What do you call a woman who has completed several half marathons, a full marathon, numerous triathlons, an adventure race or two and now has stated that it’s her personal goal to compete in a figure competition and be in the best shape of her life when she turns 40?
Many might call her an inspiration, others might just refer to her as Michelle, but her kids just call her mom
Although Michelle’s interest in competing started back in her early 20’s, about a third of the way through her first attempt at contest prep she found out she was pregnant.
Needless to say, having a child will waylay even the best laid contest prep plans, but Michelle seemingly destroyed any aspirations of competing by going on to have three more children!
Now for a lot of women, even having a single child can make the prospect of getting up on stage and walking around in a bikini an absolutely terrifying proposition.
But not for this supermom!
As if raising 4 children wasn’t enough, Michelle decided that at the age of 38, she was going to stay true to her goal of making it to 40 in the best shape of her life.
So she took the plunge and signed up to tackle a figure competition.
In her words, Michelle “wanted my kids and other moms to see me as an inspiration and a role model. I wanted to show them how important it is to make health and fitness a priority.”
And has she ever!
In Michelle’s first competition, the 2012 IDFA Montreal Classic, Michelle rocked the stage to finish 3rd in novice fitness model and 1st in novice figure!
For most people, that would be a huge start to your first season of competing and you could pretty much pack it in. But Michelle is a little bit of a hyperactive high achiever and the best was yet to come…
Michelle followed up that performance with an even better showing at the Ontario Physique Association’s 2012 Ottawa Classic by finishing 2nd in Figure medium tall, while bagging another 1st place finish in the Figure Masters Tall category!
Needless to say, for someone’s first foray into competition Michelle has totally surpassed even her own wildest expectations.
Normally, after a couple of shows I would strongly recommend most athletes take a protracted break to allow their body to recuperate from the stresses of competing.
But at this point but Michelle is probably healthier and more energetic after her two shows than when we first started. As a result, we’ve decided that Michelle will compete one more time this year at the 2012 Ontario Natural National Championships taking place in September.
As part of her journey to provincials, Michelle has graciously volunteered to document her trials and tribulations through an online training log as we prepare her for her next show as means a means of giving everyone an honest account of what you can expect preparing for a figure competition.
So to kick off the road to provincials in style, I wanted to share a bit of Michelle’s background story…
Michelle: I learned that having a plan is so important! As the saying goes, “Not having a plan is a plan for failure,” so set yourself up to succeed.
I worked out for years without a plan and never came close to the changes I have made in the last three months!
I also learned how critical it is to write everything down. I take time every day to record my workouts, my diet and how I feel. That way I can look back and assess what worked, what didn’t and where I can make improvements.
I also learned the importance of was practicing your posing. Graeme, you drilled this into me over and over again.
Thankfully, I listened, because when I was able to hit my poses it felt really good.
Even after reviewing my photos (when we have the tendency to be overly critical), I can honestly say that I felt proud of my posing and thought that it helped me present a professional, polished look onstage.
GT: Michelle, what was your biggest fear you had to overcome to wrap your head around competing?
Michelle: One of my biggest fears initially was whether I would be able to stick to my diet, yet I actually found this to be one of the easiest part of the prep. Once you get used to eating clean, you find that you start enjoying the taste of the food itself rather than the sauces, salt, sugar, seasoning and additives you are used to tasting.
I did find that having exact foods specified for me was too restrictive for my lifestyle (I have a family of six to cook for!) and after communicating this, we came up with a plan that worked much better for me. The new plan you wrote for me was much more flexible and allowed me to chose from a list of proteins, carbs and fats which enabled me to stick to my plan.
This taught me how important it is to be honest and to communicate your struggles with your coach.
Just remember, your success is their success!
The only time now that I truly struggle with my diet is during the last week before a show, when I’m not using any salt or seasonings and I’m eating mostly chicken and green vegetables. That’s when it gets really boring.
GT: Awesome… well not about the boring final week of dieting, but your comment about the importance of having an open line of communication between coach and client.
So continuing along the same vein, did you run into any particular struggles during your prep?
Michelle: One of the biggest issues I struggled with during my prep was letting go. I learned that I needed to be patient and trust my coach and trust the process. Changing your body takes time and you really do need to be consistent to see results. Don’t be afraid to commit and stick to the plan.
I also learned how important it is to ignore other people’s (sometimes unsolicited) advice and see where it takes you.
It could be somewhere amazing!
GT: Can you elaborate a little on your comment about ignoring “unsolicited advice”… that seems to be a pretty recurring issue many of my clients encounter.
Michelle: Absolutely. I learned that there are always going to be people trying to bring you down and you need to learn to tune them out.
My mom told me a friend of hers had seen my photos on Facebook and that she thought I was crazy. This drove me nuts for days! Why did they say that? What did they mean by it? I was psyching myself out feeling like I had to justify my decision to compete to someone else I didn’t even know very well.
I finally realized that I had to let it go. It was their problem and not mine. Competing made me happy and I knew I was making a healthy choice and that was all that mattered.
Not only that, but I discovered that I really enjoyed being on stage. When you’re on stage its your chance to show off all the hard work you have done over the past few months. Your body won’t lie, so if you’ve done your homework, it will show.
GT: Excellent point about focusing on what makes you happy and ignoring all the naysayers. What I’ve found is that life is too short about letting other people’s negativity drag you down.
So final question, what was it about competing that makes you want to continue?
Michelle: I’d have to say that even though being on stage was great, I found the preparation and mental focus that went into competing to be incredible satisfying. I had never followed a plan so thoroughly before and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed to process.
But without a doubt, the best part was seeing how proud my family was of me.
Even though all the time spent during prep was hard on them at times (and yes, they complained a lot, LOL) seeing the look on my kids faces when I brought home two trophies made me it all worthwhile. They’re the ones usually bringing home all the trophies and medals so it felt good for mom to have a chance to bring home some too.
My ex even showed my stage photos to his co-workers and that was a HUGE compliment! Incidentally, my husband also ended up losing 20 pounds on “my diet”, so it was a win-win situation all around.
GT: Thank you so much Michelle for taking the time to do this quick interview and I’m excited about helping you get prepared to tackle one of the biggest physical challenges of your life!