Hello beautifuls! I cannot believe it’s been 5 months since my last blog post. #whutttt I honestly did not mean for it to take that long for me to sit down and type my heart out about training, life, advice, food… all the things I wanted to discuss on my blog from the very beginning! I’m really excited to get back in the swing and write recipe posts, training posts, and how I’ve actually become a BETTER human being during my prep over the past 15 weeks.
Social media (in general- this is my overall impression over the past year or so) says that competition prep makes you self centered/impatient/unhealthy/drained, and sets you up for body image issues in the future. You guys- that might be a template other people have lived out, sure. It can happen. Those who have had negative experiences/weren’t successful most often scream the loudest. It does NOT have to be like that! Often many of those “journeys” to the stage began for very VERY wrong and unstable reasons in the first place. I cannot stress enough that you have to be appreciative of/confident in your body before you ever decide to take up bodybuilding competitively. If you are ever unsure if your heart and mind are in the right place- sit somewhere alone quietly for a while, and analyze why you want to go forth with a competition. If you sit silently/still long enough- your answer is really clear- you just have to focus and listen. If it is for the outward approval you’ve finally been seeking or for “oohs and ahhs” from the masses- you are setting yourself up to crash and burn! Don’t do that please. ❤
With that spill, I’ll revisit and share my “why” for competing. 🙂 To all of you visiting here for the first time or may not know– I started resistance training with intent (meaning I had a specific goal to build muscle and strength) during the summer of 2013. I’ve been training with a “bodybuilding focus” since September of 2014 after joining a local bodybuilding team. I’ve competed in 5 shows over the past 3 years, got my butt handed to me at nationals in May of 2016, and had a nasty post show rebound after my last show last October. I’ve learned A LOT and I’m still learning (and love love love that there is always more to learn!!).
My initial reason to compete 3 years ago was because I experienced great results in the gym weight training with my husband (I build muscle pretty quickly- with 6 months of routine lifting my body changed a lot!). I knew I had untapped potential I wanted to bring out and take something I already enjoyed and make it competitive. At the time, the bikini division in the IFBB was exploding and there was a lot of social media exposure. I saw those stage photos of the pros and thought- I want to be able to do that! I was attracted to the rigidity and challenge I was reading about. I wanted to learn how to cultivate a lean and muscular physique.
Growing up I ran cross country and competed in horse shows. I was never good at anything that had a ball– I have ZERO hand-eye coordination, so team sports were out. Over the course of my adolescence, I cultivated a competitive mindset and spirit within the realm of individual sports. Training for cross country meets and horse shows, I was the only one to keep myself accountable (with STRONG encouragement from my mother to do so- #MAMAYOUARETHEREALMVP!!!). There was no motivation of teammates or anyone else to ‘carry the load’. I had to commit and foster the self resilience to keep getting better and improving. It set me up perfectly for where I am today!
Somewhere during my last 2 competitions last fall, I realized I wasn’t content at the ameteur level. I felt the desire to compete professionally down to my bones. I went to nationals in May of 2016 and got second to last call outs. I knew when I arrived I wasn’t going to place well–these girls were LEANNNN, conditioned, and I wanted to rise to that standard (and let’s be honest- I want to BE the standard- I want my best to the THE best #becausecompetitiveashell #icanthelpit). I left that show and knew I wanted to come back with a leaner physique and reverse diet properly to set me up for shows in the fall. I received two first place finishes in my height class at state level shows last October, lost the overall award each time, and planned to have a ‘calculated’ reverse diet but I had ZERO willpower to do so after walking off stage. I felt absolutely exhausted, drained, and depressed… too tired to train, and walked in the gym and literally felt like I was just starting and didn’t know how to even put together a routine. WEIRD. I stayed sick for over a month with a head cold. My body was DONE.
I decided to go to the doctor for hormone testing and visit a nutritionist for metabolic testing. I discovered I was eating FAR below my needs after metabolic testing to be able to live every day life, let alone weight train and do cardio too! For about 6 weeks, I was in a deficit of ~850 calories, WITHOUT weight training and cardio being factored in as well. My gynecologist called me after my blood tests results came back that my levels (and history with irregular periods- she’s been my OBGYN doctor since I was 16) indicated PCOS “tendencies”. She explained some of that was hereditary, some of it may be from my lifestyle (rigorous exercise/low calorie induced stress). My progesterone levels were almost non-existent which explained my constant fatigue and lack of motivation to do anything except nap and lay around and feel sorry for myself.
I took some steps to refocus my goals to restoring my hormonal state and a eating a micronutrient dense diet. I immediately increased my calories to maintenance levels to give my body a rest from a caloric deficit, and spent a lot of time praying. I remember a specific day I was driving in the car and I said to God what I feared saying the most- “God, maybe You don’t want this for me. You know the desires of my heart and my passions, but if this isn’t for me-I’m laying it down”. It was so scary to say but so freeing after I said it. I went on about my day in pursuit of my new goals for hormonal health and a whole foods/micronutrient focused diet, and almost “accepted” that competing may not be my future after all.
About a week later, I received a phone call from the CEO of Johns Killer Protein . He wanted to send me their organic, minimally processed, GMO free, sweeteners free, additives free, soy free, and growth hormone free products and give him an honest opinion. I eagerly agreed, as this was PERFECT TIMING with my diet being refocused to a more natural, whole foods/micronutrient place. I tried each of the 4 protein products and loved them! I spoke with him again on the phone a week later about ambassadorship and competition sponsorship opportunities. A sponsorship sounded AMAZING but there was a problem– I had no coach, a body that was still stressed and trying to find homeostasis again, and no plan for upcoming shows. Despite the lack of readiness and solidified plans to compete, John let me know he valued my focus on health, dietary priorities as an athlete, and wanted to collaborate. Um excuse me–WHAT?! My body is in the lowest place it’s ever been, my workouts had been terrible and not productive, I didn’t have a coach or 2017 competition strategy laid out… but there was a glimmer of hope that landed in my lap out of nowhere and I fully believe it was God’s way of saying- you aren’t finished yet, Elyse!
I had a renewed sense of hope with John’s Killer Protein in the picture, and their support for me to compete for a pro card. Within the next 2 weeks, I found a coach who I knew was a literal angel sent from above, and had a dietary/training strategy for me to compete late summer of 2017, given my body progressed as it should. I called John to let him know I had a plan, and I signed the contract to be a Johns Killer Protein Sponsored Athlete. Operation #GOPRO was underway!
Here I am nearly 8 months later feeling closer to a pro card than ever! Its been so rewarding! I’ve had doubt, frustrations, insecurities, and second guessing along the way (that’s a whole other blog post! haha! Stay tuned!)…but I kept the faith, and turned to discipline when motivation ran dry. And I’m so glad- it was all worth it! It’s always worth it y’all. Never give up on what you believe you are meant to do! We feel things down to our core for a reason–pray about it work hard and watch it all unfold. Speed bumps may mean you need to slow down. Detours may mean you need to change paths slightly. BUT NEVER STOP STRIVING. Let’s rise and grow together! ❤