2007 was in decline, and 2008 was rearing its ugly head. I had taken a short break from my usually manic schedule of workouts, calorie crunching, and body fat analysis to sit on the sofa and eat peanut butter cookies dipped in chocolate and watch "A Christmas Story" for two weeks. It had started out as fun, but as the days passed I found myself in a position of one of my best traits working against me. Usually I consider my unrelenting drive to accomplish a goal to be a strength, when I can beat the odds and leave my self-doubt in the dust. But when that goal is to eat as many peanut butter and chocolate cookies as humanly possible, that becomes a very dangerous personality trait. I was a week into it and wanted out, but was determined to wallow in indulgence until 12:01 am January 1, 2008. And wallow I did.
So much so that when I showed up to the gym on January 2, I felt blobby, gross, flabby...pretty much like anyone else would feel after two weeks of atrophy. I was ready to hit the weights. As I jogged along listening to Christina Aguilera and trying to remember how my new heart-rate monitor watch worked, I wondered what my 2008 goal would be. I needed to shake up my routine, but I didn't really know where to start. I wanted something more than just beefing up the weights and shaking up the cardio. I needed a GOAL.
The goal hit me square in the face a few moments later, as I twisted my face and supressed a she-roar and contemplated the sweet relief of a brain aneurism during an incline bench press. My trainer nonchalantly asked me if I was interested in training for a fitness competition.
Now, I've been working with my trainer for just a few months now, and although he had surely figured out that I am a masochist in the gym, I wasn't sure if he realized the ramifications of asking me to participate in a competition, my personal drug of choice. My chest swelled and I puffed up like a peacock. Sure, I cockily answered. I need a new challenge. I asked a few cursory questions about what was involved and relished the news that my workouts would become more intense, my diet more finely-tuned, and I would be in the best shape of my life. Sign me up.
Later that day I was at work sharing the good news with a workout buddy. I proudly announced, "I am going to be in a fitness competition!" My kind and supportive friend replied, "are you going to look like a man?" And then, "ooh, you're going to have to put on three layers of self-tanner and lather up with baby oil and then put this stuff on to make your veins pop out and walk on stage in a bathing suit!" She said this last part with a twisted sort of glee, as if she couldn't wait for the heckling to begin. But I wondered...was there more to this than I realized?
So I called my loving husband that afternoon. "Guess what? I'm going to participate in a fitness competition!" His response: "oh." But he said it in about the same voice he would have used if he noticed that our cat had vomited on the rug. "Are you going to have to walk on stage in a bathing suit?"
So the response was underwhelming. But I was still psyched. Surely, the bathing suit and baby oil part was a very minor aspect of the competition. To be sure, I googled it and soon found a competition in which bathing suits (technically called "Grace and Physique") were optional. I was vindicated. I was still in the game.
The next morning at the gym I confronted my trainer:
"Am I going to have to wear a bathing suit?"
"I'm not doing that!"
"Well, there's evening gown, too."
"A PAGEANT? I am not doing a pageant!"
He laughed and showed me a video on YouTube of very tanned and shiny women wearing bathing suits too small for the community pool walking and posing on a stage. I shared my disbelief that I could ever be in that kind of shape. I turned to my training partner, who was also on the hook for the pageant. Her eyes widened and she nodded her head. We were two women in their 30s who could kick some butt and act like big muscleheads in our little gym, but we didn't hold a candle to these women. My mind wandered for a minute to a mental image of myself walking onto a stage in a bikini and President Bush immediately declaring a national state of emergency. Then the voice of my trainer brought me back to reality. "Let's train for 6 months and see how you feel."
And so, here we are. I've decided to share my experience with you here, because as the title of this blog states, I am not an athlete. I don't have a great body. I have never been on a sports team, I was always picked last in phys ed, and I am the last person you would expect to be participating in a pageant. But, I love a physical challenge, I love weight training, and I've been needing to get out of my comfort zone. And, I needed a goal, so I might as well do this one.
I'll update this blog as I progress through my training and take you along this journey with me. I have no idea how it will end up, but I can promise it will be painful for me, and that means entertainment for you.
So we're off!