One year ago, I was in what I believe was the greatest shape of my life. I was lean, I was loving my morning rituals of waking up early, hitting the gym getting in my cardio and a weight session done before my day started. Ok, maybe eating white fish, and broccoli at 6:30am in the locker room between cardio and weights wasn’t my favourite but I was eating all my proteins, veggies and properly counting calories to make sure my diet was just on point to hit the stage because I was competing in my first Bikini Competition.

Often I was asked “What makes you want to compete?” Honestly I began training for a competition because I felt like I had too. As a Personal Trainer it was a challenge I could do to inspire, motivate and encourage my own clients with hard work and determination you can achieve your goals. But during the training I realized I was actually learning a lot more about myself and truly how I needed to put in a lot more work then I had anticipated.

I have always been athletic grew up playing volleyball, soccer, basketball, dancing, track and field running. So for me competition is in my blood. I’ll never forget the time I had to go onstage and compete a dance solo against my best friend in the same category. I knew I had to get out of my head of just being “Canadian” and feeling bad. This was about my hard work vs her’s and I will say I’m quite thankful our winnings were even by the end of the dance year. Walking on stage at 30 years old wasn’t all that different, I had made friends on my team that I was literally standing next too and being judged and compared too for our hard work we had focused on in the past 12 week.

What was different for me was competing on stage at 30 years old vs a teenager. As I begin training for the show I soon realized I wasn’t actually great at commitment. I have been blessed and taken advantage of having anything and everything when I want it. Not to mention my addition to sugar. Thankfully I broke that within the first week. But for me to say “No” to friends and family inviting me for meals or if I did go to a meal and would order my plain grilled chicken breast, steamed veggies and rice, the judgement I received wasn’t worth it. So if trying to not battle my own commitment and self -discipline of sticking to my diet and getting in my workouts wasn’t enough I was also fighting not being different from my friends or family so I often found myself not eating around them but then eating alone in my car before or after an event.

What did I learn? That I wasn’t doing the competition for anyone but myself. My focus was not to get onstage and know I had the best Ab’s or most lean muscle. If you told me during my prep “Just think of how good you look on stage” that was not my concern, my concern was my mental game. Yes of course I wanted to place well but I knew if I committed my time and self discipline to training hard and eating according to my meal plan I would succeed.

The definition of commitment: The state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. Or an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.

That’s it “Freedom of Action”, what do you mean I can’t have that donut or latte, but I want it and I was working hard???? That was my mental challenge. Well maybe just maybe if I have this cookie at the engagement party I can spend an extra 20 minutes on cardio tomorrow. Nope, that is not how it works and I learned that the hard way.

My highlight of training was working with awesome coaches that would be honest and encouraging. I would highly suggest if you are considering competing find yourself a team of like-minded individuals that will challenge and motivate you each week. I actually got praise for being consistent in the first 6 weeks of prep that at each check in I was down 2% or more. That was all I needed to throw my course, I received a refeed meal that was supposed to be on a Saturday in the after noon and back to work Sunday . . . unfortunately I took that praise and enjoyed life that week making some good choices but lots of bad ones. Giving in that week challenged me even more to get my head back in the game and find my focus once again but me, just like Adam in the garden of Eden who was told not to eat the apple and what did he do??? I gave in and wanted to continue to enjoy items only making my drive for the stage harder counting down the weeks. I did make it onstage and I did prove to myself that with commitment I can make that changes needed in my life but making that choice isn’t always easy.

I look forward to walking back onstage, I love to give myself challenges and last year I was proud to compete not placing as well as I had planned but also recognizing I didn’t deserve it as much as others that had worked harder. I completed my first marathon in September 2017 and I know it won’t be my last because I have exceptions on myself of where I would like to see my training and achievements and I haven’t made those goals yet! Maybe I’ll take a break once I have a trophy in my hand or a Boston qualifying time but for now I’ll just continue to focus on my training and educating myself on how others have been able to overcome their weaknesses to only become stronger in body, mind and spirit!

I find setting goals and challenging myself to be so key in putting my body and mind through physically challenging – or even demanding – activities literally trains my mind to be open to new ideas, new discoveries and new opportunities. I find regularly challenging myself physically trains and builds my self esteem and confidence. When I can regain a sense of agility or overcome new challenges for the first time, my self image soars with new confidence and certainty. And that sense of self gets translated to everything I do.

I had a coach share this motivational video (Les Brown – It’s Possible) with me and now I want to pass it onto you. I would listen to this each morning before I trained to remind myself that anything is possible, if you can get your mind in the game!

My hope is that you will think through how you can challenge yourself in 2018?