up for next year but I know their usual anxieties over my next big dreams will only be replaced with anxieties over my upcoming bodybuilding season with my plan to do bigger and better than this year. And I know how hard they found it watching me go through prep this year but there’s one difference I guess this time around; I know what I’m letting myself in for, I know how to handle the ups and downs, I know what needs to be done. I’m hoping for that reason I won’t be such a stroppy cow to be around. It also means that my game face is well and truly on and I couldn’t be more focused or determined to smash my goals over the next 12 months.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

No one has a clue what they're doing...we're all just winging it!

Okay so normally I focus my posts around health & fitness but now and again I like to throw a bit of life chat in here too when I want to. Recently, one thing I’ve tried hard to do is to give myself a break; and that’s both mentally and physically. Physically I’ve built a bit more down-time into my life to allow myself to do the things that I WANT to do not necessarily just what I NEED to do all of the time.
But I’ve also made a conscious effort to give myself a break mentally. I’m the first to admit I put a huge amount of pressure on myself; in every aspect of life and that’s because I want to do well and I’m ambitious. I want to have a successful career, I want to be in the best possible shape that I can be, I want to achieve academically, I want nice things and nice holidays and to see the world. I want to meet the man of my dreams eventually. And that’s not me being greedy; that’s just me wanting to make the most of my life and experience as much as I can.
But because of that I put pressure on myself; often sub-consciously asking myself if I can do better or if I could be doing more, which has led to me living a very hectic lifestyle but if I’m honest I probably wouldn’t have it any other way; I thrive on that a lot of the time. But lately I’ve learnt that it’s okay for me to not have my shit together all of the time and when you look around I think you’ll find that most people don’t have their shit together, people just to try to make out they do or they feel pressure to be living a certain kind of lifestyle. It comes back to the classic old saying that the grass isn’t always greener.
It was interesting as last week I got a message on Facebook from a girl I know. She messaged me for some advice on direction in life and in her own words she wanted advice from ‘someone successful’. Now don’t get me wrong I was very flattered that she viewed me in that way but it made me think that maybe she looks at me thinking ‘wow, she’s got her shit together and knows what she’s doing’.
Now I’m never one to make out my life is perfect because it’s not but obviously the impressions we can give off can sometimes be unrealistic ones. I don’t use social media to talk about the negatives in my life or the times when I’m not that happy (although I do try keep it as real as possible in this blog) because to be quite honest the majority of people don’t care and don’t want to read that stuff. The ones that do care are the ones that I would contact personally and so they know of my struggles and help me when I’m not feeling on top of my game.
On the outside it would be easy for people to think I have it all figured out; I have a good job that I’ve worked extremely hard to reach that position at such a young age, I keep myself fit and healthy and in typical Rebecca style never do things by halves so that healthy lifestyle turned into bodybuilding so pushing my body to the best it can be in my opinion aesthetically. I own my own house, I drive a nice car and this year I’ve holidayed in Australia and America. What’s not to love right?
Training days!
And I am extremely grateful for the life I lead; I know not everyone is in a position to do some of the things that I do. But I’ll put it out there now it’s far from perfect. To the girl that messaged me seeking advice and inspiration from ‘someone successful’ she didn’t see me three weeks ago on a Sunday morning when my boiler broke mid-shower whilst I still had shampoo in my hair, stood in my hallway, freezing cold, wet hair, crying my eyes out on my Dad’s shoulder; something I can’t even remember the last time I did before then. And you’re probably thinking jeez it’s a boiler. It’s not a big deal. But that was the final straw for me in a build-up over several weeks and months of stress and pressure from different aspects of life and it all came out that morning. It was much needed in many ways and prompted me to make some changes in my life but it was one of my lowest points of this year.
When my Dad asked what I was crying about I simply said ‘Everything, life is just hard sometimes’. And it is hard. Everyone has battles of their own and we often don’t have a clue what’s going on in other people’s lives really and it’s easy to think people have the perfect life or that people have it all figured out and they really don’t. Many people just won’t openly admit that.
Yes I do have all of the things I talked about above (good job, nice holidays, house etc.) but that comes at a price. It means I need a well-paid job and we all know they don’t come without the work and therefore I spend a lot of hours doing work. When I’m not in the office I spend many evenings and weekends sorting bits out that I didn’t have chance to during the week. Or sometimes it’s just the pressure and responsibility that is draining. Similarly to achieve well in bodybuilding that requires a lot of dedication, commitment and willpower.
Living it up in Vegas!
I saw a quote a few weeks ago that stuck in my head that was along the lines of believing we can have it all in our lives but maybe not all at once. And that really rang true to me. I try to have everything in my life lined up and that’s just not how life works. So I’ve tried to think about things differently and so I think to myself, okay I don’t have a huge social life right now amongst working and training but that’s okay because look at all the benefits to my life that working and bodybuilding bring and one day I’ll perhaps be able to let those aspects take a back seat whilst other things become my priority like having a family one day.
I’ll give another example. I went for coffee with a girlfriend of mine a few weeks ago. We’ve been friends a long time and over the last two years her life has changed a lot; meeting someone and starting a family. Now sometimes I look at her and think wow, I am so far off that. I’m not even with anyone let alone close to having anything serious or starting a family. It was interesting as when we had a chat she said she often felt envious of other people’s lives, mine included. She’d see me achieving in my career, training hard and looking in good shape, having freedom to do what I want and getting out and seeing the world. So again, the grass isn’t always greener.
Hosting a work event last week!
I’ll build on that a bit and talk about relationships. So I’ve been single for about 3 years now and during that 3 years I have done SO much that I probably wouldn’t have done had I been with someone. I took a career break and went off travelling, girls holiday to Vegas, took part in my first bodybuilding competition. I often get asked if I’m dating, if I’ve met anyone etc. etc. and yes of course I’ve done a bit of dating during that 3 years but nothing of any real substance for one reason or another.
Now edging closer to the big 3-0 and with the constant questions I get asked, obviously I have thought to myself that it might be a good time to look at settling down (not that it ever works out that simple haha). Because I think people generally expect that as a woman edging closer to my thirties that I would probably be ready for something more and that maybe those maternal instincts would be kicking in. They couldn’t be further away from kicking in if I’m completely honest. And I guess over the last year my approach has been if someone comes along then great I’m open to that option.
However in recent weeks when I’ve thought about that, the idea of ‘maybe I need to settle down a bit’ I have realised isn’t coming from the right place. I’m not thinking that because I really want to, but because of pressures and expectations. When I’m 100% honest with myself I actually don’t think I’m ready to settle down; I enjoy my freedom A LOT and everything that comes with that.
Many a time when talking about guys my mum has said to me ‘give him a chance Rebecca, he’s a nice guy’. My response is always that a cuppa tea’s nice. I don’t want ‘nice’ from a relationship. Right now I want adventure, fun, excitement, passion. And maybe that shows I’m not ready for a ‘proper’ relationship I don’t know but that’s just me being honest. And do you know what? That’s okay. I’m happy with my life and what I have going on and ‘having it all’ for me I guess does include a guy somewhere along the line, but that doesn’t have to be right now. I got told a couple of years ago to forget about Mr Right and to focus on Mr Right Now haha…that’s stuck in my head ever since.
So I guess the reason for my post is to assure people that very few people actually have their life together. No one’s life is perfect and people shouldn’t feel the pressure for it to be perfect, because that’s just not realistic. I’m honest and I’m real in saying it how it is and if even one person feels better about things for reading this post, then I’ll consider it a job well done.