Recently I was out shopping with a girlfriend and we went to try on a few items. The girl managing the dressing rooms, gestured for me to hand her the pieces I would be trying on. Then she asked for my name – I guess that’s a thing everywhere now –
Sidenote: I don’t know how “Engrid” (pronounced ING-grid) sounds like “Andrea” just a pet peeve because that literally happens to me every time I have to introduce myself.
I come out of the changing room to show my friend the maxiskirt I had just tried on.
As I’m standing there waiting, the girl who was managing the dressing rooms asks me “where do you workout?”
As you might imagine, I was a little taken aback. I think she realized it was a bold question and went on to say “Well, cause I can just tell you workout”. I felt flattered but also admired her for being so forward to satisfy her curiosity. I was also unaware that I was such a blatant gym-rat.
This is something I have started to experience with more frequency and honestly I’m not sure if I’ll ever get used to it. I find it’s difficult to see myself the way that others do. My mind focuses on what I am most self-conscious about and it convinces me that, that is what everyone else also sees. I am getting better at recognizing this discrepancy, however just like training in the gym to improve a movement pattern, it takes consistent practice to change this way of thinking and “re-wire” the thought pattern.
Three weeks ago I competed in my first ever NPC Bikini competition. I have not discussed anything about this on my blog, but I have been posting about it on other social media platforms (mainly my Instagram and Facebook pages). I’ll admit it took a lot of courage for me to put myself out there on those platforms alone. I was worried about other people might think, or what they would say, or that it was weird to do bikini competition.
It was about three years ago that I went to support a friend who was competing in a show. I remember seeing the girls walking around super tan, heavily made up, looking like fitness magazine cover model’s. I remember feeling judgmental and thinking I was in the midst of a weird cult. Why would you want to voluntarily put yourself on a stage to be judged based on your appearance alone? But there was so much more to it, that I did not yet understand.
I have since realized that I need to live my life for myself and no one else. If I wanted to challenge myself to do a bikini competition… I needed to let go of what people thought and go for it! I have lIves too much of my life trying to do what I think other people expect of me. Like an uninvited guest at a party – that negative thinking just shows up. But instead of acknowledging the unwanted guest I’ve decided to carry on and enjoy my party. It’s not easy but I’m getting better at listening to my inner voice. Living my life for other people just made me miserable; I was anxious, empty, and exhausted.
Competing in this bikini competition was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life. The preparation was a journey that helped me overcome a lot of personal fears. I had to let go of comforting familiar routines. I find so often, people do what they are comfortable with, because it is what they know and it’s scary to go into the unknown.
Doing something different makes you feel vulnerable, and I am no exception. It was a tremendous learning process to place myself in the position of my clients. I was on the other side of the fence. I always say, “trainers also new trainers”. So when my trainer James “Bobo” Eason challenged my habits I experienced the reluctance, the doubt, the uneasiness that goes along with that. He eased me into changing many of my habits. One being my cardio habit. Like many of my female clients I was convinced I had to do long bouts of intense cardio. Of course everyone is different but that is not what my body needed to be doing. I slowly tapered off to shorter, less intense cardio (AKA walking – which blew my mind).
My inner voice felt threatened and asked me things like “What if doing less cardio makes me fat?”
Simultaneously I gradually increased my caloric intake, which also made my old familiar routine feel threatened and uncomfortable. Granted everyone’s prep process is different because we are all unique individuals – but this was what I needed to be doing. I experienced first hand – eating more than I ever had – that my waistline actually shrunk and I was building muscle.
The photo on the left was when all I did was long duration cardio and light weights/ bodyweight exercises. I also ate what I like to refer to as the clique-what-girls-think-is-healthy-and-will-keep-them-skinny diet. I’m hesitant to even list the foods I was eating back then because I subscribe to the idea that there is no such thing as “BAD” food. Basically I just wasn’t eating enough and enough of the right balance of macro nutrients. I didn’t realize it at the time but by working out the way I was, I was actually inducing stress hormones. As a protective mechanism my body was storing all that it could because I was in such a deficit. In contrast the photo on the right is me eating nearly DOUBLE the amount calories per day, doing HALF the cardio I was before, and doing resistance training 5-6 days per week.
Like I said it was a process but the more I followed what he told me, the better I felt and looked. Because I respect him my trust in what grew. I knew he had my best interest at heart. So when that noise came in my head, that I realistically knew made absolutely no sense, (but I wanted to listen to it – because it is familiar and habit)… I would ask myself “Does Bobo really want to make me fat?”. The answer is obviously “no” he doesn’t want that for me! Bobo wasn’t secretly trying to sabotage me. But my mind can come up with all kinds of crazy scenarios. I had to keep grounding myself through Bobo, who kept reassuring me that I was right on track. Although I am a certified personal trainer while I logically and realistically knows the scientific facts, it does not mean I am exempt from having illogical emotional “noise” seep into my mind. I walked away with first place in the novice division of my first ever NPC Bikini Competition. I am incredibly grateful to have experienced this journey it has helped me become a better trainer and learn how to honor myself.