Since my sophomore year in high school, weight lifting and body image have been incredibly important to me. I think the ability to see your progress both in weight and looks pushed me forward and fueled my passion. Until I started working full time at the waterpark however, it didn’t consume my life.
About two years ago, my assist manager, EMT, and co-worker were all into lifting and it became all we did, and talked about. Everyday was the same; up at 5 to lift, work by 6, off at 8 pm, back to the gym, then on to play volleyball with friends until about midnight. This cycle continued on all summer and the dedication continued on through that winter.
The following summer I decided to talk to someone about competing for the first time. He checked my BMI, gave me a diet plan, and I was off. I was excited, but it pushed my obsession to a level that when looking back had as many negatives as positives.
I’ve always been a very visual person, concerned with how I look, how others look, and as I started prepping for my first competition, this personality trait was heightened.
If you’ve competed you know that the diet is the most important aspect. Once I knew what to eat I did not deviate. As the results became visible I became even more self-conscious of how I looked. I wouldn’t eat anything that would change that. If I did, I would be on pins and needles worried or in the gym working my ass off to drop excess water weight. If you do this kind of thing it makes sense, if not you’d swear I was crazy.
Post competition, all I could think about was getting in shape for the next one. In so doing I created the injury that has led to several back surgeries. Even now, I hate being out of the gym. I hate how I look. When I look in the mirror I know where I was and wish to be back there.
However this has been a humbling experience. At the time, nothing could stop me. I judged others on how they looked, I put myself on a pedestal, and it was taken away. I don’t necessarily believe things are done for a reason, but I am happy to have gone through this.
I plan to go back to the gym, I plan to eat right, but I don’t want it to consume me again. I don’t want to put off social activities because I worry about my physique that much.
I will always be a visual person; hell I’m in the arts. With that said, I need to be less judgmental of those who don’t follow the same path I do, of those who don’t focus on making their body the best it can be. I still believe everyone should be healthy, but maybe eating chicken, vegetables, and cutting carbs everyday isn’t for everyone.