The Portrait of a Body Builder, Part II: Finding Your People

I’m the kind of person that when I set my mind to something there is no stopping me. I literally live my life in GO. There’s no down time, no rest, no breaks, and most certainly no sleeping in or slacking off. And while this intensity can be a great thing to get things started and fuel my efforts, it often has its downside. My impulsivity at times is my Achilles Heel.

For example, when I committed to competing in my first body building show I hired an inexperienced coach to save money. She was a referral from a friend and though I was her first client, I had the utmost faith that everyone has to start somewhere (hence my first show) and that this person could help me grow. Unfortunately, as time unfolded, I learned she was not equipped nor prepared to train me. I felt completely duped as I put my full and complete trust in this person because she was a competitor. In spite of these gut feelings, I went along with the diet and workouts she sent me because wanted to embrace the process fully. I blindly followed her lead because simply I am too trusting a person. It wasn’t long before my husband Greg and I started scratching our heads in response to her meal plans (which included fruit and while on prep, body builders DO NOT eat fruit) and workouts. We couldn’t wrap our heads around how or even why we were paying someone to send me meal plans and workouts late, who couldn’t answer many of my questions, and frankly wasn’t there for me. But alas, I stayed the course.

When I set out to do this, what I was looking for was more than a coach. I was looking for someone to guide and educate me. Someone to bring me into the world of body building and its culture. Someone who could empower me to calculate my own macros and truly understand hypertrophy. What I got instead was someone who spent an hour with me in the corner of a gym teaching me how to pose INCORRECTLY and dropped me with 4 only weeks to my show left claiming she didn’t think I understood and “have what it took to really be a body builder.” Ummmmm, really?! Clearly, this chick didn’t know who she was dealing with.

I wish I could say I felt defeated when my ex-coach dropped me so late in the training process but really I was relieved. It wasn’t working out but who does that kind of thing to a person? Like any other industry, body building is saturated with people who think they’re equipped and qualified to work with eager novice athletes. The truth is you need to do your research. Sometimes looking to save a buck here and there isn’t necessarily the best route. Moving forward, I have learned the value in taking the time to find the right person to help me achieve success and while it may come with a high price tag, it’s worth it.

Unable to dwell to on being coach-less en route to my first show, I posted a vague and inspiring photo on Instgram. What I received in return from people in my circle was not just empathy, but people stepping up to the plate to help me reach my dream of being on that stage. Sometimes, out of darkness grows something so beautiful that it sparkles brightly in the sun. Hell, ain’t nobody gonna dull my shine—that’s for sure.

Years and years ago, I was taking a UCLA Extension class to clear my California State Teaching Credential. My teacher was a petite, sharp, and incredibly likeable woman named Rebecca. Hands down to this date it still reigns as one of the best classes I have ever taken in my life. We remained in contact after the class ended where Rebecca continued to support me in my educational endeavors. She even pushed me to apply and present at a national teaching conference and attended events I hosted at my school. When I say Rebecca is a special woman, special is really an understatement; she is amazing. My newsfeed on Facebook from Rebecca was often filled with pictures of marathons and fun education anecdotes. Until one day it changed when she found body building.

me and rebecca

Posing with Rebecca and of course, my trophy

Inspired by Rebecca’s entrance into body building at 50, it gave me the courage to commit to entering my first show. But what’s more, Rebecca proved to be so much more than an inspiration for me. She became my unofficial coach spending her time teaching me how to pose, answering all my questions about peak week, and coming to support me on show day which also meant gluing various parts of my body into my suit [lucky her]. I am so grateful for this woman and the ability to be reconnected with her after all these years and to bond in a different way. Sometimes, you don’t have to look very far to find your people—they were right in front of you the whole time.

Follow Rebecca on Instagram by clicking here.

The age of Instagram and social media has made it easy to befriend like-minded people. Lizzy is one of those people in my realm of fitness and all things yoga, lifting, and inspo. A crossfit coach, power lifter, yogi and major badass—she’s the real deal. Her videos and photos are some of my favorite floating out there in cyberspace, so when I needed help with my workouts—she stepped up and wrote me a program. Not only were her workouts amazing; but they were more demanding than the ones I had initially been prescribed by my former coach. Maybe it was because Lizzy just got me, maybe we are just cut from the same cloth, or maybe Lizzy is just friggen amazing at what she does. Yeah, it’s that. Lizzy, like Rebecca served as a sounding board for me during this process but what’s more is she kindly shared her expertise to help me out because she could. In my eyes, sharing something with someone because you can, without needing nor wanting anything in return is what personifies true kindness and community. Sometimes, you have already found your people if you just look a little closer and forge a connection with the people in those photos we double tap…I imagine there are other Lizzy’s out there willing to help you soar.

Lizzy proves that there is great beauty in physical and emotional strength

Lizzy proves that there is great beauty in physical and emotional strength

Follow Lizzy on Instagram by clicking here.

Show day was something I eagerly looked forward to. I was worried though that I would be spending my day alone since I didn’t know anyone. Were body builders friendly? Were they the kind of people who scoffed at you because you were their competition? Would I be able to make friends? I had no clue and was anxious that I would struggle to connect with others. Oh, how wrong I was. Early into the day I met Julie. I had eyed her from the get-go; a small, gorgeous, girl with curly hair, and the best arms I’ve ever seen. From the instant I saw her, I knew immediately she was competing in the same class and category and I also knew—she was going to win. We were in hair and make up together chatting, giggling, and having a blast when we learned we had much in common like we both worked in fitness. And so, our friendship was born.

Much flexing after my 4th place finish and Julie's KILLER 1st place showing!

Much flexing after my 4th place finish and Julie’s KILLER 1st place showing!

Julie and I spent the entire day together. The more time I spent with her, the more and more I liked her. She is funny, kind, humble, and hard-working. We walked around Muscle Beach and spent the day taking photos with strangers who kept asking us if we were related [which is ridiculous since we look nothing alike, but I’ll take it]. We pumped together before the stage, shared photos, food, and cell phone chargers. And the best part of it all? Sharing the stage with my new-found friend! But it got even better. We were also next to each other on stage; so when Julie took first place in our division, I lit up with excitement and was able to hug her! While we had only been friends for hours at this point, the insta-macy of being together all day for our show made it feel like we were age-old friends. I am beyond excited to have met this radiant soul and I am looking forward to our new friendship. Sometimes, finding your people means you need to do something completely and utterly out of your comfort zone!

figure stage

Follow Julie on Instagram by clicking here.

Stay tuned for my third installment of The Portrait of a Body Builder, Part III: The Power We Possess. Remember if you don’t already subscribe to my blog to do so by clicking here so you don’t miss a post!