Arnold Sports Festival
I’m feeling so nostalgic for the Arnold Sports Festival!!! Last year it was such a monumental competition for me. I actually met Arnold back in 2005 when I was, um, chubby. (Don’t be hating on my double chin yo.)
Every competition is it’s own little baby, but the Arnold Amateur was really special. It was a total fluke that I even got accepted. Let me back up here for those of you scratching your heads.
The Arnold Sports Festival is hosted by none other than the Austrian Oak himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The festival has tons of sports but the main event is, of course, bodybuilding.
It is the second largest international bodybuilding competition in the world and you have to apply to be accepted. Athletes (even at the amateur level, like me) are at the top of their game. The application asks not which shows you competed in, but which ones you WON and your ranking (!!). The entry level divisions (bikini for women and physique for men) are open, meaning you don’t have to qualify with wins as you do for other divisions.
And lucky for me that they had that rule. See, even though I competed in local shows since 2012, I never actually won any of them. And by “never won” I mean “came in dead last.” For real. Like 1st place, 2nd place, 3rd place, 17th place, dead last Lisa Traugott.
Another caveat to the bikini division being “open” they do not divide by age as the other shows do. When you are 35 and older there is a special division called “Masters” that you enter. “Masters” is fancy for “old chicks”.
But even though I did not have youth or an award-winning physique on my side I did write a damn good cover letter (I’m a writer) and got accepted.
It came at the perfect time; felt like a gift from God. See, just as my book, “She’s Losing It!” was released, I started gaining weight back. My mother was diagnosed with end stage lung cancer and she moved in with us. Watching someone you love go through chemo is devastating and I saw myself falling into the emotional eating trap again.
My mother was in the hospital with pneumonia. I didn’t know if she would make it. And then her fever broke and I got the message that I was accepted into the Arnold.
I started jumping up and down, “I’m in the Arnold! I’m in the Arnold!” My 76 year old mother was happy but very confused. “I guess that’s a good thing? What’s the Arnold?”
I love that my mom never really understood all the quirky shit I did, but supported my efforts 100%.
Now I had something bigger than cancer in my life. I had something to look forward to, a reason to keep training. Before I left for the competition (my brother flew out from NJ to take care of Mom and my kids) she told me she had a dream that I won 3rd place.
I didn’t come in 3rd place, but I did come in 20th out of 38 and it felt like a complete victory. To only come in dead last at local shows and then beat out 18 girls half my age at an international show felt amazing.
That taste of victory lit the fire in my belly even more. I was so proud 5 weeks later to win…3rd place…just as my mother predicted…at the Texas Shredder. I was so proud to show her my sword trophy.
Everyone always wants to bring in winners. But my sincere thanks goes out to the Arnold Amateur for letting someone like me in. If you’re in a position of power and have the ability to include or exclude someone, remember that even losers can turn into winners if given a chance. And don’t give up on us middle-aged mamas. We still have some tricks up our sleeves.
P.S. – If you happen to be at #ASF right now, check out my cast mates from American Grit (Marc, Brooke and Lumberjack) at booth 737 at Tiger Fitness and tell them I said hi. I will be blogging about each member of my #GritFamily in the weeks leading up to the show, so stay posted.
Lisa Traugott is a Mom’s Choice Award winning writer, fitness blogger, wife and mom of two….and Original Cast Member of AMERICAN GRIT on FOX!!!
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