She’s Winning It!
I’ve been waiting three years to write this post.
You know, my first bodybuilding competition was a lot like losing my virginity; it was slightly awkward and not award winning, but I knew I definitely wanted to try it again.
Winning had never been my goal; weight loss was. See even though I’m a type-A personality, which means give me a cup of coffee and a deadline and I’m your gal, I’m not necessarily an A-plus personality, which is one of those “Must-Win” people.
I’m going to tell you a secret here: the thought of even attempting to win terrified me, ’cause what if I lost? Not only would I be embarrassed, but also it really hurts to put your heart and soul into something that doesn’t work out. But if I said my goal was to just walk on stage then I didn’t have to put everything on the line.
My daughter had a writing assignment at school and her story was titled, “Don’t Lower the Flag Before the Battle.” I had never heard that saying before, but found it really provocative and asked her how she came up with the title. “Well, I thought about Helen Keller and how she was afraid to go to college because she was blind and deaf and almost gave up, but then she went anyway.”
Leave it to an eight year old to give you perspective on life. I realized that I constantly lower my flag before the battle. I’m too old, I’m not strong enough, or pretty enough, or smart enough I’ll tell myself, as though those excuses will make my lack of effort okay.
I would like to say that for yesterday’s prejudging I bravely marched into battle, but there’s a reason why my blog is called She’s Losing It and not This B**** Has Her S*** Together.com.
One of the quirks of bodybuilding is that to get your pro card you not only have to win first place in your division in a qualifying show, there also has to be at least five people in your category. Originally there were seven women in Masters Bikini (“masters” is fancy for “old chicks over 35”) but three women dropped out the day before, so only four women would be competing, meaning that even if I won I still wouldn’t get my pro card unless I won the open division (“open” is fancy for “you have shoes older than the girls you’re competing against…and none of them have kids probably.”)
Standing in line I casually asked the open women’s contestants their ages. 23, 27, 26, 26, 21. I’m a 41 year old mother of two, oh f*** me. Not only did I lower the flag, I took it off the pole, put it in a coffin and buried it under a pile of sparkly bikinis and discarded spray on tan bottles. I was stomping on stage like a newbie and I just wanted to go home. I maybe would have cried but only distilled water would have come out so I just shook my head in frustration.
Robin, my trainer, came back stage to do some damage control. “You’re letting these girls get in your head and you’re psyching yourself out. You worked so hard for this, just relax and have fun! Pull it together.” Then he started joking with me as the other divisions went and had me practice my poses without stomping through them so I would be on point for the Masters division. I don’t even really remember what he said but I calmed down.
If you do more than one division you are only supposed to do the T-walk once. The second time you come out you are just supposed to hit a front pose in the middle and move to the side. But I completely disregarded those directions as I needed to redeem myself and the hot mess that was my open posing walk. Also, I figured that since I had to pay full price to be in two categories the judges could sit through an extra 45 seconds of my stage walk. So there!
I hit my marks. I smiled. I had fun and just went for it. This time the judges were smiling at me and I heard my husband cheer, “Win this thing!”
When I came off stage people were saying it was like watching two different people up there. (Also, I was told that I would be a very bad poker player, but that’s another story.) Diana Hurley, the promoter, gave me some really good feedback about my posing and I was approached about a potential sponsorship.
But mostly I was beating myself up for working so hard during prep only to self-sabotage at the event. I posted some pictures on Instagram and Facebook but had no idea where I would place.
The night show is always a lot happier than prejudging because everyone eats and drinks water during the break and the rivalries are pretty much settled by that point. I’ve never seen so many doughnuts backstage in my life. I didn’t eat anything beyond a few bites of turkey because I was still nervous and wanted my abs to look for photos.
Instead of scrolling through #fitfam like I usually do on Instagram, I scrolled through #God for some inspiration and between the biblical texts there was a random quote…by Helen Keller. That’s interesting I thought.
The woman who won first place at Poseidon, Annie, was there and she told me it was actually a good thing to not get my pro card yet because there’s no masters division in pro bikini and I would always be up against 20-somethings, so it would be helpful to build my confidence by winning another local show or two first, which made sense.
It was time to go in the wings. I was freezing. Robin was texting someone (turns out it was my husband) and I was doing curls with the band to relax, because I knew I was going to get 2nd, maybe 3rd.
“You beat 20 girls half your age at the Arnold,” Robin said. “That’s funny, Henri said that too.” I smiled and walked on stage, holding my front pose. They called 4th. Okay, they’ll call me next I thought. They called 3rd. I looked at my number so when they called it I would go to 2nd. But they called someone else’s number. And then it dawned on me:
I had won.
I was so shocked, I barely remember moving, just smiling. It took me three years of training, posing practice, eating clean, and getting back up when I failed. Three years of my husband never giving up me, even though this sport is so intense. A solid year of Robin pushing me past my comfort zone and making me lift so heavy there were days when not even ice baths made my muscles less sore. Tears filled my eyes because I didn’t know if this day would ever happen for me.
Then Dave Goodin said, “Your Bikini Masters Winner is Lisa Traugott! She might be Losing It, but
She’s Winning It tonight!
Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two.
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