Brains & Biceps
A Column By Laura Kline, BSN-RN and National Level Â Figure Competitor
Tales of a Strong Willed Woman
Happy Summer 2010 to all my health and fitness fanatics!! It is hot and sunny here in the great state of Texas and I am soaking up every minute of it!! No I am not out partying and showing off my hard earned body, I am staying busy with my training, work and spending time with friends. Many people at work keep on asking me if I am done with my training now that I have competed but they don't understand that my training is not a seasonal thing, this is my lifestyle.
When I first began losing weight, back in my early 20s, I always got a lot of pressure from my sisters because I was "too focused". I really didn't understand what was so wrong with me having goals and going after them. I was told repeatedly that I was selfish (and a few other terms I will leave out) so naturally my feelings were left hurt and I was confused. Then I came to realize maybe they had goals that they were not going after or maybe they just weren't setting goals for themselves at all. It wasn't really about me and what I was doing, it was about them and what they were not doing!! I had to distance myself from this negative energy and stay on course, stay focused. It took a few years of constant arguing and trying to make them understand who I was but it never worked. I was trying so hard to make them accept me and all it produced were tears and excess stress! So while I do love my sisters having them at a distance is just better for our relationships and lives.
My first goal in January was to lean out, work on building more muscle and prepare for my first season of figure competitions. I found my coach, set up a plan and got to work. My focus and determination overcame me like never before and my transformation was amazing! I was pushing as hard as I could at the gym while working full time as an operating room nurse. I had my rough days where I was mostly just feeling impatient with everyone but for the most part my excitement and determination kept me smiling. Fast forward 6 months later and I was winning first place and overall in my premier show at the NPC Oklahoma Championships!! My coach and I were ecstatic and proud to have reached this point and we were now nationally qualified. As soon as I got home from this show I was two weeks out from my next show, NPC Jr Nationals in Chicago, IL. Those couple of weeks were rough and tough on me but I stayed persistent and pushed through. My placing was not what I wanted on the national stage, but it was a great learning experience and now I know what I need to bring when I return next year.
My coach and I decided that the best things for me to do the rest of this year are to put on more muscle and to maintain my low body fat so when I return to the stage next year my prep won't need to be as long. At first I was a bit stressed out at this decision because I had just began competing and already I had to step down off the stage (which I LOVE!) and return to the drawing board. We had made a tremendous stride in my physique already but the size/muscle maturity of me in comparison with the other competitors was lacking. It was a lot to take on while my body was going through a roller coaster of emotions aka the post-show slump. I had to refocus my brain basically and set some new goals so I didn't feel lost and out of whack!
During this time, lost in the wilderness of emotion, I met someone that was and maybe still is undergoing training for his first competition (hot body/men's physique) and I thought that he had a lot in common with me. We had a great conversation and began relating our different experiences with one another, I was glad to make a new friend. His mind set was obviously shifting and he was realizing it was quite the battle to hang out with party animals while trying to focus on being healthy and prepping for a show. Yes it is possible to keep your friends that do not participate in the same lifestyle, but when some of those friends start to come down hard on you or call you names for your choices, that is a difficult and harmful relationship. A lot of my friends have found inspiration in what I am doing and they have began chasing their own dreams, fitness related or not and they tell me it is because I did the same and it motivated them. This is amazing and makes what I am doing even more exciting! I had already gone through the experience with the party animal/jealous friends years ago so it brought back so many memories when he was telling me similar stories about a few of his friends! The fact that I was able to remove myself from these kinds of situation with ease now though seemed to have turned him off however and I was chastised once again for my commitment to health and fitness. I was told that I was too hardcore, "too focused." I did not know what to think! Brought back the feeling my sisters gave me when I was younger. Here I am taking care of myself and reaching major milestones in my journey and this person comes along and kicks me in the back of my knees after putting up a front that they had the same passion. Awkward!
Support is essential to living a happy life. Whether it is receiving or giving, this act is extremely meaningful and produces only positive byproducts when it comes from a good place. You wouldn't tell a fellow coworker that they needed to quit working so hard because they were doing so well at their job whether or not you were doing the same in comparison, you would provide support and help them reach the top. If you are the kind of person that attempts to knock someone down while they are focused and performing their best however, nothing good will come from it. On the flip side, if you are the kind of person that chooses to lift those who are focused and working hard then you will most likely receive the same in return. Sounds like a pretty simple notion now doesn't it?
Bottom line to my column this time: stay focused on your dreams, keep short and long term goals and don't let anyone come in between you and your success in life. Support is a blessing, patience is key.
"Goals are a means to an end, not the ultimate purpose of our lives. They are simply a tool to concentrate our focus and move us in a direction. The only reason we really pursue goals is to cause ourselves to expand and grow. Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; it's who you become, as you overcome the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals, that can give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfillment."